Exercise your right or keep your mouth shut…

Every two years around this time, I get extremely annoyed.

Annoyed by all the political ads. Annoyed by all the bickering. Extremely annoyed by all the people with the “my vote doesn’t count” attitudes.

It never fails. I see people all over social media complaining about how they are not going to vote because their voices are not heard or that all politicians lie or that there is no one running that they believe in. Hey! I get it. Wait, no I do not. Ok, to some extent. Yes, lots of politicians lie. However, I do believe there is a large number of them that keep their word. You know grouping them all together is a stereotype, right? Like an all young black males want to be football or basketball players stereotype. Like an all young white males who like to dress in goth attire are likely crazy. Like an all youth of today only want to play on their phones all day stereotype. This is along to same lines.

Years ago I was asked, “Why do you vote?” My response was simple, “Why would I not vote?” Besides the fact that I have the right to vote, I refuse to let the thousands of people who sacrificed their life so I can have this right die in vain. I allow myself to be reminded of all the people from all walks of life from all shades of color from all corners of the US who fought so that we can all have a voice in the booth.

Today, there will be millions of people who sit home and decide not to exercise their right for whatever reason. These are the people I roll my eyes at because this tells me that they do not value their voice. Sure, your voice may be one among a million and while we may not be able to put a face with the voice, we can see that you have spoken.I tend to find that the people who do not vote are the loudest critics and “find” the most problems but they rarely have solutions. They tend to not volunteer or give back in their communities. They tend to not attend meetings where decisions are being made. They tend to not voice their opinions in a manner where they can be effective. In my opinion, people like this just want to stir the pot and hope whatever is inside burns. To those people I say, keep your mouth shut.

If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem. As this election season comes to an end, I challenge everyone to stand up for something. Stop hiding behind social media. It is great that you see all these problems but what are you doing to rectify them? If nothing, then today is the best day to start. Start by going to the polls and electing officials that you think are the best candidates for the job. Leave the all politicians lie stereotype outside of your voting booth. The truth is, we can all talk a good game, politician or not. Vote and hold them accountable. Show up at the meetings. Email them. Call their offices. Make your voice heard beyond the ballot.

Today, exercise your right or keep your mouth shut. Actions speak louder than words. What do yours say about you?

 

{Source: Google Images}
{Source: Google Images}

 

Oh no he didn’t…..

Let me start with saying that I have NEVER been a fan of Rob Parker(an analyst on ESPN). Not necessarily because of anything he has said or done but quite simply because of the way he talks. He whines when he talks. I do not mean that he is whining every time he says something. He literally draws out the last word of each sentence and sometimes he does that to other words in the sentence and it is just downright A.NNOY.ING. The other morning I turned on my tv to watch First Take, saw he was sitting at the debate desk and I promptly turned the channel. Well, after yesterday’s debacle I am sure there were a lot of people turning their tv.

One of the topics of yesterday’s episode was Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III. I do not know what prompted the discussion but I know it quickly went wide left when Parker used the discussion as an opportunity to question RG3’s “blackness.” Yes, I said his blackness. What does that mean you ask? I DO NOT KNOW!!! After reading the transcript of the discussion, I am going to assume it means that if you are black there are certain people in this world who expect you to think, act and behave a certain way because you are black. I guess that is what “blackness” is. The term is stupid and I have a better word for classifying what “blackness” is: A STEREOTYPE.

Parker had the nerve to ask on tv, “if he(RG3) is a brother or a cornball brother?” I find that question to be ironic coming from a man who always looks like he got dressed in the dark. Parker then went on to say, “He’s not real. Ok, He’s black, he kind of does the thing but he’s not really down with the cause…..We all know he has a white fiancee. There was all this talk about how he’s a Republican, which, I really don’t care, there’s no information at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue. Because we did find out with Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods was like, I’ve got black skin but don’t call me black.” Lawd hammercy. This guy. Just spewing foolishness all over the place. Hidden amongst the broken sentences and incomplete thoughts is pure ignorance.

Let me break these statements down. First, what makes a black man a “cornball brother?” RG3 is educated, articulate, full of integrity and has never been in trouble. If that is what makes you a “cornball brother” then I wish there were more of those around. Second, what is this cause he speaks of? I DO NOT KNOW!! I am black and I was not informed that there was a certain cause I had to be down with. Third, what does him having a white fiancee and possibly being a Republican have to do with his “blackness?” I DO NOT KNOW!!! I know that there are folks in this world who believe people who marry outside of their race are “sellouts.” That is ignorance at its best. Who cares who other folks marry? Is it causing you to lose money on your job? Fourth, what does Tiger Woods have to do with any of this? Tiger Woods is NOT just a black man. Any logical thinking person would have no problem with him not calling himself a black man because HE IS NOT. He is multiracial, in case you missed the memo.

This may come as a shock to some but what Parker did is, sadly, not uncommon in the black community. Some of us live to tear each other down instead of lifting each other up. Some of us do not want to see others succeed, not realizing that when one is successful, that is a victory for all of us. It has taken us a long time to get to the point where we are respected for our works, endeavors, knowledge and service. We threaten the very foundation of what our ancestors went through when we questions people’s “blackness” simply because that person does not live their life the way we think they ought to. I know I may be upsetting some of my readers right now but there is no sugar coating in the world of journalism. Plus, if you know me, then you know I am not about “sugaring” anything. Instead of focusing on those things in RG3’s life that he does not understand, Parker should be focused on how this young black man has revitalized a team, fanbase and even a city. He has restored some pride that has been lost for at least a decade. His success is pumping money into the economy. He is a great role model for not just young boys who look like him but for all young boys across the world.

So after saying all that, I have concluded that I still do not know what “blackness” is. I love to read but I have not read the book that tells me what I need to be doing to prove how black I am. If being black comes with certain criteria then I am going to go out on a limb and say I may not qualify. I love to run. I am attending my first NASCAR race next year and I have Bon Jovi concert dates circled on my calendar. Does that mean I am not black? Ummmm, no. Those things are part of who I am. Despite how I see myself, I know that I am held to a different standard simply because of the color of my skin. I know there are people who expect more out of me because of my skin color and I know there are people who expect less out of me simply because of my skin color. I am kind, passionate, loving and I communicate well. I do not do drugs. I have not been to jail and I have graduated from college, twice. If that makes me a “cornball”, then so be it. I am going to take my two degree having, marathon running, non-profit starting “cornball” self to this Bon Jovi concert next year and sing all the songs as loud as I can. Keep fighting for DC, RG3!! Us “cornballs” are rooting for you!

 

Until Next time….TOODELLS.

The story you probably missed…

Taylor Townsend. A name you need to know. She is the number one ranked junior tennis player in the WORLD. She is the reigning junior girls Australian Open Champion in singles and doubles and she won the junior girls Wimbledon doubles title this summer. Did I mention she is only 16? Impressive, right?

At a time when we should be celebrating a young woman who has a promising future ahead of her, we are forced to deal with ugly issues that the world can not seem to get past:  BODY IMAGE & STEREOTYPES. Yes, you read that right. BODY IMAGE & STEREOTYPES. Townsend, who planned to travel to the US Open last month, was told by the United States Tennis Association(USTA) that they were not going to finance any more tournament appearances for her until she lost weight and got into better shape. Huh? Did I miss something? The first American girl to be ranked number one since the International Tennis Federation(ITF) combined singles and doubles rankings in 2004, was all of a sudden “too big” to compete. Or as Patrick McEnroe, the general manager of the USTA’s player development program so eloquently stated, “Our concern is her long term health, number one and her long term development as a player.” Was that not your concern before hand Mr. McEnroe? As a PR major, I know a “spin” when I see one and that statement may as well be in bold red letters, in all caps!

I know Mr. McEnroe said her health is his main concern but lets be real this issue centers around body image and stereotypes. The fact is, Towsend is not your stereotypical tennis player. She is tall. However, she is not slim or white. She grunts when she hits the ball. And she is black. Reminds you of some tennis players who came before her, huh? While Townsend herself has admitted that she needs to lose some weight and get into better shape, that is the least of my concerns. I have a problem with an entity such as the USTA making a public spectacle out of a 16 year old girl. I have a problem with the USTA telling Townsend, days before she was scheduled to go to the US Open, that she needed lose weight. This same girl played in tournaments all over the globe earlier in the year, in matches that lasted for hours and suddenly she is too out of shape to compete? This same girl who has been attending the USTA’s academy in Florida, where she attends classes and works out with coaches and trainers everyday now has an weight issue?

This story is disturbing. It screams of what is wrong with the world and how people, especially girls and women, are constantly made to feel less than adequate because of their physical stature. We have created this false Barbie doll image and have forced the notion onto people that every woman should look just like her. The reality is MOST women do not look like her. Every woman in this world was not born a size zero and most women in the world will not be a healthy size zero no matter how hard they try. As petite as I am, I am not even a size zero and according to some I am still too small. The fact is women come in all shapes and sizes. Women are tall, small, curvy, slim, blond, brunette, short, the list goes on and on.

It saddens me that instead of celebrating the accomplishments of a young lady, I am having to write about body image and stereotypes. I think the reason this bothers me so much is because at 16, young girls are so impressionable. They are at an age where a person’s words have the power to change the direction of their life, for better or worse. In the media, Towsend seems to be handling the issue with grace and poise. However, I can only wonder how she feels on the inside. I wonder if she feels humiliated. I wonder if she feels ostracized. I wonder if she feels that she is not good enough. I wonder if she thinks the negativity she will have to endure is worth it. At 16, she should not have to feel any of those things because we should be rejoicing over what she has done regardless of how she looks. We should be proud of her number one ranking. We should be applauding her championships. We should be telling her the best is yet to come. We should be telling her that she has potential. We should be encouraging her. We should be her biggest cheerleaders not her biggest critics. We should be rewarding her for her hard work. And if she indeed does need to lose some weight, we need to be right there in her ear telling her that she can do it.  That is what we should be doing. She needs to know that not being a stereotypical tennis player is not a curse. It is a gift…..one that helps her shine the brightest on a crowded court.

CONGRATULATIONS ON ALL YOUR SUCCESS TAYLOR!!! THE SKY IS THE LIMIT!!