Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Perspectives: Leave Marie Antoinette Alone

The last thing I ever want to do is defend the actions of anyone connected to the disaster that is the current Administration, but I think we are about to cross that bridge too far from fairness that leads right into the heart of Pettyland. These shoes are not a reason to hate Melania Trump:

In the midst of a natural disaster that finds the fourth largest American city under 50+ inches of water, I know we want to find someone to blame. Folks want to blame it on the gays or lesbians being elected to positions of power. Folks want to blame Obama, even though he isn't the President anymore, so then they want to contrast his response to Hurricane Katrina (even though he wasn't the President then either). And then they want to blame his wife for going shoe shopping during the storm (but that was Condoleezza Rice), and so we all get that some folks still just want to be mad at Obama for something.

Instead, let's dispense with our hatred for rich women who find themselves embroiled in controversy for being rich in the middle of national catastrophes. It isn't their fault.

Now, a rich woman throwing a tantrum about not receiving special treatment and then getting a poor minimum wage-earning salesperson fired--that is a reason to get upset. Because in that instance, she was being an entitled bitch (and yes, that even applies to our patron saint, The Oprah).

But this rich woman, married to a top Administration official whose name we can't spell, posting a picture of herself on Instagram wearing thousands of dollars worth of name-brand clothing that she isn't getting paid for advertising? Clearly, she thinks we care like her name is Kim Kardashian, so no use in wasting energy getting mad at her.

Sometimes, we just need to cut the rich woman who visits the site of a major catastrophe and isn't quite dressed for the occasion some slack because she probably does not have a royal hazmat suit in her official wardrobe:

And let's be real...criticizing this rich woman for anything is likely to get you cut from Big Mama's will:

Yet, some folks' inability to vote for this rich woman:

Is the reason why this guy is Commander in Chief:

So at the next natural disaster, which will hit in the next 3-5 years because Him don't believe that climate change is real, give this rich woman and her smiling rich husband a break if they don't invite you in to stain their recently installed carpet because your place got flooded:

They've got to keep the place nice and clean for Jesus.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Total Eclipse of Sanity

To all of my younger cousins, nieces, nephews, and children of my friends whom I've cared for over the years and whose behavior lulled me into the false sense of believing that I would be just fine raising my own child:

I hate you. Seriously.

Full disclosure moment: I began writing this piece in the middle of what I would call an epic Toddlersaurus day. This child of mine worked Every Last Nerve in my body and then had the temerity to FINALLY close her little eyes around 6:30pm, well after her usual nap time. Which I could not allow since nobody wants to be awakened at 4am by a child who can both open the refrigerator and operate the TV remote.

Hence, the final version of this piece you are currently reading is not that earlier, angrier version. And you're welcome, because I was so totally pissed off by life, PBS Kids, the eclipse, and at the world in general. Ain't nothing funny coming from a woman whose child has been LIT all damn day. There is no humorous spin to describe my utter frustration that she began this day by refusing to put on her clothes and then the day just kept going down hill--despite my affirmations, deep cleansing breaths, prayers and chants, threats, etc., she was the Energizer Bunny of Terrible Twodom.

I would detail her most egregious acts of insanity, but these pictures are so much better at telling the story. I already shared some of these to my personal FB page and have encouraged my friends to provide their own captions. So far, no one has, but perhaps by the morning someone will come up with some winners. Others will cheer her on because, well she's two and that what y'all do when the child(ren) at issue don't belong to you. Just like the aforementioned younger cousins, nieces and nephews, and children of friends who fooled me, this child of mine would suddenly behave and I would be branded a liar.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Fried Chicken Wednesday: MAGA at the Mecca

This is the type of story that would normally have been relegated to a micro-mention on the Busy Black Woman Facebook page, but I felt compelled to go in, for a just a brief moment on the ridiculousness of this entire incident. And also for posterity, in case someone else gets the bright idea to try something stupid like this again. It also gives me the unique opportunity to bring back, once again for your reading pleasure, Fried Chicken Wednesdays (something too good not to eat, even though it ain't no good for you)!

Yeah, I'm talking about that group of young tourists who inadvertently stumbled onto the campus of Howard University and caused all kinds of crazy because they were wearing their pro-Trump gear. The week after Charlottesville when he made a total ass of himself, y'all choose to dig in and brand yourselves as similarly stupid??? OK.

Let me start by arguing for the sake of argument, that visitors to public places do have the right to be clueless that their apparel might be offensive to others IF they are truly naive enough not to know that their apparel is offensive. Meaning, if these young ladies had visited the campus of a different HBCU, not located in the heart of a Milk Chocolate City, like say West Virginia State University, then there would be no story to run and tell. Because somebody could genuinely make the mistake of not knowing that WVSU is an HBCU. I assure you, if I show up wearing a Black Lives Matter tee to the wrong place, like a Chik-fil-A somewhere in rural Arkansas, I know that I should thank my lucky rabbit's foot, every ancestor, Holy Mary Mother of God, and Black Jesus from Good Times that I made it out alive.

So, that was your first mistake. Y'all come to visit Washington DC and think that just because you bought your pro-Trump shirt from some Asian guy peddling a bunch of cheap shit off the back of a truck parked near the White House, that you somehow wouldn't offend anyone by wearing it. This is WASHINGTON DC! Even the President has better sense than to wear that red hat around here. And not because this is still a city full of black folks, but because this is a city where no one voted for him and we ALL hate him. And believe that we aren't exactly fond of his supporters either.

Mistake number 2 was going to visit a college campus at the beginning of the new semester without knowing anything about said campus. Nobody sane does that. You don't roll up to the gates of Harvard and not know that you are not at Boston University. Because you aren't, and everybody on Harvard's campus will be quick to let you know that you are an idiot. Because you are.

Mistake number 3 was not immediately recognizing your first two mistakes and neither (a) removing the offending gear; (b) removing yourselves from the situation immediately; or (c) doing both a and b. You got the reaction that you did because you intended to cause drama. Mind you, we totally get how some folks get off on proving "reverse racism" by black people.

Mistake number 4 has been your assumption that you would elicit sympathy from anyone other than the folks from conservative media outlets. You went on social media and admitted that you wanted to flaunt your support of the President, which you apparently feel entitled to do, because "this is America". And you are right, this is America where we have a right to free speech, but no right to a free audience. You don't go to someone's house and insist that you have the right to offend them because "this is America".

So here is where I serve the cold chicken: Trump supporters are just as annoying as he is. You all seem to think that the world owes you something, like our eternal, global antipathy for unleashing his special brand of wanton ignorance isn't sufficient enough. Wearing that MAGA gear is the same as taking a tree limb and beating a dead horse. And then dragging the pulverized carcass through the streets. And then scraping up whatever is left and trying to serve it to us on garbage can lids.

No thank you, we pass. So please do not defend your audacity as patriotism nor our offense in response as racism. Trust that we hate black Trump supporters even more (just ask Omarosa). You won an election, not a war, so we'll be doing this all over again in a few months.

And here is some even colder chicken with the frost crystals still visible: we refuse to play the role of the vanquished, defeated foe to your conquering hero, the Troll King. So get over it. You don't get to play the victim because no one is the least bit impressed by your victory dance (the German, Canadian, Australian, and the Mexican judges aren't even looking in your direction). And because you must instinctively know that you are on the wrong side of history, no one is going to cut you any slack for being young, especially since that is precisely the root of your problem. You want us to see the Dance of the Hapless Maidens, but we keep seeing Whine of the Clueless Cheerleaders:

And here is your last, frost-bitten, processed nugget that we can't even call chicken: you are too young to have any appreciation for when America was allegedly greater, and you were too young to have voted in the last election. So really, who cares what you think until you can do something to make it count? But those Howard students you tried to goad, a few of them were eligible to vote in the last election. You are still in high school, so more of them will come of age by the midterms. They actually have the means to do exactly what is printed on your hat in just a few months. And believe that they will.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Mama Llama, Playground Drama

*This is a long, personal venting post. But please read anyway.*

Last Sunday a familiar scene unfolded at the playground: my daughter was playing and some kid tried to get her to relinquish some object so that s/he could play. And each time I am caught in a dilemma--do I tell the kid to scram or do I teach my daughter to play nice?

The short answer is that it depends on the circumstances. In some cases when my daughter takes a toy from another child, I intervene to encourage her to either return the item or to share. In other cases when toys are taken from my daughter, I might let her retrieve the toy or I redirect her to another item. I do this because it is my nature to avoid conflict, and based on my observations of playground behavior by not just the other children, but also the parents. Let me share a few scenarios to better illustrate my point:
  • The Toddlersaurus sees the see saw. Other children are playing, and she jumps on, which makes sense because the very nature of playing on a see saw is playing with other children. But then some kid begins to complain that she needs to move out of the way. This is a common occurrence for us, and was essentially the scenario on Sunday, except her older cousin was there, so we shall revisit this a little later. *
  • The playground where we go once a week is kind of a graveyard for discarded toys, which means there is always a tricycle, wagon, or other push/pull toy of some kind that the children can all play with. There are always new toys each week and it is hard to say when the old ones are finally trashed (or by whom). There is no particular rhyme or reason for which toy she will obsess over, but invariably, it will be the same toy that some other kid wants and I typically have to step in to play King Solomon. 
  • On those rare occasions when the toys are all gone, the kids are left with the stationary playground equipment such as the sliding board, the aforementioned see saw, and a climbing station. On several occasions, my daughter has been told by another child that she must vacate use because "we were here first" or "we don't want to play with you."
  • Not at the playground, but maybe in some other generic play space or area with other children, my daughter often attempts to play with other children and is routinely rebuffed. As in some child either goes crying to his/her nanny or some child will act as a physical barrier to prevent my daughter from joining the group.

I used to think that I was being over-sensitive until the Hub witnessed the third scenario, and this past weekend when my Niece witnessed scenario first. And before you pose a series of obvious questions, let me interject with a quick story about how my daughter's front tooth got chipped at a public splash area. She was playing with another girl who was about a year older, and who was there with her mother and older brothers. Somehow, this kid ends up swinging a plastic racket and pops my kid in the mouth...

Thus, after the trauma of that splash park experience, I determined that certain play spaces were "safer" for my daughter. My definition of safe is to have her play in places where there is less of a likelihood that she will be physically harmed because: (a) it is a contained playground; (b) where I can see everyone; and (c) that has plenty of adult supervision per child. We have not ventured back to a public splash park yet for primarily those reasons. However, I wonder if I should just be less risk averse instead of nursing my feelings after each one of these micro-aggressive experiences.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Last Rebel Yells

This piece evolved from an initial intent to post an article on the FB page featuring the faces of the "Unite the Right" protestors from Charlottesville. When the article and my commentary failed to post on my FB page (very unusual), I began writing the piece below in response, also in reflection from having attended my family reunion in Fredericksburg, VA. Here is part of what I wrote:
Unfortunately, the article I tried to post yesterday with the photo of the Unite the Right protestors did not post, nor did my message. But today, after all of the chaos, terror, destruction, and the unfortunate deaths, I have another opportunity to express my utter despair at what happened in Charlottesville yesterday.
As all of that nonsense was going on, I was in Fredericksburg for my family reunion. As a child, we would travel to "the country", at least once a year the second weekend in August to reunite those family members who had remained in Fredericksburg with those who had migrated to DC and Philadelphia. I hadn't been to one of these events since my grandmother passed away more than 20 years ago, for a variety of reasons I may share later. On the drive down I-95, we passed an enormous confederate flag that has been erected just past Quantico and right before Warrenton, VA.
So, just over an hour's drive away from the Nation's Capitol, the confederacy has resurrected itself on the side of a major interstate. I saw it the last time I drove down to Fredericksburg for my Aunt's funeral last fall; this time I asked my niece to take a photo so that we could post it online. She didn't get the picture, and now that I have had a chance to digest what occurred yesterday, I believe it was the hand of God maneuvering things so that we would not continue to spread the hate that flag represents. Of course, my reason for wanting to post a picture was to highlight that very sentiment, but it doesn't need to be broadcast by me.
I don't know all of the details of what happened yesterday in Charlottesville because we were absorbed in our bubble of reacquainting ourselves with distant relatives. But I was reminded of the very powerful reason why my grandmother and her favorite cousin left the "county" for DC and Philly so many decades ago--they wanted a better life for their children. They understood the limitations of opportunity for black Southerners, so they joined that Great Migration as young women and later established branches of our family tree in northern communities like so many of their peers. I can only imagine that some incident or mindset, similar to what was on display in Charlottesville yesterday, is what spurred them to leave.
I posted it here because in the days since the protests, I have been reflecting a LOT about what this all means today in 2017. Not that I had no expectations that the backlash to the Obama era had begun and ended with the last election (because, sadly this is only the beginning of the counter-revolution), but it builds on a theme that I felt compelled to express a few weeks back on July 4th. I framed that piece about being woke enough to cautiously appreciate that holiday, but now I want to stake out an even bolder position--that our celebrations of this country serve to appreciate our evolution, and then to demand that we continue to strive towards becoming a more perfect union.

Because these grand American ideals are for everyone.

If your ancestors died to preserve ideals that did not expand rights or that were meant to exclude people, then that is a reason to mourn, not celebrate. Your pride is rooted in something that is the very antithesis of liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the ideals of our Founders--not the Confederate generals whose cause you defend. When you choose to stand for racial segregation, gender inequality, religious intolerance, and any other form of systematic oppression, it betrays them and every person who has ever shed blood for this country.

And of course, as I was writing this piece, the Trumpet sounded off again...and so I'm convinced that whenever I think I've missed the window to respond to his nonsense, I just need to give him six hours to say or do something else outrageous.

Too much has happened to unpack everything in one piece. So here are some themes I hope to address as I continue to examine my counter position to MAGA--America is for all of us:
  1. We all hear your dog whistle, Mr. President, so no need trying to conceal it by deliberately changing the subject and getting angry. No more fake nuclear crises or hollow threats to fire members of your Cabinet.
  2. Ironic that no one thought to be this overt during the tenure of the first black President. The worst you could muster up against Obama were racist cartoons, but this angry white mob thing is really quite a step forward. Feel free to march through the hood on your way back to the suburbs.
  3. My Grandma Viola and her Cousin Ruth, and my other Grandmother Amanda and the many other thousands of black folks who migrated out of the South clearly understood why you march to preserve your old confederate monuments. And they aren't spinning in their graves over any of this because Barack Obama was the real shock...this backlash was to be expected.
  4. There is no slippery slope when it comes to venerating Founding Fathers and Confederate generals. While many people have issues with our slave-owning Framers, most of us can see the difference between honoring the first President of the United States and honoring the President of the Confederacy. They are not equals.
  5. Finally, thank you for leaving your bed sheets at home so that the world could really see your faces. Like many people, I was expecting to see more rowdies from the MAGA crowd because they are easier to ridicule. But color me shocked to see the IT guy at work, the guy who sells life insurance, the guy who manages the electronics store, and the kid's soccer coach. All clad in your Ralph Lauren polo shirts (he's a Jew, btw). 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Girl Trippin'

For the past couple of days on Facebook, I have been seeing the same video of a disgruntled movie-goer who saw the film Girls Trip. I won't be linking to her commentary because as far as I'm concerned, it has already gone viral and we ain't friends (and yes, I'm hating because I would like to go viral myself one day). Instead allow me to summarize her take on the movie:

In all honesty, I didn't get through the entire video because of my visceral reaction to her overuse of the word "female", but her chief complaint was the depiction of the characters as stereotypical. She is certainly entitled to her opinion, and most of the responses honed in on the issue of whether her criticisms were realistic.

I won't take issue with her opinion, nor will I offer up any substantive review of the movie. If you are in the mood for a laugh or a night out with your friends, then by all means go! See it, and be sure to pack a blanket, some snacks, and strategically hide a few adult beverages...which is exactly the complaint that one of my FB friends posted about her experience at the theater. Ironically, that was also my experience, perhaps proving yet another stereotype about going to see a black movie.

Can we agree that not every film will please everyone? Can we discard the notion that every black movie has to be "positive", which is code for respectable? Can we accept that some stereotypes are indeed true, and that isn't a reason to be ashamed on behalf of all black people? Can we just take a break from time to time?

I have gone on record before as a critic of black imagery in the media, and once believed that certain depictions were problematic. Then I realized that if we only limit ourselves to what is deemed positive, then all we have are biopics, historical dramas, and documentaries. We would miss the vibrancy and variety of seeing all of ourselves, and in turn, be limited to a rather narrow perspective of blackness, which then becomes its own stereotype. I mean, we all love Chadwick Boseman, but he can't portray everybody.

Let's get over ourselves and accept that most stereotypes are based on real life, and that comedy will always get a laugh by exploiting them. A whole lot of folks are hood rich. Some of y'all have gone to New Orleans/Las Vegas/New York/Jamaica and turnt ALL the way up. So many of us have a carefully curated public persona. All of us have family members that are beyond extra. You may have encountered a few stereotypes in your life: dumb blondes, loud Italians, sassy Latinas, sci-fi geeks, spoiled rich kids, annoying hoteps...or maybe you need to get out more.

There are plenty of other stereotypes to be wary of as well, such as the self-righteous killjoy. The sanctimonious church lady. The person who uses too many hashtags. The judgmental social media critic.

Not the Backup Singers

A few nights ago I fell asleep with the TV on cable news and I guess I heard some startling noise that awakened me in the middle of the night (accompanied by the reality that has been my post-pregnancy). After I stumbled back into bed but before I located the remote control, I learned that the source of the commotion was the vote tally for the "skinny" repeal of he Affordable Care Act. Senator John McCain had just voted against the bill, so the pundits and the Senate Gallery were all abuzz that he had single-handedly saved Obamacare. I found the remote, muted the set, and went back to sleep.

Of course when I woke up a few hours later, that was still the breaking news of the day. And as I was more fully awake, I learned that the bill had been defeated by three GOP defections, so McCain's 11th hour act of bravery had been preceded by the no votes of Senators Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK). But it was McCain who was getting all of the credit.

I took note of that fact and as the pundits continued to analyze his "courageous" vote, I got mad. Busy Black Woman mad. The type of mad that led me to make myself late for my hair appointment to post this status update to my personal FB page and then this modified re-posted update to the BBW page. And I got madder still as I watched yet another panel of pundits applaud as if they had just watched a performance of Tony Orlando and Dawn.

Since I've already expressed my annoyance at all the praise, glory and honor heaped on McCain at the expense of Collins and Murkowski, I want to use the remainder of my time to celebrate how women have ascended to all areas of government--beyond being merely the gatekeepers to powerful men or just the fancy window dressing in the office. If our republic is meant to continue after the madness of Dumb Donald the Trumpet, then we will have the women who serve in all three branches to thank for that.

Being a woman in a man's world means being told to "dress like a woman". It means being judged by your looks instead of your intellect, and then having your intelligence treated like a liability instead of an asset. It means not getting invited to discuss business over drinks, at the golf course, or at the strip club. It means exclusion from participating in important negotiations, because the assumption that the men can represent your interests is taken as a given. It means having to demur during your Senate confirmation hearing because some fragile white guy got offended that you once referred to yourself as a "wise Latina". It means being treated like a high priced accessory. It means waiting your turn while watching the men get called to the front of the line. It means losing an election that you should have won, because had you been a man there is NO WAY IN HELL anyone sane would have reasoned that previously vetted duplicate emails from your AOL account that had already been vetted offered a plausible reason not to vote for you.

Nancy Pelosi. Sonia Sotomayor. Maxine Waters. Loretta Lynch. Sandra Day O'Connor. Susan Rice. Amanda Powers. Sarah Palin. Nikki Haley. Elaine Chao. Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Condoleezza Rice. Elana Kagan. Michelle Bachmann. Sheila Jackson Lee. Tammy Duckworth. Christine Todd Whitman. Marcia Fudge. Elizabeth Dole. Jennifer Granholm. Kamala Harris. Mazie Hirono. Barbara Mikulski. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

This platform doesn't have the capacity for me to continue posting names, so this sampling represents many of the women who have recently held the line in some memorable way. These women represent cracks in that proverbial glass ceiling that still exists. Political ideologies may differ, the pathways to reaching their individual peaks may have varied, but these women demonstrate that we can perform at the same level as our male counterparts. And succeed.

I could write about inequity and hypocrisy every day and twice on Sundays. However, there is no need to belabor what has already become an obvious point--it sometimes takes more than balls to avert certain disaster or to lessen the resulting damage. Not every voice requires bass to be heard (when a mic will do just fine ;)