Don’t cry wolf unless you mean it!

Posted in bigotry and discrimination on March 14, 2011 by Olivia A. Harris

The sick, twisted fact about discrimination is how discretely and easily it can be executed. 

Few people can claim to never in their life have experienced being judged unfavourably or treated unfairly because of a personal characteristic over which they have no control.  It could be bias due to their race, religion, gendre, ethnicity … the list is infinite.  As a result, few can honestly say they have not had a moment when they actually wished they were different to who they were.   Different if only for a moment so they can simply be. 

I’m sure many of you can relate to want I mean by just ‘be’:  perhaps you’re the only man working in female dominated office and you’re tired of only having your opinion solicited for the ‘man’s point of view’.  Or perhaps you’re a member of the Jewish faith, and you’re only invited to join in political discussions about the Middle East question. 

In either scenario you probably can’t help wonder why you weren’t invited to join other generic discussions.  For instance, why weren’t you included in the discussion about new immigration policies?   Why are you only included in those discussions that are thought to be relevant  to you based on someone else’s narrow understanding of who you are?  Afterall, I’m sure they know you have a specialist degree in Political Science from a prominent university … don’t they?

Oddly, those perpetuating bias and biogtry do not seem to have the ‘yuck’ feeling it causes the person on the receiving end.   You know the feeling I’m talking about:  the feelings of slight confusion, embarrassment and anger mixed together.   And the final feeling: shame. 

Shame comes from the wish (if even for a brief of moment) that you were something other than what and who you are.  The wish that comes after being called the n-word that you were white.   Or when you’re called ‘sweetie’ in a meeting (although you’re obviously a grown woman) that you were a man instead.   Let me be very clear: this wish does not come from a thoughts of self-hatred deep in your subconscious.   The wish is based on the desire for equality.  An equality that comes form being judged on the same basis as the majority of those around you. 

And this wish is always a silent one.  It isn’t a something you would want to share.  There is more than likely a greater desire that the situation that ignited your feelings of  being somehow ‘less than’  had never occured to begin with.   But it has.  Now you must deal with it.

While tending to your own injuries, you might come across an individual claiming to be similarly wounded.    Naturally you will probably be inclined to offer your sympathies.  But, too often your feelings of sympathy can turn to rage when with a little digging you learn the supposed injury is a lie.  The person you are comforting has in fact made the proverbial cry of wolf for his or her own selffish reasons.    They cry wolf to avoid taking responsibilty for their  own failings or perhaps out of spite (what more serious charge can be levied against a person or situation you don’t like).  No matter the reason they know the cry is false.

And like the boy who cried wolf, one day the wolf will come — as we will all experience some form of discrimination in our lifetime — and they better be prepared.


Celebrities, Rehab & the Justice System: Black & White

Posted in Celebrites & crimes, Celebrity, Celebrity Rehab, Charlie Sheen, Justice System, Kramer on March 10, 2011 by Olivia A. Harris

 I like to begin my mornings with the news.  I want to know what countries are overthrowing their governments and which governments are throwing away money.   It gives me perspective.

This isn’t to say I’m looking for doom and gloom.   I just believe that as we all live on this plant together it is important to know what significant developments are unfolding around the world.   With that said, I also like a little celebrity news.   It is my form of escapism when I don’t have the funds to book a week-long all-inclusive Caribbean vacation.

 I used to think my escape into the world of celebrity was frivolous, with no bearing on the real world.  The past few years have shown me I am wrong.  Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, Kramer from Seinfeld (I can’t remember his real name and don’t think he is worth the effort giving his racist rant a few years ago), Mel Gibson, Winona Ryder, Paris Hilton:  they are all criminals.

Whether you prefer to call them celebrity offenders or some other such pretty name, they are all ultimately criminals.  The listed criminals have committed offenses from domestic abuse, drug use, theft, blatant contempt of court and down right racism.   Each crime is documented. None of the offenses are ‘alleged’, thus unproven.  The evidence is there in black and white. However, in my opinion, the punishments meted out by the legal and courts of public opinion leave me confused.

Winona Ryder’s shop-lifting punishment: awarded a modeling contract by Marc Jacobs the designer from whom she stole hair accessories.  Paris Hilton’s drug conviction: a few days in jail.  Charlie Sheen caught in the prostitution scandal: plea bargain in exchange for naming names.   Lindsay Lohan …I don’t have the energy to write about her! 

All in all, none of these celebrities were really punished for their wrong doing.   However, there are other celebrities who have been punished by legal courts and/or the public for their crimes.  I guess they fell into a different ‘category’ of celebrity given the way their crimes were handled.  Here are just a few:

Todd Bridges: a child star who like Lindsay Lohan had troubles with drugs, still can not find an acting job because of his past. Exactly how many rehab stays and court hearings did it take before Lindsay was locked-up and the courts started treating her crimes with some seriousness? I’m sure it was more than they gave Todd Bridges.

Chris Brown: viciously beat his girlfriend and had to perform his community service. Although the courts commended him on completing the work (and I am in no way condoning domestic violence) he is still is having difficulty with his record sales. I do recall previously reading Charlie Sheen being charged with a domestic incident. The public must be very forgiving because that news had no impact on the success of his sitcom, Two and Half men.

Naomi Campbell: We all know about Naomi’s penchant for slapping the help. The legal system helped her reform her ways by hauling her into court then ordering her to pick-up the trash. It is all on tape for the world to see.  I guess there was no ‘bitch-slapping’ rehab available at the time of Naomi’s trial.  But, I think I came across one of Wynona Rider’s old Marc Jacob’s ads the other day.  That Marc is so forgiving that when he found out that Wynona shoplifted his hair accessories, rather than pay for them like everyone else, he decided to give her a helping hand by paying her to pose in his advertisements.   What a generous guy.

Lady Justice is said to be blind.  But, even in the surreal world of celebrity both the law and public still judge in black and white.

Must you clip your nails in public???

Posted in Etiquette, Manners on March 10, 2011 by Olivia A. Harris

 From the few posts I’ve made, you can tell that I am particular about what sort of behavior I consider acceptable and unacceptable in public. There are some forms of behavior that I simply cannot accept. At the top of that list has to be the sound of someone clipping their finger nails in the office!

Every Thursday morning for the last two years I have had to listen to the annoying ‘clip … clip… clip’ coming from the neighboring office.   I swear my colleague has more than 10 fingers (and I cringe at the thought, toes!!!) that he tends to every Thursday morning.   Not only does he perform this personal toilette at work with his office door open for all to hear, he insists on coming into my office when he is done.   Like an excited five year old, he holds his hands out to me and says, “Look! My hands are nice and clean now!  My mother always told me to keep my nails clean!”

 I do not know if his mother forgot to tell him to tend to his nails at home and in private.   I do not know if he is unaware that the sound of his nail clippers makes nearly everyone’s skin crawl.  What I do know is this: he ultimately does not care.   Why do I say this?   Well, there are some things in life you learn as you go along without being told by your parents or anyone else.   For instance, no one needs to be told that when in public you do not blow your nose in a tissue then examine the contents for all to see!   You don’t do this because it is simply a filthy, nasty and disgusting thing to do.   And clipping your finger nails at work with your office door open for all to hear ranks right down there too!


Charlie Sheen … What can I say …

Posted in Celebrity on March 1, 2011 by Olivia A. Harris

Charlie Sheen… What can I say about this ‘little rascal’ that hasn’t already been mentioned?

Has he possibly blurred the line between himself and his television persona (and perhaps alter ego) ‘Charlie Harper’? Yep!

 Will his children one day read about his recent shenanigans and cringe with embarrassment? Again, yep!

But, why is everyone so surprised? Have we already forgotten his ‘youthful exuberance’ during his twenties where he  jeopardized his career by abusing drugs and drink? And, how can we forget that he was a regular patron of L.A. Madam, Heidi Fleiss’ establishment (I’m trying to keep it polite) during the 1990s?

I will tell you how we forgot: Charlie Sheen was on the successful television show Two and Half Men that made a lot of people a lot of money.  The formula was so obviously simple: put Charlie Sheen’s life on screen; add a few characters and a laugh track … and don’t forget to change his last name so the story can be sold as ‘fiction’.  And it worked.

In fact the formula worked so well that Charlie Sheen/Harper was  a welcomed member in the living rooms of many families.   The character was thought to be funny, cute and perhaps a bit of a ‘rogue’!

Yet, during the past few months when the act hit the streets, there have been many shocked gasps.   Why?   What happened to the laughter?  Why isn’t the act so funny anymore? Then again, why was it ever funny ….

– Mantha

Your child is precious, but …

Posted in Children on July 12, 2010 by Olivia A. Harris

Children are truly a blessing. They are precious little people who can give us a whole new perspective on life.  However, your opinion of your little darling’s ‘self expression’ is more than likely to conflict with mine when that expression takes place in public.

I must begin by stating I do not have children.  However, I am the proud aunt of two rambunctious little boys aged 8 and 10.  As a dotting aunt I often take my nephews out with me.  Sometimes we go to the local family restaurant or a movie theatre. And on a few occasions they have even come to work with me for a few hours.  For the most part my nephews are ‘good boys’ but they certainly are no angels. 

My nephews have acted up in public when out with me.  Without shame I admit that I have wanted to shout, “They’re not my kids!  I’m just their Aunt!”  I don’t, however, try to deny them because my boys are the spitting image of me.  They look nothing like their parents with the exception of their feet that are identical to my sister-in-law’s.  So, denying our familial ties would be useless. 

Yet, on these rare occasions I became a superhero quickly jumping into action.  Stealthily I sidle up to the offending party and hiss into their ear, “you’d better fix up!”  No yelling at the top of my lungs; no shouting back and forth making those around us feel uncomfortable or wonder if they should press speed-dial on their cell phone for children’s aid.  My subtle rapid response seems to be all that is necessary to correct the behavior in question.  Once corrected, the boys and I continue happily about our business.   

I know being Aunt does not bear the same responsibility as parenthood.  I also know that as precious as my boys are to me, not everyone else feels the same way when they misbehave in public and disturb other people’s enjoyment of the space in question.  If  I know this, how come so many parents don’t? 

I cannot count the number of times I have been in public to witness uncontrolled children running through coffee shops (where people are actually holding HOT cups of coffee), screeching in the bookstore and library (where you’re supposedly taught at a young age to be QUIET) or my new favourite, a child standing beside me at the bank machine asking if I would like them to push the numbers for me.  All this is happening while mom and/or dad stands by with a silly smirk that I swear say, “Kids! What can you do?” 

In no way am I suggesting parents (or caregivers) manhandle the children in their charge should they misbehave.  So, as for ‘what can you do,’ I would like to suggest not screaming at the child from ten feet away or battering them.  Instead, take the responsibility to address the situation with respect for yourself, those around you and ultimately the children in question. 

Childhood is the time at which many of life’s lessons are taught and ‘respect’ is the foundation and among the most important of them all.

– Mantha

If I Offended Anyone, Then, I`m Sorry …

Posted in Uncategorized on June 12, 2010 by Olivia A. Harris

During the last decade I`ve noticed an emerging trend that I will call the `non-apology` (excuse my making up words). The non-apology not only lacks the sincerity of a true apology, it doesn`t even make an effort to look like the real thing. And oddly, it seems to be used most often by those who without question should be sorry.

Celebrities and public figures are among those that are most often guilty of the `non-apology`. I could site many examples from Janet Jackson`s `nipple-gate`to Mel Gibson`s drunken anti-Semitic rant and let us not forget Michael Richards` (aka `Kramer`from Seinfeld) whose graphic racist `comedy act` could have possibly shocked even the staunchest Klan member.

The behaviour of these people was wrong by the accepted social standards of the communities that we and they live in. They did offend many people. And they knew it. And for that reason only, their PR people and handlers rushed to develop strategies to manage the resulting crisis.

If they obviously offended the Black community, the strategy seems to be three pronged: 1. call Jessie Jackson; 2. if you can`t get Jessie, call Al Sharpton; 3. if numbers 1 & 2 fail, just get a Black Baptist Minister who is willing to appear on television with your offender (sorry, `client`).

If the faux-pas doesn`t fit into the above description, then it`s all about rehab! These days a person can be rehabilitated for just about anything. From what I`ve seen, all it takes is roughly a month to be cured by therapists seemingly qualified in areas neither I nor anyone else recalls seeing in the syllabus of any recognized university.

The final part of all strategies (after the religious or medical intervention) is the television apology. I imagine this should be the most important part of the plan as its aim is to directly connect with the offended parties. Unfortunately, for me this is the point where everything falls apart. This is the point where the truth comes out:

“… and if I offended anyone, then, I`m sorry …“

A small fortune and several hours were spent because a lot of people people were upset by the behaviour or actions in question. However, the `if` and `then` of the statement are what make the apology an insult to those offended. Hence, the `non-apology`.

So, why not just apologize and at least pretend to mean it?

– Mantha

Here we go!

Posted in Uncategorized on June 10, 2010 by Olivia A. Harris

Well, this is my first blog and attempt at blogging.

I decided to give blogging a try because I have a lot of opinions and thoughts on many of the things going on in the world today. From the financial chaos in Greece to people letting their children run wild in public, I have something to say!

I hope that if only one or two of you out there read this, you’ll drop by from time to time to see what I’m up to. What I’m thinking. Perhaps you’ll even drop me a line to share your views with me. And I promise not to have any hard feelings if you disagaree with me … or at least I’ll try not to!

So, here we go!

– Mantha