My humble thoughts as one guy with opinions about life, love, religion, society, politics, parenting... yada, yada, yada.

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  • Has Fatherhood Become the New Mercedes-Benz?

    It used to be that a tailor-made suit and a Mercedes-Benz were context clues signaling a man’s ability to “provide” and consequently, those were things made a man "sexy". But could it be that for today’s professional women, fatherhood is the modern-day equivalent of a Benz? ...

  • What Does This Election Tell Us About What A "Real American" Is?

    “What on earth is he talking about?”... to put it simply..what does a Real American look like, sound like, act like, eat, wear and drive? Where do Real Americans live? What religion do they belong to? The questions are endless, but as we put answers to the questions will you fit the mold of a “Real American”?

  • “Rope-a-Dope” or Political “SHAKE and BAKE?

    Here’s the deal… President Obama was eaten alive in the 1st debate... BUT could this have been a good thing? Regardless of whether he was off his game or engaging in the most daring “rope-a-dope” in the history of politics, that awful debate performance sets the Obama campaign up for a little "shake and bake." Here’s why.

  • Look Ma! I'm On Web TV!

    Here's Mr. Mansitioning himself (me..lol) talking about Presidential politics and the election on the HuffPost Live... I always appreciate the invite and love the discussion!

Posted by Lawrence "LAW" Watford - - 0 comments

al·lure:
1 [uh-loor] verb, al·lured, al·lur·ing, noun
verb (used with object) 
  
1. to attract or tempt by something flattering or desirable.
2. to entice or tempt (someone) to a person or place or to a course of action; attract


A Thought about the word "ALLURE"... If the Devil wanted to seduce us would he looks like Halle Berry or would he look like the cashier at your favorite Starbucks? Would he appear as Brad Pitt or would he look more like the guy who delivers your mail? Now this question isn't about infidelity, so much as it is about methodology... How do we as humans arrive at decisions that compromise our fundamental principles? Is it the $300k job offer that takes you away from your family altogether, or is it the $25k raise from your current job that requires you to work weekends?... Just a thought about how much of ourselves we compromise away, either in big chunks or bit by bit...If that makes sense... Hmmmmm




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One Father’s Thoughts on Women and Hair Imprisonment 

Wrtten by Lawrence "LAW" Watford for www.transitioningmovement.com. 


Okay, it’s old, but unresolved news, so I’ll bring it up for the purpose of this discussion. A 16-year-old African-American, first-time Olympian shocks the world by winning a gold. She was not only the first African-American gymnast in Olympic history to become the individual all-around champion, but she was the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics.… Not bad, huh?

But while most of the world was awed by her skill and her grace, becoming the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics, a very small population of the world, more specifically a very small population of America, more specifically a very small population of African-America was in awe that her hair wasn’t freshly permed?... Que?

Now, I know that this is a very sensitive subject, so my aim isn’t to demonize those whose passion for “black hair excellence” superseded their appreciation for the accomplishments of the first African-American gymnast to become the individual all-around champion.  Nor would I want to make the mistake of assuming that only women of color experience the sense that their hair is the pinnacle of their physical existence.  At first, my aim was to ask, why so many women (women of color in particular) see their hair as “the be all to end all” of their beauty, but seeing as how that would require exploring everything from The New Testament theology about hair length, to the bombardment of Eurocentric beauty standards in pop culture, I’ve changed my focus.

My daughter is only 10 weeks old, but I can already envision the day that she comes home crying because the hair dresser cut her bangs or ends too short, or the day she gets teased on Facebook because the Jerry-Curl came back and her mother refuses to let her get her “soul glow” on.  As a father, I’d love to shield her from this kind of hair bondage that will only damage her self-esteem and stifle her individuality. But if a 16-year-old, history-making Olympic gold medalist can be rattled by the cultural curse of hair imprisonment, what could a father possibly do or say to shield his “baby girl” that will make a difference?  After all, it’s not likely that she will have the world acclaim to reinforce her self-esteem. What if she’s not the head cheerleader, or other girly things that makes girls popular?  What if her accomplishments are things like a debate club captain or a spelling bee champion?

I’ve decided that when that day comes, I’m going to do the following:

1. I’m going to call her into the bathroom and tell her to take a really good look at herself.

2. I’m going to tell her silly things that will go over head now, but will hopefully set in over time; things like “baby-girl, your hair is only a small expression of who you are” and  “what matters most is who you are on the inside.”

3.  When she rolls her eyes and wonders how I could possibly relate to her “crisis,"  I’ll pull out the photos of me with my locs and tell her an old college story about how I was looked down upon by some of the school’s administration officials because my hair was considered unkept, “unprofessional,” and unbecoming of a person in leadership…. The problem with this was that I attended a Historically Black College.

4. And after I tell her “turn off your cell phone. I’m trying to kick some knowledge,” I’ll go deep and tell her about the beauty and grace of women who battled breast, ovarian or cervical cancer, yet somehow were more fearful of temporarily loosing their hair than, perhaps they were of having their ovaries, breast or cervix removed.

5. And after she pauses to reflect on that, I’ll tell her to look at herself in the mirror again, and then I’ll turn off the lights, and in the darkness I’ll remind her that she still exists.  I’ll remind her that her physical beauty fades away in darkness, but the fact that she’s a smart, capable, talented and a loving person still persist.  I’ll tell her that everything that’s truly beautiful about who she is, is visible even without knowing if she has long or short hair, braids or curls, natural or perms.  I’ll tell her that she’s “bangin” with bangs, cute with curls, lovely with locs, or fine with finger waves.

6. And while she’s laughing with (or at) me, I’ll turn the light back on, tell her to look in the mirror and ask her “Now, do you see what I see?”

Thank you for checking out my column “Mansitioning,” on Transitioningmovement.com. I hope you’ll leave feedback and follow me on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/mansitioning and on twitter (https://twitter.com/mansitioning). Please share your thoughts, problems, inspirations, relationship questions, etc. and spread the word.
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Something to think about in the middle of it all... 

I just spent an hour and a half with my 2 year-old boy in the park in the middle of the day... Between the time I left home and the time we stepped foot in the park, I was wrestling with all the things I needed to do, wanted to do and had no power to do. I had a brief convo with God and then tried to focus on my son's joy... And as I pushed him on the swing and watched him play with another friend he'd met, I had one of these moments where I realized how blessed I was to be able to push him on a swing in the middle of a sunny fall day.... 

There are times when I stop and take in life, and it hits me; irregardless of what I do not have or where I have not been or and what I have yet to achieve - at this moment in time, I am as blessed as anyone else on earth.  We often loose site of this in pursuit of our dreams and during life's daily grind... Often times, it's the case that we are more blessed than we know...
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The Miseducation of Hampton University: How the Business School's  ban on locs and cornrows came to be.                             

 

Wrtten by Lawrence "LAW" Watford for www.transitioningmovement.com.


It’s funny, I had just submitted my next piece for TM.com; a piece about the dangers of, what I call “hair imprisonment,” the condition of so many women who hold their hair as the sum total of their beauty and attractiveness. In fact, I was feeling pretty good about it and then I get tagged in a Facebook post: “Cut It Off! Hampton University Business School Bans Dreadlocks & Braids.” I was shocked and angered, not only because of the obvious assault on liberty but also because this was a battle that my best friend fought as a student and young man with locs at Hampton University.


 In 1998, as a Student Government President, the Dean of Student Affairs at the time made it very clear to me that my appearance was a problem.  Sure, there were others in the administration that shared his opinion and, I had to smile through insensitive jokes about my locs from people who were old enough to have marched for the right of blacks to be judged by the content of their character, but I relished in the opportunity to “rage against the machine.”  I guess I’m just built that way, but at least they didn’t ban me from holding my position.

Compare that to my man Kevin whose case, I’m sure helped inspire this ridiculous ban.  Kev, was one of the few brothers on campus with locs and the only person I had ever met with a laptop computer.  At age 19, he’d created his own information systems company, Ebony Oasis Inc., which is still operating. He was smart, wise and exceptionally well spoken for someone so new to adulthood. He was also the very first person to be banned from participating in the business school’s Wednesday seminars because of his hair.

I remember the day.  I remember waiting for Kev outside the office of the Dean of the School of Business, where he was attempting to reason with him.  I remember Kev leaving the office hurt and angered because that Dean, a tall slender light-skinned man with waves in his hair, had told him that his locs were not an acceptable part of corporate culture and likened them to “wearing a brown suit.”   Kev protested, bringing his grievance to the attention of friends he had in the administration that were sympathetic, but they were unable to affect the situation. Finally, Kev spoke to one professor, a white professor who happened to be a lawyer, and that professor told him that he had to fight this ruling. Dwell on that for a minute... The white professor told the black student that he had to fight the cultural discrimination he was facing at the hands of the black dean of the School of Business at a Historically Black College… Wow.

Kev had brought his case before the proper school authorities who agreed that there was no precedence for removing a student from class activities because of their choice of hairstyle, but by that time he was mentally spent. He’d already missed the presentation he was supposed to be leading before a major corporation and even thought this whole ordeal was the result of one man’s decision, his faith in the University had been damaged as well – especially when factoring in my experiences.   After that, he transferred out of Hampton’s business school, and three years later (as locs and cornrows became more fashionable for men) the School of business codifies this, well-intentioned ignorance into law.

Let me state, for the record (before I go in) that I love my alma mater and will always cherish my days there and that this criticism does not apply to the entire university, but only to the School of Business.  That said, it was Hampton University that helped to cultivate in me an activist spirit, so it’s only fitting that I apply it in my emphatic rebuke of this archaic ban.  After all, the Good Book teaches that we rebuke that which we love. So what can I say about this?

First, to the students in the MBA program, I would just say that there will be times in your life and certainly in your job where you will be asked (expressly or implicitly) to compromise your beliefs, your values or who you are for the sake of advancement.  I caution you, decide now how much you are willing to compromise to land a job, or keep a job or advance in a job.  If you cut your locs (and I’m not criticizing anyone who does) because you suspect that the person interviewing you has a problem with your culture, would you then try to tuck in your lips or lighten your skin for the same reason?  After all, if the person across from you is using your neatly, well-groomed locs to culturally discriminate against you, then it’s likely that he/she’s going to be working their way down a list that ends with physical characteristics you can’t change; your lips, your nose, your gluteus maximus. And when that happens, will you overcompensate by accepting the casual race joke or sexual harassment that accompanies corporate culture?

To the School of Business, I’d assert that there are five problems that I see with this policy.

1) Simple mindedness- Your students spend 5 years in an MBA program, and if by year 5 they aren't able to make their own rational assessments about what comprises acceptable in corporate culture, then your MBA program isn't worth more than a High School diploma... because you can't teach common sense...

2) Near sightedness -The program discounts that corporate culture is more diverse now than ever before. Corporate doesn't just refer to a job a Johnson & Johnson (a place where the Business school used to love bragging about placing students)....  Corporate culture today refers to Google Inc., Apple, Geffen Records, Twentieth Century Fox, BB&H advertising—ALL major corporate institutions where I've seen 1st hand that the 3-piece suit/Mad Men model, not only doesn't apply, but can be a hindrance. The business school’s failure to embrace this reality shows that they are too dogmatically attached to 20th-century thinking, thus limiting their students at a time when they need to expand their idea of "corporate culture" in an rapidly changing world, where the CEOs are 22-year-old guys who start up billion-dollar companies like.... well, Facebook...

3) Failure of imagination - Instead of banning certain hairstyles, which harkens back to the days of brown paper bag and comb tests, how about using a little creativity.  Why not either make sure that all students take a course in corporate culture that, among other things discusses grooming, manicuring, etc. It could also discuss the diversity of corporate cultural standards based upon region and industry. That’s just off the top of my head, btw.

4) Weakness – The mission of the school of business is “to produce professionals, leaders and scholars of strong character,” but failing to inspire students to believe in themselves, their abilities, their talent, their ingenuity, their charisma, their industry and their decision-making ability isn’t a quality of leadership. And discouraging students from embracing their cultural identity with confidence and failing to encourage self-expression in ways that are smart and appropriate certainly doesn’t help to create business men and women of “strong character.” Quite the contrary, it instills an acceptance weakness that encourages students to compromise their self respect to, as the school’s dean states “get the job”…. But in the end how many employers are really out there looking to hire someone who’s trained to cower and shrink?


Thank you for checking out my column “Mansitioning,” on Transitioningmovement.com . I hope you’ll leave feedback and follow me on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/mansitioning and on twitter (https://twitter.com/mansitioning). Please share your thoughts, problems, inspirations, relationship questions, etc. and spread the word.
 
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What Does This Election Tell Us About What A "Real American" Is?

written 2008 by Lawrence "LAW" Watford for Motleybloggers.com.   

http://www.gg2.net/newImage/big/muslims-happy-with-life-in-us-despite-discrimination--poll.jpgI wrote this piece back in 2008 for "Motley," a blog that I launched that same year to express my thoughts on politics and society - but mainly politics.  Any way, it's now 2012 and four years the question at the center of this piece looms with the same, if not greater relevance... So check it out and asks your self- in 2012 What Does This Election Tells Us About What A “Real American” Is?



In 2000, we got a glimpse into the urban/rural cultural divide in this country when an unvetted Texas Governor (all be it with a politically connected name) “aw shucked” his way into the White House, defeating a sitting Vice President/former senator, who’s intellect and grasp of the issues of the day were far more superior.

In 2004, we went from a glimpse into the American cultural divide to an IMAX view. The red states vs. the blue states; city vs. country, urban vs. rural, the pretentiousness of intellect and rationalism vs. the virtue stubborn conviction and gut instinct. A Purple Heart war hero was defeated by an “aw shucks” incumbent that went AWOL during the Vietnam War and his running mate who received five deferments to avoid service in that very same war…There victory was won bearing in mind that they were mismanaging a current war that (by most accounts) they manipulated us into fighting.

Now, in 2008 the candidacy of Sen. Barak Obama has forced us to take a high-definition look at this divide. The red state/blue state battles going on within each red state and blue state. The civil culture war that’s being waged in communities, on radio and television.

“What on earth is he talking about?” you may ask. Well, to put it simply this war is for the prototypical definition of an American. What does a Real American look like, sound like, act like, eat, wear and drive? How does a Real American think? What kind of job does he or she have? Where do Real Americans live? What religion do they belong to? Are real Americans educated? What sports do they play?… The questions are endless, but as we put answers to the questions will you fit the mold of a “Real American”?

It started shortly before the democratic Pennsylvania primary. Karl Rove hinted at a strategy for attacking Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton’s campaign jumped on it. Elitism was the charge against Sen. Obama. Look at this Columbia University/Harvard University magna cum laude lawyer with his Princeton lawyer wife and two well-groomed kids and nice house in a Chicago suburb. At one time, the Obama family would serve as the quintessential example of “The American Dream” (barring their color). Now, something had changed. Obama’s success made him somehow less American to many. True, it was one part his ethnicity, but the other part of it was that red state phobia of the urbane.

Shortly after the media became fixated on why Obama wasn’t connecting with rural voters. The term rural voters soon began to be interchanged with “hard working Americans” and that became interchangeable with “white voters”. On a number of occasions, media pundits would accidentally use “hard working Americans” and whites in succession in the same sentence. That syntax makes it apparent that when you think of a hard-working American, think of a white man…

I’ll be blogging on this subject and I’d love your thoughts on weather or not you think you’d be considered a “Real American” if you answered the above questions... For now, to start the discussion here's the link to an interesting article by Tim Wise on white privilege at http://www.timwise.org/ (he's white by, the way).
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