Monday, December 20, 2010

Why I Don't Celebrate Kwanzaa

I'm willing to admit that, in the past, my jocular attitude about Kwanzaa was insensitive. I apologized then and I'm doing it again, publicly. Sorry! I remember learning about it in Sunday School as a child, and wondering why we didn't celebrate it at home. But then, I learned that my family wasn't an anomaly; most African-Americans don't celebrate Kwanzaa, an African-American holiday. Are we shunning a holiday created specifically for us in favor of Western traditions and holidays that were created without our unique cultural needs in mind? I say, no, and before you crucify me, here's why.

What is Kwanzaa?
As most of those who are passively familiar with Kwanzaa know, it is a holiday created by Dr. Karenga to reaffirm African-Americans' rootedness in African culture, to reinforce the bonds between them as a people, and to introduce and reaffirm the value of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa. It is recognized between Dec 26 - Jan 1st. So, in all fairness, one could celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa without trampling on each others holiday. How convenient!
(Source: The History of Kwanzaa, Click Here for more info.)

Why I'm Not Down
1. Language Barrier - African-Americans have ancestors in a continent with over 2000 languages. Granted, a good portion of us came from targeted, specific regions, but even those regions represent a cornucopia of divergent and differing cultures.
The only language one can truly consider representative of people that identify as "African-Americans" is English. So to create a holiday using Swahili terms, a language spoken in 10 of Africa's 54 countries, but in fewer than 1% of African-American households, doesn't make sense.

2. Africa's A Country... Right? Remember when the (unproven) rumor leaked that Sarah Palin "didn't know Africa was a continent, not a country"? It's a common yet dangerous myth that Africa is one big country comprised of folks in various shades of dark chocolate, overrun with HIV, drums, lions, and people whose names include clicks. This myth is perpetuated by multiple factors, many we can't control, such as Black Americans' collective yet relatively ambiguous ancestry in a huge land with no specific country to point to. The idea of creating a holiday based in "African tradition" seems to trivialize Africa's diversity. I find it disrespectful, to be honest. It has the potential to make Black Americans feel as if they've grasped an idea of their ancestors, when Kwanzaa doesn't even come close to scratching the surface.

3. Misses The Mark. Dr. Karenga said his goal was to do the following:
a. "give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday..." What is the existing holiday that we need an alternative to? Christmas, for example is a Christian holiday, not a White one, and is celebrated even amongst the most fervent atheists and agnostics. I need no alternative.
b. "give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and our history... ." Wait... wait.. this is starting to sound like Black History Month. I think Carter G. Woodson (and later McDonald's) beat him to the punch on the Celebrating Black History Movement. I'm all for celebrating Black History 365 days a year. But do we really need Kwanzaa to do so? And how does learning about principles that represent "the best of African thought" really do that? The principles of Kwanzaa (unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith) are all admirable. But a true dedication to African-American history, would teach us, I don't know... history.
c. "...rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society." Dominant society. Hmmm. America has made, and continues to make, a lot of heinous mistakes and gaffes in its 234-year long history. It was built by many hands, many of them brown and black. But there's no denying that Black Americans' history is America's history. There's no separating the two. I'm the first to rail against the dominant society and its ills, but I refuse to say that society at large is not ours to celebrate and be a part of. We can't be  accused of "imitating society" if we created it! We earned the right to be a part of the mainstream and its society. I will celebrate Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Day, because they resonate with me. Kwanzaa does not.

As an American with African ancestry, it's my right to be both American and seek to learn more about my African roots. No shade to people who recognize Kwanzaa and its 'creator, Dr. Karenga. I admire all the work Karenga's done. Kwanzaa just isn't giving me what I need.

What about you? Are you part of the 1.4 million to 30 million that celebrate Kwanzaa? (Broad range I know, the numbers vary, depending on who you ask). If you don't, why not? Please share!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Office Theft & Chitterlings (Life in the Office)

When unemployment is at 9.7% in the United States, it may seem insensitive to criticize a 1st World Problem like "Poor Office Etiquette," but the reality is... folks in Ann Taylor and Brooks Brothers suits have given me more trouble than rowdy 6th graders and rude restaurant guests. (I've also been a teacher and server.) I did an extremely unscientific poll on Facebook and Twitter, and it's clear... this is a problem across America. Maybe you, YES YOU, are doing something extremely annoying, and you don't even realize that your incessant tapping of your pen is analogous to Chinese Water Torture. I'm here to help. Below are some common complaints and solutions:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

3 Things That Will End Racism (of the Black & White Variety)

Racism shapes our politics, interactions with others, and seating arrangements on the bus. For example, after our country elected the first president of African descent, he was attacked about 17 hours into his presidency for not doing enough. (Look at my eyes... roll em. - (c) Kevin Hart.) Some of it was because people are desperate for jobs, decent health care, and an end to the conflicts overseas. But for some, it was because they just don't like the idea of the most powerful position in the world being held by an African-American.

I have a solution! I know you're thinking, "Who does she think she is?" I agree... I too was surprised at my wisdom. But just listen up. And if you think my solution is controversial, consider the alternative... racism!!! Here goes:

Friday, November 26, 2010

What Not To Say At The Family Dinner

High-Res Stock Photography: Mature man in front of Christmas tree…
It's the most wonderful, politically incorrect time of the year! The season of family gatherings, dinner and conversation. For the first time in years, I went home for Thanksgiving. Had a great time with my family, my first porkless Thanksgiving -they didn't stop cooking it, I just stopped eating it- and met my gorgeous niece. I also had a few epiphanies about safe conversations for family from infant to wizened Big Mama. I believe that all families should feel comfortable sharing... But in the appropriate setting. The appropriate setting does not include extended family, people you see once or twice a year, toddlers who have yet to grapple with complex ideas like birth control and elderly matrons who refuse to switch from a VCR to a DVD player. There's too many variables, and way too much room for error.

Unfortunately, I didn't have these epiphanies in time to save your Thanksgiving dinner, but I can save Christmas. So here goes... a few subjects you may want to save for another time. Like the comment section of a blog, Youtube video, or during Taboo night.

1. Unplanned pregnancies. These things happen. It isn't always a happily married couple who gets preggers. Sometimes... cousin Carol just shows up and says, "I'm due in 3 months!" If Carol isn't accompanied by the soon-to-be father, and makes no mention of him, neither should you. Why? Because if she wanted to talk about it, Carol would. But she doesn't. She just wants you to ask if it's a boy or girl and buy the appropriately colored onesie. Nothing takes the candied out of yams like a debate with Uncle Jay about why the most recent generation is hellbent on living a life of sin.

2. Our recent generation's intentions to live a life of sin. Yeah, older people think that. Hip-hop, skinny jeans, real-life Barbies, Twitter and Craig's List personal ads are a sign of the Apocalypse to our living forefathers, and they completely forget that their parents thought the exact same thing about their generation. Somebody came up with dildos, platform shoes, heroine, and breast implants, and that wasn't us. This conversation always ends with a 16 year old cousin screaming, "Pops! You just don't get Jay-Z! He's the voice of the nation and if you don't realize his genius then you'll never get me!" Sigh.

3. The Single Women Over 19's "Old Maid" Status. I know. You got married at 19 and dropped 4 kids by the time you were 22. But the 19 year olds I know are in their 2nd year of college, changing their major for the 5th time, experimenting with 4 Loko and are ill-equipped to get married, much less raise children. Let it go... 

4. Eddie Long. Trust me on this one. 

Anything else I left out? We can save Christmas, one tip at a time!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hilariously Ridiculous Lyrics in Recent Hip-Hop

I know, you guys think I hate hip-hop, despite my ode to it, a few months ago. But I don't. It's like a relative; you make fun of them to show them you love them... right? And sometimes, we're so busy whipping our hair, wiping ourselves down, or stanky legging, that we don't realize how ridiculous it sounds. But I do. I listen to it and it provides consistent comic relief.

Some people would argue that the music I'm about to describe isn't hip-hop, that it's just rap music. People like my brother have this huge philosophical hang up with commercial versus underground, but my brother also looks like he's doing the Short Bus Shawty move in photos sometimes, so how seriously can I take him? Also, if an artist is truly "underground", how do we even know they exist?!?!

Anyway, I take this friendly rib at hip-hop because if I'm going to be forced to hear it when I go out, I may as well get to exploit it.

This list is by no means, the definitive or comprehensive list of laughable lyrics, simply, the ones I can recall at the moment.

1. Nicki Minaj - Your Love - "I think I met him in the sky; When I was a geisha, he was a samurai, somehow I understood him when he spoke Thai." Just that quick, Nicki has contributed to the miseducation of the Negro. Geishas are traditional Japanese female entertainers, and Samurai are high ranking Japanese military officers. So it's possible that a geisha could have met a samurai. Enter, Thai, a language commonly spoken in... Thailand. Add to this, their setting is "the sky." Cause you know, members of the Samurai and geisha fly... Uh... what?!?!?! If I overhear a child telling their mother, "Mom, let's go to Thailand and meet some geisha and samurai," I won't blame the child. I'll blame Nicki.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I Don't See Color is Hogwash and Here's Why

People Are Like Eggs

A few years ago, I overheard a woman talking to her son. She said, "People are like these eggs. Some of them are brown, some of them are white, but they're all the same on the inside." At the time, I was truly awed by this mother's wisdom. What a great way to explain different races to a child! But for adults the whole "We're all the same, just different colors" is dangerous and ignores the ongoing, complex race relations issues in our country.

How Inconvenient!
The first time I heard someone say "I don't see color", I thought, "Well, that has to be an inconvenience." How does one go about life not recognizing someone's skin color? Martin Luther King proclaimed, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Not once did he mention them being stripped of their color, an integral part of who we are.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Whip My Hair (and you should too!)

Anyone who knows me knows that I have an unhealthy obsession with the Smith brand, particularly Will Smith. But I also love his gorgeous wife Jada, his son Trey (from his first wife), his son Jaden aka "The Karate Kid", and his youngest, Willow Smith.

As a youngster, I was enamored with the Fresh Prince. He seemed like a pretty clean-cut guy who was still cool! I loved it; that's who I wanted to be. Judge me, that's fine. The weird thing about my crush, was, that it wasn't dampened by his courtship and eventual marriage to Jada Pinkett. I rooted for them; I wanted him to be happy. And then, as they had eponymous children, Willow and Jaden, I rooted for Black Hollywood's outrageously successful family.

Unlike most people, I'm a fan of both Will the actor and Will the hip-hop artist. So while most of you all were formally introduced to Willow over the past couple months with her smash hit, "Whip My Hair", I became familiar with her on Will Smith's 2002 LP, "Born to Reign." Track #6, "Willow is A Player" is a reggae-influenced track, where Will sings about his love for his then 2-year-old daughter. It's corny -- the lyrics include, "every eye tied to her as she steps out the crib" and "what make it so crazy... I met her through my wife." It's corny.... but it's cute.

I remember the day I first heard Willow's Whip My Hair track.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Morbid Elephant in the Room

I didn't want to write about this for fear of being perceived as the "skinny, insensitive jerk". But if this post pushes someone towards a healthier lifestyle, then it's all worth it.

Think back in your life. Have you ever seen someone who has lost a drastic amount of weight (in a good way), and said, "Wow you look great! You've really lost weight!" Probably. Even if someone seems to have dropped about 5 - 10 lbs that they could afford to lose, you usually comment on it. Now... let's flip it. Everyone's seen someone with the "Freshman Fifteen", or who just happened to gain a couple pounds over the holidays. Do you point it out and say, "Looks like you've picked up some weight there, chubbers!" Of course not.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Flattering stereotypes

Whenever we talk about racial stereotypes, it's usually a serious matter. As we all know racial stereotypes are a combination of A. ridiculous ideas that people made up to make themselves feel better, and B. actual evidence that often proves stereotypes to be true. The latter doesn't make them any more legitimate but it does make them hard to debunk.

But some of them are... kinda funny and/or flattering. Do Black men really want to take the time to convince men of other races that the size of their... well, my parents read this blog, so I'll stop here.

A few stereotypes that don't call for civil rights attorneys (shoutout to Lomax) include:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Your Digital Footprint

During the 2008 Presidential Campaign when various "scandals" were coming to the light, I remember thinking, "Wooooowww. they are really pulling stuff out from waaaaay back.. videos of old pastor's sermons, cigarette habits, a troublesome community college experience... *cough Palin cough*."

And then another thought occcured to me. These people had scandals, skeletons, and dirt that our media hounds were able to dig up from the 70's... what will it be like when my generation gets around 35, the electable age? It could get reeeaaaaaalllly ugly, when we pull out drunk tweets, old Facebook statuses, sloppy birthday party photo albums.

The majority of the folks I hang out with are around 22-35. I'm almost 25, and I remember when Howard first received access to Facebook. This was back before photo albums and status updates. You got to put up ONE picture, there was no Farmville, no event messages, and certainly no zombies. Ah, the glory days. We had a wall and pokes, and that was good enough. But anyway... Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Gchat, and other lesser social networks have become a way of life for folks my age. It's the only way I know so-and-so got married, and so-and-so is gay now... and so forth. It's an easy way to share information, no doubt about it. It's also something you don't have to really think to do. And that's the problem...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Top 8 Reasons I left South Carolina (and I'm not going back)

Disclaimer: I don't hate South Carolina. Most of my mom's family is there, including my sister, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. I attended a great high school there, and made some good friends.

South Carolina continues to find its way in the news and hearts of Americans for its various travashamockery (a word, I learned from, that was in a 2004 Super Bowl Commercial.)

I say "Top 8" Reasons, because I don't want to imply that there are only 8. There's more. Meet me at Busboys and Poets and I'll give you the rest.

Here we go.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

5 Reasons to Date a Black Man

I was a little conflicted about writing this, because people often assume that when you proclaim your love for one thing, you are simultaneously stating your hate or dislike for another. But, the article written by Lashaun Williams forced it out of me. She wrote an article entitled. "8 Reasons to Date A White Man." I don't disagree with the premise; I am open to more than just my own ethnicity/racial background. But the "reasons" she listed are an explicit summation of gross, hyperbolic, and racist generalizations about a rather large demographic.

Here's a brief overview of why Ms. Lashaun Williams believes Black Women should date White Men (direct quotes!):

  • 1. Gay White men are more forthcoming about their homosexuality. (Translation: More Black men hide their sexuality than White men.)
  • 2. Black men have backwards expectations when it comes to romantic relationships, and are looking for someone to take care of them. White men come from "stronger family structures."
  • 3. In White culture, education is valued and expected, while Black men continue to drop out.
  • 4. White men at least attempt marriage before making babies; "White men don't have children sprinkled around the world like Black men."
  • 5. "White men have a firmer grasp on what really defines manhood.They are smart enough not to act out rap music."
  • 6. Black men are always trying to shine, spend more money than they have. White men make better decisions when it comes to managing money.
  • 7. White men have no problem turning a ho into a housewife. They have the ability to look beyond our past.
  • 8. White men don't take everything as a challenge to their masculinity. As a result of their insecurities and low self-esteem, Black men are intimidated by the strength of an educated and ambitious Black woman.

Whew. Is your blood pressure up? Mine is! But despite what Mrs. Williams thinks, I was raised to fight ignorance with eloquence and a touch of wit.

So here we are...
5 Reasons A Sister Should Date A Black Man.
(Or at least not be opposed to the idea)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Please Stand on the Right (And other Public Transit Etiquette)

As the capital of the United States and home to over 60 museums, dozens of monuments, and 954,327 skinny jeans, Washington DC is a tourist town. And I'm fine with that. I like discovering cool things in the city too. However, tourists are a huge proponent of my Angry Woman Syndrome that usually comes into effect when I ride Metro. Here are a few guidelines for tourists and DC residents who just don't know any better.

1) STAND ON THE RIGHT. And walk on the left. (During rush hour, please jog on the left). I know... the view of DC from inside the metro is spell-binding (blatant sarcasm), and you just want to leisurely take it all in, but... the rest of us have a job! We scheduled just enough time to stop for fruit and a bagel, grab an Express newspaper, and slide into a seat headed towards Metro Center. So for you to stand directly in front of me on the escalator, and take a photograph of my train as it flies past (THANKS, I JUST MISSED MY RIDE TO WORK), drives me wild. I can't deal. Do all your dawdling, amateur photography, and mock awe on the right side of the escalator.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Freedom of Speech for All (Except the Gays!)

What is Don't Ask, Don't Tell?The full name is "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Harrass, Don't Pursue." It is commonly referred to as "DADT" and is a policy barring openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual people from serving in the military. You can be a closeted homosexual, but you can't "demonstrate(s) a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts." Yes, we are still talking about the United States. I promise!

Don't Ask: The military will not ask you if you're straight or gay. This is the only part of the law that makes sense. Someone's sexuality is no one's business but their own and their partner's.
Don't Tell: You most certainly will not tell them. You will not chat with your bunkmates about your partner, although they are more than welcome to chat about their husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends/lovers. You will not even mention intent to engage in homosexual acts.
Don't Harass
: This part of the law was enacted after Barry Winchell was killed because his fellow service members thought he was gay, and after Winchell sufficiently beat the brakes out of one of them for harassing him, Calvin Glover attacked and killed Winchell in his sleep with a baseball bat. Some people may say, "Seee! This is what happens when people in the military are gay!" Nooooo, this is what happens when the ridiculous DADT law creates a Salem Witch Trials type atmosphere for people seeking to find out who's gay and who's not. For the record, Barry Winchell never said he was gay, it was just a rumor, and he was infuriated by the accusations. But who wouldn't be? If the accusation had been made to the appropriate person, Winchell would have been discharged. #epicdontaskdonttellfail
Don't Pursue: This part establishes what is minimally required for an investigation to be initiated. The Army and other branches even provide a training guide on how to report homosexuals and what qualifies as credible information. In other words, they say, "Hey just because someone has a light pink polo
doesn't mean they're gay, but... if a lady says, "Me and my girlfriend are in a flag football league," then report her!

In short...
You are more than welcome to be gay and serve. Just keep it a secret. You are more than welcome to defend my heterosexual right to the freedom of speech, but you may not practice it yourself, when discussing your love life. (This sounds familiar huh? Like when Blacks were fighting for freedom for others in previous World Wars, but had no freedom here in the States, and were liable to be lynched if they looked at a white woman for too long.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why DC is Cooler Than Your Town

As the child of two parents in the Army, I've lived in several states and overseas. I went to high school in the booming metropolis of Boiling Springs, a suburb of Spartanburg, South Carolina. (Sidenote - we were just in the news!) I went to college in DC, spent over a year in Los Angeles, a summer in Chicago, a summer in Philadelphia, and visited a lot of major cities in the U.S. (Minneapolis is extremely underrated by the way.)

I think it's safe for me to say that I know a little bit about places in DC and outside of DC. I've come to the conclusion that aside from Los Angeles, Washington, DC might be the coolest place ever. And the only reason LA trumps DC is because LA is not susceptible to things like Snowpocalypse and Nike boots.

Why does DC rock? So glad you asked.

1) The diversity of the nightlife here. On any given night, yes, including Monday - Marvin Mondays!, you can find live music, spoken word, an open club, several bars, 24 hour diners, great food, and a stimulating conversation. The South has great sweet tea, but so does Eatonville on U Street and Horace and Dickies in NE.

2) It is the cheapest place to go on a great date. And when I say cheap, I mean FREE. Especially in the summer. Between Screen on the Green, (free movies on the National Mall, Jazz in the Gardens, countless exhibits in the many Smithsonian museums (there is not one Smithsonian, tourists, the Smithsonian is an Empire of Museums), cute coffeehouses and cafes in every other corner, the monuments, and parks galore just begging you to lay out a blanket and whisper David Banner and Ying Yang Twin tracks into a lady's ear, DC is the winner for free things to do.

3) It's a college town. And who doesn't love a college town? They bring a certain vitality to any city and ensure that there are always drink specials, impressionable men and women with the desire to change the world, and a free "intern" to make copies at your office. Just kidding.... (I love you Sarah! Just leave them on my desk, I'm at lunch.) The colleges include American, Catholic, Georgetown, George Washington (with an Ivy League price tag for reasons I don't understand), Howard, Gallaudet, and the University of the District of Columbia. There's also a few others just outside the District like the University of Maryland and George Mason.

4) Barry and 'Chelle's live here. Excuse me, the President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle live here. I can call them Barry and 'Chelles 'cause we're neighbors.

5) Driving is a luxury you don't need. Public transit here is great! Even though the trains aren't 24 hours, many of the buses are 24 hours, and plus... I'm glad they shut down the train system to clean it. It's pretty safe - even the cursed Red Line- and it goes almost anywhere you need to go. Everyone rides the trains from engineers to lawyers to students.

6) It's a big small city. Similarly to LA, DC is made up of a lot of smaller neighborhoods. Eastern Market, the U Street Corridor, Dupont Circle, H St Corridor, Chinatown, Capitol Hill, the Waterfront, Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, Georgetown, etc..... The difference is you could walk from one neighborhood to another without catching a charley horse. DC is pretty small, geographically speaking, which makes it convenient when meeting up with friends. (Try telling someone in Pasadena to meet you in Santa Monica... they'll look you at like you're crazy).

6b) Everyone knows everybody. Or, everyone knows someone who knows someone. I doubt that there are more than 3 degrees of separation between most folks in DC, outside of the hermits and members of the Secret Service who aren't allowed to make friends. This is goo, if you like to network but bad if you're promiscuous. You will get caught.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm Liberal Because Jesus Said So

A few weeks ago, a person dear to me suggested that I write about being a liberal and being a Christian. I thought it was a great idea, but I didn't know where to start, and because it's something important to me, (my faith and my political beliefs), I wanted to do it right. So I waited for the right moment.

Interestingly enough, the inspiration came over the past couple days. Before I share my story, I'd like to say something extremely important:

No political party, entity, or leaning has the exclusive rights to a specific religion. More specifically, the "Religious Right" or supposed "Moral Majority" does not even come close to representing all Christians. In many ways, I believe it operates in direct contradiction to what the Bible calls us to do. More on that later, right now... back to my anecdote:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Can T.I. save Clifford?

A few nights ago, I was talking to my happily married cousin and she claimed to have the secret to all of Black women's dating problems. "Date a White man." Although she's married to a Black man, she stressed that Black women could not depend on their male counterparts to provide them with the stable family life they were looking for. While I am open-minded in this regard, I believe everyone is entitled to their preferences and it makes complete sense to prefer to date someone of a similar culture/ethnicity background as yourself. So of course I defended Black men and will continue to do so.

Interestingly enough, about 6 hours later, I heard on the radio that TI and his wife Tiny were arrested for a controlled substance. I shared the news with my cousin, and she proclaimed, "See!!! I told you! You can't depend on them!"

I simply refuse to believe that T.I. is representative of Black men everywhere. That would mean that I think Black men everywhere are irresponsibly stupid, ungrateful for the blessings God grants them, poor stewards of aforementioned blessings, and possibly addicted to living life illegally and without any regard for the consequences of their actions.

As we all know, T.I.'s sentence for federal weapons charges was drastically reduced from 10 years to 1 year and a day. This wouldn't have happened for Clifford Harris. Cliff would have been hit with 10 years and forced to accept the fact that his wife had moved on to probably his best friend. But T.I. , entertainer, rapper, and actor, with Billboard Hits on the Pop Charts, was blessed to resume his role as husband, father, and member of the unprisoned society much earlier than traditionally deemed appropriate. And truth be told, T.I. has the kind of charisma, acceptable amount of remorse, and intelligence that made us all believe he deserved it. We forgave him. We truly believed that he was on the Road to Redemption. Even my dad,who is decidedly conservative on these issues, said, "That T.I. is a good brother; he deserves a second chance... he just had a rough start."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Friends... How Many of Us Have Them?

Friends... how many of us have them? Because I know what it feels like to stand alone, I work to be a great friend. I don't always succeed, but it's something I take seriously. Sometimes, it isn't always reciprocated. There are some folks you call "friends" because that's what Facebook calls them and your mom told you if you don't have anything nice to say... Anyway, I've got new titles for you to use for these friends. Read on.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I Don't Know What to Do With My Hands!

My name is Crystal Marie, and I'm a BlackBerry-aholic. I have 6 email synced to my phone, 200+ BBM contacts, and I tweet more from my phone than anywhere else. But I am not alone. One of my friends, owner of the G1 (I pity her) consistently cries, "Where's my phone?!" and all the while it's in her hand. I know people who can pick out the sound of their phone's ping amidst a riot at a live rock concert.

A few days ago, I left my charger at the office, and because my phone died, I was essentially without a phone for a full 16 hours and 32 minutes. I reminded myself that for the vast majority of humans' existence, we survived without telephones, and cell phones only as of late became a "necessity." I should be just fine! And yet, like the Internet, flat screen TVs, and Starbucks, the cell phone has changed the way we do a lot of things. I've listed a few that came to mind during those 16 hours:

1. How did you coordinate picking up someone at the airport without a cell? Few things are as unpredictable as flight-related changes. Gates change, flights are delayed, luggage goes missing, baggage claim gates are moved, and the list goes on. Without a cell phone to instantly communicate this to the driver, what did we do? You may say, "use a pay phone, duh!" Well... what if your driver is picking you up from Dulles airport, which is the most inappropriately placed airport in the country, and they're fighting traffic on 66 when you realize that you're actually going to be at Gate ZZ34 versus A23? You're calling an empty house!

2. What did awkward/asocial people in the club/lounge do without a cell? We all do it, but some are worse than others. We're out on the town, and conversation with your cohorts is almost impossible unless you want to ensure that you'll have no voice the next day. So, you scroll through your phone, send a tweet, write a text, and update your Facebook. Every time I go to a certain venue on 14th and K NW, I see members of the 9-5 crowd with their eyebrows furrowed as they tap out a supposedly extremely important email in the corner. I don't really understand why people go out amongst people to talk to a completely different set of people. What a waste! But I've digressed... What did we do with our hands in the club when we had no telly?

3. Speaking of the club, how did you ensure that the number you received was actually the giver's number, without a cell? How many times have you exchanged numbers with someone, and one person said, "Alright, I'm going to call you right now, just to make sure I have it." This method has certainly deterred a lot of fake digits and ousted many former "555...."ers.

4. An idea like Twitter or Foursquare would have never skyrocketed without the smartphone. I rarely use the Web for Twitter and at any given time, scrolling through your timeline, you see statuses that list, "via Ubertwitter, Twitter for iPhone, Twitter for BlackBerry, Twidroid, echofon, etc"

5. What was our getaway before the cell phone savior? Say you're on a first date and you realize... "This guy/girl is mentally insane!" What do you do? Fake an emergency of course, via a phone call, and you're saved by the ring! Note to those who do this: If you're going to pretend your phone rang, make sure you have it turned on silent, so that in case it does actually ring during your fake convo, your plan isn't foiled. I've been there. Smh.

What else do we absolutely need our cell phones to do?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Great Advice Rejected

Poor people like myself tend to say things like, "Even when my bank account is empty, I am rich" or "My family and my friends are my treasure." And it's true. I love my fam. If I have $5, and a good friend needs $6, I'll eat the overdraft fee. (Shoutout to the new legislation on overdraft fees.) Our inner circle is our confidante in rough times, a shoulder to cry on, an audience for our corny jokes, our alibi to the police, our getaway car -> Blue Mobile!, and a provider of great advice.

That last one... great advice, that's what we want... right? Someone to guide us through life's pitfalls, warn us of bad decisions, deter us from harm? Eh, I don't know. At the ripe old age of twenty mumble mumble, I've learned that usually your closest friends and family are best equipped to see your situation with a clear mind, with the only bias being concern for your welfare. And yet, I, along with many others, have made some horrific decisions, even with my crew holding huge signs pointing me in the opposite direction. Why?

When someone comes to you with a problem, and implicitly or directly asks for your take/opinion/suggestion, they usually don't want it. They really just want you to agree with the decision they've already made (or pretended to make) and to help them justify the path they're taking with statements like, "Yeah.. it's worth a try" or "You only live once."

How can you tell when people want real advice or simply a cosign on a bad loan? A few signs that someone wants the latter are below:

1) The problem/decision has a clear cut answer. We all have that friend who's dating someone who treats them like Hummers treat the Earth's environment. They come to us claiming to be "fed up" or "over it" or worse... confused about what to do.
Friend: Girl, do you know he had the nerve to borrow money to take some other chick to the movies??!? What should I do?
Sounds like he's a total dirtbag.
Friend: I don't know, maybe this is a test to see if I'm really down for him... I mean, she ain't even cute, so I know he really wants me. Yeah, that's what it is. I don't want to fail this test.
You: Sounds like you'd fail an IQ Test right about now.
Friend: Girl, you always hating on me and my man. I don't even know why I asked you.

2) You've been asked about this problem/decision several times before. When you see the number on the caller ID, you already know what the conversation is going to be about.
Friend: Dog, you are never going to believe what I'm about to tell you.
You: Wait, I bet we're going to talk about your roommate borrowing some money and not paying you back.
Friend: Yoooooo... how'd you know?!?! He said he was going to pay me yesterday, but he still hasn't... and I know that dude just bought an iPad. WTF?!?
You: Yeah, you should stop probably stop loaning him money.
Friend: I'm so serious this time, never again.
*Wait 3 weeks, then repeat above conversation, interchanging ipad with other items that this friend continues to buy with borrowed money*

3) The Advice Seeker makes excuses about the poor decision they are about to make before you can even tell them it's a poor decision.
So, I was thinking I'm just going to move to Atlanta and get serious about this whole modeling thing.
Friend's Mom: What about--
Friend: I know I don't really have any money saved up, but I figure with my talent I'll make some. I can charge everything till I do.
Friend's Mom: Well, what about--
Friend: I know, I know, I don't know anyone in Atlanta, that I have no modeling experience, and that I'm 5'2", but that doesn't mean I can't follow my dream, Mom.

4) The Advice Seeker makes references to vague cliches, Bible verses, and statements often found in chain emails.

You: Are you sure it's a good idea to give yourself a mohawk?
Cousin: What will be will be.

You: Are you sure you want to eat that entire bin of ice cream?
Friend: These aren't real calories. We're in a dream within a dream. #inception

5) The Advice Seeker references a "gut feeling" that defies all logic, including their own. FYI: Menstrual cramps, dire hunger, desperation, food poisoning and especially lust are often misconstrued as a "gut feeling."

6) The advice seeker becomes defensive when you point out significant flaws in their judgment. Nothing says, "I just want you to agree with me" like "You're hating on me... you're just jealous... You don't know how this feels." But chances are, if they're coming to you, it's because they trust you and know you're level-headed. (Unless you have become their official cosigner of all their bad decisions, and they can trust you to just agree.) So they know you're not really hating on their outdated gauchos. You just want her to stop wearing them. Because they make her look pitiful. But they say these things because they can't think of anything else and it makes them feel better.

What are some other signs that your advice is not really wanted or falling on deaf ears?

*Disclaimer: I have made, and continue to make, horrible decisions despite my friends' best efforts. That's probably why I recognize all these signs so well.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Why I Love Hip-Hop (Even When It Doesn't Love Me Back)

Maaaaaaaaan.... if people defended poor children and the homeless the way they defended Rick Ross, we wouldn't need Boys & Girls Clubs or homeless shelters. They'd all be taken care of! My last post "Rick Ross' Identity Crisis", inspired heated debate in my office, a few spirited BBM conversations, a halfway serious death threat, several text messages, and a few long-winded tweets. Sidenote: Rick Ross has a charity, where aside from the fact that it appears he's performing his music, it looks like he's doing good work.

Let me put it out there... I'm not a hip-hop head. Clearly. But I am Black and while hip-hop doesn't define Black culture, it represents a significant chunk. Similarly to spirituals, blues and soul, urban gospel, funk, and et cetera, hip-hop has provided the backdrop for Blacks from the late 70s to now. (It's also cued whenever the bad guy appears in a movie, which is a whole 'nother topic.)

Because I love and respect us, our potential, our brilliance, our creativity, I have high expectations for us. This includes the films we put out or the music we saturate the world with. I mean, many of us are descendants of folks who took the least desired/left over parts of the chicken/hog/pig and made them tasty snacks.
You gonna tell me Tyler Perry and Wacka Flocka is the best we have to offer? Nah, I'm not buying it.

Rap music in many ways, frustrates me. It's often misogynistic, homophobic, and sometimes I really believe it sets us back a decade or two---> looking at you Yung Joc. But not always. Actually, more often than not, (as long as you ignore mainstream radio), hip-hop rocks.

I want to stress that I am
not well-versed in hip-hop, and while many folks (see Losing My Cool by Thomas Chatterton Williams) , couldn't imagine their childhood without hip-hop, I knew very few rap lyrics before high school and college. I didn't hear Biggie's Ready to Die album until after the title proved true.

So what has hip-hop done for me?

1. Educated me. Even though my family is not even close to the Forbes list, I never lived in an unsafe or truly urban neighborhood, until I went to college. I didn't know any drug dealers, crack users, corner boys, gang members, Shanequas (who don't live here no more) , etc personally. I also was aware of racism in that murky, black and white films, civil rights history kind of way, but not intimately aware of its daily manifestations. (Don't worry, I know now!) While I am extremely grateful to my parents for shielding me as a child, you can't begin to understand the problems in the Black community until you're at least mildly familiar with it, beyond reading about it in a book. Hip-hop gave me a vivid picture and in many ways, influenced my desire to work and teach in these communities. While I was no "streets expert" in Watts, and my students made it clear that they thought I was from Beverly Hills, I wasn't oblivious or completely green. A few artists/songs that provided insight for me:

a. 2pac - Brenda's Got A Baby, Keep Ya Head Up, and the list goes on....
b. Mos Def - Mr. Nigga
c. NWA - Straight Outta Compton
d. Eve - Love is Blind
e. Lauryn Hill - Doo Wop (That Thing)

2. Inspired Me: I love Kirk Franklin and his gospel tracks, probably more than the average person. However, some hip-hop has a way of uplifting you in a way that no other music can. Sometimes you don't wanna hear someone singing or wailing. You want someone to talk to you, over a beat, preferably with some bass. A few examples of my favorite inspirational hip-hop tracks are:

a. Nas - I Can
b. Jay, Beanie Sigel, Scarface - This Can't Be Life
c. Lauryn Hill - To Zion
d. Will Smith - Just the Two of Us

3. Romanced Me: I love soul music, and NOBODY sings better than my Howard colleague Donny Hathaway (looking at you Chris Brown and your horrible cover of This Christmas). Hip-hop holds it own though, even without the Ja Rule and Lil Mo collabos.

a. LL Cool J - I Need Love
b. Outkast - Prototype
c. Fugees - Killing Me Softly
d. Ghosftace Killah feat. Mary J. Blige - All That I Got Is You

4. Gave me a Reason to bop my head! Ahhh... my favorite. Hip-hop knocks. It is the best riding music, best getting ready to go the club music, best time to leave work and hit the happy hour music, and hands down, best music to flip your hair/shake your locks to. A few are:

a. DJ Kool - Let Me Clear My Throat
b. Kid Cudi - Day N Nite
c. Ludacris - Move!
d. Wale - Pretty Girls
e. DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince- Summertime

Of COURSE this is not even CLOSE to a comprehensive list, and doesn't address everything hip-hop does for me, it's a start. I want to hear your hip-hop story. What is it? What are some songs you could add to the list? Humor me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rick Ross' Identity Crisis

When I first heard the track "B.M.F." (Blowin' Money Fast) which I prefer to call the "Larry Hoover" song, I thought to myself, "Who records a single while they're eating/out of breath?" In case you haven't heard the song, (which means you probably also have a flip phone and don't know what "lol" stands for), here's a look at the chorus:
"I think I'm Big Meech, Larry Hoover, whipping work, halleluiah,
One nation under God real n****s getting money from the f**king start."
Upon hearing this, curiosity got the best of me and I just had to figure out who the Hoover character was. A distant relative of Herbert, maybe?

Sigh... turns out...

Larry Hoover is a murderer. And a Gang Leader (of Black Gangster Disciple Nation). As a pseudo community leader, he led riots and drug transactions... from prison. He's there. For life.
Big Meech is a founder of the Black Mafia Family (alternative explanation for BMF title). Another great addition the Black community, Big Meech is also a criminal and former druglord, but he fared better than Larry. He gets out of prison in 2031.

So, I'm thinking, why does Rick Ross, a rapper, think he's a criminal in prison?

Turns out...

Rick Ross isn't even Rick Ross! He's actually William Leonard Roberts. A former corrections officer. The real Rick Ross is Ricky Freeway Ross. (He's been made even more famous by TWO rappers, both Freeway of Philadelphia and the Teflon Don derived their stage names from him.)*
*I know that everyone and their mom knew this about Rick Ross apparently months ago, and I'm late, but I'm proud to admit I didn't become a Rozay aficionado until recently.

William Leonard Roberts aka Rick Ross, aka Rozay... who are you?!?! And why, former student at Albany State University, are you so bent on adopting the names of criminals? All in a recording session that sounds like it was sponsored by KFC.

More importantly, while I'm concerned about your mental health, I'm more concerned about its effect on its youthful audience. A friend of mine, pointed out the "conscious" tracks he has on his album, which I conceded were... borderline inspirational if you ignore all the coarse language, and you focus on the great production and sparse gems of knowledge sprinkled through the tracks. But the majority of folks don't know Tears of Joy. They know Big Meech, Larry Hoover. (By the way... Hoover and hallelujah don't even rhyme!! What's that about?!? Is the hip hop community just gonna let that slide?!?!)

Anyway, I used to teach kids in Watts, South Central (politically correct term - South Los Angeles), Philadelphia, Cabrini Green neighborhood of Chicago (torn down now), and I mentor a child now in DC. While my job was to teach reading comprehension, or theatre or prealgebra, it turns out... it was also my job to fight against the poison many of them had learned in their homes and neighborhoods. For example, in LA, while accompanying a group of middle school girls on a field trip, the school bus driver, who was extremely Stringer Bell esque, hold the sexy, inspired one of the girls to giggle, "Ooh he walk like he just got out of jail... he fiiiine." What?!!?!?!?!?!!? Now we have a moderately successful rapper saying, "I think I'm a criminal... hallelujah." To add insult to injury, he's talking with food in his mouth. Horrific etiquette. We want our kids to grow up and do better than the generation before, become the next Barack Obama, write books, cure cancer, design the Iphone 87.0, but Lenny (William Leonard Roberts), a former college student is determined to glorify criminals and poor table manners.**
**I also don't like that he punctuates his lines with "ugh". Whose idea was that?
The Many Faces of Rick Ross
Big Meech and Larry Hoover below

Ricky Ross and Leonard Roberts

Of course good ol' Lenny isn't the only person marring hip-hop. He's part of the majority; I just felt like making an example of him. I try to be solution-oriented, and I'm not really sure what I could do to address it, but... Lupe Fiasco did! He released a track, calling Building Minds Faster, with the chorus:

I think I'm Malcolm X... Martin Luther. Add a King, add a Jr
Some Bible verses, a couple sunnas, An AK-47 that's a revolution!!
Think I'm Tupac, Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, Marcus Garvey.

Enjoy! After you check it out, give me your thoughts. Am I too harsh on Rozay?***

*** The album Teflon Don is actually good, if you just listen to the hooks and the beats. (Erykah Badu, Cee-Lo, NeYo and Chrisette Michelle sound heavenly) Kudos to the Production Team!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Proof I'm Not Perfect

As a Christian, I'm forced to subscribe to the thought that I make mistakes and I'm not perfect. Actually no one is. However, I'm close enough to perfect that I'm willing to outline the reasons here. If you know me, you know most of these, but if you don't, I figure I should get them aaaaaallll out the way in the beginning, that way there are no surprises:

1. You know how some people say, "When I die, I want everyone to be happy and reflect on all the wonderful memories, and for it to be a big party!" I don't. I want everyone, even people who don't know me, but just heard of me, to be visibly upset, to cry, and for a select few of those closest to me, to consider suicide. Now, I don't want any one to commit suicide because I died. But I do want people to imagine their life as pointless without me, for at least a few minutes.

2. Sometimes when I'm tired of talking to people on the phone, I just hang it up, because I can't think of a good closer. And then later, I say my phone died, or I pretend to think it was their fault.

3. When telemarketers and/or bill collectors call and say, "Hi this is Susan, is this Crystal?" I say, "yes... Susan!!! How are the kids?!? Good I hope! I tried that new recipe you recommended and it's scrumptious! Look, I've gotta get on the road, but I will catch up with you later. Say hi to Ron!"

4. I drool a little in my sleep. I can't turn it off. It's not out of control. But it's definitely there.

5. I am hypnotized by Nicki Minaj's cartoon character voices. I don't support wigs, particularly lace front, but I.Can't.Stop.Listening.

6. I don't trust adults that wear shoes with Velcro straps.

7. When people respond to my text/BBM/other typed message with the letter "k" (and that's it), I write them off for the next 24 hours as inconsiderate.

There are at least 2 more things that make me less than perfect, but who really needs to know them all? What flaws do you have? I've shared. Your turn!

The Little Things

Someone asked me a few days ago to describe what it would take to win my heart. There's the cliche things that everyone says honesty, attractiveness, sensitive, funny... Thank you, Captain Obvious. But some little things you may never guess are:

a great tipper. The ability to tip appropriately says that you're generous even when it goes unrewarded.
clean, clipped nails. Just like you appreciate all the efforts we invest in our hair, toes, and in perfecting our hip to waist ratio, I appreciate you taking a moment to rid your nails of Cheetos, the day's grime, and kitty litter. And weed smokers, you are fooling NO one with that extra long pinky nail.
a collection of books (that you've read). The other day, while I was on the train with my handy-dandy ereader , a guy tapped my shoulder and said, "What's the battery life on your Nook like? I'm trying to decide whether I want the Kindle or what you have." I swooned inside.
4. a genuine interest in my friends. I know you're thinking, "You want a guy that likes your friends?!?!" Not exactly. But a guy that understands when my friends are ok, I'm happier, and that if I need to bring her some chicken-noodle soup, I'd appreciate him boiling the water and passing over his grandmother's secret recipe.
5. Initiative. You know I'm in love with Will Smith. You know the prequel to I Am Legend drops soon. Buy the tickets and clear my schedule so we can check it out. Help me looooove Wiiiilllll.
6. An Acceptance of my selective taste in food. I have a list of approximately 101 foods that I don't eat for one reason or another.(If you would like a copy, I'd be happy to email it to you.) I don't wish I was this way. But God made my taste buds and that's the way it is. I once dated a guy who made it his job to remember all the foods I didn't like. I remember once, we went to a Mexican restaurant, and I neglected to see that my entree choice had guacamole in it. After I ordered, he politely asked the server, "Could you hold the guac? She's not a fan." Again... I swooned.

if you have an unhealthy, (yet heterosexual) obsession with any of the following things, you get extra ++++++++++++++ points:
a. The Wire
b. Whitney Houston (When she sings the National Anthem, I immediately forgive America for slavery)
c. Will Smith
d. Donnie Hathaway (besides having the most pure voice I've ever heard, he's Howard alum)
e. Howard University and it's real HUness
f. Glee
g. Michael Jackson
h. Infant Sorrow

What are some things that people don't often mention that make you swoooooon ladies, fellas? I wanna know!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Get a (Bath)room Already

I have a reputation for being dramatic. It's true. That's fine. So a few weeks ago, when I said, "Wayne is always talking about poop!", my friend Chris said, "You're exaggerating Crystal."

Well.... Weezy fans, here is a list of the ones I can think of... and I'm not a Wayne fan, so the fact that I know this many is alarming to say the least:
1. Kanye West feat. Lil Wayne - See You In My Nightmares
You think your ish don't stink, but you are Mrs. P.U. - Wayne
2. Lil Wayne - We Be Steady Mobbing
Got ten bathrooms; I can shit all day. - Wayne
3. Birdman feat Li l wayne - For my Town
Man I'm the shit and ya'll janitors. - Wayne
4. Shawty Lo feat Lil Wayne - Dey Know Remix
My flow crazy and I ain't too sane; But I am the shit, and they just poop stains. - Wayne.
5. Lil Wayne - My Weezy
My Stomach hurt; my shit is dropping real soon - Wayne
6. Lil Wayne - Money on My Mind
Dear Mr. Toilet, I'm the shit. - Wayne
7. DJ Khaled - I'm So Hood feat Lil Wayne
i be shitting on you boys; I need an Alka Seltzer Sandwich - Wayne
8. Lil Wayne - Lollipop Remix
I flushed out the feeling of me being the shit, cuz I was leaving skid marks on everywhere I sit. - Wayne
9. Young Jeezy - I'm Going In Remix
Hello mother effer, hey hi how ya dern? It’s Weezy F. Baby, come to take a shit and urine on the toilet bowl. - Wayne

Words I'm Over

I'm liberal, so by default, I don't support censorship. If Weezy wants to make over a dozen references to feces in his body of music... and you all want to dance to it, be my guest. See - Weezy References to Poop

Despite my tree-hugging tendencies however, I believe there are a few words/phrases, we really need to just let go, for the betterment of America, and maybe even Haiti. (Texting a link to this blog to Yele Haiti will
not provide clean water for Haitians, but... it's worth a try.)

*Disclaimer: I have used some of the words below, and while I would like to say that I won't anymore, I can't make any guarantees. I'm a work in progress... 

Swag (and it's spin-offs): Just like all the rest of you, I enjoy caressing my hair and moving in sync with the rest of the mid-twenties urban professional crowd when Pretty Boy Swag comes on. My eyes also light up at the opportunity to swag-surf. But at some point, we've got to stop. There has to be another way to describe the way a man walks across the room with a limp (his smooth gait?!). Little known fact: There is no correlation between the ability to swag surf and the ability to surf on water.

Mother-fuck: Look at the word. Now is that REALLY what you mean when you say that? The other day, while walking through one of the few portions of DC unaffected by gentrification, I overheard a teenaged woman tell her 3-4 year old son, "Stop all that motherfucking crying!" I'll ignore the fact that it's normal for a 3 year old to cry when he has just been mollywopped by the back of an adult hand. Without getting too on you, I'd like you to consider the subconscious effect of jumbling the words "mother" and "fuck" around together. Unless you're talking to Delonte West, it's probably inappropriate.

About 10 years ago, I was joking with my coworker, and I said, "What are you, a crackhead?" I don't know what she did that made me say that, but her face fell, and she ran into the bathroom and cried for at least 45 minutes. Turns out... she used to be an abuser of cocaine. Whoops.

If you watch The Wire, you're familiar with "Bubs", the drug user and also informant to the police. Throughout the seasons, you watch him grow from a fiend to a successful addition to Baltimore's society. (This was a random aside and reference to The Wire that was neither necessary nor exciting, but... I do that sometimes.)

We all probably know someone who uses cocaine. Whether it's the guy that washes your car, or the aunt that steals your license plate and any loose change... in your pocket... you know it's not a fun problem. It's easy to laugh at Tyrone Biggums and enjoy the comedy that drug abusers bring to our lives, but calling them a crackhead is a bit... objectifying, and similarly to "mother-fuck", minimizes the gravity of the situation. Sure, yelling out, "Look at that abuser of amphetamines!" doesn't roll off the tongue. But is it really suppose to be convenient for us to call people names?

Bitch: I know, I know, you're saying, "Sometimes, someone really is being a bitch!" Well, by the time we reach jr. high, we've eagerly looked up the word in a dictionary and learned that it actually means female dog. And some people do look like feminine Rotweilers. But the ban is for the indiscriminate use of the word "bitch" for "women I don't know individual names for". For example:
Man 1: Yeah, I was at The Park last night... so many fine bitches in there. You shoulda came!
Man 2: For real? I knew me and my dogs shoulda went through. We ended up staying at the crib playing Madden all night though. (No homo) I tried to get them to come out (no homo again, my bad), but Evan was being a
bitch about losing 3 times, so they kept going at it. (No homo my nig).
..... Sigh. Until Webster and the American Kennel Club decide to let humans have bitch, and give dogs something else, it's out of pocket. Just because Too Short said it's his favorite word, doesn't mean it has to be yours!

Females and Males: I don't know if it's a recent phenomena, but I've noticed that when referring to men and women, people often say "females and males." Most major animal species have a name for their female version and a name for their male version. (For a complete list, see here: Female and Male Animals)

Even if someone isn't a
lady, she's still a woman. Not a Phenomenal Woman, a great poem by Maya Angelou, but still a woman. And whether or not he pays his child support on time, he's still a man. Not a responsible one, but still a man. Maybe if you called him a man, instead of "nigga", "motherfucking loser", "little boy", or "these trifling males", he might get the inclination that he should act like one.

Drizzy: This is as a personal favor. I don't like that Drake's nickname is so close to sounding like a synonym for Reading-a-Good-Book-Weather.

Any other words you can think of? By the way, I've left off quite a few because I'm saving the biggies for another post. I'm ignoring the big N-word elephant in the room.