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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.

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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.

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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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If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you!

Learning to code is certainly challenging, but well worth the effort and time. I kicked-off 2015 not with a resolution, but with the goal of undertaking a project that would shove me out of my safe and comfortable bubble. And shove me HTML, CSS and JavaScript have done. And they’re just the basics. Let’s not forget that I still have the programming languages to learn. Hello PHP! Nice to meet you, Python! Oh, Ruby, you sparkling beast! Oy. Well, one task at a time.

So, what challenge will change you this year? What challenges have changed you in the past?

My Last Top 3 Growth-Encouraging Challenges

  1. Completing my very first novel. IT. WAS. HARD. REALLY. REALLY. HARD. But for the first time since I started keeping a diary at the age of nine, I had the confidence to call myself a writer.
  2. Sharing my writing. When I clicked submit and officially entered the 2013 So You Think You Can Write contest, my heart dropped to my stomach. There was no turning back at that point. I had opened the door for others to see my heart. I needed that experience to give me the courage to work towards becoming a published author. Something that hasn’t happened yet, but I refuse to give up on.
  3. Running my first (and only so far) half marathon. I was injured, cold, and felt like a truck had run me down. I remember praying with every painful step that the Lord would strengthen me to continue. He did. That experience was yet another confirmation of Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Happy New Year! I’m glad to be back.

P.S. I apologize in advance for the errors you might encounter in future posts as I practice HTML and CSS behind the scenes. 🙂 I’ll keep working with Skillcrush to improve my skills. I’ll be an expert yet.

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Say yes, and you’ll figure it out afterward.

It’s Monday, yay! No, I’m not crazy to be happy about Monday. Just very glad I can almost breathe properly again.

Sooooo…. this evening I discovered this gem of a show on TLC called 90 Day Fiance. The show profiles several couples where one person travels to the U.S. to live with their overseas partner for the first time. The couples must marry before the visa expires in 90 days, or the visiting partner will have to return home.

Initially this post was going to discuss my suspicions about three of the six couples. I’m convinced the international partners are scamming the American ones. But I changed my mind and shifted the focus after watching the few couples that seemed as if they truly loved one another.

To leave your family and your friends, quit your work, and move away from the only home you’ve ever known, just to take a chance on a relationship that may or may not succeed, is a decision that requires courage. You’re coming to a country where you’re not familiar with the culture, you may not speak the language (as is the case for one of the partners), you will be unemployed for an indefinite amount of time, and your sole support system is someone that you’re still learning about and adjusting to. Someone you’re still working on building a permanent relationship with. That’s nerve-racking. But at least they’ve taken a chance. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. They can move on knowing they tried.

Watching this show I couldn’t help but think about the times I didn’t take a leap of faith. What would have happened if I’d done so? If I hadn’t allowed fear to keep me from applying to Emerson, would I already be established as a writer? If I had taken the job in South Korea upon graduating college, what direction would my life had taken then? What if I had accepted the opportunity to join AmeriCorps and moved to Maine? I make a conscious effort not to dwell on what-ifs because I don’t believe in coincidences, but what would my life had been like if I had taken any of these opportunities?

As I move closer to my self-imposed deadline to figure out my next career move, I’m praying that I won’t continue to shrink away from opportunities because I’m second guessing my ability to succeed.

I could stand to follow Tina Fey’s thought process when it comes to the next open door around the corner: “Say yes, and you’ll figure it out afterward” has helped me to be more adventurous. It has definitely helped me be less afraid.

What about you? Take the poll and then share your story in the comments section.

SAYYES

NaBloPoMo_November

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Teenage Memory

This #TBT post is from a 2011 post about a memory from my teen years.

misfit

***

I was a gangly *no curves to save my life* and dark-skin teen who always had her head buried in a book. Not exactly the Kim Kardashian beauty of teenage boys’ lustful dreams. Their rejection hurt, but what really cut deep was being rejected by boys who should have liked me – black boys. But they didn’t. There was nothing special about me in their eyes. I wasn’t fair, I did not have light eyes and my hair wasn’t especially long. I was JUST black. Nothing exotic in my genes. Greater than the sin of being homely and black, I had no butt to speak of. No junk in my trunk. No “onion” booty: described by Urban Dictionary as a “booty that looks so good, it makes grown man want to cry.”

Those awkward teenage years were exacerbated by the bully who made it his business to torture me. My bully was an overweight and and pitch-dark boy who girls found unattractive and tended to overlook. As author Richard Sennet points out in Respect in a World of Inequality, the condition of “not being seen” had produced in him “a desire to avenge.” And I was the target of his vengeance because he saw in me his most hated feature. Every day he was forced to confront the thing about himself that caused him the most grief – his skin color.

As a teen I didn’t have the foresight to understand that his problem was not with me. I was simply an easy target. His anger was rooted much deeper. His real issue stemmed from generations of black self-hate that was encouraged during times of slavery when the darker slaves were relegated to picking cotton and working in the fields while the lighter ones (those who more closely resembled their European masters – usually as a result of interracial rape) were able to remain in the house as servants and had the opportunity to be educated. Why we play the game of who carried the heaviest burden is beyond me. Slavery is slavery is slavery. But that’s another topic for another day.

Anyway, I internalized his treatment of me and spent years chasing the standard of beauty that I was sure he and others would value. I used skin bleaching creams religiously, seared my hair straight with hot combs and relaxers, and prayed fervently for the type of butt that black boys would appreciate. Imagine being God and listening to those heartfelt prayers.

It wasn’t until years later (hello Black Studies classes in college!) that I had the strength to confront my demons and work through the self-hate. While I was fortunate enough to have that opportunity, I’ve often wondered whether my bully had the same chance. I hope so, but who knows. You can’t combat issues you never acknowledge. As they say in AA (or so TV tells me), the first step is admitting you have a problem.

***

What’s a memory from your teenage years?

NaBloPoMo_November

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Randy Jackson Syndrome

With his announcement that he’s leaving American Idol after 13 seasons, I can no longer claim Randy Jackson Syndrome as the reason I’m still staying put in my field after 8 years.

Randy Jackson was part of the original regime that included Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest. Randy watched Simon and Paula leave to pursue bigger and better dreams, and while those pursuits didn’t pan out very well for Paula, at least she tried. Randy, on the other hand, stayed put and became less relevant with each new, better-paid and highly celebrated judge wooed to the table. He became the tattered, old pair of jeans whose season had long passed, but you couldn’t bring yourself to throw out for sentimental reasons.

He was the loyal “dawg” of AI. Smiling and giving his opinion even when no one placed value on what he had to say – or on his successful history as a musician, entrepreneur and producer. Looking in from the outside (as I was doing), Randy was the childhood best friend you didn’t have the heart to break ties with, and the one who wasn’t strong enough to end the friendship. A friendship you both recognized had run its course.

I’ve been suffering from Randy Jackson Syndrome for years: overstaying my welcome in my current career field when I should have taken a leap of faith long ago and try something new. Like Randy, I haven’t been able to move on. Is it fear? Partly. Greatly. Whether the fear is of failure, or of success, I can’t say for sure. Whatever it is, I need to find out – or better yet just make a move. I mean, even Randy finally realized when it was time to go and actually left. When will I do so as well?

How about you? Have you ever suffered from Randy Jackson Syndrome?

leap of faith

leap of faith

 

NaBloPoMo_November

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I Know This Much Is True…

God willing, I will turn 33 next month, so I thought it would be fun to capture random things I’ve learned to be true over the years. A few are in order of importance, most are not. I’ll do a couple more of these posts over the next few weeks leading to my birthday.

1.God exists independent of human acceptance. Whether one believes or doesn’t believe has on bearing on God’s existence. He is real. It’s a fact that can’t and won’t be changed. As written in Philippians 2:10-11, there will be a time when “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

2. Don’t give a compliment that you don’t mean. Lying to spare someone’s feelings will hurt in the long run when that person finds out the truth – and s/he will.

3. The other side of that coin, don’t use “I’m just keeping it real” as an excuse to be a jerk. Yes, speak the truth, but “speak the truth in love”. (Ephesians 4:15)

4. ‘Frenemy’ is dumb. Enemy doesn’t belong in the same word as friend. As my girl Tanaya of Sweet Therapy would say, pick a struggle! Either the person is a friend, or she’s not.

5. I don’t trust “I miss you” posted on social media from people who make no effort to stay in touch. Empty words mean nothing.

6. On the topic of friends, I know I’ve been a jerk to my ones lately. I’ve been busy, yes, but I should have made time to call, text, meet up – even if it was just once a month. I will do better.

7. Custard does not belong in milkshakes. You hear that, Shake Shack? Unacceptable.

8. Frozen yogurt is NEVER an acceptable substitute for ice cream. There is no acceptable substitute for ice cream.

9. I’ve been incredibly blessed to have my mother as a mom. I apologize for the years 13-18 when I swore I “hated” her for ruining my life because she cared enough to love me, to provide shelter, food and clothing, and to discipline me.

10. Grandparents are awesome!

11. I Know This Much Is True also happens to be my favorite Wally Lamb book.

What do you know as true?

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Hidden Insecurities

Ever have something happen that mentally takes you back to a place of hidden insecurities? That was the case for me this week – twice. I was brought back to a place I’ve worked hard to visit less and less frequently over the last several years.

What happened is not important (and one incident has since been resolved), but the feelings are. Feelings of having my voice disregarded and devalued. I’m soft spoken and generally fly under the radar, so it’s not unusual that I’m often overlooked. I’m typically happy to sit back and observe instead of participate. Rarely do I make an effort to jump in and share for fear of leaving myself open to ____?

You’d probably finish the sentence with “criticism”. You’d be partially right. The more appropriate answer is “not being heard”. That overrides the fear of criticism any day. It takes herculean effort for me to speak up and share my thoughts. So when I do and it’s dismissed as if I’d never spoken, I revert to lockdown protective mode (from the world). While I’m protected from the world, it’s hard to be from myself. I often spend that mental and emotional seclusion time berating myself as a fool for trying. A fool for forgetting what happens when I open up. An optimistic idiot hoping history will repeat itself with different and better results.

It takes me a long time and a lot of prayer to emerge from that head space. I was there earlier but was determined not to make it a long-term visit.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said (at least according to the streets aka the Internet), “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

*Leaning over and grabbing the consent form back. I’m not signing it.*


inferior consent

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