Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Makes Me Smile

If you haven't been blessed enough to see this already, check out the YouTube video that made me smile. Per the comments, the brother getting it in the background in Latino.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Stand Your Ground States

One of the main things that I learned after the Trayvon Martin verdict is that I don't know the laws of the states of our country. Here's an informative article about which states have Stand Your Ground laws.

It's also important to note (as I understand it) that Stand Your Ground is a part of a self-defense law. So it's one of the ways that you can use a self-defense defense. But just because you used self defense, doesn't mean you used Stand Your Ground. Are you confused? Me too. Don't take my word for it. Look up your state and its laws, then states you travel to and their laws, then states you have family in and their laws. If this affects one American injustly, it affects us all.

Another article breaking down the Stand Your Ground States:

Here's the list: 
  1. Florida (where my little brother lives)
  2. Pennsylvania (where I now live)
  3. Illinois (Where most of y'all live. Wait, what?)
  4. Arizona (where my other little brother lives)
  5. Alabama
  6. Texas
  7. Pennsylvania
  8. North Carolina
  9. Kansas
  10. Louisiana
  11. Arizona
  12. Oklahoma
  13. Georgia
  14. Indiana
  15. Kentucky  
  16. Louisiana
  17. Mississippi*
  18. Montana*
  19. Nevada
  20. New Hampshire*
  21. Tennessee
  22. Utah 
  23. Oregon
  24. Washington* (where Ishea now lives)
There's only four states on this list that I haven't been to (noted with an asterisk). This is extremely problematic. The good news is that I'm not a criminal. The bad news is that I'm not aware of or responsible for how someone else views me. If someone is scared that I may kill them (whether the treat is real or not), they can kill me first without legal repercussions. More on that here. This law must go. Starting with Florida for Trayvon's memory. Then Pennyslvania because that's where I chose to live.

More on this tomorrow.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Do SOMEthing

If you're anything like me you spent a lot of time after the Trayvon Martin verdict trying to figure out what to do. Here's a list I came up with for myself that I wanted to share with you all.

  1. Give to the Trayvon Martin Foundation
  2. Give to the NAACP
  3. Give to the ACLU
  4. March somewhere. If you marched TODAY in the 100 city vigil for Trayvon Martin, check in and let me know what the speakers suggested as next steps. 
  5. Check out the Center for social inclusion. I saw this video from them and it made a lot of things clear. Not ok. Just clear.
  6. Chicagoans, get in touch with attorney Yondi Morris, who recently gathered community members together at Shrine to talk next steps and action.
  7. Check out the Dream Defenders
I need three more actionable items to round this out to 10.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Pinch Me...

I was at a house party in Pittsburgh when the verdict came across. For the first time in a long e , I didn't get the news from Twitter. Someone else got the "Not Guilty" verdict on social media and people started to murmur about it. I wanted to cry. I didn't cry.

The person I came to the party with was shooken up to. We went home.

My mind tried to process what happened, how it happened. I avoided mainstream news media. I worked out in the morning. I went to church. I wore a hoodie. As my Pastor prayed I bent over and I cried and the tears just rolled onto my feet and I just left them there.

I went to work. When people asked me how my weekend went I tried to come up with ways to say it was fine, when it wasn't find. I tried to not be upset that people could talk about the death of Cory Monteith aloud, but I couldn't say how upset I was about Trayvon Martin. I just said "the news of the day is upsetting." That's literally what I said.

I went to yoga Monday to try to loosen up. It worked, but I still couldn't sleep.

I argued all day with a lawyer friend of mine about the verdict. He said it was a self-defense defense and most states have self-defense laws. I argued (yes, I argue with lawyers) that the fact that "stand your ground" was in the jury directions makes stand your ground relevant. He disagreed. We agreed to disagree.

I read a lot. I read A LOT. I really tried to understand what to do. Someone posted about how black people are neither a helpless, nor a hopeless people. This made me feel so much better because I know that I can in fact do something and I will.

The Bible tells us to be angry, but not sin. I'm furious, but I have to fuel that into some action. I'm probably going to be talking about this all week because I need an outlet.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

New Wedding Ideas

I recently attended a wedding in Mooresville, NC (30 minutes from Charlotte). There were SO many amazing details at this wedding. Everything ain't for everybody, so I won't necessarily do theses myself, but I wanted to share.

  1. The bride requested that everyone stay seated until she walks past their row, so she could see their dresses
  2. Use the groomsmen as ushers.
  3. Repurpose the flowers from the church for the centerpieces. (Most people do this, but hers looked different. If it wasn't for my attention to detail, I wouldn't even have noticed.)
  4. Horse and carriage to the reception. It was beautiful.
  5. Have a live band for the cocktail hour and a DJ for the wedding reception.
  6. The bride changed into a white dress that looked like her bridesmaids dresses. Amazing way to wear a dress you love and dress down for the reception.
  7. Tear off dresses. That's right, the bottom came off like khaki shorts. First formal, then after five.
  8. Socks at the reception for the ladies. I've seen flip flops before, but socks were so creative. And she had fun stuff socks like Sponge Bob and Betty Boop.
  9. No favors. Unless she considered the photo booth pics and socks favors, which totally makes sense. No one but me keeps favors anyway.
  10. My favorite: Rent a house for the family and/or wedding party to stay in. Not only does it extend the time you get to spend with your attendants, but you can throw parties and after parties (which she did).
It was an amazing weekend!


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Let's Talk About Twerking

As far as urban lingo goes, did Twerking ALWAYS signify what it does today. I always thought twerking was like juking. It wasn't one particular dance, but a type of dance. Then the "twerk" team came out and what they were doing with their booties became what we all know to be twerking.

Then Miley Cyrus starting doing it and now YouTube blew up with it. Actually, Miley Cyrus wasn't even twerking, but that's a whole 'nother post.

When Whistle While You Twerk came out my homegirl lived in Memphis and we used to listen to it like a year before it came out in Chicago and I don't really think they were talking about what we now know to be Twerking.

Or am I wrong:

Anyway, this video had me in tears. I.CAN'T.STOP.TWERKING!!!

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Dating Safety

Rape is real. Please don't stop reading because you're uncomfortable. Just because this violence deals with sexual organs, doesn't mean anyone should be ashamed to talk about it. If I said "muggings are real" or "murder is real" it wouldn't bring up the same emotion that it does when I said "rape is real" and that's the problem.

Let me tell y'all a little story. Don't worry, it has a happy ending. 

Dating in Pittsburgh has been easy for me. Cream rises to the top and the successful, eligible men I've been encountering, recognize quality when they see it.

I was in Target minding my own business. I was in the yogurt aisle, trying to find sour cream for a taco salad for a Cinco de Mayo party with my new friends. He stopped me and said "I know this is awkward, but I think you're extremely beautiful and I'd like to take you out for a drink." Freezing my tits off in the yogurt aisle, we chatted for about 10 minutes. He was cute, funny and he's a doctor. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

On our first date, he either really wasn't hungry or he was cheap, but I asked the important questions and found out he's muslim (deal breaker) AND his parents want him to marry someone who's his same ethnicity - a Persian woman. (Deal breaker). Yeah, he's not black. I date men who are not black. Get over it.

I said hey, let's be friends. I meant if-I-See-You-In-Target-Again-I'll-Speak friends. He meant, let's-talk-text-and-hangout friends. I avoided him. He was persistent. We canceled on each other a couple of times. He finally gave me a heart-to-heart about how we should really try to be friends. I obliged.

He goes "I just want to have movie night. I spend so much time at the hospital, I really just want to chill with some snacks and drinks. You can come to my house. You don't have to bring anything."

Cool.

I get there. He has on cotton shorts and a wrinkled white tee. It could have been his boxers, I'm really not sure. Get in the house, it's a mess. He chalks it up to being a bachelor. The only TV is in the bedroom. Fine. It's a bubble TV (and I have a 46-inch flat screen w/ HD and good cable). Fine. He doesn't have any new movie. Not ok. There's no food, no snacks. AND I SPECIFICALLY ASKED on my way over if I could bring something. I was at the grocery store. Doritos are important. I digress, not fine.

We put on an old ass chick flick (Hugh Grant was in it.) I sit uncomfortably on his bed and he puts his arm around my shoulder. I tense up. He grabs my head to kiss me. I say "No. I'm not kissing you. I was serious about being friends." I look him in his eye when I say this, so he knows I'm serious. He says fine. He starts caressing my leg. I tell him to chill. He puts my hand on his thigh. I move it back. I ask him to stop for the second time. He starts caressing my shoulders.

It's at this point that I realize I've made a bad decision. We CANNOT be friends. I am unsafe. I met this man in Target and even though I've seen his labcoat and stetsocope, I don't even know his last name. I've never been in his car, so I don't have his license plate number. My girls have his address, but this is just completely wrong.

We were about 30 minutes into the movie, I muster up the energy to say "I'm gonna go" put my shoes on and leave. I say to him: "I made a bad decision. We cannot be friends. Do not get up, I will walk myself out." And I beelined out of there. I was scared. I was empowered.

He sent a text that said verbatim: "Hey sorry about tonight. I am not a bad guy. It is just that u are really cute and I couldn't help myself. Can u send me a text when u get home to make sure u got home safe. Sorry once again! :("

I didn't respond.

I don't owe him a response. I don't owe him my friendship. I don't owe him politeness. In the society we live in where men give and women take, it's easy to feel like you owe a man something for being interested in you. You practically are socialized to feel like you owe a man something every time he looks in your direction. How many times have I heard "Oh, he likes you. You should give him a chance"? Like a million times. No matter how many drinks you buy, compliments you shower me with or meals you put in my belly, I don't owe you anything.

After that ordeal. I called a couple of people and got on with my life. The story doesn't end that way for everyone. So many women have tried to be nice or polite and been victimized. So many women don't know that they have options and don't have to stay in uncomfortable situations. At one point in my life I didn't know. I'm 30 now and I'm leaning in to who I am and what I want. I am not a 16 year old waiting for my boyfriend to take me home. Or a college student spending time with a man for free steak and shake. Before this happened my mindset was if I didn't have a car, I may have seriously considered staying until the end of the movie to get a ride home. After that night, I would have seriously RAN home to get out of there. It's a mind shift that I'm happy I made.

And I want to figure out a way to impress upon every woman I meet or come into contact with that she doesn't have to be my age or make what I make or be as vocal as I am to empower herself against the culture of rape in our country.

For women dating, I beg with you, plead with you, if it doesn't feel right, get the fuck up outta there. It's unrealistic to think that you're never going to visit a man's house or ride in his car if you're dating, but you don't HAVE to do that either if you don't want to. I spent so much time worrying about the guy I was dating and what he thought. Seriously, fuck these dudes. Fuck how they feel. Fuck what he thinks about you. Fuck the manipulative tones he takes with you he wants more than what you're offering. Fuck the fact that y'all have mutual friends and you're worried that people are going to talk about you. Fuck our justice system for putting a woman in the defense because a man violated her. Fuck Serena Williams for contributing to that hateful culture against her own gender.

Fuck anyone who ever thought that a man raping a woman was that woman's fault. Asking questions like "Why were you in his house, in his bedroom, on his bed, watching old movies when you have good cable, watching a bubble TV when you have a flat screen and why he didn't have on anything but boxers and a t-shirt if you didn't WANT to have sex?" Fuck that question and any question like it.

If you don't remember anything else after reading this post, remember that as a woman, you are powerful beyond belief. Your gut, your intuition, the holy ghost within you is ALWAYS RIGHT and you don't have to answer or apologize to anyone for it.

I thank God that I got out alive and unscathed and I pray daily for everyone who didn't.

Friday, July 5, 2013

I Can Do Whatever I Want

I saw Queen B in Vegas and oh, what a show it was. Vegas is the exact right place to see a Beyoncé concert. Everyone there was ready to party, freakum dresses everywhere, fabulous men everywhere. It was just the most amazing crowd.

Then Bey DID HER THING! I loved it. You have to see it for yourself. I can't even describe it to you.

I've enjoyed becoming a bigger fan of Bey. I go back and listen to her songs and realize that she's talking about her life or writing love letters to Jay-Z or shutting the naysayers down. It makes me an even bigger fan.

I also enjoy how she did it. Work hard, find someone who matches your swag (please go listen to the lyrics of Upgrade You, man she did that), get married to the king of your empire, have kids, then go back to work and still kill the game.

This is what I want for myself. This is what so many people want or wanted before they realized things don't always go according to plan.

So when I read articles about how she sets a bad example by wearing onesies. Really, of all the bad influences kids have, we're mad a this hard-working, successful, married, mother because you can see the top of her thigh ON STAGE? This cannot be life.

Now she lost her mind with the "bow down bitches" record, but other than that snafu, she is all about empowering women. She has an all female band. She works harder than anyone in the business on her craft and has seen the fruits of her labor. (Do y'all remember when she couldn't dance? Go back and watch those Destiny's Child videos. Bey was struggling. Now, that's what she's known for.) She is politically involved (Seriously, how much did you raise for the Obamas? It was $5 million). She encourages children to be fit and active (Move Your Body anyone) and she lays it down for her man (Tonight I'm Gonna Dance for you) and provides for her daughter. And we're faulting this woman for wearing onesies ON A PERFORMANCE STAGE? Are these idiots mad at Tina Turner too? Ugh!

Here's the good news: Queen Bey keeps it cute and classy. I am SO encouraged at how she chooses to snap back at these idiots... through her lyrics.

"I'm a grown woman. I can do WHATEVER I want." BeyoncĂ© Knowles-Carter

You better preach, Bey. You better preach.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

It's Happening!!!

I am proud to announce that I finished my training and I am a volunteer at Family House in Pittsburgh, PA. It's like Ronald McDonald House, except it's for families of people of all ages visiting local hospitals.

I'm basically a mix between a tour guide, hotel maid and concierge. I don't have to do any actual cleaning, but I lay out the towels, sheets, soap, cups... you know the amenities. If there are extra folks in the room, I put out the day bed and extra pillows. And I get to greet people when they come in.

Of course, people are dealing with a plethora of sometimes, life-threatening issues. So I'm happy to be a friendly, helpful face when they arrive.

I work and I travel WAY too much to have a regular twice-a-month weekend schedule. BUT they need weekend help and I'm a sub. I'll likely be volunteering once a month. This means I'll volunteer 6 or 7 times this year, which means I will have beat my goal of volunteering once a quarter. I'm happy about that.

I'm waiting for my background check and child abuse check to come back from Family House, so I can mentor with Gwen's Girls. They actually have a much more rigorous volunteer sign-up (think 12 things on a checklist). BUT the ball is rolling. Once I get all my referrals and paperwork squared away, I will be assigned to one of America's youth. I'm excited to meet this girl. I know that no matter what her issue or background is, that God will let me be a positive influence on her life. Man, I'm excited for what he's about to do for her and I don't even know her yet. I know it's not going to be all butterflies and glitter, but if I can make a difference in one person's life, then my life won't be in vain.

Lots of goodness coming up!

Where's the last place you volunteered?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I could rock with Charlotte

I go back and forth about the top five cities I could live in.

Chicago
New York
Dallas or Charlotte (depending on how I feel)
D.C.
Denver
At some point I said Phoenix, but given the racist laws and proposed laws of Arizona I don't know anymore.

And that's it. Now, clearly I can be convinced of some things since I up and moved to Pittsburgh out of the blue. (What's life, if not an adventure?)

So, if you haven't already read this post about how I felt about Charlotte in 2008. It's back on my list. I recently went there for a wedding and was in love with how advanced the airport is and how much culture there is there.

Charlotte is quickly becoming the new black mecca and if you know what a difference a year can make, imagine what five can do.

Again, maybe it was because it was such an amazing wedding weekend surrounded by young, successful, happy people, but I felt good about it.

I had Google maps on my phone and rarely got lost. I was once again enamored with how nice people are. And after having lived in Pittsburgh, I am not as angry when people move with no sense of urgency. People are only truly efficient in New York, Chicago and D.C. Everywhere else it's a crap shoot on fast customer service.

Any cities peak your interest lately? Any old places back on the maybe list?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Justifying Poor Decisions

I've noticed that people are using slogans nowadays to justify poor decision making. Here are some that I hear all the time.

Settle 4 the Win
I'm doing me
YOLO
Be sexually free
Any reference to being grown

What am I missing?