Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflections. . .

Happy New Year, Fans:

By the time many of you read this, it will be the new year, and I pray this blog post finds you and yours well.  This is the time of year where I like to look back at all that has happened in the last twelve months and figure out how I feel about it?

Was 2011 a good year?  It all depends upon how you look at it.  The fact that my family and I survived it was a good thing, but it begs the question, is this all there is to life--just surviving?  I don't know about you, but I always thought that having some type of quality to life made for a good one; however, having said that, surviving is really the best word to describe how most are making it these days.

It seems like the more life advances, the worst our living has become and I don't know who or what to blame for this?  America doesn't appear to be getting stronger, but weaker by the minute.  Everything our ancestors fought for is almost a mere joke anymore.  And it has gotten to the point, for many people, that life just isn't worth living, which is why I believe so many of us are leaving out of here faster than one can blink.  Because the truth of the matter is, for some, death is a better alternative than just merely surviving.  Although that's a horrible thought and a sad thing to say, it's a harsh reality for many.
When I think back to yesteryear, I can't believe how I thought those times were bad, and then I look at where we are now, and think, wow, how I wish I could go back to those days.  I find myself doing that almost on a daily because I don't like the space I'm currently in.  I know I can't go back, none of us can, but I believe the past is the key to where we are now.  Somewhere along the lines, we made some rather costly mistakes and we're being made to pay a very heavy price for them now.

So, for the first time in my life, I'm finding myself on the eve of 2011 not too excited about 2012 coming in.  What's to be excited about?  We are going to be dealing with more of the same shit we're leaving behind in 2011.  In fact, the residue of 2011 only promises to get even better in 2012. 

Let's see what goodies we have to continue looking forward too.  More job loss, for one.  And those of us still working are walking around with invisible question marks looming atop of our heads, waiting for the axe to fall upon our necks at any given moment.  When that happens, your invisible question mark will be a big fat period mark.  Now you can join the ranks of the overpopulated unemployed in America.

More houses falling captive to foreclosure.   Hell, if you're a City of Pittsburgh resident, you might want to start staking out some of the bridges, or finding a great spot to take shelter in one of the local parks, because you are almost guaranteed to be living in the streets soon, thanks to Allegheny County mailing out its wonderful Christmas "property tax assessments" forms lurking in the mailboxes of unsuspecting residents, while they try to enjoy what is left to the holiday season.  If your house was worth, let's say, $20,000 last Monday, well now the City of Pittsburgh says your house is worth $200,000 this Friday, and you're expected to pay your fair percentage because the City hasn't imposed a property tax assessment in ten years, and it's long overdue!   Hmmph, never mind that the City couldn't have picked a worse time ever to impose such a ridiculous idiotic tax--oh no, who cares that most people are struggling as it is?  For crying out loud, the City has a shortfall and gat damn it they've got to make that paper, so they're making sure they get every penny, nickel and dime off of the poor hopeless middle class workers, so it may continue to prosper.  In fact, some City of Pittsburgh residents' property taxes went up 500% if that is even possible to imagine.  What a wonderful way to spread joy and cheer to the City, and the City Fathers wonder why so many people have left Pittsburgh--hmmm, I can't imagine why?

But these are also the same residents that just, a few short weeks ago, agreed to a Referendum to pay additional taxes to keep the local libraries open.  And please don't insult my intelligence by saying now, you didn't vote for this tax, because someone did, but now that you see the City raised your property taxes, everyone is going mad and complaining this is bullshit!  Perhaps you should go to your local libraries to seek shelter, when you can't pay the taxes on your homes that weren't worth two cents a week ago, and now it's worth millions today.   2012 is looking better and better!

I remember when old folks would say, "there's work at the post office?"  Aaah, that's a joke now.  Look how many have closed down.  In my hometown, we had two post offices and one closed.  Can you see that bouncing question mark floating above, just waiting for the period mark to strike?  Sears and K-Mart are closing 100 of its stores nationwide, lending more helpless working stiffs to embark upon the great unemployment line, as if America wasn't already squeezed enough.  So what does America do, she continues to make debt, but that isn't solving the problem.  That's like putting a band aid on a gushing open wound.  How may one look on the bright side when all that looms overhead is just darkness?
You know life is getting pretty bad when our wealthy entertainers are feeling it.  Many stars' homes are going under and they can't sell theirs either.  Hollywood spends mega millions on making movies and don't even make back half of what they put in.  But we continue to give tax breaks to the rich, wealthy, big corporations because if we don't, they will take jobs away from us.  Hmm, that's funny, what damn jobs have they created?  This is the threat that's supposed to keep us little guys in check.  But in case you haven't noticed, if we don't do well, neither does the rich!  The wealthy wouldn't be anything without us, and since there isn't much of us left, they are beginning to feel it too.  So that threat the government loves to throw in the ring, has already been knocked out.  That ship has sailed my friends, so come up with something new to lie about, because that one no longer packs the powerful punch it once had.  History has proven time and time again when the little guy doesn't do well, neither do the wealthy!

Our Troops are coming back home, which is wonderful, but what the hell are they coming home too?  A country that doesn't have any jobs nor homes for Americans to live in.  More debt, hopelessness and helplessness.  Everyone has become a charity case.  The streets are going to become overloaded from the mass exodus of home living.  The American dream is an awful nightmare and I keep pinching myself to see when the hell am I going to wake up?  Sad reality is, I am awake.  So, forgive me if I'm not all excited about the new year coming.  Each year blends into the last, and I'm tired of lying to myself that things are going to get better.  What I see tells me something different.  Sure, we can say positive things to help us feel better, but there comes a time when you have to be real.  You may continue to lie to yourself all the hell you want, but it isn't going to change what is!  It's probably a great idea the Troops are coming home, because in time, there is going to be a new war breaking out, and it's going to take place on America's soil.  And if you think it's bad now, you ain't seen nothing yet when that occurs.  Trust and believe, it can happen!

Until Next Weekend, Happy "Surviving" New Year! 

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Reason for the Season. . .

Happy Holidays, Fans!

Christmas time is my favorite time of the year!
It’s that special time for the family to be near
Moms everywhere cooking delicious food
That’s one of the things that put me in a good mood
Dad carefully hanging the mistletoe
As I sit here watching, wishing Christmas would never go
The family is starting to gather and placing presents under the tree
The children are bright-eyed and bushy tailed running around with

Grandpa at the piano playing Christmas songs
While all my family congregates to help him sing along
I run to the window and it is beginning to snow
As I feel warm and fuzzy inside loving the moment so


The women call the children in to eat
We hurry to the table and take our seat
The family holds hands and begins the traditional blessings
With one eye open, I peek at the turkey dressing

We all take turns thanking the Lord for what we have
As I think of all the year’s blessings, it makes my heart glad
With spoons and forks clanking, that’s all I can hear
Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and
A Prosperous New Year!


A sincere and giving heart doesn't just do it because of December 25th, but one that gives all year long.  Material possessions are just that--material.  This is a time to celebrate with family and friends for all the blessings you've received throughout the year.  Be thankful each and every day for your life, the lives of those you love, and pay respect to those who are no longer with us, but have left a touching mark on our lives.

With all the horror we see daily in the world, we need to spread more love around!  We're dealing with troubled times, which is all the more reason why we must cling to our faith.  Evil would like us to believe that God  and/or a Higher Power doesn't exist.   It is consistently working hard to remove your faith, so therefore, you have to work that much harder to fight against it, and most importantly, prove Evil wrong!

Until next weekend, Wishing You and Yours a Safe, Healthy and Pleasant Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pay What YOU Owe. . .

Seasons Greetings, Everyone!

Are you familiar with the cartoon strip entitled The Boondocks, written and produced by Aaron McGruder, and now can be seen on The Cartoon Network's Adult Swim?  If not, you've been missing out on some great entertainment.  There are so many episodes that are my favorites, but one episode comes to mind, being that the holidays are here, and that's the one where, the younger brother, Riley (with the braids), goes to the mall to have a showdown with Santa Claus. 

Riley was on a mission.  He was angry with Santa because he felt cheated, of sorts, that every year he would ask for certain gifts and Santa never delivered.  So while visiting the mall, with pent up anger he had been harboring for quite a few years, he decided to confront Santa, once and for all, and set aside their differences.  He wanted to make sure Santa was aware of his great displeasure and disappointment in the lies in which he was selling him. 

While the children stood in line anxiously awaiting their turn to sit on Santa's lap, Riley's anger got the best of him and he went totally ballistic.  He attacked Santa and threw rocks at him with his sling shot and continually yelled, while Santa was trying to get away, "you gonna pay what you owe, Santa!"  He chased him down the halls of the mall, but Santa, luckily, got away.  Needless to say, that whole scene traumatized the other children who wanted to meet and greet Santa, and not to mention the parents who had their cameras ready to take pictures of their precious little children enjoying the holiday moment.  As awful as the scene was in which Riley performed, literally, I was in tears of laughter because that episode was so damn funny, but the lesson in it, was even more poignant.

Like Riley, there are many people who feel they are owed something in this life.  They walk around feeling as though they have a God given right to all this life has to offer.  Regardless if these individuals deserve it or not, the very fact that they are living, breathing and embarking upon this earth entitles them to whatever their hearts desire simply because they are here damn it, and that's that!

Now, depending on how you were raised, will depend upon how you view what I'm about to say.  I don't know where people get the nerve to think they are so special that others are supposed to bow down and give them something.  I once heard a child say to his mother, "I didn't ask to come here, so it's your responsibility to take care of me for the rest of my life.  I didn't tell you to have me."  Imagine the gall, the balls and the spunk of this child to have said such a thing to his mother.  Yes, my baby brother, unfortunately, was one of those people who felt he was owed, by our mother, to take care of him because that was her job to do. (Hysterical laughter) 

As our mother pointed out, as calmly as she could because the angry look upon her face said something entirely different, that under the law, there are only three things she was to do as being a parent.  One, provide food, 2) provide clothing, and 3) provide shelter, until we were 18 years of age and could get out on our own.  That's it!  All the other things our mother gave to us she did out of love because we are her children, but no where in the law does it say a parent must buy toys for Christmas, must give child(ren) an allowance, must take you on exotic vacations, must buy you designer clothes, nor pay for your college education.  No, in fact, the law doesn't tell a parent any of those things, but I bet many of your children feel you are supposed to do all of that and more because they are entitled and belong to you.  Hmmph!

If a man asks a woman out to dinner, is he obligated to pay for the meal?  If he does so willingly, is the man entitled to sex at the end of the date?  Depending upon your views, will be how you answer those questions?  Personally, whoever asks the other out to dinner, is the one who should pay for it.  As far as what happens after the date, it should be a mutual deal, but it shouldn't be expected nor should the other feel entitled to something from you.  If you are acting out in good faith, then that's the way the situation should be handled, and no one should be made to feel obligated nor entitled.  So why are there so many of us who feel this way?

I feel I deserve to be happy, have peace and live comfortably, but should I seek those things from other human beings?  Am I entitled to those things from you?  Do I have the right to ask you to give me those things simply because I exist?  Nobody owes you happiness, you owe happiness to yourself.  If by being with others who feel the way I do and that brings about my happiness, that's a great thing, but to expect it from you, or to have the entitlement behind it, what right, as a person, do I have to ask of such things?  The fact is I don't, but it doesn't stop people from demanding it.

Do you remember when people were taught manners and you were told that when someone gives you a gift, you are to thank them for it?  Does anyone remember that, or is it just me who sat at my mother's knee and learned of such things?  I suppose when manners were taught in elementary school, perhaps I was the only one that attended class that day?  I'm beginning to wonder with so many entitled people I've had the unfortunate pleasure in meeting.  People have twisted the past with the present.  Back in the day, when our economy was flourishing, companies were able to give big Christmas bonuses and throw in large parties because money stretched a lot further, and we were working more stably.  And for many years, employees enjoyed what their employers gave and became spoiled, and somewhat greedy.  Due to that, employees began to think they were entitled to these things and depend upon it.  "Damn it, I worked hard for this company for years and they owe me a bonus!  I'm entitled to it.  In fact, I marked that money down in my checkbook 'cause I know I'm getting a bonus since I'm an employee who gives to them year round, so pay me what you owe!"  Hmmm, that sounds eerily familiar.

Much like my mother who had to remind my baby brother of what her job and/or responsibility is as a parent, I must reel some of you in on a little dose of reality when it comes to your job.  The only thing your job owes you is a paycheck!  The only thing you owe your job is the work you contracted to perform in exchange for the paycheck!  That's it!  No where in the law does it say you are entitled to a Christmas bonus, party or both.  Sorry to upset you, but that's the plain facts.  Your job doesn't owe you anything, but the paycheck for the hours you worked.  Nothing more and nothing less.  If you were given a bonus, regardless of the amount, that was something extra they decided to do in the spirit of giving, whether you agreed with the amount given or not.  But for any of you to count on that extra money, especially in times such as these, you have no right to bank on someone else's dime.  In fact, you should count the blessing that you're still able to go to work.  Do you know there are millions of Americans who would gladly switch places with you in a heartbeat right now?  Hell, just to be able to get up and fight the morning rush hour traffic to go to a job so they could pay their own way?  At this point, many Americans would love to just have the paycheck and to hell with the damn bonus.  A bonus is a one-time deal, but a paycheck every week or bi-weekly would do wonders.  But some of you spoiled entitled people complain.

As I walk around my neighborhood seeing the foreclosure signs, seeing some of my neighbors who haven't worked in a couple years, homeless people still in the street, and children going hungry, schools closing down, post offices going out of business, people in need of healthcare, but have no way to pay for it, public transportation cut, making it even that much harder for those still working, to get to their jobs, and then there are those of us who may be struggling, but still working, walking around feeling entitled to what they have because they are so used to always getting.  Why aren't you thankful?  My God, you're blessed!  

Every time I cry the blues, which is lots, about the money I don't have and desperately need, I think about the words my grandmother once said to me.  "Baby, did you pay your bills?"  I answered, "Yes," and she'd respond, "then you're doing better than most.  There are people who can't pay their bills, but yours are paid at least for the next month.  You can't worry about that, just be glad you got through this month, and deal with next month later."  After she'd say that, I'd stop my complaining, and we'd talk about something else.  My grandmother was right, although I was still pissed cause I wished I had more, but her point was made, and I came away with the lesson.

Everyone wants more, and we are programmed to do better, aspire to be the best, get, get, get, have, have, have, but at whose cost?   And in the midst of doing all that, we sometimes lose our way and become complacent and get that sense of "entitlement" because we live in a country of the plenty, but what we're finding is, America isn't what she used to be, and we're living in troubled times, worse than the Great Depression, and I'm not sure if we're going to ever make it out of this, and if we do, it's going to take many years before she bounces back on track.  But while we wait, you must stop going around with this attitude that you are entitled to have!  Or that others owe you something because you want to feel better.  We all want more money and to live well, but at the end of the day, take a look around you and open your damn eyes and stop sticking your head in the sand.  The America we used to know is no longer.  So you are going to have to learn to go without, and be thankful for what you do have.

Instead of looking at what you don't have as being negative, you must start looking at the positive in what you do!  I gave plenty of examples above of all the things you see around your neighborhood, what you read in the newspapers and see on the news.  Life, for you, might not be as bad as you think it is.  And when I look at my life, my grandmother's words always come back to me.  I try to hold on to my faith and trust and believe that my country is going to make it because if I lose that hope, there's no point in thinking about tomorrow. 

When someone gives you a gift, no matter what the size, you should thank them for it.  Never feel entitled to receive because that person or people don't have to give your ass anything.  You are not special.  You are a human being, just like the rest of us, trying to make a way and survive, but never think you are owed anything because you are not!  You owe it to yourself to make your life all it can be, that's not up to your parents, teachers, friends, family or coworkers.  Life is what YOU make it, and not anyone else.  Stop being ungrateful and be thankful you're still alive and thank your Almighty, whomever you pray to, that you are still here.

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings and a Happy New Year!  I want to see you all in the coming year!  Be safe, and Be thankful for what YOU do Have!

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Disrobe Your Sheet. . .

Hello Fans:

We're in the Season of Giving, and although that sounds nice to say, some of the giving that people do isn't always in the most positive light.  There are people who present themselves to you as one way, but their actions state an entirely different view.  Remember my blog post about masquerading around, well, this will fall right in line with that.

I'm not one to voice my political views often because it may cause a lot of tension, and I try to write about topics that will make one think.  With that being said, this post will be no different, except there's something that is on my mind heavily and I feel the need to express it through words, and so therefore, I'm stepping outside of my normal posts, to talk about something more serious.

Many believed when then Senator, Barack Obama, sought out the Presidency seat in the United States back in 2008, racism would come to an end, if he were to be successful.  As we all know, he won the title and has been the President for three years, going on year number four.  The President's slogan was "Change~~Yes We Can!"  And oh boy we did.  It marked a huge change in the United States because President Barack Obama is the first African-American to ever hold the seat.  Of course, it came with a heavy price and there were many obstacles to overcome and we're still overcoming, but he rose to the occasion and took every punch like a true prize fighter, and he managed to throw some knock out punches himself toward his opponents.  2008 was an exciting year for me, and I, too, was wrapped up in the hype of the movement at that time.

Quite a bit has happened since African-Americans trudged through the trenches of this milestone era.  But the one thing that remained true and tried was racism coming to an end.  To even dream that such a thing could occur, is just that, a dream, and I most certainly never held the idiotic notion that it would end because a black man now sat in the Oval Office.  In fact, I knew the opposite to be true.

I never knew just how much racism would be alive and well until the first time I ever heard of Barack Obama.  When I first heard his name, some few years ago, I was like what is a Barack Obama, only to later learn who the man is.  I liked what he had to say, as did many others, which he is constantly criticized for his "glowing speeches," wherein many feel that's all he is capable of really doing.  I asked myself, why on God's green earth would he want to run for a seat that he was incapable of ever achieving, and he proved me wrong, as well as many others.  He was branded the "rock star politician," with so many followers.  On the night the U.S. learned who our new president would be, I couldn't believe it.  I thought I was dreaming.  I stayed up until about two in the morning trying to get all the latest information.  I remember his speech he gave to the country, and there didn't appear to be one dry eye in the audience.  Hell, I cried too because I couldn't believe I lived to see this happen and my grandparents hadn't.  This was history in the making, and I was apart of it.

While he gave his history-making speech, I remembered thinking please get off that stage before someone shoots you and your family dead.  I couldn't believe I was this happy to see him up there, and then terrified for his life at the same time.  I still remain worried about his life because so many people wish death on the man, and not just because those individuals think he's doing a lousy job, but for the mere simple reason he's a black man.  Even though some seem to forget he is half white and half black, the fact that he has any black in him, unfortunately, is too much.

I overheard  two older white women say in a drugstore, "I don't care what that nigger do, cause he ain't my president and that nigger ain't running shit.  He don't stand for me!" Her friend replied, "Yeah, and you better get your guns out and make sure they ready, cause we may have to kill some niggers.  What the hell was America thinking electin' a nigger for president?"  Remember I stated, I overheard this conversation.  Those two women were standing right behind me in line and speaking loud enough so that I would hear them.  My immediate reaction was to turn around and punch them both dead in their pink-stained mouths, but I chilled and got my things and left.  But the anger remained with me.

I happened to mention to a friend of mine what had happened while I was in line, and that's when I learned that many of my African-American friends were experiencing the same types of situations.  It seemed like as soon as President Obama was elected, some white folks felt it was quite alright to say and make racist statements right in front of other people, and not give a damn if black people were there or not.  What they were trying to do was incite a riot, but thankfully, none of my friends took the bait.

Hmm, I didn't like Bush, but I didn't harass my Republican friends and advise them of such. 

There are some white people I know who like to mention to me how much they enjoy watching and listening to Fox News, and when I fired back to them that I don't watch it because they have racist views, they were all a gasp.   Why, what on earth did I say that for?  They turned red and began stuttering their words and looking at me all funny.  One asked me why I said that and I said because just as you believe as strongly as you do, well so do I.  Then the excuses came.  "I'm not a racist, I have plenty of black friends.  My husband works with a couple and we've had them over the house for dinner."  Ok, do you want a medal for that?   Another stated, "I like you Kim, and I thought we were cool. . .if I didn't like black people, I wouldn't be associated with you."   So let me get this straight, you just stood here and called the President every name but the name his mama gave him, but you like me?  Wowww, Really?  Can you say conflict of interest?  I left them standing there with egg on their face. 

Why is it when some ignorant people make comments like the ones above get so defensive when someone tells them plain and simple they are racist?  Why do you hide what you are?  If you have the balls to talk about my people in that manner, then continue to man up and accept the fact that that makes you a racist.  If you're so proud of the way you feel toward minorities, then don't act all ashamed when someone calls you on it. 

I don't deny anyone the right to like or dislike whomever they want.  That's your prerogative, but, when you make blatant ass comments about minorities, don't get upset when some of us strike back and call you out on what you are! Don't hide behind the sheet, display your racism proudly!  The reason some take that stance is because deep down they know that being racist is wrong for the mere simple reason, you wouldn't need to defend your position, if what you were doing were right!  Anytime you count how many black friends you have, or you know the number of blacks that have been to your home, or you work around some blacks and you say you like them, but then turn around and talk about black people something awful and tell off-colored jokes, that makes you a racist.  What is so hard to understand about that? 

For me, it seemed like when President Obama was elected, that opened the door for racists to state just how they felt about black people more openly.  Talk about the gloves coming off~~they not only took 'em off, they disrobed entirely.  And then slowly, but surely, like the true cowards racists are, they retreated back to pretending they liked black people, only to strike out, like a snake in the grass, when it's appropriate for them.  But what really gets me is when they do that, they play dumb like they didn't know what they were saying, or they didn't mean exactly what they said.  Hmmm, really?  You come out and make a blatant negative comment about black people around a black person, but you didn't know what you were doing?

Perhaps if my hand accidentally bitched slapped one across the cheek real hard, or my fist slipped and punched one dead in the mouth for saying something hurtful about me or my people, would you then afford me the same courtesy of I didn't know what I was doing?  No, somehow I knew that excuse wouldn't work, but you get my point.

So, at the end of the day, I just want to say, I don't care one way or the other if you like President Obama or not, and I don't care if you can't stand black people or not, however, I would appreciate it, if you keep your dislikes to yourself or talk among yourselves and leave my ears out of it because, quite frankly, I'm sick and tired of your ignorance.  If you feel the President is doing such a lousy job, then put your man balls on and when it comes time for November 2012, make sure you man up and vote for someone else!  You can show your displeasure that way.

And the next time you feel the need to say something racist about black people, boldly in front of a black person, then don't get defensive when they tell you just how racist you are!  Stop hiding under the sheets!  Until next weekend. . .Ignorance is Ignorant!

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet

Saturday, December 3, 2011

If You Say It, They May Answer. . .

Hello Fans,

Due to the social media scene, everyone has something to say.  Even those who may be shy about speaking, will undoubtedly find courage when it comes to stating his/her own opinion about something they feel passionate about.

When you expose yourself like an open wound to the social media, friends, and those whom you don't know, will find a way to comment on whatever it is you enjoy doing.  Everyone's a judge, whether you wear a black robe sitting upon a bench in a high court or not!  There are many posts I read and some I think should have been left in one's mind and never written nor spoken out loud, but people have the right to state whatever they think, and when doing so, that creates a door left open for a response.  And therein begins a debate or sometimes something far worse.

When you create a status on Facebook or leave a tweet on Twitter, you are seeking attention.  I don't care how you wish to spin it, that's exactly what we're doing when we do it.  In fact, this very post today is being created for the sole intent for readers' reviews and comments.  But, what ends up happening is sometimes people make comments that we weren't prepared for, and it may leave you feeling a bit disappointed or angry.

So now you may be asking yourself, why do people do this?  Simply put, because they can.  Remember the door I mentioned above that we create, well you just invited guests to walk through.  Case in point, I was invited in a group discussion a few weeks ago on a sports page, and someone wrote a status that they were tired of all the negativity he received because of his comments against a particular NFL team.  I commented and said why did he give a damn what someone else thought, number one, and two, don't post questions like the one in which he had, if he didn't expect people to respond.

Needless to say, this sparked a huge debate between he and I because he said I was the very negative thing in which he was referring to.  What I pointed out to him was he posed a status question, which created the door for my comment, and countless others, so basically I stated if you don't want to hear what people have to say about how you're feeling, then don't ask the question.  We went around and around on this, and it was becoming more clear to me that he didn't get anything I was trying to say.  So I opted out of the discussion and went on my way.

As many of you know, I write a "My Truth" series on Facebook wherein I leave cute status messages based off of my grandmother's wise knowledge about life.  I usually receive many "like" hits off of these statuses and many comment on how much they enjoy them, but there are times, even when I'm trying to be serious, where someone will find fault with what I stated, and I usually don't respond, or if it's too negative, I will delete that individual's response.

Bottom line, folks, is this:  If you put it out there, people will comment.  It may not be what you want to hear or read, but at the end of the day, people are people.  If you really do not want to attract negative comments to your social pages, I strongly suggest you remove yourself from them, because one thing is clear, you can't handle the pressure of the public's opinions.

I'm really sick and tired of people whining about how others respond to their statuses or tweets.  Why the hell are you on these sites other than to seek as much attention as you can get, which is why most of us try to come up with clever things to say to get our readers attention?  And then when we do get the attention, some of us want to get an attitude because you didn't like how someone responded.

If you're not up for the battle of the words, I strongly urge you not to put your thoughts into print.  Being a writer, I am subject to all types of criticism and comments.  I receive good and bad ones, but what you must learn to do is decipher which you need to concern yourself with, and which to cast aside.  If you pose a question to your fans asking what they thought of your book, you better be ready to receive all of what you're going to hear.  Again, you're creating a door and leaving it open for them to respond.  What makes you think that everything you think is great others will share in your excitement?  Aah, the fact is no, not everyone is going to like what you do nor say, but as I always tell you, be true to yourself.  No matter if everyone goes against your very plans, doesn't mean you should stop dreaming or stop posting your comments because you get a few negative words spit back at you.

What I'm finding in my industry is some people are very weak minded and vulnerable, which is why they can't always handle bad press or negative criticism.  Anyone who steps into the writing game with the expressed intent of thinking they are going to get followers overnight and be this huge success is lulling themselves into a false sense of security, and are truly dreaming.  If you can't handle what someone says about your status or tweet, well you damn sure are going to crumble when it comes time for the world to review what you've written in a novel. 

We've all heard the stories of Facebook and Twitter beefs that landed people either in the hospital or an early grave, all over the fact of what someone wrote.

Make no mistake, any time a person writes a status or a tweet, he/she knows exactly what they are writing and why!  Often times it's to get you to react, grab your attention and take notice.  And many of us do, but just remember, when you put your words out into cyberspace, just know there are individuals on the other end of the wireless line waiting to say something.

If you don't want to be subjected to negative comments, which is foolish to think one may avoid, then don't write questions or post statements in which you know it's going to start a heated debate.  And if you take a mind to do it anyway, then remember that door you created, and don't get an attitude when people cross through it.  You gave them an open invitation, and accept your guests, fully, whether you like some of them or not!

I know you get tired of me saying this but you need to be extremely mindful of what you say on social media sites.  Although they are your personal pages, you do not own any of the content on most of those sites, in fact, the sites usually own everything.  Much like a person's Miranda rights, you have the right to remain silent, or anything you say or do can be used against you in a court of law, well, my friends, so can these very words you use on these sites.  THINK before you WRITE your statuses, and if you still choose to do it, be ready for many to come knocking on the door you created. 

Until next weekend. . .if you write it, they will respond!

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet

Saturday, November 26, 2011

An Imperfect Perfection. . .

Hello Fans:

I hope you and yours had a safe and pleasant Thanksgiving Holiday!  I know in this gloomy economy, it's easy to feel as though we have nothing to be thankful about, but if you dig deep, you'll find plenty to give thanks for.  In fact, if you're reading this, it means you woke up today, Give Thanks for that!   ;-)

Out of all the words I find most fascinating, there is one word which has haunted me all of my life~~the word perfect.  Just think about that word for a second or two.  What exactly is perfect?  How do you define perfection?  What meaning or purpose do you give it?  And, more importantly, how is it decided who or what is entitled to be, perfect?  So again, I ask, what is perfect, and better yet, what makes us an authority on perfection?

According to the dictionary, there are several meanings to our seven-lettered adjective. I think it's safe to say, the meaning that is most sought after is something that is entirely flawless, without any defects or shortcomings.  Hmmm, that's a tall order to live up to for something that is impossible to ever have.  Which is why that one word, out of the many that make up our universal languages, haunts me the most.  Why is it that we, as human beings, strive for something that we'll never accomplish or be?  And, what gives any of us the right to say who or what is perfect?

If the saying is true that 'nobody's perfect,' then why must we put this label on one another?  Perfection is nothing more than a way to judge how one must act or perform, and we literally kill ourselves trying to achieve this greatness that doesn't exist.  So why do we do it?  Why do we care?  The reason, plain and simple, is because it's the highest honor that one can receive.  When someone says you had a perfect performance, or you wrote a perfect manuscript, or sang and danced perfectly, it sets your soul on fire.  It says that you out performed all your competitors.  It says you did more than everyone else.   It says you went above and beyond without any flaws and, above all else, it says you didn't make any mistakes.  You are perfect!

Really?  I've had various people tell me throughout my life that I'm a perfectionist.  And they would be correct.  I am my biggest critic and toughest competitor.  Perfection is a standard in which I set for myself, so when I don't get exactly where I want to be, I let myself down.

Who told me to set this goal for myself?  I did.  Why did I put this kind of pressure on myself? Because it pushes me to do better and keeps my eyes focused on the prize.  I have been like this all of my life, and I doubt very seriously if I'll ever change.  So, when I think of the word perfect, it's the standards in which I have chosen for myself that I strive toward.

But the problem becomes when others want to put this label on you.  When someone who, just like yourself, isn't perfect, tells you what you must do in order for you to get to the next level.  Hmmm, who are you to tell anyone what they must do to succeed?  If you're not a perfect person, and I'm certainly not, how do you tell a person what they are doing isn't right for them?  What makes you so perfect, and what makes you an authority figure to make such a claim?

You know, it's one thing to set goals for yourself and set your sights high, but it's an entirely different matter to tell someone else that they don't measure up to what you consider to be perfect.  Much like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, well so is perfection in my book.  Being perfect is how one perceives it.  It's like an opinion, not fact.  What perfection means for me, may not be what you consider perfect.  Get what I'm saying.

There are people who will tell you that you will fail, you will not amount to anything, that dreams are wasted on sleepers, that your work is weak, etc. to keep you from achieving and striving where you want to go, and if you allow individuals to label you, that's exactly what you will become.  Perfection is perception, folks, it isn't a known fact!  Never allow someone to tell you your work isn't good enough, or you aren't good enough, because when you let that negative seed become planted in your mind, it will grow into a pesky weed and flourish because you are giving merit to someone else's idea of perfection.

When I think of the negative words individuals have said to me throughout my life, and if I were fool enough to listen to what they said, I would have never become a writer.  I would have kept my secret to myself, as I had done for so many years, and I could kick myself each and every time I think about the years I wasted because I let someone else's standards of perfection hold me back. 

There are many news articles and blogs I read about writing, the tricks of the trade, what you have to do to succeed in this industry, finding an agent, and you name it, it's out there, but at the end of the day, I have to always remind myself what all that means to me.  I use what I need and throw away what I don't.  I'm an artist, a dreamer, a go-getter, a self-starter and self-motivator and I never lose sight of that.  There are people in this industry that want you to jump through hoops to be in their perfect graces, and at first, I thought those were places I needed to be, because this is the advice I was given, so I did a lot of those things to get myself out there, and I quickly realized, that wasn't who I was, so I stopped.

I was so busy listening to all the perfect people in the industry who sell you on their ideas of perfection, that I was quickly losing myself along the way, and that's a problem.  When it occurred to me that a lot of the advice I was given was from people who have been in this game awhile, but use, let's just say, questionable tactics, in which I'm not about.  My thing is, if that works for you, then by all means, go for it, but it didn't fit into the realm of my standards of perfection, so I had to go solo and do what my heart said was the right thing to do.

When you set your level of perfection so high, remember it can also backfire on you.  Sometimes things don't go exactly as you planned them, and that can send you into a deep, deep depression.  I've had this happen too many times for me to count.  Which is why, again, I say, perfection is perception.  It's not something you can ever become because it doesn't exist.  It only exists in the minds of those who set it for themselves.  The trick is knowing the difference, and not allowing others ideas of perfection to become your own, nor allowing their standards of being perfect to mold and shape you.  When you do that, you aren't being true to yourself.

There isn't a man, woman or child that will ever achieve being perfect~~for it doesn't exist, only in one's mind.  It should be used for individual purposes and not abused by labeling others according to your level of perfection.   Every living organism has flaws, all of us has shortcomings, and everyone makes mistakes.  When a human fails by his own standards, the first words usually uttered are, "well, I'm not perfect."  Remember that the next time you give yourself authority to judge others based on your perception of what you think being perfect is!

Until next weekend. . .stop labeling unless you were asked to stamp!

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Role Play

Hello Fans:

With the Holidays here and many in a festive, good-spirited mood, this is a time for celebration with our family and friends and giving thanks for all our blessings bestowed upon us.  One thing families do around Thanksgiving, is not only eat, but watch movies for everyone to enjoy.  There is one movie, however, that will not be out this holiday season, but is in current production, which is Tyler Perry's The Marriage Counselor.
I'm not sure how many of you are Tyler Perry fans, but he is one of the most prolific writers out here, and one of the top-grossing movie makers of our time.  He was put on the map by his famous character, Madea!  She's one old-school mama who doesn't take any crap from anybody, and she is exactly what this world needs more of~~to put some of these kids and adults back in their proper place.

I saw the play The Marriage Counselor and enjoyed it, so imagine my surprise when Mr. Perry told the media he is in current production of making the movie.  I was all too psyched for this, that is, until I learned of who he decided to cast as one of the roles in the current film.  Kim Kardashian is well-known worldwide, and it's not from singing, dancing, writing or acting, but by simply portraying her whorish ways around, which is what brought her her fame.  Why if it weren't for the sex tape that she and Ray J. made, I'm not sure how much appeal Ms. Kardashian would actually have right now?  Not to mention last summer's media-hyped circus of a wedding, with a marriage that lasted only 72 days.  In fact, from what I can see, Kim's talent, simply put, is making money.  She's outstanding when it comes to that.

Are you wondering why I'm being so harsh toward Ms. Kardashian, or how I could make such judgments and insensitive remarks about this young woman?  Well, she made it easy for me because it's the image in which she has projected is what I am basing my opinions on.  I don't know this woman personally, nor do I care to ever meet her.  I don't harbor ill-will toward her, nor do I hate her for becoming famous in the way in which she has.  The problem I have with her being in Tyler's movie is that I don't believe she is the right type of role model to display to our youth, or to anyone for that matter.

Recently, Tyler emailed all of his fans and said he's read our messages and wished to be heard.  He advised that Kim isn't playing the lead in the movie, but her character is essential.  He went on to state how Kim has many young followers and one of his producers showed him a picture his daughter took, while visiting the Kardashian store with several hundred kids lined up to get in.  Tyler mentioned that Kim has millions of young people following her and he felt and still feels, his decision is responsible enough to put her in the film. 

Tyler summed up his email by stating who better to put in his movie about faith, people changing their ways and making the wrong choices about marriage, than Kim Kardashian?  Well, I was listening to Tyler's points and understanding where he was coming from, until I finished his post.  Unfortunately, this is where he lost me.

I'm a huge fan of Tyler Perry.  I own all of his productions, i.e., movies and plays, and I watch them literally every weekend, especially my favorite movie, Why Did I Get Married.  I backed Tyler when the nay-sayers said he wasn't going to amount to anything because he was another brother parading around as a woman and making a buffoon of himself.  I backed Tyler when he received bad press for not being linked to any particular female, and was called gay.  I backed Tyler when he did the excellent production of For Colored Girls, which many African-American men were angry as hell because they said everything Tyler does puts them in a bad light.  I defended Tyler on all those levels, but this is where I've got to draw the damn line.

What I believe is going on here is a classic case of Mr. Perry feeling a little too much of himself, due to all his success.  I get the feeling that my intelligence is being insulted.  Why, you ask?  I could care less what Kim Kardashian does, but to say that Kim is loved by so many of our youth and that this is the perfect role for her to play in his film is the very thing that Madea, oddly enough, would be dead set against.  Kim is not the type of person anyone should look up too.  Because do you realize what exactly you're idolizing? 

Of course,  Kim is a hot commodity and gets attention, so of course, why would Tyler pass up on this opportunity?  She's about making her paper and doesn't give a damn if you or I like how she goes about getting it.  Because Kim K. is all about Kim K!  Let's not get it twisted, folks.  Tyler, too, is about making his money.  I believe he made this decision based on who would draw the movie-goers in and cause the most controversy.  After all, that's more cha-ching for him and his production company.  Plus, the more media-hype, the more people will be inclined to go and see what all the hoopla is about, and yet again, cha-ching is chiming loudly in the background!  Who the hell do you think you're foolin' here?

Anytime your own parents pimp you out to sell a sex tape for the world to see, these are people you decide to be your role models?  You want your children to go flocking to a movie to see this woman who is nothing more than an overpaid, overrated media whore?  You think this woman deserves our forgiveness for her ways, and we're being made to believe that she's changed, all because of a movie role she's casted in?  Really?  I think the irony of this whole mess is the very thing that Tyler Perry projected as his role as Madea, who, by the way, would have never liked Kim Kardashian, nor would ever have sang her praises, is now changing his tune to say, who better to be in his movie!  And I suppose we're to believe Kim's wedding was real too, huh?  She made millions off of the whole sideshow circus she put on for the world to see, and most people couldn't eat enough of the excrement that fell from her big ass!  But she's good for our youth?  I suppose so, which is why she's so very wealthy!

What happened to parents being their youth's role models?  Why do our youth look up to anyone outside of who are bringing them up?  There isn't a human alive that I look up to other than my mother.  There are countless people in the world that I admire, but as far as patenting my life after, looking up to, anyone I strive to be like, would be the strong women I grew up around~~my mother and grandmother, not one TV/Reality personality!  I feel sorry for our children today because these entertainers and so-called wanna be entertainers do not project the type of images I would want my young ones to be like.  I don't even like to judge people, but when you put yourself out there, the way many of these young celebrities have today, you leave me no choice but to judge you based on what you give me, and what I'm given is a whole lot of bullshit, and I'm tired of people pissing in my face and telling me it's rain.
In summary, I have always been a Tyler Perry supporter and usually I stand by him no matter what, but this time I feel he's gone a little too far.  I feel he is doing a grave disservice to his fans and literally throwing in our faces his decision to keep her in the movie, while making excuses to support his decision, which are a bit suspect to begin with.  To keep her casted in this movie is solely Tyler's right to do so, but don't be surprised if many of your die hard fans take a leave of absence on this movie.  Perhaps Tyler needs to take a good hard look at the character he created in which I came to love, Madea, and think about what she would say regarding Kim.  Maybe had he consulted with Madea, that might have persuaded his opinion a little differently, or could it possibly be now that he's succeeded in what we call "made it," he thinks no matter what he puts out here, we will run and come out and support?  I think someone's mask is beginning to peel away, and I don't like what is being revealed!

Until next weekend, stay up on current events!

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Masquerading Around. . .

Hello Fans:

You're single and you met a guy.  He asks you out on a date, and you're all too thrilled about it.  You go out and buy a new outfit, although he's never seen the clothes in your closet, but you want to make the best impression. 

You schedule an appointment at the hair salon, and your next stop is the nail shop.  You are looking fierce girl, and you know your suitor is going to be pleased to have you on his arm.

He takes you to a nice restaurant.  Conversation is heavy, but fun.  He smiles while he listens to you speak, and you giggle like a school girl at his attempt of being funny.  You like his dimples, and the waves in his barbered haircut.  The two of you hit it off.  You share some of the same interests.  He's into sports, and so are you.  He tells you he enjoys the theater and good movies, and so do you.  Everything is going right on this first date, and it's now time for it to end.  He takes you home, and you invite him in for a drink.  He happily accepts.  The two of you get comfortable, and the next thing you know you're in the throws of passion on the sofa.  All you basically know about this guy is his name, what he said he does for a living, but not much else.  You now find yourself in a relationship, and it feels good.  This is a new fresh start with a guy you barely know, but you'll work it out as time advances.

Three months have passed since your first date, and you're starting to notice some things about your man you don't like.  Every time you try to make a point about something, he interrupts you.  The cute little jokes he used to say now feel like personal attacks against you.  That sexy black dress you wore on your first date has all of a sudden become a problem for him, and doesn't want you to wear anymore.  He wants all your attention and time, and doesn't want you hanging around your girlfriends, although when you met him in the club, it was with those same friends.  You notice when he's around you and his cell phone rings, he takes the call into another room.  When you ask what is wrong, he says nothing.  He doesn't call you as much, and when he does, he comes to your apartment late in the night, and then quickly rolls out in the morning.  One of your girlfriends mentions they've seen your man out at the club pushing up on some other chick.  When you confront him about it, he spins it around on you, to take the heat off of him.  Suddenly, this dream man you met three months ago is turning into one big nightmare, cause girlfriend, let's face it, you've been here before, so you recognize the signs.

Does the scenario above sound familiar to some of you?  All that hope and promise you threw into meeting a new person~~suddenly appears to have changed overnight.  Do you want to know why?  Each and every person wears a mask.  Don't confuse dressing up for Halloween as the only time people put on disguises.  We all wear many hats and we sport temporary masks.  This is because many of us do not take the time to get to know a person before we choose to sleep with someone.  So that dream man or woman you met, has on their temporary mask.  They are presenting to you the best of themselves to impress you to get you hooked.  And many fall for it.  As time goes by, layers of the mask begin to peel away, and what is revealed is the true essence of what this person is about, which is why most relationships fail because you don't really know each other.  You fell prey by the temporary mask. 

Life is a gamble, a risk and a game.  We are all players on a large game board called earth.  Some of us are better risk takers than others.  Some of us play the game of life better than others, but at the end of the day, when it's all said and done, everyone does play the fool sometimes, and everyone gets played sometimes too.

The newest game we humans are playing is Social Media.  I don't care how much you abhor the Internet, at some point in time in your life, you will be forced to deal with technology.  There isn't a job created today that doesn't take on some form of electronics.  You can run from technology all you want, but technology will outrun you and that's not a joke, folks!  With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and countless other social media sites, you are bound to run into temporary masks on a more serious level.  Back in the day when people talked face-to-face and interacted with each other, at least you could look at a person and get some type of vibe one way or the other, but with social media, you can't see all the wolves in sheep's clothing.

Social media is the most sinister gamer of our time, and if you don't know what to look out for, you will quickly become its next victim, and unfortunately, I have fallen prey to that, as many others have.  There are people out here that have nothing else better to do than to be hooked up to some electronic device, waiting to strike out at you, and often times while you're surfing, you never even saw it coming.

You log onto your accounts to check out what's happening for the day and notice you have several emails.  Once you open them, the gamers have left you word that they want to talk to you, or perhaps do other things to you that would make you blush.  Even though they clearly know you're in a relationship or married, this doesn't stop the gamers because that means absolutely nothing to them.  They are predators looking for their next kill, and you happen to be it.  They will ask to friend you, and tell you a multitude of things they think you want to hear.  They sell themselves as wanting to be your friend so you'll open up to them.  If you accept their request, they have full reign of your page, that is, if you grant them full access, and they check you out and see what you're all about.

Once you've accepted their friendship, it's up to you how you wish to proceed.  If you don't nip in the bud their advancements right away, you may end up having to block or delete them, but you see what I'm saying.  The Social Media mask is worse than meeting a person because you don't know exactly who the hell you're dealing with.  You can't go by a photograph, because gamers change their photos all the time.  Some gamers change it by the hour, when they are in that type of mood.  They lure you into their groups and call you sister or brother, or perhaps consider you a friend, when in actuality, you know nothing about these people.  For all you know, you could be speaking with a child and not an adult at all.  Or perhaps you're speaking with someone in law enforcement posing as a child or someone else, how do you know?  The fact is. . .you don't.

There are some people that have 5,000 friends on Facebook and over 1,500 connections on LinkedIn and millions upon millions of followers on Twitter and what does it all mean, really?  Who are these so-called followers and friends?  Why do we bother to follow these people at all?  For some of us, we use Social Media as a way to further our sales in what we're marketing.  Whether you're a teacher, entrepreneur, author, photographer, networking group, social media helps us meet the masses.  Because let's face it, it's the quickest way to spread the word around these days.  Unlike the way we used to do things by word of mouth.  Now all one has to do is text a link or upload one, and voila you're message has been airborne.  So you connect with others in your same field to help each other grow, but what you'll sometimes find is, once again, that temporary mask is up. 

There are organizations and people who represent these organizations who claim they are in the business to help your business grow.  Being the risk taker that many of us are, we decide to take them up on their offer, only to learn they were in it for themselves, or they really had no intention on helping you, but rather, finding out all they could glean from you, to help further their cause.  It is those same predators who will introduce you to other predators to take you on a roller coaster ride, and when the deal is done, that's exactly what you came away with, a thrill, but definitely not worth the ride. 

Many gamers have smooth gimmicks they pull or catchy slogans to get you hooked.  You see these everywhere on social media sites.  Want more followers?  Want more fans for your page?  Are you interested in how to get viewers to interact with you?  Click "Like" and learn more!  Then you decide to click on these links and you begin to read, only to discover they are telling you things you already knew, but here's what they aren't telling you.  Many of these groups or individuals who advertise these things have people to help them do this.  I've read about how self-published authors sold millions of ebooks on Amazon, and right away I'm thinking, how they do that?  Only to learn they had an agent in their midst, or they paid over $25K for a promotional company to help them get the word out there, but when you read these articles, or see their ads, you're made to think they did this all on their very own, and the truth is, they paid for that success.  Of course, not in all cases, but more often than not.

So how does one protect himself from these new gamers?  You have to be smarter than them.  It is in your best interest to do some things the old-fashioned way, like ask for references before dealing with these companies.  Talk to other people who have used them and find out what their experiences were.  Investigate these companies on the Internet, instead of inserting yourself on your social media pages.  Call the companies, check with the Better Business Bureau and find out have these groups or individuals been up on charges or have been sued, before you fork over your money to them.  Because that, folks, is the bottom line.  It always boils down to that almighty dollar. 

Just remember, before you put yourself out there in the social media scene, know there are many gamers/predators out there wearing temporary masks.  They are only revealing to you what they want you to see, and trust me they are putting their best foot forward.  If you don't do your homework, that foot could end up being lodged in your behind because you weren't smart.  Just because a package looks all shiny, inviting and pretty on the outside, doesn't mean that the gift inside is worth a damn!  You know the saying, all that glitters isn't gold!  And that's the truth!  As I tell you all the time, be careful of the people you are dealing with on these sites, because some of them are not your friends.

Halloween may be over according to our calendar, but trust and believe, costumes are being worn each and every day!  It's up to you to peel away the layers of that personality first, before you take a person on without really knowing them!  Cause I don't know about you, but I only allow an individual one time to fool me, and that's the last!  You will never get a second shot at making a fool out of me!  Until next weekend, play smart, gamers!

I think this says It All!

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet