28 July, 2012

Fitting IN...

What does it mean to "fit in"? Does it mean going along with what others think, feel, wear; even if it goes against your innate yearning to go against the grain? Sometimes fitting in means standing out (sometimes). I've always felt counterculture; thinking and feeling differently than everyone else and often standing out in so many ways.

For instance, this natural hair phenomenon that's sweeping through is pretty substantial. From 8 years old to 18 I had a press and curl. There was no perm or as some call it, a relaxer, in my hair which is rare in Black American culture. I got teased and told that I needed to "get that shit done". Then, out of nowhere comes Jill Scott, Solange, and slew of others with "natural" hair and now it's acceptable and even fly. With the exception of a few bloggers who chronicled their experience with natural hair, it was a widely unaccepted notion to some. Now I get compliments on my virgin hair by the some of the same folks who had scathing remarks for me back in the day. Yes; it was called "virgin" hair at one time because it wasn't "fucked" with - I suppose.

Either way, I went through criticism, judgment and resentment for something that 20 years later is a popular trend. All this to say, if you don't always fit in just remember, sometimes it's GREAT to stand out. It means you're exquisite. You just have to wait for everyone else to catch up -- eventually.

25 July, 2012

Writing For A Reason....

A few months back, while working at a PR & Marketing Firm in Cleveland, I had the pleasure of working with a passionate client who was committed to improving the familial structures that are decreasing among American families day-by-day. I was so drawn to the client's purpose and mission, that I felt compelled to go beyond my daily tasks to ensure exposure for this meaningful message.

In doing so, a Cleveland paper published the article and the client was also booked for a television appearance on Kaleidoscope, a morning news magazine aimed at educating the public on movers-and-shakers in the Cleveland area.
To view the show, please copy the following link: http://www.newsnet5.com/dpp/about_us/this-week-on-kaleidoscope---april-22-2012

I am so proud of the article, that I wanted to share it with you -- hope you find it interesting!

Chief Antonio Stitt chooses a pen & pad as his weapon of choice

“These parents have to take a look in the mirror, and be willing to first, examine themselves, and acknowledge their responsibility in preparing their children to be successful in life with or without their assistance!”


His training as a fighter would prove to be a real advantage to Antonio Stitt, growing up as a poor and defenseless kid in the tough city of Cleveland, Ohio. Surrounded by family members involved in the world of crime and street life, one has to wonder how Antonio Stitt came to choose a pen and paper over tight-fisted hands as his weapon of choice. In his new role as the Village of Highland Hills Chief of Police and co-author of his first work titled, Change the Parent Change the Child (CPCC), Chief Antonio Stitt has taken on the challenge to fight juvenile crime and the breakdown of the American family one page at a time.

Frustrated with processing and booking “children” “young babies from the neighborhood” Chief Stitt took action, producing a five week “Man Talk” program and positively impacted, encouraged and inspired over 600 young men at a Cleveland juvenile detention center. Chief Stitt discovered that his life’s passion was helping troubled juvenile delinquents overcome the same adversity and negative influences that once surrounded him as a young man. Upon seeing the success of some young men through the program and the unfortunate detriment of others, Chief Stitt began to question the real issue -- the root of the problem for the young men he was helping through this difficult phase of their lives.

Unquestionably the problem was the parent and the familial structure surrounding these young men, which ultimately affected the life choices and paths they chose to follow. The fighter in Chief Stitt took his mission one step further by co-authoring his passion project with Cleveland teacher Shalana Satterwhite, a parent who once sought his help for her own troubles with a delinquent teenage son.

“I am grateful for my childhood, but I am even more grateful for the difficulties and challenges I endured. Because of my hardships I can relate to these young men, and my advice and conversation is REAL to them.”

“These parents have to take a look in the mirror, and be willing to first, examine themselves, and acknowledge their responsibility in preparing their children to be successful in life with or without their assistance!”



The Call & Post, Cleveland, OH:

Providence Baptist Church, Cleveland, OH:

Why We Need Love & Hip Hop Atlanta

Why We Need Love & Hip Hop Atlanta

As of late, a hot topic in the world of social media and hair salon dialogue has been VH1's latest masterpiece of buffoonery - Love & Hip Hop Atlanta.
While most people are loving the drama-filled weekly episodes, there's another audience cringing at the "embarrassment" that they say this program puts black women through. Check out Dr. Nsenga K. Burton's article "Why Love & Hip Hop Atlanta Needs to Go" featured on The Root (www.theroot.com), explaining why the show should be taken off the air. I say leave LHHA on the air -- we need this program because the embarrassing situations played out by the characters are not a race issue -- they are however, a HUMAN issue.

All of us, no matter the race, class, religious belief or social ideology -- have been cheated on, lied to, taken someone back after heart ache and betrayal, had or know someone who's had an abortion, and been on the not so pretty side of the relationship coin. This show can easily teach the naive about discernment and deciphering between one's character and one's personality. As LHHA has often displayed, a man or woman can have an awesome personality and have a shitty character and/or set of values. That's why I love this show - it makes us watch and hopefully, learn from their mistakes and misadventures. So, why is this show so painful and embarrassing to watch? Because we can relate to it. We see ourselves in some capacity, or at least know someone who can relate to a person on LHHA. And yes, it is embarrassing to watch these things take place on national television, especially when you see yourself and your mistakes being played out by the players/characters on the show.

Life is but a stage, isn't it? I think that we need this show as a platform to show us how NOT to be, if anything. I can easily see elements of myself in some of the characters and also those of White friends, Asian friends, gay/straight, cute/ugly, wealthy/poor friends, who have all been through similar if not the same situations. They may look, speak, dance, eat and fight (or not) differently than these people, but the common denominator is sex, lies, character flaws and the ups and downs of life. We all go through it.

I personally think that this has nothing to do with the black community -- it goes way beyond that. Hip Hop is a culture that extends beyond race, political beliefs and social class. Hip Hop culture itself is fueled by the misogyny that gallivants its cheating, egotistical ways and rears its ugly head onto ANY media program that relates to the music that is Hip Hop. Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE Hip Hop. Metaphorically, Hip Hop represents the embarrassing relative who constantly promises to do something, but never actually follows through. You learn not to rely on them but to love them for who and what they are, even if they shit on you from time to time - they are fam.

If the viewers watching the show have such a limited world view as to recognize that ALL people who act like this don't necessarily look like the people one the show, then the show isn't the problem. It's the person watching the show that needs some work. Whether it be through education, self reflection, therapy or mentor-ship, it's time for people to start taking responsibility for the way they perceive themselves instead of blaming social problems on television and ENTERTAINMENT. Art imitates life and vice versa -- it's just one big spin cycle rotating with no one to blame but ourselves. LHHA is entertainment as shameless and trifling as it might be. This show is meant to cause higher ratings, not a revolution.

22 July, 2012

A Hard Day At The Office...

One day while working in Manhattan I had a tumultuous day at the office. And the following is the result of my sentiments on that particular day.

I'm here to let everyone know that THE MAN still exist. It is a fact. I've seen him with my own two eyes. Remember when you were younger and your parents/grandparents told you to go to school so that you could get a good job and make lots and lots of money? That was the man speaking . Why or how could this happen you ask? Because They've been brainwashed by the man themselves--thats how. School was set up to treat us how to be subordinate and fall into a systematic way of thinking, only to keep you in the same frame of mind from your academic pursuits all the way through to your career. Think about it, back in the day when anything major went down, who did you report to? The PRINCIPLE. Only difference is, in the office, your principle is your BOSS. and if you ARE the boss, the boss is the GOVERNMENT. Guess what, you've been trapped by THE MAN. yup. It sucks to admit it but you've been tricked, bamboozled, led astray, run amuck. whatever u wanna call it----dude you've been PUNK'D. And i'm not on that black and white tangent, this is a whole nother level. this is US and THEM. I'm ready to start a revolution, who's with me?

Dear Facebook. I Fear For Your Future...

** Please Note: This op ed was written prior to the FB public buy***

Watch out original facebook users, the coons are movin’ in! I think it may be too late, but I’m here to warn you, there’s a new group of facebookers invading our territory and they’re making it hard to navigate through what was once a simple social network. Let’s compare the old FB to a new neighborhood—clean, neatly manicured tree lawns, nice sidewalks, paved streets and respectful neighbors. Now fast forward to the NEW FB—red cups and chicken bones thrown about, cracked sidewalks, disruptive neighbors and a shitty mailman. What the hell happened?? I’ll tell you what I think happened…

· Facebook started off as a virtual facebook (a correspondent to the hard copy face books that originated on college campuses, introducing the upper classmen to the new freshmen). The original purpose was to bring the circle of nationwide college students into their own social network and create familiarity amongst users through the web. The great thing about this was that you HAD to have a university or college e-mail to set up a facebook page. NOT anymore. I’ve run into people on FB who never USED a computer a day in their lives (or even texted). These MFers are playing Mafia Wars and raising cattle on Farmville. There are NO filters. Anyone and everyone can join FB, just like anyone and everyone can live wherever they want to…right?

· Revenue. Once the number of users increased (Nationally and Internationally) advertisers joined in and stepped their game up, adding banners to the side of each page, catering to you and your friend’s interest. We’ll compare this to say, a liquor store on every corner. Next thing you know there’ll be blinking banners every time you attempt to sign in (don’t be surprised if and when this happens!). The more money they garnered from advertisers, the less filters they created for who could and could not join the network.

I can’t tell you how many professional (eeeheeem) strippers, call-girls, rappers, models, (and the list goes on and on) that I see baring it all on Facebook, or just posting some outrageous shit that I would have seen on Black Planet years ago. People, must we make fools of ourselves on facebook, too? Why are you naked on your FB page with pictures of your kids in the same album? Why do I have to know what cup size you are as well as the fact that you had sautéed salmon and broccoli for dinner? And last but not least WHY are you bare azz naked leaning up against a wall on your profile pick? If you are unemployed perhaps Sorority Life should NOT be a priority. Mark Zuckerberg, please clean the streets of FB, it’s time to put this shit under construction---foreal this time.

Well, seeing as how every new neighborhood eventually turns into an old neighborhood, and gets recycled over and over again, I’m wondering how FB will adapt to its new population of users. Will all of the original users pick up and move to a more peaceful, filtered and “cleaner” social networking environment? Or will they grin and bear it, wait for the fad to die out, and hope that the unruly and disruptive intruders will find another social networking site to call home? I doubt it…but it does look like FB is taking steps to move some of these people out. The rumor is that they will begin charging a fee for the service, which will surely deter most people from using FB (I think). Those people who don’t mind paying the extra fee will get their nice clean neighborhood back, free from all the garbage, the loud noise, and the unnecessary requests. Until then, can you PLEASE tell your uncle to stop requesting me?? THANKS!

When Too Much Azz Is Enough.

I know what you’re probably thinking, “Why is she hatin’ on all dat azz? There’s never enough azz!” . Well, I have nothing against ass at all, except for when it’s just to the point of exaggeration and far-fetched extremes. I think I need to remind everyone that there are plenty of other body parts to enjoy, and I just think this ass thing is spreading quicker than lace front wigs and 4 inch eyelashes.

It’s one thing to buy a pair of sexy jeans that accentuate your derrière but it’s another thing to purchase but cheek pads, or even put your life in danger by having ass augmentation surgery. Are we serious ladies?? Instead of injecting and accentuating a body part that mother nature’s promising demise will soon alter, why not read a book, get some self-esteem, and tell these magazines and the rest of the media to kiss your tiny, cute ASS.

Why Bougie is Boring.

According to Urban Dictionary.com, bougie is defined as an “Adjective meaning extravagant, often to the point of snobbery. Usually used in relation to the conspicuous consumption of the urban upper-middle class. Dervived from "bourgeoisie"”. According to me, bougie is best defined as boring, usually lacking substantive value. My opinion is probably biased, so please take my words with a tiny grain of salt. I am probably bitter from growing up in a working-class environment surrounded by upper-class peers who never actually realize how good they have it. Debutante balls, Jack & Jill meet ups and high society shindigs are the norm to these types, and of course they wouldn’t have it any other way.
The more I mature, the more I come to realize that this gap (between my bougie friends and I) only widens instead of narrows, and our differences speak louder than our similarities once did. When I was working at age 15, they were going on vacations to the Bahamas and enjoying the upper-class fruits of their parents’ labor. It’s no wonder that we are now two completely different worlds apart, wondering how and why we ever got along without barely noticing our obvious differences. In my bitter resentment for these bougie-types (the ones that I love and also dislike), I’ve decided to come up with a brief list, a manifesto of sorts—for why I personally think BOUGIE IS BORING:

1. The bougie sort tends to be judgmental and condescending towards others based on superficial grounds, (i.e. the type of car one drives, clothes one wears). All superficial indications of where one stands on the latter of social stratification.
· Yes, we are all guilty at one time or another of judging someone, but the main difference for the bougie folks is that they not only use their judgments to look down on people, but rather to raise themselves on a higher pedestal—so tacky.

2. The bougie individual usually socializes in circles that encompass people of their own socioeconomic status, engaging mainly with people who they’ve met through academia (usually top tier colleges and universities) or through social and family connections.

· The exception to this rule would be the rare case of the bougie having an “artsy friend” or a “cool gay friend”, these are usually relationships of convenience that one looks to as adding some sort of “spice” to their own lives or to avert any thoughts that the bougie individual merely sticks to their own sort.
· While it is natural to gravitate to like-minded individuals and to feel more comfortable with people who are like ourselves, the main difference between the bougie individual is that they choose, willingly and unabashedly to stick to their own in all and any situations—without privilege they would never have a choice.

3. These aforementioned characteristics bring me to the third point—lack of variety mixed with narrow-minded judgments often leaves the bougie individual with limited conversation and little interests other than, A.)Subjects which he or she has a wealth of knowledge and are sure to never be upstaged, and B.) Conversations that are futile and often lack any substantive or moral value (think pop music and mainstream media).
· The bougie individual cannot stand being made to look ignorant on any topic or subject, and also tends to keep simple conversations so as to not make any indications of their own judgments and to avert any judgment away from themselves. This keeps them in the clear and on track to what all bougie people crave and yearn for—admiration and respect from their seemingly lower-class counterpoints. I sometimes wonder if they came up with the term “Politically Correct”….hmmmmm.

To be completely honest, I do think that everyone has a little bit of bougie in them to some degree. So glad I’ve finally gotten that bougie sh*t off my chest!

Reading Between The Lines…Think Like A Man, Write Like A Lady

I don’t have a clever thesis statement or ideological synopsis to sum up my disdain for Steve Harvey’s latest work, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. I can only hope that you will wrap your mind around my recent late night tirade.

I have to say that I'm disappointed that a man of Steve Harvey’s age and past experience with a failed marriage would concede to such an archaic mindset. One that says it is “okay” to play the game, its all in how you play it. When will we abandon this immature attitude towards relationships and sex that has been pervasive through generations and set us back so far? I have to believe that Mr. Harvey made a conscious decision to cash in on this tactic to stunt our mental and emotional growth as it relates to how we interact emotionally and physically with one another. Perhaps this is why so many view having multiple children with multiple people outside the family unit the norm. Are we easily fooled? We laugh at talk shows that feature women unable to decipher who the father of their child might be. It’s not funny anymore. It’s sad. And I’m not laughing – but Steve Harvey is. I guess the joke’s on us…again.

Whatever happened to thinking like YOURSELF and stumbling upon someone who actually respects you for having the audacity to do so? Someone, who for once can view you as a lady for thinking like YOURSELF. But no. Instead you are told to mimic the miniscule minds not of men but of boys who see the fun in the chase rather than courtship. I have to say it baffles me that one sincerely thinks it takes nothing more than picking up the piss poor character traits of adolescent boys to win the affection of someone worthy. Not to mention someone far less likely to actually appreciate your individuality and mental aptitude. So once you get this man are you supposed to then stop thinking like him and commence to thinking like yourself? I don’t get it. You play the game to get him, and then retreat back into the impressionable, docile, simple-minded woman you had to be in the first place. That is, the impressionable, docile, simple-minded woman you had to be to take advice from, dare I say it – a comedian. He’s laughing at you and so am I.

It’s quite humorous, the 90 day rule, isn’t it? To make a man wait 90 days before sex to “strengthen” your relationship. WHAT RELATIONSHIP? That’s no relationship. Where I’m from we call that a TEASE. So while you’re keeping your kitty locked up for 90 days he’s banging the next woman who had the gall to actually think for herself! If it’s sex that you want then by all means, be forthcoming and let it be known. If not, then don’t have sex. Simple, isn’t it? This is not an ode to loose women by far, this is an ode to women and men who believe that a relationship is founded on respect, principle and understanding – not trickery.

The most obvious and blatant element of this book is the plot behind the text. Train us to be with men who play games, until we’re so good at it that we cheat ourselves out of love. We play each other til the death like it’s a fierce duel, and then end up babies mama’s and babies daddies – jaded and bitter about the world and the people around us. But wait there’s more; come out with a blockbuster film featuring a beautiful cast that we trick ourselves into believing we can relate to. We laugh at the cliché one-liners, sink in our seats at the scenes that remind us of the mistakes we’ve made and are presently making. But life, my friends, is not a feature film. There are no “sets”…there’s simple reality. And until we dig our heads out the pages of this bullshit fairytale long enough to see that, we will constantly be fooling each other and ourselves.