Archive for Black women

Emotional Intellience = Relationship Success

       I remember as a kid everyone would always laud me for how smart I was, how I excelled at almost everything academically.  I did somewhat, I always read way beyond my grade level and was not the least intimidated by any sort of math problems.  However, I was almost completely clueless when it came to Social Studies or Science, which to this very day neither of which are my strong suits.  In fact, if someone calls me smart today I will emphasize that there is a difference between being smart and being “intelligent”, smart being the label I proudly accept.

     Well, Daniel Goleman also believes that there is a difference in being smart and being intelligent.  He coined the term “emotional intelligence“, distinguishing emotional competencies from the cognitive capabilities that are measured by “IQ”  or intelligence quotient.  In his book, Emotional Intelligence, which is a must read for those of us who’d like to believe we excel despite our average intelligence, Mr. Goleman defines emotional intelligence as “the ability to motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustrations; to control impulse and delay gratification; to regulate one’s moods and keep distress from swamping the ability to think; to empathize and to hope“, as something that can be learned and improved upon by children.  From this perspective, it is obvious why those who succeed academically, score very high on their SAT or IQ or both, have been known to do either just ok or worse than expected.  As a matter of fact, it has been shown that IQ contributes only 20% to the factors that determine life success, while the other 80% is based on factors like emotional competence.  (from an article written by Howard Gartner.)

      The very crux of emotional intelligence  is that learning how to cope with the trials of life is much more determinant in how one succeeds in life, in love and work/career/business.  Academic intelligence merely shows that one is astute at achievement only measured by grades and/or tests.  This certainly does nothing for the man or woman who is dealing with the challenges of love, relationship or marriage, a parameter for success in life.  We all, in some form or another, look at one’s personal achievements in a myriad of arenas to determine if they are to be admired or esteemed globally, understanding that a rich but lonely businessman is not necessarily the life we would die to have .  A CEO on Wall Street, who has a successive number of failed relationships, with no family of his or her own to be proud of will not receive the same adoration as one who does well and has a solid family and home life to complement his career achievements. 

      It may take little effort on the valedictorian’s part to continue to climb the corporate ladder, while attempts to maintain even a modicum of a social or personal life escapes him.  It is often his or her’s lack of emotional intelligence that robs them of the ability to read body language or facial expressions; interact with an exchange of interest or intrigues; interject humor or wit or to even express him or herself appropriately.  Our thoughts and feelings, too, play a major role in how we perceive and handle others in personal relationships, while in business interactions these can be minimized or even ignored all together.  Men and women have very different emotional sensors and thus require a working knowledge of how to accept and appreciate these differences, a skill only an emotional intelligent person could do.  Men are never going to be the emotional managers that women are and women, at least most of them, choose not to downplay or ignore the significance of emotions in intimate relationships.  But it takes the emotionally savvy person to at least accept these differences, work within these realms and to nurture the relationship in light of it. 

      So in all reality, there may be less credence to the belief that Black professional women, particularly the ones who do exceptionally well in their careers, have a tougher time finding a mate because of the disparity in gender achievement.  Black women may need to take a page out of the emotional intelligence handbook and learn to attune themselves to all things personal, outside of the boardroom.  Giving up the rigidity of corporate America for the sensitivity of interpersonal dependence, if they truly want to succeed is not a bad idea.  Not to say trading one for the other is the key, but understanding that the conformities of the workplace is not germane to the other arenas in life could land that successful relationship that is missing.

Advertisements

Is it a Cultural Thing, the Black Family That Is

A discussion came up recently about the cultural differences amongst Black Americans and Blacks from other parts of the world.  I was talking with a few of my girlfriends and we got on the topic of dating, love and relationships within the Black culture and how the perspective we have on each of these varies from region to region.  On the one hand, I could relate (because I think I dated a Black man from almost every part of the world) and noticed that there were some differences in my experience with each of them.  However, I thought about the fact that the destruction of the Black family is something that is ubiquitous, not just happening here in the United States or with Black Americans.

When the topic is raised be it by discussion, in the news, etc., many experts, philosophers, or anyone who has an opinion, state that the destruction of the American Black family is really based on our slave history and thus is a plight that non-American Blacks cannot necessarily relate to.  Not that I don’t agree with American slavery having a significant impact on the state of the Black family, or the Black community in general, but I don’t think that that is the sole basis for what we are experiencing.  Not to mention, Americans are not the only ones who went the horrific experience of slavery, being mentally and spiritually broken down for centuries by it.  Blacks in the Caribbean, Europe and South America (not to mention African countries where many slaves were captured from) were also traumatized by the brutality of slavery.  Ironically, though, Black families are not being annihilated in many of these other countries as they are here in the United States.  For instance, in South African although the number of out-of-wedlock births have increased, the nuclear family still remains intact on a large scale with the father being the patriarch.  (Read, http://family.jrank.org/pages/1613/South-Africa-Family-Life-in-Black-Communities.html)

I will say that economics, urbanization, employment, religion and education, all have a profound effect on the composite of the Black family since these influences vary amongst different Black cultures.  In Third World countries, for example, the Black family is more likely to remain intact in order to sustain, relying on each of its member to contribute financially to their existence.    So essentially, it may be circumstances in the varying regions that causes the incongruity among Black  as far as family is concerned.  Unfortunately, there is very little comprehensive data on the number of intact families amongst Blacks in other countries, particularly the countries that make up a substantial portion of that country’s population.  However, living in a diverse city like New York, one can certainly get a feel for their beliefs and ideals from merely interacting with other Black nationalities within the city.

Family dynamics and composition are inevitably impacted by heritage, but I don’t think that is the end all.  We all know someone who has migrated to this country and has become “Americanized” to the extent that they no longer acquiesce when their mate engage in behaviors that used to be culturally acceptable to them when they were in their country.   I guess depending on your stance on the topic, you can make the argument either way based on this observation alone.

“Just Wright”, Almost Got it Right

I talked my SO into seeing this movie particularly because as soon as saw the trailer he said “Yeah right, like anyone is gonna buy a big girl like Queen being the love interest of someone like Common (his character)”.  And although I had seen the trailer several times prior, not one time did I even think that.     Maybe it is the hopeless romantic in me or me being ever the optimist, but I did not even give that a second of my thoughts.   I did think that it has been a minute since we have seen some positive images on the big screen and I was anticipating the movie’s release.  But I was not mad at him, I just wanted him to see how we can all buy into something positive if it is portrayed right.

Well, as for the movie I did not care much for the writing or the directing, but I did appreciate the messages.  Let’s start with the family, Queen’s character had parents who were still together and she had a Daddy-daughter relationship many of us are remiss of…..long overdue!  Then we had an athlete that did not have all the negative stereotypes being played out, i.e. speaking ebonics, hanging with a slew of his “boyz” on the social scene, sleeping around, yada, yada, yada.  Next, I loved the fact that the thicker, around-the-way girl won out to the lighted skin, svelte, beautiful arm piece that many of them (athletes) fawn over, even though Common’s character initially fell for the okey doke himself.  And finally, I love the fact that there was love, Black love, as the theme of the movie…that gets all the accolades itself.  When is the last time we saw many of these images in the theater, let alone all of them in the same movie?  I saw how any Black man could fall for a girl like “Leslie”, since she was honest, had goals and ideals and “cool”.  I have several friends who possess the same traits, but for their shape, size or skin tone, they would have a line out the door of prospects.  I accept that men are physical, and so they need to have their taste for beauty satsified from the onset.  But I encourage my brothas (and sistahs) to see past that and maybe your relationship can survive past the honeymoon phase.

It is crucial that we support such movies, nevermind it’s lack of substance as far as the characters are concerned, the images that are portrayed are what is important.  I mean we don’t even recognize how we are all buying into the negative stereotypes that have been shoved down our throats, not until we see the complete opposite.  This is unacceptable to me and should be denounced by each of us.  One by one we will all label Black women who are not thin enough, light enough, pretty enough to being the girls that a sane Black man would not even blink an eye at.   This is how it started, the images led to the brainwashing, and the brainwashing became our reality, we have to change that.  Go see the movie, encourage others to go and see it and so on and so on and so on.

So kudos to Queen, well Flava Unit, for being on the right course.

To ABC’s “Nightline”:We Don’t Wanna Hear It Anymore…But You All Raise A Good Point

          If I hear, read or see another special report on the state of Black women and their plight about not being able to find a mate, husband or father for their youngens, I am going to…well….actually do NOTHING!   Here’s the thing, this topic sells, it sells magazines, books, ads, and so on and so on.  I had a discussion with a friend of mine recently about how she and several of her other friends, for years, have been trying to sell so-called “success stories” about Black women finding love to the major Black magazines, to no avail.  Yeah, I could not believe it.  You mean someone is actually getting off on my sistahs trying to keep themselves warm at night, I was mortified.  Here I was basking in the glow of having finally found my lifelong partner, four of our mutual friends followed suit, and no one wants to hear about it.  This is insane, after the gazillion frogs we all had to kiss before we found our princes! 

      But then, not more than a month has passed before ABC is doing yet another special on the topic, if I was not convinced before I was then.  I must admit, I was reading the ubiquitous remarks from men and women alike who were fed up with the media perpetuating this concept.  So by the time I finally watched the program, I was somewhat tainted by the insight I had from them.  But you know what, although there were very few nascent concepts divulged, I had what Oprah called an “aha” moment.  I think to some degree, even Black women get their jollies ruminating over the miniscule pool of available, good Black men.  That’s right I said it, I think Black women just love the attention they get from the “woe is me” thing many of them have going on.  I mean I listened to Jacque Reid and Sherri Shepherd and nothing they said remotely sounded as if  they even wanted to try to open their mind.  Now don’t get me wrong, I know they don’t speak for all Black women, but to be honest they sound like a lot of my single girl friends.  They can sound so pathetic, desperate, negative and just downright hopeless that they sap my energy just to be in their company.  I mean what happened to the light at the end of the tunnel, the rainbow after the storm, the fragrant spring flowers after the brutal winter-well you get my point.   If you think about it, you will see the validity to my observation.  The ridiculous “list” many single Black women concoct, the superficial things they focus their attention on, the inability to articulate who they are and what their beliefs are-believe it or not all of things only serve as a diversion to the real issue.   And no matter what, unless and until the women understand what it is she really wants, in her life, in this journey and then in love, then she will remain in the limelight for being  that poor single Black woman.

     Believe it or not, I am a true believer,  I am the friend that is constantly telling my friends to keep an open mind, to see the good in each and every experience, to understand their purpose, to speak it into existence, etc.  And for many of them, they actually start to see things differently when they regularly affirm these to themselves, especially when they start to appreciate that they have nothing to lose.  I am very spiritual and believe that the way we see life is the way it will be for us. So if we habitually pay homage to this notion that there are no, nor will there be, any good Black men left then guess what that is exactly what our reality will be.  If you see yourself at the low-end of the totem pole, then that is exactly where you will be, it works like that in every aspect of our lives.  And no, I have not had a lot of success with love. On the contrary, I had more failures than I would like to remember but ask any of my friends, I always remained optimistic.  So if you want your fate to change, really you have to do something, I mean really do something not just talk the talk.

Black Marriage Day: A Celebration Of Black Marriages

I think this is awesome! a day to celebrate, acknowledge and highlight the Black married couples throughout the country.  This is a concept we need to spread like wild flowers, let everyone you know so they can tell somebody and so on and so on and so on…March 28th, 2010.  The founder of Wedded Bliss Foundation, Nisa I. Muhammad founded this day eight years ago to celebrate Black marriage within our community. (go to http://www.blackmarriageday.org and weddedblissinc.com)

The statistics indicate that marriage in the Black community is at an all time low, approximately 32%, less than half of what it was back in the 1970’s.  Furthermore, almost 70% of Black children born in single parent homes, most of them headed by single women.  To make matters even worse, younger couples within the Black community prefer to cohabit over marriage, also opting for having children out of wedlock.  Many believe that Black marriage is not the “trend” anymore speculating that it is more of a “White folks” thing.  These propagandists blame the media, rap music and lack of spirituality for this predicament.  Not that there is no validity to this, I believe that the media certainly plays a major role, but I also think many of us are to blame.  Black women blame Black men for their plight, Black men will not accept responsibility for what ails our community and so many of them run, and so the cycle goes on.

We need to talk long, hard and often about what the benefits of marriage are and why we should encourage our youngsters, our single, professional Black women, our Black men and unmarried parents to consider marriage as a viable option.  Although a  fairly recent Gallup poll, indicates that many Blacks between the ages 19-35, would like to get married and consider marriage to be a very significant part of life there are far too many who “shack up” instead with their “baby mama” or ‘baby daddy”.  So all hope is not gone, we can spread the word now and keep it going.  According the the Institute for American Values (www.americanvalues.org), some of the benefits of marriage include:

-increased financial and economic status, since both spouses are more likely to work as opposed to their White counterparts;

-Black men in particular seem to improve in health, physically and psychologically, when they marry;

-Black children tend to benefit more from marriage, even moreso than cohabitating parents, since married parents tend to take the health, education and psychological well-being of their children much seriously than non-married parents

-Black male offspring tend to be more confident, do better in school and have minimal behavioral issues leading to delinquency when they live within a home where their parents are married

-married Black couples are more likely to be supportive of each other, their children and their community

These benefits, plus many that we can see for ourselves we do not need a study to confirm for us, i.e. that it encourages Black men to remain productive members of society, that it serves as an example and encouragement for young Blacks to see marriage as a viable option and that it serves to minimize many of the negative stereotypes society has placed on us, can be used as selling points to all Blacks young and old as to why we should marriage should be the chosen path for long-term relationships.  I say long-term because we don’t want young people getting married just for the sake of having a party to show off the ring, dresses, etc.  Because just as the number of Black marriages decreased within the Black community, divorces within our community has increased to an astronomical degree.

We can all do something, we can tell everybody we know about the celebrations that are being held on March 28th all over the country to celebrate Black Marriage Day; we can get on board and promote, get active and support the initiatives being made by the African American Healthy Marriage Initiative (www.aahmi.org) as well the local efforts being made; most importantly we can support each other and appreciate what we can do to change our attitudes about each other.   I think once we start to listen to each other, respect our differences and move past them to actually do something about it we will inspire change.

Dear SBF: Looking for a Potential Mate…Go to Prison and/or School

Wait, wait, wait!  Before you get your panties all in a bunch let me explain.  I don’t know if many of you have been keeping an eye on the recent bills being considered in Congress regarding the federal sentencing guidelines reform for crack vs. cocaine (the Fair Sentencing Act) or the bills concerning the disenfranchisement of felons (the Democracy Restoration Act of 2009) but these are currently before the legislative bodies, both nationally and locally for a number of reasons.   First off, roughly 35% (and higher if you consider the federal prisons) of the prison population is made up of Black men, where Black men make up only 12% of the overall population.   Okay, you don’t have to be even remotely mathematically savvy to see that these numbers are highly disproportionate.  This is a huge problem, economically, culturally and psychologically, for our community but more so for the Black family.   When more Black women than Black men are graduating from college, although almost 50% more Black women enroll there is an even wider gap in the number that graduates, this just compounds the problems.  To make matters worse, up to 60% of Black men have a criminal record (that number may be a lot higher for some cities like Chicago) and are limited in going anywhere but back to prison or the welfare rolls.

This is the problem, and hence where you come in at SBF, because many of these young Black men are unfairly targeted, unfairly penalized and unfairly disenfranchised upon release.  We don’t have to feed into “their” hype. As Michelle Alexander describes it, in her book “The New Jim Crow:Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness“, (www.newjimcrow)  this is modern day slavery.  Ms. Alexander highlights the fact that there are not only more Blacks imprisoned than there were slaves in 1850, but that there is a huge inequity in the drop in the crime rate since the 1980’s while the number of convictions soared since that time.  She further mentions that more Blacks are disenfranchised in 2004, than before the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified which prohibited the denial of the right to vote on the basis of race.  This is no coincidence, Black men are being enslaved in a covert, yet pernicious way.  I practice criminal defense in New York City, where the incarceration of young Black is a whopping four times more than the number of Blacks that occupy the city.  It’s not hard to tell when I enter the courthouse in any borough and the courtroom is so overwhelmingly filled with Blacks, that I occasionally get mistaken for being a defendant.  As a criminal attorney, it didn’t take long for me to realize the number of potential clients coming to my office were unfairly stopped (clear violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments), illegally detained, were the subject of “evidence planting” and were forced to take pleas or wrongfully convicted (especially when they insisted on proving their innocence by rejecting any pleas, opting to have a jury decide their fate instead).  It is unfathomable how blatant and ubiquitous police officers, prosecutors, judges, etc. are with their total disregard for the truth and for doing what they all pledged they would do under the Constitution.  Not every man in prison, or with a criminal record, did in fact commit a crime-many of them happen to be a victim of an inherent racist justice system.

So SBF, another alternative is to direct your attention to the schools.  The School to Prison Pipeline (http://www.nyclu.org/node/1323) supports what many Black parents are already aware of, the education system is just another ploy to direct our young Black men to the prisons.   Black students (particularly Black boys) are expelled at an alarming rate, 34%, making it more likely to be held back a grade; Black students (again mainly Black boys) are more likely to be placed in special education, minimizing the likelihood of them graduating from high school; and Black boys are more likely to be arrested in school for minor infractions than any other race, thereby establishing a relationship with the penal system a lot earlier in life than what can be justified.

So you see, SBF, the moral of the story is that we can do something.  We can effect change legislatively (go to www.sentencingproject.org), we can mentor Black children (especially Black boys) through the schools, community organizations, churches or one on one or we can merely support our Black men in any way we can.  We may not find our soulmate in any of these places, but we can certainly increase the pool of potentials for someone else.

For further reading, go to http://www.lawsch.uga.edu/academics/profiles/dwilkes_more/57racism.html

Since We’re on the Topic, Let’s Talk Blacks and Adoption of Black Boys

     I recently read somewhere that Sapphire, the author of “Push”,  is working on another book that highlights the crisis regarding the over abundance of black boys in foster care.  It really hit me because, as I have mentioned on a number of occasions, I represent (well I used to anyway) children in the foster care system as an attorney in New York.  And what was troubling for me as their attorney, was not only the unbelievable number of Black children that filled the foster homes but the fact that the agencies were so unjustifiably willing to take these children from their homes, disrupting and destroying an otherwise functional family.  And no, the child protective workers were not always “just doing their jobs”, nor were they “erring on the side of caution” (given the fact that the federal statute requires that such agencies MUST implement “services” to the families to avoid removal).  Read my related blog post from my firm’s website, http://www.traceyabloodsaw.com/blog/2008/allegations-of-child-abuse-when-is-removal-of-the-child-justifiedMany of them were just puppets on a string, doing what the system is designed to do, destroy these families, and yes, particularly Black families.

     Regardless of the reasoning, justification or legitimacy the end result is a foster care system, not just in New York, that is overwhelmed by its population, mainly Black population.  My recent post about Blacks being the only ones who should be adopting Black children, prompted several responses here (and on other blogs, Facebook, etc.) about the lack of interest Blacks have in adopting Black children.  This, as many were emphatic in stating, leads to many Black children unfairly being left in loveless, sub par, inadequate foster homes if it were not for Whites adopting them.  Well, my response to this was  1) adoptive/foster parents abuse and neglect these children too (I have seen these cases firsthand) and 2) the motive or intentions of these adoptive parents is “suspect” to me, particularly because they choose to adopt abroad and because Black girls are chosen way more than Black boys. 

     So Sapphire got it right!  There is a crisis going on right now, concerning the proliferation of Black boys in the foster care system.  Let’s look at some data:

-although Black children make up only 15% of the national population, they make up almost 40% of the foster care system population (US Dept of Health and Human Services), while in states like D.C., Maryland and Illinois that number is doubled

-depending on the state, Black boys  make up more than half of the foster care population (see childwelfare.gov factsheets)

And although, according to Adoption.com, Blacks are allegedly more interested in adopting than Whites, 45% and 36% respectively, whether they actually adopt is a different story.  Not to mention, I believe this number varies depending on the source, which is supported by another article published on their site.  (http://library.adoption.com/articles/the-colors-of-adoption-black-vs.-white.html

     The issue is this:  We all know that the odds of a child getting the love, attention and nurture he so desperately needs being  in a foster home, versus being with an adopted family, are minimal, why aren’t we doing anything about it.  What is stopping YOU, single Black women, single Black man or Black couple,  from rescuing these children from this disastrous circumstance?

Why Would a White Man Ever Even “Look” at a Black Woman

     Recently the media had a field day with the ads and billboards posted by Georgia Right to Life and Radiance Foundation, anti-abortion groups in Georgia.  (Read the NY Times article here http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/06/us/06abortion.html).  The campaign aims at discouraging Black women, the population allegedly having abortions at a rate higher than any other ethnic or racial group, from using abortion as a method of birth control by classifying Black children as “endangered species”.   These groups took advantage of the “Negro project” started by Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, which aimed at killing as many Black children as possible to save humanity.  Georgia Right to Life states that Black women, particularly in New York, Texas, Maryland, Mississippi and Georgia, have more than 50% of the abortions despite the fact that they make up way less than these populations in these states.  They mention how most abortion clinics are located in the urban areas and that this is by design. 

    Well, this past week there were stories about the wealth, or worth, of Black women and the Herpes infection rate of Black women.  The articles on Black women’s wealth indicates that, compared to White women, Asian women and Latin, single Black women are worth the least, $100 on average, particularly for women aged 30-49.  And even though their wealth supposedly increases dramatically over time, particularly once they marry and once they reach their Golden years, their wealth still lags behind that of women of other racial groups.  Based on a recent study, well 2007 data, the Insight Center for Community and Economic Development (read here http://www.insightcced.org/index.php?page=policy), Black women are more likely to have more debt, to not own major assets, to work in the service industry, are more likely to have been a victim of the subprime lending debacle and to rely more on Social Security benefits, which is thought to be the basis for the huge disparity in worth.

     The stories about the Herpes plague is even more disturbing.  According to the Grio.com, Black women, allegedly, make up almost half (48%) of those infected with the Herpes virus, more than double that of Black men, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  http://www.thegrio.com/specials/web-rundown/new-report-says-nearly-half-of-all-black-women-have-genital-herpes.php  The reasons are claimed to be the susceptibility of Blacks to the virus and the fact that Blacks are less likely to have it diagnosed, since the symptoms are not as overt.

     I hope at this point that we all see the pattern here.  I mean, there are a plethora of articles, stories, etc. about how Black women should broaden their horizons and date outside of their race. But then not even a few days later, a barrage of negative statistics are disseminated to make us appear undesirable and unattractive to ANY MAN, let alone a man of another race.  I, myself, believe that we should remain within the Black community anyhow, but think it’s interesting how they “build us up, only to break us down again”.  I mean I am already reading blog posts where White men are emphatic in stating that there is no way that they would date a Black woman given the paucity of her assets and the probability of her having Herpes.  They don’t take the time to explore the validity of these so-called studies, and why should they, they just believe what they read and relegate Black women to the “stay the Hell away from” class.  This is not a coincidence, White women do not want Black women even looking at “their” men and they are rather conspicuous in their efforts.  Well, they can have them because, if nothing else, I wouldn’t want to spend our most intimate moments trying to dispel any of this negative information.