T.I. & Tiny: Role Models?

"Tiny" on the left, "T.I." on the right.

I was conversing with someone last night when I asked the ever-generic question: “What are you up to?” They replied that they were lounging around and had just watched VH1 reality shows Love & Hip-Hop and T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle. They followed that by basically admitting to watching the shows despite the “ratchet” label applied to them by some and then followed that statement with the emoticon that indicates one is embarrassed; the “facepalm” emoticon. The person I was talking to is extremely intelligent, so it was a bit of a shock to learn that they had watched the two programs. Now, before I proceed, I’ll give you a brief description of what I know these shows to be about:

Love & Hip-Hop.

It’s a reality show centered around former (?) rap artist Jim Jones, his girlfriend/wifey/fiancee/wife Chrissy, her two friends/puppets, former G-Unit artist Olivia and someone else who does something, aspiring “hip-hop” artist Somaya, some other people, and how they deal with love and I guess, hip-hop. They also argue and…yeah. I think. Now, this show is in its second season, so I’m not even sure if the roles have changed or if the characters are the same, but honestly, I couldn’t care less.

T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle.

This show was created to essentially re-introduce rap artist Clifford “T.I.” Harris to mainstream society while highlighting his everyday life with wife, Tameka “Tiny” Cottle after Harris’s latest release from prison. Also featured in the show are their five children, and from what I’ve heard/read, the show is good and fairly popular. Unlike Love & Hip-Hop, I’ve never seen one nanosecond of this show, but it has more to do with me giving up on VH1 reality shows a year ago and nothing to do with any sort of disdain for either Harris or Cottle.

As I wrote before, T.I. is a convicted felon. “God, family and hustle” are the three most important things to him. While many hear “hustle” and immediately think of some low-life on the street peddling crap to suckers, I understand that for some, it’s just a word used to describe the everyday grind of life. It can be going to school, working, or volunteering. I also understand that it is extremely difficult for the average convicted felon to reintegrate himself/herself into society in order to be a productive human being. Besides not being able to exercise a simple civic liberty by voting, there are also many other restrictions they face, namely not being able to find employment at most reputable places of work. While they put themselves in that position, I find it disheartening that it is so hard for them to do something like work a normal gig and provide for not only themselves, but for their family if they have one.

T.I. is a different story. His last two incarcerations came when he was already “on”, and he has had no problems re-establishing himself upon his most recent release from prison. He didn’t end up back in prison because returning to crime was virtually the only way he could support himself since he wasn’t able to work, but because he was stupid, selfish and arrogant. And he’s rewarded this go-round with a reality show. Riiiiight. Now, the other person felt I was judging him and other convicted felons and that I feel they deserve nothing. They couldn’t have been more incorrect in their assessment. What makes this funny and slightly sad is we’ve previously had a very lengthy conversation about why the system can be ridiculously unfair to felons. Again, many revert to their criminal ways because just about every legitimate avenue is closed to them. If you have a husband/wife, kids, bills to pay, no real skills/experience outside of felonious activities and virtually no chance to get a job that would allow an adult to live, at your wit’s end, what else would you do? I didn’t even want to throw in their face that my fraternity brothers and I worked with ex-cons in the state of Michigan, doing everything from helping them with resumes, interview techniques, driving them to those interviews and even taking those willing to get fitted for suits while paying for it all out of pocket. I could’ve shut them up by telling stories of going to Cass Tech in Detroit, a high school filled with hopelessness and despair, and letting the students–some of them, felons–know that not everyone in this world sees them as nothing more than a criminal and that if they truly wanted to, they could do and be better. But, I’m not petty. It’s beneath me.

I suppose another area where I went wrong in our conversation was expressing surprise that the other person found some sort of inspiration in this show; that the show is proof that the Black family dynamic is still alive and well. Now, while I am not a fan of most reality shows, I see nothing wrong with most of them. I understand that the main purpose of these shows are to entertain, whether they’re about celebrity families, love, aspiring athletes, truckers, or some sort of Survivor-style getup. However, when it comes to learning real-life lessons from them, that’s where I tend to draw the line. I’ve seen more than enough documentaries on reality shows to know that what most think is real is to an extent, partially scripted. This is not to say that I believe every single second of every single reality show is disingenuous, but it’s hard to believe that there’s much genuineness when you just know that a director will yell, “Cut!” whenever he/she feels that a scene needs some livening up, or to take on a more somber tone. Is it impossible to draw inspiration from a reality show? Of course not. Do I think it’s a little far-fetched? Of course I do.

What I find hard to understand is why so many members of my generation look to celebrities for positive and negative examples of how to lead their lives. Does it take a celebrity family loving and cherishing each other for us to know that there’s still such a thing as love and devotion? Why do we need to see a celebrity hauled off to jail to know that the law is something to abide by and not scoff at, no matter your social or financial status? They argued that T.I. and Tiny’s show displays a loving, Black household, something that in the Black community, unfortunately, we (Blacks) don’t see nearly enough of, especially on television. I agreed without having even seen the show, but to insinuate that there are no examples around them kind of reeked of asininity. I’m very observant, and I absolutely love to see a “normal” family out and about, enjoying themselves and each other. It gives me great joy to see a father at the library with his child, helping them with their homework. Seeing a passionate mother at her child’s sporting event makes me glad to realize that there are parents who want to be involved in their children’s lives, and would rather not drop them off at practice or a game as if it’s a babysitting service. I did not once come close to saying that T.I. and Tiny’s show is bullshit; I haven’t seen the show. Didn’t even say that their drawing inspiration from the show is bullshit. I just wanted to make sure that they see the examples around them as well and to appreciate them just as much, if not more. I don’t relate to T.I., even as an urban Black male, and I probably never will. This does not bother me. I don’t aspire to be like T.I., either. What happens when people get defensive about their beliefs is they misconstrue what you really meant to say, and I believe this is what happened. No harm, no foul, not all that much love to be lost, from the tone of our conversation, I suppose.

At the current moment, I’m not really a fan of T.I. Not so much for his recent felonious acts, but his recent subpar music. Xscape, the all-female R&B group that Tiny helped popularize was never really my thing, even in their heyday. But, I have no qualms whatsoever with people watching their show. I don’t even really have a problem with people tweeting or conversing about it. On the other hand, I implore those who do choose to watch and speak on it, to be willing to notice the more vital things in life, and I’m not just referring to politics. While I am admittedly a PoliSci nerd, I understand that it’s not for everyone. Life is more than just politics. My life is more than just politics. The same goes for entertainment, which includes sports. Fucking live, people. If I have to beg you for one thing, it’s to just live life, and not through a half-scripted reality show featuring people who you’ll most likely never come close to relating to. It’s your prerogative if you want to accept these two and the rest of their family as role models. I don’t, but I don’t mean it to be an indictment of their character. I just love the everyday people in my life–whether I know them or not–who go about their business to ensure that their families are well taken care of. No millions of dollars, fame or reality show. Just hustling. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Tit for tat? Really?

I don’t like man-bashers and woman-bashers. Nor am I fond of people that set out to have sex with as many people as possible. I choose not to associate myself with people who perpetuate negative stereotypes and those that use racial epithets. People that prefer to “dumb it down” won’t get a piece of me, either.

What annoys me more than the people who possess those characteristics are the ones that feel it’s acceptable because others do. You know, the “Well, I only do it because they do it” people. For example, women who bash men because men bash women. Or Blacks that make racist comments about Whites because they feel “Whites did it first”. Anyone who excuses their immature, ignorant behavior because someone else does it seriously annoys me. It’s tit for tat behavior. It’s sophomoric.

If you like to sleep around, act in a childish and irresponsible manner, or make racist jokes, I can’t stop you, obviously. I have more respect for someone who genuinely acts that way, though. I’d rather know exactly where you stand and why than be exposed to a side of you that exists only because others act the same. My biggest issue with the tit for tat craze is that people who would normally be sensible resort to juvenile tactics in order to even the score, which only makes situations worse. These people have no clue how ridiculous they look and sound.

I’ll give just two of many examples of this wackness.

Many women have chosen to not only establish themselves in the workforce and on the playing field, but to also own their sexuality now. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, in my opinion. For years the legal system and society has, in its own way, placed limits on how women could express themselves. It was almost as if a woman weren’t seen as a dainty, submissive, aspiring housewife, then she wasn’t woman enough. Many men scoffed (and some lame, insecure ones still do) at the idea of a strong, independent woman. However, there is a difference between owning your sexuality and exhibiting whorish behavior. Engaging in sexual relations with as many partners as possible does not speak well for your character, whether you’re a man or woman, gay or straight. I’ve heard some women say that women shouldn’t be criticized for this because men have done it for years. Who said that we were right to do it? It’s appalling that there are men that view women as nothing more than potential sexual conquests. Yet I refuse to give a woman who sleeps around a pass just because a number of adult men act like teenage horndogs.

The Don Imus situation was definitely a scandalous one. He obviously could’ve used a better choice of words to tell his listeners what he thought of the Rutgers and Tennesse women’s basketball teams’ looks. Still, it caused me to think of how many Black men and women I’ve heard use the same words to describe Black women. As Imus stated, you can hear some of the same words in rap lyrics. In addition, Spike Lee’s “School Daze” devoted a musical number to “Jigaboos vs Wannabes”, where dark-skinned and light-skinned women squared off in a hair salon. Since when have we been the sole owners of the right to belittle and demean our own people by speaking and expressing ourselves in a way that would make most of our parents and grandparents vomit? Is it really okay for a Black comic to use “honky”or “cracker”, or stereotype Whites, Latinos, and Asians, but when the tables are turned, there’s an uproar in the Black community? If we find it so offensive to be ridiculed, then why do so many of us do the same to other races? Yes, we’ve been discriminated against and made fun of for years. But we’re no better when we do the same, and it doesn’t help matters to feel as if we need to get some sort of vengeance now. Pathetic is the word I use to describe  those Blacks that feel it’s alright to lose all common sense simply because they feel it’s our time to look down on others of a different ethnicity or cultural background.

Tit for tat didn’t work when we were children, so I’m not sure why so many think it’s plausible to suggest that it would, or should be accepted now. You might feel that you’re accomplishing something by insulting others, whoring yourself out, or carrying on like a fool, but I assure you that you’re not. People that exercise sensibility look at you and listen to you, and shake their heads in bewilderment. So many people my age don’t offer reasoning for their behavior, only excuses, and I’m starting to realize that it’s slowing our development as a people, nation, and generation. If you feel as if you’ve been forced to respond in a way that you don’t want to, or normally wouldn’t, chances are it’s wrong. Knock it off. NOW.

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. Nah, miss. Keep the sneakers on…

I’m a “different” type of Cubs fan…

As I mentioned in my last post, I am 24 years old, and from the South Side of Chicago. I’m a diehard Cubs fan. Around 20-30 times a year, I can be found in Aisle 425 at Wrigley Field. Cubs cap, shirt or hoody, no peanuts, no beer, totally into the game. I stand for the national anthem and the 7th inning stretch. I scream my lungs out when a good play is made, and I boo when I see a travesty or injustice on the field. I want what every other Cubs fan wants, 162 games a year: WINS.

Yet, I consider myself to be a “different” type of Cubs fan. I don’t bring up 1908, the 101-year title drought, 1945, the billy goat, black cat, Evers-Tinkers-Chance, the collapse in the 1984 NLCS, 1989, 1998, 2003 (that often), 2007, 2008, or Milton “Scapegoat” Bradley (at least to throw insults at him). Yes, I consider myself to be a rabid Cubs fan, but I know when to turn it off. I don’t want to be the type of fan that is 80 years old, and feels his life isn’t complete because the Cubs haven’t won a World Series. Words couldn’t describe my feelings if the Cubs were to win the World Series, although I’m sure I’d cry tears of joy. Still, it is not a top priority to see the Cubs win a World Series before I die.

I guess the Milton Bradley Experiment made me realize just how different I am. It seems that many Cubs experts, er, fans, were not aware of the type of player that Milton Bradley is. Injury-prone, volatile, and unwilling to accept responsibility for his actions in most cases. A good, but not great hitter, who’s never been known for his fielding or athletic ability, and not a “clubhouse guy”. He had a very good, but not great 2008, and that was mostly because he hit in a lineup with other powerful hitters, in a hitters park (Arlington), and was the team’s primary DH, which obviously put less strain on his body. Bradley became the 2009 whipping boy for Cubs fans. Never mind the fact that the moron formerly known as Jim Hendry decided to give him a 3 year, $30 million contract despite the fact that he’d never played more than 2 full seasons with a team in his entire career. Or that there were cheaper, more reliable alternatives, such as Bobby Abreu and Raul Ibanez. Or that Soriano, Soto, Gregg, Miles, Fukudome, Heilman, and Fontenot had terrible seasons. Cubs fans had found their bitch. Because of this, I now find myself cheering for Bradley, even though he’s playing in Seattle. Bradley eventually played the race card, and most dismissed both notions that he’d faced racism, and that fans at Wrigley are racist, period. What infuriated me most were the Cubs fans that used the excuse: “We’re not racist, we love Derrek Lee!” That’s the equivalent of a white person denying that they’re racist, and bringing up their one black friend in order to refute that claim. To that, I say “oy vey”.

The departures of Kerry Wood and Mark Derosa also made me realize I’m not like the average Cubs fan. I didn’t come close to shedding a tear upon hearing of their departures. I’m sorry, but I didn’t lose sleep when I learned that Kerry Wood wouldn’t be re-signed. His career highlight came in his rookie season, when he struck out 20 in a game against Houston. I was at that game, and thought I was looking at the next Roger Clemens. Unfortunately, his career was marred by injuries and trips to the disabled list, and when he was healthy, he didn’t even win 15 games. While Mark Derosa was a highly productive player, I couldn’t grasp how so many Cubs fans (a good number of them, females) reacted as if the Cubs had just traded an All-Star. I also learned that a good number of Cubs fans seem to react without thinking, feeling as if Mark Derosa was traded for Milton Bradley. This is what I like to call “the lazy truth”. Yes, Derosa’s salary needed to be moved in order for the team to sign Milton Bradley. However, if Lou Piniella hadn’t flipped out after being swept in the 2008 NLDS by the Dodgers, whining to everyone within earshot about a need for more lefties in the lineup, Milton Bradley wouldn’t have spent one inning in a Cubs uni in 2009. In addition, Mark Derosa was the Cubs primary second baseman. If Piniella didn’t endorse Mike Fontenot as a worthy candidate to play second on a daily basis, Derosa wouldn’t have gone anywhere. Add the ownership issues before the 2009 season, and the Cubs front office just wasn’t sure if the new owner would be in favor of adding, without subtracting salaries.

I’ll say it. I’m not a fan of the “Bleacher Bums”. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I find them vile, disgusting, assholish, or “a bunch of immature fucking drunks who are more interested in beer than baseball” (my little brother’s description of them), but I believe they give Cubs fans a bad reputation. The men are sometimes shirtless, the women are sometimes damn near shirtless, a good number of them are belligerently drunk, and at times, it looks more like a frat party than a section in the stands where fans would be watching a baseball game. Ron Santo? Meh. Most Cubs fans love him, and some find him annoying. I tend to identify myself with the latter, especially when listening to him on the radio. Despite his Harry Caray impersonation, I’m not high on Ryan Dempster or his contract. A Dusty Baker basher? I am not. Why would I trash a man that managed the Cubs within a few outs of the World Series? Could he have gone out and talked to Mark Prior after Bartman lunged for a souvenir? Yes. Was it necessary? No. The Cubs could’ve closed it out the 2003 NLCS in game 5 (good ol’ Zambrano was the starter) and had a chance in game 7 (Cubs cult hero Wood was the starter), but they didn’t. Allow me to remind you of the tailor-made double play ball hit to sure-handed Alex Gonzalez that could’ve gotten the Cubs out of that dreadful inning in game 6 as well. 2004 wasn’t his fault, either, as the Cubs choked down the stretch. Go ahead, be an idiot and blame Baker for Wood and Prior’s injury problems. Wood had a serious elbow injury early in his career (while Baker was managing the Giants), and a good number of people felt it was only a matter of time before Prior and his “perfect mechanics” would break down. I was a huge fan of Sammy Sosa, and still am. It’s funny how most Cubs fans ignored his selfishness and lack of basic fundamentals when he was carrying the team. Once that stopped, Cubs fans couldn’t wait to see him go. I’m young, and am not interested in getting a history lesson every single day. I’m not gullible, nor am I overly pessimistic. I am a Cubs fan, but I was a baseball fan first, and I’ll always be that way. I’m not all that interested in the mystique of Wrigley Field. I don’t care for the guest 7th inning stretch singers. I absolutely despise the  “Lovable Losers” tag with a fiery passion. I like to make fun of fellow Cubs fans. I’m well-aware that there’s a little bit of an uppitiness about Cubs fans, also.

My love for the Cubs never has, and never will waver. If anyone wants to question my knowledge of baseball, try me. Chances are, I’m more knowledgeable than you are. I’m always open to logical, realistic conversation about anything pertaining to baseball. Disclaimer: I out morons like TMZ outs cheating spouses and drug addicts, and to be honest, I take joy in it. There are most certainly Cubs fans who annoy me on a daily basis, but I have love for all of them…especially the different ones.

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. Who loves ya, baby?!

Respect my generation…

Let me start off by saying that I don’t have a problem with authority figures. I don’t buck authority whenever I get the chance. There have been times when I admitted to not being fond of the police, but I still have a great deal of respect for any non-corrupt man or woman that protects and serves with pride and dignity. I’ve had my fair share of battles with teachers and coaches, but I don’t feel that I’ve ever crossed a line. Yes, I’ve had plenty of arguments with Karen, but I always acknowledged how much she meant/means to me.

I’m fully aware that there are members of my generation that can have their attitudes summarized with one word: unruly. However, that is not the prerogative of all of us. We are not all hell-bent on making the lives of those around us harder. Regardless of what people of previous generations may think, most of us do not think that we are “all-knowing”, and don’t feel entitled to everything, while wanting to do nothing in the process. It’s absurd to think that we set out to screw up every opportunity given to us. Most of us are not infatuated with gangster rap, not content with moderate success, and we understand that it’s up to us, and nobody else, to make our future more than the coming hours, days, weeks, months, and years.

Still, we are labeled as rebellious, reckless, uneducated, thugs, promiscuous, carefree, brash, et cetera, et cetera. Talk to enough people that are 40 and older, and eventually you’ll hear “When I was younger…”, “These young people nowadays…”, or “I swear this generation…”. We are not held in high regards in those statements, most often. This unnerves me to no end, and is truly disheartening. It’s sad because these are people that should aim to mentor us, guide us down a better path, and be there for us in whatever way they can, rather than cut us down at every turn.

One example of this can be found in sports. You will often hear older and retired players make disparaging remarks about the current generation of players. They opine that current young players are only in it for the money, don’t respect the game or their predecessors, don’t work at their craft, and totally disregard their fans. Obviously, this is true when it comes to a few athletes, who have been criticized for their behavior recently.

We’ve seen the Allen Iverson press conference in which he openly mocked anyone who feels that he should attend practice everyday. We’ve heard Latrell Sprewell say that he would not play for the Minnesota Timberwolves because he didn’t like their contract offer of $30 million over 3 years. Due to make almost $15 million for the upcoming season, he backed up his stance with the reasoning, “I got my family to feed.” Anquan Boldin, now a wide receiver on the Baltimore Ravens, demanded a trade…because he wanted a contract extension that his previous team, the Arizona Cardinals, wasn’t ready to give him. Chris Andersen, a power forward for the Denver Nuggets, was suspended by the NBA for two years for violating its substance abuse policy. Other athletes in other sports(especially baseball)have been suspended for the same offense. We’ve seen Zinedine Zidane(an Algerian playing for the French national team)headbutt Marco Materazzi(Italian)during a soccer match, after Materazzi allegedly called him a terrorist. Those that watch hockey either saw or heard of Marty McSorley hitting Donald Brashear over the head with his stick, or Todd Bertuzzi blindsiding Steve Moore, causing him serious injuries. Although these are individual cases, it seems as if older, former players and even older sports fans attribute this behavior to the fact that this is a part of our generation’s way of living.

It’s very easy to say that you didn’t play the game for money when there wasn’t much to be made. It’s easy to put down an athlete that demands a trade when trades were unheard of decades ago. The same goes for free agency, signing bonuses, and endorsement deals. Include violence, to an extent. Conveniently, many of these older people leave out the fact that Ty Cobb was a racist, Wilt Chamberlain and Babe Ruth were womanizers, the 1919 White Sox threw the World Series for money, Pete Rose gambled, committing baseball’s cardinal sin, Mickey Mantle was a drunk during his playing days, and Jim Brown and Ted Williams weren’t the nicest people around.

One claim that I have huge problem with is the notion that we’re spoiled. I’ve never understood how older adults could complain about how today’s youth is spoiled when they’re the ones that made us this way. I vividly remember seeing many of my elementary, junior high, and high school classmates wearing the latest pair of Jordans, $250 Coogi sweaters, girls with $300 Coach bags, and guys with $600 leather jackets. Of course, we asked for them, but if we heard “no”, I’m sure that it wouldn’t have killed us. Say what you want, but if somebody agrees to buy you something that you want(especially when you’re in high school, and think popularity is everything), most times, you’ll accept it.

In addition, most of these “marketing execs” aren’t 20-25 years old. The people that spend hour after hour trying to figure out how to sell their product at inflated prices sure don’t have a moral compass, yet we’re the ones that are ridiculed and insulted because we happen to be the chief consumers. I understand that superficiality and materalism seem to run rampant now, but the only thing we’ve been spoiled by are a plethora of ways to express ourselves. Don’t be upset with us because we’re not living in the monotonous 60s and 70s.

As for implications that my generation doesn’t value ourselves or society, I’m afraid I have to call bullshit. Really? Are you serious? Granted, we didn’t have to deal with Jim Crow, or the civil rights issues of the 60s and 70s. Yes, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are what many people my age will tell our grandchildren about when we’re of that age, but they pale in comparison to World War I and II, and the Vietnam War. Men aren’t losing their lives in coal mines, and women have every opportunity to be successful, unlike the obstacles that men and women faced in the US many years ago. For the most part, we have it slightly easier than our parents and grandparents did.

Yet, at the same time, I feel that it’s harder than ever to simply survive. In what is supposed to be the greatest nation on Earth, we are struggling to get jobs, pay for college, and clear debt. Gangs populate neighborhoods, we’re losing friends everyday, and(due to our own irresponsibility, for the most part), are bringing children into this world when we’re still, honestly, children ourselves. Consider the political climate of this country, and you have a recipe for a rough future.

If we stand up for something, we’re seen as rebels and disrespectful. I know more than a few 40-, 50- something people that have gushed about “free love”. How easy it is to be a whore when you don’t have to worry about the ramifications of your actions. We don’t enjoy the same luxury. With the STDs present, we can’t afford to give ourselves to anyone that’s available. Penicillin doesn’t cure any serious ailment besides strep throat, to my knowledge. Neither can we afford to melt our minds with hardcore drugs. It is a “kill or be killed” world now, from sports to corporate settings, and we simply can’t waste years of our lives being intoxicated, inebriated, or incapacitated. I know that this doesn’t apply to every person twice my age, but again, it’s amazing how these things can be glorified, depending on who you speak to. How do you think a 2010 Woodstock would be perceived?

Yes, there are members of my generation that cause me to shake my head in bewilderment. I find myself dumbfounded at what some of my peers stand for. Gucci Mane, Tyler Perry, gang warfare, illiteracy, dishonesty, and irresponsibility are just a few of the things that have me feeling like we don’t understand as a generation that we’re capable of so much more than perpetuating negative stereotypes. That doesn’t give anyone the right to make a blanket statement about my generation, though. It seriously pains me to hear older people constantly make generalizations about my generation from their self-righteous thrones. After all, they were our age once, and their beliefs and actions were called into question by their parents and grandparents. So I’m a little confused by all of the shock about our decision to live life the way we choose to. And for some reason, some don’t believe me when I say the generation gap is steadily widening…

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. If you were offended by this post, you might want to reevaluate your way of thinking…

Be more selective, ladies…

It’s sad to be on the streets, bus, train, or in a car and see a woman pushing a stroller or struggling to keep up with her kids…by herself. Obviously, most of us think that all women possess the innate ability to be uber-maternal and raise children by themselves no matter the circumstances, but it’s much more difficult than we can imagine. I won’t bring up the statistics and figures on fatherless children; we’ve seen enough commercials and heard enough testimony to know that in most cases, there are negative results. The number of men (Black men, especially) that decide that they’re fine with helping bring a child into the world and not caring for him/her is alarming, and it shows just how selfish and immature a good number of men are. However, these men don’t only find themselves as fathers of children that they don’t want to raise. These same men mislead women into believing that they genuinely want to be with them, or that they’ll be faithful during their relationship. Sharon Stone once said: “Women might be able to fake orgasms. But men can fake a whole relationship.” Unfortunately, in too many cases, this is true.

However, I don’t totally buy into the victim role that so many women choose to portray. I’ve never been cheated on (knowingly), so I can’t speak on how it feels, but I believe that the experience shouldn’t stay with you for a lifetime. It shouldn’t dictate the way you treat men, or how you handle future relationships. Yet so many women proclaim that they’ve lost respect and will refuse to put any trust into men based on the way one (or several, for the truly unlucky ones) has treated them in the past. This is also very sad, and actually, quite disturbing.

I don’t really know what to say to women who have been scorned. “Get over it” won’t suffice, and would not be compassionate. I would like to tell women to be more selective, though. I was having a conversation with a young (single and childless) woman some time ago on Twitter about deadbeat dads and men in general. She basically said the blame falls completely on men for their inability to use protection and failure to tell the truth. “Women operate on emotion, and men are supposed to use logic, right?” were her EXACT words. That was her reasoning, that women can’t help the mistakes they make because they get so emotionally caught up in the moment, while we’re (men) supposed to be the ones that think things through. There are other women that share this sentiment. I’ve heard some say that it is not a woman’s job to provide protection, and yet, they have sex anyway. Never mind the risk of STDs and unwanted pregnancies, we are to blame for that. This is just downright ridiculous. My counterargument was very simple. If you’re in a position that you’re not comfortable with or unsure of, why stay? Amazingly, she didn’t admit what many of us already know: Some women simply want companionship, no matter the cost.

Have you ever heard some women explain why they remain in an abusive, toxic relationship? “I love him” or “We have children together” are often the excuses used most often. I totally understand those two points, but why don’t more women think about the long-term consequences of their actions? Do you really believe it’s healthy to expose your children to an abusive relationship? Whether it’s physical or verbal abuse, it will most likely have a negative effect on yourself AND your children in the long run.

It’s not very easy to end a relationship, even the ones that are going nowhere fast. Most of us want to work through the problems, which is my preferred method when in a committed relationship. To ignore warning signs is not the answer, and it sets you and your partner up for major trouble. I know of too many women and have heard too many stories that included meaningless sex, broken promises, heartbreak, despair, and much sorrow.

There’s no need to lay down with a man just because he shows interest or promises you the world. It may take longer to find what you REALLY want in a man, but being selective only brightens your future. There’s no such thing as a biological clock, and the sooner more women figure that out, the less STDs, unwanted pregnancies, and failed relationships will run rampant in our society. Granted, it is on men as well to do their part to contribute to successful relationships between men and women, but women need not think that it totally falls on us anymore. That time has passed. Don’t allow external pressures to cause you to be with someone or do something that you don’t want to do. Women have fully-functioning brains and possess great decision-making skills, and those qualities shouldn’t disappear when dealing with men, regardless of how lonely they may be or what they feel society expects from them. In the words of Nas, “Life is what you make it”, ladies…

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. Word.

Gender roles in 2010? Part II

I “briefly” touched on the rise of men that are becoming dependent on women in my last blog. Some will say that there’s been a surge in sugar mamas, while others will point to an increase in laziness and complacency among men. What’s clear is a power shift, people.

I mainly wrote about how men and women seemed to have switched roles, in terms of professional and financial prosperity. Today, I will discuss the roles in society that we play versus what is expected of us.

One of my friends dumped her boyfriend several weeks ago. To be honest, I saw it coming from a mile away. He just seemed a little too wrapped up in my friend, and I know that she doesn’t want a yes man, but a man. When she broke the bad news, his reaction was…surprising. He left her a series of voicemails, crying profusely, begging for a second chance. “I’m not even sure what I need to change, but I’ll change, baby!” It was absolutely amazing, like seeing Bigfoot. You believe that he’s out there, but you can’t be totally sure until you’ve actually seen him. I’ve had male friends that took being dumped pretty roughly, but never had I experience anything of this magnitude.

What was even more surprising was my friend’s reaction. She played the voicemails on speakerphone for myself and a few friends, and then laughed as if her ex was telling the funniest joke known to man. This was not a giggle. This was a full-bore, cackling, loud ass laugh. It seriously amused her to know that her ex was being so “soft”. I admit, I laughed too, but not after thinking to myself, ‘What the hell is going on here?’

‘Have the tables turned?’ I thought to myself, again. I thought back to my own personal experiences with ending relationships, and how hard it was to get her to let it go. Don’t call crying or begging, because it won’t work. Yes, I get it, you miss me. That won’t help, either. Then I recalled how crude, cavalier, and callous I was, and was honestly, a little disgusted. After all, people can’t help how they feel, and I didn’t make the breakups easier by acting as if it weren’t that big of a deal. I just assumed that most women simply didn’t know how to accept that it’s over and would do whatever it took to somehow change our minds.

Boy, did my friend prove me wrong. It’s not just her that would’ve reacted like that, either. After taking the story to Twitter the following day, a number of women agreed that her response was warranted, and that soft, supersensitive men are not to be tolerated. Huh? I would’ve sworn that just a few years ago, all I heard from women is that they were tired of the over aggressive, rude, uncompassionate men that constantly approached them. I thought that they wanted sensitive men. Hell, I figured some of them even wanted a man that is in touch with his feminine side, too. What’s that saying about people that assume?

Now, I don’t believe that the tears and begging are becoming a staple of today’s men. But I do believe that women are flipping the script on us, whether they know it or not. Whether they’re doing it to be spiteful or because they genuinely feel a particular way, they’re certainly sending us into a whirlwind. It has us conversing with each other, trying to figure out whether men are indeed becoming soft. Talking about the possibility that maybe, men are just being honest about their feelings for women for a change. So many of us do things to cover up our love and appreciation for our women, that now, expressing such feelings seems a little odd. Especially seeing or hearing a grown man cry over a lost love. ODD.

I have more than a few female friends. They all feel free to say what they want around me, which I sometimes regret. To hear them talk about men the way my male friends and I talk about women (sometimes) is definitely something that has captured my attention. This is not the typical, tv, “girl talk”. They don’t sit around playing gin, drinking tea in their Sunday best. The way men discuss their sexual prowess and escapades, my female friends do the same. I’m sure the discussions get even more graphic when I’m not around. They’re not afraid to express their desire for sex, either. Scrolling through their phones, checking text messages, and listening to voice mails, trying to decide on who their next conquest will be. The only big difference between my female friends and my male friends is that my male friends tend to discuss sports more often.

Which brings me to my next point. Have you noticed how many women are sports nuts now? No, I’m not talking about the women that cheer for a team based on their colors, or how cute the players are, but women that are actually knowledgeable. Women that recite stats and player biographies as if they’d spent the night cramming for an exam. The ones that are sitting in a sports bar with their eyes glued to the television sets, and not the other guys in the place. There are more female sports reporters, journalists, anchors, broadcasters, and commentators. Women are taking their knowledge of sports to the internet, posting blogs, and hosting podcasts. A perfect example would be Blackhawks fans on Twitter. I can assure you that women are their biggest fans, and hockey is about as violent (and because of fighting, slightly more barbaric) a sport as football. And yet, the women I follow go absolutely apeshit over the Blackhawks and what happens on and off the ice.

Physicality, aggressiveness, and assertiveness are displayed by more women, also. I am perfectly aware of the “Girlfights” DVDs, but that’s not what I’m referring to. Submissiveness doesn’t seem to be on the mind of many women today. The word “bitch” has never flown with women, but now they’re doing more than asking, “Who are you calling a bitch?!” I’ve seen both young girls and women “throw hands” at the drop of a dime. And they scrapped. We’re seeing loads of fiery competitiveness and at times, belligerence in sports, with soccer player Elizabeth Lambert and tennis player Serena Williams serving as “fine” examples. I hear more profanity and foul language from everyday young girls and women, too. You’ll hear it sometimes when women joke with each other, similar to that good ol’ boy, fraternity brother ribbing that men are known for. We are starting to hear more and more women speak out for what they believe in, and this was before Hillary Clinton decided to run for president.

Are the “gender roles” in the process of full reversal? I doubt it. As long as men and women continue to put up fronts, we’ll never know everyone’s true intentions. There are men that portray Cassanova, knowing deep down inside that they’re as soft as Charmin, and women that give off the images of harlots when they’re really hopeless romantics. I don’t think it’s as much about a reversal in gender roles as much as women feeling truly tired of being placed in a dainty, pristine little box, and want to be free to do and say as they please, which is the same luxury given to men. And I definitely don’t have a problem with that, ladies…

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. #shoutout to Billie Frechette, Elle Boogy, Sarahsota, Peach, LJack, Moksha, Lara, Krys, Jean Grey, Martina (who I haven’t seen in EONS), Kiy, Ducy, Sam-I-Am, and Ambuh, my homegulls…

Gender roles in 2010? Part I

Yes, there will be a part 2…

While watching the news a few days ago, I heard a statistic that didn’t really surprise me. In 1970, only 4% of men “married up”, while now close to %22 do the same (Here’s a more in-depth story: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122612096&ft=1&f=1003) . In other words, in 1970, only 4% of men married women that had higher salaries and more education than them. I believe part of the reason for this is a reversal in gender roles. 40 years ago, it wasn’t common to see so many women graduate from college with their Bachelors, go to graduate school, and pursue a lengthy, successful career afterwards. Women 40 years ago were fighting Title IX opposition, so I can be sure that they weren’t given the same opportunities to do well as men were. It was almost an unwritten societal rule that a man was supposed to not only find a wife, but care and provide for her and the rest of the family until death do them part. You really would have had to dig deep to find a family where the wife earned more money, had a better education, or better job than her husband.

From personal experience, I know more women that are in school, working towards their careers, or have already begun their careers, than men. Granted, there are more women than men, but I’m speaking in terms of ratios. I figure that out of every 100 women I know, at least half of them are being productive, while that number is much lower for the men that I know personally. It’s not as simple as “women are better than men”, but in my opinion, slightly more complex.

Blame goes to the NBA and LeBron James, partly. Yes, it’s been six years since he made his NBA début at the age of 18. I understand that a rule has been put in place requiring high-schoolers to attend college for at least one year before entering the NBA Draft. I’m also fully aware that every guy to enter the draft after high school has not enjoyed James’s success. Still, there are dozens of thousands of little boys across the country that want nothing more than to be the next LeBron James. They dedicate their lives to basketball, and put academics on the FAR back-burner. Some of these same little boys go through high school intent on being the best prep basketball player in the country. They then go to college, where they are treated like royalty and basically told that even though their title is “student-athlete”, they are enrolled in school to make the basketball program better. A college basketball player only needs to attend classes for the fall semester to be deemed eligible by the NCAA for the fall AND spring semester. There are many freshmen that are students for only one semester so that they can be athletes for both. With no one to step in and bring up the fact that this loophole is constantly being taken advantage of, many 18 and 19 year-old boys continue to do the same thing. Some enter the NBA Draft, are selected, and completely forget about the college education that they abandoned. Occasionally, you’ll hear of an example like Carmelo Anthony, who only went to classes for the fall semester before entering the NBA Draft. After he was drafted, he vowed to finish his degree at Syracuse University, which he is working towards. But how many failures do you hear of? How many cautionary tales have you heard about a 20 year-old that skipped college to go pro, only to have his dreams dashed, and left with no way to pay for college afterwards?

On the flip side, there is no role model like that for young girls. Candace Parker is a force, but her popularity is nowhere near LeBron James’s. She has been described as dominant, innovative, and transcendant. Those are three words that have been used by many to describe LeBron James, but you wouldn’t know it based on the ads, exposure, and their salaries. James made a little more than $4 million as a rookie, while Parker made a little less than $45,000. James signed a $100 million contract with Nike at the age of 18, and Parker has her picture in a few Adidas ads in select stores. To go back on what I said earlier, Parker IS a role model for young girls everywhere. But girls that believe in realism understand that even if they’re better than Parker, they won’t be anywhere as popular as LeBron James. No puppet commercials. No very own shoe. Popularity in the USA, but a lack of global appeal. A WNBA player would have to double what Michael Jordan did in his playing career to even make half a million dollars. That is unlikely, seeing as how the WNBA salary cap will be at under $1 million for this upcoming season.

James never stepped foot in a college classroom. As a matter of fact, I doubt that he even took an unofficial campus visit. Parker attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville for 4 years and graduated with her incoming class with a degree in Sports Management. While James will most likely play pro basketball for the next decade and make hundreds of millions of dollars in the process, Parker will struggle to make $100,000 a year, but at least have a degree to fall back on. Because the money and fame isn’t there for WNBA players, I believe that’s why you see many more college-educated players in the WNBA than the NBA. Most of these women don’t really have a choice. They HAVE to graduate from college, because they can’t solely rely on their basketball career as a way to provide for themselves and family. Even with endorsements, top WNBA players still don’t make as much as players in the NBA that earn the league minimum, which is slightly over $1,000,000.

Part of the blame goes to rappers, other entertainers, and people in power positions as well. Yes, women are big figures in the entertainment industry, but in terms of who runs record labels, publishing and production companies, you simply don’t see many women in that place of power. We think of men more often than women when we’re asked about famous directors, producers, authors, composers, writers, et cetera. Obviously, it’s not because women aren’t qualified to hold these jobs, because we all know strong, powerful women. I believe that there’s an idea that a man sitting as CEO of a corporation will garner more respect, admiration, and fear than a woman. So many young boys have dreams of running a record label or being partner of a law firm, because they feel that’s what they’re supposed to do as an adult male. Young girls have these same aspirations, but I don’t think feeling entitled has anything to do with why many of them pursue their dreams. It’s a different mindset in the classroom between boys and girls(which will be discussed in part 2).

Cam’ron scoffed at the idea of going to college on a mixtape that I owned. He didn’t understand why anyone would want to go to college so they could toil and sweat for 4, 5 years, graduate, and then have to pay back a large amount of student loans. Do you think that message seeped through to more men or women? Do you think more men or women share that thinking with Cam’ron? It’s like Gucci Mane and his love of bricks, money, loose women, and guns. One can’t honestly believe that women are as likely as men to emulate Gucci’s lifestyle. Part of the male persona is machismo. We don’t want to admit when we’ve been screwed over, played, treated, carried, or whatever you want to call it. If that means a few of us forgo college because we don’t want to be saddled with ridiculous student loans or continue to live by certain rules and regulations as “adults”, missing out on a chance to better our futures, so be it. Being 28 with no job is not as embarrassing as being 28 and working at McDonald’s to more men than you think. Most of us want to be seen as providers, and it’s hard to be seen as that when you’re a grown man making minimum wage as a cashier at McDonald’s.

Have men become lazier? I can’t say. Are there more men looking for a woman with money? Of course. My question is: Is that SO wrong? Let’s face it: More women have more to give. It’s caused some complacency amongst men, I admit. But weren’t women the same years ago? I’m sure that 50 years ago, plenty of women married men for money, or to be simply taken care of. Again, I fully acknowledge that this was not because of shallow reasoning, but more out of necessity. However, it still happens now. Tell me with a straight face that you believe even half of professional athletes’ wives married them for their personality and I’ll jump off of the Willis Tower.

Ms. Frechette and I talked about our mothers (both in their 50s) and what was expected of them as women when they were in their 20s. Not much, we agreed. A little bit of the 1950s remained in the 1960s and 1970s. Many women had more of a want to find a husband than those that wanted to pursue their professional career. I don’t believe the average 70s woman entered college intent on completing their Bachelors and building off of that. I believe that because of what society deemed to be important then, more women were looking for potential husbands, as college is not a place for slackers. Although I’m not completely sure, I don’t think that a single woman celebrated her “singlehood” 30, 40 years ago the way women do in 2010. Being a single woman in your 20s in the 60s and 70s was not “normal”, and was frowned upon by some people. It was rare to find a woman established because of her own work and not a man’s back then, and it seems things have changed, for the most part.

Men have become more aware of the abundance of successful women, and some feel that it’s our turn to reap the benefits. It’s our turn to be taken out to dinner. We shouldn’t have to reach for the check everytime. Women can pay bills, and give us money when we’re in need. Women can buy us gifts, and not just because it’s Christmas or our birthday. For years, men were expected to run the household, and with so many women that are highly capable of doing the same, some men want to sit back, relax, and be catered to for a change. We see the number of women that own homes, pay their own rent, and drive their own car. Hell, even Jamie “I’m Getting Too Old For This Shit” Foxx released a song about a woman who “got it on her own”. Independent women are being celebrated more than ever. Whereas a single, successful woman was seen as some type of freak show years back, it is slowly becoming the norm. The way women once did, more and more men are latching onto these women and holding on for dear life. I don’t condone this behavior from men, but maybe there’s been a reversal in gender roles…finally… STAY TUNED FOR PART II…

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. “Like, I know, right?!”–Sarah Longwood, my favorite Valley girl…

MLK, the Alpha…and my brother…

Everyone (well, I hope everyone) is aware that today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. No, today is not his birthday. For those of you that didn’t know, his birthday was the 15th of January. His birthday is simply observed on the third Monday of January. This was a day that was not observed until 1986, 3 years after the holiday was signed into law. It wasn’t until 2000 that all 50 states decided to recognize MLK Day.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the first Black Greek Letter Organization established (at an Ivy League school, Cornell, no less). Those who know me well know that my allegiance to my fraternity (Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.) is strong. However, we all view him as a fraternity brother. Each fraternity and sorority has “distinguished members”, which are Greeks that have become famous for whatever reason. We are all expected to know our history and pay homage to our founders, brothers and sisters when given the chance.

Sometimes, things get a little testy. Be it at a step show, party, probate show…there is definitely animosity at times. And yet, at the end of the day, my motto is “Greek love”. You may be a member of a different fraternity and stand for something different from I, but when it’s all said and done, I have love for all of my Greek brothers and sisters. Black, White, Latino, Asian, African, European, it doesn’t matter to me as long as you do the best that you can to serve your community and represent your organization with pride and dignity.

I have been a witness to some of the chaos that is a step show, and have seen firsthand how Greeks can be at each other’s throats. I’ve also seen Greeks work to together towards a common cause. We’ve had the support of Kappas, Ques, Deltas, and AKAs when trying to raise money for diabetes awareness. My brothers and I have attended SGRho functions to simply show our support, and have worked with Iotas to help troubled young men in the state of Michigan.

Yes, one of the “perks” of belonging to a fraternity or sorority is an increase in social status on campus, but we also make sure that we put in work. We understand that we are an example to many, and that we have a reputation to uphold. If one of us does something ill-advised, it is not a reflection on that person, but on the Greek organization that he/she belongs to. We set out to make sure that our peers know that while we may technically belong to a private group, we are still very much a part of the campus community.

I believe the same attitude should apply to everyday society. You don’t need to be a member of a fraternity or sorority to get together with friends, or like-minded people, and do good for others. There’s no need to pledge if you want to mentor, or give your time to a cause, or help those in need. It’s unnecessary to own a shirt, sweater, or jacket with Greek letters embroidered on it to want to set a good example for those surrounding you.

I love my fraternity, but I will never let it define me, which I assume was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s way of thinking. I think of myself as a man that wants to do whatever he can to make the next person’s life a bit easier. I will not allow my race to limit me from learning as much as I can and interacting with others. I refuse to let differences have a negative effect on how I interact with those same people. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter that I’m a 24 year-old Black male from the south side of Chicago. I was raised to be an open-minded person, and that’s what I will continue to be until the day I die. At the end of each and every day, I just want to be a little bit better. I’m sure Martin Luther King, Jr. wouldn’t have wanted things any other way…

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”–Martin Luther King, Jr.

The US makes a $100 million investment…

January 12, 2010, at around 4:50 PM EST, citizens of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti, were more than 2/3 through their day. Ten minutes later, a 7.0 earthquake struck near the capital, Port-au-Prince. Because of poor infrastructure and design, many of the buildings collapsed. The capital city and the Haitian Parliament building were completely demolished. Thousands have been reported dead, and the number is expected to reach 6 digits.

Yesterday, President Obama offered Haiti $100 million in earthquake aid and promised that the US would do everything in its power to give assistance and relief. For those who don’t know or choose to be ignorant, Obama did not make this decision on his own. I assure you that he sat down with members of the United States Agency for International Development, people responsible for distributing foreign aid. I digress. To be honest, $100 million is nowhere near enough, when it comes to the total destruction that has occurred in Haiti. Schools, hospitals, houses, buildings, and offices have been destroyed. This is still a start. Again, this is a country that is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. That was a fact before the earthquake. Haiti has needed help long before this natural disaster. It’s sad that it took a tragedy like this for the small country to garner so much global attention, but it’s good to that they’re at least getting support during this time.

I’m happy to see that people have put aside their political and religious differences for a while, to do whatever they can to aid Haiti. I’m also glad to know that a few of my friends, without being prodded, donated money, food, or clothes. I know Republicans that are disgusted with Rush Limbaugh’s comments, and devout Christians that feel the same with Pat Robertson’s comments. However, there are still a few that ask, “Where did Obama get the $100 million from?” “Why isn’t that money going towards our national debt?” “Why does the US always have to help some poor, starving country?”

There are Republicans that think that Obama is giving out money as if he believes there’s economic windfall aplenty, and not a $12 billion national debt. Remember, President Bush pledged $350 million to tsunami victims in 2004, when the national debt was $6 billion. I guess people on the right don’t see a problem with Bush giving 350% more than Obama because the national debt was 50% less 6 years ago. Understand that this is what the US has done in the past, and will continue to do in the future. When countries are in need, we, “the most powerful country in the world” are expected to help. In a big way. Through November 2008 (over a span of 58 years), the US had contributed $114 billion to Israel: http://wrmea.org/component/content/article/245-2008-november/3845-congress-watch-a-conservative-estimate-of-total-direct-us-aid-to-israel-almost-114-billion.html Note the six countries that received the most aid from the US in 2008: http://www.parade.com/news/intelligence-report/archive/who-gets-us-foreign-aid.html This country doesn’t just hand impoverished and embattled countries blank checks. As President Obama said, the $100 million was an “investment”, and anyone who makes an investment wants to see a return. The US has ambassadors all over the world, some serving as nothing more than overseers. Weapons (many of which are made in the US), education, health care, human rights, and HIV/AIDS prevention are just a few of the ways that this country backs others in distress.

The US is supposed to be the role model for other nations to follow. Yet we’ve ignored forward progress in Asia, underestimated South America (ahem, Chicago, and Mayor Daley) and a good number of us still obnoxiously proclaim that this is the best country in the world, without hesitation. For the first time in recent memory, we have been the laughingstock. Whether it’s our infatuation with celebrities, Bush, Obama, the housing and automobile market or Wall Street…we haven’t exactly been in a position of power. We are still at war in Iraq and have committed to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, with a pullout date of July 2011. The war in Iraq has cost $700 billion, and the war in Afghanistan’s ticket so far is almost $250 billion (for a more up-to-date total: http://www.nationalpriorities.org/costofwar_home). Democrats are clashing with Democrats, Republicans are clashing with Republicans, and of course, Democrats and Republicans are clashing with each other. Even with such an enormous debt, a $1 trillion health care bill was passed, much to the chagrin of many Republicans and some Democrats who have suddenly become very skeptical of the current administration. The national unemployment level is over 10%, gays are fighting for equal rights, marijuana has not been legalized, racism and segregation are still alive and kicking, and Tyler Perry is STILL making movies and television shows. I said to Granny B a few days ago, ‘This country is screwed.’ And still…

I (a guy that was a PoliSci major in college), know that when the people of Iraq are fighting for democracy, we will be there. The same happened when Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand were flattened by a tsunami in 2004. We even intervene when we feel that a nation or its leader is up to good. See, North Korea, Kim Jong-il, Bush, Obama. No matter what shape this country is in, we will always be there to extend a helping hand when a country is in need. This is not a trend that has just started. USAID does not exist to enhance this country’s global appeal. Neither do Red Cross, CARE, or Salvation Army. It is obvious that American citizens need more than their fair share of help. However, when it comes to global affairs, our reputation precedes us. It might not be fair, but a full committal to relieve countries in dire need of reinforcement is what’s expected of us.

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. #shoutout to EVERYONE that helped with Haiti relief efforts in whatever way that they could, and “l’amour aux Haïtiens”…

It’s a woman’s world…

Fellas, have you ever really listened to James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World”? Really, you only need to listen to the first two lines of the song to understand what James was really trying to say through song:

This is a man’s world, this is a man’s world
But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl

If you still don’t understand:

You see, man made the cars to take us over the road
Man made the trains to carry heavy loads
Man made electric light to take us out of the dark
Man made the boat for the water, like Noah made the ark

This is a man’s, a man’s, a man’s world
But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl

Man thinks about a little baby girls and a baby boys
Man makes then happy ’cause man makes them toys
And after man has made everything, everything he can
You know that man makes money to buy from other man

This is a man’s world
But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl

He’s lost in the wilderness
He’s lost in bitterness

Now if you still think that Brown was saying that this is strictly a man’s world, you might want to re-enroll in grammar school and brush up on Reading and Comprehension. Brown lists some of the significant contributions that man has made to our society. Not people, but men. Cars, trains, light, boats, et cetera, yes, we are given credit for their creations. We are supposedly the breadwinners, providers, and supporters. Still, James knows that we (heterosexual men) are NOTHING without women.

Often, it is brought up, whether on tv or the radio, or in movies, that women seem to run on a biological clock. Not because women understand that it is harder to have a healthy baby as they get older. Not because women want to be middle-aged and not a senior citizen while their child is a teenager. But because society has unintentionally told women that a woman is practically a failure if she’s over the age of 30, single, and with no kids. Many women know that this is not a written rule, but still fret over finding a husband and starting a family before they get “too old”. Too many times, women end up settling in fear of being 35, still single, with no kids. Some see their friends get married and have children at a relatively young age, and it in turn puts pressure on them to have the same things, even if she knows that it is not right for her or just plain unnecessary. Subconsciously, so many women find themselves looking ahead to their wedding day without even first finding someone to meet at the altar.

Do men work on a biological clock? Fortunately, no. It is not self-imposed or something that the media has pushed upon us. A man at 35 (most times) doesn’t feel as if he’s nearing the end of the road. In fact, a good number of men at that age feel as if they’re simply entering a second phase of manhood. There are too many examples of older men that became fathers to children of young women. Men that turn 40 and decide to “live it up”. Are we self-conscious? Absolutely, yes. The biggest difference, in my opinion, between men and women is that while women either aren’t afraid to show it or think that it’s acceptable for a woman to show such behavior, men don’t want ANYONE ELSE to know of our insecurities. Our fears. That we doubt when we say we’re confident. Some of us are truly frightened by the prospect of being single for the rest of our lives. Some worry that we won’t have a son to carry on our legacy. Or a daughter to walk down the aisle. Or that a woman will never see us for the good men that we are, but the dogs that a few portray.

This is a woman’s world, dammit. Pretty much everything that heterosexual men do, we do it for women. It could be something as simple as buying a new tie or getting a haircut. Or something on a larger scale, like buying a new article of clothing, car, or house. Some of us were told when we were younger that we do these things to attract a mate. I’ve never liked “finding a mate” (sounds animalistic), so I’ve always preferred to believe that men go out of their way to find a good woman. Are there false intentions? Of course. There are most definitely men that work so they can waste their money with the hopes of impressing a woman. There are men that buy a car they know they can’t afford, with the belief that they’ll be able to attract a plethora of women. Men lie about their jobs, salaries, cars, and even their living situation if it means they’ll be closer to landing a woman. At the same time, women approach men with false intentions all the time, so we’ll call that a wash.

The average man probably won’t admit it, but we NEED women. No, not just because without women, none of us would be here. And no, not because of the obvious: SEX. Rather because we feel complete when we have a good woman by our side. Again, that’s something the average man probably won’t admit, but I believe it to be true. For the most part, the single life is wonderfully awesome. You have a chance to better yourself, and focus only on your desires and wants. Still, it gives a man a great sense of pride to know that he is with a woman that is loyal to him. It’s an ego trip. The machismo kicks in. We want to do everything in our power to make our women happy. Regardless of color, race, and age, that’s what most men want. We look at you, and want to be better men in every way, shape, and form. Right there. On the spot. We want to be everything that you’ve ever wanted in a man, and then some. Men can go through life acting like they’re still on the playground. Still high school jackasses. College frat boys. Even board room assholes. All of a sudden, we want nothing to do with any of that when we find the right woman.

Regardless of what a man or woman tells you, not all of us are inconsiderate pricks. When a relationship is over, not all men pull out their cell phones to the tune of “On To The Next One”. We don’t all refer to women as bitches, hoes, skanks, sluts, skeezers, broads, and the like. Yes, some of us actually cry after a break-up. Some of us sit up at night wondering when we’ll finally find Ms. Right instead of Ms. Right Now. It’s frustrating for many of us to know that we wear the label of “liar”, “cheater”, or “dog” because a few of our brethren have screwed women over. It hurts even more to see a good woman mistreated. We look at men like Tiger Woods, Chris Brown, Eric Benet, our fathers, uncles, cousins, brothers, and friends, and understand why so many women feel hopeless. We know that many of you want to give up on us, and some of you actually do. But we will ALWAYS need you. Without women, we would indeed be “lost in the wilderness” and “lost in the bitterness”. And as long as that’s the thinking amongst mature, responsible, and sensible men…IT’S A WOMAN’S WORLD…

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. #shoutout to my Billie Frechette, the dopest getaway driver a dude could ever ask for…