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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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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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.

challenge change

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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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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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Quick Review: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

A good read at a time when I’m struggling to figure out the next step in my career.

However, it falls short on a very key point –actually on two key points: race and socioeconomic status. This book reminds me of the difference between ‘feminism’ and ‘womanism’. When it comes to gender inequality ‘feminism’ fails to appreciate the added unique challenges of race and socioeconomic status, whereas ‘womanism’ does not.

There wasn’t much Ms. Sandberg could do to really present and discuss these other matters – though she made brief mention of race. This book is well researched but that research is in line with the privilege of life as a rich, white woman. It’s nothing to hold against her because she’s speaking her truth from a genuine place. Unfortunately, as an early 30s black woman trying to establish my career in a male-and-white dominated world, it’s unlikely that I will have the luxury to follow much of her advice.


Lean In

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Accepting Feedback

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” – Winston Churchill

I always experience this feeling of incredible vulnerability when giving others access to critique my work. The feeling is akin to handing someone the key to what belittles my value, makes me cry and makes me second-guess my talent. But it’s part of the process of becoming a published author, so I respect its purpose.

Helpful article about accepting feedback.


submitting work

 

 

 

 

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