Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Health Disparities and Why This Problem Must Be Fixed Now! (Part I)

Dr. Patti Rose and Alma Stewart (Executive Director of the Louisiana Center for Health Equity)

Recently, I gave a Keynote Address at the 2018 Louisiana Health Summit in Baton Rouge.  The topic was health disparities and as I began to prepare my speech, as always, all the issues associated with it began to surface as is the case, when I was writing my book about the same topic.  There is intensity and passion that arises when I talk about this topic, because I know that it is time to fix this problem now. Louisiana by the way, is the state where currently 37,000 people in Nursing Homes (elderly and disabled) will receive notice that they may be evicted from those homes. This is a gut wrenching example of health disparities as the loss of care for our poor and elderly people is particularly harsh and a significant indication of why health disparities must be solved now! 

I began talking about health disparities when I was a young graduate student, and I'm still as fired up about it today. The title of my speech below was "From Health Disparities to Health Equity: The What, The Who and the Need For Community Mobilization Now."   This video provides excerpts form my Keynote Address where insight is provided regarding health disparities, cultural competency, health literacy, the digital divide, marginalization, food injustice and beyond.  After you watch it, perhaps you will agree, that this problem, and associated issues and concerns are priority matters in terms of resolution.

Following the Keynote Address, I held a book signing and had the opportunity to speak with many attendees, one-on-one.  The conversations were good and from the heart as we tried to connect on issues that matter pertaining to health disparities, with a focus on solutions. My heartfelt praise goes out to the Louisiana Center for Health Equity, headed by Ms. Alma Stewart, and her dedication towards health equity as she invited me to serve as the Keynote Speaker for her organization's summit. It is my hope that I won't need to continue to talk about this issue for the rest of my life because it will be resolved.  When I painstakingly wrote my book, along with the chapters provided by my contributing authors, my thought was that each time a person acquires it for themselves or for their organization, there is the possibility of another person/organization taking this matter to heart and moving towards solutions as the book is entitled Health Disparities, Diversity and Inclusion: Context, Controversies and Solutions.  Let's not waste more time. #LetsTalkAboutSolutions. The time is now!

Dr. Thomas Durant (Professor Emeritus, LSU), Dr. Patti Rose and Alma Stewart,
Executive Director of the Center for Health Equity

Monday, April 23, 2018

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone!

As a young girl, growing up in Queens, NY, I had dreams that I knew that I would attain someday. Primarily, my desire was to write a book.  I'm not sure why, but I saw myself as a writer.  Everything that happened in my life, seemed like something I could/should write about so I started journaling.  Now, many years later, I am an author of several published books, and I am working on my next books, and when I write, I am in my comfort zone.  It doesn't seem like a challenge anymore but simply what I do.  So, I decided to step out of my comfort zone, again, this time, learning to speak and write another language, namely Mandarin.  This continues to be a challenge and I am pursuing it with vigor, enjoying every moment of it.  I have added some videos below showing you where I am with this endeavor and I must say, I am thrilled!  The first video gives you a sense of where I am today, with the language, and the second, when I started.  Also note, I have taken out my locks, which is another story for all of you naturalistas! I am still 100% natural and there will be an upcoming post about that soon... Going from 30 years of locks--to basically no locks.  "Do Tell" and I promise I will...

But getting back to Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone...

The questions for you is what dream did you want to accomplish when you were a child?  Have you achieved it? If you did, is it now your comfort zone and do you want to achieve new things that are out of your comfort zone? If you did not, achieve your dream, do you still want to or fulfill new ones? If so, it may be time for you to step out, without hesitation.  You can do whatever you desire---not just one thing but many things!  I hope you enjoy my videos below. I am achieving one dream of many and you can too!  It's challenging and definitely out of my comfort zone and that I LOVE!

Video I: Where I am today with my Study of Mandarin! 
Video II:  When I started Studying Mandarin!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Call for Natural Hair Narratives/Stories: The 411 Is Here!

A decision has been made to get our Natural hair Narratives/Stories on in the form of a new and exciting book!  This project emerges out of,  as our courageous sister, ancestor, Fannie Lou Hamer put it being "Sick And Tired of Being Sick and Tired" of the denigration of our natural hair as it grows out of our scalp. As a multi-book author  with a recently released book, I believe there is no reason for us to sit idly by without telling our stories about the beauty and glory of our natural hair.  We must explain to the world, What In the Natural Hair Is Going On  in terms of the negativity regarding our hair.  We will be providing narratives for generations to come. We do not want to leave our readers without solutions, so to counter any negative experiences that individuals may include, per their natural hair narratives/stories, the book will also emphasize ending the shaming, that is perpetrated by others, through discussing solutions to do so.

The information for those of you who want to contribute to this exciting upcoming book by contributing your natural hair narrative/story is below: 

Tentative Title"GETTING DOWN TO THE ROOTS": A Collection of Natural Hair Narratives
Deadeline Date for Submission: October 20, 2017
Number of pages: No less than 2, no more than 15 double-spaced typewritten pages (Microsoft Word).
Font size: 12
A short Bio (No more than 250 words) and your Photograph is required with your submission. 
Where to submit:  Drpattirose@yahoo.com
Editors: Patti R. Rose, MPH, Ed.D and Courtney E. Rose, M.Ed (and Teachers College Columbia University Doctoral Candidate)
The cover will be illustrated by Dr. Patti Rose

#LetsTalkAboutSolutions #NaturalIsCoolEnough #NICE

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What the Natural Hair Is Going In?: It's Time To Tell Our Stories!

Of late, to my dismay, I have been reading stories about mainly young Black women who are being chastised for wearing their hair naturally, namely, in braids, afros and other natural do’s. Essentially, they are wearing their hair in various styles, per the texture of their hair as it grows out of their scalp.

It is time to collect our stories, essentially our hair narratives. If you have been humiliated, harassed, shamed, embarrassed, isolated, shamed, criticized, or treated/spoken to negatively in any way for wearing your hair naturally, anywhere, anytime or anyplace, by anyone, this is an invitation to share your story with comments. Also, enlighten us about how you handled the situation because above all #LetsTalkAboutSolutions. There is a place in history for these important stories so that generations to come will know how the hair of Black people, in its natural state was viewed in our society. This effort will also serve as an opportunity for us to tell our young sisters, in the articles below, that we love them in all of their natural hair glory and that we are not accepting of what they are experiencing.

In your natural hair glory, I support you, young sisters.
 I hear your stories and I care.
Always know that no matter who says otherwise, anytime, any place or
Natural Is Cool Enough!
Through your stories, the Natural Hair Narratives have begun,
and we know that based on the beauty and history of our natural hair,
in terms of this natural hair war nonsense, we have already won!


Share your story, knowing that doing so is happening within a warm embrace of support because we must deeply believe that in terms of our natural hair, Natural Is Cool Enough and of course, that is N.I.C.E.! We cannot be accepting of this continued crisis of denigration. Let’s send our young sisters and brothers love so that stories like those above and the one below will no longer be just another piece to read but a call to action to ensure that this happens no more. Through our stories, let’s understand, what the natural hair is going on and move towards solutions.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Black Women, Celebrity, Natural, Kinky Hair Sightings: What's Up With That?

It is so strange that many of us find it noteworthy, newsworthy, and "postable," when a Black, woman, celebrity decides to wear her hair naturally.  I am not absolving myself of this odd behavior because I quickly posted the links on Facebook of Michelle Obama and Gabrielle Union wearing their hair naturally kinky as if it is an amazing accomplishment that we should all be proud of.  The sad part is that it is.

It is considered, courageous, bold, empowering and all of that good stuff when you are a Black woman celebrity and you wear your hair naturally and again, it is.  However, that aspect of this reality is what must change. I am not going to take this time to go over the history of why many choose to wear weave, perms etc.  rather than to flaunt our beautiful natural textures, because I’ve done that before in blogs and in my books.

Black women have their reasons for their hair choices and surely, I am not starting that debate here.  I too had my hair straightened and permed until I was 30 years old (with some afros, cornrows and braided styles with extensions in between) but it was all about Maya’s Angelou’s phrase for me, which is “When You Know Better, You Do Better."  I had a lot to work out before I could embrace my natural hair fully but when I got there, I stayed there.  But, my hair story, like so many other Black women's, is complicated. I have recently begun the process of fully unlocking my hair as I had locks for 25 years and will share a full update on "the unraveling" soon but once again, I’m finding it a beautiful natural experience to embrace my natural hair, as it grows from my scalp, without twisting to keep my locks in place.

As I sit and write, I am doing so to post on my blog, which is one of many, about the beauty of natural hair, hence the title of my blog, Natural Is Cool Enough (N.I.C.E.).  Natural is cool enough for what is what one may ask? The answer is everything!  Our natural hair is cool enough for the White House, for the corporate office, for the military, for school, at every level, for the swimming pool and the ocean, during the rain, on sunny, hot days when one might experience sweat, at the club, at the gym, at an elegant ball, at the Emmys and Oscars and all the awards hoopla, on television, in movies, in plays, for ballerinas performing at every level, as athletes in the Olympics and in any athletic venue, for artists, authors, teachers, lawyers, doctors, nurses and every profession, no matter the level.  The reality is that I can go on forever about when our natural hair is cool enough because I cannot think of a moment in time when our natural hair, as it grows out of our scalps, is not.

Of course, we live in a free society, where people can choose to do and be whatever they want to be. That is not a matter of doubt or question.  And although I will continue to post when I see that a black, woman, celebrity has “dared” to wear her hair in her natural state, I do so knowing that when I do, it is so that other Black woman can praise their "audacity" to wear their hair naturally. This is a clear sign of a deep-seated recognition that embracing our natural beauty is still considered something to aspire to rather than to just be.  In 2017, I find that a bit of a conundrum and simultaneously recognize that sometimes when you are trying to be part of the solution, there must be an acknowledgment that perhaps you are also part of the problem.

Nevertheless, let’s rock on with our natural hair sisters, without fanfare or feeling courageous but because it’s simply just who we are, naturally beautiful.  Natural is Cool Enough All the time and that is N.I.C.E.!  In the meantime, I will continue to notice celebrity natural hair sightings, and I will keep posting them until the need to do so is absolutely gone. The good news is that I think we are getting there.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Change is In the Air As I Unlock My Hair!

It has been a while since I have posted so it's time for an update.  First of all, I wrote a new book that I am very excited about!  It is entitled: "Health Disparities, Diversity, and Inclusion: Context, Controversies, and Solutions" .  The release date is 2/16/17! My book, which has been a labor of love, is about the health status gap between Black (and other people of color) and White people in the U.S. along with an exploration of diversity and inclusion. Other social injustice topics are explored including, mass incarceration (of men and women of color), food injustice, educational disparities, the school to prison pipeline (K-12 children) and important concerns regarding women, immigrants, children, rural and urban environments, and other current, critical issues. The focus of the book is not solely on problems, but SOLUTIONS in every chapter. 

It was a labor of love as I wrote for over a year, finally getting the manuscript to my publisher, ahead of schedule, before I headed off for a well-deserved travel experience with my husband. I think you will find my summer travel interesting as it will include many installments. The first piece is about our last destination on that trip, which was New Zealand.  That was a fantastic experience!

Hair Changes 

During our summer-long international journey, my husband and I went through what we call, "hair changes." He decided to grow out his hair, rather than his normal short cut, so that he can interchange between braids and his fro.  I, of course, braid his hair and did so throughout our summer trip. This all started because we realized that his father has never gone bald, so therefore, the genetic possibility of him going bald is very slim if at all.  I told him that I think his hair is a natural gift and a luxury and why not just let his beautiful hair flow.  He definitely was feeling that idea and decided to go with it.

I decided, simultaneously, to end my 25-year lock journey.  I realize that emerging out of locks is a slow process, and I am not sure how it will actually happen, because I am going for it naturally, of course.  I just decided not to twist my hair anymore and let it grow from the root. So, I will share with you how that is going.

My Unlocking Steps:

1.  No twisting;
2.  Letting my hair grow from the root;
3.  Washing and conditioning with thick, creamy shampoos and conditioner;
4.  Brushing daily with a fairly firm brush;
5.  Moisturizing my hair and scalp with my home made, oil concoction and leave in conditioner;
6.  Style by braiding remaining locks and creative updos;
7.  Never, ever cut any of the remaining locks but allow them to thin out and fall off, if that happens.
8.  Never, ever twist the locks;
9.  Sleep with a silk scarf every night;
10. Use Henna for extra conditioning when desired.

The results so far are fantastic! First of all, my locks are still hanging in there which I love, so the goodbye to them is gradual.  Also, my hair is growing beautifully and thick from the root, which has created very nice length overall.  Some of my locks have broken and fallen off, but that is ok.  I lovingly let them go as I understand that without the twisting and nurturing, it is hard for them to remain as some thin out and just let go.

The question that I have asked myself and I'm sure others will ask is why, after 25 years of having them, have I decided to let go of my locks? The answer is that I'm not sure.  It just happened.  I just looked in the mirror one day, at my beautiful locks, and decided, I want something different and new. I decided that I want my strands of hair to be free flowing and that I want to feel the texture of my hair from the root, all the way to the end so that on some days, I can just wake up, wash, condition and go and let my hair do what it pleases. Also, it is a positive, interesting journey for me.  When I started my locks, I cut off all of my hair and let my hair grow from the root and then I locked it up and let it grow.  Now, this time, I'm letting the same process happen, without any cutting, but instead of locking my hair as it grows, I'm just letting it grow freely, just like my husband is doing with his beautiful fro.

I'm excited about this process and will share as I get further along with growth and no locks but for now, there is not much to say except that Change is in the Air, As I Unlock My Hair!  All that matters is that I maintain my commitment to the fact that Natural IS Cool Enough!

Monday, June 6, 2016

A Guest Post: Muhammad Ali: A Real Man and Human!

As an avid athlete, Coach and very knowledgeable person, in regard to sports and  insight into athletic figures, I often rely on my husband to help me understand the nuances of the athletic, sports world.  It is within that vain, that I share my husband's post below, which he shared on his blog   Purple WorldView.  I  am pleased to share this article with N.I.C.E. readers as Muhammad Ali was truly the greatest and I think  quite "Pretty" as he would say.  We also have to recognize that Natural Fro that he always sported, so we know that he understood that Natural Is Cool Enough.  Enjoy the piece below as he gives a perspective on him that helps us understand his humanity and that through the wonderful example of Muhammad Ali, we can all strive for greatness! 

Sunday, June 5, 2016
Muhammad Ali: A Real Man and Human
No other athlete or celebrity has affected the world more powerfully than Muhammad Ali.  No superstar has held fast to his/her beliefs so steadfastly when threatened with the full force and power of the United States government.  His words and actions profoundly affected me throughout my entire life both in my formative and adult years.  I will be forever grateful for being blessed with having the opportunity to watch, listen to, and admire Muhammed Ali.

Ali's boxing prowess is unquestioned.  He was, undoubtedly, one of the the most talented boxers who has ever lived.  No other man ever possessed hos combination of size, speed, power, grace, and defensive skill in the ring.  Despite his significant physical stature, a full 6'3" and 215 pounds, Ali moved around the ring with the fluidity and ease of much smaller man.  His feet carried him through fights as if he were wearing roller skates and his hand quickness made it difficult to count or even see his punches.  His ability to "Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee," allowed him to change boxing matches from pedantic, barbaric fights observed mainly by boxing fans located near the bout venue into world-wide entertainment events watched by both boxing aficionados and people who knew little to nothing about the sport but who were captivated by Ali's personality and persona.  As a boxer, Ali's skill ranged powerfully from an ultra-quick, hard-to-hit, "Ali-Shufflin'", double jabbin' machine to a center-of-the-ring, toe-toe, hay maker-throwing, "Rope-A-Dope", "I'm just tougher than you are," pugilist.

But my greatest memories are of Ali as poetic, linguistic genius with spectacular comedic timing, the ultimate gift of gab, and the personality, looks, and charm to captivate and capture the full attention of the audience.  His quotes are laugh-out-loud funny and yet they touch your inner core with a poignancy, honesty, and insight coming from the mouth of an African-American man, born in the the Jim Crow Days in Louisville, Kentucky possessing only a high school degree (that the school awarded begrudgingly due to the amount of class time missed while participating in U.S. Amateur Boxing Association events).  I'm pretty sure that Ali didn't actually invent trash-talkin' but he sure perfected the art form!

"If you even dream of beating me you'd better wake up and apologize."

"I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick; I'm so mean I make medicine sick."

"It's not bragging if you can back it up."

NOBODY ever talked more or better trash than Ali and it came completely naturally to him from his early days as the "Louisville Lip" to trading barbs with fighters, national sports reporters, and talk show hosts from countries all across the globe.  Ali could not be out talked or talked down to.  He deftly answered all questions from experienced interviewers, professors, and students, and always retained full control of the conversation regardless of the number and quality of the attempts to wrest control from his hands.  Ali was the bravest man I've seen in my lifetime.  Raised in the Jim Crow South, Ali always spoke out strongly against any and all racism, oppression, injustice, and inequality he witnessed.  He spoke freely about the hardships and inequities faced by black and other poor people in the U.S. and abroad.  He stated his positions unflinchingly regardless of the power and prestige possessed by the people and organizations his remarks were directed toward.  (Remember, we're talking about U.S. during the 60's and 70's here).   

"I know I got it made while the masses of black people are catchin' hell, but as long as they ain't free, I ain't free."

"Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change."

"I got no quarrel with them Vietcong."

That last quote caused him to have to fight all the way to the Supreme Court to defend his right to conscientiously objecting to joining the U.S. Armed Forces to fight in the Vietnam War.  As usual, Ali won although the case, and the boxing ban that accompanied it, did steal a full three of Ali's prime boxing years and money earning years).  Millions of people, fans and haters of Ali, know all about the boisterous, clowning Ali but far too few know the pensive, thoughtful, wise Ali.  Check out these deep. thought provoking quotes:

"It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe."

"I've made my share of mistakes along the way, but if I have changed even one life for the better, I haven't lived in vain."

"I know where I'm going and I know the truth, and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want."

"A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life."

When it is all said and done, Ali's humanitarian spirit and beliefs far outweigh his prodigious list of boxing accomplishments.  Ali was comfortable around every person in every country and he possessed the rare ability to make the people around him feel comfortable and cared for.  My life, and the lives of millions of others, have been and will continue to be blessed by Muhammed Ali's thoughts, words, and actions.  It does not matter if you were lucky enough to see him live and in person or if you are introduced to him via video and audio tape snippets, Muhammad Ali's spirit and love of all mankind transcends all barriers of time and space.

RIP Champ!  You were, are, and always will be, the Greatest of All Time!.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Beyonce's Lemonade: A Naturalista's Analysis Of Why We Must Continue to Love that Cool, Refreshing Drink!

First, let me begin by saying that the last thing that I have time for is to write about and analyze a Beyonce piece, as I am in the middle of finishing a book about health disparities and social injustice, which are issues that are deeply plaguing our community.  However, in the midst of my work, a loss occurred--the loss of a complex, mysterious, purple loving Black man, that the world, particularly many Black people adored.  He was a Prince.  Our Prince.  Now gone.  While in the feelings of deep, abiding love for this Black man, one of our most beloved sisters comes forward to tell us about, what seems to be trifling behavior towards her--a personal matter.  It diverted our attention from the love of a Black man who died as mysteriously as he lived, so they tell us, to anger, animosity and the repeated lament "I ain't sorry"by a sister regarding her situation. 

Beyonce's Lemonade is visually appealing and the music feels good when you listen to it.  Lemonade is one of those things that you just can't stop looking at as you try to grasp it and take it all in.  I love the complexity of it. For example, when she emerges from a large, what appears to be, building of authority, based on its pillars and stone masonry, with water flooding under her feet, in a bright yellowish, ruffled dress, barefoot, and then reappears in platform heels, swinging a bat with intermittent moments of laughter and rage, I sat up.  I looked over at my loving husband of over thirty years and the father of my children and thought, oh damn, this is the "baddest" shit I've ever seen in my life!  I felt sorry for my husband for a moment because I thought, brothers all over the world, including him, must be terrified because we know that place exists in  every sister!  "Jealous or crazy but I'd rather be crazy"--that's some scary shit right there!

The next morning, we went to brunch with our son and his girlfriend.  We found ourselves discussing Lemonade as we sipped mimosas, that were delicious, from straws out of large mason jars.  We intermittently discussed Prince and Lemonade.  All the while I felt confused about which of these two topics were most important and wondered why I was discussing either because I don't know these artists personally and we seemed to be talking about their personal lives. My mind wandered about the fact that I know personally the ills of health disparities, the suffering of my people in America and the world, politics and all of the other trauma going on  in our society, at large, for real. I also thought of all of the good things that I know, such as weddings, and new babies being born to family and friends, the great times I have socializing with people I know, the delicious food we were actually eating, my joyous world travels and most importantly, love of family.  I consciously became aware that through media imagery, I am being deeply distracted to think and focus on issues that don't have anything to do with me at all, rather than just enjoying newly released music.

As for Lemonade, I thought, as a Black women married to a Black man for over thirty years, would I ever, under any circumstances, put the intimate aspects of any negative personal relationship matters between us, out there for the world to see?  Would I emasculate my husband, father of my children, my lover, my friend in such a profound way, publicly, that perhaps he would never recover?  Perhaps Lemonade is just a marketing ploy, to keep us engaged in their relationship while we constantly question, is it really about them--Beyonce and Jay Z? is this a marketing game to keep us looking, buying, watching and then throwing distrustful gazes at each other over something that is not really real for them? But again, I found myself back in the Lemonade discussion, which will make millions of dollars for others because of our interest in it.  The next morning, I watched White men and women laugh at brother Jay-Z, who is from Marcy Projects in Brooklyn and rose to be a successful artist and businessman, ridiculed and laughed at by White folks on the morning talk shows.

Ultimately, it seems that if a Black man cheats on a Black woman, this kind of lamentation exhibited in Lemonade shows that she is in too deep in terms of her concern for whether he is bedding someone else. I know there are vows when you get married, but damn. Is our identity as Black women that predicated on where he puts his organ?  If a man cheating makes a woman have to go through measures exhibited in Lemonade  to "survive" his infidelity, we are not ready for the realities of love and relationships! Beyonce's questions: "did he convince you he was a God," are you a slave to the back of his head,""am I talking about your husband or your father?"  The answer to those questions should be clear, namely no, no and no!  Although I love my husband, he is not my God, I am a slave to no one and what may or may not have happened between my mother and father has nothing to do with me except their union created me and I came through my mother in order to exist and I love them for that.

As I reflected on Lemonade, I could not help but think of my favorite section of Lorraine Hansberry's book, A Raisin in the Sun where she states through her character "Momma" about her son: 

"There is always something left to love. And if you ain't learned that, you ain't learned nothing.  Have you cried for that boy today? I don't mean for yourself and for the family 'cause we lost the money. I mean for him: what he been through and what it done to him. Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most? When they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well then, you ain't through learning - because that ain't the time at all. It's when he's at his lowest and can't believe in hisself 'cause the world done whipped him so! when you starts measuring somebody, measure him right, child, measure him right. Make sure you done taken into account what hills and valleys he come through before he got to wherever he is.” 

This is not to say infidelity should be just brushed aside.  Obviously, if you know Raisin in the Sun, it is about imperfection regarding business, not intimate relationships.  Her son messed up big time with the family money and his sister was majorly hating on him. The point is that the mother put loving him in a bigger context.  In terms of  some of the Black men in my life and relationships, I had a wonderful, Black brother, my sibling, that I loved  deeply.  He's gone, so young, without ever learning how to truly love. I have a beautiful Black son, who I also love deeply who is intelligent and fun-loving and learning the nuances of relationship love.  I have a handsome, smart Black husband, who for over thirty years while learning all about love, learned with me.  Love is not perfect.  It has its ups and downs but the ups are in the sustained, long-term love, joy and commitment to each other.  Lemonade  is not solely about making lemonade out of the lemons of cheating, as an example, but recognizing the wholeness of each other and the complications that exist between Black men and women, in relationships, in a society that does not love Black people, in general. 

In lemonade, one line that I love is "if we are going to heal, let it be glorious."  We must be glorious together.  If we decide we can't tolerate the actions of each other, then we should let go and move on or hold on tighter, in the midst of our imperfection and heal together, gloriously. Public lynching, by Black women, however, of Black men can't be where we are now.  Afterward, if our men are still slightly breathing, will we cut them down from the tree, revive them and wash their wounds from the whip that has scarred their imperfect backs and  bathe it, put ointment on it and then let them back inside, with scars of shame?  Now, ashamed and eager to go back into that safe haven inside of us, their strength, we are willing to take their now weak bodies, minds and spirits back inside of us after emasculating them. Will we really love them again while they experience the shade and scorn of others through their public glances for something so personal?  Should the public be involved?

Black women, no one wants to endure a man or woman "cheating," in  a society that has told us that there is ONE man for each woman and ONE woman for each man.  Monogamy is a bitch for many because if you look back in history, it did not exist in most parts of the world.  Intimacy was about something else--namely populating the world, along with pleasure.  The problem with it all was, unfortunately, male domination ensued in the process. But we have perhaps evolved to something else; something that has created expectations that for most are impossible to fill.  If we look at divorce rates and separation rates, we see how difficult it is to accomplish.  You have to be willing to pursue monogamy in your relationships, both, men and women, with everything you have and to understand that neither person in the relationship is perfect. We have to understand that as in Lemonade when we look at the beautiful mothers who have lost their sons to police brutality, that Black women are mothers of these Black men, who society randomly took from us, either by death or mass incarceration.  What we can do is raise those young Black men, that are still amongst us, with a purpose.  We can try and teach them that loving a Black woman, takes courage, strength, and fidelity to the commitment of love. They must know that it will be hard work but we need each other for protection and survival.   If we cheat on each other, in a society that tells us that monogamy is the way, infidelity breaks this ideal notion of love, which perpetuates mainstream society's idea that we can't do what they also are NOT doing successfully.   

As Black women, our strength does not exist in terms of whether or not the man we love cheats on us or not.  If and when he does, it's his loss, especially when Black women give their all to the relationship. Black women must know that with or without a man's fidelity, we are whole, we are free and we are absolutely beautiful.  I long for the voice of Maya Angelou to speak to our young Black  girls and young women just learning how to love and be loved by  a black man to say: 

Men themselves have wondered   
What they see in me. 
They try so much 
But they can’t touch 
My inner mystery. 
When I try to show them,   
They say they still can’t see.   
I say, 
It’s in the arch of my back,   
The sun of my smile, 
The ride of my breasts, 
The grace of my style. 
I’m a woman 
Phenomenal woman, 
That’s me. 

    These are the instructions that I passed on to my beautiful, intelligent,  daughter, with hopes that she will pass them on to her children as my mother passed this on to me.  Beyonce states in Lemonade: "my grandma said, nothing that is real can be threatened." That is the real deal right there. We can not be cut in half by  infidelity.  It's too trivial.   

    In short Naturalistas, we can love and be loved and know that with everything, we can make lemonade out of lemons.  But we must also know, that the next time we squeeze lemons to make lemonade and add sugar to make it sweet and tasty that the Black men that we choose are not the lemons to be sweetened but just like anyone else are flawed, imperfect and that is what makes the lemonade taste so good when it is mixed right. It is the fusion of all of those things together, lemons (each of us), sugar (sweetness from each of us) and water (what each of us all need to survive and what we are mostly made of).  You bring all of that together, expecting perfect deliciousness (love).  Sometimes it's too tart, sometimes it needs more sugar and sometimes the water is just not right.  The last thing we want to happen is on a hot summer day when we drink that cool, refreshing glass of lemonade, to always think of it metaphorically as what we made from the imperfections of our Black men.  We must love ourselves. Regardless. I end with number 3 and 4 of Alice Walker's definition of Womanists:

"3. Loves music.  Loves dance.  Loves the moon. Loves the Spirit. Loves love and food and roundness.  Loves struggle. Loves the Folk.  Loves herself. Regardless. 

4. Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender."


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Celebrating #BrownBoyhood Through Toys: A Naturalista Introduces Melanites!

Celebrating #BrownBoyhood is an exciting new venture. Perhaps you haven’t 
heard about it so sit back, read and enjoy this fantastic information about, 
Jennifer Pierre, a young Black woman entrepreneur who has created a novel 
project worthy of serious consideration, entitled Melanites. She is a graduate 
student in the entrepreneurial program at Babson College. She was one of 
my former students, so I am bursting with pride, but not surprised to see 
her brilliant, well-thought out and interesting creation as it was obvious in 
the classroom that her brain energy would never be wasted. On the heels of
 Barbie’s debut of a new line, andAmerican Girl’s release of their latest African
 American addition, it seems that diversity on the shelves is once again a hot 
discussion topic. It is no wonder that the desire for more diverse options is on 
the rise given America’s continuously changing consumer demographic. 
Per Jennifer, “according to the United States Census, there are more multicultural
 children being born under the age of five today than ever before.” Hence rather 
than “minority,” emerging majority is becoming the reality for children of color. 
This reality peaked Jennifer’s interest towards a new creation.
Additionally, as a smart business-minded person, through her research, 
Jennifer learned that in 2015, the Toy Industry Association estimated a 
$24 Billion market in the US alone of which 8% of those sales were
 accounted for by the doll category. Of that slice, that the percentage of 
diverse dolls cannot be calculated because there is not enough data. Her
 light bulb went on as she realized this fact: that translates into a substantial 
untapped market that does not coincide with what is currently being offered!
 The Toy Industry is simply not making products that appeal to the millions of
 multicultural families who purchase toys every year.
Consequently, Jennifer went on to create Melanites, a toy company introducing a
 new line of boy dolls of color. After visiting countless toy stores that did not reflect 
her or the people in her community, she decided to do something about it. Jennifer 
is a founder of the company, which hopes to stand up for children’s right to options. 
She decided to focus her mission on celebrating brown boyhood. This means tackling 
racial and gender bias simultaneously. Pierre points out “that there exists a “blue aisle” 
that stereotypes young boys into the pigeon-hole of hyper-masculinity.  The shelves
marketed to young boys are “littered with toy guns, fighting stances, and 
aggressive role play.”
She indicates that “children’s play is serious business because it is a 
focal point of where ideas and messages around their sense of 
self-confidence and imagery emerge.” Having diversity in their toy 
selection is a very human need for access to different backgrounds.
To see the rest of this exciting story with more photos, visit: