Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's All Greek to Me

The weekend before Thanksgiving, I did some volunteer work. For the holiday season, one of the local churches I attend conducted an outreach service through which they delivered Thanksgiving meals to at-need families around the DC metro area. I was part of the loading & unloading team, which took 250 meal boxes off the delivery truck and then loaded them into the cars of the volunteers who were to present the meals to the families. After all of the volunteers had left, there were still about 50 boxes left unaccounted for. (Translation: multiple volunteers who had signed up to help deliver boxes didn't show up. Sigh.) So, the rest of us volunteers who were still there took what was left and helped to deliver the meals to the families that were expecting the boxes.

Why am I mentioning any of this? As I was heading home after volunteering, for some reason, Black fraternities and sororities came to mind. When I was in college, I remember the Greeks always mentioning volunteering as their main contribution to society as an organization. I always found it to be somewhat ironic whenever their community service was brought up, because for the most part, very little of it was ever made public. As a college student who never pledged, the things I most associated with Greeks were step shows, hearing them brag about their pledging process, and their strolling getting in my way when I was trying to dance up on a chick at a party. For this reason, I always wondered why these seemed to be the prevalent things that separated them from the rest of us instead of the alleged community service that was supposed to be the foundation for their organizations in the first place.

Furthermore, when you look at the mission statements for the NPHC fraternities, every one of them has a focus on providing service to the community (with the exception of Kappa Alpha Psi, whose only concern seems to be "being really good at everything"). I find it strange that service is such a common theme, yet most of the volunteer service being provided is done in private, unbeknownst to the rest of the college community. How can you attract like-minded individuals with your good deeds if they don't even know that it's being done?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Chivalry Is Sooo 20th Century...

We all know the facts. We've all heard the statistics, read the books, and watched the specials. Most educated black women are single. Sure, 50% of marriages in America end in divorce, but these chicks can't even get married to know what divorce feels like. There have been too many reports, too many books from comedians, and too many blog posts addressing the issue. Hell, I even talked about it on this blog a while ago. So I won't even bother to belabor the point any further. It is what it is.

Anyway, I found myself on this blog the other day, and I was really enjoying the posts and the blogger's point of view. After some perusal, I stumbled upon this post. The video in particular got me thinking, specifically the part when they pointed out that 42% of black women have never been married. They went on to say that because black women outnumber black men by so much, even if every black man in the country married a black woman, 1 out of every 12 black woman would still wind up single. Wow. Then when you eliminate the ones without an education and the ones in jail, the pickings for black women becomes quite slim.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why Advice is Stupid

"I always call n*ggas fools for wanting to learn the hard way/ When I'm really the fool for tryna teach 'em" - Joe Budden

Very often, I find myself in situations where I see someone I know about to make a bad decision. Very often, of course, because people are idiots. Now, when faced with these situations, I have one of two options. I can either a.) try to intercede and stop them from making an ill-advised move, or b.) sit back and watch them fail miserably. Choice b is obviously more enjoyable, since other people's failures make me feel better about my own life. Unfortunately, there are a few people in this miserable world that I actually care about (who knew?), in which case I feel compelled/obligated to offer some advice.

To be completely transparent, I must admit that most of my advice comes from a very selfish place. As a man that thinks he always knows best, I enjoy being able to tell people why I'm right and they're wrong. I take pleasure in proving to other people that I'm smarter than them. And in several occasions, they will even admit to such by letting me know just how wise and superior I am. Responses such as, "That's a great point!" or "I never looked at it that way!" or "You are an amazing genius! I'm lucky to know you!" typically let me know that my job is complete. I have imparted my knowledge on your wretched soul, and now you are forever indebted to my beautiful mind.


There is an inherent problem in all of this.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Twitter Rules

Last time I discussed Twitter on this site, I was making fun of it. I said that I didn't see the point of it, and I said that I would never start an account.

I lied.

I got an Twitter account sometime last fall, and I've noticed a number of benefits that weren't evident before I joined the site. For one, I like that I can follow publications and celebrities to get up-to-the-minute information on new stories, or new material from my favorite artists. I also like being able to share links instantly with friends without having to wait for them to check their Facebook profile. So yeah, it's not all bad.

Having said that, though, I must admit that I can only check up on Twitter periodically. If I go on too often, I usually just get frustrated. Why, you ask? Well, because most of the tweets I see on my timeline are bullsh*t. Now, this isn't a knock at any specific people that I follow (OK, maybe it is), but I just feel like a lot of people put inconsequential stuff on Twitter without realizing that no one cares at all. Twitter is supposed to be used as a social networking tool, but I find that far too many people use it just to write down all of their thoughts, as if Twitter were some sort of a public journal. Or the Internet's equivalent of talking to yourself out loud. I don't mean to be rude, but trust that neither I nor any of your other followers care that you're craving IHOP or that you lost your favorite pair of socks. That's not interesting. So, to help some of your hapless saps who tweet without any discretion, I have come up with three very simple rules to make your tweets more follow-friendly. I find that if your tweets fall outside of these three basic tenets, you're probably just typing nonsense. I call them "The Twitter Rules."

Friday, July 9, 2010

Why LeBron James Is A Bitch

Yesterday, I was online checking out new music and I saw something that caught my attention. Gucci Mane had a new song featuring Talib Kweli. If you know anything about hip-hop, you understand why this is a big deal. Kweli has made a career for himself by being a top-notch lyricist with socially conscious rhymes, while Gucci's rhymes are mostly about jewelry and not much else. As someone who's been following Kweli's career closely, I was truly disappointed. And I wasn't the only one; when he mentioned on Twitter last month that he might do a song with Gucci, a number of his fans got so upset that they unfollowed him. He might think that his fans are being close-minded, but I understand why they were bothered. For someone with Kweli's talent and skill, doing songs with a hack of an artist for the sake of some publicity and a nice paycheck is a slap in the face to the people who have been riding with him since day one. It's a middle finger to the people who know he's better than Gucci, and it almost tells them that he would rather dumb it down with rappers worse than him than display his skills on his own.

I'll give one more (weaker but still slightly appropriate) parallel. In the movie "The Godfather Part II", Mafia leader Michael Corleone is almost killed in an assassination attempt at his home. Although the attempt is unsuccessful, Michael draws the conclusion that the attempt had to have been carried out with the help of someone within his inner circle. Come to find out, the betrayer was his brother Fredo, who accidentally let some secret information slip to some people who wanted Michael dead. When Michael approaches Fredo, he grabs his face, kisses him, and tells him, "I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart." After that, Fredo is as good as dead to Michael, who acts as if Fredo never existed. Towards the end of the movie, Michael eventually welcomes Fredo back into his life. But then in the end, he has him killed.

What LeBron James did last night reminded me a little of both Talib Kweli and Fredo Corleone. Choosing Miami was like doing a song with Gucci Mane. It was a complete disregard for his skill, and he deferred to a lesser talent instead of creating a better product on his own. Leaving Cleveland was like Fredo betraying Michael. Although the intent may not have been malicious, he could have single-handedly destroyed an entire organization.

Which brings me to the title of this post: Why I think LeBron James is a bitch.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

NBA 2010 Wrap-Up

Well, the season is over. Good playoffs, great final game, congrats to the Lakers. Now that that's out the way, I'd like to make a few notes on some observations I made throughout the playoffs that leave some questions for next season (considering there isn't a lockout).
  • LeBron James - I've already talked about his free agency, but I think his losing in the second round raises a different question: is he really the key to a title? Has LeBron proven that he will be able to lead a team to a championship? He's super talented, there's no denying that. But I'm not yet convinced that he's going to guarantee his next team a trip to the Finals. People always compare him to Magic Johnson, but as of right now, he's a lot more like Dominique Wilkins.
  • Boston Celtics - What happens now? Kevin Garnett isn't great anymore, Ray Allen is a free agent, Sheed might retire, and Doc Rivers might not come back as coach. On top of all that, Tom Thibodeau, the assistant coach that runs their daunted defense, is leaving to be the Bulls' head coach. This whole team could potentially blow up and be a bottom-feeder. What a shame. (Who am I kidding? That would be great. I hate this team.)
  • Dirk Nowitzki - He has a player option on next season and has stated that he'll be testing free agency. There have even been rumors of him maybe signing with the Suns to reunite with his BFF Steve Nash... I do think he should leave Dallas (they're not getting any closer than 2006* again, let's face it), but I don't think Phoenix is the best option. An all-offense player on an all-offense team? And how can he and Frye coexist? I think he fits in better with Chicago, but I guess we'll see if he even leaves at all.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Summer of LeBron

You see that picture? Pretty good, right? He looks nice in that orange and blue, don't you agree?

I think so. Of course, that clearly has everything to do with my being a Knicks fan, and us not having a star in God knows how long (although David Lee made the All-Star Game this year, shout-out to him). Considering his free agent status is t-minus 42 days, nothing would be better for us than seeing LBJ play in MSG.

Of course, we all knew this was coming. LeBron's impending free agency has been anticipated for the past 2 or 3 seasons, and the Knicks (along with a few other teams) have been preparing for it. Hiring Donnie Walsh as our General Manager was a great first step, as he's been able to give us the salary cap space that the last two losers spent so much time trying to throw away. But even after we had the money, I still had one concern: the Cleveland Cavaliers. I knew that if LeBron won a championship with the Cavs, the likelihood of him leaving would probably diminish. After all, what superstar leaves a team after they win a title?

As we all know now, that didn't happen. Despite winning 61 games this season, the Cavs blew it in the second round, losing to the Celtics in a Game 6 in which they didn't even seem to be trying at times. Personally, I was ecstatic. I was rooting for them to lose for my own selfish reasons, and it was probably the first time I rooted for Boston since 2002. When it was all over, Knicks fans everywhere rejoiced. Our chance had come! For a team that hasn't been to the Finals in 11 years, the Cavs' loss was our biggest win in years.

But what now? Free agency doesn't start until July 1, yet it still hasn't stopped everyone from speculating where LeBron might go and what his reason
for going will be. I've heard he was staying in Cleveland because he's a loyal native of Ohio. I've heard he was leaving the Cavaliers because Delonte West slept with his mother. I've heard he would only sign with a team if they hired John Calipari as a coach. I've heard he was going to Chicago to play with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. I've heard it all. And then, of course, there's Worldwide Wes.

Truth is, none of us really know where LeBron will end up. He's getting the max contract either way, so you know there are only a number of teams that are capable of getting him (including the Cavs, who can actually offer him the most money due to the Larry Bird Exception). Do I hope he goes to New York? Of course. Will I cry if he doesn't? Of course. But I won't pretend that I know he'll definitely be a Knick, because I don't. Realistically? I think it's between us, the Cavs, and the Bulls. Because Miami is Wade's town, and who really wants to play for the Clippers, Nets, Wizards or Kings?

In the end, though, all I can do is hope. Because no one really knows. So if you hear any more news about where LeBron will go this summer, just ignore it. Chances are, they're just making up some news to keep themselves entertained since this year's playoffs have been so boring. Oh well.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Successful Black Women... You Mad??

Last night, I was lurking around on Twitter when I started to notice a few people commenting on ABC Nightline's latest special entitled, "Why Can't a Successful Black Woman Find a Man?" Provocative title, but it's nothing we as black people haven't already discussed ad nauseum. I was watching the NBA Playoffs, so I didn't bother to switch channels, but after I saw some outstanding responses from a number of people on twitter, I decided to see what all the fuss was about. So I logged onto Nightline's website to check the special out for myself.

Personally, I found the special to be well done, and felt that there were a lot of things discussed that weren't a part of the usual discussion on this topic. For one, I especially liked the point Hill Harper made about black men and women failing to be each other's friends. He argued that much of the disconnect between genders come from a lack of communication. When women get man advice from other women and men get woman advice from other men, everybody ends up being misinformed.

I also enjoyed Steve Harvey's point that many successful black women refuse to date men that aren't on the same social level that they're on, but they fail to realize that they are often the key piece that a man needs to get to that level. Harper repeatedly talked about dating a man for his potential as opposed to dating a man for what he currently has, and I'm not sure if the women on the panel ever really grasped what he meant at the end of the night.

Above all, I believe that the best point raised came at the end of the night from a woman in the audience.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Playboy, Passes, & A Racist Penis

I'm sure this topic has been beaten to death in the blogosphere over the past week, and I may be late in discussing it (especially in this instant message-twitter-google buzz world we live in), but eff it. I feel like talking about it anyway, not only because I like to look at my own words (which I do), but also because I don't think it's been discussed from my particular point-of-view.

After John Mayer's Playboy interview leaked (click here to read it), there were two things that I saw everyone up in arms about: his racist penis and his ownership of a "nigger pass." Now, as a black man who's not only super-proud of his heritage but also someone who has made a number of public statements about my love for black women, I guess I was supposed to be annoyed and bothered by Mayer's statements. I should call him a racist, ban his alleged "hood pass" and tell everyone to boycott his music. But guess what? I'm not doing any of that stuff. And to be honest, I wasn't even offended by what he said.

If you're surprised/shocked/appalled by my lack of concern, I would implore you to go and read the interview for yourself. I say that, of course, because I'm willing to bet that most of the people who were upset by Mayer's statements didn't even read the context from which the statements came. As a product of a journalism education, I'm well aware that a quote without the proper context can sound completely different than how it was meant to sound. But when you read the article, you'll see that neither of his "offensive" quotes were actually meant in a racist way. I'm convinced that the same people who were quick to get offended either didn't read the article or misunderstood the context from which the quotes came. Let's explore...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What Women Want

"Girrrrrl, lemme tell you... It's like everything was going so well, you know? But then, it seems like the more I get to know him, he just... ugh, I don't know. It's like he just doesn't get it! Why doesn't he get it?? Why doesn't he UNDERSTAND me??"

Famous conversation piece amongst women, no? In fact, how many women reading this haven't been in this very discussion? It seems that girls often talk about how little we men know about their desires and needs in the context of a relationship. And quite frankly, that's because we don't. But although I will be the first to admit that women are damn near impossible to figure out (much less to please), I do think there are a number of very basic needs that every woman looks for in men that they are attracted to. Simple desires that even we should be able to figure out. So, for the benefit of any man who may read this blog, I have listed what I believe to be the five most basic things that the average woman will require from a significant other...

1. Good conversation
Let's be honest here: Women love to talk. This is no surprise. And depending on the individual, she may want nothing more than for your ass to just listen to her and pretend to be interested. But of course, if the woman is any more than an incessant chatterbox, she's gonna want you to do some talking as well. Anyone can text, but can you put in work on the phone? Too many of us guys just don't know how to keep good, intriguing conversation, and I'm willing to bet that that's a major turn-off for a lot of women. Try to show her that you have some sort of intellect, because keeping a woman intrigued is way more important than getting her to think you're cute.

2. Keep her smiling/laughing
Although I've never heard a man say this, women almost ALWAYS say they want a man that can make them laugh. This actually plays into the first point; if you can't keep good conversation and you're boring, why would any woman want to talk to you? Ever?? I think the underlying issue, more than a woman wanting a funnyman, is that girls want to see that you have some sort of a personality. Often times, one's personality can be determined by their sense of humor. Now, don't get it twisted... this doesn't mean you should actively be making a litany of jokes in an attempt to cajole a chuckle out of her. Don't try too hard. Just be yourself, and more times than not, she'll end up smiling.

3. Good sex
Does it sound shallow? Absolutely. But is it true? Most definitely. And if you don't think a girl will stop talking to a guy because the sex sucks, I would suggest that you ask some of your female friends. I've heard some stories; you'd be surprised. Now, I'm a firm believer that no one can be inherently bad in bed. But I do understand that different people want and expect different things sexually, and it's our job as men to adjust to what our partner wants. However, ladies, a large bit of the responsibility falls on your shoulders, as well. If you don't tell us the sex is bad or suggest ways to improve, we'll be none the wiser, and the sex will continue to suck. So don't talk behind his back about him being lame. If you like him enough and you want things to get better, do like Drake and say something.

4. Ambition
Now, I'm only 23, and most of the people I know that read this blog are also under 30. At our age (and especially in this economy), no woman is really expecting you to be paying your own mortgage with a Mercedes Benz and a 4-car garage. Hell, a full-time job isn't even a guarantee nowadays. But one thing that the recession has not changed is women's desire to find a man with some sort of ambition and drive. Regardless of where you are in life, women want to know that you have issues that you're passionate about and that you are making progressive strides to better yourself. If you are going nowhere in life and seem content remaining blase, that most certainly will not help your cause.

5. Make her feel special
I saved this one for last because it's really the most important one. Above all else, all a woman really wants is for a man to make her feel special. That's it. Everything else on this list comes secondary. So put her on a pedestal. Treat her like a queen. Do a bunch of mushy sh*t. Making a woman feel special will give you so many brownie points that you can afford to mess up on a few thing here and there and still keep her, because she knows how good you make her feel (no Monster's Ball). Keep this in mind, and you really can't lose.

Of course, in order to insure the accuracy of this list, I had to think on the other side of things. If these are the things girls want, what are the main things women complain about? In my opinion, I would say women most complain that men: a) aren't faithful, b) are too boring, or c) are too selfish/self-centered. If this is true, I think my list stands up pretty well. Being unfaithful goes against #5, because cheating is the biggest way NOT to show a woman she's special to you, since you're basically telling her you need something better. Being too boring goes against #1 and #2, and she'll quickly become disinterested in you. (Being too boring might even go against #3 too, but that's a whole 'nother blog post.) And being self-centered goes against #1 and #5, because as much as women like to talk, no girl likes to hear a guy talk incessantly about himself. And of course, a selfish man won't make a girl feel special.

In short, just follow these rules, and you can't go wrong. Have I ever steered you wrong before?