Archive for the ‘Race and Gender’ Category

Nomalanga: How Black Men and Black Women can be Heroes

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Having been born and raised in another country (Botswana), I often have a different perspective of my life as a Black woman living in America. I grew up in a society that is almost the polar opposite of American society. I grew up in a country where the most loved, respected and respectable person in society was the Black man. This gives me a very unique perspective in that I am able to see how a community of Black people can function when the women and children and even the men are not bombarded with images, news and “statistics” that all emphatically state that the Black man is the greatest threat to their lives. Let me be clear, I am not saying that Botswana is somehow “better” than America or that I , a Motswana (a person from Botswana), am somehow “better”, than an American Black man or woman. I am just offering a different perspective.

Having lived in America for about a decade and a half, I have grown to understand how important it is to always think for myself and to seek understanding in matters that are heavily overlaid with confusion, manipulation and ulterior motives. There is only one outcome in a community that does not hold their men in high regard: it will fall apart and it will devastate every member of its community.

I just listened to a speech by Louis Farrakhan in which he talked about The Willie Lynch letter/theory-The Making Of a Slave. In my first exposure to Farrakhan, years ago, I dismissed him as being a “radical” and an “instigator”. Sadly, I am now becoming increasingly aware that my judgment was made hastily and made because of a lack of knowledge and understanding of the complexity of being Black in America.

I still don’t entirely agree with everything Farrakhan says, but sadly, I don’t believe that he is wrong when he says that we can still see the devastation of Willie Lynch’s work in our communities today. All you have to do is interview Black women and find out what they think of Black men and then ask Black men what they think about Black women. They will all say a variety of things, but what I have observed is a thread of mistrust, contempt, judgments, frustration, suspicion, paranoia and so on. Of course, not ALL black women or ALL Black men feel the same way about each other and some may speak in direct contradiction to what I am saying. That being said, even if they said that everybody loved everybody else and everything was perfect, we can still look at the state of Black communities across the country. There are more little Black boys and girls growing up in homes without both parents than there are those who have the safety and security of both of their parents. Even among those who have both of their parents, there are many who are still exposed to unhealthy and dysfunctional ways of living. The devastation can be seen in so many ways; just take a trip to your local jail house and tell me what you see. Take a trip to an “urban” public school and tell me what you see. I could go on, but I think you see where this is going.

The only way that this unfortunate set of circumstances, to put it mildly, will begin to change is when we, Black women and black men begin to show up as Heroes. Our heroes are not the next President or the next policy or even the next pastor. It is each and every one of us.

A hero is a man or woman who can see his community’s restoration even before it happens-that is called Vision. Heroes are visionaries.

A hero is a man or woman who is willing to set aside their “happiness”(an ambiguous and false state that can elude a person for the rest of their life) for the sake of their husband or wife and children and community.

A hero is a man or woman who is selfless in their conduct because he or she knows that in serving his or her spouse, children and members of the community, s/he cannot go without. That is a basic law of the universe-what you sow, you will reap.

Let’s stop pointing fingers, even when we have just cause, but instead step up and be responsible and accountable-that is heroism. Let’s start with loving our children, even before they are conceived, by behaving responsibly so that when they are conceived, they have a better chance at a normal, healthy and functional family life.

This is not about me sitting on my high horse and wagging a finger at others; it is actually quite the opposite. Every day, I have to make a conscious decision to do the right thing because it is so much easier to just do what I feel is right for ME. How easy it would be to not have to “work” at building a marriage. How easy it would be to blame anyone or anything for my lack of action or lack of accomplishment of my goals. I believe that there are systems in place that do not serve “us” and I believe in doing my part to effect change. I do not, however, believe that I can afford the luxury of just talking about all the “odds” that are stacked against me and then use that as a reason to give up. I don’t believe that I should behave irresponsibly and then wash my sins away with “the blood of Jesus”.

Please. Let’s start being the heroes. Let’s start the process of restoration. Let’s be accountable and responsible. Let’s start holding each other accountable-not just blaming and judging. Let’s start showing more compassion for each other without enabling each other. Let’s start challenging the systems that do not serve “us”. Please.

Check out Nomalanga’s e-book:
Seven Life Changing Habits; How I Changed My Life from Mediocre to Magnificent & How You Can Too!

Michelle Obama: A Woman of Substance

Monday, May 28th, 2012

I recently wrote a blog titled “Why He Doesn’t Respect You” which discussed the role that Respect plays in our lives. In this latest blog post, I share why Mrs. Obama is the perfect example of a woman of substance.

No one can deny that a part of President Obama’s success is due to the love and support of his wife, First Lady, Michelle Obama. In spite of numerous attempts at tarnishing the Obamas’ name, Mrs. Obama has managed to remain positive and carry herself with class and dignity.

Below are some reasons why I and the world love First Lady, Michelle Obama:

1. She is smart and intelligent without being arrogant

In 2008, when we first learned a lot about the First couple, one of the things that stood out to me was that Mrs. Obama’s career and income significantly surpassed that of her husband and yet I have never seen her display even a hint of arrogance. You may even notice that although many have tried to squeeze her into the “angry black woman” stereotype, none have ever called her arrogant.

2. She carries herself with style and grace

One of the reasons why Black women love Mrs. Obama is because she is clearly a woman with strong convictions and strong opinions and yet she is able to express herself in such a way that she is heard and respected without sounding angry or aggressive. Let’s not also forget that Mrs. Obama never ceases to amaze us with her impeccable sense of style.

3. She has a fun side

Recently it was heavily reported that Mrs. Obama shared that she has fantasized about experiencing life as a singer, like Beyonce and then soon after that, she was reportedly at a Beyonce concert with her daughters Malia and Sasha. Mrs. Obama has also been known to throw on her sneakers and play sports with youth or stop by Sesame Street to chat about the importance of eating healthy foods.

4. She is devoted to her man

In an unauthorized biography, by Edward Klein, about the Obamas, “The Amateur”, Michelle is said to have come very close to ending her marriage to President Obama. The fact that two decades after they said, “I do”, the Obama’s marriage is still going strong only makes us realize that she is so devoted to her husband that she has continued to love and support him even when she felt she had good reason not to.

5. She adores her children

Every time that Mrs. Obama is interviewed, she never fails to mention that every decision that she and her husband make always takes into consideration the fact that they have two beautiful girls to raise. She often talks about how important it is to her that her daughters maintain as much “normalcy” in their lives as possible. Mrs. Obama also makes sure that when she travels, she uses the opportunities as tools to expose her daughters to different countries, people and cultures.

Original post at Your Black Word
Check out Nomalanga’s e-book:
Seven Life Changing Habits; How I Changed My Life from Mediocre to Magnificent & How You Can Too!

Diary of an insecure Black Man

Friday, May 11th, 2012

By Jamall Calloway

Ok, fine, I admit that I’m intimidated by you. Are you happy now? I would have admitted it sooner, but you never gave me the chance to admit it to myself. You never gave me the opportunity to ponder on my reasons for not approaching you; you just declared in your mind that my hesitance must be directly correlated to your greatness. After all, you got it going on, right? You’re beautiful. You’re ambitious. You’re everything that anyone would want, but in your mind I haven’t approached because I just can’t handle how beautiful and ambitious you truly are, right? Well, my dear, that’s only partially true, and while I have your attention, allow me to tell you my truth. Allow me to tell you why I’m intimidated by you and why approaching you is so hard for me.

In all honesty, it’s not you. It’s the idea of being rejected by you. I, like most humans, am still afraid of rejection. And who isn’t? I have been rejected before and am clandestinely haunted by that feeling. So, I live guarding my self-esteem, doing whatever I can to evade that feeling. Try to understand that the possibility of your rejection has the power to make me feel low simply because of my distant admiration of you. When you admire something, especially from a distance, sometimes you just want to sustain that admiration without tainting it with the possibility of harsh reality. I’d much rather listen to “Just My Imagination” (1971) by the Temptations over and over again and dream about you reciprocating my attraction than to hear you say you don’t. And as you can tell, I’ve already made up in my mind that you’re going to say no, so I’ve decided to say it for you without even speaking to you. There is no need to go through this scene because I’ve played it countless times in my head. I nervously approach you – you ruthlessly reject me. Therefore, I’d rather you be a secret crush than another name added to the list of those who turned me down.

Now, the second reason I’m intimidated is related to the first, but it has more to do with me, by myself, than it does with you in relation to me. Get it? The second reason that I’m intimidated is because underneath my confidence, behind my good looks and next to my promising career, I’m honestly insecure. You’re a gorgeous woman who can date whomever you please. You are brilliant and beautiful. So what makes me think I have a shot? Sure, I’m handsome, but so are most of my friends. I know I’m educated, but these days – a bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma. And yes, I have promising career, but so do you. And if I’m right about you, none of those things really impress you in the end. They matter, but they’re not all that important. So what do I have to offer you that none of these other gentleman have? Me. And sometimes, I still struggle with wondering if I am enough.

The third reason you intimidate me is because you haven’t fallen ill to the “I’ve found the only good brother left” syndrome. These days, I don’t have to subscribe to normative gender roles and performances that assert my role as the aggressor in romantic encounters because so many women approach me. Due to the shallow numbers of black men in graduate school and/or my career, I’ve grown accustomed to sisters vying for my attention. It’s the new version of tokenism. I’m the only black man here, and if you want a black man, you should compete for me. Someone once told me that (in heterosexual relationships), “No man can have any woman he wants, but he can have every woman that wants him.” So I play the field, date around and enjoy the single life until I am forced to commit to someone or until the one I really like – really, really like – pays attention to me.

And for some reason, you haven’t paid attention to me or you are awaiting my first move. And I haven’t made a move yet because, honestly, I really like you, but I’m afraid of rejection. I’m insecure about myself even though I hide it under pseudo characteristics of confidence. And I’m no longer used to pursuing the woman I want because most pursue me. You personify the mythical perfect black woman who has it all together, but what makes me think you’d pay any attention to me? So yes, in all honesty, my dear, you got it; I’m an intimidated black man.
Source

Nomalanga: The Truth about Black Women

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

I was just watching Oprah, on OWN TV, talking about how her grandmother was telling her, at the tender age of four, that she needed to pay attention to how laundry was done as her grandmother was doing the laundry. Even at four years old, she knew that what her grandmother was telling her about her future was not true. Her well meaning grandmother was trying to show Oprah how to do laundry so that one day she could find “good white folk” to work for as a maid.

Looking at Oprah now, I am amazed at how the acceptance or rejection of just one simple thought can change a person’s life. Imagine what Oprah’s life would have been like if she had accepted what her grandmother told her as the truth. The lesson that I draw from that is that we must not accept other people’s opinions of us as the truth.

Any time you hear about the “successful black woman” in the media, there is usually a negative cloud hanging over that image. Black women have to constantly refute those negative characteristics that are attributed to them. We have to constantly defend ourselves and at times we even allow ourselves to be squeezed into that image, usually because we’ve been poked, prodded and disrespected so much, for so long, that we finally REACT!
So, again, here is the simple lesson that I’m reminded of today, as I watch Oprah in all her magnificence: Don’t let other people’s limited and distorted opinions of you define you. Do not accept other people’s opinions of you, no matter how well meaning, as the TRUTH of who you are.

Audre Lorde, a Caribbean-American writer, poet and activist, put it best:

“If you didn’t define yourself for yourself, you would be crunched into other people’s fantasies of you and eaten alive.”

The question that I will leave you with is: Do you want to be “Oprah” or “the laundry lady”? The choice is yours; what you accept as the truth of who you are is your choice.

Nomalanga: Are Black Men disabled?

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Today, I received a message from a man who described himself as “a disabled black man”. He asked me a very important question in response to some of my posts that talk about what black men want or what black women want. For the purpose of this post, I will call him “G”.

G: what about black men

Me: What about them, G?

G: You wrote about what black women want – well as a black disabled male, I know they do not want disabled males

Because I do not personally know G, I had to assume that he was physically or mentally challenged and that is what he was referring to as “disabled”. This got me thinking; we all have some form of “disability” and “black men” are no different. In addition to that, I believe that black men have a collective “disability” that is unique to them. Through no choice of their own, they have been built into many people’s minds as a threat and every day, they have to overcome that “disability”. The Trayvon Martin case has reminded us that black men and boys can even be brutally killed because of this “disability”.

Here is how I responded to “G”:

I hear you [G]. I think it is important to re-define how people perceive who you call “black disabled males”. Being “black” or “disabled” or “male” are all secondary to being a human being. We all want to love and be loved and all the descriptions come after.

What we all want is for people to see us for who we are; not for what we can be described as. On a personal note, I have spent A LOT of time investing in my personal development and the people who genuinely love and appreciate me do so because of who I am and not what I can be described as.

We are all differently abled and there will always be people who can see past our “disability” and focus on what we are able to do. There is no one on this earth that is still alive that does not have some ability-the fact that we are here is a testament to the fact that we have ability and our own unique ability is our contribution to this life as long as we are alive.

Have a great day, [G]!

Here is the bottom line: The people in this country and the world, at large, are going to have to find a way to see people for who they are (human beings) before they see their “blackness” or any other “ness” that can describe them. We have to start seeing people without using a lense of racism or any other “ism” that we can come up with.

Nomalanga: Miss World announces contestants list-what about the judges?

Friday, April 20th, 2012

It is being reported that a list of 50 winners of national beauty pageants around the world was made public. These 50 are the first of what is expected to be a total of 120 women all vying for the Miss World 2012 title. What I find interesting is that we always know so much about the contestants but so little about the judges.

It makes sense that in order to protect the integrity of the judging process, the international beauty pageants would not disclose the names of the judges but I also think it is reasonable to expect that after the pageants, there should be full disclosure. If there is no transparency in the judging process, we can never be certain that the winner was chosen fairly.

My experience at Mrs World 2011
led me to write a letter to the Mrs World Pageant owners, specifically because the pageant lacked both transparency in the judging process and there was a lack of diversity in the selection of the judges as well. Of the nearly 60 women that entered the Mrs World pageant, there were no less that 12 women who were either African or identified themselves as being of African decent and yet, not one single one made it into the top 14. Of the women that the judges selected to go into the top 14, only Mrs Vietnam (a gorgeous and phenomenal woman) made it in. The problem with this is that the only non-white judge on the judging panel was a Vietnamese woman who is also a former Mrs Vietnam.

I’m saying all this to make one basic point, we need BOTH transparency and diversity in judging international pageants. If pageants are going to define beauty by narrow, euro-centric standards, then it may be best for those that do not fit into those narrow stands to forgo entering the pageants all together. Although pageants are about more than how the women look, it is next to impossible to deny that how the women look is certainly a critical factor in deciding who walks away with the title.

The main reason why I wrote the letter to the owners of the Mrs World pageant is because I believe that the Mrs World did not select a diverse pool of judges and in so doing, they opened most of the Mrs World contestants to an unfair pageant experience.

One thing that I absolutely love about the Miss World (not MRS) pageant system is that their judging system is such that they always have a finalist from every continent or region of the world. That being said, in their history, they have only, to my knowledge, ever had two Black women win the title. Statistically, that is not high enough and I hope that in the coming years, we will see an improvement. Being a finalist and or runner up is great, but black women deserve to wear the crown as well.

The Trayvon Martin case: We have work to do

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

By Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses

Ever since I heard about Trayvon Martin, the teenage boy who was brutally murdered by an over- zealous neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I was so emotionally impacted by the murder. I’ve realized that it means so much to me because a little over three years ago, I gave birth to the most adorable baby boy that I have ever known, my son.

Ever since the birth of my son, who is my second child, I have had to think about something that I never really used to give much consideration. I have had to think about what it means to grow up as a black boy in America. My husband, who was born and raised in America (I was born and raised in Botswana), has shared many stories of how he has experienced being assumed to be “dumb” in school, mainly because he was black and some stories about how he was assumed to be the aggressor in any conflict, again because he was Black. In spite of him having shared his experiences with me, the fact that he is now a grown man who has made tremendous advances in his career and his life goals, made his stories a little less real to me or at least not something that I had a great deal of concern about.

When I heard about Trayvon Martin, I had a moment where I wept uncontrollably and I realize that what has changed about me is that I am now a mother-I am Trayvon’s mother. My Trayvon is still only three years old and he goes by a different name that his father and I gave him but he is a sweet boy who we love very much and he does not deserve to be shot to death.

Read the rest here.


Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses is a wife, mother, professional speaker and an Assistant Professor of Professional Studies. For more information about Nomalanga’s programs, please click here.

Black men and women need to stand up for Black boys and girls like Trayvon Martin

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

I’ve been following the story of George Zimmerman, a white Neighborhood Watch Captain who murdered a 17-year-old African-American boy named Trayvon Martin in his parents gated Florida Community. It has been a month since Trayvon’s death and George Zimmerman has yet to be arrested.

The fact that George Zimmerman has yet to be arrested is outrageous! I am calling for every black man and woman in this country to stand up and voice their outrage. Trayvon Martin is not just a black boy in Florida that just got shot; he is OUR son and we all need to stand up and demand justice for OUR son. I have a son of my own that I gave birth to and I believe that if I don’t stand up and speak up for Trayvon, it is the same as not speaking up for my own son.

Trayvon was not some trouble making black boy who was shot while causing some unrest in a white neighborhood, not that that would justify his shooting either; he was just a boy walking in his own (his father’s) neighborhood and his skin color was all it took for him to be labeled “suspicious” and then gunned to death.

It has been reported that George Zimmerman was not arrested because, according to Tracy Martin, the teen’s father, Police in Sanford, where the shooting occurred, told Martin’s family that Zimmerman had a “squeaky-clean” record. Meanwhile, the Orange County Clerk of Courts website shows a man named George Zimmerman, 28, was charged in July 2005 with resisting arrest with violence and battery on an officer.

The longer George Zimmerman goes without being arrested, the more strongly we are affirming that what he did was and is still okay. Martin Luther King said it best, “An injustice anywhere, is an injustice everywhere”. If you think that Trayvon’s death has nothing to do with you, think again. If the current climate of the justice system in America is such that a young black boy can be shot to death while he was unarmed and in his own neighborhood, by a white man who claimed he looked “suspicious”, and that white man not be arrested, then the notion that we are living in a country with racial equality is a lie!

I’m calling for every Black man and woman, parent or not, to do anything and everything that they can to hold the Sanford county police department accountable for following through and arresting George Zimmerman. They need to hear our voices, on behalf of Trayvon Martin and his family. Write a letter or send an e-mail or make a phone call-anything! The mayor of Orlando, the police chief and any and every other administrator needs to answer one question: Why has George Zimmerman not been arrested?

Why you should love a “hoe”, b*tch or “chicken head”

Monday, February 6th, 2012

When a woman has been raised in a home and, maybe, also a society that has minimized her, marginalized her and also disrespected and disregarded her, she may not realize that it has been repeatedly suggested to her that she is somehow inferior and the expectations that have been set for her life fall far below the potential that exists in her. She may not realize that she has bought into a lie.

You may know these women. They buy into the lie for different reasons. Among those reasons are religious beliefs that have been taken out of context or completely distorted. Some buy into the lie because their limited environment has only shown them one “reality” and in that reality all they see is evidence of their lack of power and their lack of significance. Some others have been brutally beaten (verbally, mentally and/or physically) and they have endured that treatment for so long that it is next to impossible to imagine that they could be valued, loved and respected. For some, what they have endured is more subtle and less recognizable; they are just overlooked or talked over, talked down to or ignored.

What these women do not see is the truth of WHO they are and who they were Created to be. You might ask: Who are they?

They are children of GOD.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

The next time you see one of these women, don’t laugh at her ignorance or “backward thinking” or call her a “hoe”, b*tch or chicken-head. Instead, look beyond WHAT she has become and instead see her for WHO she is. If you see her for WHO she is, how can you not love her?

Sex before Marriage

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

I just read a post that really got me thinking…

“You appealed to his lower nature. You had sex with him and didn’t make marriage a requirement. You continue to have sex with him and still don’t make marriage a requirement. You decide that you’re going to have his baby, and again you still aren’t married because, again, you didn’t make it a requirement, he leaves you. But everything is “ALL HIS FAULT!”

The words above are a simple question that a lot of black woman who call themselves “baby mama” need to ask themselves. I completely understand and sympathize with the fact that “it takes two to tango” and that some men need a little nudge (like a court order) to take responsibility and contribute financially for their children’s needs. Anyone who pays attention to most of the things that I say/write, knows that I believe in personal responsibility. Before you ask or require other people to take responsibility for anything, you first have to ask yourself if you are taking responsibility

Read the post here and let me know what you think. nomalanga@nomalanga.com

Again, my friends, can I please not get an influx of angry e-mails about how judgmental I’m being! :-) Some truths need to be faced and we need to have dialogue so that we can begin to move into a better way of thinking and behaving. We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge-right?