Friday, January 14, 2011

OMG! A Lesson Learned from Steve Harvey

I am not a Steve Harvey fan. I didn't watch The Steve Harvey television show when it was on, I didn't listen to him when he was on the radio the first time around, and I turn my radio station away from The Steve Harvey Morning Show. When I saw the Kings of Comedy, I chuckled a time or two, but the gut busting laughter came from Bernie Mac's comedy routine. He just doesn't do it for me, and truth be told, he sometimes irritates me which is why I tune him out.

I know people that love his show and swear by his advice; I am not one of them. Somebody sent me a copy of his book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man via email and I perused it not because I thought I needed dating advice, but because everyone else was talking about it and I wanted to know what was the big deal?

What I know is that celebrities have become brands, and they can put their name on almost anything and it will sell. People love Steve Harvey, but his books don't say anything that hasn't already been said, but people will accept it better coming from him. And I am not hating on a brother for striking while the fire is hot. His first book did so well that he has now written a sequel, Straight No Chaser. He's been on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Ellen and Good Morning America--not bad for a man who's been married three times.

So, after I finished rolling my eyes and sucking my teeth about the phenomenon that is Steve Harvey, I sat back and thought that there is something for me to learn. In the world of celebrities at 53 his star is on the rise when others are fading. That's an amazing feat for someone in the public eye. We mostly like those that we think are young and fresh. We are also fickled because we can love someone in one moment and hate them in the next watching many shining stars crash and burn.

So, while I may not be a Steve Harvey fan, I have respect and admiration for a man that can push himself to achieve his wildest dreams and beyond. Havey has two books under his belt, both written in his 50s. He's the host of Family Feud and he's gives monthly relationship advice in Essence magazine.

I have always wanted to write a book, but I let other things get in my way, and sometimes I feel like my 40s is too old to be trying to write a book. But I look at Steve Harvey and think, I can write book, too.

So,I have to admit that lessons can come from the unlikeliest sources, and when I've learned what I need to learn I should be grateful. So, thank you Mr. Harvey.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Elephant in the Room

I know people who look at the world through a colorless prism; I am not one of them. Good or bad I’m honest enough to admit race looms large in the world and in my life. In this new millennium where hip-hop reigns and multiculturalism is King, people will have you believe race no longer matters: we are a nation plagued by classism not racism. But in America race and class are the Siamese twins of the lower socioeconomic class of whom a large percentage are African American.

Race is the heavy coat I slip on through all four seasons. Sometimes it’s warm and comforting: being able to witness Barack Obama become the first African-American President of the United States and see a Black first family inhabit the White House which was built by African-American slave labor.

Other times, it’s hot and stifling: Why do we need to have one Black mayoral candidate running in Chicago. What if I don’t want to vote for him or her? Is the Reverend Jesse Jackson going to revoke my Black card? I’m tired of someone else telling me what I need to do for me.

Being Black doesn’t make me an expert on Blackness anymore than being a woman makes me understand everything about being female. They’re both critical aspects of who I am and they do shape the way I view the world, but there’s more to me than race and gender. I don’t owe the world an explanation as to who I am and what I believe in, and I’m never going to apologize for the person that I am.

Some days I am obsessed with race, and I used to feel guilty, but since the Presidential election I found that I am not alone. At least I’m honest about mine, and don’t try to couch it in politically correct language.

Most days race matters, even with an African-American sitting in the Oval Office, but sometimes it doesn’t. When I’m engaged in a good book or film which makes me empathetic to a universal tragedy. I’ve tried to ignore the proverbial elephant in the room, but it’s still there. So, the question is, is that a bad thing? Is race in the room the same thing as racism being in the room? My Blackness shouldn’t take away from my humanness should it?