Friday, August 7, 2009

You Have Power Over Your Relationships

I want to talk about black women and our relationships with others. That includes, family, friends and husbands/boyfriends (and girlfriends if you're gay). One thing that I've noticed as a black woman is that we (black women) are often in relationships where our boundaries are not fully recognized or respected. We "love/give too much" to others and receive very little in return. Let's talk about this.

How many of us financially bail out friends/family/lovers and can never find help when we need it?
How many of us have friendships/romantic relationships where we are doing all the work?
How many of us are continuing relationships with family members who have physically/sexually/psychologically abused us? Yes, I'm going there.

There's this book called "Boundaries: When to Say Yes When to Say No To Take Control of Your Life" by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. I highly recommend to everyone reading this blog to read this book.

There are a lot of boundary issues I could explore; but today, I want to talk about reciprocity. Reciprocity is defined as a mutual or cooperative interchange of favors. Black women for the most part do not have reciprocity in their relationships. In a previous blog I discussed a women who was shacking up with an unemployed male and having his babies. She was giving much to him, her womb, her home, he was even driving her car. And he was probably giving her some things, nice words, a smile and a big belly. I'm not trying to be crude or mean; but this relationship was not reciprocal. In other words, the favors exchanged were not of equal value. And she was not happy due to the imbalance in the relationship. Many of us are in similar situations as this woman, living lives with no or very little reciprocity.

Here's what you need to do...

Take an honest look at each of your relationships. Are you getting as much as you're giving? Or are you the one always calling, always suggesting an outing or picking up the tab at the restaurant etc. If so, you may want to readjust or end that relationship because it is not reciprocal.

How you can approach a friend/family member/lover who is not holding up their fair share of the relationship...

Well, let's say you have a friend who never or rarely calls. You may want to say to him/her "I noticed that I'm always calling you to go out; but you rarely call me, that makes me feel like you don't value this relationship as much as I do." You can then wait to see if this person changes their behavior. If they continue to never call, you have your answer. They DON'T value the relationship and it's time for YOU to move on.

It is absolutely critical that black women have reciprocal relationships; meaning we are receiving as much as we are giving. Most of us already have limited resources (ie time, money, energy etc.) and cannot afford to give to others who are takers. Exercise your power and demand reciprocity in all of your relationships.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

You Have Power Over Your Money

Hello Everyone! Today I want to talk about money issues. Most of us feel that we have too little money and those of us who do have sufficient income are often failing to invest our CAPITAL in ways that will provide long-term growth and financial security. Let's talk about some basic financial issues we must address as black women.

1. Most of us are single women (55% of black women never marry) and many of us are single women with children. This makes a big difference in the area of finances. When you're single, you don't have the income of another person to fall back on when things go wrong this is why we have to plan for the worse.

2. Save. Pay yourself first, no matter what. It is ideal if black women can save at least 30% of their income. Yes, I did say that. I know most people say 10% of your income to savings is sufficient; but in my experience that is not enough. Of course 10% is better than nothing; but it is not enough to create the financial security we need especially if you are a lower-income, single woman with children. Let's talk about it.

There are many black women working jobs earning six figures $100,000 plus or close to it. But those women do not represent the vast majority of us. The truth is that many black women are working lower-income jobs paying $40,000 or less. More typical is someone earning $28K - $38K (that's real) Some of us have health insurance; but many of us don't. That's the reality of it. When you are working ANY job or even working for yourself you need to have some serious savings that will replace your income if you lose your job. Right now, millions of Americans are unemployed, most of them are relying on unemployment insurance which is only a temporary measure. These people are not finding jobs as quickly as they had in the past. And they have no savings. Don't be a victim of the current downturn, put as much money away in a savings account as possible.

3. How can you save with so little money? It ain't easy; but it is necessary. Let's say you earn $1600 a month after taxes. I want to use a small salary because it represents what a lot of black women are earning out there and I think there is more than enough financial literature out there for the big money makers.

Okay, you're making $1600 a month after taxes. The rule of thumb says that no more than 30% of your income should go to housing. I say the less money you make, the less you should be spending on housing, so I would try to get it down to 25%. So your rent should not be more than $480 per month. Let's talk about this. I know that a lot of us live in high rent districts and are struggling to pay the rent. This has got to stop. Rent can eat away at your FUTURE income in ways that you can't even imagine. Every dollar you spend on rent is a dollar that can't go to savings. That means less security for you and your family. So if you need to get a roommate or make more money, do it; but don't spend more than 30% of your income on rent--35% max, anything beyond that and you are in financial trouble. I know because I've paid more and nothing but financial problems followed.

$1600 minus $480 (rent) = $1120 (leftover after rent)

Try to get your utilities included in your rent. But if you can't, don't spend more than $100 in utilities per month.

So let's say you have $1020 left over after you pay your utilities. Utilities are gas, electricity, water and phone. If you are only making $1600 a month you can't afford cable, so forget about.

Of that money $480 of it should be going to savings every month, leaving you $540 a month to pay for other bills and expenses. Let's talk about this because I know some of you are saying PUHLEEZE! "I need every last dime of MY MONEY to pay my bills and get my hair DID!" LOL

I use to live beyond my means. When I got out of college I was tens of thousands of dollars in debt. I earned very little money and I couldn't get ahead. My car was repossessed, my student loans were in default and I had a bench warrant for my arrest for failing to appear at a court hearing when a creditor sued me. I was forced to file bankruptcy. That was over 10 years ago. You would think that I learned my lesson, well kind of. But I've made a lot of mistakes and have learned some truths along the way. I want to share those truths with you.

Truth #1: You MUST save. Without savings you will never be financially secure, let alone financially free. A matter of fact, it was this truth that allowed me to file bankruptcy and discharge my debts. I had the foresight to at least save some of my money. Without my savings I wouldn't even have had the money to hire a lawyer.

Truth #2: Debt always equals servitude to the lender. After I filed bankruptcy, I took out another credit card to "rebuild my credit." For years I paid this credit card faithfully, NEVER holding a balance, that was until I ran into financial trouble and used the credit card as a form of income. Huge mistake. I'm still paying for that mistake. It's okay to have a credit card; but I would avoid using it as a "backup savings" no matter what. Because you most likely won't be able to repay the credit card before they hit you with usurious interest and fees.

Truth #3: Financial troubles do hit, eventually. I have found that most people have some type of crisis at least once every ten years that negatively impacts their finances. You must be prepared for these financial "earthquakes." I know you can't be prepared for everything; but you can be prepared in a general sense.

Truth #4: Every black woman needs an emergency fund. Most financial gurus say $1000 is sufficient. I don't agree with them. In my personal experience, it is better to have a emergency fund that can replace your income for at least 3 months if you suddenly found yourself with no job. Preferably, you should have 2 years of income in savings. I read this in the book "Think And Grow Rich: A Black Choice" some years ago, if I remember correctly. Now let's talk about this because I know folks are saying "I can't save that!" I know, I know because I think the same thing. But eventually as you put your $480 dollars into savings it will grow to 2 years worth of savings. In just one year of saving, you will have $5760. In two years - $11,520, three years $17,280 and that's not counting interest earned. Now that's PEACE OF MIND.

One last thought about savings. If for whatever reason you only have very little to put into savings, then save that little money. Be patient your money and peace of mind will grow.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

You Have Power Over Your Mental Well-Being

Sorry for the long delay between posts. I will attempt to keep this blog up-to-date; but I'm so busy, I've had to let some things go. This blog will now be updated once a month.

Today I want to talk about the mental well-being of individual black women. As black women we are often under psychological assault--negative media images, music that degrades our humanity and street harassment are pervasive in the lives of many black women. That is why it is imperative that black women care for their mental well-being the same way we care for things like our hairstyle (you know it's the truth), name-brand clothing, fancy cars and high-powered careers. Because if we allow our mental well-being, self-esteem and self-respect to be affected by the negative inputs of this society we won't live very long nor will we live very happy lives. Here's what you need to do:

1. Know that you are valuable just as you are right now. Every human being born into this world has value, that includes YOU. There are people in this world who want to convince you as a black woman that you are inherently inferior. This is a lie. This myth is being used to degrade you and make you vulnerable to exploitation. That includes financial exploitation, emotional exploitation and sexual exploitation.

2. Remember where you are... Thank you Khadija ( for reminding black women of this reality in your Emmett Till post. We still live in a society that does not fully value people of African descent. Those people devaluing Africaness (is that a word?) aren't just white, they are also black and people of other ethnicities. This fact should help you put things into perspective when others attempt to place you in the "lower value" category. As I write this down, I get the feeling I need to break it down so that there is no misunderstanding.

Many of us (black women) are walking around feeling bad about ourselves. I remember some years ago meeting another very accomplished black woman who was a nurse who was feeling bad about herself. She told me that she was allowing a no good unemployed man to live off her, live in her house and impregnate her with his child because she felt she was just a black woman and couldn't find better and needed to settle. She is not an anomaly. This is more common than most of us will admit. She told me that a black man "with a job" wouldn't look at her because she was just an "ordinary black woman" (her words not mine) and that all the "gorgeous light/white/hispanic/asian women" were the ones desired by the "good" black men. She was pregnant with the loser boyfriend's second child and was working long hours to support herself, her child, her boyfriend and her pregnancy. Sad. This post is not about dating, Evia at handles the whole dating thing better than I ever could. This post is about mental well-being. You see, when you don't feel good about yourself, you end up doing things that harm you and your children if you have any. She was wore down and AGED because of her circumstances. And she was in those circumstances because she didn't have a healthy state of mind. She had taken all the negative statements about black women (not beautiful, not valuable, not desirable etc.) and internalized them. Instead of recognizing these messages as racist propaganda, she internalized them as facts. We must guard against this internalization of racist/sexist beliefs about ourselves, or else we will never have good mental well being.

3. Recognize that we live in a patriarchial society. In other words, this world is run by men and for the benefit of men. In this world women are judged and valued by their sexual appeal to men. I feel the need to point this out because I think many of us focus almost exclusively on racism and never recognize that we are also often subjected to sexism. You must be aware of this fact in order to, once again, gain perspective. The young lady that I mentioned before was probably subjected to racial/sexist propaganda by black men and women and because it was coming from people who looked like her, she failed to recognize it as propaganda. Instead, she said "Well, they're black like me, so it can't be racism/propaganda/lies. It must be true." We must recognize that our society is sick with many "-isms" and if we're are not careful we will become infected too. You must remember, that you are valuable regardless of what others think, including men and other black people.

4. Make a list of what makes you fabulous. Write down all of the things that you like about yourself. Include physical traits, character traits, skills etc. List it all. I did it and I can tell you that it makes all the difference in the world when the sick elements in our socieity are weighing down on me.

Here are some of the items from my list:


Beautiful Eyes
Pretty Smile
Beautiful Lips


Great Conversationalist
Health Conscious (sometimes ;-) )

Sometimes, if I'm having a bad day or if some ass-hole has tried to poop on me, I pull out my list and remind myself, just how fabulous I am. Every black woman should have a list, imho.

5. Surround yourself with people who affirm you and avoid those who attempt to tear you down. We need to murder and bury that old FALSE saying, "keep your friends close; but your enemies closer." I can guarantee you that you're enemy probably wrote that stupid saying. Keep your enemies FAR AWAY from you where they can do no damage. Only associate with people who compliment you and sing your freaking praises. If you are surrounded by people tearing you down, you will eventually begin to believe what they say about you. Don't subject yourself to unnecessary mental abuse, avoid those assholes. This is not to say you should surround yourself with "yes-men/women" but they should be people who have something nice to say about you. Be very leery of people who never give a compliment; but are full of criticism.

6. Read uplifting, positive literature, self-help books etc. I know that right now everyone is on the negative side of thinking. But I think you should ignore them and check out some of these books:

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
Think and Grow Rich A Black Choice by Dennis Kimbro
Don't Sweat The Small Stuff by Richard Carlson
Why Your Life Sucks And What You Can Do About It by Alan H. Cohen

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Black Women! You Have Power Over Your Health

I want to take the time to talk about a pressing issue that is affecting the lives of black women in America, our diminishing health. As black women we are suffering abysmal health in America, obesity, heart disease, AIDS and cancer are killing us at an astounding rate. We sacrifice ourselves, our bodies and our health (mental and physical) to "fill in the gaps" in our families and communities. Many of us play the role of mother and father to our children and to other's children. We volunteer for church activities, community organizations and other good causes while simultaneously sacrificing our well being. Although on the surface it appears that what we are doing is for the "good of the community" it is actually detrimental because we are losing our lives in the process.

Today each of us must decide to take power over our health.

Action Steps You Can Take

  1. Take an honest assessment of your health. If you can, get a physical check-up at the doctor's office or free clinic in your community. Check everything! That includes an AIDS test and tests for other sexually transmitted diseases. I remember going to the doctor and asking for an AIDS test and being discouraged from taking one. I was shocked to say the least. I was told that I was NOT at risk. As black women we have the fastest growing number of people contracting AIDS. We cannot allow doctors to dissuade us from getting checked for AIDS and other diseases. Also, make sure that you check for common disorders such as diabetes, heart disease and circulatory issues that are taking so many of us OUT. My mother died of heart disease at 62 years old. Don't let that happen to you, take power over your health by facing any challenges and problems head on.

  1. Change your diet. Forget about soul food, because it is KILLING US. Eating greasy, fried food on an ongoing basis is a recipe for DEATH. Please let go of any sentimental feelings towards, fried pork, and greasy fatty food because they are shortening our lives. Our ancestors ate this type of food because they did not have a choice. Today we have a choice. Choose life by eating healthy food that is low-calorie, low in fat and low in salt. I will blog more in detail about having power over your health in future blogs.

  1. Exercise. This is a tough one because exercise takes time and energy, two resources most black women are short on. But you must exercise EVERYDAY. That means you must exercise for at least 30 minutes everyday. The best and easiest type of exercise is walking.

These are just a few things you can do today to take power over your health. In future blogs I will go into more detail and offer resources and links that can be of help.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Outside Forces Do Not Have All The Power Over Your Life

As Black women many of us have experienced many bad breaks in our lives. Rape, molestation, victimization, poverty, dysfunctional families, absent fathers, absent husbands/fathers of our children in addition to racism and sexism in our society. But even these outside forces do not have the power over our lives that we believe.

Yesterday, I was reading an article about poverty or more specifically welfare at Mother Jones. It featured several Black women with their children suffering because they are impoverished with little or no support from the fathers of their children. These women suffered the daily humiliation of being poor and their children also suffered. The article portrayed these women as being adrift in a sea of outside forces that they had no power to overcome without the help of benevolent whites, wealthy, middle-class or "ordinary" people to help set the system right to help these helpless women "overcome." But what the article didn't mention was how these women actually have the power to change their circumstance and conditions by making the choices that will bring about a change they desire. When I read articles like this I think they are dis-empowering to the women who are suffering under horrible conditions. These women have the power to change their lives despite their circumstances and despite any hardships they faced in the past.

The first choice they must make is to "take back the power" over their lives. What this looks like: When you take power over your life, it means you decide that you have power over your life despite your circumstances. It means that you make hard choices about what you will do to change your life in the way you desire.

I remember when I was living in Los Angeles I met an extraordinary man who had cerebral palsy. This man was definitely dealt a bad hand by genetics; but he didn't let that stop him. He worked as an Elvis impersonator, had his own apartment and had a girlfriend. Despite his clear disability he made choices that were within his power to change his life for the better. He took power over his life.

How Even Impoverished Women Have Power

1. Women in poverty can choose to only have children they can afford and only within a stable marriage. Yes, I know this may not be fair; but being a single woman with a child almost gaurantees that you and your children will live in poverty. Our society is not setup to support poor women and children, it's not nice; but it's true. If you are a black woman living in poverty, make reproductive choices that won't sink you deeper into poverty.

2. Stop having sex with and/or marrying and having children with impoverished men. The economic level of the man you choose to mate with will determine the economic level of you and your children. Think about it, if a man living in a patriachial soceity cannot financially support himself how will he support you and/or your child.

3. Advance your education beyond high school to at least a bachelor's degree. This will make a huge difference in your financial power. You just don't know how many doors have opened for me simply because I have a college degree. Having a college degree can change your financial life. But no matter what you do NEVER, EVER, NEVER drop out of high school.

4. If you have already made bad choices and we all have, now is the time to correct course. There is a saying I heard someplace (i don't remember where) "God Allows U-Turns" If you are going down the wrong path and you know you are going down the wrong path stop immediately and change course. It is never too late to take power over your life.

How To Change Course

If you dropped out of high school: stop right now and go back to high school or get a GED, do not allow yourself to move forward one more minute without a high school education.

If you have children with no support from the father: take time right now to secure child support payments from him (if he's employed) immediately. Many black women refuse (ya'll know it's the truth) to force black men to financially support their child because they don't want to bring "the white man down on a brother." Please stop concerning yourself with these men who are abusing your children. And they are abusing them if they refuse to financially and emotionally support them. You have a responsiblity to secure the best resources for your children, so do your job by forcing these men to financially support children they created.

If you are surrounded by losers/whiners/leeches: Cut them off! Your environment is a great indicator of where you will be in the future. Only associate with winners at all times. Do not allow others to utilize your resources (mental, physical, financial etc.) and give you nothing of equal value in return. Ya'll know you are surrounded by these types of people and you know you need to CUT THEM OFF.

I created this blog because I have made great changes in my life and wanted to share with others some of the lessons I've learned along the way. I grew up poor with many disadvantages from BIRTH; but was still able to breakaway. The most important lesson that I have learned is that I have ALL POWER over my life and so do you. I have also learned that there are some ways of living that will almost gaurantee that an individual will experience some measure of success in her life.

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Every Black Woman Has Power Over Her Own Life

Black Women Power Rule #1 states that every black woman has power over her own life.

It doesn't matter how much or how little education you have, your family background, class status, bank account balance or looks…you have power over your own life. You have the power to decide what you will do TODAY to create the life you want. You have the power to decide what direction your life will take NOW. Living in the past is a huge mistake for Black women who want to harness their power and direct it at creating the life they envision. Although there is nothing wrong with *briefly* looking back at the past to learn lessons or recognize the progress you have made, LIVING in the past is different issue we need to avoid.

The Power Of The Past?

Many black women mistakenly believe that because they came from a dysfunctional family, were abused, raped or were in some way the victim of predators in their communities, that they now have no power. This is a LIE, DON'T BELIEVE IT! No matter how you have been victimized in your life, you still have the power to choose TODAY what steps you will take to create the life you want.

Look at Oprah Winfrey, even if you do not like Oprah, she is a prime example of a Black woman who is FULLY aware of her POWER. Oprah was raped by a relative as a girl and even became pregnant as a teenager; but she did not let that stop her. She didn't stop dreaming and doing in her own life. Now she is a multi-millionaire with immense financial POWER.

A Word On Racism

Many black women mistakenly believe that racism is all powerful and can prevent black women from achieving any measure of success in their lives. These particular black women will look at other black women who are successful in love, finance, health or life in general and say that these people are successful only because they SOLD OUT or ACT WHITE. We need to stop this foolishness immediately. The laws and truths that govern POWER know no color, nationality, creed or sex. If you apply these rules to you life you will be so much more successful.

Racism has NO power over any Black woman's life, especially in the western world. If you live in a western society, such as the US, Canada or Western Europe you have the power to direct your own life. There is no amount of racism that can stop you. Even if you don't live in these relatively free regions, you still have the power to direct your life. We will delve into this in future blogs.

Action Steps You Can Take

Recognize TODAY that you have power over your own life. Write down in a journal or sheet of paper, "I have power over my life!" This is important because if you don't agree that you (and only you) have power over your life, you cannot be successful.

I once had a friend who said she wanted a life change. But every time we discussed how she could improve her life she always spoke about all of the things that were stopping her. She wanted to start a business; but she didn't have enough money. She wanted a long-term boyfriend; but the men she dated only wanted sex. She wanted to move; but the other areas were too expensive. Although my friend did eventually move (because she felt compelled by forced to by outside forces), very little else has changed in her life. The last time I checked, she was still miserable. My point of this story is not to bad mouth the friend; but it's to illustrate that when you believe that outside forces have power over your life, you CANNOT succeed. If you think like my friend, stay tuned for my next post where I will talk about how outside forces don't have as much power as you may think.

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