Jamie Mayes, AOE

Black Men Set the Tone for How Society Treats Black Women

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2018 at 2:57 pm

Jamie20 (1 of 1).JPGTonight, I watched the McClure family discussion about some racist comments made by their father…and whew, chile! I had to breathe deeply as I watched a white male comedian discuss his racist and very stereotypical comments about black women with his black wife and biracial twin daughters. As he fumbled through his explanations, I listened intently and as openly as possible to understand what would make him say the things he said. Then, I heard his most honest answer; he was insecure, and the stage was his way to talk about it. And while the black comments section dragged him  like Linus’s blanket on Charlie Brown, I believe him. I absolutely believe that his failed attempted to date black women and their constant rejection of him toyed dangerously with his ego. I mean who else talks about not being able to get a date with a particular type of women, but still pursues them? What plagued me even more is what made him feel it was okay to make such distasteful jokes about minority women, especially women of color. I began to think about the social media crusades against black women and how society has always been unkind to us. We are always too bitter, too black, too bold, or too blatant. In my mind, I questioned why people still think it is okay to ostracize black women and use everything from our appearance to our beliefs as a joke or criticism. The answer was one that unsettled me, and made my mind run amuck- my black men.

Everything from the lyrics to “Chicken Head” to a recent random post on Instagram where a black man said black women would never be satisfied until an attractive Hollywood star dated a “Gabby Sidebe looking black female” ran through my head. “Bald head scaly-wag; ain’t got no hair in back. Gelled up weaved up..bawk, bawk! Chicken, chicken!” You know the words.  The constant proclamation of black men that they love black women…but, then date and marry everything EXCEPT black women. Black men have done a horrible job of protecting the identity and safety of black women. This is not criticism, but more of a request for our brothers to demand more respect for us. Consider this, everything from the body to the brains of a black woman has been desired by this country and around the world. One of the richest women in America makes her money by capitalizing off the appropriation of black culture and even she is protected by a black man (give or take, but you get the point). Three black women stood as the leaders of a larger group of black women who crunched numbers behind the scenes of Nasa more than fifty years ago, and we have only recently heard of them!

Justin McClure is not the first man to make crude jokes about black women. Black comedians and other stars lead the way with bashing black women for public entertainment or to hide their pain. For decades comedians have used the art of the black woman both directly and indirectly to fuel barrels of laughs from audiences. Imitations of voices and mannerisms have become regular on-line comedic acts insinuating that all black women are ghetto with attitudes and no class. Such practices have opened the gates for even white comedians to mock the black women with nappy wigs and the pop n’ roll of a neck while using urban vernacular.  The woman most responsible for shaping this world is the laughingstock of this world, and it is troubling sight.We are not society’s jester, so let’s put a stop to this shenanigan.

No more can we continue to make excuses for why black men are not doing their job. Hell, yeah, I said job. So much of the failure to protect black women is not a question of gender or race, it is a question of humanity. One should find it difficult to support the unjustifiable criticisms of a race of women who are the true founding fathers of the world. How can one mock a sector of women who gets one-third of the pay of their counterparts but have put in twice the work to help others gain success? Who would dare see the comedy is disrespecting a group of women who are the most highly educated sector in the world. They live with the most debt, but still always find a way to make ends meet. In a room full of silence, a black woman will usually stand as the voice of correction and reason, but an intercessor can scarcely be found when she is attacked for her courage. Take for instance, Mother Maxine. Following 45’s disrespectful remarks challenging her intelligence and morals, I waited for a team of black men to say that public attempts to humiliate and insult her would not be tolerated. Instead, I heard the cries of the same men who usually speak out (you know, Bakari and Roland- got to love these brothers), but the silence of even more. The irony is strong and resilient women like Mother Maxine, Angela Rye and Symone Sanders stand as the voices of black men and women but serve as the emotional whipping boys for white society. Their demands for fair treatment are often disrespected because the America has no respect for black women.

I have never been one to ride the “black people need to stick together” or “black men and women need to have each other’s’ back” train. For the most part, I believe that justice and righteous are not contingent upon unity; they are rights of every man. However, matters of humanity are a little different, because standards are and repetitive behaviors become common based leaders of a group. While there are many strong black women with the qualities of a leader, the strongest influence usually comes from a black man. Therefore, black women need our black men to change the tone of public conversations about black women to acknowledge all the wonderful things that black women have done and continue to do to shape the world. The lack of respect and support shown by black men is the reason other races feel it is okay to talk in a fake “hood” voice when speaking to a black woman, making insensitive jokes about ethnic names is for public entertainment, and making uninformed comments about hair weaves and natural hair is a common practice. Solange told folks a long time ago not to touch our hair; so, don’t joke about it either. Insulting our intelligence is permissible because society wants to continue to suggest that we are not smart enough, beautiful enough or deserving enough of freedom, liberty and respect. There are far too many black women sprinkling magic on the world for us not to be celebrated and respected.

I find it hard to locate the women who are so bickered and bantered about in music lyrics and rants on social media. Perhaps, I am looking in the wrong place. To find a chicken head one would have to search a dirty, feces-filled chicken coop. To locate a bitch, one would have to search a dog shelter or the streets. The women with whom I connect, and support are flying high like eagles, building nests among the sun and clouds. But these are not the desired women of most of our moguls, music stars and athletes. These black women have standards that are too high and dress helms that are too low. They are not attracted to flashy things like gold chains and diamond rings. They aren’t looking for the meal ticket, because they already cooked the meal, or had it catered. They, instead, ask for the intangible: love, loyal and commitment. These women deserve more from society and certainly from our brothers.

I am asking black men to please stand up and demand society to respect black women. Do not continue to encourage dialogue that denigrates us. To continue to support this type of negative commentary is to continue to allow society to rob black culture of all the things we have done. America, itself has suckled from the breast of black women to feed the white men and women who constructed ideas for the development of this country. We have birthed the black men and women who laid the brick and mortar to build and invent nearly everything in this country. We have hidden behind the scenes while others have been given glory and notoriety at our expense. We have stood quietly in the shadows while others have basked in our sunlight. And we are still here, waiting for our moment to be respected for our worth and honored for our tenacity. However, that moment will continue to be deferred until black men stand with and for us. We can no longer wait for society to do the right thing; we must demonstrate the right thing before society and demand that they follow suit. Black men, you set the tone for how society treats black women. Make sure that she is treated with dignity and respect. Justin McClure and his family had an important conversation, but it is one that will have to take place less often if more black men set the tone for how society is expected to treat black women.


Super Woke, but Don’t Sleep on Black Panther

In Culture, justice, life, media, News, Race, reality, Uncategorized on February 27, 2018 at 3:58 pm

I am all for black empowerment, and I truly believe that systemic racism, institutional racism, subtle racism and oppression and cultural bias exist. Just like so many others, I said down with Dove, H & M and Pepsi…but there is time when people go too far. Last week, Black Panther, one of the most successful movies in history, was released and black pride was at an all-time high. There were dashikis, royal African wear and natural hair everywhere! It was a beautiful site. I did not spare jamin my appearance, rocking a combination of black and all the tigers of Africa including a lion necklace on my neck; I even posed in the lobby with my power-to-the-people first and black animal print glasses. I found myself sobbing with prideful emotion and chiming in ad-libs while I watched Black Panther in 3D. Black Panther was for black folks what Star Wars is to white people- an iconic experience.

Even though Black Panther was a beautiful, cinematic masterpiece with creative artistic ability, subliminal and blatant cultural and political messages and a nearly all-black cast, there were still some complainers. I was not surprised; as a matter of a fact, I waited patiently to see what the Super Woke committee would release as a rebuttal to a movie that is taking the world by storm. It took them a few days to search long and hard for a criticism, but they dug into the crack of nowhere and found some. There were comments like, “This movie still produced by Disney; so, black people are still funneling their money into a white company.”  Others claimed black folks deserved a movie realer and truer than Black Panther, which sucked because I thought it portrayed so much of the truth about the talent, skills and hidden gifts of black people and Africa.  It was at this moment that I realized some people will never be satisfied. They immerse themselves in complaining; they search for an opportunity to appear deeper than they are, and pledge head first into foolishness. However, this is what is so problematic with the super woke: they are just as much of an enemy to black culture as those who are truly guilty of racism and prejudice. Do not clutch your chest; it is alright to breathe. Let me take a moment to explain why.

  1. You often appear illogical and unwilling to learn.

One of the most serious problems with the super woke community is their unwillingness to learn and reach outside of their comfort zone. Change and progress are uncomfortable experiences for all of us. They often require serious self-evaluation and demand that we assess the role we play in moving a mission forward or causing it to regress. For the Super Woke, this means one must accept that their constant criticism is not an attempt to move race-relations forward; it is a shove backwards for mankind. Though man would like to think that separation of races is a good idea, we must remember that every existent object or being functions better when all parts work together. In all honestly, a racially balanced utopia is highly unlikely, but we must be willing to learn more about other races and cultures and to consider, with logic, ways to build a functional relationship with people who do not look, think or believe like us.

  1. You create problems instead of solving them.

The Super Woke appears to hate diversity. They crave the opportunity to identify an area lacking black justice and seek to complain about unending oppression when they are oppressing the spirit of those who seek to emulate that which they desire. The Super Woke believe that those who are open to discussions on race and culture with other groups are weak and wasting their time. They find fault in the system, but seek to criticize the system not correct the system. My super woke sisters and brothers, these behaviors offer no solution, but instead amplify the problem. Furthermore, it personally causes you distress by taking the never-ending approach to race as the bottom line every problem in America. These people often isolate themselves in the workplace or limit their own success by opting to only participate in business with those who look like and think like them. While race plays a significant role in the most dominant problems in America, it is only by consciously contradicting the predictable American culture can you prove to be the solution. By contributing to the idea that every part of one’s existence is lined with racial contexts, you continue to add to and create more problems.

  1. You get no sleep…and that makes you cranky.

Though this seems like the smallest reason, it is the most important one: being Super Woke is exhausting. Though we live in a braggadocios era where everyone celebrates “team no sleep” and the belief that one will “sleep when I’m dead,” such is not idealistic and is actually detrimental to productivity. Living the life of the Super Woke can also have the same affects.  Constantly focusing on only one portion of a picture or from an assumptive or one-dimensional view becomes repetitive and pointless. Look, Super Wokes, give it a rest sometimes. Yes, it is okay to go see a movie where the main star is white.  You are not betraying your people if you sometimes get a pedicure from the Asian ladies because they give the best foot rub. You can, in fact, celebrate Kwanzaa and Christmas.  And no, you don’t have to live in an all-black society to understand black issues, advocate for black culture and have black pride. Quite often, it is in the midst of the unfamiliar that one can make the most impact.

Being woke does not mean one can no longer see the value of what our counterparts offer society; no, does not it mean we have to reject diversity y or forsake racial unity. Being woke means we recognize the flaws in society, the tendency of others to ignore real problems and the pervasive injustices black people face. Not only do woke people recognize these issues, but they identify those issues publicly and address how to amend them with parties from all cultures, races and ethnicities. Woke also means conscious and conscious means that one also aware of their own actions and the actions of society. To my Super Woke folks, slow it down. The truth is that racial issues dominate American society and we are currently facing problems that many though were eliminated fifty years ago. However, we have also made important strides in society. Many of these strides were possible because the mentality of so many has changed and new generations of leaders and citizens have forced America to evolve. While there is so much work to be done, please remember that the quality of work must supersede the quantity of work. Let us not spend so much time being a Super Woke advocate that we fail to act out the changes we deem a necessary part of society,  we reject new ideas and growth or we do not re-charge our bodies and spirits to continue such an important mission. Let us not be so woke, that we sleep on important opportunities to contribute to our fellow mankind, elevate our own brothers and sisters or to make important societal impacts for the culture.

Don’t Let a Bell Pepper Block Your Blessing

In Culture, life, media, News, reality, religion, Uncategorized on December 26, 2017 at 6:44 am

A few nights ago, I was in Wal-Mart Market purchasing a few items for my Christmas buggy. I had gathers a plethora of things and made my way to the self-check-out due to the long lines in the few open cashier lanes. As I rung up my never-ending basket of items, I watched the numbers increase from cents to dollars instantly. At the end my total was just over $150. I begrudgingly reached into my wallet and pulled out my debit card, which had already seen its share of swipes and purchases throughout the day. I grabbed my receipt and headed for the exit, hoping that I had forgotten nothing on the extra long list. When I got to my car, I loaded my son into his car seat, and then popped the trunk to load the grocery. I had loaded what seemed like far too few bags for such a large total when I reached to get one more bag. I suddenly noticed a plastic bag stick out from between my beautiful poinsettias, which I had scores for only three bucks a piece. Just as I grabbed the second one, I realized I had accidentally missed scanning a bell pepper that was tucked between two poinsettias. I signed heavily. I looked at the door, my trunk and then the bell pepper. I thought to myself, “I just spent $150, I am not going back in for an 89-cent bell pepper. I mean, I can really just keep this little pepper; it’s not big deal.” However, I looked at the bell pepper once more, and I could not convince myself to toss it into my trunk. I could already hear my mom in the back of my head waving her finger and telling me I should have taken it back even if it costs ten cents. I looked at the bags and my son once more; I was simply not up for unloading a toddler and going back into the store for this bell pepper. I asked myself, Do I really want to block my blessing because of a bell pepper?

This is the situation so many of us often face. We are presented with bell peppers that seem like they won’t cost us much, but that’s exactly the problem. Something that is worth so little can cost us so much if we lose focus. I am sure, so many are like me; you have some 89 cent bell peppers in your life. Situations or people who test and tempt your morals and character; you have contemplated letting them “have it” or catching them after work. However, I urge you to look at the bigger picture and ask yourself if these situations or people are worth your dignity, self-respect, public image or Christian relationship. Undoubtedly, they are not. Therefore, take that bell pepper and return it to where it came from; place it among those who are just like it, and keep going.  I know that can be much easier said that done, but I urge you to…just…keep…going. Bell pepper people and situations can seem so small, but they can cost us so much. That was the problem with the bell pepper between the poinsettias; it seemed easy and convenient to follow my mood and just toss it into the trunk, so I could get home. However, in the end, it would have still been stealing, which is not pleasing in the sight of God. I was certainly not willing to trade my dignity and self-respect for a bell pepper. Some would declare that no one would have noticed or even cared about the missing bell pepper, but that’s the art of not letting it block my blessing. Why should I be wiling to put a blemish on relationship with God or a stain on my self-respect for something no one would even notice? Yet, I would have to pay a price, and the bell pepper wasn’t worth itistock_photo_of_bell_peppers.

I looked at the door of the store once more and made a swift decision. I hopped into my car, pulled up as close as possible to the front door (no, literally, on the store side walk, up to the front door), looked for an employee coming in and out of the store, turned on the emergency lights, cracked the window, locked the door, jumped of the car, ran about five feet to the door where an employee was standing, told her I accidentally left a pepper in my buggy and ran back out. Whew! It took me less than ten seconds to do what I knew was right. I was not a bell pepper thief, and most importantly, I wasn’t going to let an 89-cent bell pepper block my blessing. Don’t let one block yours either.

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