Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I Can't Get Everything I Want on Black Friday

I still can't believe how some American shoppers act on Black Friday. I saw the video of people fighting over pre-paid cellphones at Walmart and the stampede at a Victoria Secret in Oklahoma.  What are they putting in the panties and bras at Victoria's Secret? While watching the chaos, I thought for people to behave like that, what they need can't be found in a Walmart bargain bin, like sense and manners.  And maybe better paying jobs or financial planning so they don't have to damn near risk their lives for a cellphone.

I won't lie to you.  I hit up the Black Friday sales. But I always wait until after the chaos. I took the train to the mall at noon. By then, the hardcore shoppers were nestled in their beds, with visions of Walmart bargain bins fights replaying in their heads. There was nothing really on my heart that I really wanted, aside for a pair of tall, flat leather boots. We scoured the whole mall and the only thing that made me whip out my wallet were button up, business shirts that were on sale at JC Penny for $12.  What I really, really, really want, I can't get on a shopping trip on Black Friday.

--I want to rent a nice one-bedroom apartment in a certain area SOON that fits my budget.
--I want to see the world and write about it.
--I want to make more money.
--I want my public speaking career to take off.
--I want this blog and my podcasts to take off.
--I want success, based on how I define it.
--I want to be a bestselling author.
--I want more time in the day.
--I want my dentist to have a change of heart and take my insurance.
--I want to own a flat in London and a house in Napa.
-- I want to have dinner with Oprah and the Obamas.
--I want to interview Janel Monae.

It's not just the material things I can't find at Target's electronic department.

--I want peace in the world.
--I want AIDS, cancer and hunger eradicated.
--I want the human race to take better care of our planet.
--I want the criticism of our president that has racist undertones to stop.
--I want more humanity in our world.
--I want child sex trafficking to end, especially in my neighborhood.

Then there's the nostalgia…

--I want to go over my late great aunt's house for Thanksgiving and eat her tamale pie again like we used to do every year.
--I want to watch my late grandfather make magic over the stove.
--I want my colleague who passed away recently to walk into my office, give me a hug and complain about his day.
--I want Whitney to get a second chance at life and heal from whatever pain that drove her to drugs.
--I want to eat dairy without getting sick. I miss milk, cheese and ice cream.

Then there are the really superficial things…

--I want to film and reenact Charlize Theron's J'adore commercials.
--I want to sunbathe in Europe on a yacht while wearing a white bikini with a cute guy stretched out next to me.
--I want to be cast as the next Catwoman.
--I want to fly to Vegas with my girlfriends, stay in a 5-star hotel and rent a limo. Then I want us to shop our behinds off, club hop, go to the spas and get front row seats to all of the shows. I want this to be an annual thing.  And I want us to do this in Paris, Spain, etc.
--I want to do photoshoots with David Bechkham and Trey Songz.

There are other superficial things I want, but I'll keep them to myself because you will think I'm off the hook.  Bwahaha.

This is not even half of my list of wants. My lack of desire for material things at the mall is a blessing. It means I have a lot. Despite my long list of wants, I'm happy that I have good health, a job, my family and friends, shelter, clothes and my car.  The last three years have been tough for me, but things are changing for the better.  After being unemployed for 2+ years, getting in a horrible car accident that thankfully didn't kill me and scraping by, I know how blessed I am. And those things make you realize what's important.  For that, I'm thankful.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Getting Some Lovin' During the Blues:
Mental Health, Depression and Sexual Wellness

Last weekend I had the honor of speaking about mental health and sexual wellness at the SHERO conference in West Oakland. It was a very intimate setting, where black women were able to talk about sex openly. SHERO founder Nichole Little saw an ad in Oakland magazine about my show Mental Health and Wellness Radio  and asked me to speak.

There's no secret I love writing about sex and erotica. And I've always been fascinated with the mind and emotions. I even wanted to be a psychologist when I was younger. But there's another reason why mental health is important to me.

For the last 16+ years, I've been living with depression. I say LIVING because even during periods of the blues, I still have a quality life.  I work, write, create, read, win awards, go to good schools, love, laugh, travel, party, socialize, give, help others etc. I do all of this while LIVING with depression.  For a long time I carried shame about my diagnosis. But it wasn’t until my recent job that I learned to not be ashamed. Depression is not my fault. It wasn't a choice. Just like cancer, diabetes, lupus and any other health problem is not anyone's choice.

SHERO founder Nichole Little and
Cocoa Fly at the 2012 Art & Soul Festival

I was ashamed because I thought people would judge me or think less of me if they knew. I was ashamed because I bought into that, "Strong Black Woman" doctrine that's killing a lot of sistas because we're not making our health and happiness a priority. I was ashamed because I heard depression was for white women, and so I questioned my own blackness. I was ashamed because in church I heard, "Don't go to no psychologist for your problems, just give it to Jesus!" So when I asked Jesus to take away the sadness, and it was still there, I began to lose faith. But I never heard the pastor tell the parishioners diagnosed with diabetes, "Don't go to no doctor. Put down that insulin and take your illness to Jesus!" 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Love White Women and the San Francisco Giants

I had the sweet opportunity to attend a two-day training in Downtown San Francisco. Those two days in the city were great. Downtown San Francisco is buzzing with tourists, great shopping (Macy's, DSW, Nordstrom's, etc.), bars, cable cars, etc.  San Francisco, like any other major city, also has interesting characters. And of course I encountered one of them.

My two co-workers and I were walking down Market Street toward 5th.  One of my co-workers is white and the other black.  Both of my coworkers are young and attractive. As we're walking down the street a brotha, around 25, came from nowhere and asked if we wanted to buy some incense. His approach was aggressive.  He got really close to us and was loud.

When he approached us, we were in mid-conversation laughing about something I can't remember. Then the brotha got extra close to my white co-worker and told her how pretty she was and that he liked her smile. I could tell she felt uncomfortable and understandably so.

He followed us a few more steps and we walked faster trying to outpace him.  Then he said to my black co-worker and I, "Sorry sistas but I love me some white women. I LOVE WHITE WOMEN!" My white co-worker didn't say anything. My black co-worker looked shocked and said, "Wow." I laughed because he caught me off guard and was trying to think of something smart to say. It was too late for a snarky response. He was far down the street before I could yell anything back. By the way, my black co-worker was the one I told you about who bought the book "Swirling." She later said, "See that's why I bought the book." LOL

I wasn't angered by what the brotha said to us. However, his actions brought up something bigger for me. His aggressive approach to three women was so disrespectful.  What I found interesting was that he would yell "I LOVE WHITE WOMEN!" on the street to black women. He has the legal right to yell on one of the busiest streets in San Francisco that he likes white women. To do that in front of black women is an act of dismissing us and I think disrespectful in black culture. Some people may disagree.  I have dated interracially, but I would never go up to a group of black men and say, "Sorry brothas but I LOVE ME SOME WHITE DUDES!"  Or, "Hey my brothas, I CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF LATINO MEN!" That would be so disrespectful to them because basically I'm telling them they're not good enough for me. Society and the media tell black men they're not good enough daily. Why would I keep the driving that nail in?

Other issues that came to mind were misogyny and oppression of black women in the black community.  I'll also add to that how black men and women see each other.  There's a lot of love between black men and women. But there's a lot of animosity as well. If I had responded to incense dude, "I understand because I love white men myself," I wonder what he would have said. Would he have said that back in the 1970s, 80's, a time when I remember seeing Black love more than today?   A time when there was more respect for Black women in the Black media. Incense dude's action, I felt, was an example of how black women are seen as inferior to other races and cultures of women.

Again looking back, I wasn't mad. Lord knows I don't want incense dude. It was just that his actions reminded me of where black women and men relationships are. I'm so happy that I realize I have options now when it comes to men.  I'm happy that I love the skin I'm in and know many other men (black and non-black) do too. I don't need the incense dudes of the world's approval.

What does this have to do with the Giants? Not much, just that it happened two days before their World Series parade.

I'd love to know what you think. Was the incense dude being disrespectful? What would you have said or done? 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sigma Gamma Rho Turns 90 and I'm Off to Celebrate

Photo by Jenee Darden
We have two big celebrations planned, one in Los Angeles and another in Indianapolis. Our sorority was founded at Butler University in Indy by seven black educators. But one of our founders, Mary Little,  is buried in Inglewood at an unmarked grave. We're going to honor her and give her a proper headstone. Anyone who has tried to start a business knows it isn't easy. Can you imagine not only starting an organization that has lasted 90 years but has grown to 90,000 members?  That's amazing.

I'm looking forward to celebrating this milestone and returning to LA. This is my first time back to LA since moving. I can't wait to see my friends.

 In keeping with our 90th celebration, do something for you this weekend! Why not celebrate something in your life--a job, happiness, new hairstyle, or just yourself. It doesn't have to be big. Do something for you and honor your achievement, no matter how big or small. Have a great weekend everyone!


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