The Plight of Lovers

Wiping away the tears on the eyelashes, on the lips, on the hands,  on the cheeks,
I can see where I’ve been inside of you.

I’ve been on your lips,
I’ve parted them to sip the taste that’s tabled on our tongue.

I’ve been inside your hands,
You’ve held me as if you have latches etched onto your palms

I’ve been on your cheek,
I’ve been an enduring smile after being a fleeting thought

I’ve started to come out of hiding from inside now.  I am seeping from your pores. From the the question, “Should you love me now?” and the answer, “I’ll give it another day.”

Reflections

Looking at myself feels like rolling my eyes up hill
Me, myself and I used to talk just to be honest
Now, our breath errs on the side of caution
We Converse with words
Dressed in smoke and mirrors
What’s our best option?
Exhale some nonsense
To an unconscious too complex to comply with my self-confidence?

The penmanship of my doubts against my reflection makes me nauseous
All I hear are crickets from my ill-equipped diction
I’m half-talking, as if I’m balking at giving myself love in small volumes
because I’ve bobbled my heart enough times my palms bleed caution

I’m trying to draw myself out my coffin,
but I’m not an artist and I’ve created an image of myself,
Splatter a few pep talks on my mirror,
Spit inspiration hard enough that it breaks the glass,
Like my words are so appalling
that the sound of a breaking mirror is synonymous my insecurities applauding
Unraveling themselves on writers block,
While I’m Silent, like when cursive loses its curve.
Like when I want to write about myself and my pen wants to swerve
How much more of my enthusiasm do I want to curb?

I’m awestruck by how often I cower in the corner,
As if when I see myself I see a coroner,
Giving his two cents, since I’m clenched in close quarters
Ripping thoughts of change from my mind
and it breaks my heart,
since I’m already built from spare parts,
But, if I had a dime for everytime
You broke the word bank to pay for my peace of mind
I’d buy a fresh pair eyes to lay upon mine.

Opening Remarks at the Urban League Diversity Summit

Below you can find my opening remarks for the Urban League Diversity Summit.  I didn’t change much and I only had about 2 minutes.  I was addressing the question “How are traditional and charter schools creating models of excellence that achieves Dr. King’s dream of a quality education for our children?”

I made a few last minute changes, but I lost the original copy that has the last minute scribblings that I used at the event.  

        Martin Luther King Jr. says education has a two-fold function in society.  Dr. King says education should equip us with the power to think effectively and objectively.  He says to think is one of the hardest things in the world, and to think objectively is still harder.  Education should cause us to rise beyond the horizon of legions and half-truths, prejudices and propaganda.  The second function of education is to integrate human life around central, focusing ideas or in other words morals. Dr. King being the orator and man of faith that he was couldn’t rest civil rights on an idea.  He made his bed on a dream.  A dream that has brought us here together today and a dream many of us have adopted as our own, but adopting a dream seems too easy doesn’t it? Adopting Dr. King’s dreams seems to fall short of the first function of education which is to balance belief and skepticism.  So, how do we create models of excellence to fulfill the dream?
I happen to believe that we have fallen short of a dream that has fallen short of integrating all human life around central morals and have settled for half-truths such as the Obama Presidency.  While I am fortunate enough to receive the progress of my ancestors’, as a teacher, to develop a model of excellence, I must never be satisfied with my current state of knowledge and this has to apply to students. It is not enough to be satisfied with Martin Luther King’s dream. We can never be satisfied with integration. Integration must be more than mixing black and white people together in an already broken educational system.  Integration cannot simply be integrating black men and women into an already oppressive system. As teachers working within an oppressive system, we must follow Dr. King’s model of promoting thought and developing morality. We must tow the fine line of working within oppressive structures without being oppressive. What are we teaching society if we have a March on Washington for jobs and freedom, but at the same silencing the voices of black women and our gay brothers and sisters?
All of education and empowering a population begins with the empowerment of women.  Ensure they have access to nutrition, control over their bodies, education and positions of power.  When we have marches on Washington, ensure they have speaking opportunities and can do more than just sing songs. What does it say about the role of women in Martin Luther King’s dream if we think it was achieved because we elected Barack Obama? What we should have said is we are not satisfied.
In order to fulfill the dream we must never be satisfied. We cannot be satisfied with just creating charter and private schools.  We cannot be satisfied with the current resources teachers have available to them. We cannot be satisfied with income inequality. We cannot be satisfied until the educational system teaches our children to rise beyond the horizon of legions and half-truths.  We cannot be satisfied until we model rising above prejudices and propaganda even if it’s in our textbooks.  We cannot be satisfied until education integrates human life around the central and focusing idea that all men, and women of all religion and sexual orientations are created equally.

meurbanleaguesummit

Call Me Brotha

It can be difficult to negotiate the tongue through using words that evoke inimical catharsis.  As a writer, I’ve had to tame my verbal promiscuity to ensure what I am saying is not circumcised by how I am saying it.  When it comes to the craft of prose, writers determine their salt by how they use language to unveil a truth.  There are traps to avoid in this, however. Many writers or those who make a living using language can embrace “word porn,” or the obscene just to be obscene, and arouse controversial titillation. The other trap is molesting one’s convictions as a means to sidestep confrontation. Any scribbler worth a pen broods over being offensive and being contrarian with equanimity.  To expel oneself from the trappings of “prosaic pornography” or political concordance, one must craft language with gifted irony.   The ironic is precisely what makes literature beautiful and its manifestation in prose must be immaculate.  One cannot read good writing without developing an appreciation of the ironic because irony is what challenges cliché, and one mark of bad writing and thinking is writing and thought laced with cliché.

As this matter pertains to words and their offensive potential, one must be careful not mince them.  To deny anyone the use of a word is to deny him or her use of irony and, in America, his or her first amendment rights.  As a black person, it is difficult to challenge the idea of words being racially appropriated because of the potential offense I am opening myself up to, but if I am looking for offense, I will find it.  So, as I venture into this area of social dissent, I am hoping not to fall victim to social ostracism, nevertheless, like words, it’s not what you think but how you think.

So, how does one think about who can use the word nigga? “Can white people use it?”  The answer is simple: of course white people can.  A common response a black person gives to this inquiry is, “Why do you want to use the word?” The question in response is a non sequitur.  The appropriate, and more meaningful corollary question would be, “How are you wanting to use it?” There seems to be a colloquial consensus that the word nigga has endearing roots.  This cliché political correct concordance has deodorized the funk in a very powerful word.  Nigga is a derogatory word and to use it as an endearing term is to use the word in a way in which it does not belong.  If nigga were truly an endearing term synonymous with solidarity, struggle, oppression, and brotherly love, then it would not be offensive for white people to use the word.  No one can deny that women or people in the LGBT community have been systematically oppressed, victims of random acts of violence and denied rights, so would they, then, be allowed to use the word nigga?

Some circles believe that truncating the word nigger with nigga makes the word less offensive. Despite reassembling a word in phonetic form, the word does not lose meaning.  There is a litmus test for the correlation of the circumcision of a word and it’s depth of offense: Ask any woman if she is less offended by the castration of the “er” in the word heifer and would prefer to be called “heifa”. Giving the suffix of a word a bit of a snip to clean it up a little does not change its original intent.  The word nigga rolling off a black person’s tongue should not elevate the word to decadence amongst blacks or whites. Its usage should pique our interest in ironic language.  Word pornography should be bared from usage, not a word from an entire population of people.    To say white people cannot say nigga is intellectually and emotionally lazy.  I admit it can be uncomfortable, but I refuse to be coddled by stifling the lexicon of others; and, I defy anyone who claims the authority to determine what speech is harmful or who is a harmful speaker.

The problem with violating the free speech of others is that it opens the violator to the offense he or she is trying to prevent.  Saying someone cannot use a word because of the color of their skin is discrimination.  How does one calculate whether or not a person is white? If someone is ½ black and ½ white with green eyes and blonde hair, can they say nigga? What about a ½ black and ½ white person such as Barack Obama? He is on the browner side of things, but he is half white.  Would we condemn the President for using the word if his skin were “white” but he identified as black?  The shade of offense within a word is not married to the skin color of the person speaking the word.

It seems to be more apropos to annex solidarity and love from their feign depiction in the word nigga and to use appropriate synonyms like brother and sister. I am not condoning white people frivolously using nigga because I do not condone its frivolous use amongst black people. There are other words that can be used to express love and united struggle.  If you’ve gone to a church, then you are familiar with referring to your fellow congregationalist as “brother” or “sister” and by all means feel free to drop the “er” and add an “a”.

Catharsis has no room here

I’ve been thinking about you. You’ve been here or there, in my unconscious.
Unbeknownst to me, I’ve been writing about you. Mending pathos with pros.

The alchemy is shameful. I am – I was – a good lover.
But, I never embraced novelty too well.
My banality feels out of place – on your ears – on your heart.
Brooding in a room in which room to brew is scarce.

This is why I am mute.
This is why the gab is drowning in stale air.

Catharsis has no room on your sheets.
It’s smothered by your pillow; buried in trite.
Waiting to be caught by receding breath and ambush us during my post potency exhale.

I see you hear the ghostly chatter treading above limbo. All the heard and not-so-heard phrases trapped in dismay while we live on. Looking at what they have lost:

An ear easy to the pillow.
A place in conversation.
Intimacy easy on the shoulders.

The room is too full to say all that I need to.
The light needs to be dimmed for me to explain because, darling, I get embarrassed being naked in front of you. I have open wombs tender to your sight:

The laceration on my chest.
The limp of my tongue.
The impotence of my convictions
The silence in my voice

Novelty is on your pillow; where I used to be.
I was – I am a good lover.
But, I embrace banality to easily.
My Catharsis feels out of place – on your heart – on your ears.
Brooding in a room in a room in which room to brew is scarce.

If you are looking for empathy

“Should you go to school today?” Not too many 15 year olds are asked whether or not they should go to school at 6:00am on a Tuesday morning.  When my mother asked me that Tuesday, there was a level of uncertainty within the question that I never heard before.  But, with fire and smoke seeping from one of the world’s tallest buildings on CNN, going out in public, even to get an education, seemed like a risky affair.  However the choice was made, I found myself huddled with my peers during a school wide community meeting.  Administration confirmed what many of us knew when we arrived to our classrooms.  America was under attack.  We were under attack.

On an ordinary Tuesday I’d be at my internship. I would have been looking out the 22nd floor of the NBC building to admire my city, but that Tuesday I perused the San Diego skyline for 747s. On the drive home my uncertainty became frenetic and my eyes only pointed upward.  Not for security, hope or solidarity, but in fear my hometown was next, however, I wasn’t the only San Diegan or American with eminent peril on the brain.  Everyone was afraid:  Afraid of Al Qaeda, afraid of Islamist Extremist, afraid of the unknown, afraid of Muslims.

New York was sensitive to activity that smelled like terrorism. They had a whiff of it in the early 90s from the bombing, but this was different.  Our symbols of power and wealth were moments away from collapse and people could be seen leaping to their death for a more acceptable fate. To be a 15 year old and watching the events unfold, I had many of the same questions as all Americans.  Why do people hate us because we are American? Why do I feel unsafe, unprotected and subject to random acts of violence?[1]

On Wednesday, I contemplated what civil liberties I would sacrifice to be safe in America and I found myself haunted by the questions I had that Tuesday. But, Wednesday was July 17th 2013 and the feelings of insecurity and oppression permeated all that is inside of me. In 2013, those questions and feelings were still not my own. My parents and grandparents had to ask long before there was 9/11.  They wondered why they were hated because of the color of their skin.  They had to wonder why they felt unsafe and subject to random acts of violence. And, here, as my fingers touch my keyboard, I feel unsafe, subject to random acts of violence and hated because of the color of my skin.  Hopefully, I will not have to look at my own child and explain why he or she feels what I feel now.  The innocent people that were murdered on 9/11 should resonate with all of us particularly because they were innocent people.  They were American Citizens abiding by the law, but targeted because of racism and hatred.  The empathy that brought America together during that tragic period should be used to bring America together now.

Nevertheless, this is the legacy of the Trayvon Martin verdict:  My ability to leisurely walk in a hoodie in the rain in a neighborhood to which I belong, feels absent and my right to defend and uphold my rights are fleeting fantasies.  If I am followed unjustly by a private citizen or stopped by police, I have no option but to comply with any line of inquiry or demands without regard to how undignified I may feel in doing so.  This is not too different, however, from the feeling of not having an option but to have my phone calls and emails monitored by our government without suspicion of having committed a crime.

There are people in the United States that have difficulty understanding what Trayvon Martin could have felt being followed by George Zimmerman on the day of his death. It’s not very difficult to pick out this crowd during a conversation. Sympathy for George Zimmerman normally sounds like:

“George was just doing the right thing, but it went terribly wrong, but his heart was in the right place”

“He [Zimmerman] was nervous because there had been robberies and he was trying to keep his neighborhood safe and Trayvon looked suspicious.”  

It just so happens those quotes come from some of the same people that find it hard to sympathize with Trayvon Martin or to see why or how race played a part in the events leading to Trayvon Martin’s death and Zimmerman’s acquittal. Empathy is hard to push from ones tongue when oppression hasn’t brewed on the pallet.  Needless, to say compassion and empathy are acquired tastes. But, it’s not vey different than what you may have felt during 9/11:  Unsafe, hated, prejudged and subject to random acts of violence because of who you are. It’s not too different for women who are followed down streets or alleyways by creepy ass lurkers that think the woman is “asking” to be harassed or raped.  It’s also not different for George Zimmerman at this point in his life, who will have to live in fear of being subject to hatred and random acts of violence. Or as his lawyer put it:

“He has a legitimate fear and legitimate concern.  He doesn’t know who’s going to overreact.” 

Unfortunately, his lawyer does not know he is being ironic.

This lack of empathy for the actual dead child is not that surprising.  Those of us who have been victims of prejudice or systematic oppression seem to be able to imagine ourselves in the shoes of a young Trayvon Martin.  I’ve walked to a liquor store wearing my infamous green hoodie in the rain to grab a snack on numerous occasions. Whether or not I looked suspicious because I looked at houses on my leisurely stroll back home, I have to put faith in you, dear reader, that you would afford me the benefit of the doubt.  So, when I am asked whether or not I would have called the police to notify them of a suspicious character, the answer is “no.” I am willing to put faith in my fellow man (after all, what would Jesus do?) because he may be like me, one of the only black people in a predominantly white environment and may be wearier of me than I need to be of him.

Juror B-37 could not afford Trayvon Martin the benefit of the doubt and even after the trial is willing to have George Zimmerman part of her neighborhood watch because “He learned a good lesson,” and that he is not a “wanna be” cop but just overly eager “to help people.” When asked if she felt sorry for Trayvon Martin, she responded:

“I feel sorry for both of them. I feel sorry for Trayvon for the situation he was in and I feel sorry for George for the situation he got himself in.”

For people like Juror B-37, who find it hard to separate their sympathy from George Zimmerman in order to create sympathy specifically for Trayvon Martin, conjuring a memory of September 11th or simply putting herself in a dark alleyway would have been an easy way to quickly evoke empathy despite how hard it concealed its face. She may have been able to relate to the fear Trayvon Martin had while he was followed in the rain and in the dark: Unsafe, unprotected, afraid to be subjected to random acts of violence and preyed upon because of who he is.

Throughout its tenure, American law has made possible the execution of our own children. America allowed juveniles to receive the death penalty until 2005 and with Stand Your Ground Laws[2] children can be followed and executed in 2013.  Minorities are disproportionately targeted in Stop, Question and Frisk Laws and cops with flippant trigger fingers have been known to accidentally shoot teenagers.  Unfortunately, the failure of American law does not stop in Florida.  There are multiple states with Stand Your Ground Laws and in case you are wondering Stand Your Ground Laws work in the favor of white Americans that have killed black AmericansThe killing of 16 year old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the third U.S citizen killed in operations by sanctioned the president of the United States, (His father was the first) should raise just as much outrage as the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.  We should be as weary of suggesting Trayvon Martin shouldn’t have been outside in the rain as we were of Robert Gibbs saying, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki should have had a more responsible father. Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was in Yemen looking for his father, Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a drone strike weeks earlier for suspected terrorist connections with Al Qaeda. At the time of the drone strike that lead to the death of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki and his teenage cousins, they were eating in a restaurant.

Sending drone strikes to kill American citizens without a trial or laws like Stand Your Ground bring into question how much of a “pro-life” nation we are going to be. It also calls into question whether or not private citizens or our government can play the role of judge, jury and executioner.  Signature strikes are drone strikes that represent the consequence of implementing the Zimmerman doctrine into our foreign policy. Signature Drone Strikes are developed from “patterns of life” I.E if you are in a certain region, of military age (Which can be 15 years old), and you fit a pattern of other people the government believes to be terrorist, you can become a target.  This form of “precrime” allows for the murder of people of which identification is unknown. They are being killed for who they could become or killed for who they might be.[3]  This should be sobering for all of us that read George Zimmerman’s description of what happened the night he shot Trayvon Martin.  Zimmerman could not identify Trayvon Martin, but thought he fit a pattern of suspicious behavior of those believed to be responsible for burglaries in the neighborhood.  Zimmerman further targeted and pursed Trayvon, which resulted in Martin’s death and for no way to give Trayvon a chance to combat any evidence made against him.

As a nation concerned about morality and raising children, what kind of country will we be?  Will we continue the precedent of expecting our children to bow their heads to injustice and substitute their rights for survival? Our law in theory and in practice should reflect our duty to provide life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for American citizens of all age, creed and color.  The Stand Your Ground Law and drone strikes represent some of the worse parts of the American republic.  They are relics to an American society pre the civil rights, women’s rights and voting rights epochs.  They represent a ban on freedom of dress, a ban of the right to question authority and a ban on the right of all citizens to look at one another under equal protection of the law.  This should not exclude people we suspect of crime. At the very least, someone should stand up and ensure our laws are centered on the question that has been at the heart of American legislation. What about the children?


[1] Cornel West describes this feeling beautifully as the “Niggerization of America” in segment 3:08 to 4:20. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNIy7l-eW5A

[2] An article about the study of breaking down numbers and sample size of study – Is There Racial Bias in Stand Your Ground Laws?  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/criminal-justice/is-there-racial-bias-in-stand-your-ground-laws/

[3] Jeremy Scahill on Democracy matters talking about drone strikes http://www.democracynow.org/2013/4/23/jeremy_scahill_the_secret_story_behind

Breasts and the Female Body: Form or Function?

Is there a specimen more probed, suckled, ogled, and scrutinized as much as the female body?  Just this morning I saw news clippings of what Barbie would look like if she had the body of the “average” woman.  The full-figured Barbie was plastically engineered to usurp the body image exemplified by the skinny Barbie. So, how does a woman choose which Barbie to idolize? With all the anatomical prototypes and societal suggestions, how is it possible for a woman to establish security in her own body image? What about the women whose figure is slightly heavier than the new Barbie or women who are thinner? What if I told you that there was a doll that represented what the average black person looks like instead of a doll for the average female body? I’m sure you’ve thought of your response, “There is so such thing as what the ‘average’ black person looks like.”  With the amount of “real women look like X” media campaigns, it’s not surprising that women view their bodies from the perspective of form and not function.

Prior to developing a liberal appreciation for the aesthetics of the female physique, I had a particular interest in the derriere.  Like most men, I was expected to be attracted to only two features of the female body: The breast or butt.  As I’ve grown to admire the entire repertoire of female sexuality, these features seem to be discriminatory of the mind, or the other staples of female beauty: empathy and compassion. When I first started dating a woman with a large bust in college, she tersely asked, “Are you a breast man or an ass man?”  Due to the large bra size the woman possessed, I felt inclined to say “breast”. Not that my answer was wrong, I do admit propriety is always the gentlemanly route when it comes to answering questions regarding the female frame. The problem with the question is that there was no trick behind it.  I was expected to choose between the two options without regard to her hair or shoulders. This isn’t surprising, however; all it takes is a quick look on the television and you can see why women are reduced to having two measures with which to evaluate their attractiveness.

On one occasion it was clear I was trying to muster some form of attraction outside of robust anatomy for a woman who was flaunting her chest at a bar.  When other people around me caught on, I was met with shock and awe as if I withstood some form of torture. “You know, it’s ok if you look.” One woman assured me.  “You can’t help but look. You’re attracted to boobs because you want to make sure your children are well fed.”

Obviously, we know breast are used to nurse babies, however, we seem to view that as the lesser purpose to beauty. Not to say there should be feminist coup against the aesthetic purpose of the female breast, but to say their primary function goes beyond the carnal. Even with the rewiring my brain is going through, I still bear the lowly habits of a male primate.  I can’t help but notice those who hit the genetic lottery and are endowed a chest with the magic ratio of ligaments to fat glands. 

So, how does a male arm himself in the war testosterone is raging against our prefrontal cortex? How can beauty and purpose be found in function and not form?  If the beauty of the female body exist in a world outside of Barbie, television and sexuality, then the average size of the woman matters less than the health of the average woman. If I were truly interested in the well being of my children, I wouldn’t be looking for breast size as any indicator.  I would really be interested in what is inside the woman.

Scientists have been well aware that inserting foreign objects and chemicals into the human body is a risky affair, so I was curious as to why people would vote not to label foods that contained GMOs.  Unfortunately, the business of labeling food, shampoo and household products has become so political and lucrative that we have become partisan in terms of being made aware of what pathogens we are putting in our body.  Once I thought about the way alcohol alters chemicals in my brain or the way adderall release chemicals to increase focus, it wasn’t too difficult to make the analogy to what BPA or pesticides could do to my body or a woman’s body if inhaled or swallowed.

Due to the affects of estrogen on menstruation, breasts are rich in estrogen receptors.   Because of this, breasts are perceptive to the environment around them and can be fooled by chemicals that mimic estrogen. For example, BPA has a chemical structure that bears close resemblance to estrogen, which allows BPA to activate estrogen receptors.  The problem is that estrogen is a key ingredient for puberty and early exposures to chemicals that mimic estrogen, such as BPA, was observed to cause early puberty, lower sperm counts and increased rates of breast and prostate cancers among other things to rats exposed to BPA while in the womb.  The implications this has on breastfeeding cannot be understated.  Fortunately, breast milk contains many of the vitamins, proteins and enzymes a baby needs, but also contains lead, DDT and arsenic.  The amounts of these items are small, but it does cause one to pause to think about what they are putting into their bodies. (Feel free to stop reading now and inspect the lining of canned food, CDs, cellphones, bike helmets, paper receipts and water bottles). [1]

It would seem that women are responsible for bearing the brunt of this mammary gland battle, but when I read stories about males with breast cancer, I realized we all have a responsibility in the war chemicals are raging on our bodies because we all have breast tissue.  Looking at my own A cup (if I even have an A), I can’t help but feel nonchalant to my breast size because my breast don’t have high value sexually.  If I had to be concerned with my breast as sexual objects first, I’d be more inclined to do things to my body that may impede my ability to breastfeed.  Even though I will not directly transfer the contents of my body to my child, my house, the environment and the food made in my home will be.

Marines at Camp Lejeune that were exposed to contained water for over thirty years were not immune to the altering effects chemicals have on the human body. Michael Partain suffered from an inability to produce testosterone and underwent a partial mastectomy and another marine, Peter Devereaux, who had been an infant attending day care at Camp Lejeune underwent a double mastectomy at eighteen.   After reading stories about males who have battled breast cancer, it was clear that a health and science approach first, body image second mentality is the bridge between empathy for women and social expectations for women.  Devereaux describes his experience when attending treatment facilities:

“You go into all these pink buildings and places for your mammograms and appointments.  You’re this dude and all these women are looking at you.  I meet these women, and they’re so much more open and honest and easy to talk to about emotions.  Guys, all we talk about are football, eating, farting and girls.  So [these women] really helped.  I felt a burden lifted.  I wanted to move forward. My goal now is to raise awareness.”[2]

Marine Bill Smith found his solidarity with women who were fighting the disease and said:

“I appreciate women now, and they’re so much stronger than men. I went to support groups, I listened to them.  I’ve had the privilege of entering a woman’s world.”[3]

It was leaving the male world that helped me see breasts for more than what they appear to be.  Trust me, I haven’t risen to some “I am holier than thou” precipice, but I do understand the role of the breast outside the sexual context.  One quote by Michael Partain from the book Breast: A Natural and Unnatural History is a powerful reminder of this:

“It’s every woman’s worst nightmare, that something they can do when they’re pregnant can affect their unborn child.    I’ve seen it when I talk to the mothers and they learn their child was poisoned and affected.  I saw it in my mother’s eyes, the most heartbreaking look, despair, that I’ve ever experienced in my life.  To look in my own mother’s eyes and see the realization that while she was pregnant, she drank something that harmed her child.  I was forty years old when I saw that look.  Part of me wants to go on base and show my family, my youngest daughter.  She keeps asking me, ‘Is what’s happening to you going to happen to me, Daddy?’”[4]

What will you tell your daughter about her body or your son about the female body? Will beauty and body image come from a compulsory need of titillation to be a sexual being or will beauty come from the function of human beings? If we continue to make Barbie and sexuality the focal point of body image, not only will we harm our children psychologically but in health and aesthetics too.


[1] Williams, Florence. “Sour Milk.” Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2012. 257-58. Print.

[2] Williams, Florence. “The Few. The Proud. The Afflected: Can Marines Solve the Puzzle of Breast Cancer.” Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2012. 307-31. Print.

[3] Williams, Florence. “The Few. The Proud. The Afflected: Can Marines Solve the Puzzle of Breast Cancer.” Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2012. 307-31. Print.

[4] Williams, Florence. “The Few. The Proud. The Afflected: Can Marines Solve the Puzzle of Breast Cancer.” Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2012. 307-31. Print.