Sunday, May 31, 2009

Turning 50 and Traveling Lite/Light

I approach this posting with tremendous gratitude for a life that so far has been filled with tremendous opportunity and blessings. As I approach 24 June 1959: twelve midnight, a half a century ago. WOW! It's more than I can wrap my brain around. A life that can best be described as a roller coaster ride of the Third Kind. I have seen tremendous highs and experienced lows that I thought I would never recover from. Yet, with God's amazing Grace and the kindness of Angels that the Universe has sent my way I approach this day wiser,stronger and a better human being. Be sure to checkout the video clips highlighted throughout this post.

In my youth, I never imagined myself living long. Maybe 50, 52 at the most. Who knows what the future holds. However, as I step into 50, I have a tremendous desire to live. I have (2) beautiful grandsons who I absolutely adore. It is my desire to see these boys grow to become exceptional men among men. I take one day at time, knowing that each day is another opportunity to witness Grace realized and another chance to get it right.

What I know for sure is that none of us gets out this life alive. I'm living every moment like it is absolutely Golden. I'm traveling lite. Leaving the baggage behind. Whomever has hurt me or I perceived has hurt me in their quest for self-actualization is forgiven in full as God has forgiven me. For those who I may have hurt with my actions or words, please know that hurt or harm was never my intention. One thing that I know for sure is that every person and event has the potential to serve my higher good if I let it. Turning 50 and traveling lite means just that. No baggage, (Bag Lady be gone) no pain. Just pure Joy. I know that there is only One Presence, One Power: God the Good, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient, the Omnipresent. Everything else is a manifestation of my own faulty thinking. My E.G.O. ( Easy God Out).

As I navigate through this 50th year, I want to be more selective in how I choose to use my time, talents and energy. Careful about the people I allow to occupy my time, energy and space. These days I live for
Love Alone.

Though the essence of true unconditional love from that special man has not found me as yet, I give thanks for all the wonderful men who have come into my life and taught me so much. I'd like to give a special thanks to my former husband who gave me a wonder son who has went on to become my greatest teacher. (Love you Nico). A special thanks to the late, Reginald Renaldo Williams for guiding me through my mid-life journey. R.I.P., I love you baby. Mad props to the late Brother Jahti Jackson Maasai for showing me what a real warrior King looks like.

As I move forward... My desire is to listen more and talk less. I hope my life reflects a life that has been spent in service to others; especially our youth. Though my journey has not yielded a lot of material success, I thank God for a life well lived. A life spent in service to humanity and for the cause of social, economic and environmental justice. GREEN FOR ALL!!!

As I move forward it is my hope that I will continue to serve humanity and provide wisdom to the young. None of us gets out this journey alive. I'm going to ride this thing called life until the wheels fall off. In the meantime, I'm FABULOUS, 50 and traveling L.I.T.E. (Loving, Inspired, Tenacious and Enduring). Keeping the faith and sharing light and love.

Wishing you love and best Intentions,
AkaziaJ (a.k.a. junee').

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Objectification of Black Women: From Michelle Obama to Lil' Kim

It has been a minute since I posted a blog. I have been listening more to what others have to say. I feel that being a good listener is critical to being a good writer. It was my hope that this post would be brief, however, I must say that when the Divine touches my pineal gland, thoughts and words rapidly flow to the tips of fingers and on to the keyboard. Let me begin by acknowledging that I am well aware that women in general are objectified and that black men are objectified as well. The focus here is on black women. I would also like to point out that black women have made significant strides in all areas; home, work and community. That said, sit back and take this ride with me.

Now I know many of you may immediately become alarmed that I am using Michelle Obama and Lil' Kim in the same sentence. However, we must give Lil' Kim her props, she brought it on DWTS. In fact, it was LK that inspired me to write this blog post. Lil' Kim played the Becky (White girl) role to the max. She had the language, the gestures and even the misty doe eyed Barbie look. Yet, in spite of this and the fact that she did a great job to have not had prior ballroom dancing experience, she was still reduced to raw sex appeal and the girl with the "bionic booty". Yes, Lil' Kim has in large part has been duplicitous in this objectification of black women, but we will speak to internalized oppression later.

From FLOTUS ( First Lady of the US) to Lil' Kim black women are seen as sexualized beings, rather than the complex, multifaceted human beings that we are. Even the FLOTUS, despite being Princeton and Harvard educated, a loving mother and devoted wife can not escape an obsession with her biceps and buttocks. Many would argue that the feminization of the first lady is a welcomed change from what usually happens with black women. While I too celebrate the fact that Michelle has chosen to focus on her role as loving wife and mother, I think the media in some way trivializes her role when they focus almost exclusively on what she's wearing and if she is showing her arms. By the way, loved CAC's (Commander and Chief) joke about the FLOTUS right to "bare arms".

Historically, black women have been objectified and dehumanized. Archetype female representations such as Jezebel, Sapphire and more recently compliments of "hip hop", stank hoe, chicken head, gold digger etc. It is true that white women are equally objectified, however, their images tend to be that of virtuous, pure and even slightly frigid, while black women have been portrayed as innately promiscuous, seductive, alluring or lewd.

One of the most heinous examples of the sexual objectification of black womanhood was seen in the 19th century with Saartjie Baartman, The Hottentot Venus. Put on display in a circus for her large buttocks and labia, the Hottentot Venus could not escape sexual objectification and humiliation even in death; her skeleton, genitals and and brain were placed on display in a Paris museum until 1974. Upon his election as president of SA in 1994, Nelson Mandela petitioned the French government to have her remains returned. Baartman was returned to her homeland of South Africa in 2002.

Women's suffragist, Sojourner Truth asked in the 19th century, "Ain't I a Woman". It was only recently that the works and deeds of this inspiring leader of women of all races was honored with a bust of her likeness that will be displayed at Emancipation Hall at our nation's capitol. It is also worth noting that it is the first image of a black woman to grace our nation's Capitol.

Venus and Serena Williams, the best in the world of tennis bar none in my humble opinion are constantly referred to by their brute force and of course Serena's ass. Seldom does anyone mention that these talented women are also entrepreneurs and are fluent in several languages. The most of what we hear aside from the physical/sexual presence is that they grew up on the mean streets of Crenshaw in LA.

To think that the first woman to win a best actress academy award was Halle Berry for Monsters Ball. Berry played a tricked out grief stricken, drug addicted mother, who look to Billy Bob Thornton to make her "feel good" in a very sexually explicit down right trashy sex scene. This is in no way intended to demean or minimize the talents of Ms. Berry, however, I argue this was not her best performance. But it fed into the historical stereotypes of black womanhood.

Sadly, the sexual objectification is most prevalent in some facets of hip hop music. Far too many music videos and rap lyrics are laced with misogynistic representations that further perpetuate negative stereotypes of black womanhood. As I stated earlier some black women have been duplicitous in this sexual objectification. Lil Kim along with fellow female rappers like Remy Ma and Foxy Brown to a name a few. These misguided young sisters believe that they are hip-hop feminists in that they are claiming their sexuality. Lil' Kim has so internalized her oppression at the hands of mainstream America as well as the world of hip-hop that she has mutilated herself with surgery and skin bleaching to the point that she is almost unrecognizable as her former self. LK and MJ could indeed be the poster children for self-hatred and internalized oppression.

Most recently, we see the talented Ciara in a music video with none other than I knew nothing about the "wardrobe malfunction" - Justice Timberlake. As black people have spent our whole life trying to break the chains of white oppression and now a black woman is allowing a white boy to sexually objectify her in her own video. You draw your own conclusion, check out the article and video Love, Sex and Magic . Not to appear to pick on Ciara, I must say that lady Beyonce' needs to balance her act as well. I have no objection to the celebration of the female black body in all it's beauty. All I'm saying is "Back That Thang Up".

While I strongly believe in personal responsibility, I must also acknowledge that white men still control the distribution of what we see and hear on the air ways. Nevertheless, as a community and one of the largest
U. S. consumer groups, we can collectively change our images by not buying or supporting products that demean our people as whole and our most priceless jewel, our women.

Well, as I rap up my latest rant, I close by simply saying, we've come a long way from the out house to the white house, and we've still got a long way to go.