You Are Not A B.A.P.

“Have you seen ‘BAPs’?”

“That movie with Halle Berry?”

“NO!  That crazy new tv show on Lifetime.”

“Oh…no. Why?  Should I?”

“It’s a mess.   But you can decide for yourself.”

This is normally how conversations go with my friends when I ask them if they’ve seen the new summer drama series.   According to Wikipedia, a BAP, or Black American princess, is “a pejorative term that refers to black women of upper and upper middle class background, who possess (or are perceived to possess) a spoiled or materialistic attitude.”  There is even a book about BAPs, a book that I read cover to cover numerous times when it first came out.  And according to The BAP Handbook: The Official Guide to the Black American Princess, a BAP is described as “1 : a pampered female of African American descent, born to an upper-middle or upper-class family 2 : an African American female whose life experiences give her a sense of royalty and entitlement 3 : BAP (acronym) : colloquial expression 4 : an African American female accustomed to the best and nothing less.”  (I like to think I’m more of definition 4, which is less based on material things and based more on life experiences, relationships, being a go-getter, etc.)  After watching just two episodes of “BAPs”, I can honestly say that the majority of the stars are not BAPs.

The show follows a group of friends in St. Louis.  The two main characters stars are Anisha and Kristen, former friends who take stabs at each other all of the time, even if the other woman is not in her immediate presence.  You may have arguments and/or disagreements with your friends.  But when you spit in someone’s face…so not cool.  And yes, you read that correctly.  During the series premiere, Anisha and Kristen got into it during a welcome home party of a mutual friend.  Words were exchanged, and as Kristen was telling Anisha her breath stank, Anisha spit in Kristen’s face.  And as Kristen walked away, she could be heard saying, “Did she just spit in my face?!”  Yes she did, and while I do not condone violence, spitting on someone is assault.  And my mother always told me I need to defend myself if someone attacks me.

Besides spitting, there are numerous reasons why the majority of these people are not BAPs.  Let’s go through a few:

1.  If you have to say on camera every 5 seconds that you are a BAP, you’re probably not one.  Just like if you’re a lady or classy or what-not.  You should not have to tell people; they should be able to tell from the way you carry yourself.

2.  Yes, according the handbook, if a Black girl is raised in an upper-middle or upper-class family she’s a BAP, but money does not provide class.

3. BAPs are not condescending to others.  While Anisha dates Kendrick, a man that was not raised the same as her and owns a store in the “hood”, she belittles his niece, Rai Rai.

4. Lastly, expanding on number 3, while BAPs realize they may have grown up privileged, they do not fault it.  They help others in their community.  On last week’s episode, Anisha, Gina, and Jason were on a radio show to discuss BAPs.  While I wish they had shown a little more of the interview, it was clear Anisha was overly dramatic, as she has a tendency to be, and Jason was way down to earth and realistic with his responses.

All in all, I am SO not impressed with this show.  But I will continue to watch until I can’t anymore.   I truly believe the BAPs on this show, in addition to being too old to behave the way some of them do, give true BAPs a bad name.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

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I Need To Diversify

Over the past few months, I’ve realized that most of my friends think and/or look like me.  But I shouldn’t be surprised.  I went to an HBCU.  I’m part of a predominantly African-American sorority.  And most of my closest friends come from those two communities.   I’ve come to the realization that I need more non-Black friends.

Growing up, most of my friends were white.  It wasn’t until I got to high school that my best friends were black.  In middle school, I remember praying for black friends when I got to high school.  And that’s what I got-for the next 18 years.  And don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not complaining.  But when you have friends that think like you and agree with you on pretty much everything, it sometimes gets old.

Of course I’m Facebook friends with a number of the white kids I went to elementary, middle, and/or high school with, but we don’t hang out or do brunch or have dinner together.  (I actually take that back. I do have a white girlfriend that I have known since 6th grade and every time I go home, we see each other.  And we even did dinner when she came to DC last year with her students.)  I did reach out to one of my high school classmates that lives in Northern Virginia for brunch about a year ago.  We weren’t necessarily friends in high school, but it was great to see a familiar face from home in DC.  And there is another friend that I went to high school with who was my buddy.  He lived in DC for about a year, and we went out to dinner (with his now ex-girlfriend) while he was here.  And I’m happy that he came out to help me celebrate my birthday when I was home in April.

At the end of the day, one off dinners and lunches, and friends that live 8 hours away, don’t necessarily count.  Well, they do, but I want more.  I want non-Black friends in DC that I can hang out with on a regular basis.  Those that I can talk to about my life and who have a genuine interest in getting to know me.  And I want to take an active role in their lives-celebrate their monumental moments and do fun things with them.  I also truly believe having a diverse group of friends will make me a better person.

But, for now, I will cherish the friends that I do have.  And look for opportunities to expand my DC circle.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

No Means No

While driving to work this morning, I listened to the Russ Parr Morning Show during the People Poll question segment.  (I’m a notorious channel surfer.)  The question dealt with the recent news surrounding former NFL player Darren Sharper, who has been accused of sexual assault on a total of nine women in five different states; so far he’s only been formally charged in two states-most recently Arizona-with charges pending in other states, along with Erick Nunez. There are even reports that state some of these women were drugged.  Parr asked, “Do women bare some of the responsibility if they are sexually assaulted?”  I genuinely wanted to hear what people thought, so my ears perked up.  And I was shocked at what I heard.

Most of the callers, especially the women, stated that women do bare some of the responsibility if they are sexually assaulted.  I.was.floored.  I was even more shocked when a victim of sexual assault called in and said she deserved to shoulder some of the responsibility of her attack.  The only person who said anything that made any type of sense was the show’s “intern”, Brittany.  If a woman is drunk, has been drugged, or is otherwise incoherent, she cannot consent, and thus anything that happens to her is rape.

Now, let’s chat for a minute.  Growing up, heck even now at 31 years old, my mother told me to always be careful, be extra cautious when I’m out by myself, and to not go out alone at night.  Essentially, she was telling me to never make myself a target for a predator.  Now, since I am not a parent and I don’t have any brothers, I wonder what the parents of sons are teaching them.  Are they being told to respect women?  To not take advantage of women?  To not attack them?  To leave a woman alone when she says “no”, REGARDLESS of what is being done when she says it OR what she has on?

As I’ve stated in a previous post, we live in a patriachal society, so I doubt it.  At least not to the degree that little girls/women are told to not make themselves a target.  Not to the degree that we are told to not dress provocatively.  Not to the degree that we are told to behave like a lady to not give people the wrong impression.

If I can make an educated guess, little boys/young men are taught to be assertive, go-getters, and to weild as much power and prowess as they can.  And due to no limitations being put on them, they are used to getting what they want.  They are not used to hearing “no”.  And God forbid he’s an athlete AND attractive.  That’s a recipe for disaster.  He’s used to getting what he wants-the girl, the (fixed) grades, the acceptance letter to a big college, and the chance to go pro.

Clearly non-professional athletes are guilty of sexual assault as well.  But some men like to feel powerful.  And when someone, anyone, wants to take that power away, they feel threatened.  And a huge disservice is being done when we make our children think they can get whatever they want.  Why?  Because they become adults who think they can get whatever they want and will take it, regardless of what has to be done to get it.

A friend on Facebook once updated her status to say that we teach our girls about sexual assault and how to avoid it, but are boys taught the same thing?  If not, I implore parents of young men to sit your sons down and talk to them.  Tell them that when a young lady says “no” she means “no”.  Tell them they can’t always get what they want.  Tell them how to protect themselves and to not put themselves in a compromising position.

Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

I Am Not Mary Jane

Tonight is the season finale of “Being Mary Jane”. This show has sparked much conversation in regards to black women and how we are portrayed on television. Some people are impressed with the strong heroine, admire her for having a great job and being a career woman, for helping her family in their times of need-despite their bad decision making, for being financially independent, and for just being a go-getter. On the other hand, you have those who are disgusted, upset, and pissed off with this character. As I stated in my review of the movie that premiered last summer, I was happy to see a character like her…but at the end of the movie, I was totally disgusted when she saved David’s sperm. And that was just the beginning of how any similarities between MJ and myself began to deteriorate. She began making awful decisions. From going back to Andre, her married boyfriend, to having a pissing contest with Avery, Andre’s wife, I realized that I am not Mary Jane (despite BET’s attempt to encourage women from all walks of life to send in videos proclaiming “I am Mary Jane”).

But, let’s not forget this is a fictional show; though, suffice it to say, I’m sure there a few people out there that can relate to a few scenarios. Let’s be real for a second. We put SO much pressure on writers and directors and producers to show black people in general, black women in particular, in positive lights. There was even a post how the world has evolved from Claire Huxtable to Mary Jane Paul. We slam these women on “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and “Basketball Wives” for fighting and cursing and basically just being an embarassment. We villify them for not setting positive examples and being roles models for young girls and young women. But…shouldn’t WE be doing that? The woman that goes to work everyday. The woman that volunteers with non-profit organizations in her city. The woman that teaches Sunday school. The woman that serves on the city council. The woman that teaches chemistry and math and English. The woman that is a great neighbor that speaks to everyone and helps keep the streets clean. My point is, if we, the women that these children see and interact with everyday, are doing what WE should be doing, these young women would not look to a tv character, whether she’s on a scripted show or a “reality” show, to figure out how to become a woman and a lady. She would view you-her mother, her mentor, her teacher, her neighbor-to decide what makes a woman. Yes, we are all flawed, and that’s fine. But should our aim in life be to become a caricature character we see on television?

I mean, I am not Mary Jane Paul; but I am not Claire Huxtable, either.

Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

Witty Wednesday-“The Sissy Boy Experiment”

Last night, “Anderson Cooper 360” covered the story of “The Sissy Boy Experiment”, which was a study done at UCLA in the 1970s to change the behavior of children who behaved like the opposite sex, i.e. boys playing with dolls and girls behaving as “tomboys”.  The subject of this story, Kirk Murphy, ended up committing suicide in 2003 at the age of 38.  His family blames it on the after-effects of the treatment he received during his time as a study of doctoral student George Rekers. 

Now, before I state my opinion, let me put some disclaimers out.

  • I am not, nor have I ever been or claimed to be, a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist. 
  • I do not have firsthand knowledge of feeling like I was born in the wrong body (meaning I don’t feel that way).

First, what happened to letting children be children?  Now, I don’t have children, but if my son wanted to play with Barbie growing up, I can’t say that I would allow it.  I definitely don’t think that I would allow him to dress in my clothes.  But, I definitely WOULD NOT send my child to a doctor to “enhance” his masculine behavior.  My belief is that no matter what one does, if a child is born to behave a certain way, that child will behave that way.  It doesn’t matter if the child reverts back to it as a teenager or as a 40 year old, but eventually the child’s true feelings will come out.  Case in point, Kirk Murphy ended up being a gay man.  Sadly, according to his family, he was never truly happy again after his treatment. 

Another point that Murphy’s brother, Mark, brought up in the interview is that Kirk learned what to say to the doctors to convince them he was “cured” and that nothing was wrong with him.  He wasn’t allowed to be who he was because he knew in doing so he could re-live the shame, hurt, and punishments he endured when he was younger.  I would not be surprised to learn that most of the students in this “study” did just that.  And isn’t that human nature-to tell people what they want to hear, especially if the opposite will have negative reprecussions for us??? 

The moral of my post today?  Let people (children) be who they want to be.  As long as they are not hurting anyone, we should embrace them for who they are.   Of course when children are born, their parents have these hopes, dreams, and desires for them, but children are not born to fulfill their parents’ dreams-they need to fulfill their own.  Yes, their life may be hard if they decide to live as a homosexual or as a transgendered person, but as their family, it is our responsiblity to let them know they have our love and support.  Making them feel ashamed of who they are could have dire consequences. 

Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city. 

P.S. And let me not forget to mention that last year Dr. Rekers travelled overseas with a male escort.  Dr. Rekers stated he did not realize that his attendant was someone who took money in exchange for sex (yeah, right.).  Dr. Rekers stated he hired this man to carry his bags.  Funny, since the good doctor was pictured pushing the luggage cart with his luggage on it in the airport in Miami when he returned home from said trip…

My South Carolina Heritage

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of going to the Museum of African Art in SW DC.  A friend invited me along and since I had a day off (from both jobs) I took her up on it.  And imagine my surprise when I saw that I had not missed an exhibit I really wanted to see! 

This past May I read an article in The Island Packet, the Hilton Head newspaper, about an exhibit that was coming to the Smithsonian museum in DC.  Grass Roots: African Origins of American Art was going to be on display at the Museum of African Art from June 23 until November 28.  Sweetgrass baskets are a staple and very important to the Gullah people and other inhabitants along the South Carolina and Georgia coasts.  Looking at the baskets and watching the videos of the basket makers made me think of my home state.  As my paternal family is from the SC coast, I am very familiar with the history and significance of these baskets.   And I remembered making a sweetgrass basket and learning Gullah during my 8th grade SC History Class. (I wonder if Southern Mom still has my basket…)  In addition to baskets from the coast being on display, there were also baskets from various African countries.  As I walked around, I felt a little nostalgic and homesick.  It really made me appreciate my history.  Suprisingly, the slave auction signs they had hanging didn’t upset me.  (I don’t think that’s really significant to the story, but I felt like sharing. *kanye shrug*)

The time and patience it takes to create these baskets is amazing.  If you ever visit Charleston, Beaufort, Hilton Head, or Daufuskie Island, SC or Savannah, GA, I highly suggest you purchase a basket.  It will be a beautiful decoration to your home.  Most importantly, you only have 10 more days to go see the exhibit in DC before it moves on.  I may even go see it again.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.