Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Unreality of Hypocrisy

In the event that you are left with any kind of confusion, let me make this perfectly lucid.  If my man knocks me out cold in a public elevator, in the privacy of our bedroom, anywhere for that matter, he better pray to God that I do not revive because when I come to, I WILL KILL HIM!!!

With that said, let me also make it clear that I do not know Ray or Janay Rice so I emphatically refuse to make any judgments on their behavior.  I can assume, because I’m still human, but I will not pass any judgments on the matter.  I assume that since they were high school sweethearts that she genuinely loves this man and is not taking his punches just for the money.  I will assume that he genuinely loves her too.  I will further assume that that was not the first time he put his hands on her in a violent manner.  And lastly, I will assume that she believes that she can change him.

Now what Ray Rice did to his fiancée was horrible.  It was wicked.  And it was inhumane.  But above all that, it was criminal.  And guess where criminal acts should be judged?  In the court of law, NOT in the court of public opinion!!!

After he has gone through the legal system, and his crime is punishable by a jail sentence, then he should be sent to jail.  Not sent to the poor house!  This criminal act is not worthy of him being punished for LIFE.  He did not commit murder.  Sure, he could have killed her.  But you could have been killed walking down the street, eating your breakfast.  Anything.  So let’s not coulda shoulda woulda here. 

When Jimmy Swaggert, Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard and Eddie Long were first touched by scandal, none of them were initially put on indefinite leave.  Instead people claimed that they were after all human beings and should be forgiven.  Yet, they are in the business of morality, while athletes are not.

But what really gets me is the hypocrisy of the expectations that people place on athletes.  People are okay spending thousands of dollars to watch two 200 pound men pummel each other over a ball, but cringe when that 200 pound man pummels his woman.  People are okay pushing these men to be aggressive on the field, be aggressive all their lives for Pete’s sake, but pretend that they cannot understand how some of them cannot switch the aggression off.  And don’t tell me that they don’t all act like that because we all have cancer genes, but we won’t all die from cancer. 

People can dress up in their best Vegas threads to watch two men punch each other’s lights out, but quiver at the sight of said man punching his actress wife.  You cannot send a man to war and not expect him to have some kind of post-traumatic stress from the ordeal.

People can pay to watch Julia Roberts play a beautiful prostitute and fall for a rich, handsome Richard Gere, but outside the movie theatre, they turn their noses up at the world’s oldest profession.

People will praise movies like 12 Years a Slave, The Help, Driving Miss Daisy and Amistad, and flourish them with awards, but REFUSE to have a serious dialogue about racism.  They will revere Tom Hanks in Philadelphia, yet scorn the man on the street suffering from HIV and AIDS.

Parents will allow their children to watch shows on Nickelodeon and Disney Channel where the parents are idiots, then act confused when their own children disrespect them.  Parents allow their children to listen to music by Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and the rest of that crew, then dread when their children see them as role models. 

People made the reality show 16 and Pregnant so popular, that it spawned the Teen Mom spinoff series.  Then they cry as if a professional athlete just beat them, when they find out that their teenage daughter is pregnant.

People buy a slew of electronics devices and games for their children and then complain that they don’t study or go outside and play as much as they should. 

People will go to church every week and fall sleep as soon as the pastor starts his sermon, then chastise youths for not going to church.

On paper, people will say that convicts deserve a second chance, but they don’t mean sexual predators and pedophiles, and they certainly don’t mean that they can live that second chance in their neighborhoods.

Women have copies of 50 Shades of Grey on their night tables, but get offended when their partners suggest anything “too kinky”.

Americans will cheer when a Chinese or Russian spy operating on American soil is sought out and caught, but will cry foul when an American spy is captured on foreign soil.

Here’s the thing:  once we start rating inappropriate behavior, morality, crimes and sins, we are climbing a very slippery slope that will not end well at all.  One person might think that even one cigarette is bad, while six beers are fine.  One person might think that all drugs should be illegal while another cannot wait for marijuana to be legalized in Pennsylvania.  One person might think that if a man has a child out of wedlock, he should serve time in jail, while others think that it’s no big deal.  Meanwhile, the others that thought that it was no big deal, would not see things so lightly when their women have a child out of wedlock.

I know for sure that I’m not, and I don’t think that anybody is condoning what Ray Rice did, but let’s put it all into perspective.  These people are paid to be violent on a daily basis.  Then they are expected to turn it on and off like a switch.  Ray Rice is 27.  He most likely will not be the same person at 37 or 47.  Yes, he should have known better.  Yes, he should have done better.  But in reality, people don’t always do what they are supposed to do.  Jay Z reserved the urge not to punch Solange’s light out.  Does that make Jay Z a better man than Ray Rice?  Not in my opinion.  It just means that Jay Z and Ray Rice have different character flaws, because we all know that Jay is not perfect.

Also, people will do bad things, and many of them will regret it.  We just cannot throw people out of society forever when they screw up.  Chris Brown beat Rihanna in the face.  Sean Penn tied and beat Madonna up for nine hours.  Marv Albert sexually assaulted a woman and bit her dozens of times, claiming that it was consensual.  Michael Vick owned and operated a dog fighting ring.  Speaking of rings, Rush Limbaugh was caught in a black market drug ring.  Bill Clinton got pleasured by an intern in the White House, denied it (well sort of) then admitted it (well sort of). 

In 1977, at age 43, Roman Polanski raped a 13 year old girl.  Woody Allen dated his adopted step-daughter when she was about 20 years old, and later married her.  That did not stop people from watching their movies, the Academy from nominating their pictures or actors from wanting to still work with them, even today.  Eric Clapton, who owns a vacation villa in Antigua called Steadfast Point, drunkenly stated in 1976 at an anti-racism concert that England was becoming a black colony and all the wogs, coons and foreigners should get out.  Charles Dickens left his wife after 20 years of marriage for an 18 year old actress because she became fat and lazy after she bore him 10 “noisy-ass children”.  A racist to the core, Thomas Jefferson had an ongoing affair with his slave Sally Hemmings, creating seven children with her.  Yet, he is one of the presidents featured on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.  Christopher Columbus claimed to have discovered the West Indies when not only were people already living there, but other nationalities had arrived there previously.  Come to find out, he was just a tyrant and a slave trader, if I’m going to be kind to him.  Yet he is celebrated on the second Monday of every October, to this day.

We might not like everything that happens in life, but that is not going to stop bad things from happening; but perspectively speaking, we cannot call one thing entertainment when it’s done for show and then cry foul when it happens in reality.

Monday, September 8, 2014

They Make Us Look Bad

Young black men wearing their pants half way off their bottoms make us of us look bad.
Black teenage girls getting pregnant and having to raise their babies by themselves make us look bad.
Black women cussing and fighting each other on reality shows make us look bad.
Black men burglarizing and killing innocent people make us look bad.
Right?  Wrong!

Not even my kids doing something totally inappropriate will make me look bad.  Sure I used to think that, but no more.  Of course I went through the stage of reminding them not to embarrass me in public.  “You better not let that school call me unless it’s for something good.”  Well, the school has called every single year for the past four years, and it’s never to tell me that my son has gotten an award.  It’s always for some mischief that he got himself into.  I stopped complaining when I mentioned to my friend that my son has gotten written up once a year for the past four years.  He looked at me shockingly and kindly let me know how lucky I am because his son’s school had been calling almost every day. 

My son has lost his temper in every single sport that he plays.  He once threw a basketball at an opponent across the court because the guy allegedly hit him first.  He once argued with the parents sitting on the soccer side line because they bitched at him for playing too rough.  He has hit his baseball bat on the ground and flung his helmet in the dugout when he thought the umpire unfairly called him out.  But that was years ago, and lately I’ve been impressed with how he takes his losses.  Part of it could be that he ended up on a shitty baseball team that only won one out of 15 games this year, but most of it came with maturity.  When you realize that losing is a big part of life, your perspectives sure change quick, fast and in a hurry.

I recently read the novel ‘Purple Hibiscus’, and many parts of it not only saddened me, but will truly stick with me forever, especially regarding the abusive father.  And boy am I happy that I learned a long time ago not to raise my children with unrealistic standards.  First off, it’s impossible to tell my kids that they have to be the best at everything they do, when two of them are twins, and the third one is not that far behind.  Out of my twins, one is always going to outdo the other.  So who am I going to choose?  And because of that, I teach them to always try to do better than their last best.

Of course it would be nice if the smartest kid in the school or the best athlete in the community lived in my house; but I refuse to allow my kids to follow dreams just to make their parents proud.  I much prefer to raise kids who will follow dreams that will lead to a fulfilled and happy life.

With all that said, the main reason why I don’t take personally what a random Black person does is because I don’t know that person.  And clearly, as you just read, even if I knew that person, I refuse to take responsibility for someone else’s actions.  Now don’t misconstrue what I’m saying.  I take great pride in teaching my children moral values, in taking personal responsibility for their actions, for thinking before acting so that they can make responsible choices.  However, they are not perfect; so they will make errors in judgment.  Of course I feel comfortable saying this because I also know my kids, and I feel pretty confident of what they are capable of doing and not doing.  They hardly ever surprise me.

But my point is steering to the fact that recently I have noticed that some Black people have been blaming themselves for the racism that has been dispensed upon other Black people.  You all know I love me some Iyanla, but I was watching her special episode on the Michael Brown murder, and she pondered if our killing ourselves has caused the police to think that it’s okay to kill us too.  Beloved, you know I love you, but White kids constantly shoot up their schools, and the police are not scared of them.  Boo, every time there is another shooting, the residents always say the same thing that the residents of the last community said, “I never thought it would happen here.” 

So I refuse to believe that police and others who gun down unarmed young Black men think it’s okay to do so because young Black men are violent to each other.  I refuse to believe that it’s because of the way that they dress.  Millions of young White men wear their pants half way off their bottoms too, and no one ever thinks that their dress code is detrimental to their health.  It cannot be because of how they speak either because young White men living in the suburbs speak just as wack.  I don’t know what it is for us as Black people to blame ourselves.  The only thing I can think of is that if we defend the young Black youth, we will be seen as one of them; and we can’t have that. 

I remember when OJ Simpson killed his ex-wife and her boyfriend.  I’m sorry.  I mean when OJ Simpson allegedly killed his ex-wife and her friend.  I was in Antigua when it happened.  When my father told me, and he mentioned that he was in driving away in his white Bronco with a gun, I thought to myself, guilty.  When he was acquitted, I was walking the streets of New York looking for a job.  Get your nasty mind out of the gutter – not that kind of job!  I had copies of my résumé going to various temp agencies, if you please.  But I was probably the only Black person on the streets of New York not cheering for that man.

First off, I didn’t know him, so why am I going to be happy that he was acquitted?  Not because he looks like me means that he is like me.  He might look like me, but his friends don’t.  Heck, even his kids don’t.  When he was banished from society, people who were secretly happy that he got away with murder probably chastised him in public because they were afraid that he would make them look bad.  Again, don’t know the dude, so there is no way for him to make me look bad.

I don’t get why we as a people don’t get to share in the glory but want to feel responsible for the shame.  We don’t get to gloat that Oprah got where she is because of us.  We don’t take credit for Tiger Woods (before Thanksgiving 2009) or Michael Jordon or President Obama; however, we think that the DC sniper, Michael Vick and Stacey Dash make us look bad.  We act as if the Black women on Maury who have no idea who the baby daddy is, is our own flesh and blood.

Look I’m not saying that as a people we don’t want to take pride in ourselves and feel pride in our youth and everyone in our race.  But it is IMPOSSIBLE!!  You hear me?  IMPOSSIBLE.  Black people are people first, and people are people everywhere you go.  So some will cheat, steal and kill.  Others will uplift, encourage and assist.  It would be nice if Black people the world around would do the right thing.  And it would be nice if people from every other race would do the right thing too.  But realistically, we can’t expect only other people to do crap and our own people to be saints.

We complain that we are not a monolithic group, yet when we hear the term African-American youth, we do not conjure up images of Akintunde Ahmad, Avery Coffey, Kwasi Enin or Chad Thomas.  We don't see Dr. Rameck Hunt, Dr. Sampson Davis or Dr. George Jenkins.  Tony Hasberry II is the furthest person from our minds.  Instead, we see the kid with tattoos all over his body, the one with gold all over his mouth, the one with his pants sagging to the ground, the one who skips school to smoke weed.
Well, I don’t personally know any of those people.  When I think of young Black men, I see my sons, I see my nephews, I see the male children of my cousins, my friends and my neighbors, and perspectively speaking I don’t see any of them deserving to be killed at the hands of the police.