Friday, May 20, 2011

Random Musings

" the righteous live on but the niggas are infinite.'- Binary Star < TRUTH.

Let it be known. I LOVE [old school] hip hop but I am NOT a hip hop head. In other words, I have a deep appreciation for hip hop as an expression of Blackness in the U.S but ask me some trivia and I will stare at your blankly, then smile and blink.

Anyway, as I sit and write a report for work I have been listening to some of my favorite hip hop songs. They are not related or connected by anything other than my appreciation for them. But I will say this, when that bullsh*t comes on the radio I escape into my room and listen to one of these songs (and a couple others) and feel restored + refreshed. Maybe you do/will too.

Here are a few:

Busta Rhymes- Don't Touch Me. The percussion on this is obvious ridiculous but the fact that Busta can match it with his wonderfully expressive and precise Rhymes, make this a song to remember:

Binary Star- Honest Expression. Ok now who doesn't love it when musicians throw in a little Bruce Lee in their song intro? Genius, if you ask me!

Ahmad- Back in the Day. When this song comes on, I raise my glass just a little bit and rock my head from side to side like I'm in a '64 Impala.

NWA- Boyz in the Hood. I LOVE THE INTRO. hahaaa I just love this song.

BIG- I Got A Story To Tell. I hope to never tell a story like this one or even be in a story like this.. sheesh. In any case... here ya go:

Black Star- Astronomy. I mean I love these two for their bodies... I mean artistics abilities. yea... whatever! haha jk, this song is awesome too.

Brand Nubians- Love Me or Leave Me Alone. Sometimes, I swear this is my personal soundtrack. Other days, not so much. Check it out here:

Ok- that's all for now folk-- Toodles!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dear Brother, You're Irking My Soul

Now let me start off by saying that I grew up in a big family with 4 siblings, 1 older and 3 younger. I love them all very much and will shed blood for them in a heartbeat. But sometimes one of those siblings just does something that irks my soul.

My younger brother and I are separated by only 16 months, with me being one year older, and our  personalities are often night and day. I was much closer to my older brother who, although was 3 years older than me, had the same interests and personality quirks. I also used to be the only girl for the longest time until my parents just up and decided to give birth to two more cash drainers. And thus we became 5, 3 boys and 2 girls.

Even now we aren't that close but I still love him dearly and will even get up in the middle of the night to go outside and help him with his car trouble. Now that's love.

But why does a nucca have to go and do such irksome things?

Today's irksome thing of the day: Playing loud music in the middle of the night while I and the rest of the house are trying to sleep. Now I currently reside in the basement (I love my cave), which has the unfortunate side affect of allowing me to hear all upstairs nose in the kitchen/nette, dining room, and living room. I don't particularly care what goes on upstairs as I am quite comfy with my corner office set-up where I can get my work done and surf the web for hours upon hours. But when a sistah's tryna sleep, the most ridiculous thing someone can do is start playing loud music. Now I love me some Trey Songz, but I prefer not to think about his partner's love-faces when I'm trying to get my sleep on.

Did I tell him to stop playing it. Yes, three times. Was it turned off? No. Was that douchey? Yes.

He actually just told me that: "I didn't hear you say turn if off."

That's fine.

But why does he now say, "Well I'm almost done (cleaning the kitchen), just one more song."

Negro what??

What is a tired sister to do? Ah well, life does go on.

Thanks for letting me rant. I'm going to bed.

*Photo complements of this blog

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bad Ass Kids

This is the biggest problem with the public education system within our inner cities. Sure there are a myriad of issues we could choose from, including the swelling bureaucracy, outdated curricula and ineffective teachers. However, nothing is tantamount to the prevalence of bad ass kids. I teach in Brownsville, Brooklyn-the hood. And as we all know, the hood is plagued with bad ass kids.

I know y'all might be sayin, Le Chele, how you gonna talk about kids like that, especially when you want to be a teacher? Le Chele, what's really good with your grammar right now? Whatever.

Seriously, though. It is impossible for anything constructive to get done in environments like this. Teacher's can't teach and students can't learn. And it is mostly because of a relatively small, yet significant number of bad ass kids.

Sure there are reasons for why these bad ass kids are so bad, but those of us in the education profession need a better plan on how to deal with these bad ass kids. And therein lies the problem. Nobody wants to deal with these bad ass kids and so these bad ass kids aren't dealt with. Allow me to explain the following scenarios based on everyday occurrences:

  • In class, lesser bad kids get fed up with bad ass kid, isolates him*. He's no longer being engaged, so he becomes embarrassed, angry and therefore continues being bad.
  • Bad ass kid is monopolizing the teacher's time, get kicks out of the classroom and sent to the Dean. He's back in five minutes and surprisingly, starts back acting bad.
  • The Dean sees bad ass kid three-five times in a school week. Between the paperwork and dozens of other bad ass kids being sent to the office, there is not much that can be done other than just yell at the bad ass kid for a minute or two. After the hood version of a pep talk, the Dean desperately wants to get the kid away from his sight. Wanna bet the bad ass kid is still bad?
  • Bad ass kid finally does something horrendously bad like kick in the glass of a door or kick a classmate's face in. The Assistant Principal eagerly suspends the bad ass kid. Now he can be bad at home.
  • After another incident, the school tries to involve the parent (Mother) of the bad ass kid. The Mother is mostly truant, and has not answered most of the phone calls made by faculty involving her bad ass kid. She finally shows up to a meeting to discuss her bad ass kid. She visibly is tired and stressed and quite frankly, would much rather not deal with her bad ass kid.

They make you go to school where nobody wants to deal with you. This is the life of a bad ass kid.

*I decided to use male pronouns for the bad ass kid because most of the bad ass kids are male.

Stand and Applause

Greetings homies!

First off, I love that it's May b/c it means that strawberries are in season!! Yum-- if you can try to get your hands on organic, local strawberries please do! The taste is OUT OF THIS WORLD.

Over the past few weeks the [Black] media has covered a number of stories focusing on Black men who have experienced sexual abuse. Though this topic is difficult to talk and even think about, it must be discussed. And I am especially happy that prominent men of color are standing up to share their experiences.

I'm not gonna lie- it's rough being a man of color in today's america. I'm not into making identity comparisons on who has it harder than whom, but it is clear that Black & Brown men have a unique set of challenges that set them back. And I think that their perceived hyper masculinity is definitely one of them. Sure, it might be nice that women think you have a huge schlong and know how to hold it down in the bedroom...but that perception has its disadvantages as well.

For example, if people think that you are this macho person then they are less likely to accept your sensitive/emotional side b/c it seems to contradict your masculinity. In other words, one's hyper-masculinity is constructed in opposition to femininity and the assumed weakness that comes along with it. Black men are seen as the 'manliest of men' and so, for them to admit their deep vulnerabilities and pains IN PUBLIC is major. I think its revolutionary.

I am particularly proud of these Black men because they are throwing caution to the wind by frankly speaking about their sexual abuse.

I am thankful for their stories. I hope that their openness will trigger more discussion in our society about the sexual abuse of boys and girls. We need to have this talk and address the [many] sicknesses in our community so that we can heal and blah blah blah.

And with that, let's all scream a collective 'BRAVO" to these brave men.

** I also want to say that it's ok for men/women/colored/notcolored, to talk about these experiences too!

Yeah, It's Complicated

A recent article from Clutch Magazine entitled "It's Complicated: Black Women & Weight" got me thinking about my workout regime. I admit. I've been slacking. I haven't done anything in the past few days and I know I've fallen into a lazy funk.

Lying in bed last night I tried to motivate myself to workout for the next day. I've actually been saying pretty much the same thing every night for the past few day: That when I get up I'll get some work done, clean, and then workout. I'm lucky if I get the 2nd thing done.

All this made me realize that I have a long way to go. I pride myself on being pretty well adjusted. I make my friends laugh, I laugh everyday, and I'm happy. If I was to kick the bucket tomorrow, I would have no regrets.

But what does this all have to do with working out? All this reflection made me realize that I still have issues with my self-esteem and that has been the biggest effect on my choice to workout.

I'm tall and well-proportioned but clinically obese. I've struggled with my weight and my poor eating habits since grade school. I've suffered bout of depression from that time and I can recall times when I would sneak whole boxes of Tastycakes into my room and snack on them on the particularly hard day, and there were many.

I was always the tallest and biggest girl in my class and my self-esteem often took a hit when all the other girls got attention from the guys and I constantly received none.

Even in high school I kept to myself mainly, stemming from my lack of self-esteem and depression, but when I finally began to open up in my junior and senior year, I still didn't receive the attention most high school girls crave. Sure there were the guys on the street who heckled every once in a while, but I wanted to date, feel attractive, and be admired by my male peers.

College did open up new possibilities, as I came to school much happier, more self-assured, and feeling beautiful. Guys (interestingly enough they all were not from my college) began to pay me attention and I even had the chance to date a few times. But I found that it took me wearing low cut shirts to feel pretty. I felt that I need to put my God-given assets on display just to get the attention I so desperately craved.

Just a couple years later I can definitely say that I have matured for the better. 90% of the time I don't feel the need to wear low cut shirts when I go out and I find myself feeling much more comfortable in clothes that don't show much skin. I've also become comfortable with my curves, even my muscular calves. But at the same time, that comfort has hindered me from really improving myself physically and in some parts mentally.

I have large breasts (DDD's) and a large butt. I love these about myself. But I also have flabby arms and a tummy. I struggle with these parts of my body. I know I could stand to loose a good deal of weight, but I also know that I will loose a good deal of my curves. And that scares me.

I suppose that's an immature and vain fear but it's one that took me 22+ years to fully realize and appreciate. This fear has helped me to realize that I still rely heavily upon my body to gain attention even if I don't wear revealing things. My friends even joke that guys will stare at my boobs even when they are covered up because they are so big. And that vain part of my glows.

So what's next? What do I do with these realizations? Honestly, I'm still trying to figure that out. This is a vulnerability that I have to work on. But I will work on it and I will work out. But the most important thing is that I know that I need to do this for myself and not for attention. It's a journey and a hard one, but I won't be giving up anytime soon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Throwback Tuesdays!

Aiight, it's no secret that we're music heads over here at SisterEscape. And like my Sis, Fiore Scott, I loves me some classics. This brings us to my installment of Throwback Tuesdays!

Last week, I watched a recording of BET's Unsung featuring Debarge. Apparently their father beat the crap out of them and their mother as well. The abuse ended after Mama Debarge's brothers jumped him after being fed up with their sister and the Debarge children living in turmoil. Despite their hardships at home, various members of the Debarge family left us with classic jams throughout the 80's.

I was surprised to learn that Rhythm of the Night was the only song they made a video for. Debarge showed a lot of promise and certainly had a tremendous amount of talent, but they were never able to overcome their troubled past. All members of the family suffered with drug addiction which their success short. El and Chico were the two most successful of the siblings to go solo. I've been feeling Chico's 2009 album Addiction featuring the song "Slick," a track that metaphorically details his struggles with heroin addiction:

And that y'all has been Throwback Tuesdays! Try to guess what old school artists will be featured in weeks to come.

Monday, May 16, 2011

What is it that People Just Don't Get?

AN: Sorry about the spacing y'all. I'm trying to tweak it, but blogger is being mad glitchy!

This is not strictly a political blog, as we pride ourselves on having a diverse set of ideas and posts. But from time to time, we will be using this blog as a platform to get our little rants out. As such, I just have to say:

What is it that people just don't get?

I'm asking this question in regards to an article I just read from the Huffington Post entitled: "Indiana Planned Parenthood Sees Flood Of Donations After Defunding". Now the article itself speaks to citizens, and a suprisingly large deal of men, giving donations to Planned Parenthood after Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed a bill defunding it.

"Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed a bill earlier this week that is the first in the nation to bar Planned Parenthood from contracting with Medicaid, which means that all of the 9,300 Medicaid recipients using Planned Parenthood of Indiana as their primary health provider now have to look elsewhere for their health and preventative care. The bill is intended to prevent taxpayer money from being used to pay for abortions, although the Hyde Amendment has banned taxpayer-funded abortions for the past 30 years."
This last sentence is the one that gets my goat. Many in the GOP and on the right continue to go on and on about how Planned Parenthood must be defunded, as it does abortions through tax-payer money. Many of the comments on the aforementioned article are full of people who are happy it has been defunded because it does abortions through tax-payer money. But wait....

It actually doesn't do any such thing. 

I don't get it.

Okay, I understand people being against abortions. I myself have long waged a inner debate regarding the very subject. I can't say I'm for all forms of abortions but I can't say I'm against all of them either. I've never been put into a spot where I would need one (thank God!) and there are just certain cases were the possibility should be allowed [1]. 

That being said. Why don't people understand that institutions like Planned Parenthood aren't actually giving abortions out through tax-payer money. They do it through private donations, fundraising money, etc. But in case you didn't get it the first time: "the Hyde Amendment has banned taxpayer-funded abortions for the past 30 years." 

Don't defund something on false pretenses and then have the balls to still support it with these lies. Oh wait. It's already happened and will continue to happen because people don't read. And because of defunding you have hundreds of medicaid recipients in Indiana who are left searching for other alternatives, punished for something they may not even have had done.

Now, if you know someone who continues to harp on about Planned Parenthood needing to be defunded because of abortions and blah blah blah. Please point them to the Hyde Amendment. That is all.

[1] Why would anyone want to stop a woman from having the option of having an abortion when she has been molested by a father or family member?? 

Why Black Women are Ugly

It is always a great disappointment when something incredibly racist is said under the disguise of "science." Some scientists, including the Nobel Prize winner James Watson, argues that we are genetically predisposed to be less intelligent. I am not familiar enough with the scientific community to know what is collectively accepted as truth, but Mr. Watson is not at all alone in his beliefs. In 2009, Britain's Channel 4 even aired a five part documentary entitled "Race: Science's Last Taboo" where psychology professors went into depth about the possible correlation between race and intelligence.

So not only are we less intelligent, we are also typically less attractive. At least we can dance!

Seriously, psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa published an article in Psychology Today entitled "Why are Black Women Less Physically Attractive than Other Women." What was his methodology? A researcher who interviewed adolescents from Add Health, an adolescent health research survey, and had each of them assess his/her physical attractiveness on a 1-5 scale. This was intended to be the most objective way of determining one's attractiveness. Because, you know, teenagers are secure enough to determine their own level of beauty. It's no surprise that black female respondents scored the lowest in testing, leaving Mr. Kanazawa to conclude that black women were less attractive than women of other races. This guy hails from the London School of Economics, btw. Oy.

His reasoning behind these findings are even more troubling. His conclusion:

The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone. Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races, and testosterone, being an androgen (male hormone), affects the physical attractiveness of men and women differently. Men with higher levels of testosterone have more masculine features and are therefore more physically attractive. In contrast, women with higher levels of testosterone also have more masculine features and are therefore less physically attractive. The race differences in the level of testosterone can therefore potentially explain why black women are less physically attractive than women of other races, while (net of intelligence) black men are more physically attractive than men of other races.

Maybe Mr.
Kanazawa needs to converse a little more with some historians or anthropologists and discuss how centuries of stereotypes that equated black women to beasts and monkeys are embedded in our thoughts.

Maybe he needs to look up the name
Saartje Baartman, the South African slave who was captured and exhibited around Great Britian to showcase her beastly features, particularly her large buttocks. Has he turned on a TV? Has he passed a magazine stand? The media is bombarded with images that perpetuate euro-centric beauty, what is universally accepted as true beauty. His inability to even mention the word "racism" in his article gives me enough reason to conclude that he has little understanding of the lingering effects of white supremacy on black self-esteem and self-realization. Shameful.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My How Time Flies...

My how time does fly. This time last year I was the one walking across the stage, but now many of my friends have entered a new era in their lives. I can recall hanging with many of these graduates in my apartment, having them over for parties, eating dinner in the city, partying hard on the weekends, or just seeing them around campus. I remember a select group of 2011ers walking up the path way to their first college housing experience where I was to be their customs person.  

It's crazy that those four years passed by so quickly, but I'm glad to have met so many wonderful new grads, and I can only hope that great things are ahead for all of them/you. I hope you all can start your post graduate journey with both wisdom and optimism, but also a great deal of humility. The economy is tough, so if jobs don't immediately pop up, don't despair. Continue to network and apply, but also take comfort in friends who will listen to you bitch and moan about not being able to find anything. And if you have to settle for a barista job at Starbucks while living at home, realize that this is only a short hurdle that you have to pass over. And hey, you might even own a Starbucks one day. 

Remember to keep in contact with friends (gchat is fantastic!) and let go of those that you need to. Never be too proud to rely on family and always make sure to have fun, even if you're broke (take advantage of free events around town). Don't live life with rose-tinted glasses but always look for that silver lining.

Congratulations graduates. I hope that your future endeavors will be successful. All the best! 

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