Valentine’s Day Special: “I’m Still Here”

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Well, folks, it’s Valentine’s Day. And instead of talking about more pressing issues like police brutality, global warming, the wage gap, or the incessant news coverage of Donald Trump’s stupidity, I have decided — for the sake of my sanity and the desire to unplug from worldly drama — to dedicate this post to Valentine’s Day.

Now, I’ve never paid much attention to Valentine’s Day. Although I appreciate the concept behind it, Valentine’s Day was just another day for me. I mostly looked at it as a commercial holiday and nothing more. Perhaps, it’s because I’ve never celebrated the occasion with anyone I was romantically involved with. This year won’t be any different. I am single, therefore, it will be just me and my single girlfriends choosing to acknowledge the love we have for ourselves and our friendship, rather than anything romantic. 

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For some, it might sound sad. The idea of single women on Valentine’s Day sounds much sadder than the idea of single men on Valentine’s Day. Lord knows how much pressure our global society places on women to have and keep a man. Women are sent daily signals about how our worth is dependent on a man choosing us and publicly claiming us, which, of course, is complete bullshit. Despite the bullshit, it’s hard to ignore the impact this conditioning has on women and our self-esteem. So when Valentine’s Day comes around, and we are still without a “bae”, it can lead to women feeling sorry for themselves and worrying about their romantic futures. I understand, I’ve had those same worries, not because of Valentine’s Day, but just as a result of running into guys that I never fully connected with.

However, don’t cry for me Argentina, because I am not sad about being single on Valentine’s Day. Not having a “boo” has been the least of my concerns. This past year has been such a learning experience for me. Stepping out on faith to lay the foundation for my own business has revealed both my strengths and my weaknesses. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve made great strides, I’ve cried, I’ve doubted myself and the gift God has given me, I’ve met some great people, I’ve considered quitting and going back to a stable job, I’ve cried, and I’ve ugly cried, I’ve considered securing a sugar daddy, and I’ve cried some more. But I’m still here. Granted, I’m not where I want to be, but I’m still here, and I am entering a new level of self-acceptance. I love who I am and that is something worth celebrating.

Growing up, I never had an issue loving myself, but this past year sent my self-love into question. Walking my path as a motivational speaker and dealing with adversity along the way made me question the love I had for myself and my talents. But I have chosen to not only embrace my growing pains, but to also embrace all of who I am: the parts of me that are great and the parts of me that are still in development. I have chosen to see myself in my entirety, proclaim my beauty, understand my perfect imperfections, and love myself again. I choose to love myself unapologetically, and during moments of insecurity, and with more passion than any man professes he can.e88cbf0e412471bc844088ac9b9b5efd--black-women-art-black-girls

I choose me.

I now know that when I thought I was breaking, I was actually shedding the pieces of me that I outgrew. I was having a break-through, not a break-down. I will acknowledge Valentine’s Day and every day henceforth as a day of triumph for self-love, instead of self-loathing. I will toast to this journey, how far I’ve come, and how many times I chose to stand back up after crumbling down. I’m still here.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Cheers! 

 

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Colorism?…But at the Club, Though?

 

 

darker_lighter_skin  There’s nothing like going out with your girls: twerking, two stepping, hip swinging, waist winding, all while singing loud and off key to all your favorite songs makes for a truly magical evening.  So, on this particular night,  I was excited to hit the city of L.A. with my favorite dance partners. We decide to explore the busy streets of Santa Monica, and so far, our night was off to a great start–we didn’t have to pay to park and there was no cover charge, which is not always easy to find in Los Angeles.  We stepped into one of the many bars/clubs on the block that was recommended to us and were surprised to hear some hip-hop music playing. The bars in Santa Monica are mostly inhabited by young white people, so typically there’s a lot of house and pop music. So upon entering this particular bar, we knew that this place was probably our best bet and decided to stay.
There we were, dancing our lives away on a crowded dance floor, enjoying every minute of it. We had made friends with another group of black folks from out of town, and one of my girlfriends ended up dancing with one of the guys we met. My friend and this guy — we’ll just call him Dante — had taken a break from dancing and were talking, while I was standing by the wall next to them. Dante motions me over, so I walk to him.  He leans in to my ear and says, “Hey, go talk to my friend over there; he’s kinda awkward. He told me he was feeling you, so you should go talk to him.”  I felt like Dante was just trying to get rid of me so that he could be completely alone with my friend. I was getting ready to tell Dante that I was just chilling and probably wouldn’t go over to talk at that moment, but before I could say anything, Dante continued, “Yea, my sister told me that I should dance with you, but, no dis to you, but I like light-skin girls”. My stomach dropped. My friend and I gave Dante a serious side eye like, WFT??!!

 

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Now, comments like this are not new to me. I’ve heard some black men say how they “prefer light-skin” girls and, normally, I just shrug off their ignorance and keep it pushing. But for some reason his comment was the final straw and I broke. I walked away from them and sat at the far end of the bar trying my hardest to hold back tears. I was really hurt.  The build up of these types of comments had finally taken its toll, yet I was embarrassed that his words had affected me to the extent that they did.

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I was hurt by the fact that it is 2017, and the Black community is still dealing with colorism. The fact that we, as Black people, have yet to appreciate and truly see the beauty of all the hues we come in is extremely frustrating, and the fact that some Black people are completely clueless to the effects of slavery and social conditioning on their romantic “preferences” is enraging. I was hurt because for the first time I really felt unattractive and unwanted. I was unwanted by a black man whose skin was just as brown as mine. It is beyond bewildering. I felt like I had been transported to another world where everyone was asleep except for me. There I was operating amongst zombies who had no idea they weren’t “woke”.

My question is, why did he feel the need to say anything at all?! He didn’t have to continue his spiel. If that is the mindset you carry, then there is no need to say it aloud and reveal your foolishness to the public. He literally told me that the reason he didn’t dance with me was because my skin was too dark. Why the f*%k would you actually let those words come out of your mouth?! Did I mention that his beloved sister was just as dark as me?  I’m sure that he thinks his sister is beautiful, but you mean to tell me that he wouldn’t date someone who had the same skin tone as his sister?!!  I just don’t get it! How could he not see that there was something seriously wrong with his comment

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I was done. Exhausted. Defeated. And at that moment the only thing I wanted to do was go home, lay down, and cry.
Luckily Dante’s friend, Eric, came and sat next to me and started talking to me. Even though a part of me wanted to be left alone, I greatly appreciated him being there, if only to preoccupy my mind with idle chit-chat and to prevent the tears from dropping onto my cocktail napkin. Eric was not like Dante and expressed a great appreciation for all things black. Thank you, Eric. You saved me at that moment with your conversation and you had no idea.
We stayed until the bar closed and then made our trek back home. I didn’t speak a word of what I was feeling to my friends. I wanted to keep the evening fun and light and I thought that I could move past the experience. However, the next morning when I woke up, I still felt the emotional weight of the previous night and I surrendered to that feeling and cried. I told my girlfriends how I felt and they expressed their empathy and said that Dante was an asshole. They allowed me to break and they used their loving words to piece me back together. Thank you to my girlfriends, my squad, my sistas … you know who you are. 636006945613581481-1906458683_image
I spoke to my mother as well, she is always there to remind me of who and whose I am. She was sad that I had to experience the same ignorance she had to endure during her younger years, but she reminded me that there are men out there who see and appreciate my blackness. She said, “Now Beth, if you are woke and can see the beauty in our people, then you have to know that you are not the only one. You have to know that there are other black people — black men — who feel like you do, who see the beauty, your beauty. You have to know this!”
My mother was right, deep down I did know. I know that there are black people out there, black men in particular, who are awake — who see the beauty within the spectrum. I know that there are men out there who would not dismiss me because I have dark skin, but who would be ready and more than willing to embrace me. Thank you, mom, for building me up and for reminding me that there is nothing wrong with me — for reminding me that I am beautiful. Thank you for straightening my spine and helping me to stand tall and proud in my black skin. Thank you for reminding me, that as I stand, I’m helping others to stand too.

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Inauguration 2017: What does the future hold?

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There I was. Lying on my bed… watching netflix. Determined not to look at the tv or turn on social media because watching the votes come in would send me into a frenzied state of anxiety. But i couldn’t resist texting my friends every once in a while for updates. And finally, our greatest fear came to pass. Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. The entire world was in silent shock. I was in disbelief, immovable. I didn’t cry or scream or curse the tv out in protest, all I could do was lay there. I felt like a deflated balloon, there was no air left in me. Sleeping was the only option I had, so that’s what I did.

The next day I went to work. I was a zombie —functioning but not present, walking with a cloud overhead. Some of my co-workers felt the same, they were also sleep walking, a few even cried. Nothing made sense. How could the same country that voted for Obama — twice— vote for Trump? Their campaigns were completely different, one rallied support with love while the other rallied support using fear. I was dumbfounded

I wasn’t under the illusion that racism, bigotry, stupidity, and misogyny was a thing of the past, I knew how very alive it was/is, and that there would be plenty of people who would rally behind Trump. I knew that there were people who were too engrossed in their own interests to be swayed by common sense and would, therefore, support someone whom they really didn’t care for, but whom they knew would protect their interests. I knew, understood, and respected that there were people out there whose opinions may conflict with mine. However, I thought we had progressed much further than to allow this man — someone who has no real plan of action, no experience in politics, and is extremely under qualified and hot-headed to govern a nation such as ours — into the oval office. Despite the friction and disagreements amongst citizens, I figured this would be a no-brainer. I was wrong.

That day I felt the weight of the nation’s disappointment, I felt the fear and the restlessness of not knowing what the future would hold. I don’t even think Trump supporters were that thrilled, nor could they honestly attest to feeling as though our country was now in the best of hands. No matter what side you were on: democrat or republican, Hillary or Trump, I don’t think anyone genuinely believed that Hillary would lose.

People tried to ease their dismay by saying that most of what Trump proclaimed during his campaign was just hot air that could never come to fruition. But, thanks to social media, Trump never shied away from exposing himself and continuing to spout his ignorance and arrogance.

January 20th is days away and it’s hard to mentally accept that Trump will be sworn in as our next president. I am terribly sad to see Obama leave after doing such a great job and always remaining calm, composed, and classy even while addressing his critics. He stayed steady and focused. I’m going to miss him and Michelle and all that they stood for, which was the unity of our nation and an acknowledgement that at the end of the day we all want the same things: health, happiness, safety, equality, financial stability, and the freedom to live our lives as we see fit.

I realize that I may never see another black president in my life time, and I highly doubt I will see a woman as leader of our country. There will definitely never be another President Barack Obama. I know that what I witnessed 8 years ago was nothing short of divine destiny. I’m not saying Obama was perfect because none of us are, however, I don’t doubt the workings of a higher power on his behalf. How else could you explain a black man becoming the leader of the free world?

I’m just trying to soak up these last few days, and I decided that I will not be watching the inauguration. Watching it will only solidify a nightmare that I have been trying to fight off, it will become real then. Although I will not be tuning in, I, along with the rest of the nation, and the world for that matter, will be paying close attention to what is happening in Washington D.C. The nation is prepared to call Donald out on his inevitable bullshit and to express their opposition. It can be scary not knowing what the future holds, but I feel as though people will pay more attention to politics now. Unfortunately, people don’t pay attention or take action until their personal interests are being threatened. And now that so many people feel as though their personal interests and rights are in jeopardy, perhaps we will grow more unified as a nation.

In the end, I hope that Trump’s attempt to use hatred as a divisive tool, will outrage all of us enough to band together and defend the progress we have made as a nation. It would be incredibly disheartening to take steps backwards after all the pain and hard work it took to move us forward.

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January 6th: The Feast of Epiphany

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Today,  January 6th, is “The Feast of Epiphany”. It is a Christian celebration that honors the manifestation of a divine being: Jesus. This is the meaning behind my name — Epifani. Meaning not just a bright idea, but the celebration of a new beginning, a new way of thinking — an unfolding of a new consciousness and understanding of our relationship with God and ourselves.  I believe names are important. They carry an energy and breathe an intention when spoken. This is because words, themselves, are powerful and can manifest, which is why it is vital to always remain aware of what we say and what we allow ourselves to hear and believe. My mother loves words and understands their power, which is why she gave me this name. She wanted to make sure that with every call of my name she was evoking something powerful and wonderful and divine — she spoke life into me, and I am very grateful for that. I love my name.  Bethanee Epifani ( B’Epifani).

*screen shot pic from timeanddate.com*

Dating 101: Couple Pics lead to Poor Choices

 

 

 

Well it’s that time of the year where I’m starting to see my friends post their engagements on social media. And I’m also starting to see my single friends salivate over these images and what they assume to be a wonderful love story that they desperately want to happen to them. Their feelings are normal and completely understandable. I, too, want companionship; I also want to find “the one”. But I have to remind my friends and myself that what you see reflected off of a social media page does not always provide the full scope of anyone’s romantic relationship. You sincerely hope that people are in love and you wish them well, but you don’t know the details of anyone’s relationship. You don’t know what is taking place behind the scenes and whether or not you could deal with certain circumstances. Now my intention is not to sound bleak, dispiriting, or ominous. My intention is not to have you looking at couple photos with the mindset that something is wrong their relationship…not at all. The intention focuses more on getting you to stop and think before you compare your situation to someone else’s. Remember that your love story will happen in it’s own time, and that you too will be in the coveted position of posting couple photos that will annoy your Facebook friends.

 

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So until then- and this is primarily for my ladies – DO NOT GET INTO A RELATIONSHIP FOR THE SAKE OF BEING IN ONE. It blows my mind and breaks my heart how women settle for and go back to these sorry ass dudes all because they don’t want to be without SOMEBODY. These women will endure emotional, verbal, and physical abuse. They will lower their standards, shrink themselves. Some will allow their boyfriend to shadow them from their self-worth to the point where they know longer see themselves. They become lost in his shadow and are kept from their own light, thinking they are in love, but they are desperately trying to soothe a broken image of themselves.

And why is that, in 2016, women still find themselves in these positions? Is it because having a “man” is something that is still considered highly valuable, and we are conditioned and pressured to have a “man” as a way of increasing our own value? I just don’t understand.

Women YOU ARE THE PRIZE! Don’t settle for just any ole body who does not recognize that you are amazing. Do not fight over, social media stalk, or stress over these boys…leave them alone! Bid them Adieu! And make space for someone better to enter your life. Don’t allow these engagement photos to seduce you into entering into something that has the potential to leave you extremely disappointed.

It is better to be single and at peace surrounded by friends and family who truly love and celebrate you, than to be in a relationship that chips away at your self-esteem and happiness and leaves you disconnected from yourself.

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Give it time ladies, it will happen. For now enjoy the opportunity you have to be completely selfish and finally learn how to love yourself. If you haven’t figured out how to love yourself you run the risk of being lenient with your heart and placing it in shaky hands. So stop the madness. Disconnect from our virtual world for a while and come back to yourself. Remember that your Love will blossom at the appropriate season. Don’t rush the process, allow it to unfold naturally.

 

Lets start new day. Top view of beautiful young African woman in tank top lying in bed and stretching her arms

 

Doctors are not Gods.

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I was on the phone with my good friend Johnathan. We hadn’t spoke in months and we were long overdue for a conversation. Jonathan and I have known each other since our first week in undergrad and we have grown through and experienced life together: school, jobs, love gained, and love lost. One of the reasons we are close is that we have the freedom to be completely honest with each other. With that said, we’ve gotten into many arguments and debates, and this last convo was another one of our long debates.

Johnathan is pre-med. He has a passion for service and medicine and has always wanted to be a doctor. I was telling him about a recent doctor visit I had where I felt as though my doctor didn’t really listen to me ,and was more interested in talking at me and having me go along with her plans instead of listening to the plans I had for myself, and us working together towards a solution. I felt like she was using her voice to silence mine and that made me feel disregarded as a patient.

 

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I shared this story as a way to remind Johnathan to make sure that he listens to his patients when he becomes a doctor. Make sure that he places value on their input. He said that he would. We then start talking about doctors and the health industry. Johnathan believes in the power of science — in the knowledge of doctors. I believe in science as well and see the value of modern medicine. I also believe in holistic methods and living a healthy lifestyle. I believe that people have to be their own health advocate, gather their own information, and do what works best for them.

Johnathan began refuting the legitimacy of holistic medicine saying that one shouldn’t just “buy herbs from someone on the street”, and that it’s better to see a learned licensed doctor that could prescribe the best medicine. I told him that I agree that people should not just “buy herbs from someone on the street”. But just like there are knowledgeable doctors, there are knowledgeable herbalists and nutritionists that can also make recommendations, and that their recommendations can work just as well, if not, better.

 

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Johnathan was becoming irritated that I proclaimed that eating certain foods and having a certain diet could serve as a preventive measure to a lot of the illnesses that people endure, information that a lot of doctors and pharmacists conceal from patients. Frustrated and defensive, Johnathan belts, “Well you tell a kid that is suffering from cancer that they can get healthy again by eating certain foods!!” I told him to calm down first of all, and that I’m not saying that modern medicine is wrong, or denying it’s progress, but what I do know is that what we put into our bodies has an effect on our health. And instead of talking to patients about this, many doctors push and promote drugs to their patients. A lot of times these drugs don’t alleviate the cause, but rather alleviate the symptoms. But while alleviating certain symptoms, they cause other maladies to form.

We’ve all seen these fear inducing drug commercials that talk about curing or managing an illness, but then they list the possible side effects of taking the drug: dizziness, nausea, bleeding, organ failure, depression, suicide, this list goes on and on. And it becomes crystal clear that taking the drug is not worth the risk of the side effects. Not to mention, it doesn’t take away the condition, it only provides temporary relief.

Johnathan then says that the drugs have been tested and approved to be on the market. But I mentioned how these drug commercials are then followed by other commercials where lawyers come on the screen and proclaim that a certain drug that was recently promoted, in fact, has caused some other physical ailment, and if you have developed this ailment then you can receive compensation. So, clearly many of these drugs haven’t even been accurately tested before being given to patients, which means they are lying to consumers.

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I told Johnathon that at the end of the day, are there great, honest doctors out there who truly care for their patients? Yes. Is there modern medicine that has been greatly beneficial to society? Of course. But the health/drug industry is and has always been a money making industry – the biggest money making industry. The focus is more on profit, and less about really healing people, but rather getting them dependent on a drug. The industry promotes panic in their consumers which drives them to purchase drugs that could potentially leave them in a worse state than they were before.

I know what it’s like to be a nervous, scared patient buying drugs in hopes of a cure. I remember being given medicine and the nurse told me, “The drug will take away the symptoms, but it will not get to the root of the issue, go to this website and read this article.” I am forever grateful to that nurse who was bold enough and cared enough to tell me the truth. Up until that point no one had shared this information with me. I remember reading the article and doing other research, and discovered how changing what I put in my body had a dramatic effect on my condition. My grandmother’s words rang strong and true for me at that moment, she would always say, “Don’t you know they just PRACTICIN?!” It struck a nerve. I had to take my health into my own hands, educate myself, and take the control back. I had to use and trust my own discernment.

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I told Johnathan that his role as a doctor is to provide valuable information on his patients condition and then provide them with options. It is the patient who has to decide what route they want to take, and whatever decision they choose has to be respected. That was the whole point of our original conversation that spiraled out of control. Johnathan has a very strong position on most things and if people disagree with him, he will argue with them as to why they are wrong and he is right. As a doctor you can not do this. Your job is not to be combative, your job is to be of service. I told him to come down off of his pedestal of doctoral credentials and to check his ego and condescending tone. The best doctors are the most compassionate, the most honest, have good interpersonal communication skills, and are the most genuine in their goal to help their patients. They know how to engage in dialogue, and don’t try to take command.

I hope that my dear friend does not become tainted like many other doctors and forget his purpose. I hope he remembers that he does not get the final say. I hope he remembers that he is a public servant…he is not God.

 

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The Orlando Shooting and the Never Ending Fight over Gun Control

 

I think the most frightening world is a world in which everyone is frightened of each other, where people no longer recognize themselves in the other person and only see what they’ve been taught to fear. What’s even more frightening is when frightened people carry guns. I don’t know about you, but knowing that everyone is strapped doesn’t make me feel safe at all. My life becomes even more threatened, and the chances of getting killed by a bullet over a misunderstanding or misidentification, or a combination of someone’s poorly channeled anger coupled with their equally poor aim, doubles. So when Trump gets behind the mic in front of a mass audience professing that the Orlando shootings could’ve been prevented if other people in the club had a gun is completely asinine. The ignorant and moronic statements this man makes sends shivers down my spine and leaves me utterly bewildered.
Question: WHO GOES TO THE CLUB WITH GUNS, TRUMP??!!!
Oh! …that’s right, NO ONE!
“Why?”, you ask, because it’s F*#KING STUPID!

Solving gun related issues by bringing in more guns is not the answer. With the media only aiding in our suspicion of each other, we all will be looking at each other as a potential threat. When you have a nation of people who are scared of each other, you get a nation of people who have neglected reason and logic and compassion, and, instead, walk around with their finger on the trigger ready to go after anyone they assume to be dangerous for any number of reasons.
Black people have known forever what it’s like for the world to look at us with suspicion, prejudice, and hate. Now the focus has shifted to the Muslims within our country, and it’s outrageous how one group of people become the targets of such bigotry. We forget that the majority of us all want the same things and desire to cause no harm. We forget that we all want to live out our days in good health, safety and security, and live long enough to see our kids grow up. Unfortunately, our similarities get lost in the frenzy of death.

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The murderous attack that happened in Orlando tragically follows a string of horrible gun violence that has taken place in our nation. As I watch CNN and look at the faces of all those who were murdered, my heart breaks yet again. It’s becoming too frequent, too normal. It’s like getting hit to the point where you feel numb: The Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, Umpqua Community College in Oregon, Planned Parenthood in Colorado, Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the Washington Navy Yard in D.C., Ft. Hood Texas, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, Century Theater in Colorado, not to mention a more recent threat at UCLA. The list just keeps going.

I don’t know how many more times I can watch President Obama address the nation with another grief filled speech asking for the nation’s help to enforce more strict guns laws, requirements and background checks.
Whatever your stance is on gun control, I think we all can agree that something has to change. I don’t understand why people are fighting about this. Clearly the rise in body counts has not been enough to get people to lessen the grip on their stance and come together to actually solve the problem. How many more people have to die before we set aside our pride and egos? How many more funerals have to be attended? How many more mothers, spouses, and children have to cry out loud in pain, anger, and disbelief? Something must change.

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Meanwhile, I pray that we do not become conditioned and confused by what the media puts out, and remember that one person who does a horrible act does not reflect the attitudes of an entire group. I pray that we don’t trade in our humanity and common sense for a safe full of fire-arms. I want safety just as much as everyone else, but protection will not come by building walls and putting snipers on the roof. Safety and protection comes from a unified effort, where everyone rallies against the ignorance and hate that permeates throughout our communities, and awaken to the fact that we have more in common than not.

Kardashians vs. George Zimmerman: Who do the people care more about?

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So Black Chyna and Rob Kardashian are having a baby.

Excuse my language but … who the f%@k cares?!

Congrats to them.

But, again, I ask, “Who the f*%k cares?!”

I NEVER thought I would write a blog post that mentioned the Kardashians but I’ve reached the zenith of my annoyance. Why do we care so much about this family?!? Do they pay our bills? Do they come to the family cook-outs? Do they pay off my monthly school loan to Sallie Mae? Have they ended world hunger? Did they find Bin Laden?? What DO THEY DO?!
What have they contributed to society aside from superficiality, scandal and confusion that keeps us tuned in to their every move?!

I must give props to this family; they certainly know how to keep people talking and the money flowing. But my frustration has less to do with them and more to do with the fact that we live in a society where #1). people can become famous from doing absolutely nothing and from exerting no real mental or creative efforts, and #2). that people have no idea about the issues that plague our communities, but they know details of celebrity life, which has no bearing on their day-to-day reality. They don’t know any updates on the Flint, Michigan water crisis, but they know who wore what at the 2016 Met Gala. They don’t know what Bernie Sanders’ and Hillary’s politics are, yet they know the exact day that Beyonce tickets are going on sale and all the dates for her Formation Tour. Our priorities are clearly warped.

Don’t get me wrong, entertainment is good and has it’s place, however, to have entertainment take precedence over real life issues is not only enraging, but, incredibly disheartening.

George Zimmerman has the audacity to try and sell the gun he used to KILL Trayvon Martin!!

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Hello! Wake up people!!
This is what needs to be the topic of discussion, this is what should be on the blogs and magazine covers. The focus needs to shift. So many things are happening right underneath our noses that we neglect to properly address. The media does such a good job of distracting us with nonsense that we forget what is real and what actually matters. Don’t forget what actually matters. Jerk yourself awake from your zombie-like state, wipe the sleep from your eyes and take interest in what is happening in our world before it’s too late.

 
So unless the Kardashians are joining Black Lives Matter to help put George Zimmerman behind bars, or are helping to combat the blatant disregard for black people/culture whose style and creativity they CONSTANTLY STEAL from and salivate after, then I urge you to take your chatter elsewhere.

I don’t want to hear it, because they honestly don’t matter.

Club Good Body

 

Like a lot of people. I enjoy a good work out…a nice blood-pumping, sweat-drenching, funk-inducing workout. My body just feels better afterwards. And I’ve tried different types of workouts: Pole dancing, core-power yoga, beach runs, etc. However, it had been a while since I had been in an actual gym. My friend invited me to go along with her to her gym where I could get a guest pass and utilize the facility for a few days. I really enjoyed it and highly considered joining. But there was another gym closer to where I lived that I wanted to check out first.

This gym – I will refer to it as “Club Good Body” and will decline from providing the real name – is well known in Los Angeles and has multiple gym sites and thousands of members. I had seen employees of this Club at random places with tables, chairs, and a big banner hungrily trying to gain membership by stopping people as they walked in and out of stores. I would always walk past them briskly while shouting out that I was not interested.

But, on this day, I decided to get a guest pass and check it out. So, I walk into “Club Good Body” and tell the young lady at the welcoming desk that I have a guest pass. She tells me to wait while a representative comes to speak with me. Immediately I’m thinking, “Damnit!”. I didn’t feel like sitting in a chair while their representative asked me questions. But I told myself to chill and suck it up, and that it was just part of the process and that it wouldn’t last long.

I was wrong. It did last long…too long..nearly 40 minutes long. My representative — we’ll call him Jose — was a nice guy; however, his inquiries are what led me to never return to that gym. It was an interrogation: He asked me what my address was, What I did for a living, Where my job was located, How long I had worked at my job, What was my purpose in coming to their gym, when was the last time I had been to a gym, why did I leave my last gym, what was my current work-out regime, was I eating healthy…I mean, DAMNIT Jose!! SLoW Your RoLL! I JUST WANT TO WORK OUT! What’s with the interrogation?! I told him I felt like I was filling out a bank loan application instead of a simple gym guest pass, and I asked him why he needed to know and write down all this information.

Jose was trying to make a sale and gain my membership, and was filling out an application for me without me actually saying that I wanted to become a member. But the tactics that were used to make this sale are the same tactics that many people use : Fear and misinformation.
Jose said that he wanted to weigh me and calculate my body fat. His calculations determined that I was “average” for my height and age but that I was not at my “ideal” weight just yet and told me how many pounds I would have to lose. Then he turns his computer screen towards me because apparently “Club Good Body” provides their potential members with a visual of various body types so as to “help” them understand what condition their body is in. So on the screen was a computerized image of a woman. They had 6 or 7 images of this woman next to each other – similar to a scale – starting with the image of the thinner or “ideal” body shape and going all the way up to the image of the “obese” or bigger body shape.

Now, as I had mentioned, Jose said that I was “average”. And you would think “average” meant that I would land in the middle of this visual scale. Wrong. According to them, “average” meant that I was second to last on this visual scale, which placed me right before the “obese” image/category. Did I mention that this visual scale is color coded? And the “average” category has a yellow and red color code and “red”, of course, means that you are in the danger zone.

Needless to say this visual scale was complete bullshit. Not only did I look NOTHING like this “tainted, computerized image of a woman, but I’m NOWHERE near Obese. Thank God I can think for myself and recognize a blatant lie when it’s right in front of my face. But the sad thing is that so many women still have blinders on and cannot see the truth, they can’t see what’s real.

By using this scale, “Club Good Body” feeds off the insecurities of women by serving them a distorted image of a body that #1 is not even real, and that #2 does not mirror their shape accurately.The focus should be on living a healthy life, and not fooling women into believing that “good health” or a “healthy body” comes in just one image. These representatives make women become so fearful that they are not “ideal”, that the women seek the help and the membership of their club. And the color coding only increases this because of the psychological connections we make about colors: Green(ideal) = Good, Yellow (average) =Slow Down/Caution, Red (obese) = Danger/Stop.

Those tricky bastards. I told Jose that his scale was wrong and that this image didn’t reflect my body type at all. I told him that they needed to rethink this part of the interrogation because if I was someone who had a negative self-image, then this visual scale had the potential to sink me lower emotionally and mentally. Jose chuckled bits of nervous laughter, unsure of how to proceed.

On top of that, Jose says, “Also, here at “Club Good Body” we can provide you with a Trainer. The young lady behind me, Meagan, would be your trainer.” Meagan comes over to introduce herself and – not to be rude – but Meagan didn’t appear to be in the best physical condition to give me ANY advice.

And after all this, Jose says, “So which membership plan would you be interested in?” I said, “Jose I came to work-out. I don’t even know if this is where I want to be, because I haven’t gotten the opportunity to get a feel for this place and see whether or not I want to return.”

Jose says, “Oh yea! Of course! Go work-out and we’ll talk when you’re done.” What more did we have to talk about??!! And I had to leave my I.D. with him before I could go work-out, so I had no choice but to stop by his table before I left.

I worked out for 20 minutes before I decide to leave. Didn’t even break a sweat. All the treadmiills were taken, along with the other floor equipment that I wanted, plus I was on a time schedule, and that interrogation left me mentally drained and irritated. I bounced. Jose was surprised to see me return so soon. I told him I was leaving. He tried to get me to stay, but I told him I had run out of time and patience. He asked about the membership and I told him my plan was not to sign-up for membership today, just to utilize my guest pass. Jose could tell I was over it, so he quickly prints my guest pass and tells me to come back tomorrow and give them another try.

I didn’t go back. Instead, I decided to return to my neighborhood runs for now until I find a better gym. At least while running in my neighborhood I am free of distorted images and nagging sales people. I may not have the fancy equipment, but at least with my neighborhood runs I am reminded of what is real. I am real. I am beautiful. And my body is fucking awesome.

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Check Out My Interview with the Great Black Speakers Bureau!

Check out my Interview with the Great Black Speakers Bureau, where I discuss my  passion for motivational speaking and the various topics I speak on. I also discuss my book, Quarter-of-a-Century Life Lessons, and the personal issues that I, along with so many other of my peers, faced which led to me to write the book. If you haven’t ordered your copy, go on Amazon today! And if you have already read the book, please go on Amazon and write a review.

And shout out to Lauren who interviewed me! I enjoyed our conversation.