Everybody loves a good joke. Laughter is good medicine. But not at the expense of someone else (although America has a slew of comedians who built massive careers on it). We’ve all laughed at jokes targeting people (stop, before you get to lying and denying, ask yourself why do you watch sitcoms and/or reality tv?) But when you target someone’s disability or health condition with the intent to embarrass or humiliate, it’s no longer comedy, it’s malicious bullying and abuse.
So that’s where we found ourselves Sunday night during the Oscar’s live broadcast (I didn’t watch in real time because I was listening to The Wheel of Time Book 6: The Lord of Chaos – thanks audible!). Chris Rock, love him or hate him, tickles a lot of funny bones so the Oscar’s felt he’d be a great emcee for the show. Little did the producers know he had a surprise joke line-up for them, at Jada Pinkett-Smith’s expense.
For those who don’t know what the G.I. Jane reference is from, it was a movie from the early 1990s starring Demi Moore (a white actress) who played an army soldier. Demi had to shave her hair for the role. Here’s where the problems start. Demi Moore CHOSE to shave her hair for work. Jada did not. Jada chose to shave her hair due to a medical condition she has been struggling with for years. A condition that causes the same angst and anxiety felt by those affected by chemo therapy.
So, based on the LOUD and DISRESPECTFUL commentary that flooded the internet streets IMMEDIATELY after the slap heard round the world, people wanted to BLAME Jada for the outcome of Chris Rock’s tasteless joke. Would he have told a similar joke in regards to Angelina Jolie while she was ill? Or to Sinead O’Conner who recently lost her son? Black women sacrifice for the greater good daily but it’s supposed to be acceptable to disrespect, humiliate, and degrade us after all our usefulness has been milked dry?
During my little bit of years in life I glean lessons from all who are willing to share and one lesson I received from an older woman years ago was this: people may not remember what you said, but they ALWAYS remember how you made them feel. Chris Rock and Will Smith will have to live with how they made Jada feel, at that moment, for the rest of their lives. How do you make others feel? How do others make you feel?
As National Women’s History Month winds down and the fervor of National Poetry Month begins I can only but reflect on how I fit in at this point of my life. I am a woman. I am a poet. My passion lies in sharing, educating and helping in any way I can.
In reflecting on my own past I realize I can only help others insofar as I have helped myself. That is where my experience and education springs from. Learning from my own past mistakes and then sharing those lessons.
Lesson 1. Speak up. Anything you want to learn you must first be brave enough to speak up. “How do you (insert topic here)?” The worst anyone can say is I don’t know. Your next move is to google it or head to your local library. As a poet, sometimes I am afraid to ask questions because I don’t like hearing no. No hasn’t killed me yet so I continuously push against my fear. I don’t always win, but I don’t stop either.
Lesson 2. Yes. You. Can. Whatever it is you strive to do, you can do. No explanations.
Lesson 3. Ask. For help, for reviews, for sales. Closed mouths don’t get fed. On that note, I am in need of honest feedback on my collection of poetry, Entangled Hearts. In exchange for said feedback I will be giving away free kindle copies of Entangled Hearts to the first ten people to comment below with their email addresses.
Last but not least…
Lesson 4. Inform. Let others know how they can be of service to you so you can be of better service to others! I am preparing to release my second collection of poetry, Reflections: Past, Present, Future and I need a few beta readers as well. Leave your name and email address below with beta next to it so I’ll know you’re interested in being a beta reader. Thanks in advance!
March 1st. The beginning of our month long celebration of women. I could rattle off a list of names from the history books but we, as women, should be bold and brass enough to celebrate ourselves as well. I am all about giving kudos to those who paved the path I now tread but I want to begin this month respecting my beginnings.
This month I want to honor the fabulous women who have helped shape my life with the very essence of theirs, starting with my mother. The most influential woman in my direct life. Words cannot express how thankful I am to have you in my life.
My mother raised five children, on her own, in the heart of a tough North Philadelphia neighborhood. Throughout the 80s and 90s she ran her home with a precision that would be considered extreme by today’s moralless standards. She understood how dangerous the streets could be having come of age in the gang-run streets of Philadelphia in the mid- to late 60s.
During a time when women and children were to be seen and not heard, my mother was outspoken, speaking up and standing up for what she believed in. Many times incurring the ire of my grandmother. Being raised in the South during the aftermath of the Great Depression, my grandmother’s reaction was to be expected.
Not one to give in to someone else’s idea of how she should live her life, my mother made ends meet selling dinners from our home until the last of us was school aged. Instilling in us early on the importance of going to school everyday sparked my love of learning.
Thank you mom for being the phenomenal woman you are. You are more than just a woman. More than just my mom. You are an inspiration to many through your perseverance.
Which woman inspired you to become who you are today? Leave a thank you for them in the comments.