Category Archives: Race

Race and the election

Old news to some, but that’s never an excuse to keep my mouth shut: People are using Barack Obama’s white heritage to connect with ignorant fools/racists in order to get their vote. And to that I say: FAIL.

The fact that people are stooping to this level to try to find a “common bond”? Speaks volumes about where this country is at in terms of race relations. And if he didn’t have a white mother? What then? Would he be a lost cause? Does that white blood save him from being a savage? Yes, that’s it exactly. Because of who they’re catering to, this kind of bullshit is deemed necessary and acceptable.

Although people might take my marriage to a white man as a sign of some kind of longing for acceptance, I don’t need to produce light skinned children in order to get someone to see me and mine as basic human beings. Simply put, if you can’t deal with me, I can’t deal with you. My child(ren) being lighter than a paper bag doesn’t please me, it scares me. Race is all about perception. When I look at Z I see me, thus, my child is black (Mixed race when I’m being technical). But what will other people see? My fear lies in the fact that people will draw on his “whiteness” to establish his worth. “You’re one of the good ones.” “Well, you’re not really black.” These are things that were said to me, based on the way that I spoke and carried myself. I was “trying to be white”, see, just by speaking in a coherent sentence.

Who I am has largely to do with the color of my skin; my experiences as a black woman have colored (excuse the pun!) my view on a good amount of things. To some I am a bitter black woman, refusing to let things go. I prefer to think of myself as aware. Not a day goes by without some reminder that I am different from the majority of the people around me, especially during this election. People can be ugly and cruel individuals when it comes to dealing with change or difference. I am not naive enough to think that my children won’t have to deal with all of the profundities of race like I have even as they straddle the barriers. I just hope that they will have pride in who they are no matter what others might perceive them to be.

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Filed under Opinion, Race, Rant, Shit just got real, Truly?

…Buh?

What is up with all the men in this town who use wheelchairs but navigate with their feet? Yesterday some guy pushed himself backwards across a busy street (Is that jaywalking?  Jaywheeling? ….whatever) almost getting himself killed. Why backwards? I have no clue. Of course he’s crazy, I have no doubt. But I have seen SEVERAL men in wheelchairs now who do the exact same thing, who refuse to use their arms to , I don’t know, navigate their chairs and insist on shuffling their feet madly to move themselves along. What, I ask, the fuck?

Neither here nor there: I’ve also seen an alarming amount of white people with “dreads” here (it’s an epidemic, actually). One big fat mass of matted hair is not appealing. It’s also not dreads. Not really. Give up the fight.

Yeeeah.

Today I went and visited Z at daycare during my lunch break. I ate my chili and he munched on his pasta. One of the kids, a four year old, watched us while we ate with interest. Then she said, “Your skin is darker than his.” And I replied, “Yep.” She then cocked her head to the side and said, “My mom has long hair. Long blond hair.” Then I responded that there are all different types of hair and she lost interest. Ah, four year olds. I wonder what non sequiturs Z will be spitting out at that age.

Speaking of hair, I’ve been wearing it natural for the last couple of days. My coworkers have seen my hair like this SEVERAL times and yet they still manage to ask the same questions. Did you cut it? How do you get it like that? Do you have a perm? I almost want to teach a class on black hair and get paid for it. Listen up ladies, white women get perms to curl their hair. Black women get perms to straighten theirs. No, I didn’t cut my hair, it just shrinks massively when it’s wet.

And so on.

Jeebus.

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Filed under Hair, Life, Opinion, Race, Z the Mighty

FAIL

I can’t remember how exactly I found this site…but I can remember walking through bookstores ever since I was a little kid and seeing the covers of those trite Cassie Edwards books in the romance section. It was always some dark haired Fabio with glistening pecs standing on a mountain top with the breeze flowing through his hair, wearing buckskin and holding a tomahawk. I grew up reading a series of books that had the same sort of theme: the exoticized (and in Edwards’ case, oversexualized) native americans with a beautiful blond blue-eyed girl/woman in the forefront. I remember being annoyed at it even then. How many times did the author have to bring up the fact that the main character had such lustrous blond hair? There was so much attention to that one detail! Someone was always focusing on it, stroking it. Ugh. I didn’t understand what the big deal was. I got tired of reading about it.

Check out these classic titles: Savage Courage, Savage Torment, Wild Rapture….? Who reads this bullshit? Hey, here’s a title: Keep calling me Savage and I’ll show you torment…involving ruptures.

Speaking of rupturing, try not to laugh too hard at this.

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Filed under Opinion, Race, Rant, Truly?

Hey Bo Derek? You look like an idiot.

Remember this? Well, the good times just keep on comin’. I’m still wondering why white actresses continue to slap on curly wigs or wear cornrows to appear ethnic/questionable when it would probably be easier (and a helluva lot less distracting) to just go straight to the source.

Okay, I know why. And it pisses me off.

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Filed under Nice try, though, Opinion, Race, Truly?

Two girls

This baby girl was very lucky to have been born in India. She is being worshipped as a reincarnated god.

This girl was very unlucky to have been born in South Africa. To white parents. In 1955.

Yeeeeeeah.

I recently read When She was White, the story of Sandra Laing, a dark skinned child born to white Afrikaans. Sandra’s parents (especially her father) fought long and hard to keep their daughter classified as white. The novel was difficult for me to sit through, not only because it’s so disjointed…probably because Sandra is so traumatized by everything that’s happened to her that she’s blocked out most of her past…but for more obvious reasons. Simply put, the story is damn depressing. Not to mention infuriating. Her parents…where to begin? How does the saying go? De Nile is not just a river in Egypt? Well, I suppose it’s not technically denial since they both acknowledged her skin tone as evidence of African ancestry in their family trees, of course, one would have to in that situation, but to expect others to see her as white simply because she was their child? To enroll her in a white boarding school sight unseen and not expect some sort of backlash? That’s got to be denial. But of course, to label her as anything but white was out of the question. And if she was indeed white…why couldn’t she attend an all white school? Yeah. Makes sense when your life is steeped in crazy racist notions.

When I flipped through the pictures in the book it’s obvious that her mother and father felt completely different about Sandra. Her father was not…fond of her. Whereas it’s no mystery that Sandra came from Sannie’s loins, I’m sure that Abraham was constantly looked down upon as a cuckold. It was obvious that she wasn’t his child….right? Right? I don’t know how many times I’ve watched a TV show featuring a man happily awaiting his unborn child only to look astonished as a black screaming baby made his/her debut. It’s such a classic “Wait a minute…I’m not the father!” moment. Because otherwise, how would you know? Anything else could be explained away. But even if Sandra wasn’t the embodiment of Sannie’s indiscretion, she had to pay for being born. She was a stain on their white life. In the end, she went one way and her family went another. She was reclassified as coloured and her family continued to blame her for all of their (and her) problems.

I feel like there was a lesson to be learned in all of this, but ignorance prevailed.

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Filed under Life, Opinion, Race, Rant, Shit just got real, Truly?

Generokees

Prompted by Bethany’s post. Linkage aboundage.

I read an article recently on Slate.com. Written by Native author David Treuer, he ponders why so many writers pretend to be Indian*. He suggests that it might be because anyone can be an Indian these days as the stereotypical Indian look: long black hair, black eyes, reddish-brown skin, prominent nose…is no longer the norm. Treuer compares himself to Opie Taylor, and when I look him up and view his picture on his website, I note that he is indeed a pale fella. One of the people he references in his article is Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance, a writer who claimed to be the son of a Blackfoot chief, but turned out to be the son of a black man (who was part Cherokee). He ended up killing himself when the truth came out.

*The man told some tall ass tales, but I don’t see how he’s not an Indian, as he had Cherokee blood and was even adopted into the Kainai Nation (Blackfoot). *slaps forehead* Oh right! I forgot about the one drop rule. If you have one drop of black blood, you’re black. And if you’re white and have one drop of Native American blood, then you’re rich.

Then there’s Margaret B Jones. This story is just delicious. White woman lies about her heritage (claimed that she was Native, natch) and her childhood, truth comes out, her “memoir” Love and Consequences: A Memoir of Hope and Survival, is pulled from the shelves. Her own sister was the whistle blower. Hi! Don’t post pictures of yourself with a red bandana (courtesy of a fallen homie) trying to look gansta and not think that someone from your REAL life is going to pull the rug out from under your ass.

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Filed under Opinion, Race, Rant

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