Lessons From Being Mary Jane

If you were like me you’ve been waiting on this show to come back since BET put that two-hour long trailer out back in July. They got showed u commercials, sucked us in and told us to wait 189 days (I didn’t have to keep track, hell Get Glue told me it had been that long) to find out what else is going to happen. Last year when the movie aired a lot of women rejoiced with cries of  “this is ME” and the most often heard “finally a true representation of black women.”

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Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love this show. I think it is one of the better show out there today that features black people ESPECIALLY where BET is concerned (yes, The Game….I’m talking about you!). However, this is not a correct representation of ME. That’s not my life. I know women who act just like Mary Jane, but I know far more that are nothing like her. I will watch this like I watch Scandal. I don’t plan to have an affair with the President anytime soon but Olivia Pope’s drama keeps me going because real life can be so boring. Can we not as black women just not watch TV? I don’t identify with ANYBODY on Love & Hip Hop, but it delights me, lol. [rant over] Now this show is definitely popcorn worthy but there are definitely lessons from episode one that you can apply to everyday life as a woman.

  1. It is not okay to absorb other people’s crazy. In the opening scene, Mary Jane breaks into her friend’s home. Apparently this friend had taken way too many pills on what we assumed to be a suicide attempt. When she gets home, her love interest (don’t worry, I’m coming back to that) tells Mary Jane that her friend needs help. Her response: She has help. Meaning Mary Jane is the help. No ma’am. That woman no matter how much you love her needs more help than you can give her. You can’t let other people’s crazy become yours. It will stress and tire you out. A good friend will be there with other solutions than just putting on a Superwoman cape. This is a lesson that I have had to learn early.
  2. Sex does not magically morph a situation into a relationship. Sex is one of those things that can make or break a relationship. So naturally I feel like it is very important to know where you are before you have that moment. Mary Jane finds herself all kinds of mad because her love interest found someone else to go to the concert with when she had to work late. We know from the movie that this man was a rebound from finding out the first guy was married. So because you share cookies, that means we go together? Set some boundaries and be real with yourself. You can’t set standards for someone that you aren’t following yourself. Which brings us to….
  3. Dating a married man is never okay. Ever. If he wasn’t honest about his marital status when you met and you found out later, RUN. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Leave it alone. Immediately. Don’t go back to it. No matter what he says about how he feels about his wife, you are 9 times out of 10 setting yourself up for failure. And it’s adultery!!
  4. You have nothing to gain by busting up someone else’s relationship when you find out that you are indeed the other woman. Ask yourself one question: do you really want to inform her that her man is foul or do you want her to be just as miserable as you?

I wonder what I will learn next week!! Do you watch Being Mary Jane? Did you love it?

Review: Silver Sparrow

Silver Sparrow
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this book up solely because two of my Goodreads buddies have already read it and were singing their praises. This book has GOT to be the best book that I have read in all of 2011!!

The opening line of the book is “My father, James Witherspoon is a bigamist….” From there on, the story starts to take a life of it’s own. This book is told through the eyes of two sisters. One knows the full story of his father’s double life, the other living in a blissful ignorance until their two worlds forcefully collide. Dana feels that she has had the burden of being a secret and has always had the feeling that she is less than her sister Chaurisse. She has always had to take a back seat to whatever was going on in her father’s other family’s lives. Chaurisse, on the other hand, has always felt extremely lonely and disadvantaged, regardless of all the love that she has received from her mother, father, and uncle.

In all the books that I read, I try to take away from it a lesson that the author might have wanted his/her readers to know. In this book the point seemed to be that parents will mess up their children with the selfishness that they have in their personal lives. Though everyone in this book claimed to have great love for the two girls involved, the adults rared looked past their own needs to see how this was going to put their children at a severe disadvantage when it came to their emotional development. They are the ones who truly lost in the end.

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Review: Joy For Beginners

Joy For Beginners
Joy For Beginners by Erica Bauermeister

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I normally read books that are by my favorite authors or books that have been recommended to my by other people. Joy For Beginners is a book that I saw on the new releases shelf in the library and checked it out based on the liner notes and the cover alone.

This book centers around a woman named Kate, who just went into remission from a bout with breast cancer. In celebration, she is inviting her 6 closest friends over for a victory dinner. Kate’s daughter, Robin, has challenged her to do something that she wouldn’t have ever done as a way to celebrate her new lease on life. The catch is that she doesn’t get to pick it out herself. Robin has challenged her to go whitewater rafting down the Grand Canyon, which definitely scares the life out of her. She comes up with the idea to challenge each of her friends to get out of her comfort zone and do something challenging within a calendar year of that night. Because she didn’t get to choose her challenge, Kate picks out all the challenges for her friends.

This book is separated into 7 different stories that weave in and out of each other so much that feel as if you know all the women personally at the end of the book. It details the growth that the women have had to go through raising children, watching them leave home, fighting illness, going through divorces and losing loves in the period of life when you would normally think you should coast until the end. It really teaches to never get complacent in life and to always have joy.

I really loved this book and hope to discover more from Erica Bauermeister. I love her writing style!

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Frenemies: How Many Of Us Have Them?

I have written this blog post many times and put it back on the shelf (the shelf being my One Note blog notebook). Every time I sit on a decide not to post it, I get more to post about on the subject. So I figured why the hell not post it.

A frenemy is defined as “someone who is both friend and enemy, a relationship that is both mutually beneficial or dependent while being competitive, fraught with risk and mistrust.”

Personally I can’t stand these types of “friends.” With the personality that I have, I am quick to cut people off when I think they have wronged me. Fake friends (that’s the only thing frenemies are in my mind) are the first to go. PERIOD. It’s okay to deal with these kinds of people when you are in high school. That’s where these people live….and should stay. I thought that I wouldn’t have to deal with these people post undergrad. Boy was I mistaken. As I’ve gotten older, I have taken some serious inventories of my life. There are people that I still hold close to me that haven’t deserved a place there in a long time. Now I know that friends have issues and fights all the time….then kiss and make up. But there are people that I have been looking at with the severe side eye trying to figure out why in the hell they still matter.

#1: The “always desperately needy, but constantly missing in action” friend

Me and Number One have been friends since my sophomore year at Ole Miss. We were fast friends and things were really cool between us. She experienced some really trying times during the height of our friendship. It was during these times that the friendship got more and more one sided. I wasn’t upset about it. Losing your mother and grandmother in the span of one year is pretty tough. Then it became “can I borrow [insert cash amounts here]?” and “can you take me here though my boyfriend lives with me, has a car, and won’t?” I felt like I was doing this (which I would have done regardless) but whenever I needed someone to lean on….I got the crickets and the voicemail. She had to transfer to a school closer to home my first year in law school. We lost touch for about 3 years. We reconnected and I was happy to try to rekindle that relationship. I thought that enough time had passed for it to be a little different. We live about 20 minutes away from each other right now. When I told her I was moving to her area, she was excited. I called as soon as I got settled in to go out to lunch. What I got was, “can I borrow $20 dollars for gas until next week?” NEXT!!! My friends know what my money situation is like. My REAL friends would have at least caught up first before they asked me for money. Some things never change.

#2: The “I need a gaggle of female groupies” friend

I am a pretty quiet and shy person…..when I first get to know you. I’m pretty reserved til I can feel you out. But once you get to know me, you understand that I am anything but. Yet friend Number Two thought I was some kind of quiet flunkie. She was happy hogging up all the spotlight and attention in law school…..until she realized that her little flunkie (me) was the more likeable person. Then she did everything to try to make sure people hated me. Huh? NEXT! She still pretends to be my friend now, but I guess it’s kind of tough to keep up a façade when Facebook wall posts go ignored.

#3: The “ultra-competitive” friend

This friend really wants to be you. They are actually okay to be around until there is a situation where you outshine them, have more knowledge than them on a subject, or are generally being something that they want to be. Most times you don’t really notice it. I have had situations that no matter what the topic of conversation is they want to negate everything you’re saying. Even when that stuff is wrong as two left shoes. I’m talking about how great Charming Charlie’s is but she wants to make sure that nobody goes there because Icing and Claire’s are still hot. I don’t get it. NEXT!!

I’m 28 years old. The time for these people have come and gone in my life. I have culled my friend’s list so that it looks more like Waiting to Exhale than Basketball Wives. I deserve to have people who care about me the way I care about them. That list went down to 4 last week. I like it.

Can Beyonce’ Catch A Break?

It’s summer time so you know what that means…….BEYONCE’S BACK!!!!!! Now I’m going to make a confession. I’m a bit of a Beyonce stan. I love almost everything that she does. I love her messages of female empowerment. I love how she creates trends. I love how she is a female force that doesn’t back down in the presence of men. Oh yea….I love her music too. I also love the fact that every summer she does something that forces my fluffy ass back in the gym to lose my winter weight and that her music is a great workout soundtrack.
Somehow, Beyonce seems to catch heavy scrutiny any time she does anything. And the scrutiny usually comes from other women (big surprise here). I was lingering around YouTube and found this video. 
First of all let me say that I like Nineteen Percent. Her vlogs and way of delivery are hilarious to me while saying a lot of things that other people just think about. However, I feel like she missed the ball with this one. These statistics and facts that she spouted off in this particular vlog are things that I think women should be aware of. By all means get the word out about discriminatory salary practices among genders in the workplace, sexual harassment, domestic violence, female infanticide in other countries, rape, and the all too common objectification of women. Women need to know what they are up against to be better activists. This video just goes about it the wrong way. She just complaining a lot. It’s one thing to be aware of the many issues facing women. It’s totally another thing just spout out a bunch of information with no solutions on how to fix it. AND it’s a whole OTHER thing to blame these problems on another woman.
How is Beyonce a liar when it comes to this song? Is it so wrong to have a female empowerment anthem? Granted, I think this song is crap, but it doesn’t make me that angry. I never think that it is a bad idea to have little girls everywhere thinking that they can do anything and be anything that they want to be. The way to ensure that women will never transcend the station they are in life is to spout off a bunch of negative information at them and to discard any ounce of a positive message. Let’s try this on for size. Let Beyonce do the entertaining and all of us caring women should do our part to help the younger generation not face the issues that prompted Nineteen Percent to call Beyonce out in the first place.
What do you think? Are songs like Beyonce’s Run The World presenting an impossible message to young ladies?

April’s Happy Black Girl Day!

Happy Black Girl Day!!!! I normally look forward to this every month because it is a chance to be absolutely positive about being a black woman. However, today is not quite a positive day for me. It’s been hit or miss for two weeks, lol. That’s why I have been absent. (Still working on this. Finding the balance has been hard.) I read Sister Toldja’s HBGD post and realized that she was going through the EXACT same thing. Hooray for sisters in the struggle! Her post talks about the 5 things that she is most grateful for. I am going to follow her lead and do the same because I need to cheer myself up.

1. The boo thing: He is my rock in this time of trial and tribulation. If he wasn’t here every step of the way with me, I wouldn’t be this calm (….if calm was even a word that could describe me right now). He is the only person that really and truly understands me and I am grateful for that.

2. Life: This sounds like a PC answer, but I am really grateful for my life right now. I have done a NUMBER on my body the last 10 months or so. Pre-hypertensive, hypoglycemic, iron deficiency…..a 30 pound weight gain. Yet, I am still here trying to get this under control.

3. Friends: Real and digital. These people keep me from going insane on a daily basis. I am glad that I always have someone to talk to and to bounce my many ideas on.

4. The Internet: Job hunting and entertainment would be much more different without it. My cable and internet went out for 16 hours a couple weeks ago and I damn near went insane. Amazing how much I need the internet to live.

5. My Apartment: As much as I complain about my neighbors, the neighborhood and the management, I am really glad that I have a roof over my head that is paid for until I get my life together. I will be tons more grateful in July when I move.

So this is my Happy Black Girl grateful train. What are you grateful for?

Happy Black Girl Day: March Celebration!

(For more information about this celebration, check it out here!)

Happy Black Girl Day!!! Today’s HBGD is special to me because it comes the day after International Women’s Day. How could I not pass up a chance to celebrate womanhood one day and then celebrate the specialness that comes with being a BLACK woman the very next day. Can’t beat it with a baseball bat!

My tribute today goes to the creativeness of the black woman. For as long as I can remember, I have always loved to read. From the age of 3, I was never separated from books for long periods of time. The library in my hometown didn’t really carry books by black authors and the library inside my high school wasn’t short stopping…..until my senior year in high school. I wrote an AP English paper about The Third Life of Grange Copeland by Alice Walker. To this day, it remains my favorite book of all time. This was the first time in life that I read a book for pleasure and was able to connect with the characters on a level that I never had before. Today I throw myself into Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, BeBe Moore Campbell and Terry McMillian to name a few. I love the intricacies of their writing. It makes me feel like a little piece of me is between the pages.

Today I started reading The Black Woman: An Anthology, edited by Toni Cade Bambara. It features poetry and essays written by black women on various topics. I think that everyone should pick it up. This poem stuck out to me within the first 15 pages.

Naturally – Audre Lord

Since Naturally Black is Naturally Beautiful
I must be proud
And, naturally,
Black and
Beautiful
Who always was a trifle
Yellow
And plain though proud
Before.

I’ve given up pomades
Having spent the summer sunning
And feeling naturally free (If I die of skin cancer, oh well — one less black and beautiful me)
Yet no Agency spends millions
To prevent my summer tanning
And who trembles nightly
With the fear of their lily cities being swallowed
By a summer ocean of naturally woolly hair?

But I’ve bough my can of
Natural Hair Spray
Made and marketed in Watts
Still thinking more
Proud beautiful black women
Could better make and use
Black bread. 

Happy Black Girl Day!!!

PepsiMax: When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong

Did anybody catch the Super Bowl on Sunday night? Of course you did. It was the most watched TV program in history! I watch for the love of the game, but lots of people just watch it for the commercials. There was one commercial for PepsiMax that caught my attention. If you missed it, here it is for your enjoyment.

I laughed my ass off at this commercial. To me, it remains one of the best ones of the night (….well second to the guy sucking the Doritos cheese off the other man’s fingers….but I digress). After I stopped laughed, I peeped in on Twitter and the reactions to that commercial were through the roof! The main thing that I kept seeing was that the commercial was racist and stereotypical. I thought my followers were on crack. Then I read all my favorite blogs yesterday and see the same thoughts.

Here is my impression of the commercial: Wife wants to keep Husband healthy. She does everything in her power to make sure he makes the correct food choices…..which in this case came down to down beating him up a little bit. Wife sees him looking too hard at another woman and tries to smash him with the can but ends up knocking other woman out. Husband sees that the police are probably coming and will Rodney King the shit out of them takes Wife by the hand and gets them the hell out of there before trouble comes. And they say Black love is dead. I thought it was hilarious. But there are SO many different nit picky things that others saw that I didn’t….so I will address them here.

  1. This commercial was full of stereotypes!! Ummm….yea. So is life. The way that most humans deal with people different from ourselves is based on stereotypes. Is it right? I don’t know. What I do know is that stereotypes don’t come out of thin air. They are based in part on the way a group of people act. If you don’t want the stereotype, then you must work harder to fight it. Art tends to imitate life, so they had to get the inspiration for this commercial from somewhere.
  2. Why does Pepsi have to act like all black women are angry?! Didn’t you read the above statement? Art tends to imitate life. Case in point: This commercial was meant to be funny, but what was the overwhelming response from two-thirds of black women? To get very angry. Yep…I said it. There is a major problem when the only images that we see of black women in mainstream media are the angry kind. BUT we can’t be mad when something goes mainstream that we celebrate in like company. One of my favorite bloggers, RiPPa, said it best: “don’t we celebrate these images ourselves when we patronize NAACP Image Award nominated shows like, oh… The Real Housewives of Atlanta?” We love to watch Tasha Mack on The Game, the mom from Everybody Hates Chris, NeNe Leakes, and most of the women in Tyler Perry’s plays and movies. We can’t love it when it is made by us THEN turn around and hate it when white people see it and make it into a commercial. We all know that angry black sistah. She’s your mom, best friend, lady at the church, boss…..and if you don’t personally know any, it is probably you. To beat a stereotype, you have to stop being that stereotype.
  3. Why did he have to make googly-eyes at the white woman? Why do they think that the epitome of beauty is a blue-eyed, blond haired white woman? Again….I wasn’t paying that much attention to the race of the woman that jogged up. Since we are talking about stereotypes, the woman in that ad would have tried to hit her man upside the head with that can if the jogging chic was white, black, Asian, Latino, or a polka-dotted alien. Would it have been that big of a deal if all the people in the commercial were black? Probably not. The real issue to me is not that mainstream society sees the white woman as the epitome of beauty. The issue is that Black women have a hard time accepting interracial dating. The fact that a Black man could be attracted to a white woman still makes a lot of black women angry (there’s that word again!). It still blows my mind to hear otherwise levelheaded black women go totally off (stereotype alert) when they see a black man out and enjoying the company of a white woman. It’s 2011. We are supposed to be in a post-racial society (that phrase still makes me gag). Interracial dating should not still be something that sets us off (there I go again). I can admit that it used to bother me to see it, but once I got older and wiser I realized that it is hard to find love out there. I hope people find it with what ever color makes their hearts glad. 

The moral of the story is…..lighten up. The ad was supposed to be funny. I’m sure that PepsiCo didn’t set out to make this commercial a conversation piece. They just wanted to make 111 million people laugh. Well Pepsi….ha ha. I liked it.
 

Happy Black Girl Day From The Legal Diva!!!

Happy Black Girl Day!!!! For everyone who doesn’t know, Happy Black Girl Day was created by Sista Toldja. It is celebrated every second Wednesday of every month. Ever since I started reading The Beautiful Struggler, I have been on board for each occurrence of this wonderful idea.

Today I feel SO uplifted and proud to be a black woman. I watched the premiere and the encore of Black Girls Rock! that was shown on BET. That was the most uplifting thing that I have EVER seen on BET…..and I watch a lot of BET. This is mostly because this is not a BET creation, but a dream and vision from Beverly Bond and her Black Girls Rock organization. Here is a little bit about it.

BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Inc. is 501(c)3 non-profit youth empowerment and mentoring organization established to promote the arts for young women of color, as well as to encourage dialogue and analysis of the ways women of color are portrayed in the media.
Since 2006, BLACK GIRLS ROCK! has been dedicated to the healthy development of young women and girls. BLACK GIRLS ROCK! seeks to build the self-esteem and self-worth of young women of color by changing their outlook on life, broadening their horizons, and helping them to empower themselves. For the past four years, we have enjoyed the opportunity to enrich the lives of girls aged 12 to 17 years old through mentorship, arts education, cultural exploration and public service. At BLACK GIRLS ROCK!, young women are offered access to enrichment programs and opportunities that place special emphasis on personal development through the arts and cooperative learning.
By speaking to the next generation in their formative years about issues of self-worth, goals, and aspirations, the organization reinforces the message that young women need not objectify themselves or relinquish their autonomy. BLACK GIRLS ROCK! has boldly taken on the crisis of our female youth of color here in America head on and understands the need for positive self-images and a strong sense of awareness. WE SEE SOLUTIONS.

Wow, right?! The awards ceremony on BET gave shout outs to women and girls known and unknown. There were so many positive affirmations on this show that I was in tears by the end of the broadcast on Sunday and I had to watch it again last night. *sighs* Sometimes as black women you need those positive affirmations. Especially when everything that you see on TV about you is negative. I personally am not one of those weave wearing, tooth sucking, neck and eye rolling, loud, ghetto, welfare receiving, 3 baby daddy having, ethnic name carrying, uneducated women. Neither are the majority of my friends. We are proud black women out here striving for excellence. The world would rather that nobody knew we existed. I would imagine that it is hard for a young black girl to have dreams of grandeur about the life she wants to have with all the negative imagery around them. Hell….sometimes it’s hard for me. By negative imagery, I am not just talking about TV, I’m really referring to the things you see and live everyday.
 
This organization seems to be centered in Brooklyn. My thoughts have been, “why isn’t there something like this in Mississippi?” or “shouldn’t something like this have chapters?” Then I remembered that one of Twitter friends, Kira, has an organization that is really similar called Why Not Wait? These things only exist because black women like her and hopefully me create them and hit the ground running. I would absolutely love to create a Mississippi based awards ceremony like Black Girls Rock so that our young women can get that same sense of empowerment that I am feeling today. The new thing that I have taped to my bathroom mirror is the Black Girls Rock pledge. I hope to live this everyday. Enjoy and HAPPY BLACK GIRLS DAY!!!
 

I am a Black girl. My life is important. I am the continuation of a history, legacy and tradition of powerful people. The lives of my fore mothers now have meaning through me. I stand today because of who they were.
I am a Black girl. My presence is essential. I am a demonstration of the past, an inspiration for the future and I represent the unlimited possibilities of the present moment.
I am a Black girl. I have a voice. I say the important things that need to be said. I do not waste my voice on gossip, slander or disrespect of myself, my sisters or other people. I know the power of the spoken word and I use my words wisely.
I am a Black girl. I know my worth. I hold myself in high esteem because I value who I am. I treat myself with loving care, respect and honor. I honor and hold sacred my mind, my body and my heart.
I am a Black girl. I am committed and confident. I am committed to a future that holds great possibilities for me, my family, and the world. As I move confidently into my next most appropriate steps, I am inspired by life and I inspire others.
I am a Black girl. I have a vision for myself and a vision for my life. It is a vision anchored in love, propelled by integrity and advanced by faith. I am committed to learning how I can improve all aspects of myself so that I will be the best me that I can be.
I am a Black girl. I am not intimidated by anyone or anything. I bow to no one and nothing save my Creator. I move with elegance, grace, and ease, effortlessly accomplishing all that I set my heart and mind to do when it serves my highest and greatest good.
I am a Black girl. My life is connected to a loving Creator who protects and guides me at all times. Therefore, I am humble and honorable; patient and powerful; focused and flexible; determined and dynamic; loved and loving.
I am a Black girl. I say it, therefore I am it!
I AM life overflowing!
I AM success manifesting!
I AM confidence in action!
I AM fearless and free!
I AM commitment that moves obstacles!
I AM inspiration unfolding!
I AM pure love!
I AM a Black girl and I ROCK!!
 
– Dr. Iyanla Vanzant

 

Happy Black Girl Day!!!

Today I stumbled onto a new “holiday” while I was in the blogosphere. I ran across Sister Toldja’s blog and discovered that she created Happy Black Girl Day. It is celebrated every second Wednesday of every month. I’m not too late because this is only the 8th one. But I am glad that I stumbled across it.

Too many times black women have a complex about themselves brought upon by the many statistics that the media places out there about them. (Personally I don’t take these things with a grain of salt for I am a hopelessly optimistic person.) Black women are too often too angry. Black women have a slim chance of finding love because the black man is either gay or in jail AND the ones that aren’t either are just too dumb. (I’m not making this up.) I think that in today’s society that it is hard enough to be a woman….but then to add to that being a black woman……things get a little bit tougher. So many stereotypes to overcome, so many pressures to get over. I wake up and thank God everyday that I was born a black woman. I wouldn’t have it any other way. There is something about the inner strength of a black woman that makes me lift my head up high. I wouldn’t be here today or be the woman that I am without the strength and courage of a black woman (I love you, Mama…RIP). 

But today is a day to just sit back and take stock that is the beauty that is…..us. Happy Black Girl Day! Thanks to Sistah Toldja for such a wonderful idea.