Ism’s

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Religion has been around since mankind has been in existence. Along with religion has also been Agnosticism and Atheism. However comma as soon as you mention the latter, those who associate with them are immediately judge. It’s funny, as much as I think I have an “open mind” and try not to judge – I find myself judging associates of mine because of who they are. Is it because I grew up in a semi religious household? Certain religions have taught us not to accept homosexuality, races, Atheism/Agnosticism, or anything and anyone that does not agree with the “rules” of their religion. It wasn’t until I went to the 13th grade and took a “Religion of the World’s” course, that I began to learn about other religions and what they have to offer. Even with the new found knowledge, I still hadn’t learned, truly, about Atheism or Agnosticism. Not until now, now that I have people in my life who associate with these ism’s.

Atheism, the absence of belief in the existence of deities – there is no higher being. The etymological root of the word means without god. French philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre believes, “Atheism existentialism are concerned less with denying the existence of God than with establishing man needs to find himself again and to understand that nothing can save him from himself, not even a valid proof of the existence of God.”

Agnosticism, is the view that the existence of God, a divine being, or the supernatural is unknown or unknowable. William Rowe is quoted as saying, “in the strict sense, however, agnosticism is the view that human reason is incapable of providing rational grounds to justify either the belief that God exist or belief that God does not exist.”

Religion does not need to be explained. In fact, one could say it has been over explained. It is what drives many decisions, what the majority associate themselves with whether it be the various forms of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Muslim, Taoism, and many more. If however comma we wanted a more formal context… according to Webster Dictionary: “the state of religious; the service and worship of God or the supernatural; commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance; a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices; cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.”

What does all this mean, I gave formal definitions with no real world context. I think I can sum it by quoting one of my newfound favorite scientist. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, “The moment someone attaches you to a movement or philosophy- they assign all its baggage and all its philosophy to you. And, the moment you begin having conversation they insert that know everything important about you because of your association. That’s not the way to have a conversation. Why not just have a ‘real-time’ conversation and explore each other’s ideas/thoughts rather than assign a label to it and insert you know what’s going to happen in advance…I’d rather not be associated with anything.” All of this is exactly what I did. I had a preconceived notion of cynicism being synonymous with atheism and from this I had to take a step back, understand what these forms of ‘isms meant and respect those who associate with them. While this post may be superficial/lack depth I think one could surmise the importance of judgement.

There is a lot of knowledge I have gained from those I meet because of the respect I have for them. Do I agree with everything they say? No. But, I am willing to have an open conversation and understand the various points of view without a pre conceived notion that their view is one way because of who they are associated with rather, the facts they provide regarding the point they are trying to make.

1-Luv,

D

(May not fit entirely with the post but, still a good listen.)

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Becoming Cultured

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As a society, we can sometimes become wrapped up in what is acceptable actions, religion, music, activities, etc according to our nationality. Not realizing, what makes us different and what another culture does can sometimes unify the different races. Over the last few weekends, the togetherness I have seen amongst those I have encountered at Comicon and Renaissance Festival have been a reassuring sign that there is still awesomeness amongst us.

Fantasy Does Exist!!!

I went to Comicon and immediately became overwhelmed by the hero’s, the cosplay, the artist who cater to our need to escape reality. I met legends, saw Vader (I wanted him to say ‘Luke, I am your father.’ but jumbled my words and could only say ‘LUKE!’), purchased pieces of art that expressed me. I was amongst my people – not “black people” but, my people, those who enjoy comics and movies and fantasy. The cool thing was, there was no shaming, no judgment of the color of your skin; it was meant to be fun and fun was had.

Then, I had my first experience at the Renaissance Festival. It was full of pirates, wenches, nymphs, fairies, and pride and guess what?!?! Again, the crowd was diverse. We came to enjoy the artist and be entertained. Again, I was amongst those who luved fantasy, the era of the Renaissance, amongst culture; I was amongst my people.

Look at Me Becoming Cultured!!!

So, what does this mean? Experience is what drives perspective, gives new outlooks on life. Being cultured is not just about learning the history of your race but also, being willing to learn things from other cultures. We don’t have to stick with only “black culture” because that’s the only thing we know or that’s the color our skin. As a society, you can’t grow that way and have a full understanding of what life is through just one set of eyes. Accepting differences, interacting with other communities is what makes the human race great. And for the first time, I finally understand it completely.

My challenge to anyone who reads this: just as you would go to the museums to experience pieces of history, read the required books while in school – don’t stop there. Find local festivals to attend, don’t be afraid to try something different because it’s not apart of your comfort zone, if your children speak to you about religion or other cultures, don’t dismiss them; rather encourage their inquisitive nature. You never know, you too may find something fascinating – I know I have.

Next stop…New York Comicon

Impression

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We search for acceptance from our friends, family, co workers, children, husband/boyfriends, the person walking down the street, the waiter at a restaurant, not realizing that an impression has already been made.  A person has already looked at you and assessed your actions based on their standards.  It’s not until one decides they want to know you that their initial impression ranges from dislike, content, and/or admiration.  Questions: “So why?,” “Why should you care?” and “What is the fix?”

So Why?

Why do we try to make an impression? Why do we care so much? Why? Why? Why? My five cents…we do it because we were conditioned this way.  Think of when you were a kid; before you left the house your parents would warn you not to “act a fool,”  “your actions are a reflection of this household,” they would say.  What about your first date?  The unwritten rule, “Don’t show him/her who you really are.  “Wait a few dates/months’ or the crazy one “until you are married and he’s trapped.”  You go on a job interview, wear certain clothes, you speak and conduct yourself in a manner that is so uncommon that you have to coach yourself days before the interview; then you get the job and the first few months you are on your best behavior and once you feel comfortable you become a little more relax.  Restaurants – same thing, there are even social etiquette classes on how to conduct yourself in a social setting; as we speak, there is a format on how to engage your audience when blogging – “Social Norms” we call them.

So…why should we care?

I have a coworker who wants a James Jean “Crayon Eater” tattoo, however, is hesitant because of the social stigma that blinds our creativity and individuality.  She’s not sure how she would be perceived.  In speaking with her, this is one of her favorite artist, his work describes perfectly what is in her head.  Why should she care?

My son, a young black boy growing up in a “free”  but racist, discriminant, world.  Why should I care? Especially when, as much as you try to ensure they speak /respect others, peoples hate can sometimes affect how they treat people of color.  Why should I care?

The Fix

If we were meant to be the same, we would all be the same color, height, weight, sex; we would speak a certain way, conduct ourselves as a “Collective.”  My response to my coworkers hesitancy about getting the tattoo, “Tattoos are extensions of art, an extension of you.  If this is something you luv, do it.  When you luv it, you don’t regret it.”  In her situation she should not care what others thinks.

Me, I am 7 of 9.  I was once part of a collective: I had to think, act, and dress a certain way until I realized there was a way to construct my social etiquette without losing sight of who I am.  As I mature, I realize there is a need to “instruct” others on how they conduct themselves.  Every action will have a reaction.  We as individuals choose how our first impressions to others will be and should accept the reactions given.

My son, I should care.  I want him to make an impression, his impression.  So, what do I do?  I explain to him what I have learned, show him what happens when he goes left, or goes right, I teach him to think for himself, I provide him with the good, the bad, the ugly; I explain to him my idea of life and what it’s about, and as he grows/matures I pray that his impression is a positive lasting impression.  I pray whatever path he chooses, he thought about it and accepts the journey he will take.

As long as we are aware of our actions, impressions though needed should be our own.

Conviction

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Conviction: a firmly held belief or opinion.
I guess you can say growing up I was not raised to see color; instead people’s actions are what constituted how you should act towards them. In high school I knew I was discriminated against but never fully comprehended it. When I began working, segregation was created in an unconventional way but in order to get your check, you dealt with the conditions you were in unless you lucked up in your position and found a group of coworkers who treated each other as equals and gave respect. In the meantime, you do what you have to do in order to get to where you want to be. It wasn’t until a few years ago I found my conviction, my beliefs, my voice, my passion, my purpose with caveats. Now, how do I hone in? Relay my truths? Affect the masses in a positive way? Reach the youth? Keep my sanity? Keep my mind clear? Stay balanced? Support my family? And be true…to me?
I wrote a while back that being an Aries is a tough job, because we want to succeed and accept any challenge life gives us. We want to take life’s lemons and create a wonderful lemonade to share with others but, it’s a tough/daunting process. And sometimes trying to reach that zen like feeling especially, when you have dual hats – family provider and a want to be the voice of the community becomes a struggle. How do you choose? Or, do you have to?
So, before I go so far off the beaten path that I lose you, let me explain. Over the last few weeks I have asked various people  “What it meant to be black in America?”  The further I did my research, it should come to no surprise that there are others who have sought this difficult and unyielding quest. I tried anyway because again, I like the challenge.  And while the answers received were somewhat no different then other answers or views I’ve read, I still found them to be unique. I realized this is an open ended question because, answers can change from one persons experience to the next. I also listened to several interviews to give me another way of looking at the reality; giving me another perspective. For that, my eyes have widened and my plate is now the size of a Thanksgiving dinner.
With that being said, over the next few weeks, I will be posting people’s opinions, questions and truths. Conduct more research in hopes that I can condense people’s truths, make it palatable, and the work towards figuring out how we as a
whole can come together and show those who do not believe in unity that unity is as not as bad as you think it is.
Something for you to think about, “What do you think it means to be ‘Black in America’?”

What’s Your Sign

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Being an Aries is a difficult feat.  Our conviction, our ideas, our truths our need for progress are what drive us.  We are often criticized for our “Negative Traits” as if they define us and most over look our positive traits.
Traits of an Aries

Negative: Impatient, Impetuous, Selfish, Jealous, Vain, Prideful, Egotistical, Ruthless, Possessive, and Violent are often associated with us.

Positive:  Spontaneous, Brazen, Action Oriented,  Courageous, Open, and Innovative are never seen

As a Daughter (Child)
We love and respect our parents even though they see us as wild and rebellious.  We stick to our beliefs.  We have a vision and while we may not express it in a way you can understand, our respect for you is constantly at the front of our minds.  We are destined for greatness and a lot of time we try to show it but, what you see is us acting out.  We want to prove to you, we can achieve what you need from us but, let us do it our way (we are thinkers; always looking to find a better way to be successful).
As a Friend
We “feel the more the merrier” meaning it’s ideal to have more friends however, our friends find it difficult to befriend us because we do not place energy in the same ideals/places.  If we say we are going to do something, we do it.  And, we hope friends would do the same, show us the same enthusiasm we show them.  It’s funny because I always tell those whose company I enjoy, “You are my friend in training.  I’ve already accepted you as a friend, I am waiting for you to friend me.”

As a Lover
We are know for our flirtatious and proactive pursuit.  We don’t like to “beat around the bush.”  Monotony and Aries do not equal long lasting relationships; we like to be engaged, passionate, and have adventures and while it is not easy to build a relationship with us, once we are committed we are honest and loyal for life.

As a Mother
We luv to dominate and are protective to a fault.  Very strict at times because we see the potential in our children, we want them to succeed.  We want our children to be well versed and happy, however, we as mommy’s demands compliance.  lol.  I have been told I am too hard on my son, and sometimes it is true but, I am not here to be his friend, I am here to prepare him for the world.  He knows he is loved, not only from me but his family too.

Moral of the Story
We are the first sign of the Zodiac, known for our fiery passion and exuberance.  We want to be known as pioneers; we like to take the road less traveled to give us a challenge.  Charisma and leadership is an innate ability we cherish and most wish they had.  We are forward in our thinking, leading us to express our love and feeling without thought.  We try to be understanding and sympathetic to others plight and while we may not show it, we are listening to you. We are also trying to figure out how we can help you.  Yes you did not solicit advice from us and as hard as it is to not give advice when you didn’t ask – don’t judge us, we are problem solvers.  It’s what we do.

I wrote this as a generalization of the community of Aries however, this is truly about me.  Haha – Ego.

Understanding someone’s sign can sometimes help you in understanding and dealing with a person.  And, while I don’t agree that you should solely go off their Zodiac Sign, I can say that it would definitely help.  As an Aries, I hope you were able to glimpse into who are we, via me and in return have an affinity of anyone who is an Aries in your life.

 

1-Luv

D

Single Black Female

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Being me is not easy.  I am supposed to speak a certain way, dress and date conservatively, wear my hair “traditionally,” and succumb to societal norms.  I am not defined by my actions and character but, my outer appearance or the tone of my voice.  I am told I have to work twice as hard as any other race.  And no matter how much I tried to concede to the provided standard, acceptance never chose me.  So…what do I do – I go back to the drawing board, the real me.

What did she say?

You go to school and taught to speak properly, annunciate your words and speak with diction and conviction.  Subjected to peer pressure, you defy what authority states you do and become creative with your words.

In 1999, Aaron Peckham created the Urban Dictionary for fun but, unbeknown to him, it became more than just fun; it became life.  In 2012 there were more than 6.3 million untraditional words defined – proving urban terminology carries as much weight verses the conventional way of speaking.  Proving vocabulary is meant to be colorful and explored.  I say “Good Morrow” or when asked how I am doing, I say, “Well” and mocked in return.

Which is it, do you want me to speak properly, speak with urban dialect, merge the two or…? I sure as hell don’t know.

What is she wearing?

I could never dress the way society would socially accept me because of the contour of my body.  I learned what best fit my figure and made it work for me.  However, if I wore a pencil or skater skirt, I was condemned or said as being too racy for the clothes I wore. “Oh! She’s trying to get a promotion.”  The only way I could get away with appearing professional was by wearing clothing twice my size and who wants to do that. The same with the African American female teacher in Atlanta, who wears bodycons to work with sweaters and is still chastised where as others wear body cons (no sweaters), mini skirts and see through shirts and they are viewed as professional.  Still confused.

Why does your hair look that way?

As I began to embrace the skin I am in, I also began to luv my hair in its natural state.  The versatility it yielded.  But I had to be different; it wasn’t enough to have natural hair, I also had to dye it red.  How dare I?  My cousin said one day, “My mom won’t allow me to dye my hair red because she said it is ratchet and ghetto.” Hmmm.   I guess I am ratchet though none of my actions exemplify it.

Then, I arrive to work one day after I changed the style and color of my hair and my coworker says, “Oh! Your hair is nice.  The color is more inviting/welcoming. (My current color is more of a natural “dark brown” color with burgundy/auburn highlights)” versus my fire-engine red hair.

Basically saying that I should succumb to the standards of society – blend in. However, Marc Jacobs can appropriate our culture of having all white females on the runway with locs because if “black females can appropriate their hair by straightening it then, why can’t I do the same.”  Oh! Aight.

Doesn’t she want to succeed?

If she wanted to succeed, she should listen and do what is asked of her.  “Sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture.  Do you your job.  No more, no less.” He said, “As long as you are providing steady income, what does it matter if you are right and they are wrong.” He exclaimed definitively.  “You will not elevate your success if you keep ‘bucking’ the system.”

Okay…

Well you know what?  “I reject your reality.”    I’ve tried fitting in and “keeping up with the Joneses.”  It failed.  I am not your ideal truth.  I am a black female, with curvy hips, natural hair, poetic speech, determined mind, and person who does not accept no as answer.  I grind, for what I want, I have conviction for right vs. wrong.  I may not always make the best decisions but, I try to a fault.  My hair is red, my skin is a beautiful chocolate brown, my accent has a hint of urban in it but, she speaks proper; this does not define me.  What defines me is my humble personality, my luv to help others, my thirst for knowledge, the want to make a change – a positive change, the need to laugh and in doing so, make others smile.  I am a single black female who is succeeding on her own terms.  It may not be the traditional way but…I am doing it my way (in my Sinatra voice).

afro

picture courtesy of Pinterest

Daddy’s Girl

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Defying Stereotypes

I grew up in household of a mother, a father, a sister and a dog.  We were not the perfect family by any means. We were a middle – hardworking class family who struggled with debt; the “bird and the bees” conversation consisted of “You betta not come home pregnant (with enough force that you knew what you should not do if you wanted to live).” There were ups and downs however my parents made sure food was always on the table, the lights were on, manners and respect to our elders was always given and you worked hard for what you wanted in life.

Growing Up

I was never allowed to take the easy road out of anything.  If I wanted to know what a word meant, I had to look it up in the dictionary and to show I knew what it meant; I had to give the definition/use it in a sentence.  When I began my first job, a 15 and 9 months, the only way I was going to get my license and a car was if I kept a job.  And so, I did.  When I turned 19, responsibility was solely on me. My mom helped me with a career change, I moved out of my parents’ house and started the process of becoming an independent woman.  Did I have a few setbacks? Yes but, “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

Thinking I was Grown

One Thanksgiving I decided to challenge my father…I thought I was grown and he should have respected my opinion and I his.  Instead, the conversation was one sided and in return placed a huge strain on our relationship resulting in us not speaking to each for several months.  It was tough on me because, I lost a huge part of my life; my dad, someone who was always there for me. Results of that one event affected other aspects of my life in a negative manner.  It changed who I was and I how I treated others, especially men.

Fast-forward to My Now

I never truly remember how my dad and I began speaking to each other again however; I know our relationship has blossomed into an unbreakable bond.  When my son was born, my dad showed up to the hospital – showing his grandson and I so much luv, when I was struggling to buy my sons formula – he purchased some from Amazon for me, when my house was flooded – he gave me a place to stay until it was fixed, when he sees his grandson he makes sure he has chocolate chip cookies for him, when I said I wanted to build a Jenga Set we spent all day cutting and sanding wood, when we hang out with the family he makes sure I am enjoying myself and not solely focusing on my son, when we talk on the phone – we are able to talk about politics, family, life, sports, etc.


So…yes I am a Daddy’s Gurl.  My mom and my dad have always been there for me, my mom to teach me how to be a woman but, my dad to teach me how a man should love me and take care of his family.  He was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and no man or woman ever is however, when it counted he always there.  Daddy’s Gurl does not mean spoiled or overly attached to her father in my eyes.  Rather, what you should expect in your future husband.