Sunday, January 23, 2011

Young, Beautiful, Woman, and Black: Distinct or Extinct?

To all my lovely Sisters: In celebration of Black History Month, I thought I would deliver my own state of the union address. Having the privilege of positively impacting the lives of young girls on a daily basis and hearing their dreams, fears, insecurities, and realities and seeing firsthand how they are shaped by what they hear, see, and experience I'd like to challenge your thinking and hopefully inspire some civil discourse on the matter of being Young, Beautiful, Woman, and Black.

Young. Yes, you're female and fly. You may be in your carefree teens, your twinkling twenties, your thinking thirties or in your fabulous forties and fifties- but what are you doing with your youthful energy? What example are you leaving the "little women" coming behind you, modeling you, imitating you? Are you leaving a legacy of "all men are trash?'', "love 'em and leave 'em?", "love 'em while they cheat?", "love 'em and accept their repeat criminal offenses?" Are our young ladies learning from you that it is okay for a man to cheat on them, abuse them, neglect them, send them to jail to cover for their crimes, to be his second best thing?

Beautiful. You can't buy it, bottle it, Botox it, nip it, tuck it,  or inject it. True beauty is internal. It is more than soul deep. It is spirit and eternal. This is why advertising, cosmetics, or enhancements cannot define your beauty.Our eyes believe us into thinking that what we see is all we are. Billions of dollars are spent because of this perception. What you see is NOT all you are. We must get back to our true image of beauty. Beauty is inner character demonstrated. It is your inner appearance. It is discovered by being you and you alone, not a poor imitation or a clone of someone else. We must make a decision to strip away the conditions of beauty off of our mothers, and sisters, our aunts and daughters. Then true beauty can emerge. There is a rampant disease prevalent in our discourse. It's called "If Only" :

                           "If only you were lighter..."
                           "If only you were darker..."
                           "If only you were smarter..."
                           "If only you were prettier..."
                           "If only you were talented..."
                           "If only you were skinnier..."
                           "If only you had good hair..."
                           "If only you were more like..."
And the list really could go on and on. When we stop pressuring our daughters to be "If Only", they will stop looking to the media and music messages to define them and clarify their worth. They can emerge as themselves and find that they are matchless, incomparable, and eternal by virtue of the fact that there is no other human being created with their same capabilities and characteristics, though some would try to make this null and void through scientific means.

Woman. As one man recently disclosed, "As long as women continue to fight over men, baby-making, status, and style, it will be hard for them to rule the world."

What does being a woman mean to you? Video vixen? Sideline? Bus' It Baby? Sex slave? Trinket? Trophy? Doormat? If its not any of these things then why are we supporting images (entertaining them or financing them) that perpetuate ignorance and abuse? Why are you allowing your sons and daughters to be indoctrinated with these images and sounds of objectification, misogyny, and disdain for anything good? No, everything out on the market is NOT presenting this picture, but TOO MUCH is and TOO MANY are. It is understood that if you want to control a nation, you must first control its children, the future generations. This is why some adult programming,and  adult substances is geared to the 11-13 year old. It is to ensure the future of the product by hooking the consumer at a YOUNG age. Why are those in their twenties refusing to leave home? Is it because the job market is bad or is it because their mind never developed beyond puberty, beyond the desensitizing, mind numbing social outlets available?

Black.Mocha. Chocolate. Toffee. Caramel. Tan. Pecan. Walnut. Noir. Negro. Vanilla. Mahogany. Whatever shade you are, ROCK it. Whatever your lineage, EMBRACE it. ALL OF IT. I know I may be a little unorthodox with this but, EMBRACE the totality of your heritage. The good. The bad. The painful. The positive. The notable. The notorious. How your family came to be, the preceding generations are just as important as the current one. CD players are just as important to the development of i pods and MP3 players, even though most kids would scoff at getting one for Christmas. The Slave trade. The Indian Wars. The Class Wars. The Civil War. Yankees. Confederates. Abolitionists. Plantation Owners. Sharecropping. Jim Crow. Bus Boycotts. Civil Rights. Voting Rights. From Ghana to Georgia, don't discount the who, what, why, and how of your family. Those things have shaped your generations, forging you into the person you are. History and legacy should be investigated, dissected, and hopefully educate you on what not to do in the future as well as what TO DO and what to hold on to for the success of your future generations.

What are you doing with YOUR Black History? I had an opportunity to watch a movie put together by one of my uncles. In it was footage of my great grandmother who I had never met in person but passed away. I had never heard her voice. When I saw that video, I cried like a baby. I cried tears of joy, and regret. Joy, because I had finally gotten to hear her voice and it has been recorded for posterity, but also regret, because 101 years of wisdom went to the grave. Her home is now being turned into a museum that I will be visiting in the near future. So, I urge you, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, DON'T WAIT. Record your family history by whatever means you can for future posterity. 

SO...What's holding you back?
Are you afraid to pull out the family skeletons? You should be more afraid of keeping them in the closet. Don't be guilty of withholding what could save the life of a family member (secrets, abuse, health issues), your wisdom, your talents, your memories, your values and principles that have guided you are so desperately needed in a culture that encourages "do what thou wilt" without any regard for reason, sanity, or morality. Share your burdens, failures, and successes. Don't let this generation go forward without having a full understanding as much as you can provide of your family history. When you die, don't take the keys to your legacy with you. Responsibly teach and train those under you so that you don't have to wonder if you are leaving the keys in competent hands. All across America, a National talk is going on and I admire people like Tavis Smiley who are at least trying to engage in discourse on issues that matter to us as a Nation. But I propose to you that before a National Talk can be effective, a Family Talk must first occur. We must begin again at the family dinner table (Archaic thought!), at the bus stop, where you ensure your child is getting on the bus, not skipping, at the subway station, in the car on the way to school, on the way to football, dance, and violin practice. We must as a people STOP letting technology and the media raise our children, especially when they feel no obligation to be responsible for their "artistic license" at the detriment of our future generations. Technology will do us no lasting good unless we have something of value to input into it. 

Young. Beautiful. Woman. Black. - Are we on the verge of Distinction and recognition for our forward progress, or are we simply a "dying breed", on the verge of Extinction. Did we let go of Virtue for Diva Hood? Why have we as a collective GIVEN LIFE to the "B" word, attempting to popularize it and "jazz it up" instead of a FUNERAL? Why not a "B" Boycott? Why not a Trick boycott? Only you can decide, but decide you must. You may say, "they aren't talking about me, " but "they" are. These images and soundbites are not only speaking to you, but your daughters, your sons, and your children's children. MY hope is that you are angry enough to SAY & DO SOMETHING within your LOCAL community and sphere of influence.

To every woman, black or not reading, may you awake to your beauty, your womanhood, your legacy, and TAKE BACK what has been stolen.

Talk Back To Me!