Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Fire Challenge: Why I'm Not Having Children

As a single woman, there are times when I imagine being a wife with kids: cooking dinner for my family, walking through the park with baby in stroller,   beaming with pride as I watch my little girl in her first dance recital or my son’s first T-Ball game.  But then I get on Facebook and I’m reminded why there might not be in little Ebonys running around anytime soon. 

The reality is I’m scared crapless to have kids because apparently it’s the “in thing” to set yourself on fire, film it, and post it to Facebook for the world to see.  What I have just described is the Fire Challenge.  These are videos where the world’s dumbest adolescents rub some flammable fluid on their chests and then set a lighter to it.   No, I’m not talking about some rite of passage in a tribe documented by National Geographic.  This is Man Man and Pookey in the bathroom giving themselves 6th degree burns while some idiot is standing on the side using his phone to record instead of calling 911.

My mom use to say “If you think things can’t get any worse, just live a little longer.”  Well, I never thought I would live to see the day where someone sets fire to their own limbs.  Don’t they know being own fire is ranked the worst pain you can feel? Right up there with labor pains with no epidural.  So on top of parents having to make sure their kids don’t join a gang, get pregnant at 16, and don’t do crack, now they have to lock up all the lighters and lighting fluid because of a new trend?  Does Obamacare even cover self-inflicted burns? I can’t. 

We are becoming a society that is controlled by the number of likes on a post.  And honestly, I’m not sure if I want to bring kids into a world like that.  The day I hear my child say she set herself on fire because her friends were doing it is the day she learns to eat through a feeding tube because every tooth in her head is being knocked out.  I get that peer pressure can be something else but really?  Being popular can’t be that serious.  When a child has set his/her mind on causing bodily harm to themselves for a few hundred likes, who is to blame?  I’m not even sure how to start a conversation with someone who has that reasoning or logic. 

I fear for today’s youth.  There is already another challenge where kids are causing themselves to pass out.  I try my best to not imagine what the next challenge is going to be.  If any kids read my blog, please put the lighter down, it’s not worth it.  While I’m pretty sure that procreation is not for me, I pray that our youth will get it together soon.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Spoken Word: N.W.A Casting Call

Source: Todd MacMillan/Universal Pictures
Last week, a casting agency caused a lot of uproar in the interwebs.  The Sandi Allesi Casting posted a casting call to their Facebook page looking for women for the new N.W.A Biopic.  In this decade's most racist casting call, women were broken down into 4 categories: A, B, C, and D.  The A-C category requested women who were the hottest of the hottest, mixed race, medium to light skin with long hair, natural or weave.  Being of the darker shade myself, I had a bit of a problem with Category D.  Category D asked specifically for dark skin women who were not only out of shape but poor looking.  Because as we all know only dark skinned women are out of shape and poor.

To express my disgust for everything in this casting call, I decided to find my inner Love Jones and come to you with this post in spoken word.  So turn down the lights, light a cigarette, and snap as I approach the stage and give you


2014, but it might as well be 1943 
Too dark to be "the hottest of the hot"
But just right to be a rag, wearing mammy

I can be cast to be the loud mouth baby mama or
The girl twisting her neck at the corner store
Shaking my hand as I talk
Oooooo, maybe I get the part as Dr. Dre's Compton whore

Hair not long enough for Category A
Skin not medium enough for Category C
Dark skin, short hair, chubby stature
Just right for Category D

Why can't I be the love interest?
Why can't I be the woman that Ice Cube strives for?
Why is that light is right,
But dark gets ignored?

I thought this dispute was over
This way of thinking was in the past
But I'm still having to defend my dark shade
All my childhood insecurities coming back fast

My mom repeatedly having to tell me I'm beautiful
Giving myself pep talks before I left for school
Being intimidated to wear vibrant colors 
And only clear lip gloss was the rule

But the pep talks are few
I wear every color on the spectrum
I embrace my dark skin 
Rather than view it as an incurable infection

Casting call agent 
I have some words for you
The next time you mention my shade
This is what you should do

Pair it with strength, perseverance,
Vulnerable, charming, and beauty,
Funny, smart, sarcastic,
And maybe a little snooty  

Casting call agent,
Listen to my plea,
Do not shame my black women and black girls
With Category D

*Snap, Snap Hope you enjoyed the flow of my words.  What did you think about the casting call? 

Update: The casting agency and N.W.A has made a public apology for the ignant casting call.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Nicki MInaj & Iggy Azalea: Why We Need This

Hip Hop has always been competitive: who has the better lyrics, who has the biggest chain, who’s rocking the cleanest sneakers, or who has the biggest bank account.  This competitive spirit is what makes Hip Hop stand out from other genres.  Admitting that the East Coast, West Coast beef got a little out of hand, some of the greatest moments in Hip Hop came from friendly competition (Remember Jay-Z and Nas?)
This is why we need both Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea to be great.  There have always been complaints about the woman’s place (or a lack of) in the lyrical realm.  At times, we have gone as long as a decade without strong female MCs.  We have gone even longer without having more than one female rapper on the charts at the same time.  With both Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea on the scene, it shows a promising future for females in Hip Hop.
I know some people are bothered by Iggy Azalea’s presence.  Not I.  If she is good at what she does, let her shine.  Don’t hate, congratulate (yea, I know that's from 1997).  Forbes wrote an article about the Iggy’s surprising success and needless to say some African Americans were not here for the article.  For me, her success is not a slap to black women in the genre but a chance for us to see how Nicki Minaj is going to handle the competition (and possibly see other women bust onto the scene).
Let’s keep it real: who has been Nicki’s competition (To be honest, I wasn’t expecting Nicki to last past her first single)?  For the past 4 years, the female rapper category at the BET Awards has been a joke.  This was the first year that I wasn’t sure if Nicki was going to take the award home or not.  Nicki has had the freedom to experiment with different sounds because she didn’t have to worry about anybody snatching her wig.  Now that there is someone else on the scene it’s makes  me wonder how she is going to deal.
At this year’s BET Awards, shots were fired when Nicki made it known that she writes her own bars. She has said that this was not shade towards Azalea.  However, I can't help but wonder why she felt the need to explain the authenticity of her work?  Is it because Nicki knows that play time is over and a rumble is getting ready to start?  Whatever the case may be, Nicki wanted us to know she is a force to be reckon with.  Will Iggy be the one to reckon with that force?
This was me when Nicki was giving her acceptance speech
As long as there are no real shots fired, beefs friendly competition is a good thing in hip hop.  This separates the rappers from the lyricists.  I’m ready for the females to get a piece of the action and I feel that Nicki and Iggy are the ones who are go to do it. 

What do yall think?

Monday, June 30, 2014

BET Awards 2014: Not One Damb Was Given

If this is your first time visiting my blog, I would like to welcome you with a "Yaaaaaaaaasssssssssssss" in my Reginae (Lil Wayne's daughter) voice as I shake my hand in a sporadic motion.  Usually, I write the highlights of the show.  However, sometimes words are just not enough.  So I would let others express my emotions for me:

Every time Chris Rock Clowned Rick Ross or T.I. or Solange 

When August Alsina was giving us faux tears during his acceptance speech

How excited I get to when I see Nicki Minaj looking like a human

The girl is gorgeous!

How I looked when dancing to Lionel Richie's All Night Long

When my SISTAH, J-Hud, was bringing back the new Walk It Out

When I didn't know who any of the groups were in the Rap Group Category

When Young Money gave there acceptance speech

When Phylicia Rashaad came out to give a tribute to Ruby Dee and Maya Angelou

When I saw the it was passed my bedtime and the show was still going on 

Every year when it's time to present the Best Female Rapper award and you know Nicki Minaj is going to win it

When Nicki Minaj said she wasn't throwing shade

That Beyonce and Jay Z "performance"

As always I had an awesome time watching the awards along with #BlackTwitter and if you want to follow me during any award show, you can find me at @ebonymariere.  

Special shoutout to and for the awesome GIFs.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

What You Didn't Learn from Maya Angelou's Memorial Service

This past Saturday was the Memorial Service of the great American poet, Maya Angelou.  As someone who has always had a hard time with funerals, I was not sure I was going to watch.  However, I put my big girl panties on and tuned in to the stream.  As I watched the stream online I couldn’t help but feel a certain way.   

When I joined the stream Oprah was stepping up to speak.  I was not surprised Oprah was on program because everybody knows that when it comes to Oprah it’s Gail, Maya Angelou, and Stedman… in that order.  I was ready to hear about the amazing life and times of Dr. Maya Angelou, but what I got instead was the most narcissistic eulogy ever.  Oprah repeatedly told stories about how Angelou would often remind her [Oprah] of how great she was.  She spoke about her school in Africa.  She told Maya that the school would be legacy.  Oprah so proudly told the grieving audience that the great poet told her that the school was not her legacy but her show, her show’s guests, and the audience themselves were her legacy.  How humble of Oprah to let everyone know that Maya Angelou knew Oprah was a legend.  And don’t get me started on how she ended her speech plugging a project she is working on called Salem and Maya told her it’s going to be awesome. 

After Bebe Winans shared a story about how the talented, late literary told him his family was great, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke.    She did talk about how the poem Phenomenal Woman helped her to realized that black women are beautiful too.  However, also Mrs. Obama told us that her mother commanded that she be at the service.  She let us know that she started from the bottom, coming from the south side of Chicago and moving into the White House.  Oh, and she reminded us that her husband is the first African American President of the United States. 
Then the First Lady shared an experience about Maya speaking at one of Barack’s campaign rallies.  This story had promise.  In the story, Maya strolled into the campaign rally like she owned the place.  After her speech, she spoke briefly with Michelle.  Now Michelle can’t remember what she said but apparently it was so profound that it provided her with some extra confidence.  If Maya Angelou told me something in Chinese it would be burned in my memory forever. 

Where were the eulogies about Maya’s life and accomplishments.   Where was the story about  Maya Angelou’s early years struggling as a single mother to keep food on the table for her son, Guy.  How she studied dance while working as a short order cook.  Where was the inspiration story about how in the mid 50’s, Ms. Angelou toured Europe performing the stage play, Porgy and Bess.  I wanted to hear how Maya Angelou being an actress, director, dancer, and writer of more poems than just Phenomenal Woman and Still I Rise has inspired little girls around the world to be better people.  I admit that Oprah and Michelle have plenty of accolades but this was not about them.  It was not about Oprah’s school in Africa or Michelle’s journey to the White House.  It should have been about one of our country’s greatest writers.  Disappointedly, it was not. 

I told you she wrote more than one book
I might be in the minority but I was not satisfied with this Memorial Service.  I felt it was more about the guest list than it was about Maya Angelou.  For anyone wanting to know about the beautiful writer, I would advise you to read beyond I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  Do research on her and I think you will be pleasantly surprised.  And then you will understand what a national treasure that we lost. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Why I Consider the Scale Satan

I have been trying to be healthier.  My job consists of telling women to be healthier so I rather not live my life as a hypocrite.  Mind you, I have been chubby all my life so my weight has been a challenge for as long as I can remember.  In the last year, I have had an epiphany: 
Satan get behind me and take the scale with you.

I rebuke you in the name of Jesus
So when I started my healthier lifestyle, I decided that I would not check the scale weekly.  You might be asking, how can you know your progress if you don’t weigh yourself? You’ll recall the first line of this post said that I’m trying to be healthier not skinnier.  I have never wanted to be skinny.  I wanted to be accepted for who I am.  I don’t want the “you’re pretty to be big” or the “you’re still pretty regardless of your weight” speech.  I know!  When you’re giving a full figured woman this “pep talk” all you are doing is reminding her that something is wrong.  I would prefer that my weight not be up for discussion. I have a policy that if you’re not being paid my HMO than my weight is not your issue.

Who run the world?  Healthy Girls
By getting on the scale weekly, I’m setting myself up to have a good week or a crappy week.  I will either jump up and down over the weight I’ve lost or feel like a complete failure.  Who has time to go through that emotional rollercoaster week after week?  I most certainly don’t.  What I do instead is set up mini goals for myself like I’m going to walk/jog three times a week, eat out only on Fridays with friends, or eat a green vegetable twice a week.  By doing this, I know that I’m making small changes that could make a huge impact on my overall health.  I’m not beating myself up on why I only lost 1 pound or zero pounds.  Our bodies are crazy sometimes and don’t always do what we want them to do.  I don’t want to be depressed for the rest of the week because my body decided to be stubborn and not shed any pounds.

I also didn’t want to define myself by a number that appeared on the scale.  For too long, I would weigh myself and let that number linger in my mind.  All the while feeling like I was not losing enough.  I would think about that number all week.  If I slipped up and ate a snack cake, I would see that number increasing in my mind.  It would remind me why I was shopping in the plus size section.  I could see it as I would inhale trying to put on a pair of jeans.  That number on the scale would cause me anxiety.  I got tired of letting a 3 digit number make me feel worthless.  I wasn’t Ebony.  I was such and such pound Ebony.  I no longer wanted to live that way.

I wanted to be happy with who I was while I was in transition.  I wanted to look in the mirror and love the person I saw knowing that I was making lifestyle changes to become a better Ebony.  I refused to let a battery-operated machine dictate to me what my worth was.  When I started to think like this I found happiness.  I saw the beauty in myself. I loved being a woman. 

If you are on a weight-loss journey, I would advise that you abort that journey and get on a healthier you journey.  When you are on weight-loss journey, you are fixated on a number and you are giving that number power.  When you are working on health, you are the one with the power.  You’re deciding what changes need to be made and making them.  You are setting goals you want to set and seeing the fruits of your labor.  You realize that your health is not about your jean size but about how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally.  

The Struggle: Black and Introverted

There is a very distinct stereotype of a black woman: loud, wearer of long Brazilian hair weaves or quick weaves, frequent shopper of Forever 21, and avid watcher of Love & Hip Hop.  I admit that I can be loud.  I have worn a few quick weaves.  When I’m going for a trendy look I stop by Forever 21.  I don’t fools with Love & Hip Hop, but I will clear my Sunday evenings for the Real Housewives of Atlanta.  So, yea, I fit some of the criteria of the stereotypical black woman.  Before you attack me in the comment section, I know this stereotype doesn’t describe every black woman.  We have a variety of hobbies, interests, talents, and personalities.  However, there is one thing that makes me feel like I stick out like a sore thumb when I amongst black women: I’m introverted.

This isn't just me posing... this is my ultimate introvert face: pondering or daydreaming about something
Black women are supposed to be the life of the party, office, or any other group setting.  Do you know how disappointing white people are when I’m in the office and I would rather read a book during lunch than twist my neck and trash talk about the crazy customers we had that morning?  I don’t mind having a good time but to be honest sometimes I just want to hang back in the cut.  I don’t want to start the electric slide or any other line dance at the office party or wedding. 

I HATE small talk.  I understand that it is a part of our social norms so I have sucked it up and have tried to be a better at it.  But for the most part I rather not talk about the weather or who was eliminated on The Bachelor.  I also don’t want to small talk about what went down at Thirsty Thursdays or First Fridays.  I have never been a club person.  Getting dressed up to stand shoulder to shoulder in a room with dangerously loud music has never appealed to me.  So it’s challenging for me to have a convincing, casual conversation about how Kesha showed up in the same white peplum dress as you and how she ain’t sh*t for speaking to you while wearing it.  I love having purposeful conversations about how social media has changed our world or should Donald Sterling have to pay the NBA 2.5 million dollars for a private conversation.  You can save the club chronicles for someone else. 

The look on my face when someone is having small talk with me
Black women are supposed to be “down for whatever” or ready to “tell somebody off.”  I, on the other hand, avoid hostile situations.  It’s very rare for me to “go in” because I don’t like someone’s tone of voice.  Don’t get it twisted, I’m not saying I’m a punk but I will be so calm when going off that you won’t be sure if I’m telling you off or having a therapy session.  There have been occasions when I wanted to go Nene Leakes on folks but my introvertness won’t let me.  On the inside, I’m throwing tables and Champaign bottles and yelling obscenities but on the outside, my quiet demeanor is telling you to give me my refund before I write a nasty email to your regional manager and have you written up for insubordination. 

It has taken time for me to be comfortable with being a different type of black woman.  At 26, I have accepted that this is who I am and I’m going to probably be like this into my old age.  I’m might not know who Yandi is or how to read someone but if you want to have a deep conversation about the authenticity of Beyonce’s feminism then I’m your girl. 

Where my introvert sistas? Leave a line in comment section.  

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