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