I have always been a HUGE Beyoncé fan. From Destiny's Child to the Beyhive, I have always been in line. But I am not so impressed with the new Beyoncé anymore; she seems to have become less of a person as of late and more of a marketing strategy. I was busy throwing Mr. President #1's 6th birthday party the day her Lemonade visual album premiered, so I initially had no idea what the heck was going on. I actually only learned about the video and album because social media was flooded with Beyoncé news and posts about how she is "empowering" women again. When I heard the news, I just had to go and check her out! With that being said, let me add just one thing...I truly believe there is a striking difference that separates artists like Prince and Michael Jackson from the rest in the enthralling and palatable way they delivered their message through music. Although I agree Beyoncé's Lemonade was a true form of artistic freedom and creativity, she may have missed the mark for me this time.
I totally get the message! I do! Women [as portrayed in the video] absolutely know how to make something out of NOTHING. When we're dealt a bad hand in life, we have to figure out how to make the best of it with what we have. But why does the message have to be relayed with such anger and rage? While I appreciate the intimation of responsibility, happiness, and reconciliation we see toward the end of the video, Beyoncé still encourages and preaches about behaviors that I, as a parent, teach my children to never, ever engage in. I honestly don't really care for the rage-filled maniac Beyoncé portrays in the video -- especially since there are young children watching her go on this violent rampage. Did anyone else see the imagery? Idols like Beyoncé are making an impression on our children with statements like these, and I have to admit...it makes me a little nervous.
There is no denying the fact that Beyoncé is a huge role model for young girls. So many teenage girls and young adults who look up to her can gain access to her music through the click of a button on the Internet whether they have parental approval or not! You'd think this is something such an international icon would keep in mind when she is releasing music to the world with such a strong message. Now you can hate me if you want to, but you know I'm right this time. President Obama and Michelle Obama once called Beyoncé a role model for their two girls. Michelle Obama even said if she could choose to be someone other than herself, she would be Beyoncé. I wonder if President and Michelle Obama still see Beyoncé in the same light after watching the first part of Lemonade. Although Beyoncé definitely speaks to womanhood and empowerment in this video, the whole notion of her empowering women and young girls through the album is slightly misdirected in my opinion. And you know what...I'm raising two little boys. Our responsibility as women should be to empower THEM and raise them up, not bring them down.
Some people might argue that other mega-artists like Prince used their earlier music to talk about sex and other raunchy topics, but Prince did so in sort of mysterious way that only "grown folks" would understand. His music was full of ambiguous rhymes and innuendos that some of us never understood! I mean, I had no idea what he was talking about when he sang the line, "I guess I must be dumb, 'Cause you had a pocket full of horses, Trojan and some of them used" in Little Red Corvette until I was an adult! The lyrics were ambiguous enough not to offend his listeners, but we all know what a music genius he was anyway. Artists have to be extremely vigilant in the messages they are disseminating to the world because those little ears are listening very carefully.
With all of that being said, I really hope parents are very conscientious when using Beyoncé as a resource to motivate little girls to be empowered. As a parent, I'll tell you what I took from the Lemonade video, and it wasn't as empowering as some of you might think. Other than the fact that we know Beyoncé carries hot sauce in her purse, and she likes to eat collard greens and cornbread, there are some incredible lessons we learned from Lemonade, but here are the four not-so-good things I learned from Lemonade that I would caution some of you parents to filter:
1. It's okay to let someone get the best of you.
2. When you get upset, just go and "f*** a b**** up."
3. Go ahead and air your dirty laundry for the world to hear.
4. It's culturally acceptable to refer to yourself using the B word.
These four points are somewhat self-explanatory, so I don't need to go into too much detail, but I will say that although Beyoncé delivered a powerful, thought-provoking piece, there are still a number of things that did not sit well with me. It is NOT okay to let others get the best of you. Jealousy, rage, and revenge are not admiral attributes. Violence is not the answer either, so do not go around smashing in the windows of a car with a bat, or threatening to beat someone up because you can't control your emotions. Please do not air your dirty laundry for the world to hear either; personal problems should be resolved at home. Last but not least, the word b**** is NOT a term of endearment. Please do not refer to yourself as such, or other people for that matter.
Icons and artists are who they are because their music and art has a way of invoking these emotions in all of us we cannot tap into on our own. These incredible artists like Beyoncé serve as role models for the next generation, and although circumstances are what they are, and society is what it is, there is a certain way these lessons should be communicated to a larger and broader audience. I admire artists like Beyoncé and the few others who have been able to transcend race, gender, and other differences in the world that separate and isolate us from one another. Michael Jackson said, "It don't matter if you're black or white," and Prince didn't care what gender you were or where you came from. Throughout history, artists have always had a place in the fight for mainstream social rights issues, but as previously stated, they had an admirable way of doing so, in my opinion at least.
Lemonade is not for everyone (I think we all understand that), but someone who holds so much star power and command of an international audience cold use that platform to make an incredible impact for everyone. Beyoncé portrayed something that most of us can relate to: the good, the bad, and the ugly of a relationship. We've all dealt with ups and downs in our relationships because we're human and that's just what happens, but we need to be mindful of the way we conduct ourselves in the midst of these issues and indiscretions. Music and imagery is a powerful form of artistic expression that can go a long way. Let's use these tools wisely. Our voices are louder when words are spoken in unity. We can change the world and have a greater impact if we commit to and work at it TOGETHER. Even though it's an old-time cliché, I wholeheartedly agree...when life gives you lemons, go ahead and make some lemonade. I am still in line -- still in formation, but I am going to have to put Lemonade on the back-burner for now.
Let me just share something with you right now...I know you hear people often say that marriage is not all happiness all of the time, and while I do believe that to be true, I still believe that LOVE IS A FAIRYTALE! In love and marriage with the right person, LOVE ALWAYS PERSEVERES!
When there is true love at the root, even when the going gets tough, you always see a happy ending. My husband and I have learned that we have to stick together and tough out the tough times. When circumstances don't turn out the way we want them to, the answer is not to run away. The answer to facing tough times is to let love be the answer and you will always come out on the top. The same is true for ALL relationships, whether it be a friend, mother, father, sister, brother, or other family member.
On day 14 of the Love Challenge, I went to end on a powerful and inspirational note; true love always wins in the end. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going, and love always perseveres. We are or have been in relationships God has not intended for us, and we need to be attentive and alert so we know to identify true love from something else. But when a relationship is standing on true love, get ready for your fairytale.
Remember to love, and receive love from others in return. Make some deposits into the love banks of others today, and remember that love is a verb, and we should live our lives to love others: "Love is not about what I feel, it's about what I do. It's not about what I get, it's about what I give." Here's to love!
Many of us have suffered from a hardened heart. Rejection and unacceptable can cause us to put our guards up as a defense and preservation mechanism. Beware of too much self-preservation, as it will cause you to block people out of your life, and lead to missed opportunities for others to share their love with you.
I almost let day 13 of the Love Challenge just slip on by, but at the last minute, I realized how important it is for me to share today's focus with you since trust is something I have personally struggled with. When I finally learned to put my guard down, I met a wonderful man, and the rest is history. My husband is my best friend, and I can trust him with my life.
Remember that love always trusts, and in spite of all the rejections and heartache, strive to keep your heart open for love and greater possibilities. See you tomorrow for the FINAL day of the Love Challenge!
Let me share something with you...I love my husband no matter what, even when he falls short. You know the great thing about love? When a loved one has a short coming or a downfall, love has the ability to cover it. Just as God loves, protects, and covers us, our responsibility is to do the same for the people we love. Don't let love blind you and cause you to create excuses for a lack of commitment, but learn to love and support the people you hold dear, especially when they come up short in good faith.
We all know the incredible, legendary, incomparable, and unquestionable mastermind of music passed away yesterday. Aside from the fact that I was a Prince FANATIC, I look back and appreciate how he was one of the few public figures dedicated to spreading love around the world. Prince would literally perform on stage with the word "love" written across his cheek. He got it! He understood that it's all about the love! We should all take a page from his book and respect and realize the power of love. It can truly change things.
On day 12 of the Love Challenge, we are reminded that LOVE ALWAYS PROTECTS! God can take us away from this place at any moment, so remember to love, remember to do, and remember to give. Protecting our loved ones does not mean we have to excuse all of their mistakes, failures, and bad choices, but it does mean we strive to strengthen what is weak, cover what is vulnerable, and forgive what is imperfect. See you tomorrow for day 13 of the challenge!
"Sometimes those are the things that bein' in love's about..."
If you know some PHONY FOLKS, you are not alone because I do too!! Some people just live a thorough lie to try to impress others. Take social media for example...if I didn't know some of you in real life, I'd think you were living the most amazing life ever based on your Facebook profiles. Don't fall into the trap and become one of these phony people for the sake of acceptance and gratification from other people. The truth will eventually come to light anyway, so remember that the next time you're ready to tell a lie.
I tell Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2 all of the time, "Be YOU! Don't worry about anything else. Just be yourself and your friends will accept you for who you are." Stop trying to gain someone else's love by living a lie. Stop trying to impress others by pretending to be someone other than who you really are. God doesn't like phony, and LOVE REJOICES WITH THE TRUTH. That's the lesson for day 11 of the Love Challenge. Love rejoices with the truth, and is founded on trust, honesty, and sincerity. Be true to yourself and love will find you.
Husbands and wives...I feel compelled to say something to you today...please remember to be true to one another as well. The principles of marriage are founded on love, and when God is satisfied, you too will be satisfied. Have integrity in your marriage, and remember that lying and love do not mix!
See you tomorrow for day 12!
"Yes! That's what she gets. I'm so glad something bad finally happened to her!" Is this you after you hear about an enemy of yours suffering some trouble or a setback? If so, you know you are dead wrong. You're not alone though. This person right here used to be me. I couldn't wait for something bad to happen to someone who had been rude to me or done me wrong for so long. I would just patiently wait for them to finally get their due; PAYBACK! But I have learned that rejoicing in someone else's downfalls is nothing but that evil spirit just sneaking up on me once again.
On day 10 of the challenge, we are reminded that LOVE DOESN'T DELIGHT IN EVIL. Love is not happy when we rejoice in the downfalls of our enemies. I know payback feels good sometimes, especially when we didn't have to orchestrate it, but true love does not take delight in the pain of another person. I know this is not an easy task, but really try not to delight in the downfalls of our enemies, instead, leave room for something good to happen, even for them! Besides, someone is always watching, and you don't need Karma knocking on your door! Don't let that evil spirit sneak up on you.
Keep your heart clean with me today, and remember that love doesn't delight in evil. Check in tomorrow for day 11 of the Love Challenge!
LOVE KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS!!!
I know day nine is almost over, but you have to excuse me for such a late post. Tonight I was busy honoring and celebrating individuals who have advocated to change the lives of people with disabilities or special needs, military personnel, veterans and their families with Rosalynn Carter, John Travolta, and Kelly Preston at the Easter Seals Advocacy Awards Dinner in downtown Washington, DC. Daddy was home with the boys so I could do my working-momma thing!
With that being said, before the day ends, I just want you to remember that love keeps no record or wrongs. If that were the case, God would have cut us off a LONG time ago! If you're anything like me, you have to keep a list of every little thing. Keeping a tally of everything can be a good quality, but when it comes to the wrongs, stop counting and holding onto those hurts; they're only adding to the pain. Sometimes, if you want to move forward in life, you have to let things go. Stop keeping a count of those wrongdoings and just keep it moving! God knows the plans and the PEOPLE He has in store for you.
There are a lot of folks who have done me wrong, but tonight I was reminded of how precious life is, and how blessed and fortunate I am to have the life I live. I don't have time to keep a record of the wrongdoings others have done to me. I'm writing off those hurts, moving forward with my life, and I truly hope this inspires you to do the same. I was spreading so much love in that room tonight, John Travolta probably felt it on stage, and YOU probably even felt it at home. People have a tendency to remember the things they should forget, but forgiveness is one of the most important parts of love, so just forgive and forget. It's all about the love!
See you tomorrow for more of the Love Challenge!
Early this morning I had an "angry" moment when my husband did not have Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2 dressed and ready to go at a certain time. My daily routine is to have the clothes and shoes prepared for dad the night prior, and in the morning he can ideally get the boys up and dressed in no time. But why did I get so frustrated when he was running a little behind this morning? Because I neglected to remember that LOVE IS NOT EASILY ANGERED!
It's day eight of the Love Challenge, and today we are reminded that love is not easily angered.
In the moment, we often get frustrated or irritated, even angry when someone doesn't do something as expected. Whether it's our children, spouses, co-workers, or friends, we find it so easy to get upset with them when we sometimes need to take a moment to think it all through and respond positively and appropriately. If I had considered the fact that my husband was running behind this morning because I had him running errands late last night, which caused him to get in bed much later than usual, I would have been a little more mild-mannered and willing to pitch in when I walked in the room and saw the boys still in pajamas.
It might feel good to have a brief outburst of anger in the moment, but it might later cause a negative rippling effect you never anticipated. I know people can often get under your skin, but try to respond in love instead of reacting in anger. Love is not easily angered, so don't let that negative spirit get the best of you.
Check in tomorrow for day nine of the Love Challenge!
It's day seven of the Love Challenge, and LOVE DOESN'T DEMAND!
You can't always get your own way. Those who know true love seek to find common ground, harmony, and peace. Love doesn't demand it's own way, which is exactly why relentlessly wanting "your way" time and time again will lead to arguments, tension, and unhealthy relationships. COMPROMISE. COMPROMISE. COMPROMISE.
My two little Presidents CONSTANTLY want their own way. "I want this...I wanna do it...I don't want to eat that..." And the list goes on. At this point, my boys know that in MY house, they will follow MY rules, but every now and then, I let them have their own way just to prove to them that their way was not the best way. We lean from our lived experiences, right?
Learn to have some humility like we discussed during the challenge last week. Humble yourself and look for appropriate common-ground sometimes. Besides, OUR way isn't always the RIGHT way anyhow. Live isn't self seeking; IT'S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT YOU! Practice makes perfect. Work on it now so you can perfect it over time. I'm with you all the way!!!
More for day eight of the challenge tomorrow!!!
LOVE HONORS OTHERS!!!
And what better way to spend this "day of love," than attending the vowel renewal ceremony of two of the most beautiful people I've ever known, my cousin Kia and her husband Sekou.
These two individuals are a TRUE testament to the fact that love is not about what you get, but what you give; actions speak louder than words. Sekou would move mountains for the love of his life, and I am just honored to witness such a rich, pure, and contagious union, overflowing with love and happiness.
Before this day ends, take the rest of the evening to make some deposits into the "love banks" of the people around you. Just like we need to make regular deposits in our bank accounts to keep them growing, we need to make regular deposits in our "love banks" to spread the love and keep ourselves and others lifted.
Communication is non-verbal more often than not. Remember that actions speak louder than words, and close out the day by spreading some love and proving that it truly honors others.
See you tomorrow for day seven!