Sunday, August 26, 2012

All I did was ask a question

You know as one who has worked in mental health in various capacities since 1996, I am always questioning our mental health as a people. I am always seemingly asking “the wrong questions” about society, race, and the black community, which in turn has caused people (many in my race) to react in aggressive and sadly, in unforgiving ways. My intent has never and will never be to cause harm or pain. My intent has always been to seek clarity for the sake of my own mental health stability as well as to get an understanding to what mental state our people are in even in 2012. I remember asking a question of one of my teachers back in high school who was also the coordinator of our year book staff. I went to Frayser High School from 1986 to 1988 which was becoming a racially mixed high school at the time because before then, the school was mainly white. I asked Miss Savare who was a very light-skinned sista with very dark hair and dark eyes. She was cute and had this sexy southern accent. I thought she was Creole or something. Anyway, one day in the 10 th or 11th grade after having gone through one of the completed year books, I asked Miss Savare, “How come even though our high school is evenly mixed, (45 percent Black, 50 percent white, and 5 percent others) the pages in the yearbook have over 90 percent pictures of white students in them?’ She looked at me (with her face having turned a little red) and responded, “Marico, if you don’t like how the year book looks, then join the year book staff!”

Of course, I was like, “Dang, she did not have to get all snappy.” However she did make a good suggestion. Her suggestion now reminds me of what so many people have said and still say today, “You have to become a part of “the system” to make changes from within.” So, I joined the yearbook staff with the intent to make a difference. I got my camera, my roll of film, and I was on my way to make a change in the way the yearbook looked. Well, I took a lot of pictures of black students and some whites, but mainly Black students. I turned in my roll to be developed and to be added to the next year book. Well, when I got the new year book only three of my pictures of Black students made the yearbook and the book was again 90 percent white. This is when I learned that the philosophy becoming a part of the system to make changes was a load of crap. Hell, we have had Black politicians (elected and appointed) and things still have remained the same for Black people in this country. Justice is still fleeting and economic equality still eludes us. Yes, a small few have squeezed through a crack but that’s it.

Anyway, back to me seemingly asking the wrong questions. When I got college, I seemed to ask the wrong questions a lot. I could not help it. There were a lot of things that I was curious about. Me asking questions about people, groups and people’s beliefs back in college caused a lot of anger in a lot of people back then. I was often curious about what would cause such a reaction. Whenever I questioned the validity of religion in our community, I would really get it. LOL!! Today, I try not to ask so many specific questions in our community because I have learned that there is much work to be done. I still have these curiosities about what makes us tick the way we do, but I have learned to keep certain questions to myself or only share them with my very small group of friends who are just as curious as I am about the mental health state of Black people. Believe or not. I have never asked these certain questions to create controversy or to create enemies out of people I never really knew in the first place.

In my mind, I always thought that I was sharing what I had learned from reading and getting a true understanding about how things work in this reality. Well, I have been told and shown loudly and clearly that my brand of sharing does not help in the movement for progress and independence. So, this is why for the past four years I have been mainly just doing the work that is needed and not asking so many questions. I guess I don’t have any more questions really. I have asked so many questions that I all need to be doing now is just taking the answers that I have been given and accepting them as the peoples’ truth and move on. It has been hard just moving on, but it does make life a little easier when you are able to focus more on yourself and just let others “do them.” I no longer have to question the mental health of Black people today, I got it. I now understand.

My job now is to get more involved and become even more a part of the solution. My contribution to the stabilization of the mental health of Black people is to continue doing my part as a counselor and social worker in the healing of hurt feelings, trauma, anger, depression, low-self esteem, and disappointment in our men. Ladies, I am saying our men because I don’t want to see another woman being hurt from unknowingly connecting with a hurt man.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

“The Ideal Woman for me to date and possibly marry someday” By Rico Rivers

This list of was put together as a result of knowing exactly what I want in a permanent mate and a wife. First, please allow me to say this. I think that all women are beautiful the way they in which they were created by God. However, I do have a preference for the certain type of woman that I would like to someday be living in the same house with and/or sharing the same bed with exclusively and permanently. This is not a search for a perfect woman. I repeat. This is not a search for a perfect woman. This woman does not exist. However, the perfect woman for me is definitely out there somewhere.

This is the description of what we all possess, which is called a preference. However, in the meantime, as a single man out here casually and safely dating, the only preference or preferences that I have is for the Black woman to not be too old, not be out of my weight range of preference or my physical body type of preference, Oh yeah, and not have a nasty and negative attitude.

Below is a compiled list of my preference (s) for a permanent mate or wife and not a casual dating partner or friend with benefits.

Race: Black/Afrikan/Afrikan-American- However, if she is mixed with other ethnicities such as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Asian, Dominican, etc. She is cool too as long as she is brown or dark and speaks English very well.

Height: 4’11 to 5’5

Weight: 115-130 (This is the weight I prefer before she has had children)

Age: 32-36 years old and NO CHILDREN! I might make an acception for one small child. The father has to be dead, serving a life sentence in jail, or just be totally out of the picture. No time for baby daddy drama.

Body Type: SLIM, SLENDER, MEDIUM and PETITE, but with a toned, Curvy/Athletic build; Flat stomach (six pack or just plain flat) shapely legs, Apple-Bottom Butt (no flat boodie, please!) No stretch marks on the stomach or scars all over the legs and face. I like bow-legged or straight legged. No knocked knees or sleuth feet please!!

Skin Tone: Smooth Chocolate, Fudge, Pitch or Puff of Smoke (She can be of mixed ethnic heritage just as long as she is brown or darker (see preferred skin-tones above)

Hair Type: Natural! No Chemical Relaxers! (Twists, locs, braids, or naturally curly/wavy hair). Hair color must be naturally brown or coal black. No hair coloring! This includes tints and high-lights! However, I am open to highlights within normal reason.

Skin Type: Little or no make-up (naturally beautiful)

Eye Color: Brown or darker (No color contacts). However, if she is BORN with a different eye color, it is okay.

Dress/Appearance: Casual, but not boring- (lots of flava). Sexy, but not slutty. Elegant, but not stuffy.

Hygiene: Nice smile, clear eyes (not blood shot). Bathes regularly and wears nice smelling deodorants, nice smelling perfumes and soft scented oils.

Body Art: ABSOLUTELY NO TATTOOS! Dark skinned people have no business wearing tattoos. You can’t see them anyway. Tats on dark skinned people tend to look like dark smudges. Piercing in ears only! However, I would make an exception with a nipple piercings, navel piercing, and a small, cute nose piercing

Education: Have at least a Bachelors degree. Of course, higher degrees are cool too. A woman who has read books that speaks on the plight of Afrikan Americans in this country. She is also very aware of what Racism/White Supremacy is and its purpose or agenda.

Employment: Makes at least $30,000 a year. More per year is cool too. Even if she made more money than me, I am fine with that. I am not intimidated by a woman that makes more money than me. However, don’t annoy me with this should you do make more than I do.

Personality/Attitude: Down to earth, but talkative. Open-minded. Good sense of humor, but not goofy. Must be tolerant of others, including me, but not a push-over. A take charge woman, but not a control freak. I already have a mother. I don’t need another one. I love a woman that shows affection (even in public) towards her man.

Character: Honesty, Dignity and Integrity.

She has to be a motivator. She believes in sticking by her man through thick and thin. However, I don’t expect her to stay around if I should ever cheat on her, which is not a part of my character anyway. I won’t stay around if she cheats on me. She has to be a considerate person and not a selfish, spoiled, little girl. Non-Materialist.

Beliefs: Non-Christian!!!! Non-Religious!!! At All!!!
A Spiritualist, but not a fanatic about it! (Afrikan-Centered is a plus!)

Sexuality: I need her to be straight, not gay or bi-sexual or bi-curious. I want her to be open and very secure in her “straight” sexuality. I need her to enjoy sex just as much as I do, if not more. It’s going down!!!

Sexuality Continued: Also, she has to have not dated, kissed or had sex/sexual relations of any kind with any EUROPEAN! (Spaniard, Italian, Portuguese, German, Jew-ish or a WASP –White Anglo Saxon Protestant). In other words, No white man, PERIOD!! I am firm believer in whoever you “lay down with” who you share their philosophy.

Most Importantly: I would like this Black woman to be a woman that loves, respects, and adores her father and BLACK MEN!! Especially those of us Black men who have been labeled militants because we don’t have a problem with speaking our minds and standing up for what is right when it comes to Black people and race.

Diet/Exercise: I would like for this ideal woman be pork free as well as red meat (Beef) free. Since, I presently eat turkey, chicken, and some fish; I don’t have a problem with her eating these foods. However, I am on a vegetarian path and I would prefer that she be on the same path as well. At least be open to the idea. Also, I would prefer that she also be dairy free. I would love for my ideal woman to take her physical health/ and emotional health seriously. I love for her to have an ACTIVE gym membership or have her own workout regime that she does at home. It would be great if she loves to run because I love to run.

Politically: It would be nice if she were an independent.

Social Affiliation: I prefer her not to be a member of any social (so-called black Greek) organizations. This includes any other Boule’(boo-lay) organizations such as, the Links, Jack N Jill, etc. However, I would not hold it against her as long as she is Afrikan-Centered in her thinking and her beliefs.

One more small thing: She has to be a brown or dark-skinned female that does not have issues with being brown or dark-skinned. She has to be a brown or dark-skinned female that is attracted to brown and dark-skinned men. Finally, she is not afraid to give birth to brown or dark-skinned babies with this brown or dark-skinned man.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The 2012 Summer Olympics: Highs and Lows

I have not been an avid viewer of the Olympic Games since I was little and people like Carl Lewis, Mary Lou Retton, and Greg Louganis were the champions America was cheering for during the summer games of 1984 and 1988. I guess since I was never a huge fan of sports growing up, the Olympic Games just kind of fell by the wayside on my list of things that I found to be interesting over the years. However, I will admit this one fact. I did, however, sneak a peek at the summer games over the years whenever I just happened to walk past a television at home or wherever I was when track and field was on and the women’s volley ball team was going for the gold. I did cheer for Carl Lewis. I cheered for Gale Devers, and I lusted and I cheered “at the same damn time” whenever Florence Griffith- Joyner (Flo-Jo) was getting ready to do her historic thing in the track and field completion. I would not be keeping it real, it I did not admit that I had a huge crush on Mary Lou Retton back then. She was really cute and she had “the smile” that warmed America’s heart including mine. She also killed the competition in the gymnastics portion of the games.

That same magic, charisma and “that smile” would be reborn in the spirit and presence of OUR very own Gabriel Douglas in the 2012 Olympic Games. I cheered for her as often as I get in front of my television set at home, which was almost nightly. This year’s summer games kind of caught me off guard because I had no intentions of watching the games, but then, I heard some guys talking about the Brazilian women’s volley ball team. That struck a chord in me. I found myself trying to catch one of the matches so I can get in on the excitement. Well, in the process of trying to catch the women’s volley ball matches, I was hit with an explosion called Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce and the rest of the women’s track and field. Carmelita Jeter also had me distracted for most of the games, but I did regain focus at some point so that I could realize who else was in those races competing with her and Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce.

I became hooked on this year’s Olympics by way of women’s track and field, women’s indoor volley ball, and of course, gymnastic because little Gabby was kicking butt. If she was not competing, I did not watch the gymnastics competition. I also got a chance to check out the men’s track and field. The 34 year old brother, from the Dominican Republic, Felix Sanchez killed them in the 400 meters hurdles. He has won the only two gold medals the Caribbean island country has in all. Talk about representing for one’s country. Then, you have Usain Bolt of Jamaica who went on track and field greatness with his record breaking all around performance in track and field. Now, if he could just shut his mouth up about Carl Lewis, I can still respect him as an athlete who did his thing at this year’s Olympics.

Finally, I want to end this article by touching on the “hair issue” that created a firestorm of controversy in the black community and even all over the world. There were some tweets sent out concerning gold medal winning Olympian, Gabriel Douglas about the “look” or the “status” of her hair during the competition. The issue that Black women and Black men have with OUR hair is nothing new. Hell, I was shocked that there were no comments tweeted about her having chocolate skin. I guess there may actually be some growth somewhere in our community and in the world. I cannot focus on the obvious comments about Gabriel Douglas’s hair supposedly not being very representative of Black people in the Olympics without mentioning a little history first. Black hair in its original form (the hair that God gave us) has always been a political issue as well as being a source that drew rage, fear, and even envy from our white oppressors.

History has taught me that when the first group of captured Afrikans was brought to the Americas to be placed in chattel slavery, they were stripped naked and shaved bald. This was done to add credence to the lies and myths that Afrikans were uncivilized savages who ran around the continent naked and acted like wild animals. The next 300 years would be spent convincing the enslaved Afrikans that nothing about them had any significance. Everything was ugly and was a curse from the god they force fed the enslaved Afrikans. They were made to feel badly about having full lips, wide noses, dark skin, large hips, big butts, and yes, their natural hair. Of course, as the Africans were becoming convinced that their bodies were ugly and cursed, the plantation owners and overseers perform every lustful, degenerate, degrading sexual act that he could think of on the capture women and the captured men. Yes. Homosexuality has a root on the old slave plantations in America.

Anyway, after 300 years of this torture and cruelty, this country puts the so-called newly freed Afrikans through 100 more years of legalized discrimination and segregation that came to be known as JIM CROW laws of the south. The laws placed even more psychological trauma on the minds of Blacks in this country. We were even convinced that we did not look right unless we looked white. However, I must remind everybody that America is south of Canada. I know that some people tend to only want to believe that only the southern part the of the United States mistreated Blacks. This is not true. The entire country mistreated blacks. This is why most of the slaves who escaped to freedom fled to Canada, not Chicago. Now, during this time, the self-hatred training has set in pretty good. We are now on “automatic self hatred.”

Here we are in 2012 with that same self hatred that was forced on us by our former enslaver and oppressor. The response to Gabby’s hair is a direct result of this psychological training that has yet to be corrected and treated. Until we clinically and educationally treat this psychological trauma and undo this 400 year mental training (spell), we will continue to “act out” and “act up” with each other and in our communities. I know that many of us in the Black community have tried other remedies to get rid of the symptoms of slavery, such as denial, pleading ignorance, interracial marriages, classism, going along to get along, and even Jesus Christ. However, until we sit down and deal with root cause of OUR issues with ourselves, we will continue to indirectly shit on great moments such as Gabriel Douglas making history at the 2012 summer Olympics all because her hair was not “straight” enough to represent black people in the Olympic completion.

For all those who actually felt this way, shame on you. When a person is working out or competing in a sport, the body sweats, including the scalp. Whenever I go to the gym, I rarely see Black women there. I see women of all other races and ethnicities up in there on the treadmill, the stair master, hitting the weights, swimming, and doing aerobics. However, when I go out to restaurants, bars, and nightclubs where food and liquor are served, I see Black women all over the place. I am still trying to figure out when it was the last time I saw a Black woman where tennis shoes. Anyway, congratulations to Gabriel Douglas, Carmelita Jeter, Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, Felix Sanchez, Usain Bolt, and of course, I can’t leave out Michael Phelps for making history as having won the most medals at the Olympics.