Update: Brand NEW Posts Coming Soon!!!!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Blasting The Electoral College

In my wonderful little web poll, I carefully worded the question to say, “If it were possible for you to vote for the President of the United States” thus implying that presently we have no such right. Essentially, we the people do not vote for the president of the United States. If you cannot elect the leader of your country, what do we call that? Disenfranchisement! Congratulations. Have a party! Your vote counts—FOR NOTHING! Okay so technically we have the right to vote, but does such a right matter if your vote doesn’t matter?

Let me back things up. There are people who are my age and older who actually believe that their vote counts. They’ve never head of the term “Electoral College”. They don’t have the slightest clue about how our electoral process works. That in itself is sad because we are becoming a nation of uninformed people who allow the television to do our thinking for us. So the first question is how does America elect her president? Check out this passage from the great “Wiki”,

“The election of the leader of the United States and the Vice President of the United States is indirect. Presidential electors are selected on a state by state basis as determined by the laws of each state. Currently each state uses the popular vote on Election Day to appoint electors. Although ballots list the names of the presidential candidates [To make you think you’re making a decision. Kinda like when you give a kid a toy that imitates some real thing that he isn’t allowed to play with. You end up making him feel special, while in actuality you still have all the power], voters within the 50 states and the District of Columbia are actually choosing Electors from their state when they vote for President and Vice President. These Presidential Electors in turn cast the official (electoral) votes for those two offices. Although the nationwide popular vote is calculated by official and media organizations, it does not determine the winner of the election.”

Suppose that your family was trying to decide what they wanted to have for dinner. It boils down to Mexican vs. Italian. You guys all vote for one or the other. Then your Dad comes in and says “Guess what I’ll make the finally decision based on whatever the popular vote is.” Grant it this is a crude example of how the Electoral College works because we the people actually elect our electors based on our votes (democrat or republican/ Mexican vs. Italian). How a state votes determines his elector. In theory an elected elector is one who has an allegiance to a particular party, but there have been cases of faithless electors or electors who vote opposite of the way they have pledged.

To make things more complicated, the number of electors (or electoral votes) a state gets is based on its population. So some states are more “enfranchised” than others based on sheer size! Its almost like George Orwell penned in his book Animal Farm, “All [people] are equal, but some [people] are more equal than others.” New York votes, for example, have more weight than Rhode Island votes because New York currently has 31 electoral votes while Rhode Island gets a meager 4. Poor Delaware gets just 3 votes. Theoretically, all a candidate has to do is win over the most populous states and then the election is his. If all this sounds a bit confusing to you there’s a good reason for that: because it is!

Again I’m no political scientist (far from it), but somehow this just seems, I don’t know, UNFAIR! Recall the presidential election of 2000 when Gore won the popular vote, but Bush ended up president because of the Electoral College (thanks a lot electors!). That means that people wanted Gore, but the electoral votes overrode that. Because the president of the US makes decisions that directly affect the people, shouldn’t the people be electing him directly? Isn’t that what we as a nation are always boasting about? Our liberties and freedoms? We brag about how we are the greatest nation in the world because we can appoint our leaders, yet our most important leader is elected by an arbitrary and antiquated system that ultimately disenfranchises us all. Aren’t we currently in a “War on Terror” ostensibly to ensure the Iraqi people are free from dictatorship? We want to make sure that the Iraqis can elect their political leaders, when in effect we cant! Emimen had it right when he labeled the US the “Democracy of Hypocrisy”.*

So now that you know what I think about the Electoral College, what conclusion can we take from all of this? This whole discussion of keeping the Electoral College, amending it, or getting rid of it altogether has been going on for ages. It has been discussed most recently with the proposal of the 2004 Every Vote Counts Amendment, which would support the popular vote. My guess is that because of the traditionalist’s attitudes of many Americans and because of the ignorance that many Americans have about how our political system works, we will probably always have the current system. But regardless of one’s personal opinion on the Electoral College, most of us can admit that it certainly has fallibility. In other words, it is something that we all need to think about because the system affects us all. We can’t blindly go along with it without questioning it. We have to understand it, analyze it and come to logical conclusions about it. As adamantly as I oppose it, even I can’t undermine the Electoral College’s significance. In the end, we must consider whether the system is inherently good by protecting us again demagogues and political extremists, or inherently bad by infringing upon our rights to select the leader that makes our most important political decisions.

*How seldom can anyone agree with someone as psychotic as Emimen? And for those who are thinking it…No I don’t listen to his stuff anymore but the guy, however screwed up he is, makes some good points sometimes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Keeping it Moving--Hollywood and Christianity

There’s nothing, NOTHING, more exciting than waking up in the morning and [fighting] for something that you believe—Eduardo Verástegui

I took some blows this week from a group of folk on an obscure online forum. Because I’m polite, I’ve chosen not troll their forum, but instead to respond respectfully on my own site. Three problems emerge from this. 1) People didn’t read the article, but had repugnant things to say. 2) People who couldn’t reasonably disagree with my article chose to attack me personally; the words “idiot”, “moron”, and “retard” were used. One person chose to criticize the text and colors I use on the blog. I suppose that if I had selected more “masculine” colors my words would be more valid? Another person attacked the way I look, implying that I was so unattractive as to not be able to find a mate in the first place. (That’s old. That’s what all people think of feminists it seems.) I really believe a lot of the hatred was racially motivated. As a black women, I’m certainly not suppose to have opinions no less than have the audacity to express them candidly. The hate goes on. 3) The reason this whole situation started was because a friend of mine took content from my blog without asking me and published it in this particular forum. That same “friend” didn’t even bother to defend my character when these cyber bullies were trying to take me a part. Of course this “friend” is a male. Had someone said such things about him I would have defended him to the last ounce, but isn’t that how woman are with men and folk they love. It’s amazing how little reciprocity we receive in circumstances where we need it. Lastly folk, you have to understand that there are some places I just don’t want my material going and had I been asked first, I would have NEVER allowed my work to enter such a seedy medium.

But after all that “discussion” on that forum, and all the bitter criticism I receive, my post Boycott All Men still stands! I’m NOT taking it down. I WILL NOT CENSOR MYSELF ON MY OWN WEBSITE And I WILL NOT BE COWED INTO RETRACTING MY OPINIONS!!! If you really hate what I have to say so much and/or you can't disagree with me in a civil manner LEAVE! DON’T READ ME! And I mean that with all the forcefulness and intensity in which it was relayed.

Now on to today’s posts.

Because no matter what I say I’m going to take heat, my resolve to be unapologetically honest has been reinforced. I’m not walking away from controversial topics, which brings me to one I’m sure I’ll get heat for: Media and Christianity. Yesterday, I took some time out from studying to check out some of the upcoming flicks. It’s the usually fare: gratuitous sex, barbaric violence, and sordid profanity all packaged in films with very little plot and character development, but amazing choreography and stellar special effects. It boils down to a ton of immorality skillfully wrapped with all the bells and whistles. Is anybody shocked? I’m not.

One movie in particular has Christian audiences talking. That movie is the upcoming novel turned film The Golden Compass starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. The novel is avowed atheist Philip Pullman’s twisted version of Christian C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. One Christian website has summarized Pullman’s work as “atheism for kids.” You can read a very well written assessment of the movie and books here.

All this reminds me of when the church publicly protested The Da Vinci Code. The movie remained a success, grossing over 758 million dollars, despite, and perhaps because of the criticism. In other words, I really don’t think that appeals from the church are going to stop people from watching blasphemous and heretical content. That’s sad too. (Btw I don’t think that The Da Vinci Code sold all of those millions without some help from alleged Christians. I know many of us were in the theaters patronizing that blasphemy.)

My disclaimer is that I’ve not seen the Golden Compass, but I would be pretty leery about allowing “Christian raised” children to see a morality film or read a morality tale by someone who is openly hostile to Christianity. I don’t have any children either, BUT I think some things are just common sense. I didn’t have to read the books or the criticism about the movie to come to the conclusion that the movie is not for the child audience for which it aims. I did something very simple: I watched a trailer. Before I even knew who Pullman was, before I even knew what the church’s position was on the movie, I came to one conclusion: This aint Narnia! The movie, though it stars a brilliant child actress, is dark, gloomy, and cold. Those aren’t words that we usually use when we think of a children’s movie. I’ll tell you one thing, based on the violent, mournful trailer, that’s one film I won’t be taking my kid nephew to see.

Should Christian adults go to see this movie? Of course that’s a matter of personal conviction, but I won’t be seeing it. I’d rather watch Enchanted a light parody of Disney’s old classics—which is a heck of a lot more family friendly. The real world is dark enough for me; I don’t need to pay money to see bleakness!

Which brings me to my next point--Hollywood! Any person who believes that Hollywood has his interests at heart needs to take off his rose colored blinders. Hollywood is essentially a money-making machine. Why do salacious acts, graphic violence, and lewd profanity mar our films? Give up? Because it SELLS! If it didn’t sell than Hollywood would be making innocent family films. People often feel like they are powerless to control the media, as if they can’t do anything about the obscenity that’s further polluting our world and the mind’s of our children. It’s almost like folk are saying “oh no, I just can’t control my remote!” and “oh no, the movie made me buy it!” I loathe most of the content in our media so I don’t indulge in it! Ah simplicity.

That means I don’t usually watch television, except to see a political debate from time to time or catch pieces of the news. Here’s why? Even if, by some miracle, I am able to find decent content to watch, we live in a world where even our advertisements are scandalous. It seems folk gotta be naked just to sell a tube of toothpaste. I happened to catch a show last week and had to change the channel every time the commercials came on. I also don’t have the time to watch TV. I really don’t understand where people get the time to dedicate to hours of TV/movie watching.

Additionally, I don’t purchase movies with questionable content. A friend of mine invited me out to see a movie that I will leave nameless. I thanked him for his invitation, but politely declined to come. This was a very popular film that people were swarming to the movies to see, so he asked me why I didn’t want to go. I told him. He laughed at me, not in a callous/sarcastic way, but in a way the indicated that he thought I was overreacting. As a very broke person I have to be especially careful about how I spend my money. And as I’ve said on this blog before, I will not spend my money on things that go against my best interests. To do so would be funding, and thus advocating, the very things I oppose.

If only other Christians felt that way. Christians are supposed to use discernment about the types of things we take in. Even non-Christians are familiar with Philippians 4:8 which implores people to take in those things that are good, pure, and noble. Yet most of our media is blatantly evil, unpure, and filthy. Does that discourage Christians from taking part in it? Most of the folk I deal with are not Christian. They don’t call themselves by Christ’s name, yet many of them have better morals and stronger discernment than those who profess Christianity. I personally know non-Christians who won’t listen to certain music because it disparages women, yet I’ve gotten into a car with a “Christian” who’s music was saturated in obscenity. I know so-called worldly people who do not drink, smoke, and party because they believe these things are wrong, but I know so-called “Christian” people who indulge in these things! Yet we want to be a light to the world! How can we when we extol the same vices?

On a different note, is Hollywood really the biggest threat to Christianity? Some argue that it endorses everything that we are supposed to repudiate. Certainly Hollywood (and media in general) denigrates morality and promulgates corruption, yet I really don’t think Hollywood is the biggest threat to Christianity. I think Christians are. Our decisions, our cowardice, and our hypocrisy weaken Christianity. Most people would rather see a sermon than hear one any day. In other words, don’t lecture anyone about having premarital sex when every film in your house endorses it.

Lastly, I think that many people are starting to cry out for better content. I think maybe, just maybe, we’re all getting bored with the same ole violence, sex, and profanity. The evidence speaks for itself. What are the two top-rated films in theaters now? Bella, a low budget independent flick that tells a morality tale of love and friendship amidst difficulties and trials (it tells a convincing tale without one ounce of explicit content btw) and Why Did I Get Married, a drama/comedy that sings the praises of marriage, family, and friendship. Audiences want more. Even actors are getting sick of the garbage. Mexican actor and international sex symbol Eduardo Verástegui who plays Jose’s in the movie Bella states “I realized that instead of using my talents…to contribute to this world…I was poisoning our society by the projects that I was involved [in].” Well said.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Response to the Hater's: Unscripted!

Here we go again. This is in response to my article Boycott All Men. Took me a while to put this little podcast together. Forgive the length but I attracted a LOT of haters, and had such a limited time to address them. I was also quite tired, as I always seem to get inspired to do these things late at night.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Boycott All Men!

“Get out from under them. Resist. Unlearn. Defy”—Incubus

Since the spring of 2006, I have been protesting what I believe is a grave social injustice. So many people refuse to talk about it and many more people like to pretend it doesn’t exist. We all know that it is there. And because we say and do nothing it manages to thrive, devouring more victims each day. I am talking about the maltreatment of women. Back in September I wrote two blogs dedicated to the topic. In the first, Burning With Love, I wrote about a woman whose boyfriend set her on fire and how she, even during her traumatic recovery, still maintained a relationship with him. Despite the fact that this man permanently disfigured her, at his sentencing this woman pleaded with the judge for leniency. This story seems so absurd that it borders on the unbelievable, but I use this very example to illustrate that many women have been psychologically and emotionally burned by men, yet continue to comply with the mistreatment.

In the second blog, The Rise of Female Masochism, I explored different real life examples of beautiful and talented women remaining in abusive and dissatisfying relationships with men. Many are depressed, lonely, neglected and just plain miserable, but no matter what their man does they stay. I personally know faithful women who contracted STDs from their “lovers” and in some perverse form of neurosis they still stay! What would it take to make these women wake up? My guess? Nothing short of death itself would separate these women from their abusers.

In my personal notes I penned this, “Most men are little more than animals that walk upright, seeking out someone’s body to masturbate with or some orifice in which to ejaculate. Most women are in denial that this is true, but it is. To say men are trash would be a grave insult to the garbage, in that garbage can often be recycled and thus transformed into some new and useful product, many men cannot.” Yes I believe this and I could write tomes full of criticism on the male species, but to no avail. Because no matter how much women realize they are being mistreated or how much evidence there is to confirm that men are crap, women will still adamantly pursue these relationships. Suppose I could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the romantic relationship in its present form was actually detrimental to women. Suppose I could prove that men endangered the health, spirituality, and well being of all women to some great extent. I don’t think for a second that this empirical, scientific evidence would make women divorce men entirely. If I told a woman that if she did not break up with her abusive man she would die in three days and I somehow had all the medical evidence to suggest it, I seriously doubt that she would leave him. WHY? That’s the question that boggles my mind.

Every first year psychology major understands, at least in part, operant conditioning. No, I’m not a big behaviorist, but I do believe that this theory has validity. I can sum the theory up in one phrase: the theory of rewards and punishments. In other words, every action has a reaction. All of our behavior is either reinforced and thus repeated or punished and thus eliminated. If a person sticks her hand on a hot stove, she will experience the consequence of pain and remove her hand. This simple internal mechanism will protect her from being harmed. But if she instead feels pleasure when she puts her hand on the hot stove she will leave her hand there and repeat the behavior—to her detriment. In life good behavior can lead to a bad consequence and bad behavior can often be rewarding, although we certainly hope for the reverse.

It seems B.F. Skinner’s theory is applicable to almost all of our behavior except our relationships. Like putting ones hand on a hot stove, many women have been burned over and over and over again. Yet they keep their hand on the hot stove—they continue to stay with men who mistreat them or date the same abusive man again and again. Are women really masochistic? I’m really starting believe that Sigmund Freud was right when he postulated this so many decades ago.

How do men factor into this theory? Suppose a man mistreats a woman. Maybe he cheats on her. Maybe he swears at her, beats on her, lies to her, and manipulates her in some way and she threatens to leave, but continues to stay. His behavior has been reinforced. He has no impetus to change! Why should he? That woman has basically told him, through her actions “no matter what you do to me I will be there for you like a loyal love-sick puppy.” Congratulations to this woman, she’s just created a monster! There is a reciprocal relationship between men and women’s behavior in that just as men’s behavior affects women, women’s behavior influences men's.

So when women stay they reward the man as if to say “thank you for all of your abuse I sure love it.” And they make it hard for the next woman who comes along. Case and point, I once dated a guy back in college who criticized everything I did. Whenever he made some disparaging comment to me, I handed it right back to him and told him what he could do with it. After a few weeks I broke up with his rotten behind! I kept telling him that if he didn’t change I was gone. Having dated for about two months, I kept that promise. But here’s what was happening behind the scenes. This man had been in relationships where he was the head honcho. He told a woman to do something and she acquiesced! His other girlfriends enjoyed his authoritarian rule, but I wasn’t going to have it! During one particular date he had said something about what I was wearing. Do you pay for my clothes? I quipped sardonically. He looked at me sincerely as if his poor ego had just received the blow of the century. “I can’t believe you just said that to me” he replied. I just laughed. He was frequently shocked and aroused by my ability to put him in his place. When I broke it off, that shocked him even more. He still expected me to remain friends, I supposed he even thought that he could have me back after he mistreated me. Ha!

This man could have been a changed man if other women had done him the kind favor of not allowing him to treat them poorly. But even though I don’t take no stuff, more than likely he’ll find some fool of a woman who will say “baby make me your doormat” and his crappy behavior will be rewarded once more. That’s sad. Ultimately women, who are often the victim of men’s behavior, are to blame for why men behave the way they do. Women condone it and so all women must reap the consequences of it. Men will never change as long as women say it's okay. The solution: a unified stand against men! Nothing short of that is going to elicit change in the hardened male species.

The website boycott black men has been receiving a lot of attention lately. On the website women attest that they are sick of men harming them, abandoning them and their children, polluting their communities, and taking the lives of others. I have in past blogs conceded that African American men are perhaps the worse types of men on the planet. However, I believe that all races of men exemplify behaviors that are harmful to women, the institutes of marriage and family, and ultimately society at large. Just consider the statistics. Men commit the most crimes, are less likely to attend church, are less likely to volunteer for some pro-social activity, are more likely to dedicate their time to the vices of video game playing and pornography, suffer from more addictions, are more likely to lie, and are more likely to behave unethically and are less moral! Yet women can’t wait to pair up with one of these unscrupulous creatures!

I’m not sure I agree with everything that boycott black men is saying, but I would love to spearhead such a movement against all men, for their continuous and blatant maltreatment of women. Just think, how do most major social movement begin? Through protests, rallies, speeches, and marches. I believe the mistreatment of women is a valid cause and a horrible social injustice. Women are hurting! Women want equality in the workplace, in society, and in their romantic relationships. I think the only way to achieve this is to separate from the male species until they change their behavior. In other words don’t date, sex, or deal with men romantically UNTIL they earn our respect back. I have been doing this for over a year now, but it takes more than just one woman. It takes women everywhere to make this stand. To show this awesome sisterhood and solidarity, to say we aren’t taking it anymore!

Of course there will be women who just can’t leave the dick alone. Yeah I said it! But even these women can be supportive. They can start by respecting themselves enough to say that no man is worth my body until he has proven himself to be committed to me! In our society we have a little thing called marriage, which spiritually and legally seals this commitment, by the way. These women can continue to date, but say that they refuse to be mistreated and that any man who does not treat them with all the respect and dignity they deserve will be extricated from their lives permanently—No second chances! Even the smallest infraction should result in him hitting the road! No more excuses, no more flowers and apologies. We have tolerated that enough. The time for all of that is over! Our past behavior has not worked! It’s time to try something else.

Sigmund Freud says that women are masochists and we prove that with our actions everyday. Most women will suffer almost any kind of punishment (battery, adultery, rape, even death) in order to hold onto a man. No, women don’t do it for love, because love starts with love and respect for self. Women don’t really suffer for sex, though arguably some might. Women permit themselves to suffer because we have been indoctrinated to believe in the concept of “romance.” But romance without the presence of respect is just a bunch of quixotic fluff. One may as well keep on wishing on stars and believing in fairytales. But what if we flipped the script. What if instead of chasing romance, women were as adamant and persistent about receiving respect (which is my favorite of the two). Am I anti-romance? Yes, if you define romance as the vomit-inducing malarkey that we see in “romantic” comedies. No, if you define it as a set of intimate behaviors between two parties (man and woman) who share a mutual respect for one another or an outward manifestation of that respect. In my opinion, romance thrives on respect.

So there we have it. I am convinced that nothing short of boycotting men—either in the form of complete separation from them or an obstinate refusal to tolerate even the most minuscule level of disrespect--will change this dire situation. The outlook is pretty gloomy: More women will lose their self esteem, more women will be single parents, more families will be ripped apart, and more women will lose their lives, if women don’t collectively put their stilettos down and in unison shout “NO MORE!”

Monday, November 12, 2007

Morality Challenged Part 3

The conclusion of my employment saga. I encourage you to read the first two parts here and here.

Having gone to war last week over a dishonest policy and the reporting of an unscrupulous employee who happens to be the boss’s brother, I abruptly quit my job. Though I’d like to say that I wash my hands of all of this, there are yet more moral and ethical decisions that I have to make. In response to last weeks madness I could…

1) Call corporate because the business is a franchise. I could tell them how a person with a criminal record was employed at one of their franchises. I could tell them how safe food handling procedures were disregarded and about the dishonest policy that the store has adopted. 2) I could write an anonymous letter to a local periodical, particularly one associated with the Jewish community to let them know that Kosher food was mishandled. 3) I could call the Kosher certification board, 4) the food safety certification company 5) the health department, 6) the Better Business Bureau etc. 7) I could write a blog with identifying information, the store’s name, phone number, address, fax and warn people not to go there. I could send out emails protesting against the store. etc. In short, I could set it off!

There are several issues that these options present. The first is motive. Even though I could reasonably report the store and discourage people from buying their merchandise, does that come out of a desire to bring down corruption, and protect people from products that could be tainted, or out of some unconscious drive for revenge. In other words I face doing a right thing for the wrong reason, which in my book is still wrong.

The second is ruining the reputation of an all around good business that happened to have made some tragic mistakes. In other words, this isn’t Enron! It’s a franchise, owned by a husband and wife. The store normally produces healthy, tasty, aesthetically pleasing products. The business has done a lot of good, including raising money for breast cancer research (albeit that was mandatory) and hiring a disabled woman when other businesses would have turned her down. The female manager is a generally nice person. She’s never accusatory when something happens; instead she makes sure that she listens to the employee’s side of the story. Customers have often complimented the store for its excellent customer service, its warm, inviting atmosphere, and its enticing products. Though I’ve certainly had my share of bad experiences there, including the two that culminated in my leaving, I am not sure that I can rightly tarnish the reputation of this business. Does the business’ actions merit losing its reputation?

Third, I am or at least was friends with the female manager. To report the business that she worked so hard to establish seems a bit treacherous, particular when she offered me a job when I needed one badly. Fourth, I face bringing down a black owned business, and I strive to support my people’s entrepreneurial efforts. These things are huge things for me to think about. Should one bad apple ruin an entire business? Should one dishonest business practice destroy the efforts of those who have worked so hard to attain it?
And what about forgiveness? Where does that factor in? I wrestle with these questions, but I don’t have any real answers. Perhaps the situation is better left in God’s hands. Perhaps my walking away from the business made the strongest statement. By leaving I showed that I would not engage in dishonesty, no matter how seemingly innocent it appears. I demonstrated that I would not tolerate a situation where some employees must follow the rules, while others can break them casually based on their familial relation to the management.

This situation, however convoluted it might be, has taught me incredible lessons. My ethics and morals were challenged. I had to choose to put my money where my mouth is (however cliché that sounds). On this blog, I have vehemently condemned injustice, criticized ungodliness and cultural relativism, and denounced the evils that plague our society. It is very easy to climb atop a soapbox and preach platitudes, but when life hits and you are pressed against a wall, those are the moments that define who you are and what you stand for. I am no martyr or saint. Just a sin-filled person, who makes mistakes, but strives to stand up for her convictions.

So what do we do? When our convictions are challenged and our integrity tried how do we react? And what will such a reaction say about our character? Will it expose a character deficit or demonstrate character strength? The answer lies in the decisions we make each day.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Morality Challenged Part 2

The saga of my employment life continues. You can read part 1 here.

So the moment Bill begins pouring the solution on the unfinished arrangement I walk to the front, search for my cell phone and just as I am about to call his brother, the manager (did I mention nepotism) I shut the phone. I decided against it. I realized that I was in a catch 22. Other employees and myself have consistently complained about Bill’s behavior because he insists on breaking the rules. I literally felt like if I called and reported his behavior to the management nothing would be done about it or that somehow I would be implicated in it and face being reprimanded or fired. Given that in the past anything and everything I’ve said has been used against me I felt that NOTHING I did to handle the situation (whether I reported it immediately, never reported it, or waited,) would have benefited me in the least. Essentially, I had no evidence and it was my word against Bill’s—the boss’s brother.

My immediate choice was whether to leave or to stay on the premises while someone was committing a health code and kosher violation. Unfortunately, I stayed. That wasn’t the smartest decision I have made. I can rationalize it by saying that I was exhausted, I felt like if the management insisted on keeping someone like Bill employed, who has proven that he is a lose cannon, than that was none of my business and I shouldn’t be involved in it. I can rationalize it by saying that I had a lot of stressful things on my mind and I didn’t want to add this to the list. But regardless of how I spin it, I had a decision to make and however unintentionally, I made the wrong one.

My next choice was to report him immediately, to report him the next day, or to not report him at all. The latter decision would prove to have the best outcome for me. If someone were to have gotten sick (and more than likely they would have) there would have been no proof that I had done anything wrong. First of all, I don’t make arrangements. Second of all, how many people would have suspected that eating fruit would make them sick? How could they prove that products from our store had made them sick, and not some other store? Third, what if they hadn’t gotten sick at all? There was still a small chance that they hadn’t. If so, then technically, nothing “bad” happened. I didn’t report him immediately, but when I left the store I had pretty much made up my mind to report him the next day. Suppose he were to tarnish someone’s products again. He has attempted to before, other employees reported him and nothing was done about it. Suppose he continued his reckless behavior, which in all probability he would. Eventually someone would get hurt. I had to tell. Even though that put me in a crappy situation.

I called Bill’s brother, the manager the next day. I explain what his brother did, the defiance that his brother used when doing it and the hour and a half profanity-ridden diatribe his brother went into after he had marred the arrangement. There is a pause. He asked why I didn’t tell him sooner. I explained to him my dilemma and how I felt nothing would have been done about it and that there was nobody there to corroborate what I was saying. There is another pause. And this is where all Hades breaks lose. “Why did you allow him to do it?”

Yeah! He went there. Just as I suspected he was going to pin this on me, because it’s easier to do that than make his brother bare responsibly. This isn’t the first time that this manager has blamed me for something that wasn’t my fault. At one point he blamed me for a situation that was his fault! Why? Because it’s easier to make the employee the scapegoat than to accept responsibility. “I’m not a manager, I don’t make arrangements. What was I supposed to do?”

“You should have let me know the same day it happened”

“I’m letting you know now!”

We go back I forth for a few moments and then he says something to this effect.

“Now, let’s talk about your behavior. Why did you allow that arrangement to go out?

I explain to him that I hadn’t. That the delivery person couldn’t take it out to deliver it, because he was tired and couldn’t find addresses in the dark. He tells me that he personally delivered that ruined basket later that night. I told him that I didn’t know that, nor did I have anyway of knowing that that arrangement was going to leave that store before I had time to file a complaint. I go back to Bill’s behavior. He goes back to mine. He brings up the time when he accused me of doing something I didn’t do, because at the time incident happened I was at the ER with a relative. Then he talks about another incident that happened that I was previously cleared of. Yet regardless of what I did in the past (those who know me know that I have a strong work ethic and that his accusations were garbage) I’ve never mishandled food or endangered some one’s health. The conversation turns defensive. I explain to him that I didn’t call to have an evaluation of my behavior but to talk about a safety violation that his brother committed. After 20 minutes of going back and forth (approximately 5 minutes discussing his brother’s action and 15 discussing my behavior). I give up. I politely end the conversation. There were two employees who heard my side of the conversation. “I can’t believe he tried to blame you for that!” says one. The other says “I’m going to have to have a talk with (male manager’s name), He’s trying to use you as a scapegoat!” “Yall I quit!” I say resolutely. “I am done, I am so done I’m burnt you can stick a folk in me!”

I spoke with the female manager the next day. I told her everything. How upset I was. How I truly regretted not leaving when Bill destroyed the arrangement. What her husband had said to me on the phone, etc. I then told her that I refused to work in a place where Bill was working! That I was no longer coming to work if Bill was still an employee there! Finally today I typed an official complaint against Bill, signed and dated it.
Then I wrote a long letter of resignation citing nepotism and unfair treatment as the reason for my abrupt departure. Though he has been reprimanded, Bill is still employed at the shop.

Many times when we strive to make the right decision we must face negative outcomes. In the wonderful land of make-believe every positive decision is rewarded with some positive result. (In psychology we call that the just-world hypothesis*). Though that is certainly ideal, real life does not always play out that way. Sometimes we will not receive immediate rewards. I subscribe to the Christian worldview believing that God knows our hearts and our intentions, and that if we are not rewarded on earth, he will surely reward those who “are persecuted for righteousness sake.” Yes, it’s unfair that Bill still has employment, while I do not, but I cannot in good conscience work for a company where dishonesty and nepotism reign.

Now I have just one more dilemma to grapple with…

To be continued…

*Also known as a load of crap (by me at least)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Morality Challenged Part 1

First, before getting into today’s post let me welcome those who have taken time out to read and comment on my previous posts and those who have participated in my little poll. I really appreciate it. I read all of my comments, emails, and take note of my poll results. As a student of psychology I am always interested in what people think and why they think as they do. So keep ‘em coming and make yourself at home here.

Now to today’s post. Morality is a very important concept to me. I try to apply morality to every aspect of my life. The secular, postmodernist world does not believe that there is an absolute right and wrong. Even so called believers think that morality is something that is specific to a particular person. Ultimately, everyone wants to behave however they see fit and then try to justify their guilt away.

As an undergraduate I conducted a study on morality and abortion. The study itself was pretty unremarkable, but what was incredible about it was the amount of discussion that it generated, as well as the personal introspection that it inspired. The study examined how people make decision concerning controversial topics and the implications that that decision-making process would have on one’s attitudes towards abortion. When asked the seemingly simple question, “Are you pro-life or pro-choice?” I could sense the wheels spinning in those participants’ minds. How can they check one or the other and how could they justify it? As a result many participants left that critical question blank confirming what I already suspected: that often times right and wrong prove to be abstractions until they are put to the test. The participants may have had varying opinions on that topic. Many may never have been put in that situation where they must decide whether to have an abortion or not. But when it came time for the test—for them to either identify as one thing or another their moral consciences where screaming at them. Some checked pro-choice when subsequent tests showed that their ideology was more closely pro-life, and vice versa. I took this as evidence of their moral dilemma.

I believe that morality can only triumph when it has been tested. If one never has to make decisions concerning right or wrong, and lives in a vacuum, how can one develop a moral orientation? When our morality is challenged it reveals one of two things about us: our character strength or our character deficit. In the last week my belief system has been put to the test.

A few weeks ago the specialty shop I work for changed their policy. Management instructed me to tell customers that our store would be creating and delivering products when in some cases we would be sending orders to other stores. So if a customer, were to walk in and ask whether or not our store delivered to some area that we did not, I was to say “yes” take the order, send it to another store, and the customer would be none the wiser. This, I was told, would keep down on customer complaints. Believing the policy to be dishonest, I called the manager. I explained to her that we were leading customers to believe something that was not true. I then gave her a scenario. We are a Kosher certified store. Suppose a Jewish person places an order in our store expecting his product to be Kosher, and we send his order to another store (we are one of two such stores in the entire state that has a Kosher certification) that in all odds probably won’t be Kosher. When he sees that his product does not have kosher identifiers on it, he’s going to be upset and rightfully so. The manager defended the policy, explained that she was not trying to deceive anyone, but that this policy proved more beneficial and made us look more competent than our former policy of being up front with customers.

I had two choices. 1)I could go along with the policy even though it went against my morals. 2) I could defy the policy and risk losing my job. What a quandary! I could choose the easy, but morally wrong decision, or the hard, potentially punishable decision. I choice the second option, with the intent of finding other employment as soon as possible because I knew I was going to get fired if I went against the directives given to me.

Then came the next test. Enter Bill*, the male manager’s brother!

Bill and I were hired at the same time. He has a criminal record, does not even possess a GED, has previously been fired from several jobs (for one particular job for stealing) and has consistently behaved like an untamed ass since his very first day of work. I and other employees have repeatedly complained about his unruly behavior, but at the end of the day he is the boss’s brother. (Does anyone smell nepotism?) At one point even the male manager had gotten fed-up with Bill’s behavior. He caught Bill sleeping in a bathroom while still on the clock and fired him! Three weeks later I walked into the shop and Bill has returned!

Bill had only been back for one week before it all hit the fan again. This time Bill and I were scheduled for the afternoon shift. At around 2pm, the other three employees had clocked out and the female manager had left to pick up her kids from school. So it was just Bill and I. In the state of Maryland that’s against the law by the way. When serving food there is always supposed to be at least one person on the premises who has a safe food service certification. Neither of us has one. Anyway we receive an order for delivery that comes in late. That usually upsets everyone, because we work so hard during the day, and we want to go home or at least have a few minutes to rest. Bill begins swearing and insists the he isn’t doing s***. I shrug. He is known for using vulgar language, even in front of customers, and having temper tantrums whenever something happens that he dislikes. No matter how many times I have complained about it nothing has been done. I go to the back to begin dipping the fruit in preparation for him to put into the gift basket. Bill comes in, goes into the cooler, pulls out dirty kale that we use to create arrangements, and proceeds to say “this isn’t going to be f***ing Kosher. I tell Bill, that I refuse to wrap a dirty arrangement. This angers him. Enraged he goes over to the sink and pours a 12 ounce bottle of concentrated soap on the basket, whilst the kale and other component are in it, thus saturating this entire thing. Now we use a special soap to wash the kale and strawberries, and just a little dab of soap is diluted in a sink full of water and the kale is placed in the sink to soak. This makes the basket Kosher. Thus the arrangement he has made at this point is unsalvageable. He then takes the ruined basket into the walk-in cooler and makes the rest of it inside. I have no idea what he did inside of that cooler because I wasn’t going in there to find out. Making an arrangement inside of a cooler is the equivalent of making a sandwich inside of your refrigerator. It’s plain trifling!

So the moment Bill begins pouring the solution on the unfinished arrangement I immediately walk to the front, search for my cell phone and just as I am about to call his brother, the manager…

To be continued…

*Bill is not his real name.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

I'm Still Not Buying It, But...

"You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye" Matthew 7: 5

I’ve been quite critical of many things I see happening in the world and in my community. Implicit in what I write is a longing for things to get better, for behaviors to change. However, as someone who proclaims Christ, my writings must also be gracious. The other day I wrote a critique of a black women interracial dating blog. My writing was an honest and heartfelt assessment of what I can only term exploitation, but the bitter tone that I used to convey that simple message merits an apology. My opinion has not changed. If one claims to do something altruistically and then a while later attaches a very expensive price tag to those efforts than one can assume that selfish motivations were always behind it in the first place. There is another word for it: hypocrisy. I have a deeper understanding of that word for in lambasting Evia Moore, who does not proclaim Christianity, I have myself done a disservice to my faith and thus have committed the very act I accused her of. The Bible warns us to not focus on the speck in our neighbor’s eye when indeed a log is in our own. Today I see that log ever so clearly. In my haste to speak out against injustice, I became unkind. Instead of attacking Evia’s actions, I attacked her personally. God hates the sin, but loves the sinner. I could have effectively communicated my dissatisfaction with her behavior without vilifying her as a person and for that I do apologize.

I’m still not buying the blog. I still stand by what I have written and I would encourage those who want information about interracial dating to explore other, less expensive options. I would also implore them to be careful of the type of advice they seek out and to be even more careful about the advisor’s motives. When people are paying you for a service you owe them something. You have to live up to their demands and expectations because they are funding you. This takes away your creative liberty and affects the way you communicate truth. You must face appeasing you audience (i.e. watering down your advice) or loosing your paycheck. In other words, you are in danger of selling out. So many people do that nowadays. Just look at the hip-hop world. You have these brothers who have decided to denigrate women, glorify violence, and promote sexual hedonism all for a few bucks. They have sold out. They have allowed the record companies and the big wigs that sign their checks to determine their integrity, and as a result, have lost all of it.

To those who have left me the kind comments, I’d like to take the time to welcome you to the blog. I appreciate that people have taken the time to read a 23 year old graduate student wanna-be. I really appreciate when people graciously disagree with me—disagree, but do so without demeaning my character. To my first commenter I say that I believe in entrepreneurship. I believe in business. In a few short years I intend to start my own business. There is nothing inherently wrong with starting a business. My issue with Evia has nothing to do with her starting a business. I had nothing against her selling merchandise. Had I had a few bucks I would have supported that endeavor, because I believe in supporting black entrepreneurs. I had two issues with Evia putting a price tag on her blog. The first was the price itself. I’ve compared her price to that of leading, well established black interest magazines. She is charging 3 and 4 times the price of these time-honored periodicals. Her price is unfair to her readership, which has supported her since the inception of her blog. Ultimately, the reason Evia’s blog is successful is because of her dedicated readers. Charging them such a price and then bitterly denouncing those who disagree with it, demonstrates her true appreciation for their loyalty. My second problem with it is what I mentioned above. Almost every article she has written talks about her heartfelt empathy for the black women’s plight. She talks about how she hopes her advice will help change lives. She speaks to the heart of the black women’s issues and she has elevated the self-esteem of many women in her fanbase. But now that she has chosen to charge people to read her blog she has alienated the very individuals she claimed to want to help. She has turned philanthropy into enterprise, and traded the respect of her fans for profit. To top it all off, she does so while proclaiming to be a “womanist”.

To my second commenter who writes, “Applaud any one (Male or Female) who is successful at implementing a lucrative business idea and wish them the very best.” I say that I agree with that statement as long as that lucrative business does not exploit those who purchase its services. For example, the movie industry is a very lucrative business, but I cannot always in good conscience support it. What it often sells is gratuitous sex, deception, violence, and immorality. If Evia were to have written a book and had charged a fair price for it, I would have purchased it. (I’m going to purchase Halima’s book over at the other interracial marriage website, so I certainly believe in financially promoting black women writers). I believe in supporting any business idea that I can support in good conscience. For the reasons I have discussed previously, I cannot do so with Evia’s blog.

What’s my conclusion? 1) That Christianity should be demonstrated in how we deal with others. Whether they are friends, family, or just random folk we read about on the net. I express my sincere apologies, not for the essence of what I wrote, but for my unkindness in addressing the issue. 2) The love of money is the root of all evil 3) I believe in supporting black business, but 4) Not all businesses are created equal. I think that about sums up my worldview.

Friday, November 2, 2007

I’m Not Buying It!

Would you pay $30 to read someone’s blog?!!! I wouldn't!

Today I’m blogging about a blog I used to visit by Evia Moore. I first read about Evia in a USA today story that someone emailed me. Curious, I did a simple Google search and there it was. Initially, I was impressed with her incisive arguments that black women need to expand their dating pool if they wish to attain quality partners. I also appreciated her empowering words about the beauty and brilliance of black women. A so-called womenist, Evia talked about how black women need to increase their self-esteem and improve their life conditions. How we should demand respect, love ourselves, and stay away from men who wish to keep us down. I don’t date, but her words helped reinforce my stance that black women and women everywhere should refuse to allow themselves to be used.

I bookmarked her website and frequented it a few times a week. Many times her anecdotes just amused and entertained me, especially her tirades about low down African American men. I tell you that her contempt of black men greatly surpasses my own, making my harshest criticisms seem almost like adoration. Yet despite my reservations about her black male bashing, (assigning them and those like them the term “damaged beyond repair”*) I still enjoyed her refreshing social commentary.

But then something strange happened to Evia Moore: she saw her name in print in that USA Today article. She began receiving attention in the form of praise and adulation through countless emails along with inordinate numbers of blog comments. She would post letters from her admiring fanbase, each worshiping her and uplifting her mighty name. Gradually she began to realize that her blog was no longer just a hobby, but that for some it was in itself a holy cyber-text. And then the dollar signs appeared! I can almost hear her saying, “My followers will do anything for me, now I will charge them just to read my sacred teachings”(insert maniacal laughter here). Thus the idea was born to charge people to subscribe to her blog. Ingenious? Yes. Hypocritical? You better believe it! Having implied that her dedication to black women was payment enough for her efforts, now the real Evia comes out--the Evia who wants to get paid!

The last few articles have convinced me of that fact more than anything else. An old fan of hers was chewed up and spit out when she challenged Evia’s unfair price. (All those who dare go against Evia the Great are chewed out like the apostates they are!) One of her former fans writes of Evia's blog "her tone was disgusting lately .......Money takes over and rules.” To which Evia the Great writes “You, nor anyone else, is entitled to MY time, energy, talent, skills, abilities, wisdom or anything that I can offer--NOT for FREE.” This woman has an amazing sense of her own importance. She frequently threatens to delete her blog, “pack it up” in her words, if people don’t believe in her anymore, but hundreds of her cult followers always write in and demand her to stay. She knows just how much some people “need” her, after all she has convinced them that she is the way, the truth, and the light and that hers is the only advice that can unshackle them from darkness.

Perhaps, some might argue, Evia has experienced financial difficulties and thus needs the extra money? Maybe her “husband” got tired of sharing her with the cyber world and divorced her butt? If that’s the case than the picture Evia has painted is quite contrary. According to her she has money. She frequently talks about how comfortable her life is now that she has married a white man. She has commented on how she too benefits from white privilege through her union with a white man. She boasts that she is well taken care of, not just sexually or romantically, but financially as well. If Evia has lied about these things than I suspect that she would be capable of lying about others.

Her husband is supposed to be so supportive and wonderful to her yet she has written in her own words “y'all, this world can get so lonely!” and “I’m just a crafts artist who lives on a rural farm with nothing but mules, sheep, rabbits, groundhogs, cats, and squirrels to keep me company on any given day. Most times, I don't see another person out here for days, during the day--just acres of farmland. I just have my brain to keep me company.”

Her brain and the buckets of money she’s making by charging $29.94 for a measly three month subscription to her blog! Heck for 18.96 cents you can buy a whole year supply of Essence magazine, for $16.97 you can have a YEAR supply of Ebony, for $26 you can have a YEAR subscription to Jet. These are all leading black interests magazines written by established journalists! Not to mention, for $0 you can read the randomness I choose to type here! Since she “loves black women” so much you’d think this money was going to a shelter for battered women, or to breast cancer research, or something that was actually helping women! The only black woman Eve is helping is herself—to all of the money affluent moron's are donating to fund her egoism. Just think her blog, hosted by blogger for free, draws over 1,000 visitor a day! If every one were to purchase a subscription…well you do the math!

But what exactly are people paying her for? A sidebar full of pictures of interracial couples collected through her cyber-drones’ research. Several pictures of single black women being auctioned off to white men. Merchandise she's selling that advertises in a not so subtle way that the wearer is open to just about anything or anyone. Hundreds of well-articulated, yet redundant articles with one of the following (or a combination as) the premise:

1)White men take better care of black women than black men do
2) One should pursue love despite color, no matter what others say
3) Other races of women have been successful at finding interracial mates, why should black women limit themselves
4) Many of the things that the black community teaches conflicts with what is best for the black woman
5) African American men are scum (hey you can get that from my blog)

There! I just gave you a summary of what she rails about AND for free. No need for you to pay her $30 to read it over and over and over and over again!

I’ve mentioned before that I am broke! I don’t have a white man to take care of me. Many times I cannot even afford to take care of my cat! No, I don’t want donations; I’m just keeping it real. I feel what I have to say is valuable too, but you don’t see any pay pals, banners, advertisements, or subscription notices on my page. It’s free, because I am doing something I love, and I will not charge people for something that brings me joy. I’m not hating on those bloggers who have chosen to go that route, but merely saying that that is not the purpose of this site. If I get really poor I may put an optional tip jar on the blog, but it’ll always be OPTIONAL. I love writing and I love those I write for and keeping my blog free proves that!

There are several valuable interracial blogs out there, that won’t charge you a cent! In fact, when I typed in “black women interracial dating” into the great Google Blogsearch I received 16,948 hits, which suggests that there are countless people engaged in a discourse about the controversial topic of black women dating interracially. Among them is Classical over at http://whitemenforblackwomen.blogspot.com/ and Halima at http://dateawhiteguy.blogspot.com/. These are quality blogs that discuss such relationships in depth. And guess how much they
Charge? $0!

Go there! Don’t let some woman with a Messiah-complex manipulate your vulnerabilities in order to exploit you for cash! Who knows who this women is or whether or not she is actually married, no less than to a white man. We’ve never seen pictures of the two of them together. There is no evidence of such a relationship accept of course what Evia says. So don’t buy the hype people!

Ultimately, narcissism, not altruism, as she would have people believe, fuels her desire to blog. It’s her prerogative to charge money, she can choose to do with her site what she wishes, but I still think that she’s a megalomaniac looking for a following. Obsessed with her own successful blog she’s now prostituting her “advice” to those desperate enough to read it. She claims that she has black women’s interest at heart, but just like a lot of the advice she peddles, I’m not buying it!