Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Miseducation of the American

Last Thurday, Barack Obama called the U.S. healthcare system “broken” and vowed not to tolerate “endless delays” in fixing it. I presume that’s what prompted TNT to air "John Q" last week, and Showtime to broadcast "Sicko" this morning. Realizing that my perception of this issue is influenced by my recent reading of Carter G. Woodson’s “The Miseducation of the Negro”, I find myself incensed that the U.S. citizen has allowed himself to be so readily bamboozled.

“John Q” is a story about an average blue-collar worker who resorts to holding a hospital hostage in order to ensure that his dying son receives a $300,000 heart transplant, which his insurance company refuses to cover. Although it’s a fictional account, “John Q” points to glaring deficiencies in the U.S. healthcare system. Patient care is financially focused; an individual is treated in accordance with what he can afford. Furthermore, this system contributes to a culture of arrogance and apathy within the healthcare profession (sorry doctors and nurses, but it’s been my experience that veterinarians are often much more accommodating and sympathetic when it comes to clients that can’t pay - could be because euthanasia is one of our options :-p). At any rate, “John Q” makes a salient point - capitalism may be a fine social model, but perhaps it is not applicable to every aspect of a country’s existence. Surely in a nation as great as the U.S., land of the free, home of the brave, one would not be subjected to choosing between adequate healthcare and the next meal.

Michael Moore brings this point home in his own unique way in “Sicko” . Upon sighting the free healthcare provided on U.S. soil to detainees at Gitmo, he rounds up a few rescue workers who suffer from an inability to afford proper treatment for their post-9/11 afflictions. Surprise surprise, the facilities at Guantanamo Bay deny these U.S. citizens, however they receive adequate diagnostics and medical care at a Cuban hospital – for free. One woman burst into tears when she finds the $120 medication she uses to treat her respiratory condition available in a Cuban pharmacy for around 5 cents.

As Americans, we are misguided. We are so convicted in our belief that there is no way other than democracy and capitalism that we regard communism as a great evil. We label Fidel Castro and the Chinese government as "the devil" because they support Marxist principles. We’re taught this hate and to reverence capitalism more than we are taught the difference between communism and socialism. We are so miseducated as a people, that the average American fails to recognize the socialist elements at play in their own everyday life – SOCIAL security, the FREE library, PUBLIC schools, even the police and fire departments are completely financed by the government.

"When you control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his 'proper place' and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.” – Carter G. Woodson.

I am appalled that many Americans are outraged by the idea of socialized medicine. It seems to me that those who believe capitalism is the best model for healthcare are simply posturing – capitalism is always good, socialism is always bad. This drone-like mindset contributes to the cause of the wealthiest five-percent, who seek to fatten their pockets without regard to the suffering endured by those beneath them. As a result of their miseducation, the very individuals who are oppressed by the system are not only appreciative of the current structure, but advocate perpetuance of it. Their education makes it necessary.

Barack Obama is certain to face much opposition from conservatives when it comes to healthcare reform, so much so that I fear he will cower away from a true reformative agenda until he has secured a second term. I’m sure that there are appropriate counter-arguments to be made to the socialization of medicine, yet I pray that as a people we become informed to the point that our perspective doesn’t remain as simple and constrained as: America is great because of capitalism, therefore capitalism must be great for healthcare.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dude, you got us all wrong – lemme tell you what women REALLY want.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you women aren’t materialistic. I’m not even going to deny that we don’t lust after Barack simply because he’s a handsome commander-in-chief. I won’t even pretend like women generally don’t care about how much money a man makes. If I told you that, you would call me a liar, and vow to never read my soap-boxes (er eh…I mean blogs) again. And you’d be right. So I’ll start instead by straight-up admitting that even though I have my own isht, I too become giddy when a dude pulls up in an SLK to pick me for dinner at the Chart House!

But looks, education, a career, and money are only a small slice of the what-women-want pie. Height, 24-inch biceps, money, and 25 doctorate degrees don’t replace our basic need to be adored and respected, or our desire to “feel like a woman”. Yet, so often we hear men go into this “woe is me…nice guys finish last” narrative. They seem to think that unless they drive a Mercedes, can bench press 250 lbs., hold an M.B.A., and work for a fortune 500 company, women won’t be interested in them.

Negatroid. Sure, just like men, women have fantasies. But generally, we’re realistic when it comes to dating. I’ll let you guys in a little secret: most of the time when women are sitting around complaining about the deficiencies of men, we’re complaining more about the things they should DO but won’t than we are about the things they could HAVE but don’t.

Here’s some more food for thought for the single men. So often I see you guys sell yourselves short when it comes to a lady you like. You walk by her a thousand times before you stop and ask her name. You don’t call because you’re concerned she won’t answer (so you send that b*llsh*t @ss “what’s up” text). You don’t want to spend money on dates because you “ain’t no sucka”. All these behaviors translate to women as either a huge ego, or a lack of confidence. If you regard me as a respectable young lady who deserves to be properly courted, why don’t you court me properly? Are you just trying to see what you can get away with? If that’s the case, don’t be mad when I treat you like a jump-off and turn over and go to sleep as soon as I get mine! Furthermore, ask yourself: would a confident man demonstrate fear of rejection? No! A confident man knows he’s a great catch and could care less if one particular woman is disinterested! I know - men love women who “play their part” and “let a man be a man” in relationships. Truth is, there are lots of women who actually WANT to play that part. However, you must realize that roles are defined from the moment of the first exchange between a man and a woman. If you don’t play your part and court a lady properly (AHEM…the traditional role of a man) in the dating phase of a relationship, don’t expect her to be a submissive Suzy-homemaker six months down the line.

On to my boyfriends, fiancĂ©es, and husbands. First, let me throw out this caveat: I’m single, and have been for quite some time. But I can tell you this – NEVER has a female friend or relative called me to complain about the fact that their man’s car isn’t fly enough, that he can’t afford to take her out, or that he didn’t bring her an extravagant enough floral arrangement. The complaints usually go something like this: “he never takes me anywhere,” “he stayed out all night and didn’t even bother to call,” “he doesn’t appreciate me” - all intangibles. What does that tell you? If she’s with you, it’s probably because of YOU. Men seem to always want to believe that they have to buy a dozen roses, make dinner reservations at The Capital Grille, and drive an Aston Martin to keep a woman happy. Trust me - it ain’t about that (not sayin’ that we don’t like those things too!); it really is the thought that counts. Here’s a tip: save yourself the $32.50 on roses, and just make the frickin’ phone call. Pluck a tulip from the neighbor’s lawn. Bring home her favorite candy bar once in a while. And if you can’t afford that dinner at The Capital Grille, how about just going to Red Lobster (I don’t know anybody who would turn down some cheddar bay biscuits!). Finally, this whole “play ya part” thing applies to you too. Confident, respectable men make calculated decisions, and they’re prepared to deal with the fallout no matter the outcome. You can’t seriously expect your lady to let you be “the man of the house” and manage the finances if you’ve been known to blow your entire check on video games.

That’s it – confidence, love, respect, adoration…you know, the intangibles. Please, fellas, stop running around talkin’ ‘bout how women don’t know how to treat a good man, how we only want to date thugs and gangstas, or how we have unrealistic expectations of men (we don’t really wanna date Barack! Barack is too damn busy! And married!). Next time you tune your lips up to make those assertions, ask yourself the following questions: have I successfully defined myself as “the man” in the relationship? Am I as confident as a thug or gangsta? Is the pressure I feel really due to my own silly preconceived notions of what I think a woman wants from me? If that pressure has anything to do with possessions, it’s probably more YOU than it is HER. Most women I know genuinely want to be loved, appreciated, respected, and courted. Usually, they would rather you make the “honey, I’ll be home late” phone call than show up the next day with a bouquet.

There’s no big mystery to what women want. Be confident, and learn to put that ego aside. Trust me, that’ll carry you a long way as far as most women are concerned.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Remark Heard 'Round the Facebook World

The Black Man’s Quote: “Maybe because black women aren’t raised to take care of their man as well as white women or Latina women...I wonder if white and Hispanic women expect to be treated as queens?? Or if they simply want to be great wives and mothers?”

Yes. An actual quote, made on facebook, by a black man (who shall continue to remain nameless).

My initial reactions: offended, hurt, and concerned.
My second thought: well, he just crossed over! (cue Lauryn Hill’s “Lost Ones” – LMAO!)

Now, the author of this quote is a dear friend of mine – so put down the .22 ladies! Additionally, a few other black men quickly chimed in to express their emphatic agreement. Whoa nelly. Y’all might wanna pump ya brakes - you might be digging yourself a deeper grave here.

Even though I disagree with you, I’m not going to lash out. Recognizing that I am the personification of the strong black woman, I am going to respond to this statement on behalf of my sisters just the way a strong black woman should: with the strength to re-educate the miseducated negroes, from an African-American perspective, but in the loving, caring, and nurturing way that a real WOMAN should. (Hey Boo Boo - how you like them apples?!)

First I was offended.
Not for myself, but on behalf of my Caucasian and Latina sisters. You’re implying that white and Latina women aspire to be nothing more than a wife and mother - that they don’t aspire to be educated, develop careers/professions, or advance themselves and their people. Not saying that there’s anything wrong with a woman who only wants a career, or only wants to be a wife/mother, but we all know that it takes a truly GREAT woman to do both. So are you saying that greatness is not something Caucasian/Latina women envision for themselves? And therefore don’t expect to be treated as such? I could go further, but imma let my white/Latina sisters handle the light work.

Then I was hurt.
Black man, you say I don’t know how to treat you, but what about me? Lauryn said it best - “Tell me who I have to be to get some reciprocity.” What’s taking care of my man? Am I supposed to cook and clean, massage his back, tell him he’s wonderful, be slow to accuse, hasten to love, look good 24-7, and submit to his will? I see a lot of black women doing that for their black man - to no avail. Their relationships end in infidelity and betrayal; they end up abused and broken-hearted, as struggling single mothers, or literally shedding tears in the rain. Inherent in this quote is one correct assumption: black women are slow to submit. However the neglected principle here is the painful reason behind this: so often black men perceive submission as weakness, or are simply incapable of dealing with it. When we let you have your way, you wanna stick your chest out and give us your ass to kiss. But then you wanna holla at us about how we won’t "let a man be a man". Why do I have to let you do anything? How about you just BE a man? A man is supposed to shelter a woman’s vulnerability, not take advantage of it. Sure, I could submit to your way, give it up whenever you want it, give you head everyday, let you control the remote, only cook your favorite meals...but if I do all that, are you still going to respect me? Hell, if I give it up to you tonight, are you even going to call me tomorrow? Or even respect me enough to return my call? And because I am less prepared to accept your b*llsh*t (or am more aware of it) than my Latina and Caucasian counterparts, this somehow makes me a less valuable woman?

Finally, I was concerned.
I say I am a queen and expect to be treated as such. You manage to find fault in that and respond with a back-handed comment that was designed to slap me down – lower my self-esteem, and let me know that I ain’t no better than any other woman walking through this world. Look, it’s not me I’m worried about - I’m still a queen. My concern is you. The fact of the matter is - if you can’t see the strength and greatness in me, then by definition, you don’t see it in you. I am your reflection. Do you know who I am? Maybe you need to read some Maya Angelou. Do you know who you are? Maybe you need to pick up some Marcus Garvey. We were kings and queens long before being brought to this place called America. You don’t wanna wife a queen? Look, if you’re not up to the task of treating a queen like a queen, that tells me one thing - you are not a king. Just as it is a woman’s role to respect, love, and submit to her man, it is a man’s role to do the same for his woman. Just as a queen upgrades a king, a king should do the same for his queen. I know, it’s hard out here. There are alot of masqueraders in this world - hoochie mamas pretending to be queens. But please, don’t give up on us black man. The real strong black women aren’t ready to give up on you.