Sunday, August 26, 2012

All My Ex's Live in Texas (Well, Actually Indiana But That Didn't Rhyme)

All my ex’s live in Texas
And Texas is the place I’d dearly love to be
But all my ex’s live in Texas
Therefore I reside in Tennessee

For the past few days my daughter has been walking through the house singing the George Strait country hit "All My Ex's Live in Texas." I think it might be because there is an AT&T commercial currently airing on TV featuring that song, but whatever the reason it has me thinking about my ex's. Although they are not living in Texas, they are out there somewhere and they are testament that I had to kiss a few toads before I found a prince.

Probably the funniest story that I have about an ex boyfriend is the one who went to the store and bought things for breakfast-a breakfast that he expected me to cook-and after we got into an argument, he took the bacon out my refrigerator presumably to have another woman cook it!

And then there was the ex who sold all of my stuff so he could get high, which was not funny at all. I was so naive that I didn't even realize he was using drugs. When I think about him, I realize how narrowly I escaped a bullet. He was tall and handsome and promised me the world, but thankfully I got away from him when I could. A handsome face and a sexy body aren’t worth spending a life in misery.

Oh, and there was the model who spent more time in the mirror than I did. He had the IQ of a pencil, but he was pretty to look at.  As long as we didn’t talk much things were good. I do have to admit he had an annoying habit of mentioning all of the women who were in love with him. Not! As far as I was concerned they could have him. Maybe they could help him moisturize, hi-light and wax. Maybe they could also help him get his GED because he was one french fry short of a Happy Meal.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some nice guys through the years but they became ex’s for a reason. Should our paths cross again I would  genuinely be happy to see them and hear about the direction their lives have taken, but I would also be happy to say goodbye knowing that we now live thousands of miles apart.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

"What's Up My Niggah? Oh My God That's So Ghetto!"

For the past few months my daughter has been embroiled in a cyber war with a group of girls who she used to cheer with. The drama began when my daughter was given an award at the Varsity Cheer Banquet that stated she would be the most likely to "convert the team into ghetto girls..." This probably could have been ignored if these same girls had not spent all season mocking everything that my daughter and the other African American cheerleader said. I ignored the times my daughter came home in tears because she couldn't make them understand that they made her feel different and apart from the group. I thought things would get better.

I have moved my daughter to a new school and explained to her what ignorance really is, yet it continues-as recently as today.

What troubles me the most is that these young ladies are unable to see how hurtful their words are. They actually think it is okay to make the word ghetto synonymous with African American culture and in the past they they haven't seen anything wrong with saying "What's up my niggah?"

It really troubles me that these young women break their necks to "get with" black athletes, but they snub their noses at the beautiful black girls who are these boys' sisters. They ask insulting questions like: "why is your hair like that?" and "you CAN'T be all black!" As if there is only one way for blacks to be.

Perhaps what irks me the most is that there continue to be people in the African American community who find this acceptable. They throw around "my niggah this" and "my niggah that" without understanding that we're nobody's niggers. Have we forgotten how hurtful this word is? What made us forget that black men would have their testicles cut and stuffed down their throats  before being tied up to the highest tree? Did they forget the shame that came with being called "niggah bitch" because you were born a Negro female?

 What's absolutely ignorant is that people say "well we mean  it affectionately when we call each other niggah." There was, is, and never can be anything affectionate about a word filled with so much hate. EVER.

And the word ghetto is NOT synonymous with Black. As a matter of fact, during the Holocaust Jews were rounded up and forced to live in ghettos. So when I see a young Jewish girl talking on her cell phone or doing something else that Jewish teenagers do should I say "That's so Ghetto." I think not.

What's ironic is that my daughter has never lived in the ghetto. My husband and I earned advanced degrees so that we could maximize our earning potential. We chose neighborhoods that were diverse so our children could learn about cultures. As a matter of fact the home we bought when our children were toddlers was a mini-United Nations. We had a Vietnamese family across the street, a white family to the left of us, a Korean family to the right, an Indian family two doors down, and a Middle Eastern Jewish family behind us. It was wonderful to watch the children grow up together and embrace their differences.

I am blessed by the differences of the people who I have met throughout my life. I am thankful for my first gay friend who loved me when I didn't love myself. He thought I was beautiful just the way I was. I am thankful for my friends of different faiths who have taught me that God is bigger than I was taught to believe. I am thankful for my White friends who have shown me that we humans are more alike than different.

I truly feel sorry for these young ladies because they don't seem to have this. At least not yet. And I fear that it may be too late before they realize that words are very, very powerful and that the childhood song "sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt" was absolutely a lie. Words don't hurt. They can destroy.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Surviving the Rip Currents in Life

“Enlightenment for a wave is the moment that wave realizes that it is water. At that moment, all fear of death disappears.“
                                                                        --Thich Nhat Hanh
With the grace of God I have accomplished a great deal in life, but when I tell my story I prefer to focus on the parts where I struggled. To me those moments when I felt  that I would forever be lost at sea can be a light house to another person. I truly believe it was through those difficult times that I realized exactly what I was made of. 
There was a time in my youth when I believed that I was unwanted. I thought my birth was a mistake and everywhere I looked I saw evidence to support that. Since my father only made three appearances in my life: at my conception, just after my birth and then again on my seventh birthday, I believed that I was unnecessary, irrelevant, immaterial.  Somehow I believed that the whole world would be better off without me and that I was taking up space that was needed by someone who was worth so much more than me.  Whenever someone would give me a compliment I would question the motive: Why did he say I was pretty? What did he want from me? She likes my shoes. Was that a veiled insult?
What’s ironic is that I found myself attracted to people who did not value me. People who put their needs before my own and who made me apologize whenever I dared utter that I needed more.  Often I contemplated death, actually welcomed it because I thought it would be a way out. But it was only when I realized that death wasn’t a promise. It is life that is the promise, that I surrendered.
Like the wave, I realized that I had originated from the very thing that I was about to crash into. I was made of something so much larger than me and although I didn’t understand it, it just felt right in my Spirit. But this realization didn’t come easy. There were currents along the way that hurled me so far away from where I wanted to be that I had no way of knowing how to cope with the heartaches and disappointments. My life felt like one big tsunami and the more things happened the more it confirmed that I was a mistake. There were unhealthy relationships, illnesses, deaths, rejections, disappointments and despair. I didn’t want to live, but I was too afraid to die.
Many of you who are familiar with my writing or who have heard me speak before know that as a child I nearly drowned. That experience, along with another one here on the World’s Most Famous Beach, taught me a lesson that has kept me a float all the days of my life: how to survive when caught in a current.
Funny how we are out in the waters of life enjoying the gentle rhythm when we feel something grab hold of us and we realize we are being pulled away from where we want to be. Instinctively we want to fight. We want to thrash against the current in order to return to the shore. When we get the diagnosis, when we lose the baby, when we learn that it was all a lie, when the promise wasn’t what we expected it to be and we’re left trying to make sense of it all we want to fight. We wear ourselves out fighting back in our own strength. We panic when we realize we're facing something that is pulling us away from where we think we ought to be.
Anyone who lives near the ocean knows that the last thing we should do when caught in a rip current is panic. We must relax and conserve our energy so that when it passes we can swim back to the shore. You see rip currents will never pull us under, only away from where we think we're supposed to be.  When we fight and try to swim against a rip current,  we are pulled out to the deep and we are too exhausted to make our way back. You see rip currents are not insurmountable and eventually we will get to the end if it and  can make our way back. Unfortunately sometimes we are so focused on where we want to be that we fight where the current is trying to take us. It may just be slightly up shore, but it’s a new destination yet we resist.
Perhaps what is so frustrating is that when we come crawling out of the water, we try to hurry and clean up in order to conceal what we've just experienced instead of warning others and sharing our triumphant stories.