Friday, November 23, 2012

Let's Stop Flipping Thanksgiving the Bird

I had a great Thanksgiving yesterday.  The meal I cooked wasn't up to my standards, but it was more than made up for by the good company and conversation around the dinner table.  However, you couldn't watch anything on TV without being bombarded with Black Friday ads, most of which were really about Thursday night shopping.  Thanksgiving has been turned into yet another American "shopportunity."

We Americans have joined corporate America in flipping Thanksgiving the bird.

Sure, there have always been stores that stayed open during Thanksgiving, but they were grocery stores that stayed open to give an assist to harried home cooks trying to put on a great meal for their families.  They weren't clothing and electronic stores trying to push Black Friday ever more closer into to Thanksgiving or just straight up intruding on Thanksgiving.

After Black Man Not Blogging (BMNB) and I drove ahead of our Thanksgiving guests after dinner to help them find their way out of the maze that is our subdivision, we decided to drive by our local Target to see if people were that bereft of family or food that they would camp out at 7:30 pm on Thanksgiving just to shop early.  They were and they did. I thought people here would have little bit more sense, but our Target had a line snaking around the front of the property.  They were probably amped up on lattes from our local Starbucks, which closed for only four hours on Thanksgiving and re-opened Thanksgiving evening to service Black Friday shoppers.

BMNB is especially offended by the Black Friday tsunami into Thanksgiving because he really enjoys Thanksgiving.  One, it's a food holiday, and BMNB loves food.  Two, it's a family holiday, and he loves family even more than food.  Three, Thanksgiving usually falls on or around his birthday.  It's a joy trifecta for him.   We couldn't even focus on preparing for and savoring Thanksgiving because all the stores skipped straight from Halloween to Christmas.  Thanksgiving was just a passing thought for retailers.  I couldn't even find decorations to make a decent Thanksgiving centerpiece because they were all gone the week before Thanksgiving.

Give me a flippin' break!  Are flat screens and iPads more important than family, food, and fellowship?  Really, America?  Really?

Although I think Black Friday is an exercise in wretched excess, I'm willing to overlook the hype and the overload of ads if we just keep Black Friday to Friday and leave Thanksgiving alone.   Corporate America can't succeed in pushing Black Friday into Thanksgiving if we just refuse to leave our dinner tables and our guests. 

Let's stop flipping Thanksgiving the bird, America.

P.S.  Happy 50th Birthday, BMNB!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Let It Be, and Pray the Serenity Prayer

"Let it be."   ~ The Beatles

"Whatever it is, let it be." ~ Jill Scott

I was watching Super Soul Sunday on OWN, and Eckhart Tolle said something that was what Oprah would call "a slap upside the head," or what I would call a spiritual b-slap:  "Stress comes from wanting something to be what it isn't."

Word.  I have spent way too much of this great year wanting things to be what they aren't and expending time to make them what I wanted.  Some of that time was just straight-up wasted.

Now the holidays are coming, and I know many of you are going to want things to be what they aren't.

You're going to want your family to get along.

You're going to want to afford to do things you can't afford to do.

You're going to want to make people happy.

Before you continue wanting things to be what they aren't, my advice to you -- and to me -- is to stop.

Just stop.

Take a deep breath.

And pray the Serenity Prayer:  "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Emphasize "the wisdom to know the difference."  That's where I've failed this year -- not knowing what I could and could not change.

Then look at what it is you want to be different and ask yourself, "Is this something I have the power to change?"  If it involves other people's actions or situations, more often than not, the answer is, "No."

Then, in the words of Jill Scott, "Whatever it is, let it be."  And let go of the stress of wanting it to be otherwise.

Happy Holidays,

BWB

Monday, November 19, 2012

Why Mitt Romney and the GOP Lost: Ask Maya Angelou

"When people show you who they are, believe them."

~ Dr. Maya Angelou

There's been a lot of punditry going on about Mitt Romney and the GOP's loss of the presidential election.   It just isn't all that deep.  Just ask Dr. Maya Angelou.

Dr. Angelou has been quoted a bazillion times for saying, "When people show you who they are, believe them."  Simply put, Mitt Romney and the GOP showed the American electorate who they are.  And we believed them.

Mitt Romney showed us he's the kind of man who would strap his family's dog on the roof of the family minivan in a pet carrier.  And we believed him, hugging our pets closer to us all the while.

Paul Ryan showed us he was the kind of person who would decry entitlements for everyone else despite the fact that he collected Social Security as a minor after his father died.  And we believed him.

The GOP showed us they have hated President Obama since day one of his presidency, when they vowed to make him a "one term president."  They showed us over and over again during the primaries, when more than a few of their candidates made making President Obama a one term president their rallying cry, with little to no substance in their campaigns.  And we believed them.

Mitt Romney showed us he was willing to tack hard to the right on immigration and abortion during the primaries and then attempt to Etch-a-Sketch his way to the center during the presidential campaign, backing off of his hard right positions.  And we believed him.

Mitt Romney showed us, albeit inadvertently, that he had contempt for 47% of the country.  And we believed him.

Mitt Romney showed us he was not only willing to outright lie about his position on the auto industry bailout, but to lie and say that the auto industry planned to ship jobs to China, so much so that the CEO of Chrysler had to blast him publicly.  And we believed him.

The GOP showed us that they were willing to lie about voter fraud to make the case for making it more difficult for minority communities to vote, even down to the outrageous curtailment of early voting in minority communities and the enactment of voter ID laws.  And we believed them, so much so that we flipped the script and voted absentee, since most states don't require an ID for absentee ballots because the GOP STILL thinks that only old, white Republicans vote absentee.

The GOP showed us they were willing to lie about President Obama's record, creating this false narrative of him being a failed president.  And we believed them - not the false narrative, but that they were willing to lie to create such a false narrative.

Mitt Romney showed us that he was willing to make a tragedy political, to wit, the raid on the U.S. Embassy in Libya.  In a presidential debate, no less.  And we believed him.

Mitt Romney showed us that he was willing to back away from his most significant accomplishment in elected office -- health care reform, or "Romneycare," because it was politically expedient.  And we believed him.

And even after defeat, Mitt Romney ungraciously stated that President Obama won because of the "gifts" he bestowed on minorities and women.

No, Mitt, you lost because you showed us who you are.  Despite the mainstream media's pathetic failure to hold you to account for your flip-flopping, despite the Super PAC money that the titans of industry poured into your campaign, despite having Karl Rove on your team, the voters were not distracted.  You showed us who you are.  We paid attention.  And we believed you.

That's why you and the GOP lost.

Just ask Maya Angelou.



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Words of Wisdom That Have Blessed Me

"You have to acknowledge and accept the fact that you can't have or be everything all at the same time." 

 ~ Teri Hatcher, as quoted in "Career Comeback:  Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want," Lisa Johnson Mandell

Gentle Readers, you know how I am:  If I find something that I think will help someone, I feel compelled to share it.  Well, these past few days, I've been treated to -- no, blessed with -- some real words of wisdom that have not only lifted me, but freed me.  Perhaps they'll do the same for you.

First are words of wisdom from my second-oldest sister (SOS).  Before I begin, let me tell you the value of having older sisters around when your mother is deceased.  Older sisters are like vaults of your late mom's wisdom, if for no other reason, because they knew your mom longer than you did and have more of her wisdom.  When I'm feeling down or blue, I love talking to my sisters -- all of my sisters are older than me -- because they'll just say something that my mom would have said to me if she were here that snaps me out of my situation and gives me a better perspective.  I'm so glad I was blessed in the birth order department, even if I didn't get the smokin' hot legs SOS got.

I was telling SOS how I felt tired and depleted after hosting a family meeting recently as part of my family's revolution.  We've finished all the education modules, and now we're discussing a book recommended by one of my BFFs, "The On-Purpose Person: Making Your Life Make Sense," by Kevin W. McCarthy.  SOS essentially gave my a spiritual b-slap with words to this effect:  Stop trying to be everything to everybody.  She counseled me that, as much as I have hopes and dreams for the younger folks in my family, people have to come into their own on their own and in their own time.  SOS told me that holding family meetings and trying to create a sense of family and support that others clearly don't want as much as I want for them -- as evidenced by their absence -- is a waste of time.  "They're not there yet, " SOS counseled, and they will get there, if they do, on their schedule, not mine.

BOOM!  Talk about a revelation!  Now I don't feel so bad about reclaiming my one Saturday a month for my book club and delegating the hosting and organizing of family meetings to others, to the extent that they want to keep the meetings going.  They're not there yet. 

I was also blessed with words of wisdom from one of my book club members, Joann, who turned 70 last week and doesn't look a day over 45.  God has been good to Joann.  That's not to say she hasn't had her struggles -- who hasn't?-- but she looks good and has a happy spirit.  When I asked Joann for words of wisdom to reach the age of 70 looking and feeling like she does, she gave me these words of wisdom someone imparted upon her:

1) Find a church;
2) Keep a job;
3) Rest.

Of these three, she said the most important was getting enough rest. 

Well, if you're looking for a church, or a house of worship of any faith, my soror Pamay Bassey has done the search work for you.  Her book, "My 52 Weeks of Worship: Lessons from a Global, Spiritual, Interfaith Journey," chronicles her visits to a different house of worship each week for a year.  I have to admit -- Black Man Not Blogging (BMNB) is happily ensconced in the Baptist church, and I've not followed.  I used to think that, as a married couple, we should endeavor to share the same faith for the sake of our kids (yes, we're moving along with our adoption plans.)  As I get older, I'm not so sure.  My dad is a member of the Apostolic church, an offshoot of the Church of God in Christ, while my mother's family has been in the African Methodist Episcopal church for decades (although I have a distant cousin who attends the same church as my husband.).  My parents seemed to have reached a religious detente during their marriage.  To be frank, I haven't even begun the search for a church, happily not worshipping at St. Mattress of the Springs in my bedroom on Sunday mornings.  I'm letting go of the idea that BMNB and I need to share the same faith.  I need to find my own spiritual path, even if it's different than his.  Pamay's book is a good place to start.

As for keeping a job, I've done that, but I want more than a job:  I want a calling.  That leads me to some words of wisdom imparted upon me by a former law teaching colleague who, like Joann, has been blessed with fabulous genes (she doesn't look a day over 40 and she's in her 60's), and an even more fabulous spirit.  I told her how frustrated I am about continuing in the practice of law when I feel I have other skills and talents I want to use, but I just don't know how.  First, she encouraged me to just keep writing.  Then she said these words of wisdom:  "Be patient.  Keep searching for your calling.  When you find it, you will know."  Patience has never been my strong suit, but I'd rather be patient and get what I want than be impatient and settle for something less.

Finally, SOS gave me some words of wisdom specifically for married women:  "Don't get lost in your marriage."  She cops to having done so in her marriage, which ended in divorce.  "If you get all lost in your marriage, make that man your entire world, and stop keeping in touch with your family and friends, what will you have if he leaves you?  Who will you have to talk to?"  I wouldn't say that I'm lost in my marriage (and perhaps I'm in denial on this one), but I am abysmal at keeping in touch with people who have been there for me. In fact, I owe more than a few family members and friends some phone calls right now.

Perhaps I need to heed my own words of wisdom.

I hope these words of wisdom bless you as much as they have blessed me, Gentle Readers.  Thanks for continuing to read and support my little postage stamp of the blogosphere.

BWB



Monday, November 5, 2012

This Time, I'm Voting for Obama Because He's Black

This time, I'm voting for President Obama because he's black.  Before you accuse me of "playing the race card," a phrase I find offensive because it is intended to thwart any meaningful and real discussion of race and racism in America, hear me out.

Last time, I voted for President Obama because I believed he was the candidate with the better intellect and temperament to deal with the challenges American would face.

I was not disappointed.  I knew that there was no way he was going to be able to reverse the tsunami that would become the Great Recession in only four years. But you could not have told me that the GOP would have, from day one, conspired to make President Obama a "one-term president" before he had even done anything to deserve such animus.  To my knowledge, the GOP didn't even conspire to make Roosevelt a "one-term president," and his agenda was decidedly more radical than President Obama's.

You cannot tell me in good conscience that we'd even be saying that a white president who accomplished all of the following and more in four freakin' years was a "failed president":

  • The Lily Ledbetter Act
  • The Consumer Protection Agency
  • Appointing two women to the Supreme Court
  • Ending the war in Iraq
  • Earning a Nobel Peace Prize
  • Health care reform
  • Taking out Osama bin Laden and most of the top leadership in Al Qaeda
  • Saving the U.S. auto industry
  • Ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
  • Deferring deportation of Dreamers
  • Keeping the entire U.S. economy from going off a cliff
To my mind, the only plausible explanation is that a whole lot of white folks just aren't comfortable having a black president, no matter what he's done to save many of their broke behinds.

So I've already voted for Barack Obama because he's black.  Since he's not been graded fairly because of his race, I've decided to balance the unspoken racial bias with my racially biased vote.  As a fellow African-American Ivy League-educated professional, I totally get it.  Been there, got the "unspoken racial bias" t-shirt many times over.  Hell, it's not like a whole lot of evangelical white folks aren't holding their noses about Romney's religion and voting for him just because he's white.

As Iyanla Vanzant says, "Call a thing a thing."  If Barack Obama were white, we wouldn't even be talking about a close race.  Nor would he have been treated with more disrespect than any sitting president I can recall in my 49 years in these united states.

Yep, I said it.  And I'm not playing the "race card."  I'm playing the "reality card."

Get over it.