We’ve been wanting to post on Tracee Ellis Ross for awhile now. She is so brilliant AND funny in the ABC Wednesday night series, Black-ish. But more than that there is something about her that rings true as just a really nice person. January 8, 2017, the Golden Globes award for the Best Actress in a Comedy was awarded to her for her role as Rainbow Johnson, a physician and mom. It was the first time in 33 years that a black woman was honored as the best comedy actress, since Debbie Allen received the award for her role in Fame, in 1983.
In her acceptance speech, Ross spoke out on the meaning of having her talent recognized and the talent of the many overlooked “women of color and colorful people” in the television industry.
“Black-ish” gets it right. It’s a little like therapy, right? Many of the points made in the show hit you right in the heart. You feel yourself going “Yes!” when they use humor to point out the not so funny everyday microaggressions that we as black people put up with. There is something about validation of our experiences in the wider culture, that helps make us stronger and that is what AfricanAmericanTherapists.com is all about.
Black-ish was created by writer and television producer, Kenya Barris, a graduate of Clark Atlanta University. He has also worked on America’s Top Model and Barbershop: The Next Cut.
Years ago, the last time I went skiing, I found myself at the top of a mountain in Colorado —at the head of a black diamond (for experts only) trail. I was on the wrong trail! My ski skills are barely good enough for the bunny slope. Needless to say, I was filled with terror. How in God’s name was I going to get down in one piece? To make matters worse, the sky had turned deep gray, a fog had rolled in and the temperature had dropped. A fellow student from the afternoon’s ski lesson was with me. She was twenty years younger and a lot better skier. The slope in front of me was a steep vertical drop, covered in ice. The flat area we stood on was only eight feet narrow, dropping thirty feet into a brush filled ravine on the left and a rocky stream bed on the right. With the next (occupied lift chair descending towards us, we had no choice but to push off the tiny landing pad.
I tried to remember every ski tip I had ever heard: bend knees, lean forward, tuck in elbows. I was terrified of both of my choices. If I lost control and sped to the left, I I could visualize myself landing in the tops of the spiny trees with limbs piercing my body. Or my other choice, to the right, and then falling into the creek bed & into the icy water. Flying along, on bumpy ice, the more I kept my eye on the ravine, the faster towards it I sped. As I approached the edge, my friend yelled, “Look over here!”. As soon as I turned, she reminded me, “You ski where you look. Remember?! Look straight ahead!” My path changed. I stared ahead at a woman in a full length mink & hat posing on the plateau down ahead of us. (It was one of those black ski events.) Anyway, guess where I “went”? And yes, she went down with me, fur a-flapping & cursing all the way.
Anyway, when I hear a mother saying to her three year old, “The police are gonna come get you” or “I’m calling the police on you” or “You’re gonna spend your life in jail”, it causes me to wonder if it narrows that child’s vision to some calamitous path. Does it steer that shape-ready genius, that each young child is, towards seeing themselves in the waiting criminal justice system. I know that the brain retains everything. Some things are kept right at the surface. Other ideas are stored in the unconscious. Think about other mothers, who play subliminal tapes to their sleeping children. Tapes that say “You are going to become a doctor” or “You will be a famous athlete”. The unconscious mind would store that, too.
If we ski where we look, as long as we maintain the “right form” to steady our balance, we can fly through the snow to a comfortable and exciting landing. It helps if we are on a safe trail and we’ve been taught the “right form” that we’ve been able to practice. In terms of skiing through life, and your kids envision their futures in the frames we parents shape for them, how easy would it be to steer our kids toward the positive? They’re going to have some target in mind. Why not say, “Hey, kids! Look over here” and show them how great their futures might be? Don’t push it. It can’t be your direct order or your threat. It has to be your excitement and optimism that sparks them to consider it – to put their eyes on it. If we show kids our confidence in the positive possibilities rather than the weakness of our fears, they will fall under the magic of simply skiing toward the future that they are keeping their eyes on.
A recent article in the Huffington Post pointed out something that many victims of domestic violence have been thinking; that Trump’s personality and behavior are characteristic of the abusive partners they’ve had. The article was sent to me by a client who felt Trump was a good example of an abusive spouse and for her as for the women the Huffington Post talked to, watching him was triggering the feelings associated with the trauma from which they were escaping.
And we elect him for president, because he sounds strong and we want change? Maybe that makes us wishful dreamers that are hoping for help when we feel like we have no control over our lives. As many know, the first step in helping an abused woman out of a relationship, is not just helping her to see that her partner is dangerous to her survival. It’s helping her to know that there are other choices, that she can do for herself what she is wishing someone else would do for her. Showing her that her mind, her skills are enough. Especially, it is important for her to accept the truth of her situation. In abusive relationships, the perpetrator works his weak spell by convincing his partner that she needs him alone, that she is weak and unable to take care of herself. This psychological imprisonment is as effective as real imprisonment.
When Trump declared that only he could save America from “the system”, that we need protection and only he could save us, alarm bells went off in the minds of many listeners. Angel Marie Russell wrote on her Facebook page, per the Huffington Post, ” Trump is triggering so many abuse and rape victims, including me”. “His behavior is almost exact to my abusive exes. It’s terrifying. I can’t even watch him.” But watch him we must. And as with all crazy-making behavior, we have to pay attention not just to what he says, but more importantly, to what he does.
Walking through the mall this afternoon, there were alot of men wandering around, looking a little glassy-eyed. Most of them looked to be between 32 and 48 years old and they looked tired. Some of them were in work clothes. They looked lost. One man approached me holding a very tall pair of women’s boots in his hands. “Will these work? Do you think my wife might like these? They look pretty good, huh?” The man was short. I asked him, “Does she have really long legs? Because if she doesn’t, those might not work.” “Oh”, he said, “This is too hard. I’ll just give her the money and she’ll have to pick her own boots.” (How easily we are discouraged.)
Christmas is supposed to be fun
Love is a gift you can give for free. We shouldn’t feel that love will be rejected or deemed false if it is not accompanied by an adequate gift. After all, most men hate shopping. It seems to be a little overwhelming for them, if not in the decision-making, then in the range of prices and sizes. Some folks make up a very specific gift list (not a bad idea, except it seems like you’re putting in an order). The really detailed folks send a text or email with mistake-free links to accomplish the ordering and shipping. Some folks want it fancy wrapped. Some folks just want your clearly spoken words of love. And that’s a good thing because I think what I saw in some men’s eyes reminded me of what I see when folks start talking about their student loan debt: Fear. Remember, unless you’ve been skipping out on the basics despite having the ability to provide, no gift can replace real love. If that’s all you really have, give that. Be open and honest and if your partner is worthy of you, that’s what they will give back. But if you have a few bucks, most will probably appreciate a gift card.
Ieshia Evans, a peaceful protester in Baton Rouge, LA demonstration in July, 2016 following the killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota shows what faith looks like. Faith has no fear. Faith stands in the certainty of its truth. Ms. Evans, a 28 year old nurse and mother of a 6 year old son told Gayle King, CBS “This Morning” co-host, that it was a first demonstration for her.
Why she stood up
After watching the videos of the two shootings and after the countless other police shootings of unarmed black men and women that she had heard about, she felt that she had to stand up for her people. Noting that her job is to take care of people and that she could even be the nurse who takes care of those policemen one day, she demonstrates for all the world what it looks like to show peacefully and powerfully that Black Lives Matter as all lives matter.
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