Friday, April 25, 2003

I Blame It All on That White Girl written by Toya

America (now I sound like Bernie Mac), I must admit to something: I have an inner white girl named Chrissy. I’ll describe her to you: Chrissy likes pink glitter, skater boys, indie bands, and Jem; Power Ballads, fun rubber bracelets, and let's out a big high pitched "Oh My Gosh, Yeah!" when excited about the slightest little, yummy fun thing. After crying my eyes out as a kid because I was constantly called “Oreo” and “White Girl” it has taken me almost 20 years to acknowledge her and just as long to suppress her. Those that know me are probably wondering what took me so long to admit this and that the unfortunate incident at the Rick Springfield concert should have been a dead giveaway to me. For those that have not already heard this story (and for those that have and still get a big kick out of it), let's begin:

I have loved Rick Springfield since the third grade. His jet-black hair and dreamy eyes just wowed me from the moment I saw him play Doctor Noah on General Hospital. You could not tell me that he was not the finest man alive. Now we can argue that he is not one of the finer actors of our day, but fine he is. Well one day, my friend who works for him got me tickets and before long, me and my road dog Tia were road tripping it to St. Louis to see him. For clarification purposes, I did not travel that far just to see Rick Springfield, per se. I am extremely geographically challenge and thought that St. Louis was 3 hours away. That mess is FIVE hours away. Well, the next time I travel that long for any concert, it will be New Edition’s last concert WITH Bobby Brown or Journey WITH Steve Perry.

As always upon arrival, Tia and I start playing the “Count the Black People” game.

Me: “Ooh look a black girl”
Tia: “Where?”
Me: “Over by the steps”
Tia: “Uh no. She’s got letters on her shirt, Toya. She works here.”

We managed to count two other black girls in the audience and took our seats in the balcony with the industry types. At first I regretted sitting way up there but soon realized that by being so far from the stage, I had less of a chance of acting a fool. Well soon after a local opening act performed, there he was. Rick Springfield. And the “Chrissy” in me went crazy. “It’s him, it’s him!” I yelled over and over. My dream had come true. He went into “Affair of the Heart” and we sang right along with every word.

Now let’s talk about Rick. He came off highly cynical and somewhat bitter. Wouldn’t you be? Look at it from this perspective: He and Sting came out around the same time. Sting is respected as an artist worldwide and is constantly reinventing himself. Rick Springfield however, is an 80’s leftover. Think Corey Hart and Kajagoogoo. When people come to see him they don’t care that he has been toiling away in the studio working on new material. Oh no. We want the hits! We want Jessie’s Girl and Don’t Talk to Strangers. Don’t bore us with trying to be an artist. Take your shirt off and pose for us just like you did in Tiger Beat circa 1983. It’s harsh but it’s reality. After complaining about the bottled water the show promoter provided him with and giving the finger to the sound man, Rick put on one of those portable microphone headset thingys and made his way through the crowd. Rick seemed really jaded about playing for a crowd of mostly women in their mid-40’s. Some of them went as far as wearing shirts saying “Jessie’s Girl” and were pawing all over him. Tia and I were clowning them from the balcony, yelling “Hey! That’s somebody’s husband! He has a ring on! Show some decency!”

Unexpectedly, Rick pointed to the balcony and said “I’m coming up there”. I LOST IT. He started coming up the steps and I am running and pushing through people. I stopped and realized that Tia wasn’t behind me and I panicked. She had to be there. I couldn’t experience this by myself. When I turned around to see how close he was, he was about 25 feet away from me. I gasped when I finally got a good look at him. Yall, Rick is old. At the time, I didn’t know how old he was and later found out that he is 10 days younger than my dad who is turning 54 this year. From the neck up, Rick looks like he is about 1000 years old. However from the neck down, he’s about 25. I was horrified yet at the same time impressed.

Once again, I turned around for Tia who was frantically beckoning for me to come back to my seat. Tia is much taller than I and could see that he was making his way to our row. I pushed myself through the crowd, hopped over a railing and shamefully back kicked a man in the shin to get back to my seat. Huffing and puffing I ran to Tia, who put her hands on my shoulders, spun me around and Rick and I were finally face to face singing Human Touch. CRAZY!!!!!!

I usually pride myself by acting nonaffected by meeting people I admire so what happened next shocked the mess out of me because I have yet to find where it came from. Tia testifies that she noticed a glaze in my eyes as the realization hit me that I may never get a chance to be this close to Rick Springfield again. According to her, my face read “Rick Springfield just walked by me. He just walked by me. I…must… do something! I must!” And then in a moment of temporary unbridled insanity, after clowning all of those desperate women who ripped his shirt off and squeezed his buttocks, I, Toya (or should I say Chrissy), ran up and tried to jump on Rick Springfield’s back (You know, now that I see this in writing I am even more embarrassed). This didn’t happened in 1982 but 2002. What made it worse was that we were in the front row in the balcony and the spotlight was on us! Picture watching a Rick Springfield concert and out of the blue a short black woman with an afro runs out of nowhere and mauls Rick Springfield. The horror. Tia, not ever one to be left out, slowly reached out and poked him in his side with her finger (“Well I wanted to touch him too!”). Thus once again proving to be more self contained than I. The conviction of jumping a married man quickly set in and I felt so guilty. Tia could see it all over my face. I sat and repented over and over and over again.

I take no responsibility for this: I blame it all on Chrissy. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must leave to purchase my tickets to go see Def Leppard next weekend.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

And now for the more superficial content of our website…Toya’s Boyfriend of the Week

Ever so often, my roommates and I will be watching television and I will yell out “oh, that is my boyfriend!” when one of my favorite hotties comes on the screen. I figured this should be a segment. Oh joy! This week is Mos Def. Mos Def has been my boyfriend for quite some time now. I knew of him from Black Star but fell in love when the Umi Says video came out. I think he is ridiculously adorable and delightfully intelligent. He is not only a dope emcee but also a great actor and an activist on the rise.

5 Things You Should Know About Mos Def:
1) He is the host of HBO's Def Jam Poetry
2) He is a member of Black Star along with Talib Kweli
3) He made his film debut in Bamboozled
4) His last film was Brown Sugar where he gave the thick sista some props, hallelujah
5) He also acted in the "Hip Hopera" Carmen starring Beyonce's Knowles...but I love him anyway.

So yes, this week's kudos go out to my boyfriend, Mos Def. Love ya, boo!

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Where do broken hearts go?
by Tia

I was going to write a scathing article about the Gospel Music Association. (And I still plan on doing that.) But for some reason this topic has been on my mind. So I figured why not.

Have you ever had your heart broken? I mean really broken. If you can say no then count it all joy. You know the old saying, “It’s better to have loved and lost then to never have loved at all?”…..IT’S CRAP. Who ever came up with that mess has never been so broken that they pulled a Crying Game moment.. If heartache is so easy to deal with then why do so many people write songs about it? Why do seemingly normal peoples’ worlds implode on them when it happens?

I went through a really tragic break-up not too long ago. It was the stuff that Lifetime movies are made of. The kind of heartache that crushes your very spirit and rocks you to the fibers of you existence. It’s still hard to think about sometimes. I began to question who I was as a person. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. “What did I do wrong?” “How could I have been a better girlfriend?” It took a long, long, long time for me to realize that even though it wasn’t completely my fault, I was somewhat to blame for part of the devastation.

I had a feeling early on that he wasn’t the one for me. Tell tale signs and certain incidents were nipping at the frays of my mind. But I rolled on like a trooper. I figured I could “make this work.” But the thing about it was it wasn’t SUPPOSED to work. We weren’t supposed to be together, regardless of what my hormones (disguised as my heart) said. I have this theory. I feel like God created ONE person for most everyone. (Of course there are those who are okay with a life of celibacy, but we’re not talking about them and I don’t know any of them anyway.) But I feel like in his sovereignty God, made one for you and one for me. Of course there are runners-up. The ones that would make us happy and love us the best way they know how but ultimately they’re not our soul mate. It’s like the Miss America pageant. There is nothing wrong with the 50 girls that are on stage. They’re all great. But in the end the judges have to pick the one they like best. Dating is sometimes like that. I might make him happy, but I’m not the one he likes best.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Too often we are so eager to find the one that “likes us best” that we freely give out hearts away without thinking. We “love” with the strength of ten men, blindly moving forward b/c we think that we can. Our heart tells us we can do it. And then when it doesn’t work, that same heart cries out in pain for it’s broken pieces to be restored.

And what do we do after the turmoil? A lot of us pick ourselves up, dust our broken hearts off and get back into the game. What we don’t realize is we left a little piece of our hearts behind. Have you ever dropped a glass and had it shatter on the floor? You sweep it all up and go about your business, right? Wrong! A couple of days later you realize you didn’t get it all up as you bunny hop out of the kitchen leaving a trail of blood behind you. I think that’s how some break-ups are. With every relationship we leave a piece of ourselves behind. And if we’re not careful, by the time we do meet Mr./Miss Right we have nothing more to offer them than a bunch of broken pieces with duct tape holding them together and bloody feet.

Now before you go thinking I’m Ja-Ja-Jaded (That’s an Aerosmith song for those of you who didn’t know) hear me when I say that I’m not. But I am a little bit wiser. I realize that love is a verb and as such I can’t except to not put it into action. I love strong, big and long. But I also love smart. I’ve stopped giving my heart away to just any ‘ole body. I long to love the best and I know that God has that for me. But I also know that wookin’ pa nub in all the wrong places is not going to get me to the best any faster. So that’s why I choose to wait. I choose to guard my heart, but not to be guarded. I realize that this time of waiting is also a time of restoration. A time for the pieces of my broken heart to be put back together.

I know that it’s coming. That rush, that feeling, that passion that loves brings with it. And because I have an idea of how good it can be I’ll wait for it. Great things are worth waiting for. I won’t buy into the hype of love the one you’re with. I like the idea of love the one you’re for, better.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

The Disease Written by Toya

My 6-year-old niece has what we like to call in our house "The Disease". The Disease is a liking for white boys. Growing up in a white suburban area my entire life, I have been a carrier of this disease since I can remember. However, I was much surprised to see that my niece, who lives in a completely black neighborhood has also fallen victim.

Last Christmas, my niece and I walked hand in hand into Blockbuster, looking for movies to watch on New Year's Eve. As we walked into the store, she asked "Aunt Toya, do you like any boys in your school?" Now she knows I don't go to school but I knew what she meant. "Well, no honey. I don't." "Well, I do." she shyly admitted, "and well...he's white." I immediately thought" Oh no. Everyone is going to blame this on me. She has spent 4 days with me and everyone is going to think I brainwashed her. I haven't said a word about boys to her. I mean, she's six!"

I have liked boys for a looooooong time. Early on, I was not "fast" but I was rather enamored with the male gender and this included all kinds of boys:black, white, Puerto Rican, Italian (in Jersey, Italians are quick to tell you they aren't white. Now I don't know what you consider European but...). I remember in 7th grade I was in the cafeteria and I was thinking about the Growing Pains episode I saw the night before. Mike Seaver had done something silly for some girl that I thought was so sweet. And then I started to think about how all of the white guys I saw on TV were portrayed as sweet and sensitive guys and how black teenage males were always thugs, illiterate, or adopted misfits of society. I was really disturbed by this and was wondering if this was shaping my image of black men. I quickly thought about all of the positive black men I knew: my father who I have always had a strong relationship with, the black men at my church that were always so kind and encouraging to me, my "play cousins" in New York... I had no excuse of not having any active positive male role models in my life but my niece does and that is the basis of my concern. She is being raised in a single-family household and sees her dad on weekends. My dad and brother live far from her and the black men that I know she sees on a regular basis, not including her dad because I don’t know him, are nothing to shout about. I don’t want her to think that black men are inferior to anyone. I want her to love them and respect them regardless of what she sees in the media. I want her to believe the truth and not lies: not BET, not MTV, not the daily news. Not “Oh we’re just keeping it real”. So I am worried for her.

And my parents are worried for me. The general consensus is that I will marry a white guy. I have never come home with a white guy(all of my dating relationships have been with black men), but they know that I have often “kicked it” with some and my dad is pretty vocal about his disapproval of the very possibility of me marrying a white man. The last time we discussed it, my dad was driving me somewhere and I was telling him about a situation I was having with someone who was younger than me and that I was really struggling with the age difference and decided to just let it go and be friends. My dad mentioned something about the “brother” and I had to let him know that this guy was a “brother” in the Lord, but he was not black, he was white. Well my dad’s earlier response of” Age is not really a big deal” turned into ”Oh yeah, you made the right decision”. Now I have dealt with my dad’s disapproval of this for a long time and it no longer bothers me. It can’t because deep down, I think my family might very well be right. Due to my environment and who I am constantly in contact with, there is a great chance that I will marry someone white. But I thought even though my dad would trip, I thought for sure my mom had my back. I thought wrong. Later on I came home and my mom said ”Now honey, you have always been a different kind of child. We raised you to love all kinds of people no matter what color they were. But you are a BLACK woman, inside and out and I really don’t think that you should be dating someone outside of your race.” It was like a record scratched right in the middle of the breakdown in Jackson Five’s “Dancing Machine”. I just stared at her. This was the woman that said “I don’t care if he’s plaid or purple as long as he loves the Lord.” When a situation is suggested, it is easy to think that your response would be ideal as long as you aren’t met with the reality of it coming to fruition. Well, the rubber met the road and I saw my mom’s true colors. She kept talking and I stopped listening. After a while she just sounded like that teacher on Charlie Brown “Mwaw Mwaw Mwaw Mwaw, Mwaw Mwaw”.

I had to make a decision a long time ago that marrying interracially was something that I was willing to do if that is what God had for me. As aforementioned, you never really know what your response to something will be until you are faced with it. I thought it was a no brainer really. And then I went on a date with one of my white friends. It was in high school and he had just graduated. We went to our spring musical together and he had been trying to get with me for a while but I refused. He was especially charming this day, so I thought it would be cool just for one night. I had never been so disgusted with the ignorance of people up until that day. People that I saw in school everyday came up to us and didn’t even speak to me but spoke to him with a look on their face as if to say “What in the world are you trying to prove?” His ex-girlfriend even came up and said that she had seats for the both of them and to come on. When he told her he was with me she laughed and said “Stop kidding and come on”. And he was oblivious. He wrapped his arms around me and kept kissing me on the cheek as people stared at him, never making eye contact with me. “You know, Toya don’t you?” he asked because these people acted like they didn’t see me in class everyday. They stood there like it was a trick question. As we looked for a seat, I noticed a woman with daggers in her eyes staring at us and at that point I started to cry. Not because I was upset at her, I was upset at me. I thought I was strong and didn’t care what people thought. For the first time in my life, I questioned myself. Was I one of those people that kept others outside of my race strictly on a friendship basis or was I who I said I was? As we found our seats, I was visibly upset. My date turned to me and asked what was wrong. I said ”You don’t see it do you? You don’t see how people are acting because you are with me? They are staring at us.” He looked SO puzzled. “why he asked?” By this time, I am ready to start bawling. Still holding my hand, he looked down at both of our hands and said ”Because of this?” I managed to muster up a yes. He looked straight a head and said ”No, I didn’t notice.” As the lights went down, my face lit up. That was what it was all about. He didn’t see them because he saw me, WHAT?! That, my friends, is what it is all about. I leaned over, gave him the biggest kiss ever and we pleasantly enjoyed the rest of our evening.

So after my niece confessed to liking Aaron, a white boy with “yellow hair”, I told her that it was okay to like boys. God made us that way. However, it is important to be friends with everyone. Work on building friendships. Love all kinds of people no matter what their color is. She then looked at me and said, “Okay Aunt Toya. I understand. Oh yeah and there is also this boy named Seth…”
Why I Love My Roommate Part One (because I have 2) by Toya

Quite often, I have looked at Tia and have been reminded of the awesome sovereignty and genius of God. God is amazing at giving us what we need before we even know we need it. Over a year ago, I was living outside of Nashville and had to move out of my apartment FAST. Everyday, I was in the mirror reciting Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus…- And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus… “ I didn’t know what I was going to do. My credit was jacked up and I was NOT going back to New Jersey. One day, Tia came over and asked me about my naturally curly hair and from then we started talking about our current situations. She needed a job while our other roommate and I needed a place to crash. In a matter of days, we moved in.

I really didn’t think that I was going to see Tia a lot. After all, whenever I saw her at church, she was by herself and seemed to always be on the go. So I just chalked this up as strictly a living situation. She looked like she wanted her space and I didn’t want to impose. She was quiet and I am anything but. She was responsible and anal to a fault (her words, not mine), and I am day to day, la di da, can never find a pair of matching socks. Then, something divine happened: I was moving into my new room, which was her old room and discovered that Tia, like myself, is a weird black girl.

Weird black girls can usually identify each other immediately so when I saw that she owns a copy of the movie “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”, I started to think something was up. I looked further and saw she had all the classics; “Say Anything”, “Some Kind of Wonderful”, “Better Off Dead”, “The Breakfast Club.” By this time, I was uncontrollably nosy and went in her CD collection. We had almost the exact same diverse CD collection and the CD’s that she owned but I didn’t, I had been planning to get. I remember smiling to myself and thinking that this had to be a God thing.

Before long, Tia got a job where I was currently working and came in my office to ask if I had any CD’s. As she went through my CD’s, she asked if I had borrowed any of hers. Surprised, I said no. Yes, I was bold enough to snoop through her stuff but not crazy enough to take it without her permission. “ Umm, is this Jon B’s FIRST CD”, Tia asked. “Yeah, that junk is waaaay underrated. One of my favorite CD’s of all time.” “And you didn’t borrow this from me?” she asked. “No”, I replied. “ And this Sting, Fields of Gold CD isn’t mine either, huh?” “No, not at all.” She asked the same question a few more times while looking through my collection which consisted of The Police, Mary J Blige, Seal, Duran Duran, and NKOTB (hey, who amongst us has no guilty pleasures?) and each time I answered no. She scrunched up her face and walked out of the room.

Before long we found that we had so much more in common and so many things not in common i.e. sloppiness and my love for Michael Jackson and her attention to detail and love for the Spice Girls. Also, we discovered that music and movies weren’t the only things we have in common. We both struggle to get out of under mediocrity. We both strive for God’s plan for our lives which we know is better than anything we could ever dream up for ourselves. We are both incredibly hard on ourselves, and we both get restless in this landlocked state of Tennessee and long to be in Southern California with the skaters and surfers. Tia has taught me a lot about how to grow up and I have helped her bring out her inner rock star. Neither of us saw this coming or knew that we needed each other but God did. We check each other on things with bluntness. We are on each other’s side even if we are the ones in the wrong. We laugh hard with each other and pray hard for each other. This is the stuff great friendships are made of.

Next month, we will catch Def Leppard in concert in Nashville. No doubt, while we are both singing Love Bites at the top of our lungs, I will look over at Tia and once again silently thank God for His precious gift to me.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Are You My Daddy? Written by Toya.
Something peculiar happens to a woman who is past 25 and single: she can sometimes catch herself wondering if each new guy she meets is "the one". My friend calls it "having your antennae up". It's terrible because you really have to check yourself upon meeting someone new. For the most part, I am incredibly happy. Every once in a blue moon, I used to think that I soon wanted to be married until reality tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me of that pesky commitment problem I have. Everyday, you have to wake up to the same person, who you are supposed to love unconditionally to the point where they can fart in bed or play air guitar and you can't leave them? Boggles the mind.

Last week, Tia and I went to a hip hop show downtown to see our roommate perform. This particular event brought in a lot of out of towners. As we walked in our friend Durk commented to Tia “hopefully this will make you like hip hop again”. (I think our site is getting popular! Yeah!). Well we did fall in love with hip hop again. Not the bling bling, Cristol poppin', gold fronts having (well someone did sneak up in there with some gold fronts. We still don’t know how he got in.) façade. But the baggy jeans, Puma jackets, dreads under the knit cap (wait, I need to get a fan, GOOD LORD!) kind of brothers of all colors. I walked back through the crowd one time to find someone and came back and told my girls that I was forbidden to walk through any more. Tia asked why and I told her to walk through and see for herself. In about 5 minutes, she came back with eyes as big as saucers that read "as soon as our roommate gets done performing, we need to leave". Why? In Nashville, you pretty much have one of two types of guys: Rock stars and ones who want to be rock stars. Emaciated, high maintenance, sometimes suspiciously effeminate, rock stars. And the ones that aren't, are married or college students. As Tia said one day, if you are in Economics 101 while I am at work applying my Economics 101, I don't think we have been called to walk together covenantly. Then again, I am one who believes that God has one person for everyone and because I look close to 10 years younger than what I am, my future husband probably will be graduating college this year. Hopefully before he becomes a professional skateboarder (Tia would like to add that her husband will probably also be graduating this year and will be a professional surfer. Hopefully they will have a business together. Some sort of skate/surf shop type thing... Digression, yet again)... I spent a good part of the night trying to keep my antennae down. (A little aside:Durk didn't help by who he chose to host the thing :O) Man, did we appreciate you that night, Durk! But it's all about the music,really. Yeah, that's it.).

The bible says “One that finds a wife finds a good thing”. This implies that it is the man’s job to find a wife and a woman’s job to go about her business and to “be anxious for nothing” as the Word also says. But one can’t help but wonder. It’s not a longing feeling, just a wondering feeling. Kind of like the feeling you get the day before Christmas or your birthday. But why do we wonder? Is it because we can’t wait to know who we will love always even when his breath is stanking in the morning? Who is the one that we will have to send on that inevitable trip to the store for Maxi Pads? Who is the person that we will like best out of everyone in the world? Not love, but genuinely like?

And even more so, we wonder who will love us unconditionally and think we are beautiful. EVERY woman, I don’t care how much of a feminist, women’s libber you are wants to be told that they are beautiful. Every woman wants to know that they have been chosen over all of the others. Every woman wants to be in love and be loved. And when my mind starts to wonder and I start to dream about what my and mister “hi, my name is…” kids are going to look like, the Holy Spirit brings this quote by Pope John Paul II to memory:

"It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal."

Realistically, any woman that finds herself pining away for Mister Right (or Right Now) is ultimately seeking for a father, more specifically THE Father. No one else can fill our deepest longings to be loved as He does. It is not humanly possible. So many friendships fail because of the expectations we put on other human beings. For example, our friend Todd is a great catch. He recently commented that he has had to have the “where is our relationship going” conversation with at least 3 women because he opened the door for them and had a casual conversation. That is pathetic. I mean okay, yeah, we think it, but we should have enough sense not to say it.

It’s time to put love in it’s proper perspective. It’s not what we see on reality shows or soap operas or what we hear in mushy love songs. It is, according to 1 Corinthians, not self seeking. As women, let’s not be so self seeking with our antennaes up but bask in the glowing love of the one that has already proven that he has the unconditional love that we are all wanting.

Friday, April 11, 2003

Written by Tia. I find it interesting that, unbeknowest to either of us, Toya and I posted today on basically the same topic. Makes you kind of wonder who else Fox pissed of last night. Doesn't it?

I blame myself really. I really should have known better. Let me explain.

Last night I was severely pissed off by the Fox Network. And as I’ve already stated, most of the blame lies with me. I’m usually not home on Monday nights. So obviously I don’t get to watch any television. But when I am home I usually plant it on the couch at 7 pm central time to watch Boston Public. And it has NOTHING to do with the fact that Joey McIntyre (formally of the New Kids on the Block for those of you born after 1988) is on the show. There isn’t much quality on television and Boston Public is one of the few shows on Fox that doesn’t make me want to throw things. Anyway, for the full 7 o’clock hour Fox ran teasers for the next episode of Married by America, which came on at 8 pm central time.

Before I go any further I must briefly discuss my disdain for “reality” television shows. In a nutshell, THIS MESS AIN’T REALITY!!!! Don’t get me wrong. I WAS a huge Real World fan. I was an avid watcher. I remember MTV running a marathon of ALL of the seasons the summer of my sophomore year of college. I got NO sleep. Well, I slept when they played the London shows. I love London. I think it’s one of the coolest cities in the world. But that particular cast somehow made the city look like Paducah, Kentucky. SO BORING….Anyway, as I got older I realized that the Real World wasn’t all that REAL. They didn’t work. They could pretty much do whatever they wanted with few to no consequences (Remember Stephen slapping Irene? The slap heard ‘round the world.) And let’s be honest, how real can any of us be with 12 cameras recording our every move? All that to say, these new shows aren’t remotely true to any sort of real life. Joe Millionaire, Man vs Beast, “I’m a Celebrity, Get me out of here!!!” (which by it’s very title negates any sort of realism) all point to one “reality”: Apparently, Hollywood has run out of competent writers, legitimate actors and responsible programmers. How else do you explain the current state of television? Now back to my story.

There is something in me that loves to watch people on television make obviously stupid mistakes and then marvel at their stupidity as they wonder how the situation went so terribly awry. So I guess that’s why I didn’t turn off the television when Boston Public went off. The Married by America clips had trapped me. As I watched the Billie Jeanne cry over her fiancé’s behavior at his bachelor party I couldn’t help but be intrigued. How in the world could she be surprised, shocked, angry…anything? YOU JUST MET HIM 3 WEEKS AGO!!!!! And, you let AMERICA choose him for you. This is the same America that, as my roommate Toya pointed out, made pet rocks popular. These are the same people that made Vanilla Ice a star. For crying out loud, we wore jelly shows, acid wash and feathered our bangs like the lead singer of A Flock of Seagulls. And you’re going to trust US to pick your husband?!?!?…I’m digressing again.

I knew that the carnage that would inevitably ensue would be too great to miss so I tuned in. The warning whistles should have gone off when the show started with a disclaimer that the show contained sexual content that may not be suitable for children. I came to realize that that was a gross understatement. The show started off pretty “normal:” Nothing too out of the ordinary. I know at one point we weren’t even watching it b/c we were too busy commentating. But then it happened. As the couples flew off to Sin City for bachelor and bachelorette parties, the bedlam commenced. I won’t go into details but there was stuff on the screen that I didn’t think you could show on non-cable television, especially before 9 p.m. The disclaimer should have gone something like this: “Due to the soft core lesbian porn and gratuitous sexual content of tonight’s show viewer discretion is advised. If fact, turn off the television NOW! If you have any respect for yourself run, run far and fast.” We should have known better. This is the same network that brought us Celebrity Boxing and Temptation Island. I guess we just wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. I just assumed that Fox would be mindful of the fact the children are still awake before 9 p.m. in the central time zone. Everyone does not live on east cost time. But I now know that ratings and sponsors take precedent of responsible media.

Where was that censorship that Eminem is always whining about? The FCC won’t let you be, huh EM? Maybe if you stopped making cds and starting making television shows you could speak more of your mind. B/C apparently, saying T&A is not acceptable but showing it is fine. Singing/rapping about any sort of activities with strippers will get you banned from the Wal-Mart music department, but females licking whip cream off of a naked FEMALE stripper on prime time television is A-OK.

How did we go from Lucy and Ricky sleeping in separate beds to the debauchery on Fox? Who’s responsible for this? Do the current crop of television execs have no morals or no children for that matter? I was horrified by the fact that my friend’s 2-year-old, who doesn’t go to bed until 9, could have seen a stripper wiggling her breasts, with digitally distorted nipples, in a man’s face. But we all know that the worst part about it is that as long as we’re watching, they’ll keep cranking out the current crop of sin and shenanigans.

So we know what the problem is. What’s the solution?
TURN OFF THE TELEVISION!! Shows get cancelled when no one watches them. When we choose to watch programs of substance the networks will be forced to sit up and take notice. When we stop watching the “ratings grabbers” they will eventually stop coming on. I don’t think we realize what kind of influence and power we have. As consumers, we control the fate of advertisers, writers and programmers. If you don’t believe me ask any advertiser why his company paid $1.5 million dollars for a 20-spot to run during Friends. Don’t be fooled by the car-crash syndrome. You don’t have to stop and look. ROLL ON!!! When it comes to the content of most reality shows, ignorance is truly bliss. Trust me on this one.

Where the hell is the FCC? Written by Toya.
Ever been in a situation where you are painfully aware that you have just spent about 2 minutes of your life that you will never get back? That is how I felt last night watching Fox's Married by America. Since when was incestual lesbian porn acceptable on television with or without a disclaimer? I usually talk about writing networks and giving them a piece of my mind and don't do it but this time, I didn't let my tendency to procrastinate get the best of me. So after renewing my mind in the Word, I sat down at Tia's computer and went on the Fox website.

As I was reading the message board, I found that there were other people who felt the same as I: Fox went too far. Then of course you have the idiots who say that we are all overreacting, if you don't like it turn it off, and you must have something better to do than to complain about a little harmless fun. There is something that has been long missing from humanity for a long while that regardless of your religious stance, moral values or worldview, everyone should be able to agree on and that is our good friend Common Sense. It is common sense that lesbian porn, incestual or otherwise does not belong on network televsion. It is much easier to say to turn the channel than it is to take a stand in fear of stepping on someone's rights. Am I for censorship? Absolutely!

Not too long ago, you could not say a** on television. Not only can you say a** now, you can show it. Who dropped the ball? if I hear one more rapper complain about censorship ie Eminem, Mr. "Radio won't even play my jam" (when are they NOT playing his music), I say we show them censorship at it's best and cut their freaking tongues out.

Dr. King said it best in his book, Strength to Love:
"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity...So we have a mandate to conquer sin and also to conquer ignorance. Modern man is presently having a rendezvous with chaos, not merely because of human badness but also because of human stupidity."

As forementioned, I did write Fox. Here is my email:

All of you are going to hell.

* Just kidding. That's not what I wrote. This is what I wrote:

I don't blame you for placing the disclaimer in the
beginning of tonight's Married by America that there
would be sexual content. I do however blame myself
for giving the Fox Network credit for having any bit
of common sense. Shame of me to think that Fox is not
above showing out and out porn, lesbian porn for that
matter on television. And why on earth would I expect
any moral value from a network that would continuously
deceive people on national television for the sake of
ratings? After all it is clear that Fox's producers
have clearly run out of ideas. How else would you
explain the recent onslaught of "Reality" TV shows? I
mean, weren't you all the ones who came up with the
show of "Man vs. Beast"? How silly of me.

Initially I was infuriated with the mere thought that
a child could be flipping channels around 8 pm (because whether you realize it or not, most kids are
not in the bed 8pm CST. There is a world outside of
the East Coast) and see two women kissing and licking
whip cream off of each other. I can't at all remember
when this was acceptable on television before or after

8 pm, even with a disclaimer. But now, I realize. You
have simply run out of ideas for programming. Either
that or/and you have run out of money to produce
actual shows with real actors and hire clever and
intelligent writers to develop these shows.

I hate to present a problem and not have a solution so
here's an idea: Fire whoever is in charge of
programming. Get a clean slate. Come up with shows
that are relatable to the public versus shows that
show the perversion and degradation of society. Make
people feel good about television again. I would hate
to think that 15 years ago, Thursday nights on NBC was
the last chance America had of experiencing television
at it's best.
Written by Tia.
I can’t pinpoint an exact moment when it happened. That may be b/c it was a gradual thing. Growing up I loved me some rap music. I wasn’t committed to one coast or the other. I loved them all. (That coastal loyalty came later.) Rapper’s delight was the jam, all 15 minutes and 34 seconds of it. Melle Mel, Kurtis Blow, Run-DMC and LL were HEROES. MC Lyte, Ms. Melody, Salt-n-Pepa and the Queen (Latifah for y’all that don’t know) kept it real for the ladies. (oooooh Ladies First, Ladies First.) Even though I (Tia) was a little black girl growing up in the white suburbs, I knew the power and magnitude of rap music. Yeah I was a fan of Def Leppard, Kenny Loggins (Heaven help the man), Chicago, Debbie Gibson (and Tiffany), but there was something about rap and hip-hop that would resonate in my little pre-pubescent heart. The lyrical content lead me to believe that all rappers were GENIUSES. Every word, every rhyme, every voice infliction assured me that these people had a talent that was God given even when the lyrics stated otherwise.

I should have known something was going awry when I started having loyalties to one coast over another. To me, the fact that I favored one side more than the other meant that someone, somewhere was doing something wrong. I was a huge west coast fan. West Side!!!! 2 Pac, Dre, DJ Quik, Ice Cube and Eazy continued to crank out THE HITS that I would bump in my VW Fox on my factory-installed speakers. But right around the time I was being told to, “Learn a lesson from the Ez, stay in your place and don’t step to real Compton City G’s”, I started noticing that the easy going, positivity that I had become so accustomed to was being replace with a lot of nonsense that I didn’t need. I began to wonder how Snoop and Dre got anything done with all of the bud they were smoking and the h**s they were mackin’. And call me old fashion, but when someone was crazy enough to disrespect you and call you a B***H, you were ready to fight. (When I was 15 I fought a guy twice my size b/c he lost his mind and called me out my name. He didn’t do it again.) But instead of the hordes of offended females I expected to see, I saw a bunch of well meaning but misguided sistahs singing “like H**s and chains and swinging thangs.” B****H, H**, and other misogynistic terms became the norm. The uplifting edifying lyrics of songs like “Keep Ya Head Up” were replaced with songs about 40s, Weed, and Guns. (And before you go getting yo’ draws in a bind, I’m just using “Keep Ya Head Up” as an example. I not saying Pac was a saint. I know all of the words to “I Get Around” and “How do you want it?” Not hardly edifying.) Somewhere along the way talent and integrity were scrapped for pure unadulterated CRAP…And I’m not talking just regular run of the mill crap. I’m talking hot, steaming, Tyrannosaurus Rex size CRAP. Let me give you some examples.
Ex#1: “who dat is?!?!?! That’s just my baby daddy.
Ex#2: Gotta a quarter tank of gas in my new E-class, but that’s aight ‘cuz I’m gon’ ride. Gotta everything in my mamma name, but I’m hood rich…lalalala
Ex#3: Give me a project chick, Give me a hood rat trick.
Ex#4: Most Eminem songs. (I say most b/c I can’t lie, Lose Yourself and 8 mile Rd are HOT!!)
Ex#5: 50 Cent
The list has never ending potential but I just went with the first few examples that came to mind. Moving on….

Rappers used to have to be about something to be heard. But it seems now the formula for being a rap artist is: big RENTED cars + flashy sterling silver, oops I mean platinum jewelry + scantly clad females + heavy amounts of expletives / minimal talent =
Thanks to the likes of Ja Rule, The Cash Money Millionaires, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, rap and hip hop have become a mockery. A modern day minstrel show for the new millennium. (Yeah, I stole that line.) Instead of intelligence, “It's too many black women that can say they mothers but can't say that they wives” (Common, Retrospect For Life) we get ignorance “Cause I'm your one and only lover (Oh Yeah) And we don' have to use a rubber (Oh Yeah) Now look what we done did (Oh yeah) Messed around and had some kids (Oh Yeah)” (Big Tymers, Oh Yeah) An art form that was initially admired for it’s rapid fire quips and intellectualism has been to reduced a 3rd grade vocabulary.

How did it get this bad? My theory is that there has been a serious dumbing down of the society. Religion is not the opiate of the masses. Lame music is. (More on that another time) Can we fix it? Yes, but it’s gonna take some work (More on THAT another time. Don’t get mad. I told you from jump that this was PART ONE.)
Call me a hater if you want to. (Isn’t that an N’sync song?) But when it comes down to it, my arguments are valid. Don’t believe me….? Check out Miscellaneous Television (MTV), that is if you’re up @ 4 in the morning b/c that’s the only time they play music videos, or Buffoonery Entertainment Television (BET). The videos speak for themselves. You know the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? It’s true. But in the case of most rap music, it’s a thousand words most of us don’t want to hear.

Thanks to:

If you can’t click the links, cut and paste. They're worth taking a look.
Topic: Schizophrenic musical taste (started by Toya)

I praise God that I grew up in the area I did. While I was often jealous of my friends who lived in the city and in predominately black neighborhoods, I now see how God used me to tear down stereotypes. I can't tell you how many times in high school I heard "I never even wanted to talk to anyone black until I met you." This was usually after they discovered that I too loved Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots. It had everything to do with music, undoubtedly the universal language of our world. I am sure that I am not the only one on this blog that has wondered "Why the heck am I so weird" as far as musical taste (and my love for Scott Weiland, I digress). I am reminded of it almost every time I go to a rock show. Tia and I went to see the Winger/Cinderella/Poison tour last year and the guys in front of us spent more time turning around staring at us, amazed that we knew every word, than they did watching the show. Now it usually takes a lot to distract me from Kip Winger but I did have to bow up a few times and go "Will you mind your business and watch the show? Yeah, I know all the words to 'Headed for a Heartbreak'. Mind your business".

Having a smorgasbord of musical taste is more common than ever before. Most people wouldn't be shocked to see the average 20 something year old with a Ja Rule CD sitting next to a Linkin Park CD (unless it was in my collection because Pain is NOT Love). Hip Hop is now Pop(ular) music for the masses. Just look at TRL. Better yet, drive down the street on a sunny day when all the kids are cruising the streets headed for the mall. Around here, if you hear a bass system that sounds like the Concord is landing in the next lane, blaring Cash Money Millionaires, you better not be too shocked when you see a car full of white a Saturn...sittin' on dubs. I don't want to believe that these kids want to be black anymore than I, who likes to blast Further Seems Forever in my car, want to be white. It's good to see that these things are becoming more acceptable. I do believe that this generation will be more culturally united than mine and when they grab a hold that they were put here for a purpose far greater than to have the newest Air Force Ones or Diesel shoes, they could change the world in a great way.