Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I Think: Wants-vs-Needs

By Mia Black
You gently rub the bridge of your nose as you ponder how you’re going to stretch your paycheck over the stack of bills piled in front of you. Number one priority is groceries. And now that you’ve put that off for so long, a quarter of your check will be dedicated to feeding the family. Well you know you won’t be able to pay anything in full, so you opt to just short-pay everyone. This moment no longer brings you to tears because you’ve struggled paycheck-to-paycheck for so long.

As you write the last check; your 16 year-old daughter walks in the front door. She is listening to her 80GB i-Pod with one ear and talking on her Nextel i930 with the other. She places her Inspiron notebook case on the couch, before coming over to kiss you. You give her a pat on the hand. She walks over and opens the refrigerator. Before she can complain that there is nothing to eat, you tell her you are going grocery shopping tomorrow.

Hold up! Rewind! Do you not see anything wrong with this picture? Before you sympathize with this situation, ask yourself the question, why is this teenager walking around with close to $1,000 worth of electronic toys and there is no food in the refrigerator? How do you short-pay the electric and gas bill, but continue to pay the cell phone bill for your daughter?

I hate to sound like an old person, but back in my day when you bought a “toy” its expense ended at the purchase, not like “must-have” toys of today. An i-Pod by itself will do nothing, you must continually purchase music. A cell phone has its monthly commitment, contracts, and don’t leave out the overpriced pretty little gadgets to decorate them. Let’s not forget the monthly obligation you must keep so your daughter can communicate wirelessly with her friends on her laptop. And because the parent has made the adult decision to purchase these toys, the paycheck is going to have to stretch a little farther each month.

For many parents not grasping the idea that being able to buy the toys versus actually being able to afford the toys, has forced many a household to run on a paycheck-to-paycheck budget. It is not just sad that this child has the top of the line cell phone and nothing to eat, but I believe this financially irresponsible characteristic can be passed down to this child. I’m not saying “financially irresponsible” in a malicious manner, because I believe in the dream of trying to give your child the world. But there is nothing wrong with the disposable camera dream if the disposable camera dream is what you can afford. Because instead of giving them the $300 digital camera, you have given them a life lesson of live within your means. You are doing your child no favors by giving them the world but not teaching them how to survive in it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

What I Know About: Stepping out on Faith

By Jennifer Texada
A friend of mine came back from a business trip only to discover that she had no home to come back to. Her condo had been damaged extensively in a flood triggered by a broken pipe. Despite the dismal situation, I had to ask myself: Is this just a leaky pipe, or has God taken all excuses away from my friend so she can move on?

Let me rewind. My friend is 36, never married, has no children, recently broke up with her boyfriend of 3 years, and now her company is about to close and lay everyone off. She has been harboring a secret desire to pack up and move down south away from the snow, high prices and the slim selection of quality black men for a few years now but has yet to do anything but complain about what her life lacks.

Until recently she has always had an excuse. The big one was her boyfriend, he wouldn’t move, so she couldn’t move. But about a year later he decides that he didn’t want to do anything that she wanted to do and they broke up. Then it was her job, it was easy and stable, until they announced they were closing and moving the office to Canada. Next it was the condo and she always thought she could get more if she hung on to it for a little longer. Now she is going to have to invest into it just to get out and hopefully break even. I mean she even tried to tell me once, that she had to stay for her parent's sake, who are now enjoying their winters in sunny Florida. Did all of these obstacles magically disappear or is this Divine intervention?

My last conversation with her drove me to frustration and I exploded with, “JUST GO! Stop whining and move. I mean you can't move forward if you are standing still.” I may not sound too “friend-ish”, but I refuse to I listen to her complain about this for another year!

Do I empathize with her situation? Yes, I know what it is to have fears, but I choose not to let them dictate my life. Whenever I don't like my situation, I do what it takes to get myself into a better one. I have moved about 4 times in the last 7 years. It seems like a lot right? But what if I told you in these 7 years I have accomplished almost all of the goals on my “Life to-do List” would you say the same? I don’t regret a single move, because I know that I am far beyond where I would have been if I stayed in the same spot.

I truly believe in following your heart and pursuing your goals despite all challenges. But what both of these bold moves require is faith. Knowing that you are a part of God’s plan and he will provide a way for you even when you can’t see it. To some, I may look like an unstable nut, but I am a happy nut, pursuing her bliss. I think people are generally afraid to move forward because of a fear of the unknown. They question, What if I do "ABC" and it doesn't work? But when you step out on faith your only focus should be, what if it does?

I want to encourage my friend, and every woman who is striving to make fearless decisions in their lives, keep these two principles in mind: #1 through great risk comes great reward, and #2 God will move you through anything if you just trust in Him.

I Think: When she is dressed like that who's to blame?

By. Mia Black

She’s got that big ole’ ghetto booty, tight lycra jeans (low enough to show off that hot pink thong), and oh how that belly shirt shows off her D-cup. Damn!!! Girlfriend is all that and then some! Although girlfriend my have it going on, she is only fourteen. That’s right, fourteen.

Was it like this when I was growing up in the eighties? Maybe it was, but even the tight jeans were not this tight. I grew up in time where mostly baggy jeans and backwards clothes were the style, but today it is all about showing everything you got, panties and all. I look at some of the clothes our teenager girls are wearing and I wonder how they squeezed their overly mature bodies into them.

Now there were fashion controversies in the eighties: skin-tight denim and the mini skirts. But I lived in a home where my mother whipped out the measuring tape before I left for school just to make sure the skirt hovered right above my knees. And don’t get me started on the pinch test, to see if I had enough breathing room in my jeans. Today’s purpose of a measuring tape is to tell you if the waistline is no more than an inch below your navel! Unless you’re a plumber, I don’t want to see your crack, your panties…nothing!!

And that is no longer toilet paper or socks in that bra. Push-up, padded, and water-filled bras rule the market. Now combine that with the fourteen year-old cleavage and a low V-neck lycra shirt, and there is nothing left to the imagination. That’s right, it’s not just the jeans, lycra has found a friend in cotton too. Now if the shirt isn’t riding down the front of her chest, then it’s doing little at the bottom to even cover her belly button. Or it may just be providing an unwanted view of the top and bottom.

Now here’s the tricky part, who do I blame for the fact that I cannot go out in public with out full few of the private parts of every teen and pre-teen girl in the place? Is it the fourteen year-old, who is only dressing like her friends and the girls on TV? The parent(s), who allow her to walk out of the house like this? Maybe I should blame clothing manufacturers that make these clothes, then market them to teens? Or the teen stores that buy only the most revealing clothes.

I have got to go with the parents, hands down. The fourteen year-old will only buy what she’s allowed to buy. The clothes manufacturer will only sell what’s being bought. I mean, in all honesty, most fourteen year-olds can’t support their wardrobes.

True, it is the parents’ right to allow their child to wear whatever she wants. If the parent doesn’t have a problem with it, what can you do? You can’t tell a parent how to dress their own kid.

So are there any solutions? Or must we remain subject to not having to guess what color panties are teenage girls are wearing?