Optical Illusions

“I’m like my mother, I stereotype, it’s faster.”-George Clooney, Up In The Air

So a guy walks up to a man dressed as a police officer and he’s like: ‘Help me, Officer. Help me.’

The man doesn’t seem alarmed, he just stands there and looks at the hysterical lad.

The guy keeps yelling: ‘Help me officer! I’m in trouble, please help me!”

The officer starts to walk away. The man now becomes irate  and begins to yell at the officer: “You mean to tell me, I’m screaming help and you won’t even call for back-up?”

The officer looks the man square in the eye and says: ” Sir, you said help me officer.”

The man yells:  “Yea, I said officer. Ain’t you an officer?”

The man says blankly; ” No sir. I am not.”

The guy rears back and puts his hands on his hips. He examines the man. From head to toe, the man is dressed like an officer. The man replies,: “Sir, you are an officer.”

The man says:  “Sir, I’m not an officer, I just like the uniform.”

When I was growing up in the 90’s, I had a couple of images of what and how women like me were supposed to act like. It was a time when great women like Ms. Oprah Winfrey and Ms.  Phylicia Ayers-Alan (Rashad) were the faces of successful women that came from urban areas. These women were the epitome of what young black women could be if they worked hard and stayed focused.

Though these women were inspiring they were not the prevalent image of the 90’s.

I knew I wanted to be a Fly Girl, Soul Train dancer or video girl. They were glamorous and men adored them; writing songs glorifying their voluptuous frames and beautiful hair. They were always garbed in the best designer clothes and wore stupid gold. Sultry and defiant, they were in  tune with their  body and knew how to work it.  One of my most favorite was the girl from the Flava N Ya Ear remix video, she was the one dancing in front of LL Cool J.

I wanted to be her. I desperately needed to be  admired and adored by LL Cool J and any other guy that loved Hip-Hop. Though Ms. Rashad and Ms. Winfrey would  empower young women to do better than that of the video girl, they seemed like a far fetched reality in the world that I grew up in.

I was far from being a Cosby kid, I was raised in a single parent home and was the middle of three children. Though we lacked a Dr. Huxtable, my mother worked hard to keep us as active as possible in our community. She  made sure her children were active members in the NAACP, kept us in church faithfully and was also a paraprofessional at the elementary school I attended.

This made me a goody-two-shoe-Holy-rollin’-church girl who thought that she was better than everybody.

I lived around the corner from a housing project that my mother forbade me to go. They had a park, basketball court and all of my friends from school. That’s where all the Fly Girls were, they knew how to handle anything that came their way. They had the attitude and style that I crave and I wanted to be a part of the scene. I wanted to show the world that I was hardcore and could get down with the best of them.

I  have resided  in that same housing project for almost ten years.There is also a label for women who reside in this area: Project hoes.  they are the mothers of the video girls who twerk and thrive on government assistance. People perceive them as desperate and money hungry trying to find out how they are going to get a new hair weave.

Labels are dangerous. They form the way we think of ourselves and tells how others view us. I gave up one image to embrace another.

When do we drop the labels and redefine ourselves?

In Super Rich,  Mr Russell Simmons challenges readers to embrace evolution by sharing our gift with the world to create a better environment for all humanity.  He refers to a term that is used when learning the art of yoga called Cycle of Samskaras that relates to our tendency to put limits on our  beliefs. By embracing stereotypes or labels, we give in to the negative perspective. We become something that we may not be or try to rebel against the box that others put us in. We become uniforms of what society, our families and even ourselves expect us to be.

Let’s forget to zip the dress today and allow ourselves to delve deeper than what we have been labeled to be. Our perceptions of each other seems to be based on fear rather than who we truly are. Once we become conscious of what we can truly offer to the world we begin to bring an evolution to the face of  both poverty and wealth.




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