Wisdom Wednesday: The Reality of Reality TV

About a week ago, I happened upon an episode of Love and Hip Hop Atlanta (The Reunion), and I must admit I was disgusted by what I witnessed.  Beautiful people of color donned the stage to engage in dialogue epitomizing the show’s past season, and what ensued was nothing short of a disgrace.  One of the cast members stormed the stage and initiated a brawl of epic proportions.  The animalistic pandemonium forced taping of the show to cease, only to resume after order was eventually restored.

I don’t appreciate the fact that when it comes to reality TV, people of color tend to make up the majority of the cast.  Of course, there are a few exceptions.  Generally speaking, the reality shows that highlight the ability to think, build communities, and survive amid challenging circumstances, tend to be dominated by whites.  When I watch Survivor, The Bachelor/Bachelorette, and The Apprentice, these shows have some type of ultimate goal or prize to be won.  The ability to reason, strategize, and work together as a team becomes paramount.  In other words, there is a method to the madness.  Whether it’s being dropped off in the middle of nowhere, and being left alone (with a camera crew, of course) to test survival skills, or being whisked away to paradise in order to choose a potential mate, these shows glamorize the great qualities of their stars.  Conversely, the negative portrayal of African-Americans (especially women) on reality shows like Love and Hip Hop, Basketball Wives, and R&B Divas creates a mockery resembling a modern-day minstrel show.  The sad truth about these shows is the “black face” is not painted on, they’re actually real.  There is no point…there is no prize…there is no goal.  Ultimately, all that comes out of this madness is more madness.  Week after week the fights ensue, the gossip gets juicier, and class goes flying out of the window.  When the season is all over, and the dust settles, these “celebrities” of color have been stripped of all dignity and class for the purpose of gaining ratings and riches.

Is this really what we have resorted to for our entertainment purposes?  What was once reserved for twelve rounds in a boxing ring can now be seen on your average African-American reality television show.  Our generation has pushed the limits of what is acceptable on television.  From violence to borderline pornography, our senses have been saturated with debauchery far beyond anything ever imagined.  The rise of the reality TV age has brought to light some pressing questions concerning the effect it has on our society.  There is such a hypocritical overtone that surfaces when we express our outrage against issues like women’s rights, domestic violence, and infidelity, when all along, our appetites for this pseudo-reality continue to grow.  It shouldn’t surprise us when we see the same type of degeneration translating and manifesting in real life.

I consider this a real epidemic and a state of emergency.  When I see two women whaling on each other for ratings, I want to ask…why?  What would cause such emotional unrest as to think this type of behavior is acceptable?   How much are you willing to sell your soul for?

In no way am I saying that reality TV is to blame for all of the social ills we see in our society.  However, I am saying that reality TV, in its present state, seems to contribute to the negative image of women especially women of color.

So let’s talk about this.

 

What type of image is reality television portraying when it comes to women and people of color?

Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.  Looking forward to hearing from you.

 

Editor: Jaime Evans

Keep Learning ♦ Keep Loving ♦ Keep Living

As always, thanks for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

 

 

Fourth Quarter Tune-Up

Remember January 1, 2014? 

Seems like such a long time ago, right?  How about all of those New Year’s resolutions floating around in the air (including yours)?  Let’s get personal.  What was your number one resolution?

Start that workout routine?

Eat healthier?

Manage your time better?

Save more money?

Relax more?

 

How’s that going for you?

The truth is, about 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but only 8% achieve those goals.  Pretty depressing, huh?  In fact, some people  (about 38% of Americans) have resolved to not make resolutions at all (University of Scranton.  Journal of Clinical Psychology).

Let’s pause for a moment of silence for all of the resolutions that have given their lives for our fleeting motivations…

Statistics like these are very telling within our society concerning the evanescence of our motivation.  Just recently I was engaged in a short conversation with two coworkers, and the subject of exercise came up.  I was asked if I was going to workout that day;  my response was one of mixed emotions, because I knew I needed to workout, but I just wasn’t motivated at the time.  Excuses flooded my soul, and all of the things that I needed to do after work presented themselves to my mind one by one.  Eventually, I did recover from the assault on my mind and found the grit to part the doors of the gym for another successful workout.

Within that same conversation, one of my coworkers expressed concern for the usual after-work crowd that makes it difficult to occupy the desired cardio equipment.  This raised some very interesting thoughts, which spawned this very post.  Many of us who faithfully attend the gym are very familiar with the mid-year trail off.  When January 1 of each year rolls around, you can expect to see a massive influx of people hitting the gym, as if brand new sexy bodies were being given away in the cardio section.

Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.

In many cases, by the time June hits, the numbers have dwindled so; treadmills are virtually screaming for some action.  The psychology of motivation is such a mystery, experts are still trying to figure it out; what causes it, and why is it so fleeting?  I think we all can agree that we’ve been there at some point in our own lives.

Fast-forward to your “now.”  Here it is, fourth quarter 2014, and less than four months left in this year; I sincerely ask you…

Are you on track to accomplish your goals for this year?

I know-I know…you’ve had some set-backs, failures, obstacles and opposition.  So have I.  You would not believe the year that I’ve had…but I’m grateful for it all.  Through all of your trials this year alone, kudos to you for still being here, and not just surviving, but thriving.  I know it’s been hard…please know that I can relate, but think of me as your coach today.  This is the last time out in the fourth quarter…get back in the game, you can win!

In the game of football, if a defender interferes with the receiver’s ability to connect with a pass, the referees generally calls a Pass Interference penalty against the defense.  The result of this penalty, in many cases, is a 10-yard advance for the offense.  God is about to advance you as you approach the final push of 2014.  We can’t forget that we are in a battle, and our enemy is real.  He has wreaked so much havock in your life by interfering with the clean reception of all that God has prepared for you, but God has blown the whistle and thrown the flag…Blessing Interference penalty on the enemy.  Your Father is about to stop the assault on your life, so that you can make up precious ground.  According to Joel 2:25, God is able to restore the years that have been damaged and the time that has been lost for whatever reason; our only requirement is to stay connected to Him, and in turn to our purpose.

Receive  that!!!

I encourage you to reconnect to God; reconnect to your plan; and reconnect to your passion.  Remember the reason why you committed to that change in the first place.  If your goal was to lose weight for health reasons, then reconnect with those reasons.  Is it that you want to feel better, look better, and live longer?  Reconnect with that.  If your goal was to be the king/queen of organization, think about that pumped feeling you got every time you thought about accomplishing your goal.  Connect to those feelings, then just do it.  See yourself there over and over again in your mind.  Meditate on it, write a plan, live it out in your imagination.

See it to BE it. 

Even though motivation is a mystery, it is not an impossibility.  You can do this.  It’s fourth and goal, and we’re down to the “2-minute warning.”  You’re too close to let it slip through your fingers.

 

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).

You’re almost there!!!  PUSH!!!

 

 

Editor: Jaime Evans

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

Keep Learning ♦ Keep Loving ♦ Keep Living

BE

Wisdom Wednesday: When Fear Kills

In the wake of the shooting of Missouri teen, Mike Brown, let’s talk about authority and the varieties thereof.  Before you make assumptions about how this post will play out, you should know that I’m not into police bashing.  I think it’s insensitive and totally unnecessary to cast judgment before all the facts have been uncovered.  The institution of  law enforcement has its place and purpose, and is even biblically sound (see–Romans 13:1-4). 

That being said, there is another side to this coin.  Because of our fallen nature, sin has infected each of us, and the primary symptom of this infection is fear.  Consequently, fear causes irrational responses within us.  This creates a problem when people in authority–namely police officers–are placed in life-threatening situations.  These volitile situations create a heightened awareness and sensitivity that make Skittles bags appear to be guns.  Death of the unarmed occurs at the confluence of power and fear; whether that power is clothed in a uniform with a badge or a flawed legislation (i.e. Stand Your Ground).  This is fastly becoming an epidemic  in our society based on most recent events. 

There is a proven disparity between the races when it comes to these tragic events of late.  The landscape of the African-American community is frought with families that have been affected by the loss of loved-ones due to irrational and unjustified deadly force.  The relationship between law enforcement and the community seems the be the most strained where African-Americans are predominant.  Of course, this is nothing new to the citizens of these communities, but that doesn’t seem to spark much change in this paradigm.  In fact, many of the laws that are in effect today were designed to target people of certain racial descent.     

According to a book I recently read, Between Barak and a Hard Place, by Tim wise, the current “war on drugs” instituted in the late 1990’s, was loosely intended to shift the focus of law enforcement to rest heavily upon people of color.  This resulted in a disproportionate ratio of arrests, persecutions, and random consent searches between whites and people of color.  Here are some interesting stats sited by Tim Wise in his book:

  • Blacks are 48 times more likely than whites to be incarcerated for a fisrt-time drug offense.
  • In fifteen states, the rate of black incarceration for drug offenses is anywhere from 20 to 57 times greater than for whites, despite equal or greater rates of drug law violations by whites.
  • Blacks are twice as likely to be sent to prison for cocaine use than whites, when all of the factors surrounding an arrest are the same, and serve on average 40 months more than white offenders.

These statistics are so because of one key point:

  • According to another study conducted in Oakland, CA in 2013:African-Americans stopped by police were searched 42 percent of the time, compared to 27 percent for Latinos and 17 percent for whites and Asians. Yet, those searches resulted in the recovery of contraband 27 percent of the time for African-Americans and Latinos, 28 percent of the time for whites and 25 percent of the time for Asians.

Naturally, there are things that African-American youth-especially men-need to understand when dealing with the police.  Certain things make you an easier target and a bigger threat capable of escalating a bad situation into an even worse one extremely quickly.  In no way am I saying that the culprits are always blameless when confronted by the police, but it should never warrant deadly force without proper judgment.  With authority comes the resposibility of proper judgment.  There is a cycle of hostility that exists between African-Americans and law enforcement that never favors the side of the perpetrator.  Any signs of resistance or sudden, unexpected moves tend to exacerbate the situation and creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts: that African-Americans are hostile, resistant, and deserve unreasonable and sometimes deadly force.

One could argue that because of these types of confirmations, people of color should fear law enforcement.  The hostility that so animates the demeanor of African-Americans when confronted by law enforcement could be result of the constant menacing scrutiny of the police.  This, in turn, leads to hostility in law enforcement when confronting African-Americans, which in the cases of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and many others…ultimately leads to death of the unarmed. 

 

Let’s talk:  Some pressing questions need to be asked:

  1. What do statistics like this really speak of?
  2. Do people of color deserve this type of treatment due to a lack of morals?
  3. Are people of color so menacing, so aggresive, so hostile that the use of deadly force becomes the norm instead of the exception?

 

What do you think?  All comments welcomed.

 

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

Keep LearningKeep Loving ♦ Keep Living

 

BE

 

 

How Your Perception Impacts Your Success

Picture this:

My wife and I are at Starbucks (in a long line of course) in the airport waiting for our order, and right next to us is a woman patiently waiting for her order as well.  As I take a second glance, I noticed she was smiling.  Reflexively, I smiled back at her as she spoke to both my wife and I and asked how we were.  This small interaction led to a longer conversation that brightened the rest of our day.  As we walked away we recounted how nice it was to encounter such a nice person.  As I continued to think about our interaction, a question began to form in my mind:

“When did pleasant people become an endangered species in our society?” 

Think about it.  When was the last time you randomly encountered a nice, genuine person?

Exactly…it takes a second to recall, doesn’t it?

If we’re honest, it seems normal these days for people to walk around in a dark cloud of depression, self-loathing and self-pity.  Let’s not even mention the people who are just plain mad…at everyone.  They go to sleep angry and wake up angrier.  What caused this mass deterioration and dysfunction?  I believe it can all be summed up in one word…Perception.  Yes, our perceptions are the blueprints for how we look at life, and everyone had a different blueprint.  Think of it as our point of reference.  It’s the way we process everything around us as we look through the lenses of our personal experiences and biases.  If our lenses are dark, then our outlook will be dark and vice versa.  What if I told you the reason why you are not producing the results you desire in your life could be the result of your outlook?  One of my favorite quotes from Leonardo da Vinci states, “All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.”  Whether it’s work, home, relationships, or all of the above, how you view life can determine what you produce in your life.

Perception vs. Perspective

Ladies and gentlemen, I have good news and bad news.  First, the bad news (sorry):

Perception and perspective are two different things.  I know you’re asking, how is this bad news?  Well, the main reason is because so many people confuse the two.  They think the way they see and interpret things is the way things really are.  Have you ever encountered a habitually paranoid person who believes that everyone wants to harm them in some way?  How about a person that constantly feels that they have been purposely omitted from a communication or event because no one likes them.  Although these may seem extreme, they are examples of faulty perceptions, and are more commonplace than you think.  The difference between perception and perspective is the fact that perspective is the ability to place a singular event into its proper contextual construct.  In other words, seeing things from the proper point of reference within the framework of what really matters to you.

Here’s a little exercise that reinforces proper perspective.  So you wake up in the morning to encounter Murphy’s Law at work in your life.  Everything that can go wrong does go wrong.  You overslept, the kids are fighting in the car, you’re stuck in traffic because you left home later than usual (you get the point).  You finally make it to work, late of course, so you’re not in the best mood due to your dreadful morning.  However, when you walk into your office you discover that one of your co-workers was just diagnosed with cancer, and another co-worker’s mother died the night before.  Remember that dreadful morning of yours?  Doesn’t seem so dreadful now, does it?  That’s the power of proper perspective.

Now, I promised you some good news, didn’t I?  Here it is:  Perceptions are malleable and can be altered pretty quickly.  In turn, when your perception is positively altered, it places you in a better position for increased productivity.  I like to call it fruitfulness.  I came across an interesting fact that I’d like to lift from an article entitled “Well-Being, Success, and the Gallup Student Poll” conducted in 2009.  High school students who reported consistently experiencing a joyful outlook had better academic records overall.  This proves that people with an overall positive outlook are happier, which could be a precursor to success and impactful results.

Perception and Maturity

Did you know fruit trees only produce fruit after they have reached a certain level of maturity?  Just like fruit trees, our productivity is connected to our maturity, because in most cases our perceptions are rooted in our level of maturity.  Many times our actions are influenced by our perceptions, whether good or bad.  Arising from our actions are the consequences of those actions.  If we’re honest with ourselves we will admit that when we were younger and immature, we made some pretty dumb decisions that we would later live to regret.  What makes us see those actions for what they are (dumb)?  Could it be that time and experience placed those actions in perspective?  Our actions are the seeds that carry the genetic material that produces the offspring of consequence.  That’s why I believe that maturity is the force of proper perspective.  As we mature, we tend to focus more on the consequences of our actions.  Until we mature completely, we will always struggle to maximize our productivity.

So if you are struggling with negative perceptions, here are some effective tools that always work for me when I find myself in a bit of a conundrum.

  1. Diet–   You are what you eat, and food affects mood.  Try to make healthy eating a lifestyle.  When you eat great, you feel great, and when you feel great, you produce great things.
  2. Exercise–  Research consistently shows that exercise improves and hones all of our bodily functions, including perhaps the most important of all…brain activity.  When we’re sharp mentally, we pay attention to detail, which is a guaranteed gateway to increased productivity.
  3. Quiet Time–  Whether you pray, meditate, or just take a short nap, time spent in quiet solitude can relieve stress and change negative perceptions throughout your day.  I encourage you to take advantage of breaks in your day to silently recharge.
  4. Connect–  We all thrive on social interactions with others.  You may not be an extrovert or a social butterfly, but connection with like minds and significant others can greatly reinforce priorities and ideas that really matter to us.  There is nothing like spending time with the people we love to help bring proper perspective.
  5. Travel–  A change of scenery can go a long way when trying to change negative perceptions.  Never underestimate the power of “vacating the premises.”

Be encouraged today and remember, trees produce fruit; fruit contains seeds; seeds produce trees.

What will YOU produce today?

Thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.

BE