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.