The Boss B—-!

You all are very aware that I spend a lot of time on twitter. I love to read all the timelines because they keep me up to date on all the current events and most are very amusing. However, I do see a common trending topic of being a “Boss Chick”. I have been guilty of calling myself a “Boss” as well since I own two companies and answer to no one except God. I pride myself on going through life exactly on my own terms and making my own rules as I go along in this thing we call life. However, I have to admit I do not like how “Boss Chick” has become “Boss Bitch” on the twitter feeds.

This reference has made me wonder, do we as women really have to try to be hard as nails? Is it really necessary to steel ourselves against femininity? Why is it necessary to emulate male traits to move up the corporate ladder? I wonder how many of us get tired of having to be on guard all the time? I blame the direction that our society is headed towards and feel this to be another area that seriously needs to be addressed.

It is sad how many mothers have to raise their children single because some men won’t step up to their responsibility. This leaves the women to play the father and the mother role, forsaking her femininity and natural nurturing ability. Yes, they still nurture their children but not to their full capability because they have to play two roles and hold down a full time job (some even more than one job). It is sad that women still have to go to work and battle on a daily basis to earn equal respect, and be seen as valuable an employee as the next man. Studies today still show that women are paid significantly less than men for the same positions. Not only are women battling men in the workplace, they are battling other women who are trying to prove their worth as well.

I watched my mother be so very strong for us and her family all her life. A lot of the time, she could not afford to allow herself to succumb to emotions of the day for she had two daughters to raise and provide a support system for her brothers and sisters. She worked hard to instill that same strength in my sister and I, and I am very grateful for that. I see many woman like my mother and it breaks my heart that they lose the opportunity to just enjoy nurturing and the celebration of their womanhood. What I mean, is that when you have to play dual roles and society says your not equal unless you emulate a man, it creates an imbalance. We then begin to lose the best side of a woman because she spends the majority of her time being strong, and working towards being what is now termed a “Boss Bitch”.

If you are on twitter, look on there and see how many women are posting about hustling and bragging about having several hustles. Really? Having several hustles makes you a “Boss Bitch”? That sounds like sheer drudgery to me and someone is working way too hard. Yes, I own two companies but one pays the bills and one is my passion and that is enough for me. Yes, I understand that some have to work more than one job to make ends meet. However, it should not be something that one aspires to in life. Bragging about how you have to get it by any means necessary, you don’t need a man and referring to yourself as a “Boss Bitch” just bothers me. Of course not all women are guiltily of this but the ones who are, I plead with you not to try and hide your softer side and please don’t refer to yourself as a “bitch”. You can be professional at work and move up the ladder without emulating male traits. You can be proud to be single and independent, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I just want it to be known that you certainly can be seen as a boss without referring to yourself as a derogatory name. I just feel like our society has made things too extreme for females and we are losing that nurturing nature that I feel our children today need more than ever. Just my two cents.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, nor do I pretend that I can solve all the problems of the world. I just point out issues that I feel should make everyone think just a little bit more about the examples we are setting for the younger generation. I say this because it doesn’t look good for our future in my opinion. I am simply pointing out issues that bother me and that I feel serve no purpose in our progression.

Until next time, keep on keeping on being the best you that you can be!

Mara Prose

All men are not created equally according to our education system

A common topic between my girlfriends and I this time of year is where are we going to send our little ones to summer camp and to school next year. It seems like every year, no matter whether we have our children in private school or public school, we face new and more heart-wrenching challenges that we have never experienced before. If we are not worrying about their grades, we are worrying about bullies. If we are not worrying about bullies, we are worrying about issues with the teachers. If we are not worrying about teachers, we are worrying about the administration and the district as a whole. We worry because we have minority children and we want them to have fair treatment in a system that consistently proves they are anything but fair. It is exhausting!!!

We all simply want what is best for our children. We want to provide them with the best education, help them develop socially and help them have a positive educational experience overall. We can’t be there at all times, so we are putting a great deal of trust in relative strangers to instill core values, common sense and general knowledge into our children. Nowadays, we are even relying on these individuals to protect our children, which is sad and truly frightening. It also becomes a very different matter when you have a minority son. I find that I have to protect him all the more.

I recently read an article where the Department of Education released data showing there is a significant disparity between the discipline of minority students as opposed to their white counterparts. An outstanding 46% of minority students, primarily African American male students, face harsher discipline on a daily basis. They are seen as more aggressive and the teachers admitted to often fearing these students. Therefore, they use the no tolerance system to repeatedly discipline these students for minor infractions. Yet, this is nothing new as the same studies have been conducted for the past three decades with the same results according to the article. The study pointed out that the students often become more aggressive because they are disciplined more harshly. These findings yield a strong correlation to negative outcomes such as dropping out, alienation, delinquency and academic failure. So my question is, what is the point of conducting the same studies that yield the same results without the institution of change and reform? What purpose are we serving by showing how unfairly we are treating certain students without instilling a mechanism to help right this wrong? I truly get sick of useless studies with pointless results.

The popular Las Vegas act, the Blue Man group, became so frustrated with the state of education that they decided to open a school of their own called The Blue School. This school encourages and fosters creativity and diversity as opposed to the cookie cutter mentality seen in most classrooms. They realized that one size does not fit all in regards to learning and decided to take matters into their own hands. What initially started as a play-date group, has grown into a K-5th grade school on the lower East side in Manhattan. Despite the hefty yearly price tag of around 30K for tuition, the school has a waiting list for enrollment. The teachers, students and parents are empowered to help design the curriculum leaving everyone with a sense of fulfillment. Unlike our students here in Texas, they are not required to simply learn to pass a state mandated test but are encouraged to explore alternative avenues to the standard methods of teaching and learning.

Here is my two cents. It doesn’t take thirty grand to foster creativity, recognize diversity or allow children to develop at their own pace. I believe we can implement similar methods in all private and public schools. It doesn’t take a genius to make small changes to allow children to grow and learn while maintaining a fun and creative environment. We know our system is flawed and that our teachers are underpaid and unappreciated yet we stand by and allow it to happen. But that is no excuse for the teachers not having training in diversity. For the past 30 years, we have proved that our minority students are disadvantaged in the classroom but nothing has changed. In essence, we celebrated a victory in 1954 with the Brown vs Board of Education, only to discover with the studies conducted that segregation is still very rampant. The studies prove that minority students are not always receiving equal education and for three decades our education system has repeatedly proved this by unfairly disciplining our children. The high drop out rates, high expulsion from school and the proof that they are academically suffering because of the harsh discipline received reflects a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

We grumble to ourselves and complain to each other about the problems we experience with the education options that are available, but we never take the time out to really bring attention to all these issues. Once again, if we can make an issue like Kony or the tragedy of the Trayvon Martin case go viral, we certainly can begin to speak up more about the issues that are closer to home for us. Remember, there is truly strength in numbers and we all have a responsibility to begin to voice these concerns to our local state education agencies. Actually, we need to just start speaking up in general as we all deserve better than the status quo. There is nothing more frustrating to me than someone who simply wants to whine about situation but will never take action to make the situation better.

From what I can tell, in our attempt to always remain politically correct and please the masses, we actually end up pleasing no one. I cannot tell you how many PTO meetings I have sat in where we have gone around and around about the most asinine of issues without resolution. I for one want better for my daughter and son. But I will admit, I worry about my son more since he will be an African American man in a world dead set against allowing him to thrive and succeed. He will face many challenges that he should not even have to endure. We have to prepare him for the heartache, frustration and inequality that he is about to face as he becomes older and that breaks my heart. But I can assure you this, I will continue to fight for a change in our system. Any school that feels like they can treat my son unjustifiably will catch nothing less than hell from me. Believe me, the schools he has attended already have and it is nothing for me to go up to the office and go toe to toe with the administration concerning their idiotic discipline measures. Now truthfully, some of it my son brings on himself and I acknowledge that and will support discipline measures when it is appropriate. However, I will not stand for what I deem nonsense and I will always, always ensure that my son is receiving the best education I can find for him so that he can become the man I expect him to be later in life. I plead for you to do the same no matter what the color of their skin may be. We have to remember that if we have young children, these schools are helping to mold who are they are to become later in life.

Until next time, keep on keeping on being the best you that you can be!

Mara Prose

Are we regressing as a nation?

It’s disheartening to see the headlines that are in the news today. We all know the media is slanted and I actually believe that a lot of it needs to be taken with a grain of salt but there are trends that are repeatedly exposed and that includes RACISM, INEQUALITY and BULLYING. Obviously, the most popular and tragic case is with the murder of Travyon Martin and the total disregard for justice to be served. We also have fans of the book and movie “Hunger Games” demonstrating racism towards the African American that was cast in the role of Rue, although the character is actually described as having brown skin in the novel. Not long ago, we had Rush Limbaugh making crude comments towards a law student out of a basic lack of respect for her stance on a healthcare reform topic. Then we have 12 year old girls luring another girl to a fake slumber party, only to be later videotaped beating the girl senseless. Need I go on?

Here is my two cents. Anytime equality, justice and common decency is threatened, we all have a responsibility to start speaking up just as we have been doing with the Travyon Martin case. The rallies that have been held across the country send a clear message that this type of injustice is no longer going to be tolerated. The ignorant fans that tweeted their disgust at having an African American character are now receiving the backlash to their inappropriate comments. Again, this shows that the general public is willing to go tit for tat on social media venues and will no longer tolerate one sided mentalities. Even at that, the very fact that more people are actually defending the casting of Rue as opposed to those who are against it shows that we are no longer allowing a few bad apples ruin success. We showed Rush Limbaugh that money talks, so we can make it walk when he made his stupid comments that he later apologized for, but only after losing sponsorship. And as for those 12 year olds, thankfully their outrageous bullying tactic was videotaped and that tape is being utilized to aid in a swift punishment for their actions.

I realize we have a long ways to go and it may even appear that we are regressing but I encourage everyone to educate themselves on everything that is displayed in the media. If we only read the headlines and not the fine details, we will never get a clear picture of the state of our nation. Controversy is a topic I blogged about previously and it is utilized to capture attention, plain and simple. However, if you look beyond the flashy titles and delve deeper into most articles and news stories, you will not be distracted from the real issue at stake. For example, racism is the distraction for the Travyon Martin case when it is more about injustice than it is about race. The rallies held for Travyon are composed of a mixture of races and has successfully called national attention to a long standing issue concerning individuals being gunned down needlessly. If you read various new sources via the web, it is not only defenseless African Americans losing their lives but Asians, Hispanics and Indians are also targets in this case. Look at the situation in France where a Jewish school was attacked solely based on their religion. The media will lead us to believe that African Americans are simply making it a race issue and that we feel we are the only ones being discriminated against when the majority of us will tell you that we simply want justice to be served and Zimmerman to be charged just as anyone else would be in this situation. Obviously in this case, there is a very real racial issue in that area of Florida but now that Trayvon’s parents have spoke up and out, progress is slowly being made towards a change.

In regards to the “Hunger Games” issue, these comments were made by a few idiots on twitter when actually more people defended the casting of the Rue character than those who were against it. It actually was not even news enough to make into a story since the movie has already grossed 155 million, showing that not too many were even bothered by the casting. Even with Rush Limbaugh, more articles were written about his crazy comments than his apology and the loss of his sponsorship by his foolish actions. Once again, progress was made. Schools all across the nation are addressing bullying and parents are now having better conversations with their children to ensure that they are made of aware of any issues that need to be addressed with school administrators.

In essence, what I am pointing out is that for every ounce of ignorance, there is a pound of backlash that is not always displayed in the media. Does racism exist? Yes it does. Will we always have inequality? Yes we will. Will there always be bullies? Yes there will be and there always has been. None of these issues are new and they are not going away. We need to remember that no one promised us life would be fair and accept this fact. However, it is our responsibility to ensure that we keep fighting against these types of ignorance and continuing to make the strides we have as a nation. I am not a naïve person, I just make damn sure I have all the facts before I form an opinion and run off at the mouth. I do this by reading, reading and reading some more because let’s face it, the facts are not always televised or obvious. I listen more than I speak and I do not operate off of hearsay. As long as I see that we are all making it clear that we are not going to tolerate these issues, I will continue to give props where they are due.

If you have an issue, SPEAK UP and SPEAK OUT!! All our state agencies have online forms that can be completed and electronically sent to file complaints. Most of us completed a petition to support the Travyon Martin case or attended a rally, some of us did both. I know for a fact that I have filed complaints with the Texas Education Agency concerning bullying in the schools. As a matter of fact, I make sure my voice is heard regularly by voting, getting involved and standing up for what I believe in (just ask my family LOL). So you see, we all have a voice, we just need to continue to use it. I encourage us all to pushback on everything that needs to be corrected, what does it hurt? Believe me, if we all take a few minutes out of our day to address nonsense, someone will have to take notice. It’s not going to change overnight and sometimes we may not receive the results we want but believe you me, the more it is addressed, the closer we come to a resolution. There are truly strength in numbers and I believe we are witnessing that more and more every day.

Until next time, keep on keeping on being the best you that you can be!

Mara Prose

Why apologize?

I think we are all familiar with the phrase”don’t say anything you don’t mean, because you can’t take it back”, which applies to saying things impulsively or out of anger. Lately, it is a common trend to read about celebrities, politicians and the like, saying an allegedly offensive comment and then later apologizing for the offense. The most recent of offenses is Rush Limbaugh calling a female Georgetown Law Student a ‘slut’, ‘prostitute’ and requested that she post a sex tape online. Then like clockwork, the outrage started and he was forced to apologize that Saturday.

Here is my two cents, and this applies specifically to the media. Later, I will address common everyday offenses in another blog. First of all, what was really accomplished outside of bringing Limbaugh the attention he was seeking? He has always been controversial and to my knowledge is known for saying outlandish and offensive comments. I believe if we were really outraged, we would stop allowing him to have a radio commentary. So, on one hand we try to censor his comments but then turn around and give him a radio program. We all are aware of the first amendment, yet it’s use has been reduced to a matter of convenience. If you do not like what he says, follow my lead and don’t tune in to his program.

Another headline of interest, is where Kirk Cameron is being ridiculed for his anti-gay remarks on Piers Morgan. Does he not have the right to his own opinion? Was it not his interview? So why should he apologize and fake how he feels when it is very clear what his stance is on this issue. I agree with Piers Morgan’s defense that it took bravery to stand up for what he believed. Kirk Cameron’s honesty was refreshing and I commend him for not worrying about politically correct. If you have read my previous blogs, you know I am advocate of the authentic.

With all this being said, we all are entitled to our own opinions. You should not have to apologize for what you believe, no matter how offensive it comes across. If you think about it, anything you say can be interpreted as offensive and then we run the risk of spending our lives apologizing. In my opinion, differences are what make the world go round. Last week’s blog sparked a nasty comment to be made from someone on twitter. Instead of wasting my time and energy arguing with this person, defending my blog or even apologizing, I simply responded “well, don’t read my blog anymore” and muted them. It saved us both a lot of headache.

In the case of Limbaugh, he is not sorry for the comments he makes because it has afforded him a nice paycheck. I am just curious as to what an apology does for the general public? Does it heal the wounds? No, it does not. Most importantly, did Limbaugh have a chance of heart? Highly unlikely. There is a pretty simple solution, support what you believe in and ignore the rest. For those that agree with Limbaugh, keep listening to his program and for those who support Kirk Cameron’s stance, then support his projects. We ultimately hold the power, not them. We have a right to choose but if we take away their right to choose, eventually, I fear we will lose ours as well. As Maya Angelou once said “if someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

Until next time, keep on keeping on be the best you that you can be.

~ Mara Prose

Why do you talk and act like a “white” person?

A few weeks ago, some friends and I posted a rant on Facebook of constantly being accused of sounding and acting like a white person. All my life I have heard these type of comments and was made fun of for supposedly talking and acting like a ‘white’ person. It didn’t stop there as I have been told by a few friends and family members when I call them “oh, I thought you were some white woman”. I never quite understood the logic in this ignorant comment, nor did I know how to respond to it. After years of being tormented, I finally confided in my mother and she told me to simply respond ” it is not talking white, it is being articulate and sounding educated”. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized the absurdity of these accusations and that it is more of a compliment, than an insult. I no longer saw it as an insult because I was proud to be well spoken. Lord knows, when I tried to so-called sound ‘black’, I ended up making a fool of myself and it was not authentic sounding at all. The stupidity of that effort I would love to forget going forward. LOL!

What I found enlightening in my Facebook rant is the comments I received. Once again, this was not exclusively in the African-American race but it affected Hispanics and even a Caucasian friend who was told she sounded like a ‘black’ person. Therefore, once again we have come across a universal issue that needs addressing and basically just needs to be put to rest immediately. What I would like to understand is what difference does it make? Without realizing it, these people who say these comments are insulting themselves and a variety of races by stating that the only culture that can talk ‘proper’ and sound educated is the Caucasian race. So basically, these dense individuals are saying that the rest of us need to speak with a limited vocabulary, resign ourselves to activities that only involve our race and make sure we recreate segregation. That is in essence what is taking place, we are segregating ourselves and making the white race the model race when that is just not the case.

I know for a fact that my articulation has helped me not only in school, but also in business and effectively communicating with my clients. However, it is not something I strive for, it is simply who I am and how I was raised. Obviously, it has also assisted me in my writing. I mean who wants to read a bunch of incoherent gibberish from a writer all for the sake of not talking like a ‘white’ person? I read an article earlier this week where Whitney Houston was booed at the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards for not sounding “black enough”. How ridiculous is that!! Although she will be greatly missed, at least while she was here she stayed true to herself and went on to break countless records during her singing career. One of the greatest singers of all time was ostracized by her own race for supposedly sounding ‘white’. It is unbelievable, sad and heartbreaking. Thankfully, the African-American race came to embrace her and are paying beautiful tributes to her now.

Speaking intelligently does not mean that you are ashamed of your race and does not make you a sell out. Education is not granted to only one culture and it definitely is not associated with one culture. The more appropriate response would be to compliment someone on their diction and how effectively they are able to communicate. Last I checked, intelligence did not have a color. I love the arts such as ballet, the opera, plays and going to the symphony. From these favorite past times, I was told I act like a white person but they are actually activities I simply enjoy. It is called broadening your horizons, not acting ‘white’. I was told that my homeschooling is such a ‘white’ thing to do, so in essence this person believes that only white people care about their children’s education. So I wonder, what am I supposed to do to be more black? We all hate to be stereotyped but then we turn around and uphold those stereotypes. We are a constant contradiction to ourselves and in the end, simply make ourselves appear foolish.

I believe we all need to realize there are many facets to an individual and we need to stop placing everyone in a bucket and making assumptions about who they are and why they do the things they do. Who I am as a person is not made to impress anyone. I do not speak correct English to try to be ‘white’. Anyone who knows me truly understands that I am an African and Native American woman who is proud of who she is but by no means is defined by only one culture. I strive for diversity because I am fascinated by all races. I think this is another area that needs a lot of improvement and starts with educating your children so that we can break the cycles of ignorance that exist. We are a melting pot and that is a fact, so these type of comments actually do not have any basis in everyday life.

Until next time, keep on keeping on being the best you that you can be!

Mara Prose

http://www.maraprose.cm
mara@maraprose.blog

Why can’t we be “authentic” friends?

At the beginning of this year, I decided to evaluate my friendships. I picked out all those friends that have remained true to me and decided that I would plan activities on a regular basis and the ones that made the most effort to show up, have a good time and leave the negative at home, would be the relationships I fostered the most. This has helped me to identify the superficial from the authentic friendships. Keep in mind that this is my own personal criteria and everyone differs on what they feel constitutes a real friendship. Let’s face it, not all friendships are going to be deep and meaningful and realistically we can’t expect that from everyone. However, I do feel it possible to have more than one friend that I can call “authentic” and my goal is to build a support system with others who feel the same way.

A common aspect of all friendships that I hear on a regular basis is that the majority of us lack trust in one another. I have heard many comments about how hard it is to find a trustworthy friend for men and women alike; that ride or die friend that will be there through thick or thin. We all have that one friend that we know we can count on to support us, not judge us or compete with us. All of us claim to have that one “real” friend, that elusive friend that just seems to be on the same page with us and there to motivate, not discourage. So if we all have the same complaint, then why is it so hard to have more than one meaningful friendship?

It is time for my two cents on this issue. First and foremost, it is hard to identify a good friend when we make little time to interact socially beyond Twitter, Facebook and texting. I am guilty of this myself, so I cannot point fingers, but I do feel that utilizing these as social outlets is a detriment to our relationships. It is just too easy to simply post and follow each other via our phones as opposed to making a personal call or scheduling a time to meet one another. I often find out about my friend’s ailments. troubles and accomplishments via one of these methods and instead of calling to offer support or congratulate, I simply post a response. We cannot get rid of technology and I feel it can even be useful if utilized in the right manner. So why not send a personal text to that individual or have an e-card delivered directly to them as opposed to just being one of many posting on their Facebook or re-tweeting? I believe that even if you are on the go a lot, which most of us are, we can still make time to send a simple message saying hello to one another. I also believe that life is just not that busy to where you cannot make an effort to attend events with your friends or loved ones. I am working on this myself, so I understand all too well how this cop-out is used on a regular basis. Yet, if I expect to receive support, I have to lend it as well. If you find this is one-sided, that is probably not the relationship you want to foster.

I also believe that our values can get in the way of our friendships. There are many of us trying to climb the corporate ladder, be the perfect significant other or the perfect parent. With all this need to succeed and be perfect, we forget to focus on the simple pleasures in life of just being and enjoying everyday occurrences. Life constantly gets in the way and many of us hate to admit that it is a struggle and can be found only sharing the triumphants with one another and not the trials. We try to put on airs for each other, thus preventing authentic relationships. By this, I mean if we are too busy with the superficial then how can we expect the authentic to occur? My pet peeve has always been someone calling themselves a friend, yet they only allow me to see one side of themselves. In my opinion, these are classified as superficial and while there is no need to really disassociate oneself, it is probably not a relationship that would classify as an “authentic friendship.

There are many of us who spend the majority of our day in an office for a company that fosters disloyalty. It used to be common to be part of an office atmosphere that encouraged camaraderie, where employees felt secure and equally challenged. However, in companies these days, morale is often low or non-existent and employees are used as pawns to serve a purpose for the company. You would think that some of our best friendships would derive from the business place, and some have, but the overall consensus is that it is a ‘every one out for themselves’ type of mentality. Therefore, most of the day is spent “watching your back”, dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s, so that you can maintain your livelihood. One of the main reasons I chose to leave Corporate America is due to this very reason and the exhausting process of battling someone trying to constantly tear you down while attempting to remain professional and keep your job secure. Insecurities are a natural part of life, but when they affect your relationships and everyday life, it is time to evaluate yourself and work to overcome these issues. It is not your coworker, friend or family’s responsibility to help you feel secure enough to function everyday, it is your responsibility.

Another major issue I believe that prevents us from having the friendships we desire is due to the fact that people have the wrong motives for friendships. A friendship is not a one-sided event, it cuts both ways. If you fail to listen to others and only like to hear yourself talk, then how can you expect to have an authentic relationship? Do you really think someone wants to sit there only listening to you all day and not being heard themselves? The world should not only revolve around you at all times. Sure, there are going to be several moments that are all about you but there needs to be a balance where everyone feels respected and appreciated. Most of us find that we encounter people who are completely self-centered and socially ignorant. They lack the basic social skills to interact with others in a positive give and take manner. I call these type of friends the “leeches”. These are the friends who drain you mentally because they are only in your life to meet their own needs. The weak ones prey off your strength, the superficial ones are there because you have something they want and the two-faced ones like to smile in your face while they secretly despise you. I cannot tell you how many people I have cut off due to this leech mentality. If the friendship does not make you feel good, then it is not a friendship and you honestly have no obligation to uphold the relationship. If I dread you, then why should I entertain you? You should not have to change who you are for a friendship, the chemistry should come naturally. If it does not, let it go.

With all this being said, if you do not mind having only one authentic friend, then do not feel the need to change this aspect of your life. However, I know better and I know for me, there are a lot of people who have the potential to be a great friend as I am now finding out. I made a new year’s resolution to slow down and make time for all those I care about. I also know if I take the time and nurture my friendships, I can incorporate this into relationships with my family as well. I have decided to stop hiding behind my phone, Facebook and Twitter. Believe me, there are many who are going to remain a Facebook or Twitter friend; meaning no expectations whatsoever will derive from our relationship. However, if I title you as a friend, then you can best believe that it comes with expectations and that I will uphold my end of the bargain by being an authentic friend in return. Nothing will ever be perfect as we are all flawed, but true friends will accept each other, flaws and all.

Until next time, keep on keeping on being the best you that you can be!

~Mara Prose

“Characters Unite” Hines Ward Documentary Project

I love the Good Morning America and Today show. I am an avid viewer and it is the first program I watch everyday. This week, Hines Ward was a guest on the show. He was there to promote an upcoming documentary he is a part of called “NFL Characters Unite” www.charactersunite.com. This documentary will air this month on the USA network so be sure to check your local listings and tune in and watch it. I encourage you to take the time to read more about it and support another worthy cause that has the same premise as “Dark Girls” but from a different point of view.

Let me give you a little background on Hines Ward. In case you do not know who he is, he plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers as a wide receiver and previous MVP. And for those non-football fans, he was even on Dancing with the Stars, lol. His was born in Seoul, Korea to a Korean mother and an African-American soldier. He has a fair complexion and he shared his childhood issues on the Good Morning America show of how he was discriminated against by more than one race. He did not fit in with other African-Americans because of having a Korean mother and was taunted for this fact. He also did not fit in with other Koreans because of the African-American side to him. He admitted that Caucasians often did not know how to deal with him either due his biracial background. Therefore, growing up was filled with heartache, confusion and a feeling of isolation for this now successful football player.

On the show, he had a teen accompany him from Clairton, PA by the name of Carlton Dennis. Carlton too has felt like Hines Ward all his life, as he is from Trinidad. Often called Mexican and ostracized by his own African-American race, Carlton was on the verge of self-destruction. Hines brought Carlton back from the brink of disaster and took this teen under his wing. Carlton has since turned his battle into a testimony. Carlton has now partnered with Hines to bring attention to the bigotry and hate that are still so very prevalent in our society. Carlton has even taken to the stage at his high school and created a song he wrote with Hines that addresses these issues.

Hines has not only contributed his presence and story to this documentary, he has also formed the Helping Hands Foundation http://www.hinesward.com/helping-hands-foundation.php. This foundation not only works to improve literacy to help children achieve success later in life but it also actively addresses biracial discrimination; a direct tribute to Hines’ mother.

Now for my two cents. I encourage you, just as I encouraged with “Dark Girls”, to support this documentary. I also would like for you to support his foundation. Contribute funds, take the link and distribute to your church, co-workers, family and friends. If nothing else, watch the gut wrenching videos on the Characters Unite website that provide glimpses of so many teens feeling the same pain as Hines, Carlton or myself for that matter.

It is so obvious this issue is redundant not only in the African-American community but in all communities. It is a basic lack of cultural understanding and the unwillingness to open ourselves to diversity. How long is it going to take for us to realize there is no longer a pure race? How long before we stop immediately labeling people and just get to know their backgrounds, who they are and provide acceptance? How about this even, if you cannot accept someone for who they are, just leave them the HELL alone!!! It is so basic and simple to me. Leave people alone!!! We were never meant to like everyone, understand everyone and we do not even have to accept them but we damn sure better start respecting the differences that exist.

If you are too lazy to learn the cultural differences between you and another, once again, you have that beautiful thing called freedom of choice, which basically allows you to keep it moving!!!!!! Let me repeat that so I am clear. Keep it moving if you are too lazy to embrace diversity!!! It is fine to live in a world of illusion created all your own but it becomes an issue when your lack of reality causes harm, hurt and emotional distress to another all simply because you believe that ignorance is bliss.

It is far past time for us to promote basic humanity. It angers me that we still have to call attention to these issues. And to my African-American brothers and sisters, remember that those of us who are racially mixed did not ask to be born that way but these onslaught of documentaries show that we are not going to be made to feel embarrassed by it either. Also, remember that the majority of us are not only proud of being African-American but we are also going to embrace, promote and be proud of that other culture that is a part of us. Like it or not, being African-American is not all-encompassing and the majority of us have another culture that deserves attention, appreciate and respect.

I am very proud of being part Native American, truly!! No, my Native American heritage is not far down the line or claimed because it sounds cool. I have a mother, aunts and uncles who were born and raised on the reservation. Yes, they grew up there and I still have family there. My mother made it very clear at a young age that our heritage was important on both sides. I remember her assisting me with book reports not only on African-American culture but also on my Native American background. I am instilling these very same values into my own two children and I have a husband who has studied my Native American background more than I have.

Once again, thank you to Hines Ward for opening this dialogue again for me and enlightening me with an entirely new cultural experience and perspective as opposed to simply the light-skinned versus dark skin issue.

Until next time, keep on keeping on being the best you that you can be!!

~Mara Prose

“Dark Girls” Premiere at The Fountain of Praise

I had the privilege of viewing the documentary “Dark Girls” by the multifaceted filmmaker Bill Duke and I cannot express enough how moved I was by this movie. This blog will not be a critique because I will never critique anything that is meant to call attention to a subject matter that needs to be challenged!!! Plus, I believe it to be imperative that we stop criticizing and simply support!!  Anyone that has the courage, the genius and the perseverance to produce material that is meaningful to them should never be shunned. Yes, I choose to support every worthwhile project out there with my whole heart but hey,I digress, that is another blog. LOL!

This movie told the story of my brown skinned sisters plight dating back to slavery days of feeling inferior because of their color. They have been called mud ducks, tar babies, and and some have to endure the insult of supposedly being pretty for a “black” girl.  It is disgusting, hurtful and very sad that after over two centuries, not much has changed. The movie included many different perspectives and candid dialogue about light versus dark skinned african americans. These feelings, ideals and hurtful comments are often instilled in us often birth by our own family members. I want you to see the movie, so I will not give you a synopsis beyond that but I will give you my perspective because after all, this is my blog!!  Ha! http://officialdarkgirlsmovie.com/

I first heard about this movie several, several months ago. As an aspiring writer, it has always been in the back of mind to devote one of my novels to just this topic. When I received the email from my home church, The Fountain of Praise, in Houston, I emailed and reserved tickets and sent out invites to my friends. There was no way I was missing the opportunity to hear such a powerful message, to gain a better understanding and support an issue that has also caused much hurt and pain throughout my entire life.

However, my hurt is a different hurt altogether. My hurt and pain stems from being the light skinned sister who was the supposedly the house nigger during slavery, whose skin color supposedly makes other races more comfortable to be around than my fellow brown skinned sisters and brothers. I am the cliche often referred to and desired in today’s trashy rap songs. Let me say this, there are two sides to every story and I am anxiously awaiting Bill Duke’s next documentary “The Yellow Brick Road” which hopefully tells my side of the story.

The same way my brown skin sisters have hated their color, I have hated my color. I am very fair skinned, my skin is hard to tan and my hair is naturally curly. When it is relaxed, it is as straight as a caucasian’s and referred to as “good hair”, a term that makes me cringe. I have felt more discrimination from my own race, than I have from any other race. Much to my surprise, this was also brought out in the documentary where brown skin women felt there skin color was more celebrated by other races than their very own. I have a hard time understanding this ignorance.

For a good part of my life, I hated my skin color, was tired of attention being brought to my light eyes and spent years hiding my shape. I always felt like a piece of meat when I walked in the room, just waiting to either be slaughtered by my sisters or devoured by my brothers. I so wanted for everyone to get to know me but I was too busy fighting sisters who chose to try to jump me without even knowing me, ignoring brothers who were just in my face for the wrong reasons and hiding everything that made me a beautiful, BLACK woman. There are not many outside of my mother and sister who know this about me, not even my closest friends. I can recall spending most of my time downplaying my looks in order to help my sisters feel better about themselves and help them understand that I did not consider myself superior. I remember one friend who hated me on sight at first, telling me she specifically hated me because I was light skinned and had long hair but once she got to know me, I was ‘okay’ for a light skinned girl. Isn’t that sad?? I was just ‘okay’ but yet, I forgave her and still called her a friend regardless because it is ingrained into me to treat everyone as equal.

This so called slave mentality is absolute bullshit. I don’t want to hear that it is lack of education because we now have the internet damn it and you don’t have to attend a university to simply become educated in the fact that it is INSANITY to have such a divide in the black, African American, whatever race you want to call us. Let me tell you, I am so sick of being hated on before you even get to know me. I hate the assumption that I feel I am better than a brown skin sister because I am light skinned. I hate everyone assuming I am creole and that is why I am light skinned. Uhhh, I am mixed with Arapahoe Native American and proud of it. My grandmother on my father’s side was very, very fair with coal black hair and blue eyes and I have been told I take after her. So you see, I am hated on without anyone even taking the time to know my story.

That little girl who craved acceptance, hardened over the years and grew into her own. I celebrate everything about myself, not because I am light skinned, not because I have that cliche lool, because I am a beautiful, BLACK woman who knows who she is, where she is going and I set my own rules. I no longer worry about being hated on for my looks because that is their problem, not mine. This crutch in the African American society does not exist to me. It is just an excuse to be lazy and not work to embrace your uniqueness, your beauty, your flaws and end this nonsense. If you are not accepted at work because of your skin color, go find a different damn job. If you are passed over by a brother because he preferred a lighter skinned woman, hell, you didn’t want his superficial ass anyway. If you want straight, long hair, weave it up and keep it moving!!! No, we have no more excuses for this and the last time I allowed this to affect me was in my early 20’s. I remember going to a new hairstylist who I had spoken to on the phone.  Over the phone, she was sweet and kind but the moment she saw me, she was rude, surly and downright nasty to me. I complained to her manager and remember being so hurt at first and then I got angry.  I vowed that this would be the last time this crap was going to affect me and it never has since then.  I pride myself on being nothing but transparent and real. If you can’t handle who I am, we have this lovely thing called freedom of choice that allows you to get the hell out of my face and stay out of it.

Yes, I had to see this movie! Is this the end of my blogging about this topic, nahh, but thank you Bill Duke for opening a dialogue concerning this issue that plagues our community. I took my mother and my girlfriends with me because it meant that much to me. I will be supporting Bill Duke by sending a huge donation to help him as he used his own funds to finance this movie. I gave this movie a standing ovation at the end of it that night I watched it but even at that, I am still saddened. I am sad because when I left, the divide was still there. It was a small dent in a universal problem that needs to be stopped and stopped now. I have a daughter with my skin color that I am raising to simply start off where I am now, confident, accepting and open to all races. I never want her to feel better than anyone for any reason other than the fact that some people are just bad news and mean nothing but harm. Today, when I say I am stuck up, it means I am stuck with my head lifted up to the sky towards the Lord who guides my every step and thought. No, I am not perfect but I am persistent in working towards the greater good and that includes this issue among many.

Until next time, keep being the best you that you can be!!

~ Mara Prose

***Since the posting of this blog, Dark Girls has premiered on Oprah’s OWN network****

%d bloggers like this: