Musings & Memoirs
Keeping Grown-Up Girlfriends
As a mother, I often wonder about how other women keep their “grown up” relationships alive and healthy? Several weeks ago, I connected with a high school friend. We chatted on the phone for about an hour. At the end of the call, I was amazed by our connection even though so much time had passed since we last spoke to each other. I was even more surprised by what connecting to another woman who looks like me and shares some of my experiences did for my sense of self.
Because Kylie and I knew each other so well in high school, letting her into my life and sharing my experiences, the good and not so good, seemed easier and safer, than when meeting someone completely new. Is this normal? With Kylie, I found myself sharing more and connecting more deeply. I found myself more willing to become vulnerable, even after failed friendships of years past that continue to have an impact.
Her laugh was exactly like I remembered it and I often wonder what she sees and hears in me. Do I look the same? Do I act the same? Am I essentially the same person, despite being married with a child. Connecting with Kylie also reminded me of that mattered to me when I was younger. She reminds me of what my dreams were. Today, I look back on our time in high school with both nostalgia and relief. I am nostalgic for at time what seemed simpler. I am relieved because I would hate to have to relieve those years again.
Now that we are both mothers, I am trying to prioritize this relationship to be sure that we do not lose touch again. How is it that we let friendships go? Is it a lack of time? The inability to prioritize? I often ask myself how I managed to let such a solid friend go? When we chatted about this very questions, Kylie reminded me that there were times when she was unable to maintain our friendship, proving that as much as I would have liked to have kept our connection going, at different points in our lives, it simply was not possible.
Kylie and I do not speak each week; however, last week she called and told me that a month had gone by without hearing from me and wanted to reach out. At that point, I made a mental note that I need to give this relationship the time it deserves because it is important to me. Kylie makes me feel like myself and in a world where so many people seem to be bent on fabricating perfect lives, I get to show up as myself, as imperfect as I am. How do you maintain your grown-up friendships? What do you do to keep your friendship alive with busy schedules, families and work? What do you do when life gets in the way?
What Is Your Favourite Old School Love Song?
I am a music lover. Each morning I listen to the same playlist while getting ready for the day. These days, I notice that Kennedy is doing the same thing. She comes into my bedroom and takes my iPad to her bedroom. From her room, Eric and I listen as she sings. It is such a lovely sound and a great way to start our day. These days, I am into love songs, partly because I am practising a few songs for a local band that I rehearse and play with. These days, I am loving the following songs. They are oldies but goodies:
1. Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight
2. Xscape – What I Need From You is Understanding
3. Journey – Foolish Heart
4. Kenny Lattimore – For You
5. Foreigner – I Wanna Know What Love Is
What are your favourite love songs? I would love to hear from you.
Notes on a Scandal
Why the Shondra Rhimes Hit is Detrimental to Black Women's Self Esteem
“Just one minute” pleads Fits as he leads Olivia’s body onto a wall, looking deeply into her eyes, gently pressing his body onto hers as he breathes her essence for a stolen sixty seconds. The scene makes me weak in the knees for I can’t remember a time in television history when I witnessed a “romance” between two characters, yet alone a black woman and a white man, that was this steamy. Scandal is a hit! The show has enjoyed critical success since it first aired in 2012. It tells the story of Olivia Pope, a beautiful and savvy public relations “fixer” in Washington D.C. who is having an illicit affair with the married president of the United States, Fitzgerald Grant.
Now in its fourth season, the show has a dedicated fan following with the relationship between the two star-crossed lovers popularly known as Olitz. First things first. I am proud to see a black female actress working and doing her thing. Kerry Washington makes the Olivia Pope character her own and complements Tony Goldwyn well, despite he being the better performer. I am also proud of Shondra Rhymes. She is a working executive in Hollywood and has several hit TV shows such as How to Get Away with Murder, Private Practice and Grey’s Anatomy to her credit. She is no doubt a “boss” and doing her thing.
Here is where the show becomes problematic for me. I don’t like the fact that Olivia is the President’s mistress. For the first three seasons of the show, the President is a married man, albeit unhappily. We seem him yearning for a time when he and Olivia can finally be together. We see how “complicated” it is for him to leave his marriage and the fact that his own marriage is farce, a convenient fairytale used to appease a voting base that he desperately needs in order to say in the White House. I have a problem with Olivia being his “mistress” because it feels to me that the Olivia character is yet another slap in the face for black women. Given the history of marginalization and dehumanization that black women in North America, the Caribbean and South America endured during slavery and given that many controlling images persist today that cast black women as whores, mammies, bad mothers and jezebels, I often wonder about the message that the show is sending to the masses, many of whom are white. “Oh, but it’s just entertainment”, is often the reply when the show is critiqued in this regard. My question is, if Scandal is simply entertainment, what impact does such “entertainment” have on black women’s self esteem? As a black woman, I do not often see many positive images of myself represented in popular media. I believe this is one of the reason why the Black Girls Rock campaign/movement has gotten so much traction over the past few years. Young black girls are growing up in a world where they are rarely celebrated and affirmed. If they were, there would be no reason for such an effort that is specifically designed to instill self-love, acceptance, visibility and a sense of community.
I am living at a time when I have to search out those positive images that make me feel that I am beautiful, worthy, intelligent and valuable. Given the dearth of positive imagery that exists depicting black women in popular media, I wonder whether a show that frames a successful black woman as the President’s mistress simply reinforces problematic beliefs about black women as jezebels, sexually loose and harlots.
I remember a scene in one of the seasons where Fitz pulls Olivia into a closet at the White House and makes passionate love to her (I am being polite here…this is a family friendly site). In all of my years of watching television, I never witnessed such an explicit display. When the shock of the scene wore off, I began to seriously consider the impact the show might have on audiences with very few first hand experiences with black women. The media is the most powerful teacher there is when first-hand experience is lacking about a particular community. Will people think that all black women are like Olivia, I asked myself? I also began to wonder whether the producers of the show would have ever cast a white woman in such an explicit way.
While I do not judge others who may watch Scandal, I am personally struggling with whether I should continue watching the show. And although I am told that Fitz eventually does leave his wife Millie for Olivia (sorry for this spoiler for those of you not that far ahead yet), I need to figure out whether I should support “entertainment”, in any form, that runs the risk of making me feel worse about myself than before I started. I would love to hear from you. Do you watch the show Scandal and do you think that it is detrimental to black women’s self esteem?