Thursday, January 23, 2014

White People, Can We Talk? Really?

I was out with some friends recently when one of them jokingly called me a racist because I didn't appreciate the voyeuristic way some white folks approach predominately Black events and gatherings. My friends know that whenever I see specks of white in a sea of Black, my eyes slide into "side eye" formation, and my antenna rise into position. Why are you here? Are we performers in some sort of exotic show for your entertainment? Are we research subjects to observe so you can complete your dissertation? I laughed off her observation because of our friendship and because no reasonable person likes to think of themselves as racist. However, the way things have been going lately she may be one to something.

Yes, we've come a long way from "colored only" drinking fountains, fire houses and bus boycotts. However, that offers little solace when Black men, women and children are still being shot down in the streets for merely being Black and institutional barriers keep many of us from experiencing true equality. There are reasons why income and educational gaps exists, why the Black employment rate is always high, and why the school-to-prison pipeline disproportionally affects young people of color, and it ain't because we're all a bunch of shiftless Negroes. Racism and its negative effects are real. Trust me on this.

I was inspired to write this after reading an article by EBONY's Jamilah Lemieux, a writer who really needs to get out of my head:

"Look, White folks, can we just agree to disagree on the whole “treating Black people with respect” thing? Clearly, we aren’t going to see eye-to-eye. So… can y’all just leave us alone? Like, just look away when you see us doing anything and don’t put us in your movies, TV shows or living room sets. Just leave us be, leave us be, leave us be. Don’t celebrate Dr. King’s death on his birthday, don’t celebrate his birthday at all, just please go back to your corner and we’ll stay in ours. I don’t want integration anymore. I don’t even want those cheesecake swirl brownies from Starbucks. You just take that creamy stuff and let us keep the chocolate.

I’m tired of y’all making us feel bad, I’m tired of having to explain or defend my humanity and the humanity of those who look like me..."

I don't know if I would go as far as Lemieux, but sis, I understand. I mean, between blackface parties, black people furniture, cultural appropriation, gentrification, or labeling young black men as thugs just for the crime of being loud (and a jerk) after a football game, is there any wonder why some of us are just sick of this crap? And then some of y'all got the nerve to tell us that we're too sensitive and playing the "race card." Good lawd. At times it seems like we keep trying with y'all and IT. JUST. AIN'T. WORKING. This mess is exhausting, and a lot of us are just TIRED.

The fact that some whites remain racist and willfully ignorant in 2014 is disturbing, disheartening and sad, but not surprising. Even President Obama FINALLY acknowledged the obvious: Some people don't like him because he's Black. Shocking. Not really.  It honestly feels like for every one white person who gets it and is not racist, there are about 5,000 who are committed to hate based on skin color and just don't give a damn. Even better are the ones who feign ignorance when whatever horrible and racially offensive thing they've done is exposed and then top if off with a half-ass "apology." Yeah, Madonna, I'm looking at you.

This crap needs to stop and as tempting as is to throw in the towel, it's not a realistic solution. You aren't going anywhere, and neither are we.  I'm not going to get all kumbaya on you, but equal treatment and respect for your fellow HUMAN BEINGS isn't hard, and it isn't exhausting like racism. You know I'm tired, but aren't you tired too?

Glad we could have this talk.

Stay random,


Monday, January 13, 2014

Digital Detox: Restoring Balance to My Social Media System

The new year is here and as we all know, it's the perfect time to make changes. For me, one of the changes I intend to make involves jumping on the detox bandwagon. Now, my detox won't involve denying myself certain foods or liquor (like that would ever happen). I'm detoxing from social media.
The challenge is that this kind of detox is a funny thing for a person whose job and extracurricular activities involve social media. My job in communications for a health care association has a social media component, and for two years I've managed social media responsibilities for my church. Previously, I served as s social media consultant for a D.C. nonprofit. I am out in these social media streets, but I think I need to come in before the street lights come on. 

Why a detox? Obviously there's significant value in connecting via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Vine, etc., as a way to share, connect, build community and affect positive change. However, as with most things, there's a danger to indulging in too much of what should be a great thing.

To my horror, I've become one of those people. You know the ones I'm talking about: the people that check their multiple profiles multiple times a day. The people that check and post from their phone at dinner, in church, while hanging out with friends, you name it. The people who check their posts constantly to see which ones have been liked, how many times and by whom. Half of my 45-minute train ride to work involves scrolling through Instagram and Twitter.

I didn't mean to become a social media junkie. It just kind of happened....said every junkie ever. After all, I need to know what's going on in the world, and Twitter is great for that. I need to check my church's Facebook and Twitter profiles to see what folks are saying about the church and if what I crafted in HootSuite posted correctly. Looking at pics on Instagram is no big deal, right? I mean it will only take a few minutes to scroll through the pics and videos, and some of the posts are really inspirational! A friend or acquaintance is celebrating a birthday today, so I have to add a "Happy Birthday!" wall post. Not doing so would just be rude. This is the way people communicate now, so it's totally fine, right?

I don't know about you, but these seemingly innocent activities often lead me into visual social media quicksand. I've wasted more time on my smartphone and my laptop scrolling through all things scrollable than I care to admit. I missed a train stop once because I was engrossed in something that I saw on Twitter or Instagram that I now can't remember. I've missed TV shows or bits and pieces of shows that I really wanted to watch because I was too busy tweeting or clicking on hashtags about the show I'm supposed to be watching. And while I read articles I find on social media, I'm constantly haunted by the fact that I could have and should have read a book and instead of burying my face in my phone. Oh the shame of it all.  

It's now gotten to the point where my check-ins are borderline automatic. Consequently, I feel sucked in and bored by what I find because I see so much of the same thing. Oh, and did I mention the general information overload? Lawd! Then I feel bad about myself for wasting so much time looking at what other people are saying and doing instead of actually reading that book, learning to cook steak, cleaning out my closet, figuring out what the heck a "read option" is, SOMETHING!

Social media is supposed to be fun and engaging, but my overconsumption is having the opposite effect, and that my dear friends is why a detox is in order.

Now, don't get me wrong. Obviously, social media can be great. I've been introduced to brilliant minds and enlightening conversations. I've read some thought-provoking pieces that I otherwise wouldn't have known about had it not been for a tweet or a share on Facebook. I've also laughed at some of the most ratchet shenanigans thanks to Black Twitter.

Buttttttt, I'm tired of feeling bad. I'm tired of feeling unproductive and typical. I'm tired of missing out on what's real rather than the carefully curated images and ramblings of people people who can create new identifies and personalities simply to talk loud without saying anything of substance.  

Now when I say detox, I don't mean walking away from the Internet entirely. That's just not realistic for me. Most activities involve some sort of online engagement, and I have a job and a blog (shameless plug!). What is realistic for me is letting go of the need to be plugged in and in the know all the dang time via social media.

I'm going to detox for two weeks and during that time I'm going to focus on finding an online balance by asking the following questions:  How can I be productive on social media? How can I connect without missing what's right in front of me? What are realistic time limits for my social media engagement? How can I effectively use social media without turning a quick check-in into a complete time suck?

If you're like me, might I suggest a digital detox? Your eyes, friends and local bookstore will thank you.

Stay random,

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Football Fineness: Who Ya Got? Colin vs. Cam

Colin Kaepernick versus Cam Newton. Yes, I'm talking about football, but not in the way you might think. Warning: This post is just for fun and should be taken for what it is: An excuse to look at pictures of cute boys.

Now that we got that out of the way, let's take about the Fineness Bowl taking place today a.k.a the NFC Divisional game. In this corner, you got the douchey swaggering sexy that is Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers.

In this corner, you got the megawatt smile and dimples for days known as Cam Newton, a.k.a Superman, of the Carolina Panthers.

Lawd. Ladies, it's a simple question: Who ya got? Colin or Cam?

Stay random,


Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Men of Being Mary Jane: #TeamDavid, #TeamAndre or #TeamNeither?

UPDATE: So, I may have been wrong about David. Check it here

So obviously I watched Being Mary Jane, as did about 5 million other people. BET has a hit on its hands and fingers crossed and prayers up that they don't screw it up (like The Game). But that's not what this blog post is about. I already talked about that. What I'm more interested in are Mary Jane's men and what most of us would do in her shoes,  if we are really honest with ourselves. ***SPOILER ALERT***

In this corner, we have David, played by Stephen Bishop (told ya'll light skin was making a comeback). David is not a bad guy in that he doesn't treat Mary Jane poorly. When Mary Jane left  in the middle of the night to rescue her depressed friend who nearly OD'ed on some sort of drug, David stayed until she got back, asked about her friend and suggested the need for a psychiatrist. He could have just threw up deuces and rolled out, but he didn't. He also went into protector mode when he saw a strange car creep into MJ's driveway (#TeamAndre).

Buttttttttttt David is a manwhore. When we were first introduced to David last year in the movie pilot, his opening line was "Are you up for some casual sex?". He is emotionally unavailable and not here for intimacy or messy relationships. He's here for casual sex. Duh! Didn't you hear the man? He's also honest, brutally so. He makes his intentions clear and doesn't play games. If Mary Jane asks him one of those tricky romantic questions, he cuts to the chase and answers truthfully. There's casual sex to be had, so why waste time beating around the bush (pun not intended...but then again...). UPDATE: So David is now "seeing someone" and things are "moving really fast." Apparently, unlike a leopard, a manwhore can change its spots. It just takes age and the right woman, or a good woman at the right time. But I digress.

Andre on the other hand, played by Omari Hardwick (I should have put him on my list too. Dang it!), is your typical cheater. He lies to his wife and Mary Jane. He claims he loves MJ and next week it looks like he might be ready to leave his wife for her, but trailers can be deceiving. However, like all cheaters he's selfish. It's all about what he wants, when he wants it. Yeah, sometimes husbands leave their wives for the sidechick, and some of them even live happily ever after, but that only happens once every blue moon.

Sidepieces exist for a reason: Folks go out looking for something their spouse or significant other isn't providing (or so they say), and they find it in someone else. Instead of working on his marriage, Andre buries himself in vulnerable Mary Jane and doesn't bother to tell her the truth. But Andre has MJ's heart. Consequently, even after an excruciating and personal interrogation by the scorned wife of her married lover, Mary Jane succumbs to the oh so gentle removal of her shower cap and hair clip and gives up the goods to Andre in the gym shower. Yeah, all that happened.

Both of these guys are terrible for Mary Jane, who just wants to have it all: a loving and devoted husband, kids and a successful career. What's interesting are their levels of awfulness. My fascination with this dynamic led me to conduct an unscientific poll on Facebook and Instagram with this crazy question:

Hey Being Mary Jane watchers, who do you think is worse, David or Andre? David is emotionally available and not here for any kind of intimacy, but he's upfront and brutally honest. On the flip side, Andre claims he loves MJ, but he's married (!!). What say you? If you were a glutton for punishment and had to choose, would you pick the honest manwhore or the married guy who claims to love you? #TeamNeither is not an option :)

Folks tried with the "#TeamNeither" stuff, but that wasn't going to fly. When pressed, most folks said they would choose the honest manwhore over the cheater. That response makes sense, if you had to choose the lesser of two evils, but that's what makes Mary Jane and characters like Olivia Pope so relateable and frustrating: As women we shouldn't have to choose the lesser of two evils, but many of us, myself included, do it anyway and get involved all the time with men who aren't good for us, aren't available and aren't who God wants for us.   

So, I take it back, #TeamNeither IS an option because we all deserve better. The challenge is actually believing it and not settling for anything less than what we deserve.

Stay random,