Saturday, June 23, 2012

25 Woman Habits

Part 2Part 3Part 4, Part 5.
This is an interesting set of videos. I agree with many of the items on the list and there is actually some good advice. I think a very important thing (basically the purpose of this blog) is to conduct oneself as a lady deserving the utmost respect. I'm not sure if the vlogger comes across that way in terms of her speech and dress but that is a separate issue from the list itself. What do you think? Do you think the vlogger is an EBW?

Actually, if you take a look at her BLOG you can see that she isn't quite there. It feels kind of mean to critique her demeanor and appearance but she is the one giving women a list of behaviour habits. According to her blog she is offering courses about how to become the ultimate woman too (including charm and etiquette so this seems to be a marketing technique) but her style of dress is definitely not for me. The way the messenger looks and acts has an affect on the credibility of the message.

Maybe I'm too picky but I would take the advice of a woman in business attire (even casual business attire) or a pretty dress (not too revealing) more seriously.  Do you think it would be difficult for her to attain that look/demeanor? Do you think it would improve her life or would it alienate her from those she wants to interact with? Maybe she just wants to relate to a wide variety of women and so that becoming like her does not seem unattainable. But she has that "sister-girl" thing going with the large hand gestures, finger wagging, almost neck-wagging, and a way of speaking that is not soft and relaxed (compare her to Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC and you will see what I'm talking about. A motivational speaker can be animated but there is something different in terms of respectability). Really you only know that she is a lady and respectable based on her word not on the way she looks and I think it's better that people see you and automatically think you have positive traits without having to prove yourself first.

I'm also very picky about who I take advice from. Based on her website most of her advice comes from growing up with a model for a mother, Muslim grandparents, and her make-up artist and life-coach training. I'm not fully behind the life coaching thing because it seems to me it's like a quickie way to become a therapist/psychologist without the in depth training. But it does give advice on particular life choices that therapists may not deal with (i.e., therapists deal with more serious problems). So I suppose life coaches have their place and you don't need someone with a graduate degree to show you how to dress or cross your legs but when it comes to serious life choices I wouldn't trust them.

I think I'm also wary about it because any old person off the street who has made horrible choices with their life can take a life coaching course and then start giving out advice, maybe after they see their own life coach. Other fields, like therapists (not all so beware), social workers, and psychologists have regulatory bodies and avenues for complaints but I don't know if the same exists for life coaches. Furthermore, I don't know if there is scientific evidence to support their claims or if they are trained to understand the science if it is available. From what I have heard a lot of what they say is based on their life experience or anecdotes that may be very unique and in no way generalizable to most people. So like everything else, take the advice with a grain of salt :)

Being Imperfect and Complaining About Those You Care About

Lol, Shanda reminds me of a cross between Marylin Monroe and Sandra (Jackee from 227) because she has this bombshell look and a sultry yet cute voice :) It's a good video about the fact that no one is perfect and that's okay. All we can do is try our best, try to improve, and be understanding of ourselves when we fail. We can change if we want to. What stood out for me the most was that we have to remember that other people are watching us and that we are role models to others and with that role comes responsibility. We are responsible for our image and if you want to be respected or seen as intelligent, desirable, friendly, marriage material, or feminine then you must present yourself as such instead of feeling entitled to those labels automatically. 

This video sends an important message that I think every EBW should heed. When you complain about someone you may bias the listener against that person. This can be harmful to you if you are complaining about someone you care about (e.g., you boyfriend, husband, child, or friend) because then the listener may treat that person negatively or encourage you to distance yourself from them. In fact, if they insist you leave the person and you refuse that could hurt your relationship with the listener! Talking behind someone's back in a negative manner is never nice but of course people want to talk about their relationship problems in order to cope.

So I think that we have to do such things in moderation, try to not be entirely negative and show more balance, make note of your role in the conflicts, and be aware of the possible negative consequences of complaining. You don't want to become Negative Nancy who is always complaining but never doing anything to improve your situation. Furthermore, if you are speaking so negatively about someone you care about the listener may wonder if you are not doing the same thing behind their back!

New Found Freedom

I haven't made a blog post in a while. I think it's because ever since I shed the burden of "uplifting the race" and decided that I should stay away from commenting on African American issues (because I'm Canadian with parents of Caribbean descent) I haven't been reading or commenting on blog posts the way I used to. Reading and commenting on controversial articles would stir up my emotions and ideas and prompt me to write a flurry of blog posts. The same thing happened when I read feminist articles and I've been staying away from them too.

So now when I read articles I just say to myself that it's American, those things haven't affected my life, and I have no reason to be angry any more than I do about bad things that happen all over the world (and there is no point in being angry all the time about every bad thing). Sometimes I start reading a post and it quickly occurs to me that the person is clearly showing a "victim mentality" or that they embrace the idea that "Black women are handicapped" due to their Blackness and this prevents me from becoming alarmed or feeling personally threatened by racism, poor dating prospects, or the idea that my life will be horrible just because I am Black. My life is going fine and I don't feel threatened so that's why I have shed the victim mentality and handicapped labels that I co-opted from African Americans from the books, blogs, shows, and movies I used to consume on a regular basis. I am Black but my experiences are very different from the one's I was consuming and I don't think it feels good or is really helpful for anyone to feel the way I did. Unfortunately I think it is actually encouraged and thought to be "normal" for Black people in the U.S. to think and feel that way.

I also think to myself that there is no point arguing with someone online about these things because the argument will not change anything anyway. As a result I haven't gotten upset about anything I have read this week and haven't gotten into any online arguments (although that has been rare lately anyway)! I feel so free now! I can read things and not let them put me into a bad mood and cause me to spend hours reading and writing about a topic instead of doing something that would be more beneficial to me.

So now I have more free time to work on self-improvement and I'm going to focus on reading more books and articles on topics that interest me. Right now I'm reading "Men are From Mars, and Women are From Venus" and I will do a review of the book once I am finished (so far it's really good). I am also going to get a library card and I will start reading on a regular basis. I have been spending too much time watching TV and movies on the internet and I want to be doing other things. I'm still on the job hunt and that has to take priority. I'm going to buy that Emily Post etiquette book as soon as possible. I'm going to exercise and just go out more around the city instead of staying home. I need to be more active too. Time to step away more often from the computer, become the best person I can be, and really get out there and live the best life I can!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

List of Shows Starring Black Women

As a follow-up from my last post below is a list of television shows that have a Black actress as one of the main characters. This is based on shows I have watched, some current shows, and some starring actresses I am familiar with so it won't be a complete list. I won't include some shows I think are awful representations of Black women (e.g., Martin). For me it's great if the actress is the main character but it's not that important to me as long as she is a main character. I guess I'm satisfied even if the story isn't focused around her. I'm also satisfied if the rest of the cast is non-Black... I guess because of living in Canada I am so accustomed there being very few Black people in my classes or at work that it doesn't seem strange to me or like something is missing :) But if you insist on only watching shows made by Black people, starring Black women of a certain skin tone, who meet criteria a, b, c, and d then you are severely limiting the list, your opportunities to enjoy this entertainment, and maybe making yourself miserable for no reason.

Due to the fabulous nature of the internet you can probably watch all of these shows if you want! Many young people actually get most of their entertainment from the internet and I rarely watch my actual television. So now when I turn on the TV and there are no Black women at a given time it doesn't even phase me. If there is a past show starring a Black woman then you can probably watch it and enjoy it (just like reading old books instead of recent ones) and there are many people who enjoy classic television. There are also probably many shows that have been cancelled after maybe one or two seasons or unpopular shows that you can watch if you missed them the first time. So if you need to see Black women on television right now then I suggest turning to the internet, not relying only on current shows, and watching any one of these shows especially since the older shows may actually have better role models (e.g., Claire Huxtable).

Think about your current needs rather than the career difficulties of Black actresses and how bad you feel for them (because finding work is a problem in many fields for many Black women, it is not your problem to solve, and you probably have no intention to devote time to solving their problem anyway so why bother getting worked up about it). Plus don't forget about the international shows! I'm not sure how to get a hold of shows from the Caribbean or Africa but if they're good then they are fair game too.  I suppose I'm making myself happy using the resources available to me and it has really been effective :) This doesn't even include the numerous movies, including international films that you can watch instead of shows!

I mean this is a long list of shows and it will take A LOT of time to watch them. Maybe we shouldn't be spending so much time watching television anyway? What about reading something? If you are letting your health go down the drain, not getting an education, wasting your time with dysfunctional relationships, living from check to check, then the colour of someone on TV is the least of your concerns! Turn it off sometimes and focus on what is really important for a person's well-being. Many people I know are so busy that they barely even watch TV so they wouldn't even be affected by the lack of diversity. If you watch too much television because you are depressed because your life is horrible, again it is not the TV that is making your life horrible and there are other thinks that you must focus on. Here's the list:

Castle (Penny Johnson, Tamala Jones)
The Game (not endorsing the most recent seasons)

Cosby Show
A Different World
Head of the Class (Robin Givens and another actress)
In Living Color
Living Single
Everybody Hates Chris
Sister Sister
Boy Meets World
Half and Half
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Saved by the Bell
The Parkers
Reno 911 (Niecy Nash)
Hanging with Mr. Cooper (Holly Robinson Pete and Dawn Robinson)
Ugly Betty (Vanessa Williams)
Breaker High (Persia White)
Steve Harvey Show (Wendy Raquel Robinson)
Student Bodies
The Parent Hood
Family Matters

 Fantasy/Science Fiction
Vampire Diaries (Katerina Graham)*
Eureka (Sally Richardson)*
Warehouse 13
Being Human*
True Blood (Rutina Wesley and others)*

Battlestar Galactica*
Flash Forward (Gabrielle Union)*
Star Trek*
Dead Like Me (Jasmine Guy)
The 4400 (Megalyn Echikunwoke, GREAT SHOW)*
Firefly (Gina Torres)*
*=Interracial relationships...I noticed this and found it really interesting.

Rookie Blue (see previous post)
Scandal (Kerry Washington)
Suits (Gina Torres)
Grey's Anatomy (see previous post)
Private Practice (Audra McDonald)
Law and Order SVU (Michelle Hurd early on and later Tamara Tunie)
Law and Order UK
Person of Interest (Taraji P. Henson)
Hawthorne (Jada Pinkett-Smith)
Parenthood (Joy Bryant)
Gossip Girl (Tika Sumpter...haven't seen the show so I don't know how often she is on)
Southland (Regina King)
Touch (Gugu Mbatha-Raw)
CSI Miami (Khandi Alexander)
Boss (Saana Lathan)

Missing (Gloria Ruben and later Vivica Fox)
Raising The Bar (Gloria Ruben)
ER (Michael Michelle, Gloria Ruben, CCH Pounder, Angela Bassett and others as different points)
Soul Food
Ally McBeal (Lisa Nicole Carlson)
Boston Public
I'll Fly Away
Law and Order (S. Epatha Merkeron)
Models Inc. (Michael Michelle)
Desperate Housewives (Vanessa Williams)
#1 Ladies Detective Agency (Jill Scott and Anika Noni Rose)
Nip Tuck (Sanaa Lathan but not sure how long she was on it or how big the role)
Baywatch (Tracy Bigham)
Without a Trace (Marianne Jean-Baptiste)
Cold Case (Tracie Thoms)
Degrassi Junior High
Felicity (Tangi Miller)
The Deep End (Nicole Ari Parker)
24 (Penny Johnson)

P.S. It wasn't that difficult to make this list and besides The Game it doesn't even include BET shows (because I haven't had it for years). I just thought of shows that I have watched in the past, commercials I remembered, or that shows I've heard of. I also Googled "list of Black actresses" to remind myself of shows. I actually knew the names and recognized most of the actresses on the lists but this is because I paid attention to their names on shows, noticed their names when mentioned in the media, and I used to read Black celebrity gossip blogs and magazines. But non-Black people may not be doing this which is why we should not feel disappointed if they can't name many Black actresses or when they don't appear on "Most beautiful women" lists created by the votes of mostly non-Black men.

Don't assume their lack of knowledge or that list means ALL men find EVERY SINGLE Black woman to be unattractive! Instead I attribute most of it to the fact that these celebrities are not as popular due to the mainstream media and their lack of roles. Please do not confuse popularity with attractiveness! When looking at Most Beautiful lists like Maxim's I can think of so many more attractive women who could be on the list, but since they are not popular right now, they did not come to the voters' minds. To further this example, I could name maybe 3 singers/bands that people under 18 listen to because I don't watch the music channel for that demographic or listen to their stations but that doesn't mean there are no good bands for young people...I just don't know of them. I couldn't name more than 10 athletes either and I wouldn't know their teams because I don't pay attention to sports but that doesn't mean there are no athletes right? Please stop looking for evidence that you are "less than" because that is of absolutely no use to you!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Great TV Shows Starring Black Women

I will try to minimize putting spoilers in this post :) 
Recently I have seen a few fantastic television shows starring Black women! I like to see women who look like me in the media especially if they appear very feminine, elegant, desirable, and non-stereotypical. When I watch these shows I almost feel like I am the characters...but then again I feel like the main character most of the time anyway. Now that so many shows are available over the internet it is possible to watch past and current shows including international ones at our leisure! I watch almost everything online and it's wonderful! The shows I'll mention below include a high profile lawyer, a young woman on probation, a ghost, a maid servant/Queen, and police officers, who are all involved in romantic relationships at some point, in multicultural casts, on popular shows!

Of course everyone already knows about Scandal that I adore! Scandal depicts the life of Washington "Fixer" Olivia Pope (played by Kerry Washington) and her band of lawyers who "fix" (handle and resolve) scandals involving influential people. Each episode is about a different scandal including one involving Olivia and her romantic relationship with the current, married, President Fitzgerald (revealed in the first episode anyway)! Yes, Olivia Pope is the lead character and the desired woman :) Those scenes between her and Fitz are so intense and hot it's really shocking the effect they have on me! I think the plot and the acting are fantastic and I have a new found love for Kerry Washington who is definitely an EBW if you have noticed on my Tumblr site! The first season was only seven episodes but it is coming back for another season and I can't wait! This has been the best show I have watched so far this year. The show is produced by Shonda Rhimes the same mind behind Grey's Anatomy (starring Chandra Wilson as Miranda Bailey), and Private Practice (formerly starring Audra McDonald a fabulous EBW).

I am a big fan of fantasy shows and one of my favorites has to be the UK show Misfits. The show is about a group of young people on probation who develop super powers after a freak storm (happens in first episode). One of the stars is Antonia Thomas and she is actually highly desired by men on the show and has romantic relationships. In fact, she was in one of the most romantic and dreamy love scenes I've ever seen on television! In that relationship I was just dying and wishing I was her! The show has really funny dialogue and actually a lot of swearing and raunchy humor but very entertaining. Apparently swearing is allowed on UK cable and I think some Canadian shows allow it too. I thoroughly enjoyed the first three seasons and the show has ended after four seasons :)

I am also a fan of any show about supernatural things and if you are like me you will love Being Human. This is a UK show but there is also an American version. The show is about a vampire, werewolf, and ghost who are roommates and their coping with being supernatural in a human-run world. It stars Lenora Crichlow as the ghost. There is a bit of romance for the ghost but really not much unfortunately. I found the show to be very interesting, quirky, and unique and very moving sometimes. I'm not sure if it is coming back for a fourth season.

Recently I have also thoroughly enjoyed watching The Adventures of Merlin another UK show. I LOVED this show because it had all the things I like including monsters, magic, adventures, great fight scenes, chivalry, romance, comedy, and drama....really the perfect type of show for me. The show is about a young Merlin who you probably know as the great wizard of Camelot and ally of King Arthur who is still Prince Arthur at the beginning of the show. As you also probably know King Arthur eventually marries Guinevere (played by Angel Coulby) who was actually a maid servant on the show! Amazingly Guinevere is played by a Black woman and is seen as THE ONLY female character who is of romantic interest to any of the attractive men on the show. What I find amazing is that we get to see a Black woman in the role of someone (although a maid servant) who displays such elegance, femininity, and ladylike behaviour. She is seen as highly desirable and beautiful by everyone and we all know she eventually becomes Queen! The show is coming back for a fifth season :)

I have also just started watching Rookie Blue, a show filmed in Canada starring Enuka Okuma and Melanie Nicholls-King. So far I'm liking the show because of the adorable rookies learning what it is really like to be cops and the romantic relationship drama that is brewing. I don't know if I like the fact that Enuka Okuma seems to be playing an unwed mother with a history of being promiscuous and violent from "the hood" but I'll give it a chance because at least she doesn't look or speak in a stereotypical manner. I suppose her character could have actually been cast as any race and based on the first two episodes no character is without flaws. In the future I will also watch Eureka starring Sally Richardson because I love sci-fi.
EDIT: After watching the first season of Rookie Blue I do love it! Enuka's character never actually acts hard or any different from the lead character (actually the blonde rookie is the one with the nasty attitude lol). Melanie's character is kind of hard at times but then again she is the only non-rookie female on the show and she is playing a cop after all. So my verdict on the show is positive!

Do you know what's every single show I have mentioned ALL of the women have at least one interracial relationship and some are only in interracial relationships! All the UK shows had women with natural hair too. None of these shows are "Black shows" where most of the cast is Black and I don't recall Scandal, Misfits, Being Human, Merlin, Grey's Anatomy, or Private Practice ever even discussing race. I think that made the shows so enjoyable for me because there was no race burden, people were just people, and the plots were focused on more exciting things. I want to see more shows like this please!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Staying Away From Controversy and Online Activism

I think that being a positive person and surrounding oneself with positive things is very important for one's health and success. Being around negative things, living in a negative and hostile environment, and being around negative or draining people can bring you down and derail you from your personal goals and focus on the positive things in your life. In my offline life everything is going great and I am not surrounded by why do I allow that in my online life? I know plenty of people who don't even read blogs or comment at all! 

As many people have noticed, the internet can bring out the worst in people and sometimes that is the case with me. Oh I have improved so much in terms of avoiding commentary by Black males about Black women and those Men's Rights videos criticizing women because those were so negative, hostile, misogynistic, vile, and full of foul language and they just made me so angry. I think that in the past few months I have only watched and made a negative comment on one such video (it was restrained and poised though). I don't feel the need to watch any more. I also avoid listening to many videos that contain foul language, I really have no tolerance for them and I feel no obligation to suffer through that vulgarity in order to hear a person's supposedly important message. 

But what I am realizing is that I have to be extremely vigilant about commenting on controversial African American (AA) women's issues on other blogs! One reason is because VERY often discussions of the negative experiences of AA women end up asking the reader to "do something", "fight something", "come up with solutions", and "solve the problem" and as you know I no longer feel the obligation to "lift up the race". I have no intentions at this time to do anything (other than signing a petition) to remedy any injustices and inequalities although I would be glad to see the improvements. Most people online probably feel the same way but won't say so and although everyone has opinions most are not activists. 

All I am willing to do at the moment is be a good person, possibly mentor someone offline, and lead by example.  This is a blog about improving myself and my feelings about being a Black woman and it is not an activism site. Someone may benefit from it as they would from a self-help book but I do not want to be involved with online activism. I tried that before and it ended badly. Furthermore, other than changing an individual person's behaviour and thinking I do not think that online discussions about Black issues change anything on a systematic level because it is all talk and no plans for action on a systematic level. There is no point getting angry at an individual's commentary when it really won't change things systematically anyway. It is just arguing with minimal benefit to anyone so it is exposing myself to negative issues and commentary that has a negative effect on me for no good reason.

One may argue that exposing myself to these issues will raise my "awareness" of what is going on for Black women and staying away from these messages will result in me being unaware, out of touch, and uncaring perhaps like Marie Antoinette. Well since I am Canadian I think I should focus more on issues where I live (that I have mostly been ignoring because I found it boring) instead of African American issues (that tend to appear more extreme or in the case of televised news, more entertaining). I will have to remember that I am a passive observer of all American content, not to take it personally, and not to co-opt the anger of someone else because I have no reason to be angry in my life. Yes of course there are injustices and inequalities but right now I don't see the benefit of making myself upset about them out of some "race loyalty" while I should be focusing on my personal goals. 

Although racism of course does exist in Canada there are so many differences when compared to the U.S. For instance Black people are only about 1.3% of the population (I think) and the largest minority is Asian; most of our Black media images are from the U.S. and is extreme compared to my middle class life; most of us came from the Caribbean and there is little discussion of the impacts of slavery which comes up in every discussion of African American issues; it's way more accepted to befriend, date, and marry interracially so race issues don't have to be as salient; and just from my experience people are not as angry and focused on race. So I am willing to be out of touch when it comes to U.S. racial issues and don't see the point of being constantly outraged about what is happening where I don't live. Some may be offended by this but really, how concerned are you about what's happening in Canada if you don't live here? It's normal to be more concerned about where you actually live.

So I think that I'll keep focusing on self-improvement, becoming an EBW, starting my career, dating, and starting a family in the near future. I'll restrict how many controversial U.S. articles I read. When I do read I won't bother commenting on controversial American issues unless I agree with the author and won't bother saying anything if I disagree. I won't come to the rescue of anyone online as I would for someone I actually know. I'm going to restrict myself to being positive in all of my comments for a long time in order to foster the feminine trait of being pleasant and agreeable. Of course I can disagree but I won't go around saying I disagree or getting into arguments online. We have to remember that the internet is a new thing and people in the past did not spend hours reading controversial issues and arguing online! Instead they focused their time talking to people they actually know where there are consequences for their actions. If and when I decide to volunteer or support something it will be in my offline life and not limited to racial issues. I have no desire to be an activist at this time like many other people. This will benefit me greatly at this time and is a huge burden off my shoulders.