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A Matter of Respect: I am… Woman –Changing the Language in the Community

Respect

Aretha Franklin said it best– “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.  Find out what it means to me…”  For the African American woman, the opposite often rings true.  We are constantly called every name in the book and dehumanized at every opportunity.  Sadly, we’ve been brain-washed along the way to accept the abuse and consider it to be a societal norm (a compliment) when in reality, we are slowly being stripped of our womanhood in the eyes of our men. Lingo such as “female”(used out of context) and “bitch” should be abolished from the vocabulary of the African American community.

In order for us to understand the significance of the term “female”, let’s define it:
     1.   of, relating to, or being the sex that bears young or produces eggs 
     2.   composed of members of the female sex <the female population> (2) characteristic of girls or women <composed for female voices> <a female name> (Webster dictionary)

And for chuckles let’s throw in “bitch”:
      1    the female of the dog or some other carnivorous mammals
      2 a.a lewd or immoral woman
         b a malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman —sometimes used as a generalized term of abuse

Just as the bible says “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”, it’s not a stretch of the imagination to realize that what we hear affects us.  Now is the time for someone to proclaim “we shouldn’t be worrying about what other people say about or think of us.” I will take this time to say that I concur!  The deeper problem, however, is that we used to (rightly so) be offended by being referenced as a “bitch”.  The reason is because it is, first and foremost, the definition of a female dog.  Now, we embrace the term as if it is the epitome of womanhood—a clarion call of “fierceness”.  Now, we hear terms and phrases such as “that’s right, I’m a bitch-recognize it!”, “I’m (or you are) a bad bitch”, and a myriad of others combinations that tells us it’s okay to be such because it’s acceptable slang.  I’m guessing the same to be true for the “N-word”.

Over the years, Black women have been depicted with callous degradation in music videos, movies, and the media.   The late 80s and early 90s brought rump shaking and half naked images “dancing” in rap videos—bringing us the “video vixen”.  As a result, we’ve come to accept and own the fact that our men see us as a means to an end and nothing more.  The term “bitch” has been so ingrained into our psyches that we feel proud to identify as one. The late Dr. Frances Cress Welsing quoted “We’re the only people on this entire planet who have been taught to sing and praise our demeanment. ‘I’m a bitch. I’m a hoe. I’m a gangster. I’m a thug. I’m a dog.’ If you can train people to demean and degrade themselves, you can oppress them forever. You can even program them to kill themselves and they won’t even understand what happened.”  It’s a safe bet to say that the seed has been successfully planted.

Some of our African American men (and women) have slowly stripped away our identity as women.  Perhaps, in their effort to wax intelligence and coolness, they began referring to the Black woman as “female”.  What this has done is remove yet another layer of our womanhood and further created an atmosphere for them to continue to disrespect us.  So, we’ve divagated from being a woman –or “lady” (or even “babe”)—to bitch “female dog” (an animal), to now simply “female”.  Female being the definition of anything that can give birth – a dog/cat, elephant, or a cockroach. There is no identity to referring to black women as females.  It’s one thing to use it as a true descriptor –i.e. “the candidate is female”, “a female officer”—and quite another to use it as a substitute to describe a female person when the sex is already known—i.e. woman or lady.

How can our community rise and bridge a cohesive unified existence when it continues to strip away our identity?  Sure, there’s a “King and Queen” movement going on in the Hotep community.  Its purpose is to remind us that we are descendants of kings and queens.  But the truth of the matter is, that is not enough.  Not all people of African descent were royalty so that is an unrealistic terminology.  Not only that, but there is still no respect because our “kings” are still referring to us as “females”.  We are not being treated with the respect that one would expect as a queen.  We seem to relish in titles and labels that serve no purpose other than to cause more division in the community. It overshadows our basic identities as human beings.  That is, for women of color it does. We must change the language and steer towards a more respectful conversation.

The relationship between Black men and women must be repaired so we can effectively raise strong and healthy children.  I feel that our language regarding one another must change so we can reverse the ever-widening chasm between us.  As black women, we must stop accepting mediocre treatment and reject language that denigrates us.  We are not “females”.  We are women.

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I Have AIDS

World Aids

I…have…AIDS.  There are no words to describe the coldness that permeates through your body when you hear those words.  How do you catch your breath?  Why is the room suddenly spinning as you try not to scream at the top of your lungs “NO!”?

“Did I hear him correctly!?” I asked myself as my mind tried to process this horrifying information.  It was the day my life tilted sideways forever.

HIV/AIDS is not an individual disease.  It affects the patient, their families, and communities.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 50,000 people are newly infected with HIV/AIDS per year.  Of that, 1 in 8 are positive and are unaware of it. If that isn’t alarming enough, 1 in 4 new infections are aged 13-24.  Roughly 44% of all infections occurred in the Black community.  Among Black, White, and Hispanics, females made up the majority of new infections (source: CDC and AIDS.gov).

Unfortunately, it is still viewed as ‘the gay man’s disease’ when it should be seen as a human race epidemic.  It is this kind of apathy that allows AIDS to run rampant throughout our communities—especially the Black community.  Atlanta currently has a population of about 54% Black and new cases of HIV are actually diagnosed as full-blown AIDS by the time they are tested.  Blacks make up 12-13% of the entire US population. The facts are undeniable.

My new reality was fraught with shock, depression, anger, medication, and prayer.  I had to educate myself with words such as ‘adherence’, ‘viral load’, and ‘cd4 count’.  Knowledge about HIV/AIDS was so limited in the 80s and 90s and the stigma behind it was absolutely horrifying.  Parents were putting their children out, gay bashing was on the rise, and the world was in a state of panic.

After I got off the phone with my oldest brother, I cried.  My brother—my right arm, my hero and protector—had just told me “Kim, I have AIDS”.  I had to pull myself together and go tell my father and the rest of my family. Once they learned about his disease it then became their disease too.  They had to deal with the pain and terror of possibly losing a loved one to AIDS.  We all had AIDS.

My brother kept his diagnosis from us for years because he’d seen his friends suffer the fall-out from their loved ones.  He feared we would turn our backs on him as well.  While we were unaware, Butch (Henry) continued to work until he was too weak and had to go on disability.  His friends and boss nursed him when he was sick.  I’ll never forget how his boss cried when he finally told us.  She had been begging him and reassuring him that based on how he’d described his family in the past, she knew we wouldn’t let him down. I was just glad he had her guidance (he was like a son to her).  I immediately moved him into my apartment.  As he walked through the door, I hid the shock of seeing this young man—who used to be muscularly built like a bull and equally as strong—weighing less than 100 pounds.  As soon as I got him settled into his room, I went into the bathroom and cried.

The only way to help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS is to come to the realization that if your loved one has it, then you have it too.  It is not a ‘disease for one’.  March of 1993 wasn’t just a shock, it was a death sentence that continues to reverberate through our family on every birthday, holiday, new birth, or life experience.  There is no room for the continued stigma and ignorance that prevents people from being tested until it’s too late.

Stopping the spread of HIV is possible but extremely difficult.  It is currently on the rise in China (of all places), Africa, and various parts of the world after experiencing a decline in the early 2000s.  The apathy experienced toward the disease is fueled by unprotected sex and an attitude that “it can’t happen to me”.  Again, our youth ages 13-24 continue to be the leading numbers of new HIV diagnosis.  Please don’t be the next diagnosis:

  • PLEASE GET TESTED
  • Wear Protection and practice safe sex
  • Practice celibacy until marriage
  • Stay monogamous
  • If you have it, keep your appointments and don’t skip medications
  • If you have it, come out of the “closet”, go into schools and share your experience
  • Understand that oral sex IS sex (reverse the Clinton factor)
  • RELEASE THE STIGMA—love without judgement

The stigma of AIDS is dangerous.  Actor Charlie Sheen is a prime example of how dangerous staying silent can be.  He was black-mailed for millions of dollars to keep his diagnosis silent.  He continued to have unprotected sex.  This scenario should not occur in our society.  Patients are being shamed unto death in our closest circles.  They turn to drugs, alcohol, and other reckless behavior to run from their new reality. This is where we test our mettle as human beings who have compassion, empathy, and support. Without it, the disease continues to spread. They need a soft place to land.

New HIV medications and cocktails are not only preventing AIDS-related illnesses but are also enabling patients to experience zero detection in their blood (viral load).  HIV is no longer a certain death sentence as it was in the 80s and 90s. Good news for sure but the fight isn’t over until there’s a cure. It is still a very serious illness—ask someone who has to take those medications and they’ll tell you there are still terrible side effects. They still get sick and are hospitalized. It is still an uphill battle and one which we should avoid.

The day my oldest brother uttered those four words was the day it became my diagnosis.  After convincing him to move in with me, I (along with my family) took care of him.  I was angry with him for not telling me sooner.  The year prior, we’d just lost a childhood friend (Norman) to the disease.  He died—alone—in California and to this day my heart aches when I think of him because he felt that was the only option open to him.  I was determined that my brother knew how much we loved him and were unafraid of “catching AIDS”.  He wasn’t a stigma to me—he was my everything.

Just three months after moving in with me, Henry Ruffin Rosemon III lost his battle with AIDS on August 2, 1993 at age 31 on a beautiful afternoon as my father, youngest sister Denise, and I sat by his bed.  As we reminisced about his childhood exploits I, with my head on his leg, felt his life dissipate like a flutter in the wind. I raised my head and knew he was gone. It was a terrible moment for my father because no parent should ever have to watch a child suffer and die the way he did.  From that moment, it became a disease I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.

It is my hope that writing his story on World AIDS Day will inspire others to not take their health and relationships for granted. Don’t be so naïve to think that your life has no effect on those who love you.  I implore you: Get tested, Be safe, and Stop the Spread of HIV/AIDS.

 

Why Can’t We Get Along?

I love France

A lot’s been going on in the media during my hiatus but I’m going to weigh in on what’s going on in France.  Not the tragedy itself but rather the Black community’s callous response to it.  Since France was attacked by ISIS on Friday 11/13, the memes started popping up everywhere attacking Blacks who posted their condolences.  According to the angry masses, if you did so, you are a “coon” or –my favorite—a “Negropean”.  Also by doing that, we’re not being the “Kings and Queens” of our native Africa. There’s also a great deal of anger about the lack of meaningful coverage regarding the barbaric massacre in Kenya. Labels here, labels there, labels labels everywhere!

As a black person with a heart for the issues going on in our community, it should go without saying that I’m angry that the media continues to downplay the plight of blacks everywhere in the world.  But it’s beyond aggravating to me that African Americans have to prove their “Blackness” to other African Americans because they say “Pray for France”.  My question is, where is the compassion?

The beauty of my blackness means that I don’t have to put partitions around my heart.  My feelings of anguish and sorrow for another person isn’t “colored” by the color of their skin.  My heart ached for Kenya and it equally aches for France.  It equally ached for the United States on 9/11 (more so because this is home).  Did we check our “blackness” at the door on 9/11?  Did we say “Slaves entered the United States via Ellis Island, so screw New York”?  People died a horrifying death on all of these occasions. That is where my heart and thoughts are right now.

Being “enlightened” and knowing the truth of our Black History (in contrast to what we learned in school) does not mean that I am pro Black to the exclusion of all other human beings. What that means is I will speak out about issues that impact African Americans – racism/racists, educational inequality, and violence –particularly against children, etc. It also means that I will speak out and support or empathize with any form of suffering—regardless of color—period.

Racism exists everywhere in this world. France has racist people as well as Germany, England, Kenya, and a host of many more.  Find me a country that doesn’t hate blacks or any race that is not like them and I’ll move there immediately because that would be Utopia and Heaven on Earth.  The best that we can do as Blacks is continue to fight against it in our communities by putting pressure on the system that runs it–while maintaining our compassion and respect for life.  Unfortunately, its incidents like the attacks on France and Kenya that highlights the degree of separation in the Black diaspora.

Let’s put France and Kenya aside for a minute to highlight an example of that separation. What chills me right now is the thought that the people who put 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee on his knees in a Chicago alley and pumped 7 bullets into his body are still running lose (police are questioning “a person of interest”).  Someone knows who did it but they won’t “rat” them out because that is the code of twisted honor. Then, the same people complaining about Kenya’s lack of media coverage aren’t marching through the streets of Chicago, locking down traffic and demanding justice for Tyshawn. Where is the passionate anger for the gang violence that afforded us the nickname (and subsequent movie) Chiraq? Are we “coons” and “Negropeans” for committing the actual crimes or for doing nothing about it? What also disturbs me is the next time someone is gunned down by a police officer, chaos will erupt once again, someone’s name will become a hashtag, and there will still be no solution to the problems currently plaguing our community—right here in Chicago, IL, USA. The separation of our brothers and sisters is rife on a basic level.

Sadly, as these memes are going up, some people don’t realize that they are part of the problem (unbelievably, some people have said “thank you, ISIS” for attacking Paris as though the US isn’t on their radar).  They don’t truly support the black community but rather they cause separation within it.  The irony is amazing.  In the past we tried to counteract the labels put upon us during slavery by creating new (better) ones but we still use the “old” ones.

So we go from being niggers and coons to “nigga”—which is supposed to be positive (it is not).  We also went from being slaves to “Kings and Queens” – to remind us of our ancestry. But here’s the twist—blacks call us “coons” and “Negropeans” if we do/say something deemed non Black.  It’s mind boggling indeed.  But… if a white or other calls us those same labels there’s hell to pay! Did it ever occur to us that we do not need labels to define who we are?  Until we let go of the labeling, we will never truly know who we are and we will always be divided within the Black community based upon yet another label system. That, in my limited opinion, is the very nature of oppression because we spend so much time trying to convince each other how Black we really are that our community is suffering because of it.

What do we gain by spewing hatred toward France and enjoying its tragedy?  How is its history any different from the United States in terms of its treatment of slaves/blacks?  Ok, the media didn’t give Kenya enough coverage but does that mean we have to hate another suffering group of people?  I say not!

Personally, I love France.  I’ve always loved its ancient architecture, the culture, and the natural beauty of that country.  It’s on my bucket list of places I will visit in my lifetime—as too is Africa. So no, I don’t need to prove my blackness by not showing love for and compassion to France.  I’m not defined by anyone’s perception of who I am and therefore have nothing to prove. I don’t need to call myself a queen to feel like I’m a descendant of mother Africa.  We don’t need to be labeled Kings and Queens to feel a connection to our roots. We just have to know who we are.  My black is… beautiful, compassionate, loving, and… me.

Get Out of The Rut: The Character Resume

Resume_Of_Your_Character

Sometimes we go through life in a rut and don’t even realize we are in it.  One day, we become aware that something isn’t quite right but yet, we can’t seem to put a finger on why. Not realizing that there is a “second” resume on the table– one of character and integrity.  This particular resume erodes the trust and respect of friends and loved ones and undermines our potential for success.  It’s the measure of who we are as human beings as it relates to how we treat others and respect ourselves.. What it is not  is the typical life errors and mistakes that make us perfectly imperfect and human. Sadly,we live day-to-day without knowing this is the self-destructive road on which we travel. Sometimes we need to actually read this resume in order for it to resonate.

But there is good news. There is a way out.  First, we have to accept personal responsibility for our actions and become determined to make a change.  But before that can happen, truth and self awareness must come into play.  It is time to rewrite the “life resume” we have so unwittingly crafted.  Different from an employment resume, this life resume encompasses behaviors and irrational beliefs that hinder personal maturity and growth. Second, once we have acknowledged the existence of this resume, we begin to seek ways to repair the damage. It’s not easy but then nothing worthy of gaining comes “easy”.  If your “life resume” remotely resembles this, then it is time to self reflect.

Character Lacking

1120 Integrity Way

Distrust, IL 90321

Objective:  To enhance current skills while increasing sense of entitlement.  Willing to not take responsibility for my actions, blame others for my problems, and avoid all opportunities to have a viable and successful future, while manipulating those who love me and are willing to give me a free ride.  Forever tethered to people who have no concern for my life, I have no intention of making changes that will set me on a self-sufficient path.  Seeking those who will elevate my current lifestyle, cosign the negativity in my life, all while stroking my ego and helping me to get nowhere in life.

2013  Child Support Evasion, Location Irrelevant

Charismatic and charming

Multiple “people creation” skills current count: unknown

Avoidance expert

Party enhancement supplies

Anger management expert

Female/male abuse expert

2010  Possession of stolen items, Location Irrelevant

Spent 8 years ‘abroad’ and learned new techniques

Excellent detection avoidance systems and analysis skills

Adapts to unexpected situations such as drop and flee

Experience in resale retail

1999  Gun possession by felon, Location Irrelevant

Expert at weapons concealment

Weapons purchase and resale

Can fire at multiple targets with 10% accuracy

1998   Drug possession with intent to sell, Location Irrelevant

Promoted to sales

Customer service oriented—delivered day and night

Top seller in crew (er, distribution department)

Excellent officer detection skills

1996  Burglary, Location Irrelevant

Lock expert

Keen sight – look out expert

Escapes detection with ease

Salesman of the month

1995  Drug possession, Location Irrelevant

Carried drugs upon person in order to get high

Well versed in lighting and inhaling, snorting, and needle work

Alcohol extraction expert

EDUCATION

         Unimportant

HOBBIES

          Running (er, jogging)

Skills

Weapons, stealth, Facebook and Instagram, fashion, feigning innocence, alcohol inducement, People making, partying, finger work (“throwing those signs”), and manipulation

References

          …?  Holla back?

POEM: I AM SANDRA BLAND

I am Sandra Bland

It’s sadly unsurprising that another Black person has fallen once again while in police custody—having suffered unnecessary brutality during a traffic stop.  It screams the question: Since when did a routine traffic stop become a high risk assignment for Black women? It’s a question I now have to ponder every time I drive my vehicle.  As the tragic death of 28-year-old Sandra Bland is being investigated by state of Texas and played out in the media, I’ve realized that I am Sandra Bland.

I am Black and proud and speak too loudly

At the injustice I see all around me

My skin is darker than a berry, but not too sweetly

Am I acceptable to blind ignorance, you see

Because when the eyes of those who hate rest their gaze

Upon me, my humanness dissipates

into a misty haze and all that is left

Is rage, war, and violence-

against my body’s softness

Their need to destroy the femininity that is me

Because I…am Sandra Bland

My life is seen as an inconvenience to abusers of power

But I’m not popular to those blinded by the rays of my darkness

Shining a beacon upon my guilty countenance

Because justice precedes some but doesn’t proceed for me

Because, I… am Sandra Bland

Passing through this life is a struggle

Over my shoulder I shuffle

Looking into the night for the bright

Swirling lights that can remove me from this life

Driving, shopping, walking, and speaking I am guilty as charged

Black woman… at large

Red incites a bull to rage

But on this stage

Black puts us in a cage

Or a coffin

But I’m not balking because I’m free

And as long as I breathe

I will continue to be

Because Sandra Bland is me

Therefore boldly I’ll proclaim

to say her name

From every mountain top

And I will not stop

The thunderous roar

Until injustice is no more

In this land, we will continue to stand

Because I am… Sandra Bland

©2015 Kim R. Woods All Rights Reserved

Baltimore – Another Tinderbox of Destruction

Freddie Gray

Admittedly, I haven’t kept abreast of the news in the past 2 weeks so I was shocked when someone told me to turn the TV on and watch the riots in Baltimore.  25-year-old Freddie Gray died from injuries he suffered while under police custody and some of the protests morphed into riots.  So once again we have a case of a young black male detained, brutalized, and murdered by police officers.  We have another situation in which protests are necessary to demand justice in a system that holds no value to the human lives of black people. Our anger is valid and completely justified. It’s a deeply rooted anger that owes no apologies and demands justice.

Yet, instead of protesting and bringing attention to the atrocities, there are some who have chosen to lash out in anger and burn down or loot businesses that serve their neighborhoods.  It sounds very revolutionary, militant, and reminiscent of the days of Angela Davis and Huey Newton but the reality is that violence only begets more of the same.  It doesn’t effect change.

The anger that has bubbled over in Baltimore and all over America is not about Freddie Gray.  It’s about a system of racism that has infested the very heart of the black community.  The police have no respect for blacks but the problem isn’t them.  The problem is at the top.  The officials who continue to cover up and protect rogue cops.  The commissioners, district attorneys, mayors, and others who refuse to do the job they were elected to do- serve and PROTECT their constituents.  The problem is us– the ones who continue to vote blindly (and that includes along party and racial lines) to keep these people in office.  Why should they care?  What message have we the people clearly given them at the polls?  Why work harder and with integrity when they know that they will either run unopposed in the next election or voters will punch “Democratic” or “Republican” regardless of their level of service?

Instead of educating ourselves on how the government works and finding out who to put pressure on, we sit back and wait for Freddie Gray to happen so that we can jump on our laurels and protest on Facebook and other social media.  We want heads to literally roll and would rather burn down viable and needed businesses in our own backyards than to figure out how we can individually and collectively make a difference.

Of course CVS is insured and will build again.  But will they rebuild in the area where they suffered the loss?  Blacks have lived in some of the most disenfranchised areas in this country.  I get it- we are the “throw-away” people.  Brought here and abandoned after we no longer served our original purpose. Our neighborhoods are full of entire blocks of abandoned or burned out structures, pot-holed streets, liquor stores, and low-valued housing.  We step outdoors and see emptiness and despair.  So in our minds how will a few more fires take away from what is already a bad situation?  I challenge you to ask yourself “how will continuing to destroy it help rebuild it?”

What did burning down a neighborhood CVS pharmacy do to help the community?  It removed a convenient location that your 70-year-old neighbor walked to for her medication.  That’s what it did.  You see, not everyone has a car.   The bus stop is not always within walking distance for an elderly or otherwise physical restricted person.  Sure, something will eventually take its place but how will that help those who need it now?  Will the masked young men who are out there rioting and protesting knock on her door and offer a ride to the next closest pharmacy?

As the mother of a black man who has seen more than his share of unjust interaction with police, I am angry.  I want to break something and scream at the top of my voice “enough!!”  But that won’t make a difference.  What makes a difference is putting pressure where it needs to be:

  •  Protests – non-violent shows of solidarity
  • Vote responsibly- show them that if they don’t do what they promised, they’re fired
  • Businesses – support black-owned businesses. Stop supporting Nike and the like
  • Finances – teach our children to stop “flossing” and become financially responsible
  • Petitions – Pressure officials to enforce policies and create ones that protect everyone. Force them to create “enforceable” standards, become tougher on hiring, disciplining, and FIRING of officers
  • Education – Refocus our goals in educating our children in business, politics, and finances early on
  • Community – BRING THE VILLAGE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY

Yes, I’m angry but how can we be “heard” or taken seriously when we’re burning and looting our own communities? Why does every protest have to be violent and distracting?  Sure, it gets attention but who really hears us? It’s easy for us to debate this on Facebook and other social media from the safety of our keyboards.  We need to come together and effect REAL CHANGE.  The stark reality is that this will die down eventually–just as it did with Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, and the countless others before and since them.

Another young man is dead—dying a painful and brutal death.  Let’s find a way to use that to get him justice.  Burning down the city is not the answer.  Huey Newton had no room for God while he was running the Panthers but even he finally had to say: “As far as I am concerned, when all of the questions are not answered, when the extraordinary is not explained, when the unknown is not known, then there is room for God because the unexplained and the unknown is God.”  Violence is not the answer- Martin Luther King taught us that and he influenced change.

When the dust settles from this riot all that will be left are more abandoned structures and lost businesses – in black neighborhoods—and NO solutions.  Angry people fight.  Angry thinkers find ways to change it.  Let’s find a way to change the tide and stop throwing gasoline on everything.

CVS

(c)2015 Kim Woods All rights reserved

“Just”- Use it Sparingly

Justify Until we Stop Thinking

I guess that’s why it’s called ‘controversy’-  not everyone agrees.  The controversy I’m referring to is Willow Smith’s nipple shirt.  This isn’t about the “Free the Nipple” movement. I don’t think it’s appropriate attire for a 14-year-old child. Others believe I’m going overboard because it’s just a shirt.   I feel, however, that It removes boundaries and sets them up to be victimized.  I disagree and the word “just” makes it sound innocent enough.  It “just” doesn’t work for kids as well as it does for adults. I’m not saying this leads to bad behavior or that Willow is a bad kid. Willow is a rich, sheltered child who can afford to be expressive.  That doesn’t hold true for the average American kid. We live in a society that complains about out-of-control kids and yet we’re afraid to set boundaries. In fact, we continue to remove them in the name of  “freedom of expression”.  “Just”… There’s just something about that word:

  • Just a joint, until you get hooked on crack or meth- between ages 16-25 I’ve had guys tell me “do just one line of coke for me”. Just one. Just…
  • Just sex, until you get pregnant
  • They’re “just” boys – until the behavior escalates
  • It’s “just” a conversation (or kiss, or hug) with that married person, until they have that affair
  • Just one more drink, until you wreck the car
  • Why not add: Just 4 killed/18 wounded over the weekend in Chicago. As opposed to 82 shot, 14 killed last July
  • He’s just a child and it’s just a dollar he took. Give him a break, mom/dad. It could be worse.

My son wanted “just” a tattoo, a cell phone, a pager, a TV/VCR in his room, and pierced ears when he was 13.  I told him when he turned 18 he could have as many tats as he wanted.  He’s 32 and doesn’t have any tattoos (though he did get his ears pierced :-)!  His priorities shifted as an adult and he didn’t think about tattoos anymore.  I have nothing against those things.  I didn’t feel that a black male teen in Chicago had a reason to have tattoos, pagers, and cell phones in the early 90s.  And, I was right.

Is it possible that “just” opens the door to something “more”?  Is it just a scratch that’ll heal, or one that will fester and require antibiotics?  Is it just a scratch in the paint that’ll buff out, or is it one that will cost five hundred dollars to remove?  Yes, I’m an “over thinker”.  I’m the person who studies heavy traffic ½ mile down the road to determine my next lane change or whether or not I should exit.  What seems “innocent” to some can actually be of potential harm to others.

I didn’t raise a girl but I’m 100% sure if I did she wouldn’t possess that particular shirt.  There are so many ways to raise a girl and teach her to love her body and to empower her sexuality.  At 14, this is not the way to encourage it because let’s face it, it invites the wrong kind of attention. In her mind she’s expressing liberation and freedom (I guess). But that is not what a pedophile will see when they see a child walking down the street wearing that shirt.  Grown women are being followed, harassed, and attacked for deflecting unwanted attention.  It’s not just a shirt–it’s a slippery slope.

So as far as “just” goes, there are reasonable ones and questionable ones.  I feel that Willow’s nipple shirt falls into the latter.  Just… In retrospect, maybe I should’ve tried just one line of coke to find out why everyone else was so fascinated. Just one.

I’m “just” saying, this is just my opinion…