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How to Socially Vaporize Inappropriate People (as Well as President and Mrs. Obama Have)

I think we can all agree that the GOP legislative staffer's comments on Malia and Sasha Obama's dress and behavior at the latest turkey pardoning ceremony were  inappropriate and offensive.  What I've found interesting, however, is how the remarks have not even been acknowledged by President and Mrs. Obama (and yes, she's not "Michelle," she's "Mrs. Obama."  She will be the First Lady or a former First Lady for the rest of her life.  If you didn't call Mrs. Reagan "Nancy" or Barbara Bush "Barbara," you don't call Mrs. Obama "Michelle."). 

"Ah," I thought to myself. "Social vaporization."

What is "social vaporization," you ask?

It's the refusal to dignify the offensive actions of a person and, in many cases, the ignorant person who acted, by ignoring them and their act.  Social vaporization to its fullest effect is treating the person who offended you like they don't exi…

Another Generation of Second-Class Citizens (Ferguson and Lionel Ritchie on My Mind)

Black Man Not Blogging (BMNB) and I are jaded.  Or rather, numb.  We were not surprised by the grand jury verdict in the Michael Brown killing.

We both agreed that it was senseless to loot and burn the businesses of innocent business owners in Ferguson, especially if those businesses employed those in the community and/or were black-owned.

We both agreed that if Michael Brown had reached for the officer's gun, his fate was sealed, not because he may not have been justified in reaching for it, but because, once you do, your killing by a police officer becomes justifiable.

We initially disagreed about the way forward.  Kind of.

"We have to teach our young men to be smarter," he said.

"Smarter?", I asked.

"Yes, smarter." BMNB explained that police officers act out of fear, specifically their fear of black men.  The answer, he said, was to teach all our sons that police officers' fears can cause them to be killed and that, no matter what, there are ce…

Don't Be a Volunteer for The Dysfunction Games (May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor)

Gentle Readers,

The holidays are upon us once again.  Mockingjay, Part I will be opening on Thanksgiving.  This gave me food for thought: 

Don't be a volunteer for The Dysfunction Games this holiday season.

I  read "The Hunger Games," the first of a trilogy by Suzanne Collins, but did not read the other two books.  I read it for a neighborhood book club composed of mostly stay-at-home moms. We were planning to read both "The Hunger Games" and the second book, "Catching Fire."  I couldn't get past "The Hunger Games."  I was deeply disturbed by the idea of young people being chosen as "tributes" to kill other young people until only one was left standing.  I was even more disturbed by the fact that this was considered a YA novel and was being assigned in our local schools.

The stay-at-home moms loved the books.  I questioned their taste and never returned to the group.

If you've read "The Hunger Games" or saw the mo…

Black Woman Blogging Solves the Ebola Crisis (You're Welcome, Federal Government)

NOTE:  This post includes language not suitable for viewing at work or by the easily offended.

Dear Federal Government,

Not to put too fine a point on it, but you fucked up.  Big time.  You allowed a disease for which there is no known cure, only treatment, to come to our country, a place where it is not indigenous.

What the fuck?

Since you can't even keep the President safe, I can't trust you to keep me safe, and I'm far less valuable than the President.  That said, let me dust off my Master's in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, (AKA The Degree I Never Use), concentration in Domestic Policy, and help y'all pull your heads out of your collective asses.  It doesn't take a Princeton degree to do this. 

Step One:  Admit That You Don't Know How Ebola is Spread

The explanations for how Ebola is spread are not explanations -- they're theories.  Y'all really don't know how it's…

Facebook Got Stonewalled (Learn Your LGBT History)

Facebook got Stonewalled, but not in the way the term is usually used.  As they say, those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it.

Anybody who knows me knows I adore drag queens because they can be better at being women than women and yet deploy their male physical strength when they choose to.  Nobody but a drag queen can dress like Diana Ross, throw shade like Bette Davis, and beat you down like Mike Tyson.  As Wesley Snipes said in drag in the movie, "To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything," a drag queen is what happens when you have too much style for either gender.

Clearly someone at Facebook pulled the idea out of their ass that they would enforce their heretofore unenforced "no fake names" policy, and they decided to start enforcing the policy against, of all people, drag queens.

What part of Stonewall did this idiot not know?  Did this idiot not know that it was drag queens who set off the Stonewall Riots?  Drag queens who beat down police off…

Blurred Lines, Clear Karma (You Know You Want It)

I believe in Karma.  I believe that what you put out into the world, good or bad, comes back to you. That's why I'm not surprised at the recent turn of events in the lawsuit about Robin Thicke's 2013 summer anthem, "Blurred Lines."

"Blurred Lines" re-created the same dilemma that any free-thinking and music-loving feminist faces:  Loving the beat and the melody, but hating the words and, in this case, the video.  Sure, we've all seen videos where women were nothing but sexual foils to the male artists in the video, but there was something creepy about the video, especially the topless version.  Sure, Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" video made the women in it look like vacuous dolls, but this video made the women in it look like vacuous inflatable sex dolls.  I'm not a big Robin Thicke fan, but somehow I expected more from the "Lost Without You" crooner.  Before, he sang songs about loving women, while "Blurred Lin…

A High Hustle Quotient (What Tina Turner and The Tamale Lady Have in Common)

Whenever I hear people who are struggling financially or in their careers tell me what they’re not going to do to get out of their situations, e.g., “I’m not going to take work outside of my field,” “I’m not going to take the bus to get to work,” or “I’m not working at Starbucks,” I smile and think to myself: Tina Turner cleaned houses. After Tina Turner divorced Ike Turner, she was broke.If you saw the movie, “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” or read the book, you know Tina Turner came through her divorce without much other than her name.To get out of the financial situation she was in, she cleaned houses.Mind you, she cleaned houses not while she was unknown and still Anna Mae Bullock.She cleaned houses as Tina Turner, formerly of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.Imagine the humility it took to go from singing and dancing on stage for thousands to cleaning houses for some of her rich friends.Imagine what it felt like to go from having a cleaning lady to becoming one. Then there’s the …

Can We Declare a Genocide of Young Black Men in America?

I have one question for President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder:  Can we declare a genocide of young black men in America?

I don't mean to be melodramatic, and I'm not naive enough to believe that there isn't enough already in America's mean streets and hard 'hoods responsible for the deaths of young black men.

But somehow, I never hear of unarmed young white men being accidentally shot by police officers or intentionally shot by wannabe vigilantes or old people with an aversion to loud hip-hop blasting from an SUV.   I don't hear of any other race of young men in America being gunned down like dogs as often as young black men.

How many more have to die before we realize we have a problem?

Do I have to go before the U.N. to have a genocide declared?  President Obama just authorized air strikes to avert a genocide in Iraq.  Can we get an air strike or two up in the 'hood to avert the genocide of young black men in America?

I have yet to take down my…

Suicide, Depression, Forgiveness, and Robin Williams

Robin Williams starred in one of my sister's favorite films, "What Dreams May Come."  In it, he portrays a physician who marries an artist (played by Annabella Sciorra).  They later have two children, a boy and a girl, who are killed in a car accident.  Although the deaths of their children bring them to the brink of divorce, they decide to stay together.  Then the husband dies in a car accident and ascends to Heaven.  Grief-stricken and unable to continue on, the wife kills herself and ends up in Hell, not as punishment, but because the pain that brought on the suicide creates Hell for her in the afterlife.  The husband attempts what had never been achieved: Leaving Heaven to rescue a soul from Hell to bring to Heaven.  He succeeds.

This movie resonates with the African-American Protestant upbringing of my youth to a certain extent:  The idea that suicide on earth equals Hell in the afterlife.  Like many other African-American Protestants, I was taught that suicide was …

Summoning The Courage To Write About Dr. Maya Angelou (The Greatesst Lesson I Learned From Her)

A friend of one of my Facebook friends posted that he saw no sizable difference in the number of comments from African-Americans and whites about the passing of Dr. Maya Angelou and concluded that, based on the number of comments, she meant no more to African-Americans than she did to whites.

What the person failed to take into account was that maybe we African-Americans were just stunned into silence.  Perhaps we could not find the words to express how we felt.

I know I couldn't.

What can any writer write about one of the most gifted writers of our generation?  What could any one writer say that hasn't already been said by the obituary writers, friends, family, and luminaries? 

With that in mind, I wrote nothing.  That is, until I summoned the courage to write this entry and share the greatest lesson Dr. Maya Angelou taught me and perhaps others.

Dr. Angelou's quote about courage being the most important virtue because, without it, you cannot practice the other virtues c…

A Different Kind of College Commencement Address (People Don't Get What They Deserve)

Here's one of many reasons I will never be invited to give a college commencement address of any kind.

If I were going to give a college commencement address, it would simply be this:  The lyrics to Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings' "People Don't Get What They Deserve, " especially the chorus:

Money don't follow sweat
Money don't follow brains
Money don't follow deeds of peace
People don't get what they deserve

Cruel, eh?  Not really.

The lyrics to the beginning of the song sum up nicely the beliefs that many middle class, working class, and poor parents send their children off to college with -- work hard, do well, and you will succeed and prosper.

Not so fast, says Ms. Jones and the Dap Kings.  That equation doesn't necessarily add up in today's world.

With the wealth gap widening, the student loan debt burden breaking the backs of our young college graduates before they even drive off campus for the last time, we do a disservice to them to a…

Feeling LIke a Stranger to My Happiness (Happy Anniversary, BMNB, and I Want to Be a Dapette)

I'm a huge fan of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.  On this day, my eleventh wedding anniversary, their song "Stranger to My Happiness" sums up how I feel.  Not Pharrell Williams' "Happy," but "Stranger to My Happiness."  Here's why.

I've finally gotten to the point in my life where all the pieces seem to fit together pretty well, and what doesn't fit, I've discarded.  Changing jobs was a huge part of this happiness that I haven't felt in a long, long time.  I don't wake up dreading going to work, I don't hold my breath until the weekend comes, and I'm not sour and cross with my long-suffering husband, Black Man Not Blogging (BMNB).  My stress level is much lower, I sleep better, I feel better.  I haven't felt this happy in a long time.  I have, in fact, been a stranger to my happiness.

We don't realize that when we're stressed out, we stress out the folks around us.  We take them through the same change…

Non-Black Biological Mothers of Biracial Black Daughters: How to Build Your Daughters' Hair Esteem

It has happened twice in my life, once when I was in my early twenties, the other last week.  The first time, I was so taken aback that I didn't respond.  Last week, I did.

What is it, you ask?  It was the following:  Having a non-black woman who was dating a black man say to my face, "I hope our kids have MY hair."  In both cases, the women were Latina.

The first time it happened, I was an exchange student in Spain speaking to one of my fellow Stanford exchange students.  She was dating an African-American Stanford student who was on the football team.  While discussing her boyfriend, and while wearing a sweater I had loaned her, she made her remark.

I was stunned.  So stunned, I didn't respond.  If she didn't want her children to have her boyfriend's hair, what did that say about what she thought of her boyfriend and his hair?  Better yet, what was she thinking saying that to my face and my very visible African hair while wearing my sweater, twirling the en…

No, Sir Charles, It Isn't a Black League; It's a Black Players' Association

In all the comments on sports shows about the alleged racist comments of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling (and yes, even old racists are entitled to due process, so until they're authenticated, they are "alleged" comments), the one that caught my attention the most was from Charles Barkley, AKA Sir Charles.  In making the argument that, if the remarks were indeed Sterling's then he shouldn't be allowed to keep his franchise, Sir Charles argued, "It's a black league."

Well, actually, Sir Charles, it isn't.  The players' association may be black, but the NBA is not a black league.  It is a majority white-owned league with a majority of black players.

A couple of things also stood out to me.  I don't think that Sterling just woke up the other day in bed with his partially black girlfriend and became a racist.  If indeed he was sued twice for housing racial discrimination while he was the owner of the Clippers, why didn't the …

Pimpin' My Water

I live in California, and we're in the midst of one of the worst droughts ever.  I'm old enough to remember the most recent worst drought during the '70's,when my dad did his part for water conservation by putting a brick in the toilet tank.  Our governor has declared a drought emergency, halted deliveries of water to central valley farms, and asked consumers to reduce their water usage by 20%.  It goes without saying that when the governor is willing to suspend water supplies to the state's largest industry (and no, it's not film making; it's agriculture), we're in dire straits, indeed.

The price of fruits and vegetables is going to go up.  And Yours Truly likes homegrown tomatoes in the summer.  How can I have my summer veggie garden AND reduce my water usage by 20%?

By pimpin' my water.

Black Man Not Blogging (BMNB) and I are pretty water conservative.  We don't run the washer or the dishwasher without a full load.  We rarely wash our cars at…

No Experience Is Ever Wasted (Speed Dating for Book Lovers and My "Beloved" Moment)

No experienced is ever wasted.

~ Oprah Winfrey

Well, despite lots of preparation, attention to detail, and lots of publicity, no single men attended the Speed Dating for Book Lovers event I wrote about.  Not. One. Available. Man.

To be honest, I was mortified.  The worst had happened.  Well, not the worst -- I had been  having nightmares about potential damage to the African-American history quilts on display at our lovely venue, The Brickhouse Art Gallery, and that didn't happen.  So the second worst thing happened.  Epic. Fail.

I felt like I let the women who attended down. They were vivacious, beautiful, well put together, confident.  Many of them were understanding and lauded my efforts and encouraged me to try again, maybe on a day not so loaded with expectation and meaning as Valentine's Day, maybe with more outreach to guys.

My team, which included Black Man Not Blogging, The Outraged Citizen and his lady, The Lovely SJ, as well as The Writing Diva, the Single Parent God…