Archives for : RSI 101

RSI – Black Love: Part 2, Better Black Relationships

So in Part 1, I went in to the history of some of the psychology of where we are in Black relationships. Once again, when I talk about
“Black Love” and Black Relationships, I’m talking about any relationship that involves a Black person. I think it’s important that we can come to an understanding on this Black Love Wordspoint in particular because while there are so many messages out there that seem to suggest division and separation, I really do believe that we–all of us we–won’t get anywhere without each other. No revolution has ever been won without the help of sympathetic “outsiders.” The American revolution wouldn’t have been won without the French. The women’s movement wouldn’t have moved forward without the assistance of men. The LGBT (and whichever other letters have been added) community wouldn’t have gotten as far as it has without hetero help… and similarly, Black people and other people of color won’t succeed without White people. Somewhere out there, there’s an interracial couple at odds because they got together before the proverbial kitchen got hot. Maybe someone said something uninformed about The Black Panthers. Maybe someone got just a bit too passionate about police brutality. Either way the line was drawn then crossed, and the truth is out. If we can’t get to the core and come to a mutual understanding; where the people with privilege can acknowledge the whole situation and the rest of us can help them level out the playing field.

Anyway, I feel like knowing the history; the psychology of a behavior or thought pattern should make it easier to overcome. With that in mind, I went t the place where I was always told that women talk about relationships: the hair shop. Thanx to the ladies of Coco Hair Co. who who opened up and shared their perspectives on Black relationships. I have to say, I found myself apologizing on several
different occasions because I had to take things much deeper than the average “these n___s ain’t sh*t” conversation, and as the young folks say, they weren’t ready. They had to know about how we have been conditioned to mistrust each other… and that is, unsurprisingly, what it all really comes down to; trust &  security. Stop LyingThe answer to all of our woes, on every side of the conversation comes down to being able to trust each other, and from that trust, can we feel secure–emotionally, physically, financially, etc.–with each other. One young lady, who explained that she is not yet ready to be in a committed relationship explains that the bare minimum she should still be able to count on is that the dude(s) she’s dealing with is honest with her. She isn’t asking for exclusivity, only that she should know if/when he is seeing other women. Guys, I know, you probably don’t understand why she’d want to know. Have you ever seen how crazy a woman can get when she thinks the guy she’s seeing is seeing other women? Don’t you think he has a right to know what she might be getting herself into if one of your other women might find out about her and say… show up at her place of business or home starting trouble? So much drama can be prevented by simply making sure that all involved parties know what they’re getting in to. Common courtesy… common sense… common decency; not so common. She should also have the opportunity to make an informed decision as to whether or not she wants to continue her part of the arrangement. When you lie, you’re taking that option off the table. You get to hold the cards, and although you’ve shuffled the deck and changed the game, she still thinks you’re playing Crazy Eights when in fact you’ve switched to Poker.

Similarly, I’ve heard guys say all kids of things that suggest that some women are less deserving of honesty or “real”-ness; citing a woman’s choice of hair style or use of makeup almost as justification for misbehavior. I believe that men with this kind of thinking shouldn’t bother with relationships at all, least of all, Black relationshBlack Long Hairips. Guys, if you judge the content of a Black woman’s character by what she chooses to do with her hair, or how much time she seems to spend putting on makeup, you’re missing the point. No, I’m not saying that you should all go out and find the girl with the longest weave or the best contouring technique, but I am saying that a girl or woman’s cosmetic care choices shouldn’t diminish how you view her as a potential partner. What we do with our hair, nails, and makeup, if we choose to do anything at all isn’t always a superficial, political, or psychological decision… and it almost never really has anything to do with what you think its about. Using myself as an example, my more recent hair and makeup choices are about who I want to see looking back at me. I got all the way through high school without pimples, and now I have adult acne. As if I don’t look young enough I have to add acne to the mix? As far as my hair is concerned… that’s a bit more complicated. The simple version is that I most recently got it done, caving in to conservative society’s view of what is “acceptable” hair for Black women. I was angry about feeling forced into the style choice, and I’m still angry that participating in “their” world means that I can’t be authentic to my whole self. The take away from this segment should be that as women we have it hard enough, and as black women we have it that much harder. We shouldn’t have to add the disapproving commentary from our potential significant others to that list.

I’ve also heard that a girlfriend isn’t a wife so why should they bother making that effort? I’m equally disgusted when women make similar exclamations as if the absence of a ring decreases the level of pain inflicted by a broken heart. Stop. No seriously: Stop. That Not How This Worksisn’t how it works, and shame on you for acting like you’d be okay with someone lying to, playing with, or cheating on you claiming that the ring makes the difference. As a matter of fact, I’ll go as far to say that being “cheated on” by someone you’re cheating with or are “just f*cking” will still make you feel some kind of way. Which brings us full circle and back to the ladies at Coco’s. They provided a pretty simple list of what they’s really want from a man: Honesty, Accountability, Communication, and the ability to “handle” being with them. Now, that last one is the hardest thing on the list, but that’s what dating is for: figuring out if that person is someone you can handle. This short list isn’t too much to ask for. Like I said last week, we don’t necessarily need a significant other as a provider anymore. Further Black relationships in America have never even allowed for lack men to be providers. What we do need is a partner. Someone who provides emotional support and balance in a world where the struggle is real and constant and everyone just needs to be reminded that there is more to life than the daily grind. There’s love.

Do More for love. Require Better from lovers.

RSI 101 – Black Love: Part 1

Black Kids Cheek KissThis is probably going to be a really long piece for a lot of reasons. I want to talk about love, about relationships, about being black in relationships (aka Black Love)… and further, after having done a recording wherein I barely touched on everything I want to say tells me that this needs to be a 2, maybe even 3 part discussion.  I have a feeling that some of my readers/listeners are going to feel alienated because much of this is going to be Black People specific, but remember, its Black history month, I’m Black, and as far as I’m concerned, some conversations are just to important to be PC about. Which reminds me…

About this Black history month thing: It shouldn’t be thing… more specifically, it shouldn’t have to be a thing. Black history, as we in the US commemorate it, is American history. It should be a part of the history curriculum. It should be included in English, Literature, and Reading lessons because we have there are Black American writers. Slavery and racism should as be openly and HONESTLY discussed as the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln. Little Black girls ad boys shouldn’t be relegated to only learning about people who look like them during the shortest month of the year. It shouldn’t be that Blackness is only open for discussion in 30 second video clips before commercials. February shouldn’t be the only month people are encouraged to cram all of their/our appreciation of Blackness into. Just like people should be aware of breast cancer and heart disease all year, so should Black people, and our experience.

V Day ChocolateSimilarly, Valentine’s Day shouldn’t have to be a thing. We shouldn’t need a specific day to remember to show appreciation to our significant others. Further, the media should be ashamed of themselves for suggesting that men need to spend exorbitant amounts of money and women simply need to supply the sex to show appreciation for our significant others. Unfortunately, if it wasn’t for Valentine’s day, many wouldn’t get to know they were appreciated until something bad happened in the relationship…. because who really remembers Anniversaries anyway? Many married men would have to wait for God knows how long for their wives to remember that lingerie can be more enticing than comfy pajamas, or that men deserve to feel special too.

Now let’s combine this and get to what I really want to talk about: Relationships. Black Love & HappinessNow, if you’ve been reading me since the beginning, you’ll know that I don’t like giving romantic relationship advice… I will, but I don’t generally like to. This time I’m going this because there are people on my feed and in my family who have thoughts ad questions, that I think deserve a attention. First, history and upbringing… as they relate to Black Americans. Up front, I think it bears mentioning that a lot of what I am making Black people specific, is actually universal, thus, if you’re not Black, and reading this, you might still be able to relate.

All the messages we receive put us at odd with one another. As men and women, regardless of sexual orientation, romantic relationships are painted in hard and violent colors. There’s a battle for dominance; a question about who wears the pants in the relationship, that just makes things difficult.

Time to dig deep…

Back in the day, marriage was a form of ownership. Women, having no rights of their own, or value other than their ability to bear children and tend to the house were basically sold into servitude by their fathers to their husbands, or their husband’s family (depending on the age). Is it really any wonder that since the day women started working outside the home (because parenting and housekeeping is work) that a functional dynamic of relationships has been difficult to maintain? I’ll go deeper. Black women in You Don't Deserve HerAmerica have always worked outside the home. Whether it was raising the master’s children, picking the cotton, cooking, cleaning… slaving in general was work. And then they had to go to wherever the slaves slept, and work more for their own families. Although white women were undervalued in their homes, they could at least count on the protection of the men in their lives. Black women could not; Black women had to bear the brunt of all of the abuse, the rape, the indignity, knowing that no one would be coming to save her… not her father, brothers, or even her husband.  Her mother or sister might be able to offer herself up to the master to offer a reprieve, but it wouldn’t be man, at least not if he valued his life… not if he didn’t want to risk being sold to another plantation. Throughout history, women have had to do the parenting thing alone. Men were off hunting, fighting wars, and forging frontiers. Even when they were around, they were mainly there for sex and food. They gave women more work to do. I’m not trying to diminish the value of having a man in the home, I’m simply saying that not having a man at the home isn’t a new thing either. The value of male-female companionship didn’t actually come into play until much later.

Now, I can already hear some of you saying “That was then, this is now Reign… time to move on Reign.” But see, if you look at where we are in relationships now, where we have to be specific about “Black Love”–as if love isn’t complicated enough–especially with the women’s movement having given rise to messages that tell men that we, women, don’t need them, I want you to really understand where that comes from. So where am I going with this?  Simple: women don’t need men… LOL… Okay, no, that isn’t where I was Storm Black Panther Kissgoing, but  had to say it. Because we don’t need men the way we needed them back then. Like all women, we need companionship. We need partnership. We need bed warmers. We need someone to be special to. Yes, we need you. The feminist movement, while I still consider myself a proud feminist, got that message wrong, or at least incomplete. More specifically, as a Black woman, I have to speak directly to the need for Black men. The complaint about Black women being too hard, too independent, too masculine… if you look at the history, you’d understand that we didn’t have a choice, and that being penalized for it is an injustice that is still prevalent in Black relationships today. Not just as companions–straying from the romantic element of relationships for this–but as partners in the struggle. When we are agonizing about #BlackLivesMatter, the people who understand through experience are Black men. The man you are least likely to have to explain why and how racism is still a problem for you personally, even if you never stepped foot in the hood, is a Black man. When being a “strong black woman” was in style and it got mixed in with the feminist movement, the message got twisted, everything fell apart, and the idea of Black love became a novelty. It became more about devaluing men and their role in our lives, and less about empowering women. Suddenly, “taking care of home” was a weak woman’s job; a white woman’s job. The rhetoric about men being unnecessary, more specifically how Black men “ain’t shit” became more important than strong families. I’ll ask this: What’s the point of being a strong Black woman if all you let yourself see are weak men?

At the same time, men were hearing all those messages too; and the message was loud and clear. So why are we surprised when they fell back on their role as men? Why shouldn’t they have switched to only focusing on what they need us for? If we don’t need them to do the right thing, why should they? What’s their incentive? They’re told they aren’t necessary, but they’re still expected to pay for the dates, pay the bills, be physically present in their children’s lives–technically a new requirement–and sometimes the lives of children that aren’t theirs, be emotionally and financially stable, be able to fix stuff around the house, be educated, committed, and faithful… and in return, they might be able to look forward to sex. Where’s the equality in that? Where is the love in that? Since we’re out working, they can’t expect a cooked meal when they get home. They can’t expect well raised, respectful children who understand the value in patience and perseverance over the acquisition of things and instant gratification. They can’t expect anything because like the song says, “we run this.

I’m the kind of feminist who actually believes in equality, only with a realistic twist… Love Never Failsbecause we aren’t equal; not in all things. There are some things that should be exclusive to men, just like there are some things that are exclusive to women. Allowing this dynamic to break down; allowing the incomplete messages to corrupt the fundamentals is one major component to why relationships, specifically relationships between Black people, has become so difficult. Unlike most other racial groups, there’s a lot more to Black love than just love… and I have a lot more to say about it…

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I know that was long (especially on top of all this)… and I have even more to say about it. So come back next week for Black Love, Part 2.

In the mean time, Do More, Require Better.

The WRATH of Ruthless Holiday Special: The Wrong Kind Of Progress

The WRATH of Ruthless is back!

Before our actual relaunch we got together for a Holiday special with a couple topics and some old friends.

The WRATH of Ruthless Holiday Special: The Wrong Kind Of Progress <-Click this and you can download or listen from our SoundCloud

Here you can listen from our soundcloud right here on WDDIJ. [soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”100″ iframe=”true” /]

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CHICAGO - DECEMBER 01: Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) listens as President-elect Barack Obama introduces her as his choice for secretary of state during a press conference at the Hilton Hotel December 01, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. Other members of the National Security Team named by Obama at the press conference include Washington attorney Eric Holder as attorney general, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as his choice for homeland security and he said Robert Gates would remain as defense secretary. Retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones was selected for the position of national security adviser and Susan Rice as U.N. ambassador. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Yes our Holiday Special is going to cover all of this.

RSI 101: Make YOU a Priority

Family, friends, significant others, work, mortgage, exercise,  Priorities Listcar payments, bills, studies, goals, aspirations, career, health, housekeeping , shopping lists, children, practice, entertainment… all examples of things people have on a mental, and sometimes physical list of priorities.

pri·or·i·ty (prīˈôrədē/) noun
plural noun: priorities
  1. a thing that is regarded as more important than another.
‘Tis the season to reevaluate life, revisit goals, and of course; reset priorities. While so may are talking about New Year’s resolutions, let’s talk about how priorities shape reality.
Priorities Aren'tWe go through life choosing to do or say one thing over another. Later instead of now. Tomorrows that never come. Maybe we put off a vacation in favor of proving to our bosses  that we are that much more deserving of a promotion. Maybe we choose to spend time with a friend over much needed time alone with our significant other. We make these choices every day, often with no regard or recollection of how our choices might impact our future. Maybe you really do consider your job to be more important than your need for a break from work, and thus it is appropriately place higher on you priority list. Maybe you really do consider friendship to be a higher priority than your significant other, but who are you going to blame when your significant other gets tired of not having a higher position on your priority list?
This brings us to the title. All the reconsidering, restarting, reevaluating, and revisiting, the one constant is that we want to be a better version of ourselves. When I say “Make YOU a Priority” I’m saying that you should make sure that your priority breakdown should actually mirror what you truly regard as “more important.” Check your actions: have you been actively prioritizing your job over your family? Have you allowed yourself to place material things above things like health, love, and long-term security? If you can see that the way you’ve been living your life is Busynot in accordance with the best  version of you that you want to be, the its time to reorganize your priorities. You’re not too busy to get to the gym, you’ve simply chosen things like sleep and other forms of leisure over your physical fitness. It isn’t that there aren’t enough hours in a day; its that you prioritized work activities over time with your family. Now, just to be clear, there isn’t anything wrong with choosing work over family or sleep over exercise… unless you actually want your family and physical fitness to rank higher than work and sleep. The key is really looking at your life, seeing what you want, and making the active decision to live your life according to your priorities. You’ll know that you have successfully made YOU a priority when you can look at your life and be proud of what YOU accomplished.
Just one more way that you can Do More & Require Better.

Story Time: New Beginnings

Months ago, I was in a very unpleasant place. I was living in a hotel after waking up alone to find the kitchen on fire. My father was getting sicker. I had lost hope and couldn’t see anything as positive, or good for myself because so much had fallen apart. One night, with my hotel suite full of friends, all I could do was lay in the dark and cry. Then he came in the room, laid next to me, and offered his company. I don’t remember him saying much; whether I asked or if he offered, but he held me while I cried. That wasn’t the Not Giving Upfirst time that he was exactly what I needed when I needed it most, but I count that time as one of several turning points that brought me to where I am today. He’ll probably never know how much what he did that night meant to me or why, but I am grateful to him every day.

I’m sitting in a place I feel comfortable calling home. I’m in a new city, a new state, and living a new life that is all mine. A year ago today, I could barely see how I was going to get here, only that I needed to get here. Of course there were other steps and epiphanies; turning points and points of no return. You might find yourself feeling lost, insecure, or all manner of done. Doors will seem to close, and you might think that you’re all out of options and opportunities. Your mind might tell you all kinds of untruths that could cause you to act against your best interests; the kinds that make you think you can’t. I am here to Require you to Do More and Better for yourself. Ask for help. Talk to a friend. Open yourself up and let someone in.  Stop standing in the way of your own new beginning. Doing More and Requiring Better isn’t just about how you interact with the world around you, it’s about Doing More of whatever you can to make everything about your world Better.

So this is it: Do More & Require Better.
Not just because I said so, but because knowing that your life has new meaning, new focus, new purpose, new drive is worth the effort.

Lesson 6: What Do You Live For?

“There’s a difference between what we work for and what we live for.” I’m not sure which of the several shows I’ve been watching I heard this on, but it stuck to my consciousness like a catchy song on a broken Sunday. I’d like to act like this is really just another RSI 101 lesson, but I’m not one for disingenuous pretexts. The question stands: What do YOU live for? I’ve listened to yogis and gurus of one kind or another… from the so called self help motivational speakers of my youth, to the teachers of spirituality and enlightenment of my presentand they all say basically the same thing: Life is what you make it. 

None of us gets to choose how we die, only how we live. – Hank Lawson, Royal Pains

The last several years of my life have been the kind of Serenity Prayerdifficult that make stories worth reading. I’ve had to overcome adversity, depend on the kindness of strangers… lose loved ones… all while trying to make the most out of life. I blamed a lot on circumstance and on the things that I couldn’t control. In doing so, I relinquished my power and subconsciously resigned myself to failure. As such, failures rained; claiming even the ones that were beyond my sphere of influence as mine, completely incapable of seeing anything that wasn’t negative.That awkward moment when you realize you’ve been living life all wrong.

Very recently, I made the decision to change. With prodding and assistance from friends and family… some friends that became family… I chose to live for my own joy and, much like the road less traveled, that has made all the difference.

Buddhas HappySo I’ll ask again, because its important; What do YOU live for? Sadhguru says we are all seeking and living for the same thing: pleasantness. My new life is my version of pleasant, and getting more pleasant every day. What is your version of pleasant? What will bring joy, bliss, peace, serenity, happiness, and ecstasy into your life? It’s been a while, but again this one is important so here’s your assignment: What can you do TODAY to bring one moment of joy into your sphere of influence? Once you know what it is, do it.

Do More. Require Better.

Lesson 5: History is a Teacher. Learn from the Past

There are so many quotes out there about learning from the past to protect the future. Whether its on a global or local scale, the idea is the same: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Its an important lesson, but not one that I’m going to drag out too much, because, like I said, there’s a lot out there on the subject.

History ComicIn politics, people who lost previously get to run all over again, sometimes claiming a new set of ideals, or denying the ones they claimed the last time, and the general public eats it up, they get votes or at the very least undue attention in spite of their history. In relationships, cheaters and beaters get undeserved second and third chances presumably because they changed or an underlying issue got resolved. There are those who find themselves trying so hard to avoid their pasts that they forget to make the necessary changes that would save them from making the same mistakes. The past; the history, is forgotten. We have such short memories.

The history of racial injustice that this nation was built upon is an excellent example of history lessons that weren’t learned. White people–in general–haven’t accepted their role as it relates to the present state of racial relations. They say things about not seeing race, or racism not being “a thing”… They lean on skewed statistics to support the idea that blacks are prone to crime, violence, and sexual deviance… Simba's History Lessonas if this entire nation wasn’t stolen from an indigenous people who were murdered and raped into endangerment… meanwhile, children of color are criminalized, cities burn, unemployment rates climb, local governments choose to fund prisons instead of schools, and the cycle of injustice continues. Black people–in general–forget that the civil rights movement didn’t make strides because of negro efforts alone. We forget that there is more to black culture than rap music, slang, and beautifully thick kinky hair. Our children remain under and miseducated; having forgotten that the reason slavery lasted so long was because things like education and reading were reserved for whites only. And even with having the freedom to learn and be educated, we still act as if literacy and proper grammar is still reserved for whites, and uppity negroes trying to “act white.” We cannot move forward as a nation because there are too many lessons that haven’t been learned.

So what happens when people learn from history? People abandon their vices; having learned that to remain addicted will cost them their family and their life. The abused leave their abusers; having learned that no amount of sorry will unbreak their ribs. Relationships thrive because people remember why their last relationships failed, they put in the effort to improve themselves, and make sure they don’t fall back into bad habits. Sacrifices are made. Laws are written. Constitutions are amended. The general public is put on notices that there are inalienable rights that will no longer be denied. Slavery is abolished. Women get to vote. Labor unions are established. The disabled get to work. The LGBTQ community can marry. Freedom rings across the land. So much is possible when we use history as a teacher… and, of course, if we Do More & Require Better.