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How do I use this thing?

I have a habit of talking on my cell phone, while walking aimlessly around my house in a panic looking for it.  At least 3 times a day I walk in a room and forget why I needed to come into that room.  If I call you and you don’t answer the phone, when you call back I won’t remember what I wanted.  Every night before I go to bed I write out these cute to-do-lists then the next day, when I wake up to 46 text messages and my phone rings unexpectedly, I lose track of time.

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I have been writing notes to myself on sticky notes way before Gabrielle was Being Mary Jane.  I used to write things on my mirror in cheap red lipstick that I bought from the Dollar Store until Ari showed me that dry erase markers worked better.  I have kept pocket calendars and a Diary for as long as I can remember, because I forget a lot.  However, I can remember every lie a man ever told me, books I read in the 3rd grade and the first “Will you go with me?” letter I received in Ms. Collins class when I attended Central Park Elementary school.  I don’t know if it’s selective memory or not, all I know is I need help. In the beginning everything that I wrote was sentimental.  I would write down the first time a boy I liked called me, or when I met someone.  I even have friends that relied on me to know when they got pregnant.

Friend: Dee I missed my period.  When did me and _____ go to the movies?

Me: (while looking through calendar) March 7th.

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I am a visual learner.  I have to see, read or write for clear understanding. This is why using a planner is easy for me.  Although it seems like a novel idea that will help you become this incredibly organized person, it may not be the best solution for you.

The Priority Planner started Monday, December 26, 2016 and I decided that there was no way that I was going to sell a product and not actually use it.  So I sat down and started getting my priorities in order.

I was asked to give instructions on how to use the Priority Planner.  I thought to myself, that’s easy, but then I sat down to get my priorities together and I felt a tad bit of anxiety.  If you have never used a planner before then you may not know where to start.  It may also feel overwhelming to see all of the questions and exercises.  It’s definitely a process.  I had to put some serious thought into completing the steps myself and I created the planner!

So here are some tips for starting your Priority Planner and making it work for you:

BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF!

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Ok so if you don’t know me personally you may look at me and think I have it all together.  I don’t.  Did you not hear me confess that I am usually walking around aimlessly in a panic!? I have literally been on the phone with someone and said, “I cant find my phone?” The person on the phone actually asked me “Do you want me to call it?”  We are all a little lost, there is no shame in that.  Just be honest with yourself, even if you are trying to fool people most of the time.  Ask yourself a serious question, “WHAT DO I NEED TO WORK ON?” And write it down, this is YOUR planner.  It’s to help YOU!

BE REALISTIC!

One of my top priorities is to change my diet, this will probably be the hardest priority for me.  I love fried chicken and bacon.  I love bacon with my fried chicken.  I love melted cheese on top of my bacon wrapped fried chicken with a side of ranch.  None of these things mentioned is on the “Most Healthy Foods for 2017” list and I am okay with this.  I told myself I was going to change my diet and give up pork.  Now let me explain something, when I think if giving up pork I don’t consider bacon pork.  (Just follow me for a minute, I promise I’m going somewhere.)  Bacon, as a friend once explained to me, is a food group.  It’s absolutely delicious.  But I need to change my diet.  I also have travel on my priority list and I need to be fine for said trips.  I have to be realistic and admit that I may not drop bacon cold turkey but I can set boundaries and limitations. 

FAILURE IS AN OPTION!

Sometimes we fail.  It’s a part of life.  We can make these wonderful plans in our amazing Priority Planner and it might not work the way we planned.  That’s okay. If you have a wonderful plan for January but it doesn’t quite go how you planned it when you get to February use the “January Month in Review” page to help figure out why it didn’t work.  Then start fresh.  Failure may be an option but it’s not the end.  Sometimes failure leads to beautiful beginnings.

Journal your thoughts!

The Plans, Dreams & Schemes area for each week is for you to journal your thoughts, ideas, plans, dreams and schemes! (Duh!) Use it as a journal or write down things before you forget them! (lol) Sketch out your plans.  Explain your feelings during this week or use it for a note section when you are in that important meeting.  I truly believe that journaling is good for your soul and the cheapest therapy available, and I'm cheap!  You don't have to keep all those thoughts in your head.  Sometimes seeing your thoughts on paper can help you to realize how amazing or ridiculous they are, either way it helps the process. 

ALWAYS CELEBRATE!

Celebrate! Celebrate! Celebrate! If your plan didn’t work and you came up with a new plan… CELEBRATE! If you planned a wonderful business venture that worked out… CELEBRATE! If you didn’t eat bacon for a week… CELEBRATE!!! You MUST celebrate the little things. I know all of you reading this never sleep because you are grinding so hard, but take a little time out of your grind to CELEBRATE! Acknowledging that you need something to help you get your priorities in order is cause for CELEBRATION!!!

I hope this helps if you were wondering where to start. It is my dream that this planner is a catalyst to an AH-Mazingly productive year for you.

If you have the Priority Planner and have not yet completed the survey please do so now. I welcome all constructive criticism.  I want to make the Priority Planner better each year.

Complete the survey here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I'm trying to get my priorities in order

I owe more in student loans than 51% of Americans will make in the next six years.  I went to college to be a teacher.  I actually have more in student loans than most teachers will make in the next five years, but I’m not here to preach.  When I decided to go into education I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I would not become a millionaire in this profession.  I wanted to help lost, “fass tail” girls, like I used to be.  I wanted to save the world.  When you’re saving the world the reward is worth way more than the monetary gains; or so I tried to convince myself.  I often found myself finding side hustles to make extra money.  I won’t go into detail of these hustles, just know every day I was hustling.

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My mom is super organized.  When we were growing up she was borderline OCD.  If we moved a picture frame on the table she would come home from work and want to know who in the world had been playing in her living room knocking over her pictures.  We so often get older and become our parents (deep sigh).

I was thrown into the business world, abruptly, without any warning.  But it actually worked for me.  The girl who graded papers for her math teacher so she wouldn’t have to actually do her math in high school, started working with numbers.  I think the side hustles also helped me with numbers as well (smiles).  Before I knew it I had begun helping people, who in one month made more than I owed in student loans, manage their businesses.  The irony.

In May, 2016 I quit my job.  I was SCARED. TO. DEATH!!! I actually hyperventilated right after I turned in my resignation letter.  Then I said to myself, “Dee!” (That’s what I call myself when I’m talking to myself.) “Girl you got this! You’re supposed to be doing something more.”

When I first started working for my self, I didn't do much work.  It just felt good to not have to clock in every morning at 8:00, or HAVE to go by a schedule.  Then one day, while cleaning, I looked at Ari’s mirror and saw those words:  “Priorities.  What are you working for?” and I said “Dee, you gotta get your priorities in order!”

I’m a writer, so I like to write things down.  I usually set reminders of important dates & appointments in my phone, but my plans, dreams & schemes; I write them in the 1,913 notebooks and journals that I own.  This year alone, I have bought several planners to help me prioritize but none of them have included everything I needed or wanted. 

Then one day I decided to create a planner to help me get my priorities in order.  As I talked to others (especially women) I realized “Women Love Planners”. So I did a survey, worked with a few friends/sorors and as we used to say back in my day, “Whomp here it is!”

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The Priority Planner

  • 5 ½ x 8 ½
  • Spiral bound
  • Hard cover for durability
  • Budget Planning
  • Monthly and Weekly views
  • Monthly priority and goal planning
  • Weekly priority lists
  • Plans, Dreams & Schemes pages
  •  Motivational quotes and Scriptures

PREORDERS begin TODAY and end December 4th.  Planners will ship before Christmas so that you can start your New Year Planning.

20% of the proceeds from every planner will go to the D’Aris Love Foundation, to support the Ariyanna D. Benjamin Scholarship Fund.

Click here to order yours today!

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Mixed Lives Don't Count...

The first year that I attended the ILLUSTRIOUS Clark Atlanta University my daughter, who was then five years old, stayed in Alabama with my mom.  My mom thought this was a good idea because she wanted me to focus on school instead of being a mom.  Ari would frequent the campus on weekends and certain weeks, like Homecoming week, where we didn’t go to class as we should have.  I talked to her each night before she went to sleep, but one night Ari called me in panic…

“Ma! Did you know Nana was white?” she yelled at me.

“Yes I know she is white.” I replied laughing hysterically.

“Come get me! I don’t want to stay with no white lady!” She said crying. 

“Why not? What’s wrong with staying with a white lady?” I asked her.

“They’re crazy! White people are crazy!” she replied, still crying.

I had to then explain to my daughter that all white people are not crazy and that Nana loves her very much.  She eventually calmed down and decided that she would stay with my mom even though she was white.  I assured her that I was raised by Nana and that she wasn’t crazy.  Well she was kind of crazy, but I think that was more of a mom crazy than a white person crazy. But that discussion is for another blog, so back to my point.  See Ari grew up hearing me and my white mom make remarks about white people being crazy, she was just going off what we taught her. 

If you don’t know me personally, I’m “mixed”.  I’m not quite sure that they have a politically correct term for “mixed” because I always have to mark “other” when I have to identify race on any type of governmental documents.  According to Webster’s dictionary I’m Mulatto. When I was in elementary school the first day of class the teacher instructed all the girls to stand, then the boys.  Then she instructed all the Black children to stand, I stood up.  Then she instructed all the white children to stand up, I stood up again.  She made us do this about three times because she couldn’t figure out why she kept having one extra student in her count.  She finally realized I was standing up twice.  She took me in the hall and asked why was I standing up twice.  I told her it was because I was Black and white.  She said what color is your mom? I said white. She said what color is your dad? I said Black.  She said, you are the color of your mother unless your daddy is Black.  So I went with that, I think I was in the 2nd grade.

The other day I had a conversation with a friend of mine who was saying that my mom was different because “she is really black”. Nah, my mama is white.  Like REALLY white, like snow white white. She doesn’t even get tans she is so white.  When she walks in a room no one mistakes her for a Black woman, no one says, “oh she is really Black because she is cool”. The way she speaks, like many educated adults, changes depending on her environment and situation.  My mom, even though she raised two Black children and has encountered some racist situations, still does not fully understand what if feels like to be Black in America.  We had a conversation the other day when she made a statement that if anyone goes to college they should be able to get a good job.  I don’t even have to expound on this if you are a Black college graduate.

Growing up I had a relationship with my mom’s mom, my Nanny, even though she wasn’t happy about my mom getting pregnant by a Black man.  I’m actually her favorite grandchild (Ha! I think I’m everyone’s favorite).  One thing I have learned while growing up “mixed” is that even though people can have stereotypical views of other races, there is a strange unconditional love for their family.  My Nanny may not have many Black friends but she loves me with all her heart, and will cuss out anyone who says anything bad about me.  But with that same mouth that she has cussed out her preacher for saying something about her “nigger grandchild” she can make some of the most stereotypical and racist remarks.  I’ve learned how to be understanding to both races in instances like this.

My (Black) friends often tease me for being a ratchet white woman.  I laugh and joke with them, because there is a major difference in the way Blacks and whites look at the world.  Black people know the history of white men raping slaves and having “mixed” children, but for some reason white people just thought some babies came out a little lighter than others.  So there is a big difference when me and my mom walk in a room full of white people.  When my mom walks in they see a white woman, when I walk in they see a light complexion Black woman.  When we walk into a room full of Black people they see a white woman and a light skinned girl and think “hmmmmm… I wonder what is she mixed with?” 

The other day as I was checking Facebook and TMZ for my daily news (Don’t judge me, Oprah said watching the news takes ten years off your life and everyone knows Oprah is NEVER wrong! I need those extra ten years, so I don’t watch the news).  I stumbled upon a headline that read “NFL’s Rodney Harrison: COLIN KAEPERNICK IS NOT BLACK…. Mixed Race Doesn’t Count”.  Hmmmmm…. Interesting.

I pray every day for my light skinned mixed brother because I’m never sure if he is going to get pulled over and penned as someone who looks like a “bad guy”.  In the eyes of a white police officer, he is still Black. Black is Black, they don’t say “Oh he is light skinned, let me ask if his mom is white, if so I won’t shoot him.”

I’ve never dated anything but Black men, both of my dads’ are Black, my uncles and cousins, all Black.  I am fearful and disheartened about everything that is going on.  I REFUSE to watch another video of a Black man being shot.  I simply keep scrolling.  It does something to my spirit and makes me an emotional mess.  I wonder do my tears and prayers count since I’m mixed?

When Ari went on her first Homecoming date she was caught in the car (I’m going to say kissing because I hope that’s all they were doing) by the police with “that boy”.  I was enraged because she was being thotish but I yelled and fussed more because I told her she put his life in danger.  I cried and had a long talk not only about her thotty ways, but to explain the danger of the situation and why she can’t do that because she could have gotten him killed. You see those THREE sheriff cars that surrounded the car allowed Ari to leave with her friends but held him until his parents came. I was never called.  After our talk, while I was drinking my Hennessy to calm my nerves, I cried because I thought to myself why did I just have a conversation more concerned about “that boys” life instead of the fact that Ari was being a thot? I wonder does my concern and fear still count even though I’m mixed?

I saw Usher wearing a shirt that read “Silence is Consent”.  I’ve never really spoken about these types of topics because I’ve always had this undying loyalty to my white mother, even though I’ve been described by a friend as “the most militant half breed trap star they’ve ever met”.  The one thing that my mother allowed me and my brother to do was see the world for what it really is.  She never taught us to “not see color”, but she showed us that we can still love beyond the color lines.  When people make the statement that they don’t see color that means 1) they are not trying to understand people of color and 2) they are living in a fairy tale.  My mother taught us that we will encounter injustices and racism, and that even though we do, ALL people do not feel that way.

I do know that we live in a world that is seen from very different views, and some kind of way we have to stop trying to “not see color” and try to understand and recognize the differences between those colors.  But I’m not sure if my opinion counts since I’m mixed.

To the Moon….

Danielle LaVon

 

 

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In this NEW Season

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In this NEW Season

**sings** Do you remember the 21st night of September...

We all know what September brings…..

A change of season…. No more 100 degree days.  Well supposedly, I mean down South it could be hot until Christmas, but you get my point.

My church has penned it “Supernatural September" and I have to admit things have been changing suddenly... supernaturally.

Recently I started reading Shonda Rhimes “Year of YES”.  I don’t know what I thought it was going to be about when I ordered it, but it wasn’t what I was expecting.  Maybe I was hoping for an inspirational book that would tell me that everything I ventured out to do would result in a yes, but that’s not what it was about.

Shonda (I’m going to call her by her first name cause I feel like we cool and stuff) decided to say yes to everything that was asked of her because in the past she always said no.  She didn’t like stepping out of her comfort zone.  I thought to myself, I want to be like Shonda.  But not the Shonda that is in her season of yes, the Shonda that used to say NO!

See for years, I’ve been saying yes to everyone and no to Dee.  Whenever Ari asked for anything, even if I didn’t have it or it seemed that I couldn’t do it, I made a way.  Whatever my ex-husband wanted, even when I thought it was stupid, if I was tired or just didn’t want to…. I still said yes.  My students are constantly calling on me to do things, because they know I’m going to help.  Even when I lost my daughter, during the longest week of my life while planning her Homegoing Celebration, I was still thinking of others.  “That’s Fine” became my response to everything.  I think that when women get the husband and child that they have been dreaming of since playing with Barbie and Ken, they become so consumed in a “dream life” they forget about themselves. 

Every time I want to say no I ask myself, “Is it wrong that I don’t want to?” But in the end I usually end up doing it regardless of how I feel.  I think because I am "spoiled" I feel like everyone should get what they want.  I HATE being told no, I figure no one else wants to be told no either.

So I decided that this season is going to be my “Season of No"! NO to things I just don’t want to do.  NO to things I just don’t feel like doing.  NO to things that I think are stupid.  NO even when it may hurt someone’s feelings.  I am just going to say NO. Now let me be clear about a few things:

First... I’m an adult.  I know there are going to be many things that I am going to HAVE to do that I don’t WANT to do.  So yeah, I’ll still pay those bills (deep sigh).

Second… This “Season of NO” isn’t about being mean or selfish.

What season do you need to move into? 

In just 3 days it will officially be Fall…. What season of your life do you need to “fall into”?

Don’t you think it’s time that you “Fall” into that business you’ve been dreaming of? 

How about you “Fall” into that vacation that you so desperately need?

Or wouldn’t it just be nice to “fall” up in the spa for a day?

Whatever you decide to "Fall" into, Fall with all your might!  Think of all those New Years Resolutions, YOU STILL HAVE TIME!!! Pull out that notebook and get to work!!!

2 the moon....

-Danielle LaVon

Image from @thechampagnediet Cara Alwill Leyba

Image from @thechampagnediet Cara Alwill Leyba

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This Mother's Day (published May 8, 2016)

Today would have been the day that I would wake up and dare someone in my house to have not gotten me a gift.  I don't care if it was a card from the Dollar Tree, I know I better have SOMETHING!!! And I wish you would say you weren't going to church! TUH!!!

"Do you know I was a size 4 with NO stretch marks before I had a child?!"

"Do you know that your head is the same size NOW as it was when  you were born!? Yes it was!!! Honey you grew into your head and I have to admit I was quite nervous.  That's why it took you so long to sit up, because your head was weighing you down!"

"You could iron on my stomach before I had a child!"

"Do you know the things me and Melanie used to do before we had kids?!"

Well me and Melanie didn't have any business doing ANY of the stuff we did before we had kids, but that was my Mother's Day speech. I had to make sure she knew how much I sacrificed for her. But she knew, and she rolled her eyes every year and would just say "Ok Ma... I knooooow.... and I love you." when I went into how long I was in labor. (I had to exaggerate because I had a VERY fast delivery).

 

Although many of you think I am this incredibly caring and generous person, I do have a side where it's "All About Dee", and those close to me know this side.  I can remember being upset with my ex husband because he never recognized me on Mother's Day; he would always say "You're not my mama".  It never really occurred to me that he was hurting on Mother's Day because he lost his mother when he was younger. Sometimes we can't understand the destruction of a tornado until it tears down our house.

This year the tornado hit my house.

I thought I was prepared for this weekend.  I went to Walmart and bought Swiss Cake Rolls, pizzas, hot dogs, ice cream, pies, and cakes; just entirely too much junk food because I was going to sit in the house and eat, watch tv and sleep. But see..... the way my friends and family are set up, they won't even let a girl be sad in peace!!!

This Mother's Day was different because I didn't have Ari here to wake up extra early and cook her famous eggs and pancakes for me to have breakfast in bed.  She didn't surprise me with a really good gift that she somehow managed to get someone else to buy. I wasn't able to take usies with her in the restaurant after church, or AMEN when the preacher told the children to "Honor thy mother and father".  This year I didn't even want to go to church. But I seemed to have joined a church full of stalkers who won't let you miss a Sunday in peace!!! So I got out of bed, put on my Mac and high heels, because I most definitely am not going to look how I feel, and went to church.

 

Today my Pastor told me that I will ALWAYS be a mother.  Today I was flooded with texts messages, calls, messages and comments on social media and a plethora of hugs (My church family is going to hug me to death!) telling me that I'm still a mother. Even though in my head I was thinking, but I don't have a child anymore.

I am the Queen of saying "I'm ok" when I'm really not.  This weekend I made a long list of things I was going to do, to keep myself busy while I was eating and watching tv.... But I somehow never managed to look at that list.  Today was HARD, it may have been one of the hardest days since the accident.  Even when I went to put on my Wonder Woman cape, I just couldn't today.

 

I have done A LOT of things in life, and many I will never mention in order to not incriminate myself, but Ari was one of the best things I never planned to do. When I put the hashtag #MyDaughterIsBetterThanYours on our pics I meant it! Your kid wasn't touching mine! lol And even though I fussed and made a big deal on Mothers Day about gifts, she was the best gift I have ever received.

Well today while I was in one of my "It's All About Dee" moods I kinda ignored the woman who I'm the best gift in the world to....... My Ma! The woman who is ALWAYS there, except when she would fall asleep and wouldn't pick me up from the skating rink, but that's ok I know you were tired. The woman who taught me how to be the amazing mom she said I was to Ari.  Thanks Ma! I know it was hard raising me, I'm amazed we both made it through myself... LOL  I love you ALLLLLLL the way to the moon. And when you come to visit this week..... I will make you a new Tupac playlist and I wont even roll my eyes when you try to rearrange my house!

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Hard to Say Goodbye...... (published February 9, 2016)

I was given an “assignment” to write a goodbye letter to my daughter Ari….. I stalled.  I just couldn’t find the words then I heard Beyonce’s new song “Formation” and I laughed to myself because I imagined Ari in the bathroom getting ready for school, doing her make up and BLASTING that song! “I did not come to play with you hoes, I came to SLAY!” I’m laughing as I write this, if you knew “My Ari” you’re probably laughing too….. She TRULY believed she was Beyonce!

 

I can’t remember where I heard this but I remember hearing someone say “People don’t die until you stop talking about them”.  It’s been echoing in my head the past 3 months, 2 weeks and 2 days.  If you think about it, it is true.  What if we stopped talking about Dr. King? Would his dream still be alive?

Recently I’ve realized people don’t know what to say to me.  It’s like they’re afraid.  I get weird stares when I talk about Ari so openly.  They look at me in disbelief, as if I shouldn’t talk about my child that was so influential in my life for almost two decades.  I just keep thinking to myself “If I stop talking about her then she REALLY dies.”

People have asked “Dee when are you going to write again?”….. I guess today, but I won’t write a “Goodbye Letter” because although I have let Ari go in the flesh, Goodbye is too permanent of a word for me.  And if you know me, I am always very careful and strategic with my words.

If you attended the Homegoing Celebration of my Ari, I read a letter that I wrote to her 3 years ago.  That letter was describing what a unique and special child she was, I just wanted her to know how much I admired her. So instead of a goodbye letter, I will write her a “Thank You” letter, for helping to raise me.

 

To My Ari,

Seventeen years ago I was a confused girl who had given birth to a baby girl.  I’ve always been very open and transparent in admitting I have no idea how you turned out so well, cause I was lost.  The mother thing was not automatic for me.  I didn’t see a bright light shine down from the heavens, or feel this rush of love sweep through my heart when you were born.  The only thing I could think about after you were born was if Melanie was going to remember the coke when she brought the Hennessy to the hospital to visit me. I was lost!

 

But as time passed I began to realize that I had to get myself together or you were going to be a lost little girl like me.  Well, honestly it was when you tried to go outside and go to “work” with the hookers, when we lived in Montevallo Gardens that I KNEW I had to change some things! When Dr. Price helped, well made me, go to school I had no idea how much our lives were going to change.  As I look back on things, that was only the beginning for us.

 

As you know I love quotes, but one that I always kept in mind while raising you was by James Baldwin “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”  I remember when I was young and knew everything, whatever my mama told me I did the EXACT opposite; but there was so much she DIDN’T tell me to do, that I picked up unknowingly.  I went to college, almost your entire life, and because you always saw me in school you always did well in school.  You fussed at me for working too much, but then you became a hard worker yourself.  You even began to change your hair color habitually like me, and grew a love for sneakers like me as well.  Whenever I would have a brief thought about reverting back to my old ways I would think “And what will Ari do without me?” And I would stop being a drug dealer in my head and go back to teaching.

 

I woudn’t say that you were my world, but my world definitely revolved around you.  I admired you so much for being different, because when I was growing up I was too afraid to be different.  You helped me to start doing things for Dee and not thinking so much about what others said or thought.  I never wanted to be your “friend” but I always wanted us to have open lines of communication.  I knew you wouldn’t come to me about everything, but I did want you to know that I was there, and I wouldn’t judge or condemn you.

 

We both know our relationship was far from perfect, you went through the “Oh my God my Mama gets on my nerves” stage and we had our share of blowouts.  I fussed and yelled when you left one fork in the sink, were constantly distracted by your phone, when you would take my stuff without asking or when you didn’t feed or take Coco out.  And I gave you a hard time about "that boy", because I couldn’t let you know I thought he was good for you and that ya'll looked cute together. *rolls eyes* I tried to give you responsibility without being overbearing.  I wanted you to have freedom to be yourself but to know there were boundaries in my house.  While I was trying to instill that in you, you helped me be responsible and to hold myself accountable for everything that I did.

 

It was like we were the perfect team.  We understood each other and we just let each other live.  You were and have been the ONLY person in my life to know so many depths of me, and love me regardless.  You were the perfect example of unconditional love.

 

So now I have my good days, and some days are not so good. I miss you immensely.  This is the hardest thing I have EVER had to go through.  I feel like I have no direction, like all of the plans in my head have been cancelled, because all of my plans included you.  I’ve been lost before but this isn’t the lost girl that I was 17 years ago, this is a woman who finally thought she had it all figured out kind of lost.  The only thing that keeps me from going crazy is I KNOW this was planned, just not MY plan.

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So I can’t say Goodbye to you, I feel like saying Goodbye is leaving behind everything you have helped me to become.  Instead I will just say Thank you….. Until I see you again.  And I promise, when I do, I will hug you with no objections.

 

Love you all the way to the moon and WAY more than Red Velvet Cake!

~Ma

 

To make sure “my baby” never dies, I have created the Ariyanna D. Benjamin Scholarship. Visit  www.darislove.org for more information 

 

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Conscious Hypocrite (published December 18, 2014)

I believe it was the mid 90's when “The Real World” aired. I can't remember which season it was, but I remember a young Tami Roman being on the show and she had another cast member kicked off for pulling a towel off of her when she got out of the shower.  I don't know if that's when it all began but I do remember several "reality" shows airing, but that was the beginning for me... I was hooked to reality tv.

 

I will be the first to admit I have watched quite a few reality shows from Basketball Wives to Sister Wives. Some I have kept up with over the years, others I may watch for a season and then lose interest. I can’t quite put my finger on what makes me like one more than the other, wait….. yes I can. I like drama. Yes I said it, I like drama. Even the scripted shows that I have followed for more than one season are dramas. When I read for leisure I read dramas or non fiction, cause who’s life isn’t filled with a little drama?

 

Have I ever said to myself “Dee you shouldn’t be watching this because it is degrading black women.”? Nope, but I have said to myself what makes them sign up for this show and make a fool of themselves? But I still watched. I even have some of the shows set to record in the event I can’t see them the day it airs. The ONLY show that I stopped watching because I felt it was too much was Basketball Wives, I’m not sure if it still comes on. But it did something to my spirit, so I stopped watching.

This past Monday, Sorority Sisters aired on VH1. When I saw the trailer I felt some type of way. I guess conflicted would be the best word to describe my feelings. As a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., I asked “WHO IN THEE HELL AGREED TO THIS!?!” We (we = Black Greek Letter Organizations) aren’t supposed to participate in this type of “coonery”! I was outraged and I wanted to know who would even agree to be on the show. But on the other hand, I wanted to watch. I wanted to know exactly what kind of foolishness would transpire on the show. I did decide that I wouldn’t support this show. I may only be one person, however it was going to be one less viewer in their numbers. TUH!

 

So then my Big Sista posted this on her Facebook page the night the show aired…..

 

Ok so yeah… She has a point here. As I watched a plethora of Greeks post statuses about the show, my prophytes’ words rang in my mind. I felt like a hypocrite. :(

A friend of mine, who is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. stated: “Today made me reevaluate it all man. I was like I’m offended because it’s on my doorstep I shouldn’t have been okay with it being down the street”. I understood her comment. I have watched the news and saw many people affected by natural disasters, and I felt bad for them, but it wasn’t until my neighborhood was hit by a tornado that I understood the amount of destruction it caused.

 

Members of Greek organizations are not any better than those who are “non-Greek”, we just decided to seek membership into our respective organization for various reasons. At the same token, yeah we think pretty highly of ourselves and the organizations that we belong to. Since we are members of these organizations, who were all founded on premise to help the Black community, why did we not take a stand for the community instead of waiting until it knocked on our front door? Well maybe WE didn’t understand the destruction that it really caused until the tornado tore down OUR neighborhood. For example, Eric Garner and Mike Brown aren’t the first black men to be killed by the police but they are the ones who have stirred up a movement. ALL Black women don’t act like the shows on VH1, ALL Greeks don’t act like the ones on the show, ALL rappers aren’t like the ones on Love & Hip Hop,….. but obviously some do act like that for the cameras.

 

On the flip side of this issue I can see why the women may have decided to join the cast. As I read the tweets and statuses of people who watched the show these women have career aspirations and businesses. There is no secret that shows like this can propel your career forward. I’ve even looked for some reality stars businesses myself. Also these women are human, they see the life that many reality stars live, going from “being in the strip club” to getting paid for appearances from state to state, and they want that life. Although to many these shows may seem degrading, I have seen the cast members thank the producer for changing their life, the life might I add that we are helping them live.

 

I also felt conflicted when I watched as WE attacked our sisters who are cast members. No WE don’t agree with what they are doing but aren’t they still our sisters? I fight with my brother all the time but I'll be damned if anyone else fights him! I have supported the boutique of one of the cast members in the past. Although I’m upset she decided to do the show, I also became a little upset when people made rude comments about her & her business that I KNOW she worked hard to establish over the years. She is still my sister, no matter where she pledged right?

There is a lot going on in the Black community right now, and I urge everyone to take a serious look at things. Because the Greek community was so outraged they began to contact the companies who showed ads during the shows' time slot and since then several companies have pulled their ads. This may seem small but it does send a message. Imagine if we started doing that for ALL the shows that degraded the community? Imagine if we just STOPPED WATCHING THE SHOWS?!

After my Big Sistas Facebook post I deleted all the shows that I have recorded and set to record. I know I’m just ONE person, but I think that’s where it starts.

~Dee

"Usually when people are sad, they don't do anything,  They just cry over their condition.  But when they are angry, they bring about a change." -Malcolm X

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