Parental Guidance Suggested

Some people have all the luck, in which they never experience or understand a desire to have what constitutes in society as a “normal” life.

They grow up in loving homes — not necessarily nuclear ones — with families that support them and teach them valuable life lessons to prepare them to be thriving and successful adults in society. They live life fearlessly and ready to take on the world because they were told throughout their lives that they could do and be anything they wanted to be. Their complaints vary from having the option of two family homes and not getting what they wanted for Christmas. Or something of that nature.

But then, there are the other people… the ones whose innocence and youth were lost very early in life through various methods ranging emotional, physical and sexual abuse, abandonment and just overall circumstances. They grew up afraid to speak their minds and hearts, mistrusting of adults — especially whichever gender caused the most trauma — and resentful or very angry with anyone they felt had a better deal. They have difficulties in relationships friendly and romantic, and often hurt people both intentionally in retaliation or unintentionally through subconsciousness.

Unfortunately, if the media reports and case studies are correct, there are a lot of the latter in the world. As scary as the reality of abuse cases are, scarier still are the ones that never see the light of day. These days the commonality of people (many high-profile) revealing their ordeals have sparked more discussions and openness about the subject, which allows the possibility of healing and coming from a place of despair, to one of hope. But the truth is these people function in our society and in one form or another, their demons affect how they do so. Our understanding, or lack thereof, can sometimes put us in uncomfortable and presumably unfair life or death situations.

Why am I going down this slippery and awkward slope… again?

Yesterday, I read a story about a father in Texas who discovered someone sexually assaulting his four year-old daughter and punched him continuously in the head until he died. As tragic as the death of someone by the hands of another may be, shamefully in retrospect, the emotion that came over me was anything but grief.

My first thought was that the father should not be charged with a crime. My second thought was about what that little girl is going to have to endure emotionally. Surprisingly, my third thought was that I envied her future.

For the rest of her life, that little girl will always know that her dad literally killed someone to protect her. He will most likely never let her out of his sight for the rest of his life. She will never have to live with a soul-crushing secret, or believe that somehow she was responsible for what happened to her, because her family will give her all the support she needs to be a strong, confident woman.

When people become parents, they sometimes forget there’s more to having a child than feeding, changing and clothing them. They’re not accessories to be paraded like the latest “It” bag, and you can’t give them away if you grow tired or bored with maintaining them. Some people have children for many reasons that don’t include the most important reason: having a legacy.

Adults forget that children are the ones who build on the foundations we create. When we break everything in their paths, they go through life thinking everything should be broken. When we neglect them, they neglect others — and worse — seek the acceptance of those who don’t have their best interests at heart. When we create entertainment such as music, movies, books and video games that glorify sex and violence, they embrace them in place of love and compassion. When we speak and act disrespectfully to and around them, they replicate the same behavior. Everything we do impacts their futures… and ours.

But I’m no expert.

My own story is not a new one, so I don’t need to elaborate. But when one has spent the last six-plus years in long-term relationships with men so similar to her absentee father that she could only tell them apart physically… you can gauge someone dropped the ball during my formative years. With that, I’m taking a much-needed break from it all for a while to re-draft that blueprint.

You don’t need to be a parent to determine the future of a child, but it helps to be a parent to your child for the sake of their future. This especially rings true now that we can no longer rely on teachers, nor the church — or even our communities — to protect them.

Perhaps the moral of the story is if you choose to bring a child into this world, be prepared to have a watchful eye, impeccable time management skills, the willingness to sacrifice some of your life’s comforts for them… and potentially take a life for them.

Only the last one I don’t advocate, but if the “stand your ground” law can enable psychotic provocateurs to murder innocent people, one would think exceptions can be made for the most innocent of all.

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The Week of Champagne and Ice T

At the risk of having Cindy Adams come for me… I must express that the events of last week can truly happen “only in New York”.

Last week, I accompanied one of my girlfriends to a screening in Tribeca of Ice T’s directorial debut “Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap”. The nearly two-hour long documentary was a love letter to the craft of the Rap/Hip Hop genre, in which the former rapper turned actor and reality television star waxes poetic and gets poetic with over thirty-five legendary (and soon to be) hip hop artists.

With a roster that included Big Daddy Kane, KRS One, Lord Jamar of Brand Nubian, Kool Keith, Run DMC, Grandmaster Caz, Afrika Bambaataa, Mc Lyte, DJ Premier, Raekwon, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Nas and Kanye West — to name a few — it was a miracle that Ice was able to edit his four hours of footage to make an entertaining and still relevant movie. That he not only had them speak their mind and occasionally display their varied styles, and manage to squeeze a few classic tracks in for the soundtrack clearly shows his love of the art that got him where he is today, and shows what he’s learned from the lucrative one he currently embraces.

Of course, there will be some questions as to some notable omissions, but the OG director assured the audience it was more a matter of scheduling and content, and encouraged any potential filmmakers in attendance to carry the torch and continue the story. “The artists I included were the ones I had direct contact to,” he explained. “These were the people I came up with and the music I listened to. Y’all can make another movie!”

From my personal thoughts and experience, I felt Ice’s message and the movie was right on time. In a day and age where most “Hip Hop” currently being played on the radio is heavily materialistic and misogynistic, the original storytellers who created songs about struggling with poverty and racism  are becoming forgotten heroes. It’s his hope that the film becomes part of a curriculum for future students to understand the origin and history of the music they’ve come to identify with in various forms, and not to forget those who laid the foundation for the current crop of “entertainers”.

That being said, the move is a must-see for my generation and beyond, and not just for the nostalgia. Sitting across from Ice T (which was a moment in itself), it was hard not to catch the intensity in his face… somewhat akin to that of an artist who just unveiled his masterpiece for the world to interpret. While the rest of us laughed, cheered when we saw our favorite artists and bumped to the familiar tunes, he simply looked at the screen; pleased with the story he had begun and eager to see who would take on the next chapter.

A few days later, I would go from Hip Hop to the Horsey set.

Attending the Fifth Annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic is the only acceptable reason to dress up for a picnic. Although I sadly didn’t bring a large hat to wear, I managed to have a nifty basket on loan which drew lots of envy, and the dubious honor of being one of the relative few “ethnic” attendees.

While I frown upon the obscene markup of the champagne bottles, there is something to be said about taking  a ferry on a sunny Saturday to the picturesque Liberty Island and indulging in a day of watching and meeting beautiful people and Polo players like Nacho Figueras, while sipping bubbly. Yes, the game is essentially an abridged version of soccer played with horses, mallets and smaller balls, but there’s a grace and majesty in it nonetheless that should at least be experienced once.

…And the way I see it, if you’ve owned a garment or fragrance by Ralph Lauren or watched “Pretty Woman”, it’s sort of rite of passage, really.

It’s all the more fun when you’re there with a globe-trotting, social-climbing bestie, who serves up wicked commentary on fashion and feet faux pas while on the prowl for his next heiress. Sadly, he only got to take pictures with a bevy of leggy models and a few fierce sisters. Tough life. 

And what were they playing at this upscale soiree, where Clive Owen, Rachel Zoe, Zoe Saldana, and Padma Lakshmi whooped it up in VIP, and men wearing boater hats and cravats bought bottles of Veuve in nifty carrying cases to share with women dressed in their finest CFDA-approved outfits? Biggie, Jay-Z and Kanye, of course!

Upon return to the island of Manhattan, while the polo masses headed to Beauty & Essex — no doubt to partake of even more champagne in the ladies room (seriously, my friends and I spent a good half hour or more in there once) — I joined the rest of Brooklyn for a night of music, comradery and art with free admission at the Brooklyn Museum’s Target First Saturdays.  Surveying the crowd, I knew Ice T would have had a proud papa look to see the mass of men, women and children dancing to what is now old-school Hip Hop.

It only seemed appropriate to end the night having faux-southern cuisine at Pies N’ Thighs in the hipster enclave that is now Williamsburg. A day full of juxtapositions called for mac and cheese that seemed more “gourmet” than “Georgia”.

I can, and will, go so many places in this world, but only in New York can I have a week, a night, and a life that allows me to be all things and still remain true to myself… and have a blast learning in the process.

There might be a Jay-Z song for that…