Jay-Z In Georgetown University Classroom

Anyone who knows me is aware that I have an slight infatuation with Jay-Z.  So needless to say, I was over the moon to find out that one of the most prominent professors/authors of modern African-American culture is teaching a class solely dedicated to my boyfriend Jay-Z at my alma mater.  Where was this class when I was in school?  I would have lined up at 7 am in order to take it.  But really, is Jay-Z worthy of having a 75-minute 3 credit college course dedicated solely to him?

As much as I love Jay-Z, I think this class is premature and untenable.  Michael Eric Dyson is known for his ability to be a fantastic wordsmith, but regardless of how one spins this, teaching about Jay-Z’s success, breadth of “work” and  lifestyle is premature.  I recognize this is a sociology class and Professor Dyson apparently wants to focus on pop culture, but what about teaching about the wide aray of hip hop artists who have influenced pop culture  (i.e., Dead Prez, Tribe, Run DMC, Mob Deep, and the list goes on…)?

Of course most students would prefer to take a class discussing Jay-Z versus someone like the iconic Nelson Mandela; but without a doubt, the life of Mandela can provide us with more insight than Jigga.  Of course Mandela is no Jay-Z but he spent  27 years in prison and later became the President of the country who imprisoned him (versus president of a record label) and has been hands down one of the most influential people in the world.

When professors highlight the success of Jay-z to college students then are we saying that going from selling drugs in your community to attaining a corner office by rapping about bi*ches and pushing weight (that’s crack/coke for my non-hip hop readers)  with a sprinkle of consciousness (i.e., Mr. President there’s drugs in our residence tell me what you want me to do, come break bread with us) is successful enough to warrant a class about one’s life? That’s one way to make  a college student realize that their $100k education is waste of time.

In a recent Forbes article, Professor Dyson explains his class on Jay-Z: “I wanted to investigate his career as not only a Horatio-Alger-in-blackface, rags-to-riches story, but as a person who, were he alive during the period of ancient Greece, would be regarded as a god in terms of literary and poetic expression.”  Jay-Z has mastered the art of double and triple entendres but, a “god in terms of literary and poetic expression”, a Horatio Alger of our day?—sounds to me like Professor Dyson drank the kool-aid on this one.

If we are lauding Jay-Z in our university classrooms, then how can we tell children in the “hood” that their dreams to become a drug dealer turned rapper are wrong?  Perhaps Professor Dyson believes that this homage to Jay-Z will get him into Jay-Z’s close circle (Professors desire to be cool too), or earn him front row tickets to the upcoming Jay-Z concert in Washington, DC.  Regardless of his intent, Professor Dyson should have chosen someone other than my boyfriend Jay-Z—and that says a lot for anyone who understands my love for Jay-Z.


Calling All Women–Time to Raise the Bar!

What would happen if we all raised the bar?  When I say we, I’m referring to women.  More and more I have conversations, read articles, and listen to women discuss issues that illustrate the manners in which they are selling themselves short of true happiness.  In the workplace, in the home, in our relationships with our friends, you name it we have an innate tendency to demand less than our male counterparts.  I won’t get into the various historical theories and events as to why that is (i.e., pre-women’s suffrage, the mammies, etc.); rather, I want to focus on what could should be.

I’m a strong proponent of equal opportunity and at times I happily accept the title as feminist.  However, why have women stopped expecting a man to open the door for them?  Why do some women rationalize away the expectations they have of the man they date or marry?  Some may say the answer to these questions is this is a man’s world (in my James Brown voice) therefore, as women we have to be happy with what we get.

As Evelyn Cunningham once said, “Women are the only oppressed group in our society that lives in intimate association with their oppressors.”  I think it is time to start a new revolution–I call it women raising the bar.  Instead of complaining about what we aren’t receiving from others in our lives, or lowering our standard of what we think we deserve, as women, we need to raise the bar.  Don’t pay for a man’s meal when we really hope that he would pay for it.  Don’t pick up the phone and call him because you know if you don’t he won’t.  Don’t allow him to disrespect you and tell yourself, I know he doesn’t mean it.  Don’t stay at home with the kids because you think it’s your motherly/wifely duty when your real desire is to be leading board room meetings.  Don’t accept the job working for the male project manager when you know you can lead the group better than he can.  Raise the bar!

I know there are a few women out there who will send me an e-mail saying that this blog post does not apply to them because they have always maintained a high standard for themselves–they are the alpha women of the world.  Maybe these women have been lucky and maybe they have beaten the odds.  However, women could effect change for all women around the world if we all decided to raise the bar and not settle for less–because settling for less not only harms themselves, but also limits the opportunities for other women of the world, and their daughters and granddaughters to come.  If men change the manner in which they treat women and recognize that dimming our light and disrespecting us is never an option, imagine how different the world would be.  Some changes can’t occur without changes in the laws however, this revolution could occur if all women of the world decide to take a stand and RAISE THE BAR starting now!

“Women really do rule the world.  They just haven’t figured it out yet.  When they do, and they will, we’re all in big big trouble.”

In honor of March’s Women’s History Month

Requirements: Tall DARK and Handsome

So I ran across this post regarding the top 20 list of reasons why so many Black women won’t date non-Black men. Of course this is all a matter of one’s opinion and experiences, but as I went through the list, I realized that most of these are things that I have said or have heard my girlfriends say. I thought I would provide a more substantive explanation for some of them (narrowed it down to 10):

1. We’ll have to convince the guy that racism exists– I’m sure some of you saw the movie Something New with Sanaa Lathan. Although race may not be at the forefront of our minds, as black women we are always consciously or subconsciously aware of the racism that happens around us.  It is arguable that being a white male in this society is one of the biggest privileges one can be born with. So as black women, we don’t want to have to spend the time getting angry with our SO (like Sanaa did) when he can’t understand why the promotion we didn’t get at work was “a black thing.” Granted we can sometimes make it all about race, but at the other end of the spectrum, we don’t want to have to convince the guy we’re with that racism affects us even if it doesn’t affect him.

2. The sex won’t be good- I’m going to leave this one alone.

3. People will look at us crazy in public and judge us– Society has become much better with being accepting of interracial couples. But I have girlfriends who have dated white men for many years and still say that it sometimes makes them uncomfortable when they are out in public.

4. He won’t understand Black Hair– I had a friend (white guy) ask me one time why black women wear a scarf on their heads at night to go to bed. I was patient and schooled him to black woman’s hair, but a couple more questions about it and I would have become annoyed.

5. We’ve accomplished so much and worked so hard. We deserve to be with a Black man– The irony is for some brothas, being hard working and accomplished means that they deserve to be with a white woman. Sistah’s think differently…for all the work they’ve put in to making themselves a “great catch” the reward should be a brotha who is equally as great.

6. We’ll have to be politically correct around him– No dropping of the N-bomb because we will go buck wild if he ever tried to use it! Which probably means referring to his people using names of food would probably not be appropriate either.

7. Our families won’t embrace us– Let’s face it–our parents are from a generation who were kids during the1967 Supreme Court case of Loving v. Virginia. Before 1967 it was unlawful in some states for interracial couples to get married. Although times have changed they haven’t changed that much with all of our families.

8. He won’t be able to dance– See number 2 above.

9. He won’t be comfortable eating our food– Some black women may not want to admit it but some of us enjoy eating chitlins (chitterlings for the proper folks). We don’t want to have to worry about him looking sideways at something we put on his plate.

10. He’ll embarrass us in front of Black people– See number 8. It’s one thing to worry about what’s coming out of your man’s mouth, it’s another thing to worry that something he says and something he does would highlight the fact that he’s white.

Though I understand why these reasons exist, I personally don’t agree with any of these sentiments.  I am a proponent of interracial dating and black women stepping out of their comfort zone.  Yeah you might have to school him to the rules of black hair (#1 rule, never get our hair wet without our permission).  It’s okay to want to be with a black man, but don’t set limits on finding love simply because of this list.  Nevertheless, I can’t deny that these concerns exist and until black women get over them, we’ll continue to limit ourselves.

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