Archive for September, 2010

Words Matter: Speak Life To Your Children

September 26, 2010

This is one of my pet peeves, and it applies to black men and women equally.  Black women: do not sit down in front of your sons, day in and day out, talking about how black men are not worth shit.” Black men: do not sit down in front of your daughters day in and day out, talking about how black women “ain’t worth shit.” Hearing it over and over again will make this statement a fact, and sooner or later they are going to look in the mirror and realize that they too are a black man/black woman and make the connection that therefore they must not be “worth shit either”. Mom and dad said it so it MUST be true, right?? Black folks get beat up enough outside the home. Please make the home a sanctuary, something that edifies their spirit and self esteem and counteracts the negative messages that are out there in the world. I know everyone has had a bad experience, but why pass that baggage that can lead to self hatred and other issues on to your kids?

You might raise your son or daughter to be the exact opposite of every gripe you have about black men and/or women. If the mindset of men in general is that black women are only good for sex, when they set their sights on your daughter, that will be the attitude that they have toward her. If the mindset of women in general is that men are only good for money and paying bills, that is the mindset they will have when they set their sights on your son. These ideas do not serve us as a community. They hurt our sons and daughters. Even if you marry out and your children are biracial, often they will be recognized and categorized as black and will reap both the benefits, disadvantages and struggle of any other average black person.

I realize I’m being general, and that in individual relationships people can make themselves stand out, but IN GENERAL we are all lumped together as a people, and so collectively these societal mindsets affect us all.

Every race has good and evil in it. No one race has a monopoly on virtue or vice. It is far more constructive to teach your child to recognize good, evil and HEALTHY relationships across color lines and not equate them to a skin color. They need to embrace good in whatever shade it manifests, and stand against evil in whatever shade it appears. Black doesn’t always have your back. White isn’t always out to get you. It doesn’t serve them to trust or distrust unconditionally based on race or gender.

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Tyler Perry: My Two Cents

September 26, 2010

Everyone else on twitter has commented on Tyler Perry, I may as well also.| Dr. Boyce Watkins: “Are Tyler Perry Films Bad for Black America? No, They Are Not” – The original article, which I commented on at the time on the original site, has since been removed, but my response is as follows:

I can understand somewhat Spike’s (and other folks) point, but the things that he accuses Tyler of, is the reason why I could never watch School Daze. “Wannabe’s” and “Jiggaboo’s”?? The terminology itself is repulsive to me. I understand he was using that to make a point, but the same principle applies.

The Madea character actually reminds me of my late Aunt. She was large, fierce, feisty and loud, quoted bible scriptures (correctly), had a sharp tongue that could shred you to pieces, but a big heart that loved everyone. She often fed homeless and down on their luck folks. I don’t think I’m the only person who knows a Madea, and it makes me wonder is what the real issue is: is it a poor description/representation of black life, or an embarrassing portrait of truth?

Tyler got his start with black plays. Black entertainment for black people. Now that the world is watching, some want to silence him. I have mixed feelings about it. I want black folks to be viewed positively and I know that the behavior of one tends to be applied to all, but blacks, like whites, are a diverse community.  Whites have their trailer park, “dumb and dumber” characterizations, as well as positive or ordinary roles. In order for us to be accepted as just like everyone we need to have diverse images as well. If we want to be judged individually, instead of collectively, we need to stop acting like a single black image or movie or action represents the collective. Put out a counter-image. I do realize “the world” still judges blacks and other minorities collectively, and I’m not totally open minded myself: I draw the line at the “hot ghetto mess” crap that BET was trying to put on the air at one time.  However, in order to diversify our image, we actually have to start to diversify our image. We need an abundance of positive images to counteract the negative, so that we are not limited only to images that portray us in an unfavorable light. In real life, we have to accept people for their true selves: some are ghetto, some are high class, most are in-between.  Their accomplishments, or lack thereof, do not diminish or add to my stature.  I believe we gain personal freedom the more we come to realize this.

I often wonder if Tyler is going to have a Dave Chappelle moment where he walks away because he realizes that the world is laughing AT him, not with him. Regardless, he is giving jobs and exposure to blacks in an industry that is known to be hostile to us. In the past, blacks could only get roles as maids in the movies. Let him get a foot in the door, so he can drag others in with him, and then change the landscape. He’s only been at this (nation wide films, studio etc) for a few years. He has good mentors, like Oprah. I think eventually he will do very well and give even the naysayers something to be “proud” about.

A Girl Like Me

September 26, 2010

(Repost from my old yahoo blog)

It’s a sin to be ashamed of what you are.

~Annie, Imitation of Life

Black children, self-esteem and beauty standards. This subject matter is so exhaustive and correlates to so many different areas of our lives that I just didn’t know where to start. I am not going to even begin to try to touch upon everything, but I think this is an issue which needs to be bought to everyone’s attention.  Recently, a short film was made by a 16 year old African-American teen, Kiri Davis, on the subject matter of black girls and self image. For those of you who haven’t seen the video you can check it out here:

Note: Original site no longer has video. There is some information here: http://peacemedia.usip.org/resource/media-matters-film-festival-girl-me and I located the video on youtube below:

If you have children, daughters in particular, or have young children under the sphere of your influence please watch the video. In the film she gets reactions from other teens about their experiences and thoughts about being black. She also recreates the “doll test” initially conducted by Dr. Kenneth Clark, used in the desegregation case, Brown vs. Board of Education back in the 1950’s. In the “doll test” a child is presented with two dolls, a black doll and a white doll and asked which doll is the “good” or “nice” doll and which is the “bad” doll. In one scene a little girl is presented with the test and selects the black doll as the “bad” doll, and when asked, said it is bad because it is black, the other doll is nice because it is white. She is then asked which doll looked like her. I tell you, my heart broke as she silently slid the black doll forward. Of the children Kiri worked with, 15 out of 21 preferred the white doll.

Being balanced, when children that age are presented with a choice, they may assume those are the only options. I would have preferred for her to have asked them if one of the dolls were good or bad, and then if they made that decision inquire as to why. The way the question was posed, the children may have thought one HAD to be good and one HAD to be bad. Even so, to see a black child say the black doll was bad, simply because it is black, is very disturbing. This is not simply about a black child wanting to play with a white doll, its about why. If its a preference, or they just like the doll, that’s fine. If its because they think to be black is ugly or “bad”, then we have a problem.

It all starts at home, though. We have access to and the responsibility to shape the minds of our children, so when they are faced with outside images that would paint black folks in a negative light, there is a frame of reference that has been internalized to offset that. We need to be able to help them understand the images, attitudes and stereotypes they will be faced with. We have to do this, society at large is not looking our for our children.

We also need to remember that children take in EVERYTHING. Just because they have not been explicitly told that black is “bad”, that doesn’t mean they have not come to certain conclusions. How are you referring to other blacks? Yourself? Are you something that needs to be fixed: Is your hair “too nappy”, skin too dark? I know some people who will not go out in the sun for fear of getting dark. I know a woman who was told by her mother not to bring a dark-skinned man home because “we are trying to progress and improve the race, not regress”. She was told she could date them but not reproduce with them. I’ve read experiences recounted of lighter siblings being favored over darker siblings, and times the darker ones were completely ignored.

I have come across similar issues in other arenas. Author Joanne Cornwell, in her book “That Hair Thing” discusses black beauty, and it’s affect on our lives and relationships. She noted that when she attends movies and a dark skinned actress comes on the screen how someone always says that she is ugly, and will talk negatively about their features: wide noses, nappy hair, thick lips, dark skin. She also noted that in the instances she was able to get a look at the person hurling the insults, they often had similar features. I’m sorry folks, but this is self hate no matter how you slice it.

Cornwell poses the questions: “What have we become when the physical traits of our women are acceptable objects of ridicule in our culture? What have we become, when our women feel that covering up or correcting nature is the only way to make themselves lovable, or even acceptable, both to men and to other women?” She calls this an “aesthetic crises“, where to a greater or lesser degree, we have lost our ability to see, believe in, and be empowered by the physical beauty that is unique to our own kind. She continues,“Although it is related to other external factors, I believe it has more to do with how we experience two things in our lives that are basic to all human beings. These are Beauty and Truth. Our experience of these two forces affects us through out our lives on a very deep level. As humans, we have a strong natural urge to connect the two, but as African Americans, too often in our daily lives, Beauty is not related to what is True for us at all…”

She goes on to state that growing up on media images given to us by Hollywood, we have internalized the images that are celebrated as beauty in mainstream culture, creating what is considered “normal” for the standard of beauty, stating “normalcy [is]a precondition to beauty, and our task is to ensure that our true images get included in what is considered normal.”

Going forward, tell your daughters they are beautiful. Also teach them that they don’t have to hate others to celebrate themselves. It’s not about being “better than”. As one woman put it, you “don’t want her subconsciously associating beauty, refinement, and ‘specialness’ solely with white skin.” Another puts it this way “its not about denying the differences, its about not making what is different bad, about not being inherently bad because you exist.”

You can expose your child to positive black images. If you conduct the doll experiment, and your child has a preference, find out why. I don’t recommend taking your child’s toys away if they do not choose how you want them to. That will only make matters worse. Just teach them. Teach them to love themselves, and each other. Teach them their value, that they are “enough” in and of themselves, and show them their beauty. In one forum a member stated: “When I was young, I told my mom I wanted a white doll. She politely turned me around and asked ‘Are you white?’ ‘Are your parents white?’ Of course I replied no. She told me she wanted me to have a doll that was as beautiful as I am. I never wanted or asked for a white doll since.”

The children are our future. Give them the tools they need to create a happy and prosperous one which validates their identity and helps them recognize their own power to be successful as their own person on their own terms.

Eddie Long Pt 2: We Are To Worship God, Not Man

September 25, 2010

As I was saying earlier, there is a rock star mentality in the Church now days, where church leaders are almost like celebrities. Jesus is the Rock Star, however you would not know that to go to many of the churches today. Often the pastor is the object of all the adoration. I have much respect and reverence for men and women of God. I like nothing more than to sit at the foot of someone who can dispense Godly wisdom. However we are to worship God, not the pastor. We always brag about our religion. We aren’t like the others, we don’t worship wooden or golden idols, we have a LIVING God. It sounds good, but human nature is human nature. We like to have an object of focus, so often the pastor has become the idol. God will not share His Glory, so it will never last long, but this is a common occurrence.

To the saints:  this is yet ANOTHER wake up call. Worship God not man. Do not go into despair, do not say to yourselves, “if a man as great as Bishop Long cannot follow the precepts of God, what hope is there for me?” This isn’t about Bishop Long’s relationship to God, it is about your own. If your spiritual stability is dependent on the spiritually stability of anyone but you and God, then you have problems. Men cannot solve these problems, seek God.

Likewise, do not be proudhearted and look down on Bishop Long. Just because you do not have a problem in a certain area, does not mean you do not have other strongholds. ANYONE can sin. In fact, it’s just a matter of when and under what circumstances. You do not know anyone else’s history, or weaknesses or how they were tempted.

Now, this is the part where I get hate mail and accused of blasphemy.

Yes, I believe homosexuality is a sin. However, I do not believe it is any greater or lesser than any other sin. Do you lie, cheat on your spouse, have sex outside of marriage? Well, congratulations! Sin-wise you’re in the same boat as homosexuals.

While I do not believe a homosexual lifestyle should be encouraged or promoted, I also do not believe that those individuals should be singled out, discriminated against, marched against, violently attacked, stoned, or kicked out the church, etc.. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, but politically I can support civil unions. I don’t discount their love for one another. I’m not going to belittle them and tell them what they feel isn’t “real” because it isn’t love for someone of the opposite sex. I understand the reasoning that love is love, regardless of gender. I understand the confusion, despair and desire for approval when people ask, “If God is a God of love, how can He be against this?”  The bible says, “there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end leads to destruction.” I don’t know the reason it is sin, but it is, and I trust God enough to believe that it is sin for my benefit and not to keep me from experiencing something really good.

I think that the Church’s answer to homosexuality is to shame the individual. To get them to renounce what they see as a natural part of themselves, and if they can’t do that, then they ostracize them. After all, if they TRULY believed in God, REALLY had a heart after God, then they could put that part of themselves away, right? All they have to do is read the right scriptures, say the right prayers. If they can’t overcome it, then they are weak, it is THEIR fault. They just aren’t trying hard enough. How come the Church can understand, and often even condone, other forms of sin, but not the sin of homosexuality?  Easy: its not their weakness, not their poison.

Now, here is where the blasphemy comes in, or the calls for a padded room, depending on if you are a believer or not. I believe I had a revelation though, so I’m going to share it. I have no scriptural basis for this, just my own thoughts/opinion/personal revelation.

The first time I ever heard God speak, actually the second but the first time I realized Who it was, was several years ago. I was going through a very hard time. I had lost my job. I was depressed. I was preparing to leave the next day to go to Switzerland, as my sister had sent for me to get me out the States for a month or so. I was very emotional, and stopped at the store for a few things. Browsing the books I came across God.com by James Alexander Lanteaux. I read the cover liner and started crying. Driving home, God spoke a promise and a blessing to me. My first thought was, “Where did THAT come from? It wasn’t my thought, it was transposed over my thoughts. In my mind, but not my mind. Once I realized Who it was, my spirits lifted and gave me encouragement. I couldn’t stop smiling. I finally understood what the bible meant by the “still, small voice”. I really needed that word to keep me going. It did and still does encourage me.

I didn’t know it at the time, but the book was about James’ relationship with God, hearing God speak and obeying God.  Had I not had that experience of hearing from God at the time I bought the book, I would have dismissed it. You always hear people say, “God told me this, God told me that”.  Not having experienced it, I would always be like yeah…um…ok…as I back away a little, or if I believed them, I just couldn’t relate. I just figured I wasn’t spiritual enough. It hasn’t happened since, but it made my heart open to hearing and receiving the message of the book on a level I would not have appreciated otherwise.

Anyway, James was gay, and the book is about his struggle with obeying God and coming to terms with his sexuality. At one point in the book, he basically says, Jesus was tempted in all ways, so he knows Jesus will be with him. If the bible says He was tempted in all ways, then it was ALL ways. That stopped me right there. Did I believe that or not? I mean I’ve quoted the scripture before, but did I BELIEVE that Jesus understood MY temptations, let alone someone’s else’s homosexual ones? Also, I’m not a bible scholar by any means, but I was pretty sure I hadn’t heard about Jesus and the apostles getting extra cozy. I expected Him to be tempted sexually by women, after all he hung out with prostitutes, but tempted by men? I pondered this over and over again, trying to figure out where in the bible it says that Jesus was tempted by a man. I couldn’t get past that part of the book. So after a while, I pulled out the bible, and sat down, opened up the book, and my eyes fell on the passage: “John, the disciple whom Jesus loved.” I kid you not when I say the passage was practically highlighted.

Then things clicked.

I had heard a teaching from Joyce Meyer before about Peter and John, and Peter’s temper and how he angrily questioned Jesus about John when Jesus had foretold Peter about his (Peter’s) future death.  “Lord, but what of him?’ (meaning John)  Jesus replied: “If I want him to wait until I come, what is that to you? Your business is to follow me” (John 21:17-23) Peter’s question and his anger now made sense to me,  if in fact John was a temptation to Jesus. Now, I’m not saying that Jesus was a closet homosexual, and obviously Jesus DID NOT SIN with John or anyone else, otherwise he would not have been the perfect sacrifice for our sins. I understand how people in close working relationships can get into a emotional muddle, especially when spiritual things are involved and if people could understand that JESUS UNDERSTANDS the temptation, then that can make a huge difference to people struggling with homosexuality and other sins. Instead of hiding from Him, they would seek Him out.

The problem with the Church and homosexuality is that the CHURCH does not “understand” this temptation. For most, its not their weakness, not their poison. When it does come to light, in cases such as the catholic church and other prominent leaders, instead of shedding light on the situation, cleansing wounds, we go into denial and act like it doesn’t exist. Shame and sin continues to fester in the darkness. I don’t know the answer for how to resolve this. I do know there are many people hurting, rejected, condemned because of the treatment they have received at the hands of the CHURCH, the place they are supposed to get healed, not condemned and destroyed. We need to stop doing further damage to the people we are supposed to save. We can still embrace them as brothers and sisters in Christ while God works with them to bring about any changes needed in their lives, changes to be honest which may never happen, or at least be evident to outsiders. Salvation is the main thing, but keep in mind issues people are struggling with do not magically go away once they get saved. We do, however, now have help in dealing with and working through them. I had Issues of sexual sin that God did not address right away when I started taking my faith seriously. Eventually though, the situation became uncomfortable to the point I ended the relationship, but this was a decision between me and God, not me and whomever wanted to condemn my actions. I’m a strong advocate of minding your own business and not speaking to people’s person sin when you have no personal relationship and trust between you to earn that privilege. Even then, our job is to love and support people, and point them toward the love of God, not condemn their actions and take on the mantle of Holy Ghost Jr.. Stay in your lane. God can handle this. Jesus brings freedom, not condemnation.

Bishop Eddie Long – My two cents

September 25, 2010

Edit: This was written as the story was breaking.  As more information has become available it would be hard to come to any conclusion other than some type of misconduct was performed on the part of Bishop Long toward those entrusted to his mentorship.

Whether or not Eddie Long is guilty of sexual misconduct and abuse of power, my prayer for the situation is that the truth comes out, any wronged parties receive justice, that the congregation and/or followers of Bishop Long do not get spiritually destroyed, and that the Church itself can learn some lessons and move on.

Time after time we see church “leaders” fall into sin. There is a huge outcry and backlash against the Church, saints are disillusioned, and there is great weeping and gnashing of teeth, rending of clothes, etc.

The Church becomes divided. One side says there should be forgiveness. One side says there should be legal action and punishment. I believe there is cause for both.

Eddie Long is a man. He is subject to sin just as you and I. If he sins and asks God for forgiveness, He will forgive him. As Christians we are taught to forgive, so should he be found guilty, many, if not all, in the church will also forgive him, and eventually welcome him back to the fold.

We are also instructed to “follow the laws of the land”. If he has been found to have violated the laws of the land, then he is subject to whatever consequences the courts deem appropriate. Forgiveness does not necessarily negate the consequences of sin.

King David committed adultery with Bathsheba. He then tried to cover up her pregnancy, and failing that, he had her husband Uriah the Hittite killed. While King David was forgiven for his sins, he still paid the price, including the death of their son together, a direct result of his actions. David was still described as having a heart after God. He was still “Christian” throughout his sin, still a believer. So don’t say “How can anyone be a TRUE Christian and do, x, y or z…”. Christians are not perfect. There is forgiveness of sin WHEN we sin, and it is almost a given that we will, even though we have accepted Christ. I don’t know Bishop Long’s heart but, as King David has shown, being sinful and Christian are not mutually exclusive. One can have a heart after God, and still not have control over sin.

There is a portion of the Church that believes that no one should ever dare utter a word against a man of God. “Touch not mine anointed” is quoted over and over again, almost threateningly, meant to instill fear should you even think to question the church authority.  This was actually an admonishment during biblical times to Kings and others who might think to do physical harm to God’s prophets. While I do subscribe to the general rule of not speaking negatively against men of the cloth, and I do believe that God is not powerless and can therefore discipline his own, the bible does not condone or encourage ignorance, or contrary to popular rhetoric, BLIND FAITH. Where faith is involved, it is to be in God, not man. We are told to test God and the prophets.

Since the allegations have been made, it is the duty of the Church to investigate this for two main reasons.  One, the congregation needs to have confidence in their leaders and more importantly, in God’s Word. As long as the stigma of any wrong doing is hanging over the head of  Bishop Long, he will not be able to minister effectively. It casts a shadow over the integrity of the gospel he preaches.  If the pastor is in unrepentant sin, he is out of fellowship with God and therefore cannot hear from God to lead the church spiritually.  Also we are taught that if we are not in fellowship, our prayers are not heard. He cannot intercede on behalf of his congregation if his prayers are not heard.  Two, as guardians over the children and shepherds over the congregation, there is a responsibility to see to their safety and well-being. If the Church does not investigate this and a crime has taken place,  then we are responsible for the damage done to those children and are just as guilty.

Sometimes when one does not heed God, He makes one’s private sins public. (I’m not saying that is what happened here.) Regardless of what happens in court, men of God are held to a higher standard. Should these accusations be true, I would not want to be in the shoes of Bishop Long. The Bible does not take lightly teachers of the Word leading their flock astray. Bishop Long isn’t the main thing on my mind, though.

What is on my heart to discuss is the rockstar mentality that follows many preachers and teachers of the Word and handling of homosexuality in the Church.  Stay tuned for part  two.

Chant Speaks

September 25, 2010

Since my rants often encompass more than 140 characters.


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