Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I wasn't being facetious

with my last post, about what things white people 'do' and what things black people 'do'. i was dead serious. a couple commenters seemed to disagree. well, my response to that would be:

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

You act white.

This is what white people "do". if you're black, you might get accused of trying to be white by doing these things :

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

So i'm not the only one

i am so amazed at all the racial issues that i continue to experience which gives me something to write about. between my racial insecurity issues, conversations and experienes with people, there's never a shortage, is there?

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 do black people love fried chicken and watermelon?

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

What are you mixed with?

Overheard at work today:
(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


How ironic is this---that some granola white people are teaching ME and my kids how to do African Drumming?? My girls and son and I went over to the Hollywood library where a man and woman duo did African drumming with a slew of percussion instruments for a bunch of little kids. It was great.

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

Addressing commenters once again

'why must you constantly point out that your "black." Black this and black that. If a white person made a blog called "That White Girl" and constantly pointed out her whiteness and others blackness, she would be called a racist. '

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

Precious commodity

I spent the weekend working on my husband’s resume and cover letter for a job that I want him to apply to. I always do his resume. He’s not that good at doing resume stuff , and I have a knack for it. But he’s an excellent interviewer and a hardworking, smart, people person. I always have to push him to go for a job, because even though he interviews well and always does great at his jobs, he lacks the motivation to go jobhunting. I think it’s because he doesn’t have a college degree. But so what? He’s in a good job now that requires a degree. Sure, it would've been an awesome accomplishment had he finished college (he did 3 years of it), but hey. Life happens. You get married. you have kids. There’s more to life than college (trust me on that one). And contrary to what the colleges (aka BIG BUSINESS) would have you believe, you don’t always need a 4 year degree to be successful and have a good job (I'm not talking about Doctors and the like in specialized fields).

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

Uh hello...who do you think you're talking to?

I know that a lot of white people don't think Martin Luther King did anything special. Okay, that's their own opinion. I mean, I guess they think that our freedom was inevitable. Hmmm.

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?

Self portrait

I just wanted to acknowledge all the recent comments. Some were harsh, telling me that I need to check myself, educate myself. Most comments have been really encouraging, if I could give those commenters a big hug through the computer I would.

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 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.