Tag Archives: acceptance

Defining a Gentlewoman

A lot of you started to ask me what’s the difference between a stud, boi and a gentlewoman. A gentlewoman is a woman that has discriminating taste in women, fashion, culture and politics. There are dapper studs and bois, but that don’t make them gentlewomen. It’s about how you treat others. It’s opening up a door for your lady. It’s giving up your seat on the subway for the elderly or a pregnant woman.

Ladies, you want to know if you have a boi or a gentlewoman. Here are a few rules a gentlewoman will follow:

  1. A gentlewoman doesn’t want a relationship with gender roles. We both work. We both clean. We both spoil each other.
  2. She wants you to make decisions. Don’t be wishy-washy. If you want to hang out with her, you can call her, too. She doesn’t alway want to make the first move.
  3. She’s a womanist. She doesn’t hate men. She believe in equality in work pay. She believes the woman not the government should control her body (and what she does with it).
  4. A ‘boi’ make her girl jealous of other women. A gentlewoman makes other women jealous of her woman.
  5. Any woman can sex you, feed you and buy you stuff. But it takes a gentlewoman to help you become a better person to build with you and work with you in building a better life together.
  6. Sending a woman a text that says “Good morning, beautiful” can change her attitude for the rest of the day.
  7. She doesn’t have time to play with you. A gentlewoman never leads her on if you knows nothing’s going to happen. She’s honest and straightforward.
  8. Don’t tell her lies just to spare her feelings. She’d rather know the truth now rather than finding out later.
  9. She expects you to actively listen to her as she will do the same for you.
  10. When on the date with you, she’ll have her phone on silent. No social media. No text messages. No phone calls unless it’s an emergency. (I struggle with this one! I have to be present with my lady especially during our quality time.)
  11. She’ll call you out the blue just to hear your voice. She’ll respond to your text in a timely manner.
  12. She’s spontaneous. Just be ready for adventure.
  13. A gentlewoman doesn’t make a promise if they’re going to break it.
  14. She believes in chivalry. Chivalry is a beautiful, genuine thing. It will never die.
  15. A real gentlewoman’s treatment of her girl never fades. She doesn’t treat her right for a few months and then stops. A true gentlewoman keeps her smiling.
  16. A gentlewoman knows to keep things good and bad between each other. She does not want everybody in your business.

Everyone is not a gentlewoman. Gentlewomen are not perfect, but we are trying to be the best version of ourselves. Do you agree with my definition of a gentlewoman? If not, how would you define a gentlewoman?

10 Rules for a Gentlewoman in Being in a Healthy Relationship

I.

“The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others.” –Sonya Friedman

Pay attention to your relationship with yourself. True love comes from within. You will never be satisfied with someone else’s love. If you don’t love yourself, you cannot expect anyone else to love you. The way you treat myself shows others how you expect to be treated. Therefore, self-love is first and foremost.

II.

“The wrong person makes you beg for attention, affection, love and commitment. The right person gives you these things because they love you.” –Sonya Parker

A gentlewoman never stops trying to show her woman how much she means to her even after she already has her. Affection is not just kissing and touching. Affection is having great stimulating conversations about love, life, anything and everything. Affection is not bound by any obligations or barred by any human limitations. It is to speak without regret or fear or consequence. Affection is about giving the time to show the other person how much they matter to you.

III.

“I don’t want the perfect relationship because perfect is impossible. I want trustworthy, honest, loyal and love. I love imperfections. I don’t want perfect. I want worth it.”-Unknown

In a relationship, honesty and trust must exist. If they don’t, there’s no point of loving. So if you can’t afford to be honest, stay single. We often are not honest because we do not want someone to see our imperfections. Guess what? No one’s perfect. But you can be honest. A gentlewoman is honest and trustworthy in her thoughts, words and action. We tell the truth and keep our promises.

IV.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” –Leo Buscaglia

A gentlewoman writes handwritten letters to her lady and sends them in the mail. She buys flowers for her lady just because she’s thinking of her. She cooks for her lady after her lady has had a long day at work. A gentlewoman knows never to stop the little things for her lady, for those little things make her feel wanted. Basically, a gentlewoman knows she has to consistently do the things that got her lady to keep her.

V.

“A healthy relationship will never require you to sacrifice your friends, your dreams or your dignity.” –Mandy Hale

A gentlewoman knows that she has to have passions and friendships outside of her girlfriend. Anyone has to be in control of their own happiness. You have to nurture your circle of friends outside of your relationship. You cannot drop your friends just because you’re in a relationship. Being happy with yourself builds confidence. You can enjoy your time with your partner, enjoy your time with your friends and enjoy your time alone. It’s about living interdependently. Another key to being in a healthy relationship is get a life that is yours.

VI.

“No relationship is all sunshine, but two people can share one umbrella and survive the storm together.” –Unknown

A gentlewoman understands that all relationships have its ups and downs. The difference between a successful relationship and a break-up is that the couple decides that each other is worth the fight. The concept of constant bliss is something made up in Hollywood. It’s not real. What’s real is dealing with bad days, being mentally and physically tired, financial stress and draining emotions. It’s called being human.

VII.

“Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself.” –Richard Bach

A gentlewoman understands that she needs a woman who she can be her authentically herself with. It’s learning how to be vulnerable to allow someone to see the real ‘you’.

VIII.

“When you truly love someone, you don’t judge them by their past. You accept it and leave it there.” -Unknown

The truth is that the more intimately you know someone, the more clearly you’ll see their flaws. That’s just the way it is. You might think you love someone until they go outside your box. A gentlewoman understands that love means accepting your lady’s faults and insecurities and loving them anyway and making it through life’s challenges together.

*Disclaimer: This does not mean you stay in an abusive relationship (mental or physical). This means you accept them for their flaws as they are not perfect. So don’t place anyone on a pedestal that they can come crashing down.

IX.

no cell phones at dinner

A gentlewoman leaves her cell phone in the car when she takes her lady to dinner. She does not want anything to divert her attention from her lady. She understands that each time she is with her lady is a time to connect and be present.

X.

“Why should a relationship mean settling down? Wait out for someone who won’t let life escape you, who’ll challenge you and drive you toward your dreams. Someone spontaneous you can get lost in the world with. A relationship, with the right person, is a release not a restriction.” –Beau Taplin

A gentlewoman does not want to settle into a mundane home life with her lady. She wants to travel with her lady around the world. She wants her lady to fulfill her dreams with and without her. She wants to fulfill her own dreams and passions. She wants to dance like no one is watching. She wants to constantly challenge herself and her lady to be better than the day before.

Approaching 40 Without Fear

Years ago I decided that I didn’t want a mundane life of a 9 to 5. For years that’s how I lived. I’d worked for Hidden Beach Recordings at the rise of Jill Scott. I’d traveled to SXSW with Cornerstone Promotions. Exciting times. I was in the midst of it. I had great ideas, but I didn’t know how to be loud.

Maybe my presence was loud enough. I was a masculine of center woman. I always thought my masculine presence was always judged. I didn’t want to extra attention for my appearance. I wanted my creativity and work to shine through. Therefore, I dimmed my light.

By dimming my light I denied myself the life I deserved and dreamed of living. Time doesn’t want wait on anyone. I remembered waking up realizing that I was 35 and hadn’t accomplished anything.

Don’t get me wrong I traveled. I shopped. I loved. There was a semblance of freedom where I moved how I want without boundaries and barriers. I could pick and leave as I did to DC and then to New York. I loved that freedom, but I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t living that life I wanted. And then I moved back home again believing I failed again.

I looked around, and my friends were leaving me behind. I realized that I didn’t own my dream house. I wasn’t in a relationship. And maybe it was time to settle down. Maybe it was time to get that 9 to 5 that I desperately didn’t want. Just maybe.

being fearlessI looked around me and realized that I didn’t own my house. I wasn’t in a relationship. Maybe it was time to get settled. Maybe it was time to get that 9 to 5 that I desperately didn’t want. Just maybe.

Or maybe NOT. Maybe I hadn’t believed in myself this whole time. I did enough to get by, but my soul knew that wasn’t enough. I could have it all. I could be creative, make money, have a relationship and that house I dreamed of. If only, I could get out of my own way.

In August I will be 40. Yes, the big 4-0. I am finally figuring out that I was scared. I was scared that I wasn’t enough. I had to heal the past wounds of body-shaming, not being the typical beauty, or bullying. I never dealt with how they affected me. I have to let go of the negative thoughts in my head that say:

“I will always be fat.”

“I am crazy to think I can revolutionize the world.”

“I am not praise-worthy.”

I have to combat that with affirmations of how awesome I am. I have to speak up to be heard. I cannot allow this fear to stagnate me. I am not living the life I’m supposed to live. I’ve simply existing.  It is time to live in my truth. It’s time to be fearless.

2016 has to be the year I shed my fear. It’s the year that I create and make money. It’s time to travel the world. It’s like 50 said, it’s time to ‘get rich or die tryin’. My riches are loving myself and believing in my path called life. My path is not like anyone else. And as J. Cole said we have to ‘Love Yourz’ as I am learning to love mine.

It’s time to take off these layers of fat and uncertainty. It’s time to do Insanity again. It’s time to get fit to be healthy because I have shit to do. It’s time to acknowledge the past to heal.

In the year of my 40, it’s time to dance like no one’s watching. It’s time to make my dreams come true. It’s time to be free. It’s time to be me. No more words. Just watch.

Raven-Symoné & Dr. Ben Carson Released, says the black delegation

The 2015 racial draft is amongst us. It’s official. The black delegation has decided that we are releasing Raven-Symoné and Dr. Ben Carson. They are now American free agents. We are sick and tired of being sick and tired of them. They rather conform to Americanism and belittle blackness at every turn. We’ve decided that we’re a better team without them. 

The black delegation knows that many of you have read Dr. Ben Carson’s autobiography, Gifted Hands for inspiration. You’ve connected with him as you read about his struggles and triumphs on his way to greatness. His story is well-documented. His mother proudly raised two boys with the help of public assistance to make ends meet. He was considered the ‘dumb student’ until his mother required him to read two books a week. He had a violent temper that led to near stabbing incident of friend over a radio station. He received a scholarship to Yale University where he felt isolated and alone. But he overcame all of these obstacles to become a pioneering neurosurgeon at John Hopkins’, one of the best medical institutions in the world. All of which made Dr. Ben Carson symbol of inspiration and hope.

Ben CarsonAnd throughout his career at John Hopkins’, Dr. Carson continued to give back to the black community by going to inner-city schools encouraging kids to be their best selves. New York Bestseller author for Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates who grew up in Baltimore admired Dr. Carson for talking to the young people to let them know there were more to life than the streets. INSPIRATION! But then he started to attack Barack Obama in ways not even his white counterparts couldn’t with the exception of the uncensored bigot, Donald Trump. Carson had the audacity to say that the Affordable Care Act (affectionately known as Obamacare) was ‘the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”

We could not believe Carson who has been a victim of racism compare universal health care to slavery. But more than that Carson is a hypocrite. We think that Dr. Ben Carson forgot that he benefited from welfare and affirmative action. Dr. Benjamin Carson has decided to close the door of opportunity that millions died and fought for him to get him through. He chooses to disregard that he benefitted from same social programs that he wants to get rid. So we are done. It is not his affiliation with the Republican party. We always knew he was conservative, for he always believed his values of faith, family and self-reliance helped him to get to his prominence. It did. He also needs to acknowledge that affirmative action and public assistance helped him. 

But Carson’s insistence to be included to be a part of America blinds him to the reality of being black in America. Let’s ask Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray. Oh yeah, we can’t. Their lives were cut short because they were executed for being black. Ben Carson doesn’t want to address the disproportionate risk blacks face of death at the hands of the police. We think he feels he is exonerated. Let us remind him that in 2009 Yale graduate and Harvard professor, Dr. Henry Louis Gates was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for trying to get in his house. Since Dr. Ben Carson wants to be American, we’ve severed ties with him. You’re free, Ben, to sign with any other delegation that will have you.

raven-symoné rooster hairNow let’s get to Raven-Symoné. In the last 6 months she’s defended Univision’s Rodner Figueroa’s statement that Michelle Obama looked like a member of the Planet of the Apes cast. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey despite her racial origin and her same-sex relationship, she did not want to limit herself being labeled as African-American or gay. Since she was 4, we fell in love with Olivia, the cute precocious child on The Cosby Show. Did we know Raven-Symoné? How could we? She was only four.

Raven-Symoné grew up in front of eyes first as Olivia on The Cosby Show then as Nicole Lee on Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper. But it was her stint on the Disney Channel that made Raven-Symoné so famous. She started with a voice role of Monique on Kim Possible. Then she auditioned for a part that became That’s So Raven which spawned a franchise of soundtracks, dolls, episode videos and video games. This led to multiple Disney roles and albums with a Disney-based record company which yielded a lot of money. Yes, we know her professionally, but we really never knew who Raven-Symoné was until now. She’s telling us who she is, and we should believe her.

Yesterday Raven-Symoné got more public heat for her comments in the Hot Topics segment for refusing to hire anyone with ‘ghetto names’. But this is discrimination. This is racist behavior. This was our last straw with Raven-Symoné. Maybe she’s in denial about her own name. Maybe she’s immersed herself in the privilege that her money has afforded her, for she’s never been a child of struggle. She’s never had to put her name on a job application to just make ends meet. Obviously, she lives in a bubble of a post-racial America that the rest of us do not live in, but it is time to let her go and be just American. 

We do not care what Raven-Symoné says. We should be proud of our names. According to her Barack Hussein Obama should not be president based on his name alone. Ta-Nahesi Coates should not be on the New York Times’ Bestsellers List. Quvenzhané Wallis should not have been nominated for Oscar award. Taraji P. Henson should not be a leading actress in one of the most popular shows in America, Empire. Maybe Condoleeza Rice shouldn’t have been Secretary of State. Or Uzoamaka “Uzo” Aduba should not have been given the chance to read for Crazy Eyes and eventually winning an Emmy for that role. Basically, Raven-Symoné believes that we shouldn’t be judged by the color of their skin but our name on paper.

We, the black delegation, find this absurd and elitist. Therefore, take both of them. We don’t want anything in return. We thought about Matt McGorry from Orange Is The New Black and How to Get Away with Murder especially after he spoke out for Black Lives Matter movement. But we have to get our shit together. We have to learn to support each other no matter our shade, names and socio-economic positions. Before we can get to #AllLivesMatter we have to learn that #AllBlackLivesMatter. We have to create businesses to hire our own where our worth is not linked to the color of our skin or the names we write on our resumés or job applications but rather if we can do the job well. We have to take care of our own Maliks, Amirs, Shaniquas and Anisas one at a time. But in the meantime, we would like that 40 acres and a mule from the white delegation. 

 

What I’ve Learned about Relationships

Lately, I’ve been seeing these memes about relationship goals. Maybe it’s me, but I thought relationship goals shouldn’t be the obvious. Maybe society is too jaded that we haven’t figured out that what’s best for us individually is not what’s always promoted. Maybe I am old school. I don’t know, but I’ve seen long-term relationships work. I believe in cultivating a relationship.

Lately, I’ve talked to a few friends about what we all want in relationships. We’ve talked about the nitty gritty of relationships which require hard work, patience and trust. We’ve talked about how our past relationships and experiences sometimes affect our present and future if we allow it. But what I’ve learned there are no easy ways to maintaining and growing as individuals and as a couple. Relationships Are

I am fortunate to see my maternal grandparents happily married for 46 years until my grandfather died in ’90. I have an aunt & uncle close to that mark with celebrating 45 years of marriage this past August. Another aunt & uncle will be celebrating 39 years of marriage in November. And the youngest aunt on my maternal side has been married to her husband over 25 years, and I remember when they were just dating. So I have great examples of what long-term relationships can be.

In my 39 years on this earth I’ve realized that nothing is perfect. And nothing worth having is easy. This includes a loving, sustainable relationship. Two years ago I met an incredible woman who is perfect for me. That doesn’t mean we don’t argue or we don’t have our problems. We do, but every day we wake up, we choose each other. We choose this life together. For love is a choice. It’s not something that just happen to you. It’s something that the both of you decide to cultivate.

I’ve come up with a list to help you (the ones who say they want a good relationship) to not only maintain but grow a loving relationship:

  1. Pay attention to your relationship with yourself. You have to take time out for yourself. You’re an individual first. Before you can love anyone else, you have to love yourself. That person you want this relationship with should a person you can be your true self:. It doesn’t matter if you’re goofy, silly, honest, passionate, emotional, educated and/or lovable. Whomever you are that person will love your authentic self.
  2. Communication is key. Be honest and clear. You have to talk about everything not just the good but the bad, uncomfortable and down-right ugly. This is the best way to build trust and know if you can deal with each other. You also have to communicate to determine if you are compatible. Do you both want to get married? Do you both want kids? Do you both want to live in the city or in the suburbs? Are you both financially stable? You have to be honest with yourself if you can deal with a ‘no’.
  3. No one likes a bag lady. It’s time to leave your past in the past including your ex’s (girlfriends, boyfriends, lovers, booty buddies, etc) and the baggage that goes with it. You should definitely learn from your past, but don’t keep bringing up your ex in conversation. If you want a relationship to grow, you have to include her (your current) in your future.
  4. You cannot have a relationship without any fights, but you can make your relationship worth the fight. Please know that the honeymoon period fades. Yes, your partner will get on your nerves. (I’ve told my girlfriend that I always love her, but I don’t always like her. She responded with “That works both ways” with an devilish grin.) Let me tell you a little secret: love is not always “happily ever after”.
  5. You can never stop trying to show her how much she means to you even after you have her. My grandfather told me once, “It’s easy to get her. The real work starts when you have her.” You cannot forget to continue to date your lady. When’s the last time you took out pen and paper and wrote her a letter of how you feel about her? When’s the last time you surprised her with a home-cooked dinner? When the last time you wrote her a poem? ‘Roses are red/Violets are blue’ will still get a smile. Don’t get comfortable if she’s worth it.
  6. You have to love that person for who they are not the potential. You cannot fall in love with potential. Live in reality. You have to accept them just the way they are.
  7. Relationships last longer when everybody doesn’t know your business. I am not saying that you should hide your relationship, but intimate details, good or bad shouldn’t be on social media or shared with your friends. The only folks who should be in your relationship are you and your partner.
  8. There are no right or wrong way for a relationship. It’s what work for the two of you. Your relationship have to fit the needs of you and your partner not society, family or social media.

Again, love is choosing that special someone everyday as is. Choose wisely. Everyone deserves love, but are you willing to ask for what you want and then work for it when you have it? 

 

My Letter to Brittney Griner

Dear Brittney Griner,

I write this to you not out of judgment but out of respect and admiration. I see you. No one can comprehend what it feels like to be you, Brittney Yvette Griner. You’re 6’8” with an unusually deep voice. Only four women has been taller than you in the WNBA. You’re the first woman to model for Nike’s menswear. And you’re only 24. You’re young with access to resources and money that most people only dream about. But the growing pains are the same. I do not know if you have friends to be totally honest with you. But as an older lesbian who has been where you are, I see the same mistakes I’ve made. I want to offer you some advice.  In My Skin

I understand that you’re still trying to figure out who you are and how you fit in this world especially on this big stage. Unlike yours my growing pains weren’t broadcasted. I’d cringe every time someone brings up how I foolishly I acted with this ex or in this situation. I am so glad we didn’t have social media when I was making those mistakes. I am so glad people couldn’t screenshot my immaturity and my recklessness. But Brittney, you have every right to live your life, but I don’t want to see you hit rock bottom to learn your lesson. I know that three game suspension was hard on you because the court is a place of solace. The court is where you can be yourself and be free. 

I see you. I see you’re longing for love. We all do. We’ve all done some stupid things in the name of love. You’re looking for that someone to make you whole from your past of hurt, disappointments and pain. You’ve been hurting since the Messy Girl incident and the many others in middle school. You still hurt when the naysayers say shit like ‘Brittney Griner is the first man to play in the WNBA.’ Those insults may motivate you, but you’re human, and I know that shit hurts. Acknowledge the hurt and get it out. Don’t let it fester to manifest into anger or rage. You have to control your emotions no matter how much anyone push your buttons.

I see you. I see the pain in your eyes when you talk about your father. I understand it. I feel your pain. I used to be daddy’s girl, too, until he found out I was a lesbian. At 19 he asked if I had a girlfriend. I answered, ‘Yes’ because I was tired of not being my authentic self around him. His reaction was a gun to my head. I calmly told him to pull the trigger, but that wouldn’t make a difference in the fact that I was gay. Needless to say, I still tried to be daddy’s girl, but I realized that I controlled who was in my life. I decided to only allow people in my life that loved me as is not who they wanted me to be. I definitely understand the torment of thinking ‘why my father doesn’t love me’ or ‘why I can’t be daddy’s girl like I used to be’. I’ve learned I should surround myself with people who me hungry for life, touch my heart and nourish my soul. And you should, too. It’s your choice.

I see you. I see that your journey has been lonely. You’re tired of being alone. You think love will cure this loneliness. The nameless college love. Relle. Glory. Lola (or maybe not). And all of the ones in between. According to your autobiography, In My Skin, you’ve been in and out of relationships since your freshman year at Baylor. You’re a serial monogamous. And you’ve continuously broadcasted your relationships on social media thus inviting the criticisms and insults. But you need to learn how to be with yourself. Take yourself out to dinner. Take yourself to the movies, for you deserve the royal treatment you give to others. And who knows you better than yourself? NO ONE!

I see you. I see that you should look within to find the love you’re searching for. Self-love is paramount as you seek love in other. It sets the tone in who and what you allow in your life. If you cannot love yourself, you will be unable to love others. And remember money, notoriety and fame cannot buy love, for love’s free. It’s unconditional by definition. All you have to be is yourself. Love is as defined in bell hooks’ All About Love is the ‘the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own and another’s growth.’

With that definition, who loves you, Brittney? For care is a dimension of love so you can be cared for and not loved. For love is combination of care, commitment, trust, knowledge, responsibility and respect. Again, your dad and Kim Mulkey have not respected you as is. Your dad wants you to be forever ‘daddy’s girl’ who listens and obeys. You are NOT that person anymore. Kim Mulkey wanted you to be a great player for the team. If Mulkey respected you, she would have told you about Baylor’s policy against homosexuality when you verbally committed to Baylor. Both have manipulated you to get what you want. Neither one wanted to deal with who you are, an out black lesbian who is living her life on her own terms.

I see you’re hurting, but it’s time to work on self. You’ve been in and out relationships for six years. You need to focus your time and energy on you. The way you get wrapper up in others when you’re in a relationship, that’s the way you should get wrapped up in yourself to find your happiness, your light. You have to be selfish, introspective and maybe a little reclusive. You will discover that love lies within you all along. You will find love, first self-love and then that romantic love we all covet.


brittney new booI see you. Like I did when I played you use the basketball court as a place of refuge. The one thing since 9th grade that has been steady in your life is basketball. Not only basketball gave you purpose, fame and money, but it gave you safe space to be yourself. It’s that freedom that allowed you to grow into greatness. But Brittney, I see your greatness not as a basketball player as impressive as that is. I see your greatness in your humanity, your compassion, and your authenticity. By being an example, you’ve reached many kids who are going through their own version of hell to show them that it gets better. But it’s about reaching YOUR full potential, YOUR best self.

I see you. You are brand. You are a face of the WNBA and the China league. At 24 I know it can be overwhelming, but this is what you signed up for. There’s not many to get this opportunity. Your hard work, athleticism and authenticity got you this far. And it can take you farther. Don’t let your immaturity and rash decisions take it away. Envision your best self and work towards being her. I am rooting for you, Brittney!

I see you. I see your greatness and wonder. It’s time for you to see it and act accordingly.

With respect and admiration,

A. Kenyatta Parks

A 38-year-old black lesbian who has made some of the same mistakes