Black Girls Be Dealing with Ignorance

I dont know if you’ve heard about this but here’s a link:

A friend of mine gets booted out of Downtown Sports Bar (Raleigh, NC) for being black, because this is 1960*, apparently.

It will take you to the WP blog of a NCCU professor who’s recently graduated student was kicked out of a bar in downtown Raleigh for being Black.  When I read this, I had been down here (I live in a town right outside of Raleigh) 7 days and had gone out with friends that same night but to a different bar.  Though we had a good time and were not discriminated against in any way, I did notice that we were the only group of young Black people in the bar.  Coming from NY this really struck me because even if Im the only Black Im used to seeing many other cultures as well.  I chalked it up as something else I would have to get used to.

Now let’s fast forward about a week and a half.  I met up with my good friend Martamique, a beautiful thick dark skinned sister with natural hair.  She has a very eclectic taste in music so she took me downtown to a dive bar.  We didnt know it but it was “Anything Goes” night where folks are supposed to bring vinyls and the DJ will play them.  The DJ was this really cool shaggy, long-haired white kid named Shaun(Sean? There are so many ways to spell that name) who loved disco and played it all night.  He played some songs we knew and we bobbed our head and swayed.  Then he played the Jackson 5 and I had to show out!!!

SIDE NOTE: I dont know if I’ve ever told yall this but I am a Michael Jackson fanatic. From young, big haired,bell pepper nose Michael all the way to ol skinny translucent Michael.  We even share a birthday, August 29th.  Michael, I LUH YOU!!!

Ok, Im back.  So we started dancing and us dancing turned into a soul train line.  And then I was slow dancing with a dude with a broke shoulder.  And though were the only two Black girls in the bar, it was really fun.  The night went on and those kids were getting wasted.  Cans of beer were $2 but I didnt drink.  1) I dont drink beer. It tastes like camel piss.  Dont ask me how I know what camel piss tastes like 2)I try really hard not to drink and drive because I lost a friend to a drunk driving incident and 3) These country roads are too dark and I live too far and deer are too damn big!  So I didnt drink.  Marti and I were talking to the DJ when one of the girls who was in our Soul train line came up like “What are yall doing? You were my dance partners!” She was obviously sauced and I really dont like trying to have rational conversations with drunk people but I tried anyway.  I told her we would be back soon.  Then she asked our names and then told me she wouldnt remember them anyway.  And then she said,

“My hair is better than yours.”

Yeah… let that marinate.  I said “Im sorry…. What?” Then she walked away.

Do you remember my very first post? Well I started this blog because I had just chopped my hair off into a short afro, I needed to lose 70lbs and I was relocating.  Since then I have lost a little weight, I have moved and though my hair is growing it is still a “shmedium” afro.  I love and am very proud of my hair but as soon as she said that it took me right back to 1st grade.  I have always had really thick hair and as a child my mother used to braid it into intricate styles and add coordinating beads on the end.  Though it was tight and my mama is rough on a scalp I never felt insecure about my hair.  That is until a white girl in my class, I think her name was Rachel, told  me that she didnt like my braids.  I came home upset and told my mother that I didnt want to wear braids anymore and my mother asked me why.  I told her and my mother had a fit. (Now if you ask my mother she will say that this is before she was saved. Yeah. Ok.)  She went up to that school and I dont know what she did or who she spoke to but Rachel never said anything to me about my hair and I kept wearing my braids.

But that’s how I felt in that moment.  Here we go again.  Someone taking their different and assuming it is better.  Her comment threw me for a loop but I decided I wouldnt let it ruin my night.  I continued dancing and sat with Marti as she talked to this skinny, scruffy lookin dude named Bryant.  He asked my name and I told him and then he begins to tell me that my earrings are too big and that they “were freaking him out.”  I was trying to take his comments with a grain of salt but he continued on for at least 10 minutes, even going as far as to compare them to the women in Africa with the stretched earlobes.  I kindly removed myself from the conversation and by that time I was ready to go home.

I didnt tell my friend about either comments until we got to the car.  I wasnt sure how she would respond.  But she apologized profusely and I reminded her that it wasnt her fault at all.  On the ride to her house I was calming her down more than anything.  But as I drove back to my country dwelling with the gospel station blasting, I was… disappointed.  Both of those people were not coming from a place of overt racism.  They werent trying to emotionally break the Black Girl.  But their misguided thought that because they are the majority and they have an opinion they automatically have a right to voice it.  I know that the alcohol had something to do with it.  But alcohol doesnt fill you with foreign thoughts, it just brings your thoughts to the surface.  I also found it unfortunate that Bryant found my style choice unsatisfactory but as I flipped through the latest issue of Vogue I saw earrings that looked just like mine, just as large and just as shiny.  And I bet no one would compare her to the African women.

I am learning more and more about myself every day and this move has really helped that.  But I am also learning about the world.  Some lessons are harder than others.

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Black Girls Be Tryna Get Their Lives Together

Ok so its been 2 and a half weeks since my last post and I’ve missed this! This safe place where I can say and do and be and no one bothers me.  So much has happened in the last 19 days I have:

 

  • Officially Started my business
  • Been insulted
  • Swam
  • Rode a bicycle
  • Walked to Sonic

AND…

  • Eaten Fried Gator with bang bang sauce.

I am officially in the country and I dont think I have forgiven my father for it yet.  All of this means that I have about 6 posts inside of me so be ready. Ok. How has the last 19 days treated you?

Oh… and Hey Puddin!! I missed you!!

Black Girls Be Moving On: Long Island in the Rear View

I dont usually divulge so much information on the internet for strangers to see but being that Im leaving in about an hour or so I feel safe telling you this.  I am from Long Island (The Strong Island!), New York.  It has been my home all of my life.  Suburban but still close enough to the city to feel relevant.  But Long Island is the most segregated place in the entire country.  Seriously.  The schools are purposely zoned so that the races dont mix.  If you cant tell from my blog I am Black (I know surprise surprise) and I graduated high school in 2007 with approximately 250 other students and maybe 5 of them were White. Maybe! And Im being generous because at the moment I can only recall one and she transferred our senior year.

Yeah let that sink in. In 2007.  In New York.  But let me tell you more about my town.  Our school was technically located on the wealthy side of town.  From my school you could walk to the houses of Ashanti, J. Lo and other celebrities but yet my sophomore year our roof flooded and then it caught on fire during a snow storm.  I am grateful for my education though. Luckily I was always an overachiever and was placed in the Honors and AP classes throughout my elementary and secondary education.  But we knew that we were not getting the same services as the wealthier schools that surrounded us.

But I digress.  The segregation on Long Island is very… polite.  And I have a problem with polite.  Its an indifferent tolerance, a quiet neglect.  The White people stay in their neighborhoods, which are always nicer and the Black folks stay in their neighborhoods which are almost always inferior.  There may be a few who move to predominately White areas and vice versa but by and large we submit to the self segregation.  We sold our family home of 8 years in February and my father moved South with my grandmother while my mother, brother and I stayed at my mom’s friend Maria’s apartment until my little brother finished the school year.  My plan was to save money and move to the city and continue working but God had other plans.

I loved my old block.  It was very mixed with Blacks, Whites, Asians, Middle Easterns, Hispanics, Everybody!  I learned a few years ago that my neighborhood was created for upper middle class interracial couples to live back when interracial marriages were still illegal.  That made me love it even more.  But I didnt appreciate it until we moved into Maria’s house.  She is an older Italian woman and she and my mother became friends when they were adult students at the local community college.  They are so different we call them the Odd Couple but she has been a great friend to my mom.  We stayed in her upstairs apartment and a Hispanic family lives downstairs while Maria fulfills her dream of living the in the city.  She told us that we were the only Black family in the neighborhood even though we were only staying there for 4 months.  Mom was concerned about this but Maria told her not to worry and that no one would care.

Again the people were… polite. The neighbors to the right would wave, even as their dog would bark incessantly every time we went to the car.  And we were the perfect neighbors.  Never had loud parties.  Never congregated outside.  Never left trash on the street.  We only had one car and rarely had visitors.  But that wasnt enough I guess.  Someone complained that Maria had illegal tenants staying and she got a letter saying that we had to get out immediately.  At first I laughed it off because we were leaving in 3 days anyway.  But as I thought about it I started to get upset.  She had had that upstairs apartment for 5 years and her friend Janet had stayed there for a year.  But of course Janet is White.   I thought about the play “Raisin in the Sun” and I felt the like the Beneatha of the New Millenium, Beneatha 2.0.

Its hurtful to know that I am not good enough to be somewhere because of the color of my skin.  They dont know anything else about me.  They dont know that I am a college graduate and I have an unhealthy appetite for cartoons.  They dont know that my grandfather was a war vet or that my grandma was one of the first African American women to work for the government.   They dont know that my humble mother who has an Associate’s, a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Theatre is the daughter of a sharecropper and a nanny.  And they dont know that my father put his life on the line for 22 years to protect this city as a police officer.  They dont know any of that.  All they know is that we are Black, we are different, we are other and we dont belong.

So as I pack the last of my belongings onto the truck today and watch the last images of this place fade away in the rear view mirror I do so with these things in mind.

Black Girls Be Starting New Adventures: Lettin Go by Janelle Monae

Yesterday was last day at work.  I really wanted to write this post yesterday but they actually made me do my job (I Know!! The nerve of them!! lol) But it was really nice.  They surprised me and gave me flowers, a NYC coffee mug from Starbucks, two mugs and two bags with our work logo on it and a really nice card.  I was touched.  I had only been working there since September and in my current staff position since late January but I really had connected with some of the people.  I was also having an awesome music day because I made a Raphael Saadiq station on Pandora and mixed on all my favorites; Esperanza Spalding, Robert Glasper, Gregory Porter, Cee-Lo and Janelle Monae.  And her song Lettin Go came on and it is the perfect last day of work song so I am going to share it with you guys. Enjoy!

Black Girls Be Thinking: Ms. Badu, Fetishes and Sexual Freedom

I dont know how much you keep up with pop culture but I try to maintain a balance of detachment myself.  Because I find that so much of the pop “news” is dribble that does not enhance my life, grow my mind or touch my heart. So I avoid it.  But every once in a while something happens that actually does something to me.  And this is one such instance.

The Flaming Lips did a song featuring Erykah Badu called First Time I Ever Saw Your Face.  I had never heard it until the video was released.  I follow Ms. Badu on twitter because she is awesome (Ok let’s be clear I am an Erykah fan but this will not affect this post).  I saw her tweeting a lot and retweeting a lot of tweets and I wondered what it was all about.  I then remembered that some had folks had tweeted that Erykah had lost her mind because of some crazy video but I still had not watched it.  Again, being a fan I respect her artistry and just thought these people didnt get her.  But then I read this:

http://www.twitlonger.com/show/hno30u

For those that dont like to click or read lol, the highlights are, “You showed me a concept of beautiful tasteful imagery( by way of vid text messages) .  I trusted that. I was mistaken. Then u release an unedited, unapproved version within the next few days” and “Consequently, brother, As a human I am disgusted with your what appears to be desperation and poor execution. And disregard for others . As a director I am unimpressed . As a sociologist I understand your type. As your fellow artist I am uninspired. As a woman I feel violated and underestimated. ”  So not wanting to be biased I checked out his Twitter.  He released this photo and said:

“here’s @fatbellybella and me.. You can’t see but I’m actually holding a gun to her head making her look at the camera”

After reading that I was like What Happened!!?!? And I just knew I had to see this video even though people were describing it as graphic, perverse and disturbing.  So I watched at work because I was too scared to watch it before bed because I am a self-proclaimed scaredy cat.

I waited until everyone in the office was gone and I watched it.

I am posting a link to the video here BUT

THE VIDEO IS GRAPHIC! WATCH AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION!

(Just copy and paste the link in a new tab because its acting up right now) http://perezhilton.com/tv/Flaming_Lips_Ft_Erykah_Badu_First_Time_I_Ever_Saw_Your_Face_NSFW/?id=01c9503174b06&autoplay=false

For those of you that watched, it was intense right?  Some were calling it beautiful others were calling it soft porn.  I remain conflicted.  I believe that a woman’s body is beautiful; the softness, the form, the strength. Its all very balanced and beautiful.  But as Americans we are taught that nudity always equals erotic, which it doesnt.  Why cant we look at a nude human body and see it as we see a butterfly or a hummingbird, just truly in awe of another creature’s aesthetic appeal.  And as a Black woman I am even more confounded because my body has been turned into so many things by so many people; Sexual, Menial, Unattractive, Mysterious. What am I supposed to be and what am I supposed to do?

This is a question of art vs. porn and sexual fetish vs sexual freedom.  And thats what makes Ms. Badu so unique and so important in this conversation.  Not too long ago I read a statement that Ms. Badu wrote in response to people calling her all kinds of ridiculous names because she has three children by three different men.  In a nutshell she replied that she is raising strong, respectful human beings, that she loved each man she conceived a child with and that she’s fine. In other words, Mind Yours! I respected her so much because who are these people to tell her how to use her body and how to raise her children.  This all goes back to freedom of choice and sexual freedom.

I also went down an internet rabbit hole (you know where you click one link on lolcats and 5 hours later you are on a site about illegal prostitution) and I came across a Tumblr called F*** Yeah, Feminists! and they were criticizing another Tumblr because its “fetishizes” women of color. So I checked out the blog and I was wondering if there was something wrong with me because I found the images beautiful.  Yes some of the women were nude but it was tasteful and the women were so beautiful.  And these are photos they either took, posed for or posted so they must have wanted them to be seen.  Was I missing something I asked myself.

So I ask where is that line between being fetishes and sexual freedoms? What if I make a sexual choice and someone else makes it their fetish? Should that even matter to me?  If I find me in my nudeness glorious but someone else makes it dirty whose to blame? Should I even care?

Yes, that’s the ultimate question. Should I even care?