An Open Letter to the Ft. Valley State University Lieutenant who Thrust My Freshman College Student Grand-daughter into the #MeToo Movement: Time is Up

By Rhonda E. Frost

Dear Lieutenant B., (the lawyers have your full name, as does the Georgia Bureau of Investigation so I won’t put it here).

Whatever the culture is at Fort Valley State University (FVSU) for men(young and old) sexually harassing and sexually assaulting women, or whatever other perversions you have going on, #timesup. The cat is out of the bag.

I spoke to my grand-daughter (…) some weeks ago. She called me from her dorm at FVSU.  She spoke with me on this particular day to share some things that happened to her there at school; some things that she was troubled by and felt she needed to tell me about. She had already spoken to her mom Shanae, but she wanted to share it with me as well. My grand-daughter also sent me 4 or 5 audio clips of conversations that she needed me to hear. They were conversations between you and her. I listened to every single one of them. The more I listened, the more enraged and disgusted I became! We talked at great lengths about you, your position of power, what you admitted to about previous interactions with young women, and, we talked about how she felt.

My daughter Shanae talks about it more in detail here, in this FB video post.

I was in shock hearing the things you wanted to do to her 18-year-old-body, and stunned at the quid pro quo language used; not to mention the overt manner in which you attempted to accost her and have her sign on to your sexual relationship plan. You are there on campus to “protect and serve” the young people, not to violate them. The fact that you encouraged her to keep it “secret”, said so much. It sounded child-molester-ish. It also sounded like you knew that what you were doing was wrong.

Because of your actions, she has been thrust into the #MeToo movement, without even trying or knowing. And guess what? Your secrets aren’t safe. They won’t be tucked away and managed quietly. You picked the wrong time in history and the wrong college student.

I could only imagine what this had to be like for her, facing a grown ass man (someone my age, 50-ish); I can only imagine what she felt and thought while hearing your pornographic comments. She’s an 18-year-old college freshman and you are a campus law enforcement supervisor! Talk about an imbalance of power!

Here’s a little backstory for you, on my granddaughter and I~

“She” is my first-born grandchild. She’s my baby. I’ve been there her whole life. I’ve watched over her, as grandma’s do, from a distance and up close. I attended almost every track meet she participated in throughout high-school. I’ve attended her plays, award ceremonies, and birthday parties; and I watched her grow up. I was at her high-school graduation and drove to FVSU with my daughter Shanae, to take her to her dorm. What that means is, we are close. And what that means for you is, I/we will be relentless in this situation against you. This was not supposed to be part of her college experience!

What the f*ck were you thinking?

Perhaps you got hyped after watching 70-year-old Bob Johnson wed his 37-year-old grad student. Or maybe you got all in your feelings about 45-year-old Idris Elba proposing to his 29-year-old girlfriend and you started thinking, maybe you too could get a young girl. Your perverted sexual mind and pathetic real life, just led you astray-with your country ignorant ass! You should have asked somebody or used your police “background check” technology to check us out first. We are your worst nightmare.

I bet you didn’t even consider that she would tell her family. I bet you were so excited at the prospect of sleeping with her, that you didn’t envision this day. I would also bet you are a repeat offender. After all, you are a law enforcement officer on a college campus filled with young, vulnerable black women.

It matters not what your thoughts were when you decided my grand-daughter would be the next victim; your latest toy. But your failure to think with the head that’s in your skull, rather than the head of your penis, has put you in the limelight and front and center in the Shanae Hall and Rhonda Frost family. And the show has only just begun. You are about to be famous. If you would have taken your penis out of your ass, and actually took a few moments to check out her family as much as you were checking out her young body parts, you would have known who we were, and you would have gleaned that “she” comes from a family of advocates for women’s rights, and social justice fighters. You would have known that she comes from a long line of strong black women, who don’t mince words, who are intelligent, media personalities and writers; and you would have known that we will come for you.

Bet you know now. Hindsight is f*cking 20/20!

But I digress…

Did you really believe you would have a “sexual relationship” with our 18-year-old baby girl? Did you believe we would allow it? She’s a freshman in college and you are my age! How sick is that? If no one told you yet, I will…you failed in the due diligence department. You failed in the think it through department. You failed in covering your tracks. You probably aren’t very good at your job of policing either; you probably don’t write well and couldn’t chase down a suspect if you had to. Just not smart at all. Had you been smart, I wouldn’t be writing this blog, my grand-daughter wouldn’t have audio clips of your sex-laden proposals and other stories to tell about your visit to her dorm, and you wouldn’t have put yourself out there, with this freshman girl.

But alas, most perverts don’t think things through or weigh the risks accurately. No worries though, something tells me that you will have plenty of time to think things through in the near future.

By the way, I read the FVSU sexual assault policy and found it almost humorous, especially that part about “notifying campus police in the event of an alleged on-campus sexual assault…and all members of the university community are directed to immediately notify campus police and file an official report”. Quick question for you and the school administration, “who do the students tell when the perpetrator is the police?”

I also read FVSU student conduct handbook. I like that you aim to hold students accountable for bad behavior. And I read parts of the online employee handbook and I note page 9, and 10 as well as page 59 and 60 in particular, in that employee handbook and that part about “zero tolerance for sexual harassment” and that section on “amorous relationships with students”. I am sure FVSU wrote these rules to be followed. I am sure the school had good intentions when these policies and procedures were drafted. The words certainly sound clear and dramatic.

But alas, men and their dicks.

What I’ve come to know is that men, with their need for sex and power, and their seemingly insatiable lust, will violate rules, risk freedom, and take chances that will ruin not only their careers, but their marriages, and the lives of women, just to get some “ass” (aka sex); and to catch their next prey. It’s a proven historical fact.

I’ve seen all this before. As an attractive woman, who was also a fully developed girl at Nya’s age, I too have been the victim of inappropriate touching, inappropriate comments and sexual advances by men of all ages, that started when I was a girl, and has continued all throughout my adult life. My employment life was no different. Too many women have that story. I know sexual harassment and perverts all too well. It’s men just like you, who are in all of our stories.

So here we are.

And just to put you on notice: Before you and your comrades get too slick, I want to let you know that I am a prior law enforcement officer with California Department of Corrections. I started as a Correctional Officer and worked my way up to Correctional Captain, Chief of Background Investigations. I understand law enforcement roles and boundaries. I understand the culture and “blue(or green) walls of silence”. I understand false reporting and abuses of power more than most. So we will be watching how your agency handles it.

I am also a “woke” black woman.  I am in tuned to the world. I see how Black bodies are treated. I am aware that black women subjected to sexual violence and even death, are too often, invisible. I see how injustices are carried out on Black bodies with little to no accountability. Trust me, this case will be different. I assure you it will.

Your words and actions, reek of perversion. I can’t help but wonder how many other young women have been subject to your sexual advances over the years at FVSU and in your personal life. How many other young impressionable women have you dangled the “I will satisfy you sexually, get your hair done, nails done and take you places” carrot, who actually took the bait? This isn’t your first rodeo. Predators don’t start at this late stage of life. I would be surprised if you aren’t another unhappily married pig with a long list of victims.

Unfortunately for you, this is a time in American history where women no longer have to hide, or live in fear of speaking up about sexual harassment, abuse, or molestation, out of intimidation or threat. You picked the wrong 18-year-old, wrong family and wrong era.

Too bad for you and FVSU, between my daughter and I, we have over 30,000 social media followers. Add to that, we have experience working with the media, writing and video making skills and we have “A” list connections. Clearly, you mistook my grand-daughter for a young needy, broken, black child without a strong family behind her, or you simply let your penis and deranged sexual mind, do the thinking for you, it was a terrible lapse in judgment on your part. Next time, you will think before you act.

Let this serve as a reminder to all men who think with their penis instead of their brains. You might want to count to 1000, list all of the possible ramifications of your actions, then ask yourself if it’s worth it. But anyway, it just got real! Shame on you! And shame on FVSU!  The chickens have come home to roost.





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11 Things to Ask Yourself (and Your Partner) Before You say “I Do”

by Rhonda E. Frost

I’ve been married and I’ve been divorced. I’ve now been single (in the technical sense) for 12 years. This time spent, outside of the covenant of marriage, has given me plenty of time to think about what I want and need, and what I hope to give to my husband; it has also allowed me the quiet space to think about what I will do different when I remarry. For starters, I needed an honest examination of my beliefs, behavior and choices. I wanted a clearer prism. And I needed meaningful questions to ask myself, and my partner.

Full disclosure (as one of my dear friends often says, before he tells me anything), I am no guru. In fact, I have more questions than answers. I am however, a woman who has risen from the ashes of past mistakes; a woman in full transformation mode who has had her share of painful love lessons and relationship regrets. I am also a woman who has read hundreds of relationship self-help books and articles and have had the privilege to interview married and divorced people over the years, to gain perspective.

I am wiser now.

A little backstory: I was a wife at 23. It was an impromptu decision one day; we just went and got married. We were madly “in love”, and we didn’t want to lose that, or each other, so we drove to Reno, Nevada, found one of those chapels and tied the knot. And for almost two decades, we rode the wave of love and marriage dysfunction. I won’t speak on him here. I will only speak on me. I didn’t understand the gravity of the title of “wife”. I didn’t know what I wanted or needed. I did not know what to expect. I did not know how to love and give selflessly; nor did I fully understand or value commitment. I was without a point of reference. And the tumultuous events leading up to my marriage didn’t help(that is a whole other blog). Everything was broken: my boundaries, thoughts, expectations, trust, and self-esteem. What I learned is, being “in love”, isn’t enough when two people are broken and operating without a love and happiness plan.

Having said all that, if I knew at 23, or 33 what I know now at 54, about love, marriage, and commitment and how rare it is to find someone of quality who genuinely cares; who is willing to step-in, hold you up, and add value to your life, while being an “all in” partner, I would have likely still been married. but alas, we don’t necessarily grow from doing things right the first time, we learn and grow the most, through suffering.

The late great Dr. Maya Angelou said, “but when you know better, you do better”. I honor and value marriage today. I understand the work that it entails and I see the blessings and joy that come from a committed, healthy and happy union.

It’s taken years for me to even think about marriage, but now that I have begun to do so, there are questions that I deem important to ask. This list is not all-encompassing. You can certainly add to it or not entertain any of it, but the fact is, fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. That’s a five zero(50)! That means there’s a one in two chance that if you get married, it will end in divorce. Imagine hearing those odds on every flight you take. Imagine the airline staff announcing, “excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, we are so glad you are flying with us today to sunny Florida, we just want to let you know there is a fifty percent chance that this flight that you are about to board, won’t make it to its destination. Some of our pilots are trained, some not so much, but we trust them to get us there. Thank you for flying with Delta, we know you have a choice, but we are glad you chose us”. Would you still fly? Or would you look for other viable ways to get to where you are trying to go, with better odds? Or perhaps, you might decide to just stay home.

The point of that imperfect analogy is: all of us want to get there successfully, and with as little turbulence as possible. So, if you are going to take the chance, and if you actually want it to work, and enjoy the beautiful journey, we have to prepare for it. These questions are just a start. The rest is up to you.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you take the marriage flight:

1. What do I want? -It’s imperative to know what you want and to examine if it’s reasonable.

2. What do I need? -Make a list of what you believe you need from your mate. Talk about those things while dating i.e., sex, communication, attention, financial help, religious connection, someone to guide you, a chef, a prayer partner, a workout partner, a parent for your children, a business partner, etc.

3. What do I expect? -Examine your expectations. Are they reality based or fairytale driven? Do you believe every day is going to be blissful and without conflict? Do you think your mate is supposed to pay all the bills, initiate sex every night, keep the house clean, never get angry, be ready for sex on cue, look amazing waking up, cook 7 days a week, never get tired or frustrated…? I could go on, but you get the idea. Expectations can kill relationships.

4. What can I offer? -Every person needs to examine what they bring to the relationship. Ask yourself what you offer besides sex, having a six-pack stomach or being fine or sexy. Physical attributes are lovely and they add icing to the cake, but who are you without that, or in addition to that? Do you bring stability? A good credit score? Loyalty? Wisdom? An ability to plan and organize? Financial management? Humor? A good heart and loving spirit? Parenting skills? Communication skills? Another language to teach? Dreams and goals to share? Kindness and clarity? Prepare for that question. Think about how you will add value to your partner’s life. If all you have to offer someone is beauty, booty, a nice body, or a snazzy car and “things”, then you might want to beef up your relationship resume.

5. What am I willing to sacrifice? -I read this quote in a Christian article that aligns with this question. It said If we want to have a satisfying marriage, one where the passion and excitement never ends, we must be willing to sacrifice our own needs for the needs of our mate. In other words, we need to be selfless.

To that point, one of my single male friends called me recently to talk about the idea of marriage. He is 58 years old. I’ve known him for 9 years and he’s been running the streets as a single man and enjoying his freedom. But this call was different. He called to talk about marriage and how much he wants companionship now and how conflicted he is about sharing a life with someone, even though he believes it’s something he wants now. I asked him if he was fearful of sharing his money and assets (because he’s done well for himself financially and is nearing retirement) and surprisingly, he said “no, not at all, that’s the least of my worries”. He went on to say “I am more concerned with sharing my space and having to answer for my time.” There was a lot more to that conversation, but my point here is that the longer we are single, the more selfish we might be about time, resources and sharing space. And the less we want to sacrifice for someone else. Marriage is about sacrifice and caring for someone else. Think long and hard about what you are ready and willing to sacrifice.

6. Can I commit? -This is self-explanatory. It’s a yes or no question. And it’s not a convenience thing. It’s a lifetime thing. Commitment is real even when someone gains weight; even when days aren’t good, even when someone is sick, and money is tight; even when that sexy new coworker is smelling good and looking good sitting in the office right next to you, and you just had an argument with your spouse last night. Commitment, in today’s throw away, swipe left or right, effortless access to new ass, society makes this challenging. If you can’t commit and stay through a couple of forever’s, don’t commit or say “I do”. Period. You can’t straddle the single fence, in marriage. There’s no harm or foul in remaining single.

7. Will my baggage interfere? -We all have some sort of baggage, especially any of us over 40 or 50 years old. But yes, even young people can have baggage depending on what they have experienced growing up, and what they’ve experienced in love relationships. But the question is, will your baggage make your mate suffer and will it impair the relationship?

Baggage is anything you’ve been carrying from the past into the present moment that hinders you from being happy or living your best life. It is anything that will impact your relationship in a negative way. Baggage can be: trust issues, fear, low self-esteem, inability to allow your mate to feel free, inability to communicate, shutting down emotionally, violent tendencies, selfishness, non-productive financial habits etc.. You know what your past looks like. You know what issues have come up over and over again. You know what you’ve been through. It’s unfair to bring someone into your life and expect them to fix you or “just deal with it”, (though some will). And no, you don’t have to be all together to fall in love and marry (there are lots of married folks who didn’t have it all together, found a way to make it work and are still happily married), but you should have at least identified your issues and be actively working on them.

On a personal note, after carefully looking at my dating and relationship history, I sought counseling. I knew I didn’t’ want to go into my marriage(you notice that I am calling it into existence?) with baggage, and repeating old thoughts and patterns. I knew I wanted to do something different. I wanted to offer a better me. And perhaps I won’t be baggage free, but instead of having the type of baggage noted in the arrival scene of Coming to America, (only Coming to America movie watchers will get this), I will instead, enter with just a “carry on”.

8. Who am I when I am alone? -It’s been said that you have to know how to enjoy your life alone and be whole, before you get coupled up or marry. Your time being single(alone) is precious and is necessary. Being single allows you to do everything you want without accountability or sharing your time. It also is the time you learn to appreciate who you are, work on self and identify what you like about you. It’s the time when you can be completely naked. If you don’t like spending time with you, why would anyone else?

9. What is it that I think marriage will do for my life?- Ask yourself why you want to be married. Is it just to avoid feeling alone? Is it for financial reasons? Is it to have someone help with raising kids? Is it to be Facebook official; to be able to tell your friends you are married? Know why you want to be married.

10. Do I know what love is? And can I love? – Yes, I realize that is two questions in one, but both are so good! Listen, I don’t have the lock (aka the skinny) on what love is, but I do know saying “I love you” is easier than actually showing love on a daily basis to the same person. In my humble opinion, those words are overused, in feel-good moments, and underperformed, in real life. I bet right now you can name some people in your circle who claim to “love” someone or who once “loved” someone and their behavior didn’t match what you thought love looked like. When is the last time you even examined what the word is and what love actions look and feel like? To “fall in love” with someone or to say “I love you” is supposed to represent the highest form of feeling for another person, and the highest level of care. So the question is, what made you say that or feel that and what will it mean to say that to someone in terms of your actions? It can’t be just emotion during good times and great sex. When I was 20 and 30 those words didn’t mean the same as they mean today.

To go a little further on this subject: What makes us “fall in love”? To “fall in love” with a person, should mean you’ve seen something good from them. You’ve seen their light and promise. Perhaps they’ve shown consistent and demonstrative behavior that shows you how much they care. In my mind, it means they’ve established that they’ve got your back; they’ve been consistent in their truth and kindness, they’ve shown an undeniable level of attention; they answer your calls and texts, they show up when you need them, they support and encourage you, they laugh and cry with you, they ask about your life and dreams and they care about what impacts you. This application applies to both parties. Also for the sake of clarity, it’s worth it to find out each other’s love language.

11. What will I do different this time? -If you’ve been married or in a long-term relationship, and it didn’t work, ask what you will do differently this time. Yes, it’s easy to blame the other person and to think you were perfect in your relationship; but if you are completely honest, you will acknowledge that you probably didn’t get it all the way right and that perhaps you even did some things that were just wrong, selfish, and hurtful. The key here is not about blame or dredging up the past, but to learn from what you didn’t get right in your other life, and to avoid repeating the pattern.

There are many other questions we can ask before thinking about getting married, but these will get you started in self-reflection. What I’ve learned is that baggage, unrealistic expectations, lack of commitment, and just not knowing how to be a partner, are just as problematic for marriage, as are money and sex issues. I realize that this is a non-scientific statement, but I’d like to be proven wrong.

There is a quote that says, “to have what you’ve never had, you have to do what you’ve never done”. There is also a quote that says, “doing the same thing, and expecting different results, is insanity.” If all of your previous relationships have worked, this isn’t for you(and you should write a book that tells the world how that’s done). This is for the rest of us. We have to do what we’ve not done before, think like we’ve never thought and be open to seeing it from a different view, in order to grow in our relationships. Our future marriages depend on it.

*This is a chapter from the upcoming book: Relationship Soul Food: A Collection of Heartfelt Stories, Inspirational Quotes and Powerful Lessons about Love, Dating and Marriage, due out Spring 2019


          

 

Thoughts on Life-Headed Into 2018: Each New Year Gives Us a New Opportunity to Eat the Cake and Be Present

When I was 20 and 30 I never imagined I would grow old(er). I was too busy with my life to have such concerns. I was young, sexy and fly; I was a career woman and a mother of 4 children; I was a wife, a student, a reader, party girl, and a troubled soul. I was on my journey. I was busy doing me. Who has time for such worries at that age?

When we are in college, starting careers, dealing with our relationships, and later our marriages, at the club, caught up in our drama, busy raising kids, and doing our thing, we never think we will grow old. Nor do we think anything will happen to us. We aren’t thinking retirement, illness or the impact of divorce. We just lived and had fun!

One of the things that 2017 gave me, was the chance to turn 54. I don’t feel like I’m 54, but it’s real. I’m a grown ass woman! I’m wondering where the years went, and what the future holds. Today, all of it’s on my mind(see above). Not in a bad way, but it’s on my mind.

That said, I’m grateful to be here and to be “holding up”, but make no mistake, time keeps ticking “into the future”, as the song says. Eventually, father time and mother nature win. In the meantime, I plan to seize my moments.

Know this: you will never be as young as you are right now. Enjoy each age that you are blessed to be. Each year, that you are blessed to see. Tomorrow is not promised.

Leave nothing on the table. Be present. Love hard. Dance like no-one is watching. Use the good China, and spray on the good perfume. Eat the cake! Wear the fancy dress and the expensive suit. Buy the “red bottoms” and wear them! Say what you need to say. Take the trip. Kiss the guy or girl (with consent of course). Play the music. Make the call! Wear the red matte lipstick! Love on your parents and family. Smile! And take the selfies! Capture the moments!

Remember Amanda Davis(the ATL news anchor) was at the airport the other day, headed to see her family and attend a funeral in another state, when she had a massive stroke at the airport, she later passed away at the hospital. Instantly! Just like that! Here one minute, gone the next. I’m struggling with that. She was 62!

Anyway…

Cherish your life, and love on the people who matter. Go into 2018 on fire and present! YOLO!

By Rhonda E. Frost

12/30/2017

I’m Not Racist, I’m Woke-Pt 1: Close Out Thoughts on America and Social Justice for 2017

by

Rhonda E. Frost

I’m not racist, I’m woke. Like Francis Maxwell, Shaun King, Ta-Nehisi Coates, D.L. Hughley and Colin Kaepernick, woke. I haven’t been sleep on social injustice issues ever and I won’t pretend to be now. I read the news daily. I pay attention to social issues. I live a black life. I follow the blogs of people like Tim Wise. I am a fan of the work of  James Baldwin, I too, Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I read Maya Angleou and follow Ava DuVernay, to name a few.

Reading changed my life and opened my eyes to social injustice in a broader sense, but seeing what happens to black and brown people year after year, keeps them open. Here is an update to a prior post-these are my close out thoughts on being “woke” in 2017, from a social justice view.

I was the first black kid in my family and thus the oldest of the black kids. I grew up in Del Paso Heights, California,(DPH for those of us from there) the “neighborhood” by all accounts. I know the “hard knocks” life, I was a mother of 2 daughters by age 17(Shanae and Janelle). Growing up in our childhood home and neighborhood, I was exposed to  every dysfunction known to the hood life: Drug abuse, poverty, lack of direction, absent fathers, domestic violence, brothers in and out of prison(my youngest brother is currently serving “life” and didn’t kill anyone-the result of a bad decision, poor man’s justice-and Clinton’s “get tough on crime” laws).

I grew up using food-stamps-that Monopoly looking money. I remember being ashamed to go to the grocery store with that booklet because I knew the people behind me in line would know I was on “aid” and poor. Coming home from school, we never knew if the lights and gas would be on or off, because my hard working single mother couldn’t pay the bills all the time. I could go on, but that’s not the purpose of this post. Besides anyone who has ever been poor and/or black gets it. That is the background from whence I came.

Regarding being “woke”…

Being “woke” means, being keenly aware of injustice(no matter your race). It means your eyes are open, that you are socially conscious, and clear on how mass incarceration disproportionately impacts black and brown people and aware of its relationship to slavery, it means that one pays attention to “dog whistle” words. and sees divisive politics clearly. It’s understanding what “white privilege” means, and knowing it’s real. This is not an all encompassing definition, it’s the Rhonda Frost definition. It captures the meaning in essence, for the purposes of understanding.

I watched the Rodney King beating on our Los Angeles, California streets in 1991. I was 28 years old. In April of 1992, I, with all of America, witnessed the verdict of “not guilty” for all the officers that we saw (on video), beat him. And we also witnessed the riots that followed in that city, on Florence and Normandie, in particular. That was our introduction to seeing police brutality on video in my home state. We knew abuse of power and police brutality existed, we just hadn’t seen it locally on television quite like that. Our community lived it on the daily, but that video gave it to us up close and personal. I can’t unsee that. It was indisputable. I was incensed by this case.

If you read what I write or post on social media, especially during 2017, as it relates to injustice in America, one might wonder if I am racist. I am not.

I have white friends(no, for real, I do). I have white people who I love dearly and respect. And I’m not just saying that to make you comfortable. My biological mom Bonnie, is white. Like blonde hair, green eyes, pale skin, white. She was born in 1941 in Denver Colorado. She met my black father in 1961. She gave birth to me in 1963. She put her life (and status as a white woman) in danger to date my black father and birth his child. I’ve heard what she went through in society and in her own family because of her decision to “mix races”. Though she too must have had “white privilege,” I don’t know if she felt it or saw it. I certainly don’t remember any good from her privilege. Our experience was black. Our neighbors were black. Our schools were black. Our reality, black. But yeah, my dear mom is white.

I credit my Mom for showing us what courage looks like, for raising us color aware and color blind at the same time. For telling us about racial injustice, for always fighting for the underdog, for “helping the least of these”, for getting out in the streets and protesting injustice with other black activists and for talking about social issues and injustice in our home, before we even understood what the hell was going on. Side-bar…I thank her also for the exposure to Country music(Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Reba), and the Blues(Bobby “Blue” Bland, BB King) and Soul (Johnny Taylor, Otis Redding, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, The O’Jays and Al Green). It’s because of her that I know and love this music.

It’s also because of her that I have a voice and I use it. Some say she talks out of turn too much and is loud when she should be quiet, I like that she didn’t listen to those who wanted her to be quiet. I’ve been told to pick my battles and try to keep my opinions about injustice low-key as to not make others uncomfortable. I am working on that(not really but I hear them).

But let’s talk just a little~

Since Rodney King, unarmed black men and women have been killed by police all over this country and police have done so with impunity. 

In 2015 Freddie Gray, 25 was killed in the back of a police van in Baltimore. His spine was shattered and his neck was broken, he was handcuffed in a police van! No one was held accountable. Walter Scott, 50 was shot in the back while running away from police in Carolina, he was shot at 8 times. Michael Brown, an 18-year-old kid, was killed by police in Ferguson, MO, allegedly after stealing cigars or cigarettes. That case set off riots and protests all over the country. There are lists of these cases  and one would need to read them to understand the protests and anger.

In 2017, I watched what happened in Virginia where racist white men(and women) carried guns, Tiki torches, wore swastikas and held KKK signs, hurling racist comments and slurs, and then one of them decided to run over the crowd, and he killed one of the anti-hate protestors. They committed murder while spewing hate(they call brown skin people who do the same, “terrorists”). This hate was loudly accepted from the top of America down to its little insignificant hateful base. Just a casualty of where we are today in the good ol’ USA. Say what you will, but that was domestic terrorism by white supremacists. America accepted it as just an incident.

All I could think was, what if hundreds of armed black men gathered together in any state in the U.S., carrying “we hate white people” signs, or spewing other hate-filled rhetoric, what would have happened? How long would it have been before police and others claimed they “feared for their collective lives” and someone was shot dead? Peaceful protest or not, it would have happened. Hell, black people get shot dead for having broken tail lights and toy guns in parks, and they get killed for selling loose cigarettes on street corners, and walking or running away from police, so imagine the outcome if hundreds or thousands of black men with weapons and hate signs descended on a city!

Then there was the mass shooting in Las Vegas, on October 1, 2017, where a white man killed 59 people at a concert. It was called the “worst mass shooting in American history”. What it wasn’t called by the media or #44 was, “terrorism”. Odd isn’t it? When a Muslim terrorist does the same exact thing, it’s called terrorism immediately! When a white man does it, he’s “the lone gunman” “the deranged shooter”, anything but terrorist. When white people do it, it’s somehow different. That’s “white privilege”.

Today, I watch as Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed from the NFL for peaceful protests of blatant injustice(see above), let me say that again, a PEACEFUL protest by kneeling during an American anthem,( that doesn’t represent black people), in a country that still allows for uncontested systemic racism to happen. Yeah we see it. As long as you don’t rock the American fake patriotism boat, it’s all good. Just keep on dancing.

I watch daily, as an incompetent, lying, inexperienced, blithering, shameful and hateful man, who broke every norm, every civil, moral, and humane boundary and violated every high standard set for the position of POTUS, still get elected to office.

I watch as he divides Americans, Tweets his presidency into shame and leads us closer to WWWIII. I see his divisive rhetoric. I note his background didn’t have any qualifications that would afford him such a position. I note his invisible skill set and inexperience in government. I noted that no drug test was required(just wanted to say that because he has signs of being a drug user); I note that all of this, coupled with his incompetence, were all irrelevant.

Only in America can you take the highest position in the land with all of those deficits in your background, couple it with active lawsuits, fraud cases, a history of infidelity, a history of failing to pay people he owed, a history of being disrespectful to women, to veterans, not paying taxes, a proven history of racism, lack of a plan…and still get the job!  Nothing says “white privilege” like this!

Yet, there he sits at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with his cronies and children, in charge of the free world, recklessly damaging America’s reputation, and harming her people. This is white privilege personified.

He is the antithesis to his predecessor, Barack Obama and he seems to be hell-bent on undoing all the good Obama did in his 8 years. No matter how much it hurts the American people. No other race could be who Trump is, do what he’s done to people, say what he’s said and keep a job, much less the highest position in the land. It’s hard to ignore the elephant in America’s living room. It’s hard not to call this what it is. This is what we mean when we say “woke”. How do you un-see or un-know this?

America’s treatment of black folks is historically evident, and though we’ve come a long way, the work is a long way from over. Until there is “justice for all”, until black crime and white crime are sentenced the same, until black people don’t have to fear if they will be killed because of a broken tail-light or for selling cigarettes on a street corner, we, like Colin, will protest and speak out.

I don’t expect society to fix the lives of black people. I expect black people to wake up, stop doing things that contribute to tearing down the community, to strive to improve their situations, take responsibility for their kids, raise children with love and high expectations for excellence, to assure them dreams are attainable, to stop killing each other, to stop being disrespectful to their women and to raise the economic bar by getting in the financial game; taking care of their credit, buying homes, and investing in retirement and leaving wealth to their children. I expect that from us.

Yes, we have to do our part. Period! But we can’t do it if we are dead, and we can’t do it, if 1 in 4 black men are sent to prison(for same crimes as whites, with disproportionately different sentences), and schools in our neighborhoods are not funded adequately to bring in the brightest and best teachers, and loans are denied, and racism persists.

I expect America and it’s law enforcement and courts to be fair, and the scales of liberty and justice to be balanced, and I expect them to let us live. I expect the police to use common sense, communication and less lethal force first. I expect a jury of our peers in courts. I expect the leader of the free world to care about the whole country and her citizens. I expect the playing field to be level so everyone has a chance to win. White America has had a 400-year head start and some wonder why African American’s aren’t in the same economic space or why we still cry for justice. Oh the irony!

No, I am not racist, I am “woke”. I can’t unsee our history, the current president, confederate marches in Virginia, Philando Castille, Tamir Rice being shot dead, and all the evil that is in our world today.

I will leave you to examine who is to blame and how we got here after all of the Civil Rights marches and all of the white and black people who died for freedom, voting rights and justice.

You tell me how we got here, why we are still here, and how we fix it in 2018 and beyond, so Colin doesn’t have to kneel and we, the people, don’t have to march and fight. I’ll wait.


The Cat is Out of the Bag: Sexual Harassment, Sexual Intimidation and Sexual Violations,Will No Longer Be Just Part of a Woman’s Day and Kept Secret

By Rhonda E. Frost

12/2/017

I was talking to someone recently about how the sexual harassment secrets being exposed daily and the public response, has become the new Civil Rights movement for 2017. He and I both agreed that it is, but this time, the change is for women. It is historical in every sense. Women are speaking out on rich and powerful men, who’ve lived their lives as undercover sexual predators violating women at will(in the workplace and beyond), people are listening, and companies are taking swift action. This is unprecedented!

The cat is out of the bag and it’s running around, opening cracked doors, tearing at window coverings and scratching up everyone in the room.  There is a change in the air and it feels mighty powerful. This issue went viral because it affects so many women. One study said, “54% of women have experienced sexual harassment at some point in their lives”. It’s crazy how someone’s brave moment, can spark a revolution, like Rosa Parks saying, no more back of the bus for me, I am tired.

No more will it be hidden. No more of women just taking it in stride to keep a position or to get in the door. No more will powerful men be allowed to harass, or sexually violate women, because they can. It will never, ever, go back to what it once was. Times have changed. Women are demanding their power back and this time, yes…this time, people are listening and taking action.

I applaud all the brave souls who put it all on the line to say what it is, or was. This behavior has been going on since forever; remember Anita Hill and her revelation about Clarence Thomas? Furthermore, men have violated girls, teens and grown women from the beginning of time, with impunity. No more! It’s bigger than men losing jobs, it’s bigger than sexual harassment, it’s about the bigger picture of our bodies being used as objects, our bodies being touched or talked about when that wasn’t something we wanted, and it’s about women being demoralized and victimized and not having a platform or safe space to talk about it. It’s about taking what isn’t yours, because you can, because you are bigger and stronger, more powerful, have more money, or a bigger office.

No more!

And no, I am not saying every complaint is legit. I am not saying all women are victims and all men are evil sex fiends, but I am saying statistically, men sexually violate and harm women at an alarming rate globally and it’s rampant in all areas, starting at home with uncles, dads, “male friends of the family”, etc., and continues on up into the corporate world.

Finally, we can stand and know that someone will listen! This is another historical moment in our time. I am so glad to live to see it!

The takeaway: our body is not yours, unless we give it to you willingly, coherently and on purpose, without fear or intimidation. Your secrets will no longer be kept. The whole world is watching. Treat women, how you want people to treat your daughter, your sister, aunt and mother. If the proverbial shoe fits, wear it. If it doesn’t, keep it moving. #metoo #timeshavechangedforwomen #thenewCivilRightsMovementisinfulleffect

 

Beauty

Dear Men: Here are 7 Dating Tips that We Need You to Follow Now! Part 1

by Rhonda E. Frost

I’ve been divorced since 2004.  I’ve had meaningful relationships since. I’ve dated and had countless conversations about expectations, love, dating and marriage. I’ve learned lots since 2004 and I will tell some of those stories and lessons in an upcoming book. I feel qualified to offer this advice to men because I am a woman and I know what I need, expect and want. I also have had hundreds of conversations with women about their experiences with dating and how real the struggle is for the single woman looking for love and commitment. I’ve heard every dating story known to woman! These 7 dating tips are just a start.

Before I go into my tips for you, let me just say this. I am one of the lucky ones(or unlucky depending on how you look at it); I get my fair share of dating opportunities. I get to talk to y’all regularly on social media and in real life. I see what you do and what you say, first hand. I also get to interview men as a writer, so I am privy to lots of stories and much raw honesty!

To be clear, these recommendations apply across the board no matter the man’s title. I have dated men with different backgrounds, from IT professional, small business owner and retired, to Doctor, Sr. Vice President, and President of such and such. I’ve met assholes as well as some amazingly kind and good men along the way. And yes, I’ve also dated a married man (or two or three). So yes, I can advise you on what we need and want from you, unflinchingly. And age is not a factor, young or old, too often men still miss the mark, either on purpose or because you just don’t know better. So, allow me to reintroduce some rules.

1. Treat us like you would want someone to treat your mother, daughter, sister, or best female friend-I don’t think I need to add much to this. If you love and respect your female family members and you want the best for them, you know what this means. Talk to her and treat her like you want someone to treat your mama (in my India Arie voice)

2. Don’t lead with your wallet -That is unless your intentions are to do the following: Contribute to her life (pay bills or buy her gifts), allow her to share in your good fortune, or unless that is what you want her to value you for.

I cannot tell you how many men I’ve met who start out in the first hour, or first week, by telling me how much they make, what their title is, how much is in their 401K, or how great their credit is. And while I want to know that you are financially stable and bring something to the table, if that is what you tell me first, it sends mixed signals. I am thinking you must want me to know for one of three reasons: 1) You are bragging (which is a huge turn off) 2) You want me to know you can take care of me or 3) You are about to add value to my life(see above). Other than that, I am not sure why that is what you tell me first.

If none of these are your intentions, why lead with that information? It’s the equivalent of a woman stripping naked at the end of the first date to reveal her beautiful body and makes no other move. She just stands there naked long enough to let you see, then she simply puts her clothes back on, and continues the conversation as if it didn’t happen. It would be perplexing, no? In your mind you might have been thinking something else was about to happen, right? My suggestion: Lead with your intentions, your character, realness, kindness and your story. Tell her what you want, need and hope for.

3. “No” means no-If you are trying to get to know a woman or are dating and she tells you “no” to sex, “no” to a date, “no” to staying over or anything else, remember that “no” is a complete sentence. Unless you want to end up in jail or be accused of some horrible crime, just accept it. Live to pursue her or someone else another day. It’s always best to indulge in what’s offered freely. Her body and her time are hers until she decides to share it with you. Period!

4. If you meet a woman who is in crisis, financial, emotional or otherwise-either be man enough to step in and see how you can help, or bow out gracefully before you become intimate or invested. The last thing any woman in crises needs, is a man who knows about her current difficulty, and who acts as if it’s not real.

In recent months I had this experience. I met someone while gainfully employed (actually I had known them for over 30 years and they came back into my life), and during our “getting to know each other better(again)” phase, I was laid off work. This person was delighted to be back in my life and I was happy to conversate and see where we could go. We chatted all day every day, he sent texts, and called at all hours of the day and night for months on end. He was fully aware I had been laid off. Over time, I noticed that not once did he ever ask, “how is everything going with your job search”, or “how are you managing your bills and life in the middle of the layoff?”, or “is there anything I can do to help?”. But to be fair, he did take me on some trips, and he did profess to “love” and care about me and stated he wanted us to grow old together.

This nonchalance, aka selective ignoring of reality,  went on until I said something. He was in the middle of talking about taking me on yet another trip to some exotic island and while I absolutely love traveling, all I could think was, this person is disconnected from reality or selfish(yes, selfish!). Neither of which are good things.

I wondered why he didn’t instead say, “hey, although I want to take you on another trip, what I think is smarter is to see how I can help you, maybe I can give you the money I plan to spend on the next trip to help you out a little, how does that sound?”. But he never did. I pointed all that out to him, and it went south from there. We never recovered from this disconnect.

Here’s a hint, if we can’t see you as someone who will help us, be there and show care about when we are down, we won’t see you as husband material. We won’t trust that you have our best interest at heart, and likely won’t want to see you, when we bounce back up. I must feel cared for and covered, in good times and bad. What you show during these times are trust and foundation building behavior.

Fellas, don’t waste a woman’s time if you can’t see her through bad times. Just go and do you. As the old saying goes, “she can do bad by herself”. Truer words have not been spoken. No one will blame you or be mad if you just tell the truth and bow out gracefully before you make her think you care. If you don’t want added responsibility, that’s understandable. Just don’t hang around and waste her time, pretending her crisis isn’t real and having “fun” is all that matters. And ladies don’t let him!

5. Keep your word-If you set a date, keep it and be on time. If you promise to do something for her, do it. If you say, “I got you covered”, cover her. Don’t say what you don’t mean, and don’t plan things you don’t want to do. Period! And if you must be late, or if a real emergency interferes with whatever intentions, be man enough to call, not text and tell her what it is. If that “emergency” happens more than once, it’s a game-it’s disrespectful of her time. Just don’t.

6. Date with a purpose-If you simply want some a** without commitment or expectation, that’s cool, there are women who want the same, for a small fee. You can find them most anywhere. But for the most part, women I know are dating with the expectation to “go together” aka to work towards a relationship, and/or marriage. After a few months of dating, you know if she is someone you could spend your life with, and invest your time and money into. You know. Be up front about what you want and need and don’t waiver. I get that marriage isn’t for everyone and not everyone we meet is ready for that level of involvement, be clear about wherever you are on the relationship continuum.

In the past decade, I have had a couple of men tell me at the onset of meeting them that they didn’t want any commitments and they were simply doing them. One of them, I decided to date anyway. Bad decision! I wrote about him in my first book, “Why Do I Have to Think Like a Man?”, in the “Single Man” chapter. The other one I met years later, he had just recently gotten divorced, he was in full swing, being single and free. When he said it, I took him at face value and respected his position. I didn’t get involved. We are good friends to this day, boundaries intact. I respected where he was coming from and I let him “do him”.

And finally,

7. If you are married and dating someone else, be ready to handle it-Yeah I know this will come as a surprise to some (sarcasm), but there is a small fraction of married men who date other women outside of their marriage. It happens every single day, all day long. Check the dating site for married people, Ashley Madison, that site touts over 56 million “discreet” subscribers, even after the major security breech last year! People are about that life!

But I digress. If you are a married man and dating someone who is not your wife, please understand feelings get involved. Women, will want your time, they will want you to do things with them, care about their lives, surprise them with gifts and show love and affection, just like any other woman or any other dating situation. Now I won’t say all “side chicks” or mistresses want you full time, or want those things, some just want sex and fun moments and to send you home, but many do. And the more time you spend with her, the more likely the water is going to get muddy, as they say.

In African cultures, I am told it is acceptable for a married man to have more than one woman or wife, but I am also told that he has to man up and care for them all equally. Listen to this audio clip from an interview I conducted with a West African man on this subject. So, my advice is, if you aren’t able or ready to give her much of what you give the wife (within your time constraints and within reason, of course), then you probably should rethink your ability to date on the side. Unless of course the agreement is “no expectation” and the woman is “down”.

Even with that, I would caution you to be real and know that if you keep seeing a woman, keep making love to her and spending quality time, she will eventually fall for you and emotions will get involved. I would also caution you to think about everything you have to lose. This situation is akin to what I imagine drug dealing is like, the fast money, the high of beating the system, and the sexiness of the life (if I can use those terms), are all good, until you get caught or get shot.

And just like with drug dealing, in the long run, these situations usually end bad for all involved. But, if you do it anyway, man up and be ready for whatever. And whatever you do, don’t blame the “other woman” for the demise of your marriage or the spousal and child support you end up paying, or the house and cars you lose, after the sh*t hits the fan and your wife files for divorce. Take ownership! Grown men, do grown men things. All parties must handle the fallout with their grown-up panties and shorts on. Decide wisely and keep it 1000.

Of course there is so much more to say about dating and our current relationship status in the era of social media, and “swipe left or right” dating, but my hope is that these tips will give you something to think about. Let’s try the Golden Rule here, treat people how you want to be treated. Love people how you want to be loved. Respect how you want to be respected and be the type of person you want her to be or find yourself a toy and go play elsewhere. Sounds simple enough huh?

 

Sending Light and Love

by Rhonda E. Frost

I woke-up needing affirmations, positive energy and love. I awoke feeling unsettled.  There’s an uneasiness and evil in the air right now in this country. I can’t seem to shake the heaviness. Surely many of you feel it as well. I feel like Marvin Gaye when he sings “What’s Going On?”.  I need intervention. I need an angel, like Alicia sings about, right here.

Have you seen the headlines lately? Are you watching the world like I am? Do you see what is happening in politics, in the NFL, in your hometown? Have you heard the voicemail message left on African American studies professor Jason Nichols phone just 2 days ago, in October 2017? If not, check out his Facebook page and take a listen, it will make you angry, it will make your heart hurt and it might make you cry. Every single day, there’s something more sinister, more divisive and more detached being said and done. The world feels whack right now! The leader of this country is insane! And racists are showing their true colors, sheets removed.

Having said that. I know there is still good out there. I know that love, a desire to heal and understand one another, is still the cure. And I know that we can stop allowing the negative energy to control our thoughts and words at any given time. But in order to allow peace and the good thoughts in, we have to step back, step back away from the darkness, and choose light.

So today, I’ve decided not to be consumed by the evil, stupidity, fear and hate. Instead of participating in the usual consumption of horrific news tragedies, or witnessing more of  the mind-boggling ignorance and disconnect in the highest office in the land, for just a little while, in my mind, I want to go back to the days when the world seemed less crazy-(like the past 8 years). I want to talk to my grandpa or grandma like the Judd’s mentioned in their great song, or have a long talk with my mama, and hear words of wisdom, hope and encouragement.

There is no better way to redirect negative energy and thoughts, than to look outward, and look for the good in others and in our lives.  So that’s what I am going to do. I simply want to acknowledge aka give a “shout-out” to people who make a difference. A shift in focus, if you will.

Special shouts out to our brave men and women in the armed forces who fight for our freedom every single day, to all first responders who spend their days and nights helping people and saving lives and to the self-less people like Chef Jose Andreas, who show up out of nowhere during tragedies, and do more than their fair share of giving, helping and feeding souls.

Shouts out to the parents who get up each morning and get their children ready for school before heading off to work, get home from work and go to their child’s sporting events or recitals, and then do homework, cook, clean and  somehow manage everything each day, before going to sleep and 6 hours later, wake up and do it again. You are hero’s and shero’s!

Shouts out to all the men who hold down their women and children, those who “cover” them, provide and protect. And to the men who show up daily, those who are in their children’s lives and provide for them, even when the relationship didn’t work. Men who say “I love you” and show it. And to all of the men who are emotionally available, vulnerable and real. The ones who love hard and openly,  the world needs more of you. You are appreciated.

Shouts out to women everywhere who are making it happen. Those who are rebuilding their lives after setbacks. Women who are starting or finishing college, starting businesses, taking care of children alone, trailblazing in their careers, lifting up other women, speaking positivity into the world, getting healthy, and finding ways to believe despite setbacks and heartbreak. Women who fight for human rights and are making a difference. We are better together. I see you and salute you!

Shouts out to those who wake up everyday fighting the good fight in this unpredictable world we are all living in-those struggling to feel safe, struggling to find their footing, feel connected and find purpose. I am right there with you. Keep praying, keep waking up, and keep believing that better is on the way. Don’t give up! As long as you keep getting up and keep taking steps forward, you will make it. We can do this!

And finally, shouts out to the brave truth tellers on race, the “woke” people in the world, the peace makers and those who want “justice for all”, those who know why Colin kneels and aren’t afraid to say it.  Those who use their platform daily to call out injustice, risking it all. And those who understand we all bleed red, and our hearts feel pain the same.

Though the world feels out of control, let’s take some time each day to find the good. There are good people, there are stories of redemption, forgiveness, success and hope that we can hold onto for inspiration. If each of us will take a little time each day to be kind, to show love, to lift someone else up, stop hate messages, and do something good for each other, we can make headway into this dark heavy cloud and maybe even break all the way through. Let’s get through these turbulent times holding on to each other.

As a country we’ve come a long way, but we have a long, long way to go. In 2017, I am clear that we aren’t as close to MLK’s dream as we had hoped(thanks Trump and Alt Right), but we can get there, together. As a people we must do better.  We can’t let the evil, incompetent ones lead us down the dark, divisive path and keep us there. We are better than this.

No, individually we can’t save the world. But we each can do something. Just do your part. Share facts and wisdom. Thank someone for what they do. Listen to someone else’s story. Control what you can. And once you’ve done all you can…pray, mediate and be still. And vote! Register to vote. Stay involved(I had to say it)!

It’s got to get better. We won’t be in this chaotic place always. The sun will come out tomorrow. I just have to believe it will.

An Open Letter to Usher Raymond…I am Sorry

By Rhonda E. Frost

Usher, I am sure this is likely one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to endure. Confessions must pale in comparison. The past two weeks have had to be hell for you and your family. To have a deeply personal incident, with your medical privacy violated and a previously settled lawsuit. plastered all over the news, on social media, blog posts and gossip outlets, is unfathomable. My heart breaks watching it unfold.

I read one of the first stories to get the gist of it and then I saw the memes that were meant to be jokes, pour in on my social media feed. I read one or two of the comments with tears in my eyes. I simply couldn’t read them anymore.

I am ashamed that people turned this life altering situation, involving real people and a real disease into something entertaining. For that, I apologize to you. I apologize for the judgement, harsh words, the jokes and insensitivity. This story hurts my soul on many levels.

On behalf of our people, I am sorry.

I am sorry that its unfolding like this. I am sorry that someone gave herpes to you. I am sorry for the woman (or alleged women) who you exposed to it (knowing or not). I am sorry you couldn’t find the courage to tell them. I am sorry that now they want your money and that you will likely pay the hefty price for that secret. And I am sorry for the millions of people who have herpes and other STD’s that they have to live with, and who fear what you are going through.

Too many black folk in particular find this situation joke worthy. I apologize that our community finds humor in disease and in stories that hurt others. I am sorry that we have become disconnected to the point where we don’t stop to think before we pass along hurtful memes, videos or news clips that expose our people suffering. I apologize that basic humanity is no longer present in this social media, disconnected world that we live in. It’s all about the “comments”, “likes” and the “check” one can potentially get from a story.

Do the sharers of this news not realize that 1 in 6 Americans have herpes and that anyone can have it and not know because they are asymptomatic? Do they not know that statistics show almost forty percent of African Americans have this disease and that almost fifty percent of black women have it? Someone else gave it to these people too. Do they not realize that if these numbers are true (and apparently they are), that when they post these articles and jokes on their page, they are shaming and making fun not just of you, but also some of their own friends and family members who are also suffering? These millions of sufferers didn’t get a million dollar check when it was given to them, they simply had to keep it moving and figure out how to live with it. The lack of connection is mind-boggling.

And although not the same circumstance, I am reminded that just a week or two ago our people did the same with the Maia Campbell situation. Some clown (for lack of a better word) made a video recording of her at a gas station here in Atlanta, exposing her in one of her low moments. In the video, she is seen talking to the man recording and she tells him she wanted some “crack”. She looked disheveled, she was missing a tooth and was in a bra and panties (shorts?) at a gas station. It was painful to watch. The “brotha”(dubbed a “male friend” in one article),  added further insult to injury and said to Maia, “pump my gas” in pimp-like fashion, disparaging her further while continuing to record and mock her broken state. This black man thought it necessary to post this event on social media, I suppose in an effort to become relevant. The video went viral. It was shared thousands of times amongst our own. People thought it funny. According to reports, she has a crack addiction and suffers from mental illness. How the f*ck is addiction and mental illness funny? Shame on us! Shame on the man who made the video.  And shame on everyone who shared it to get a “like”. But I digress…

The callousness in our people at times is beyond words. Did slavery, Jim Crow, lack of opportunity, lack of education, lack of nurturing and poverty make us into insensitive human beings? Can we blame those real conditions on our current spirit? As if we don’t have enough issues and obstacles to fight, we have to deal with our own village frenemies as well. These are the same people(your fans), same magazines and news papers that applaud your music and talent, that showcase your success as an artist, your love as a father and who have honored you as a member of the black community. And poof! Just like that, you are reduced to simply a story line, and your business is all in the streets. Oh, what a fickle world we live in!

Social media can be like shark infested water, all they need is a little “chum” or for someone to fall off the boat, and the mindless feeding frenzy begins. Black folks in particular feed off of this kind of thing. We always have. We are the kings and queens of tear downs, demonstratively hateful gossip, and finding ways to shame one another or point out our brothers and sisters mistakes and missteps. I believe it gives those telling someone else’s news, a moment where they don’t have to think about their own misery, ugliness, vulnerability or pain.

Confessing an incurable disease is risky for anyone, but exposing it as a celebrity has to be the scariest thing ever. It’s another level of risk. People pay money for that kind of news story, whether you’ve infected someone or not in today’s “sell a celebrity story to TMZ for a check” climate. I am not excusing failure to disclose, I am simply pointing out the obvious. All of that aside, disclosing isn’t an option.

Living with disease, navigating dating and relationships with a diagnosis and trusting someone with that information has to be the highest level of risk out there. But to be clear, numbers don’t lie. Others are also keeping the secret for whatever reason and by doing so, are infecting other people in our community at an extremely high rate. We cannot continue like this! We have to find the courage to share the news. We have to talk about it openly and do forums that help ease the stigma and that provide a way to share the news safely. Millions of people carry this STI. You, Usher, have an opportunity, like Magic Johnson did back in the day with his HIV diagnosis, to make people aware of the disease and impact lives. The conversation has already started. It’s a wide open opportunity. You have this difficult moment to reflect and teach. Use it to be brave, to stand up and to create something meaningful. I will be happy to help you.

The good news is, herpes is not life threatening. All involved will find a way to keep going forward. You and all involved will bounce back and keep living. You must. Life surely goes on. The victims in your case will be a little more financially secure at your expense and though that doesn’t fix the life long condition, it certainly makes life a little easier for them. Again, millions upon millions of people have it, who never were given money to ease the pain or shame or give them the means to buy medications, pay bills or take a vacation to clear their head.

The statistics with STD’s and it’s impact on our community are real. We have to care enough about each other to have the honest discussion. We have to get tested. We have to set aside our own discomfort to protect others. And we have to hold those discussions in confidence on both sides. We have to care enough about our bodies to use protection especially, if we aren’t brave enough to talk about the elephant in the living room or ask for test results. We also have to do better at becoming caring human beings and not using these stories to bolster our own numbers(“likes”, “friends”), or to gain notoriety by furthering the pain.

The moral to the story is: if you have a disease and you don’t tell someone, you put them at risk, and they don’t get to decide on the act or relationship with all the facts. That is a costly decision. And this applies to every aspect of our dating lives, not just STD’s. We have to have the conversation(s) about things that aren’t pleasant as well. It’s the only way to know if what you share is real. It’s what grown people who care, do.

At the end of the day, this story will give way to the next big news story. Soon and very soon, it will become just another blurb in the social media news spectrum and the sting of the jokes and the headlines for this will fade. Let this be a wake up call about dating, relationships and our sex lives. This isn’t so much about you as a celebrity, as it is the cost of not speaking up and the reality of how hard it is for us to talk about issues to our own people.

And for the people with all the comments and jokes, let this be a reminder to return to compassion and to remember that just because something hasn’t affected us yet, doesn’t make us exempt and that we need to be mindful that even though we may not be impacted, we might have a friend, or family member who is(go back and look at the statistics then look at how many “followers” you have, it’s a given that some of them have it). Words are powerful. Use them to uplift, to improve your people, to offer guidance and advice, to make positive change, not to be the antithesis to that. We have enough mess in our community to overcome, let’s not add to it by jumping on the popular mean-spirited bandwagon.

Usher, my sincere hope is that you will rise from this moment better than you were before, to care more about the people in your life, to protect women and to be open and honest. My hope is that you and the women involved in this unfolding story will all be able to live happy and full lives and that when it’s all said and done, our people will do better.

Let this be our Magic Johnson moment of truth on this topic. Let us be brave enough to keep the conversation at the forefront in an enlightening and honest way and let us be better for it.

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An Open Letter to the Man Who Asked “Why We Women Celebrate Being Single, Knowing We Want a Relationship”

I read a post the other day from one of my male Facebook friends who asked “Why do you single women celebrate being single, knowing you want to be in a relationship?” Then he mentioned Beyoncé songs having us “messed up”.

Well the long and short answer is: Even though we women are plenty powerful, we can’t make someone be in a committed relationship with us, last time I checked, it takes two. Regarding “celebrating being single” well yes, of course. If I wake up and I’m single, I celebrate my life as it is. I enjoy my moments, hours, days and years as they are, not as I wish they were. To that point, I want 10 million in my bank account, but since it’s not there (yet), I celebrate the $100(give or take a few dollars) that’s left over after my bills are paid. And I want a baby blue Continental GT V8 convertible Bentley, but since I don’t have it, am I not to celebrate the great car I have? How should we live our lives when we don’t have exactly what we want? Should we be unhappy, angry, sad, miserable and bitter?

To your point, yes, of course many of us want to be in committed, loving, supportive relationships or even married, but it’s not about us and what we want. We can only manifest so much on our own.

Shall we talk?

Let’s keep it 100. There are so many men playing games and playing house, that it will make your head spin. Some men are maximizing their social media outlets, dating apps, work relationships and social outings using them as springboards into new vaginas. They go from one woman to the next, like a honey bee pollinating flowers. It’s not an easy task to have a man see the value in loyalty, love and commitment with one amazing woman, when his options are wide open and each day adds new forums that allow him to dabble in something new.

Today even men in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s are still “sewing their wild oats” like a boy in high school. No, not all. There are some men who are seeking marriage and commitment. There are faithful, committed and happily involved men who lead their households and take care of their women and children, men who show love and appreciation for the women in their lives. I personally know a few. But this isn’t about those men. This is about the “others”.

As for me, when I think about spending the “rest of my life” with someone, I don’t want to settle for just OK. I want it to feel right, not just in the bed, but after the “nut” too (yeah I said it!). The next morning and throughout each day, I want my spirit to feel good about my life with him. I need him to be my friend, the keeper of my secrets, the one I trust with my heart and time. The one I can watch Steeler football with and share laughs.  A partner who will love me, care about my family and perhaps teach me something. And to be clear, yes, I’ve had people want to commit to me and I’ve had a person or two since my divorce, that I cared enough to commit to, but the Universe, timing and fate had other plans. So “single” it is for now.

And finally, can we go there? Can we talk about the millions of married people and people in “relationships” who are miserable and barely holding on? Can we talk about the men and women who cheat to augment their unhappy “couple” lives? The ones who tell their friends and loved ones how miserable they are? The ones who hate to go home after work because they aren’t in love or they argue all the time? The ones who are in relationships but bored to death and lonelier than many single folks. Can we talk about that? Dare I say, they (you) should probably celebrate in our joy, peace and freedom.  Note: All single people aren’t unhappy and all coupled people aren’t happy and in love.

Regarding music and it’s impact…though I am not a Beyoncé record buyer per se, I do love some of her music. And a few of them do resonate. One of them is called Best Thing I Never Had“, when I hear  this song, it makes me feel grateful for the ones that got away. And then there’s Irreplaceable that song that too many of us can relate to and there’s If I Were a Boy that reminds us of all the things you do that we put up with. I could go on but you get the point. Settling is not an option, not anymore. Don’t hate on Beyoncé. Trust that when we have a good man, we will take care of him and we will ensure he knows we have his back and his front. We got this! In the spirit of songs, what we need from you is to say Never Felt This Way and Spend my Life With You and then we will be able to say I Know.

So do us a favor, don’t ask us “why we celebrate being single”. We celebrate life with or without a man because that’s exactly what we are supposed to do until we find the one person who is ready, willing and able to add value, stability, peace and joy to our lives.

Now back to my life. As you were.

Rhonda E. Frost

 

10 Reasons Why I am Still Single

By Rhonda E. Frost

1/7/2017

The other day, I posted a quote on my Facebook page that said something like “humble enough to know I have a ton of flaws, but wise enough to know my heart is pure and my soul is as dope as they come”~Author Unknown. To that, one of my 4800 male followers said “why are you still single then?”. Mind you, I get that question often(as if they just don’t understand why I am single) and usually I dismiss it lightly or ignore it completely, but for whatever reason, I decided to respond to him. And I did so with this:

Not sure how that applies but to oblige you, here’s my answer: Finding love, and a person to spend the rest of your life with isn’t something to take lightly and it’s not easy. It’s magical…it’s serendipity. One day, he will appear and I’ll know he’s the one. I won’t force it, nor will I settle. I’m OK with being single vs just being in a relationship to say “I’m in a relationship”. I go on plenty of dates and I actually have pretty good offers out there but in due time…”

That response seemed to work and he politely thanked me and wished me the best in my love/dating journey.

Now, having said that,to be clear, that is one of the most insensitive and ridiculous questions to ever ask a single woman! And by design (or at least it sounds like), the person asking, is insinuating that something might be wrong with the unattached woman. Maybe I have it all wrong, but it sounds like it. For an analogy, it’s like asking a woman who wants to get pregnant, and who is doing all the things it takes to have a baby(regular sex, good health, a willing partner, etc.) and saying “why haven’t you gotten pregnant yet?”. Really?

I wonder if men ask other single men, “hey man, why aren’t you married yet?”, or “why are you still single?”. Or if these same men ask unhappily married folks “why are you still in that f*cked up marriage?”(yeah there are lots of those too). I bet not! Yet, they look at single women like she must be “crazy” or must be lacking something wifey pertinent, otherwise they’d be married. Hmmmm…And if a woman is in decent shape, fairly attractive and half-way smart, the questions are even more incredulous.Smdh! By the way, half the country is single-that means, there are millions of single men and women. Millions! The reasons are boundless.

So for all those men, who take the time to ask single women this insane question or who judge women in some way due to her “unmarried” status, consider these 10 reasons that I/we might be single:

  1. No one has proposed! News flash! Yeah the guy we are dating, has to ask us to marry him!
  2. We haven’t met the man who is “ready, willing and able” to be a loyal, monogamous, and a provider husband(yes, I am old skool to a degree). A man who we have a mutual attraction, respect and connection with to accept as our life partner. Yeah, that guy…he hasn’t arrived yet.
  3. Too many men are maximizing their options on social media, dating sites, and in these streets-one good woman, won’t do-they are swapping bed partners like a game of musical chairs, and changing women, like people change their underwear.
  4. Married men who want to date us, can’t marry two women at the same time. There are laws against it in the United States.
  5. Too many men show up with just a “dick pic”, a dinner offer, some “hey beautiful” compliments and think they can sell women the dream. They don’t bring a plan, they lie, actions don’t follow the offers or promises, they don’t know what to do when they get the woman they chased, and their sexual prowess is underwhelming.
  6. Some women like being single and aren’t ready to give up their comfortable life, to rush to be in a lackluster, unfulfilling, anxiety producing situation, just to say she’s in one.
  7.  We are working on self. We realize we are broken and are taking the time to review our relationship choices, get ourselves together(credit scores, health, mind), examine the lessons learned, and the mistakes made in the past, before opening the door.
  8. Not enough quality choices to go around-(gay, incarcerated, broken spirits, broken morals, broken lives, nothing to offer, selfish, unromantic, etc.etc.).
  9. Societal norms have changed-We’ve gotten away from basic dignity, respect, and loyalty in the courting process-dating with a long term purpose is no longer the priority-everything is game and fast.
  10. Timing-everything is about timing and fate. Two people meeting at the same time, who are “ready, willing and able” to be in a committed relationship, do the work, who communicate openly, genuinely like each other, and who have good chemistry-is about timing. That isn’t something that can be forced or cajoled. It happens organically. Humans have zero control over timing or fate. All one can do, is be ready when the “magic of timing” happens.

I am still single for all of the reasons above. Are there lonely nights on this journey? Oh my goodness, yes! But are there also weeks of endless dating and fun conversations with new people? Absolutely! Have I had people love me and want to be in a relationship? Yes! And yes, I’ve had my heart open to a select few and have had it bruised. And I’ve had high hopes with a few who showed their character in short order and those hopes were dashed. It’s all part of the process until one day everything changes. Love is still out there and I will have it, but not at the sacrifice of being treated less than what I deserve just to have a piece of something. Nahhh, that won’t work.

So the next time you get ready to ask a woman, “why are you still single?”, just don’t. Put this list in your pocket or frame it and hang it on the wall in your home, and memorize it. And do women a favor, come up with better questions or better yet, bring more to the table and deliver it with good intention, and perhaps you won’t have to ask that question at all.

My PSA for today.