February 27, 2015

February: Thank You White People

Today, I was thinking February is one month that beats out all of the rest because it's just simply depressing. February is the second month of the year and you'd think we'd all still be high off of the fact that it's a brand new year, and there's ten more months left in the year.

Actually, one of the reasons why it is such a depressing month is because it's when you realize that you've kept none of your resolutions, and you're still doing the same things you did in December. February is a sad reminder that you have no will power and as much as you want to change, it's February, what's the point? You start to think I might as well quit before I even start and  maybe try this thing again in 11 months.

Next, February is the month of the infamous Valentine's Day. I've always hated Valentine's Day. Even when I was younger and would get things from my parents, I just felt extremely bad for those who didn't get anything. It's one of the most annoying days on social media because everyone just MUST post pictures of the things they received so that they feel special. Everyone must out shine each other because of course we all know that the person who gets the biggest teddy bear and most expensive heart-shaped candy box is the most loved of us all. Everyone goes out of their way to say hey, I'm not lonely on Valentine's Day and I am loved, look at all the mass marketed items I've received that says 'I love you'. I have never had a true Valentine but when I do have one, I don't want to be like that. Fact is, there are people who are alone on Valentine's Day but that doesn't mean they are lonely. There are people who have never had a valentine but that doesn't mean they aren't loved. Another fact is that there people who are really lonely and are not loved on Valentine's Day or any day of the year. I hate how much emphasis we put on the day. Of course we all want to feel appreciated but that should happen often and shouldn't be something we should be boastful about. I think Valentine's Day should be an expression of love to everyone and a day of thankfulness, but that's just my opinion...Moving on...

On a more serious note, February is also Black History Month. Growing up, I always loved Black History Month. In elementary school we'd learn about Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, etc. We'd do coloring sheets, read short biographies, and watch movies on the early Black leaders and the Civil Rights activists. After elementary school, and the older I got the less celebrated Black History Month became. I remember being in 7th grade and I was excited because we'd get to talk about Black History. The month of February came and went and there was no mention of anyone or anything relating to Black History. Sure there were small bulletin boards decorated with pictures of famous Black Americans, but there was no discussion of it. When I was in high school it was even more absent, there weren't even bulletin boards. During my 10th grade year there was one teacher who made it a point to talk about Black History not only during February but throughout the year. Besides her, no one else even bothered.

To cure this absence in my life, I started to delve heavily into historical fiction novels that dealt with slavery, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights era. I feel as though every black person has a hunger for knowledge about his-story or her-story. In some aspects, I'm glad I took the initiative to learn about Black History for myself because the things that happened to Blacks in America are things that are still considered controversial even though they are very much true and very well documented. I think the reason why Black History lessons dwindle or disappear in middle and high school is because you can't sugarcoat it any longer.

You can't pass out coloring sheets and turn on cutesy kid's movies regarding the civil rights era. As people become older, you can't feed them pureed carrots and peas from a Gerber jar and pass it off as steak and potatoes. With age comes more common sense and knowledge, and older kids won't be satisfied coloring Thurgood Marshall with a brown crayon. However, you can't show them the lynchings, the burned brown bodies, the stolen innocence of women and children, the Emmett Tills, the backs of slaves, the race riots that resulted in hundreds of Blacks being murdered because that's too controversial. Too emotional.

As I began to read and understand that the depth of Black History went so far beyond what I had been fed, I didn't like Black History Month as much. I felt as though I had been led believe that I should be proud of Black History Month, but in reality it's not a month of pride. Yes, Blacks have achieved many great feats and achievements, but the struggle to get to those achievements is what Black History Month is about. The struggle for freedom and equality that we are still fighting for today is what Black History Month is about. Although it is not a month of pride, it is not one of shame either. It's a month of reflection to think about all the lives that were lost in the struggle, simply because of our brown skin. We were considered as a whole to be the "Negro Problem", we had no identity, we were inferior, we were considered to be of a different sub-prime species and even today we are still considered to be inferior people.

Black History Month is a time of reflection, it's a time to think about all the sacrifices that people have made to get us this far. Many people think that Black History Month deals with people who have helped us become equals, but that fight is very far from being over. If you think about the history of Black Americans it is sad and it hurts physically and emotionally to see what Blacks have been subjected to and all the hate and self-hate that it has projected, it can even make you angry.

What is February? It's the shortest month of the year. Even Google says that Black History Month ends indefinitely on February 28th, as if we should just cease to think about it thereafter. Take the blinders off (not all the way off, though) for a month, not even a whole month but just until the 28th. But it's 'our month' they say. It's supposedly a present or a gift to us for all the hardships we've faced in this country. Thank you white people. Isn't it quite ironic how a day of love is in the same month that reminds us of all the hate Black Americans have been tolerating since the first ships arrived ashore? For the lynch parties, the 'strange fruit', the welts across our backs, the anchors tied to our feet that sunk our bodies deep into the river, the raping of our women, the overall oppression, the societal marginalization, the blatant murder of our culture, our souls, our pride, our brothers, our sisters, our babies, we get...February. Thank you white people.

February 21, 2015

Big Women, Big Love Season 2 --- Why It's Needed...

As of today, I have not heard any news regarding a second season of Lifetime's new reality show Big Women, Big Love (BWBL) so here's my plight to get it back on the air for a second season.

Honestly, I'm not a fan of Lifetime, I never have been. Excluding the female-centered sitcoms (Golden Girls, Designing Women, Roseanne, The Nanny, etc) and Unsolved Mysteries, I've never watched any of the shows/movies on the channel regularly. I just find A lot of the Lifetime produced content, especially, is over-sexual and stereotypical, especially when you consider it's trademarked statement "Network for Women". I accidentally stumbled upon BWBL New Year's day. I was bored out of my wits and just happened to pass it up, but I'm so glad I did. I'll admit, during the first episode I had my apprehensions, I was almost ready to write it off but I kept coming back every Wednesday and it delivered more than my expectations. 

I love the show first of all because it addresses REAL big/fat/curvy girl issues, the main one being dating. There are not many shows at all about what it's like to be a real-life curvy girl. A few years ago the TV channel NUVO had a show called 'Curvy Girls' and while it was sort of entertaining, it was about plus size models which was unrealistic, for me at least. BWBL is a show about ME. I might not be on TV but most of the ladies are who I am. They have the same problems that I do such as confidence, fitting in restaurant booths, trying to dress cute/sexy with limited clothing options, going out to clubs, and all in all loving who you are. 

Of course, I know there are big girls everywhere, they're out dating and having fun but it was so good and reassuring to see it on TV. And unlike Black people, all big girls don't know each other. As I stated in a previous blog post, I only have one curvy friend and we don't hang out often, all of my friends who I hang out with are smaller. When my curvy friend and I do hang out and talk we talk about our issues from time to time but it's so fun to see other girls going through the same things!

Believe it or not, this show brought me some confidence. Every year at midnight, after the ball drops for the New Year, my family and I drop everything and say our prayers. In my adult life have never prayed for the Lord to 'send me a man' but it's sometimes in the back of my mind. I remember wondering would 2015 be another year of the single life? Then I started watching the show. I realized how much I enjoy the romantic idea of a relationship but I'm not ready, which is probably why I'm single, because I am not ready. God knows my heart. 

Here's my theory: A lot of bigger girls are single because I believe we have more issues to work through than smaller girls, especially in a culture that frowns upon fatness. I'm not saying smaller girls don't have some of the same issues that we do, but we have to worry about more things that they don't (such as fitting in restaurant booths and not sweating off our makeup before and/or during a date, etc.). Sometimes being a bigger girl and being single for so long means settling for someone who is not good for you, and that's what a lot of the girls on the show had problems with and that too is relate-able. Once you do find a guy who likes you despite your weight/size it's really hard to let him go, even if he's a jerk. My mama always told me to never let anyone, especially a man, disrespect me, but if you aren't strong minded (or even if you're just lonely), it's so easy to fall into the trap of accepting anything and losing everything just to have someone who you love always around. 

Also, the general consensus is that fatness equates laziness, but it takes a SHITLOAD of work to be a bigger person, with everything we have to go the extra mile or think two steps ahead of the average person. BWBL showed that everyday struggle that bigger girls face, it made me feel less weird to see these women on TV expressing what it's like.

One of my smaller friends called me a couple weeks ago after I had told her about the show. She told me she loved the show because she never knew about how hard it is for bigger girls in regards to dating. Generally speaking, you never have friends set you up, you don't collect phone numbers in Walmart, and not many guys are fighting battles just to see you.

Last week, I went out to dinner with a friend. She's older than me, old enough to be my mother but she's very down to earth and modern. We were sitting directly across from a couple where they had met online and were meeting in person for the first time. The guy was absolutely gorgeous. He was tall, in his 20s, and Hispanic with exotic looking eyes. We could over hear their conversation and he was very, very sweet and kind. His date on the other hand was loud, lewd, and boisterous. It was obvious that they were complete opposites. I know it was rude but my friend and I eavesdropped a bit and laughed at the awkwardness from time to time, discreetly of course. It was just a really bad date from my perspective. After they left, my friend said, "He is such a great guy, he does not deserve someone so uncouth...I wish I had a friend to introduce him too." So I nodded and smiled thinking that she was going say me, because I kept gushing over how nice and attractive he was but I was wrong. She said "Oh I know who, Monica! Monica would be perfect for a guy like that"...My little heart sank, I was sitting right there but she didn't even think of me as worthy for this guy. She didn't even have to mean it, even if she would've said it jokingly, it would've been better than completely not even considering me.  

I felt bad but I thought about the girls on BWBL, and after sulking for a moment I started to feel better.  As one of the girls said, it doesn't matter what other people think of you, it matters what YOU think of YOU. I felt I was good enough for that guy, what my friend thinks is not important. Although, I do still feel some animosity towards my friend, because if she doesn't think of me as good enough for a nice guy, what does that say about our friendship? I digress... I loved seeing the girls be resilient and strong, even after bad dates they (for the most part) didn't cry about it, they persevered and kept going. I loved that the girls loved themselves and were confident in themselves and developed that confidence throughout the season. Shows about bigger people often portray them to be whiny, over emotional, and completely self loathing (ahem, Biggest Loser anyone?).

All in all, I just really hope the show comes back for a second season. I feel like Mar, Sabrina, Kristi, Jenn, and even Jessica (*slight side eye*) are my friends! They understand me because they are the many facets of me. It is the best reality show I have ever seen, and coming from me that's saying a lot! My Wednesday nights have never been better.

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