Sunday, December 26, 2010

Seating Arrangements

As we move through the remainder of the holiday season, many of us look back at the year for lessons learned and plan for the year ahead. What do we need to do to make the new year better than the current one? As we reflect, now is a good time to think about the seating arrangement in this stage of our lives.

Is it time to rearrange some seats in our life? Are there people front and center who might need to be moved a few rows back? Are there people on the main floor who need to take their place in the balcony? Are there people on the sides who need move up and in a few rows? Do you need a few fold able chairs for the people who come and go? Who needs to be in the nosebleed seats? Who doesn't deserve a seat at all? Are you still reserving seats for people who fail to show up?

The seating arrangements in our lives will change; very few chairs (if any) should be permanently assigned because we need to assign seats as needed in order to evolve into the people we are meant to be.

What seats need to be changed in your life?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Just say Ho. . .I mean No!

A ho is still a ho even in designer clothes is what I wanted to tell my girls this week when we were talking, and I did, in a roundabout sort of way but I dropped the ball in my efforts to engage them in a real conversation about how the adults in their lives fail them; how we tell them to do as we say but not as we do; how we don’t sit down and talk to them about what’s really going on in the world and arm them with knowledge to make better decisions.

I have listened to the girls being lectured and just verbally beat down about some of their promiscuous behavior. It seems that some of the students are sexing each other regularly and they are only in 7th and 8th grade. We have two boys (one in each grade) that are fathers, and just recently it was discovered that there was a plan in place to train some girls after school, and the girls voluntarily signed up for the ride; they had the condoms. Should they be commended for at least considering safer sex practices or condemned for just “being nasty”? (The latter of which they’ve been told countless times)

What do I say when the world tells them otherwise. A cover story of one of the magazines said Kim Kardashian is dating Halle Berry’s baby daddy, and everyone knows that Kim’s trajectory to fame came about as a result of a “leaked” sex tape with Ray J and now she’s being pushed in the public’s face as some sort of celebrity socialite. Chelsea Handler, who called Angelina Jolie a home wrecker, wrote a book on sexual exploits, My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands. The list goes on. Look at the John Edwards mess. But it doesn’t stop with wanna-be celebrities, I heard stories on the radio about a youth minister whose social networking moniker was Big Daddy or something twisted like that, and a man who asked his daughter to show him how to use some of the features on his phone and while trying to send a picture of his penis to the woman he was cheating on his wife with, he mistakenly sent the picture to his daughter. Let’s not forget about Bishop Long’s predatory practice of targeting and luring vulnerable young men into his bed. Bristol Palin has a baby and ends up on Dancing with the Stars and we wonder why are children are wilding out?

These young people live and breathe sex and we allow it because the needle on our adult moral compass is awry. How can I tell them to do the “right thing” and refrain from sex when far too many of us are leading by poor example? We do everything under the sun and share our exploits with the world via call-ins to the radio stations, Face book status, tweets or just talking on the cell phone for everyone to hear. We are in a sexual free fall.

Growing up, there was a line between adulthood and childhood and the teen years were the time to try and cross that line, but we had to sneak. Over the years I have watched that line retreat and finally disappear, and now our children are thrust into an adult world that they’re not equipped to handle. So, in the midst of a societal sexual orgy, we want children to just say no, and we wonder what’s wrong with them?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hurt People, Hurt People

My plan was to write a different blog post today, but a trip to the barber shop changed all that. The shop is on 110th and Longwood near the site of yesterday’s triple homicide of a mother and her two daughters. I am in this place again, trying to make sense out of the senseless.
Jade Hannah, 17, her 11 year-old sister and her mother were brutally stabbed to death by Jade’s 18 year-old boyfriend, Denzel Pittman. A young man in the shop who was in Jade’s senior division was saying that Pittman was the kind of guy who felt that if he couldn’t have her, nobody could.
The conversation swirled around how he could do something like that. Was it rage? Was he crazy? Was he trying not to leave any witnesses? “That’s something white people do,” one of the barbers remarked. I shook my head because it brought back a flood of memories of how many times I’ve heard the same sentiment spoken among people in the black community. We had a perverse pride in believing that the crazy stuff: kidnapping, killing the whole family, shooting sprees was “stuff that white people did.” It seemed like we got blamed for so many things that we took solace in saying there were some things that not even we would do.
We can’t say that anymore. But more than that, race aside, what these growing number of incidents show is that there a great deal of pain and mental anguish going untreated in our communities. According to an African-American Community Mental Health Fact Sheet available on African-Americans in the United States are less likely to receive diagnoses and treatment for their mental illnesses than Caucasian Americans. Here are some of the facts:
 African Americans tend to rely on family, religious and social communities for emotional support, rather than turning to health care professions. . .
 Mental illness is frequently stigmatized and misunderstood in the African American community
 African Americans are often at a socioeconomic disadvantage in terms of accessing both medical and mental health
 Across a recent 15 year span, suicide rates increase 233% among African Americans aged 10 to 14. . .
 People experiencing homelessness are at greater risk for developing mental illness. African Americans comprise 40% of the homeless population
 Children in foster care and the child welfare system are more likely to develop mental illness. African American children comprise 45% of the public foster care population

First, we have to acknowledge that given our horrific history in this country, we are probably suffering disproportionately from mental illness. Secondly, we have to move beyond the stigma of persons with mental illness as “crazy” and seek the help that we need. While I recognize that in spite of our history, we are a resilient people, the truth is that we did not come through unscathed. Many of us are hurting, and we need to take the necessary steps toward healing.