Friday, January 25, 2013

Really NAACP?

I am going to be honest.  I have been dissatisfied with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for the past few years.  This is kind of sad to me, as someone who was on the board when I was in undergrad.  But what is more disappointing is that the "nation's, oldest, largest, and most recognized grass-roots based civil rights organization" is just becoming a punchline, or even worse, irrelevant.

Now don't get me wrong, The NAACP has done some great things over the years.  They have helped tp advocate for the elimination of the Plessy v. Ferguson.  The NAACP did and still tackles issues in voting rights, fair housing and many other things.  However, a few years ago when the NAACP decided to take up the issue of minority representation in the media I was left scratching my head.  Yes, I see their argument.  Minorities are definitely not proportionately represented in tv and fiilm, thus creating a void of work for minority actors and actresses.  However, it was what I saw on tv while I was at the gym today that really had me floored.

The New York chapter of the NAACP has decided to now take up the issue of the New York City Soda Ban that was signed into law last year.  The law bans the sale of soft drinks over 16 ounces at restaurants and movies in an effort to curb the obesity rates of the city.  The NAACP is opposing the law because they say that it may have a negative impact on minority business owners.  WHAT?!?!!?

I have several issues with this argument.  The first being that it is well known that Coca Cola is a corporate sponsor of the NAACP.  In fact if you go to the NAACP website you will find in 2009 the Coca Cola Company gave somewhere in the range $99,999-50,000 to the NAACP (this was the most recent report listed on the website).  This isn't a conflict of interest?  Is Coca Cola now paying the NAACP to act as a lobbyist?  This seems like a slippery slope to me.  What's next?  Is the NAACP going to protest Beyonce performing at the Superbowl because Pepsi is a rival of Coke?

But here is the bigger problem.  Although I understand the concern of Mayor Bloomberg in the fight for obesity, I do wonder if this is an act of the government overreaching (even if I am forever indebted for the nation-wide trend for no smoking indoors) but that is a different argument.  However, I applaud the sentiment.  Minorities especially minorities of African descent have some of the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in the country.  Although I think it is a rather inefficient way to deal with the problem, it is an effort nonetheless.  If anything, the NAACP should be supporting the health of its constituents rather than fighting for their right to drink soda.  Sure, maybe some businesses will take a hit from not being able to sell, as my friend would say, ginormous cups of soda, but who is going to drink them when they are dead?

Finally I have to ask, are there no other bigger issues out there besides soda?  I mean seriously, there were 500 homicides in Chicago last year, and they are on their way to another record setting year.  Blacks and Latinos are always among the groups least likely to graduate from high school.  This same group are disproportionately represented in prison.  How many minorities have given up trying to find jobs and stopped bothering to file for unemployment?  Maybe one of these issues should take precedent over the right to drink a big ass soda.  I mean honestly, if you want to drink that much soda can't you just buy two?

I have thought about re-joining the NAACP of the past few years upon hearing the praises of current members about the potential of new leadership.  But when I hear of stories such as the soda ban fight I re-consider my stance.  NAACP I am waiting on you to restore your greatness, until then I will just watch from the sidelines.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ex Update

I debated whether to write on this subject for the past few days.  I am really tired of thinking about my ex and I think he has gotten more than enough attention on this blog.  However, in honor of being transparent and letting my readers get to know me better (and I am having trouble falling asleep) I thought that I would update you all on the situation with my ex.

As you may remember it was over a month ago since we last communicated.  To summarize, we had plans, he cancelled (as he as done throughout the duration of our friendship/relationship), he sent a tardy half-assed apology, and I told him to cease contacting me until he grew up, again this is just paraphrasing.

These past few weeks have been rough for me.  Although my communications with him had definitely decreased up until last month we still had been in regular contact.  For me, this was kind of a cold turkey/I'm fed up move on my part.  Of course the holidays were also difficult, as I suspected.  Part of me kept thinking maybe he will surprise me and send an I'm sorry present or even just a Christmas card, but not to my surprise I didn't even get a text message over the holidays much less anything else (although I wish he would send me back my stuff that has been at his house including my Ipod...but I digress).

Anyway, I had gotten through the holidays and I had hit my stride.  I had gone on a few dates with someone who didn't work out.  I was feeling ok being wrapped up in only work and the gym.  That is I was feeling ok until my ex texted me last week.  His text messaged said something like: I was thinking about you and your mom.  I hope all is well.  My heart stopped.   I couldn't figure out what to say.  My first instinct was to ignore it.  But I HATE being ignored myself!  It is against my principles to ignore someone, especially someone that I have a history with.  On a side note, I don't know why I hate being ignored, besides the fact that it is rude.  I wonder if I feel like this because I was a little black girl in Illinois and thought that because of this people weren't taking me seriously?  Moving on, I texted my cousin for help.  We have a man troubles pact going on right now.  Meaning we are both dealing with guy situations.  So instead of doing something crazy or something we regret we text/email/call each other instead.  She told me to use "Christian kindness".  So that is what I did.  I texted him back saying that mom and I were well.  And that I hope all was well with him.  He then texted me back and said he was ok and I replied that it was good to hear.

After not hearing a response I thought that my short, yet polite texts had conveyed the message that I wasn't interested in catching up for old times sake.  I mean I know him very well.  I am sure that he had been thinking about me and maybe even mom.  But I know that he was trying to wiggle himself back into my life.  He was merely just dipping his toe in the sea of uncertainty to see whether I would respond.  So I was not totally surprised when I received another text message later in the week.  It was sent at around midnight on Friday night/Saturday morning asking if was in DC.  Luckily, I was dead to the world from taking Tylenol PM that night so I didn't see his message until the next morning.  But I decided that the best course of action was just to delete and keep it moving.

Unfortunately since then it hasn't been that easy.  It is like he is now in the forefront of my mind instead of the back, where he had been successful pushed for the past few weeks.  I keep thinking that I miss him.  My cousin asked me if I actually missed him or being in a relationship and I said both.  There are some things I would have shared with him because he would think were funny.  I miss watching football with him and trash talking.  Sometimes I even just miss cuddling with him at night at his freezing cold house.  But in the end, I have to stay strong to myself.  So every time I want to contact him I email myself instead.  It started off pretty angry, and wrote really inappropriately mean emails.  But eventually the emails became less hostile and were kind of sad.  Now I have more dialogues with myself about the things I would tell him if he were to contact me again.  I guess everyone gets over things in different ways.

I keep wondering why it has been so hard for me to get over this guy, especially a man who did not treat me with all the respect that I deserved?  I think that looking back he was really my first true love.  I thought that he was going to be my last boyfriend.  I never pictured us not together.  I threw in everything I had in a way that I had never done before.  I opened up myself and was completely vulnerable, even though in the back of my mind I thought that I was also going to get hurt by him in the end.  I guess I miss being in love and being loved.  In many ways, he knew me better than most, but in other ways he didn't know me at all.

I don't think last week is the the end of him by any means.  If anything, this is probably the beginning.  But I am a different person than I was the almost year ago when we broke up.  And I am even different from the almost two months ago that we stopped talking.  I feel stronger and I am working on me, which is what I should have really been doing all along.  Is that why I am single? lol

So that was the ex update.  Hopefully though I will not have to give another...

Monday, January 21, 2013

His Dream

I was overcome with tears at my church service yesterday morning.  Something so profound hit me that I have never really took the time to reflect.  This carried into the day of festivities of today.  You see this day is significant for three reasons.  First, it has been 150 years since the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation.  Second, it is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day.  This year marks 50 years since Dr. King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.  Finally, today was the re-inauguration of President Barack Obama, our 44th President, and the first African-American President of the United States.

I went back and read Dr. King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech.  Although most people quote it for his concepts dealing with the harmonizing of little black and white children joining hands together and his own black children not being judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character, there is much more to the speech.  The overarching theme of the speech was freedom.  But I ask you this, are we as black people truly free? Or even further are we as a nation free?

Many people predicted that with the election of President Obama that all issues in race have been solved.  That we no longer have a "race problem".  The schools are no longer segregated, the children are being bussed  and everything is perfect.  Blacks, whites, tans, pales, all living together in harmony.  But is this accurate?  While many black people, as well as white people saw the election and then re-election of President Obama to office as a victory for all it does not end the struggles we have as a nation to address the remnants that the institution of slavery has forever stained our country.   In fact, I would argue that having our first black President has only showed how little we have come and how much more progress that we need to achieve.  If anything the election of President Obama has removed racism from the shadows and brought it to the forefront.  This man, our Commander-in-Chief, has seen a level of disrespect that is unprecedented.   His fellow colleagues and even the media have inserted subtle and also blatant acts of racism and prejudice.

We are not a racial utopia.  Although I may live in an area that is diverse and centered around having a heterogeneous community of diversity we are far from a utopia.  I may be proud to go to a church that is home to people of different races, nationalities, ages, and backgrounds we are far from being one monolithic utopia.  However, despite the diversity of Bridgeway, most churches are not mixed.  In fact, one of my former pastors would often say that churches on Sunday are still some of the most segregated institutions.  I am sure that if you were to do a random poll of people that few would say that they socialize with people outside of their own race on a regular basis.

So despite the efforts of de-segregation we are still self-segregating.  How can we move forward together as a country if we still are separating ourselves in all areas of life?  How can we deal with a past so painful if no one wants to have the conversation?  Slavery, racism, and prejudice is like the birds and bees talk that parents never want to have.  The solution cannot continue to be to ignore and pretend as if everything is ok.  Because while we do this people are dying.  Families are struggling.  Children are giving up the hope that they too might be our future president.

Despite what side of the political scale that you may fall, despite your income, despite what you skin color is, despite you gender, and despite your sexual preference we have to have the uncomfortable conversations.  Otherwise how are we ever going to to grow as a country? How are we ever going to realize our true potential?  It is time to admit that the institution of slavery has deep seated roots in which much of our country was built.  As a result it has had a far reaching grasp for generations after.  Why do you think our neighborhoods look the way they do? Why do you think that certain races have certain health issues?  Why do you think that there is always an educational gap amongst the races?  Why is that that some men are more likely to be in prison than be in college?  These are the questions we need to start asking.  And these are the answers that we must seek together.  Because although you may think that these questions and these answers do not affect you, they do.  And the lack of a plan to deal with these problems is costing everyone, and for some it is with their lives!

So in honor of all the people who have come before us can we put our differences aside?  Can we all make this commitment that in your own small part that you become part of the solution and not part of the problem?  Let's reach across our aisles and do the uncomfortable.  Let's have the dialogues that lead to the plans that truly represent equality.  Let's realize the dream that Dr. King once spoke of.  Let freedom ring for all and let us all be free from the bondage that prevents our progress.  Happy birthday Dr. King and congratulations President Obama!




Monday, January 14, 2013

I'm Doing Me


What am I doin'? What am I doin'?
Oh, yeah, that’s right, I’m doin’ me
I’m doin me
I’m livin’ life right now, mayne

And this what I’ma do ’til it’s over
‘Til it’s over
But it’s far from over

-- "Over (I'm Doing Me)" by Drake*


I never realized how appropriate  Drake's lyrics were in Over, until I started to examine them for this post.  Sure for years and years countless rappers have utilized their lyricism to profess that they were only out for themselves and that "you should do you, because I'm gonna do me."  But how many times have they stopped to contemplate what "doing me" is for them?  How many times have you thought about what "doing me" means for you?

The past few weeks of 2012 I realized I needed to make some changes.  While 2011 was about the struggle, and 2012 was about to adjusting and surviving, 2013 has to be bigger and better for me.  At the end of last year (a few short weeks) I really did some reflecting. I realized that I could no long talk without beginning to set my thoughts and goals into action.

One of my biggest goals is for my weight loss and to have a committed fitness plan.  I have written about my weight issues before.  It is a sensitive topic, not only for me, my family, but many other people who struggle to lose weight.  It can be embarrassing to have gone from losing 70 lbs to gaining almost half of it back.  This year I have seen the scale slowly climax into the never never land region and I feel mad at myself. However, despite it all I never feel defeated.  I actually feel comfort in the fact that I know what to do because I have done it before.  All I need to do is do it again.  Easy right?  Ha.

This weight gain was not an overnight scenario.  During the day I was snacking without abandon. At night I was eating succulent foods and drinking drinking clever drinks (and not working it off by dancing).  Between all that the gym seemed less and less appealing, especially when I was sucking wind the whole time in an effort to just breathe.  

A lot of my struggles came from my hectic work schedules.  Most recently I was striving to work 12 hour days with an hour plus commute in addition to working a part-time job on the weekends.  I was exhausted.  I wasn't eating correctly.  I kept getting sick.  And most importantly I was missing out on family time, social time, and even personal time.  I made a tough decision.  One that maybe last year at this time I wouldn't do.  I decided I need to focus more on me and my health and well being and less about the money.  It has made all the difference.

Here is the doing me I see:  I have built in gym time into my schedule.  Even though my goal is to go to the gym at least 3 times a week I find myself wanting to go more.  Although it hurts (I am way more out of shape than I thought) I feel good afterwards.  I have started going to the grocery store and cooking meals.  I got over my fear of upsetting my aunt for not wanting to eat her food.  I cook when I get home eat a healthy meal that I want and I am able to bring a nice meal for lunch.  I am saving money and I can better monitor my calories.  And slowly but surely I am seeing a difference on the scale and even in my body.  I feel more confident when I am out.  And hopefully I am inspiring some other people along the way.

So "doing me" doesn't have to have a negative connotation.  I'm doing me to become a better person inside and out.  And for that I don't feel guilty at all!  So when are you going to get over your fears and do you?


*courtesey of http://www.elyrics.net/read/d/drake-lyrics/over-(im-doing-me)-lyrics.html

Sunday, January 13, 2013

2013 = New Attitude

Despite it being one of my goals this year to have a hands off approach to other people's problems, I have still been able to act as a confidante to my friends.  The difference now is that I feel like I have tried to insert my opinion less, listen more, and let people come to the their own conclusions and decisions.  It has been a great exercise for me in restraint.  And despite how much I fancy my own opinions, they are not always necessary (except for this blog lol).

There is something else that I have realized in the new year, that is that 2013 = new attitude.  What does this new attitude consist of?  No more game playing, no more indirect suggestions, and no more putting up with less than we deserve.  Having a new attitude this year means that  we are honest with ourselves and how we handle situations.  I preface this by saying that I am a work in progress myself, but I have said for years that  we cannot change others, we can only change how we choose to deal with our situations.

I have so many friends who I consider to be such strong women.  We have to see our worth, own it, and let no one take it away from us.  In a practical application this means that if something that someone said or did bothered you speak up.  If someone is not respecting you, your time, or your beliefs move on.  Don't sink down to their level and ignore them or play games.  Also sometimes it might mean accepting the reality that despite how much we would like to have what we want, that perhaps it is not for us to have.

With all of this being said, a new attitude does not equate to having an attitude. At church a couple of weeks ago the sermon topic was about power of the tongue.  What we say and how we say it has the ability to affect not only ourselves but others.  One can be assertive without cursing others.  You can express your thoughts and feelings without name calling.

So if you haven't added a new attitude to your list of 2013 goals do it now and let me know how it turns out!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Years Goal's 2013

So resolutions are usually a bad thing right?  We all start off with good intentions and by the end of two weeks we are made at ourselves and have given up on everything we said that we were going to do.  Last year I did a vision board and wrote down some resolutions.  I kept it hanging on my wall all day.  I accomplished about half of these goals, I am pretty happy with that.  I mean whoever finishes everything on their list?  So this year I decided that I would again write down some goals and post them on the wall.  In fact maybe this year I will do a recap every few months to see how I have progressed in my goals.

Without further delay here are my New Year's Goals for 2013.  I have broken them down into various categories (the mind of an attorney):

Body
1.  Lose one pound per week
2.  Exercise at least three time a week
3.  Drink more  water
4.  Give up soda
5.  Try doing a cleanse

Mind
1.  Be Happy!
2.  Do something to de-stress once a month
3.  Focus more on myself.  Don't go around trying to fix everyone else's problems, especially when they don't want help
4.  Try something new once a month
5.  Continue writing in blog
6.  Start writing poetry again
7.  Do more things alone
8.  Say "No" more often
9.  Get away more often!

Love
1.  Fall in love by the end of the year
2.  Love myself unconditionally
3.  Don't go back to the past
4.  Forgive and move on
5.  Don't walk on eggshells for anyone

Spiritual
1.  Read the whole bible by 2014
2.  Volunteer more with church
3.  Pray more
4.  Work on my relationship with God

Career
1.  Get a full time job
2.  Quit part-time job
3.  REALY look into pro bono work
4.  Get involved with organizations that I am passionate about
5.  Join more professional organizations
6.  Do more networking

General
1.  De-clutter room
2.  Continue to save money
3.  Continue to become a better person each day
4.  Figure out how to balance the relationship between my mom and
5.  Keep doing what is right because it is the right thing to do
6.  Expand my vocabulary

2012

As one year comes to an end and we begin to start another, I think it is important to look back and better reflect on the year past.  Overall I think 2012 was a good year, with room for improvement.  I would say I would give it a B-.

One thing was definitely different than 2011, I was working most of the time!  Sure there were a few days, weeks, months with a gap here and there, but overall I worked way more this year than last year.  Although nothing permanent, I know that I am on my way there.  In fact for the last part of the year I was working two jobs, I felt like a little bit of a hustla!  Having a somewhat steady stream of money has made me feel much more stable.  So I thank God for that!

Speaking of God, I feel like I have taken some massive steps toward my relationship with God.  I figured out my purpose, to help others.  As a result I started this blog and have been able to reach others and share more about myself than I ever have before.  This blog has become an open outlet for dealing with a lot of things that I usually just let build up in my mind.  

I loved and I've lost.  For the first time in awhile I have been single single.  I am not going to lie, New Year's Eve yesterday was hard on me.  It was the first time in a few years that me and my ex did not spend New Year's together.  It was a little sad, but I am proud of myself for not backing down and giving in to my feelings of remorse.  In fact I spent my New Year's exactly how I wanted to, watching a movie and going to the casino with one of my girlfriends.  I thank her for coming to my rescue and saving me from taking a Tylenol PM and sleeping through the crossover into 2013.

However, I am glad that I made it through another year.  God still has work for me to do.  I just hope that I am able to carry out his plan.  Here is to an excellent 2013!