Black Woman Blogging

One black woman's views on race, gender, politics, family, life and the world.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

How to Socially Vaporize Inappropriate People (as Well as President and Mrs. Obama Have)

I think we can all agree that the GOP legislative staffer's comments on Malia and Sasha Obama's dress and behavior at the latest turkey pardoning ceremony were  inappropriate and offensive.  What I've found interesting, however, is how the remarks have not even been acknowledged by President and Mrs. Obama (and yes, she's not "Michelle," she's "Mrs. Obama."  She will be the First Lady or a former First Lady for the rest of her life.  If you didn't call Mrs. Reagan "Nancy" or Barbara Bush "Barbara," you don't call Mrs. Obama "Michelle."). 

"Ah," I thought to myself. "Social vaporization."

What is "social vaporization," you ask?

It's the refusal to dignify the offensive actions of a person and, in many cases, the ignorant person who acted, by ignoring them and their act.  Social vaporization to its fullest effect is treating the person who offended you like they don't exist.

There are some segments of our society that have made social vaporization a high art form.  Too often, when someone does something that offends us, we engage in social jiu jitsu -- we attempt to use that person's offensive conduct to harm them.  We deride the offender's conduct in their presence, try to correct the conduct, or inflict the same conduct upon the offender.  We also give the offender what they want:  Attention.

That's just way too much energy.  Social vaporization is so much more efficient.  To see social vaporization at its best, you need to be around old money Southerners.  Of all races.  They socially vaporize people by politely ignoring the conduct, removing themselves from the offender's presence with a polite excuse ("Could you excuse me for a moment?  I need to say hello to a dear friend of mine across the room."), and, depending on the magnitude of the transgression, never making themselves available to be of help to, or in the presence of, the offender.  They stop taking the offender's calls.  They decline social invitations from the offender.  And they do so without expending as much energy as it takes to wipe their behinds. 

I've had to socially vaporize people.  One was a house guest who made inappropriate comments about one of my family members shortly after I had experienced a death in my family.  Said house guest has never stepped foot in my home since.  Vaporized.  I don't even expend energy thinking about relenting and having this person in my home.  I made my Whitney Houston-inspired "Hell to the no" decision years ago.  Poof.  Vaporized. 

I, too, have been socially vaporized.  A lovely lady was trying to groom me for membership in The Links.  I didn't realize it at the time, and with my sense of Delta superiority, I didn't think it mattered.  I didn't respond appropriately to her overtures, didn't make it a priority to attend the right events.  She socially vaporized me.  I deserved it.  I was not ready for what she was offering.  And I learned to respect The Links.

But old money Southerners?  Talk about social vaporization.  They socially vaporize people so well that the people who are vaporized don't even know they've been vaporized.  The vaporized simply think that the vaporizers are just busy, going through a difficult time, or overwhelmed with family obligations.  In fact, vaporized folks often create excuses for those who vaporize them because they can't imagine that they have been socially vaporized.  The vaporizers treat the vaporizees politely when encountered, but that's about it.  Vaporizers don't explain.  That would be an unmerited expenditure of energy for people who don't deserve it.

Why socially vaporize someone?  Because they're probably not going to change, you can't raise them (because we all know you can't raise grown people), and it would raise your blood pressure to be continually assaulted by their inappropriate or insensitive behavior.

So how do you decide whether to socially vaporize someone?  Ask yourself the following questions:

1)  How offended was I by what the offender did?  If the answer is "extremely," then ask yourself:
2)  Do we even have a relationship?  If the answer is "no," vaporize them.  If the answer is "yes," ask yourself:
3)  Is this a relationship worth saving?  If not, vaporize them.

Vaporizing someone is like forgiving someone. Forgiving someone is giving up the hope that the past will ever be different.  Socially vaporizing someone is giving up the hope that the offending person will ever cease to offend you.

May the force of social vaporization always be with you.

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Another Generation of Second-Class Citizens (Ferguson and Lionel Ritchie on My Mind)

Black Man Not Blogging (BMNB) and I are jaded.  Or rather, numb.  We were not surprised by the grand jury verdict in the Michael Brown killing.

We both agreed that it was senseless to loot and burn the businesses of innocent business owners in Ferguson, especially if those businesses employed those in the community and/or were black-owned.

We both agreed that if Michael Brown had reached for the officer's gun, his fate was sealed, not because he may not have been justified in reaching for it, but because, once you do, your killing by a police officer becomes justifiable.

We initially disagreed about the way forward.  Kind of.

"We have to teach our young men to be smarter," he said.

"Smarter?", I asked.

"Yes, smarter." BMNB explained that police officers act out of fear, specifically their fear of black men.  The answer, he said, was to teach all our sons that police officers' fears can cause them to be killed and that, no matter what, there are certain things you as a black man can't say or do to a police officer and expect to live to tell about it.

"Damn," I said.  "Do we have to raise yet another generation of second-class citizens?  My dad grew up seeing black men lynched because they didn't address a white man the right way or they looked at a white woman too long.  Your generation was raised not to run at night or make any sudden moves when stopped by the police.  Black people have always had to raise our sons to expect to be treated as second-class citizens.  Do we as black people have to raise yet another generation of second-class citizens?"

I hung my head.  Then I remembered a story Lionel Ritchie told in an episode of Oprah Winfrey's "Master Class."  He talked about growing up on the Tuskegee University (then Tuskegee Institute) campus and living in a racism-free bubble during segregation until he ventured off campus.  He spoke of how when he was a child he drank from a white water fountain in town, and white men then started to threaten his dad.  He just knew his dad was going to kick their behinds.  His dad only told him, "Get in the car."  Years later, he asked his dad why he hadn't stood up to those white men. His dad replied:

"Son, I had two choices that day.  I could choose to be a man or I could choose to be your father.  That day, I chose to be your father."

It made me realize that it isn't about being a second-class citizen.  It's about having our young black men survive the experience and live to tell about it.  If they don't live, they can't tell the tale of what happened to them.  Only forensics and police officers put on the stand during their own grand jury hearings (WTH?) will tell the tale.  And if young black men don't live to tell what happened to them, it can't be changed for the next generation of young black man.

"We need a protocol for all our young men to follow when they encounter the police.  A protocol that we can all agree on, that's nationally recognized.  I don't know if it's 'Hands up, don't shoot' or what, but we need a protocol that we all train our young black men to follow when they encounter the police. We need to teach that protocol in the churches and the schools."

"Then we need to train the police on that protocol," said BMNB.  And then he said something that made me even more jaded:

"You know that every day there are black men who do all the right things when they encounter the police and still get killed, right?"

"Yes, I know."  But we have to start somewhere.

#FeelingPowerless
#BlackLivesMatter

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Don't Be a Volunteer for The Dysfunction Games (May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor)

Gentle Readers,

The holidays are upon us once again.  Mockingjay, Part I will be opening on Thanksgiving.  This gave me food for thought: 

Don't be a volunteer for The Dysfunction Games this holiday season.

I  read "The Hunger Games," the first of a trilogy by Suzanne Collins, but did not read the other two books.  I read it for a neighborhood book club composed of mostly stay-at-home moms. We were planning to read both "The Hunger Games" and the second book, "Catching Fire."  I couldn't get past "The Hunger Games."  I was deeply disturbed by the idea of young people being chosen as "tributes" to kill other young people until only one was left standing.  I was even more disturbed by the fact that this was considered a YA novel and was being assigned in our local schools.

The stay-at-home moms loved the books.  I questioned their taste and never returned to the group.

If you've read "The Hunger Games" or saw the movie, you know the hunger games portrayed in the movie are rivaled in real life by what I would call The Dysfunction Games:  The weird, awkward, and oftentimes offensive social interactions that occur during the holidays when families with dysfunctional behavior and unresolved issues try to socialize in spite of their behavior and issues.

Truth be told, many folks participating in The Dysfunction Games don't know they're dysfunctional.  They have no filters, no sense of boundaries, and/or no manners.  And they're totally unaware, bless their hearts.  They're old enough to know better but too old to be raised better than they were.  All you can do is pray for them.  And avoid them.

Then there are the folks I would call "The Volunteers."   Like the protagonist in "The Hunger Games," Katniss Everdeen, they volunteer to be all up in the game.  Like Katniss, they know the game is wrong, evil, and offensive.  Unlike Katniss, they go in thinking they can change the game, i.e., get dysfunctional people to behave like they're not dysfunctional or, even worse, to see the dysfunction of their ways.

Don't be a volunteer.  You ain't Katniss Everdeen.  Here's why.

Katniss volunteered for The Hunger Games for a higher purpose -- to keep her younger sister from being killed in the games -- and with an edge -- superior skills as an archer.  Even if you have a higher purpose, i.e., to keep Aunt Mae-Mae from slapping the piss out of Cousin Mookie -- you probably don't have the superior skills necessary to make this work. Unless you're a psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker or counselor, you do not have the skills to succeed in The Dysfunction Games.  You need to sit your behind on the bench and just watch.

However, the most important skill to have is to know when you're volunteering.  Did someone actually ask you to intervene between Aunt Mae-Mae and Cousin Mookie?  Even if you were asked, did you decline?  If your answer to either of these questions is "no," you're a volunteer.

Don't be.  It's only going to get worse.  Inevitably, someone will get drunk and start telling all the family secrets about affairs and the questionable paternity of some of your relatives.  Trust me, you ain't Katniss Everdeen.  You do not have an edge in The Dysfunction Games.

Happy Holidays.  May the odds be ever in your favor.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Black Woman Blogging Solves the Ebola Crisis (You're Welcome, Federal Government)

NOTE:  This post includes language not suitable for viewing at work or by the easily offended.

Dear Federal Government,

Not to put too fine a point on it, but you fucked up.  Big time.  You allowed a disease for which there is no known cure, only treatment, to come to our country, a place where it is not indigenous.

What the fuck?

Since you can't even keep the President safe, I can't trust you to keep me safe, and I'm far less valuable than the President.  That said, let me dust off my Master's in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, (AKA The Degree I Never Use), concentration in Domestic Policy, and help y'all pull your heads out of your collective asses.  It doesn't take a Princeton degree to do this. 

Step One:  Admit That You Don't Know How Ebola is Spread

The explanations for how Ebola is spread are not explanations -- they're theories.  Y'all really don't know how it's spread, and until you admit that, we can't take the steps we need to take.  First, everyone was saying that it's spread by contact with bodily fluids and not by airborne transmission.  Now you have folks saying that if you're within three to four feet of someone with Ebola who sneezes, and the effluent gets in one of your mucous membranes, you might get it.  And there are cases in which you're not quite sure how fully protected health care workers got it.

And then you have Dr. Anthony Fauci pontificating about how it's spread.  Really? Isn't he the doctor who was first out of the gate saying that HIV/AIDS is spread by normal household contact?  Despite all the work he's done since in HIV/AIDS research, I'm not willing to treat him as a credible source on the transmission of Ebola.  I'd rather wait a few years after he's had a chance to study it.  But we don't have a few years.  We have a few weeks.

So, step one is to admit that you don't know how Ebola is spread so we can move on to step two.

Step Two:  Ban All Travel To And From The Affected Countries, Except for Aid Missions

Yep, I said it.  Ban all travel to and from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone until this is under control in their countries.  Why?  Because they haven't contained Ebola where it started, and our only line of defense here is accepting people's travel histories on faith and taking temperatures at five airports.  Really, Federal Government, that's the best you can do?  For a disease for which there is no known cure and little if any experimental drugs available?

I call bullshit.  You can't control what you can't contain.

Ban all travel except for aid missions, which leads to step three:

Step Three:  Treat Affected Health Care Workers Where They Contract The Disease

Sorry, but if you leave America and get Ebola in West Africa while serving as a health care worker, you get to stay in West Africa and be treated.  If you decided to join this battle, God bless you, but you knew what you were signing up for.  You don't get to bring risk of the disease to the rest of us who didn't sign up for that risk here in America.  Sad to say, but if more health care workers from America had to be treated where they contracted the disease, it would make step four move faster.

Step Four:  Use Old Military Ships As Mobile Hospitals to Treat Ebola Patients in West Africa

Instead of trying to build MASH hospitals in the West African heat and humidity, use old military ships -- from all of the G-7 countries, not just us -- as mobile hospitals to treat Ebola patients in West Africa.  Transport them out by helicopter.  While the ships serve as mobile hospitals, build the land-based ones quickly. The key is to isolate the sick as soon as they are diagnosed, and as far from the rest of the population as possible.  Nobody leaves the ships alive unless they are well.  When it's all over, burn the ships and sink them.

Step Five:  Quarantine Everyone Who Came to America From West Africa During the Outbreak

Yep, I said it.  Quarantine every last one of them. And their pets, too. Sorry.  Actually, no, I'm not sorry.

Step Six:  Raise Money.  Fast

Every one of the industrialized nations needs to do an EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) to Doctors Without Borders like yesterday.  Trust me, if Wal-Mart can demand same day payment for my past due credit card bill (I paid on time, just not the right amount), surely we have the means to transfer funds to the NGOs on the ground within hours, not days, so they can get all the life saving equipment they need.

Along those lines, where's the Ebola Telethon like we had for the tsunami victims in Japan and Thailand?  Where's the Ebola fund raising anthem like "We Are The World"?  Lionel Ritchie, you need to write a song quick, fast and in a hurry.  Bono and Elton John, gather your celebrity friends and play Wembley Stadium.  George Clooney and Don Cheadle, y'all need to run this shit.  Madonna, wear a t-shirt that says, "Fight Ebola now" and try not to look anorexic while you're wearing it. 

These six steps are a good start.  Better than what the Federal Government is doing or is proposing to do.

You're welcome, Federal Government.  Now, pull your heads out of your asses.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Facebook Got Stonewalled (Learn Your LGBT History)

Facebook got Stonewalled, but not in the way the term is usually used.  As they say, those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it.

Anybody who knows me knows I adore drag queens because they can be better at being women than women and yet deploy their male physical strength when they choose to.  Nobody but a drag queen can dress like Diana Ross, throw shade like Bette Davis, and beat you down like Mike Tyson.  As Wesley Snipes said in drag in the movie, "To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything," a drag queen is what happens when you have too much style for either gender.

Clearly someone at Facebook pulled the idea out of their ass that they would enforce their heretofore unenforced "no fake names" policy, and they decided to start enforcing the policy against, of all people, drag queens.

What part of Stonewall did this idiot not know?  Did this idiot not know that it was drag queens who set off the Stonewall Riots?  Drag queens who beat down police officers?  If a drag queen would beat down a police officer, imagine what she would do to Mark Zuckerberg's puny ass?

And not only did Facebook pick the most unlikely group of people with whom to pick a fight -- drag queens -- but they started with one of the most famous drag queens in the world, Sister Roma of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

What was Facebook thinking?  The Sisters are perpetual icons of Pride Parades.  If you were going to pick on some drag queens, why oh why would you pick one of the Sisters?

Well, Sister Roma fought back and threw shade, noting that Facebook had picked out drag queens as the first group against which to enforce their policy.  Now, I'm not Facebook's lawyer, but I would have imagined that, with Facebook having its corporate headquarters in California and selectively enforcing its policy against a well known San Francisco drag queen, they were ripe for an Unruh Civil Rights Act claim, but hey, I'm not Facebook's lawyer.

That aside, Sister Roma did her thing and Facebook had to back down and, as they say in politics, "walk back" their policy.

So Facebook got Stonewalled.

Learn your LGBT history, Facebook, so you won't be doomed to repeat it. Pick on drag queens at your peril.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Blurred Lines, Clear Karma (You Know You Want It)

I believe in Karma.  I believe that what you put out into the world, good or bad, comes back to you. That's why I'm not surprised at the recent turn of events in the lawsuit about Robin Thicke's 2013 summer anthem, "Blurred Lines."

"Blurred Lines" re-created the same dilemma that any free-thinking and music-loving feminist faces:  Loving the beat and the melody, but hating the words and, in this case, the video.  Sure, we've all seen videos where women were nothing but sexual foils to the male artists in the video, but there was something creepy about the video, especially the topless version.  Sure, Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" video made the women in it look like vacuous dolls, but this video made the women in it look like vacuous inflatable sex dolls.  I'm not a big Robin Thicke fan, but somehow I expected more from the "Lost Without You" crooner.  Before, he sang songs about loving women, while "Blurred Lines" smacked of undertones of grooming a woman for sexual exploitation like a privileged college frat boy rapist would.  The graffiti in the video that read, "Robin Thicke has a big d***" was juvenile and over the top.  Clearly no one cared about the sexism in the song and the effect it might have on young people.  Sexism sells.

In their depositions in the copyright infringement suit against the children of Marvin Gaye, both Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams admitted that Thicke did not contribute to writing the song.  Thicke admitted he lied about helping to write the song in order to sell more records.  He also admitted he didn't do a single interview sober in the aftermath of "Blurred Lines" and the MTV Video Awards twerking incident with the tasteless and boundary-lacking Miley Cyrus.

Here's where Karma comes in.

"Blurred Lines" led to a media blitz, a twerking scandal, and a picture with Thicke's hand planted firmly in the crack of the ass of a woman not his wife.  His wife, the stunningly beautiful Paula Patton (notice Thicke didn't have her running around topless in the video in front of Pharrell and T.I.), leaves him, and despite doing an album in her honor and naming it for her, the album fails and he fails to get her back.  He disrespected women and lost the woman he respected.  Karma.

Pharrell also got a bit of a Karma bite back.  The song for which he was nominated for an Oscar, "Happy," loses to "Let It Go."  It isn't often that a music artist gets nominated for an Oscar.  Is it a coincidence that he lost in the wake of all the "Blurred Lines" fallout?  I don't think so.

Sure, you can put your art out there and not take responsibility for it.  You can pass it off as just expression and, well, art.  Just because you don't take responsibility for your work doesn't mean that Karma won't hold you responsible in some form or another.  And maybe, just maybe, Thicke's behavior was a cry for help for his drug and alcohol dependence issues.  Maybe he really wanted what Karma was handing out.

Blurred lines, clear Karma. 

You know you want it.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

A High Hustle Quotient (What Tina Turner and The Tamale Lady Have in Common)

Whenever I hear people who are struggling financially or in their careers tell me what they’re not going to do to get out of their situations, e.g., “I’m not going to take work outside of my field,” “I’m not going to take the bus to get to work,” or “I’m not working at Starbucks,” I smile and think to myself:
 
Tina Turner cleaned houses.
 
After Tina Turner divorced Ike Turner, she was broke.  If you saw the movie, “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” or read the book, you know Tina Turner came through her divorce without much other than her name.  To get out of the financial situation she was in, she cleaned houses.  Mind you, she cleaned houses not while she was unknown and still Anna Mae Bullock.  She cleaned houses as Tina Turner, formerly of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.  Imagine the humility it took to go from singing and dancing on stage for thousands to cleaning houses for some of her rich friends.  Imagine what it felt like to go from having a cleaning lady to becoming one.
 
Then there’s the Tamale Lady.  A while back in the Sacramento area, there was this Latina who sold tamales in front of a local Wal-Mart.  Someone dropped a dime on her (probably one of her competitors), and she was cited for trespassing, arrested, and ended up in immigration proceedings for not being here legally.  There was a huge hue and cry in the community that the Tamale Lady got picked up for doing what she did best –  make and sell tamales.   It rankled even the free enterprise “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” conservative folks because the Tamale  Lady was doing exactly what we’re told we’re supposed to do in America to succeed – work hard, do well, and don’t expect help from the government or anyone else.  I believe she was eventually released from custody.
 
What Tina Turner and the Tamale Lady have in common is what I would call a high hustle quotient (HQ).  What is a hustle quotient, you ask?  To me, it is a combination of factors that predict how likely it is you will get out of the struggle you’re in and not end up in the same position again. These factors include:
 
1.     Willingness to take any kind of work when you don’t have any, and to work multiple jobs
2.     Effort and initiative in finding work
3.     Willingness to work under difficult circumstances and do whatever it takes to get to work (e.g., take the bus at night, walk to work)
4.     Willingness to learn from those you’re seeking help from
5.     Willingness to do something different when what you’re doing isn’t working
6.     An understanding of how you ended up in the circumstances you’re in and a plan not to end up in them again
7.     Willingness to make hard sacrifices to get out of your situation, e.g., sell some of your shit
 
Why does a high HQ matter?  It matters because it’s a predictor of how likely it is someone will have to help you again and, as a result, whether it’s worth it to help you now. No one wants to put their hard earned money down the rat hole of someone else’s unwillingness or inability to learn from their situation and make adjustments. Let’s explore these factors, shall we?
 
1.     Willingness to take any kind of work when you don’t have any, and to work multiple jobs
 
It’s usually this first factor that is a sticking point for struggling people, usually young ones or those with newly minted bachelor’s degrees.  I laugh inwardly when unemployed people with bachelor’s degrees tell me, “I don’t want to take a job that’s outside of my field.”  Let’s be clear:  Unless your bachelor’s degree is in engineering or computer science, you don’t really have a field.  The only things your non-engineering or non-computer science bachelor’s degree qualify you for are to a) Get a teaching credential; b) go to graduate or professional school; or c) get an entry-level government job.  A bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma.  My bachelor’s degree is in political science, which qualified me for exactly what I did directly after college – a minimum wage internship with a government agency and graduate school.  The irony is that the internship I had at the California State Capitol as a high school senior had more prestige than the internship I had after graduating Stanford with a bachelor’s in political science.  Go figure.
 
When you don’t have a job AND you’re asking other people to help you, you can’t be too picky about what work you’ll take AND expect people to help you, especially if they work shitty jobs or hate their jobs.  No one is willing to subsidize your potential happiness and career satisfaction with their current unhappiness and career dissatisfaction.  Why should you be happier than they are on THEIR dime?
 
2.      Effort and initiative in finding work
 
However, it is usually the second factor – effort and initiative in finding work – that brings strugglers and helpers to blows, especially if the struggler is living under the helper’s roof.  No grown person wants to feed and house another healthy adult person who isn’t working hard at finding a job or is picky about what they’ll do (see factor number 1). My father’s rule was that if you were an adult and living in his house, you needed to be going to school, working, or looking for work.  He also believed and made clear that there were no other men in his house but him because, if you were a man, you’d be in your own house taking care of your own self.  If he even remotely sensed that one of my brothers wasn’t going to school, working, or looking for work, he’d growl, “This ain’t no flop house.  Get up, n*****!” 
 
The point that my father was trying to make, albeit inartfully, is that there is a difference between being an adult and being grown.  Adulthood is a matter of reaching a certain age; being grown is a matter of reaching and maintaining a level of responsibility for yourself and sometimes others.  Not all adults are grown.  Conversely, not all grown people are adults.  My father was the second oldest of eight, grew up without a father, and worked to support my grandmother and his siblings, all before the age of eighteen.  For the most part, my father has always been grown, even before he was an adult.  When you have the responsibilities of a grown person without the income, you better make some effort and show some initiative in finding a job if you expect other grown people to help you.
 
It’s typically the second half of the second factor that gets under my skin – lack of initiative.  I’ve had a struggler tell me, “I can’t apply for jobs online because I don’t have a computer,” to which I’ve replied, “Go to the library.  They have computers.”  The response:  “But the library is far away.  I’d have to walk or take the bus.”  Precisely.  That’s called initiative.  And when you’re broke or don’t have a job, all you have is your initiative, which is your determination to overcome obstacles with little or no assistance from others. I have evolved to the point where your initiative only matters to me if you’re asking for my help. If you lack initiative AND are asking for my help, don’t bother.  If you have little or no initiative AND you’re not asking for my help, party on, because I’m not affected by your lack of initiative. Mind you, when it comes to my relatives, it’s taken me a long time to get to this point of view on initiative when they aren’t asking for my help (because I despise laziness in all forms), but I’m there.
 
3.         Willingness to work under difficult circumstances and do whatever it takes to get to work (e.g., take the bus at night, walk to work)
 
Willingness to work under difficult circumstances and do whatever it takes to get to work is a factor that rankles most helpers who are Depression and World War II-era folks, pre-civil rights blacks and people of color, or people who came up out of abject poverty.  When a struggler tells a helper who grew up in the Depression, served in or survived World War II, lived as a black person or person of color in the pre-civil rights era of limited opportunity, or who came up out of abject poverty what they’re not willing to do or that they’re not willing to take a bus or walk to work, these helpers literally lose their shit because they HAD to do what the struggler is not willing to do to get out of his or her struggle.  They had to walk to work or take buses.  They had to work overtime – hell, my father thought that overtime was the equivalent of Christmas in July, and he took it whenever it was offered.  These kinds of helpers had to take jobs that were hard, dirty or beneath them to take care of themselves or others or to get to the next level.  They even left behind family and friends to find work in places where they knew no one.  They came through hard times not of their making.  When a struggler is not willing to do what a helper has had to do to survive, the conversation about help is pretty much over.  Stick a fork in it; it’s done.
  
 
4.         Willingness to learn from those you’re seeking help from
 
The strugglers who aren’t willing to learn from those they’re seeking help from just leave me shaking my head, especially the young strugglers.  What they don’t get is that the people who are helping them are in the position to help them because they know some things that perhaps the struggler doesn’t, like how to get and/or keep a job, because those things never change.  When a struggler, especially a young one, tells me that I don’t know about their profession or what they’re going through because the job market has changed since I was their age or that I haven’t had to find a job in a while, I just laugh inwardly.  True, the job market has changed in terms of the number and kinds of jobs available.  The qualities it takes to get and keep a job have not.  I may not be successful at a lot of things, but I know how to get and keep a job.  If someone who is struggling isn’t willing to learn that from someone who is helping them or in a position to help them, they lose major points on the HQ scale in my book.  As Marianne Williamson says, the youth teach us about the things that change.  Elders teach us about the things that never change.  Word.
 
5.         Willingness to do something different when what you’re doing isn’t working
 
The strugglers who aren’t willing to do something different when what they’re doing isn’t working amuse me.  It’s funny to me when they insist on continuing on a path to nowhere and want you to finance the journey, then get mad when you suggest that they try something different.  They want you to have patience with them continuing on a failed path.  What they fail to realize is that it’s okay for them to continue on a failed path, but it’s not okay for them to ask people to subsidize their journey.  If you’re not willing to try something different when you’re struggling, I have neither the time nor the inclination to subsidize you because your actions tell me you’re either not going to get out of your struggle or, if you do, you’ll be back in it again.
 
  
6.         An understanding of how you ended up in the circumstances you’re in and a plan not to end up in them again
 
When strugglers don’t understand or don’t want to understand how they ended up in their struggle, it’s almost useless to help them financially.  They think their struggle is purely happenstance and they didn’t do anything wrong, and that with time and money (yours), they’ll be back in the game without having to change what they did before.  This may be true in the event of a catastrophe such as a death, debilitating illness, or an economic downturn (to a certain extent).  It is not true, however, if the struggler keeps getting fired for the same reason, e.g., won’t go to work or keeps cussing out the boss, or if the struggler keeps insisting on finding work in a field where the jobs are disappearing, such as factory work.  A struggler who does not see the role he or she has played in creating his or her struggle is doomed to continue struggling.  At that point, giving them money is the worse thing you can do because they’ll go back to doing what they did before, thinking their timing or circumstances was  off when if fact they were off.  All you would be doing is subsidizing future struggle.  I’m all for giving strugglers a financial time out to figure out how they ended up in their struggle and to plan not to end up in their struggle again; what I’m not for is giving a struggler money to go back and do the same stupid shit that got them in their struggle in the first place.
 
7.        Willingness to make sacrifices to get out of your situation, e.g., sell some of your shit
 
Finally, if you’re struggling and asking someone for help, be mindful of this last factor.  If you have more assets than the person you’re seeking help from, they’re not likely to want to help you until you get rid of your assets that they don’t have or can’t afford.  Why?  Because they’re not willing to subsidize for you a lifestyle that they can’t afford or have not afforded themselves because of the sacrifices they’re making to get to the next level or achieve a goal.  Don’t ask someone for financial help when you’re rocking a Coach bag, rolling in a Benz, owning the latest smartphone, watching a 52 inch LED flat screen, or own two or more houses or vehicles when the person you’re asking for money or help doesn’t.  I can tell you what that person is thinking:  “You’re not willing to make sacrifices to get out of the situation you’re in, so why should I make any sacrifices to help you keep shit I can’t afford or don’t have?” An acquaintance of mine told me of how she was routinely hit up for rent money by a family member who rocked designer purses and got her hair and nails done regularly when the acquaintance was doing neither.  Needless to say, the acquaintance stopped giving the rent money. 
 
If you’re struggling and have assets that the person you’re seeking help from doesn’t have, you need to make friends with eBay or Craigslist or start your own Etsy store before you ask that person or anyone else for help.
 
So, if you’re struggling financially or in your career, start with an assessment of your own HQ before asking for help.  What strugglers don’t understand is that a high HQ is almost like a high credit score – people are more willing to help someone with a high HQ because they believe in that person and that person’s ability to get out of their struggle, just as lenders are more willing to lend to someone with a high credit score because it is a predictor of whether they’ll get their money back.  Conversely, a low HQ is like a low credit score when asking for help.  If you need to build your HQ, you might want to start by cleaning houses like Tina Turner or selling some tamales like the Tamale Lady.
 

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