Posts Tagged ‘African American men’

Why Adidas Should Not Have Cancelled the Shackle Shoe

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Adidas has reportedly cancelled its plans to release the “shackle shoe” into the market after it was criticized for advertising it on the Adidas Facebook page.

I think that Adidas’ first mistake was releasing the design to begin with. I question whether they used simple marketing tools,such as surveys, before they decided to launch this new “shackle shoe”. That being said, I think that now that they have gone public with the design, the next mistake was to withdraw it.

I believe that even before they promoted the shoe on their Facebook page, they were aware of the slavery undertones that came with it. That is part of business; you take risks and sometimes they pay off. If Adidas was looking for a massive amount of attention, they got it. I’m just appalled that they are now trying to weasel their way out of it by “withdrawing” the shoe.

The bottom line is that Adidas decided to take a risk to get media attention and they got it. They should stand by their design and lie in the bed that they made. Trying to withdraw the shoe at this time is a bad decision because it makes it look like their design team was so incompetent that they did not consider the implication of a shoe with shackles on it being marketed in a country like America. America has has a very painful history in which shackles played a very significant role.

Shame on Adidas.

Originally posted at YourBlackBloggers

Let’s Support Fathers, Especially Black Fathers

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Today is the day that we celebrate fathers all over the world. It seems that we so often focus on how challenging it is for modern day mothers who are still expected to attend to all the needs of their children and yet are now also trying to succeed in their careers. While I have first-hand knowledge of the complexities of being a modern day working mother or just a modern day mother, period, I have an ever increasing level of compassion for the modern day Father, especially the Black father.

It’s no secret that, in the US, the two parent family is increasingly becoming the exception while the single parent home is increasingly becoming the norm. And if you take a look at Black communities all around the country, unfortunately, that becomes even truer. I’ll save my speculation as to why we are facing these circumstances for another day and instead bring the focus back to the Black father.

Most of these single parent homes that are increasingly becoming the norm are typically headed my Black women and the Black father is often subjected to the whims of the said mother. Today, I am appealing to all Black mothers to set aside their own feelings about a man they may not necessarily, love, like or even respect and let him be a father to his child or his children. It’s not enough to just be a willing participant; you have to be your child’s advocate in doing everything that you can to make sure that he or she has a relationship with his or her Father.

I’ve heard all the stories about the dead-beat fathers or the ones who don’t care or the ones who don’t pay their child support etc. The truth still remains that every child deserves to love their father and to be loved by their father, no matter who the father is or what he has or has not done.

One woman once relayed a story to me about how her mother would not allow her father to see her because he had disappointed her so many times by saying he was coming and then not showing up. Her mother then decided to “cut him off” entirely to spare her daughters feelings and the woman never saw her father again. Years later she found out that he had continued to attempt to see her but her mother would not allow it. This birthed a small resentment towards her mother and now she had to deal with resenting both of her parents, her father for not being around and her mother for not letting him. This is a sad story, but unfortunately, it is a common one.

I’ve had the privilege of not only growing up in a home with both of my parents who are still married today, and I am also raising my two children with my best friend and husband who is also their father. I am very grateful for my circumstances and very grateful to my parents who may have had numerous opportunities to go their separate ways but instead, put my well-being and that of my siblings, ahead of their own personal feelings and desires. I am also grateful to my husband who continues to put up with my many “complexities” because he loves his children and wants them to have a safe and secure home. That being said, I never fail to mention that our marriage has not worked because we were “lucky” to have found each other; it is actually quite the opposite. We work at it and we do so, amongst other things, for the benefit of our children.

I share some of my personal story for one reason and that is simply to say that we all have different circumstances and we all make different choices about how we live our lives but let’s make the same choice when it comes to our children and their fathers. Let’s support the fathers of our children in being the best fathers that they can be regardless of their circumstances. Let’s set aside any negative thoughts and feeling and just focus on what is good and what is possible when a man loves his child or his children and they have the opportunity to love him back.

Happy Father’s Day.

Originally Posted at Your Black World

Nomalanga: Three Questions to ask yourself before Divorce

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

By Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses

Less than a year into marriage, I experienced what I now call the “reality” phase. Anyone who has been married for a while knows exactly what I’m talking about. The “Reality” phase of marriage is when you start to come down off of the honeymoon phase of the relationship and start to really see your partner for who they are rather than the fantasy that you were projecting onto them.

Just as I was processing this rather confusing phase, I had a conversation with one of my “sisters” who, at the time, had been married for about eight years. What she shared were three major things that tend to affect marriages either negatively or positively. In other words, if you pay attention to these three “things”, you can sustain a happy marriage but if you neglect these things, trouble is inevitably around the corner.

I am generally an advocate of marriage; partially because I was born and raised within the confines of one. (Side note: My parents have been married for almost 40 years).

That being said, if you have neglected any of the three “things” I feel that it is possible to give each one attention and restore your marriage, rather than head to Divorce court.
Here are the questions you need to ask yourself:
1. Are we Communicating well?
Many times what couples think are major problems, are actually small problems buried in a series of miscommunications or no communication at all. Unless you have developed the skill of effective communication and are able to resolve conflicts and problems through effective communication, you have not earned your way out of the marriage. Rather than head to divorce court, explore ways to build your communication skills.

2. Are our finances in order?
My husband and I love to joke that we need to make sure that we get our finances in order because “broke people fight”. Now, I’m not sure where the saying “broke people fight” comes from but like most jokes, it has an element of truth in it. When finances are in order, there is a level of security that can quickly disappear if they are mismanaged. If you get to a point where your finances are a mess, rather than head to divorce court, put your heads together and explore strategies to restore the financial well-being of your family.

3. When was the last time we were “intimate”?
“Intimacy” is a topic that many of us shy away from because it is uncomfortable for some people to discuss. That being said, if you are not being “intimate” with your spouse, you’re trying to glue two pieces of paper together and omitting the glue. Before you head off to Divorce court, get creative about “rocking his world” (or hers). One thing that I would add to this is that many women ask, “what if I just don’t feel like it?” Well, I’ll tell you like I heard it jokingly said, “Sometimes you just have to take one for the team”.

As I approach our 8th anniversary in marriage and reflect back on my own marriage and those of the people around me, I can honestly say that what my ‘sister” told me all those years ago was marriage saving advice. That being said, none of the three “things” apply if you’re dealing with a partner who is abusive, is dealing with an addiction or is chronically unfaithful. Even these serious issues are not cause to end your marriage but they are certainly issues that need addressing though professional or spiritual intervention.

At the end of the day, a problem in marriage is no longer just your problem; it is the possibility of your children growing up without Both their parents or the shattering of a community that was partially bound by your marriage or another case of giving up on your own personal development journey which your marriage was facilitating. Make a decision, today, whether you are already married or not yet married, to ask yourself these questions so that you can stay married. Don’t let yourself down. Don’t let your spouse down. Don’t let your children down. Don’t let your family and your community down. Stay married.

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: 21 Children with 11 Women is a sad issue

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

I just read about the 29 year old man who has 21 children with 11 different women.

In this video, I discuss why I think this is not only a very troubling story but also why I think it is very sad for the children who have this man as a a father.
Originally posted at Your Black World

Nomalanga: What society thinks about Overweight Women

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

I just read an article by a, self proclaimed, overweight feminist who is considering losing weight to expand her dating options. Of course, this is a rather delicate topic and she even admits that, being a feminist, it may even seem hypocritical, on her part. After all, isn’t one of the basic “rules” of feminism that women should not be judged on the basis of their physical appearance? I don’t know; I’m not a feminist…

Reading her article got me thinking…Not too long ago, I posted a somewhat humorous Facebook post talking about how I noticed that after shedding over 40 pounds from my heaviest weight, I started to notice more “heads turning”. What was funny was that I actually thought that the reason I had stopped “turning heads”, was that I was no longer a twenty something college girl. I thought that now that I was a wife, mother and most importantly, a married woman, well into my thirties, I had just moved into a different stage in my life where I no longer “turned heads”. I honestly thought that only “young girls” drew attention when they walked by and since I had stopped considering myself as such, it seemed normal that nobody was taking a second look.

Imagine my surprise when I started to notice that after losing a significant amount of weight, I was “turning heads” again, much like in my younger years. So, it turns out that our society is more forgiving of women aging than it is of them gaining weight- at least that is what my experience has taught me.

So I decided to put on my survey hat and began asking random men, in my circle of friends and relatives, what their preference was-cute and chubby or cute and “older”? Yes, you guessed it; they ALL said they preferred cute and “older”.

The one consolation that I find in this issue is that I feel I can control my weight. Aging, even though it will probably be graceful, is not something that I or anyone can control. Being “old” is not a choice but being “chubby” is. I know some might argue that being overweight is a “condition” and while I’m sympathetic to that, I still maintain that for the majority of us, it is not a “condition”, but instead a matter of discipline and self control.

So there you have it, ladies, before you write yourself off as “unattractive”, you may want to consider that it might just be that you need to say good-bye to some of those extra pounds that you have gained over the years. Speaking as someone who has shed a significant amount of weight, I can say that not only will you look better, more importantly, you’ll FEEL better!

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.

Boyce Watkins: Why Black Women Can’t Find a Man

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

I watched an ABC News special the other night featuring Steve Harvey, Jacque Reed, Sherri Shepherd and my homeboys Hill Harper and Jimi Izrael. The show covered a tried and true topic that is sure to get sky high ratings from the black community: The topic was, Why successful black women can’t find a good man. I am not going to risk bringing on the wrath of black women by saying things that some of them may not want to hear, but I have to be honest about what I saw on this show. Let me just cut to the chase and lay the issues out one-by-one:

1) Why are black women taking relationship advice from Steve Harvey? Not to disrespect Steve’s ability to drop knowledge, but isn’t he a comedian? If we are taking relationship advice from a comedian and our relationship turns into a joke, who do we blame in the end? Bottom line – perhaps learning how to love another person means that after you put aside the book by the comedian, you should go out and buy a book by a relationship expert.

2) Most good women have little trouble getting married to decent men: One has to be skeptical of the beautiful, intelligent, fully capable woman who simply says that she can’t find a good man anywhere. Most women I know who are well-balanced and who also appreciate the idea of respecting men in the same way they would like to be respected, have no trouble finding suitable mates. Sorry to break this to you, but the only constant variable in your relationships is a person called YOU.

Rather than pointing the finger at the world, a bit more introspection might be called for: perhaps you have to reconsider your laundry list of expectations or wonder if you’re not doing a good job finding men who are open to commitment. It’s easy to find a man, just not easy to find a man who is willing to be with you and you only; a lot of brothers simply play the field and allow you to buy an emotional lottery ticket, hoping that you’ll be the one he selects in the end. You may be fishing in the wrong ponds in the first place or using the wrong bait to catch the fish you’re bringing home.

3) If you want something bad enough, take a class: There are classes on relationships and marriage out there that don’t cost much money. If you are determined to be the best mate you can possibly be, it might make sense to take a class that explains all the subtleties and challenges of making a relationship work (not just the counseling you get from your pastor). A relationship is not about a mate fulfilling your long and detailed list of needs and expectations. The bottom line is that if you hope to receive more, you must first fully commit yourself togiving more. Some of us are taught that we should expect the world and not offer anything in return: that’s a perfect recipe for getting dumped.

4) Big mistake – always chasing the alpha male: I know a lot of “regular guys” who are unable to find a woman that is interested in being with them. This is especially true in their mid-twenties, when everyone is single and living fancy-free, with little expectation for long-term commitment. Some of the women these ”regular guys” are interested in are not paying them much attention to them, mainly because the woman has become enchanted with the dream-like alpha male in her life: the guy who fits every single portion of the checklist (height, income, education, toe nail length, swag, etc.), but who may not be available for a monogamous, long-term relationship. What many women seem to forget is that there are some men who always have room for another woman on the roster. If you’re wasting all your time with the lying, cheating, super dog, you might miss out on the chance to be with the man who will love you forever and father all of your children. He may not come in the same package, and by comparing the two without considering the differences in what each of them offers, you may be passing up on your opportunity.

5) Relationships should not be a pissing contest: One of the by-products of many black children growing up in single parent homes is that their relationships become highly contentious. I once saw a neck swinging, energized woman say, “I need a man who can handle me!” What I wanted to tell her is that your man should not have to “handle” you as if you are a wild bull with his testicles sewn together. The act of love is a process of being open, feeling and sharing, not trying to dominate one another. So, if you need to be “handled” in your relationships, realize that you are likely going to only attract men who are mean, rough and insensitive enough to handle you effectively. In fact, you’re not searching for a mate, you may be actually looking for a pimp. Fighting and domination is not the same as love – let’s not get it twisted.

6) There’s nothing wrong with a few gender roles: Sherri Shepherd, during an especially volatile segment of the ABC News show, swung her hands around in the air saying, “I don’t have time to validate you every day!” – referring to the fact that she doesn’t feel that it’s her job to make her man feel good about himself on a regular basis. What’s interesting is that most women want their man to make them feel beautiful and to feel like a woman. So, why is it not acceptable for a man to expect his wife to make him feel like a man? A man doesn’t want to marry another guy – or rather, a woman who feels that any and all gender roles are an insult to her feminine independence and also expects the man to be willing to be regularly emasculated. It’s O.K. to make your man feel like he’s THE man, a king and a leader. A good man will surely return the favor and make you feel like a beautiful woman.

7) Let’s be real- many men aren’t as excited about marriage as women: As much as we want to believe that men grow up fantasizing about their wedding day the same way that many women do, the truth is that this is not the case. Many men see marriage as a frightening commitment that will cause them to be vilified for actions they can engage in without consequence when they are single (notice the millions of dollars that Shaquille O’neal and the rapper Nas have paid to get out of their marriages – every man gets petrified when he reads these stories).

A woman who gets her husband is the one who makes the man WANT to be married: she let’s him feel free, strong, needed, loved and supported. While this may seem to be a primitive concept, the reality is that the reverse is true for sex: Men and women both want it, but men know they have to work just a little bit harder to “get some.” They’ve got to buy flowers, take the woman to dinner, and make her feel comfortable. It would be silly for a man to think that a woman should buy him flowers and beg him to have sex with her. The converse is true for marriage – where getting a man to overcome his anxiety is a great way to get him to give you what you want.

I love black women: My mother, daughter and grandmother are black women and there is not a more precious group of women on the planet. But the truth is that this “woe is me, black men ain’t sh*t” attitude has to be replaced with something more constructive. If not, we’ll be having these same forums 20 years from today.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the author of the book,“Black American Money.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

Nomalanga:What we can learn from Martin Lawrence’s Divorce

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

It is being widely reported that after less than three years of marriage and 13 years “together” , Martin Lawrence and his wife, Shamicka Gibbs are getting divorced. Apparently, the couple had been together for 13 years and had two daughters together before they decided to tie the knot in 2010 and now it’s all over!

This is a very interesting trend that I have noticed does not only plague Hollywood couples. We see it all the time; two people who date for a very long time and are seemingly happy together decide to get married and end up getting divorced soon after-the relationship that they had before they got married lasted longer than the marriage.

I was just having a Facebook discussion in which I suggested that the lesson that can be learned from a lot of these unfortunate “train wrecks’ that they call marriages is that when people get married, especially after dating for a long time, it is important not to suddenly come up with a new set of expectations.

The way I put is was this: When people get married they change their expectations but the truth is you can’t live with a “dog” for years and then hope that after the wedding it will stop barking and start purring like a cat. It is a dog and it will continue to bark. If you wanted a cat, you should have married a cat.

Now, just to be clear, I’m NOT saying men are dogs-okay? What I am saying is that when you date a person, the time that you spend getting to know them, should also be time spent setting up realistic expectations for a long term relationship. Obviously, there will be small, maybe even major changes after you get married. A great example is that you will start to live together, assuming that you were not already. These kinds of changes in expectations are normal and reasonable. You cannot, however expect that a person will morph into a different and maybe more “responsible” life partner just because you both said “I do”.

Maya Angelou has been known to say, “When people show you who they are, believe them”. So, when you date a person, this is the time that they will show you who they are and that is the behavior upon which you should set your expectations. If their behavior while you are dating is unacceptable, marriage will only compound the degree to which you find their behavior unacceptable.

Again, the lesson is simple; if you want to marry your “honey”, understand that the way your honey is when you’re dating is basically the way that honey will be when you’re married.  If you marry him (or her), don’t ask him (or her) to change and certainly, don’t expect them to.

It would not surprise me to find out that this is precisely what went wrong with Martin and Shamicka. I reckon that Shamicka married Martin and thought that when they got married, he would change and she was disappointed to find out that he didn’t and probably wasn’t going to. And now…Divorce.

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.