Category Archives: black women

Good Hair

I want to see this film.

When I was a kid, my sisters and I were always told that we had “good hair” because it was long and supposedly more manageable than most. I didn’t really know how to take that, should I be happy? Relieved? And why does this woman have her hand in my hair? She won’t stop…stroking it. As I got older, I saw confrontations between black women that seemed to revolve around hair, that culminated in threats to cut off someone’s ponytail if they got too uppity. It’s insane how a head of hair can enrage or intimidate someone. But we all have hair envy. Curly girls want their hair straight, those with straight want it curly…the grass is always greener on the other side.

I was actually intimidated by my hair up until my college years. When I was younger my mother would always blow it out and braid it or curl it. I never knew how to deal with my natural hair, and felt more comfortable with it straight. Now, I go back and forth. Straight is still my preference, but mostly because it takes less work and less product. When my hair is curly, and all curly girls know this,  I’m always on the search for that holy grail curl product. So much so that I have a box full of bottles that promise to give my hair the perfect bounce and moisture that it needs. I hardly ever go to the salon to get it straightened, partly because I live in Portland and partly because I can do  my own hair pretty damn well. I also hate being pressured by strangers to do things I don’t want to do with my hair. I will never have a perm again in my life, shut up about it! How many inches do you intend to cut off of my hair? Is that really necessary? The worst thing is seeing young black girls with that “creamy crack” plastered on their heads. You’re telling them at such a young age that their hair is something that is too wild and crazy for the simple measures, better get used to sitting in this uncomfortable chair every 6-8 weeks! That’s the price of beauty my sweet. Now stop writhing around, you know it doesn’t hurt that much!I don’t really have an issue with perms(although they’re not for me), but I do have an issue with young girls getting them. I think that the last thing a young girl should be worrying about is how “kinky” or “nappy” her hair is.

Good, bad, it’s all bullshit. Hair is hair. I think you should have fun with it, experiment with it! Straight does not necessarily equal beautiful/professional, nor nappy ugly/ghetto, etc etc. Which reminds me: FAIL (Here’s the response from Glamour). I will say though, every time I have worn my hair naturally to work, be in twists or curls, it seems to be an invitation for someone to touch my hair. Which is kind of annoying. But  telling someone that their natural hair is “unacceptable” in an office setting ??? Jesus. Lawsuit, anyone?

Oh, hair. It’s hard not to get tangled up in it.

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Filed under black women, Hair, Movies

It's like I'm looking into a mirror!

Let’s start this post with a seemingly unrelated story: When Andy and I were visiting friends in Eugene one New Years Eve, one girl (who had heard of me, but hadn’t yet met me) remarked “Oh, you must be Jen!” I smiled and said hello. I knew who she was, she looked exactly like her brother who I had known for several years. Then she continued, “I know this because I know Meg and Andy have a black friend named Jen and none of us knows any other black people.” or something in that vein, in a matter of fact tone. I looked at her like she was high and barked out a laugh. Because it was funny, and because she thought that tidbit would be interesting to me. Oh Yes! Your powers of perception positively blind me, friend!

So you see – here in Oregon, Black people are few and far between. So what happens when there’s a smattering (i.e. two) of us in the same vicinity? We’ll get to that.

In the office that I work in there are two people of color (not counting the ever changing student workers), one of them being me. So the ratio is 4:2…not too bad. Of course, the coworker in question is from Singapore, while I am a black American, so it’s not as if we’re on any kind of common ground besides the fact that we’re the “other”. But hey! Apparently being the only black female in my office makes it easier to single me out. Put another black girl into the mix and things might get KRAZY! Funny story: A coworker and I got pregnant around the same time (I was due end of June, and she the end of September), and since we were each going to be out on maternity leave but had no idea when (since babies don’t give a rat’s ass about due dates), it was decided that we would hire someone to cover our asses just in case. That someone turned out to be black, which I found moderately amusing because… didn’t you know there were 5 of us in Oregon? I mean, what are the ODDS? HA. Anyway, turns out that people were…you can guess what I’m going to say, right? THEY THOUGHT THAT SHE WAS ME. They thought -wow! you’re back so soon! Could it be that you’re Wonder Woman? Pop a baby out and back to work two weeks later? You go guuuuuurl.

Yeah, I kid… but I’m crying inside. One of my co-workers just told me this last week and I could. not. BELIEVE. IT. This woman looked NOTHING like me. Okay? And I mean, nothing. I could detail the ways in which we are different, but that would be unnecessary. *stares blankly* It frightens me that this shit continues to happen. Because really guys? REALLY? The next time any of you mentions that you “don’t see race” I’m punching you in the forehead.

Query: What would’ve happened if she would have stayed on, and we had worked side by side? Would heads have exploded? Would they have questioned me on my ability to duplicate myself?

Oh, and this would all tie in with the “compliments” that my sisters and I have gotten from white people, one of them being: “You look just like Whitney Housten.” Meaning…”You’re pretty.” Because just to say “You’re pretty.” wouldn’t have had the same effect, right? This was said from an in law to my sister on her wedding day. Telling her that she looked just like a famous attractive black woman (RANDOM?) was supposed to make her feel what? Touched? Tickled pink?

Nah dude. You’re an ignorant slut.

*Can’t…stop…editing!

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Filed under Black American, black women, Life, Opinion, Race, Rant

You're my BBFF!

There’s an actress named Merrin Dungey who is from my hometown. She’s ten years older than me and didn’t go to my school, but she DID go to the rival school (which happened to be the whitest school ever possible, so much so that when I was on campus for some yearbook related class, all 5 of the black kids in the school bumrushed me and asked if I was attending. They were practically salivating. I almost felt bad saying no.) So that’s exciting. I stopped watching Alias after she left the show, and I’ve seen her occasionally on The King of Queens. Summerland…eh. No thanks.

Anyway, she looks great for her age, but has kind of a scary mouth sometimes. I like her though. She was supposed to play Naomi on the Grey’s Anatomy spin-off Private Practice but they ended up replacing her with Audra McDonald (who I also really like), who supposedly had more “chemistry” with Kate Walsh. Why couldn’t they bump that Judging Amy chick and replace her with Audra (Yeah, yeah, I know…doesn’t solve the “chemistry” issue. But go with it)? Since they’re all about the colorblind casting. Oh, only have room for one black woman? Too bad. They must not have gotten the memo that Merrin is like, REALLY REALLY good at playing the black best friend. She can even switch it up and play an evil version of herself, pretending to still be the sweet BBFF she always was, until one day she ate the wrong ice cream and it was ON.

Besides Girlfriends (which is on Sunday nights on the friggin’ CW, also known as Where all the black people on television are relegated to for the entire week) I have yet to see a show where a black woman is the lead character. And a full hour show would be nice, not a half hour comedy shown only on Sunday nights and mostly on BET. We all know black people can be funny people! Give me something to really sink my teeth into. Why can’t blacks play roles where they’re not barking orders or shufflin’ and jivin’ to make people laugh, where they’re not being used as a foil for the main character, basically playing second fiddle forever and a day, where their lot in life is to be something other than a human prop for old girl? Why must black women ALWAYS be the sidekick?

I remember when Grey’s Anatomy was getting touted around as this colorblind doctor drama; every article, every interview crowed about the diverse casting. Gee look! A black chief of medicine! Black people who are in positions of power! A black man with an Asian woman…it’s so cutting edge my head just exploded! First off: the show is centered around 5 interns and their struggles. Of those 5 interns, 4 are white. Then you bring in 3 background black characters in positions of power as if that’s something incredible to behold. You’ve done nothing so far that I’m impressed at. It would’ve been nice to see a black intern, quaking in his/her boots, in the prime of life: young, attractive, easy-going. Hell, throw in 2 or 3! And who hasn’t seen a black man and an Asian woman together? Yeah, still not impressed.

I’d say 99.9% of the shows I watch now have a BBFF. It’s so progressive to have a show with a white main character and their one black best friend, but bad marketing to have a black main character. Really want to pat yourselves on the backs people? (Wo)Man up and put some black people in the forefront!

I found a blog that said a lot of what I’m saying here…funny how many people can have the same notions. Don’t agree with the Merrin vs. Audra thing, though.

http://orvillelloyddouglas.wordpress.com/2007/09/29/will-the-black-mammies-of-television-ever-find-love/

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Filed under black women, Media, Opinion, Race, Rant, TV