50 Black SheRoes: Part 3, Singers and Actresses

October 9, 2009 by  
Filed under inspiration

Singing and Acting SheRoes

 

dorothy_dandridge
Hattie McDaniel Dorothy Dandridge

Josephine Baker

 

  • Hattie McDaniel – the first black actor to win an Academy Award; she won the Best Supporting Actress award for her role as Mammy in 1939′s Gone With The Wind. About playing the role of a servant, she said, “It’s better to get $7,000 a week for playing a servant than $7 a week for being one.” [she has gotten alot of flack for portraying a stereotypical role; I applaud her for taking lemons and turning them into lemonade, by supporting her community and assisting others in obtaining college degrees through her earnings].
  • Dorothy Dandridge – first black woman to be nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award, for the title role in Carmen Jones
  • Josephine Baker – the first African American woman to star in a major motion picture [the silent film Siren of the Tropics (1927)], to integrate an American concert hall, and to become a world-famous entertainer. Although she became a French citizen in 1937, she contributed to the Civil Rights Movement in America and the French Resistance during World War II. Baker became a muse for contemporary authors, painters, designers, and sculptors including Langston Hughes, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, and Christian Dior.

 

Ruby Dee Diahann Carroll

 

  • Ruby Dee – actress, playwright and activist, among other things. Her career in acting has crossed all major forms of media over a span of eight decades. She was married to fellow actor Ossie Davis for 57 years. Together they were notable civil rights activists.
  • Diahann Carroll – singer and actress. In 1962 she became the first black woman to win a Tony Award for Best Actress, for the role of Barbara Woodruff in the musical No Strings. Carroll is best known for her title role in the 1968 television series Julia, which made her the first African American actress to star in her own television series where she did not play a domestic worker.

 

Marian Anderson Mahalia Jackson

Aretha Franklin (wasn’t she just a doll!)

 

  • Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones – aka “Sissieretta Jones”, was a famous soprano opera singer in her day. She sang for President Benjamin Harrison in 1892 and three consecutive after him, Presidents Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, and Theodore Roosevelt. She was the first black person to sing at the Music Hall in New York (rename Carnegie Hall) also in 1892.
  • Marian Anderson – this opera singer entered the pages of history in 1939, when she was denied permission by the Daughters of the American Revolution to sing at Constitution Hall because she was black. Instead, she sang outdoors on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for a crowd of 75,000 people [First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR in protest of their refusal]. She was the first black person to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in 1955.
  • Dinah Washington – one of the most influential vocalists of the 20th century. Washington started singing the blues, but also sang pop and R&B. She won a Grammy in 1959 for her song What A Diff’rence A Day Made; this song and 2 others were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame: Unforgettable and Teach Me Tonight.
  • Mahalia Jackson – one of the most influential gospel singers and credited as the first Queen of Gospel music. In 1946, Jackson recorded the song “Move On Up a Little Higher”, which sold more than 8 million copies and was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In addition, this great singer mentored Albertina Walker and Aretha Franklin.
  • Aretha Franklin – the ‘Queen of Soul’ has won 18 Grammys, had 20 #1 singles on the Billboard R&B charts, and 45 “Top 40″ hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 1987 Franklin became the first female artist to be entered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2008, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Franklin #1 on it’s list of The Greatest Singers of All Time.

 

Be sure to read tomorrow’s post, Part 4: Civil Rights Leaders.

Why Age-Accomplishment Lists Suck

October 8, 2009 by  
Filed under personal development

The Inception of The List

When I graduated from college, I had a mental checklist of how my life should go. It read something like this:   By the time I turn 25, I will:

  1. Get married
  2. Have my first child
  3. Buy a house
  4. Establish my career path
  5. One other item I can’t remember

 

I don’t recall when I composed this list, or why I gave myself the deadline of my 25th birthday. I can’t even really tell you why I chose to acheive the items on the list. What I remember from that time in my life is the impression that by the time a person turns 25, their life should be established. I thought that, at 25, a person should have a family, a house, know what they wanted from life and be firmly entrenched in the achievement of those desires. After all, my mom was married, had me and had a house by the time she was 25. Well… you can probably guess what happened when I turned 25.   I thought I was a big failure.  

 

During the year that I turned 24, I broke up with my boyfriend, quit  my job, and started law school. So when I turned 25 and realized that I wasn’t living up to The List, I had slight heart palpitations. Here were all these things I set out to accomplish, and the deadline had come and I wasn’t anywhere near completion. Did that mean that I was going down the wrong path? Did that mean that I had nothing to show for my 25 years on Earth? What did not completing The List mean, anyway?   

 

Its 5 years later and I can look back on The List and really understand what not checking those items off truly meant. Honestly, it just meant that I didn’t reach them. Thats the only thing it means. Its not a value judgment on myself or my worthiness, and there was no reason to beat myself up about it. More importantly, though, my desires had changed. Thats not to say that I don’t desire to get married, have children or buy a house. But at that time in my life I was still growing into the woman that I am now. I was still exploring life, exploring my notions of love and determining how I really wanted my life to be, instead of relying on a perception I had in my head. And hindsight really is 20/20, because now that I’m far removed from that time, I can truly say that I’m glad I didn’t accomplish any of the items I had listed.  

 

Throw Away Your List

From discussions I’ve had with friends, it seems like alot of people are carrying this life accomplishment list around in their minds. We’ve all gotten the notion that by a certain age, we should accomplish certain things. I’m not saying thats a bad thing. What is bad is that we beat ourselves up if that list is not completed by the deadline we set. If this is you, I say so what if you don’t accomplish the list? Now keep in mind that I’ve been there, and being on the other side of this list deadline, I fully understand that its not the accomplishment that matters so much as knowing what it is you want. Because desires change. You may want a house when you’re 24, but at 27 you may want to go to grad school and feel that, because of the mortgage, you can’t leave your job to attend school full time. Or, your theories on marriage and commitment may change drastically between the time you compose the list and when your deadline arrives.  

 

So whats more important to you: a) achieving your life goals by a certain age, or b) really getting to know yourself, your desires and striving for goals that fit you better as time goes on? (Pick B, pick B!)  

 

Adhering your actions to this list is also a limiting way to live. It doesn’t allow you to stop and enjoy the moment because you are always looking toward the future. And whats the point of all the blood, sweat and tears if you aren’t enjoying life? Constantly looking ahead disconnects you from the blessings of everyday life and creates an attitude of lack instead of a mindset of abundance. You won’t be thankful for your great apartment, your charming boyfriend or your single state if you’re consumed by a looming deadline. Whats more, you don’t allow spontaneity and exploration. You don’t step off the path you started out of fear that detours will get you off course. Another way to look at it is that detours are ways to gauge if you’re still traveling down the right path, or whether you should make any turns.  

 

How To Survive Without The List

So once you’ve tossed the list, what do you do next? First, start out by determining whether you really wanted those items on the list. If so, then great, just fill in the details and allow yourself some flexibility, breathing room, and the opportunity to explore life and enjoy the present. You’ll get there and reach your goals, but you don’t have to beat yourself up along the way. But if you choose to pursue other goals, then start with establishing what those new goals are. Really take some time to come up with goals for your life that you’re passionate about and reflect who you really are. Its pointless to strive for goals that only serve to keep up appearances, to compete with others and that are ultimately hollow for you.  

 

Ultimately this is your life. You can conduct it how you see fit. No one is keeping tabs but you. So don’t subject yourself to undue pressue by establishing rigid deadlines. Your own opinion of yourself and your progress is the one that counts the most.

50 Black SheRoes: Part 2, Arts and Fashion

October 8, 2009 by  
Filed under inspiration

Arts and Fashion SheRoes

 

Toni Morrison Alice Walker

Maya Angelou Lorraine Hansberry


  • Toni Morrison – in 1982 became the first black winner of the Nobel Prize in literature
  • Gwendolyn Brooks – first black winner of the Pulitzer Prize, in 1950 for Annie Allen
  • Alice Walker – first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, in 1982 for The Color Purple
  • Phyllis Wheatley – the first black published writer; a book of her poems was published in England in 1773
  • Sonia Sanchez – a prolific poet and professor, very active during the Black Arts movement
  • Juanita Hall - the first black winner of a Tony award, for playing Bloody Mary in South Pacific
  • Maya Angelou – poet and widely aclaimed autobiographer; nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for her volume of poetry Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Die in 1971
  • Ntozake Shange – black feminist, playwright, poet; won an Obie award for her play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf
  • Lorraine Hansberry – playwright and author; best known for her play A Raisin In The Sun, the first play written by a black woman to appear on Broadway


Donyale Luna covers British Vogue, March 1966
Naomi Sims covers Ladies Home Journal, November 1968 Beverly Johnson covers American Vogue, August 1974



  • Donyale Luna – one of the first notable black models and the first black covergirl; first African American to cover British Vogue and named model of the year in 1966
  • Naomi Sims – widely regarded as the first black supermodel; notably the first dark-skinned model to receive wide fame
  • Beverly Johnson – first black model to land the cover of American Vogue in 1974



Part 3: Singers and Actresses

50 Black SheRoes and Why We Love Them

October 7, 2009 by  
Filed under inspiration

Black History Month was originally instituted as “Negro History Week” in 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson. By the time I entered high school in 1994, Black History Month became a time to recite the same often regurgitated facts about Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Malcolm X and a small number of other black history makers. I’m not even sure if kids today include all of these days in their black history month facts.   We have such a rich history as a people. I decided to highlight 50 black women whose contributions to black history and history overall are substantial and various. We love them because of their examples of perserverance, innovation, sacrifice and ultimately success. I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoyed putting this list together.  

 

50 Black SheRoes and Why We Love Them

 

  Part 1: Political and Activist SheRoes  

 

Shirley Chisholm – In 1968, she became the first black woman elected to Congress; in 1972 she became the first major-party black candidate for President and first woman to run for the Democratic nomination

 

  • Stephanie Tubbs Jones – served as a Congresswoman for the 11th district of Ohio for 9 years
  • Donna Brazil – political strategist; was the first African American to manage a major presidential campaign (Vice President Al Gore, 2000)
  • Sharon Pratt  Kelly – first black woman to serve as mayor of a major city (Washington, DC from 1991-1995)
  • The Honorable Frankie Muse Freeman – civil rights attorney; first woman appointed to the United States Commission on Civil Rights in 1964
  • Angela Davis – professor, political activist; worked with the Black Panther Party and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
  • Patricia Roberts Harris – among numerous achievements, she was the first black woman to serve as an ambassador; Ambassador to Luxembourg from 1965-1967
  • Barbara Jordan – served as a Congresswoman for the 18th district of Texas from 1973-1979
  • Carol Mosely-Braun – first and only black woman elected to the Senate, Senator for Illinois from 1993-1999
  • Ida B. Wells – there is so much to say about Ida B. Wells; women’s suffrage activist, women’s movement activist, early civil rights activist, journalist, anti-lynching crusader and one of the founders of the NAACP.

 

  Part 2: The Arts and Fashion SheRoes

Put your life first

October 5, 2009 by  
Filed under health

On my last visit to the gynecologist, I broached a topic that has been on my mind for a while. My Ob-gyn is a straightforward older black woman so I figured that she’d give it to me straight. I asked her the best way to go about asking your potential sex partner about their HIV status.  

 

There has been alot of buzz in the news lately about the high rates of black women contracting the HIV virus. Furthermore, AIDS is now the leading cause of death for black women ages 25-34. Let me repeat that: AIDS is now the leading cause of death for black women ages 25-34!In addition, the rate of AIDS diagnosis for black women was approximately 23 times the rate for white women and 4 times the rate for Latina women. In 2006, teen girls represented 39% of AIDS cases reported among 13–19 year-olds. Black teens represented 69% of cases reported among 13–19 year-olds. Sistas we have to protect our own lives here. Yes there are men out there who are on the ‘down low’, but there are significantly higher numbers of heterosexual men that are infecting black women with HIV. And, according to my Ob-gyn, condoms are only 70% effective for protection against viruses. She explained that viruses are smaller than bacteria and there is a chance that they can pass through the membrane of a condom.  

 

Do you want to risk your life for sex?   The most basic step to take in order to protect yourself is to wear condoms all the time. Don’t hesitate to ask because you don’t want to kill the mood. Don’t assume because he hasn’t cheated on you that he’s ‘clean’. Also don’t assume because he said he’s negative that he is. He might not know his status (up to 21% of the people who have HIV don’t know it) or he might have been infected after he was tested. You don’t know all of the people he’s slept with… or the people they’ve slept with. Don’t play Russian Roulette with your life.  

 

My doctor relayed a story of a man in Texas who was knowingly infecting women with HIV. One woman in particular drove the man to the health clinic to receive his test results. Instead of showing her the results, when he got back into her car he told her “I’m negative”. Doesn’t that just chill you to the bone?  

 

The best way to bring it up, she said, is to explain that condoms are only 70% effective against viruses. Then volunteer to show your guy your bloodwork results. And then ask to see his. Don’t accept his word. (Here she gave me the kind of look that only a black woman can give you…lol) Now you may be thinking that you don’t want to imply that you don’t trust him. I feel you sista. But whats worse, to take his word and find out years later that you could have saved your own life, or to have a potentially uncomfortable conversation and make sure you are protected.  

 

Whats more important to you, your life or your relationship?   The best thing you can do for the black community is to procreate and pass on the wonderful genes that you have. The best thing you can do for your man is to show him that you’re proactive about BOTH of your lives. And, the best thing that you can do for yourself is make sure you know what’s what. I hope I’ve motivated you to stop beating around the bush and make sure that you’re safe.

How Do You Determine Your Behavior In Relationships?

October 4, 2009 by  
Filed under relationships

400_F_12041142_F5gjZYNKbowhRa7rdwhMSdJw4Zu6ByFHHave you ever stopped to wonder how you developed your idea of what a contemporary relationship looks like? Have you ever thought about when you first started cooking, cleaning, buying gifts, and other related actions for the men you dated? When I say when, I mean at what age did you determine that this is what a woman did to nurture a relationship. Were these actions natural to you, or did you simply go with ideas you saw around you and accepted these actions as standard operating procedure?  

 

I’m at a place in life where I question how much a woman gives in a relationship. Now, notice I said relationship and not marriage. It seems that women give and give, and when the relationship ends, we don’t have much to show for it but feeling like we were taken for granted. Why does that keep happening, and how can we prevent it in the future? From the books I’ve been reading lately and the conversations I’ve had with older women, I’ve changed alot of my viewpoints about relationships, marriage and motherhood. But those aren’t really the subject of this post.  

 

An Interesting Perspective

Today one of my friends posted a very interesting video to her Facebook profile. Video: If You’re Not Married, You’re Single.  

 

Do you tend to treat men the same, once you develop feelings for them and you both agree to be in an exclusive relationship? Meaning, once you are exclusive, do you automatically switch into wifey mode, to show him how much you adore him? Are you ‘campaigning’ for his affections, showing him that you’re worthy of his heart? Do you find it essential that he know how good of a homemaker, caregiver, and supportive woman you are? And are you still single, like me (i.e. not married)? Now my question is, if these actions aren’t generating the results we want, why are we still doing them? From my personal experience, “doing the most” (hahahahaha) for a man does not net a marriage proposal. This is my goal, and I’m motivated to reach that with a man who is ideal for me. I recognize that marriage is not every woman’s goal, but you know that I’m here for us to stay motivated while we’re reaching our goals.  

 

Recently I came to the personal conclusion that having sex before marriage is not for me. I recognize that I open myself up to scorn from men by making this pledge to myself and my body. I’m prepared for that and I am confident that this is the right choice for me. I posed the question at the beginning of this post about your behavior in relationships, because it seems that we evolve into the women that we are without much conscious thought about what works. Sometimes we continue to perform actions (such as being ‘wifey’ without the benefits of being an actual wife) when they clearly are not working. And sometimes they work in one relationship and don’t work in others. But overall I see a lack of analysis when it comes to being successful in long term relationships, outside of “I should’ve communicated more” or “he cheated on me”. Outside of those things, what makes for a successful relationship? How does dating (being single, lets keep it real) differ from marriage? Why is it that we have scorned the ‘old fashioned’ customs that our grandparents followed, and yet we have a higher divorce rate and black women are not getting married in the same numbers as women of other racial groups.  

 

Determining What Your Behavior Should Be

Of course I am not going to insult you by stating what I think your relationship behavior should be. I can only tell you what I have determined that mine will be from now on. But I’d really like you to stop and take some time and think about this. Start at what your relationship goal is, and work your way backwards. If you want to get married and start a family, then be serious about that goal and stop doing things in opposition to this goal. For example, stop having sex with men too soon because you ‘like’ them. I’m sure they like you too, but having sex early on does not lead to marriage the majority of the time. And honestly, if you’re banking on a minority possibility, then ask yourself what it is you really want. Because a person who’s serious about a goal will do as much as they can to ensure that they reach that goal, which does not include gambling on small odds.  

 

Once you have determined what’s conducive to getting you to the altar once you’ve established a relationship, next work on how you should conduct yourself to establish a relationship. Do you have potential suitors in mind? Do you routinely meet new men who are marriage-minded? If not, then hey… you know what I’m going to say. Get serious about doing those things that will net you the results you’re trying to achieve. And I’ve been there too, of course, thats why I want to motivate you into action. Not too long ago I felt like I was turning into a crazy cat lady (and I don’t have any cats…). Its comfortable to stay in on the weekends and watch Pride and Prejudice… but it won’t bring potential mates into my orbit. So I’ve committed myself, now that I know what conduct I will take during a relationship, to go out and become a part of one. I’ve pledged to go out for the purpose of meeting men at least once a week. And gradually I will add more time as my schedule permits. I’ve also changed my mindset about ‘going out for the purpose of meeting men’. This is not time to be on the prowl. This is fun time for me to hang out, have some drinks (but not too many…lol), be cute and most importantly be seen and appear open to meet new people and be in a relationship.  

 

I bring all of this up because I’m tired of women feeling like we have been taken advantage of. Yet we act in ways that are detrimental for us. We give and give and give and there’s no reciprocity. No one has asked us to give as much as we do, so its up to us to set the tone and make sure we have boundaries and are working toward our goals. No one will do this for us, ladies. So lets roll up our sleeves and get to it.

How To Keep the Motivation Going

October 3, 2009 by  
Filed under law of attraction

The other night I was feeling extremely unmotivated.  

 

I felt very far away from my dreams, about as far away as one can get. Sometimes I get selective amnesia and forget all of the accomplishments that came before that moment of despair. I felt as if I was standing at the beginning of a lonely blacktop, and my goal stretched far ahead of me into the horizon. It seemed as if I would never ‘get there’.  

 

In moments like those, its important for any person in pursuit of a goal (or a dream, as I prefer to pursue) to objectively re-evaluate their position. At those moments its critical to silence the negative self-talk and only allow realistic and constructive statements to play in one’s mind. In order to do this, I reviewed my plan of attack for achieving my dream. In that way I could quickly see where it was I actually started from, the real destination I am moving toward, and a quantifiable, achievable accomplishment that serves as the goal post for my arrival. I also flipped through my ‘motivation chest’, the books, vision board, websites and other tools I use to keep my spirits up and my motivation fueled.  

 

The book that always does the trick for me is Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. If you haven’t read it, its a timeless classic that will reenergize you for any task, and one that should be reviewed frequently. If its already a part of your library, then I urge you to keep it handy during those times when it seems like you just can’t reach the place where you’re striving to get.  

 

What I also like about this book is that its applicable to virtually any goal. If you see it in your mind then you can have it. And the title of the first chapter, “Thoughts become things”, is part of my favorite quote: Thoughts become things, choose the good ones! Some people may think the concepts in this book are “new age” or “feel-good mumbo jumbo”. Well, let me ask then, whats wrong with feeling good? Positive thinking is free, and aligning your thoughts in positive ways with what you want will work more wonders for your life than listening to the doom and gloom being spouted all around you. Whats more, is that no one will be as excited, as fired up, and as motivated about your dream as you. So whatever it is that you put into your ‘motivation chest’, make sure its stocked well with the thoughts and advice that really get your juices flowing. Because sometimes you will naturally be motivated, and at other times your thoughts will wander into a negative place. Be ready for those times of negativity and know that they are just temporary respites from your road of achievement.

10 Reasons To Turn Off The TV

October 2, 2009 by  
Filed under health, personal development, self esteem

7d_1-1

 

How many hours do you devote to watching television in one week? Stop for a second, and calculate how many shows you faithfully follow, plus any tv time you spend with your spouse/significant other. Now multiply that total by 52. How many hours per year do you spend in front of a television set?   We are all busy people, especially us entrepreneurs. And if your life looks similar to mine, you not only run your own business, but you have a full-time day job, community activities, time with friends, and other errands and life commitments that have claims on your time. I can imagine its even more hectic for married women and mothers, since your time is then devoted to children, spouses and the maintenance of a household as well. Maybe your TV watching time is your free time; maybe, at the end of the day, that is how you unwind. But there are better ways you can spend that time and unwind from the stresses that assault you.  

 

Here are 10 reasons why you should turn off the TV:

  1. Watching TV is a waste of your time.
  2. It has a negative effect on your children.
  3. Others profit from your time.
  4. It promotes a sendentary, unhealthy lifestyle.
  5. You’re not being intellectually stimulated.
  6. There’s no QUALITY involved when quality time is spent in front of the TV.
  7. You could use your free time to pursue your interests.
  8. The messages inherent in programming ruins your self-esteem.
  9. The messages inherent in programming send negative images to your children.
  10. The majority of news programming promotes negativity and causes worry.

 

Watching TV is a waste of your time.

According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year). In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube. 9 YEARS!!! Now I bet there are other things you can do with 9 years of your life than spend them with your buns planted on the couch.  

 

It has a negative effect on your children.

We’ve all complained about how parents are not raising children these days, that TV is now doing the parenting.  We’ve also complained about the lack of quality programming being offered on TV, and how more and more sexually explicit material is being conveyed to the public. Spending so much time watching TV is becoming a mainstay in the average child’s life. Don’t believe me? Here are some numbers that confirm that TV watching is bad for kids [Source: TV-Free America]:  

 

  • Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 3.5
  • Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,680
  • Percentage of 4-6 year-olds who, when asked to choose between watching TV and spending time with their fathers, preferred television: 54
  • Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900 hours
  • Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1500

 

Others profit from your time.

Time is money, right? We’ve been saying that maxim forever. And time really is money, especially where television advertising is concerned. By 1993, advertisers were spending $15 billion for your time. Shouldn’t you treat your time with more value, than by zoning out on the couch? Think about this, too: how much time do you spend promoting TV programs for FREE? That’s right, companies are spending billions to advertise and you’re helping the TV stations and cable companies to get rich. How often do you talk about True Blood, Dancing with the Stars, America’s Best Dance Crews, and other popular shows? You’re not receiving any perks from this word-of-mouth promotion.  

 

It promotes a sendentary, unhealthy lifestyle.

If you’re sitting in front of the television, you’re sitting and not moving. The average person spends 4 hours in front of the TV; 67% of adults are overweight, and 34% are obese. [Source: CDC FastStats] You can see that, if a person spends only 2 hours in front of the TV, the other 2 hours can be spent preparing a healthy meal and working out. And thats also 2 hours where a person isn’t being inundated with commercials for unhealthy fast food, desserts and breakfast foods. Now, 1 out of 3 kids are considered overweight or obese [Source: Kidshealth.org]  

  • Number of 30-second TV commercials seen in a year by an average child: 20,000
  • Number of TV commercials seen by the average person by age 65: 2 million
  • Percentage of survey participants (1993) who said that TV commercials aimed at children make them too materialistic: 92
  • Rank of food products/fast-food restaurants among TV advertisements to kids: 1

 

You’re not being intellectually stimulated.

When I ask most of my TV watching friends how often they read, they either look at me like I’ve lost my mind or stolen their remote. Read??? ‘Why read when there’s TV?’ they ask. At that point, I just change the subject. I admit that I read alot more than the average person and its hard to explain to someone who doesn’t like to read how it will improve their life. For me, the book is better than the movie 99% of the time. Its much more fun to fill in the details with my imagination instead of the director’s interpretation. And I like to control when I revisit a beloved story, instead of when the station dictates it should air.  

 

Maybe reading isn’t your thing, but there are alot of other things you could do to stimulate your mind instead of watch TV. Freeing up some of your free time will allow you to hold deeper conversations with friends, instead of ending convos with “ok girl, its 9 o’clock, and True Blood is about to come on. Talk to you later!” You could also play games with your friends, such as Monopoly, that teach them skills like budgeting, or talk to them about school and the world around them. TV-Free America has other ideas of ways to spend time when you’re not in front of the TV.  

 

There’s no QUALITY involved when quality time is spent in front of the TV.

Its the end of a long, stressful day. You get home, change into something more comfortable, and you and your boo curl up in front of the TV. This is probably a routine that you’ve established, and one thats become automatic. But you guys aren’t really talking (unless its 30 second bursts between commercials) and your attention is glued to the screen, not to each other. Stay with me for a minute. You’re both laughing at the antics of the Real Housewives of Atlanta, how much of your undivided attention is your sweetie getting? How much is he giving you? Why not spend that same cuddle time listening to smooth jazz, talking about your day, or building a stronger relationship? Now I’m not advocating you do this during football season (lol), but I’d bet you could find more ways to put the quality into your quality time if you turned the TV off.  

 

You could use your free time to pursue your interests.

Have you ever wanted to take a salsa class? Meet more men? How about learn a foreign language, learn to sew or train for a 5K or marathon? You could be out experiencing life, instead of watching Dancing With the Stars. Why wait until you have more time? I bet you’d have that time if you turn the TV off and get to living!  

 

The messages inherent in programming ruins your self-esteem.

Do you ever wonder what size your favorite actresses wear? Have you ever wanted Beyonce’s hair? How about wanting the body of a video vixen, or the perfect skin of the contestants on The Bachelor? TV gives the modern woman a hard act to follow. And viewing all those images of ‘female perfection’ day in and day out take a toll on your self-esteem. Well, sistas, models and actresses are on tv because they are not the average woman. They don’t eat the average diet, get paid the average salary or have the same time constraints placed on their day. That’s why they can look good day in and day out, and they are paid for their looks. We, on the other hand, have about an hour to get ready for work; have to cook for ourselves and our families; have to find the time to shop for and plan nutritious meals, hit the gym and the hair salon; and have to incorporate our own genetic makeup into the equation. Its just not healthy to compare yourself to these women, and unfortunately its a habit that becomes easier the longer you sit in front of the TV.  

 

The messages inherent in programming send negative images to your children. Let’s take a look at some of the statistics regarding TV and violence [Source: TV-Free America]:  

 

  • The average child will watch 8,000 murders on TV before finishing elementary school.
  • By age eighteen, the average American has seen 200,000 acts of violence on TV, including 40,000 murders.

 

Viewing thousands of random acts of violence desensitizes a person and ultimately cheapens the value of a human life. Do you want your 9 year old to become accustomed to seeing mugshots on TV? Do you want your daugther to see men get shot, stabbed, or any of the sexually explicit conduct that’s highlighted on TV? Lets really think about the images we’re allowing children to be exposed to. This goes back to advertising too. How many sexually-themed commercials show during the Super Bowl? Our kids are watching and forming their opinions about life, relationships, and morality based off of these images that they see every day. Now combine this extended TV time, with parents being busier and spend less time talking to their kids. You can see where this will lead, and its not to a positive place for our children.   

 

The majority of news programming promotes negativity and causes worry.

Here’s the main reason I don’t watch TV: when I was growing up, and even to this day, my mom watches the news at least twice a day. She usually watches at 5 or 6pm and then again before bed at 11. In my opinion, as a result of watching all of these reports of murders, robberies, fatal car accidents, corrupt police officers, kidnappings, and other mayhem, she has terrible nerves. If I went out late, she’d say “be careful, there are crazy people out there! Just yesterday in Miami there were 11 shootings!” If I told her I’d met someone new, she’d say “well that’s nice, just keep your eyes open! The other day they found this woman’s body in a ditch; she got raped and strangled to death by a man she met at a bar”. Lets not even talk about me living in DC. If the threat level goes from orange to red, you can bet Mama will call. She was beside herself when the DC Sniper was at large, and if there’s an accident on the metro and she can’t reach me, she’s frantic.  

 

You can see why I’m not a fan of the news.   In general I think the news works to make us all paranoid. If we hear that the economy is bad, then we don’t spend any money and the economy gets worse. If we hear that Swine Flu is becoming an epidemic, then people walk around with masks and don’t interact with others. And if we see that Kanye West interrupts Taylor Swift, that news items takes on such importance that our president even calls him a jackass. Like, seriously, that’s newsworthy? Anyway. Do you ever question how stories are selected to appear on the air? Do you ever wish that more positive stories were shown on the news?  

 

  • Percentage of local TV news broadcast time devoted to advertising: 30
  • Percentage devoted to stories about crime, disaster and war: 53.8
  • Percentage devoted to public service announcements: 0.7

 

I agree with the sentiment that people want to be informed about the world around them. I haven’t watched the news in years, but I for the most part I stay informed by reading blogs and from conversations with friends and coworkers. Try a diet of less news programming, and hopefully you’ll experience better sleep, less fear and a more positive outlook on life.

No more Mr. Nice Guy (Part II)

October 1, 2009 by  
Filed under relationships

Lately, I’ve been hanging out with a friend who recently broke up with her boyfriend. Her and her ex-beau had been together for nine years (that, IMHO, is entirely too long.. and deserves a post of its own). She found out that he’d cheated on her – even went so far as to introduce her to the sideline chick. After a while, the sideline chick felt compelled to come clean, and the sh*t hit the proverbial fan. So I try to check on her as much as she can tolerate. I know the pain of a broken heart, and I just couldn’t imagine what it must be like for her. She seems ok… for now.  

 

The thing is, I’d previously considered him a really nice guy. You know, doesn’t dress too flashy, seems like he knows what he wants out of life, laid back, not too agressive,e tc.  I realized that alot of self-proclaimed Good Black Men are not that ‘nice’. I was really cool with her guy, and had no indication that he was capable of that level of deceit. This was not a guy who constantly ran the street, who had questionable habits or treated my friend with disrespect. In the end, however, he was a liar. And lying to someone you love is not a nice thing to do.  

 

Who is Mr. Nice Guy?

 According to the site No More Mr. Nice Guy (no relation to this post…lol),

A nice guy’s primary goal is to make others happy. Nice guys have been conditioned to believe that if they are good, giving, and caring, they will be loved, get what they want, and have a smooth life.
  • Nice guys seek the approval of others.
  • Nice guys try to hide their perceived flaws and mistakes.
  • Nice guys put other people’s needs and wants before their own.
  • Nice guys sacrifice their personal power and often play the role of a victim.
  • Nice guys tend to be disconnected from other men and from their own masculine energy.
  • Nice guys co-create relationships that are less than satisfying.
  • Nice guys create situations in which they do not have very much good sex.
  • Nice guys frequently fail to live up their full potential.

 

I’m sure we all know a really nice guy. The kind of guy who doesn’t have an ounce of bass in his voice; the guy who is always there for you in a pinch, who’s really sweet and ultimately would make a great boyfriend or husband if you were attracted to him. Which you probably aren’t.   There’s nothing wrong with this type of guy. Really, there isn’t. The archetypal Mr. Nice Guy gets a bad rap – but Mr. Nice Guy is not really real. I think the Mr. Nice Guy persona stems from personal insecurity. So the guy who would wear this mantle is not the guy he portrays himself as. Instead of being assertive, aggresive and/or selfish, this type of guy goes the other extreme and becomes passive. He probably thinks that if people perceive him as being this great guy, then he’ll get what he wants. In essence, the Mr. Nice Guy persona is an elaborate manipulation that ultimatey doesn’t work.  

 

Why Mr. Nice Guy Really Finishes Last

Underneath the facade of MNG is the heart of a vain and selfish man. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.. we are all selfish to a certain extent, and part of our personalities seeks outside approval from others. With MNG, that part is bigger, and gets more energy,  than in other people. And the falsity in MNG stems from his attempt at manipulation, not his genuine nature. If a guy is really a nice guy, he is kind, giving and sweet to others out of the generosity of his own heart. There is no ulterior motive behind his actions. He’s not being nice to you because he is concerned about what you think of him. He is nice to you because he values you as a person. And because his actions are sincere, he doesn’t become upset when others take him for granted. Because he actually likes to give. MNG, on the other hand, uses his actions as bait for attention from others. “How nice he is, how considerate of others, how sweet!” we exclaim. And his overindulged ego just soaks it all up.  

 

But after a while, this is all we see. Because the real man is hiding behind the smoke screen of being nice. And the real guy is afraid to come out, to shatter that perfect image, to have us see who he really is. So we see nothing. We see the guy who’ll always help us when our car breaks down, we see our boss who won’t say anything if we take extra time at lunch or miss deadlines (but will send passive/aggressive emails to all his subordinates), and we see the guy who’s been trying to get with us for years, but is stuck in the friend zone. In his frustration, MNG blames everyone else – the Thugs and Bad Boys who act on their feelings, and don’t hide behind a mask; the Hot Black Women who they wear this mask for, who are attracted to bold, assertive men, the opposite of what MNG has allowed himself to become; and even the everyday women who would give them a chance, if MNG weren’t so busy being nice to Hot Black Women. Everyone else gets the blame, because MNG was nice and no one appreciated him for it. If MNG hadn’t smothered his personal power behind the mask of being nice, he wouldn’t end up blaming others for his own mistakes. He’d be secure enough in himself to say what it is he actually feels.  

 

What You Should Watch Out For

What’s interesting though, is what happens when MNG does get the girl. I’m not saying I’m a Hot Black Woman (in my mind, I am..) but I have dated Mr. Nice Guy. All of those nice, sweet, good actions go away after you are wooed and won. A mean sort of selfishness sets in, as if MNG is saying “I’m taking what I want, and holding onto it firmly, since I don’t know when I’ll get what I want again.” Which is another extreme behavior/attitude. A guy who is truly ‘nice’ wouldn’t lie to get what he wants (like my friend’s ex did), wouldn’t have you believe that he’s someone he’s not, and would know how to assert his own wants while being respectful of yours. These types of guys never say “the nice guys finish last” because they are never placed last; you see them for the real guy they are and not an invisible front that they show the world. And they don’t have to tell you they’re nice, because you already know it.  

 

I wish all MNGs knew that they’d be accepted, embraced, noticed, if they were just themselves. Its great that a man would feel compelled to do nice things for others and be a respectful person. What’s not nice is to have these actions lorded over you by a man who wasn’t genuine about them. The myth of Mr. Nice Guy would die if men who felt safe hiding behind the mask of niceness would learn to act in a manner that respected his desires while treating others well simultaneously.

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