Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Unhealthy Relationships: Black Women & their Sons

Last evening I was in a conversation and someone I really care about made a profound point to me. She made a brief observation regarding the treatment Black women give to their son(s) when the father of her son(s) is no longer in their lives and how the circumstance affects the treatment the mother gives to her daughters, if she has any. The father of the son(s) is usually alive but has no interest in being with the mother and shows very little interest, if any in being actively involved with the child(ren). The father comes around when he needs something and knows he can easily manipulate the mother into giving him what he desires and once he receives what he wants, he's out of the door again. He's playing with the mother's feelings with respect to her wanting to have some kind of meaningful relationship with him. Once the father takes off the focus moves to the son(s). The mother does not want another man to leave her so the son is accepted to take the father's place and no matter what the son does, he will never be the outcast. He can smoke weed and do other drugs, not look for work, do a poor job in school(if he attends), be arrested numerous times, bring home tons of babies, and the mother will accept him more often than not. The "boys will be boys" attitude will take hold and all sorts of apologetics and acrobatics will be used to excuse his behavior/actions.

The daughter(s) are treated by the mother as though they are in competition with her. The mother will find the daughter(s) just to start shit with them about petty nonsense. The mother will not come to the aid of the daughter(s) no matter the circumstance and if the daughter(s) are trying to make something of themselves, the mother takes those acts as personal slights against her and will resort to inactivity, among other things, to make her daughter(s) quest to be as miserable as possible. If the daughter(s) end up pregnant and she's not financially ready(other relevant factors too) to carry the pregnancy to term and the mother finds out, she will not let her forget it. If the daughter(s) have an abortion, it must be done in secret while the son(s) can openly not provide for the child(ren) he helps make. The mother will do everything she can to help him take care of his responsibilities but the daughter(s), no matter what she decides to do with the pregnancy is on her own.

I see this kind of shit in my own family. My father, uncles, cousins are nothing but seed planters. Their interest is only to make babies and not be fathers. They have taken on the roles of their manipulative fathers and extort money, food, cars, etc from their own mother's and the mothers of their children. The daughters in my family and my own younger sisters are continuously bashed and berated by their own mother's, especially if the daughter has one indiscretion. It does not matter if the daughter graduated from college, obtained a solid career, or has her own shit, the mother will always be right there to remind her of the time she fucked up. The son is talked about as if he is the only child that matters despite his actions. My own father, convicted felon & murderer(he denies this but I examined the evidenbe and he's guilty but has the majority of the family convinced he was railroaded. He simply was not.) and the presentation of his actions to me by all of the women in the family, especially his mother. Around age 15 they decided to tell me the "truth". He was presented as this tragic figure who loved his family and would do anything for us. This man, who was on the FBI's most wanted list in the late 1980's broke free from custody(details are very sketchy as to how he got away) went on the run with my mother, myself(age 4) and my 2 sisters(ages 3 and 1). His mother put her career and her life in jeopardy to hide us. She was charged with obstruction of justice. She liquidated her assets out of guilt and shame for her son and she even devised a plan to get all of us out of the country. His actions were paraded around as loving. How the hell is that love? He put all of us in danger but that was overlooked because he "loved" all of us and would do anything for us. The one thing he did not do(and he had enablers) was not be a man and take care of his responsibilities. My father's grandmother blames his mother for his predicament and his mother accepted the blame such that my father can easily gouge her for money.

Black folk don't want to talk about the mistreatment of daughters at the hand of their own mother. Black folk don't want to tell the truth and say a lot of Black men are sorry as hell and do not take responsibility for their actions and there are tons of enablers. Black folk don't want to talk about the mother's who are so afraid of being lonely and they have children that they bring any kind of man they can find around their kids. The man is usually some sorry ass excuse of a human being and is only using the woman as a temporary fix to his current problem. The man mistreats the kids(in some cases killing the kids), smokes around them, improperly nourishes them(if at all), sexually abuses the kids and sometimes the mother knows of the abuse and chooses not to do anything about it because the man will be punished and she will be lonely all over again. We're too busy thinking God is going to handle it and everything will be all right. We're too busy thinking that simply because someone is a parent that they automatically and necessarily deserve respect and is above reproach. We're too busy thinking that we must forgive and allow those people who do considerable harm to remain in our lives because those are the only family we will ever have. Actions matter and a simple biological connection does not mean there should be some kind of blind allegiance.

Some Black women do not recognize the enormous power they have when it comes to picking the father of their child(ren), if they want kids. If you know the dude has no job, no means of support, has kids already but has to have the courts garnish his wages, why the fuck would you want to pro-create with him? He held you around your waist and told you that he wanted you to have his baby? Notice he didn't say I want to be a father and start a family with you. He intends to use you as an incubator and I don't give a damn how much he claims to love you as his Black queen.

If the behavior/actions described above happens in other communities, then it happens. In no way do I want to suggest this kind of thing is exclusive. Nor is this any kind of indictment against those Black folk who take care of what they do, when they do it, at the time they do it. A lot of Black folks behavior needs to change for the better. Repeating the same destructive cycles and accepting the same kind of reckless actions helps no one. Trying to blame everybody else except the person(s) we see looking back at us when we are in front of the mirror does not help us either. Making excuses, having fucked up priorities, and being hostile to personal responsibility is not a good way to handle problems. Simply knowing better does not get the job done well. Plenty of Black folk know better but they have no desire to do better. Being quiet about what I described is no longer acceptable.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cynicism, Apathy, Solipsism and Fear Mongering

I tend to get upset when I see or hear bullshit. I don't like seeing perfectly able bodied people with good minds devolve into inactivity. The following is a rant aimed at conspiracy theorists and disappointed idealists.

Attempts to normalize apathy based on specific events is very troubling to me. Playing on peoples fears, whether those fears are justified or not, end up exacerbating those fears and spreading the apathy and the cynicism. There's an overriding delusion which surfaces wherein the apathy, cynicism/paranoia, solipsism and fear mongering is seen as some higher and more useful form of skepticism. They are totally anti-structure at the core and promote fanciful delusions and believe they are "unplugged from the system". It's the Matrix and they have become detached and the rest of us are sheep. Every structure is inherently evil and will  always be that way despite change and they are not willing to change it. Instead they call for a new system whereby the utopia they want to exist will magically cure all ailments and we all will hold hands and sing kumbaya. The yearning for the utopia prevents any meaningful action toward solving the real problems people face. There is some kind of virtue in being anti-establishment, and anti-government/structure and proposing ill-thought out solutions. This Black suburban(every Black surburban is full of government agents who are coming to kill you or at least detain you) phenomena wherein the paranoia is couched in the self centered delusion that someone is "out to get you" feeds stagnation and the fear-mongering. In order to normalize their outcast mentality, they create a tent large enough so they can convince others to accept their paranoia.

They do not vote and they believe it to be a useless exercise or they throw away their vote on a candidate consumed by his own personality and end up receiving a person who is staunchly against what the voter actually wants. Then they complain about the system being broken when they do not participate or participate in such a way that their interests are stymied. There's this love affair with "principle" instead of promoting a solid and good solution. They fail to understand that any kind of change for the better takes time and a concerted effort. Change takes time and some of them accept "change over time" in biological evolution but reject it in other places. Rather than roll up their sleeves and do some work which may benefit a lot of people in the long run, they cling to the desire of immediate benefits and if that desire is not met, they sit on their hands. When they do not get what they want when they demand it, they call for the destruction of other things/policies. They over-represent actual events within government activity and the justice system to make other unsubstantiated claims which can halt the movement of others. They believe the government is comprised of 4-5 people who sit in a dark room with flashlights up to their chin and those people control everything. The weather, plate tectonics, the economy, etc. Those 4-5 people do not eat nor do they sleep because they are always plotting and always looking for ways to "divide us". Every system is automatically corrupt from its inception, no change for the better ever occurs, and the only way to get to the promised land is to pitch anarchy/revolution Society is always at the brink of THE impending doom which will fix everything but do not expect those pushing the fear mongering to be anywhere in sight if anything goes down. They will be in their bomb shelter with the door locked, making a Youtube video to document how they survived, told everyone that it would happen, and will be ready to lead the survivors into a brave new world.

Sounds like fictional characters, right? I wish that were the case but I run into that type of thinking all of the time. It's not just among college grads in their mid-20's who still believe the world to be black/white in terms of coming up with solutions. There are older adults who believe and promote the preceding thoughts.
Some are taken in to those positions due to charismatic personalities. Others are attracted to the vanity of the message without looking at it's implications and how it affects the people in which the message or legislation applies. They cling to unrealistic notions of freedom(i.e. doing whatever they want no matter how it affects others) and that any kind of regulation, law or structure is an abomination. 

When has pushing cynicism ever helped women gain access to safe and affordable health care? When has being completely apathetic about the political process ever brought about substantive change for many people? When has hyping up actual events provided any evidence for unwarranted paranoid claims? 

It's one thing to be skeptical but don't confuse apathy with being skeptical. A lot of it is simply an excuse to be lazy and indifferent which helps no one, including the person pushing it. It is not a pathway to knowledge, skeptical inquiry, and solid/good solutions but it is a damn good road map to inactivity, disappointed idealism, ignorance, and bad solutions. 

As an Atheist, here's what I believe.

I don't believe in any gods. Yea yea, you know that already. Here's a list of some things I "believe" and accept. I know that word[believe/belief] causes some to shutter given how some theists use it to bludgeon others over the head, but that is not my concern here.

1. I believe in myself.
2. I believe in others and their capacity to do good things.
3. I accept evolution, not just in a scientific sense, but also in terms of the political process. Change takes time. It is very easy to become disillusioned if you think you ought to get everything you want when you demand it.
4. Unconditional love is desired but it is fiction. Even claiming to want someone to love you 'unconditionally' denotes a condition.
5. Certain kinds of disagreements among allies and friends, especially in terms of how they happen and how they are expressed with words can destroy relationships. Not just with people you hang out with in person but online too. It's hardly ever "just [insert whatever social network here]".
6. Take care of your own children and do not expect the government to help you do that.
7. The Atlanta Falcons suck.
8. Texas is not a horrible state. There are many good people, institutions and innovations which come from that state so the hyperbole exhibited by some is not helpful. Over-representing bad policy makers with kooky ideas is not a reason to make negative assessments about the inhabitants of the state.
9. Churches ought to be taxed. If you want to be involved in the political process pay up like the rest of us.
10. Cynicism and solipsism are debilitating. Both cause reasonable minds and able bodies to become stagnant.
11. There will never be a utopia unless you want to write fiction.
12. Targeting religion only will not solve social ills. There are plenty of non-theists who promote misogyny, homophobia, colorblindness, and racism. Saying religion is the cause is giving it credit it does not deserve.
13. Being an atheist is not some kind of magic pill with regards to thinking and skeptical inquiry. It's one position that is part of who I am. Nothing more, nothing less.
14. You own everything you do. Take responsibility for what you do.
15. I have no problem with the proper adjudication of 'stand your ground' laws, 'castle doctrines' or 'make my day laws'. If I catch you in my home, which poses danger to me and the people living here, it is not my responsibility to ask you questions and I will shoot you. Improper enforcement does not mean the policy is bad. People who go looking for trouble or cause the trouble does not mean the laws are bad either.
16. Women can make their own medical decisions regarding their bodies and do not need to explain themselves to me or anyone else.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Creflo Dollar made a MISTAKE??? Man PLEASE!!

Creflo Dollar is a megachurch pastor here in Atlanta. He has ministries and offers to provide services around the country and throughout the world. His church, World Changers, boasts about it's large membership and claims to help people. I happen to believe Creflo Dollar is a pimp name and he would have been better off as Bernie Mack's role in the movie, The Players Club. The pastor is in the news today for a domestic violence charge. His teenage daughter called the cops and reported that her father, Creflo Dollar choked her and left a scratch on her neck. The incident happened sometime late Thursday evening and the pastor was booked early Friday morning. He has since posted bond(amount was 5k), he tweeted about being "redeemed" and has since deleted his Twitter account(@CrefloDollar). Fuck me for not taking screen shots. What I'm not surprised about is the apologetics which rolled out in favor of Dollar. 

Some of Dollar's church members(at least that's what they claim to be), as well as other ministers and church goers have coughed up the pathetic excuse of "we are not all perfect and we make mistakes". Some others have chided criticism of Dollar's actions with saying some of us need to mind our own damn business and deal with what's going on in our household/lives. Others have claimed the teenage girl is completely at fault and deserved to be choked(blaming the victim) and that Creflo was correct in his actions. All crazy positions in my opinion but the first one is of particular interest to me. The first excuse attempts to conflate all actions(negative) as mistakes which removes any sense of DEGREE or difference. Surely, I and others have faults but that should not be used to condone or make excuses for an incident in which I or anyone else, choke my child or kill another person(Dollar is not charged with that, it's just an example). The excuse serves as a shield to protect him and those who use the excuse from criticism. Another curious line of defense is "you don't know Creflo". I never claimed I did and I don't have to know him or be there to assess his actions. It's the whole "speck in eye" rhetoric and "you cannot judge" nonsense, both of which are ludicrous. The "pastor" label is very powerful and it's interesting yet disheartening to see the contortion styles of many people as they try to defend Dollar. 

Of course Creflo and his supporters do not represent all Christians. I'm sure at least some of them find his actions deplorable and will never make excuses for him or anybody else. What concerns me is I think if Creflo Dollar or anyone of his religious stature had done something worse, such as continuously choke or beat his child, a lot of Christians would not have a problem with that specific behavior. Many would say "it's his child and he chooses the best way to discipline and in the end Jesus has his back regardless". They'd cite the same excuses and be blinded by the pastor title. How will his church handle the situation? What will his members keep saying? Creflo Dollar is on the public record offering a defense for another megachurch pastor, Eddie L. Long(Atlanta based too), when Long was accused of improper acts with several young men, which Long said he would fight, but ultimately provided a settlement to the parties involved. Creflo Dollar said Eddie Long had a wreck and publicly denounced people that left Long's church and said they should not be in his(Dollar) church if they left Long's church because of the allegations against him(you can see that here 

Some people need to get over this notion that simply because you think a god is on your side, you cannot be judged and that you do not judge others. You can be judged, will be judged BY OTHER PEOPLE, and you do judge. What matters is what you judge and how you do it. No person regardless of title or presumed benevolence is above personal responsibility and accountability. You own everything you do. Creflo Dollar and his supporters would be wise to not make excuses and demand that this "leader" be held accountable.