All Articles Tagged "society"

Are We Too Quick to Punish Those Who’ve Been Hurt?

January 10th, 2014 - By Kendra Koger
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I always wondered what would cause a person to willingly suffer in silence.  As I child there seemed to be such a large number of people willing to help and lend a hand to those in need.  I couldn’t understand the fear that some had, and I always thought that if I was ever in trouble that I wouldn’t mind screaming from the rooftops for a helping hand.

But as I got older, I began to realize that yelling “stranger danger” wouldn’t help me as an adult, and I could see why.

After having a marathon of “Bob’s Burgers,” the episode entitled “Topsy” piqued my interest.  In 1903 an elephant was electrocuted by the hands of Thomas Edison.  The elephant, named Topsy, had just murdered her trainer.  However, this elephant had been abused for years by this same trainer.  In a moment of anguish, Topsy snapped, and was then deemed a danger.

Before electrocuting Topsy, she was fed three cyanide carrots, complied graciously to her handlers as they prepared her for her death, was electrocuted, and after she fell was strangled for ten minutes, just to ensure that she was dead.

Now, I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever join PETA (I love burgers too much, and I’m not too keen on wasting red paint), and I’m very hesitant around undomesticated animals (especially after being attacked by a family of birds a few years ago for about a week).  However, I feel that Topsy was a victim of injustice, and my mind immediately correlated her experience with many people who are suffering now.

There are people who are hurt, and like Topsy, don’t have the freedom to express that.  While Topsy was an elephant and couldn’t talk, others feel robbed of their voices, and feel the need to suffer in silence.  But why though?  Why would you willingly give up your own voice if just saying something can help you?

Honestly, I think that it’s more so due to the public’s reaction to hurting people.  When some people are hurting, or in pain, they can sometimes come off as repulsive to others.  It seems as if we grow up and our view of cooties hasn’t been eliminated, but merely transferred to people in need.  Some people seem as if they don’t want to be associated with people who are broken, or hurt, and the people who need the help knows this.  So they stay quiet.

The world is a very peculiar place sometimes.  People want to be able to say and think whatever they want to about you, but will attack you if you speak back.  When a person is hurting, they might not need to be told to “keep it to yourself,” because that’s what’s been hurting them the most.  The silence is rarely beneficial to the victim, but it is to everyone else.

Topsy contributed by having her organs donated to research, and her hide was turned into furniture.  A person who is hurting contributes by allowing the public to keep their comfortable view of things being okay.  They don’t have to be burdened by the thought that someone around me is hurting, and “I can’t/won’t help them, so I don’t want to know about it.”  So we get mad when people break our illusion of a perfectly mundane life.  We get angry that their truths override what we feel like we know about the world and remind us of how scary real life can be.  So we punish them, we place the blame on them, while overlooking their oppressors.  “You must have done something,” “it’s your fault that it happened,” “What do you expect me to do about it?”

1903 was such a long time ago, however, there are people who hurting and afraid to speak about or to the people who hurt them and why.  They’ve silenced themselves, and it’s because they’re afraid of being punished.  Though we might not fully understand what causes someone to stay in unhealthy situations, we can also help by opening the lines of communication and not condemning a person for revealing their pain to us.  Not everyone can have a memorial like Topsy has at Coney Island.  But everyone should be allowed the freedom to use their voices without the fear of persecution.

To those who are hurting:  people might not always like what you have to say, but you earned your right to say it.  So please, speak up.

Rude is the New Black: Why Do We Celebrate Being Mean?

January 8th, 2014 - By Dee Rene
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Woman mean mugging

Being the meanest person in the room used to be a point of shame

Today, people are wearing “a**hole”, “b*tch”, “jerk” and “rude” like it’s an Eagle Scout badge of honor.

When did rude become the new black? Something everyone tried to squeeze into, look good doing, and wear everywhere they went?

I get it. In a society that tells you to do this and do that to be accepted, it’s often a turn of rebellion to be fresh out of f*cks to give about what others say and who they want you to be. But we’ve allowed speaking our mind and not holding back as an excuse to be tactless.

In the quest to be different, unbothered, and self-aware, we’ve turned into monsters. Instead of being tough we are tyrants. Instead of just being assertive we are self-proclaimed a-holes ready to rip apart anyone that comes our way. Our defense mechanisms grow claws and begin to tear away at everyone around us. Instead of creating power houses we create pitiful towers to our own assumed excellence at the expense of others.

You only win being the villain for so long.

We brush off the feelings of others and continue to burst through life like a bull in a china shop – not caring what we destroy in the process. Others who don’t find our no holds-barred approach appealing are labeled sensitive. Maybe everyone isn’t sensitive; perhaps you are just a jerk. Maybe everyone doesn’t need to learn to accept this is just how you are when who you are is unbearable. Don’t mistake a few people that stick it out no matter what as an excuse for your behavior. Being tolerated and being loved are two different things.

When did we begin celebrating the best insult instead of celebrating those that actually uplift people? We start to look up to those people as pinnacles of power when really choosing to be rude over kind is a weakness. Being kind hearted or *gasp* nice doesn’t mean you become society’s doormat. It simply means that you know treating people well, speaking words of encouragement rather than insults or put-downs, and not strutting around like a mean-girl or rude-boy peacock is actually okay. There’s nothing wrong with being valued by a few instead of feared by many.

I can only hope that one day being a good person, a kind person, and a contribution to society rather than a selfish vacuum becomes the new norm.

Maybe nice will be the new black next season instead.

Dee Rene is the creator of Laugh.Cry.Cuss. http://laughcrycuss.com . Subscribe to the blog and follow @laughcrycuss for more

Garcelle Beauvais: Why Should My Kids Have To Dismiss Their Dad’s Heritage?”

December 15th, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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"Garcelle Beauvais pf"

Nikki Nelson/WENN.com

Back in October, actress Garcelle Beauvais released the first book from her I Am series titled, I Am Mixed. The book tells the story of biracial twins and how they’re able to learn about multiple cultures thanks to their parents being of different races.  I Am Mixed has received quite the warm reception, especially from those who are biracial.

Recently, Beauvais spoke to UK publication The Voice about her thoughts on biracial people, particularly her twin boys whose father is white. In the interview, she said:

“But I don’t know why anybody [of mixed heritage] should have to choose. Why should my kids have to dismiss their dad’s heritage because they have a black mum? It just doesn’t make sense to me. Why can’t people just be happy with what they are and not have to choose?”

She also stated that she noticed how enraged the black community was when he was on the Oprah show (yes, she took it that far back) and didn’t refer to himself as being black.

Beauvais added that she thinks the books are important because they will start conversations between parents and children about the multicultural society we live in today.

It seems like the book has been reaching people in the way she envisioned it. Hopefully, future books in the series which discuss adoption and divorce will also be just as influential.

Straight From His Mouth: Are Men As Animalistic As Society Portrays Them?

July 22nd, 2013 - By WisdomIsMisery
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Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

Q: Are men as animalistic as society portrays them to be when it comes to self-control and sexuality?

There are animalistic men in society, but these men are not the barometer by which all men should be measured. Similar to the fact that the news does not cover stories about all the planes that land safely each day, while the majority of men practice self-control, there are few public accolades for doing what you are supposed to do. Rather than ignore the obvious, let’s focus on the most evident lack of self-control and sexuality when it comes to men and women…

As many of you have noticed, I do not talk about rape. I am not immune or blind to the echo-chambers in the blogosphere on the topic, but I have largely and purposefully chosen to remain on the sidelines. I am not positive the Internet is a place to have conducive, meaningful discussions about rape, rape prevention, and rape culture. There are (justifiably) too many raw emotions, and such discussions usually dissolve to finger-pointing and trolling rather than meaningful discussion or solutions. However, today I am going to do my best to respectfully provide my opinion on the subject.

One in three women will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. I am not absolving men who perpetuate such crimes, and I am definitely not blaming their victims. However, this statistic shows that two in three women will not experience such unfortunate fates, so the majority of men in the world are in fact not committing such crimes.  Sadly, some men are truly animalistic by their very nature, but some other men are the byproducts of the society in which they live. In my opinion, one of the overlooked issues when it comes to rape and rape culture is not that we have a rape culture (in America).  The larger problem is that we encourage a culture of silence, in which rape-culture is a subset.

The fact that we promote a culture of silence permeates a plethora of issues. For example, a culture of silence allows cities like Chicago to dissolve into violence with annual homicide rates greater than most war zones; it allows a majority of financial institutions to drive the global economy into near collapse while only a minority of these same financial institutions is ever held legally responsible; and finally, as it pertains to today’s topic, it allows rapes to occur, then blame the victims (men and women) for “allowing” themselves to get raped (the phenomenon known as “victim blaming”). This is a very real problem, and these are only a few examples of an infinite number of issues that negatively impact our society, which I believe, are all allowed to fester under an overarching umbrella of a culture of silence. A culture of silence discourages at best, and punishes at worst, those who dare have the courage to speak out against the expectation that they remain silent. To address these many underlying issues, we must recognize this overlapping issue. Attempting to address the offspring of this larger issue of repressive, expectant silence without addressing the root cause of the problem is the equivalent of trying to chop down a tree by breaking off the branches.

These underlying issues will continue to grow (although rape, homicide, and violent crimes is statistically lower than ever, one rape, violent/preventable death is theoretically one too many) as long as a cultural of intolerance for victims and silence about that intolerance exist. It is difficult, if not outright impossible, to move towards a solution when we refuse to talk openly about the problem. While it may be easier to believe that all men contribute or actively participate in these problems, the truth of the matter is that many men do and will not. Yet, those men who have the audacity to speak out are often chastised, their motives questioned, and their thoughts dismissed since their faces are not representative of the more familiar victims of the crime. In some people’s minds, the majority of men are representative of the crimes perpetrated by  a minority of men, rather than recognizing that some men are hostages tangled in the same web of injustice—these type of men can identify personally or know daughters, wives, sisters, and mothers who suffered similarly unfortunate fates.

Unlike some have written, I believe the first and easiest step is not to “teach men not to rape” or to “teach women not to get raped.” Instead, both men and women would benefit from focusing on teaching men to respect women as equals and women to respect and recognize themselves as equals to men. A number of these issues arise because a number of men (and some women) see themselves as unequal, often times below the former. It is much easier to repress or look down upon the rights of another human being when you do not see them as your equal. This has been demonstrated throughout history, with slavery being the most obvious example. In order to repress another or seek power over another, you often have to see them as below you or “second class.” I believe a good first step, would be to teach men to recognize and respect women as their equals – a direction, for the record, I believe we are moving in but obviously, we are not there yet.

WisdomIsMisery aka WIM uses his background as an internal auditor to provide objective, yet opinionated, qualitative and quantitative analysis on life, love, and everything in between. WIM is not a model, a model citizen, or a role model. See more of WIM on his weekly write-ups for SBM, on Twitter @WisdomIsMisery.

“Don’t Call Me a Baby Mama!” What’s Really In A Name?

November 25th, 2012 - By Kendra Koger
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"MomSonGames PF"

As you all know from my first “Where Are They Now” articles, I was a fan of what I like to call “VH1′s Golden Age of Reality Television.”  Not only did I watch (and own) all the seasons of Flavor of Love, I Love New York, For the Love of Ray J and I Love Money, I was also a fan of Rock of Love.  But one of the things that always struck me as odd were the high number of strippers on the show; however, when confronted, they would say,  “I’m a dancer.”  Unlike my confusion of what an exotic dancer was when I was younger, I couldn’t understand why the women would insist on the word “dancer,” and get offended if someone called them a stripper.  I mean, if you take your clothes off for money then you’re a stripper, right?

It wasn’t until a little while ago when my ex-husband called while he was around his family and I heard someone yell,  “Who you talking to,”  and he responded with “My baby mama.” I was so insulted!  He came back to the phone, we finished the conversation (with some definite ice on my end) and then hung up.  With the same look that Regina King had on Poetic Justice after Joe Torry punched her (mouth agape and slowly shaking her head from side to side), I grabbed my phone to call one of my best friends to tell her what happened.  In the middle of hitting my speed dial, I stopped.  I mean, what did he really do that was wrong?  He didn’t openly disrespect me.  He didn’t call me the slang version of a female dog.  He just called me his “baby mama.”  But why was I so offended by it?

I started thinking about how politically correct our society has gotten.  In a restaurant, you’re not supposed to call the person who takes your order a waiter anymore, they’re your server.  The people who help you to your seat on an airplane and tell you what to do in an emergency are no longer stewardesses, they’re flight attendants.  When you call an office, the person who answers the phone and take messages are no longer secretaries, they’re administrative assistants.  Why the change?  Because the former titles had a slightly negative connotation to them.  You see this happen all the time in society.

I started realizing that the reason why I was so taken aback is because the term “Baby Mama” (besides the fact that it is grammatically incorrect – it should be baby’s mama, but whatever) has such a negative connotation to me.  My mind immediately went to those girls who have their baby on their hip, parking lot pimping at the local gas station during the day and collecting a child support check or a “crazy check”/disability check in lieu of working.  Their babies are crying because they want to be home and the hair is sticking up on the toddlers’ heads while their mother continues to talk (with her luxurious new weave) to her girlfriends and check out the dudes who were also parking lot pimping in the middle of the day.

That phrase just seemed to remove all of the positive things I’ve done in my life.  It doesn’t address the fact that we were actually married at one time, and I’m a working college graduate.  Though descriptive in its basic form (yes, I am the mother to his child), it’s still offensive to me.  Not wanting to create a fuss by telling him not to call me that anymore (because then that’ll be “Baby Mama Drama”), I just left it alone.  But I will say this: instead of wondering, “what’s the big deal,” if someone is insistent on being called a title, I’ll abide now.  Dancers, servers, administrative assistants, I feel you now. I really do.

You can call Kendra Koger a bunch of things, just do it on her twitter @kkoger.

Should I Raise My Daughter to Watch Out for the Next Fool?

August 1st, 2012 - By Kendra Koger
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When I first became pregnant I asked my mother how could I ensure that my child wasn’t going to be a terror.  I knew that you can’t have perfect children, and I definitely wasn’t a perfect child, but I honestly like the child that I was and the adult that I’ve become.  Even though I messed up and rebelled at times, ultimately I was very respectful to authority figures, didn’t engage in backtalk and sought ways to improve myself.  But, I like the way my sister Kelli turned out more, so I asked my mother did she do anything special with her. (J/K)  But when I would ask my mother she would always quote the Bible:  “Raise up a child in the way that they are supposed to go and they shall not depart from it.”

But my mind couldn’t help going back to some children who had parents that were strict, or their parents were clergy members and their children knew religious doctrine like they knew their own names and still ended up wilding out.  But you tell yourself that the parent tried, and that you’ll try your best to keep your child on the best path until they’re able to make their own decisions.  It doesn’t squelch your fears of the future, but it does pacify them.

It wasn’t until I ignored my right mind and went to Worldstarhiphop one day that new parenting fears surfaced.  On one particularly disturbing video in the comment section someone wrote:  “And to just think, these girls all started off as innocent babies.”  That realization scares you and you begin to wonder what went wrong? You know that there are people who try their best to teach their children the right way to go, but there are also parents who encourage their children to go the wrong way as well.

There are children I’d came in contact with in the past who could point out what a cigarillo was and how to break it down to make it a blunt, but didn’t know their ABCs.  There were adults who told me that when they were children their parents/caretakers would allow them to sip as much alcohol that they could from a straw, and encouraged them to smoke weed with them when they were only 14.  Youtube is full of videos of parents who encouraged their children to fight, and who fought right along with their children.

Even though I’m not too well versed in football terminology I do know that there are two sides to each team.  The defensive and the offensive.  If I’m correct (and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), the offensive side is the one that has the ball and has the responsibility to score.  The defensive side is the side whose responsibility is to stop the offensive side from scoring.   With each day that my daughter is getting older and I’m anticipating on handing her the ball of acceptable behavior, it makes me wonder, has the game changed?  Is it no longer enough to teach your child the right way to go?

It’s like driving.  When I was being taught how to drive I was being encouraged to be “an defensive driver.”  It wasn’t enough that I knew what I had to do behind the wheel, but I had to be prepared to deal with people who didn’t know what they were doing.  The person who was on the phone and who took their eyes off the road and started to swerve.  The driver who thinks they can beat the light while I’m going through it, or the drunk driver who didn’t realize how tipsy he was until he got behind the wheel.  Being a defensive driver is about being alert at all costs to avoid a catastrophe.

Is this what parenting is coming to now?  No longer allowing our children to be blissfully ignorant and teaching them as they get older of the dangers that can happen between them and their peers?  But letting them know that with their first steps there might be someone willing to hurt you, fight you or kill you for just being you?  Not just teaching your children what to do, but having to teach them the contingency plans on how to interact with other children whose parents are encouraging them to do the wrong things in life;  and the poor children who are just trying to gain their parents’ approval by blindly following because they don’t know any better.

During the game of life, you want your child to win; but I realize that I need to reveal to her the possibilities of people trying to intercept her from going the right path.  I know that not all children are bad apples, but for the ones who are, I pray that I what I teach my daughter is enough for her to learn how to avoid a fumble in life.

Kendra Koger is not sure if she used any of these football terms right.  Let her know on her twitter @kkoger.

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Trend or Truth? The Realities of Transracial Adoption

May 18th, 2012 - By madamenoire
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By Rachel Garlinghouse

I’m an adoptive parent.  I’m white.  My two daughters, ages three and one, are both black.   It’s glaringly obvious that my kids and I don’t “match” and that they are adopted.

We have been asked a slew of questions.   “Are you girls REAL sisters?”   “Did you hear that Katherine Heigl adopted another baby?”  “Are your kids full or mixed?”  “Why didn’t their birth parents keep them?”   “Why couldn’t you have your own kids?”
One question that I found incredibly interesting, and one that the media is asking more than ever is, “Why didn’t you adopt one of your own kind?”   (Yes, this is exactly how the question was asked.)   It has been implied that there are plenty of white babies who need good homes, so why would we, as whites, pluck a black child out of the mix of available kids?  (This is actually not true.  Many adoption agencies have a tremendous need for families to be open to adopting black children, including sibling groups and kids with special needs, as many white parents only want to adopt healthy white infants.)

The media and the public are asking these questions of transracial adoptive parents:  Are you trying to capitalize on some sort of trend?    Why are you stealing a black baby away from her racial culture?  Are you trying to make your child white?   How in the world can a white family raise a black child properly?

The increase in media attention on celebrity adoptive parents, particularly transracial adoptive celebrity families like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Charlize Theron, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, and Katherine Heigl, has brought transracial adoption to the forefront of pop culture.    I have read, much to my dismay, article after article that begins by prompting the public to question the integrity and intent of such parents.

I have to admit, I don’t necessarily blame people for their assumptions and skepticism regarding transracial adoption, particularly white parents who are raising black kids.   Whites have a long history of treating blacks and other races in degrading, dehumanizing manners.   There is a seemingly natural and underlying distrust between whites and all other races.  Despite people claiming to be “colorblind” and spouting that “the world is a melting pot” which is magically full of harmony and unity, I know otherwise.

You might question if parents are adopting minority children because it’s the trendy thing to do.   Here are some truths, from my experience, regarding transracial adoption:

1.  Transracial adoptive families are double-minorities, facing endless discrimination.

Until we adopted our first daughter, I was, unknowingly, enjoying white Privilege.  No one ever looked twice at me in a shopping mall or restaurant, no one questioned my motives, no one asked how authentic my family was, if we were a “real” family or not.
But when my husband and I brought our first daughter home, we were quickly inducted into the life of a minority.   We have been asked by an airline to provide our youngest child’s birth certificate to prove that she is actually our daughter prior to us boarding a plane. When we went to obtain a social security card for her, the attendant gave us several glares, making it clear she didn’t approve of our transracial adoption.  She then asked, quite judgmentally, a question that had nothing to do with the application for the social security card:   “Do they [our daughters] have the same parents?” I’ve been asked about the girls’ “real” mom, as if I am the fake mom.    A cashier at a local store asked why the hell my girls’ birth parents would “give them away” because after all, the girls were “so pretty.”    My family deals with, on a daily basis, discrimination related to adoption and race.

2.  Transracial adoption is a path to parenthood.

Individuals and couples adopt because they want to be parents.  Maybe they couldn’t have biological kids, couldn’t have more biological kids, had always wanted to adopt, didn’t want to wait for a partner to have children, or chose to adopt to avoid passing a genetic condition on to any biological children.  The reasons are many.

When I was twenty-four years old, I was diagnosed with an incurable disease:  type I diabetes.   I am dependent on insulin for life; without it, I will die.    Type I diabetes can be accompanied by a slew of dangerous side effects, all of which can impact the life of the diabetic’s unborn baby.    My husband and I chose not to have biological children because we felt the risks outweighed the benefits.     So we filled out paperwork to adopt, marked “open to a child of any race,” and waited.  We were chosen, twice, to adopt black children.    Without adoption, we wouldn’t be parents.   We wanted to be parents.  So we adopted.  It’s really that simple.

Stereotypes of Black Men That Aren’t Always True

October 4th, 2011 - By nativenotes
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The funny thing about stereotypes is that there’s a little truth in every ‘I’m just kidding.’ Meaning, we laugh at stereotypes because at the root of them there’s normally a little more truth than we like to admit. For instance, the stereotype that black people love chicken makes us laugh because deep down we know chicken is one of the first things to disappear at the family BBQ. But then there are some stereotypes that are a little overused and while true for some, these stereotypes don’t represent the majority in any way.

Here are a few that I just can’t wrap my head around:

Marriage: Forever or Four Years?

April 20th, 2011 - By madamenoire
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Hello Beautiful writer, Lauren Minogue was attending a basketball game a few weeks ago when a scene straight out of a romantic comedy started to play out in front of her eyes.

A man was proposing to his girlfriend.

Minogue immediately put herself in the woman’s shoes, realizing she would have to say yes at that time, whether she meant it or not, to save both she and her boyfriend from humiliation. She shared her thoughts with her friend and this was her response: “It’s no big deal, you can always just get divorced in a few years if you need to.”

Oh! Okay…

Read the rest of Minogue’s thoughts on marriage, divorce and how our attitudes toward lifelong commitment have changed at Hello Beautiful.

White Women Do It, Too: 8 Things Black Women Can’t Get Away With

April 16th, 2011 - By L. Nicole Williams
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It seems like every week there is a new study about black women ranking number one in something perceived negatively—abortions, births out of wedlock, multiple baby fathers. And, among the popular defenses is that black women are not alone in these statistics. “White women do it, too” is one of the most common excuses.

Black, white, yellow, brown—we are all one in the same in that we come from the same species; but, it would be silly not to acknowledge that we do come from varying creeds. We are culturally and genetically bred differently; and, society has been conditioned to see black and white women in conflicting regards. Thus, we are impacted differently by similar actions.

Here are common things white women do, too, that we just can’t get away with:

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