Wednesday, December 26, 2007


i went to a fabulous christmas party on christmas eve. it was one of those parties that you see on tv, where everyone is "cool" and basically the kind of party you WANT to be invited to. the couple actually doesn't live too far away from my neighborhood. i had a great time but couldn't help wondering how much money, or how little money these people had. these people are my friends, i guess i can call them that by now. we're not close, but we're friends.

i keep trying to convince myself that they are just in debt. who cares. anyone can finance a bunch of crap to furnish a house on credit. i kept telling myself things like: well, if they were so well off, their kitchen and bathroom would have been more updated, despite the fact that all of their things were nice and new. things and cars don't mean a whole lot to me. anyone can use a charge card. all the furniture and appliances were really plush and nice. but the kitchen and the bath kind of reminded me the "status level" of my house. but this couple is always travelling, has two fancy cars, nice things, which makes me think they have money. but i kept looking for ways to convince myself otherwise.

why do i care? why was i obsessing over it (okay, not obsessing but it crossed my mind several times that night). i have a major personality flaw when it comes to that kind of thing. i totally recognize it. and i don't think i can do anything about it. i think it's just in my genes.

maybe it's some "self-help" mechanism that my brain kicks in so that i don't feel bad about what i have or have not accomplished? are other people like this? i just assume that most everyone else is like this too, and so i have a hard time throwing parties with people i don't know well. i assume they are sizing me up like i size them up.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


i feel like there just aren't enough black people who are real concerned with eating healthy. i know, i know, everybody eats whatever they want around this time of year. truth is, people eat crap all year long but around the holidays it's justified.

but i keep running into black women around town, at work, etc. who are kinda hefty in the weight department. the thing is, why are black women so proud of being big? of having a 'big ol' butt'? there is a fine line between being at a healthy weight and being overweight/obese. but i keep hearing black women that i come into contact with talk about their size like a) that's just part of being black, and/or b) it can't be helped.

it seems like when we (as americans) are urged to slim down because the obesity rates are rising, that some black women don't feel like that includes them. i mean, of course grossly obese black women know that they need to do something. but i'm talking about women who are like 30 to 50 pounds overweight. that still makes a difference! i'm not even advocating being a stick figure. that's not attractive. i'm talking about being the ideal weight for height.

i know this sounds bad but i've always sort of prided myself on the fact that my body is slim and trim, that i've been a size 4/6 since highschool (not including pregnancies-but yes, even afterwards!). the big ol' butt gene was never passed down to me, and frankly, i'm GLAD. i don't like the way big butts look- black thing, or not. am i expected to just because i'm black? i think i stand out and that is one of the reasons why. i know those with the big butts can't help it. if they like it, fine. but keep the extra weight off. sure, i see other black women who are in shape, but for the most part, many of them that i come into contact with are overweight. i know that's one of the reasons why i don't seem/act/look like the stereotype. i try to take care of myself and it shows, not getting caught up in this is how i'm supposed to look because i'm black/this is the fattening soul food i should eat because i'm black and that's what we do.

black women who are overweight really need to wake up. it's not healthy. it's not just the 400 lb women. that's obvious to everyone that it's an unhealthy state. again, i'm talking about extra weight that our culture calls "thick". you know, because the black men like it. whatever. they're not the ones who are at risk of heart disease.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


i stand corrected on this. maybe someone there read my post? i was shocked as i drove by the lloyd center theatre to see "American Gangster" (starring Denzel Washington) showing there. i have always kept an eye out on black films (or films that feature black actors) to see whether they were played at the mall theatre which i hated, or the other bigger theatre, so i wasn't just jumping to conclusions on a whim when i wrote that post.

either way, maybe things are changing.

Friday, November 30, 2007


i have this really great black girlfriend at work. i think she's cool because she wears her hair totally natural. it's not an afro; it's kind of just...there. she'll sometimes twist parts of it and then untwist it and just leave it hanging. i think she's awesome because she literally doesn't care what ANY one thinks. she's from the Bronx, new york and she's she has a lot of guts to wear her hair the way she does. she's not even trying to make a statement. she's just natural.

so, yesterday, i was sitting around chatting with 3 white women and a different black woman with relaxed hair. the black woman jokingly says (in front of, and talking to me and the other white women) 'i seriously just want to take a flat iron and straighten her [the "natural" woman] hair. just once! that hair!' giggling the whole time.

that made me sick. i tried my best to defend my friend without making it an uncomfortable "thing". the woman who said these remarks is in her early 20's, where my "natural" friend is in her early 30s. i spoke up and said, "what's wrong with her hair??? it's her natural hair. you know, your hair would look like that too if you left yours natural" i kept it sweet and smiled while i spoke to keep it friendly but i could tell she was embarassed. she tried to make it better by saying, "well um, i mean, i just want to see what it would look like straight". so i spoke up again. i said, "i know that she'shas relaxed her hair in the past, and she chooses not to use chemical straighteners. i think she's just in a different 'place' than where you might be'". (major understatement considering this young, uneducated, unwed mom) she agreed and shut up about it.

but see people, my point is this: there are countless black women who think exactly like that. she had the nerve to say all this in front of all those white women. what does that say to them? i'm always defending the things i talk about here on my blog. people comment about me as if i'm the only black woman feeling these so-called feelings of self-hate, like i'm some freak-of-nature black woman feeling the way i do. as far as i'm concerned, the way i feel is just par for the course. it just comes with being black in america. and there are a lot of black women who are way worse than i am. at least i'm not as ignorant as my co-worker talking about hair straightening. although i care way too much what people think of me and the way i look, i at least know better. i know that the that the way i think is skewed a little when it comes to the whole black experience. i would never (especially in front of white people) talk about negative black issues.

i totally envy people like my "natural "friend who are brave enough to wear her hair natural. she doesn't even think twice while she's at her desk twisting or untwisting her hair. not even a little. how did I go wrong?

i thought about the conversation last night, and what it really meant, and how i reacted to that other black woman at work. and i realized that throughout my entire life i've heard other black women talk about skin color- who's lighter, who's darker, and the negativity associated with dark-skinnedness. i've also heard comments my whole life about hair. who has good hair, who doesn't. i've heard these type of comments from black women, and those comments scream of self-hate. if you are black, you know what i'm talking about. this is not new. but my point is this. i am DEFINITELY far from being the only black woman talking and thinking the way i do. my personal feelings are unique to me, but every single black woman who talks about good hair or light skin might as well write a "self hating" blog too, because they are just as bad as people think i am. AND THERE ARE A JILLION OF THEM.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

reactions to comments and OPEN thread

i think i've said this before, that i don't know how *not* to be .... "self-hating". that's not really the word i would use, but for lack of a better one, i did.

people always comment on my posts that i make them sick, i'm shameful, etc. my thoughts really are: how is this MY fault? i've done nothing but grow up in portland oregon among a majority of white people.

the things i blog about are a combination of my experience living in portland as a black person, and my personality. so, some things i say sound "off". i've been accused of hating being black and hating other black people. and the people who criticize me fail to realize that i'm only a product of my environment. i've traveled and been to other places but portland is where i grew up. where my views were shaped.

a few commenters recommended counseling. for what? where? i've never heard of counseling to help black people appreciate being black. have you? if so, please enlighten me. other than that type of non-existent counseling, i really am an O.K. person. no need for therapy here. for me, growing up in a place like portland and trying to have a sense of pride about being black and my culture was/is like trying to swim upstream against the current.

portland oregon is not the type of city where we're surrounded by tons and tons of successful black people. how can i *not* grow up and have sort-of this white mentality and then feel a little conflicted when i look in the mirror and see someone black? and then think negatively about black people that i see acting different from me and feeling like somehow i'm supposed to have a connection with them because we share the same race?

people who criticize me on this blog seem to think that having a sense of black pride about my hair, my features, my race, my culture should just be inherent. like that comes naturally. well, i'm proof that it doesn't. especially in a place like portland. things that i think and blog about might seem incredible to someone who lives in a place like Atlanta or Texas where black people are bursting at the seams, but it's different in a place like portland. granted, portland is slowly becoming home to more and more people of color BUT it still has a long way to go AND during the younger years of me growing up, it really was very white and one-dimensional.

commenters say that i contradict myself-that i preach about people being racist and judgemental but my posts are just that. what i blog about are my feelings. i'm not writing a book here. my feelings are just my feelings. and usually the feelings i blog about stay in the blog. this is my outlet for the way i interpret my world.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


i went to the dentist a few days ago. when i made the appointment over the phone, the office failed to tell me that my dentist no longer worked there. i know it's a little thing in the grand scheme of things, but i was furious. i adored my dentist. and i don't like going to the dentist anyways. i had gotten used to him and i considered myself loyal, since he "knows" my mouth.

the staff apologized for forgetting to tell me, and asked if i wanted to at least meet the new replacement dentist. i debated it for a few minutes and finally, decided that i would. they told me that he was 'really nice', just out of dental school (literally) and i'd probably like him. um, okay.

so, i'm sitting in the chair, and here comes this young, BLACK man. a black dentist! here in portland? this was a first for me. times must be changing because in the last 3 months i've had a black doctor and now a black dentist for the first time in my life. wow. i was stunned and impressed. i think it would be way too weird to have a black dentist.

actually, it was awkward. although i was impressed that he was a black dentist, i didn't really want him digging around in my mouth. mainly because he was so green. but also because....well, we're both black, and i just felt kind of embarassed to have another professional black person looking around in my mouth (and a black man, at that). i think i had such a high regard for him because of being a black professional and i was so in awe. i know he's a dentist and that's what he does, but still.

plus, i just really liked my previous dentist.

i think whenever i've gone to white dentists during my life, i didn't care much about what they thought about the state of my mouth and teeth. i mean, don't white people (and dentists too) already subconsciously think negatively about black people anyway?

so, i felt so conflicted. do i give this young, black dentist a chance? or stay loyal to my previous dentist? i didn't want to because he was so green. but i also felt like i should give this new, young dentist a shot BECAUSE he's black and i want to support a black professional. would he think less of me once he saw all the fillings in my mouth? i think that's what i was most afraid of.

so, he heard through the office "grapevine" that i was apprehensive about him working on my mouth because i didn't know him. he sat down and started to tell me about himself. he was so young. i told him a little bit about myself, too. i honestly didn't think he cared at all. why should he? yet i wanted to know about him. was he from portland? did he have kids? i explained to him, that i wanted to reschedule. i told him that it wasn't anything personal, it was just that i hadn't planned on a brand new dentist today and it was a lot to take in. he said that was fine.

i left the office and told them i'd call them to reschedule once i had a chance to look at my calendar. it's been almost a week and i haven't called back. i want my old dentist. i keep trying to justify it in my head with the fact that he's so green.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

shaved (edited)

i don't know how else to begin this post but to just say that i get really, really nervous when i see white guys around portland with shaved heads. i haven't yet had the chance to have this conversation with any other black people but i wonder if they get nervous like i do.

maybe because portland oregon is so close to the white supremacy meccas like idaho and, even somewhere in oregon perhaps? all i know is, i don't like that haircut. as far as i'm concerned, if you're a white man, and you are not tied to some ary*n nation type stuff, please don't wear your hair that way. it can be very unnerving for black people like me. and i don't just mean shaved, as in military style, or crew cut. i'm talking about that whole look. it looks like 90's grunge with closer-than-close shaved hair, maybe a goat-tee, and even possibly some boots. is there some social group other than the ary*n nation that just thinks this look is cool? i've seen white guys like this before, and gotten really nervous only to later see them chatting and being friendly with someone black. so, i don't think that everyone who looks like that is some racist skinhe*d but that look is just too misleading.

the other day as i was picking up my child from school, there was a group 3 men standing together waiting for one of their kids. i'd never seen them before, either. but they all had shaved heads. my imagination started to go wild until i realized that they were in the 'hood, there were three of them but a ton of us. they weren't there to do anything crazy, but still. it just makes me feel uncomfortable, 'cuz you never know.

edited to add:

obviously i need to clarify. it's not a shaved head alone. i actually like the close-cuts. i'm referring to the whole package-the shaved head along with say, a hooded sweatshirt,or army-type jacket and black boots. get the picture? weirdly enough, there are white men who choose to dress this way for fashion(?) reasons and are not affiliated with any racist supremecist groups. i have to wonder why people would dress that way when it's so similar to a hate group. and so YES, that look does scare me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


yesterday i was at work, when i yet again overheard something that i must blog about. i keep wondering when the day will be that all my racial experiences will be uneventful, but obviously it hasn't happened yet.

i was in the breakroom, where SINGLEMOMWHITEGIRL is sitting at a table with another BLACKGIRL, talking about how she's finally found childcare for her biracial /black daughter. the woman she found to do childcare happens to be black as well, by the way. so SINGLEMOMWHITEGIRL is talking about how her live-in white boyfriend (not the father, obviously) wanted to have a say in who does childcare for the daughter. i'm guessing he's playing the father role. so SINGLEMOMWHITEGIRL relays a conversation she had with her live in boyfriend where he says, 'i'm glad so-and-so [black lady] is going to be babysitting ______, because she[the child] is so wild, and she needs a good black woman to keep her in line, 'cause black women don't play'.

SINGLEMOMWHITEGIRL is giggling like she's pleased that she's so connected to the black race. the black girl she was talking to laughed about it too as if she agreed.

i wanted so badly to say something like: "oh, because REALLY- all us black women are nothing but neck-rolling, butt-whoopin', beat-you-down-with-a-quickness-if-you-backtalk type women, riiiiiight.

oh how badly i wanted to say that. and the funny thing was, this white girl is currently on thin ice for some other behavior, and i could have totally intimidated her by calling her out, making her scared of being fired. i'm sure i could easily have her fired. all i'd have to say was that she made a racial remark and it made me uncomfortable. and she'd be gone.

but, i just. didn't. want. to. if there wasn't an innocent little girl in the picture with a potentially unemployed single mom, i probably would have. but really. would it have made any difference if i had corrected her? granted, with my personality, i could have put on a phony smile and phony laugh and said something to put her on the spot, without actually grilling her. but as i thought about it, i decided that people's stereotypes are so deeply ingrained that even if i had said something about it, all it would have done was make her feel uncomfortable. true, she might think differently about that particular scenario, but what about the countless other stereotypes? i seriously doubt she'd really have been enlightened.

she's a single white mom with a black daughter and probably feels like she has a "free pass" to say things like that. and does she? i'm not sure. i once had a black girlfriend who was married to a white man, and the white man would repeat some words from rap songs occasionally in conversations and he would say the "N" word. sometimes he'd repeat something he heard someone else say using the "N" word. albeit it was hesitantly, but nonetheless he'd say it. and i got the impression that he felt he had a free pass because he was married to a black woman.

should i have spoken up? i know some readers will say i should have. but sometimes i just think that some people truly just don't know better, and i shouldn't have to be the one to teach them. i get tired of it. if it seemed like the intent was malicious or something like that, i probably would have. i guess it kinda just made me feel bad, more than anything, that we (black people) just seem to never escape the stereotypes. never.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


i'm not sure if the entire regal cinemas corporation is racist, but the management at the Lloyd location surely is, and i'm SO tired of it.

once upon a time, probably about 17 years ago, the regal cinemas chain was called Act III. whenever the lloyd center/multnomah location showed black movies that addressed real issues, such as boyz in the hood or juice, there was always some sort of ruckus, or commotion of young black people acting out. it always seemed to be out of control high school and middle school kids with no supervision past curfew acting wild and crazy.

not cool. i get it. it really gave black people a bad name.

so, it turned out, that EVERY time a 'black' movie, or any movie with any type of remotely controversial black actor in it came out( or even NOT controversial, like Denzel Washington), that particular cinema would NEVER show it. instead, they started to banish all the 'black' movies over to the mall theatre, across the street(for those of you who don't live in portland, there's the Lloyd Cinemas that i'm referring to, and the Lloyd mall cinemas). now, that probably doesn't sound that bad. the movie is still being shown somewhere, right?

i guess they figure that the lloyd mall is more conducive to outbursts and fights. it's a small theatre, inside a secluded section of the mall, and although both these theatres are in close proximity, the customers who frequent the mall theatre and the customers who frequent the lloyd cinemas are totally different.

the lloyd center area is a mixed bag in terms of classes of people. there are the wealthy yuppies from the sullivan's gulch area and irvington, and then the lower middle class black people who haven't yet been displaced by gentrification .

the thing is, after all these years, would it hurt to start playing black films at the lloyd theatre outside of the mall? are they still so concerned about catering to the wealthy white audiences that they don't even want to take the chance on black movies? when Act III was bought out by Regal, i was sure this would change. but evidently managment is the same and nothing has changed.

the husband and i were thinking about going to see "why did i get married" (and we like to go to the movies on this side of town), and OF COURSE, it was only playing inside the mall. i don't want to into the mall to go see a movie. not when it's "date night" and i've gotten a babysitter, etc. there's nothing but hood-rats and tweens with no supervision hanging out there. but, of course, if i want to stay on this side of town and see a black movie, i have to go to the mall. sure, we can go somewhere else, and we do, but it's just the principle.

i know that only portlanders can appreciate what i'm talking about, and if you think i'm exaggerating, i'm not. just watch the movies that the lloyd mall plays versus the the lloyd cinema. you'll see that i'm right. i wish that i had a way to show all the black movies over the years that lloyd theatre has NOT played but the mall has. but i don't have a way to do that. and it has been this way ever since the early 1990s. if you want to try and prove me wrong, go ahead. watch which movies lloyd theatre doesn't play. you'll never see a black movie at the outside theatre.

i totally understand them not wanting thugs and hoodrats causing a ruckus, but come on. it's been years. when are they going to realize that there are decent acting black people who are not going to go to a theatre a cause a scene? when are black people going to have another chance?

i'm starting to think that it's not about the thugs and hoodrats at all, but that maybe"they" just don't want a bunch of black people at that theatre, period. that's what it sure feels like.

Monday, October 15, 2007


i went grocery shopping today. as i rounded a corner, some black guy in a do-rag saying 'sista, sista' got my attention. i was naturally reluctant to even give him the time of day, but he immediately started talking. and he kind of inched up in my face. ugh. i hate when people do that. and i'll step back, and then they'll step up to me again.

he started talking about making sure i don't buy stuff, 'cuz we're boycotting'....i was like, WHAT??!! boycotting who, what and why?

so he starts telling me that all black people are having some national "blackout" day on november 2, because of recent events such as jena 6 and some other local portland issues where minorities were not treated right.

um, whatever. i'm just not into that. i don't think it's effective. and black people are so disunited anyway that we could never get all of us to actually stop buying things for a cause.
secondly, although there are many black people in portland who care about making a difference in the world, i honestly believe there are more black people in portland who don't. and thirdly, unless all the black so-called rapper/entertainer/role models are going to pay attention to this thing and can commit to stop bling -blinging for one day (is that possible?), then, the above said unconcerned black people probably wont pay any attention either.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


why does it always seem like immigrants who speak english as a second language are always the loudest talkers?

today i went to sears at lloyd center to look for socks and underwear for my son. some africans were shopping in the same department as i was. by the way- before anyone knocks what i'm about to say, i love when i see true africans here in america. even though they seem not to like us black americans, i still like seeing them and i'm glad they're here.

so today at sears, these africans were talking SO. LOUD. i swear people upstairs could hear them too. they were looking at boys' clothes, trying to decide, i guess what to buy. they were going on and on, in this really active discussion about...something clothing related. who knows. they were totally oblivious of anyone around, as well as me as i tried weaving in and out of their 5-person shopping crew.

i don't have an issue with them speaking their own language, really. i just thought it was interesting that they didn't have the slightest care who was around or who heard them.

i'm trying to think how can i convey how loud they were talking....i guess if you imagined sitting on your front porch and talking loud enough for someone on the sidewalk to hear you-that's about how loud they were.

i mean, when i see an american-born person talking that loud, my first impression is that they're just ghetto. but in this case, i don't think they were ghetto. maybe it's a cultural thing. maybe americans are the only ones who are obsessed with being quiet in the store, because i've noticed certain other immigrants doing the same thing way more often than another group of immigrants.

Friday, October 05, 2007


yesterday i went to the new Kohls store that opened in the gateway district. gateway is kind of a scuzzy, trashy, mixed-bag type area but it's not that far from where i live, so i do a lot of my shopping there. i wasn't that impressed by Kohls. the thing that stood out to me the most when i went into the store was the employees. i never realized how much the way a retail employee looks affects the way i feel when i shop.

gateway district being the scuzzy area that it is, i shouldn't have been surprised that most of the employees at the Kohls store looked really trashy. black and white, they all looked trashy. i mean, hey-it's in that neighborhood, it makes sense. but i didn't like it. besides most of the employees looking trashy, they didn't know what they were talking about when i asked them things. it was really obvious. when i shop, i guess i associate the employee with the actual company. isn't that marketing 101?

i will say, however that i do like shopping at the gateway fredmeyer because i figure that i'll never run into anyone i know from that area, so that on days where i 'm not looking my best, no one else will care or notice.

but somehow it's different when the employees at a clothing store are the ones who look trashy. not only did i not want to buy anything, but it was kind of distracting. i probably would have bought something there if it weren't for the employees.

when i found a coat that i really liked, i went to the register to put it on "24-hour hold" while i "thought" about it. the girl at the counter was kind of confused, like she didn't know what to do. when she called the manager over, it was this big, burly man, who wasn't very polished. all i remember was that he had a big pot belly with a sloppily tucked in shirt. he said,

"you want to put this on hold?"


"are you going to pick it up later?"

um, that's exactly what HOLD means. i will pick it up later. i gave him a funny look, as if to say, "duh....". i guess anyone can become store managers these days. i seriously don't think he even had a college degree. well, why should he, i guess. that would be kind of a waste to be working in retail with a college degree. but did he have any post high school education at all? i always think of store managers as looking professional and put-together, which he did not. at least, when i used to work retail back in my teenage days, all my managers appeared to be a step up from all the other employees.

my mom has told me before that i have an elitist attitude and she didn't know where i got it. i guess she's right. i don't know why. i honestly should have been born wealthy, because i'd fit right in mingling with the rich. maybe the reason why i can't stand snobs now is because deep down, i'm a snob but without a real reason to be. that's probably why i have such hard time accepting the fact that i don't live in one of the wealthy neighborhoods in portland. i shouldn't be here. in this neighborhood. growing up, i prettymuch had whatever i wanted, so now the fact that i live in a neighborhood that i don't care for is kind of disheartening. (my actual neighborhood is nice/average but it's not as upper class as i'd like it to be)

am i trashy like the employees at kohls and just don't know it? i seriously doubt it, but i guess i could be mistaken for someone trashy when i'm in that neighborhood.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


why don't black people in this area with young children care about their child's education? recently my daughter's school had their back-to-school-night. she goes to a school made up of predominantly black and hispanic. the white students are the minority. in her class of 25 students, only 3 are white.

when we got to back-to-school night, the only parents there from my daughter's class were the white ones. of 25 students, only the parents of the 3 white students showed up (and us, of course)? why don't black parents want to be involved and see what's going on at their kid's school? is school just a daycare option for them?

howcome the predominantly white public schools thrive while the opposites don't? one of the main reasons why i even have my daughter there is because i don't want to put her into a school of all white people and have her feel like she's "missing" something and then go to the other extreme trying to "be black" by emulating rappers and other black lowlifes who contribute to the demise of black culture and perception.

i prettymuch believe that if she goes to the type of school she's at, surrounded by black community, she will see the negative aspects (as well as the positives) and wont think that being thuggish and ghetto is so exciting.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


today i went to see an orthopedic doctor about a joint i've been having problems with. i was pleasantly surprised when the door to the room i had been waiting in opened and the doctor was black.

in all my years of going to see doctors, i've NEVER had a black doctor. isn't that shocking? well, i guess it's not so much shocking as it is ridiculous. i know that there are plenty of black doctors in the world but the majority of them obviously aren't in portland, oregon.

i go to the doctor every now and then-i've seen my share of doctors and so i wondered: how does one go thirty something years without ever being seen by a doctor of their own race? the funny thing about it is that i've never expected to see black doctors. up until today, i had never given the idea any thought. it seems like it's such a rarity here in portland.

so i wonder how that all plays out with the different races. has this subconsciously had an effect on me-having never dealt with a black doctor? never having the opportunity to see a successful black doctor? and what about white people here in portland? i'm sure that they are also really affected by rarely seeing a black doctor.

and i believe that part of the "white privilege" (that so many white people don't believe exists) is for white people to just be able to see so many successful people that look like themselves. i mean, what if every time a black kid in portland went to see a doctor, he or she were black? i bet the black people in portland, and even the white people here would be really different.

Friday, September 14, 2007

black esteem

i went to ikea today, here in portland. i had tried once before when they first opened and it was a zoo, so i went right back home. things have calmed down a bit there so i decided to give it a try. it was cool.

so the strange thing that happened was this: i was standing in the self checkout line and when it finally came to my turn to check out, i scanned my items. there was a sign on the side of the counter that said that they charge five cents per bag. that was okay.

so as i was finished checking out, but before i bagged my things, there was an option on the pinpad for me to select the number of bags i would be using. i selected one. as i reached for a plastic bag, some white guy-in the OTHER LINE (who was obviously watching me closely) called over: "um, those are five cents!!"

i gave him the dirtiest look i could muster and stared at him for a second. i said, "i know that", with a what---you-didn't-think-i-could-read? look. i finished bagging my stuff and then started the payment process. i then looked again at him and said, "it SAYS that right HERE" and rolled my eyes.

he got all defensive , and stumbled out the words: "well, uh, oh, um, i just was letting you know......"

my FIRST inclination was that he must have assumed that because i'm black i was trying to steal a plastic bag!? or couldn't read? i'm not sure what his deal was. and then i decided that maybe it wasn't anything about ME at all, maybe he was on meds, or psycho, or mental, or whatever. but it still really irritated me.

and then, as we stood in the food line to get some of their meatballs, i started thinking about the reasons for my first inclination was about me being black. and then i started thinking about my blog, and how i'd definitely have to blog about it.

i also thought how probably most of my readers would say that i must have low self esteem. actually i have very high self esteem and i'm pretty confident, believe it or not. but i think i may have low black esteem (is there such a thing? well, there is now). yeah, i think that's it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


i just got back from an extended vacation and then jumped right into getting my kids ready for their first days of school. i was halfheartedly mentally composing some thoughts about my vacation, taking my own sweet time figuring out which point to actually blog about until something seriously retarded happened to me this morning.

i swear if i wasn't the one writing this, i'd think i was making it up. i kid you not. i went to an online forum and explained the situation looking for advice and there were a few people who thought i was totally making it up. here's what happened to me this morning:

i walked to my car from dropping off my son at school and i find this note tucked into the handle of my door:

"for someone who is a christian you have never shown any friendlyness (sic) toward me or any of the other black women. i don't know if it's because you are married to a white man or not. you walk with you nose in the air and don't speak to any of us. i have seen you over and over and you are still the same" (signed) insert- name- here, 503-555-5555.

i could seriously go on and on about how high-schoolish and petty this is, that a grown woman has no business writing a note like this, or how i feel like i'm being stalked since she knew where my GMC was parked, but that would take all day. plus, anyone reading this already knows all that.

what i find so interesting is that i have no clue at all who this person is. i don't even know what she looks like. but she seems to think so highly of me, that she's obviously insulted that i'm pretending not to notice or know her.

and then i thought about it and asked myself: do i walk with my nose in the air? i was accused of that in high school, too. it can't be literally. i mean, if i do, it's just the way i hold my head. but honestly, i think i just come across as pretty confident. not over-confident, but i'm pretty secure with myself (i said pretty secure) and it probably shows. and i'm tired in the morning, i don't even think about my so-called status when i'm taking my son to school. that's like the furthest thing from my mind.

plus, i guess the fact that despite my son's school being predominantly black, my only really close associates are white parents. not intentionally, but for some reason those are the parents who seem to want to talk and don't have a moody chip on their shoulder.

maybe i seem snobby because i'm so actively involved with my son's education , or maybe it's because i look like i give a shit about my appearance in the morning. maybe the other white parents that i'm friends with just gravitated towards me.

most of the black moms walking their kids into the school look like they just rolled out of bed, with their scarves on their head, or their sweatpants and long fake fingernails. i don't connect to that. and i'm sure they see me and can tell i'm just not cut from that cloth.

but growing up, in a room full of black people, i've always gravitated towards the white people. i never had that sort of "hard" or tough shell or the loud, slang talk. naturally, i just didn't have it. and in high school, i was accused of trying to act white, etc. so this little note on my car was a surprise, but not really, as it just brought back high school all over again.

the thing is, i have plenty of black friends. i love having black friends. i would feel deprived if all i had were white friends. i think just the way there's white trash that people don't think much of, there is also black trash. so what that i have standards?

i spoke to my brother's wife, and my mom about this, who both said that who ever wrote this is obviously jealous of something about me. it actually kind of flattered me for a minute. i'm not going to call and give her the satisfaction of thinking i care. because i don't. it just reaffirms the whole point of me not being like someone like her.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


a few years ago my husband and i were in a certain social circle of friends. many of them were shallow couples and singles who always seemed in competition with us-materially, career-wise, financially. it was miserable and unhealthy, so we just stopped hanging out with them altogether. it's been a nice few years away from them.

recently we've been sort of reunited with a few of them inadvertently by newer mutual friends and i feel the uneasiness setting in. are they still the same shallow individuals? i've changed for the better since i last spent time with them-have they?

even though i'm not real excited about being reunited into this social circle of friends, i still find myself asking about certain individuals to their friends. have you been to their home lately? have they remodeled it since----? are they still driving the BMW? have they vacationed? etc.,

i truly feel that i've grown as a person since the last time i hung around these other couples-especially since having my kids. yet just knowing that they will be at certain places at the same time we are, brings out all my old shallow ways. i can't help myself from inquiring about them and their homes and lives. it's like i'm a glutton for punishment, since i don't really want to know the answers to my questions.

i mean, do i really want to know if they've remodeled their house? or if they got a nicer car? or if they bought a new house? the answer is no. so why must i ask? so that i can start feeling insecure and inadequate all over again like before? and start feeling sorry for myself that we haven't been able to afford to remodel or trade up to a bigger house?

the funny thing is, i can "step outside the box" and see things for what they are. i know that money doesn't necessarily bring happiness, that a bigger house means bigger payments, and that true friends don't care if my home is totally remodeled. but still, i struggle with this.

Friday, August 17, 2007


i'm not sure what the point of being linked to from another blog of someone who has such disdain for me. it's kind of like a backhanded compliment. but whatever. it's kind of like the "ugh! taste this!!!" thing.

i read all the emails i get , but usually don't respond because i don't want to get attached to readers. meaning, if i correspond with someone by email, i'm afraid it will change my candidness.

i guess it's just the type of person i am. i want to write truly what i feel about things, and if i start being too concerned what "this person" or "that person" thinks, it will ruin my blog.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


yesterday at work, one of my managers came to me and asked that i participate in online "diversity training". some sort of online training (obviously protect the company from lawsuits somehow, i'm sure) to learn how to be diverse.

i looked at this guy and said jokingly, "seriously. can i get a pass for this? i think i'm as diverse as it gets". he kind of chuckled and rolled his eyes.

is this some type of politically correct thing we're doing now? i mean, sure, i'm all for diversity, but you can't tell me that some racist with narrow viewpoints will do a thirty-minute online training and do a 360.

plus the fact that it should really only be directed at white employees. of course, they would never go for that...

Monday, August 06, 2007


the company that i work for is doing cutbacks. well, they've actually laid off 4 people recently. and whats interesting is that 3 of the 4 people were at retirement age. that sucks. but one of the people was someone i worked with pretty closely.

so after she found out that she had gotten the axe, she told me that this could happen anywhere and i should always have my resume ready, and that i should take care of myself (career-wise), because no one else would.

my first thought was, but i'm young. you're not. and then i thought: who's more desirable in the job market--a fifty something-year-old woman, or a 30 something-year-old BLACK woman? if i competed in a job interview against a fifty or 60 year old woman (assuming we had the same education and/or experience), i wonder who's the more desirable one. i know black women are hired all the time, i just wonder if black women and retirement-age white women are equals in that sense.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


my process for coming up with my blog posts:

i have a thought

i temporarily dismiss it and go on with life

i recall it and think about it/analyze it

blog about it.

i'm not walking around as this big ball of negativity unable to enjoy life and people. the race issues i bring up are purely thoughts. it doesn't affect my interaction with people. you'd never know what i was thinking if you'd seen me at the pool with the other black mom (besides the fact i didn't walk up and introduce myself).

the only difference between me and the readers who have scolded and berated me about what i blog about is that when i have a raw thought, i don't just dismiss it to never be analyzed ever again. i think know that everyone has those raw thoughts everyday, and if you stopped and actually listened to yourself, you'd know it. it just so happens i'm blogging about my (raw) thoughts on race- and race is a touchy subject.

i'm not some demented person. i'm just like EVERYBODY ELSE. i go here, i go there, i work, i socialize, i eat out with friends and family, i work in my garden, i chat with my neighbors, i go to costco, i go get coffee, etc, etc. the comments from my last post led me to believe people think i'm sitting in some dark corner -like Glenn Close in fatal attraction- writing this and waiting for the comments to pour in. like i'm some nut.

coupla things:

a) i don't claim to be brave by posting what i post, as one commenter suggested (although it takes some bravery to read some of the comments and emails).

b) i was very ashamed of the feelings that prompted my last post. but, why shouldn't i blog about it-for self analysis if nothing else?

c)there are plenty of sick and demented people thinking WAY worse thoughts out there than i. just turn on the news. at least i'm not trying to hurt my children or small animals or anyone else for that matter.

d) i honestly don't know how african americans can not be negatively affected or brainwashed by society and the commercial media. i believe that i think the way that i do because of our society. why should i bottle it up? i am acknowledging that my thinking about race is off.

but who do i have to blame for that??

it's not my parents, they are successful and educated and race was never a factor growing up.

i guess i'm finding it really hard to believe that my readers don't ever have an insecure thought, or ever think negative things (wrong or right) about others from time to time.

Friday, July 27, 2007


i'm ashamed to even admit this. i know that i would never, ever, EVER utter what i'm about to say to another living soul. but the original point behind why i started this blog was to talk about those exact things. i don't know you (readers), and you don't know me. so somehow i feel okay to blog about it.

for the past couple of weeks i've been taking my girls to swimming lessons. the pool we go to, unfortunately is lacking in the number of black patrons . however, there are two other black parents there with their children for swimming lessons at the same time we're there.

first let me say that i hate the relationship that WE (black women) have with each other. i notice white women will strike up a conversation with one another white woman whom they've never met all the time. they are so unguarded. unthreatened. they've even struck up conversations with me without knowing who i am. but other black women? forget about it. it's as if we feel threatened by each other. we can't just say hi and strike up a conversation. it's weird. like we have something to prove. especially darker skinned black women (IN MY EXPERIENCE!!)- i don't know if they feel threatened talking to someone who is light skinned, or what?

last summer while taking my kids to library storytimes, another mom who happened to be mixed and married to a white man befriended me out of the blue and offered to do things with our kids together. the only other black parent who struck a conversation up with me without knowing me was also a light skinned black woman married to a white man. but i digress.

so i've been at swimming lessons this past week with another black woman who is dark skinned who has children swimming and we've sat right next to each other without her saying a word. maybe i'm intimidating. or maybe she just couldn't care less about having a conversation with a stranger. but i find that kind of hard to believe.

so, i've been in this mind frame that it's okay that she doesn't say a friendly hello or smile because- well... look at my children. look at my mixed, very fair-skinned girls (with an OBVIOUSLY white dad). i must be slightly better in some way----well, that's what i'd want her to think. so what that she makes me feel sad (for lack of a better word), or disappointed by not being friendly. it's okay, because, look what i have.

i obviously have the dream, i must have what you probably want, right? because i'm married to a white man, which you can clearly see by the way my children look.

it's horrible and i know it. what's funny is that i had this kind of "attitude" subconsciously up until today when i started thinking about the fact that i sit near her almost everyday without so much as a hello. and then i suddenly realized it about myself. i know i've been doing this at other times and places, too.

i know, i'm just perpetuating the whole black women and friendships thing- i know.......

Saturday, July 21, 2007


last night i went over to the Nob Hill neighborhood to a restaurant called Papa Haydn's. if you live in portland, you know what a great place it is. my brother, his wife and i went out at about 10 pm for some dessert. we waited about 30 minutes and then we were seated. the hostess sat us in the very back.

i always notice where i'm seated in a restaurant. if i'm with my husband and we're seated in the back, i have to wonder if maybe it's because we're interracial, or just because at least one of us is black. i can't help it. and you'd never know i was thinking this. i just play along. despite how my thoughts in this blog may portray me, i truly don't walk around with a chip on my shoulder, honest.

my dad used to have this thing whenever we'd go out-he NEVER wanted to sit towards the back, or by the dirty dish carts. i think he was grossed out by it but i also think it was a possible racism thing. and if we were seated there, he always made a big deal out of it and insisted the server seat us elsewhere. he never mentioned race but i think it was a factor in him being so picky about where we sat.

so last night, my brother insisted we sit somewhere else-at another table so he could sit by the window,he said. although i took note of us being seated in the very back, i was content to just sit there. it was crowded, busy (but there were other tables available), and i was too tired to care. my mom never brought up race and the seating but i think deep down maybe she wanted to see to it that we were not seated in the back.

white people never have to wonder about why they might have been seated where they're seated. if they're seated in the way back, it's just because that's what was available. end of story. but, i've never worked in a restaurant, so it's possible that's there's some method to the seating and i don't have a clue. if i'm not careful, i can read racism into lots of things. i try not to. i'm not even suggesting that it was racism last night. i don't know. but i also try not to overlook obvious racism it if i can help it. i think the desire to get a 'fair shake' despite being black is just ingrained in me, so i'm always aware of the little things.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


yesterday, i took my kids to swimming lessons. another(white) mom and i struck up a conversation while we were watching our kids in the pool. she seemed really nice until we started talking about hair. she says to me that oh my god, her hair is JUST like black peoples hair-it gets all kinky when it's wet, is so unmanagable and 'it sucks' she says.

"uhmmHmmm". i say. i was dumbfounded. i could have explained to her that it doesn't necessarily "suck". that, her hair wasn't 'just like black peoples' hair, she just didn't know how to tame it obviously. and so on.

but i didn't. i just sat there. and ignored it. it didn't upset me. it made me feel kind of superior, that i could see how ignorant and stupid she was, but she couldn't. and that at her age, she doesn't have a clue.

this is what i'm talking about, people. portland white people like to think they're so diverse and progressive, but they're really not. they just want to be.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


howcome (it seems like) the only white guys who are intersted in black women, are the wanna-be ghetto, vanilla ice/k-fed type? i mean, seriously. i just see that a lot. i guess if a white guy is all into hip hop and the ghetto slang, etc., it goes without saying that he likes black women too?

are there white guys who resemble Chandler or Ross or Joey and don't listen to HIP HOP that like black women? now that seems rare to me. at least in MY neck of the woods. i bet that in california it's not that way, as the demographics are waaay different. but here in portland, chandler-type (white collar, educated, well-traveled, etc) white men aren't exposed to black women enough.

i met a friend downtown for lunch today and afterwards we stopped at old navy. there was a really cute black girl with a little mixed baby and a white guy. she glanced at me and smiled a funky smile as if to say, 'look what i got'. maybe that's not what she meant at all, but it sure seemed like it.
anyhow, her man was one of those guys, the white hip hopper, wannabe ghetto gangsta type. at least, that's how he appeared.

my theory is that people generally dress like the musicians they like. i mean, can't you usually tell what kind of music someone is into by the way they look? for example, when you see those goth people with the painted white face and all black with black hair and black lipstick, you know they don't listen to Jay-Z. so someone like that's not likely to be hanging out at places where there are lots of black people and undoubtedly date a black girl. or how often is total rocker dude smitten by a black girl who loves hip hop?

in my opinion, if a black girl wants to date a white collar white guy, she has to act white collar (i.e. listen to white music, be thin, speak proper english, etc.)
i know there are black women with white men who are not the hip hopper wannabe but from what i've seen in portland, the former is what's pretty typical. it's probably a little ironic that i'm even posting about this because my husband is a *reformed* mild wannabe hiphopper. i never liked when white guys would act that way so as soon as we got together and got serious, i changed his look REAL quick. now, after a few years he's just a white collar guy with some flavor.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


i try not to lie. i mean, that's my big thing. to me, lying is wrong. if someone asks me something that i don't want to answer, i'll figure out a hundred different ways to say it without actually lying.

but. when it comes to my husband's CAREER, i do lie. i think that of all our many friends, only one or two know what his job is. and the friends that know it are only the friends who are worse off-jobwise. my parents don't even know what he does. our good friends, especially with impressive jobs don't know what he does. they know who he works for, but they don't know his job title.

honestly, we rarely talk about what he does when we're with friends. if the conversation is steering toward that direction, you can count on me to help steer it somewhere else.

am i ashamed of my husbands job? i wouldn't say ashamed. no, that's not it. disappointed that he doesn't have a more prestigious career? maybe. there's nothing wrong with his job,really. it pays OKAY. it pays our bills. it's not a bad job, but it's nothing to brag or be excited about. pretty close to an entry level type postion. it's an honest living, but nothing special. at all.

i guess i expected him/us to have a great career by our mid 30s, and he doesn't. when people ask what he does, i just say that he's a project manager. that's kind of a general, vague answer. i usually don't have to go into detail. usually after i tell them that, they don't ask for specifics about it. i guess it gives them just enough to form an opinion. at least i don't have to reveal his actual, mediocre, non-impressive job to anyone.

my parents know which company he works for but they never ask what he actually does. deep down, i think they probably think it's not so important or maybe they think they're sparing me the uncomfortableness of me telling them that he has an uninspired, dull office job.

i am proud of the fact that we've never had to borrow money from anyone in the past 11 years we've been married, and that we have perfect credit. so what if i don't tell the truth about what he really does?

when people ask what my husband does, do they really care? are they just trying to make an assumption about us based on what i tell them? i don't believe that our outwardly appearance gives any indication that we don't make a better living than we actually do, so what difference does it make? i'm just being hopeful.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


what is it with black guys and their pick-up techniques?? seriously. i'm married, so it makes no difference to me, but still. it's so stupid. it's like everywhere they go is an automatic, virtual meat-market pick-up opportunity. ev.ery.where.

i went to the lloyd center mall yesterday after work. i looked tired, i'm sure, but evidently that didn't matter. even if i did look hot, why do black men always act like anytime and anyplace is fine to try to pick-up a woman?

' 'sup girl'. 'hey, how you doin'?' 'whashow name?' 'hey pretty lady'. ugh. come onnnnnn. DO I REALLY LOOK LIKE YOUR TYPE?

i'm not minimizing the fact that people like to meet people. that's fine and all. but what I notice, here in portland is that a lot of the black guys act like everywhere they go is a "mackin'" opportunity, something i really don't notice white guys doing. and i'm not trying to insult black men and praise white men, i just really think it's worth discussing.

albeit, these guys are usually the "scrubs" type of guy who is basically a loser (or at least appears to be). but my point is not the fact that they're scrubs-we all know those guys exist. i'm talking about the fact that wherever they go-whether it's the store, the doctor's office, the mall, walking down the street, etc., etc., they feel the need to try to get the hook-up with a woman that they find attractive.

maybe i'm just being a snob. but so what. black people sort of have this unspoken thing, here in Portland where when we see each other in the store we nod, just to kind of acknowledge each other. or, we used to. i don't think it's as common as it used to be when there were fewer of us living here. and, i'm just not into that anyway. so what if i'm black and you're black and we're in the store at the same time? the only time i really make an effort at that is if i happen to be out in outskirts of portland where there are so few black people that it's scary. if i see one of us out there, i'll definitely acknowledge them. for out and about around portland, i might give a friendly smile to another black woman, but usually not another black guy-'cause they only take it as an attempted pick-up. and then, i never know if the black men who are asking me- a passerby, 'how i'm doing' if they're trying to pick me up, or if they're doing that acknowledgment thing. why can't they just smile ? is that too "soft" for a black man? the acknowledgement thing is definitely a portland thing because back east and down south, there are so many black people that it's just no big deal to see a fellow black person.

my point is this do white guys do this? are they any more respectable when it comes to this thing? 'cause honestly, i've never been hit-on like that by a white man or seen a white man walking around at the mall or the park asking "what's up" to every good-looking girl they see. maybe in the nightclubs, but never out and about at the grocery store. my husband is white and we met among friends. so i honestly don't know if this is a ghetto black guy thing or if white guys are just as bad. sure, white men might be on the lookout for a new girlfreind, but it seems like there's a cultural difference in the way they go about finding her.

so, here's my final point. pick-ups are fine. for the "whassup girl" type pick ups, save it for the nightclubs. i figure anyone who's at a nightclub is looking for that type of person anyway. and for black men who might see a SINGLE woman at the grocery store (or wherever), and MUST try to pick her up, they should just try smiling.

Friday, June 15, 2007


i get emails from people all the time. most of the emails are friendly, from folks who just want to say that they can relate in one way or another.

sometimes i get emails from people who think i'm an idiot and can't understand why on earth i'd write a blog and put my most personal thoughts out there.

want to know why? it's SO therapeutic. really.

a while back you might remember a post about how insecure i felt going out in public holding hands or being affectionate with my husband of 11 years. it was only because of the race issue. you know, black, white, etc.

i got so many emails from people who thought i was nuts and couldn't understand my insecurity. i got a few emails from people who could relate as well. anyway, it's been several months, i think and just in the last month i've noticed how i truly couldn't care less about what people think anymore when we're out. granted, i'm not a publicly affectionate person, but even just sitting outside at a restaurant made me insecure.

not anymore. i think this blog makes me feel different. once i put myself out there and i get to hear feedback-good and bad, it gives me some perspective and subtly changes my outlook.

sometimes the emails sting though. and that helps too.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


'You have a strong preference for white [people] over black [people].'

that was the result i got from taking the IAT test, which was featured on Oprah last week. it's a test to show you how you REALLY feel beneath all your layers about certain people.

so it told me i prefer white over black. i honestly don't see how i wouldn't subconsciously prefer white people, having grown up in portland. white people all around was always my environment. when i was a kid, i fit right in. as far as i was concerned, i was just like them.

it doesn't mean i don't like being black. i definitely do.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007


i've finally decided to get on the GREEN bandwagon. it took me forever to get on. i'm not even sure what it was that made me finally get into gear with it. for the past couple of years, i recycled, but it was sporadic. i only really did it when i felt like it, or if something was too bulky or awkward to fit into my garbage can. and i haven't gotten all fanatic about it, but i am making a conscious effort now to recycle.

i used to associate being environmentally conscious with white granola people. portland used to be sort of known for granolas, although not so much anymore. i never really hear any black people that i know talking about being eco-friendly. and all the friends and parents that i know who are always talking about being enviro-conscious are white. and when you hear about lectures and projects for the environment, it's usually white people. but they're not all so crunchy anymore.

and i know there are plenty of black people who recycle, but i'm really just talking about the people i see who are on a mission to take care of the environment. now i'm thinking it's just the Pacific NW "air" that has got me so gung-ho. one of my brothers lives in virginia, and i wonder if anyone there even knows what the word recycle means. according to him, NOONE there recycles.

for me though, it just seems like common sense. i have to admit though, saving the rain water in bins in my backyard and later using that to water plants was a money-saving issue first. and then, oh yeah. it helps the environment too. why not?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

alberta street

today i happened to be driving over on alberta street, you know, the new Alberta Arts district? i get thrown for a loop everytime i go over there now. it used to be (not that many years ago, pre-gentrification) that all you'd see was black faces.

so it's kinda weird to see so many white faces at the bus stops, walking, and sitting out at the restaurants without a scared look on their face. but then, why should they be scared anymore-most of the so-called scary black people are gone.

10 years ago you probably couldn't pay a white person to hang out over there, let alone live in that neighborhood. now they claim it like it's gold. but, what's new when it comes to people with money (thus power). when they find something they like, they take it over, to hell with anyone else.

Friday, April 20, 2007

reverse psychology

i watched an old episode of "The Sopranos" last night on A&E. carmela said something to tony that made me think a little deeper about my last post. their young daughter was starting to date a half jewish and half black boy and tony had a fit. carmela told tony that the more he made a stink about it, the more he would push his daughter right into the young boy's arms.

couple of things. i had this conversation with my dentist, whose wife is black. he started dating black women because he came from a hick town with no black people and his mother was always bad talking black people in front of him. that created a natural curiosity about black people. were they really as bad as he had been led to believe? and then, BAM. he fell in love with one. the same type of thing happened with my husband. and in high school, i distinctly remember "play" dating a white boy, and when it seemed to get "serious", his friend told me that his father was totally racist. this white boy that i was hanging out with was always dating black girls. go figure.

i've seen that a lot though. so it made me think of my conversation with my son's schoolmate's mom. i mean, what better way to insure your kids don't marry someone of a different race (if one is so inclined) than to put them into a school with lots and lots of diversity. i guess it's kinda reverse psychology. i mean, if a kid goes to a school with lots of people unlike himself, he's unlikely to be so curious and seek them out. they wont seem so interesting.

i've thought about this with my son. i think i blogged about it before, when i was toying with the idea of putting him into private schools way out somewhere, outside the close-in city. i decided against it for now, because of all the black boys that i knew of growing up whose parents decided to either live someplace like lakeoswego or beaverton, or to send them to school way out, they had a hard time. the thing was, the black boys had a great time in school until the typical teenage years when lots of boys, even white boys want to listen to rap and hiphop and be cool. but the black boys, they didn't quite know how to act and felt like they were missing out on being "black" in the hood. so they'd start coming over to NE portland, hanging out with the WRONG crowd, but not seeming to know the difference. i guess they figured when they hung out with a thug, that was just "being black".

anyway, long story short, those black boys, the ones whose parents had made such painstaking efforts to keep them away from the hood, were the ones who got into serious trouble. so with my son, i figure, he will be raised in a stable home, read books, have both parents around, etc, etc. even in his class now there are kids who don't come from the most stable home.

as he gets older and sees drug activity and bad behavior, etc., hopefully it wont seem so exciting or intriguing to him.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


i took my son to his schoolfriend's home today to play. they are a nice, white family, and they recently moved here from idaho. they haven't had a lot of time around other cultures until the last couple years. they think it's "neat" to be in such a diverse school. really? they think we are we all that NEAT? interesting.

we sat in her kitchen talking about the state of portland schools and what our plans for the kids next year might be. she told me about a conversation with a neighbor, who was proudly putting her kids into catlin gabel (a very, very, very white private school in beaverton) next year.

leslie (the woman whose house i was at), told me how she, in sort of a bragging way, told the other neighbor that she LOVED the diverse school that her child attends now, and how her kid was like only 1 of 3 white students in 20. she was bragging! i was impressed but kind of shocked. shocked that someone white would think it was "cool" to have their kid be the minority.

Monday, April 16, 2007


when i go to work, i usually leave our main car at home for my husband. we work opposite hours so i leave him with the carseats and the big comfy ride for our kids. our second vehicle,a 13 year old car was a nice, older looking car until about 4 months ago. the husband was rushing home from work and sideswiped it on a pole coming out of his parking garage. it looks like crap now.

since we own it outright and only carry liability insurance on it, we left it that way. we both agreed that we didn't want to put $500 into it because of it's age. but now, i am so embarrased to be seen driving it. i haven't felt that way since i was in middle school going through the "embarrased-by-what-my-parents-drove" phase. in my 19 years of driving, i have never driven a "bucket". i know it's only our back-up commuter, but still. it is NO indication of where we live, our credit (we have perfect credit) or how irresponsible we might be. now, when i drive it to work, i park way far away so that other co-workers don't see it, or see me get out of it. there goes my "image".

when i'm driving it though, i feel so humbled. all the times that i saw someone driving a crappy, beat-up old car, and unwittingly made assumptions about their bad credit, no job, or irresponsibility, it has come back to bite me in the ass. i see people looking at my car, and i know they're probably thinking the same things i think of when i see people driving cars like mine. i don't even come close to what i probably look like driving that car.

look at that black girl in that bucket. she's probably on welfare with 5 kids and no husband and no car insurance. things are just not what they seem. i'm still learning to try and remember that.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

the ethnic section

i should clarify. i have to say that when i wrote this post, i forget that people who dont live in portland also read this blog.

when i said that i didnt want to give my money to people who blatantly dislike black people, i should have said specifically THOSE STORE OWNERS. any black person in PORTLAND who has ever gone to the store Living Color knows EXACTLY what i'm talking about. i SINCERELY was not saying that all koreans don't like black people.

i had to go buy hair products today. actually, the one thing i wanted was some stuff to protect my hair when i use the flat iron. it's some spray stuff. here in portland, there are a few places to shop for black hair stuff, but i always feel like i'm going out of my way to get it. like, i can't just run up to the safeway near my house and get what i need. why is that?

i mean, i know that black people only account for about 7 percent of the population in portland, but that's still a chunk of black people who need hair products. i stopped going to the korean-owned stores several years ago. they have EVERYTHING in their stores, but i absolutely refuse to give my money to them. they have no customer service skills whatsoever (and don't care to ) and they're rude. there's no way i'm giving my money to people who blatantly dislike black people. why would i want to deepen their pockets? i know lots of black people go there, but whatever. that's on them.

so usually, unless i'm near a sally's beauty store, i go to fred meyer or target. fred meyer has a teeny, tiny section labeled "ethnic". and there are about 4 or 5 things- grease, pomade, relaxers and sheen sprays. NEWSFLASH: there's more to black hair care than grease and relaxers! i guess they figure that's the only thing we do to our hair-slap some grease on it and go. there's a limited amount of shampoo and conditioner. shampoo's not such a big deal- basically soap is soap (but hey, it would be nice to have some selection), but conditioner is made different for people of color. it has more moisturizers in it.

target was even worse. they've progressively decreased their supply. maybe it's that black people aren't buying those products there and that's why they've decreased it? or maybe black people don't buy black hair product there since they only carry the "token" products. catch-22.

all i know is, it's irritating. like, as far as our hair goes we're deduced down to a fraction of a shelf? there are a gazillion black products to be sold. i know they can't carry the whole inventory like Mid-K or Living Color or Sally's but come on. it's ridiculous.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


let me preface this post by saying that 99 percent of the time when it sounds like I'm dogging on my race, my intent is really to say, come on, black people. get it together. Lets change our image. Lets not be the ones who are supposedly bringing the neighborhood down. let's stop being the men from taking up so much prison space.

just bec i'm black doesn't mean i have to accept, like, agree with and embrace all of the black AMERICAN culture. people call me bougy (more on that later). can't i still be black without loving all of the black pop culture? the hip hop culture, seems to be only the American way to be black. Africans or black people around the world don't necessarily subscribe to the hip-hop culture the way so many black americans do.

i just had a conversation with my oldest of 4 brothers who lives in los angeles. surprisingly (although not terribly surprising), he mentioned some new neighbors who moved in to his apt complex next door. They are black. he couldn't really tell a whole lot except for he saw a few black guys with cornrows, baggy pants and oversized white t-shirts. my brother, sort of jokingly said, "How'd they get into this nice complex??". He wasn't saying that black people should not or could not be there, because obviously my brother lives there. but why do they have to LOOK like that? why do these guys INSIST on causing themselves to not be taken seriously? my brother was honestly concerned about whether they would bring down the complex.

the same thugs you see on the news committing crimes and whatnot are the ones dressed like that. so why do so many young black men (who may be decent guys) choose to look like that? i've seen that style of dress on black guys all over portland. no wonder white people are afraid of them. no wonder they can't get past the negative stereotypes.

i will NEVER allow my boys to dress like that. but, the way that my husband and i raise them, they probably wont even want to dress like that. my brother and i decided on a theory that the generation Xers who were raised in undesirable environment don't know anything different and are now raising their kids the same way. how can those parents do any better, when they're part of the problem. clothes don't make the man BUT clothes do un-make the man.

one day, i made it a point to observe the black men i saw around portland. probably 75 percent of all the black men I saw looked kinda scary. i'm sorry, but it's true. and i should point out that i'm mainly talking about the the generation Xers. Not that I'd be scared (because i know lots of black guys and they're great people). but i can understand why just the appearance of many of them would put someone who's not around black people on edge a little bit. take out the cornrows ( i think it's fine for black women, but black men??? it's just ghetto. what's wrong with a nice cut?). put on some pants that fit. take off the do-rag. stop dressing like the rap stars.

rap. it's negative and needs to be banned. people dress like the music they listen to. have you noticed? is there anything positive about rap? i'd like to know. the lyrics are filthy, the rappers promote the degradation of women, selling drugs, not working, not being family oriented BUT having multiple kids without being married, and the most important--having THINGS like escalades and shoes and watches and chains and gold teeth. what happened to promoting reading? working (honestly), education? marriage?

and this is what so many young black people aspire to be. sad. i dislike being associated with it. i love my heritage and all that, but i don't subscribe to much of the black pop culture.

Monday, April 02, 2007


according to my daughter, i am 'kinda brown' and my husband is 'not brown'. it's weird how kids notice and want to verbalize these things at such a young age. i didn't know he was paying any attention to skin color until last summer when we went to a popular kids watering hole in the Pearl district. the other little black kids were running around playing having a great time, and my son came out of the water saying she didn't want to play around the 'brown kids'. i was speechless. she didn't realize that she is brown too. i had a long discussion about it and told her that she was brown too. she didn't think so. i have no idea what that 's about. maybe it was just part of her being three years old.

now, she knows she's brown, but when we talk about it, she acts as if she doesn't really believe it, like she's just going along with whatever i'm telling her. i guess that's normal.

so lately, whens she's talked about my husband- her dad, he really notices that we are not the same skin color. she says that 'daddy is not brown'. and i'm [insert creative unknown adjective] to say that i told my son that daddy is too brown. i don't know why i told him that. i really don't. if i think hard enough, which i'm not doing, maybe i'll come up with the reasons why. i just figure that there are so many shades of black people, why couldn't my husband be brown? he could just as easily be a really, really light skinned black man. not that i wish he were. i don't.

don't get me wrong. we truly don't have a race issue in our household. i know that there's so many issues behind why i tell my daughter this, and i would probably seem to contradict myself a couple times if i tried to list them.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


monday, one of the only managers in my department was leaving for the day and came to see me. he asked if i would keep an eye on some of the newbies hired recently and make sure they were doing their job. he told me that if any of them were screwing around, i was to tell them to get back to work and then let him know.

i gave a phony smile and said that i would.

yeah right. i'm not like that. i have no desire to be one of those employees. plus i'm not getting paid for that. there are already employees like that at my job who would have been happy to do the duty, but they weren't there that day. i like being friends with everyone at work. it would feel awkard telling my peers to 'get back to work'.

and then i started thinking about how at every job that i've ever had, there's always been a buster. someone who you could count on to run and tell the management if you're slacking, tardy, or screwing around.

the funny thing is, those employees were never black. always white. i've been a favored employee but that's where i draw the line. i've never known black employees to be the ones stepping on others to (try to) get ahead. and i'm not condoning screwing around at work, or not letting someone know when another employee's behavior is seriously affecting your job. i'm just talking about snitching for the sake of snitching. snitching because you just can, when it's not really your business. and i've known plenty more white people who've made others' secular life a lot harder than black employees have. it's just what i've noticed.

i'm not sure if not being a buster is a black thing, or if being a buster is kind of a white thing. i guess it works for them. but i don't think if /when black people do that, they'd have the same results or advantage.

Friday, March 23, 2007


the husband and i were invited over to his co-worker's home for dinner. our kids also used to go to school together. as far as the dinner was concerned, it was something i could take or leave. we have a pretty big social group already, and it's really not that important to me that our son play with their kid or not. but i was motivated to go mainly because i'm curious about people and i wanted to check out where they lived, how nice (or not) their house was, and just how they live in general. i think i was more curious about that than than being invited for dinner. and i have a tendency to take a look at someone and prematurely decide what type of house they probably live in and what type of life they lead. so it's kind of a little game i play with myself to see how wrong or right i was once we get there.

i feel like i need to see how other people live in order to be content with our life, our house, our financial situation. i feel like everyone has more money than we do, but at the same time i suspect our finacial situation appears different to others what it it really is. and i realized that of all our close friends that the husband and i hang out with, i've subconsciously managed to only keep friends that (that i perceive are on )our on our same (perceived) level of housing, finance, education, or LESS. like, i feel okay when i know that i have more of or the same things materially or financially as my friends. but i think i'd be too envious to have close friends that do better than us financially. like, i don't think my ego could handle it.

so, i was waaay wrong about these people. they have a much nicer house/home than what i expected. it didn't phase me, though, because it's a lot like our house. you'd think by now i'd have learned not to judge a book by it's cover. i think maybe that's a personality flaw because i do it all the time. but doesn't everyone?

Sunday, March 18, 2007


friday i went to see an opthamologist at the Casey Eye institute (which by the way is a great place). i have this mild eye condition so i was discussing that with the doctor. he says, "yeah.... for some reason it's really common among blacks". i don't know why the way he said "blacks" instead of "black people" sounded so offensive to me. but it just did. i guess it sounded so formal, like just by him saying "BLACKS" i could tell that he didn't have any black friends. totally.

but how did he know that? is that just some random fact he had been told? some statistic he was told about?

i always cringe when someone on the news says things like these:

"african americans are at high risk for high blood pressure"

"african american women are the highest at risk for HIV"

"african americans are at high risk for diabetes".

i hear that kind of so-called information a lot. and there is never any specific study given or date or by whom it was conducted. the media just tells us all this and we're supposed to go, "oh. okay. that must be true and factual because the news says that some study somewhere was conducted".

are those "studies" accurate? how did they test every single black american to know that we're at high risk for this or that? is it determined by the percentage of black american with insurance that actually go to the doctor? what percentage of black people is that? and i'm not saying that it's not true that black people are at risk for this or that. i'm just saying that there is such a thing called propaganda and you shouldn't just make a statement without providing details.

i actually can't recall someone reporting that whites are at risk for this or that. can you recall it? i always hear about the minorities that are at risk for this or that.

hmmm. white people must be pretty darn healthy and black people must not be.

Friday, March 16, 2007


i don't know why i'm getting bashed so much on this blog. people act like it's a cardinal sin to state my feelings- like the post about the tipping. what's so wrong about saying that i don't LIKE tipping? the fact of the matter was that i DID tip. i don't like paying taxes either, but i do. regardless of all the thoughts in my head that led up to me deciding to leave a tip, i did the right thing.

but who doesn't ever think something less than favorable before acting or saying the opposite? you're lying if you say that you don't. yet when i write what i feel, and not necessarily what i actually did, i get reamed.

i'm past that though. that's why i started this blog in the first place. everyone writes for their readers. everyone puts on the comfortable, ideal, shiny side of themselves into their blog and leaves out the ugly. nobody wants to showcase the ugly and risk people thinking knowing they're not perfect or that they don't always think happy thoughts about everyone else.

the upside of this all is how therapeutic writing and getting responses is. of course any blog can get responses. but with regard to race in particular, the responses and emails are amazing usually and let me know i'm not the only one with my feelings...

Monday, March 12, 2007


i don't always do things with the purest motives sometimes. the husband and i received a gift certificate from someone we did business with for a restaurant we had never been to, Saylers Old country kitchen. since it's not a restaurant we had heard much about, we thought we'd save it for when we were really broke.

so this past weekend, we were pretty broke. i looked at their online menu and decided that maybe it wasn't that bad of a restaurant. we spent 50 dollars on dinner which the gift certificate covered. as i said, we were pretty broke and it would have been a totally FREE meal except for then we had to leave a tip. or did we? of course we had to. the husband didn't think much tip was necessary. he doesn't care what anyone thinks.

at this point, it was (to me) only about what people think, since i didn't really care about paying the server's salary. she was a good server and all, no complaints here, but it's not like she buttered my french bread for me.

i determined that our tip should be about 10 bucks. we could afford that. but i just didn't really want to. i don't believe in paying the salary of someone i don't know for work that they choose to get paid hourly to do, especially when they don't exceed my expectations tipping so much.

my ONLY motivator for leaving a good tip was the fact that we are an interracial couple and she probably expected us to NOT leave a tip. i was only trying to make it easier for the next black or interracial couple. other than that, if i had been white, i probably wouldn't have tipped or maybe just not so much.

Friday, March 09, 2007

full moon

i went to the lloyd center mall last night. i'm not a mall rat but i wanted to get out without the kids and shop for some clothes. when i got home, i wondered if i had been "punk'd". three situations happened within one hour that all involved strange black men. i thought about writing about how it only validates what white people think about black men, but no, i'm not going to go there right now. and then it dawned on me. everytime something really weird happens to me , i always ask (to noone in particular): is it a full moon or something? turned out last night really was.

this is the weirdest thing that has happened to me in a looong time. have you ever seen dave chappelle portray the crackhead? okay now picture a black man, on that level who came up to me at the mall and and asked:

" 'xcuse me sista, sista... i was wonderin' if you could help me....(holding a tablet with some letters on it), i was wonderin' if you could help me spell the word biscuit. do you know how to spell that word? can you tell me how to spell it?"

i looked at him like he was a mental case, and almost helped him. but then i thought that a) he probably knew how to spell biscuit,b) didn't really need to know how to spell biscuit, or c) was trying to pick me up or play some silly game.

i hesitated, and then said, "no. i don't know how to spell biscuit" and turned and kept walking.

then, i went into Forever21. there was a white girl there being "harassed" by a twenty-something black guy trying to pick her up. she was doing her best to ignore him but he was so in-her-face with it. saying things like "can i get your phone number girl?....well why not? come on girl.....if i had a hundred dollar bill, would you write your number on it?...." it went on and on. the white girl was trying to act annoyed but the fact that she stayed there smiling while she told him NO told me she thought it was cute on some level.

i was so irritated. within 10 minutes i had had two experiences with black men that were not positive. i gave him a dirty look, as if to say, look at you. you're the reason black men can't get rid of the stigma. what is wrong with you? does this look like a nightclub? you idiot. i rolled my eyes and walked the other way. then he started calling to me, asking why i was 'treatin' him like that, why did i need to roll my eyes'. he didn't have a clue. i was offended that i am forced to share the same race with an idiot like that. i know he doesn't really represent the entire black race but he basically put on a show for the entire store, i wonder if the next time someone in there encounters someone black would they automatically mentally put that person into a category with him?

then i went to the food court. i was ready to go home but i stopped to get something to eat for me and the husband. i went to the cajun grille and got in line. the black man in front of me was having some kind of difficult understanding the two asian men there. the asian men kept repeating themselves and sighing and rolling their eyes that this man couldn't understand what they were saying. it got kind of uncomfortable. and the black man kept turning around to look at me as if he expected me to nod or give a look that i understood his frustration. i was indifferent.

what was so weird was that other than these three experiences, i didn't have any type of converstion or interaction with anyone.

i've always said that i married a white man because i'm just more attracted to white men. but honestly, i don't think i'd have the strength to be married to a black man. black men put up with such bullshit, and the ones that really are decent and wealthy and educated still have it rough to some extent. i think it would be really hard to be the wife of a black man.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

homeownership pride

not far from our house, there are two trailer parks. eww. so thankful to not live there, i always think. even though my house is less than a mile away, i'd like to think we are worlds away.

and i thought about the way most people on my block including myself go to lengths to keep our properties nice. i live on a street in a neighborhood which isn't the trendiest neighborhood, but parts of it are really neat with great houses. i think i've mentioned it before, but portland is funny in the way that one block can be really really nice, and the next one over could be totally shabby.

anyways, i'm proud of our little house. it's not all that. it needs some updating in places, but in comparison with other older homes around portland, it fits right in. when i buy a new peice of decor, or we fix something or remodel something, i'm proud to display it and i think of it as another notch on the belt making our house inviting and warm.

and then it occurred to me about people who live in the trailer parks. i guess they might also do little things to their trailer that they're proud of and show it off to their fellow trailer park neighbors. it's probably a big deal to them. and then here i am, driving by looking down on the park. i wonder if people who live in the suburbs of portland, like lake oswego, or somewhere where the neighborhoods are newer and the houses are bigger and nicer think the same thing if ever driving through my neighborhood.

look at those small, old houses. situated so close to each other. those poor, poor people in NE portland...

Friday, February 23, 2007


'Man, this version of Just Callin' It Like You See It is boggling my mind.

There are moments when i find your insights pretty interesting (most of us are not unaware that pdx is is the Great White Populace and it's instructive to hear another voice or voices). There're other moments when it's obvious that your own personal insecurities cloud the quality of thought, but it's your blog (hell yeah it is) so go for it on the merely-32-inch-tv and the afraid-to-meet-the-woman-on-the-phone threads. But something about this post is just so out there, so cynical and ill-toned, that I had to wonder if you ever read your own blog.

Lady, half of your posts revolve around perception and presumption and how puzzling and cruel they can be. Yet here you are dissing a room fulla whites because they had the wherewithall to attend a Black History Mo. screening. These people were interested enough to get their asses up to PCC for a screening and you're instantly dismissing them as granola-eating, White Guilt laden black history dilettantes who're watching whatever movie as a collective act of...condescension? This particular musing is generalizing in exactly the style that you accuse or document various whites of doing, and it's no prettier from your pen than it is when you journal the behaviors of others.

You imply that white people everywhere only allow themselves to think positively about blacks once a year (do you really truly think this?); you state that the scholastic portrait of blacks is limited to poverty and ignorance (i can only attest to the california public school system on this, but i sure as hell didn't wander around the elementary school yard thinking blacks were stupid and poor); you sarcastically chide the attendees of this event for coming to an African film during Black History Month, because you apparently can tell that they're not interested in the black community beyond this 90 minute reel; then you wag your blogging finger in the face of this nameless, generalized audience in Portland because Africa's been historically exploited by whites um, not in Portland?

I think you can see that this line of thought doesn't make a helluva lot of sense. Perhaps you're resentful of the whites in that room at PCC for whatever reason. Okay, that's cool, if that's where you're at and you're honest about it. But weaving a poorly-constructed and mean-spirited narrative around people that did nothing but show up to a movie is a cheap, cheap shot, no matter the cheerleading that occurs in the comments section.'

i think people forget that this blog started out as a personal, almost-confessional type place for me to write about my thoughts, experiences and feelings. period.

( i'm not writing for the Oregonian here)