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Leading Cause of Death for Blacks in America: Stereotypes

The main goal of Black Positive Image is to bring awareness to the positive aspects of the Black community. Oftentimes we are so saturated and bogged down with negative images, language, and reinforcement in the Black community, many of us become sightless and oblivious of the idea that positive elements of Black people do exist. Positive Black people are not the exception to the rule in our community. There are more Black men and woman in influential places than Obama and Oprah; they are not the voice of Black people.

At any given time, I can turn on the radio, television, read a newspaper, or engage in casual conversation amongst my peers and hear stereotypical latent convictions about the Black community. Some of these stereotypes are dressed in laughter; some are surrounded by sarcasm masked with a laugh out loud or just kidding behind them. Many Black people have taken these stereotypes and have embedded them in the culture of being a Black American. Being late and uneducated is now synonymous with being Black, to the point where having an education and being on time refers to "acting/being White" (an opposing force of being Black).

We have coaches from schools all over the country, even in high school, combing Black neighborhoods for the next Michael Jordan, because Black people can run and jump, really well. People are shocked and amazed when a Black person does not like to indulge in fried chicken, covered in hot sauce, washed down by Kool-Aid with watermelon for dessert. Black woman are portrayed as if they have bobble heads, attitudes, and an addiction to snapping fingers and sucking their teeth. Black men are viewed as good for nothing dogs, literally, with an end destination of jail as their play pen.

There have been systems set up to continue to permeate stereotypes as fact, not fiction. Our school systems are failing our children, with all the knowledge we have yet to understand that some children learn in varying ways. Some children need to be engaged beyond taking notes on a chalk board, yet are children, especially Black boys, are labeled as deviant to education and placed in slow education classes. As the education system continues to not enforce education, alternative teaching, or support for our youth, slowly our children are disappearing from the classrooms.

These stereotypes are not just written by "society" or "the man", many Blacks have begun to stereotype each other, pointing fingers and labeling each other as less than or greater than. This divide can be witnessed in the separate societies we have created within ourselves, Light-skinned vs. Dark-skinned, Native Africans vs. African Americans, Bourgeoisie vs. Ghetto, and Good Hair vs. Bad Hair. All of these divisions are fueled with stereotypes. We have more stereotypes regarding the Black race than any other race and unlike frugal Jewish people (a stereotype of Jews) our stereotypes are killing us.

The stereotypes in the Black community are the leading cause of death in the community. These stereotypes have plagued our culture, future generations, our relationships, and have begun to diminish our individuals from the inside-out. The media is very adamant and set on presenting numbers to support the stereotypes in reference to the Black community. Numbers and statistics are the Black communities’ worst enemy. Numbers are attacking us disproportionately (i.e. obesity, teen pregnancies, HIV/AIDS, incarceration, etc.) in all aspects and right behind the numbers lie stereotypes that continue to feed the fire of these statistics.

Surely through this blog post I am not going to be able to change the stereotypes of Blacks in America. My expression of this topic in the Black community is to bring awareness to an issue that many people think is apart of Black culture. Through awareness comes knowledge and when you know better you do better. I had to take some time out to evaluate myself and where I stand in regards to perpetuating and fighting stereotypes. I realize the jokes aren't funny and it's time to check myself and check my peers in regards to how we talk about Blacks in America. I refuse to take aid in killing my own people, there are enough things killing us already.

*Updated November 18, 2009*

Black Woman Wednesdays: A Woman's Worth

Dear Black Woman,

I don't know how I forget to tell you how beautiful you are everyday, when your beauty is constantly staring me in my face, my mouth should fluidly spill your praises of beauty. For all the times I neglected to tell you how beautiful you are, I apologize. I don't know what I would do without your smile, your lips, your eyes, the varying shades of your ebony skin, my world would be incomplete without your soft skin to touch. You are beyond amazing in so many ways, sometimes I slip between the cracks of your smile and wonder how; through all you have been through your radiance still shines. You are the essence of what is great in my world.

I don't know how I let the media get a hold of my beautiful Black Queen and degrade her in ways that made her begin to feel that it was alright. I am sorry you have endured such manipulation of your self worth. I am the one who was supposed to protect you from the hurt and the pain, yet fed into these images, my mind became warped also, I apologize. I don't know if you will ever be able to forgive me, for I have left you many times bearing our children alone or leaving you to defend against the world, I am sorry. I could blame it on a lot of things, but I know it was wrong and I am here to offer my most sincere apology to you.

Your name is stitched in my backbone, for your strength is something I never had on my own. You straighten me up, you straighten me out, you bring the best out of me for all the right reasons and I love you for that. Sometimes my ego may interfere with my ability to admit my emotions and sing you your praises, but I would resurrect Lenny Williams, just so he could sing to you as you rose every morning, Cause I Love You! I love you beyond the anger that has been instilled in my heart and if you listen carefully I am trying to speak the language in which you need to hear. This translation of love has been difficult, but I work at it everyday. And yes, you are right, the universal actions of love don't need to be spoken, let me get that for you.

I am sure there have been many times when I have come close to destroying you, but I know you still have a heart. Can I hold your heart? I promise not to hurt it again, I just want to hold the weight of the world and see how it feels. I want to repair a few broken pieces I know I may have caused. I figure if I kiss your heart you would feel my love faster and truly feel how sorry I am, for ever hurting you. I don't know how many other ways I can tell you I am sorry, but rest assure, I will not give up trying. I am not sure how many languages I can say I love you, but rest assure, I am not done learning.

Your gentleness caressed me in the womb and even when I am not around you, I can feel your love, momma thank you. You loved me before I knew what love was, girlfriend thank you. You believed in me past all my faults and shortcomings, grandma thank you. You changed the definition of a boy to a man years after I reached adulthood, wife thank you. You have birthed my children, mother to my child thank you. You put up with me when everyone wanted to give up on me, sister thank you. Your support changed my life, auntie thank you. Your distance and loving favor keeps me guided, cousin thank you. It is is every capacity that I need you! It is in every capacity that I love you!

Without You I Am Nothing,

The Black Man

Life After A Plea Bargain: American Violet Movie Reaction

After a supporter of Black Positive Image watched American Violet, we received this Movie Reaction expressing their opinion and beliefs of the movie. We want to let others showcase their voice and concern for things happening in our community. Not all the opinions and views you see in the Reactions section on Black Positive Image you will agree with or understand, but apart of our mission is to give a voice to people often not heard. Enjoy, leave your comments below.

Dear Mr./Mrs. District Attorney,

Inside the court house, the District Attorney's are wiping the Judges' ass and they all shitting on the poor and disenfranchised. Offering plea bargains like a man at a park giving candy to little girls, rapist. Raping the poor, mostly black neighborhoods and people, of the little rights you have offered through your kind and generous "welfare" program.

What the hell is life after a plea bargain? What the hell is life as a convicted felon? Not much of a life at all. 90% of criminals are coping plea bargains and sent back into the world as felons. No jobs, no support, no housing, no food, unable to obtain education, unable to vote and you wonder why people are mad. You would be mad to if you had no income, no roof over your head, no ability to learn new things, the inability to speak your mind and tell your story, all while your stomach growls louder than the police sirens in our neighborhoods.

Just left hurt. Pain eroding so deep you don't know what to do. We need pain relief! So of course the backwards government supports us by dropping narcotics into our neighborhoods. The government knows narcotics are a great reliever for pain. Is it a coincidence, that "pain relief" drugs run so fluid through our communities. The government gets us addicted, label the behavior deviant, enforce laws on the deviant behavior, arrest us, and there you are, trying to cop a plea.

The court systems, the government, the police, the hospitals, all the pawn players, the whole fucking system has us going in circles. The system hand keeps turning and spinning us in circles, over and over again. That would make you dizzy and mad as hell. Might make you want to slap the shit out of someone who steps on your hard earned shoes, shoot your father for calling your stupid for 23 years, or kill your boyfriend for beating you one last time. Now we are back in jail, and there you are, your ass all in our face, trying to cop a plea.

Life after a plea ain't no life at all and the minute you offer the "deal", you write us a death sentence. You are a grim reaper, a walking contradiction of what education and justice really mean. I won't mention what you are doing to our kids, passing them over to your family lawyer friends.

I don't know how you sleep at night knowing you kill hundreds a people a year, but I I know one thing you will not kill me. I will bleed on these pages before I cop a plea. Your system has held to many people down, far to long. Killed many of my people harmlessly, trying to eradicate us in every way possible. So lock me up and throw away the key because life without a plea don't mean shit to me and I know it's going to kill you knowing that one of us died of natural causes.


Lock Me The Fuck Up

*DISCLAIMER: All of the opinions and comments stated by the writer are not the direct opinions of Black Positive Image*

Movie Review: American Violet

On June 16, 2009 I received an e-mail entitled: "A Movie You Are NOT Supposed To See! A Must See Movie: American Violet." I immediately followed the link to www.americanviolet.com and watched the trailer (BELOW). I sat in my chair at work for about 30 minutes surfing the internet for a release date in my city (Atlanta), so I could make sure I was in the theater on opening day. This is a story I wanted to see, I story that needed to be heard.

To my surprise, the e-mail title was correct, this was definitely a movie I or anyone else was NOT supposed to see, as it was only playing in limited cities for limited screenings. I was sure this movie would break out of the film festival circuit and make it to the big screen. It wasn't until October 13, 2009 that this movie was released on DVD, and as the e-mail title says this is "A MUST SEE MOVIE!"

No exaggeration, American Violet IS a must see movie. Weather you are familiar with the story or don't have a clue that this was going on, everyone in America needs to hear this story. American Violet is not a embellished movie about the truth of the "justice" system or another story about life in the projects; American Violet is a movement with a message.

The message speaks for it self: "Someone Must Take A Stand." Why not you???

Black Positive Image endorses this movement and the movie American Violet with a rating of: A+. Not just because it is a Black movie and not just because of the message. This movie resounds in fact and speaks a message. With a breakout star (Nichole Beharie) and a cast of Black actors that really make the message stand out. Our review is not meant to bias do to the nature of exposing the justice system in light of the Black communities issues, but this was a movie that definitely stood out in all aspects.

A MUST SEE MOVIE, You weren't supposed to see!!!

Black Men Mondays: The Fact Is (We Need You)

Dear Black Man,

We may not say it everyday, but we need you. We need you here with us all the time, shining your light as bright as we can. We need your smile, your heart, your skin adorned in the lightest shades to the darkest. We need your locs, we need your braids, we need your low cut fades. We need your talk and we need that confidence we see in your walk. We need you.

We can not spell the word strength without you, for you are the strongest thing that we know. You are our rock. The center of our existence, for without you we have nothing. Your loyalty is something we have never seen, very unfamiliar to us, but we need you to teach us those things. You may not always say the right things and may not always do the right things either, but it's alright everyone makes mistakes.

We would like to apologize for all the times we did not say we loved you. Called you stupid and encouraged you to drop out of school, yet still upholding you to be a man of the house and enforcing "By Any Means Necessary" into your heart. Making you feel uncomfortable to the point where the streets became your home. Making it acceptable for you to walk out on your own children. Allowing prison to be your rite of passage and college to be another goal in which you could never obtain.

We apologize for making our sons hate you if you weren't or couldn't be there. We are sorry for not raising you because your father wasn't there, only loving you to a certain point, because we didn't want to love into not being a man. We apologize for our standards of what a man should be, we apologize for degrading you for choices you have made.

We would like to apologize for belittling you at every chance we got because we needed someone to blame our problems on. We apologize for ever using the N-word to refer to your faults and encouraging our woman that you will never be shit. We apologize for believing in what others say about you to the point where we have given up on you ourselves!!! We are SORRY!!! We have upheld you to high standards, not to see you fail, but because we know your potential. You are King-like, royalty in our eyes and although we may not be able to express it, we just want to see you shine.

If we could take away any of the pain that you have been caused we would. Run our fingers through your hair, kiss you on the forehead, look you in the eyes and let you know how sorry we are. Embrace you with all our love, hold you tight and whisper in your ear that you are our guiding light. Without you, we would not be half of who we are today. Massage your back to support you. Kiss you on your feet because we worship the ground you walk on. Caress you all over your body, make love to ever piece of your soul, eradicating all the pain and hurt. If we could; we would.

No amount of tears, or number of apologies can replace the hurt in which you endured, but we are here now to tell you, we need you, more than ever now. In anyway you can be there for us we need you. We need you guiding us, we need you by our side. We need you to be the reflection of the sun in our sky.

We need you dad, we need you brother, we need you uncle, we need you son, we need you father to our children, we need you husband, we need you grandfather, we need you cousin, we need you boyfriend, we need you best friend, we need you in any capacity that you can be there for us.

We want you home resting your head on our bosom cause it is your knowledge that we need to speak to our hearts. Your potential is unearthing and we are uplifting you in every way. We apologize for all the negative images, portrayals and thoughts that ever made you feel like we didn't want or need you. We have been yelling and fighting so long we forgot to LISTEN, but we are ready to hear your story NOW!!!

Speak to us, because...

The fact is, we need you!!!

Love Always, Always,

The Black Woman

Don’t Forget My Edges: The Missing Elements of Chris Rock’s "Good Hair"

In today’s Tyler Perry saturated “voice for black people” induced media there are not many supplementary movies, television shows, or other media outlets that voice the concerns and issues in the Black Community. So when a movie entitled “Good Hair” hits the theater nationwide, with the purpose to shed light on an issue that has been a problem for Black woman and men in America for centuries, like many black woman, I was the first in line. Like many issues addressed by mainstream media I did not expect the film to address all concerns or opinions that are involved in such a complex topic, such as hair in the Black community. With Chris Rock as a director I had to prepare myself for the comedic take on a very serious issue, I decided to watch the film with an open mind.

As a sat among mostly Black woman in the theater I embraced myself to experience, the experience of watching a movie with Black folks, “side commentary”. I took note to the reactions of those around me, including the seven year old white boy and his mother who sat directly in front of me. The Black couple sitting beside them shifted slighted as Nia Long stated “that’s my n- - - - a for real” and the mother completely took her son’s focus off the movie as sex became a hair issue.

The movie was a mix between interviews with “entertainers” who were sure to be on the next episode of VH1’s Where Are They Now?, scientific evidence of the harsh chemicals in relaxers, the triangle trade of weave (hair extensions), the few black owned hair care companies, a battle of the stereotypes entitled “Bronner Brother's Hair Battle Royale” and incoherent chatter with no basis of truth at barber shops and beauty parlors. The films thesis steamed around Chris Rock’s six year old daughter Lola, who questioned why she did not have “Good Hair.” From this question Chris Rock journeyed to find our what is classified as “Good Hair” and the lengths that Black woman and men were willing to go to obtain it, including spending billions of dollars a year.

There were a few great points addressed in this film and for the most part the comedy driven documentary held my interest, but my interest began to sway as I waited for the other side of the coin to be flipped. I completely shut down for a few seconds as I watched the “natural” girl get silenced by four of her classmates for having a “cute and all afro”, but they wouldn’t give her a job or take her seriously because of her hair. One would think that a bang covering a third of your face would be far more distracting, and just when I thought she was going to be able to speak and discuss her natural hair choice, she was cut off by another weave addicted, creamy crack addict, telling her story.

Most of the woman’s hair stories were not really stories; I heard more excuses than the trails and tribulations many women experience as a result of their hair. Many stating that they wore weave to look “natural” or so their hair could bounce, flow, and blow in the wind. Yet, tested in theory, the most natural hair, your own hair, bounces and flows the nicest, as demonstrated on the Tyra Banks Show, “What is Good Hair?” episode.

For me, "Good Hair" missed the elements and stories of the girl whose brother picked on her because she was “bold headed”, the man who said he preferred woman with long hair, the women who was fired the day after she wore an afro to work, the women who now has no hair around her edges due to years of chemicals, braids, and intensive heat or the man who didn’t get a job until he cut his dreads off. Those elements were missing, but like Chris Rock said, “…they weren’t really interesting.”

As I walked out the theater and I heard men discussing “Anti-Weave” t-shirts, I immediately laughed. I had to wonder if these were the same men who preferred their woman “long hair, thick, red bone” (Lil’ Wayne), praised the video girls, models, singers and actors and held woman to their standards, preferred their woman to be mixed or disliked woman with short hair that is cut “like a boy.” I could only hope they weren’t. That reminded me of another missing element of the movie, men’s perpetuation of how and why woman obsess over their hair.

I am aware that Chris Rock could not combat or address all Black hair issues in a 95 minute film, but overall, I would give the movie and A for “Al Sharpton” (Effort) and a C for substance. Throughout the entire movie commentary spread, accompanied with laughter, but between Al Sharpton and the self proclaimed inventor of the Jeri Curl there were many truths displayed in the film. As we continue to comb our oppression and are haphazardly unaware of the damage these chemicals are doing to our bodies, we must first look at the history, our health, and the choices of Black people in regards to a matter as seemingly diminutive as our hair.

This problem has a history far deeper than Melyssa Ford understands and health issues that have yet to be explored (Septicemia (blood posing) being the eighth leading cause of death for Black woman)* As a woman with 100 percent natural hair, who also occasionally wears weaves, I think that the bottom line should be should be choice to wear your hair however you want to. Granted yellow, purple, green and orange are not natural hair colors, or hair that sticks a foot in the air, but the choice to wear you hair straightened one week, curly the next, braids on Thursday, and twists on Friday. You should have the choice to be nappy and happy, curly and content, or straight and satisfied, the choice is yours.

*“Ten Leading Causes of Death Among Females (All Ages), by Race/Ethnicity, 2006” (http://mchb.hrsa.gov/whusa09/hstat/hi/desc/208lcdTre.html).

School, Sex and More: FREE Teen Strees Management Forum October 31, 2009

Did you know that STRESS is a leading cause of many physical, emotional, and environmental conditions? In an effort to escape and/or deal with stress, teens often opt for high-risk behavior such as drinking alcohol, drug usage, violence, overeating/poor nutrition, decreased physical activity, and unprotected sex. This behavior not only negatively impacts the health and life of teens and their families, but also the community.

The forum will be an all day (8:30a.m.-4:00p.m.) edutaining experience; a play, movie, music, and spoken word with sessions on topics such as School and peer pressures, Self Esteem, Dating, Dating Violence, Rape Prevention, Sex, STDs, Teen Pregnancy, Family Dynamics, and Anger Management. Health Educators, Law Enforcement officials, and others will present information on the above topics.

Come Join Enchanted Closet, Inc. for there School, Sex and More: FREE Teen Stress Management Forum. Black Positive Image will be a featured speaker at the forum.

If you have a teen or know of any teens (boys and girls) between the ages 13 - 19 sign them up, it's free and registration is easy. Go to www.enchantedcloset.weebly.com. and register NOW, space is limited.

Let's Ignite A Change,

Brittney Greene
Founder of Black Positive Image

"Be the change you want to be in the community" - Ghandi revised by Black Positive Image

Introduction: The Birth of Black Positive Image (BPI)

Black Positive Image (BPI) is birthed out of the mind of Brittney Greene, a student/writer whose interest continues to remain in the Black community. BPI aims to remove, restructure, and reaffirm minds that have been saturated with negative images of Black society by providing an interactive visual board of positive elements that do exist in the Black community.

Throughout her childhood and as she progressed through school, Brittney always had an interest in the true history of Blacks in America, her ancestry and the African heritage in which she derived from. By exploring other means and outlets such as reading books and magazines, as well as supporting black owned businesses, she expanded her knowledge beyond the portrayals that she viewed through mass media outlets and what she learned in school regarding the Black community.

As she journeyed into college and the bustling work place, her interest in the Black community has never swayed and has only increased to encompass more ways to make an impact in the community. Studying to become a Relationship/Sex Psychologist her emphasis will be on marriages and families in relation to the Black community, her independent writings will mainly focus on this aspect as well. With more than just an appreciation for culture and history, as the years went on Brittney became disheartened by the images, commentary, and seemingly consistent bad news regarding the Black community that prevails in the media, news, gossip sites, etc. In turn, Brittney decided to launch a website that counteracted these negative images by highlighting positive images that can also be found in the Black community.

Brittney is a firm believer in the principle, that the energy we exert with our actions, minds, and thought process often determines how we live our life, the opportunities awarded to us, and our reactions towards others. Having and broadcasting a positive attitude, prospective, lifestyle, and mentality should only breed more positivity. It is hope that this broadcast and the highlighting of a black positive image will not only inform and educate others on history/culture, but also begin to slowly improve subjective thinking regarding the Black image in America .