17 January 2012

I Need the GOP to Stop Caring About Me

I could wax rhapsodic about the paternalism of White liberalism. In many ways the party that boasts a high percentage of Black support can often be a place where actual Black people are treated like creatures too childlike and ignorant to help themselves. But despite the right's best attempts, they are not shifting this paradigm and helping Blacks get off the "liberal plantation" but rather attempting to install themselves as the new overseers. So to the GOP I have one thing to say: stop caring about me. 

In the past two months, Newt Gingrich has used his (failing) campaign, to expound on what the poor (read: Black) community "needs". Apparently with Newt by our side, we will be able to be janitors, learn how to wake up and earn a paycheck, and stop demanding food stamps. Thank you Newt, for saying the hard statements and asking the hard questions. I, for one, welcome our new master and hope to bask in the light of his .... I'm sorry my eyes just rolled back so far in my head I lost sight of what I was trying to say. Oh, yeah, I'm going to need you to have a seat and stop trying to "save" me.

You know what's a really good way to court the so-called Black vote? Stop treating us as if we're ignorant. Stop treating us as if we've a monolithic community who doesn't know how to help ourselves. Stop using your stereotypes to create facts that are untrue (in fact if any community needs to stop asking for food stamps and demand paychecks it's the White community). And most of all, stop trying to justify your blatant racism (which you can watch in the video below).

Frankly, it's insulting. You don't see me running up into their houses forcing White folks to face their privilege. Or telling the Republicans or Christian right that  I know how to help their community stop being such vain and immoral dicks. Whatever your qualms with Obama may be he's never stood up and said he knows what's better for the American people or any individual community than they do themselves. Even at times when it might have been easier to just say, "I'm smarter than you and this will work out if you let it". So I say again to the GOP, if this is how you care, I'm going to need you to stop.

Sisterhood ... Everlasting.

*Yesterday I began and finished Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares. It's the follow-up to her best-selling series Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and fast-forwards to these girls (now women) at the age of 29 as they deal with where their lives have taken them as well as *spoiler* the death of one of their sisters. If you, like myself, grow attached to fictional characters let's just say I would not recommend reading this book in public. A bottle of red wine while reading in bed is highly recommended and you might want to grab a box of tissues too. Either way, I was inspired to write to (and about) my own sisterhood. I hope I can capture what they mean to me. 

I would say I came to the bonds of sisterhood late. I grew up a middle child. Not in the factual sense of the word. I was an only child for many years but I had one cousin who was older than me and one who was younger. They were my sisters for all intents and purposes. Quiana was the beautiful one, I was the smart one and Denise was the youngest who followed after the both of us. We didn't have a lot of other friends who were girls and I was often jealous of the friends they did have. In my head we were sisters. They were friends. It was not the same.

As we grew older, we grew apart. I went off to boarding school and suddenly I was surrounded by other girls. I had lots of friends, male and female. Then in our 11th grade year I discovered that I had more than friends. I'd found new sisters. That year was a roller-coaster of triumphs and tragedies and firsts and adventures. I found that my friends and I fit together like puzzle pieces. Even today, I mark myself by them. Not competitively but as a sign that things have really happened. Sheena, who came to every performance I had in high school, still cheers me on and I think moreso than myself she can enumerate all of my talents better than I can. Sometimes I wish she could do every job interview for me because I sound immensely better from Sheena's point of view than I do from my own. I'll never know if I'm on time unless Stephanie's late. Whenever we're together we fall into the same patterns. Steph is late and I sigh and complain but I never show up later than the time we agreed upon. One day she'll be there exactly when we said. Jadele is our moral compass, our spiritual leader. She creates from some deep place and reminds us that the rest of us were born to create as well. Nekia is the bitch and I mean that in every possible positive way I can think of. She keeps us in check. She tells us the truth. But she'd also give you her last and be by your side if you called her there. And I am the organizer, the gatherer. I drive everyone crazy with my plans. I live for romanticized grand plans and I make all of us sit in rooms together and badger everyone until they do what I want. These are my sisters. Forged through tears and laughs when we were just 16. I have the right to make us sit in rooms together. 

It's not to say that I haven't had other close friends. Other people that I consider part of my family. When I went to college I sought to replicate what I had at boarding school. And I found an amazing group of women who I love deeply. Luckily, and somewhat astonishingly, I've managed to move across the country from my sisters and find a great support system and people who have welcomed me into their lives. I guess more than anything I'm lucky that my sisters left me with two things: the ability to form a family wherever I go and a piece of themselves that I carry every day. Often, I find that I'm always a few minutes late. And I like to push and drive the creative spirit of those around me. I revel in all of my friend's accomplishments and life changing moments as if they were my own. I speak the truth even when it hurts. And my heart is always open. I'm always accepting more sisters. 

12 January 2012

The Bro-ing of America

I know this isn't a new trend by any stretch of the imagination. Terms like bromance have long since entered our lexicon but I ask you: does everything that guys like to do have to be "bro"-ed out?

Because of our strictly defined gender roles, whenever men get interested in something that isn't deemed "masculine" we have to give it special name. It started out innocently enough with words like "metrosexual" (cause G-d forbid a man like to get the dirt from under his nails WHERE IT BELONGS!). Then the idea that two men might like to hang out with each other became a very affront to our sensibilities and the term "bromance" was coined. (No homo, though). Now because men are out of work, they've taken to doing the shopping and this becomes a phenomenon requiring special "man aisles" at the store. And heterosexual men have started to get botox to stave off aging and it's called "bro-tox" (see video below). Check out Urban Dictionary's extensive list of bro terminology to see how pervasive it's become.

A lot of this comes out of a need to constantly reinforce manhood in an era where men are moving into stereotypically feminine arenas. If we call if "bro-tox" it's not for women (though it's the same exact procedure). If I'm a "manny" or a "murse" I can retain my masculinity and earn a paycheck, which I couldn't do if I was a just nurse or a nanny. And some of it is borne out of our news media. In order to make things "newsworthy" and eye-catching, we have to dissect issues upon genderized (or racialized, or sexualized) lines because that's simple. And hey if we can come up with an all-encompassing terms that suits our needs even better.

I, for one, am rejecting the "bro-ing" of America. It's played, it's reductive and it pushes us further into boxes. Let it go, bro.

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