Who Gets Your Loyalty Card?

I love loyalty cards and rewards cards!!! I will purposely go out of my way to go to a store, gas station, or a restaurant that mails coupons or offers any specials for loyal customers. 

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According to Webster, loyalty is defined as “the state or quality of being faithful to commitments or obligations. ” I love that! It sounds like a job or appointed role. If you break it down, its not. The part of that definition that resonates with me is the word ‘quality’. In my opinion, quality will always be equivalent to positivity.  However, the qualities you possess and their effects on other people will always be relative to that person.  If you’re “strong” and someone else is “weak” than you’ll be transformed into “overbearing.” It may not be a title you feel you deserve but it was appointed by the perception of the recipient.  To be faithful is a decision.  It requires thought. You must be conscious and disciplined to be faithful whether in regards to lunch or a life partner!  If there was a loyalty card you could pass out to reward those who are faithful and committed and gleefully obligated to YOU, who would get one???

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Who would give a loyalty card to you?
If they could see into your heart and soul and find the motive for your dedication,  would they be pleased or surprised? 

In the book “A Woman’s Gotta Do What A Woman’s Gotta Do” by Michelle McKinney Hammond,  she says:

Though you may look for a return for all that you have done for others, don’t make the mistake of looking for fruit where you planted seed. Roots travel, my friend, and seldom come up where you expect.

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This could take on many meanings and apply to different areas of your life. In the past I would often feel underappreciated.  Whether at work or at home I felt like people didn’t understand the effort necessary for the results they saw. They were focused on the result and how it affected them. This is a human flaw, probably one that I am guilty of myself.  I dont think its malicious at all. Most people like to be acknowledged but does that mean they are “seeking fruit where they planted a seed?”  Is that self serving? 

Is reciprocity a form of loyalty?  If you wait for a loved one to come out of prison do you have expectations when they come home?  In one of my favorite memoirs “The Prisoners Wife”, the author discusses her sacrifice.  The incarceration of her husband caused her to reflect on painful memories from her childhood and caused nightmares featuring her husband’s victims. She was alone most of the time. Her dates were letters read by candlelight.  She committed to a man whos release was indefinite.  Wouldn’t you want fruit to bloom where you planted that seed? 

In conclusion,  try not to look for a reward from loyalty.  Be dedicated to whatever or whomever you think of first thing in the morning and the last thing you think of at night. The return will be extemporaneous and it may be direct or indirect.  No matter what it is, it’ll be from the heart.

By Shaun Nickens

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Whats Your Malfunction?

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I received a letter from the Schomberg Center For Research in Black Culture.  They thanked me for my regular contribution and support. They also enclosed a survey about ” The Future of Black America.”

I breezed through the questions effortlessly (but who made me an expert on black people?) As I read each question about education,  progression,  current challenges, I answered honestly.  Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’m the right person to submit that feedback.  Obviously,  I’m aware of the issues if I’m already a supporter. If I’m on your mailing list then I’m receiving the necessary information. Shouldn’t we be trying to get feedback from people who dont have easy access to the issues?

I would imagine it would be more prudent to send mass mailings. I would imagine a guy in jeans with hundreds of surveys in a big bag slung over his shoulder.  He should walk up to random people of color and give them the survey to complete on site in real time. Its like blatantly saying, “Hey! What’s your malfunction? ”

I am sometimes offended by the misrepresentation of blacks in places of esteem and the jaded picture of us painted by media.  A week ago there was a report on New York 1 that more black women have had terminations this year than live births.  All I could think was “why are we highlighting black women? What are our counterparts of other ethnicities doing? This is not a ‘race’ issue! PEOPLE are broke and unemployed and scared to start families!”

I read a great book recently called “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.” The author notes the three elements that she thinks define the title: vacant esteem,  ever present anger and racist socialization. (P184)

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With statistics like the one blasted on New York 1 and the continued statistics on the prison population (ex: The inmate population was eighty five percent African American in 2004.)  Present day we still make up 12% of the general population but 1/2 of the prison population. 

Just as a bonus…” 1 in 56 men of Hispanic origin are behind bars (p103.)
Just in case you thought you were exempt from bigotry and intolerance! Yea you over there! 😉

So if someone came up to you questioning the issues of your presumed ethnicity? If they asked you questions that offended you but showed you statistics you couldn’t deny and asked you to be a part of the solution. ..
What would you do?
Most stereotypes are either magnified or exaggerated truths. Some are completely manifested by fear. 

So you..
Yea you over there…

What’s your malfunction?

-Shaun Nickens

I Woke Up Like This (shout out to Bey)

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I woke up worried about the zit on my cheek
I woke up thinking about the texture of my hair (never quite looks like the commercials)
Eyes not chinky, just swollen from crying

I woke up like this
Desiring to be
Flawless
But perfection is unattainable and quite unnatural
I woke up like this
Wanting wider hips and a smaller waist
With my mind churning louder than a ’98 corolla

I woke up like this
Exhausted from mommy duties the night before
Hands with calluses from making a dollar out of 15 cents

Barren uncharted land of passion and beauty within me
My tears irrigate it
I woke up like this
Unique and unmatched
Honest and exposed
Filled to the brim with flaws
Brilliantly authentically

Flawless

By SMN