All Articles Tagged "lessons"
Not too long ago, the Steubenville, OH, rape case met the news feed and men everywhere were asked to teach other men not to rape. I, however, decided that it was an important time to remind women that not all men are predisposed rapists. My dad never had an explicit conversation with me about rape, he only talked to me about using good judgment. As I grew up, I learned the rules and the law but still it came down to where I stood morally. I still stand beside this statement, “I’m one of the men who doesn’t rape women.” I’ve always shied away from women who were intoxicated or under the influence when trying to have sex with them. I didn’t want it that way and there’s a large amount of men who feel the same way.
Growing up, we all are put in positions where we experience situations before lessons are taught. However, I was raised in a home where men didn’t think that just because you saw a short skirt you interpreted that as, “she wants it.” It just doesn’t mean that. If a woman is wearing a revealing outfit it means that is what she decided to wear that night. Nothing more.
It’s also important to point out that men very seldom will have a seat at the table to discuss these topics because it’s not something for men to debate with women. The conversations men have with each other behind closed doors are much more important.
Men talk a big game when around women but when they’re around each other they share their inner thoughts. I tell men all the time, “you don’t have to deal with women who don’t do what you want to do.” I also say you need to know that no woman consents to sex without saying, “yes.” I’m not going to act like there aren’t men who act like a woman who is flirting heavily with them at a party is consenting to that. That happens and I can admit it. But what I can say is that there are a large number of men who do their best to not only avoid situations like that but also share with others how to avoid those situations.
I tell my younger friends that they should shy away from sleeping with women who are intoxicated. They should always obtain explicit consent before crossing that line with women. It’s hard for some to understand but not most. It really boils down to having positive role models. If you see a man who is having luck in his sex life without having to resort to alcohol or drugs, then you’ll likely feel challenged to do the same.
Can men avoid these situations? Yes. Joseph definitely fled Potipher’s residence and that’s a powerful message to share. Sometimes you have to have the power within to say, “This is not how I want it, no matter how much I want it, not like this.” Do women sometimes manipulate men into situations that they may find themselves skating the line? Yes. But as men, if we claim to be in control of our actions we can’t let ourselves lose focus because we’ve had a few drinks or may be under the influence.
Is there a population of men who are failing to receive this message? Yes. I think that the media and society perpetuates a rape culture. At the same time, there’s not much we can do to stop this but continue to educate our friends, family, and younger generations. But I think it has to be acknowledged that men are doing this everyday and continue to be allies on the rape front, rather than foes.
We have to teach both sides about the pitfalls of sexual assault and rape. It’s not enough to just teach boys not to rape, it’s not enough to teach men either. We also have to teach important principles to women that are often left by the waste side.
It’s okay to report cases.
It’s okay to say no.
It’s okay to feel that something happened last night that you didn’t agree with.
It’s also important that when things happen that you bring them to the light because a predator belongs in jail and not on the streets. And men need to understand that it’s perfectly okay for women to do that on their own time.
That’s what I learned growing up. Again, I’m one of those guys who doesn’t take advantage of women who are intoxicated. I need the support that should be given to other men like myself. I need to be told at times that while I remain silent in those conversations, I have a voice. That encouragement will lead to other men learning to know the right way to act in those chanced circumstances. When we leave this as an “us” vs. “them” situation it becomes unhealthy and perpetuates this entire “rape culture” we live in. But we can overcome this obstacle if we decide to face these issues and not turn rape into a competition between genders. Then we’ll find ourselves in a world that we all love to live in and feel safe to live too.
No one knows it all, and sometimes the things that you do know, you might have to be reminded from time to time. Now, I don’t want you to think that I see you all as incompetent, or “fell off of the potato truck,” but everyone needs a helpful reminder. I’m not above self approving and through out my life there are things that I learned that I still have to remind myself each day. I also know that the site carries a myriad of readers from high schoolers, college aged, and fly women, so to each, here are a few things to remind yourself as you go through your daily life. Also, feel free to add in the comment section anything that I might have missed. Remember, self-improvement is the best improvement.
Before you even get to any pictures, the bio on Fantasia’s Instagram page reads as follows:
“It SADDENS ME that Most of you will Only Come On to say Negative things. My Kids are Covered and so am I Hate On Mofos But Im the Queen of this THRONE.”
And last night, we discovered just how true that bio is. Yesterday, Fantasia posted the above picture of her daughter Zion with the caption “My Girl <3.” While this seems like an innocent picture, it was only a matter of time before one of Fantasia’s followers, Tee Tee* left a comment insulting both Zion and Fantasia.
By the time I got to the picture, the user’s comment had been deleted but from reading the responses to it, it was clear that this user had a problem with Zion’s hair. And in deeming it too grown she also attacked her intelligence. Again, I didn’t read it but if I had to guess she probably said something along the lines of her hair is blah blah and she probably can’t even blah blah in school. I’m guessing this because Fantasia’s fans immediately came to Zion’s defense, saying that it was none of this user’s business how Zion wears her hair and that she is an honor student.
The thing about celebrities and social networking is that folks rarely think the celebrity will actually see their comment. But clearly, going out of your way to leave a comment means you somehow want the attention. Well, in this instance, not only did Fantasia see the comment, she responded to this user and hopefully made her a better woman and mother in the process.
Fantasia went to the user’s page and posted a picture of she and her daughter on her own Instagram account. But instead of insulting the woman and her daughter, she had this to say:
*TeeTee Is a Mother as Well as a Black Women. It Saddens me when a Beautiful Black Women with a Beautiful Black Young Baby comes on another Black Women page and Speaks Negative about her Beautiful Black Young Lady… Let Me say this Mama if 1 person comes on this pic and comments negative about your Baby what would you do? How would you feel? Well let me tell you how I Feel (Anger, Rage and ready to Fight). I’m not going to play this mean and evil game with you or any 1 else. I’m a tell you how Pretty your Little Girl is, I’m a say I Pray she Grows up to be everything GOD as predestined Her to Be, I’m a say that I pray Angels watch Over You, her and all your Love 1s. I’m going to pretend you didn’t just GO INNN on my Baby Girl picture… I’ll just Say God Bless You as A Mother and as A Black Sister… From another Sister. Your Girl is Very Pretty
Some of you, like a couple of Fantasia’s Instagram followers, will argue that she shouldn’t have even dignified this woman’s mean and hateful comment with a response. That’s understandable. But if Tee Tee deleting her comment was any indication, I’d say that the message got through.
But even if it didn’t, let this serve as a reminder that celebrities are real people with real feelings but most importantly it is really and truly morally despicable to talk about someone else’s child, especially when you have one of your own. Fantasia could have easily talked about this woman’s daughter, whether it was true or not, and many of her fans would have cosigned the foolishness as karma; but instead she took a moment to compliment and educate this woman about her lapse in judgement. Much respect and God bless Fantasia for this.
*I won’t include her real user name here, though you can find it on Fantasia’s Instagram page.
By now, January 3, you ‘ve thought about the year that just passed. Hopefully, as you reflected you found that the year was full of more good than bad; but even if that wasn’t the case, there was definitely a lesson to be learned from it all. We checked in with our Facebook and Twitter followers to see what they had to say about the lessons that they’re going to take into 2013.
Tracy: Not to worry or stress over things I have absolutely no control over…..learning to let go and truly trust God!
Bernadette: You can’t pray and worry. Pick one!
Rachel: Physical and mental health is imperative for a successful happy life.
Melody: That if I don’t love and care for myself, others won’t either.
Robin: Last year I stopped hiding myself from the world and enjoyed my fullness, my loudness, my sassiness and make no excuse for who God made me…. I love it!
Monique: The value of money means nothing after losing a loved one. Living in happiness and peace is now my goal in life.
Shakeda: Always trust your instinct!
Tuere: A very wise, deep brotha told me that everything serves to further. Our triumphs keep us inspired, our mistakes are supposed to teach us and help us grow. Even the “bad” things that happen are supposed to be calls to action for us. They are there to get our attention. No matter the outcome, it ALL serves a purpose. Even if he only came into my life to deliver that message, he was a blessing for me.
Gerilyn: Don’t hold back life is truly what u make it, embrace ur God given gifts nd believe they’ll carry u through
Evita: That one sentence can change your life forever. My six-year-old son was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma; a brain cancer. He was a normal kid and we had no signs. I used to complain about my life being mundane before and now I WISH I had that “mundane” life back. Appreciate what you have now; you never know how long you’ll have it.
Mahalia: I learned that yeah your heart will be broken a couple of times. But you shouldn’t stop loving because a couple of bad people abused the privilege. Keep an open heart and you will find true happiness nothing is wrong with you!
Sheena: No matter who or what comes into your life, putting your children first will always bear the richest rewards! God blessed you with the gift of a child, so cherish, love and nurture it and He will never turn his back on either of you!
Nosi: When going through adversity there is always a break through!! Key word THROUGH.. meaning it wont stay like that forever.. It will get better.
Deborah: Follow your gut whether it is a good gut feeling or an uneasy gut feeling. That gut feeling is The Holy Spirit covering you in all aspects. Follow your gut it will not steer you wrong. Trust me!!!
Tynesha: To have boundaries and keep them, learn when to let people in a keep them out.
Bwann: ….Never log on ‘Worldstar.com’ as the level of ratchettness can slowly kill your brain cells and cause you to search online for more fuckery resulting in severe damage to your brain (frontal, parietal and occipital) lobes and cause memory loss!!
The second season of Shonda Rhimes’s latest hit show Scandal is generating all kinds of buzz, and that’s largely because of Kerry Washington’s excellent portrayal of the commanding and capable crisis manager, Olivia Pope. Every Thursday, we watch in awe as our beloved heroine make moves and power plays among Washington’s elite. She’s smart, she’s fierce and she’s always impeccably dressed. We love her. We want to be like her. Here is a list of valuable lessons we can learn from Olivia Pope.
Keep Your Friends (and Enemies) Close.
It long has been said that you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer. No doubt Olivia Pope has mastered that. Many times she finds herself on the one side of a scandal, while U.S. Attorney David Rosen is on the other side determined to bring about justice. Olivia is not afraid to convince him to call off the dog, or use her influence to through David off the trail. However, Olivia knows she has to keep him close so she will always gets what she needs.
Say It and Mean It.
The way Olivia Pope seems so sure of herself, you could hardly imagine her fretting over what she’s going to wear every day. She does everything on purpose. When Olivia negotiates with her clients, she doesn’t waiver, she puts reality on the table and tells them what she’s going to do. Olivia Pope takes her promises, threats and decisions seriously, and so does everyone around her. Even when Fitz begged Olivia to keep their affair going, when she hung up the phone, he got the message loud and clear. The next time you find yourself in a situation when you have to make a difficult decision, be like Olivia. Say it, mean it and own it.
Don’t Tip Your Hand…Unless It’s Absolutely Necessary.
Remember when Olivia Pope hired Quinn Perkins? No one knew why, not even Harrison who was sent out to “recruit” her. Even toward the end of Season 1 when Quinn’s real identity was called in to question, Olivia didn’t reveal the truth. She kept Quinn’s secret safe until she felt it was absolutely necessary to tell the rest of the associates. Olivia shows us how we don’t have to put our business out there, but when we do, it should be for a very good reason.
Lead, Don’t Follow.
It’s easy to imagine a young Olivia Pope with pigtails holding things down as the line leader in grade school. She radiates “born leader” in everything she does. We watch her week after week breeze into her office giving rapid-fire orders to her associates, setting the day’s agenda and squashing any opposition. Leaders blaze their own paths. Leaders communicate their vision with clarity. Leaders don’t allow anyone to take over and run things, as they always maintain control of a situation. Olivia Pope as a crisis manager cannot afford to follow the leader. If we channel our inner Olivia Popes, neither will we.
Look the Part.
From the flawless hair to the jewelry to the fabulous jackets, power suits and handbags, Olivia always looks like she means business. When Olivia Pope walks into a room, everyone takes her seriously. Sure we love her clothes and her hair, but for Olivia Pope it’s part of her brand. She can go from the office to the courtroom to the White House, turning heads along the way. If you want the people around you to take you more seriously, take a page from Olivia Pope’s style manual.
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It was a beautiful Autumn Saturday evening. The ground was covered with rainbow colored leaves, the wind was blowing just enough to give the perfect breeze while inhaling the fresh scent of a fall evening, and the sky was the perfect shade of royal blue. I was headed out for a wonderful dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, after I spent the day shopping and pampering myself. It seemed as though this was the perfect day and I was going to culminate it with the perfect evening, so I had every reason to be happy, right? Wrong.
When I arrived at dinner, I was seated quickly at a table for two. The waitress came and went through her routine, then asked if everyone in my party had arrived. Before I opened my mouth to answer her I smiled slightly, swallowed my tears with squinted eyes and said yes. She said okay and walked away to give me a moment to look over the menu. As I browsed through the menu, my stomach felt a little squeamish. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was starving, upset about the fact that I would be dining alone, or if it was my unborn child moving about.
To be honest, I think it was a combination of all three. So luckily for us the waitress returned quickly and took our order immediately. Shortly thereafter, my phone began to ring. It was my child’s father. He was calling to see what my plans were for the evening because he wanted to get together to talk. I told him I was at dinner and invited him to join me. He declined, and then began asking me a number of questions about the status of our relationship; you know those questions that let you know that he’s trying to subtly break up with you, but he wants you to get fed up and end it first so it’ll look like you wanted the relationship to end. You know the questions, where do you see us going? Do you really think we’re compatible? With each question he asked, my heart sunk in with every answer I gave him because I knew where he was going with this conversation. After about ten to fifteen minutes of engaging in the final exam of what would be the beginning of the end of my relationship with the father of my child, he finally said to me, I think you should find somebody you are compatible with because it’s not me. With tears coming down my face, yet hiding the fact that I was crying I said okay, I’ll keep you posted on the progress of the baby. He said okay, and we both said goodbye. When the conversation ended I was absolutely devastated. As tears continued to stream down my face, so many thoughts and questions raced through my mind. How was I going to raise a child as a single mother? Will he be involved in our child’s life as he should? Am I now another statistic? That’s okay, we don’t need him anyway... So after the random thoughts and questions stopped racing through my mind, I finished my dinner, went home, cried some more and started my process of accepting the fact that I would be a single mother.
The next few days, weeks and months were extremely difficult for me because the relationship with the father of my child ended abruptly without logical explanation. As I tried to move past the relationship ending and move forward to facing my new reality I did some soul searching and reflecting. During my process of soul searching and reflecting I asked myself a number of questions in regard to my relationship with my son’s father and why I was so devastated when it ended.
My first question was, why did I want to be in a relationship with a man that did not want to be with me? Answer, because I had love for him (or at least what I thought was love), I was carrying his child, and I wanted us to be a family. My next question, if I wasn’t pregnant, would he even want to be with me at this point in our relationship? Answer, probably not. My last question, why would I want to be in a relationship with someone who brought drama to my life, and was not concerned about me or our unborn child? Answer, because at that time in my life my self esteem was at an all time low, I wanted us to be a family, and I couldn’t see the drama because all I wanted to see was what I wanted. After my soul searching process, and the birth of my child I came to grips with the reality that I was a single mother, and I had to learn how to be okay with every aspect of it.
So as I moved forward with my life without the father of my child, I learned a number of valuable lessons. I learned about the joys and struggles of being a single mother by being there whole heartedly for my child, finding the joy in everything we do and watching my child grow. I’ve learned how to be a better, stronger and more confident woman internally because I know I am the primary example of what a woman should be in the sight of my child. I’ve learned how to balance my career and motherhood by managing my time better. And last, I’ve learned how to be single and extremely happy. How did I do that? By trusting in my Creator for guidance and finding the joy in being a single woman. This was indeed a difficult journey, but it was worth every lesson learned. Now that I look back on that night my relationship ended with the father of my child, I smile. I smile because I realize that if he had not ended our relationship I would probably have tried to continue on with a relationship with him that probably would have been detrimental to my health, his health and the health of our child. Letting go of the feelings I had for my child’s father was not easy, but I’m glad the door was closed on that relationship because it opened the door to so much more!
Liz Lampkin is the Author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For? Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Lampkin.
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India Arie is, in my opinion, one of the most talented artists, lyrically speaking of our time. Unlike most of the fluff that we hear on the radio today, her music has substance. The positivity that oozes from her messages have the potential to turn just about any frown upside down. If you so much as halfway listen to her lyrics it is almost guaranteed that you will walk away having learned a life lesson.
India Arie first emerged on the scene with her debut single “Video” in 2001, which eventually turned out to be the everyday woman’s anthem because it promoted self-love at its best. While many people were somewhat shallow and unreceptive of if it, it served as inspiration for women of all shapes, sizes, and colors. In this song India Arie served as an advocate for the average woman during a time where self-image was becoming extremely distorted by unrealistic standards set by the media. She let it be known that it is possible to be happy and content with who you are. She went on to receive four Grammy nominations for the song.
Appreciate the simple pleasures that life offers
While it is great to have goals and things that you are working towards it is so easy to miss out on the simple things. In 2002 India released “Little Things,” which was a song bringing attention to some of the smaller treasures in life that people often overlook and take for granted until they no longer have them. Ironically, most of these things are intangible and can’t be purchased. Taking inventory of the simple things that make you happy are crucial to leading a much more happy and fruitful lifestyle.
Forgiveness is crucial
While many artists put out songs and having your heart broken, making it easy to nurse your wounds, stay mad, and wallow in your misery, I have yet to hear many artists that tell you after you’ve cried and picked yourself up, you have to forgive. “One shot to your heart without breaking your skin,” who can possibly summarize a broken heart better than that? In 2007 India Arie released “Get It Together,” which was a song highlighting the importance of forgiving and letting go of past hurts not merely to appease the person that hurt you or to be all self-righteous, but so that you yourself can attain mental freedom and finally move on. Harry Emerson Fosdick once said “Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it.” India most definitely echoes this philosophy in this song.
Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams
It can be a little frightening to step outside of your comfort zone and chase after your dreams with the possibility of failure constantly looming in the back of your mind. In her 2001 release, “Strength, Courage, and Wisdom” encourages others to “step out on faith,” leave procrastination behind and dig deep within because they already posses what it takes to make their dreams come true.
It’s just hair!
As a woman who has always been pretty vain about her hair, this was a difficult concept for me to grasp at first, but when I got it I got it! Many black women have been slaves to their hair because many of us were born into the ideology that the way in which we wear our hair somehow defines us. In 2006 India Arie appeared to be somewhat of a revolutionary when she released “I Am Not My Hair” because she is one of few artists to even discuss this topic. She separated the hair from the woman as to say, yes, your hair is a part of you but it in no way defines you. Yes, everyone wants great looking hair, but you are who you are no matter how your hair looks.
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There are some things that college just doesn’t prepare you for. It can provide you with knowledge of your field of study. It can give you career training. It can prep you for what and what not to say during an interview, but the one thing, however, that college fails to prepare many of us for is what we will encounter once we’re actually hired. The American Dream leads us to believe that hard work and dedication are all that you need to succeed in this country; however, they fail to disclose the little disclaimer that says, “Please Note: This dream is often only applicable to qualifying races.” College taught me many things, but one thing that they did not tell me prior to shaking my hand and giving me a diploma was that in many cases, as a black woman in corporate America, you have to work ten times as hard just to be considered as good as your counterparts.
I remember my first paid internship in the public relations industry like it was yesterday. I popped up on the scene with my eyes beaming, deep brown skin glowing, and my heart full of expectations. I had already made up my mind that I would work harder than I’d ever worked in my life. I was prepared to conquer the world! I learned swiftly that an intern’s position was the lowest of the lowest on the totem pole, but I was prepared to stick my chest out, lift my chin up, push my shoulders back and handle my business like a woman because I knew that I would reap a greater reward in the end. So no, I didn’t expect anyone to give my anything. I was prepared to earn it fair and square. But the public relations department that I interned for was so small that it didn’t long to realize that I was being treated differently. The differential treatment started out with small things. You know, those things that are so “small” you ask yourself, “Did that just happen or am I bugging out?” For instance, things like my entire department tip-toeing out while I went to the bathroom to attend a company sponsored event that I wasn’t even made aware of until after the fact. Yeah. “Small.”
“You’re just an intern, they aren’t required to tell you anything,” is what I told myself as I carried out the rest of the workday alone, trying not to get in my feelings about the shadiness that had just taken place. But once another intern was hired, I could no longer blame the subtle shade on my title. This intern happened to be white, and once she was instantly invited to attend some of our more “upscale” events, while I wasn’t, I realized that my suspicions might be correct. My dark-er skin, wide-r hips, thick-er thighs, and full-er lips made me less qualified to attend these events because I would improperly represent the face of the brand, I suppose.
There was one instance where I had to go and make a purchase for some supplies using the department’s American Express Card. The way in which I was treated when I was given that card would’ve led a person to believe that I had a criminal background and was just given the code to Donald Trump’s bank account. “Don’t get happy and run off with that AMEX card in your purse,” the department coordinator called after me as I exited the office. My nostrils flared as I thought to myself “Girl bye, I’ve never had to steal anything in my life.”
Little comments such as that one went on as long as I was in this department. There was one occasion when the entire department went out to lunch and for some reason one of the other employees felt the need to tell me about her big, black, voluptuous nanny named Shelia whom she had as a child. I remember sitting there resisting the urge to twist up my face at her wondering, “Why in the hell is she telling me this? Does she want me to watch her kids or something?” Of course, there was no moral to her story–she just felt the need to share. I felt the urge to flip the table over and assume the stereotype of the angry black woman, but I didn’t. Instead I sat there silently.
My mother is not an entrepreneur. She is not a self-made millionaire with her own company. She does not own a home with a vacation property on the side. She is not rich or has any inheritance to her name.
She did not discover a new product for consumers, invest in any stocks or networked her way to the top. My mother is a normal African-American woman born and raised by a single mother in one of the country’s most dangerous cities. She has been your average blue collar worker for as long as I can remember, and now because of the economy and job market, she is in between careers. And yet, she is the wisest, wealthiest person I know.
I know this because I have always had high standards for my mother. As an only child of a single mother, I knew her worth, I felt her struggle firsthand, and through her struggle came wisdom, something I knew to cherish.
I am appreciative to reflect on this Mother’s Day from a new angle: in my early twenties with a college degree, no children and a successful, growing career in the media industry in New York City. These are all manifestations of my mother’s hopes for me, since she did not have the same. She became a mother at my age and knows the importance of youth, especially when it comes to achieving your professional goals.
As the wisest, most business-savvy person I know, my mother has imparted many lessons that I still remember in my everyday life, especially in the corporate workplace. Although I still remain like a deer in headlights sometimes when it comes to being an African-American female professional in the workplace, I revert back to her teachings and never stray far. Some of my favorite quotes remind me of her lessons and past experiences…
I take pride in being a strong woman – particularly because I came from one. My mother is the true definition of strength, courage and wisdom in a world where the word “Itchbay” is synonymous with the word “female” – and being bombarded with reality shows portraying women behaving badly doesn’t help.
But we know better. A strong woman has a voice, has a brain and has a heart. We cultivate self-worth, love hard, make mistakes and we learn from them. Our mamas taught us well! Here are ten things I learned from my mother about relationships, love and loving myself.