|From President Obama's college years|
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
The “Black and Unwanted” billboards in Arkansas are sponsored by the nonprofit group, Arkansas Right to Life. Recently, local news stations (such as Fox 16 and Today’s THV) have covered community reactions to the signs, which have began to garner controversy. However, the signs are not the brain child of ARL. In fact, the signs began going up in the state of Georgia by the Radiance Foundation. According to ARL and the Toomanyaborted.com site, the ads are targeted toward the Black community because it has a high rate of abortion despite being the minority group. The billboards are an integral part of a movement to bring attention to the rate of abortions in the Black community.
When one delves deeper into the Toomanyaborted.com site, there are statistics everywhere. But none of them seem to support the message of the billboards. Instead, they seem to provide basic facts and figures without explanations and connections. The site includes chart after chart, divided by race in relation to the annual percentages. Most charts are based on the 2008 Arkansas statistics, which show White Americans as the primary recipients of abortions, having approximately 58% of the 4,789 abortions documented. So, does this data confirm what the ads are targeting? To really heat it up, why are they targeted at Blacks? Who is behind the ads?
Background: The Radiance Foundation, was cofounded by Ryan Bomberger. His accolades include his time advocating for adoption and foster care, mentoring and other community projects. Bomberger also has an Emmy for Creative Production. There is also Catherine Davis, Tufts University Magna Cum Laude, activist for “Operation Outrage”, a group that “educates Georgians about the holocaustic impact abortion has had on the Black community”. Both contacts are Black and appear to be pro-life, based on the information they are provide on the site.
Whether the founders of the movement are black or not is almost irrelevant. Their campaign has a targeted audience for a hot topic that is bringing attention to the current generations of the black community. It is obviously doing just that. Still there is a boldness that doesn’t seem justified.
What makes the signs controversial lies on the surface and deep within the black community. The initial response is that the wording, black and unwanted, rubs the reader the wrong way. The words spark an offensive reaction, whether for or against it. It is also odd that the sponsoring group, toomanyaborted.com, also has another ad, “Endangered Species” that is not displayed (to date) in Arkansas. This raises the question of whose perception is more important, the actual black community OR those who pay for the billboards.
Another response is that the wording is playing on the fears of others in the black community, who have for years, believed that planned parenting clinics provide ways to create population control. Ironically, one of the signs in Little Rock is about two blocks away from a planned parenting clinic (University and 12th street). Then, there is the deeply rooted taboo and stigma associated with abortions in the black community. Abortion has always been a very strong subject that you just do not bring up in a black household, regardless of how liberal it may be. It is one of those skeletons in the closet that comes out only when let out.
Personally, I think the wording works against the message (despite the statistics). “Unwanted” seems to carry the subliminal message that “black” is unwanted, a belief that has been rooted in perceptions of the black community since it came about. Sidenote: Black has been associated with bad, evil, disliked, forbidden, and exotic since cultures developed language. Some scholars believe that Africans are black because they are the descendants of a cursed race. If you remember your history lessons, in psychological experiments in the 50s and 60s, black children would pick the white doll as the prettiest, despite their own color. Fast forwarding to the modern time period, think of all the cries during Katrina (including Kayne’s infamous anti-Bush comment) in which media and advocates called foul on the treatment of blacks. So to say that Black is Unwanted is almost a blatant show of prejudice, discrimination, disrespect, and so many other forms of it.
The question that arises from this type of media is whether the black community will be open to the discussions that may stem from it. The black community has been stereotyped as a group that has opinions but are not willing to address them on a public scale. Yes, there have been marches. Yes, there are groups who advocate for black rights. However, the issue of billboard that states “black and unwanted” is something that should spark smaller discussions in the community—to address those taboo issues which we continue to avoid. While the sign itself seems to cry for attention (which it has garnered), maybe it is time to use this material to have healthy debates on some of the other issues within the black community.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Here recently, I have been especially observant and aware of subconscious attitudes and behaviors in America that I believe stem directly from the shameful stain of slavery. It is inane to minimize the significant effect the American enslavement of African Americans that lasted for hundreds of years has had (and still continues to have), and even more senseless to limit its effects to the mindsets and outcomes of only one race.
Over the next few months, I will begin a dialogue with you...a multi-part series, if you will, that will cover several aspects of the this topic from varying perspectives. My intent is not to complain, shame, or lay blame – but, rather, to present some realities and from them, collectively and positively more toward the future.
“The acknowledgement of our weakness is the first step in repairing our
loss.” – Thomas Kempis
Thursday, July 15, 2010
You and So-and-So have hung out numerous times, on walks, at movies, at dinners in swanky and not-so-swanky restaurants (and So-and-So always insists on paying). After a few “dates” you finally give in, say, “Well, hell,” and you have sex. It has been a couple of months, and there have been several repeated sexual occurrences. While you may or may not be completely interested in So-and-So, you’re also not the casual sex kind of person. You are probably at least a little interested in seeing where it can go. No one has mentioned the big “R” (whisper: relationship). Although, you did ask one time about a month or so into it all, “So, hey, what is this about?” So-and-So responded in some roundabout, inarticulately evasive manner, of which all you remember hearing is, “I like you a lot. I like being with you.” Now, you are left wondering, “What the f*#@?”
I call this scenario, “An Encounter with 21st Century Label Phobia.” The notion of label phobia is pretty self-explanatory: it describes the intense fear of or aversion to labels, specifically labeling as it relates to the world of romance. (This is related to but shouldn't be confused with what is popularly called "commitment phobia," which describes a general fear of commitment. In label phobia, fear is directed toward labels such as "relationship," "dating," etc. While these labels implicate some level of commitment, I think label phobia stems from not only a fear of commitment but from a general fear of categorization, a mindset that is very characteristic of postmodern 21st century culture.) One could suggest that So-and-So is not label phobic at all but simply a slow mover, trying to take his/her time. Or maybe just your typical jerk. Both of those might be true. But let’s just assume I am right, for a moment. How does this label phobia affect our dating lives? Is this new attitude an improvement or a significant problem in our dating lives?
To the last question, I’d say it’s a little of both, and to the first question I’d say it’s doing a real number on our self-esteem (and I don't mean that in a good way).
In my own life, I’ve found that labels are inescapable, sometimes burdensome and sometimes useful or even empowering. For instance, I can’t escape the labels of African-American (or black), woman, bisexual, Southerner. There’s almost no point in trying to ignore them, in trying to exist as just a human being. I don’t have that luxury of trying to go through the world as just a human being when the rest of world will always see me as black and female for sure and treat me accordingly. As such, I’ve learned to embrace such labels and find power in them.
Avoiding labels in the world of romance is just as futile and impossible as avoiding them in other aspects of our lives. No matter how much So-and-So doesn’t like labeling his/her love life, he/she will eventually come into conflict with a lover who doesn’t share his/her disdain for labels. The reality is that human beings love labels; we need them, in the world of romance and elsewhere. Eventually, if two people (you and So-and-So) have went on dates, talked intimately, had sex, one of the two people (if not both) is going to want to know where he/she stands in the situation. Labels tell us where we stand. They help us understand how we are being valued and viewed by others. And, let’s be honest, our personal sense of self or identity is totally wrapped up in how others value and view us.
Sadly, I’ve noticed that a lot of twenty-somethings (as well as some thirty-somethings I’ve met) harbor a strong dislike of labels, refusing to understand the basic value of those labels to many, if not most, people’s sense of self. Nevertheless, a fundamental disconnect occurs during scenarios like the one described above. When a person seeks a label during such moments, he/she really is seeking out your opinion of him/her, and your refusal to deliver that in the form of a label comes off as a real diss, rather or not that’s how you meant it. Label phobic folks can help prevent these kinds of problems by being straight up in the beginning, before things get intimate, before wasting the person’s time. If you don’t want a label, a relationship or a commitment, just say so before the person gets attached.
Quite honestly, I am tired of running into men and women alike who refuse to label their affairs. If we have a scenario like the one mentioned, I can only interpret the refusal to label as a refusal to commit. (We can get into a huge discussion about what it means to commit. Here, I only want you to understand it as a basic promise to respect the person by refusing to sleep with or pursue other people while you are with said person.) So-and-So’s desire for sex with the person, while at the same time refusing to commit signifies a lack of respect. In this world of disease, the greatest way that one can show respect for a lover is by promising to be monogamous while with that person. But I’ll stop here, before I get off topic.
With all this said, I am mostly curious about why so many people are opposed to labeling their romantic affairs. What is gained and at what or whose expense? How has this issue, if it is one, played out in your love life?
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Most of you know where I'm going with this, but some of you might wonder just what this has to do with personal finance. While I can't knock Drake's hustle 'cause it is STUPENDOUS, I can say a lot of young adults' lack a hustle or if they've got one, it's more than weak. Why do I say this? For starters, most young adults rarely seek guidance or use resources because we know it all or think we do. As a result, a bunch of us are floundering around and pretending to have it all together in the process when we clearly DON'T. Well, I'm ringing the alarm like Beyonce, and it's time to wake the hell up. Yeah, I said it. Now join me in class for lesson #2 for young strivers!
I'm moving pass the music, so I can really school you today. Young Money isn't just an entertainment group or recording label; there's a personal finance web magazine that I adore with the same name. From advice on checking and savings accounts to career tips, suggestions on how to reduce your debt, entrepreneurship, and investing, this magazine has got you and me covered. I can't help but say, "Young Mula, baby" in my best Weezy voice whenever I log on 'cause I know that's where I'm headed by reading this magazine.
- What's the Dealio? Comparison shop for just about ERRthing and get discount codes at this website and others like Pronto, PriceGrabber, and RetailMeNot. Don't forget sites like Bankrate where you can find the best checking, savings, mortgage, car, and credit card rates among tons of other financial 411. I personally like to look for rates every six months or so to ensure I'm getting the highest interest possible on my savings.
- Get government assistance, and no, I don't mean food stamps! Check out the government's way of supporting financial literacy with the FDIC's Money Smart finance program or the Financial Literacy and Education Commission's website. Both sites provide FREE guidance for managing and planning our financial futures whether we're in college, unemployed, single/married/divorced, starting a business, buying a home, or adopting a baby.
- Save on cable by watching TV online at your favorite network's website, Fancast, Hulu, or Netflix. Watch PBS' Your Life Your Money episodes on the web, play games, or access a budget calculator, glossary, and other tools that'll help you get on financial track.
- Read magazines? Well, Maghound offers reduced price subscriptions on all the best magazine titles. Get three magazines for just $4.95 per month; that's three magazines for the newsstand price of one! I stay up on all things money by ordering Kiplinger's, Money, and Black Enterprise from my friends at Maghound.
- Be in the know, and order your FREE Annual Credit Report today. I suggest you review your report closely for any discrepancies and dispute them as soon as possible. You can also order your scores from each of the credit bureaus or at a site called MyFICO, one of my good friend's Suze Orman suggests. If you find it hard to sift through all the information on a credit report, some of you may like Credit.com's FREE credit report card. The site pulls information from your credit file and gives you a letter grade. I hope we're all aiming for an A+!
- Cut down your student loan debt with retail therapy. Yeah, I'm telling you to spend and save in the process. With Sallie Mae's Upromise, you can save by shopping at retailers in-store or online, dining out at the hottest restaurants, purchasing gas, lodging a number of hotels from the W Hotel to the Holiday Inn, or by taking brief surveys at e-Rewards. Guess what? It's FREE!
- Get your hustle on and find your next gig online at QuietAgent where you can hunt for jobs anonymously. Be included before being excluded because of your race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic name, or that hideous tattoo of your baby daddy or baby momma's name.
- Still got questions? Seek the advice of a professional like the personal banker at your local credit union, a certified financial planner, a mentor, or maybe even a life coach like Kandice of Helping You Live the Good Life in Real Life.
Questions to Think About:
- How would you rate your hustle and personal finances on a scale of 1 to 10?
- Do you make use of resources and financial tools to get ahead? If so, what are those? If not, why?
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Honestly, I don’t like this particular term. It’s just too ghetto and I find it sickening that people have just rolled over and accepted being a baby momma or baby daddy; along with many other phrases, I’m not saying that I’ve never used terms like this prior, however, now that I am older and am learning better, I plan on doing better, for starters, erasing this from my vocabulary from this point on. My hope is that people will one day abandon this mindset as it is in no way shape or form uplifting especially in the African American community. What ever happened to giving a parent of your children a little more respect? Respect enough to at least say “mother or father of my child” or something along the lines of that? Or how about government names….? What ever happened to those??? It’s gotten so bad that some people even have the audacity to approach you and say things to the nature of “ hey aren’t you such and such baby momma?” (this actually happens to a friend of mine often) this is just absurd to me.
Since when has it been okay to be a Hot Ghetto Mess? Last time I checked, it was repulsive, looked down upon and laughed at. Remember how back in the days, music used to reflect something so totally different? Take rap groups like NWA ( Ice Cube, Eazy- Z, Dr Dre and others) used to talk about living and growing up in the ghetto, but their message wasn’t so glamorous and certainly wasn’t anything of a laughing matter. Now we have music glorifying things we really shouldn’t, such as a single mother or father depicted as a baby momma or baby daddy. I understand that sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying, but come on now. We have to draw the line somewhere. Seriously, who really wants to be referred to as a baby momma or baby daddy? Seriously???