Friday, February 23, 2007

The Marriage Industrial Complex, Part 2--Spiritual Partnerships

In my first post on marriage, which I referred to as an industrial complex, I examined the institution’s current state, it's history and the many challenges that many people face in the attempt to fit their modern lives into what I deem to be an archaic set up ( I am not married so this is an outsider's view). Recently, author and leader in the New Thought Movement, Gary Zukav appeared on Oprah to discuss the concept of Spiritual Partnerships, which he says, is the new paradigm that will replace traditional marriage. I was truly happy that Oprah had Gary on to discuss this concept and present it to the world. Like myself, Gary Zukav believes that in order for people to become truly evolved, partnerships need to be formed with spiritual growth as the main focus and intention. M. Scott-Peck brought forth a similar vision for people who were looking for something deeper, and more meaningful than the current relationship model in his book The Road Less Traveled.
Spiritual Partnerships are formed with the intention that the two individuals are on a journey, and are together in order to assist one another first and foremost with spiritual growth. Meaning, the traditional roles of "wife" and "husband" that people believe they are forced to assume, are replaced not with another role, but with freedom to grow while learning what would be best for each individual, both practically and spiritually.
I recently experienced an example of this while hanging out with a friend on the beach in Ocean City, Maryland. We met a beautiful man who was with his three-year-old daughter walking along the beach. He lovingly pushed his baby girl in her stroller with the care of someone dedicated to the task at hand, showing her the beauty of the ocean and allowing the sun’s rays to shine lovingly on her beautifully brown and perfectly round little face. My friend, being much more open and outgoing than I, asked the brother what brought him to the beach during the day with his child. The man told us that he ran his own business and spent as much time with his three kids during the day when his wife, after giving birth to their children, proclaimed: "This is not for me!" He took over and became the primary caretaker of his children, since his wife did not feel suited to the traditional role of "mother". I was amazed at the ease with which this young man told the story. He obviously loved and was committed to his wife’s evolution as a person, and was able to accept that his wife felt more comfortable working. He did not force her to assume the role of caretaker and assumed the role himself. As a result, their relationship shifted its dynamic, with each partner assuming different roles in order to preserve the individuals identity. His wife went back to work and he started his own business. He was not afraid to take on a role that is usually reserved for the woman. He was much better suited at taking care of the children than his wife, so it worked for both of them. Both of them obviously wanted to see their family remain intact and both were willing to make the necessary adjustments. This is vastly different from what most people in relationships do, which is try to force each other to assume roles that do not reflect the truth of who they are. This, in my opinion, is what causes people to become despondent in relationships. This man and his partner's choice to do things differently is an example of being committed to your partner on both a practical and spiritual level. A new paradigm.
Gary also talked about how people in marriages and relationships end up so unhappy because people blame and judge each other, making the other person the scapegoat for their own emotional issues and the resulting unhappiness that stems from these issues. He advised couples to take responsibility for their own emotional well-being. He spoke about how maintaining happiness and contentment is first and foremost an inside job. He suggested that once people work on themselves and achieve inner peace, then the state of inner contentment will flow outward and positively impact the relationship. This differs vastly from the current paradigm that exists, of partners endless attempts to figure out how to make the other happy(which we all know is a futile pursuit). Happiness is first and foremost an inside job.
Oprah also brought up the fact that "romance" has really "screwed up" people’s expectations in relationships, and how many people create false expectations of their partners based on the fleeting feelings of romance. Of course neither Oprah nor Gary were suggesting that romance in itself is bad, but that true partnerships are firmly grounded in reality, not fleeting emotions. True partnerships are created intentionally, with both people aware of the work and level of commitment that is required for both individual and collective spiritual growth. It is based on expansion of the individual’s soul. Not, restrictions and control:"You do this to please me, and I do this to please you." And this mutual support exists even if it means that the person evolves beyond the realm of the relationship. Not and easy endeavor to consider, but it sounds much more inviting and liberating than ‘Till death do us part". And even if it is your intention to remain with your partner until death, in the ever-changing world that we live in, we need to make our intentions less permanent, learn to live in the present moment, and deal with the reality that "till death do us part" may not be as long as we think.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Beyond Beats and Rhymes: A Documentary.

Airs Tonight On PBS! Check your local listings for more details.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Fire Women

Fire Women

I want to see more of these women on television and videos. These Fire Women, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, India.Arie, Jill Scott, Christina Aguilera, Meshell Ndegeocello and Joss Stone are the real deal! They sing from their hearts using their entire minds, their bodies and their souls! I say put a show together with these fierce sistas and call it Celie-Palooza!

Also these sistas are not ruled by the industry's lust for scantily clad, hyper-sexualized, gyrating divas. They maintain their dignity, and are committed to their craft. They are artists first and foremost, and are willing to be viewed as kooky, crazy and lost for the sake of artistic integrity. Much love and mad props to these women who call their own shots!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Men That I Love!

Folks, so many of us give our attention to what we don't like. Whether our dislikes have to do with people, the government, our jobs or even our relationships, the Law of Attraction states that what we focus on expands. So in an effort to accentuate the positive or as they say in the hood: "Don't Hate, Appreciate," I am dedicating this post to the men that I love!

Dave Chappelle: He gets love because he had the heart to say no to becoming a $50 Million slave for Comedy Central. Dave was smart enough to realize that all money ain't good money. He has the gift of introspection and the ability to weigh the pros and cons of his particular brand of slapstick comedy. At the end of the day, Dave decided that he could no longer look at himself in the mirror and continue to make people laugh at racism. Bravo for you Dave!

Michael Eric Dyson: He gets love because he is the only professor I know who can spit rap lyrics , weave them in and render them relevant in his academic, social and political commentary. And he does it like a pro. This brother turned a stint in the penitentiary into a vision of obtaining a higher education, all the while never losing his love for da'hood. His sharp and witty intellectual delivery is made all the more sexy by his knowledge and command of Hip- Hop language and culture! And he is fine as hell too!

Dr. Cornel West: Gets mad love because when the powers that be at Harvard suggested that he was no longer academically inclined and that he should leave the movie roles (The Matrix) and Hip-Hop albums out of his academic repertoire, he said "See Ya!" Dr. West joined Princeton's illustrious faculty and kept it real. Never have I seen a man of such intellect, be able to capture the love of the masses. His love for the people is real and as a result, many may not be able to grasp what he is talking about but they listen because of the love he has for them ( Bill Cosby, take note).

Tavis Smiley: You gotta love this brother for his commitment and dedication to the cause of Black liberation and to that of democracy. Tavis ain't never been mainstream. When Bob Johnson would not acknowledge him or give him his props, he did a "Cornel West" and said "See Ya!"He maintains his political ideology and his "out of the box" manner of thinking, and has made a home for himself on Public Television and National Public Radio. With very little press or support from industry big wigs his book Covenant With Black America remains on the top ten sellers list. Check out his new autobiography What I know For Sure. Tavis is smart, intuitive and sexy! Question Tavis: Why are you still single, brother?

Stephen Colbert: Stephen makes me laugh! His political sense of humor is refreshing and
witty. He pokes fun at Republicans while pretending to be their staunchest supporter and makes it very believable. Behind those glasses is a tall, dark and handsome man who enjoys poking fun at the absurdity of it all! I try to watch The Colbert Report daily on Comedy Central.

Dr. Michael Beckwith:For those of you who are fans of The Secret, Dr. Beckwith is the brother who steals the show from all of the other Secret Teachers. He heads a church in Los Angeles called The Agape International Spiritual Center The brother is deep and intelligent. His down to earth manner and delivery make me want to watch The Secret over and over again just to see and listen to him teach. I think Oprah digs him too (wink)!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Eddie Murphy Needs Our Prayers!

About 25 years ago, when the stand up comedian Eddie Murphy debuted the hit stand up film "Delirious" I was attending high school in the Bronx.

It was the talk of my high school, and many of us had watched the HBO special so many times that we could recite the hilarious routine word for word.

Remember Aunt Bunny and Goony Goo Goo? The Story of his overweight aunt with the mustache who would always fall down the steps during the family barbecue.

25 years ago Eddie broke new comedic ground and made us laugh at ourselves and the unusual and sometimes scary members of our family . We could all relate to having a relative that scared the hell out of us, or made us feel strange when we were kids.

A quarter of a century later Eddie is still on the Goony Goo Goo tip and seems not to be able to leave it alone. What was once a joke that poked fun at someone who could have been any one's aunt, now seems to be an all out attack on Black Women who do not look like Halle Berry, Beyonce or Thandie Newton.

The overweight, loud, scary Black Woman who is aggressive, overly sexed and who chases down, bosses around and acts more like a man than the man she is with, seems to an obsession with Eddie and also with Hollywood. The film grossed over 30 Million in the first weekend.

Many groups balked that Eddie had gone to far and said that they were tired of the negative depiction of Black Women. Some even said that it might hurt his chances at winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Well no one listened. Who really cares if Black People want to continue to make films that ridicule, make fun of, and grossly distort the image of their own mothers, sisters and aunts. Hey R. Kelly was awarded an NAACP Image Award and he is facing charges that he molested several young Black girls.

My thing is that Eddie is so talented and versatile as an actor and even as a singer. He could do Broadway or become a director. Why is it that he seems to be obsessed with the distorted and derogatory image of a Black Woman.?

I don't know what happened to him when he was a kid. Maybe he was terrorized by a big black girl in class and has yet to get over it ( weren't we all terrorized by someone bigger than us?).

Eddie do us all a favor please? Work it out in therapy and focus on making some movies that celebrate the strength and accomplishments of Black Women of all sizes, shapes, and color variations. They can be comedies. Just stop making the Black Woman look inhuman and out of control! You may not know it and your "friends" in "Holyweird" may not tell you but your self hatred and your fear and loathing of Black Women is on patrol for all to see!!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

An Open Letter to Brother Barack Obama

An Open Letter To Brother Barack Obama

Dear Senator Obama,

I am writing this letter to you to express my disappointment with much of the commentary that I have read and heard about you and the quality of your blackness. I am only concerned with the views that are coming from The African-American community. The reason being, is that it does not nor should it surprise me that some whites are trying their best to act, in a country where race is the proverbial elephant in the room, as if your race does not matter.

My concern lies with the African-American community solely, because we have made great strides in this nation, as Dr. Martin Luther King so eloquently stated, to be judged not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character. So why are so many of us, politicians, news columnists and others so obsessed with judging your blackness and questioning whether or not you are black enough? It makes us seem as if we have split personalities and are confused about what we want. Are we, as African-Americans really ready to be judged simply by the content of our characters? Or, have we become so accustomed to relying on race as an issue to throw out as our trump card, that we are holding on dearly to the privilege of being treated as "other" due to the color of our skin?

What is also quite painful to witness, is that, in spite of the great strides made by African-American leaders such as Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X and African leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah, who worked tirelessly to build a bridge between Blacks in America and their African brothers and sisters, that people are bringing up the issue that your father was an African Immigrant and that this fact somehow renders you unqualified or unable to relate to or represent American Blacks.

Have they forgotten that since the early 60's when African nations were receiving their independence from colonial rule, African-Americans have worked closely with their brothers and sisters in Africa both politically, socially and culturally to help assist them in making the transition to independence? Many African-Americans traveled to West Africa, joined the Peace Corps, volunteered during elections, and made nations like Ghana their adopted home. Also, the Freedom Movement in South Africa was influenced by the Civil Rights Movement here in America, and many South African Blacks looked to their African-American brothers and sisters in America for encouragement and inspiration. In turn, African-Americans led the fight on American soil, by sitting in, boycotting, and marching to help free their brothers and sisters from the Racist Apartheid Regime in South Africa.

So I am not getting the point that you being an African/American as opposed to an African-American somehow makes you less black. Anyone, from Colin Powell to Denzel Washington to Sean Bell to Amadou Diallo knows that being African/ Black/ Negro or whatever we choose to call ourselves, is an experience that is wrought with triumph and great accomplishment but also with the sting of racism, ignorance, hatred and many times death. It does not matter if you are from the 9th Ward in Louisiana or Cape Town in South Africa, like the words of a famous reggae tune "No matter where you come from, if you are a black man you're an African"!

I too am an African/American. My mother, from Harlem and my dad from Sierra Leone. And I experienced the worst in taunts and teasing from my African-American brothers and sisters. They said I was too black, that I was a filthy African, that I should go back home and live in the trees with the monkeys. My mother would wipe my tears and try to explain to me that the kids were ignorant and did not know anything about Africa and learned to hate themselves and me from what they saw on television.

Well that was 30 years ago. And we are still on the same subject making the same distinctions, in a much more grown up way, but still making the distinction. Your mom is White, so I guess that makes you too light.

When are WE going to stop the madness and realize that WE ARE ALL AFRICANS!!! And until anthropologists and archaeologists find one-million year old skeletal remains in Sweden... this includes white folks!!!

Best Wishes to you on your journey. May God Bless You, Keep You, and Protect You.


Aisha Karefa-Smart