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.