Saturday, December 30, 2006
so, the kids were with grandma, hub was at work, it was nice and quiet. i called and asked to speak to the manager. his name was tracey. or stacey. i actually don't remember. anyway, i went on with this big spill about Pam, and how she treated me like shit (didn't say shit), blah, blah, blah....so unacceptable....blah, blah, blah...she needs to brush up on her customer service skills....blah, blah, blah.
all the while thinking that i'm probably talking to myself anyway, because he probably doesn't give a rats ass about what i'm saying. so i finished my piece, and then it was his turn to talk.
once he started apologizing, i could tell right away he was a black man. so sue me, i called it. i know he was black. he had that bass in his voice (yeah, i said it). so he began telling me how sorry he was and he'll have a chat with Pam.
i'm thinking GREAT. he probably thinks i'm just some old white snob...i should have made myself sound black, so he'd know where i was coming from. i can turn that on and off when i want, and most of the time it's off.
Damn. oh well.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
so, long story short, she grudgingly showed me somewhere else in the store where the same item was sitting. "thanks" i told her. if there's one thing i learned in my twenties, it's how to handle situations and people like that. she made no comment back after i thanked her. so, a few minutes later, when i saw another employee (who turned out to be her supervisor) i explained what had just happened. the supervisor stood there and made excuse after excuse for her. 'oh, we all have bad days....she's only human....no one can be 100% all the time...you probably just caught her at a bad time....' yeah, whatever. i replied that i understood that but it's not an excuse for such bad customer service. she ended up finally apologizing for Pam, but only because i pressed the issue after she gave excuses for her. but that wasn't good enough for me, because i could tell she was mentally filing my complaint way in the archives of her brain.. you don't just back up an employee when they are clearly out of line, and the customer is always right. hello, that's Customer Service 101. "oh, um hmmm...okay, and what is YOUR name?" because now, SHE'LL be named also when i talk to the manager.
couple of things: i don't know if i got that treatment from the first employee because of being black or not. it doesn't matter in this case. i mean, PROBABLY, that's just expected. but that's not the point of this post. white, black, red or yellow, that employee was in the wrong. i'm just observing that most likely it was a race factor.
secondly, i wonder if i had been white if her supervisor would have blew it off so nonchalantly. i don't really know.
and thirdly (okay 3 things), now, the supervisor is out of line for making excuses for that. i realize that it's only Michaels craft store and not Nordstrom, but still.
here's the point of my post, which ties in perfectly with one of my previous posts about the way i talk. i'm calling the manager asap tomorrow, and i'm not playing the race card. that gets me nowhere. i mean white people usually never believe it when black people claim that anyways, and just think you're just trying to take advantage somehow. i thought about talking to the manager while i was at the store, right then and there, but why take the risk of them blowing me off too because i'm black ? they need to hear my complaint objectively. i will call the store, in my most professional and diplomatic tone. they WILL think i'm white. i know this because it's happened before. they will apologize, they will take me seriously, and take some kind of action against PAM (i'm not saying she needs to be fired, but she needs a lesson on customer service. if she was just having a bad day, that's got nothing to do with me). over the phone is the only way i'll make a complaint-that way or i'll write a letter. NEVER in person. believe me, i've done it in person, and i know it felt like they never took me seriously.
Friday, December 22, 2006
i was taken aback. that's what people at work think? that we're so well off that i choose to work 20 hours a week because i have nothing better to do? i smiled and got really embarassed. flattered, i triedto pretend that my embarassment was because what he suggested was true. what do you say to that? because actually the opposite is true; my man makes just enough that we get by and those measly 20 hours i work really helps us out. in the field that i'm in, even just 20 hours make a difference. in other words, we need my "little" 20 hours.
i smiled and laughed it off and didn't try to dissuade him from thinking that. how does someone get by working 20 hours a week? the truth is, that the perception of my husband making such big money and me working only 20 hours a week because i'm a bored well -off semi-housewife is a nice thought, and honestly what i'd like people to think. actually it's mainly other black people that i'd like to think that. well, aqaintance black people who don't know me well enough to know otherwise. but i'll settle for anyone thinking that.
i married my husband because i love him. this is going to sound so wrong but here goes. now that we're married (and we've been married 10 years), i feel like there's a status thing to live up to, him being white and all. i mean, if you're a black woman married to a white guy with no money, what's the point? obviously i don't feel that way, but i know there's a lot of black people who do, like, they'd only get with someone white if he had money. why else would a black woman be with a white guy???
here's another truth: that nice, big Landcruiser(and i'm sorry but i love that thing) you people at work see me driving? pretty nice, huh? how can we afford that thing with me working 20 hours? for one thing, my husband insisted we have his dream suv. but let me put it this way. if i weren't working that 20 hours, i definitely wouldn't be rolling it. and the cost to fill it up? i wouldn't know these days, since i haven't been able to actually top it off in almost a year with the gas prices.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
i got the first call early in the day while i was in Fred Meyer shopping with my daughters, and it actually surprised me because with all the commotion just trying to get through the store with my kids, i had totally forgotten about the ad. the woman on the other end sounded so nice and i could tell she was a little older, maybe 40's or 50's. she talked to me like we were old friends and she was coming over to borrow something. she was so sweet. she made arrangements to come to my house, which is only about 5 blocks away! she even told me my name was cute (my first thoughts were to wonder what her angle was...).
later in the day she called, and addressed me by my name and made other arrangements to come see the furniture as something came up in her schedule. again, her voice sounded so familiar, and friendly. i was almost certain i'd recognize her from someplace when she finally showed up.
and then i stopped. i KNOW i sound white on the phone. i have a very sweet, white-ish sounding voice (yes, i said it, I sound white). we had 3 conversations on the phone and i could tell that when she finally came over we'd relate in a very friendly sort of way (same neighborhood, etc). and then i got all insecure and started not wanting to be home when she got there. i didn't want her to be disappointed when i opened the door and saw a black girl.
does that matter to people? 'cause whenever i'm in a situation where i talk to someone over the phone before meeting them (job interviews, or buying something from someone off Craigslist, etc), i always cringe because i know they'll be shocked to find out i'm black. and no, i'm not exaggerating. i've experienced that look of surprise before. i hate it. i don't know why i care so much. i don't know why i sound white. well, i guess i do. my mom majored in english and corrected my english all the time growing up. plus the fact that i grew up with a lot more white friends than black so i guess i never learned to have that "edge" in my voice. oh god, did i say that?
i know i'm gonna get flamed for that statement. but it's true. but the funny thing is, i could and probably will turn right around and blog about how ridiculous that there's "white way" and a "black way" to talk, and how dare any white person tell me that i talk white.
Monday, December 18, 2006
i love going to asian supermarkets. there's one, it's called Fubonn ( love that name, i love the way it sounds!) on 82nd. i went in there about a year ago and i swear, all the people looked at me like they were wondering what the heck i was doing in there. it wasn't really a mean stare, it was kind of like they wondered if i knew where i was. some asian business seem to be really mainstream, and everyone goes there. but one day i went to Pho Hung on 73 and Fremont, and i got the look again. it was all asian inside.
so today, i went to the salon, and the two girls were really nice. they did give kind of a weird look when i first walked in the door, which made me think maybe it was for asians only. but hey. how difficult can it be to pull out some clippers and cut a boy's hair? they spoke to each other in vietnamese, which to me personally feels the same as someone whispering in front of you. i made sure to smile though. after they were done, i wanted to use my debit card to pay for it, but they didn't have the setup for that. so you know what? they let me write a check! i was so surprised. maybe they figured that the potential of a bad check or any check is better than nothing at all, since my other options were to either not pay, or leave to go get cash (and possibly never come back ) i gave them all this unsolicited information about how i just lived down the street and offering up my phone number and other stuff. for them to take a check just wasn't what i expected. almost every asian business i've ever gone to wont take checks. i 'm sure i'll be going back for my kids' haircuts and my brow waxing.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
i was talking to my brother today, i don't remember how we got started talking about it, but he was talking about ancestors. he asked, "where are all of George Washington's family??" down the line, generation after generation. i wasn't sure what he was getting at, my first thoughts were that i didn't know and why should i care?
then i realized what a common name Washington is. i went to school with several unrelated people with the last name Washington. and they were all black. i must have known at least 10 different families in my life with that last name. not one of them a white family. So where are George Washington's decendants?
i'm not sure what my brother's implications were but it's an interesting point. i mean, his family must have had a GRIP of slaves, is all i can think of. but what about his family? do you know any Washingtons? are they white? i'd LOVE to know.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
so it got me thinking. white people must feel that way ALL THE TIME. i mean, everywhere they go, there are their people. no wonder it's so easy to feel invisible in portland. well specifically the Hawthorne district, where my mom and i went this past summer.
we took my kids over there to stroll around in the evening time. all along Hawthorne street is riddled with novelty shops and eateries. we walked past several restaurants where the white people were laughing and drinking, having a good time. it's hard to explain, because of course who looks around at passersby while they're eating? but this was different. it's like, we were in a sea of white people who were chatting and having a good time, and never even saw us. we were invisible. like i said, it's hard to explain. it's something as simple as someone looking at you and instead of giving you a "hello" smile, just merely looking past you. it's like that. and it's not that i wanted attention, it's the feeling of not being thought of as important enough to be noticed.
but the same way i felt so at home, and felt so much like atlanta was where i belonged, all the white people here must feel that way and so much more. no wonder they love it so much here in Portland. what if portland was only 7 percent white? would they love it as much? i dont think they would. would portland be the same city if it were only 7 percent white? i'll have to get back to you on that one.
Monday, December 04, 2006
"That's such a white thing" she says.
"what's a white thing? dog parks?"
"OFF-LEASH dog parks."
"really? i don't think so."
"you don't think so?"
"no, what's race got to do with it?" ( i've never given any thought about it until today)
"have you ever seen black people at the off-leash dog park???"
i had to stop to think. "well um, no...."
"that's my point."
that conversation unleashed (no pun intended) a long discussion about the relationship between white people and their dogs, and black people and their dogs. there really are differences, starting with the dog park thing. i have never seen any black people at the dog park letting their dog run wild. have you? and not that it's a bad thing, i've just never seen it. i've also never seen or heard of any black people who let their dogs sleep in their beds. have you? but i've met plenty of white people who do.
my first argument was that yes, there are many black people who regard their dogs as family. there's no difference there. but from my observations, i've never seen a black person take a plastic bag with them while walking their dogs, picking up the poop with their hands, through the bag. and i never see them at off-least dog parks. and not that there's any particular reason why, but on the flip side, i don't think it's just coincidence. i guess it's a cultural thing.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
white people in Portland are not as "flavorful" as they may be in Cali. i've been to Cali, and it's very colorful in many places and i'm sure that a lot of the white people there might do "black" things by my [Portland] standard and still be very white.
on the flip side, many of the black people here are still, well, very one-dimensional. meaning, that there are still many of "us" who are not as progressive thinking. thus the reason for the list. i should have mentioned that that "acting white" list was based on those black people who haven't had the chance to go anywhere or do anything where they'd get more perspective.
Monday, November 27, 2006
ski (most definitely)
hike (kind of)
camp (i think i know one black person who likes to camp)
bike (i'm talking serious biking)
wear clogs (hi. yours truly)
enunciate and articulate their words
eat things like cottage cheese (um, yeah)
flip their hair
wash hair often
be wealthy without telling anyone
eat healthy or organic
listen to anything other than hip hop, r&b, or jazz.
not greasing their hair down constantly
drink Hefeweizen (mmm!)
these aren't necessarily stereotypes. it's actually what a lot of black people think are exclusive to white people. i've been accused of 'trying to be white' more times than i can count. and honestly, it was mostly in my younger years-teenage and early 20s. i think people still think this way, but in your late 20s and 30s, people don't say it. i mean, come on.
this is what black people "do". if you're white and you do these things, you might be accused of "trying" to be black)
pop their gum
put any type of oil product in their hair ( i don't know why they'd want to, but i've seen it)
wear a big gold medallion chain
wear K-Swiss shoes
wear athletic warm-up suits
wear braids or cornrows
have a big b*tt (occasionally, a white girl will have a big b*tt-i'm not talking about fat)
drive an Escalade with shiny custom wheels
talk slang in a loud voice
blast hip hop music in their car
what i find the most ironic is this: if a black woman wears her hair relaxed, which is actually emulating white hair, it's still considered to be a very black thing. but if she flips it, with the whole neck action, she's 'trying to be white' . if a black woman goes natural, it's a major deal. white people don't know what to think. is she going to get all malcom X on them? she might get called granola, or black hippie. well, at least that's how it is here in Portland. i can't speak on the way it might be in the northeast or southeast united states.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Yesterday in portland the rain finally letup and the sun came out. it was nice. i took the kids to the park. i ran into one of the few other black moms i had met at an indoor park once. like me, she's married to a white guy and has biracial boys. i dont know her very well, but when we see each other, we always say hello. since our kids were at the park playing, we stood together and talked. we talked a lot about being black women married to white men (more on this later). then we talked about the schools our kids were going to. i was shocked at things she said. not really shocked at what she said, really, but that our feelings were so similar.
without turning this post into a mini book, our conversation went this way: we talked about schools. she asked where mine went. i told her that my son was currently going to XYZ in-the-hood school, but that next year, i think he'll be going to ABC not-in-the-hood-but-still-very-diverse school. she then said that she thought the ABC school to be, well, really diverse. and, she actually turned down her mouth. i was confused. i said that yes, it was diverse but asked what exactly she meant, since i could tell that she didn't think it was such a great thing. she back pedalled a little and said that 'diversity was good, but, well, she didn't know....'
i pressed the issue. when people say 'they don't know', that's really just an excuse to not finish what they're saying because they might be afraid you don't agree. i said, "yes, you DO know, tell me". in a nutshell she said that even though she wanted her kids to be in a school with black kids, she wondered what KIND of black children would be there. according to her, it seemed that most of the diverse schools in portland were filled with black children from broken homes, wearing $80 sneakers (whose parents buy them expensive clothes to compensate for something at home), and black children who just weren't really "quality" kids (i.e. low income, single parent households, etc), and that she just didn't want her kids in that kind of environment, assuming that it's a true observation. her kids currently go to a religious private school. i could tell she felt a little uneasy about putting her thoughts into words, and i basically told her that it was okay to think that, there are black people feel the same way we do, but no one really talks about it.
even though i understood where she was coming from, i guess i was just shocked that someone else felt similar to me. if you had talked to me 5 months ago, i would have probably said the same thing. but my son being in pre-k at XYZ school has changed my mind a little. for the most part, i did agree with her. but then our conversation turned to which scenario was worse: A) our biracial kids going to a school with little diversity and feeling possibly isolated and left out due to being the only black kid in class; OR B) going to school with many peers who come from broken homes and living in the hood but not feeling leftout from being the only black kid.
she and i both agreed that our children were from good middle to upper class homes with functional families, both parents, and were not the typical black kids. while she was leaning toward scenario A, i was leaning toward scenario B. she was surprised that i would choose the latter scenario. but, from my experience, all the black friends i've had that whose parents sent them away to the burbs to go to school with no other black children always seemed to rebel. they evidently felt like they were missing something (culturally), because they always ended up in trouble IN the hood (which kind of defeats the purpose of sending them to the 'burbs. what good is a great educational experience if you 've got a felony on your record for life?)
my theory is that i'd rather teach my kids to be good kids amongst their black peers, less fortunate or not. they'll be able to decipher right and wrong and wont think the hood is so enticing.
Friday, November 17, 2006
why are the women so attitude-y?
why do they name their kids Shaniqkwa and jaequaan?
why do they call themselves the "N" word?
come on, white readers. you KNOW you've always wondered about that. but you know you'd never ask one of us.
this book looks waaay interesting and entertaining. i haven't read it yet, but i plan to go get my hands on it this weekend some time. it's got some good reviews and is supposedly a really funny read.
when i saw the table of contents, it reminded me how i've been really wanting to address the Attitude thing. i want to address it, because most of the time, it's only a perception issue. meaning, black women and white women (major generalization here, i know) just act differently. white women are usually all smiley, and cheery and can be really phony when they don't like you--whereas, in my experience black women wont pretend to like you if they really dont (emphasis on : in my experience). and not to say that black women don't smile and aren't happy, it's just that our happiness display might be different from theirs.
but i learned the hard way that regardless of what i felt the inside, i had perception issues. i was raised by educated parents and there was no anger or attitudes in our home. so why was i always perceived as having an attitude? i have no idea. in my early to mid twenties i had two jobs where i was constantly being told that i wasn't friendly enough. i didn't smile enough. i wasn't happy enough. geez people! this wasn't disneyland!! the white men in management were always on my case. day after day they would tell me this. it bugged the shit outta me. i wasn't rude or mean to anyone. i'm a mellow, semi-serious person by nature, i don't walk around with a silly grin all the time, and i guess that was perceived as having an attitude.
have you ever seen a white woman act serious or mellow and not all smiley- smiley? i sure have. and no one classifies them as having an attitude. i personally think that that stereotype of black women having attitudes is so deeply ingrained that white people just automatically assume it about black women whenever we act different than they think we should.
so a couple jobs later, the same thing happened. again, it was my white male manager who told me the same thing. over and over. i was always "in trouble" because of it. what's wrong? are you having some problems? why aren't you more social [with all the cheery white people]? what are you upset about? why aren't you smiling? and so on and so on.
i seriously couldn't figure it out until one day, we had a meeting and he told me that i had a perception problem. i hated him, i hated him, i hated him. but that was the best thing he could have ever said to me, because i realized that he was right. the fact that i DID NOT have an attitude didn't matter. it was the fact that i gave that impression. the fact that i appeared to have an attitude was more important than the fact that i didn't have one. from that point forward, i did a 360 degree change. i realized that the only way i would ever get ahead in my career is to change the way people saw me.
i took a long, hard look at myself. when i came into work in the morning, i never greeted anyone. i never said "good morning" to people. when i left, i never said "goodbye" to anyone that i didn't really, really like. i never said "hello" to people in passing, and if i did, i didn't smile. those words "you have a perception problem" have stayed with me. i looked in the mirror and realized that i actually looked prettier when i smiled. imagine that!! a free makeover! and i stopped to think how good it actually felt when people smiled at me and said good morning to me, or hello, even if they didn't know me that well. why couldn't i do that? i could and i did.
so to this day, at work, or anywhere, it's very natural for me to be smiling for no reason and to say hello and good morning to people. and when i leave work, i always tell those around me to have a great night. or weekend. it took practice for me. some people do that naturally, for me, even though i'm a nice person, outward "friendliness" was a learned skill. it has actually made my life a lot better.
So, thank you, Mitch. I hated you, but Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
(The white girl)
‘I’m Italian, irish, Scottish, Native American , and French….’
(me, the black girl, THINKING)
Really? I’m black, and African American, and colored and Negro.
no, but seriously. as long as i can remember in school, the other black girls would always ask me, "what are you mixed with?" constantly. i couldn't really understand it,but it was always asked. it was always the darker skinned girls, usually. i couldn't understand this because even though i'm light skinned, i don't think i looked biracial. plus, why did it matter?
constantly being asked that influenced me, too. i found myself then and even now when i meet an "ambigously biracial" woman wondering what she is mixed with, or if she's even biracial at all--as if it helps me figure out my place or something. even more importantly, i always feel like i need to know whether or not they consider themselves black. i've met women who look black, nappy hair and all, but after talking with them, i learned that they're panamanian, or columbian, or puerto rican, and truly don't consider themselves black. weird, eh? Probably not as weird to a white person as it is to a black person. and i have to admit, it always disappoints me. i'm not sure exactly why. it's like they're telling me that they could never relate to me, or they that somehow they're exempt from all the ugly stereotypes and racism.
i have this friend, whose mom is creole (mixed french, black, indian-more black than the other two ethnicites), and her dad is black. for as long as i've known her, she will swear up and down that she's not black. i can't remember the exact situation, but a long time ago, we were out together and somehow friends started talking about races, and someone asked her if she was black (she looks black, she IS black, I don't remember why they were asking), and she replied that she was not black, she was Creole. I was so irritated. Like somehow, she is better than all the black people, and doesn't want to be classified as one of them. She's actually proud that she thinks people don't think she's black.
She's also married to a white man. Figures. I can't stand that type of attitude. Yeah, my husband is white too, but not because I'm trying not to be black. And, i dont compromise my blackness to be married to him, either.
Friday, November 10, 2006
I have to get them major props, first off, because they were truly great. It was exactly the kind of thing I want my boys to experience. All the kids got to participate, and it was really, really fun. I just couldn’t stop thinking how ironic this was! And even more ironic was the fact that of course (I’ve mentioned this before) my kids and I were the ONLY people of color there. I’m not even going to go there again. That irks me to no end.
When I first came in the door, there were several white moms who were glaring at me, as if I was crashing their cultural event. I’m not kidding. And if that’s NOT what they were thinking (because it could’ve been just my perception), they shouldn’t have been staring so hard . If anyone was out of place it should have been them.
What’s even more ironic was that at the end, the duo encouraged everyone, kids and parents to get up and shake their instruments and dance to the beat. But me, the only black adult in the room, and probably the only one with any Soul (e.g. real dancing skills) whatsoever, was the only one NOT dancing. I encouraged my boys to dance, but I just wasn’t feelin’ it- shaking my booty with all these white people. It was like that Sesame Street sketch- one of these things just doesn’t belong…….
Thursday, November 09, 2006
first of all, the reason why i named this blog That Black Girl was because i wanted to blog about that aspect of my life. it's no different than being a Political blogger or Mommy blogger, or a knitting or adoption blogger and blogging about only that aspect of someones life. no, it's not their entire life, and they're definitely not only defined by their blog topic.
second of all, my viewpoints are obviously biased because of my experience being black, but they are my experiences and i would hardly call pointing out the differences of whiteness and blackness being racist. i'm married to a white man. my kids are half white. i couldn't be racist. however, there are cultural differences. there are things about both cultures that i like, dislike or am indifferent about.
regarding the post about MLK:
What was your response to your co-worker?
honestly, i did one of those "Aah. really?? hmmm...whatever" numbers. nod the head, like i hear you, without taking my eyes away from the computer. i HATE confrontation (imagine that! a black girl who, unlike the stereotype, doesn't look for opportunities to get loud and go off, waving her hand in your face and rolling the neck while chewing gum). and no, i guess it really didn't have to be confrontational. i could have easily corrected her, but the circumstance wasn't right for me, and I know her. she's really kind of just clueless. i'd rather not get worked up over someone who's just clueless when it comes to things like that. i didn't feel the need to be right and have the last word. i didn't compromise my blackness by not saying anything.
From what is written, you have contempt for tall white men in management. Your husband is a tall white man, whom you pester about getting into management. Is it any wonder he resists you in this?
Hold up. What???? did you read even half my post??
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I know this firsthand. in my 10 years at the current company i work for, i've seen people- women and black people passed over NICE promotions for a white male without a degree. i once applied for a promotion and was passed over for a handsome, white guy who had not been there nearly as long as i had and did not have a degree. go figure. if it had happened once, well, i would have chalked it up to excellent interviewing skills, or some potential in him they may have seen. but this happened over and over. so many of the promotions have been given to white males who i know have no college degree. what does that tell you?
a) the company's going to pot because of the inexperieced people in upper-management
b) it doesn't necessarily take a college degree to help run a company and work in upper management
c)white men are desireable in corporate america
d) all of the above.
the job my husband has now is good. it pays the bills and some. but there are issues, and i'd like to see him do something he'd have more fun in, and possibly more pay. he drags his feet when i tell him that maybe it's time to move on. he likes to be complacent. doesn't want to rock the boat. but i tell him all the time, corporate america wants him. from what i've seen, corporate america likes white men. they'd rather have a MAN for mainly patriarchal reasons, but a WHITE man must be like icing on the cake. oh- and don't let him be a good looking, tall white man, they're all over that.
so, is it wrong that i want my husband to use this to his advantage? i've specifically told him in the past that i knew he'd get a job that he didn't have all the qualifications for because he's a white man. he didn't seem to realize this little bit of information, ohhhh but i did. i always encourage him to apply for jobs even if they require more experience, credentials or education than what he has. because, it's really not about what you know. it's who you know and being white definitely helps. it's worked for him in the past. and the fact that he's tall can't hurt, either.
it's really not that far of a stretch.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Whatever. This isn't a political blog post or anything. But I had to relate what happened at work yesterday. [white] co-worker starts asking if I knew anything about the company we work for recently declaring the MLK holiday in January a new company holiday. As in, paid day off. MLK day was never recognized by the company before. By the way, I think it has something to do with a new black woman big-wig. Sweet.
So anyway, Coworker chick starts telling ME, how ridiculous it was that we close the office for Martin Luther King day. 'I mean, I'm not saying he wasn't a great person or anything, but if it wasn't him fighting for civil rights, it would have been someone else. They [the company] doesn't need to close the office for it'.
Do I look white to her?
Why would she say that to ME? A black person? I mean, does that even make sense?
Also, I wanted give props to this site that one of the commenters left, a site about our hair. It's actually a website in French, but the link is the site translated through Babelfish.com. It's really a great site (the hair site).
The thing is, I know how ignorant, or immature, or insecure or uneducated I sound (I have taken black history classes in college). One commenter told me that I have issues. And you know what? I do have issues. About race, about my place in the community, about fitting in and perception of me. And if you don't, if you're lucky enough to have that strong personality trait where you couldn't care less about what others think, I envy you. I don't want to care so much about what others think, but I do. I just do.
This is why I started this blog. I needed an outlet. Sometimes my thinking/perspective is probably off a little. But that's me, and I'm trying just get it out there. I know I'm not the only insecure black woman out there. I know I'm not the only one who has a mental struggle about my hair, my skin, my features daily. It's not to say I'm not confident. It's not easy being the minortiy. I'm one of those young black women you see at the store who seems confident, looks good, fits in. But you never know how people really feel. And this may sound contradictory but I am very confident in who I am. I truly am confident and insecure at the same time.
I wish I could say that this blog will inspire someone. Maybe inadvertently it will. I just wanted to be able to write about what I think and feel, straight up.
Monday, October 30, 2006
i thought it was funny, because my husband and i talk about race issues all the time. and one of the things we have talked about in the past is how it always seems that white people don't seem to get cold. Like, especially here in Oregon, it could be the dead of winter, but as soon as the sun comes out, you see many white people wearing shorts and flip flops. Just because the sun is out doesn't make it warm!!
now, i dont want to offend anyone, but this IS my observation. but you know who else does this? Hubz himself. yes! well, without the flip flops- he's not really into that, but he wears shorts all year round. we live in an older home and even though it's pretty air tight and we've sealed up drafty doors, occasionally, it's drafty. as for me, i have to be warm all the time. in the winter, when i'm lounging at home i'm always in thick socks and flannel lounge gear. but my husband? he's usually barefoot with shorts on.
i affectionately call him polar bear. he has joked in the past that white people are nicknamed polar bears because they dont mind the cold weather and will dress skimpy when it's cold. on the flip side, my husband always relates this story about his college roomate who was black, and in the middle of summer, would be wrapped up in the dorm room in a blanket with the heat on.
black people will say this is because 'we come from africa, which has a warm climate, and the desire to be warm is just in our blood', and vice versa about white people.
so anyway, back to "Bob". gosh i love the guy. i love that even though he's upper middle class and white, he doesnt feel insecure in the hood with all the black and mexican and asians at the school. but for the life of me, i couldn't understand why none of his kids had coats on today. brrr.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
I don't even watch videos. i dont even like rap. YES IT'S TRUE. I'M BLACK AND I DONT LIKE RAP. but i was not feeling well the other day and the remote stopped on one of those video channels, and this song was playing. I couldn't turn away. Did i want to see some hoochie's butt in my face? No way. But yet it was amazingly captivating. are these rap guys geniuses? or are they just irresponsible, greedy, womanizers?
Ugh. no wonder you have jobless, 19 year old black guys subconsciously acting pimpish, rolling in their escalades without a [real] clue.
That's the problem. Let me translate:
Shake your money maker
Like somebody's bout to pay ya
I see you on my radar
Don't you act like you're a faker
You know I got it
If you wanna come get it
Stand next to this money
Like - ey ey
Shake your money maker
Like somebody's bout to pay ya
Don't worry about them haters
Keep your nose up in the air
You know I got it
If you wanna come get it
Stand next to this money
Like - ey ey
SHAKE YOUR BUTT AS IF YOU WERE A STRIPPER GETTING PAID.
I KNOW YOU SEE ME LOOKING AT YOU, DONT PRETEND LIKE YOU DONT.
YOU KNOW I HAVE ALL THIS MONEY, COME OVER HERE, LIKE A STRIPPER
SO YOU CAN HAVE SOME. AND DONT WORRY ABOUT PEOPLE WHO DONT LIKE YOU,
KEEP YOUR NOSE IN THE AIR
Shake, shake, shake your money maker
Like you were shaking it for some paper
It took your momma 9 months to make ya
Might as well shake what your momma gave ya
You, you lookin good in them jeans
I bet you'd look even beter with me in between
I keep my mind on my money - money on my mind
But you's a hell of a distraction when you shake your behind
I got *** on my right side pourin' some cups
My whole hood is to my left and they ain't givin a f*!k
So feel free to get loose and get carried away
So by tomorrow you forgot what you where saying today
But don't forget about this feeling that I am making you get
And all the calories you burn from me making you sweat
The mile highpoints you earn when we taking my jet and
How everywhere you turn I'll be making you wet
SHAKE SHAKE YOUR B*TT. YOU HAVE A B*TT, YOU MIGHT
AS WELL SHAKE IT.THOSE JEANS LOOK GOOD ON YOU BUT
THEY'D LOOK BETTER WITH ME IN THEM. I GOT MONEY AND ALL
MY FRIENDS SITTING HERE, BUT THEY DONT CARE, THEY ALREADY THINK
YOU'RE A SLEEZE, SO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT, BECAUSE YOU WONT REMEMBER
TOMORROW ANYWAY. OH- BUT DONT
FORGET ABOUT HOW HOT I MAKE YOU AND HOW MUCH WEIGHT YOU'LL
LOSE BECAUSE I'M GIVING YOU A S*X WORKOUT. EVERYWHERE YOU
TURN I'LL BE ALL OVER YOU MAKING YOU WET.
Switch, switch, switch it from right to left
And switch it till you running right out of breath
And take a break until you ready again
And you can invite over as many friends as
You want to but I really want you and just
Be thankfull that Pharrel gave you something to bump to
Luda - I'm at the top of my game
You want my hands from your bottom to the top of your frame
And I - just wanna take a little ride on your curves
And get erotic giving your body just what it deserves and
Let me give you some swimming lessons on the p*nis
Backstroke, breaststroke, stroke of a genius
Yepp call me the renissance man get up and
I stay harder then a cinderblock man
Hey I;m just a bedroom gangster
And I've been meaning to tell that I really mus thank ya when you
AGAIN, I'M TELLING YOU TO SHAKE YOUR B*TT, THIS TIME
UNTIL YOU'RE OUT OF BREATH. YOU CAN TAKE A BREAK, BUT
AS SOON AS YOU'RE DONE, YOU BETTER SHAKE YOUR B*TT
SOME MORE. OKAY, YOU CAN INVITE YOUR FRIENDS OVER TOO,
BUT I REALLY JUST WANT YOU,
YOU SHOULD BE GLAD I'M GIVING YOU SOMETHING TO SHAKE YOUR B*TT TO.
YOU KNOW YOU WANT ME TO TOUCH YOU ALL OVER, BUT I JUST WANT
TO HAVE S*X, AND I WILL TEACH YOU HOW, AND I'M SO VERILE AND
GREAT AND THE BEST LOVER..[INSERT FREAKY P*RN*GRAPHIC STUFF HERE].YADA YADA...
Rock rock, rock it an make it work, girl
Please don't stop it till it hurts, girl
You - you been looking a little tipsy
So if you could just shake it a little this way
See I'm a member of the BBC
The original breadwinner of DTP
You the center of attention that is distracting the squad
Cause everybody in the campus like - oh my god she can
DONT STOP SHAKING YOUR B*TT UNTIL YOU'RE IN PAIN.
YOU LOOK LIKE YOU'RE DRUNK AND TIRED BUT I DONT CARE,
I NEED YOU TO STILL SHAKE YOUR B*TT SOME MORE OVER HERE.
ALL THE HOMIES ARE WATCHING YOU AND THINK YOU'RE SO GREAT
BECAUSE YOU KNOW HOW TO SHAKE YOUR *utt. [what an accomplishment!]
So what do you think?
Monday, October 23, 2006
i think it's fabulous when my asian and german friends can just whip up dishes from their home country. and it got me thinking. what are dishes from my country? i guess it would help to know what country my ancestors are from. hmmm. i dont have a clue (thanks, slave massa...) i mean, if it weren't for slavery, WE would know so much more about ourselves- why i have this feature or that feature, the characteristics of my country in the continent of africa. but all that was stripped away from us.
and the foods. i don't even know a name of an African food. sure, i could google some on the internet, but that's not the point. it's just not the same as cooking it from the heart, remembering your grandma making it for you as a family dish while you're growing up. it's like being adopted and not knowing your parents history or anything about where you came from.
okay, so we have grease-soaked, cholesterol-raising soul-food, which is not the same thing. my family tries to eat healthy. i'm not into all that soul food, which is actually american soul food. but it's not even healthy. i love collard greens. but i'm into eating healthy. how come the soul food is so bad for us? that's not cool. i don't cook soul food, and where i live, i'd never serve it because most of my friends are health conscious as well. i mean, is there a healthy way to cook Mac and cheese? it's only real soul food with a ton of butter and cheese. no thanks.
i guess that's why i prefer to be called black, as opposed to african american. it never felt right for me to be called african-american. i mean, i know its the politically correct name and all that, for different reasons. black people want to feel that connection to where they originated. white people refer to us that way because they dont want to offend and they figure that's what we want.
but even though my ancestors are from africa, i dont feel any ties to africa. how could i? i've never even been there. my grandma's grandma had never been there. i've never known any family from there. the true africans, the ones who have moved here recently from africa - from what i understand, they dont even like us. they're not like black americans(in a good way), in that they havent experienced the black[american] experience. i dont know if they even relate to the materialistic, hip hop world in which we're associated with (hey...maybe i'm more african than i think?).
in my opinion, being black is like this:
u.s. slavery history
when i used to refer to myself as african-american, it just didnt feel right. maybe i didnt do it enough. it just felt like i was trying to be something i wasn't. i'm american through and through. unfortunately, i dont know enough about africa.
Friday, October 20, 2006
well, for starters, it doesnt help when your hair stylist is talking about another black woman (who wears her hair natural) and calls her nappy headed. yes, our hair is nappy, but why is that BAD??
see, that's what i'm talking about. and i think at this point in my life i'm too self conscious to be talked about by my own race, let alone the stares from white people.
i called my husband at work to see what he would think if i cut off all of my hair and went natural-not in a boy style, super, super short, but maybe a couple inches long with texturizer. he's fine with it. no problem whatsoever.
i just dont know if i can take that leap. i just dont think i would look like me. ME. i know that i'm getting closer to doing something natural, because i'm at least thinking about it now, and this time last year it was out of the question. but in all other aspects, i'm a natural girl. i hate shelling out 60 bucks every 6 weeks to only be halfway satisfied. i've done it since i was 14!
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
there are some really messed-up-in-the-head people out there, and i'm not one of them, despite what you may think. however, i admit that i may be a little delusional when it comes to perceptions about my appearance, race, and how i see others, but that's about it.
anway, i'm getting off track here. as i was saying before, i do fun things with my kids. portland is great in that it has a ton of kid and family friendly resources and programs and activities for kids. i spend a lot of time taking my kids to library storytimes, indoor parks, community center program/classes, museums, farmers markets,etc. i like culture. i want my kids to experience reading, and music and i don't stay at home and use the TV as an all day babysitter.
for a long time, i thought portland wasn't diverse. albeit, we(black people) only account for 7% of the portland population. but whenever i'd go to storytimes, or museums or the community center programs or other kid friendly places, i'd be the only (usually, occasionally i might see another 1 or 2) mom of color. every once in a while there might be another black mom or asian, but generally, it's a room full of white moms, and me.
yet, when i got to the mall, a large percentage of the mall population seem to be young black moms, married or not, with their babies. Hmmm. why aren't they at Storytime? why don't i see them in the libraries with their children? why don't i see them at the community center classes? why don't i see them at the childrens' museum? why didn't i see any at my boys' swimming lessons this summer? of course this is a huge generalization, because i know that there are black moms out there who do these activities like me. it's just that, i dont see it very often.
i would LOVE to get all chatty at the indoor park or library with another mom of color, the way i ALWAYS notice the white moms doing. and sure, i can talk to them, and i DO talk to them, but it's nice to see some other black faces as well. and on the occasion that there is another black mom there, we almost always start making small talk, and i love it.
almost every time i'm at the mall, i see the black moms there, pushing the strollers, seemingly aimless (being a mallrat is aimless), being a consumer. i believe that you do what you know. while i was growning up, i did so many activities all the time. my mom and dad read to me, i learned foreign languages, we traveled, i took ballet, tap, ice-skating, piano and flute lessons and probably more that i just can't remember. my dad made sure we saw all the monuments and important buildings in Washington dc. he made sure we went to the world forestry center, and saw the lewis and clark trails here in oregon. so naturally, this is what i know and do when raising my children.
i almost leap for joy when i show up to storytime and there's another black mom there. actually, this past summer i kind of buddied up with one that i had met there. she and i were always the only moms of color there, in a room of about 20 or so. and although i have lots of white friends i really felt instantly comfortable with this black mom that i met. we were a lot alike (educate and exposed) so every tuesday, we'd sit together and chat.
the white moms were like that all the time though. do white people feel instantly comfortable with each other when they go to places see each other? (more on this subject later) i would venture to guess probably not, since seeing each other everywhere is not such a big deal.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
it's a little ironic that someone left me this comment, because last night i was thinking about how this blog probably makes me sound SO insecure. i must seem like some snobby, insecure, self-hatin' woman.
well, i'm not. here's the thing. i wanted this blog to be an outlet where i could write about things from way deep down that i know other people feel, but no one wants to share that side. oh, come on. you mean, deep down, you've never thought your nose was too big, or your hair sucked, or you felt jealous or spiteful?
most people with a blog of faithful readers don't want to open that side up. I mean, who does? people dont just go around talking about how they wonder why their skin color is what it is and how they think it has affected them. but we're all human. we ALL have insecurities to one degree or another (and don't tell me you don't ).
I don't need therapy, i grew up with both my parents still married, traveled all over with them, graduated from college, and now i'm in a good, healthy relationship with my husband and kids. there's nothing WRONG with me. this i know.
but i still sometimes wonder about things or think things that are not so easy to just say to someone. So here it is. i will try though, not to come across as so insecure.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
There's some naivete for you. so, fast forward 12 years or so, and i know better. i cant tell you how many times i've gone out and bought my husband something really GQ-ish and he may like it, but not enough to wear it. and we'd get ready to leave the house and he had on a t-shirt and some funky ol' jeans. when i'd nag him about changing clothes, he'd say nevermind and go watch TV.
But i digress.
actually, i think i'm a little more anal about it because we're interracial. i feel like, when we go out, we already stand out, and i always feel a little self conscious that we look like a couple of misfits who attracted each other. that sounds silly but people always want to see the perfect couple. you know, they're both beautiful, they both have the same skin color, they're both stylish and similar. but my husband and i are about as opposite looking as you can get. i'm short and brown, while he's tall and white.
i at least want to look good together so even if people think we look like opposites, we don't look like freak misfits. when we go out together, i'm always conscious about how we look. for the black people we see, i want him to look somewhat prosperous and clean cut (heaven forbid i marry a cornball white guy with no money and no style,what sense is that?) . and for the white people, i want to look clean, assimilated, and goody-goody (heaven forbid this handsome white man marry some raggedy, slang talkin', big bootied black girl from the ghetto). I always assume that people are thinking these things about interracial couples, even though they're not true in my case.
i'm insecure about that. i know. and even after 12 years, i'm still lots better than i was 12 years ago. we'd go to malls in a mainly white area, and i'd be running out of there in tears. white people seemed the give the dirtiest looks at us. at the black malls, black people would give us a curious look, like, hmmmmm...now how did that happen? which, the black looks were still better than the cold evil what-would-a-white-man-see-in-you stare. now, i know better than to go out to places like Washington Square Mall (aka white city). it's not that i can't handle it, because i can. i'd just rather not subject myself to it if i dont have to.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Ugh. This was the lovely site I saw this morning. She is the mom of one of the kids in my son's preschool class. Niiiice. I can't even imagine what it feels like to be in the mindframe where I would think this was okay. It's like some or US* are stuck in this little hole without realizing how to be progressive. Some of US* aren't quite getting it. I'm glad I know better. So, so glad.
Don't get me wrong, this is tacky and trashy no matter who you are. But being black especially, I feel we have to present our best front to the world. We've had enough negativity in the past and the present without doing this.
*Black people, African Americans
Monday, October 02, 2006
i wish i had the guts to go all natural. i guess i think that everyone else thinks like i do, and i dont want people to make prejudgements about the person that i really am.
i shudder to think that every six weeks for the next 30 years i'll still be relaxing my hair like i do now. that's a lot of money, and besides, i really have the desire to be natural. i mean, white people can just get up and go. Not me! but, obviously my fear of what (white people, not SO much black people) people think stronger than wanting to be all natural.
And why do some black people always get so upset when other black people say that another black person has 'good hair'? the truth of the matter is that i know white women with not-so-good hair and i also know white women with really good hair (like my friend luana), and no one blinks an eye when they talk about it. But somehow when I talk about a black girl with good hair, it translates to how close to white their hair is.
Black or white. some women have good hair, some dont. no, but seriously, i KNOW why it's such an issue. It's the whole black pride thing but still. I'm just tired of the whole black thing being such a THING.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
He recently asked me about where we live, and asked what school my son would go to next year.
I didn't reciprocate the question after i explained that my son would continue to go to that school.
and i dont know why i was even sweatin' the issue. but all evening, i was thinking. Oh, so he's really NOT one of those cool white people. he's ONLY here because he has to bethere. but next year, he'll fit in with all the wealthy snobs at the best little school in NE portland. He's not cool at all.
the next day, i decided to confirm my judgments. to my surprise, he plans to continue his kid at our school. i felt glad. glad that he's not afraid to be around people like us.
you can't always judge a book by it's cover. he looks so well kept, and so clean cut. and his kids look so clean. and nice. and well dressed.
But wait-so are we! and we're not in the hood neighborhood either. sometimes i can be such a hypocrite. i have lots of friends, equally white and black , but by the same token, i'll second guess an unknown white person's motives in a minute.
i should really stop. I like Bill.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
I was at work yesterday, and these two white women were talking about something, I’m not sure exactly what-it had something to do with people who allowed themselves to be taken advantage of.
But of course, my ears perked up when one of them started talking about a neighbor lady whom she felt so, so sorry for. You see, this old lady allowed her granddaughter, and her grandaughter’s boyfriend Ty-RONE to live in the house. Well of course, Ty-RONE (with special emphasis on the name TY-RONE) was just out to get her money because, Ty-RONE was just a loser. And TyRONE this, and TyRONE that.
We all know about Tyrone. The way she kept emphasizing the syllables in his name. TyRONE. TyRONE. Yes, we know that Tyrone is black. The way she kept implying that he was such the loser, and the way she paused everytime she got ready to say his name.
The other co-worker caught on fast. ‘Oh…UH huh….’nodding with that look to say, "I know exactly what you're talking about" They didn’t think I was paying attention. It was so obvious. What she was really trying to just say was,
“this BLACK guy is trying to take advantage of my neighbor because….he’s BLACK, you know….her boyfriend, this loser BLACK GUY….”.
The poor, poor good white citizens that had this happen to them by Ty-RONE.
So, a couple hours later, I walked over looking for some supplies, and I casually said, "Was that you I heard talking about some guy named Ty-RONE?" That was all i said, yet, she looked so ashamed. we were on the same page. she knew what i was getting at.
immediately she began explaining herself. how she didn't mean it sound like this, or like that, she was just trying to tell a story about a neighbor and how sad her situation was.
she backpeddaled for about 5 minutes while I, with no expression just looked at her. all that explaining PROVED i wasnt being overly sensitive about it. because, for all she knew, after i asked her about tyrone, i might have been wanting to join in and dog on him too.
but she KNEW.
She looked embarrased.
Do you know any white men named Tyrone? I don’t.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
i mean, whats funny is there are more than seven percent white live in the neighborhood, so obviously, many of them are sending their kids out of the neighborhood.
all my life, i've been the minority in class. here, in portland, at the schools i went to, except high school, there were always more white than black. i didn't like it (still don't), but i was used to it.
I look at this dad who brings his little boy to the class, and whose son sits amongst so many black, latino and asian, and i wonder what's going through his head. is he one of those "cool" white people who seem to be "Down" with the flavor and embrace the black culture, and are not scared of black people?
Or, is he just on a waiting list, counting down the days until his son can transfer out? only time will tell.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
but i was actually pretty shocked at how many parents were NOT there, of all races. I mean, you have this school that is like 75 percent african american and of almost 400 students, only aoubt 15 parents showed up, 10 black.
where are these parents? a few miles away , over at the elementary school of yuppie white children, they're turning parents away from the pta, because it's too full. wow. imagine that.
so many black parents need to get it together. when i take my kids to the childrens' museum or library , i RARELy see moms of color. but yet, when i go to the mall, there they all are. how backwards is that?
Monday, September 11, 2006
i couldnt help but notice this other black mom there, talking all loud to another mom about how, 'SHOO....she was finna go get back in the bed...' after dropping little suzy off at school.
why get back in the bed? it's freakin 9:00, or probably about 9:30 once she finishes getting little suzy situated and headed back home. but of course she didn't care that she was talking so loud for everyone to hear.
My point is the loud talking. why perpetuate the stereotype. i guess she didn't think it mattered since almost every other mom there was ethnic, you know, she probably figured we're all that way too...
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Do non black or even some black people think that A) all black people listen to hip hop and B) Hip hop rap is the only thing black people listen to?
I listen to literally every type of music. Like, I love me some Bonnie Raitt or John Mayer. But I also like Alicia Keys or 50 cent and lots in betwen. In fact, sometimes with my black friends in the car, even my mom, I'm afraid to put in my cd's or my favorite radio stations for fear of ridicule. But that's how it is in Portland. There's not a lot of selection when it comes to black music. There is no R&B station. And if you don't have cable to watch videos (like me), how do you find out about good R&B?
Let me know if you have an idea.
Friday, September 08, 2006
although my mom is light, and my dad is dark, and i turned out really light, i was never raised to think i was better than any one. as far as i knew, black was black. until i got to high school, and people would always ask, "what are you mixed with?" "she thinks she's all that just 'cuz she's light"(overheard).
whatever. the funny thing is, when i was really young, like 8 or 9, i remember knowing that it seemed to be sort of some "advantage" to be light. don't ask how i knew. It certainly wasn't perpetrated by my parents.
but i just knew. but i should clarify. i dont think im better than dark skinned black women, not at all. in fact i think it might be the opposite. i feel sometimes that when i come into contact with a dark skinned woman (one who is somewhat insecure anyways), they trip on ME, as if they think that i'm thinking i'm better. whatever.