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Models, Media and Meaningful Motivation – Part Two: Media

Media…

I talked just a little bit yesterday about the power of visual imagery in shaping girls’ perceptions of themselves, and we did a little experiment with the t.v..  This time, we’re going to talk a bit about NON visual imagery…and being that I’m the simple minded guy that I am…I always need examples. So, we’re going to do a little experiment with music.

So, all that said, this is what I want you to do.  Plug your headphones into your radio, and settle into listening to ANY popular Hip Hop/R&B radio station in your area; the more popular, the better.  ( I only chose Hip Hop/R&B, because that’s primarily what I listen to…..Well, that and talk radio and stuff like that.  I kinda like talk radio.  Okay, so overall, I’m pretty boring….sue me.)  Do this for an hour.  Just listen for any references to violence against women, sexual references, “baby mamas”, gold diggers, groupies  or references to women’s body parts and write them down on a notepad. (Also, keep in mind that this is PUBLIC radio…and the stuff that you DO hear has already been cleared as being “ok” by some censoring body(ies)).    Just like yesterday, use your own daughter as the measuring stick.  If it’s something that you wouldn’t want said about your own daughter to your face, write it down.   It shouldn’t take more than thirty minutes before your hand starts to cramp up from all the writing. Wanna know how I know?  I know ’cause I did it, and not because I sit at a keyboard and type all day and that my fingers get tired of doing actual WRITING.)  I walked away with this inescapable fact:  Even our own media ain’t necessarily our friend.

Now, I know that BET and R&B/Hip Hop stations aren’t the only media outlets that feed us negative stereotypes of females, and I don’t mean to single them out…not solely.  I also know that the musical stylings of other genre’s of music probably portray women in a negative light as well.  I ALSO don’t think it’s a “Black” thing…I think it’s simply a pig headed, chauvinistic, objectifying, self aggrandizing thing that spans all cultures.   I think that I I could safely bet that if I was a fan of Rock music, or Heavy Metal, that  I’d find the same messages in that music as well.  However, I try to only speak about my personal experiences on what I know and since it just so happens that I’ve always been immersed in the Hip Hop and R&B culture, that’s what comes out.

Now before you start getting all huffy, and  I start getting the hate mail about my  trashing Hip Hop and R&B let me share with you a piece from one of my earliest posts…one from when I first decided to write this book about raising my girls.

“… allow me to be the first to say that I’ve watched the videos…heck, I ENJOYED the videos. I’ve uttered the “B word”  and Ho out of both jest and anger.  I’ve talked junk about my conquests to my boys, and overall, I’m still a work in progress, but I think that if we are truly honest with ourselves we can work towards fixing this.  And since a reformed, renewed, revived, and restored former crackhead is the best to give advice about the dangers of using crack, and  why one should not smoke it, I offer up my insight in regards to not promoting disgusting, destructive, disingenuous, disheartening, degrading images for our lil girls. ”

See?  I pointed the finger at myself first.  I noticed early in the game where my error lied…..(laid?…heck……ANYWAY)  Yeah…I convicted MYSELF before I ever called anybody else out.  I found the mote in my own eye, so to speak.  I can’t really take any credit for the change of heart, though.  It really came from my girls.  True story…at first I used to doubt the whole adoption thing.  I wasn’t sure if I could do it.  It was tough.  But night after night, I would go into their rooms as they slept.  I’d kiss them on their foreheads whisper “I love you.” in their ears, and kneel at their feet to pray for them, and one night it hit me…These girls need somebody to protect them…and I that was the beginning of the change for me…I went from somebody that could call a woman a Ho, to someone who couldn’t stand the thought of it anymore.  (God can make dummies into geniuses, huh?)

Anyway, let’s get  back on task here.   (Besides, I can’t have you guys goin’ ’round thinking I’m some kinda softy that tears up at the thought of his daughters…I got my tough guy, street cred to maintain! )

I also know that  a lot of times, our music does offer  positive imagery as well.  Heck, our local R&B station here even plays Gospel music on Sunday mornings.  However, once again, I’ll quote someone from my past, “One well planned right don’t make up for a life full of lefts.”  Simply put, just because a drug dealer deals only a little bit of crack in the neighborhood, then hands out turkeys on Thanksgiving, doesn’t make him a hero…just a crack dealer with a marketing budget.   The end result is still a community getting destroyed.

So, this is what’s happening thus far.  Our daughters are already being told by the images that they see that they are..not skinny enough, not “elegant” enough,  not pretty enough and overall  just not good enough.  Then, to top that off, they’re being told verbally that they are only good for the use of their bodies and how they can benefit men.  I know…it was kinda eye opening for me too.

And don’t think that there’s a minimum age to start falling victim to this stuff I’ll put it in perspective for you…I have a 7 year old little niece ..She’s a very petite lil thing and is one of the lights of my world.   I’m constantly affirming her and her value and her worth to the world.  I try to make sure that she realizes how important she is and that her true value comes from within and not without.  That said, why, in the Yosemite Sam Hill  did she come to me one day and tell me that she was fat and that she needed to go on a diet?  I SWEAR I can pick the little girl up with one hand and spin her above my head like a basketball without even breaking a sweat.  (Trust me, that says a lot coming from a doughnut eating, remote control hogging, couch potato like myself, but that’s another story.)  Then, to top that off, they’re being told verbally that they are only good for the use of their bodies and how they can benefit men.

Okay, I think I’ve held you captive long enough for today.  And in the morning……we talk SOLUTIONS!  (Done in my best Donkey from Shrek voice).Tomorrow, we talk SOLUTIONS!

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2013 in children, humor, life, parenting, Uncategorized

 

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Fact Sharing Monday

I always try to be honest in all of my writing.  Even when it hurts. That’s rule number one.  This is one of those times that hurts.  I’m going to attempt to put some levity in it though…if for no other reason than to help me through it.  Forgive me…sometimes I’m a softy.

Here goes.

I’m a direct product of not having a father.  

Well,  I HAD  one,  as I suppose we all do, but mine never really did anything WITH me so I DEFINITELY never called him “Daddy”.  Heck, for that matter, for most of my life, I didn’t think he even LIKED me that much. ( I actually forgave him for everything when he was on his deathbed….but I’ll share that with you some other time.)

I was forced to remember my relationship (or lack thereof) with my father a few weeks ago.  I was talking to a friend , and somehow we got on the subject of fathers.  I decided to share with him an experience that I had in high school, and now,  I guess, I ‘m about to share it with you now….(Ain’t it funny how God has a way of urging  us to talk  when we don’t even want to sometimes?)   Anyway, the conversation began to flow, and the memories began to flood back, and my mind settled on a particularly painful instance that still haunts me, even as a grown man.

Since I said that I’m going to need some levity in this and since I’m a bit of a t.v. junkie, let’s look at it like we would a t.v. show .   That said, this is the part in the show where the screen gets all blurry and there’s that flashback music…..

(doodlle looodle looo……..doodle loodle looo…….doodle loodle loo)

The scene opens in 1986, and I was in the 10th grade.  It’s somewhere in  November, because I remember we were in the last class of the day;  waiting to be released for Thanksgiving break.  I seem to remember the room being mostly full; with a few empty desks around.  There was a student sitting right behind me.  I remember his name, but I’m not going to share it out of fairness to him.  (HOPEFULLY, his 16/17 year old self was a lot meaner and DUMBER  than his 41/42 year old self.  I can’t validate that, though.   I didn’t keep up with him so it’s questionable.)

He  leaned up to me and said, “MR. __________  said that he ain’t your daddy.”

Aaaaannnnddddd FREEZE scene!

This is the part where you hear, Morgan Freeman, the narrator say:   “Now here’s a bit of “bring you up to speed info.”  Early in my life, I would always make excuses for the guy that I got my boyish good looks from.  I would always say that my father was too busy to come to watch me play in a youth rec league basketball game, or that he was doing so much important stuff that he just didn’t have time to do things with/for me.   I also lied and said that I was ok with it, that I understood it.   I kind of almost made him like some kind of low level superhero whose only powers were to stay incredibly busy.  I’m not sure if I did this to save face with the other kids that would inevitably ask about him or if I did it to kind of ease the pain of him not being around.  As a grown man, I’m still not sure.

During my teenage years, the stories about how busy he was stopped being told.  I just didn’t really make a habit of going around telling people who my father was.   I grew to think that that it just wasn’t any of their business.    That said, when  the occasional conversation came up in which I DID  talk about him,  it would usually be about how much I hated him, his family and everything that he cared about.  However, for  some reason, let’s call it stupidity, I had decided to let this kid know who my father was. And with that bit of information in hand, let’s call it spitefulness, he had decided to verify it with him.”

I didn’t know how to react.  I was stunned.  So I did  what any teenager would’ve done in reaction to  that statement.  

Aaaaaannnnnnndddd  ACTION!

I spun around in my seat slowly;  deliberately.  (Imagine the theme music to a Clint Eastwood western playing softly in the background….( WAAA oo  Waaaah oo  waaaaaaaahhhh…WONKWONKWONK … Ok, that was the best I could do.)    I looked him dead in the face…locking my eyes intently on his.  My plan was simple.  I would rain down upon him a withering, verbal barrage of  hate, and malice so strong, so blistering  that it would wipe that smirk off his face.  Boy oh boy did I have some venomous words for THAT cat!  So with the toughest edged voice my 130 pound frame could muster,  I  said ” ……………………whuh?”  (Hey…I liked his westerns, but I was no Clint Eastwood.   What’d you expect?!?!)

He repeated, “Mr.______________ said that he  ain’t your daddy.  I went by his place and asked him.”

I hit him with the only “bomb” that I had left. “Maaaan…….Whatever….”, and turned back around in my seat.

Aaaaannnnddddd FREEZE scene!

Morgan Freeman:  Despite my best efforts,  the tears started to well up.  They weren’t the lil, barely visible, slowly dribble down your cheek tears either.  These were the full on,  heavy ones that you can feel coming and that start to burn when they start to peek over the edge of your bottom eyelid; searching for the most embarrassing path down the cheek.

They found their way out.  I was no Spartan, by any stretch of the imagination.

By then,  other people in the class were looking.  I don’t  think that any of them really heard anything.  They could just feel that something was going on.  I put my head down on my desk.  I vaguely remember the bell ringing and everybody leaving but me.  I remember waiting until the noise in the hallways outside was almost nonexistent before I even bothered to lift my head off the desk.    I missed my bus home that day.  I think I did it on purpose.

I didn’t know it at the time, and didn’t really sit down and determine it until recently but this instance helped to shape a basic philosophy of life for me.  It led me to determine that ultimately, when we are faced with bad experiences, we have two ways that we can react.   We can choose to either allow them to make us a victim, forever hiding from the inevitable difficulties that  are sure to accompany continued breathing,  or we can choose to allow it to drive us to better ourselves.

For me, this  was my decision to one day become the world’s best Daddy.  In the days that followed that incident, I decided that  I would  never let my kids (whenever I had them) know the sting of not having a Daddy.  I decided that no matter what, that my focus would be on making sure that they knew that they had a very special place in my heart and   that they would always be part  the small center of my universe.  I also decided  at that point to try to be a “Daddy figure” to as many kids as needed me to be.   It’s been a wonderful ride and I’ll be the first to admit that  I wouldn’t be the man that I am if I wasn’t blessed with the opportunity to raise my two beautiful daughters.

So, finally, I just want to say to all of the men that may be reading this (yeah….BOTH of you…LOL ) what you do now can and will affect your daughters for years to come.  Make sure that your effect is a s a good one.

Below,  I have attached the covenant that I wrote for my daughters when I first adopted them.  Give it a once over.  If you like it, print it off, sign it and put it in your wallet.  I wrote it for MY daughters, but you can edit as needed.   For ME, the covenant  was always a good reminder of why I was in their lives in the first place.  I would pull it out and read it in situations like when Tee would ask me to take them to  fly their kites and I INSTANTLY translated it to “Daddy, will you run 15 GAZILLION  yards, around and around and around…pulling this thing behind you so we can enjoy seeing it in the air for five minutes   Then will you do the same thing for my sister as I crash mine to the ground?”  Or when Kee would ask me to try to teach her to ride her bike and I translated that to, ” Daddy, run behind me until your lungs are about to BUST, then let go.  I’ll continue on for a few yards , then I’ll crash into EVERY other kid  on a bike in the ENTIRE  neighborhood with as much speed as my lil legs can muster.  Then I’ll let YOU go into their house to apologize to their parents.”  I needed all the motivation I could get.

Aaaaannnnddddd CUT!!

A Daddy’s Covenant to His Daughter

1)      I will strive to be the example of a good man, husband, and father for my daughter; realizing that I am the measurement by which she will use to judge her adult relationships.

2)      In all conversation, in all actions, in all exchanges, I will focus on showing my daughter her true value as a strong princess.

3)      I will always take care to remember that my daughter has limitless potential.

4)      I will work to recognize and live up to my role in her life as a father.

5)      I will work towards developing a strong sense of self worth within my daughter.

6)      I will endeavor to make my time, her time, giving her the attention that she needs and deserves.

7)      I promise not to make my desire to provide for my family financially more important than providing for it spiritually.

8)      I will empower my daughter to have her own mind, and the temperance to wield it wisely.

9)      I will teach my daughter that she is above stereotypes and, as such, is impossible to box in, and is beyond labels.

10)  I will teach my daughter that she is too valuable to settle for less than the best.

11)  I promise that my daughter will, without doubt, KNOW her place in my heart.

12)  I will teach my daughter that the only reason she has to hold her head down is when it’s bowed in prayer…never in shame, never in self doubt.

 

 

My Personal Pledge to You, My Daughter

Signature___________________________________    Date_______________     Time_______________

 
 

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Some of my old stuff #2 (Why I hated Halloween As a Kid)

Another of my old  rants…Really has nothing to do with ANYTHING…Just something that crossed my mind one day.

My top Five Reasons for Hating Halloween as a Kid

5) Those people that you knew were home but that wouldn’t that answer their door 

4) Old  folks that would just dip into their “Sunday school or bible study, old, crusty, hair infused, plastic stuck to it peppermint stash” and drop it in my bag…..

3) EVERYBODY where I’m from was kind of poor, so trick or treating in MY neighborhood was, for the most part, just walking in the dark with masks on.   (Robbery suspects?)  

2) The people that gave me fruit or vegetables….  What was I dressed up as….a VEGAN?!?!?!?? 

1)  Them old school plastic masks that cut me all around my face, neck and ears..…had me looking like I was the recipient of a face transplant all week.  Never mind that it constricted my peripheral vision to that of a race horse with blinders on.

 

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Some of my old stuff # 1 (My thoughts on Mike Tyson)

So I was just searching through old computer files and found some of my old writing. ( I have the world’s absolute WORST filing system and have stuff all over the place…much of which, I’ve forgotten about.)  Before you read it though, I have a bit of a warning for ya.  It pretty much has NOTHING to do with raising daughters.  It’s mostly just my ramblings.  Read on….if you dare!

If Grammy Got Her Teeth Knocked SCHMOOVE On Out and Why I Am DA MAN!

I have to admit, that when Mike Tyson used to knock cats out in like .5 seconds, I, (like ALL the rest of you dudes out there that are brave/honest enough to admit it)  really believed him to be the baddest man on the planet. I mean, that cat could’ve snatched Grammy’s teeth out and proceeded to use them to cut away his unruly bikini hair during the weigh in, smacked my Mama and delivered a mouth splittin’, tooth spittin right hook to Auntie Mildred on the way to the ring, hocked THEN spit in my nachos, dipped his opponents mouthpiece in my drink, took the mic outta the ring announcers hand and announced that I was a virgin until I was 39 and was born with a cleft pallet, a club foot AND pigeon toes (NOT true, by the way…the club foot thing)…and I would’ve let him get away with it.

Now that his boxing career is over, (and I’ve seen him do some interviews) …it’s a different story. Now, I  can’t wait til I catch that guy JAY WALKIN’ or something so I can drop my citizen’s arrest act on him and practice my Rodney King police brutality butt whoopin routine.  About a year ago I SWEAR  I would’ve hopped in the ring to pummel that cat profusely around the face and neck with a rain of withering combos for just leaving dangling participles at the end of his sentences. Maybe even for not knowing all the words to the theme song for the Jeffersons, or the robotic housekeeper’s name on the Jetsons. Heck, I’m even open to suggestions for reasons to ring that cat’s bell now.. I NEED a reason to go Junk Yard Dog on him….My machismo could use a boost.   Anyway…I gotta go polish Grammy’s grille….She gets a lil testy if she can’t get her “shine on”. 

Mike, holla if you want a piece!   Hasta!

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2013 in humor, life, Uncategorized

 

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