Tag Archives: relationships

Criticism Filter

THINKIf you’re like most people, myself included, it’s easier for you to give out criticism to others then it is to receive it yourself.

In one sense I think we all wear blinders and rose-colored shades when it comes to our own shortcomings. I also think because most of us don’t consider a lot of the criticism we receive as good criticism (meaning factual and true), we out-right reject it. If you are hip you might use the universal ego booster via hip-hop lingo, “They just hating on me.” However, there is usually a trace of truth in even the most virulent criticism that we receive – truth that has the potential to help us grow and mature into our full potential

Yet since we are bound to dish it out – more than take it, I came across a acronym called THINK that I feel we would each be wise to use next time we get ready to tell someone off. THINK stands for, Is it: True, Helpful, Inspirational, Necessary, and Kind.

Just THINK about it when we find ourselves on the business end of someone’s sharp tongue-Most of us would prefer that their words be, True, Helpful, Inspirational, Necessary and Kind. As opposed to Harsh, Hurtful, Mean, Sarcastic and Unkind.

I   know   I   would!

So remember – is it

T True
H Helpful
I  Inspirational
N Necessary
K Kind

THINK before you address someone!

Don’t Forget To Check The Scrap Pile

Have you ever seen a junk collector or metal recycler? If you have then you probably noticed them picking up old broken stoves and refrigerators, A, C units, sometimes discarded furniture and other items. All things that another person judged as useless, unfit,  outdated, and a waste of vital space. So they threw them out.

While you and I may drive by and see only useless junk, a collector sees potential, not to mention $$$$. Because he’s not looking at what is, but what will be. You see, it’s all in a matter of perspective. The person who threw it out was looking at the past and present, while the collector has his eyes on the future.

That’s how I liken my prison experience. As I look around I see a sea of human, wreckage-wasted lives and unused potential. People who just like that junk on the side of the street society have been declared as unfit, useless, outdated, as vital waste of space and resources.

But every now and then, I run into men like myself who do more than refuse these harmful labels. They scoop them up and hurl them right back into the faces of the senders. So fast that they begin to wonder how did he do that, he’s a convict? Who does he think he is anyway? I’ll tell you. He thinks he’s someone with more potential in his future than calamity in his past. Someone who knows that it’s not what you say about me that counts, but what I say about me. As British author Zadie Smith so eloquently states, “I am the sole author of the dictionary that defines ME.”

For that reason I was excited when I ran into a group of incarcerated brothers who have created a community service problem solving organization called OnDaVerge.com and I wanted to share it with you that you can be inspired as well. Check these brothers out as they are doing big thangs.

http://www.ondaverg.org/

From the brochure:

On Da Verg.Org is a community service organization geared towards educating & assisting people in problematic situations about proven methods they can use to alleviate their burdens. We also offer vital resources to prisoners, their families & children of incarcerated parents.

Founded in 2004, On Da Verg.Org’s pioneers have designed and developed informational products called Solution Based Models, which are the blueprint or problem or crisis resolution!

At this time, our main focus is on youth ages 12-19 who are faced with various negative circumstances, and at-risk. Our models also assist the parents & guardians of troubled youth, providing easily understood steps to totally eradicate the problem at hand. Our social networking spectrum is wide-ranged & very resourceful, as we direct parents & guardians to the proper agencies who specialize in dealing with specific problems.

Our On Da Verg.Org team is filled with crisis survivors and our crisis response team have effective tactics to intervene in certain problems when necessary.

Everyone is looking for solutions to problems. The problem is, ‘Solutions’ are very limited. This creates a Demand!

Perfect Business Model. The illusion in the world is that everyone is solving their problems. Fact is, almost no one is solving their problems effectively. 99.9% are actually trying to avoid their problems. The
average person’s life is rife with problems. This is what makes the name, On Da Verg.Org what it is? People are constantly on the verge of some extremely important decision(s)….

 

On da verge broch 1

on da verg broch 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talk to Your Daughters

Asia Graves, a former teenage prostitute

Disclaimer: I’m from the hood which means I know what it is to go without. What it means to have your lights or water turned off. What it means to see your single mother rob Peter to pay Paul and try to stretch a dollar thinner than the paper it was printed on. So I understand Poverty and the soul killing, ambition stealing nature of it.

I stated the above to stress that I understand hustling and what people in poor communities have to do to make ends meet, even when their actions sometimes puts them on the wrong side of the law. Even as a Christian man, I can’t knock a person in their battle for survival .

However, there is one hustle that I personally never appreciated or condoned, which is pimping, where a man uses force, mental coercion, manipulation, material possession or whatever to convince a woman to sell her body for his financial benefit. And to be honest with you, it upsets me every time I read or hear about it, especially when a young girl is turned out and either forced or tricked into this soul-crushing lifestyle.

But it’s happening everyday right up under our noses and it happened to Asia Graves the beautiful young woman whose picture is at the top of this article. Like a lot of black girls from the hood, Asia had a rough childhood which consisted of a drug-addicted mother, and being bounced back and forth to different relatives homes.

Until at the tender impressionable age of 16, she found herself broke and homeless on the streets of Boston. One night while she was out on the streets, broke and cold, a well-dressed man approached her smiling as if he had the world at his beg and call. He told Asia that she was pretty and much too beautiful to be outside with no place to go. Encouraged by his nice words, she accepted what she naively thought was the man’s kindness. Kindness that consisted of food, clothes, money and a place to stay. To tell the truth, she felt like she had been rescued by a nice wealthy man whom she had no idea was a pimp.

After a few days of providing her a place to stay and feeding her, the man told Asia that it takes money to live in this world and that she had to start earning her keep — pimp talk for whoring.

But he told her not to worry about it, that he would take care of it by setting her up with a “date”. Only this date involved Asia having sex with men in exchange for money. Soon this one date turned into two and three, until Asia found herself having sex with multiple men a night for money. Money that she had to quickly turn over to the man who has supposedly “rescued her”. Asia said, “If we didn’t call him daddy, he would slap us, beat us, or choke us.”

For nearly two years Asia found herself stuck in this destructive lifestyle as a result of her need for material support and a place to stay, and fear of what her pimp would do to her if she tried to leave. And because it was Asia along with some other girls that he had selling his body for him, he was able to convince them that they were all one big family and used them to recruit other girls for his “stable”.

”It’s about love and thinking you’re part of a family, a team. I couldn’t leave because I thought he would kill me.”

Fortunately with the help of the police and FBI, Asia was able to break free of her pimp after he nearly killed her and she had to be hospitalized for her injuries. But not every girl is so lucky – too many wind up dead, or strung out and on the streets for life.

Today Asia works with “Fair Girls” a D.C. organization started by Andrea Powell that offers a four hour curriculum entitled “Tell Your Friends” about how young girls in general, but especially black and Hispanic girls from single parent households are these predators number one target.

Since it began, “Fair Girls” has reached thousands of teenage girls. However, that is still a drop in the bucket compared with the millions of young girls in these predator’s crosshairs .That’s why we all each individually have to do something. We have to talk to our teenage daughters, sisters, nieces, cousins and neighbors. Don’t think it can’t happen to anyone who you love and care about. Girls have been exploited from the suburbs to the Subway and from the Penthouse to the Poorhouse pimps and sex traffickers don’t discriminate.

Asia Graves put herself out there on the front page of a national newspaper so we call could see the face of teenage prostitution.

Now the ball is in our court talk to the teenage girls in you life, don’t assume it can’t happen because it can and is happening everyday all around this country.

The Company We Keep

The other day somebody dropped this jewel in my lap and I wanted to share it with you:

“He who walks with wise men (or women) will be wise” — Proverbs 13:20

The company we keep

It is Better to Be Alone Than in the Wrong Company

Tell me who your best friends are, and I will tell you who you are. If you run with wolves, you will learn to howl. But, if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights. A mirror reflects a man’s face, but what he REALLY is like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses. The simple, but true fact of life, is that YOU become like those with whom you closely associate-for good or for bad.

The less you associate with some people, the MORE your life will improve!

Anytime you tolerate a compromising attitude in others, it increases your compromising attitude. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people. As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not WANT you to go on. They will want you to stay where THEY are. Friends that don’t help you climb…will want you to crawl. Your friends will stretch your vision,or choke your dreams. Never receive counsel from unproductive people. Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the SOLUTION, because those who never succeed themselves… are always first to tell you how and why you can’t. NOT everyone has the right to speak into your life. You are certain to get the worst of the bargain when you exchange ideas with, the wrong person. Don’t follow anyone who’s not going anywhere. With some people we SPEND our time, with others we INVEST it. Be careful where you stop to inquire for directions along the road of life-Wise is the person who fortifies his life with right friendships.

Happy moments? Praise God

Difficult moments? Seek God

Quiet moments? Worship God

Painful moments? Trust God

Every moment? Thank God

— Author Unknown —

Is Polygamy the Solution for the Black Marriage Crisis?

…”I heard it all before”— lyrics from Sunshine Anderson hit R&B Song.

After all the head rolling, finger-snapping and “I told you so’s”, was anyone really surprised when the news broke: Hip Hop producer Swiss Beats had – gasp! – cheated on his gorgeous, Grammy Award winning, multi-platinum wife who had just, recently given birth to his child with a 19 year-old model and aspiring songstress? Less than a year after their story book wedding.

Ain’t that a…

But considering what most people already view as the unsavory of their union (he was still married to his first wife who was pregnant when he hooked up with Alicia). More than a few of us were quick to jump on our holier-than-thou high “serves” her right horse. But before you go there recall Jesus warning Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you not be judged.”

Dang…I’m just saying.

For the rest of us with a more down to earth outlook we greeted the unsavory news with a business as usual shrug. After all, Swiss Beats was a man, a rich, successful one at that so in most quarters he was seen to be doing what most men or at least too many do (think Bill Clinton).

But I’m just saying…

None of which minimizes the fact that Alicia is undoubtedly a “good catch”. An intelligent, attractive, accomplished, voluptuous young woman who could more than likely have pretty much any man she desired.

But in a world filled with far more educated, beautiful, successful black women then black men it’s still a buyer’s market as it relates to successful black men. No doubt Swiss Beats recognized his unique status and position as well as the options it gave him – options it seems he chose to exercise. No surprise there.

Even if worse came to worse and this popular celebrity couple joined countless others in – gasp – divorce court, what are the odds of Swiss Beats sitting at home lonely, heartbroken and unable to find a date? Exactly.

Yet when it comes to the dating, mating, and hating game that so many of us are familiar with, infidelity is only one of a long list of challenges facing black unions.

In 2004, half of all black men in their 20’s (prime marriage age) were unemployed and every year more black men are in prison than those entering or attending college. Currently twice as many black women earn college degrees as black men.

These dismal statistics have been narrowed down to three main culprits: joblessness, lack of education, and incarceration. As a result, the pool of successful, educated, marriage minded black women far exceeds that of black men all of which—result in the so called “Black Marriage Crisis.” A crisis defined by facts such as a forty year old college educated black woman having double the chance of NOT getting married as her white counterparts.

If reading this makes you once again think of the lyrics of Sunshine Anderson’s song “Heard it all before”, you’re right. You probably have.

What you probably haven’t heard is the fix: proposed by two men, Ralph Richards Banks, a black college Law professor from California, and Joe Darger, the white owner of a construction business in Salt Lake Valley, Utah. They have each presented two workable solutions to the problems plaguing black unions.

Mr. Banks solution is laid out in painstaking detail in his new book, “Is Marriage for White People”, in which he proposed that black women desiring to get married or be in meaningful relationships should stop limiting themselves to only dating black men .

He says, “You have a host of black women who are more successful than ever. But then there is this one area where all is not well; relationships. Your actions are fairly limited as long as you’re confined to successful black men. There’s not a whole lot of them, but there’s a whole lot of you.”

Banks goes on to say that “successful black men in particular benefit from a relationship market in which they are in short supply. The numbers imbalance gives black men the power to dictate the terms of their relationships with black women.” (This could’ve been what Swiss Beats was thinking when he decided to cheat on his beautiful, successful wife.)

The solution Mr. Banks advocates in his book has been gaining traction as articles and excerpts from his book have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Ebony and Essence Magazines.

Nevertheless, it’s the unconventional solution to the black marriage crisis advocated by Mr. Darger – polygamy – that’s the focus of this article. And I freely admit calling Mr. Darger an advocate is kind of a stretch in that he promotes the polygamous lifestyle the same way someone driving a Porsche promotes that particular luxury auto. That’s because Mr. Darger, who is 42 and a Mormon, is married to not one but 3 beautiful women, Valerie, 41, Vicki, 41 and Alana 42, and is the father of a combined 23 children ranging in age from 15 months to 20.

Before you get back on your high horse and start wagging your little finger, Mr. Darger, along with his three wives, learned their relationship style from the same place most of us learned ours: their parents as each was raised in a polygamous household.

Polygamy defined as a form of marriage in which a person has more than one spouse is not new to the world. Throughout the ages it has went by many different names in the bible it is called concubinage. (Gen 25:5, Deut 21:15-17) It was and is still widely practiced in the Middle East and some parts of Africa. Sobhuza II King of Swaziland had a hundred wives and more than two hundred children when he died in 1982. Polygamy is also practiced in the Philippines and parts of Polynesia.

According to experts throughout the world, polygamy has two primary functions: first and foremost to increase the wealth of the family and then to absorb the excess of marriageable women.

These two benefits make polygamy a viable option for the black community. When I was a kid I lived down the street from a large Hispanic- family that consisted of an elderly mother and father, several grown sons and daughters, along with their spouses and kids. A good fifteen adults and ten children inhabited the small yellow and white wood framed home.

A fact that often made the one or two teenage boys from the family who walked to school with us the butt of many insensitive teenage jokes. Yet from a purely economic standpoint, can you imagine the financial benefit that proceeds from such a living arrangement when at least ten or twelve of the adults are working? And there was only one set of bills for the entire household. Is it any wonder that within a few years that same family had purchased two additional homes in the neighborhood?

This is the type of synergy that African-Americans willing to embrace polygamy can expect. Imagine a family with a college-educated or even blue collar man and two wives who are both employed? Such a family would be much better-off financially than an ordinary two couple, two- income household. And with the ever increasing wealth gap between black and white Americans, it’s safe to say that African American families need all the help they can get.

But the greatest benefit to the community would be the absorption of marriageable women, women who would normally be unable to find suitable marriage partners, as the disparity between the number of marriage worthy black men and women has already been noted. Yet what would happen if many of the successful, educated, marriage-worthy black men who are available begin to marry more than one black woman?

For one it would eliminate a lot of the creeping and cheating that’s already going on. Outside of financial problems, infidelity is number two on the list of things that land many married couples in divorce court.

In one study, 75 percent of married men and 25 percent of married women admitted to having at least one extra-marital affair. And it’s not just married couples who are creeping. Another study conducted by the University of Chicago found that cheating was extremely wide spread in poor black neighborhoods with 1 in 5 men being involved with at least two or more women. Less anyone think it’s only the less successful brethren who are doing all the two-timing, the same study reported that cheating was even more wide spread among the successful college educated black men they interviewed, who were often viewed as the crème de la crème. A striking fact was that the women in these men’s lives were more willing to tolerate and put up with bad behavior than their less educated sisters, a few even expected it.

Perhaps this was the reason Usher’s 2004 CD Confessions in which he croons, “Just when I thought I said all I could say, my chic on the side said she got one on the way, these are my confessions”, sold 8 million albums in the US and more than 13 million worldwide. Did the fact that Usher was singing about what so many of us were already doing help make the album so successful? Who knows? But the truth is rather they realize it or not a large number of African Americans are already polygamous. Nearly everyone reading this knows at least one black person who is dealing with more than one intimate partner. So why not call a spade a spade?

What would happen if more African-Americans decided to embrace a polygamous lifestyle? I’ll tell you – not only would it cut down on all the creeping, cheating, and lying but it would allow more black fathers to be with their children. Something that would’ve happened in the case of NBA star Dwayne Wade if he could’ve remained married to his high-school sweetheart and mother of his sons, yet also entered into a relationship with Gabriel Union.

A lot of times when a man gets caught cheating, it’s with his ex or the mothers of his children, especially if she’s still single. Embracing polygamy will add structure to the down low dealings that are already taking place and in many cases be much more respectful to the women in a man’s life. How so?

In the typical scenario a man and woman met, fall in love and enter into what is supposed to be a committed relationship, and a lot of times it is for at least one of the partners. In many cases, the couple moves in together and if they haven’t already then they plan anticipate marriage along with a white picket fence at some future date if they’re lucky. But what often happens is that while they’re in the process of building the perfect life together, the wife/girlfriend learns through the grapevine that the husband/boyfriend is secretly seeing someone else, or a woman shows up on her doorstep with a infant in tow, or even worse, she gets a call from her OB/GYN that labs test show she has contracted an STD. Either way the outcome involves a lot of pain, heartbreak and tears and what was once seen as a promising relationship has received a death blow that many never recover from.

But for a couple willing to embrace polygamy, a man will meet a woman he’s interested in and instead of taking his wedding ring off and saying he’s single/or lying about how horrible his wife is and how he plans to leave her when the time is right, he can be honest with the woman (thus giving her the power of choice without being deceived). If she remains interested he can introduce her to his other wife/wives who will then have the chance to get to know the woman, inquire about her sexual history, and gauge if she would be a good fit for the family. If not, they could voice their concerns with their husband.

Of course there are many people who would be totally opposed to this type of lifestyle for a variety of reasons, the number one being the cultural aspect. Whether we realize it or not, we are all products of our culture and culturally the practice of polygamy is foreign to most African-Americans. There are also those who erroneously believe that polygamous families are one big freak show with the husband and wives all sleeping together in one continuous orgy, but nothing could be farther from the truth. In the Darger family, he spends a different night a week with each of his wives, they never sleep together or engage in any type of group sex. He says bluntly, “If that was what it was about, I would have mistresses. There’s easier ways to get sex. It’s about building relationships.”

Along those lines, he takes each of his wives out on private Friday night dates on a rotating schedule, which means that each wife gets at least one date every three weeks. A lot more quality time than many women in traditional marriages receive from their spouses.

Returning to the Swiss Beats/Alicia Keys fiasco, what would’ve happened if the couple would’ve had this type of relationship to where he could’ve come home and told his wife, “Baby, I met somebody that I want you to meet.” More than likely the outcome would’ve been radically different.

Apart from the “ick” factor, most people inherently associate with this form of marriage there are legal and religious aspect that have to be taken into consideration. While it’s doubtful that polygamy will ever be the “only” solution for the black marriage crisis, for those open to it, it could be “one” among many.

Why Urban Lit?

Street fiction, Gangsta lit, Urban books, Hip-Hop fiction are some of the names frequently used to describe and deride a popular form of African American literature that has exploded in popularity over the last decade. Often these books describe the more gritter side of street life in graphic detail and go by names such as “Dirty Red”, “Scandalous”, “Hoodwinked” etc.

And many of the genre’s top selling authors, Walida Clark, Paul Johnson, Shannon Holmes, Kiki Swanison, Vickie Stringer, are either current or former inmates. Current reigning queen of the genre Vickie Stringer wrote her first book “Let That Be The Reason” while serving 7 years in Federal prison for dealing drugs. The name of her multi-million dollar publishing company, “Triple Crown Publishing” – with a roster of 27 authors, many of whom are still currently incarcerated – is a twist on the Ohio drug crew she used to run with in her hustling days, known as “The Triple Crown Posse”.

To the chagrin of many African-American critics – including reigning Diva of black women lit Terry McMillian, who went on record bashing the genre in Vibe Magazine, along with owner of Los Angeles black book store Eso Won Books James Fugate who said: “The ghetto lit being written today is mostly mindless garbage about murder, killing, and thuggery” – it appears the multi-million dollar street lit market is not only well entrenched but here to stay. Evident by the corporate powerhouses who have hopped on the bandwagon including Simons & Schuster who signed Stringer to a mega bucks deal, along with St. Martin Press who has a long roster of Urban Lit authors, including Relentless Aaron who is himself an ex-con.

Many people trace the rise in popularity of the urban fiction market to the 1999 publication of Sister Souljah’s bestselling novel “The Coldest Winter Ever” which went on to sell an amazing 3 million copies. But while Sister Souljah’s book may have helped to get corporate America’s attention to the genre’s potential, the market for this form of fiction is actually much older, as is the phenomenon of inmate turned author.

In 1969, after serving ten months in the Chicago county jail, Robert Beck, writing under the pen name of Iceberg Slim, published “Pimp: The Story of my life” about his life as a Chicago area pimp. The book has since been translated into at least five different languages: Italian, Dutch, Spanish, French, and Greek. At the time of his death in 1992, “Pimp” had sold over 6 million copies and counting.

Inspired by Beck’s success in the late 70’s, another young black man from the gritty drug infested streets of Detroit set out to put the reality of his existence along with those around him on paper in bone chilling stomach churning graphic detail. The man was Donald Goines, a lifelong heroin addict, occasional pimp and sometimes robber wrote his first novel “Dope fiend” while incarcerated in state prison. Goines went on to write a total of 16 books in 5 years before his life was tragically cut short along with that of his wife’s Shirley by an assassin’s bullet as he sat at his typewriter while the couple’s two kids hid under the sofa.

What the lives of Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines illustrate is that the tradition of African-American authors, without formal training and with criminal records, writing about the bitter realities of their existence in the inner city ghettos of America was well established long before the current crop of Hip-Hop authors. Who are often derided and lambasted by their more educated and successful brethren for the alleged poor quality of their writing and less than stellar content, as there are some individuals who believe that there is a difference between what takes place between a corporate executive in a Four Seasons downtown suite with a paid female escort and what happens between a blue collar worker and prostitute behind a dumpster in an impoverished neighborhood. I’m not one of them.

Yet I must admit that although I’m steeped in both hip-hop and street culture when I first began to write, I stoically resisted the herald call to write hardcore urban fiction. I don’t personally have a problem with people telling the stories which they are familiar with, as one of writing’s sacred cows is to “write what you know.”

For me, it was the view that it was too easy or not challenging enough that made me want to go beyond the norms. In my sight, writing was a way to go beyond that which I was already familiar with or that I already knew and to instead explore new worlds, attitudes, emotions, and people and to live vicariously through my stories.

But in the last twelve months, I finally succumbed to the nagging desire to jump feet first into the street lit market and I wrote my first hardcore urban novel, doing so with co-author K.B. Webb who was my cellie at the time. With us both being native Houstonians, we collaborated on a Houston based hood novel entitled “Clutch City Concierge”, which ended up being about as gritty as gritty can get. Yet even as I exchanged the politically correct names for body parts and sex acts for their less savory equivalents, I still had the desire for some form of elevation. It was that desire that led to the “Concierge” concept being merged into the original vision for the novel. For me, this was a merger of the “street” and “boardroom”.

While it’s doubtful that the book will ever win a NAACP Image Award, I believe we succeeded in writing a entertaining urban story without glorifying the worst while still “keeping it real”. And unlike my previous four novels, which have been set in Beverly Hills, New York, East LA, and Washington D.C., places I’ve only visited in my mind, a part of me longed to return to the city of my birth and the reality of the existence that I knew so well.

As University of Southern California Professor Dr. Todd Boyd – dubbed the “Hip Hop Professor” – said when asked why so many African Americans read street lit he replied, “the ghetto is drama. The ills of poverty are more dramatic than the angst of middle class life.” If that’s true, then perhaps that’s why “street lit” authors write it, to spice things up a bit. If you too need a little high energy, no holds barred fictionalized drama in your diet, check out “Clutch City Concierge”, available on Amazon.com.

Tamisha and Kamisha

God blessed me with

Not one, but two

Wonderful daughters

Entrusted me with the responsibility

Of being a father

No small task

On my knees, instructions I have to ask

Knowledge of Fatherhood

To help me raise my seed

Provide for their need

With God’s grace, I’m up to the task

Of being more than a donor

But an actual father.

Reprinted from “A Windowless Room” by Kenneth West. Trafford Press 2006

I Am An Artist

At least that is what I tell myself.

Between laughing and crying,

I think I am really trying.

I am my own canvas, painting myself,

Constantly working on myself

At least what’s left.

A constant process of re-creation

A daily transformation.

Descendant of African Royalty,

Now just considered a minority,

Entrusted to the state’s authority,

Re-creation is defiant priority!

Yet, the process begins with me.

No more fathering children out of wedlock,

or dealing crack at the bus stop.

No more lying, stealing and cheating!

No more calling women bitches and hos

Time to elevate my prose.

At least these are the changes I propose.

Yet, I have to confess my pictures sometimes fall

completely apart.

Which puts me back at the start.

An artist,

Recreating himself,

On a daily basis!!!

Reprinted from “Beauty In Chains: Poems by African American Prisoners On Black Love, Racism, Politics, Religion, and Progress”. CreateSpace Press

Do Women In Relationships Get A Raw Deal?

In my search for the perfect mate, this was a question I had never actually given any serious thought to. Like a lot of singles who desired to be a pair, I had naively assumed that two people who were attracted to each other met, got to know one another, fell in love, then set out to build a life together. Sometimes it led to “Happily ever after” and sometimes it didn’t.

But reading Judy Brady’s essay “Why I Want A Wife” forced me to challenge my naive assumptions about the equality of relationships and exactly what each partner brings to the table in a successful relationship.

In her essay, she so succinctly pointed out the many, many things that women do for the men in their lives that so many men, including myself, take for granted as just being a natural part of the relationship. For instance, I don’t recall any woman I dated expecting me to cook our meals, do the laundry, take her mother to the doctor, or to have sex when I didn’t feel like it or wanted to. Yet, all of the above are things women readily do. But I needed Judy Brady’s to help bring them to my attention.

Of course, since Mrs. Brady wrote her ground breaking essay in the early 60’s, there has been a great push toward equality of the sexes, nevertheless there is still work to do.

So, I confess that I do still want a wife, fortunately not for the stereotypical reason Mrs. Brady pointed out.

Why I Want A Wife

By Judy Brady

I belong to that classification of people known as wives. I am A Wife, and, not altogether incidentally, I am a mother.

Not too long ago a male friend of mine appeared on the scene fresh from a recent divorce. He had one child, who is, of course, with his ex-wife. He is looking for another wife. As I thought about him while I was ironing one evening, it suddenly occurred to me that I, too would like to have a wife. Why do I want a wife?

I would like to go back to school so that I can become economically independent, support myself, and, if need be, support those dependent upon me. I want a wife who will work and send me to school. And while I am going to school I want a wife to take care of my children. I want a wife to keep track of the children’s doctor and dentist appointments. And to keep track of mine, too. I want a wife to make sure my children eat properly and are kept clean. I want a wife who will wash the children’s clothes and keep them mended. I want a wife who is a good nurturing attendant to my children, who arranges for their schooling, makes sure that they have an adequate social life with their peers, takes them to the park, the zoo etc. I want a wife who takes care of the children when they are sick, a wife who arranges to be around when the children need special care, because, of course, I cannot miss classes at school. My wife must arrange to lose time at work and not lose the job. It may mean a small cut in my wife’s income from time to time, but I guess I can tolerate that. Needless to say, my wife will arrange and pay for the care of the children while my wife is working.

I want a wife who will take care of my physical needs. I want a wife who will keep my house clean. A wife who will pick up after my children, a wife who will pick up after me. I want a wife who will keep my clothes clean, ironed, mended, replaced when need be, and who will see to it that my personal things are kept in their proper place so that I can find what I need the minute I need it. I want a wife who cooks meals, a wife who is a good cook. I want a wife who will plan the menus, do the necessary grocery shopping, prepare the meals, serve them pleasantly, and then do the cleaning up while I do my studying. I want a wife who will care for me when I am sick and sympathize with my pain and loss of time from school. I want a wife .to go along when our family takes a vacation so that someone can continue to care for me and my children when I need a rest and change of scene.

I want a wife who will not bother me with rambling complaints about a wife’s duties. But I want a wife who will listen to me when I feel the need to explain a rather difficult point I have come across in my course studies. I want a wife who will type my papers for me when I have written them.

I want a wife who will take care of the details of my social life. When my wife and I are invited out by my friends, I want a wife who will take care of the babysitting arrangements. When I meet people at school that I like and want to entertain, I want a wife who will have the house clean, will prepare a special meal, serve it to me and my friends, and not interrupt when I talk about things that interest me and my friends. I want a wife who will have arranged that the children are fed and ready for bed before my guest arrive so that the children do not bother us. I want a wife who takes care of the needs of my guest so that they feel comfortable, who makes sure that they have an ashtray, that they are passed hors d’oeuvres, that they are offered a second helping of food, that their wine glasses are replenished when necessary, that their coffee is served to them as they like it. And I want a wife who knows that sometimes I need a night out by myself.

I want a wife who is sensitive to my sexual needs, a wife who makes love passionately and eagerly when I feel like it, a wife who makes sure that I am satisfied. And, of course, I want a wife who will not demand sexual attention when I am not in the mood for it. I want a wife who assumes complete responsibility for birth control, because I do not want more children. I want a wife who will remain sexually faithful to me so that I do not have to clutter up my intellectual life with jealousies. And I want a wife who understands that my sexual needs may entail more than strict adherence to monogamy. I must, after all, be able to relate to people as fully as possible.

If, by chance, I find another person more suitable as a wife than the wife I already have, I want the liberty to replace my present wife with another one. Naturally, I will expect a fresh, new life; my wife will take the children and be solely responsible for them so that I am left free.

When I am through with school and have a job, I want my wife to quit working and remain at home so that my wife can more fully and completely take care of a wife’s duties.

My God, who wouldn’t want a wife?

A Nation Set On A Hill

Norway, Norway, Norway
I too weep with thee.

I protest with the world
the fateful day evil attacked
a peaceful nation.

The day 76 angels were granted
their wings
Hark the Heavenly Angels sing.

While we on earth are left
to ponder…
Wonder
Why Prince of Peace had the
menace of intolerance reared
its beastily head in peaceful Norway.

Oh Norway
I too weep with thee.

My sister, what were your crimes?
Let your accuser come forth.
Which of God’s children had you
fair lady oppressed?
Had you ever built a wall to
divide people?
Forbidden the free worship of God?
Murdered the poor or falsely
accused the innocent?

“No, no” she cried.
“Of none of the above am I guilty.
My values are peace and equality,
tolerance is my cloak, good works
my tunic. Never the stranger or
hungry have I turned away.
Oh do tell me, why this calamity?”

At her words, I turned my head in despair.
To her question I had no answer.
Oh Norway
I too weep with thee.

But this I know, Peace and Hope will never
ever die. Nor will a Nation of peace despair.
For Norway will rebuild, and be forever more
A Nation Set On A Hill.
 

©Kenneth West