Friday, September 09, 2011


i went with some friends tonight to see "The Help". it felt awkward (for ME) when the lights came on after the movie seeing all the white people. i wonder if it felt awkward for them? eh...probably not, since most white people never feel any shame or guilt when they're confronted with how their ancestors treated black people.

it's not that i wanted any of the white people to feel shame, but it just felt awkward, that's all i can really say.

anyhow, the main point i wanted to make was that i, though i have a love/hate relationship with Portland, am a total product of portland. whether i like it or not. there i said it. in a way, it's difficult living here. it's like no matter how much i want to be proud of being black, and make fun of the granola, tree hugging, liberal white people, i realize that i am part of it. well, not the tree hugging, granola, liberal part. but i like white and black music, i eat healthy and couldn't fix soul food if i tried. i have mostly white friends, and i say white words, like "dude" at the beginning of a sentence. i don't have to try to be this way, i just am. i'm a true product of my environment.

my mom, who was born and raised in the deep south sticks of georgia moved here with my father when my brothers and i were babies. she has REALLY differering opinions about white people and black people and all that political type stuff. she gets really worked up about racial issues, and is slightly more sensitive to the light skin/dark skin issue among black people and other issues about white and black people.

don't get me wrong, i do know how some white people can be.

since my mom is not from here, i don't know if she really gets it-probably the way she thinks i don't "get it" either. when we have conversations about race, i'm a little more open minded than she is, and she takes that to be naive. it's not naive, it's just that i'm not from the deep south like she is. i didn't grow up in the deep south in the 50s like she did. so on some level i cannot relate to the issues in movies like The Help. my mom saw the movie before i did, so tonight i called her on the phone to talk about it because she wanted to wait until i had seen it open the floodgates of why she didn't like the negative stereotypes and blah blah blah.

i know she gets irritated when she talks to me, because i can't truly relate. i'm not dark skinned, i didn't grow up during the sixties when blacks were openly and legally treated like animals, i didn't grow up with blue-collar uneducated parents, i didn't grow up with parents who cooked soul food, and i didn't grow up in the sticks of the south. so when she talks to me about certain racial issues that she's seen over time (such as ones brought up in the movie The Help), i can't relate. i can relate in the same way that any other generation X-er.....'oh... how terrible, how sucky....ugh....white people....." . but other than that, it's not that emotional for me, because i haven't been through it.

and, i guess i don't see white people exactly the same as someone who has been through it. you can't get apples from an orange tree. you can't raise a black kid in white portland, and then expect them to "get" the whole black experience. not entirely. and what little black history in schools that we get, what does she expect? she's the one who brought me to the black-forsaken, city in the first place.

she's right about the stereotypes in the movie, but purely from the standpoint of hollywood entertainment, i thought it was a good story. period. without getting into the politics of it all. plus i don't see everything her way, and she gets annoyed when i don't get where she's coming from and vice versa.


Time Flies.... said...

Wow. Ditto. It is so complicated when one is born and raised here in Portland. I have raised my kids here, and now my son and wife are raising their daughters here and the complications continue.

Thank, Q said...

Yeah, I'm always the open-minded person, too, but it has nothing to do with my location. Like my parents, I was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. The only difference is integration, I guess. They went to all-black schools and I went to a predominantly white one. I don't think they got to see the fact that a majority of white people are good people. They only saw the bad in the 50's and 60's. They don't mistreat any of them, but they rarely give them the benefit of the doubt on things, especially my father.

Blackkaht said...

Wow, now I'm a little frightened. I am considering moving to Portland and I was doing some research when I can across your blog. I am a 30 something black woman with an interracial child. I'm not racist, I don't have any qualms about white people.. I really feel like I'm one of those people who loves everyone.. However, I worry for a city that will not welcome me or my son to our new life there :(...

Valerie Moore said...

I too agree with your post.

TBG said...

Blackkaht, why be frightened? you sound like you'll fit right in, and actually, so do i. i'm just a critical thinker and can see both sides.

Anonymous said...

LOL i love your blog. This is why I bleached my skin. Now ppl think I'm at most native american or something and I don't have to deal with stupid white ppl comments and such. IT's not that I think white is better, its that I only have one life to live and the constant prejudgments and silent discrimination and exclusion get tiresome. the dark skin was getting in the way, so i got rid of it, BEST DECISION I EVER MADE

TBG said...

anonymous, i hope you're joking.

Anonymous said...

I think in general most Americans have a warped idea of what it means to be black and crucify you if you don't fit into or play along with that warped idea.

The ONLY things that unifies people of African ancestry in the diaspora is that we have one or more ancestor who is African and we share a certain history and legacy. Our individual personalities though, are shaped by our specific environment, our personality and our choices. This is true for every human beings on earth.

You can only be YOU and you're fine just as you are, even if your Mum doesn't get you.


Joyann said...

I saw the movie, a couple of days ago. I wasn't all that excited to watch it because I had not read the book, and I only found out about the movie accidentally, while doing a search on a race related topic. So I decided to watch it the other day since it is now on On Demand.
I thought that the best part of the movie was that it went more in depth into the closeness that was sometimes formed between the black maids and the children they took care of, and also the dynamics between the black maids and their white employers. It amazes me that the white employers allowed the maids to prepare their meals and look after their kids, but could also be so in fear of the maids using the same bathroom as them. I also thought that this movie did a good job of touching on white female privilege, and showing how racist white females could be during that time. It wasn't just white men who acted badly. White females could also cause havoc. The character of Hilly Holbrook illustrated this point to the extreme.

Sarah said...

Girl you're from Portland, OR? I'm from washington and was raised in a small woodsy town here. Not to many black people overall in the NW but in the cities there is more. I know in Seattle and Tacoma there are higher populations.

Anyways, wanted to say I agree with you and how you were raised. Nice to hear from other northwest black folk, lol.

Anonymous said...

"i wonder if it felt awkward for them? "

YES. Yes, it did. And yes, I have felt a lot of guilt and shame. When the lights came on after the movie I wondered if I was the only person who felt awkward.