“Frankie Leg”: A Fun Image of Grandmothers Shedding their Frail Stereotype, or is this Adding to a More Negative One?

 

I’m really not sure what to say about this video, its message, and the impact (if any). I also am not sure what it says overall about the people it will ultimately reflect upon and clump together into one classification. Is this a fun and possibly healthy image of grandmothers and grandfathers shedding and shaking away the frail stereotype normally associated with getting older? Or is this somehow only adding to the negative stereotypes about Black people?

I start thinking of the buffoonery we once used to fight so hard against, and I wonder if we really have gone full-circle and found ourselves smack-dab in the middle of where we once were; if we have grown to accept not only other nationalities laughing and mocking us, but also embracing it as a reality for ourselves–so we too take part in this…we too find it acceptable; so we laugh, dance, smile, shuck and jive, and roll around comfortably in mediocrity.

Are we really in that much pain that we would rather entertain ourselves in this manner than uplift ourselves out of our pit of shame and despair? What message are our children really getting? Where is our dignity? When is enough truly enough? I believe that music and dance is healthy, healing, and cleansing–but does the “Frankie Leg” fall into those categories?

I am still letting all of this soak into my mind (which may be dangerous). But let’s have a healthy conversation about it shall we?

 

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. The Paradigm Life. Paradigm Life. Rights Reserved.
Video provided by YouTube

A Focus on Dignity and Non-Violence at Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

On April 15th I was honored to lead a Dignity Day session as a HOPE Corp Volunteer through Operation HOPE (HOPE) at the Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy (CSKYWLA) in Atlanta.

What is amazing is how the majority of this class of ninth graders were initially completely turned off to the idea of having to listen to yet another speaker that day as they were just returning to their classroom from an assembly that focused on the theme of 100 days of Non-Violence…so they were shifty and closed off. But about 15 minutes into our conversation some of the girls who had crossed arms were soon raising their hands and answering questions.

I started off by talking about the concept of legacy and that that day we were laying the foundation and road map for them to create and eventually leave behind a strong, dignified legacy. I had them define the term legacy in their own words and then share some of their dreams, goals and aspirations. Then as our conversation deepened I shared with them the history of how HOPE was founded, the services and programs that HOPE offers, and I started to weave a story where life included them and their legacy.


I think helping them share the names of empowered and dignified women they see in their family, community, and elsewhere who had similar or worse lives growing up helped them to see that they too could be those same type of women- that they are these women but in-training and with the potential to do more and help more in the long run because they are being equipped with the tools at a young age; and our adversity isn’t an excuse to let life pass us by or a crutch to coast through life doing and expecting the bare minimum, but a reason and motivation to excel and succeed.

These young ladies were shocked to hear that the civil rights movement as it pertained to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Ambassador Andrew Young was sparked, motivated, and pushed along due to their wives Coretta Scott King and Jean Childs Young- two women who endured and overcame adversity and strife. Hearing this information made many of these girls sit up straight in their chairs and listen intently.

                        

When I spoke about not holding grudges, and that forgiving people is not to benefit the person they were forgiving but to help themselves heal, grow, and overcome- some girls shifted in their seats their seats, a few others rolled their eyes in disbelief; but then when I mentioned Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Iyanla Vandzant and their ability to forgive their abusers and using strife as a launching pad towards success- some of the girls started naming other people like Fantasia and Tyler Perry who was sexually and physically abused and how he also overcame and pushed himself to success.

We discussed the concept of family and that it isn’t just our immediate family we need to be concerned about but our neighborhoods, cities, state, our country, and our global family. Because I know that girls can be equally as cutthroat as boys, I made sure that we had a heart-to-heart chat about trash-talking and “clowning” people and how although initially it can be lighthearted and funny, it can also be crippling and tear apart our “extended” family.

We discussed being relevant not only in this country but globally, and that true wealth (spiritual, financial, etc) can only be maintained long term by leading a dignified life, not by living up to the negative stereotypes that are projected globally about Black females. We discussed self-empowerment and not waiting on the government or specific programs to help us, that we have to help ourselves. That we shouldn’t be waiting for someone else to pick up trash on our sidewalks- we should pick it up ourselves.

We shouldn’t be waiting for someone else to cover the graffiti on our walls and buildings- we should paint over it ourselves; we shouldn’t wait for someone else to beautify our streets and parks with trees and flowers- we should plant them ourselves. I explained that they should be volunteering in their community through church or some other organization taking pride in restoring, building, maintaining, and beautifying their neighborhoods.

We had a pretty good time. We laughed and talked about boys and expectations of being respected by males and all people when you carry yourself with respect and dignity. We discussed the language of money and being financially literate, and how this literacy will empower them. It was refreshing to see that many of them have savings accounts and that two of the students had traveled abroad- one to London and the other to the Bahamas. Two young passport carriers living in an underserved and underrepresented area of Atlanta- doesn’t that give you hope? It gives me hope and encourages me to continue my work in the community, and my work through Operation HOPE.

I hope more men and women find it in their hearts to invest one hour of their time at least once per month to volunteer in a church, in a class room, or in a youth center through Operation HOPE. One person can make a difference!

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.
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>Sisterhood: Overcoming Stereotypes

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Yesterday I attended a lovely brunch at Sun In My Belly in Decatur, Georgia with six other women- Black women- strong, educated, intelligent, doing-their-thing women! We meet once per month for brunch and have a blast eating, laughing, catching up, and sharing the latest happenings in our lives. Most of us met online through Twitter, and with the suggestion of my friend of 20 years, Tiffany Bolen, we agreed to meet up two months ago for our first brunch. We all met initially with a bit of hesitation. Could a group of Black women who only really interacted online through Twitter, randomly a few hours per day, actually come together and have a wonderful experience? How would our personalities mesh? Would this face-to-face put a strain on our pleasantries online?

Our first experience was incredible. It was as though we had known each other for years. We quickly came together as a group and coined ourselves the “Twitter Brunch Crew”. We’re all in our mid-20s to mid-30s, single, and enjoying life. Our ‘crew’ is made up of writers and journalists, bloggers, stylists, and entertainment and business professionals. We are women with a purpose; women on a mission to surpass our dreams in a major way; women that should not be underestimated or taken for granted. We all are passionate about our lives, our careers, and our future. We come in different heights, shapes, sizes, and shades; with different hair lengths, colors, and degrees of thickness- some straight and some curly. We all are beautiful and love the skin we’re in!

We have come together and lovingly broke a stereotype about Black women. Black women have been labeled as difficult, catty, and too self-absorbed to get along with another woman. We’re known for our eye and neck rolling, lip-smacking, and hand clapping- all signs that we’re annoyed and about to blow a ‘gasket’. People don’t see us and see the potential to come together, spend hours laughing and uplifting each other; hugging and taking pictures; planning to attend events or take trips together. 

Nope, we’re supposed to be eye-balling the next ‘sista-girl’ and saying, “hmmm and who does she think she is?” We’re supposed to be sitting back counting all the ways we’re better than the next woman. We’re supposed to be wondering if and when this ‘chick’ is going to try to get her claws into ‘our man’. We’re supposed to be over-analyzing every little thing we can discover about another sista so we can feel better about ourselves. We’re supposed to be fighting and clamoring to get past each other so we can rope one of those few eligible Black men out there. We’re supposed to be hating on each other, not sharing love and respect for our fellow sistas.   

Our Twitter Brunch Crew has shattered that Black Chick Stereotype. We welcome other drama-free, love-the-skin-you’re-in sista-girls to join us as we unite and build each other up- instead of tearing each other down. If you’re on Twitter, live in the Metro Atlanta area (or will be visiting soon) and want to join us one Saturday or Sunday for brunch- follow me: twitter.com/natashaforeman

Sistas Unite!

Natasha L. Foreman

Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.
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