Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Every Little Bit Helps

Last year I read a book titled, “Nudge.” It basically talked about the power making small incremental changes has over a greater issue. For example taking the stairs up five flights twice daily could lead to stronger legs in as little as two weeks (my own example). So in an effort to actually accomplish a few of my news resolutions I’m going to make the following nudges in hopes of making a great impact of my savings account.

1. Join the club. For every store I patronize on the regular I’m signing up for the “bonus card” and/or email list. You get free coupons and hella savings. At the grocery store the often advertise the bonus card price as the sale price. FYI I haven’t had any issues with spam only coupons.

2. Complete the surveys. Sometimes at the bottom of the receipt there is a link or number to complete a survey. Often there is a dollar off or percentage off reward for you next purchase.

3. Cook at home and more often. Make a big pot of something and have it for lunch one day, dinner the next until it gone. Pasta is always cheap and keeps you full. This can save more money that being a ‘dollar menu - aire “a couple times a week. Plus, it’s better on your stomach.

4. When I make a one dish meal, say chili, I add an extra can of beans to stretch the dish for a couple more servings.

5. It also helps to plan your meals, and then make a grocery list that way you know what you need and can stick to it.

6. If you want to try a swank new restaurant, go for lunch on Tuesday instead of a Friday night dinner. The lunch menu is much cheaper.

7. I know I’m gonna get flack for this one, but if you wanna go out, but you’re a little low on funds, say yes to dude who’s been checking for you.

8. Carry cash in larger denominations like 50’s rather than 20’s and 10’s. The affect is two-fold. Actually seeing the cash rather than using plastic will make you more aware of how much you’re spending and breaking a 50 dollar bill to buy a $6 sandwich is mentally harder to do.

9. I recently I gave myself and allowance for ‘fun’ money in cash and when it was gone. I was back at the bookstore reading magazines cause I knew I didn’t have the funds to go out.

10. Leave your debit/credit card at home.

11. Comparison shop for everything. Try for clothes and accessories.

12. Be mature enough to say “I ain’t got it.”

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010

Commentary: Jill Scott Talks Interracial Dating -

Over the past few weeks there has been hoopla on the Web about a piece in Essence magazine written by Jill Scott on interracial dating. I read the piece, at the bookstore (I forgot to renew my subscription) and I agreed with the overall message, but a few comments bothered me.

“My new friend is handsome, African-American, intelligent and seemingly wealthy. He is an athlete, loves his momma, and is happily married to a White woman. I admit when I saw his wedding ring, I privately hoped. But something in me just knew he didn't marry a sister. Although my guess hit the mark, when my friend told me his wife was indeed Caucasian, I felt my spirit...wince. I didn't immediately understand it. My face read happy for you. My body showed no reaction to my inner pinch, but the sting was there, quiet like a mosquito under a summer dress.”

“These harsh truths lead to what we really feel when we see a seemingly together brother with a Caucasian woman and their children. That feeling is betrayed.”

First let me make this very clear, I AM NOT AGAINST INTERACIAL DATING. I always say, “I ain’t gonna let NOBODY and NOTHING keep me away from my “good thing.” If the one God made for me happens to look like Channing Tatum and not Lamman Rucker, then so be it. However I am against self hatred and stereotyping. If you’re with someone because you feel, whether you admit it or not, that she is “better” because of her skin color or you think that an entire race of women all share the same character traits, then that is a problem.
It is hard to make a case for someone who used to be with the chocolatiest of chocolate sistas when he was “po, broke, and had no dough” then suddenly after “making it” he joins the No Black Girls Allowed Club. I’m just saying, something about it just doesn’t seem right and something ain’t right about saying all sistas are gold-digging, whores with not education or conversation. Who hurt you bruh?

But anyway back to Jill and her article cause I can go on and on about interracial dating. I admit I do feel something when I see a seemingly together brother with Annie Cream Cheese, but I wouldn’t say betrayed. It really depends on the couple. Sometimes if the couple just matches like they both share the same of love for Star Trek and their eyes just dance when they see each other; you can see real love and I just smile and think “There is someone for everyone.” There are times when I can just tell a brother will end up with a white girl and it’s usually when “He ain’t got no swag.” Yes I said it and I mean it. Some guys are nice guys, but just seem so bland. When lack of confidence or flavor is apparent I feel, eh. Mostly I feel, eh. There may have been a time I felt betrayed, but I now realize that usually I’m not attracted to guys who only date Becky’s or might-as-well-be-Beckys anyway. Real talk, but I understand where Jill is coming from.

My real problem with the article is “While we exert efforts to raise our sons and daughters to appreciate themselves and respect others, most of us end up doing this important work alone, with no fathers or like representatives, limited financial support (often court-enforced) and, on top of everything else, an empty bed. It’s frustrating and it hurts!”

I hate when a black woman has a good argument going then weakens it by airing dirty laundry and/or failing to take responsibility for her own actions. I hate, absolutely H-A-T-E the single black mother argument that may have worked in the 80’s but in 2010, no go sista. First of all I don’t believe that single mothers or the black community in general do enough to ensure that our children learn to value themselves, have respect for other people or know our history which is quite evident by looking at the numbers (i.e. HIV/AIDs, gang violence, unwed mothers, etc.) So the argument of trying to raise kids to appreciate themselves is moot especially if you are a single mother with multiple baby daddies, no real goal and no skill which brings me to my second point.

Too many women are looking for a “Sponsor.” How can you teach your child or children to value themselves and you don’t value yourself? (BTW I think that may be a contributing factor in interracial dating. I just don’t think that young black men respect their mothers, but more on that in another blog post) I believe that being a single mother is a choice and if you make the choice then it’s your sole responsibility to deal with it. You gotta birth the baby, care for the baby, it’s your baby, right? And according to the bible and the law if you are not married you are, SINGLE. You chose to go it alone.

The mention of limited financial support also cooks my grits. If you can’t afford the baby, then don’t have the baby and if you do have the baby then YOU have to make some financial sacrifices. Duh!

Besides all that what does single mother hood and limited funds have to do with interracial dating? I mean in the context of this article I think the point was about how she feels about interracial dating not discuss the consequences of having unprotected sex with someone who is not your husband. Being a struggling, lonely single mother is not an outcome of interracial dating.
What is relevant is the part about an empty bed which is what she should have discussed in more detail. Because she is not a struggling single mother, single mother yes, but struggling to make ends meet, no.

I would like to read more about why it feels frustrating and why it hurts to see a black man with a white woman and not that “because of slavery sentiment” (though it is very real). Real talk. I’d like to read more personal feeling and real life experiences, maybe I’ll blog about it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tyler Perry Doesn't Like Black Women

After seeing Why Did I get Married Too, I’m beginning to believe that Tyler Perry doesn’t like black women, but I don’t think he knows it. Think about it every black woman in his movies has had major issues from allowing themselves to be physically and emotionally abused (i.e. low self-worth via Madea’s Family Reunion), to being a “strong black woman” (i.e. too tough to love Meet the Browns), gold digging opportunist and money hungry (The Family That Preys), off the wall crazy, insecure, loud, uncouth (Why Did I Get Married?).

The Why Did I Get Married duo takes the cake for Tyler’s “woman hate.” Throughout the entire movie strong, successful, black men hungered for the love and affection of docile (Shelia), hostile (Angela), unfeeling (Patricia), selfish (Diane) successful black women. Though each woman sans Diane had her redeeming qualities, the message was clear – black women are crazy. Let Tyler Perry tell it, sistas are in dire need of some mental help.

I second that emotion. I agree with Mr. Perry. Sistas need an intervention followed by a lot of love, affection, appreciation and admiration. Most of our abuse is no longer at the hands of a brutal slave master or bigoted lawmaker the whip is not our oppressor. Oppressors come in the form of music, television, advertisements, our omission from history, our absence in meaningful positions in the boardroom, our families and our men – everywhere. It says, “You don’t matter.”

I can empathize with a woman who is docile. I believe they call it, “ugly girl syndrome” (i.e. she’ll do anything to keep her man because she doesn’t believe she deserves better or that he can do better in terms of appearance). Society tells us that we are physically undesirable and that we should be happy with what we get. Let me make it clear, I don't have that syndrome, it's an example.

Ms. Hostile, I see you. Sometimes we have to man up when we don’t have a man or men to protect us so we really have to get ours on your own. You hear it all the time, “Nuggets ain’t shit” and many of them aren’t. In defense of the hostile woman sometimes she wants to be protected and let her guard down and even be taken care of, but there are very few men who make her feel “safe” enough to relax.

Unfeeling, sometimes in the hood, the battle ground, the office or the real world you can’t show any signs of weakness cause you’ll be eaten alive. For some women with no safe haven its a mean mug all day ever day. Though in Why Did I get Married Too, Patricia came off as unfeeling and selfish in a bad way.

Every trait I mentioned is not positive thing, but sometimes you have to take circumstances in the equation which is what I hope I’m getting at, but Pat was a little bitch period.

At first I didn’t have an excuse for being selfish, but then I thought, I have my selfish moments and it’s usually when I’m tired of doing shit for er’body with no appreciation. Sometimes you just gotta say, “No.”

Damn it, I forgot what I was talking about. (Tap, Tap, Tap).
Oh yeah, Tyler Perry doesn’t like black women. He seems to take the worst quality and over dramatize it. Maybe he just finds certain traits unattractive and decided to send subliminal messages. Or maybe he doesn’t dislike black women at all. Maybe he LOVES us so much that he wants to help us see the error of our ways via overly dramatic movie plots and that we can find true love from the black man.

Either way, I’m a fan of his movies. He employs black actors and they're not pimps and hoes. Plus, he always makes sure we have some premium eye candy. How fine is Lamman Rucker? In my DMV lingo, “Dat ninja, is fine as shit.”

Friday, April 2, 2010

Kevin Powell’s Open Letter to Black America | Clutch Magazine: The Digital Magazine for the Young, Contemporary Woman of Color

Kevin Powell’s Open Letter to Black America
Friday Apr 2, 2010 – By Kevin Powell


This 42nd anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is an opportune moment to reflect on how far we’ve come, and how far we have to go. It calls us to reconsider the words Dr. King gave us at the end of his life, when he said that we need “a radical revolution of values.” Certainly, we have much to be proud of. There is the first Black president. There are more Black elected officials, more Blacks in corporate America, the media, and in very real power positions, like Oprah Winfrey, Richard Parsons, Donna Brazile, and Jay-Z.

But, if we are to be brutally honest with ourselves, we’ve also got to acknowledge that things have not been right for some time. The civil rights era concept that our leaders would deliver us into the promised land has devolved into the idea that all we need to do is show up and follow. We have lost the sense of individual responsibility toward collective change.

Think back to the days immediately after slavery, when it was clear that Blacks wanted two things: education and land. In spite of vicious White terrorism, we plodded forward. There was hope, and a vocabulary of purpose. These values emboldened us during the Civil Rights Movement. And they were re-born during the 2008 presidential campaign. Yet, unlike before, many of us have failed to embrace the miraculous kind of self and community transformation that led us to walk, literally, into the teeth of barking dogs, water hoses, and police brutality, mainly because we refused to let anyone turn us around.

Why, politically, did we come out in record numbers for Barack Obama, then instantly return to apathy? Why do we remain suspended in a state of arrested development, believing that a dynamic leader will be our salvation? A civil rights veteran said it best to me many years ago: “We were just happy to get in the door. We never really had a plan beyond that.” So we have to be honest and admit that Black leadership in America, except a few shining examples such as The Brotherhood/Sister Sol in New York City or John Hope Bryant’s Operation Hope, has been too often stuck in yesterday. It has been unable to produce an agenda for Black America that will transform our communities in a holistic way. So we’ve spent 40 years like the Israelites, wandering the wilderness, harboring the misguided expectations that people like Barack, or Oprah, or anyone Black and famous will free us. It simply isn’t going to happen.

And while we’ve been waiting, praying, and producing the same predictable conferences, summits, studies, and reports again and again, Black America is on the brink of catastrophe. We need to remind ourselves that Hurricane Katrina and Haiti’s earthquake only magnify the slow forms of devastation happening each day. They include HIV and AIDS, poverty, Black self-hatred and Black-on-Black violence, the huge class divide, mediocre school systems, and the steady march of our youth into jails and cemeteries. We should stop saying this is a post-racial America because of President Obama. It is not. Despite Barack and Michelle we continue to be bombarded with destructive images of Black people in the mass media. As I travel the country speaking at universities and working for social justice, I note that our prisons are packed with black and brown bodies, and every American ghetto looks exactly the same: a lack of resources, services, and jobs, failing public schools, and limited access to the American dream.

That said, let us no longer wait on a savior to come. Do we want to continue wandering or do we want to create our future here and now? We have the power to transform our communities by enacting those “radical revolution of values.” So I propose six things we must do immediately: Create a Spiritual Foundation; Move Toward Mental Wellness; Take Care of Our Physical Health; Become Politically Active; Understand the Power of Our Culture; and Start a Plan for Economic Empowerment.

Our spiritual foundation must be rooted in God or something greater than us, and a love for self and for all Black folks, unconditionally. It must grow out of our beliefs and our willingness to act selflessly. And it must begin with mental wellness because we cannot stand up for our convictions, our faith, or ourselves if our self-esteem is not in tact. Susan L. Taylor put it best when it comes to our mental health, Black America: healing is the new activism. Be it the increase in domestic violence, homicides and suicides, or the way so many of us say “I can’t” it is clear to me that since the civil rights period our individual and collective psyches have been damaged. But we can heal by seeking counseling and therapy, forming or joining positive support groups, and courageously ridding ourselves of toxic people, even if they are longtime friends, lovers, or kinfolk.

Physically, we can no longer accept that we are pre-destined for diabetes, high-blood pressure, and other ailments. Yes, like all Americans, we should have access to health care. But we should also change our diets and exercise regularly. Recently, my mother was hospitalized. After years of sitting on the sofa watching TV and indulging in terrible eating habits, that was her wake-up call. Change your diet and live. Don’t change and die a painful and preventable death, as many of our relatives have.

Taking charge of our health and wellness also means changing the way we discuss our realities in America. Let us stop bemoaning our “crises” and start strategizing to meet our “challenges.” Let us cease spreading reports that compare us unfavorably to our White sisters and brothers. Likewise, our culture, the way we talk, eat, sing, pray, dance, laugh, and cry must become more balanced so that it no longer reflects solely what is wrong with us, but also projects a vision of how great we can become, or are.

Financially, we’ve got to disconnect our self-esteem from our clothes and cars and instead focus on building true wealth. If my illiterate late grandparents could own land in South Carolina, by saving coins in their day, then we can, too. We can use our resources to empower ourselves, to help our ’hoods, and to support our people. This means doing more than donating to charity. It means a sincere and consistent giving back in terms of time, energy, and presence.

Black America, we’ve been surviving for 400 years in this nation. The question for the twenty-first century is this: Do we want to just survive, or do we want to win? The “radical” answers, if we search hard enough, are right there in our own hands.

Kevin Powell is a writer, activist and author of 10 books, including Open Letters to America. He can be reached at