Sunday, December 28, 2008

Black Uplift?

I was having a conversation with a friend about the latest profiled criminal attempt against a black women

in which a black man is the main suspect. She made a comment that in essence boiled down to, 'Black women should never have to be victims of black men.' Another friend was in earshot and responded, 'Well there are evil men in all races, white men kill white women all the time, so why make this a race issue?' The first friend tried to explain her view in more detail, but was having a bit of difficulty. Somehow the 'this shouldnt be a race issue because every race has its bad elements' angle seemed much more reasonable and rational.

I however knew what the first black woman was getting at but with much difficulty. Within the complex belief system upon which the concept of 'black uplift' (or black unity/black advancement/black empowernment) as black people understand it, is founded, black men do not have the option of victimising black women. I knew she was trying to put in words the view that within the black uplift context, black men cannot be harming black women even if all other groups of men saw nothing to cutting down women of their own race. She was experincing a tension with the idea that black men could do like every other man, and be allowed the same choices and attitudes towards black women given what black folk where trying to build/achieve.

In the same way when black women see and experince black men's mate selection based on very superficial even anti-black criteria they experince this tension, knowing that these are not the choices that black men commited and participating in the 'uplift' push should be making, and that they are transgressing the very fundamental articles of the black advancement belief system. Many black women cannot express the tension they feel in as many words but this is the essence.

Black women recognise that under the the belief system of 'community uplift' black women have a more critical role to play than what they are beeing selected for. This is why many black women become alarmed that black men are increasingly and overwhelmingly making their companion choices based on criteria that are more suited to other groups of men who do not have a job of 'community building' on their hands. Indeed it is for white men of choose their women according to hair grade or colour and waist measurement and whatever other trend takes their fansy. For black men however who should be connecting with the grand notion of 'black uplift' in their choices of mate, it all seems out of place to be preoccupied with hair grade and complexion, when they should be focussed on qualities that would fascilitate the black empowernment agenda eg college education for family wealth building.

I have said that the grand evidence of the fact that black men have essentially disconnected with the 'black uplift' agenda, is to be found in the criteria and specifications they have for their women. Indeed when black men can put together such self-focused books as the below

in which you scan from one end of the book to the other to find something, anything that would show some kind of link to and concern for the higher agenda of black empowernment(as opposed to the self centred 'cater to me the black man'), you will begin to recognise that sadly black women are running with a illusion that they are in partnership with black men on this 'community uplift' journey.

Oh dear, you have black women who are fashioning themselves and focussing on qualitites that connect to the black uplift agenda and on the other hand black men are selecting women for reasons that have very little to do with this grand plan, a fundamental mis match if there ever was one.

So in terms of the discussion I was having with the two black women, there is a 'black uplift' context within which issues can be considered and there is the more general often seemingly more sensible reading of the issue like, 'There are bad men in every race'. Indeed sometimes the logic/sense of concepts within black uplift philosophy sound entirely bizzare and can loose out in general debates(think about how black women often end up looking foolish when they come out on TV to insist that black men should marry only black women as opposed to 'love knows no color'). As a black woman who is aware of the context of black uplift, I understand where they are coming from (I might have other ideas but I still understand their point), but I can see how ridiculous they are looking to mainstream audiences (with their lack of awareness, understanding or indeed endorsement of such an ideology) particularly when the black man in question doesnt appear to be in support or favour of this 'black uplift', perspective.

What happens when a large/significant portion of black men disconnect from the fundamentals of the black uplift doctrine? Well the philosophy of 'accomodation' kicks in. This seeks to justify the activities of black men whatever they may be or to put it in another way, seek to not be critical of whatever choices black men make. This requires, as in the case of the third woman, flitting back to a general context for viewing the issue as opposed to the black uplift context. When I see back women shifting their frameworks in this way it often points to the fact that they have sensed a need to 'protect' black men, who might have come under some form of criticism for their activites and actions these being in direct opposition to the community uplift agenda.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Understanding 'Flirting' a little bit more

Merry Xmas, Happy Holidays and Prosperous New Year!

Enjoy Chris Rea singing one of my favourite Xmas Songs!

Make this new year the year you will get into the game and play to win. The word 'Game' has been corrupted to mean all sorts of negative things, particularly in the black community, but I want to go back to the real meaning. Therefore I will say 'Get into the game (chess), because life is a game, and get in to win'. Outplay those who have or who are deemed to have the advantage. Yes you can. Obama proved it in a huge way so there are no more excuses.

When you strip it down to its bare bones, he got his basic strategy and then waited for the right opportunity point to launch into the game, and it came; the disillusioned electorate in need of change were willing to take a chance on him. What if he had focussed on the reasons that he couldnt make POTUS (because he even admitted he didnt believe he could) and didnt throw his hat into the ring? Trust me sometimes its a mere wish and a dream that sets you off on a journey, and the only emotion in your gut is fear, but as days become weeks and then months, you will find the little wispy thought taking more shape and becoming more defined in terms of what it is and how it will come to pass. And as with Obama sometimes your basic strategy evolves and reshapes as you gather speed and as you find allies and rescources and understand really what you should be doing with the dream.

Many of you know how to play skip rope. You know that you have to watch for the right string arc to jump in or you will end up with the skipping rope coiled around you. This the way black women (who often feel the cards are stacked against them), need to watch for the point to get into the game.

Imagine the intense concentration on the faces of young black girls trying to detect the right moment to jump in. Thats how you must watch for the right time. There will always be a lull in the proceedings, a change of guard, discontentment in the ranks, boredom with the status quo and a need for new blood etc etc. All these are opportunitites for black women who have erstwhile been excluded to get in to the game, be it as a writer in Hollywood, an actress, a strong contender on the dating scene PROVIDED THEY ARE WATCHING. Quite often when you are moaning and complaining, you are not watching for these opportunities and have already adopted the 'count me out' mindset without even knowing it. When people whine about how things are against them they are often turned away mentally from the game to see when an opportunity presents itself.

Yes life is not fair. Whine if you must but watch. Whine and Watch, your chance will come. And when you are in there you can change the unfair rules!

Enjoy a Good Game

As a kid I always feared loosing so I often never played the family games; snakes and ladders, monopoly etc etc. I am the last child so you can imagine what I had to endure playing with siblings whose experince and broader knowlegde meant I continued to be well and truly trounced till a couple of years ago. I dont know what it was about my siblings but they never just let me win as the last child. I became very thin skinned as a result, sulking and whining about how unfair it all was and the worst part was I wasnt sophisticated enough at that age, to understand how they were winning or that I should just hold my nerve.

But you need to enjoy a good game, to nod at a good move, and bow japanese style to an effective opponent. When you are able to do this, you will put yourself in a place to learn their tricks and skills and to even surpase them in time. If you cannot stand aknowledging their good game (ie dwelling on your loss) then how will you learn their moves?

Teaching Time: Why do we 'flirt'? (If you are sensitive or under 12's please do not read below this point!)

Essentially we flirt to let others know we are available.

I used to think that with animals, the presence of any male and female in a place meant mating could then commence! How silly. Animals send out their own signals to notify of their availability. Usually by the time you see a say 'pigeon' following closely after another (excuse me for being a bit...), we humans are simply observing the tail end (pun intended), of an elaborate mating process that has lead to them seperating in this way.

If there is anything that I can tell the modern woman about the modern man (of every race and creed), is that men are very very afraid of a knock back from a woman. Modern man is a far far cry from cave men who were purpoted to have dragged women off by their hair (I dont believe a word of it). There is something about modern society that has undercut the modern man's ability to be 'manly' and stake his claim without fear and all that and if you think it is bad now, spare a thought for our daughters and those who will be born in a decade from now!

Now you can moan about it or as a wise woman find a way around this modern day situation (remember first you observe the situation, understand it then plan a strategy).

So lets rephrase the issue of flirting in a helpful way for the modern woman: 'The modern woman flirts to tell a man she will not knock him back but would welcome his approach'.

I used to think that men approached women showing flesh and all that because men are attracted to the notion of 'quick sex'. But it is more layered than that. A woman who is dressed in such a manner is essentially stating she is open to the approach of men (this is how men read it). This subtle meaning can get swallowed up in the quick assumption that she is revealing her readiness for sex.

Another thing: 6 inch killer heels.

I am not exactly a short woman. I used to believe that men would be turned off a woman in heels because she might end up 'taller'. Anyway I saw these shoes in the sales and thought 'I think I can afford a few of such, besides it is cheap'. These shoes were weird because they were very comfortable to wear (as heels go), but if you watched me tottering down the road in them you wouldnt think so!

So anyway here is this 'almost six feet' woman clumping down the road and I had men stop to offer me directions I never asked for hmmmm... Apparently I am more approachable in 'six inchers' even to men I had to look down on from a great height. Why? Body language experts etc will talk about how heels accentuate the bottom and calf and maybe how women become more confident etc but again it is a little more layered.

Women in heels particularly ridiculously high ones are advertising their vulnerability in a very obvious way. Think about it. In those heels you can easily topple over (a push over), you cant get away fast for sure. This is totally opposed to what a man needs to be; feet firmly placed on the ground and ready to stand his ground or run even. Heels market to men how totally different a woman is from a man's stance, how vulnerable and precariously perched she is. In a world were men are in increasing competition with women, heels can send a totally non threatening and thus more inviting message about a woman's stance. Women who in manner, appearance and activity show they could never be mistaken for men (or a man could never have those choices), women who in expression of their gender are not ambiguous or unisex often have an edge on the dating scene. I think a man's mental processing of the situation would be, 'This is exactly what a man cannot be and thus this is a woman'. 'I like that'.

I used to wonder why men chased after women with big breasts (I mean why would anyone be interested in oversized breasts when moderate ones are in my view, much more manageable lol!). I believe we are dealing with the same sentiment; big breasts advertise that you are immobilised, and kept in one place! The vulnerability in that is attractive to men!

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Send your questions to (I will try my best to give a reply/answer)