No One Misses the Missing Black Girls

I remember the headline on MSNBC’s homepage when I opened my web browser yesterday morning: “Baby Lisa’s mom: I was drunk when she vanished.” The article told the story of Lisa Irwin, the white Kansas City mother of a 10-month-old baby who went missing on Oct. 4.

Then today, as I casually searched for news on black women, I just happened to come across a couple of articles about two black girls who are missing. The pieces were small, ran on local news sites, black websites, or blogs. There has been no national attention, nothing that would make you stop and pay attention to these stories, or more importantly to one of these girls if you happened to come across them, because in all likelihood you probably wouldn’t even know they are missing.

Jhessye Shockley is a 5-year-old girl from Glendale, Arizona, has been missing for nearly a week. An Amber Alert for the girl was issued last Wednesday morning and canceled Friday, in accordance with standard Amber Alert procedures. So far the biggest break in the case seems to be a tip that came into police of a black female between 25 and 30 years old, about 120 pounds, with black hair in a bun and brown eyes, putting a child that matched Jhessye’s description in a vehicle. The woman was wearing a white tank top and blue jeans rolled up to mid-calf. The vehicle was a black 1998 to 2000 4-door Chevy Malibu.

And then there is 15-year-old Pittsburgh teen Michiko Hamilton who hasn’t been seen since visiting a friend Friday. Police say she was last contacted near the intersection of Frankstown Avenue and Overbrook Road in Penn Hills — no one has heard from her since.

Read the rest @MadameNoire

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Serving Up Color

At a recent awards banquet for a group of medical professionals, I sat in the back of the room where I could observe the proceedings of the night, take notes, and not insert myself too much into the affair.

One server seemed confused by my presence. She leaned over me with a concerned look on her face and asked, “Who are you here with,” seeing that I wasn’t mingling with other guests and my table was empty. I assured her that I was in the right place and that I simply wanted to sit in the back because I was reporting on the event and didn’t know anyone there particularly well.

She walked away, unsatisfied with my answer, and came back a few minutes later to say that she thought I would’ve been sitting up front, but not to worry, she would take good care of me anyway. In her next run by my table, she proceeded to share her work history with me, noting how she’d waited on President Obama for an event in that very room and how much he said he had enjoyed her, along with other public figures and celebrities who’d paid her similar compliments but neglected to repay her for her excellent service: “If I was so great, they should’ve taken me with them when they moved on up, OK.” (Insert stereotypical black woman high five.)

A male server, sensing that the woman had outworn her welcome, or was speaking at a level that was too loud for what she was saying in that setting, lightheartedly scolded her and told her to leave me alone, while yet another waiter came by to add her two cents. And still one more woman came by with a bread basket, asking,”Hey, you want some.”

It had begun to look like a black family reunion with me at the center of a host of servers, and I quickly found myself annoyed each time they made their rounds. Although I was appreciative of the friendliness, I was keenly aware of how others in the room must have perceived not only me, but also them.

Just a month prior, I was attending a luncheon with colleagues from my office and heard a man yelling “Hello” a million times from a distance. Who is yelling, why is he so loud, and why won’t anybody answer him, I thought, as I tried to figure out where the sound was coming from. I finally realized the greeting was directed at me as I saw a man waving his arms from the security desk several feet away. “How you doing,” he asked when I looked in his direction.

I thought the look on my face as I tightly mouthed, “Fine” would have been enough to tell him that this was not the place and certainly not the time; however on the way out, he yelled “Bye” about as many times as he had when he had greeted me on the way in, and just as loudly. “When you coming back to see us,” he shouted once I finally acknowledged him. I then turned to be confronted with confused, please-explain-what-just-happened/do-you-know-him looks on my coworkers’ faces. I shrugged and shook my head. I had no explanation. Read more @ Clutch.

White Boy Fresh

It never dawned on me that a colleague asking to come to my hotel room to borrow chapstick might be trying to get fresh, although as I read that sentence I have to wonder where my antennas were that night.

When I got the text from my colleague who was attending the same meeting as I, I thought nothing of it, as we had recently parted ways after innocently having a few drinks in the hotel lobby with mutual associates. I did acknowledge what I saw as irony at the time—that if this was a black man I would’ve known he was up to something, but because he was white, I thought nothing of it.

Innocently, I opened the door to my room, let him in, and offered him what I thought he came for. Quickly I found him seated on the foot of the bed. Small talk on his agenda, I conceded, happy to have finally befriended someone in my age range at these conferences which I typically found boring.

Casual talk about post-college years turned to questions about whether I was dating, how my last relationship ended, and when I would get married because I’m “so great,” as he put it. I sat flattered in my unsuspecting naivety.

It wasn’t until a few compliments later, a stretch out on my pillows, and an invitation to join him that I became aware of other intentions. I declined, noting that I had an early meeting, although it was suggested that I wake him in the morning.

It was a struggle for me to conceal my laughter—not at his game, but at the fact that as a grown woman, I’d found myself in a situation more befitting of a high school girl. Read more @ Clutch.

Should Women Raise the Cost of Sex?

If there is one thing Americans have unrestricted access to regardless of gender, race, socio-economic status, age, or education, it’s sex.

It wasn’t a shocker to me when University of Texas sociology professor Mark Regnerus said in a Washington Times article last week that the price of sex today is pretty low. Whereas men (allegedly) used to have to promise women marriage in exchange for sex, birth control allowed women to enter the sexual market with the same indiscretion as men. Now both genders bask freely in the sexual market before walking down the aisle.

So what’s the problem? If you ask men on college campuses and in urban cities, there isn’t one. Because these sexual markets are dominated by women, men can decide how much (or how little) they will exchange for sex because for every woman who decides that she wants to hold out, there are plenty more who are willing to put out. It’s the rule of supply and demand.

But while women have power when they are the minority in the sex market, allowing them to decide just how high the “cost” of sex will be for a man, women lose power as they enter their 30s—the marriage market—where women also outnumber men. Hence, Regnerus says that women “underestimate the long-term risk of sex-market behavior.”

While the underlying notion here is not to put the cart before the horse (or why buy the cow when you’ve already got the milk, et cetera, et cetera), saving oneself for marriage is seen as a high-risk strategy. Using an interesting analogy, Regnerus says, “You can’t just decide that your house is worth $500,000 if everyone else is getting $200,000. … You can try for that price, but it’s unlikely you will get it.” Well then. Read more @ Clutch.

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Open Marriage: Progressive or Uncontrolled?

Open marriages are something I struggle to wrap my head around, because despite the fact that the idea seems simplistically based on sex, the factors involved are quite complex. People who support the idea of open marriages say that the whole premise behind the arrangement is open communication about one’s wants and desires, but I wonder if it is more about the lack of control over those wishes.

Not too long ago I attended a panel on Monogamy, Cheating, and Dealing with the Side Piece (by now you can probably gather that I’m somewhat of a Together Apart groupie). On the panel was a couple, Carl and Kenya Stevens, who have had an open relationship for five of their 16 years of marriage.

As I listened to the couple describe having boyfriends and girlfriends and not stopping one another from experiencing new people as they come into one another’s lives, all I could think was, “Well then why get married?”

Read more @ Clutch

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Black Women Are Drinking the Kool-Aid

If I had a dollar for every time a black man made a comment along the lines of, “That’s why I date white women,” or, “If black women keep it up, I’m going to start dating white girls,” I could probably retire at 30. But with the influx of women toting similar statements about how and why white women are “winning,” I might be able to reduce that number to 29.

I was over on the site Madame Noire (Bossip’s sister site) the other day when I came across the article, White Women Are #Winning, Step Your Game Up, based on a similarly titled article published in UPTOWN Magazine, Love: Why White Women Are Winning. Both articles address black women’s perceived attitudes, unwillingness to cater to our men, declining value in the institution of marriage, hesitation to date interracially, and lack of expectation for finding a man—basically stating white women are our polar opposites and are therefore not unlucky in love as we are.

Now if you truly feel that you need insight into some possible reasons to explain why you are single (in case you haven’t heard enough already), then, by all means, take heed to the advice presented, as that is not necessarily where the problem lies. The issue is the fact that black women have jumped on the “white women are better because of x,y,z” bandwagon.

My first thought when I saw the article was that this was a case of irresponsible publishing. Why, as websites and magazines that are supposed to be a service to black people, and black women in particular, would you publish something that places white women on a pedestal?

None of the character traits mentioned in the article are true of all white women, just as not all of the negative stereotypes that are perceived to be holding black women back from finding their mate are true. Could either author not have written (another) article simply highlighting characteristics of women in effective relationships/marriages? It’s articles like these pitting black and white women against one another as two entirely different species that have the potential to revive black women’s ill feelings toward black men dating interracially—although we’ve been told time and time again to get over it or join the movement.

Read more @ Clutch

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Maintenance Men

“At what point in a relationship does it become my responsibility to pay form my girl’s hair and nails and general maintenance?”

This is a question I heard a man ask with all sincerity at a Romance and Finance forum I recently attended who further explained that in the past week his girl took things a step further and asked him for a Gucci bag.

I’m proud to report that all of the women sitting in my area, as well as the forum panelists, were like, “What? Your responsibility?  Never.”  But I’m not sure whether we are the exception or the rule.

There have been many times that I’ve overheard a woman ask a man for money to get her hair done, or complain to a girlfriend that her man refused to pay and therefore she had to ask her  dude on the side who gladly complied.

And I’ve come across men who actually thought they were wooing me by offering to pay for such things. I was lightweight offended, thinking, are you suggesting something, or even more so, do I look like I can’t afford to take care of those things for myself? But perhaps that was just the hyper-independent part of me speaking.

Still, the whole idea of it being part of a man’s role in whatever type of relationship we have to pay for a woman’s physical upkeep just doesn’t sit well with me. I’m wondering if this whole notion is one of those antiquated ideas that has been around since before, say, women were able to enter the workforce and it somehow just never died. But with the rise of what some deem to be independent woman overkill, and men gladly taking women up on that stance when it comes to shared responsibility, it doesn’t make sense that this attitude still holds strong.

I think the expectation that a man has to “pay to play” is nothing more than a bartering tool. For women, the mindset is that if a man thinks he’s going to get some, then it’s going to cost him X ,Y, and Z in the form of shoes, clothes, and whatever else she sees fit. And for men, a $20 wash and set at the Dominican shop and a $30 mani/pedi is a small price to pay for the booty, I suppose. If that’s all they want anyway, I’m sure they’d rather come out of pocket for that than take a woman to dinner or a movie. But even in serious relationships, there seems to come a point when women expect that a man will take care of these things, and surprisingly, when men seem to expect it to be required of them.

Is this the norm? Read more @ Clutch

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It’s Not Control, It’s Accountability

A few days ago I came across a two-year-old email of a quiz I’d taken that asked, “Are You Controlling?” I’d taken it after assertions from my boyfriend at the time that I was trying to control him because I actually thought that he should be at my house when he said he would, or call if he was going to be late, or call me period. Go figure.

I took his charge into consideration for all of about a three-day weekend before I realized it was total BS. I had absolutely no desire to control him, what I wanted was accountability. Control is wanting someone to do X, Y and, Z simply because you say so—it’s about power (and sometimes insecurity). Accountability is about respect for the other person and your relationship—it’s not putting your partner in a position to question the validity of where you say you’ve been or what you say you’ve done. But sometimes you can’t tell a man (or woman) that.

I’m not sure where or when the fear that all women want to control men first originated, but it seems to be the first thing a man thinks of when a woman asks for or suggests anything to a man. I’ve had male friends tell me that they won‘t do something their girl asks them to do out of spite for their assumption that she only asked them to do it to control them. Or they’ll purposely wait and do it later to prove it was on their time.

I can be wrong in assuming most women are like me, but I have no desire to control a man. There’s actually something very unattractive (to me) about a man who will jump whenever I snap my fingers. I prefer that a man do something out of love and concern for me, rather than because I said so. I don’t want a robot or a puppet. I want a man who takes care of business because he cares. 

Read more @ Clutch

Invisible Man

My father was absentee, but I pretty much reject any implication that I have “daddy issues” that affect my choices in men. I don’t date older men, short men, selfish men, self-righteous men, I’m not promiscuous, nor do I hate men. However when I do look back on all of the men that I have been involved with, there is one common factor: all of them were there, but not really.

My dad was in and out—miscellaneous phone calls, random visits when he’d expect me to drop everything and see him, no assistance when I called and needed something from him. But as a child, I had a step dad, so I felt I wasn’t cheated out of much. He was present for the good stuff and I didn’t really have to answer to him in the same way I would a biological father—I actually felt lucky in comparison to the strict fathers all of my friends had.

Fast forward ten years or so and I’m noticing that I’ve come across very similar patterns in dating. There’s the old high school acquaintance that I can spend hours talking to on the phone from hundreds of miles away, but only one night with in person. The guy I was “just talking to” who supposedly wanted to make sure he could trust me before he gave me his undivided time and attention. The on-again, off-again boyfriend who I had access to maybe three days a week if he felt like it, and who would disappear every two-three months. Sprinkle in a few other incognegros and you’ve got a recipe for severe unhappiness. None of these men were present; they made cameos when they wanted to, talked to me when they felt like it, and went on their way whenever it was convenient for them.

And I allowed it. Read more @Clutch

Damned If You Lose, Damned If You Don’t

It’s a new dawn, a new day, and everyone knows J Hud is feeling (and looking) good in her new size 6 figure. And while there’s a segment of onlookers who are congratulatory of her weight loss success with the Weight Watchers Points Plus Program, there’s a slew of critics who (a) suggest she is a fake and lost the weight through gastric bypass, (b) are anticipating and secretly hoping that she’ll go the Kirstie Alley route and be back in a size 16 by Memorial Day, or (c) think she’s sending the message that you have to be thin to be successful.

What is it about our society and weight? If you carry extra poundage, you’re ostracized and told to nix the Mickey D’s and get in the gym and work it off (as if it’s that easy); and then when we have an example of someone who has lost weight through hard work, negativity and skepticism still follow.

I suppose the assumption behind the gastric bypass rumors is that Jennifer had to be lazy to become overweight in the first place, so there’s no way such a person could actually do the work that is required to shed pounds. These individuals are one in the same with other critics who call her Weight Watcher’s campaign fraudulent because she obviously used a personal trainer along with the Points Plus program. Sorry, I don’t follow. “Everyone” knows weight loss requires a sensible diet AND exercise, and I wouldn’t dare consider a personal trainer taking the easy or elitist way out, as some have suggested. Personal trainers put you to (serious) work and plenty of everyday women hire them on a regular basis.

Read the rest @ Clutch

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