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What You Missed about the Color Purple

I saw a Twitter thread a awhile back about black people laughing at things that shouldn’t be funny. Someone in the thread mentioned one of my all time favorite  movies; The Color Purple. I could probably quote this movie word for word, ad-lib for ad-lib & I swear I notice something new every time. But seeing it mentioned in that thread made me think not only about the comedians and music artists who’ve referenced it over time, but also all the inside jokes between me and my family that derived from the movie.

I watched a show called American Masters on PBS that featured Alice Walker, the author of the book the movie brought to life. She talked about how much pushback she received when the book was released. How it was called perverted and how black southerners and church leaders found fault with it, but Alice saw truth. She sought to tell the story of the black experience from the voiceless. If you think about it, much of the movie we hear Celie’s THOUGHTS more than she ever really uses her voice.

Of all the things to protest or laugh at about this Alice Walker book turned Steven Spielberg film, I never found anything funny about Celie’s sexual trauma. From the time she was touched until the time of his death, she spent her life thinking her FATHER violated her. Which caused her to have unhealthy and unsatisfying ideas around sex. She described sex with her “husband” Albert to Shug as follows “I just let him get on top of me and do his business.” Sex was an act she had no say in. No RIGHT to the use of her own body. She was conditioned to believe that her body was for the use of men’s pleasure, and labor.

Statistics show that 66% of victims of sexual assault and rape under the age of 18 were between the ages of 12 and 17. Between 2009 and 2013 80% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse were a parent. 4% were an unmarried partner of a parent. That means 84% of the 63,000 children a YEAR that evidence supports were sexually abused between 2009 and 2013 lived a life like Celie. Where they may have kept sexual trauma by a parent a secret from the other parent. Where they bare children for a parental figure, where they don’t understand the autonomy of their bodies, even if they DO know what’s happening to them is wrong.

RAINN Day may have come and gone, but Domestic Violence Awareness Month is right around the corner. The color Purple is the color chosen to call attention to Intimate Partner Violence each October. The US Department of Justice includes victims as young as 12 years old in their reportings on Intimate Partner Violence. As September comes to an end, and Domestic Violence Awareness Month begins, don’t just remember The Color Purple as a classic curated by Steven Spielberg; remember it as the documentary Alice Walker intended it to be, and recognize that sexual assault at the hands of a parent or parental figure is very real. It’s not a scene to be laughed at or ignored, rather a punishable offense, and only 6 in 1,000 perpetrators end up in prison. #DaaamnDaddy

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What My Cheating Ass Daddy taught Me About Empathy

Queen of team “No sleep til the to-do list is done”, has been one of my virtual “Friend-tors” for a little while now. Emmelie De La Cruz formerly known as The Branding Muse is a BEAST at Millenial Marketing. Be it Big Brands or budding personal brands, she’s your go to woman. Though Syracuse & execution are responsible for her business acumen, her “Cheating Ass Daddy” taught her a different lesson. And last night she shared with us just what she learned about empathy.

When I asked Emm if she would talk with me about her dad, she already had this popping ass title ready to go. It had been about a year since I read this caption under one of her IG photos and thought to myself *10 years? I wonder what happened there* And I was new to her coaching program, talking about an upcoming Facebook Live collaboration I was embarking on when she suggested “Don’t just collaborate with people in the same lane as you.” That was the green light I needed to say “Hey, you wanna tell me why you hadn’t seen your Dad in 10 years?” Then she hit me with the title and I was like *PERFECT!* Cheating?! Daddy? You Free July 20th?

*Juy 20th happens to be the magical date between Step Dad #1 & Step Dad #2’s birthdays*

So last night Emm spilled tea about her Daddy, her 6 siblings ( I would’ve SWORN she was an only child smh) And their 4 mothers, well 5 including hers.

But the lemonade I wanted to sample was WHY empathy?

Empathy is defined as the ability to understand & share the feelings of another. Emm is certainly empathetic. I think it’s actually one of the keys to her business. Definitely why I felt like we were long lost best friends on all those Periscopes with Trap Queen blasting in the background & the Melanin Magic Webinars where I watched her generate business ideas for me and several other viewers off nothing but keywords about our industry and a sentence about what we felt set us apart. She did en masse what I did for friends and family all the time.

 

But what did that have to do with her Cheating Ass Daddy?

 

Our conversation started out with Emm sharing that her Dad used to have her around his side chick while her mom was in medical school, and at the time, she just thought this woman was like her nanny or something. As kids we don’t really know the inter-workings of the adults in our lives. Once she was old enough to understand the pain he caused her mother, she couldn’t disown him for what he did, because at the end of the day that’s still her father. But she better understood her mother’s choices, and the lack of age gaps between some of her siblings.

Despite the slight overlap in age of his 7 children, Emm has a father worth admiring. She respects his work ethic, his hustle, his ability to survive by any means necessary, even selling socks on the Subway. Her ability to understand that infidelity is just something Dominican women have come to accept as part of the culture, and sharing his hustler spirit is how Emmelie has been able to empathize with her father. She chooses to see him for all that he is not just all that he ain’t.

Though he lives in a different country, and she saw him for the first time in 10 years last April, it hasn’t stopped her from loving him, and learning from him. Listening to Emm made me realize just how much further I have to go on my journey to be less judgmental. She also made me feel less alone. I learned that I’m not the only one out here with nieces & nephews I don’t feel connected to because my father wasn’t the only one who’s shenanigans interrupted the development of real sibling relationships. I’m not the only one who sees what’s accepted in the culture & doesn’t REALLY agree with it, but seems to keep finding myself amidst these relationships where I’m deserving more.

We didn’t just talk about Cheating Ass Daddies & Sidechick Step-Mommas or siblings that feel more distant than friends. We talked about how seeing failed relationships and BEING empathetic puts us in this place where we face a constant internal struggle of “If you love him you can work it out” and “Girl, you deserve BETTER!” Sometimes we don’t know what better looks like, so we just keep attracting these cheating ass reflections of the Daddies we saw the best in. #DaaamnDaddy

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Final Farewells

Two nights ago the First Dad gave a  “Farewell Address” that brought many to tears.

As Americans watched President Obama address the nation for the last time, they also shared their feelings on social media Tuesday night.
Source: Twitter Photo: Twitter.com

The memes were swift and for some the tears were real.

I wouldn’t say that President Obama has been like a father to me, but he’s definitely influenced a generation.

As heavy as his exit will impact us, I don’t suspect it hurts half as much as it would for one to lose their Dad forever

We’re a few days away from having a Monday off from work and school in honor of a Dad who died too soon.

It made me wonder what Daddy Issues come with death? How did Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s children cope with losing him?

I put out a few requests for people who’ve dealt with their Dad’s death to share their stories.

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Didn’t get the response I was looking for, but I did get some feedback.

Losing a Daddy that was present and positive, made those who lost him fight harder  to honor and extend his legacy.

Losing a Daddy that was unknown or absent turned a hole of inquiry into an abyss of unanswered questions.

I wondered if having a dead Dad impacted a child’s behavior in school.

If MLK’s assassination was a symbolic dead Dad in the black community:

Leaving us to raise ourselves. Forcing us to grow up faster, and prematurely aging the parent left to provide for and protect us.

When most people reflect on Martin Luther King’s legacy they talk about his dream. But what about his death? And have we ever really processed it’s effects?

Have you lost your Daddy?

  • How did you deal with it?
  • What advice on coping would you pass on?

 

If I were still in the classroom. I’d flip the script on Martin Luther King Day. Teach a lesson on Empathy, by having scholars write diary entries as one of his kids who just found out their Dad died.

 

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Communication is Key

Last month my mom was testing out her Amazon Fire Stick and decided to put on the Love & Hip Hop New York Reunion. On this particular reunion Special Yandy Smith-Harris was at odds with her stepson’s biological mother, Samantha.

With her husband serving time in prison. Yandy began to feel that Samantha was keeping her stepson away form her and his siblings. Samantha felt Yandy had overstepped some boundaries. Yandy felt that these boundaries didn’t exist when her husband was home.

From the outside looking in, there seems to have been a lapse in communication. Whether you agree with Yandy or Samantha, to me, the common denominator is Mendeecees.

Once a man decides to blend families he has to have a plan on how to communicate the needs of the children to the women playing roles in their upbringing.

Samantha is entitled to be upset that her son was taken across state lines without her consent. However, her anger towards Yandy is perplexing because he was in the care of his father on the way out and Yandy made sure he got back safely.

My point is his Daddy has the same rights as his mother; and being angry at the step-parent for the actions of his other biological parent makes no sense to me.

Yandy is noble in her desire to keep the children present in each other’s lives in the absence of their father. However a ring and a title doesn’t grant you permission to take other people’s children out of school early without telling them. That’s borderline kidnapping boo.

I was annoyed watching two grown women engage in an argument that seemed avoidable if they all had practiced the art of communication.

It also dawned on me that dating with a child while I have none, makes me empathize with Yandy. If a man sets the tone during the dating phase that there is no need for his girlfriend to ever communicate with the mother of his child, if and when that woman becomes his wife, it makes it difficult for those women to know HOW to communicate in his absence.

Additionally if a man decides to make a woman his wife, and a permanent addition into his child’s life, it is his responsibility to help build a bridge between the two women responsible for nurturing and pouring into his child. At least provide a pathway of peace.

Pathway to Peace

If you fail to plan the roles they’ll play in your child’s life, you fail your child. #DaaamnDaddy