Not My Mariah!

So a little birdie told me that people were going in on my Mariah over her appearance in the latest Jenny Craig commercial. I am not sure if the uproar was over her physical appearance or what she was doing in the commercial. Either way, I will say this — watch yourselves. Most of you don’t know this but Mariah is my favorite singer of all time. All time! (in my best Kanye voice) So, I don’t play that.

Mariah looks great for a forty-something year old woman who gave birth to twins less than a year ago. Sure, she doesn’t have abs of steel but that’s not the most realistic or natural appearance for a woman her age anyway, in my opinion. Her tummy is flat. Her arms and legs are toned. These traits are consistent with someone who works out regularly and maintains a well-balanced diet…or is on Jenny Craig (duh). Good enough for me!

As for what she was doing in the commercial…well, I’m not sure what she’s doing. I admit, her movements are awkward and a little off beat. Note, I said she is my favorite singer. Not dancer. Not entertainer. So respect the notes she’s hitting and the product she’s promoting and keep it moving. Besides, aren’t you tired of Heady Hudson and the Weight Watchers ads?

Early to Rise.

I am ashamed to admit this but I have a serious problem with timeliness. If I tell you I am on my way or I am going to be ready at a certain time, add 20-30 minutes. I have the bad habit of only being on time for things I MUST be on time for — flights, interviews, and…well, in my mind those are the only “must’s.” Sad, isn’t it? This has been going on forever. In high school, I lived three blocks from the joint, yet I managed to be late to school at least once bi-weekly. Pathetic.

I wasn’t raised that way, either. I come from a family of timely folk. Needless to say, they get on me all the time. So for the new year, I decided this was yet another thing I could stand to work on. After all, I’d hate for one of my supervisors to call me into his or her office at the end of the school year and say “You’re an excellent educator and the kids love you but DAMN BITCH, YOU ALWAYS GET HERE AT 8:20 EVERYDAY WHEN YOU KNOW YOU SHOULD BE HERE AT 8! You’re #fired.”

That would be really dumb.

That being said, while we are only five days into 2012 and this is only my third day at work, so far so good! 🙂 I have been on time and it feels great! No rushing. No anxiety. No “oh, shit, I hope no one notices the lights in my classroom are still off” as I park my car at 8:15. This is great, and all it took was me getting up out the bed when my alarm goes off instead of 20 or 30 minutes after.

The differences I see in how my day starts (not having to eat breakfast in the car, running into less traffic, not forgetting things) is motivation enough for me to keep this up. Now will I be ready to go out on weekends at the time I tell you? Ehhh…maybe next year.

Resolute.

So, it’s a new year and I am genuinely excited. I’ve always loved the holiday season but how I feel this time around goes beyond the festivities. For the first time in my life, I’ve made resolutions…I think.

As a writer and someone who blew the English section of the SAT out of the water, I am ashamed and embarrassed to admit that I don’t really know what “resolution” means.

*Looks up resolution*

Ok, a resolution is “a formal expression of opinion or intention made,” “a resolve or determination,” or “firmness of purpose.”

Wow, that definition sends chills down my spine. That’s deep. And indeed, I have made resolutions. Yippee!

A few days before New Year’s Eve, I was sitting on my bed back in Philly. Suddenly, I had the urge to type up some things I wanted to do and accomplish throughout 2012. So, I opened the Note app on my phone and…well, I won’t reveal all just yet but I will say that my resolutions revolve around God, healthfulness, creativity and the pursuit of knowledge.

Furthermore, I am putting an emphasis on the quality of my relationships. I was born into a loving and devoted family. Blessing! I have also come across many great non-relatives over the course of my life, many of who I am truly honored to call “friend.” Double blessing!

However, I’ve been through some things as of late that have made me realize how fragile relationships of all kinds can potentially be no matter how strong they may seem.

Loved ones and the jewels they bring to your life are precious. That being said, I have vowed to myself that I will bring trust, compromise, communication and commitment to every relationship I have.

So, that’s it guys! If the weariness of trying to fulfill all my resolutions this year doesn’t kill me, who knows…maybe they will cease to be resolutions and simply become the way I live my life…always.

Long Time. No Hear.

I promised myself, and my readers, that I would not let this blog fall by the wayside. Alas, life happened but I’m back! It’s been almost two months since we last spoke, so here’s a few updates:

Homecoming

It was a lot of fun! Of course! Homecoming is fun in a different way since graduation. Since I am an alumna — and therefore one of the people Homecoming is for — I get something different from partaking in the grand cultural event known as Howard University’s Homecoming. Being on the yard gave me inner joy. I could literally feel my spirit lighting up. And I got to re-connect with so many people who I went through Howard with but who I don’t get to see very often because they are off being what Howard intended – GREAT! And greatness usually equals busy and M.I.A. So, it’s all good!

It’s a good thing a lot of people who I went to school with were there or I would have felt a bit like a stranger. I didn’t recognize any of the faces of current students (old, much?).

Howard tweaked a little with the $50 tickets for damn near everything. Since I was getting ready for a move at the time, I passed on official events but did splurge on the Howard Alumni party known as “1000 Bottles.” And while I didn’t do an official count, it did seem like there were 1000 Bottles in attendance.

Good job to the organizers for putting on a classy and poppin’ event!

I can’t wait til’ next year. Hopefully everyone will still be happy, healthy and upholding the Howard legacy of prosperity and service to the global community. Until then, HU – YOU KNOOOOOOOW!

DC -> MD

My friend Jenise flew in from Chicago and she really helped me get everything unpacked in my new place. Good friends = a God send. Shout out to the three handsome Russians from American Moving Service who transported my ton of stuff. They were really good and smiled all the way through the rain, hail and snow that happened that day. (I know, it never fails.) They really were good movers, though. They are based out of Ellicott City, Md. and offer a really good rate. Check them out!

Anyway, I haven’t had a chance to explore my neighborhood in its entirety but I can say it seems to be a peaceful, family-oriented community. And for a fatty like me, the food perks are endless. A Sarku Japan, an Asian Delight, a Boston Market, a 24-hour McDonald’s, a big ol’ Giant (that is clean and well-stocked, I might add) and like three 7-11’s are in walking distance. A few miles up the road, there is an Outback, a Friday’s and best of all…CHIPOTLE. All I can say is #winning.

Are You A Republican? — 10 Ways to Tell

Some people equate the word “Republican” with an obscenity or profanity. They bash Republicans at every turn and then turn around and express very Republican points of view. I think so many people think of racism, greed, George W., and Ronald Reagan when “Republican” comes to mind that they just can’t imagine being affiliated with the Grand Old Party. Nevertheless, I urge everyone to check themselves. With elections coming around, we should all be sure we’re rooting for the right team 🙂

Social Stance.

Are you against gay marriage? How about abortion?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, you may be a Republican.

 

Your Rights.

Should states be able to make up their own laws, telling the federal government to “piss off” as much as possible? Do you think people should be able to tote as much steel as they please?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, you may be a Republican.

Cash Flow.

Do you think its unfair that just because you have busted your ass to get to a “solid” place financially (or because your parents did), you have to pay more taxes? Do you think your hard-earned money should go to the schools, roads and facilities in your community versus those in a less fortunate area? Do you think it is RIDICULOUS for your tax dollars to go towards paying for someone else’s meals, health care (including abortions), housing and education?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be a Republican.

Knowledge is Power.

Do you think prayer and/or the Pledge of Allegiance need to make a comebacks in all of our schools? Should parents be able to send their kids to any kind of school they want through vouchers, financial aid, and a lottery system?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, you may be a Republican.

Bonus.

Do you wear khakis or cardigans more than once a week? Are loafers and wingtips a regular part of your fashion regimen? Do you think “things would be easier” if everyone just “stuck to their own kind” when it comes to procreation and country clubs? Do you believe it is “vulgar” to have sex anywhere besides a bed or a bearskin rug? Should oral sex be reserved for special occasions such as birthdays and Labor Day? Should anal be restricted to the gay community?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be a Republican.

I hope this has cleared up confusion for some of you. Happy voting! 🙂

Endangered Species: Human Child

As an educator and extremely proud big cousin of adolescents, my general feeling is that today’s youth don’t have many years to enjoy being kids. It has only been a little over ten years since I was the same age as the kids I now teach but so much seems to have changed in that short span of time. I remember when I was in middle school, I still liked jumping rope, playing jacks, and I lived for a good game of “Red Light-Green Light.” How shocked was I when my (newly) 13-year-old cousin told me she didn’t even know what jacks were? Thank goodness my grandma was able to teach her the basics, as she did for me years ago. And guess what? My cousin loves playing jacks now! Now, I am not bashing the youth of today. I, too, had a cell phone in eighth grade. I was into video games for a few years and til’ this day, you cannot keep me from a good movie, sitcom or episode of Spongebob. My issue is not technological-play replacing physical activity — well, at least not in this post. It’s the premature loss of innocence.

Growing up, I was always told “You have your whole life to be grown” and “Enjoy being a kid while you can.” I rolled my eyes then but HOT DAMN, those grown-ups were right! That being said, it is heartbreaking that kids practically roll out the womb not wanting to be children. With some cynicism, I am going to set the cut-off age for childhood at nine. I cite this age for many reasons:

Physicality: Kids are maturing quicker! When I was 12, health books and doctors alike were still citing the average age for the onset of menstruation as…well, 12! Now, almost every girl I come across is getting their period at eight, nine and 10. It’s mind-numbing and depressing. I feel sorry for them! All those extra years of being bound by bras and cramps. Damn. Naturally, boys aren’t sharing as much information with me because I’m a girl and that’s embarrassing and weird, but judging from the buzz in my family, boys are getting “peach-fuzz” on their legs, above their lips, under their arms, and on their nether regions at alarmingly fast rates, too. I can only assume this means they are producing motile sperm earlier, as well. Now, instead of putting teens under the microscope for having sex and making babies, we can shift the glaring light to people who still have Barbie and Spiderman bedspreads. Great. -_-

Interpersonal Relationships with Peers: Kids have all sorts of pressures to face down. The media is bad enough, but at least you can turn the TV, computer and radio off. Try muting your friends, though. It can’t be done. Not at that age. Most kids simply don’t have the maturity or wisdom to filter out bad advice and to ignore ignorant banter. They talk to and trust what their peers are saying. Some of the conversations I have heard passing by my kids’ desks or while walking through the hallways are unbelievable. I admit, I have chuckled while shaking my head at the sheer naiveté and ignorance that emerges from the mouths of my wee babes. However, sometimes I have to stop in my tracks and intervene! Some of the misconceptions are outright dangerous! I was stunned to find out kids still think drinking Mountain Dew will kill sperm and therefore, prevent pregnancy. Seriously? This is where an intelligent, level-headed parent or older sibling/cousin needs to step in and give kids “the real” — early and often.

Beyond passing around bad information, kids are pressuring each other to do very grown-up things. The drinking and drugging is bad enough but it’s the sex that grinds my gears most of all. Just days ago, a girl by the name of Amber Cole invaded the Twittersphere after a video of her performing oral sex on an adolescent boy outside of a school building hit the World Wide Web. I didn’t watch the video (because it could be considered child pornography) but I did get all the details I need to SMDH from here til’ the end of time. Poor, Amber. She is so insecure and loss. To add to that injury, her reputation will probably never be solid again 😦 I am truly sad. Being a teen is hard enough. As for the boys, they are insecure, too.

My first instinct was to dig into the boys for exploiting Amber via letting her perform the act and videotaping it. However, I realize she let herself do it and if the guys didn’t think it was “cool,” they probably would have been somewhere playing Madden. I am concerned about what kind of adults all of those who contributed to this video will become.

I’m sure everyone thinks Amber will become a hoe but I think she’s more likely to become a manic-depressive who abuses drugs or gets abused by some asshole she gives her all to. I hope none of the above is true and that one day, she looks in the mirror and sees herself for the queen she is. That day of realization is important for all women, but even more so for black women. Thanks to sexism and racism, that realization is not automatic for most. Once you get there, though, treating yourself like royalty and demanding that everyone else do the same is butter baby.

As for the young men, I would say the videographer has a promising career in the film industry after he is done completing a stint in the state pen for video voyeurism and/or groping. I don’t have much to say about the “recipient” other than I don’t expect him to be a protector of any black woman. He clearly doesn’t give a damn…already.

The bottom line is adolescents have their own little world and it’s not the most stable society. Can we as adults take the reins back? Please? Well, I want some of us to take the reins back. I’m forced to remember that some adults are just as misinformed, ignorant, naïve, insecure, and tactless as the tweens and teens.

The Media: I’m not going to spend much time talking about this. We know what’s on TV and we let our kids watch it — often. Enough said. Yes, when I was in middle school Cash Money was in full-effect. I was all about the “Hot Girls” and “Back Dat Ass Up” videos. I also could listen to “Shake It Fast” and “Wobble Wobble” all day. However, I did have the balance of Kirk Franklin’s “Stomp” and shows like “Reading Rainbow.” I’m pretty sure that made all the difference 🙂

I am not trying to give anyone the impression that I was a saint in middle school. I wasn’t. I kissed boys and “went with” people. I may have even let a guy or two cop a feel. These are things I shake my head at and chuckle about now. I just knew that I knew what I was doing. I got a little fresh in middle school but guess what I didn’t do during that era? LOSE MY VIRGINITY! WTF? I am not judging when people should have their first sexual experience but DAMN! Get all your parts warmed up and know what they do before you start using them! More importantly, have some basic sense of the responsibilities and possible consequences that come with sexual activity. Parents need to educate their children about what being an adult entails period and then point out all the reasons they are not ready for that status.

Remembering Troy Davis

It took me awhile to get to the point where I even felt like writing about Troy Davis. I was emotionally drained in the days leading up to and following his execution. My feelings bounced between confusion, shock, anger and disbelief. Even though I voiced my opinion on Twitter with abundance, arguing every point imaginable, I knew I wasn’t ready to bring the issue to closure in my mind. Now, I am.

I am not at the pep rally for the American justice system nor am I ignorant to he historical relationship between people of color and the legal system in this nation. Nonetheless, I couldn’t believe it when it happened. I still can’t believe it. I mean, I know it happened. I know it’s real. Troy Davis was laid to rest days ago with hundreds of family members and supporters by his spiritual-side but it’s still just incomprehensible.

Yes, that’s what it is. I do believe it. I am not surprised that such a thing happened in America. After all, it hasn’t even been a hundred years since people were castrating black men and putting their…well, you know…in glass jars to be sat upon living room mantles. So I totally believe. I just don’t understand. There has always been something in me that never grasped the concept of group-think or people being inherently cruel or evil. So, anytime something like this happens, I am perplexed. But alas, groups of cruel (or at least misguided) people do congregate to create boards, committees, and legislative bodies that decide to put people to death even when there is enough reasonable doubt to fill Congress itself.

I guess this a fact that I will just have to grow up and accept. Yet, I can’t accept. And you shouldn’t either. If we get into our Tupac “that’s just the way it is” frame of mind, things will get worse. I don’t know how they can get worse. But I’m sure beyond the bounds of my thinking and imagination, they can.  So we must keep fighting. I know there’s not much people of few means and what some may perceive as little power can do individually, but like Mama Joe said in Soul Food, “One finger won’t make an impact, but you ball all those fingers into a fist, and you can strike a mighty blow.” Although I didn’t protest at any edifice meant for law-making or judging, I did send this e-mail to Chatham County District Attorney Chisolm a couple of days before Troy Davis’ execution:

“There is simply too much doubt to execute Troy Davis. There is no DNA linking Troy Davis to the crime of which he is accused. There is no forensic evidence or weapon linking Troy Davis to the crime of which he is accused. The ballistic evidence the prosecution presented is at best, inconclusive. The prosecutors’ best piece of evidence was several eyewitness accounts linking Troy Davis to the crime of which he is accused. To date, an overwhelming majority of these eyewitnesses have recanted their statements against Troy Davis, citing pressure from law enforcement as their sole motivation for fingering him in the crime of which he has been convicted. To add to this considerable doubt, are reports that another man who was on the scene — and testified against Troy Davis for the crime of which he has been accused — has admitted to associates that he himself murdered Officer MacPhail. All of that being said, recognize the present circumstances for what they are — a miscarriage of justice. Yet, it is not too late to mend this wrong. While Troy Davis cannot get the last 20 years of his life back, him, his family and the 1,000,000+ citizens of this great nation who support him would be grateful if he was granted clemency. Include me in the number of those who support Troy Davis and who would be grateful.”

Although ultimately my appeal, along with thousands of others, did not make a difference, I’d like to think that Troy Davis is now somewhere reading all the e-mails, letters, posters and legal motions drafted on his behalf. And he is smiling.

How Can You Hate on Tyler Perry?

Guess what? Tyler Perry is making more money than anyone in Hollywood! According to Forbes, he raked in $130 million last year alone. I am so proud of him. He is truly a talent and he speaks for so many people in the African-American community by telling the stories that have shaped and defined so many of our intrapersonal and interpersonal interactions. His emphasis on family and the foundation on which it should stand – the union between man and woman – is unparalleled.

I know Mr. Perry gets a lot of criticism for dressing up in drag but no one has a problem when Eddie Murphy, Jamie Foxx or Martin does it. Could the bias be in what some people presume about his sexuality? Maybe. But since when did what one does in his or her love life affect the relevance or value of his or her artistic expression?

I find that some black women say, “Tyler Perry isn’t talking about me” whenever he comes out with a stage play or film. Well, if you are one of those women, you are probably lying to yourself. And even if nothing Tyler Perry has ever brought forth speaks to you personally, it will ring true for your mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, cousin, best friend or third grade teacher. Maybe your life is perfect albeit minor quirks, but aren’t the experiences of your loved ones relevant.

I find that even more black men say that Tyler Perry is “cooning” or turning women against them with his “man-bashing” themes. Newsflash: black women have had their eyebrows raised at black men for some time before the world even knew who Tyler Perry was, and before he even was. And for all the black men who can’t relate to the majority of Perry’s characters’ manipulative, abusive, deceitful or simply juvenile ways, why get up in arms? I thought there was such a thing as wearing a shoe only if it fits.  If you are a good man who does the right, great. But again, I doubt every man who has played a significant role in your life was as wonderful as you are.

See, Tyler Perry is not trying to make black women look weak or black men look evil. He’s not putting the black community on front street or embarrassing us by putting on a floral dress every other movie. He’s bringing to light taboo subjects that have been silently plaguing our community for years. As I said in an earlier post about black people and mental health care – we as a people don’t like others all in our business.

I suspect we don’t want to give the mainstream any more ammunition against us. It’s as if we think white people are going to theatres to see Perry’s movies and saying “Aha! I knew it!” Au contraire! They are probably laughing and crying right along with us because the situations that ring true for us, ring true for them. It’s called the human experience. It’s about navigating through an oft-unfair life, set in a cruel world that takes perfect, innocent babies and eventually turns them into…a multitude of things.

That being said, it’s no wonder that Tyler Perry is succeeding because with all of his critics, detractors and all-purpose haters, his work is resonating in the minds, hearts and spirits of so many. And while I am no huge fan of his T.V. show Meet the Browns or most of his Madea movies, I will continue to patronize his work. After all, he’s talking to me. How rude would I be not to listen?

Turning Away from the Church

It’s Sunday, so it’s only right that I talk about church. I grew up in the church and I will credit it for providing me with constructive, positive and meaningful experiences which kept me (somewhat) grounded during my adolescent years. I can’t say my moral compass was always pointing towards Heaven during my teenage years. I will say, though, that spending a significant amount of time each week with other young people who devoted their free time to uplifting the house of God through Bible and prayer services, praise dancing, choir, outreach services, etc., pretty much kept me from getting toooo crazy. Most of my memories about my earlier days in church are positive ones, minus the occasional drama and those days I just didn’t feel like rolling out of bed for choir practice or to serve on the Usher Board.

Nonetheless, it’s one thing to grow up in the church because that’s what is considered a part of the family structure and culture. It’s another thing to become a free-thinking, knowledge-seeking, independent adult who make’s his or her decisions based on preference and personal experience. That being said, I am no longer an active member of my home church — or any other. And I don’t plan to be. Obviously, living in a different state makes regular activity at a home church challenging but it’s not just that. It’s so much more than that.

At least once a month, I get drama-filled updates from various people in my hometown (family, close friends, church members) about what is going on at our church and other churches in the community that we have had regular fellowship with throughout the years. Not a month goes by that there is not some story on-line, on T.V. or on the radio about some pastor or clergy member who has embezzled money, touched an adolescent boy’s pee-pee or cheated on his wife with more than 10 women in the church between the ages of 17 and 70. After all, variety is the spice of life.

And to be quite frank, I am fucking blown. I am tired of it. I am sickened by the way people in this country, and this world, use religion and the church for its own sick devices. I am disappointed at how the black community has let the church disintegrate into a cesspool of shame. I’m not feeling it.

There was a time in the black community where the church was a place kids could come get help with homework, the hungry could come get a hearty meal, and a family who had fallen on hard times could get a little extra dough to pay a bill, tuition, etc. Once upon a time, the money for “sick and shut-ins” was abundant because everyone gave freely. And the money actually went to sick and elderly parishioners — Thanksgiving baskets, flower arrangements and supplements to meager Social Security checks.

Now? Ha! People roll up in pretty decent cars, wearing pretty decent outfits but have the audacity to put change in the offering basket instead of bills. People brag, brag and brag some more to anyone who will listen about everything they have going on, yet won’t offer their money, services or expertise to uplift their brothers and sisters. Hypocrisy at its best.

And the worship leaders? They are supposed to model themselves after Christ so that we all can follow the Earthly example he set. However, the humble life Christ led must have gotten lost in translation somewhere. With people like Creflo Dollar and Bishop T.D. Jakes rolling around in Bentleys and depleting entire towns of their water supplies so that their churches can have waterfalls in the lobby, a la M.C. Hammer, I am left to wonder if the church leadership is actually using the Bible as a blueprint or simply as a relic.

Now, I am not downing any of these people. I am not hating on Creflo Dollar. I wouldn’t mind having a Bentley. And T.D. Jakes writes articles in Essence and publishes books that anyone, religious or not, can relate to and enjoy. I know there are still some churches, in the United States and abroad, who have the best interest of God’s people in mind and have not lost sight of what is important. From personal experience, I also know it only takes a few bad apples to spoil a good church family’s reputation.

This is, however, why congregations must actively participate in the choosing of church leadership. As 2 Timothy 2:15 says, church leadership should be required to “study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth” in order to preside over churchgoers spiritual well-being. After all, if the head is corrupt, how can the body stand?

And I realize that church leaders are only human, so don’t even give me that excuse. If you are not going to walk the walk, don’t step up for the position. Just sit in the pulpit with all the other gossip mongers, adulterers and all-purpose hypocrites. I’m not passing judgment. I know I have some stuff with me, too, but at least I don’t look my nose down on others just because my name is on the “Platinum Donor’s List.” You’re supposed to come to church to pray, meditate and fellowship with others who are like-minded in wanting to serve God by living a good life full of charity, love and kindness — not to worry about what everyone is wearing, what they’re doing and who they’re screwing.

That all being said, I’m fed up. If I want people to judge what I’m wearing, who I walked through the door with and how much money I have to offer, I will take my sanctified ass to the club. Life is hard enough without people playing with God and making a mockery of an institution that is supposed to be a haven away from the ills and evils of the world. Nope. I will keep God in my heart, on my mind and in my life without all of the “laying hands on,” so-called speaking in tongues and people running laps around the sanctuary in Jesus’s name. Amen.

On Our Minds: Blacks v. Mental Health Care

A few years ago, I wrote a story for the Washington Informer which highlighted the lack of mental health resources in the black community and some of the measures being taken to remedy this deficit. Of course, such resources are of value to the community. However, when I think about the lack of mental health facilities and practitioners in the black community, I don’t automatically think that society has held out on us. I think of supply and demand. Many (note I said many, not all) black people do not “believe in” mental health care. From childhood, we are told not to tell strangers “our business” and that what “goes on in our houses, stays in our houses.” I believe these adages from our elders may be relevant and necessary for minor issues, but have the potential to be dangerous and destructive in some situations.

Individuals who have faced trauma in their own homes (abuse, divorce, molestation, etc.) may not feel comfortable keeping that, well, at home. With the threat of ostracization from one’s own family looming, who would seek outside help? Few people. With that, you have a lot of people carrying around baggage without any coping mechanisms, constructive support or other therapeutic interventions for years. It’s devastating.

Even people who have not been told their entire lives to “keep their business to themselves” may be reluctant to share their feelings of inadequacy, sadness, stress, shame, anger, hurt and pain with others. Black people in particular have a history of being strong, resilient and weathering storms as they come. There are many of us, including me at times, who do not want to put a fracture in this legacy. Therefore, we try to deal with our problems internally.

While we should aim to be strong and self-sufficient, we can’t always cut it by ourselves and that’s O.K. We might not even be ab judge le to talk to our most trusted allies — best friends, parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. If our loved ones find out things about us and about our thoughts that deviate from what is considered culturally or socially acceptable, there is a chance they may see us in a different light. While our hearts may tell us they will never us or turn their backs on us, our minds may say otherwise. And this internal conflict is O.K., too, whether warranted or not. There is nothing wrong with seeking a neutral party who is trained to help people from heterogeneous backgrounds and lifestyles through a plethora of dilemma and emotions.

I say all of this because I am tired of my brothers and sisters taking their own lives. I am upset by anyone ending their own life — especially our young people of all races. While suicide has been overwhelmingly stereotyped as a “white thing,” the act has gained momentum in the black community (right along with eating disorders and skin cancers brought on from overexposure to the sun).

While black men have a suicide rate that is roughly half that of whites, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for black males ages 15-24. Not natural causes. Not drag racing or other reckless, youthful play. Not murder. Suicide. The taking of one’s own life. The black race is losing enough black males to addiction, homicide, and the prison system. Must we add another terminator?

After hearing about several friends of friends who have taken their own lives in the last few years — all young, black people with immense talent and greatness to offer the world — I am pleading with everyone. It is the same plea I have had to whisper to myself from time to time. Seek help. Talk to someone. Let the stigma go. If you think you’re just having a “rough patch” or are “blue,” do not brush it off. Do not let it get out of control or become unbearable.