Friday, June 26, 2015

Flash Back Friday: Dear Mr. No Chemistry

Dear Mr. No Chemistry

MARCH 4, 2010
I received a comment on my Facebook status after I expressed grief over the tragic passing of my coworker from a guy I dated briefly. We had gone on a few dates but we both realized we had no chemistry and stopped pursuing each other. In my Facebook status, I also mentioned that we shouldn’t take life for granted and should tell our loved ones how we feel more often.
Sorry to hear about your co-worker. Life is real short. Since we are being vulnerable…I’ve always wanted to tell you I like the Lakers (something we constantly jokingly argued about. He was a vocal Lakers Hater) and our time at [restaurant] was pretty fun. Hope you are ok.
With respect,
Mr. No Chemistry
He also followed up with a personal message in my inbox. The Facebook status comment was heart warming enough but the fact that he put time and effort to send a private message immediately following truly made me feel cared for. He knew that the comment about the Lakers would make me laugh at a time when I didn’t feel like smiling.
Here’s my open letter to him:
Dear Mr. No Chemistry,
When I met you I thought our meeting had the potential to grow into wonderful relationship. Soon after our initial conversation, I could tell you were a man of God, and a true gentleman with a kind heart, and had the potential to become above all else, a real friend.  You had a smile that wouldn’t quit and the ability to keep me laughing even when I  had no desire. Only problem was we had no chemistry. We went on 3 dates and eventually parted ways amicably. Two days quickly turned into 2 weeks before I realized I hadn’t heard from you.
Even though things didn’t work out between us, you have restored my faith in men. I know there is a man or several out there for me, who will be all the things he is supposed to be. I’m opening my heart to the possibility of meeting him one day.
I wish you well in your future endeavors and I hope that you find what you are looking for. It didn’t work between us but I know you’re going to make some other woman very happy. I feel truly blessed to call a man like you my friend.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Thing About Dividing Blacks Based on Skin Color

I recently got into a heated debate with a colleague who is heading diversity recruitment efforts at my Alma mater. We were talking about what he found out after joining a higher education social work consortium. He was enjoying getting to know the network but felt like he needed to do more research on his own so that he could really understand what other schools were doing to diversify their schools. To him, the results were shocking. For me, well I went to 2 PWI's and have worked at the same one for the past few years. It wasn't all that shocking when he told me several highly ranked universities and colleges' websites did not include any persons of color. His exact words were, "they could at least fake like they cared by having just one person of color on the screen." I agreed, I know the statistics, most schools do not care about diversity. For a short while, admissions decisions could legally be based on race. Schools had quotas mandating at least 15% of the admitted class be persons of color. These laws have all but since ended. However, nearly one-third of public and private colleges claim to still consider race in their admission. I work for an institution that touts their diverse numbers in every publication humanly possible so yes for some being diverse is an aim, for others not so much. 

My friend then went on to discuss more websites he had browsed and described a prestigious university who did in fact have a person of color on their homepage. Immediately my not-that dark skin male friend then pointed out that it wasn't enough to have a light skin student on their homepage. He argued that they could have at least selected a dark skin student, if they were going to choose one.Wait, what? You just said no school had a person of color. Now you've found one and they aren't black enough?!  

I agreed that their fair skin could have been the reason, but countered that their could have been more at play. For one, we do not know how students were selected for the photo shoot or how the "candid" shots of students were taken. He insisted they selected this person "who barely looks black" because they were fair skin. 

Had this been 4 years ago I probably would not have engaged him in any deep conversation and just agreed with his argument. Because during that time, I was simple minded too. "But of course they chose a racially ambiguous with fair skin to be the face of their diversity," I would have exclaimed. "I'm not even surprised," would have immediately followed.  He spent the better half of an hour trying to get me to see his point of view. I told him the reasons I did not agree with his focus on the skin tone of the one person instead of the number of persons of color shown. He continued to argue that they ("white people") had chosen this fair skin black person because they racially ambiguous looking. After another exchange of us just not being on the same page, I politely told him we could agree to disagree. Later on in the day at almost 5pm, he asked me if I had changed my mind based on his argument. Since this entire exchange happened over Gchat, I had just gotten busy at work working and left the conversation alone. I ended up logging off for the day before I got his follow up message. When the clock strikes 5, I am usually halfway out the door and the day was no different.

When I was on my way home I reflected about the reasons why the color of the persons skin wasn't my main focal point. Why wasn't I too enraged that a light skin person being the representative for all black people. Normally I would have just gone along, being that I am a dark skin black woman myself. However, things my thoughts about skin tone have changed over the last four years, for good reason. I now have a almost 4 year old nephew who is as fair as they come. He takes after his father who is half white and Belizean, and who's skin makes can't go without sun block in the sunniest of days. This very fair skin tone has been passed on to my adorable nephew. I remember a few years ago when it dawned on me that my love might not so easily be seen as just black. His mother is black, her sister is black. We're all black, why would anyone question his level of blackness. Are there levels to his blackness? Recognizing that he is an individual, I do not automatically assume he will want to share our identity. His father didn't readily, so I don't assume he will either. I want him to embrace being a black man and I'll support and instill those values in him. I'll be damned if anyone questions his black identity because of the fairness of his skin.

My thoughts are no longer so narrow minded to assume that blackness is simply defined by the intensity of melanin. My beautiful mixed race nephew has opened my mind in ways he can't even fathom. I can only ascertain from his few years on Earth that my views will continue to transform as we both grow older and wiser. To my colleagues dismay, I did not concede my argument after he followed up the next day. Much to his chagrin I stood by my belief that separating a race of people by skin tone was just a decisive measure. We all know where it came from, so I wasn't going to participate in that kind of conversation in 2015. We're all a little mixed up anyway. Why does it matter so much that they chose a light skin person? Especially when other schools do not even have just one.

It's more important that they only had one person of color on the website, not that the one person was a fair skin but obviously (to him) black person.

Is diversity important? Hell yeah. My career in admission is focused on being an advocate for diversity. Is the type of skin tone diversity as important, absolutely not. Could the fair skin of the black person be the reason they were selected to be on the page, absolutely. Let's not divide ourselves based on the darkness of our skin, black people. All my black is beautiful.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Blog About It

I want to take this moment to encourage everyone to start a blog. To release those feelings in the most artistic way possible. The use of words to create imagery and tell a story is not my best skill but has become something I have loved doing for the past 7 years. SEVEN YEARS! Today I've spent some time reading some of my old posts and I must say my interest in writing long, detailed posts have surely dwindled. I no longer detail every suitor, every argument, every little or big situation or occurrence but one thing has remained constant. My blog is my voice and it is something I enjoy going back to read after a significant amount of time has passed.

But back to my original point, ah yes, you should blog. By you, I mean YOU! No you don't have to open your blog to the public like me in a not so anonymous forum. The majority of the people who read my blog know me very well. Hey ya'll! Sometimes I'm quite aware of this fact and it changes my tone a bit. Other times I get encouragement from people who read a post I think no one has seen and I'm satisfied my voice has met someone's ears.

So yea, blogging. I like it. And yes, this blog post is about blogging.

I'm clearly distracting myself from something else...

Monday, June 22, 2015

I'm Working On It...Seriously

When I say I am working on me, I truly mean I am paying someone to sit with me for an hour every other week to work on me. Yes, I'm seeing a therapist.

The short version is therapy is just that, therapeutic. It's a treatment for issues I've been dealing with all my life. The longer version is as follows.

Therapy can help:

  • feel stronger in the face of challenges
  • change behaviors that hold you back
  • look at ways of thinking that affect how you feel
  • heal pains from the past
  • build relationship skills
  • figure out your goals
  • strengthen your self-confidence
  • cope with symptoms
  • handle strong emotions like fear, grief or anger
  • enhance your problem solving skills

My therapist has her work cut out for her and she has set up a plan for me to do so constructively. So far she has validated certain feelings and thoughts that I may have normally misinterpreted or brushed to the side. My opinions are important and it's okay that my values are different than others. There are also moments where she just lets me know I need to man up and speak up. My words not hers.

As blunt as I am, I tend to sometimes be passive and then therefore indifferent to things and situations that should be immediately addressed. In the end I bear all of the weight and resentment which affects my overall mood. Although its only been a couple of months, some friends have already noticed a difference in my overall demeanor.

I'd have to say this includes complete strangers because I feel like my energy is pulling people my way. And I'm not speaking simply romantically, but in general I'm feeling a closeness with people I've known for years that I never felt before. I have a long way to go in this process but I'm optimistic and excited about this journey. I will surely blog about it more because there's so much stigma behind it when there shouldn't be. It feels great to be open and honest with someone and have no fear of judgement.

So when I say I'm working on it, know that I'm serious. With the help of an outside party, I am digging deep, talking, thinking and getting to the core of my values and a better sense of myself. The conversations are not always easy but I know it's worth it. I'm worth it. I'm working on it.

Monday, June 8, 2015

But What If You Fly?

"What if I fail? Oh darling, but what if you fly? -- Erin Henson

I didn't think anything when he asked me to go away with him.
I didn't think anything when he brought me a gift.
I didn't think anything when he introduced me to his friends.

Truth is, I don't trust my own feelings.
I don't trust my own emotions.
They haven't pushed me in the right direction in the past so I quiet them.
I've pushed them so far into the dark, I don't know when they should be in the light.

I separate actions from words.
Actions do mean something, when I let them.
But until words precede or follow actions, then they are just that.

Nothing tops hearing I like/love you.
Nothing tops hearing I want to be with you.
Actions are nice and I enjoy them.
But until words precede or follow actions, then they are just that.

So now I've found myself at a bit crossroad. Some very faint feelings have emerged for a man who's company I enjoy.  I could say something and get rejected. I could say something and the feelings could be mutual. Or I could say nothing and walk away. At this point, I'm not that deep in. It's not that deep. Besides, he's not my type, anyway. And he's said nothing to show me he expects more than what's currently being presented. Plus, I am not sure he's worth the discussion.

You can probably tell by now which way I'm leaning. Much to the chagrin of my friends, I will likely remove myself from this situation.


Because, what if I fly?

Dear America

As I sit in my quaint office and watch footage from the McKinney, Texas pool party, I am disgusted but not shocked. It's not fair that I am not shocked that a grown male police officer pulled a gun on unarmed black teenagers. It's not fair that I am not shocked the police officer brutally threw a young, defenseless female teenager to the ground and straddled her with all his weight. His abuse of power isn't new, camera phones are new. Twitter is new. Youtube is new. Facebook is new. I can see what is going on around the world in the blink of an eye now, but the actions are not new.

I purposely avoided the links the first 24 hours after they became available as I do all too often. I have to mentally and emotionally prepare myself to take in all the bullshit. Even before I click on the hot links I know what is going to happen. Unbeknownst to the party being recorded they will be or are already the victim of unabashedly unnecessary aggressive behavior. At some point, an even more traumatic action will take place and the video will end.

For the past few years, the vicarious traumatization I endure watching these videos remind me of the threat my gorgeous melanin causes even those sworn to protect me. Clearly there were psychological, emotional and physical incompetence's that moved the white police officer to be overly aggressive in a situation that did not call for it.

It's all too much.

America, its way too damn much.

Dear America, fix this shit!

(Go ahead and star this post because it'll become relevant again in a few weeks when the next police brutality video goes viral)
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