Sunday, May 28, 2006

Oprah's Legends Ball-Toya

I watched the Oprah's Legends Ball last week with a group of eleven pretty diverse women, taking Oprah's cue to invite some of your girlfriends over for dinner and experience the program together. Some were married, some were single; two were Hispanic and one was Asian. Some got there late and so we had to watch it twice. Personally, I could watch it every week and I hope that they decide to put it on DVD.

I fear that our generation often forgets the strides and sacrifices made of those before us. I include myself in making that mistake. While watching this, I became more conscious of my purpose in this world. I became more conscious of how downright lazy I can be in setting foundations for future generations. I started to think, "God, I don't want to embarrass Cicely Tyson!". What I mean is, while viewing The Legends Ball, the following question repeatedly came to mind:

"What are YOU going to do NOW?"

The Legends (See for a full list of those honored) accomplished so much more with much fewer privileges than I have today. Privileges that I have because of their sacrifices. I felt like the last thing I would want to happen is for their work to be discredited, their overcoming their obstacles to be discounted by what I don't or won't do. Oprah said "I stand on the shoulders of these women" and she is so right! How can I strive to be any less than my best when I come from such a strong heritage of mighty women?

I also was challenged in how I love, encourage and sometimes judge other black women. One thing I noticed and appreciated was how the Legends embraced the Young'ns who paid tribute to them. The room seemed to be filled with so much love and admiration. It didn't seem as if Patti Labelle looked at Mariah and said "Why are you constantly becoming more and more naked in your videos" or like anyone shunned Janet over the whole "wardrobe malfunction" thing. While the world thinks we are only as good as our last mistake, I noticed that in black culture, we usually stick by our own. For instance, say all you want about Diana Ross' recent run ins with the law but you cannot deny her Legend or Dionne Warwick's or Janet Jackson's. These are all women who have paved the way for so many but it seems that the only time they get wide recognition as of late is when they have done something wrong.

And then there is the way we treat one another. So many times us "bourgeois" (translation "boojy") sistas look down on those females that we feel embarrass us. I am just being real. Instead we need to love on these women because a lot of women regardless of race act out out of self hatred and a lack of identity. Some just don't know any better. For instance, I was at an open mic recently and there was a beautiful black woman very scantily clad. I saw guys walk up to her and as she flirted with them I thought "Does she even realize that they are not the least bit concerned with what is coming out of her mouth?" I mean the sista was bad and a lot of times we as women see women like this and start hatin'. We get embarrassed and we look down at women that act like she did to get attention. The thing is when we do that, we influence that type of mentality because the only way to combat that behavior is through loving kindness and affirmation. We can't give that to each other hatin'.

I made up my mind that I was not going to put another black woman on blast on this site without REALLY giving it some thought and doing it in a constructive manner (which is why Toni Braxton came away unscathed after her ridiculous performance on American Idol last week. Trust me, she got a away with murder cause I was PISSED). The reason being is that it is an amazingly frightening, rewarding, burdensome, delightful thing to be a black woman. We are so loved, desired, and detested all at the same time. Being a black woman is particularly hard because it only takes a few people to perpetuate a stereotype to the masses for the majority to think that every black woman is a certain way. Case in point, I remember working as a receptionist and a coworker commented that I "just speak so well". They way she said this you would have thought that I walked around casually speaking in the Queen's english instead of just everyday proper english. She seemed to be very impressed and surprised. This is because most people don't look immediately look at a black woman my age and expect her to act like Maya Angelou or have the poise of Phylicia Rashad. Now I am not saying that I act like either however I one day aspired to have at least a fourth of their class and poise. It's just these are not the standards that a lot of people are quick to compare black women too. No, they expect us to act like what the media has made us out to be:uneducated, loud, sex crazed and greedy. We owe it to the ones before us, our peers and future generations to overcome these expectations by living up to our full potentials and encouraging one another in love to live up to theirs.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Leave This Woman Alone

I am so serious. This isn't even funny anymore and I am mad as hell. She is a human being. She's trying to be a mother and a wife. Put yourselves in her shoes and think about how difficult it would be to have every mistake be either put on blast or made out to be much bigger than what it is. Grant it she is not perfect. However, if I had to deal with what she has had to deal with from day one being the age she was when she started out, I would have either moved to another country by now or be in jail for leaving a trail of paparazzi bodies on Sunset Strip after running them over with my Escalade. Leave her be. - Toya

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Time (Clock of the Heart)-Toya
This is a song by Culture Club. Remember when you were young enough to not know what gay was? My excuse for Boy George when I was younger was that he was British. I knew nothing of the Brits except that they were different. That is why George Michael wore earrings in both ears. Oh the innocence...

Let me share with you why I (and maybe you) are STILL single: because it's just simply not the time.I came to this realization, with much relief I might add, as soon as I was willing to lay the matter down. I was in my car one day talking to God and finally said that with everything going on and with all I had been through and was still getting over, I sincerely and not out of fear, did not want to date. Almost immediately, I felt as if God was saying "Good, cause I haven't wanted you to." And it makes sense. I am a firm believer that if you are where you are supposed to be, doing what you are supposed to be doing (even if that doing means just waiting for opportunities to open up career wise or whatever) and there is no crazy hindering gross sin in your life, then it is just not the time. It sounds easier than it is to accept but honestly for me, it is the truth.

If you are at all like me, you would be richer than Oprah if you had a dollar for everytime someone asked you why you were still single. Not only that, if you added up the two cents everyone wants to give you as to why you are still single, you'd be Diddy rich. I have heard some of the most asinine things from women that were trying to help:

"Well Toya, you are a cute girl but I just don't think you are applying yourself."
"It's probably because you can't cook". (I can now, by the way).
"You're standards are too high" (this was often said by little boys who weren't man enough to meet those standards or by women who had settled for these same types of little boys and believe that once you get one, you can train them up. You know, like a puppy? No thanks.)

And my favorite,
"You aren't married because you are selfish".

This last "winner" was told to me by someone who truly believed that they were led by God to say this. She was rather rude about it to be honest. She asked if I even wanted children and why didn't she ever see me with any guys. I explained to her that I have lots of friends, although mostly girls and being single wasn't that bad at all. "For instance," I defended," the other night me and my girlfriends went to my favorite coffee shop and stayed out until 2. I didn't have to ask anybody. I didn't have to explain to anyone when I was coming home or why I stayed out so late." She basically tried to guilt trip me for enjoying my single life so much. Unbelievable.

What bothers me about what she said is that she assumed that I have guys asking me out left and right and I am just turning them down because I am just SO enthralled with the single life. The truth is I rarely get asked out. I have heard guys say to numerous women including myself "Well you just don't seem like you need anyone. Like you have it all together. Guys are intimidated by strong women." That's crap. BOYS are intimidated by strong women. A wise woman once told me something that I will never forget (Tim, this came from Brenda who I swear is just like the Oracle in The Matrix)

"Boys NEED you, men DESIRE you".

A boy won't ask you out if they don't think that you will need them because of their need to be needed, but a man will desire you if he knows that you can hold it down. Now grant it, men like to feel needed because that is their nature but boys feel that way out of insecurity. If boys aren't asking you out because you intimidate them, they are doing you a favor.

And then of course there are reasons that we tell ourselves. A main one for women is attractiveness. We feel if we could just lose that last 15 (or 25, 30, 80) pounds, had straighter hair, clearer skin and didn't need to get waxed or tweezed as much, we would at least be dating. No? Just I used to think like this? Well, if you have ever thought like this also, as always, I have a story.

One day a friend of mine asked me to go with her to look at wedding gowns. Now I love this girl and we are cool but we aren't extremely close. She said she wanted me to go because we had similar taste. I was honored that she chose me to come along with her. So we went and while she was trying on dresses, I was trying on tiaras. I heard someone call out to me and with this $250 tiara on my head I slowly turned to see one of the heaviest women I have ever seen in my life wearing a snow white dress. She beckoned me over and the closer I got the more startled I became.

I am a nazi when it comes to my own facial hair. I am the tweeze queen. The first question I want to ask God when I get to heaven is "mustaches on women: WHY?" This has always been a point of insecurity of mine because what if I become sick and can't tweeze or wax and after a week my husband finds out what a sasquatch I am? So you can only imagine my surprise when I finally got close enough to this woman to see that not only did she have a full mustache but a goatee, hair on her cheeks and the side of her mouth and razor bumps under her chin. She was asking me about my hair and all I could do was stare at her and think "Someone has promised her forever." This girl had a beautiful spirit, sweet as pie and told me that she knew that she had made the right decision to save herself for marriage after watching Tyra's show on abstinence. All I could do was smile and nod, thinking to myself " Thank you God for letting me meet her and helping me to see how wrong and insecure I have been all along."

Another reason I have heard for why women feel that they are single (and I have heard this because it used to come out of my own mouth) is because guys simply won't ask them out. They feel as if the men around them are just too lazy and too wrapped up in being bachelors. I have heard this a lot amongst Christian women about men in their church and not just mine. This is going to sound mean because it is a blunt thing to say but it it is a real thing to say: Guys don't ask you out because they don't want to. If a guy really wants to ask a girl out, he will. This is usually proven when a guy ups and marries a girl outside of their church and/or circle of friends. It's not that they don't want to date, it is just that they don't want to date YOU and that is OKAY. Come on, YOU don't want to date everybody either! It doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with you at all. They very likely may find you attractive but trust me, they are doing you a favor by not asking you out. Every woman wants a guy that no matter how shy he is or how much he is loving the single life thinks that she is too amazing to pass up.

I have heard of instances where women have left their church because no one was asking them out and I don't feel so great about that. Truth be told, no woman is promised a husband. We aren't even promised tomorrow. What we are promised is an abundant life and if we aren't living it because we are continuously worried about the future and living our lives in the when instead of the now, we aren't living at all. If that is the only reason you would leave your church, your spiritual family, there is a priority issue. My youth pastor back home was a missionary who after begging God to send him anywhere in the world but Russia, met his wife in Russia. Another friend of mine getting married next month, is like me: in her 30's, busy career, thought she had no prospects in sight. While doing what God had called her to do and being about her business, she met the guy who she is now engaged to while she was on tour. Tia and I met him and wish they would speed up this legislation on cloning because we want one of him for each of us and all of our friends, he is so incredible. I know of so many stories where women although frustrated, did not go out of their way to find love but instead went on with life and love found them.

While I was talking to God about this in my car one night, surely looking crazy to those driving past me, I asked Him if I was where I was supposed to be. Had I been obedient to what He wants me to do and was I sure that it was God leading me there. There are so many instances where I could look at and say yes, I am on the right track. If God could bring Tia into my life and other friends that I have at met at the most perfect opportune times, why should someone as important as my husband be any different? I learned that while yes, I did have a lot of lessons to learn (that Tag one was a BIG one) and still do, for the most part, I am alright. I don't want anything out of God's timing no matter how long it takes.

Finally and this is hard to swallow, it just may be my (our your) time is later than most. I thought about this last week as I thought about blogging about this. I started to be concerned that if I started encouraging more women about patiently waiting that I was going to be one of those women that stay single for what seems like forever while constantly talking about how great it is. LORD, I do not want that to be my ministry, I am sorry. I thought, what if I was like Michelle McKinney Hammond who is fabulous and has written so many books on being single and satisfied but is over 40 (or close to being)? From what I hear, she is perfectly happy but what if one day I suddenly get fed up? Then I thought about Lakita Garth and in perfect timing as always, I found out that Lakita recently got married. If you don't know, former Miss Black California, and honorary BGLU Lakita Garth, got married last year at 36 years of age and a virgin. She has been on numerous talk shows including Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect. Maher said that Lakita would be the perfect woman for him if it weren't for her moral standards. She has spoken to audiences all around the country on abstinence and purity, is one of the most dynamic speakers I have ever heard and one of the most stunningly beautiful women I have ever met. She has said that when most guys found out that she was a speaker on abstinence, that completely stopped them from asking her out. Well at 36 Lakita got married to a Jeff Wright. Yes, she finally met MR. WRIGHT. Check them out at

So when I found out that Lakita married Mr. Wright (that still makes me chuckle), I was at ease. Because for me it really is about timing. I have to remember where as I see as far as only I can see, God sees in eternity. When you know you are doing what you are supposed to and doing all you can, you can be rest assured that God is moving on your behalf in a way that you can't and only He can. It is not about me being perfect, it is about God's timing being perfect.

5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.

Psalms 16:5-9

There has been SO much going on that while I have been thinking about blogging, I really haven't had the time. So here are some things off the cuff:

BGLU News- The worse Wednesday night EVER!!!!!! When they said that Chris was going home on American Idol tonight, I stared at the television as if Ryan Seacrest said it in Portuguese. I still can't believe it. I honestly thought that Catherine and Chris were going to be the final two. I really don't know what to say about that. This was also the worst Wednesday night ever because tonight looked like the final episode of Girlfriends although it has been described as the season finale. With the WB and UPN merging (what the hell for??? UPN is the BET we never had) they are not sure if they are bringing it back. I am not ready to talk about this either.

And since we are on the topic of things that sucked so far this month, I found out a few days ago that only a mere 20 minutes from my house, Scott Weiland (the man single handedly responsible for my twisted affinity for heroin addicted rocker boys or those that look like such) and Duff McKagan played to a surprised audience at Muzik Mafia in downtown Nashville. The thing is, I used to go to Muzik Mafia. EVERY TUESDAY. It went something like this: John Rich of Big and Rich starts playing Plush and out of nowhere comes Scott and Duff. Upon reading this, I numbly closed the newspaper and went straight to Tia's room to put her on suicide watch. I told her why and she assured me that this did not happen. Oh it did my friend, it did. When I finally came to grips with it, it is probably good that I didnt go anyway. I am pretty sure I would not have acted right. It is one thing to know that Scott is going to sing but for him to just run up on a girl like that? I'dve been on the news. Not BGLU news. Fox News.

In good BGLU news, Something New comes out on DVD next Tuesday.

Monday, May 8, 2006

I hate this song by Usher. And I love Usher, but I hate most songs about infidelity. Except for Richard Marx's "Hold Onto the Nights", of course. Aww, the 80's.

1. My fat jeans are starting to fit again. You know, fat jeans? The ones that are too big but when you know you are about to throw down at the dinner table for Thanksgiving, you put them on? Yeah they fit...WITHOUT a belt. Hello, Billy Blanks. It's been a long time. I shouldn't have left you...
2. I just recently had to stop secretly stalking a boy on MySpace. I know, I know. I just randomly looked up this guy who I haven't seen in ages and there he was. We aren't "friends" so he has no clue whatsoever. Oh the shame.
3. Tia and I went to a sneak preview of Poseidon and I can't even begin to tell you how many times the guy in front of us turned around cause he was so annoyed at all of the Mystery Science Theater commentary that goes on between us. Yes, we are THOSE black people. We have commentary for everything. People come to our house and wonder why our tv volume is up at an ear bleeding volume and it is because we have to listen AND talk at the same time. By the way, this ruined my dream of EVER getting on the Tom Joyner Cruise. Unless the boat stays docked, I will miss my life long dream of seeing the Gap Band play until about 3 in the morning.
4. Yesterday, I spoke with someone for about 20 minutes and have NO clue what her name is. The thing is, it's not the first time and I am too afraid to ask.
5. I have been challenged to write down my goals for where I would like to be in 5, 10, and 15 years with or without a husband. I have had this challenge for about 2 months and can only come up with "I want to be debt free" and "I want to have a maid". In five years, I will be 37. That is almost 40. I can't even get passed that reality enough to write down any more goals.
6. I have been telling people I am 30. Not because I want to lie but because I honestly forget that I am over 30.
7. I am miserably home sick.
8. Using lame excuses, I have purposely bowed out of events as of late in order to not run into any ex-crushes. Why? Because I love me. I need a break. Honestly, and I highly recommend this for any one, sometimes you think you are completely over someone and then you see him somewhere and you still feel like you have been punched in the stomach. Just say no. Women can be such people pleasers sometimes, putting aside their own feelings to make someone else feel good. I need some time off and I am taking it.
9. Friday night, Tia and I went out for our traditional Cinco De Mayo dinner and UNBEKNOWNST TO ME, the infamous lightweight drinker, I had a little bit too much Sangria. It really wasn't a lot at all but in the middle of talking to a friend of ours, I realized that I could no longer feel the left side of my face. It went numb. I immediately put my drink down and vowed to keep my drinking to a one drink, one 8 oz drink, minimum for the rest of my natural life.

By the same token, it has occurred to me that perhaps I should not drink in public at all. People perceive Christians as non-drinkers. I remember being at work once and someone just spoke up for me and said "Oh, Toya doesn't drink". I corrected them and said that I did have the occasional drink. The only reason this person said this is because they know I am a Christian and not because I said otherwise. I don't think there is anything wrong with drinking, only with drunkenness. However, if someone is going to look at me as a hypocrite for drinking in public and it ruins their ability to come to know the saving grace of Christ, it is not worth it for me to drink in public.

Lately, I have been thinking about what that actually means when I say that I am a Christian. So many times we look at artists like Destiny's Child who say they are Christians and some say they are not. Oh I think they are Christian. But I think a lot of people who consider themselves to be Christians see it as something that you would check on a survey if someone asked if you were atheist or agnostic. Most people claim to believe in God and a lot claim to believe in Christ so they would not choose either. I don't know if this makes any sense but being Christian and being a Christian is looking like two different things to me.

I have a new job (that I LOVE) where most of my co-workers are gay and hands down some of the best co-workers I have ever had in my life; to top that, they have been more accepting, loving and more pleasant than a lot of the straight up evangelical Christians I have worked with. Most of them know that I am a Christian. There have been a few times where co-workers have come up to me and asked if I was uncomfortable at all with how they talk with one another and honestly, I haven't been at all but appreciate their concern. However, one lady came up to me and apologized for some of the things that have been said when I was around. She said that she knew that I had a strong faith (I have never even talked to her about my faith at all) and that even though I was open minded, she could see that I was strong enough to stand my ground and not conform. That I would "Lead by example". That was amazing to me. I went onto tell her that me being a Christian meant that I followed Christ and reminded her that in the bible, Christ didn't go around blasting people. He met them where they were and spoke directly to the issues of the heart. He addressed the root. If he put anyone on blast, it was the religious people. I don't want to be one of those religious people, merely Christian vs being a Christian. I want to reflect Christ's character and meet people where they are.

There are people that I am close with that are gay and I have no problem with them. I am not saying that I agree with homosexuality. I am saying that I don't have a problem with them because in their case, sexual orientation is not the issue, identity is. The particular people that I know that are gay grew up with some sort molestation, or tremendously tough rejection issues that were brought on by those very people that shape your identity, mainly parents. To me, their hurt is the issue that I am mostly concerned with. That is what breaks my heart.

I don't know why I even started writing about this subject but I will end with this: The bible says that he equips us to bind up the brokenhearted and that is what Christ is about. That is partly why I am striving to be so much like him. I am a testimony to how He can heal a broken heart. As women we go through so much pain in relationships that we think will never ever end. It's an every day fight sometimes. But I can testify that God can and will heal and as Christians, we need to commit to loving people because we are his hands and feet to do it.