Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sun Signs

Fair Lady is an Aquarius and I’m a Leo. If you believe all that stuff, we aren’t really supposed to work. Just look at Bobby and Whitney: Aquarius and Leo. Enough said.

But I don’t believe all that stuff. And I'm not alone. I had the opportunity to ask some very important folks and entities what they thought about this whole Sun Sign thing and a lot of ‘em were less than impressed. Here’s what they had to say:

Biggie Smalls:
Who they attractin with that line,
"What's your name, what's your sign"?
Soon as he buy that wine I just creep up from behind

Justice Clarence Thomas:
Have you asked Scalia? What did he say?

Postmodernist :
They say Im a lion, but I feel more like a genetically engineered sphinx trapped inside a MGM Logo.

Kanye West:
Cleo had the best future predictions of all time.

*sang something indecipherable*

My father doesn’t need a twelve piece template.

And there you have it. Nobody gives a hoot about sun signs. Besides, if Michelle Obama were born 4 days later Obama and Michelle would be Leo and Aquarius and you have to admit that coming that close to the Obama’s in anything is pretty cool. Even if it is just some stupid sun sign.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Girl you ain't (insert non black race here), that's Hawaiian Silky. But then again...

Family Guy and I differ in a very important aspect. No, I actually am partial to his philosophical bent concerning work. It’s the fact that he comes from a long line of well…something. I went to a Native American exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian this weekend. The exhibit focused on interactions between Native Americans and African Americans. As one could imagine, throughout history, the two groups intermingled, intermarried, hunted each other, hid together, slaved together, enslaved each other, and basically, interacted in a manner that ran the whole gamut. The natural consequences of these interactions led African American author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston to say, with no small amount of facetiousness, that she was,
"the only Negro in the United States whose grandfather on the mother's side was not an Indian chief."

In that light, as part of the exhibit, a genealogist held a seminar on how to trace family genealogy. She noted the difference between documentation and conjecture when it came to tracing family backgrounds.

I found the discussion about conjecture particularly interesting.

She spoke about how oral histories are not always accurate. If you are one of those people who feel you have Native American ancestry, why do you feel this way? Do you have tribal artifacts, religious practices, or even photos of ancestors in tribal regalia that have been passed down? Or is this suspicion of Native American ancestry rooted in the fact that Grandma “sat on her hair”, that some of your cousins have “high cheek bones”, or that you have been called a “red bone”?

She then went in on oral histories and how over time they become skewed, sometimes intentionally. A long time ago when those of European ancestry used to rape our womenfolk with impunity, it was considered a shameful event. If it got out that that is what happened it might even upset the white who did the raping as he may have been married and respected in the community. When the water broke, to account for the non-African features of a baby, appease white, and save themselves from the awful embarrassment of being raped, mothers and sisters and cousins etc may have invented a story about a “traveling Indian” who was the daddy. Years later, people are swearing up and down that they are Cherokee or Blackfoot, what have you.

I started thinking about my own history, and how my maternal Great Grandma escaped from North Carolina on a train in the dead of the night, and headed north, to D.C.. As the story goes, Great Grandma had a baby from a white judge in Fayetteville, North Carolina and had to get out of Dodge. That’s all I know about that.

Then I started thinking about my other maternal Great Grandma, who has been described as a very dark skinned woman, with “long beautiful hair down to her butt”. She had one eye (don’t know what happened to the other)and was described as stoic and mean. She was part Native American by all accounts, but the only rationale Ive been proffered as to why everyone thinks she was part Native American is because, essentially, “she sat on her hair”, and was, I’m not making this up, stoic and mean.


I realized that what I knew of my heritage was more a creation story than anything rooted in truth. Today, without all the external racial pressures and Jim Crow miscegenation laws, a lot of people are just as clueless about their ancestry.

Please don’t judge me by the people that have managed to make it to the outer fringes of my circle of influence, but I know a married woman who unbeknown to her husband, aborted their matrimonial seed, and to top it all off, had the child of another man, her husband none the wiser. Granted, that is an extreme example of trifling behavior, but how many children don’t know who their fathers are? How many think they do, but really don’t?

With entities like businesses and governments, and even cultures, collective awareness of the past is called institutional memory. Without institutional memory businesses, governments, and cultures repeat similar mistakes, duplicate work, and operate in an, overall, inefficient manner. As a result, the viability of these entities suffer.

Obviously there are some exceptions, but I don’t imagine individual humans fair too much better. There is strength in heritage—the strength in knowing about yourself and your composition. If I knew my father, and my father's father, and my father's father's father all looked at work the same way I do, maybe it wouldn’t have taken me 30 years to realize the reason why I should work is not solely for a check, but for the purpose the work can bring to my life. Who knows? Maybe even one of my ancestors figured out how to survive and support successive generations by never doing anything but asking why? Wouldn't that be nice. If he did, maybe he could have hipped me to game. Shit, even if you don't believe in all that institutional memory foo foo, nowadays, they can figure out your susceptibility to all sorts of diseases with a little family info.

Though it seems easier to lie up front, we deal with this stuff on the back end when we have large groups of people searching and looking for answers that may already have been provided. For a long while, not much could be done about the lack of continuity in our communities, but in 2010 we have the power to make it right.

And sometimes, the most valuable inheritance is one that cannot be taxed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Love = All Natural Weight Gainer?

I’ve gained 18 pounds since I met Fairlady about a year and a half ago. To be fair I started out at about 170 and at a little over 6 feet tall that’s pretty slim, but gaining almost 20 pounds? It means 3 out of the 5 suits I own I can no longer wear. It also means some of my jeans are ill fitting. Though I must admit, I do like being able to fill out my T-shirts better.

But all that’s beside the point: Why does my family think Fairlady is the best thing since sliced bread because she’s making me fat? My grandmother and cousins and aunts on both sides of the family, first thing they say when they see me is “oohh you look good. It looks like you are filling out”, then, “is that your girlfriend, oh she’s pretty. I like her. She’s taking good care of you" and theeeen, "Better than the last one. You was all skinny and stuff. I knew she wasn't right.”

My married Uncles like her too, as they rub on their huge pot bellies, “Yeah, happened to me too. When I met your Auntie I was skinny. She did this to me.” Great. Not that I haven’t been with nagging women who made me want to disappear, I just don’t think shedding pounds was gradual movement towards the disappearing act, as if my slim self could turn sideways and vanish. Conversely, though my relationship with Fairlady sometimes seems larger than life, I don’t see why my stomach has to be too.

Because real talk, obesity and all the stuff that comes with it is wreaking havoc on our communities. One of my belly rubbing uncles had a triple bypass not too long ago and dude stays active. Whatever it is about love that’s making us menfolk fat is not cool. I’d like to grow old and enjoy this love feeling. I could be overreacting, but at this rate, about 12 pounds a year, I could be four hun at 50. Slippery slope indeed, and most definitely, not a good look.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ya'll Quit Hatin on my Big Sister Erykah Badu!!!

Erykah is back and so are her haters. I’m not exactly sure how many different men Erykah has children with, but I also don’t really care. I do promote intact families and do find them ideal, but it can’t always work out that way. Sometimes those are the breaks. What I do know is Erykah is probably not on government assistance and more importantly to me her children all seem to have positive relationships with their fathers. For all the negative things said about her on blogs, and blog comments more likely, I have never heard any of her children’s dads stepping forward to say anything negative about her, nor have I heard her say anything negative about any of the men who are in her life. One of them even apologized to Erykah a “trillion times” about things not working out. Now that I think of it every interview I’ve ever read with Erykah and Andre 3000 or Common etc…they all speak very highly of one another. I respect that.

I also love Erykah’s music. If you buy the notion that one’s art is a reflection of themselves one cannot deny that Erykah love’s black men in a way that is not commonly communicated in the media, let alone the music industry, which has found a way to commodify the bodies of black women and the minds of black men, and in the process denigrate any healthy notion of love between the two. But Erykah is different. She always has been. Sure there is the occasional Angie Stone, "Black Brotha" song, or the occasional "Brown Skin Lady" or "Independent" song that gets play on the airwaves. But compared to the work of Ms. Badu songs like those are two dimensional portraits. Those songs are empty, and in the end, they are just another stereotype recast in a different light. Those songs don’t adequately communicate the feelings, frustrations, and complexities many experience when looking to meaningfully engage the opposite sex. They may leave you feeling good when juxtaposed against the I want to have sex with every girl in the world or Ill bust the windows out your car type of music we normally hear, but they don’t really shed any new light on our relationships or how we view one another.

Beyonce had a hit song "Soldiers" where she sang about needing a street cat, and in it, Beyonce romanticizes, and creates an incentive (the incentives her sexuality if you missed it) for, being "hood". Well, I’m not hood. And besides not being built that way, I’ve done a lot of things right in my life so I do not often find myself in situations where not being hood would prove problematic. I guess it could be a problem if I want a chick like Beyonce, but I know better. I just wonder how many young, impressionable, adolescent boys know better. As if they don’t have enough influencing them to behave like thugs to now have to worry about being undesirable by the opposite sex if they happen to not be "hood". Thanks, B. Now peep Erykah’s song "Danger". Erykah does not deny the allure of a street cat that knows "how to get dough", in fact the narrator of the song is in love with a drug dealer. Yet Erykah paints the picture of having to stay up at night worrying about him coming home, having to keep stash, bail, and "on the lamb" money, and having to be ready to take off running from cops or rival dealers at the drop of a hat with a baby and a shotgun in tow. Basically, Erykah makes that lifestyle real.
Me and this baby gon be here all night long
Walking this wood flo' till my man gets home
I'm at the front door I'm listening by the phone
But I'm gon be here with my make-up on
It's been a long time since my man's been gone
But when he gets here you know I wont be gone
Because I love him Love him strong
Got a box of money that I keep under my bed
But we don't spend it though might need it for more yeyo
We need this money just in case we need to make a run
We'll there aint no mistaken
In that the money you making it leaves you nervous and shaken
Cause at night your awake
Thinking bout lives that you've
Taken and all the love your forsaken

Any impressionable young girl listening may now think twice about a "street cat" that knows "how to get dough" and "carries big thangs" and if you know what I mean that dorky kid with glasses on who sits in the front with his hand up all the time may not be looking so bad after all.

Erykah has another song called "Soldiers" where she actually talks about the black male nerd figure, and I never hear about us in music! : p I can't help but notice Erykah's take on a soldier as compared to Beyonce's. Of course the heroic nerd gets shot and killed before the first refrain, but before he dies the narrator romanticizes his qualities:
see he's organized
and he's on the ball
never miss a day of school
and he's a underdog
wanna learn more and more
cuz his mama taught him good
He's about to change the face
of yo ghetto neighborhood
walking to school today
The whole song is about our communities' and how we collectively view members that have transcended the community's negative aspects, but also have the potential to elevate the entire community with their success. The nerd is a martyr in the song. He represents the positive forces in our community and his murderer represents those that would impede the community’s progress. When I don’t feel like going to class, this song inspires me. I’m on the ball!! That’s me! Not that I’m anti-thug, or anti-blue collar, or anything like that, but there is a stability present in the song's martyr, which is conducive to strong relationships, and that is lacking in most of the "I don’t give a fuck" or "hustle drugs" from day to day characters we typically see glorified in urban genres of music.

Another common archetype in the media is the idea of black men who have failed to live up to their potential. In music you have songs like "Scrubs" and "Bills, Bills, Bills" which in their hay were alot like anthems. But as a black man once struggling to come of age, in Erykah’s music and in songs like "Time's a Wastin", I found inspiration:
'Cause we're livin' in a world that's oh, so strange
Boy, don't let your focus change
Taking out the demons in your range, hey
Livin' in a world that's oh, so fast
Gotta make your money last
Learn from your past, oh
Time's a wastin'
Don't you take your time, young man
Keep on drifting
Ain't no tellin' where you'll land

where elsewhere there was shame and humiliation.

Even when Erykah aimed her pen at black men, and actively criticized us, creating an anthem of her own in the song "Tyrone", it was apparent she was trying to make things work with her mate. All she wanted was some reciprocity and time alone with her man:
See Everytime you come around
You got to bring Jim, James, Paul, & Tyrone
See why can't we be by ourselves, sometimes
See I've been having this on my mind
For a long time
I just want it to be
You and me
She wasn’t singing about being cheated on or abused in some way, which I don’t mean to undermine, but they are not the cause of a majority of break ups. Most break ups occur between two well meaning reasonable people and are caused by problems that are somewhat pedestrian. Stuff just like hanging out with the fellas too much, or not showing a woman she’s appreciated by spending quality time or picking up the tab every now and then. Who can’t relate to that?

But nowadays it’s become in vogue to blame relationship woes amongst black people on a shortage of black men, without taking a stance on either side of that position, I simply make note of another Erykah anthem: Bag Lady. I’ve read a lot of the articles and blogs outlining this issue of supply and demand and I can’t help but notice that with a lot of women making these claims there is some baggage present. Not saying that’s always the case, or even that I disagree with the premise that there is a shortage of black men (leave that for another post), but I could never see Erykah echoing that statement, probably because she doesn’t seem to have a problem getting men : ); but also because that excuse would be too easy for an artist like Erykah who uses her art to look into the souls of real people and their relationships. I don't think it is in her to express such a profound lack of faith in black men's ability to be partners. She simply loves us too much.

That being the case, as many of her haters have asked, why do her relationships fall apart? Why does she have so many children with different fathers? I wouldn’t know. I don’t know Erykah besides her music, and I don’t know any of her mates besides their music. I know Erykah’s music is progressive and meaningful, and I also know the music of her mates’ tend to be the same way. Andre 3000 goes without saying. When Common was dating Erykah he was right up there, though I’m not really sure what’s happened to him as of late. The D.O.C. is right behind Doctor Dre in engineering the west coast sound. And Jay Electronica of Exhibit C fame stays spitting hot fires and has already been deemed Hip Hop’s second coming. All I have to say about that is maybe all that glitters isn’t gold. That goes for Erykah and her mates.

Regardless, I’m going to still listen to her music. In an industry like the music business where every institution from radio to videos to the artists themselves seem intent on creating animosity between the sexes, an artist like Erykah Badu needs to be heard. I honestly cannot think of another artist who routinely promotes cooperation and understanding between the sexes through their craft. If you can think of some artists, please link me to their music so I can become a fan and support their endeavors.

When I listen to a lot of Erykah’s songs I feel okay for being me, even though I don’t fit the black male archetype of aggressiveness and hyper violence, or even everyday hustling and competitiveness. Erykah is my aural big sister and she comes through in surround sound. Always there with some words of advice, support, or affection. Even when I'm out of pocket she lovingly sets me straight. I genuinely feel for women who, at least by my calculations, have no male equivalent in modern music. She presents a complete picture of black masculinity as seen by the black female, which I can appreciate, and it makes me want to return that sentiment to the black female, in kind. So yall hater's? Leave my big sis alone!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Some Clarification : )

Fairlady seems to think I went off the deep end with my last post. It’s not that she necessarily disagrees with me, though she may, it’s that I was too serious!! This is supposed to be a fun blog about love and relationships and about some of the absurdities love and relationships encounter in everyday life. She’s right, but I am too. Sometimes I will go off the deep end like that. Blame it on my training as a lawyer and weakness for not being able to turn down an interesting argument. Or just sit back and enjoy, get heated, fall asleep, I don’t know, whatever suits your fancy. But do bear with us as we delve into black love and shine a light on it from every angle, from everyday journal like musings to off the deep end theoretical meanderings. The simple fact of our being, acting in this manner to celebrate black love, and why we want to share our love, stick around for that; it is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What's Postmodernism got to do with it?

The canon for male/female relationships used to be very small. Men would bring home the bacon and women would cook it. Women would have the baby, nurture the baby, and breastfeed the baby, and men would have little to do with the baby at all, and might perhaps discipline an older child in between performing manly household chores like mowing the lawn and fixing stuff. Those days are over. If marriage, black marriages in particular, are to survive as an institution then our ideas about marriage need to change to reflect present social conditions.

At no time in history have gender roles been so uncertain. Modern life is one of shifting needs and complexities. Nuance and ambiguity are the order of the day, and contradictions run rampant, particularly in our relationships. For instance, where is the line between chauvinism and gentlemanliness? Between a woman who knows what she wants and a bitch? Doesn’t that line shift from person to person? And as a person observing these behaviors, should we withhold judgment concerning where another person falls as regards either side of that line? Any attempt to make a principled reasoning of these expectations and anxieties about respective gender roles may leave your head spinning.

This paradigm shift has a lot of people questioning the usefulness of marriage and serious relationships. It has a lot of people wondering: is marriage an outdated institution? The only thing that's certain is we are all going through this state of flux together. It is just as confusing to her as it is to him, and just as confusing to him as it is to her. None of us really know what to do.

Enter: Postmodernism.

Postmodernism is an aesthetic, literary, political or social philosophy, which was the basis of the attempt to describe a condition, or a state of being, or something concerned with changes to institutions and conditions; a style and concept in the arts characterized by distrust of theories and ideologies…; refers to a cultural, intellectual, or artistic state lacking a clear central hierarchy or organizing principle and embodying extreme complexity, contradiction, ambiguity, diversity, interconnectedness or interreferentiality…

Where our social fabric has been torn to shreds and stitched back together into a seemingly disjointed patchwork quilt, with no rhyme nor reason, embracing the postmodern aesthetic and applying it to our relationships offer a glimmer of hope.

Instead of holding tight to old paradigms we need to be distrustful of them. If we find them creeping into relationships they should be shunned immediately because not only are they not useful, they are detrimental. Old ideas about what constitutes a man and what constitutes a woman will reek havoc on a relationship. Any notion of manhood or womanhood is a vestige of an earlier time and serve no place in today’s family structure unless they have been narrowly tailored to the complexities of you and your mate’s own diverse situation. Don’t let a fantasy destroy your reality.

Interreferentiality is another means of rebuilding foundations between men and women. How do you and your mate see the world? Do you find the same things funny or ironic? Deep and Profound? Or, maybe not so much. Regardless, recontextualizing the images and symbols we are bombarded with everyday and taking something very commodified and impersonal, and making it a secret joke and or language between mates can be a way to bond and further cement commonalities. In as much as the world and social mores send conflicting messages to all of us, survival as a couple can depend on you and your mates ability to collectively make sense of our rapidly changing world in a way that reconciles confusion and leads to harmony and agreement, if not, enlightened, and respectful, disagreement.

Interconnectedness goes without saying. This aspect of postmodernism has probably always been important for truly happy relationships. However, in this era of "no fault" divorces, where marital splits are the norm, interconnectedness takes on a new level of importance; and true interconnectedness embraces elements of postmodernism such as respect for each others complexities, contradictions, and ambiguities. First and foremost, we are people, not chains of logic. Understanding that your mate will change, will be inconsistent from time to time, and will say they are fine when they are not, and will be in a funk yet appear happy, is just a fact of life. Understanding the same is true about yourself from day to day is necessary in achieving the sort of interconnectedness that can result in long happy relationships.

There is no manual to modern love. But we do not necessarily have to reinvent the wheel, either. To attain an artful relationship why not look to artists? Particularly, the artists who have answered the question: how to make sense of a changing, rapidly evolving world, and in the process, make something beautiful.

Monday, February 15, 2010

February is special

February is a special feeling month.  We've got Black history month going on, it's a short month, we get those odd winter holidays that seem so miscellaneous.  Like who really knows the history of Valentines day, or Presidents day off top?

For myself- I have a birthday this month as well, and a very special valentine in FairSir.  We also had an entire week at home together to brave the knee deep snow and ice outside in DC.  Amazingly, we did not drive each other crazy couped up in the house for so long.  We even had a few days where we totally acted like children and slept in a literal fort in the living room.  It was a week I'll never forget, during a month I will now never forget.  We had a marvelous Valentines weekend to cap it all off.  "What did we do?" you ask...

We got a very fancy hotel, and reservations at a well know Italian spot.  We had a vacation in our beloved city, and felt very much "away".  We laughed a lot, about just insane things maybe FairSir will write about.  We even debated taking some ill-advised photo's to accompany our imaginative shenanigans.  But no such luck for the reader :-p

But I come away thinking that this February is extra special.  Maybe because I'm still in the moment.  I hear FairSir washing dishes as I "work" (wait till he sees what I was really doing!) and I am avoiding the urge to walk up behind him and hug him right out of doing chores.  I urge all of you in similar "fading moment" situations to keep it going for the rest of the month at least.  Remember what the cards said. Talk about things that you need to talk about. Appreciate that you were with your someone on Sunday, and what they did to show you how they feel. Be happy :-) Make an igloo.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentines Day!

Here are some tid bits I had collected in the "genre"

The site is pretty cool too- Keeping up with the Huxtibles
  • So I go on Black voices and they have a "link" to "Our favorite Couples of All Time" and when you go there it says "sorry - this photo gallery is not available.  would you like to see one of these non-related others?"  just though I'd share- lol
  • LOL- look who owns this URL- sigh....
  • or this one-  
  • OK- WE need to buy all these URL's up before they go away. I think it's a respectable nitch egh?
  • Dear Obama's, Ya'll have a lot of work to do...From
Black love has gotten a bad rap in the past years. It has often been characterized by overly sexual music lyrics, obligatory portrayals of infidelity in movies like box office hit "Notorious," and most recently in the scandal involving just-legal pop stars Chris Brown and Rihanna... more

Friday, February 12, 2010

We love each other and that's that.

I looked up the "black" meaning of "fair skin" when I was preparing this site, and these terms were waiting just under it! 

Light Skinded:
A fair skinned African American. May be fair skinned secondary to previous generations of european descent. Fair skinned appearance may also be a result of non-african parentage. more...
Yellow Bone:
A Yellow Bone is the lightest type of light skinned black female. They can often be very rare to see in comparison to other blacks because there are not as many of them in the general black population. They are usually mixed with white, something similar, of multiple races including black, or may just have another race mixed into their family tree which causes them to be very very light. more...
Red Bone:
A Red Bone is a light skinned black female. They are usually just a little bit darker than Yellow Bones( which are the lightest of black females and usually mixed with white, something silimar, or they are extra light due to having mixed race in their family tree)."
Light Skinned Men
"It is sad we have come to the point where we have to discuss light and dark skinned men but honestly, the more questions we ask about the social tones to the different shades of black people, the closer we will get to being successful as a race."