Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Every Shut Eye Ain't Sleep; Every Goodbye Ain't Gone," Part 1

Hello, everyone! Happy New Year!

I'm delighted to announce the impending publication of the book of blog essays, along with the impending launch of a new site that will take the conversation forward regarding lifestyle optimization for African-American women. We've already covered the basic survival issues here, it's time to take it to the next level.

At the new site, I'm moving forward from covering basic survival issues into detailed discussions of optimal living. In fact, there’s a science to lifestyle optimization that I’ll discuss at length at the new site. Many of the tips and techniques that I’ll discuss come from the relatively new field of positive psychology. Positive psychology is the scientific study of what enables individuals and communities to thrive.

Because I believe that Black women need new visions in support of sane and serene living, this new site will also focus on writing and the publishing industry. I know that many of you have at least one good book inside you, waiting to be born.

Black women need new visions. We need to hear new voices. We need to hear your voice in your own creative works. With the new site, I’m also dedicating myself to helping other African-American writers through what I’ve learned—and what I’m still learning—about writing and publishing during my adventures as a new author. I’ll let you look over my shoulder, and have the benefit of “hindsight in advance.” The benefit of learning through my ongoing experiences.

Let me give you a small sneak preview. The very first post (the sample post) for the new site is 5 Elements of Money-Making Nonfiction Books. It explains some of the details of why nonfiction writers who want to earn a good living for themselves and their families don’t need to have their books on the best-sellers lists.

Entrepreneurial nonfiction authors know the real money does not come from book sales. Instead, the real money comes from “back-end” sales of other products (audio programs, newsletters, videos, special reports, teleseminars, boot camps, speaking engagements, personal coaching) mentioned in the books.

There are still a few things to be worked out with the new site and the book isn't out yet, but I think you'll be pleasantly surprised when it's all ready. I hope to have everything ready by the end of January 2010. I'll put up another announcement here when the new site and book have launched. In the meantime, you can bookmark the following link:

See you soon!

Peace and blessings,

Sunday, September 20, 2009

One Year Blog Anniversary, Farewell, and My Heartfelt Thanks

I've said all along that there was a deadline with this blog, and that I wasn't going to do it indefinitely. Well, I've reached that point after a year of blogging. To manage the blog in the manner that I prefer to do so takes up a significant amount of time. Time that I now need to invest into other endeavors. And since I don't like to do "half-stepping," I've decided that now would be a good time to shut down the blog.

The conversations that we've had, and the mini-community that we've formed during this time, have greatly enriched my life. I've gained new ideas, insights and information that I wouldn't have gained otherwise. I've even gained some new goals (writing a novel) as a result of these conversations and your input. I can't possibly thank all of you enough for that. THANK YOU.

Peace and God's blessings be upon you,

P.S. I hope that our various arks cross paths, and that I see you around on the high seas! LOL!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How Old Is Too Old? by Tom Kavala

A resume client recently said to me, “Yeah, but I’m too old.”

I wanted to grab him by his lapels and shake some sense into him.

I’m here to tell you …

If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do – but have been putting off – now would be a good time to do it.

A woman once walked up to well-known author and inspirational speaker Wally (Famous) Amos, after a seminar he had given and said, “If I go to law school at my age, I’ll be 55 when I graduate.” Amos asked her, “How old will you be if you don’t go?”

So let me ask you a question, “If not now, when?”

Too Old For What?

Just what is it we’re supposed to be too old for anyway?

People will tell you that advancing age results in lower energy levels and diminished capacity for getting things done.

Really? Consider the following, courtesy of the UC Berkley Wellness Letter:

Verdi composed his “Ave Maria” at age 85.

Harlan Sanders started Kentucky Fried Chicken at the tender age of 65 and became a multi-millionaire.

Grandma Moses – the renowned American folk artist – didn’t start painting until she was in her 70s and didn’t achieve success until she was in her 80s.

Michelangelo was carving the Pieta when he was 89.

Martha Graham – one of the foremost pioneers of modern dance – performed until she was 75 and choreographed her 180th work at age 95.

Marion Hart, sportswoman and author, learned to fly at age 54 and made seven nonstop solo flights across the Atlantic, the last time in 1975 when she was 83.

John Kelley finished his sixtieth Boston Marathon at the age of 83.

Jack LaLanne, at age 62, swam the length of the Golden Gate Bridge underwater, against treacherous tides, towing a 2,000-pound boat. At age 65, he was swimming in Lake Ashinoko, Japan, handcuffed, shackled and towing sixty-five boats loaded with 6,500 pounds of Louisiana wood pulp! At age 70, once again handcuffed and shackled, and fighting blustery winds and currents, LaLanne hit the water and succeeded in pulling seventy boats and seventy people – one person per boat – an astonishing one and one-half miles.

The remarkable accomplishments of these people are not just personal triumphs; rather they are triumphs of the human spirit. They demonstrate that whether you start early or late in life, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. Whatever you can conceive, you can achieve – regardless of age.

Forget Those Who Say You Can’t

I wonder why so few people feel their age is “just right.”

Being “too old” is just an excuse – an excuse that has closed the door of opportunity to thousands of individuals. They think they are the wrong age, so they don’t even try.

I hear all kinds of people saying you reach a point where starting over, or starting a new endeavor, just isn’t practical anymore.

Let me tell you something – people who know the least, know it the loudest.

The person who is fond of saying, “It can’t be done,” is invariably interrupted by the person who just did it.

When I was a corporate sales trainer, an older salesperson – who should have known better – told me that I didn’t understand the circumstances he was under.

I asked him, “The circumstances you’re under? What are you doing under there? Get out from under there! Who told you to go under there in the first place?”

There are no circumstances you can’t handle. There are only challenges to be met. Every challenge contains within it an opportunity for you to excel.

Start Where You Are

However old you are – you are. So look at your age positively.

A friend of mine, who just turned 70, confided to me that he hated the thought of getting old. I told him it was a lot better than the alternative. If you’re not getting older, you’re dead. I’ll take old over dead any day of the week.

Instead of thinking, “I’m already too old,” think, “I’m still young.” Look forward to new horizons and gain enthusiasm for new things.

Invest time in doing what you really want to do. Whether you’re 29 or 69, it’s never too late. So stop thinking, “I should have started years ago.” You’re here now, so start now. Your best years are ahead of you.

Just ask our own Shelby Beckett. The newest addition to AWAI’s Wall of Fame, Shelby didn’t start copy writing until she was 71. In fact, if you check out the Wall of Fame, you’ll see a lot of gray hair there.

Think about how much productive time you have left.

If your life was an hourglass and you could see the sand passing through it, what would you do today?

The cemetery is full of unwritten books, unsung songs, great deeds left undone, and discoveries never made. Most people die with their dreams still in them. Don’t let the “too old” excuse keep you from living the life you’ve always wanted.

"For of all sad words, of tongues or pen, the saddest are these: I might have been . . ."

This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) Spare_Time Biz Success, a free newsletter that gives you information on the hottest work_at_home opportunities that allow you to make extra money in your spare time and enjoy the financial benefits of a full_time career. For a complimentary subscription, visit


Khadija speaking: This article is for the "grown folks" in the house who are feeling the "melancholy setting sun." You know, the feeling that sets in when you figure that you've got more life behind you than left ahead of you. And that you've already squandered whatever opportunities were available to you in your youth.

I'm saying: So what? At this point, what does it really matter what came before? As the essay author said, "You're here now." I believe that this is all that actually matters NOW. You're blessed to be here now. There are a lot of folks who aren't here now. They're already dead. I know people my age who are already dead. I'm sure you also have some peers who are dead. Dead is dead. I have no interest in being dead before I'm officially dead.

I feel that this entire essay needs to be posted on a lot of folks' refrigerators and doors, but I especially liked the point the author made about "the circumstances that we're under." He's right: If you're operating under some circumstances that are hindering your attainment of abundant life, then you need to get OUT from under those circumstances! It will definitely take effort, and it might take longer than you want, but you need to get OUT from under there!

I don't know about you, but I would prefer to have Col. Sanders' wealth when I'm elderly as opposed to not having it. When I'm elderly, I would prefer to be as fit as Jack LaLanne is.

I would prefer to enjoy my very own "New World" of abundant life for however many years I have left. Wouldn't you?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Forget Those Who Say That You Can't by Tom Kavala

"Tell me who your best friends are and I'll tell you who you are. The people you associate with most – whether professionally or socially – can have a motivating or de-motivating effect on you. Especially when you're trying to make a comeback from a setback.

Some folks have a perpetually positive attitude and are natural motivators. Others are so negative they brighten a room just by leaving it.

The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you associate most closely – for good or bad. Sometimes it's better to be alone than in the wrong company.

A quick story …

It was great to be home! I'd been living and working in Europe for two years and this was my first vacation.

We were sitting around the dinner table talking and laughing – having a great time really. Right up until I dropped the bomb.

"I'm going to take up skydiving."

It was like somebody had hit the "Pause" button. Everybody froze.

My mother, my brother and my twenty or thirty assorted aunts, uncles and cousins all asked – almost as one – "Are you out of your mind?"

They then proceeded to tell me every single "Crash and Burn, Death by Falling" story the world has ever known. The funny thing is none of them were skydivers.

Today I have 135 or so parachute jumps under my belt. That's not a lot by some standards, but it's okay for me.

I've jumped out of helicopters, hot air balloons, jets and prop jobs … I've jumped from as low as 1,500 feet and from as high as 21,000 feet … I've jumped static-line and free-fall … and I've often thought back to that night around the dinner table. How much I would have missed, had I let my family steal my dream!

The Only Expert About You is You!

I have discovered that an important characteristic of successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people.

Anytime you try to pull ahead of the pack and accomplish something great, there will undoubtedly be people who don't think you can do it. Such naysayers are all too common.
Some of your friends will not want you to go on. They will want you to stay where they are. Friends that don't help you to climb will make you crawl, if you let them. Your friends will either stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don't increase you will eventually decrease you.

So never receive counsel from unproductive people – they are not qualified to comment.

On The Road to Success, Be Careful Who You Ask for Directions

If your doctor told you that you needed an operation, you'd probably want to get a second opinion before undergoing surgery. Who would you ask? Your auto mechanic? Your brother, the fireman? Maybe Aunt Gladys? Of course not! You'd ask another doctor – somebody who knows something about medicine.

Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution, because those who never succeeded themselves are always the first to tell you how. Not everyone has a right to speak into your life. You'll always get the worst of the bargain if you exchange ideas with the wrong person.

When I was thinking about quitting my job as a business consultant and going full time as a copywriter, my family told me they thought I was crazy – again.

I love them, but I don't give a hoot what they think. I care what Michael Masterson, Don Mahoney, and Paul Hollingshead think. I want to know what Dan Kennedy, Herschell Gordon Lewis and Bob Bly think. I want to know what Joshua Boswell thinks. Why? Because they have done what I want to do.

Billionaire J. Paul Getty said it best, "The easiest way to get rich is to find somebody who is rich and do what they did."

Don't follow anyone who isn't going places. With some people you merely spend an evening – with others you invest it.

If You're at a Crossroads, You're in Good Company

It's not what the naysayers say that is important, it's what you believe that really counts. So let me ask you, what do you believe?

Maybe you're at a crossroads and not sure if you can do it or not. That's okay. Look at some folks who got off to a slow start, had more than their share of detractors, and still did okay:

Albert Einstein didn't speak until he was nearly 5 years old and was considered "mentally slow."
The inventor of the steam engine, James Watt, was declared "dull and inept."

Cartoonist Walt Disney was fired from his first job because he "had no imagination."

Inventor Thomas Edison was kicked out of school at age 9 because he was at the bottom of his class.

Basketball legend Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.

Sometimes the experts – and other well-meaning people – are misguided in their efforts or just plain wrong in their thinking. And then there are some people who are just stuck on stupid.
You can measure IQ, but not "want to." It's not the size of the dog in the fight that's important, it's the size of the fight in the dog. They can measure the size your head but not size of the dream in your heart.

So follow your heart as you use your head to develop skills and talents. There is nothing that an inspired you cannot accomplish.

One Last Question …

Are you on course toward your goals, or is the "FUD Factor' (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) casting a shadow on your direction?

In 1492, despite repeated setbacks, and in the face of conventional wisdom, Christopher Columbus set his course in the direction that his own inspiration and intelligence led him to believe was the right one.

During his quest across the dangerous and uncharted North Atlantic, he wrote these words in his private log, "This day, we sailed on."

He knew that a ship in port is usually safe … but that's not what ships are built for. What are you built for? What great accomplishments are yours to fulfill?

Invest the time NOW to renew your commitment to overcoming past failures, including the fears, uncertainty and doubt placed there by the conventional wisdom of unqualified, negative people.

Go ahead and give yourself a chance to succeed by taking another shot – or two, or three. It's not over 'til you win. Chart a bold course for yourself and sail on! Who knows? One more effort might be all it takes to get you back on course to your own New World.

And One Final Thought …

People are like rubber bands. A rubber band, lying around on a desk somewhere doesn't do anything. But once picked up and stretched, it becomes useful. Once stretched and let go, it gains the potential to fly over much greater distances than before.

It is only when you stretch yourself that you begin to discover your ability to fly much farther than you might have imagined.

Are you stretching yourself? You have an unparalleled opportunity to surround yourself with people who can help your writing career take a quantum leap forward … people you can dream aloud in front of … people who can bring out the best in you.

I'm talking about AWAI's 2009 FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair – where a single conversation with the right person can be more valuable to you than many years of study.

Self-made billionaire J. Paul Getty once observed that your income will be the average of income of the five people with whom you associate most closely. Maybe it's time for you to stretch yourself and get some new friends. Sign up for Bootcamp while there are still slots available. I'm going to be there. Don't delay – sign up now!

Special Offer: To hear Tom's business-building insights and advice every Tuesday, sign up a free subscription to Spare-Time Biz Success.

This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) The Golden Thread, a free newsletter that delivers original, no-nonsense advice on the best wealth careers, lifestyle careers and work-at-home careers available. For a complimentary subscription, visit"


Khadija speaking: Sales pitch aside, this essay has a LOT of valuable food for thought. I hope you'll take the time to seriously consider some of the points the author raised.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Black Women: Why Do You Let "Becky, Lupe, J Lo, Fatima, and Mei Ling" Indirectly Pimp YOU?

This essay is contained in my new book. I'm delighted to announce that The Sojourner's Passport site has launched! You can visit it at

Everyone, I can't thank you enough for your ongoing encouragement and support; I truly appreciate it. Your support is what made this possible. And here's a special shout-out to my web designers at Educo Web Design. They're nice people to deal with, and they do outstanding work!

Peace and blessings,
Khadija Nassif

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words: Another One Of The Black Men That Black Women BLINDLY Rush To Support-Van Jones and Family

A family photo from Mr. Jones' Facebook page.

Too many African-American women have the knee-jerk habit of blindly running to support any and all African-American males who are in trouble with Whites. You need to STOP doing that. It would better serve your interests if you learned how to take a breath, take a step back, and carefully consider whether or not the current "Black male who's in trouble with White folks" is of any real value to you before you respond.

You also need to STOP assuming that there's automatically some sort of connection between you and random African-American males. There is NO automatic connection anymore. African-American men destroyed that connection by their behavior decades ago. 'Nuff said.

***Addendum*** My main point with this is something that another blogger named Halima Anderson explained in this excellent post:

You need to understand that many African-American men are assigning YOU demeaning roles and reduced status based upon White supremacy.

This means that for many African-American males, when it comes to choosing a woman to protect and provide for they select non-Black women* as the women they pamper. But when it comes to looking for a woman to rescue them and do heavy lifting, THEN these same men look to YOU. And you cooperate with this workhorse status when you support these males!

Halima gave the excellent example of contrasting who Michael Jackson selected to reap the benefits (monetary and otherwise) of being the "mommies" of his children (a series of White women), versus who he selected to do the hard work and heavy lifting of being the "mammies" (actual caretakers) of his children (a series of Black women).

[*Also known as "Becky, Lupe, J Lo, Fatima, and Mei Ling." LOL!]

***Audience Note*** NO anonymous comments will be published for this post.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Let's Get Serious About Vetting Men, Part 3: Screen OUT Men Who Say That Women Won't "Let" Them Be Men, Gentlemen, Etc.

This essay is contained in my new book. I'm delighted to announce that The Sojourner's Passport site has launched! You can visit it at

Everyone, I can't thank you enough for your ongoing encouragement and support; I truly appreciate it. Your support is what made this possible. And here's a special shout-out to my web designers at Educo Web Design. They're nice people to deal with, and they do outstanding work!

Peace and blessings,
Khadija Nassif

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Time To Act Is Now

The time to act is now.

Several Black Women's Empowerment blogs are providing you with excellent opportunities to brainstorm things that many of you can't discuss anywhere else. And to have these discussions in a supportive, encouraging environment that doesn't exist in many other places.

The people who've taken the time and energy to provide these services won't do so forever.

The people who've been warning you about the Rwanda-style meltdowns that are coming soon to an all-Black residential area near you won't do so forever. You've been warned to build your own ark, or find a seat on somebody else's ark, if you want to survive and thrive.

Throughout history, no matter what the event, there have always been the smaller group of people who were relatively safe and comfortable while the masses of their group suffered. Preparation versus a lack of preparation is what usually separates the two groups. If you choose not to prepare, and choose not to respond to the warning, rest assured that there WON'T be any particular mercy or concern for you once the flood waters rise above your heads. Think quick: When was the last time YOU thought about the still-suffering people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Part of the reason why I'm doing my part to sound the alarm now is so that my conscience will be totally clear when the final demise of the African-American collective arrives. Because once I finish my part of sounding the alarm, I'm NOT going to give any further thought to any of these avoidable tragedies.

Years ago, I stopped listening to the local news for this reason. And I rarely read the news clippings that people send me of the latest atrocities that are happening in Black residential areas. The pace and number of these atrocities will only increase until the final Rwanda-style meltdowns begin.

As far as I'm concerned, it's not productive to read or talk about any of that anymore---not unless somebody intends to do something concrete like organize fundraisers and other support for the victims. But doing something tangible is not our usual style. Most of us prefer to wring our hands and look for somebody else to address the problem. There's no more time for that. The only thing that matters is to get as far removed from striking distance of the Black underclass as possible.

I'm currently upgrading MY "ark" into a luxury cruise ark---"Sovereign of the Seas--LOL! I plan to sip sparkling apple cider on the deck of my cruise-ark while the hardheaded African-American masses (who failed to take heed of various warnings) drown in the flood waters. I will calmly sip my sparkling apple cider in the knowledge that I did my part to warn and assist them before the flood waters rose over their heads. That's all that anybody can do. As various ships pass each other, I hope to wave to you while you're relaxing on the deck of your ark as the Sojourners sail the seas in style!

***Addendum*** To help get your creative ideas flowing, now is a good time to revisit a couple of posts from January. "Wildest Dreams Checklikst: Start Asking Yourself EMPOWERING Questions" and "Beverly is Living Out Her Wildest Dreams in Paris. What Are YOU Waiting For?"

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Let's Get Serious About Vetting Men, Part 2: The Deficits Created By Fatherlessness Are NOT "Equal" Between The Genders

This essay is contained in my new book. I'm delighted to announce that The Sojourner's Passport site has launched! You can visit it at

Everyone, I can't thank you enough for your ongoing encouragement and support; I truly appreciate it. Your support is what made this possible. And here's a special shout-out to my web designers at Educo Web Design. They're nice people to deal with, and they do outstanding work!

Peace and blessings,
Khadija Nassif

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Let's Get Serious About Vetting Men, Part 1: Do You Really Want A Fatherless Man To Be The Father Of YOUR Children?

This essay is contained in my new book. I'm delighted to announce that The Sojourner's Passport site has launched! You can visit it at

Everyone, I can't thank you enough for your ongoing encouragement and support; I truly appreciate it. Your support is what made this possible. And here's a special shout-out to my web designers at Educo Web Design. They're nice people to deal with, and they do outstanding work!

Peace and blessings,
Khadija Nassif

Friday, September 4, 2009

The "Change" That Never Came, Part 3: "The Immorality of Lesser Evilism" by Rabbi Michael Lerner

"The Immorality of Lesser Evilism
By Rabbi Michael Lerner
November 03, 2000

Even in the final days of the presidential election, a substantial part of the population expresses dismay at the major candidates, feels closer to Nader in terms of the issues he raises, but fears that a vote for him might increase the chances for a Bush presidency. And the same issue arises for those who respond to the message of a Buchanan or John Haegelin. I've seen friends and families rent apart by the anger of some Gore supporters who believe that Nader supporters have lost their moral compass in their inability to see how disastrous a world with Bush-appointed Supreme Court justices might be.

Yet lesser evilism may do more to destroy the moral fabric and political viability of a democracy than any real or imagined evil that might be achieved through the electoral victory of whoever we imagine to be the "bad guy" beneficiary of voting our conscience. Here are some reasons why:

First, Lesser evilism leads to a moral and spiritual corruption of our souls. The habit of voting lesser evil in politics is a slippery slope. We start by giving our vote to a candidate who supports and is a product of a social reality that we actually deplore, and we end up learning to accommodate ourselves to moral corruption in other aspects of our lives. Just as lesser evilism teaches us to accommodate to "reality" in politics, so we accommodate to the reality of our economic marketplace, with its ethos of materialism and selfishness. Since everyone else is "looking out for number one," we learn that the way to "make it" is to go along with a set of practices that involve cheating or hurting others in our pursuit of success, making environmentally destructive or morally insensitive choices, and using the excuse that we must focus on "the bottom line" and not on the fine points of moral behavior.

To the extent that we come to believe that we have no alternative but to accept the lesser evil, we lose the inner quality of soul that makes it possible to fight for anything against the odds. We forget how to stand up for our own ideals, and soon we don't see the point in even thinking about what kind of a world we really believe in ("it's so unrealistic"). Internally we may feel cynical about the world we live in, but as long as we've adopted the attitude that we can't really fight it and must accept its terms, we have cast our vote in favor of keeping what is. Moral courage and hope begin to feel like anachronistic concepts.

Not surprisingly, as people become used to making this choice in daily life, they become most angry not at the forces of evil to which they accommodate, but at those who retain their commitment to fight for their highest ideal. Thus, the rage in liberal circles at Nader supporters or in conservative circles at Buchanan supporters-both of whom insist on standing for their ideals even when they are unlikely to win.

Second, lesser evilism disempowers liberal and progressive forces because it gives the Democratic Party no incentive to respond to progressive ideals. Secure in the certainty that liberals will always respond to the demand of lesser evilism, the Democrats can put their full attention at repositioning their party to accommodate those who might otherwise vote Republican, thus dramatically decreasing the differences between the two parties. And your vote for a lesser evil gives the corporate media the excuse they seek to ignore progressive views throughout the next four years-because the media will say that your progressive views were shown to have no real constituency since you and others didn't vote for the candidates who articulated those views, but chose to empower people who champion the status quo.

Third, lesser evilism is based on an arrogant certainty about the consequences of your lesser evil winning. In fact, those of us who voted for Clinton as the lesser evil in 1992 found that eight years later the gap between the rich and the poor had increased and the social supports for the poor had decreased. Conversely, much as Richard Nixon hurt me personally (by indicting me and sending me to prison for anti-war organizing), the dynamics of his "greater evil" presidency were significantly constrained by an idealistic social movement-and in that context, Nixon responded by recognizing China and by supporting powerful environmental and worker-safety legislation that were whittled down under the Clinton administration. It is the absence or presence of the very kind of social movement that is decisive-and lesser-evilism destroys. Instead of being so sure that "the other guy" is going to destroy the world, better to have a little humility and vote your conscience rather than your crystal ball, because in so doing you make possible a whole different configuration of political possibilities.

Fourth, lesser evilism weakens faith in democracy. If people consistently feel obliged to vote for candidates in whom they do not believe, they end up feeling they are without representation, and hence feel that our government itself is less legitimate. Many stop voting altogether. Others feel dirtied by a process in which they have authorized through their vote the actions of an elected official who, acting in their name, supports policies like the death penalty and acceleration of the worst aspects of globalization, which they actually find morally and environmentally reprehensible.

Finally, voting for a lesser evil entails abandoning and helping to dispirit those who share your principles. Many Nader people are standing up for the principles that you believe in, and instead of supporting them for doing so you are attacking them. Don't be surprised if many these people eventually give up on trying to change the world. So the next time you look around for allies for some visionary idea or moral cause that inspires you, you will find fewer people ready to take risks, and ironically you may then use that to convince yourself that nothing was ever possible and that's why you "had" to vote for the lesser of two evils.

None of this is an argument against those who really are excited by Gore or Bush-they should vote their beliefs. But those who succumb to the fear tactics that intimidate us into voting for someone whose policies are often far from our own beliefs are actually doing a great disservice to their country, their fellow citizens, and their own inner moral integrity."

Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of TIKKUN Magazine, author of Spirit Matters: Global Healing and the Wisdom of the Soul, and rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue in San Francisco.

Khadija speaking: Pres. Obama just might be the LAST "lesser evil" vote that I ever cast.

The "Change" That Never Came, Part 2: Pres. Obama Keeps Bush Nominees In Top Posts

From the Associate Press (emphasis added and my comments are in blue):

"Analysis: Obama keeps Bush nominees in top posts

By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer Tom Raum, Associated Press Writer Mon Aug 31, 4:11 pm ET

WASHINGTON – For all the GOP howling about Barack Obama radically steering the government to the left and leading the nation toward socialism, some of his major appointments are Republican men and women of the middle.

In what may be the top two national posts in light of today's crises at home and abroad, Obama stuck with the picks of former President George W. Bush in reappointing Fed chief Ben Bernanke and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Bernanke last week was given another four-year term to preside over nothing less than saving the U.S. economy and then keeping it strong. He was appointed by Bush in 2006 after a short stint as chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers. Gates was kept in his Pentagon post to wind down the war in Iraq and build up the one in Afghanistan.

The loss of Sen. Ted Kennedy to brain cancer led to a chorus of laments about the dearth of politicians these days able to reach across party lines. While Obama hasn't had much luck with the highly polarized Congress in building bipartisan support on legislation, he's reached out often to Republicans in filling key jobs. [Khadija: So, basically he rewards the opposing party---whose leaders have told hysterical lies about his initiatives---we do remember the screams about "death panels"--- by appointing their people to high posts. Right. Sure.]

The notion that he's moving the government to the left "is laughable, it's utterly laughable," said Thomas E. Mann, a government scholar at the Brookings Institution. Mann said the decision to keep Bernanke and Gates "doesn't buy him a thing with Republicans but was a sign of good judgment in both cases" because Bernanke and Gates were doing good jobs.

Obama's larger problem is that he still does not have his own people in a majority of the government's top policymaking positions requiring Senate confirmation. But those he has put in top positions include a number of Republicans or nontraditional Democrats (Khadija speaking: In other words, Democrats in name only).

Along with Gates and Bernanke, they include:

-Sheila Bair as holdover chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. She has played a major role in the management of the financial crisis. A one-time unsuccessful candidate for a Kansas House seat, Bair was first appointed by Bush in June 2006. Forbes Magazine ranks her as the second most powerful woman in the world behind German chancellor Angela Merkel.

-Ray LaHood, a former congressman from Illinois, as transportation secretary. He was elected as part of the "Gingrich Revolution" of 1994 and was so trusted by both Republicans and Democrats that he was selected to preside over the House during the impeachment vote against President Bill Clinton.

-Former Rep. John McHugh from upstate New York, as Army secretary. McHugh was known by his House colleagues for an even temperament and willingness to work with Democrats.

-Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who was a Mormon missionary in China in his youth, as ambassador to China.

-Francis Collins, an evangelical Christian, as director of the National Institutes of Health. Unlike the others on the list, Collins is not a Republican and worked in the Obama presidential campaign. But he doesn't fit the usual mold of liberal Democrat as portrayed by many Republicans.

[Khadija speaking: Lovely. Just lovely. Is this what we voted for when we voted for Obama? Furthermore, I find it difficult to believe that these Republicans and non-Democrat-Democrats are the best that can be found for these positions. ]

/snip/. . . Republicans are going all out on the war path, especially on health care overhaul and budget issues. [Yes, meanwhile Pres. Obama continues to suck up to these people. Think quick: When, if ever, did former Pres. Bush "reach out" to non-Republicans? He didn't. Bush governed as if he had been elected by a landslide or a clear majority of the voters, even though he wasn't.

Why is Pres. Obama acting like a beggar in what's supposed to be his own house? Answer: Because he's inherently weak. A people pleaser. And most importantly, he's a Crossover Negro Politician who does NOT have his own independent power base.

There are multiple things going on in this situation. There are some things going on that are particular to Pres. Obama:

*weak, people-pleaser personality

*half-White & half-foreign Black

*raised by Whites

*didn't grow up among African-Americans, therefore no natural African-American posse from childhood/high school/parents' friends, etc.

*only really exposed to African-Americans as an adult

And then there are some things that apply to almost ALL crossover Black politicians:

*didn't pay any "dues" in any Black organization or movement

*no Black "posse"/troops as a result of the above

*primarily focused on being perceived as "non-threatening" by Whites

*no Black "posse"/troops as a result of the above

I think this situation is exposing some of the costs of being a disconnected, crossover Black politician. Basically, Pres. Obama doesn't have a natural posse because he was dropped in by parachute among us.

Because he never formed a natural, Black posse, there's nobody around him that HE created and lifted up. NOBODY owes him. Meanwhile, he owes many, many other people and political "princes." Pres. Obama's situation is somewhat more extreme than "typical" African-American crossover politicians because of his family background. Typical African-American crossover politicians at least have Black potential posse members that they grew up with, or are friends of the family, etc.]

'Obama and his liberal congressional allies want to saddle taxpayers with even more debt through their government-run health care experiment that will cost trillions of dollars,' said Republican party chief Michael Steele. House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, accused Obama of a management style that's 'not leadership, it's negligence.' Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said in Saturday's GOP video and Internet address that Obama's Democrats favor 'cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from the elderly to create new government programs.'

/snip/. . . At the time he announced he was sticking with Gates at the Pentagon, Obama said he didn't ask the member of the Bush war cabinet to remain because of his party affiliation but because he felt he could best 'serve the interests of the American people.' Obama said he was 'going to be welcoming a vigorous debate inside the White House.'" [Khadija: You can read the rest of the story here:;_ylt=Ahyts12P2PmO4dHO8KA.3SID5gcF;_ylu=X3oDMTM1bzY3dHI2BGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMDkwODMxL3VzX29iYW1hX3NfcmVwdWJsaWNhbnNfYW5hbHlzaXMEcG9zAzMEc2VjA3luX3BhZ2luYXRlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDYW5hbHlzaXNvYmFt

This is looking more and more like what others have called "the status quo that we can believe in."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Why It's Important To Have Dating Experiences In College: Readers' Money Quotes From Lisa99 & Tertiaryanna

This essay is contained in my new book. I'm delighted to announce that The Sojourner's Passport site has launched! You can visit it at

Everyone, I can't thank you enough for your ongoing encouragement and support; I truly appreciate it. Your support is what made this possible. And here's a special shout-out to my web designers at Educo Web Design. They're nice people to deal with, and they do outstanding work!

Peace and blessings,
Khadija Nassif

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Skills Needed In Order To Move On: An Extended Reader's Money Quote From Evia

There's a very useful quote:

“If you would not have affliction visit you twice, listen at once to what it teaches.” –by James Burgh (1714-1775), a Scottish author.

If you are an African-American woman who is currently displeased with what you are experiencing within all-African-American social and dating circles, you need to "listen at once" to what this negative experience ("affliction") is teaching you.

If you're paying attention and willing to learn, this "affliction" is teaching you to GET OUT, MOVE ON, and EXPAND YOUR NETWORKS to include healthier people and places within the global village. Evia, blog host of Black Female Interracial Marriage Ezine talked about the necessity of moving on in a recent post:

In order to successfully transition to the global village of social networks, you're probably going to have to make some adjustments in how you respond to the global village. I notice that people often want to keep doing whatever they've been doing, and yet somehow get a different result. Come on, now. Intellectually, we all know that this does not work.

The Reader's Money Quote is a statement that is of such insight and importance that it merits frequent and loud repetition. During a recent blog discussion, Evia responded to several other commenters and said:

"22!? who the hell marries at 22?? [quote from another commenter]

When, I urge young bw to ***POSITION*** themselves early in their 20s (or earlier) toward marriage, I'm DEFINITELY not encouraging bw to get married at 22! I just want to make that clear. Also, this advice is only intended for those bw who actually WANT marriage. LOL!

As an old-school AA southern women, let me point out that since we were expected to get married, black teen girls (of a certain class--Oops--did I say "class"? LOL) made decisions all along that kept their path to marriage open. For ex.,they guarded their reputation; they put emphasis on looking attractive at all times in public, they behaved with decorum at all times in public, they behaved towards men in a friendly, polite, and definitely flirtatious manner (towards appealing men especially) or were never crude or rude towards men at all.

As a result of my upbringing during that time, I can flirt bigtime with any man because I saw girls and women doing this all the time around me. It was just one of the main ways that women reacted towards men. I'm talking about ***mild*** flirtatious banter which included 'come hither' body language, but not licking your lips or anything overt. ALL men react positively towards a flirtatious woman. If I, even at my age, started flirting with an 18 year old male, he is going to respond positively towards me. Males are wired in this way.

However, it seems--from the notes I get from bw--that this is a lost art. Old school bw (of a certain class) were subtle, but focused on uplifting themselves. There have always been more than enough DBR males of all types around women of all groups. Period. However, we were taught to stay away from DBRs. PERIOD. And were PUNISHED in various ways if we didn't. Old school black people did NOT have pity parties for DBR males. Too much was at stake. They didn't excuse them because ALL black people dealt with the blows of racism. ALL of us. Old school black mothers warned their daughters to stay away from loser men, who they did NOT hesitate to call "NO GOOD." So, young bw (of a certain class) were NOT confused, as so many bw are today."

"BUT! I have known many black girls at my own institution that were NOT the "nothin but a black man type" and were still unable to get a date. [quote from another reader]

I hear this comment a lot and before I say anything further, let me say that I know that ***some** wm are not asking bw out due to straight up RACISM, but racism is nothing new. And I certainly have NEVER advocated that bw mingle with racist wm.

But the following factors are areas that AA women are going to have to address and work diligently to change.

1. Bw shooting themselves in the foot with their mouths/keyboards. Bw broadcast too many self-destructive, self-defeating messages and it's assumed by folks who hear these messages that many other bw agree. For ex. I continue to read variations of the comment: "I don't want no white boy!" or "I'm not attracted to wm." These proclamations are deadly because wm know that the comment expresses the sentiments of countless other AA women. Also, typical AA women say and do NOTHING to counteract these proclamations. If there were ww making these same kinds of deadly proclamations about the undesirability of bm publicly, even bm who worship ww would never approach ww. Therefore many wm genuinely DO NOT BELIEVE that a typical black woman is interested in dating wm. Wm write to me asking me whether bw "really" like them. Also wm have lots of other choices of women, so they don't need to dig deeper to see how pervasive these sentiments are among bw.

2. Many bw are "CLOSED" to WM. Thanks for that term, Halima. It's something I notice all of the time. Bw are not friendly and flirtatious towards wm. The fact is that MANY bw are not friendly and flirtatious towards ANY man. I know WHY this is the case, but I'm talking about the "WHAT." How many of y'all can just be in the supermarket produce section and make a casual comment towards a wm who also standing there? How many of y'all can smile at a wm and engage in lighthearted banter with a wm? And wm have lots of other choices of women who ARE friendly and flirtatious towards them.

3. Many bw are still not comfortable with wm liking the way ***some*** bw look: big behinds, dark skin, tightly coiled (aka "nappy" hair) etc.

4. Many bw these days have self-esteem issues derived MAINLY from their "black" upbringing. Many bw obviously STILL see themselves through the eyes of damaged bm who worship euro looks/beauty and have decreed that "it's euro looks or nothing!" Therefore many bw CANNOT believe that wm see them as desirable women. Many of these women write to me with questions about their hair, skin shades, noses, lips (well not so much now that Angelina has made "big" lips sexy), etc. Yes, I realize that racist wm started the "black women are not beautiful" MYTH, but it's racist AA men who have carved this in stone in the minds of typical young bw and continue to reinforce it.

Many AA women need to just drop everything and get away from the bc and damaged black social circles as fast as they can because they cannot free themselves of these negative perceptions of themselves as long as they're around other blacks who have accepted these negative perceptions as facts. This is CRITICAL.

For ex., I consider my West-African featured looks to be quite attractive and this has been constantly reinforced by mainly African and white men who've constantly told me this and shown me with their TREATMENT of me that I'm desirable. I've mostly mingled with African and white men throughout my dating life. It's very clear to me that if I'd mingled mostly with AA males, I'd believe I'm unattractive, just as so many West-African featured young AA women do."

Evia, thank you for this extended Reader's Money Quote!

***AUDIENCE NOTE***Please be advised that I WON'T post any anonymous comments for this conversation. Because doing so would be unfair to the people who are being quite brave AND generous in sharing their thoughts and experiences about this very sensitive issue. Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Dear Voyeur, Just So You Know: My Readers Are Kind Enough To Watch Out On My Behalf

I ignore many of the unpleasant things that come with running an activist blog. I try to maintain self-discipline and focus on the mission profile for this blog. However, I've decided to indulge myself for a minute this time. [Audience Note: Don't worry. This sort of self-indulgence won't become a habit here. It'll probably be just this one time. But it sho' feels good! LOL!] Here's a comment that I made during a recent blog discussion:

"I also greatly enjoy these conversations. And I'm also not looking for "total agreement." I'm just interested in what Min. Farrakhan referred to as operational unity. As in being like-minded enough to be able to brainstorm and strategize together.

It's interesting. I ran across a new group of voyeurs who are reading these conversations. And I call them "voyeurs" because they don't sound as if they have any real stake in the issues that we discuss here. They read our discussions about AA women's suffering for entertainment.

I was tickled to read that they feel that I'm a poor writer, and that the essays are poorly written. LOL! What voyeurs usually don't understand is that these conversations aren't primarily about entertainment for the people who are affected by the issues under discussion. I know that I don't write these (apparently poorly written---{chuckling}) posts for entertainment value.

This is activism in support of a struggle. Specifically the struggle for abundant lives for AA women and girls. This means that I don't let opponents of abundant life for AA women and girls to use this platform. This means that there's NO open mic here for the Klan, or Nazis, or wife/woman beaters, or sexual predators, or extreme male sexists. Would anybody expect Min. Farrakhan's ministers to hand their microphone over to a White racist during one of their meetings? Well, the same idea applies here.

At least one voyeur is confused about this. I suspect that part of the reason why the voyeur is confused about this refusal to give the mic to opponents is because this person has probably never participated in any sort of activism. This angle came up during the first Table Talk For Activists post. We currently have a couple of generations of AAs (and others) who have never seen any sort of "movement" activities up close and personal. So, they're confused."

I'm blessed to have a readership that actively looks out for me; and I TRULY appreciate that. This means that they often send me links to other blog discussions that make reference to the conversations here. Positive or negative. Including the other blog with the "voyeurs" that I referenced in the above comment.

Well, from what I've seen, it seems that the above-referenced "voyeur" is now angry about my comment regarding him/her/it. [I didn't bother to read it through.] {chuckling} It always tickles me to see how thin-skinned so many critical people are: They CAN'T take even a smidgen of what they so freely dish out in reference to others.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Catalog Of Ethical Insanity, Part 1: Down Low Detectives & Down Low Enablers

Before psychiatry had the concept of psychopaths, there was what used to be called "moral insanity:

""The term 'moral insanity' is unfamiliar to psychiatrists today, but it was an accepted diagnosis in Europe and America throughout most of the 19th century. As late as 1883, the American Journal of Insanity (forerunner of the American Journal of Psychiatry) published an article titled 'Moral Insanity.' Individuals who retained their intellectual capacity but harbored strange and unrealistic ideas had puzzled European physicians of the 18th century.

. . . Dr. J.C. Prichard (1786-1848) of England is credited with being the first to use the term moral insanity. In 1835 he wrote: 'There is a form of mental derangement in which the intellectual faculties [are uninjured], while the disorder is manifested principally or alone in the state of feelings, temper, or habits. . .The moral. . . principles of the mind. . . are depraved or perverted, the power of self-government is lost or greatly impaired, and the individual is. . . incapable. . . of conducting himself with decency and propriety in the business of life.'"

Moral Insanity: A Brief History, by Lucy Ozarin, M.D., M.P.H., Psychiatric News May 18, 2001Volume 36 Number 10, American Psychiatric Association, p. 21.

Since I don't like the ugly connotations that right-wing, Christian religious fanatics have created around the word "moral," let's call it ethical insanity. I think that in many ways it's a better term than "sociopath/psychopath" because it gives a more precise flavor of what's wrong with so many people. I think the term "ethical insanity" also helps us to see the nuances between people who aren't quite psychopaths, yet are still far outside the bounds of human decency and propriety.

The African-American collective is TEEMING with ethically insane individuals. Individuals who retain their intellectual capacity but harbor strange and depraved ideas that are far outside the bounds of decency and propriety.

We've seen examples of ethical insanity with the strange and depraved ideas voiced by a number of African-Americans regarding the Dunbar Village gang rape case.

We've seen examples of ethical insanity with the strange and depraved priorities of many of our (mis)leaders. [Please note that Maude Ford Lee, the President of the West Palm Beach Branch of the NAACP, is the mother of the ethically insane Vanessa Lee who is quoted in the first What About Our Daughters post linked above. It's obvious that this ethically insane "apple" didn't fall far from the tree.]

I was reminded of the issue of ethical insanity during our recent blog discussion about the emerging trend of historically Black colleges and universities becoming epicenters of HIV/AIDS infections. I was quite impressed by the commenters. They didn't do what African-American women typically do when discussing the skyrocketing numbers of HIV/AIDS infections among Black women. I was delighted to see that commenters didn't fixate on becoming what some gay Black male activists have called "down low detectives." [All of which is not to deny the need for concern about unwittingly dating down low men. But prudent concern isn't the same thing as an irrational fixation.]

My Sisters, Eliminate The KNOWN Risks Before Fixating On Speculative Risks

I've always wondered why so many African-American women fixate on becoming what some gay Black male activists have called "down low detectives" instead of starting by eliminating KNOWN, easily-identified risks from their sexual lives such as Black male criminals, drug users and playboys.

Yes, down low Black men ARE a large part of the problem as pertains to African-American women becoming infected with HIV/AIDS. But so are the straight Black male jailbirds, dope fiends and playas! It amazes me to see how fixated so many African-American women are on scoping out hidden down low signs instead of getting rid of the known, easily-identifiable risks such as the jailbirds, dope fiends and playas. I wouldn't call this behavior ethically insane, but it is irrational and self-defeating if the point is simply to reduce one's risk of dating an infected man. There's also a touch of unethical cowardice in only fixating on culturally "approved" targets of condemnation, instead of speaking the entire truth. Instead of also identifying the "sacred cows" of Black male jailbirds, druggies and playboys as sources of HIV/AIDS transmission to African-American women.

However, there are some Black female "down low detectives" who ARE ethically insane:

Ethical Insanity Outbreak At D.C.'s Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church

Here's part of the story published by the Washington Blade dated February 1, 2008 (you really need to read it in its entirety---it's that . . . special---my comments are in blue):

"One of Washington’s largest black Pentecostal churches was rocked by a female member of its choir who sent separate e-mail messages to the pastor in December and January outing more than 100 church members as gay, mostly male choir members.

The outings added to the inner turmoil experienced by a large number of gays who attend services at the 7,000-member Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church, located on Rhode Island Ave., N.E., according to a gay former member who provided copies of the e-mails to the Blade.

'I will be leaving the choir at the top of the year because 80 percent of the tenors are homosexuals and act more like a female in choir rehearsal than I do,' the church choir member said in one of her e-mails to Bishop Alfred Owens Jr., the church pastor. [Khadija speaking: So . . . let's see. This woman is writing the pastor complaining about allegedly gay men in the church choir that she also accuses of acting in a stereotypical effeminate manner. And she feels compelled to "notify" the pastor about this . . . because these multitudes of allegedly effeminate, gay men in his choir have somehow escaped his notice. Even though he watches these men sing each and every Sunday. Hmmm . . .]

The e-mail, sent in December, identifies about 45 fellow church members as gay. She sent a second e-mail to Owens on Jan. 2 identifying another 62 church members as gay. [Khadija: So, somehow the pastor (who we'll later see is an anti-gay bigot) supposedly never noticed over 100 allegedly effeminate, gay men singing in his choir each Sunday. That's . . . interesting.]

'The following people I am asking you to monitor very closely and my prayer is that you will sit them down from their ministries,' she told Owens in the December e-mail. 'Because they are ushering in the presence of sin, lies, a spirit of homosexuality and sexual spirits.' [Khadija: Whatever. Gee, I wonder what "spirit" this "blessed and highly favored" woman is ushering in?]

She sent a copy of her e-mails to a Yahoo list group that goes to more than 300 church members, the gay former church member said. [Khadija: Oh, my God . . . that's incredibly vicious. She already called herself "telling on" these men to the pastor. What possible, purportedly "good faith" reason could she have for doing this? As my best friend from New Orleans says in the gentle drawl that she pulls out for emphasis---Ahhh . . . naaawwww. This is some petty, evil, and downright Satanic mess. What sounds most likely is something along the lines that after spending several years in the choir, "Sister Bertha" was not chosen to do a solo and then she got mad. And then she decided to lash out. Whatever her true, petty gripe was, she's certainly ethically insane.]

. . Owens became the subject of media attention in April 2006 when he used the word 'fag' in a sermon on Palm Sunday. 'It takes real men to confess Jesus as Lord and Savior,' Owens said in the sermon, which was recorded by the church. 'I’m not talking about no faggot or no sissy,' he said. 'Let the real men come down here and take a bow — all the real men. I’m talking about straight men … praise God that you’re straight.'

The church’s web site includes a listing of twice-monthly sessions of a ministry called 'Breaking the Chains of Homosexuality,' which it says helps gays change their sexual orientation through counseling and prayer. [Khadija: All right, now. This church has been quite up-front in telling gays and lesbians that they are NOT welcome there; and that this place is NOT a church home for them. So why are they going there; and going so far as to participate in the choirs? In many ways this reminds me of how slave-minded African-Americans persist in shopping with Koreans and Arab shopkeepers who have nothing but hatred and contempt for them.

But it also raises the ethical question of what good-faith reason could gays and lesbians possibly have for going to this particular church? This church has already let them know that they are not welcome. So, why are they infiltrating places of worship where they've been told that they are not welcome? To my way of thinking, that's somewhat unethical. A house of worship is not intended to function like a government building. It's a place of private fellowship among presumably like-minded believers. There's NO obligation whatsoever for any house of worship to make any particular person or any particular category of persons feel welcome there.

It would be similar to me (as a progressive Muslim) infiltrating a Taliban-type mosque that's up-front about the fact that they preach reactionary madness. What legitimate purpose would I have for running up in there when I know they don't want progressive Muslims in THEIR mosque? And it is their mosque since it was founded, and is being run, according to their reactionary doctrine. That's their spiritual "home." How is it legitimate for me to either infiltrate or gate-crash their spiritual home when they've made it clear that they don't want me in there?]

. . . The gay former church member who sent the outing e-mails to the Blade also sent a copy of a separate e-mail from an outraged gay church member who was among those named in the first two e-mails as gay. 'I do not believe that someone would [have] the nerve to put my name to a list of known gays,' he wrote in an e-mail sent to Owens and members of the church Yahoo group. 'This has gone too far, I am not going down by myself.' He went on to name other gays, including some in high-level church positions. [Khadija: WOW! . . . just wow. . . Yet another example of ethical insanity.]

'It is so bad that in the last e-mail we are turning on each other,' the gay former church member, who sent copies of the e-mails to the Blade, said. 'Although I wanted to remain anonymous, someone has to do something.'" [Khadija: Yes, that was unfortunate. It's an important reminder that people can be victims AND victimizers at the same time. We'll get back to this point later.]

Several Black gay and lesbian blogs discussed this incident at the time. Pam's House Blend (although her audience seems to be composed of mostly White lesbians and gays. and Living Out Loud with Darian at discussed this incident at the time. You may find it interesting to read the discussions there.

There Are Many Situations Where People Are Victims AND Villains At The Same Time

Real life is filled with nuances and shades of gray. There are many situations where oppressed people are also victimizing and endangering others. A person can be a victim and a villain at the same time. I've talked about this before in the context of battered women:

"If You Choose to Help a Victim of Domestic Violence, Offer Help From A SAFE DISTANCE.

This is the part where I'm sure to offend many, if not most, survivors of domestic violence. I must admit that I'm not automatically as empathetic as I used to be about this issue. I've had too much work-related exposure to domestic violence victims. Both as a former prosecutor and as a defense attorney.

Here's the part that women's advocates won't tell you: Many women who are victims of domestic violence will ultimately, and eagerly, go back to their abusers. If you allowed yourself to get heavily involved in "rescuing" such a woman, she AND her abuser will paint you as somebody who just wanted to break them up (after she returns to him). This means that the male abuser might want to come after YOU after they are lovey-dovey again!

Many women who are victims of domestic violence will also destroy any sanctuary that you offer them. They will bring predators into the previously-safe environment. After she reconciles with her batterer, she will start having him come visit her in the new apartment that you provided for her. She will be resentful if you won't allow him to move into the new apartment. This scenario has happened to several other landlords I know. Good Samaritan, Beware!"

Several readers described their own observations of this:

One reader said, "As a child, I witnessed my mother turn on people who tried to intervene when she was getting beat on. As an adult, I was told by my brothers that once she regained custody of them, that she would turn on them whenever they tried to stop the fighting between her and her husband. They eventually just learned to tune it out, by going into their bedrooms and turning on some music."

Another reader commented, "My niece had a friend who lived next door to us several years ago. The friend lived with her mother, and her mother’’s boyfriend. One summer day we had a cook out in the back yard when we heard screaming and yelling. The woman was being beaten by her boyfriend, and actually began screaming for my 8-year-old niece to help her!

She was actually screaming my niece’s name and telling her to come and help her!! My niece wanted to go upstairs, but my mother stopped her. Instead we called the cops. By the time the cops got there, it was over. We directed the cops to the right door, and when they knocked, she opened the door and told them that he had left. The cops told her they had to come in and talk to her, but I guess the boyfriend hid while she talked to them.

Do you know this woman didn’t speak to us for about a month after this incident! Apparently, she didn’t want the cops called. She just wanted someone to come and help her. As far as I was concerned, the cops were help! The boyfriend never spoke to us again, which was fine by me. My niece was very confused by the whole thing, and I was actually mad myself, so her not speaking worked for me.

I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if my niece had been visiting her daughter or if she had been in the back yard by herself. She probably would have gone up there to try to help. And what about my niece's friend? God only knows what she was seeing living there. After that incident I forbade my niece from ever going to their house again. In these situations, you are not only up against the abuser, you are also up against the abused. How many times have the cops put cuffs on an abuser only to have the victim scream to leave him alone. I can't save a woman from herself."

There are many times when we have to protect ourselves from people who are being victimized by others. This down low phenomenon is one of those situations. Yes, the widespread and virulent anti-gay bigotry within African-American culture is what causes so many gay and bisexual Black men to hide their true orientation. However, this oppression does NOT give anybody license to use women (without their knowledge or consent) as cover stories. It's one thing to hide without involuntarily involving other people in your deception. It's something else to deceive women and endanger their lives because you want to hide. This sort of behavior is ethically insane.

Many Gay Black Male Activists Are SOLELY Focused On Avoiding Accountability For Their Group's Part In The Spread of HIV/AIDS---They DON'T Care About Public Health Or Safety

It's been disturbing to see that many gay Black male activists don't seem to comprehend the ethical insanity of down low gay men deceiving women, using them as involuntary cover stories, and thereby endangering these women's lives without their knowledge. Let's get real: Most women across the board are not going to insist upon their husbands wearing condoms. Period. The only thing many gay Black male activists are focused on is ducking and dodging having any level of accountability for this plague being assigned to gay/bisexual Black men.

I've read all sorts of utterly irresponsible statements from gay Black male commenters and activists. I'll just mention one such activist named Keith Boykin. I read his book Beyond The Down Low: Sex, Lies, and Denial in Black America. His book is basically several hundred pages of "Don't blame us gay/bisexual Black men for being involved in spreading this plague." Read the following essay to get the flavor of the book.

No matter what the issue (violent crime, drug addiction, etc.), irresponsible African-American "thinkers" consistently argue that focusing on elimating our own destructive behavior is a distraction from the so-called REAL issue. And somehow the so-called "real" issue is always something that is outside of our control. This posture of ducking and dodging any responsibility for the negative results caused by negative behaviors is a tradition. It's a tradition with African-American males, and the African-American collective in general. Protecting an image is more important than the African-American lives that are lost. This posture is ethically insane.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The "Change" That NEVER Came---Republished Article From STRATFOR

Strategic Forecasting, Inc., more commonly known as Stratfor, is a private intelligence agency founded in 1996 in Austin, Texas. Barron's once referred to it as "The Shadow CIA". George Friedman is the founder, chief intelligence officer, and CEO of the company. The following article is from

"Obama's Foreign Policy: The End of the Beginning
August 24, 2009

By George Friedman

Related Link
Special Series: Obama’s Foreign Policy Landscape

As August draws to a close, so does the first phase of the Obama presidency. The first months of any U.S. presidency are spent filling key positions and learning the
levers of foreign and national security policy. There are also the first rounds of visits with foreign leaders and the first tentative forays into foreign policy. The first summer sees the leaders of the Northern Hemisphere take their annual vacations, and barring a crisis or war, little happens in the foreign policy arena. Then September comes and the world gets back in motion, and the first phase of the president’s foreign policy ends. The president is no longer thinking about what sort of foreign policy he will have; he now has a foreign policy that he is carrying out.

We therefore are at a good point to stop and consider not what U.S. President Barack Obama will do in the realm of foreign policy, but what he has done and is doing. As we have mentioned before, the single most remarkable thing about
Obama’s foreign policy is how consistent it is with the policies of former President George W. Bush. This is not surprising. Presidents operate in the world of constraints; their options are limited. Still, it is worth pausing to note how little Obama has deviated from the Bush foreign policy.

During the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, particularly in its early stages,
Obama ran against the Iraq war. The centerpiece of his early position was that the war was a mistake, and that he would end it. Obama argued that Bush’s policies — and more important, his style — alienated U.S. allies. He charged Bush with pursuing a unilateral foreign policy, alienating allies by failing to act in concert with them. In doing so, he maintained that the war in Iraq destroyed the international coalition the United States needs to execute any war successfully. Obama further argued that Iraq was a distraction and that the major effort should be in Afghanistan. He added that the United States would need its NATO allies’ support in Afghanistan. He said an Obama administration would reach out to the Europeans, rebuild U.S. ties there and win greater support from them.

Though around 40 countries cooperated with the United States in Iraq, albeit many with only symbolic contributions, the major continental European powers — particularly France and Germany — refused to participate. When Obama spoke of alienating allies, he clearly meant these two countries, as well as smaller European powers that had belonged to the U.S. Cold War coalition but were unwilling to participate in Iraq and were now actively hostile to U.S. policy.

A European Rebuff

Early in his administration, Obama made two strategic decisions. First, instead of ordering an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, he adopted the
Bush administration’s policy of a staged withdrawal keyed to political stabilization and the development of Iraqi security forces. While he tweaked the timeline on the withdrawal, the basic strategy remained intact. Indeed, he retained Bush’s defense secretary, Robert Gates, to oversee the withdrawal.

Second, he increased the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The Bush administration had committed itself to Afghanistan from 9/11 onward. But it had remained in a defensive posture in the belief that given the forces available, enemy capabilities and the historic record, that was the best that could be done, especially as the Pentagon was almost immediately reoriented and refocused on the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. Toward the end, the Bush administration began exploring — under the influence of Gen. David Petraeus, who designed the strategy in Iraq — the possibility of some sort of political accommodation in Afghanistan.

Obama has shifted his strategy in Afghanistan to this extent: He has moved from a purely defensive posture to a mixed posture of selective offense and defense, and has placed more forces into Afghanistan (although the United States still has nowhere near the number of troops the Soviets had when they lost their Afghan war). Therefore, the core structure of Obama’s policy remains the same as Bush’s except for the introduction of limited offensives. In a major shift since Obama took office, the Pakistanis have taken a more aggressive stance (or at least want to appear more aggressive) toward the Taliban and al Qaeda, at least within their own borders. But even so, Obama’s basic strategy remains the same as Bush’s: hold in Afghanistan until the political situation evolves to the point that a political settlement is possible.

Most interesting is how
little success Obama has had with the French and the Germans. Bush had given up asking for assistance in Afghanistan, but Obama tried again. He received the same answer Bush did: no. Except for some minor, short-term assistance, the French and Germans were unwilling to commit forces to Obama’s major foreign policy effort, something that stands out.

Given the degree to which the Europeans disliked Bush and were eager to have a president who would revert the U.S.-European relationship to what it once was (at least in their view), one would have thought the French and Germans would be eager to make some substantial gesture rewarding the United States for selecting a pro-European president. Certainly, it was in their interest to strengthen Obama. That they proved unwilling to make that gesture suggests that the French and German relationship with the United States is much less important to Paris and Berlin than it would appear. Obama, a pro-European president, was emphasizing a war France and Germany approved of over a war they disapproved of and asked for their help, but virtually none was forthcoming.

The Russian Non-Reset

Obama’s desire to reset European relations was matched by his desire to reset U.S.-Russian relations. Ever since the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine in late 2004 and early 2005, U.S.-Russian relations had deteriorated dramatically, with Moscow charging Washington with interfering in the internal affairs of former Soviet republics with the aim of weakening Russia. This culminated in the Russo-Georgian war last August. The Obama administration has since suggested a “reset” in relations, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton actually carrying a box labeled “reset button” to her spring meeting with the Russians.

The problem, of course, was that the last thing the Russians wanted was to reset relations with the United States. They did not want to go back to the period after the Orange Revolution, nor did they want to go back to the period between the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Orange Revolution. The Obama administration’s call for a reset showed
the distance between the Russians and the Americans: The Russians regard the latter period as an economic and geopolitical disaster, while the Americans regard it as quite satisfactory. Both views are completely understandable.

The Obama administration was signaling that it intends to continue the Bush administration’s Russia policy. That policy was that Russia had no legitimate right to claim priority in the former Soviet Union, and that the United States had the right to develop bilateral relations with any country and expand NATO as it wished. But the Bush administration saw the Russian leadership as unwilling to follow the basic architecture of relations that had developed after 1991, and as unreasonably redefining what the Americans thought of as a stable and desirable relationship.

The Russian response was that an entirely new relationship was needed between the two countries, or the Russians would pursue an independent foreign policy
matching U.S. hostility with Russian hostility. Highlighting the continuity in U.S.-Russian relations, plans for the prospective ballistic missile defense installation in Poland, a symbol of antagonistic U.S.-Russian relations, remain unchanged.

The underlying problem is that the Cold War generation of U.S. Russian experts has been supplanted by the post-Cold War generation, now grown to maturity and authority. If the Cold warriors were forged in the 1960s, the post-Cold warriors are forever caught in the 1990s. They believed that the 1990s represented a stable platform from which to reform Russia, and that the grumbling of Russians plunged into poverty and international irrelevancy at that time is simply part of the post-Cold War order.

They believe that without economic power, Russia cannot hope to be an important player on the international stage. That
Russia has never been an economic power even at the height of its influence but has frequently been a military power doesn’t register. Therefore, they are constantly expecting Russia to revert to its 1990s patterns, and believe that if Moscow doesn’t, it will collapse — which explains U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s interview in The Wall Street Journal where he discussed Russia’s decline in terms of its economic and demographic challenges. Obama’s key advisers come from the Clinton administration, and their view of Russia — like that of the Bush administration — was forged in the 1990s.

Foreign Policy Continuity Elsewhere

When we look at
U.S.-China policy, we see very similar patterns with the Bush administration. The United States under Obama has the same interest in maintaining economic ties and avoiding political complications as the Bush administration did. Indeed, Hillary Clinton explicitly refused to involve herself in human rights issues during her visit to China. Campaign talk of engaging China on human rights issues is gone. Given the interests of both countries, this makes sense, but it is also noteworthy given the ample opportunity to speak to China on this front (and fulfill campaign promises) that has arisen since Obama took office (such as the Uighur riots).

Of great interest, of course, were the three great openings of the early Obama administration, to Cuba, to
Iran, and to the Islamic world in general through his Cairo speech. The Cubans and Iranians rebuffed his opening, whereas the net result of the speech to the Islamic world remains unclear. With Iran we see the most important continuity. Obama continues to demand an end to Tehran’s nuclear program, and has promised further sanctions unless Iran agrees to enter into serious talks by late September.

On Israel, the United States has merely shifted the atmospherics. Both the Bush and Obama administrations demanded that the
Israelis halt settlements, as have many other administrations. The Israelis have usually responded by agreeing to something small while ignoring the larger issue. The Obama administration seemed ready to make a major issue of this, but instead continued to maintain security collaboration with the Israelis on Iran and Lebanon (and we assume intelligence collaboration). Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has not allowed the settlements to get in the way of fundamental strategic interests.

This is not a criticism of Obama. Presidents — all presidents — run on a platform that will win. If they are good presidents, they will leave behind these promises to
govern as they must. This is what Obama has done. He ran for president as the antithesis of Bush. He has conducted his foreign policy as if he were Bush. This is because Bush’s foreign policy was shaped by necessity, and Obama’s foreign policy is shaped by the same necessity. Presidents who believe they can govern independent of reality are failures. Obama doesn’t intend to fail.

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