america, mental

Tired of All the Bad News? Try This . . .

I recently penned a light-hearted article for Jet magazine in response to all the ridiculous news in the world. Below is the article in its entirety as well as the link: Tired of All the Bad News? Try This . . . 

The world is crazy.

White high school football players in Idaho accused of raping their disabled Black teammate. The monster babysitter who assaulted a baby, but can’t be charged because the baby can’t testify. Gentrification across the country making it financially impossible for young professionals of color to afford their childhood neighborhoods. Bill Cosby. Donald Trump.

There are days when the news can make you forget that Jesus commands us to love everyone. Don’t look for the loophole, either. We’re supposed to even love those who make us want to yank out our roots. Not easy to do when some days you run empty on patience and can no longer deal with people and their foolishness.

How do you know when you’ve reached that point? For me, it’s the rapid, back-to-back side-eye, eye roll, and teeth-suck. As these signs appear, I know it’s time to crawl back into my shell and escape the world.

Most of you are probably familiar with the side-eye and eye roll. For those who are unfamiliar with the teeth-suck, pull up a seat, and let me tell you its origin.

Way back when some of our ancestors were enslaved and couldn’t risk talking back to master for fear of, you know, death. Folks had to find alternate ways of expressing their annoyance, disapproval or disdain.

Enter Edwina Thomas.

Edwina was a midnight-black negress who came into the world howling, and struggled the rest of her life to keep quiet when displeased. Something she had to change after one too many whippings from the overseer of the sugar cane plantation where she performed backbreaking work.

On an especially debilitating day of clearing land for planting, Edwina found her aggravation level rising to match the scorching West Indies sun. Instead of her usual tirade of “this is some messed up bull,” she sucked air through her teeth through pursed lips while moving her tongue. Hearing the sound that sang her annoyance gave birth to what eventually became the Teeth-Sucking Revolution.

Will you find this story in the history books? Probably not. But the next time you’re fed up and disgusted with the state of the world, summon your inner Edwina for a good ol’ fashion teeth-suck. It won’t solve much, but it’s better than throwing your phone across the room in frustration. Because if you do that, you’ll be frustrated and out of the $120 it’ll take to fix it.

 

 

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Criticism, Empowerment, Family, Family Values, Women

Cater 2 U

Cater 2 U

You’re likely familiar with the lyrics above and recognize them as the 2004 hit “Cater 2 U” by Destiny’s Child. Although a commercial success, the song was not without criticism for its message of female servitude. Its message was described as everything from “seriously sexist” to “cringe inducing.” While there are those who ranted about the song derailing female empowerment; as with any controversial topic, it also had its supporters. In its defense, author Emma Gannon wrote, “It’s OK to want to be attractive to men AND be considered a feminist.”

Fast forward to 2016 where we revisit this debate anew. This time in the form of an article written by newlywed blogger Amanda Lauren, entitled “Staying Hot For My Husband Is ESSENTIAL To A Successful Marriage.” Amanda, who coincidentally can pass for a “Becky with the good hair,” states, “When my husband gets home from work, I love to make him his favorite cocktail.” She goes on to add, “One of the most important things I do to make him happy is to be the woman of both his fantasies and reality. If my husband wasn’t turned on by me, we couldn’t have essential intimacy.” Yes. ‘Essential intimacy’ is the equivalent of “Drunk in Love.”

Amanda acknowledges that she and her husband are probably not the poster children for millennial marriages, and she’s right, according to a Pew research on millennials’ attitudes about marriage. When asked about what kind of marriage leads to the more satisfying way of life, the Pew found that 72% of Millennials chose the model in which the husband and wife both work and both care for the household and children. It’s unlikely that those who favor this egalitarian model of marriage would support Amanda’s views.

Not surprisingly, Internet bullies crawled out of their holes to tar and feather her with comments that are incredibly too vulgar and cruel to bear repeating. Some of these remarks would have you believe that her article was about the benefits of sacrificing babies, instead of the innocuous thoughts of a woman about failure-proofing HER marriage. Thankfully, there are those who remained civil even in their disagreement. Many of them commented that she was too early in her marriage to understand that this is a simplistic outlook of matrimony.

A famous millennial who might empathize with and support Amanda’s more traditional view of marriage is Ayesha Curry. Ayesha, the wife of NBA superstar Steph Curry, makes no apologies for being her husband’s most vocal supporter, or for her focus on their marriage and their children. In the tweet to launch the greatest feud since the East Coast-West Coast rap rivalry of the 90s, Ayesha commented that she keeps her “good stuff” covered for her husband.

AC Tweet

In response, some – a lot – of men on Twitter raised her to the status of black Madonna (Michelangelo’s) and used her as an excuse to crucify women they deemed “hoes” who weren’t “marriage material.” Many women, on the other hand, took offense at being measured by the Ayesha litmus test. Do you cook? No. Are you your man’s loudest cheerleader? Most times, but I’ll let that dummy know when he messes up. Are you willing to be a lady in the street but a freak in the bed? I can dress however I choose to in public and still be considered a lady. A woman with those answers would fail to be an “Ayesha material wife,” which is wholly unfair.

Whether a feminist or a womanist, the backbone of these movements is the ability for women to define themselves how they choose. Women like Amanda and Ayesha can choose to cater to their husbands in a way that others might not, and that’s their prerogative. Just as it’s the right of others to approach their vows differently.

We can make the case that keeping one’s self “tight” does not guarantee a spouse will remain faithful (paging Halle Berry, and, allegedly, Queen Bey). But with the divorce rate in America projected at 40-50 percent for couples entering their first marriage, what does it hurt for Amanda to do what she thinks is right to help ward against that? I don’t know. It’s not my place to make that call. Her marriage. Her approach.

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america, American, American Dream, Blue collar, Body Image, Confidence, Criticism, Education, Empowerment, Gender Inequality, Goals, Higher education, inferior, insecurities, role model, Self confidence, Success, Women, writing

How Dare You Come For Michelle Obama?

I recently penned an article for Jet magazine (that was picked up by EBONY magazine) in response to an offensive cartoon of FLOTUS Michelle Obama. Below is the article in its entirety as well as the links: How Dare You Come For Michelle Obama? by M. Michelle Derosier for Jet magazine and How Dare You Come for First Lady Michelle Obama! by M. Michelle Derosier for EBONY magazine.

michelle obama-610x250

Full disclosure in the spirit of transparency: I STAN as hard for Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama as the Beyhive works to keep Queen Bey (aka Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter) in honey.

As a nose-in-the-book Black girl who grew up in Flatbush when Brooklyn was still too hood for gentrification, I am here, present, and on time for her rise from the South Side of Chicago to become an Ivy League lawyer, and now First Lady of the United States. As a tall girl whose height was a source of constant ridicule, I am also here, present, and on time for the regal and dignified way she carries her 5’11 frame.

While I fully admit that she’s BBF M’Obama in my head, you don’t have to be a fan – or even like her – to find Ben Garrison’s cartoon, comparing a “masculine” Mrs. Obama to Melania Trump in incredibly poor taste and disrespectful.

offensive flotus cartoon

Other than a pathetic attempt to gain publicity, what’s the motivation behind it? What message is it trying to send?

Are we supposed to be disheartened that yet another Black woman is found lacking when measured against white beauty standards? Been there. Done that. And you don’t have that power over us anymore. We’ve been growing the list of Black beauties and #CarefreeBlackGirls who reflect who we really are. In addition to the Michelles and the Oprahs, we’re adding the Violas, the Lupitas, the Tracees, and the Yaras, too.

Is this yet another reminder that to be Black means to achieve twice as much and receive half the credit? Don’t worry. That lesson is branded in our DNA. There’s no forgetting it.

As FLOTUS, Mrs. Obama has spearheaded four successful nationwide and global initiatives: a campaign to address childhood obesity; a call to ensure that service members, veterans, and their families are properly supported; an effort to inspire young people to dream beyond high school; and a movement to educate and empower young women.

Additionally, as a fashion icon, Mrs. Obama has done what Kim Kardashian only wishes she could – directly impact the stock price of the commercial fashion industry. According to David Yermack, a professor of finance at NYU’s Stern School of Business, “For just a generic company at a routine event, it was worth about $38 million to have Mrs. Obama wear your clothes.”

Someone please call POTUS to drop the doggone mic.

obama.mic_.drop_1.gif

Sadly, in the face of all this Black Girl Magic, we still find an America who would prefer as FLOTUS a woman who posed naked on a white fur rug inside a private jet for British GQ, instead of an Ivy League trained lawyer.

Am I surprised? Not at all.

Honestly, I’m not even mad at Melania. It would be too easy to go down the road of mud flinging and pitting the two women against each other, but that doesn’t get to the heart of the issue. Our problem runs so much deeper, and so far beyond America.

Black female beauty in this world has often been ridiculed, oversexualized, or both. This fact comes into particular focus when I think of Sarah Baartman, an African woman who was tricked into leaving the continent to move to Europe, only to be paraded around “freak shows” to exhibit her ample bottom. Like Mrs. Obama, White cartoonists also ridiculed her figure in the name of satire.

Ironically, according to the 2015 report from the American society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), on average, a butt related procedure (implant or lift) was performed every 30 minute in 2015. And I’m sure we can guess who’s shelling out for that.

Instead of getting angry at this cartoon, I choose to celebrate the woman that’s being ridiculed. The woman who has spent eight years in the White House tirelessly serving and advocating for many of the same citizens who hold her in such contempt.

Like Beyoncé, Michelle Obama chooses to rise above her haters. She wins.

 

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Bible, Christian, disciples, faith, Family Values, Fellowships, jesus, jesus christ, Marriage, prayer, role model, salvation, value, Women, writing

These Pastors Ain’t Loyal?

I recently penned an article for Jet magazine in response to the Rev. Jamal Bryant who once again finds himself embroiled in marital scandal. Below is the article in its entirety as well as the link: These Pastors Ain’t Loyal? by M. Michelle Derosier for Jet magazine.

pastor Jamal Bryant-610x250.png

I have an inherent distrust of televangelists and pastors of mega churches.

And it’s not just because they’re stereotyped as snake charmers drawing in millions of followers with the false promise of health and wealth while seducing them out of their life savings. What I find most disconcerting is that oftentimes–and not every time, and not all of them–they’re peddling a gospel that is contradictory to the revealed Word of God. Contradictions that can be so subtle it’s hard to tell the difference until or unless you do as 1 John 4:1 says, “…Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Understanding that I have a tendency to see televangelists as false prophets, I prayed for the ability to step back and approach the story about pastor Jamal Bryant, who faces allegations of fathering a 10-month-old son out-of-wedlock, with unbiased eyes. The Rev. Bryant, leader of Baltimore’s Empowerment Temple Church, hasn’t confirmed or denied the allegations, or the paternity test presented by alleged baby-mother Latoya Shawntee Odom suggesting that he is 99.9999 percent the father of her child.

While going down a rabbit hole of research about his ministry, I struggled to find a man who genuinely repented when he “fell short of the glory of God” the first time around: eight years ago when he had an extramarital affair that caused his divorce and brought to light the discrepancy between preaching and living.

Instead, I found a man whose woe-is-me attitude is as evident today as it was when he described, in this Roland Martin interview, his 29-year-old self who had the first affair: “I was quickly becoming a household name. So, nothing in my mind ever said, number one, I would ever get caught; number two, that my wife would ever leave; number three, that my church would tank out.”

After listening to clips of him speak and of his sermons–one of which quotes the lyric “These h-es ain’t loyal,” from the great Old Testament R&B singer Chris “Eat the Cake, Rihanna” Brown–I am saddened that everything screams “my ministry.” Where I was looking for God as the focus, all I saw was Him as a prop to shine the light on Bryant and his destiny. Although Bryant claimed years ago to have “grown a lot”, all I can see is the same sin and same arrogance. Nothing learned.

While he might not have learned anything, I pray his congregation will. As I’ve often asked God, please deliver me from ever setting You aside to follow a religion or a preacher.

 

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Christian, emotional, faith, Family, Friends, Friendship, Love, prayer

Love is not resentful…

This summer my pastor did a sermon series entitled The Many Shades of Love that covered the following topics: Loving Our God, Loving Our Neighbor, Loving Our Brothers, Loving Our Family, Loving Our Rebels, Loving Our Failures, Loving Our Addicts, and Loving Our Enemies. Although each topic centered on its own books, chapters and verses, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 connected them all.

This morning in my time with the Lord I read 1 Corinthians 13 and kept returning to verse 5, “. . . it [love]is not resentful.” Unsure why that particular passage was resonating with me today even though I’ve read it numerous times, I continued with my devotionals that included Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost For His Highest.

When I came upon this section, “never disregard a conviction that the Holy Spirit brings to you. If it is important enough for the Spirit of God to bring it to your mind, it is the very thing He is detecting in you,” it became clear why the bible passage stuck with me. I was being convicted by the Holy Spirit.

Unsure of the nature of the conviction, I went into prayer asking God to search me and bring to my understanding what needed repentance and change. I don’t know if you’ve ever asked THE holy and righteous God to reveal a sin in you, but it’s frightening. What was He going to find?

Turns out that what He found in me wasn’t exactly new. He’d brought it to my attention before but I guess I hadn’t resolved it to His liking, so He brought it again. What was I resentful about? I resented having been a supportive friend to two people who turned around and deserted me at a time when I needed them most.

In 2013 I had a very invasive surgery with complications that left me in the ICU for almost a week. The people I considered my closest friends were not there to support me or my husband as we went through this emotionally draining time. As D and my mom waited hours for me to get out of surgery, other friends that I had known for a lot less time and those who lived thousands of miles away were constantly checking in and supporting him via text. The two who should have been there, weren’t. Although local, they never came to see me in the hospital or at home while I was recovering. Years of friendship and they barely made an effort. Treated me with about as much warmth and care as you’d show a passing stranger.

For two years I’ve been holding on to that resentment and distanced myself from them as a result. Though I tried to move past it, my heart was hardened. Which is why when one of them went through some troubling times not too long ago I did not reach out and was not there to support. I’m ashamed to admit it.

When you leave things incomplete, God will keep bringing them up to you until you resolve them. I’d sought forgiveness from God, but never from the ones who hurt me. If you don’t know God, you’d think it insane to ask forgiveness of those who offend you, but that’s just what we’re asked to do. I needed to ask forgiveness for holding a grudge and not letting go. It’s not unsurprising that the Holy Spirit convicted me of it again.

Without Christ in me I do not have the love that is patient and kind, that does not envy or boast, that is not arrogant or rude. The one that does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful, does not rejoice at wrongdoings, but rejoices with the truth. The love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.

With Christ in me I do. And it is Christ that I need to help me let go of that resentment. To let me forgive once and for all and to make peace with what happened. By myself I can’t do it. As believers, we know that at times the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

But that’s no excuse to stay complacent and not aim to grow spiritually. The God that elected and saved me did so that I should no longer live, but that He should live in me. The God who lives in me is the LOVE of the bible. With Him I will live His Love and be able to show it to those who have hurt me.

I pray that if you’re like me and struggling to live God’s love, you’ll seek Him for the strength to do so.

Love

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Education, Higher education, Read, Reader, Romance novels, Shy, Write, Writer, writing

Make it rain…books…lots and lots of books…

Psst…come closer and I’ll tell you a secret. *waiting…waiting…* Okay, come on, stop taking so long to get here. Oh, you’re here. Sorry. As I was saying, I’ve got a secret. Here goes – I puffy heart L-O-V-E reading. I mean really ❤ it. I have since I was a child.

little kids reading

To know me is to know that I’m a happy introvert who loves to tuck away in a corner and read.

tuck away reading

In honor of International Literacy Day, which gives children and communities a chance to rediscover the joys of reading while raising awareness for those without access to education, here’s a collection of my favorite reading memes.

life easier reading

sleepread

book memes

And a tiny collection of my favorite books.

The MOST important book I will ever read. It goes so far beyond ink on paper (or words on a screen, I read it on my phone). It guides my life.

Bible Live

The book that gave me the courage to admit that I wanted to be a writer.

anne frank

Ironically, the book that encouraged me to see something special in my dark skin and what I thought of as my plain brown eyes.

The bluest eyes

The books that shaped my career’s passion to bring opportunity where there is none.

Kozol

I have so many more. They can be seen on my Author and Fan and I Heart Reading Pinterest boards.

collage 1

Collage 3

How can I not crush on Kane and Jared?

How can I not crush on Kane and Jared?

Collage 4

Collage 5

your fave tm

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#TBT, Bible, Blogging, Brooklyn, Career, Christian, Dating, emotional, faith, Family, Fear, Flatbush, Give Back, Growing Up, jesus, jesus christ, Love, Marriage, NYC, prayer, Wedding

You can’t always get what you want. And that’s not a bad thing.

Life is quite funny.

By God’s grace, D recently found a new career opportunity in NY. What this means is that after six years of what was supposed to be a year of living in New Jersey, I’m heading back to Brooklyn and taking this Jersey Boy with me. His friends think I’m elated. I’m happy, but it is bittersweet.

When I first moved here I was sad and upset at having to leave NYC, but took comfort in the fact that it would be for only a year. 365 days. When it became clear that year would extend to four, I was bitter and disappointed. Thankfully, two years into living here, I was led to my current church – a blessing God knew I needed but wouldn’t have gotten if He hadn’t moved me to the other side of the Hudson. I had been away from God for a long time before that and was slowly (think tortoise steps) finding my way back. God placed me where I could get the support of an uncompromising bible-teaching-believing-practicing pastor and fellow believers to grow in my walk with Him. Fellow believers who helped me move past the guilt of turning my back on God and accept the forgiveness He offered after I came back in broken repentance.

I am happy for this new challenge ahead of us and the opportunity to change, shape and make a real difference in the neighborhoods of my childhood, but I am sad as well. In addition to my church family, my in-laws have made Jersey a home for me. Where there was no true emotional connection to the state when I first arrived, I must say that it now holds a special place in my heart that is uniquely its own. One that even New York can’t ever touch. How can it? This is where D and I started our married life. Jersey is forever tied to those memories.

Some may not believe me, but I am very grateful for the way life turned out. I am thankful that God overruled my wants and led me to follow His will.

Would love to hear stories of how your life took a path contrary to what you wanted but that turned out to be exactly what you needed.

Proverbs 19 21

#TBT from 2011

Same old story, different couple. 20-something Brooklyn Girl enjoys the highlights and pitfalls of everyday single life without care or thought to settling down. Brooklyn Girl meets New Jersey Boy online and thinks New Jersey Boy is funny. She’ll go out with him. Time goes by and BK Girl realizes that Jersey Boy is awesome. She’ll keep going out with him. More time passes and both BK Girl and Jersey Boy realize they want to keep hanging out with each other.

Jersey Boy proposes to BK Girl after a series of comical errors. BK Girl screams “Holy Crap, We’re Engaged!” before saying yes to nervous Jersey Boy on bended knee awaiting an answer.

BK Girl makes it clear to Jersey Boy – “THERE’S NO WAY I’M MOVING TO NEW JERSEY!” Jersey Boy agrees, but secretly wonders if maybe BK Girl doesn’t understand the meaning of compromise.

Jersey Boy starts the search for NY job. And he searches…and searches…and searches. Jersey Boy realizes NY job market is a bust. Makes more sense to keep current NJ job.

Jersey Boy agonizes over how to tell BK Girl that the stress of the reverse commute would eventually cause him to drive his car off the Brooklyn Bridge. BK Girl and Jersey Boy separately contemplate living apart while married – both agree that’s probably not the best idea. Jersey Boy nervously brings up subject of moving to Jersey to BK Girl.

Seeing the writing on the wall, BK Girl makes Mandelaesque sacrifice and leaves the bright lights of NY for the humdrum life of Jersey — at least temporarily.

What was supposed to be a one year stay has now turned into three with one more to go before Jersey Boy can be settled in his field.

With humor, BK Girl tries to embrace her current refugee status while dreaming of the day she can return to her homeland.

Join her on this cross-state journey as she embraces her life in Jersey while still maintaining her New York roots.

bklynjersey

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