If I had a dime for every single time someone asked me what I am “mixed with” I’d be so rich I think I’d be buying Oprah schools and fleets of cars and small countries.
It didn’t bother me when I was a little girl because I enjoyed how interested in me people were. They would talk about my skin color and my hair and wonder about the mysterious mixture of ethnicity I had flowing through my veins. I liked the attention as just about any child does. I thought it to be positive attention back then… I know better now.
Now? It bothers me, even though I see it coming from a mile away. When they get that twinkle in their eye, looking from my kinky, light brown hair to my skin… The conversation goes something like this:
Them: So, what are you?/ So, what are you mixed with?/ So, you’re like half White/Puerto Rican/Dominican? (Some variation of that sentiment.)
Me: Black./ I’m Black./ No I’m not mixed. Why?
Them: So you’re all Black?
Me: Yeah I’m all Black.
Cue awkward end of that conversation and the abrupt start of a new one.
Now I don’t mind the initial questions. Sometimes I get a person’s ethnicity wrong too. Honest mistake. Skin color and hair texture can often be misleading with our preconceived notions. *Shrugs* Whatever.
No. What bothers me and I dare say COULD easily hurt my feelings if I weren’t a semi-secure female (whatever that means anymore) is the fact that once I say that I’m simply Black. The “Oh…” that THEY utter is one of pure disappointment. Like, “Dang, I thought you were something special.” That’s what the underlying message is. And THAT is what really grinds my gears.
When was it NOT beautiful, sexy, exotic, to a BLACK woman anymore? Who or what has framed people’s thinking so much that BLACK ain’t beautiful in and of itself anymore? Who’s writing these rule books? I’d like to just have a very brief conversation with them. I truly would.
A lighter-skinned Black woman with a lighter and softer grade of hair merits a simple, “Oh…” as JUST BLACK is stamped across her forehead and THEY go off in search of a Cablasia-Rican over whom to marvel.
I’m not a conceited person. And I’m not a Black Power militant but by God: BLACK is beautiful. All our shades. All our hair textures. All our full lips. All our accomplishments. All our overcoming and defining moments.
Whether I’m rocking my curly Natural ‘fro or a permed doobie, I’m a Black woman and proud about it.
So no more, “Oh…’s” unless it’s followed by, “…my GOD you’re effin’ gorgeous!” Ha. Thanks.
I was talking to my sister the other day - we do that every once in a while - and she told me to write a blog about the idea of the “Crusading Career Woman” vs. the “Happy Homemaker.”
This is not that blog.
It’s coming soon but this is not it. (hehe).
Instead I was more deeply stricken by something else that came up in conversation. My sister, like myself and most other college students at some point or other during their college careers, spent a POT (pocket of time) during those wonder years being completely and utterly exploratory, reckless, experimental, and adventurous. The friends she had during this particular period in her life couldn’t be bothered with frivolous things like attending classes or doing homework. They spent time anywhere that was elsewhere and soaked up as much of that 70% of learning that happens outside the classroom as they possibly could. Much of the time it was the wrong kind of “learning.”
I can relate to this POT. I did it too. A few very minor run-ins with “the law.” Tons of late nights out. An obscene number of either classes missed or undone/mediocre homework assignments turned in. Never deliberately trying to be a bada**, just wanting to feel what people call “freedom.” Testing out these so-called wings that everyone else was convinced that I was not using.
As my sister and I sat and talked she looked at me and got what I call “really real.”
"AJ (my family nickname) you know how people you used to hang with try to drag you back down when you’re only trying to do better? I got old friends saying, ‘Girl, please you ain’t gonna do this, you ain’t gonna do that. You just like the rest of us. You remember when we used to do…’ and it bugs me!"
I know exactly what she means. She said that Lo from The Hills said something in one of the episodes to the effect of: When you hit your middle twenties, it’s almost like you have a midlife crisis. You feel like you’re worthless and you’re not fulfilling your purpose. You just want to know what it is you’re supposed to be doing in life.
But not everyone does.
What I’ve learned from experience is that once you have that “early midlife crisis” there is something inside you that permanently changes. Sure, you’ll screw things up ROYALLY from time to time but you’re still pushing yourself, praying to God (if you’re a person of faith like I am), searching and DOING. My sister described it as a hunger that you now have for doing better, for being better.
Not everyone you used to know will dig that idea of flying instead of crawling. Not everyone will see your God-given success as exactly that: God-given success. Some people will label you something negative or tell you that you “ain’t no better than nobody else.”
I think what my sister and I are realizing in synchronicity is that they are 100% correct.
We ain’t no better than nobody else.
We’re just human beings who realize that we have not been living up to our full potential and Purpose. There’s no love lost for old friends there’s just new love gained for ourselves and new respect for the miracle of Purpose that God allowed us to realize.
My sister and I both reminisce about some of the silly, dangerous, adventurous situations we got ourselves into years ago. And we appropriately laugh about the silly things; acknowledge God’s grace and mercy for pulling us out of the dangerous things; and thank God for allowing us to experience the adventurous things. What went on back then is not erased nor replaced by right now. It’s all simply a succession of classrooms we sat in for a while so that our right now can be used to help someone else out and our later on can become a monument to what miracles God makes through a life willing to be used by Him.
I do pray for the ones who lash out. I don’t patronize them or throw the Bible at them. I just go my own way and pray that they stumble upon the epiphany over which we’ve stumbled. It won’t happen the same way or look the same as no two “Aha!” moments are alike but when it does happen, we’ll be able to recognize each other again. Even if we never speak again. Maybe one day years in the future we’ll see one another across a crowded room and we’ll be able to nod because we’re equally enlightened. & Purpose recognizes Purpose.
Lost In Translation The Sick Infatuation With Chasing The Impatient Female, Who Is Not Waiting But Lost In Details Texts, Phone calls, and Emails She Fails To Realize The Lies By Imaginary Real Guys But I Supply The Flipside Of Lies Exciting Her Eyes, Mind, Then Thighs She Wonders Why He Left Cuz I Feel So Right……. Reality We Face As She Aims To Replace The Man She Loves To Hate
“At the end of the day, for me it’s about the vision… What I know is that I have a long way to go. I feel like I’ve come a long way but every step I take I see how much I don’t know. There’s so much more that I want to experience, that I want to lend to my success. So, I’m never going to say, “I’ve arrived,” because there is always more that I want to learn. So, my plan is to grow exponentially, to really push through and really be bold about my art.
- Luam Keflezgy”—
So, the other day I was chillin’ w/my girl Khai, eating one of the many delicious dinners I’ve prepared this summer so far, and only half-watching some E! True Hollywood Story. [SB:& for the privacy of the innocent and the purposes of this blog post, my girl’s name has been changed.]
Now Khai is a total free spirit which is why I love her. She will walk up to a perfect stranger and tell them her life story if the spirit so moves her. She will stuff her long legs into a shopping cart and command one of us to push her around the grocery store like a toddler. She loves to learn about things most people do NOT care about or just don’t think that much about to study. For example, how gravel is made or what wrecking balls are made out of or how many stairs are on the average mall escalator. Lately, she’s been studying sex. Never the promiscuous girl, Khai prides herself on only having had a handful of sexual partners in her 24 years of life and never becoming a baby mama, recipient of an STD, or “accidental porn star.” But for some reason, her fascination with sexual behavior consumed most of our day that day. Khai pulled out one of my old sociology books trying to find some rhyme or reason to why people behave the way they behave when sex becomes a part of their lives. Why women allow themselves to be objectified. Why some men use sex as the first subject of conversation when they want to “get to know” a woman, etc.
We chatted up a storm about personal experiences, celebrity debacles, and things we’d read or heard through the grapevine trying to make sense of the silliness that becomes most human beings when sex is involved.
My dear Khai decided to take it a step further. She looked up some random free porn site:
"Khai… Jesus, what the heck are you doing?" I said, laughing.
"I mean, maybe there are some clues here. Ain’t porn like the Holy Grail of all things sexual?"
I cracked up. “Yo, you are too twisted for color TV.” I went on folding clothes and trying to watch Lindsay Lohan’s E! True Hollywood Story (poor girl.)
I guess it had been a few minutes of Khai scrolling through these videos, cracking up and calling me over to see this or that, big or fat, ugly or cute, pasty white or black as a boot - she stopped in her tracks and clutched her chest.
"Oh my God."
"What? What is it?" I walk over and look at the screen.
I see a young girl who looks no more than late teens naked, one man’s genitals in front of her, another naked man behind her. She was screaming, “Wait.. wait, wait!” Whoever was holding the camera said something to the effect of, “What? Shut the f*ck up! Go ‘head man.” Both sweaty men did their urgent business with the girl to a chorus of her muffled cries and their own whoops and hollers.
I turned away after only a few seconds, horrified at what I’d seen. Khai closed the laptop and stared into space a few seconds later. We were both painfully silent. Something was rushing through my blood, I haven’t learned that emotion yet but I do know it was centered at the mortified crossroad of Sadness and Anger.
Khai broke the silence. “Yo, we just witnessed rape… I don’t care what they labeled it as on that dumbass site. Wh-why would she let them do that to her? …I never understood why girls put themselves in those kinds of positions. Don’t make no sense, man.”
We talked about it for a while. We talked about everything from the video “models” to the fact that Black actresses can’t seem to find much work outside of being a whore or a some sexual stereotype. We talked about how young women are losing their virginity younger and younger - being mistreated by man after man, allowing their bodies to be used as “amusement parks” never understanding the concept of it actually being a “temple.”
Whose fault is it? Does it even matter? How do we reverse the low-self esteem that plagues Black women? There seems to be a misconception that although Black women have made stride after stride throughout the eons, we are still worthless to a very high extent. And I really do question where this stems from. I think about the lower points in my life and what was going on in my psyche to make me doubt my regal legacy. To make me settle for less than what I deserved.
I think that video ended Khai’s sexology quest. What we found startled us, shook us to our core. It made us question so many things. Did that girl think those men cared for her? What was she thinking when she screamed, “Wait,” and they disregarded her plea and ravaged her harder? Who wasn’t in her life to show her how a real man is supposed to treat a real woman? Who wasn’t present in the men’s lives to beat the snot out of them for thinking it was even a little bit ok to do something that foul to a woman? I know it’s a very graphic scenario to ponder, and some people would even think it’s funny. But my God, it’s something we need to think about. We allow people to use words like, “Bitch,” “Hoe,” “Slut,” and use them as synonyms for WOMEN, no less. There is no excuse for any kind of assault or sexual misconduct of any kind but there is a deep need for women, most especially my fellow Black women to self-evaluate. We’re only treated the way we allow ourselves to be treated. Don’t get me wrong, some of the most horrific situations are just a matter of chance. But then, sometimes we put ourselves in the position to be disrespected.
The more I thought about it and still think about it, I believe we’re all to blame. Women are just as much to blame as men. Men are just as much to blame as women. The old are just as much to blame as the young. The young are just as much to blame as the old. A man will not try no low grade treatment of a woman who carries herself as Grade A, Prime Cut. I don’t care where you’re from, what your social status is, what level of education is. It’s just not happening. And if young people are taught their worth, instilled with the value of their body, their mind, their soul, their heritage and legacy, they will be less likely to engage in any kind of debauchery whether it be verbal or physical. Disrespect and objectification know no specific race, age, or gender but it seems to me that Black women bear the brunt of it all. It makes me feel a little bit sick sometimes when I think about it.
We’re discouraged from pursuing careers in medicine or science but pushed full speed ahead to become “models.” Are our minds not as valuable as our bodies? I would think our minds are more valuable because the perky breasts, and stretch-mark free thighs only last for a while before wrinkles, and droopage, and stretch-marks become irreversible.
Khai swore she’s never watching porn again (YEAH RIGHT). But what we saw that day got her thinking about doing service work for abused women and I’m thinking of joining her. Whatever it takes…
Hi!! I saw your post on IC Fantasia Gel and i am transitioning as well from a texturizer that i have in my hair now...and i saw how u said that it will still curl you up if you are transitioning....i was wondering if it was better than ECO styler gel that i was planning on using..lol sorry if this made no sense im terrible at explaining
Lol. no problem hun. Uh.. Idk about ECO Styler Gel. The only other gel I used was Let’s Jame Super Hold and that dried my hair out something terrible.
If more people were brave enough to let go of things that hold them back, this world would be one jolly ol’ place. I guess I’m mainly speaking in terms of relationships.
I said I wasn’t going to blog about it, pray about it, think for more than a minute about it but alas, here I am typing away about my love life (whatever that means anymore). I have records like Pink’s “So What?” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Never Again” & “Since You Been Gone, Beyonce’s “Me, Myself, & I” in heavy rotation lately. Yes, I succumbed to the stereotypical heartbreak-induced rageaholic against the longest relationship I’ve ever had. On and off for 5 years. Jesus. It sounds unfathomable to type it out loud. But yeah, 5 years. The funny thing is I’m really not all that mad that it ended (for good this time. Not like the breakup of ‘06, ‘07, and gotdangit, ‘08) at all. I think I was hurt b/c I willingly believed in a lie wholeheartedly for all those years. It sucks to wake up one day and realize the man you’ve loved and would do just about anything for, only turns to you when there is no other soothing option within his emotional grasp. Dude… it SUCKS.
I think though, it had to happen this way for me. Not in one of those “destiny/fate” dreamlike kind of ways but in a very real way. I believe in “pockets of time” in my life where transformation happens to me and in a big way. The only problem is that I foolishly have believed in between these time pockets that I have reached some personal nirvana where I completely understood myself, who I was/am, and what I would/would not stand for. #LAUGHOUTLOUD!
Obviously from all the detours I’ve taken in life since then, I don’t know myself half as well as I think. I don’t profess that anymore. What I do know now is that I have acquired a certain kind of strength and the ability to know when I’ve behaved stupidly. Most notably and relatably — in love. Love doesn’t make you do stupid things. Being in love with the IDEA of being in love makes you do stupid things, put up with stupid things, say stupid things, think stupid things… etc. God knows that list goes on for miles.
SB: I have a point. I’m writing my way to it… bare with me.
I know I behaved stupidly in love. I put trust in someone who never proved themselves worthy of the deepness of my affection. I fell head-over-heels all the way in, skirt blown up, type in love. And I made it my everything.
My outlook now is that I am so much better now. I mean emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually. I’m not stressed out, finding a gray hair every other day (YES people the first 6 months of 2010 I was turning into one of the Golden Girls!), sleeping way too much, feeling used up, trying to keep up with an irregular period, avoiding people, slipping away from reality and what God made me to be. I really had to sit down and say to myself, “Alright, this is it. He doesn’t love you and you have to come to grips with the fact that he never truly did. Now, you deal with it and move on.”
Now, I don’t date. NO, I don’t think all men are dogs. “I’m not ‘bitter.’ I’m MAD AS HELL!” lol. No, all jokes aside, I’m not bitter. Yes, I feel a stripe of anger here and there when I think about the time I wasted but I’m moving forward. I met a few guys who are generally nice guys. Do I want to get to know them on a deeper level? Not so much. One of ‘em is a sexy lil’ thing too. But in the words of my girl, Vivian Green, “Yes, I like it… but I don’t need it.”
I think if everyone in the world had that attitude, true love would flow to each of us in enormous capacities. I must know me first before I try to get to know anyone and build some sort of relationship with them.
For the first time in life I’m just totally focused on me. It sounds cliche and cheesy but it’s the cheesy ooey gooey truth. I want to finish my MBA. I want to get a job that lets me travel all over the place. I’d like to take up film in my spare time as a hobby. I want to build a treehouse. I want to got to Cabo with my girlfriends. I want to sign a deal with HarperCollins and become a NY Times Bestselling novelist. Time and circumstance have put cement shoes on a relationship and dropped it into the river of my life. I have a bunch of other goals that are floating at the top. Yeah, sure I’ll make time for a little dinner & a movie here and there. A little kiss kiss, and conversation. But when it’s all said and done, those things are lovely and they make me feel ultra feminine and dainty and I truly LIKE it… but God knows I don’t need it… ♥
I’m at work. I’m supposed to be doing work. I am doing work… errr, yeah I am doing work. I just take 5 minutes here and there to check out the latest #TT’s (that’s Twitterspeak for trending topics) and tweets. During one of these 5 minute Twitter breaks I noticed a post by author, Terry McMillian. “If you wish to be understood. Say exactly what you mean.”
I started thinking about how much simpler & less dramatic and stressful my life could have been in various pockets of time if I’d had that cut-and-dry mentality. I think I’ve gotten so caught up in not creating akward moments and making other people comfortable that more often than not I either did not speak up or I simply didn’t say what I really meant. How stupid is that? Who is going to voice my opinion and Feeling better than me? And if people don’t like it, well honestly… So what?
I don’t go out of my way to make people uncomfortable but the more I think about it, I’ve allowed myself to be bullied into silence at quite a few points in life. Or I’ve sugar-coated things to the point that what I truly meant got lost in a sweet-sounding cop-out of an opinion.
I people-watch a lot - borderline stalkerish but not yet - and I’ve learned so much about human nature from the way we interact with one another. Those who are bold about their opinions are well-respected by all even if they aren’t liked by all. Those who crease under the “pressure” of others’ opinions and domineering nature will never be taken seriously no matter how hard they try to please.
Case in point: Say what you mean. Mean what you say.
And it’s awesome that someone as forthright as Terry McMillan would post this quote. I soak up so much knowledge from her tweets ALONE b/c she is comfortable enough with herself and her opinions to simply state them. No fluff. No sugar-coating. That’s real and it’s so respectable obviously b/c she’s a bestselling author ten times over. I can tell when someone is real because 95.7% of the things they say will get critiqued harshly like a torrential summer rain. But the funny thing about summer rain storms is that they rarely last long and the amount of green, sunshine, and rainbows that follow are worth every minute of their vehement downpour. So if you feel it then say so. Stir up some rainbows.
Oscar Grant: Catalyst or Just Another Tragic Victim?
Below I’ve posted the link to the video of this young man’s shooting. I don’t know how long it will be available online due to the graphic nature. But I believe it is something we all need to see and understand. These killings are becoming to rampant. I was not surprised by the verdict in this case. And that in itself speaks to the legacy the American legal system has created. We’re not even shocked by these killings anymore. But what’s more disturbing is that we anticipate the “barely-there” sentences police officers receive for their crimes. Yes, these are crimes. Excessive force. Shooting a man in his back as he lay on subway floor. Shooting a man even in the soles of his feet because he reached for his wallet. Shooting a young man in his chest on a rooftop in Bed Stuy because he “startled” you. The boys in blue hide behind a badge and it’s sad.
I remember when I was a child being a policeman was an esteemed profession. Our teachers would ask us what we wanted to be when we grew up and a good number of the hands that flew up to answer the question gave answers like, “Policeman, fireman, teacher…”
Now the respect we once had for law enforcement has been washed away with the blood of the innocent. There’s a deeper place in my heart where the hurt pools for our Brothas who are being murdered; their deaths never being completely avenged.
There is a deeper place still in my heart where anger stirs at the sight of us rioting and looting and giving people a reason to want to shoot us down like dogs in the street. I just wonder when we all get it, on both sides. To make it as plain and simple as it can possibly be: No it is not ok to shoot a Black man b/c you’re a frustrated underpaid policeman. And no it is not ok to so savagely use a young man’s death as an excuse to be destructive and to steal. Protests are one thing but riots are nothing more than explosive displays of deep-seated anger and ignorance.
Oscar Grant’s death while tragic has the capacity to change things in America if we use the correct avenues. The officer who received the “involuntary manslaughter” verdict has to live the rest of his life knowing that shot and killed an unarmed man execution style. Some people don’t believe that’s enough. I’m on the fence. But I do know he will be haunted by what he’s done for the rest of his life if he has any conscience at all. He hasn’t really convinced himself that he thought his gun was his taser.
Twitter is a funny thing. I was in the midst of “tweeting” yesterday when I got COMPLETELY annoyed by some random guy from LA that I was following. One of my friends had retweeted his tweet like, a week ago and I thought it was funny. So I hopped over to his page and most of his tweets were either pretty insightful or completely hilarious. So I decided to follow him. BIG mistake. This dude STAYS on Twitter. Making up new trending topics and then begging people to retweet them so he’ll have the top trending topic. Then, he and his “brothers” do this thing where they keep tweeting about EACH OTHER to get more followers. One of them was up to like 39,000 followers. Like, huh? What?
I joined Twitter randomly last February. Didn’t get into the swing of “tweets” and “#TTs” and “following” until about December. Now I’m pretty Twitter-ologically savvy, if I do say so myself. But mostly I just follow people who are funny or inspiring + friends who actually have something worthwhile to say.
My whole point is this… nowadays EVERYONE wants to declare or real or unique they are. We’re ALL “leaders” and not “followers.” We all march to the beat of a different drum. But Twitter is making me realize that that different drum is being heard by EVERYBODY and EVERYBODY is fooling themselves into thinking that it’s their own personal beat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m part of the same hypocrisy at times, Twitter being my prime example. I can tweet and retweet and ###### it up with the best of them. But there is something really crazy about living your entire life through social networking. Like, these guys I mentioned, they tweet ALLLLLLLL day! Then sometimes they take shifts. Oh oh oh.. AND they tell the thousands of females who are following them to send their pics and let them rate them. And the dumb, insecure girls do it too… (but that’s a whole other post).
I have my days here and there when I go in on Twitter (it used to be Facebook but hey, it’s a ever-changing virtual world we’re living in) because I’m bored out of my mind or I need to get things off my chest or I’m in a silly off-color mood. And then there are days when I think Twitter is the devil. I’m not going to follow you and your brother and brother’s baby mama just because they’re part of #TeamFollowBack. Twitter has become the virtual equivalent of the high school lunch room. It’s interesting to watch but kind of sad to ponder..
Daniela Rodriguez, a childhood friend of mine died in a car accident 3:00 AM, July 2nd. The driver was intoxicated. I haven’t cried. And I feel a bit self-centered. When I heard what happened to her, my mind went straight to the handful of times I was out with friends being a bit too wreckless. It all could have ended any of those times. My heart beat a little faster in reminiscing. God had a plan for my life.
My heart is broken because this young woman whose 24th birthday JUST passed on June 9th, is no longer here. She’s not here. I doubt the entire purpose for her life was complete when she lost her life. And that notion hurts my insides something fierce.
I think in being younger adults we think we have all the time in the world to “get it right.’ Yes, we’ll inevitably make mistakes because we’re human but a lot of us don’t think about our purpose in life. We just live from day to day, wingin’ it. We party hard. We knock it back. We pour it down. We laugh it up. But we don’t think about the seriousness of what we’re doing in life.
There’s no accident that we’re here. I can see that fact a little more clearly now. I hate that it took someone’s death to knock my head back on straight but I do believe that it has done that for many who were close to her. And in that vein, her death is birthing many blessings. Some will quit drinking. Some will wear their seatbelts every single time they get into a car (I know I am.) Some will get up and sincerely ask the question, “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose and am I fulfilling it?”
Daniela was such a high-spirited girl. Beautiful. Confident. A great friend. She gave something to everyone she came in contact with even if it were only a smile or her sincere friendship. What can we say we’ve done with our lives? Our lives are not our own…
I think, I’m sitting on a lot of the gifts God has given me. I work a lot and say I’m too busy to grab a bite to eat with an old friend. If I don’t feel like being bothered I won’t answer someone’s text. How selfish.
Why am I here if not to share my gifts? If not to encourage or just spend time with old friends and make new ones? To be the best me possible? There will be no more wasting time. It truly is of the essence and I intend to make every single second count so that when my life is over I can look at God and He can look at me and say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”