Just “Regular” Black

Often, the first things people notice about me are my  face full of freckles (that seem to take over my body the older I get) and my greenish eyes. It’s particularly jarring an noticeable to people because I’m just “regular” Black. 100% Black, nothing else and 100% proud.

Growing up, people constantly asked me “what was I?” Or complimented me on how I looked like a “white woman” or at the very least mixed. As I got older, redbone was the compliment of choice by men, who were always fascinated by my “exoticism” and wanted to know if my mother or father was white. Family members also often told me that I looked mixed, if only my hair was a silkier (My hair is the give away. In its natural state, it is a beautiful kinky, jet black, ball of wool – nothing European about it.). And as I got into weaves and wigs, this was even further solidified. I grew up thinking being Black wasn’t good enough, that it was a good thing to be lighter skinned, asked “what are you?” and to be mistaken as only half negro. Although I didn’t necessarily see it as better to me, I realized that it was compliment in the world I grew up in. And so I allowed it to happen, smiling sheepishly as I responded (gross).

After constantly being asked this question though, I began to get annoyed, quickly. I became confused every time someone’s face fell when they learned I was just “regular” Black. As I learned more about paper bag tests, and doll experiments, and well, colorism in general, I grew angry. When I realized my fellow sister friends with beautiful skin were often disregarded, felt inferior, and men trashed them, I was disgusted. And when my own siblings told me about hatred for their  darker skin and wishing they had mine, I felt incredibly sad and heartbroken. And then I realized that in a very complicated world of color and race, in some ways, I have privilege. And in other ways, I’m very much the victim of racism. And that either way, I had to shift my thinking and what I allowed others to say or do around me.

And so began my bitchy remarks to those who questioned my ethnicity. “I’m Black mixed with Black,” I replied before it was a popular t-shirt. “Redbone isn’t a compliment to me, and I’m actually offended that you would insult my fellow sisters like that,”  I replied every single time a man would send me a message complimenting me on my light skin and how he prefers that.  I try my best to affirm others about their beauty and advocating when I can for others when I can. I intentionally use a rainbow of shades in my presentations. I remind people that being multiracial is wonderful, but simply being Black is wonderful too.  Most importantly for my own self, I will not accept any compliment that is about how exotic or “other” someone finds me.

I’ve also learned that my skin color comes with down sides too. Many people think I’m a “safer” type of Black, and are surprised and annoyed that I’m afrocentric and speak about racism often. Men expect me to be a little less opinionated. I’m “pretty for a Black girl” in some white spaces. I’m sometimes stereotyped as stuck up, not down, or self-centered. I work hard to disprove these things, but I try to not get caught up in that, because I know for every time those annoyances happen, a darker skinned woman is denied a job, a relationship (you don’t need him or her though honey, you too good for that), stereotyped,  “pretty for a dark skinned woman” or humiliated. I’m so sorry you go through that. I’m so sorry if I have ever been part of that problem. Please know that I stand by your side and am an ally today.

I cannot change the color of my skin or eyes. I love my freckles.  However, what I can do is claim my Blackness, never back down or allow slick shit  people say to slide, and be an active participant in dismantling colorism in our community.

So to answer your question,  I’m 100% Black queen goddess mixed with Black strength. That’s it. Just you know, “regular” Black.

“Today, I got time…”

There’s this saying from a YouTube video (that I’m kind of ashamed to even share here) that I’ve just really been embracing recently.  It’s kind of been my mantra.  “Usually I don’t have time but today, I got time”.  And the funny thing about this is that I thought I didn’t have time before, and that I just gave no f*cks, but come to find out, I do give a f*ck and I INDEED, got a lot of time.

Most people tend to say “I don’t have time for ______ today”.  But recently it has come to my attention that if you don’t have time for someone and their BS at that moment, you better find time soon because whomever you didn’t have time for then, WILL be back with that BS later.

So yeah today, I got time, and will considerably have A LOT of time moving forward.  I’m over ignoring ignorance and childish behavior, and I will no longer participate in it because honestly, some things just need to be nipped in the bud there and then.

So when you want to say some racist shit to me, I got time.  If I’ve told you “No” on multiple occasions and you’re still in my face, I got time.  If you defend Donald Trump and sincerely think he’s a good president, I got time. If you say some LGBTQ-phobic shit, I got time.  If you feel like you are going to disrespect me or anyone else I care about, I got time. If you’re on some anti-feminism, misogynist BS, I got time. If you come for me and I ain’t even send for you, I got time.  If you text me some off the wall mess, I got time.  If you lied to me and I find out, I got time.  

And sure, sometimes people just need to be ignored, but there are some people who just don’t understand. So for the ones that don’t get the silent treatment, I will, for sure, have time for them today. 

And for the friends who you got time for, but seem to still not get it, it may be time to cut them out completely… 

Because ain’t nobody got time for that…

Application for Diversity

A month ago, my daughter introduced me to a new app as she routinely does. What typically happens is I notice her playing something incessantly and download it to see what it is. I then obsess over it for a few days until I reach some awful level that I can’t beat and I give up. This time, however, has been different.

Sandbox

Quite possibly the best time wasting app I have ever come across. I have yet to figure out how the name relates to the app. It’s a color by number app. That’s it. No levels. No time limits. Only constraint is you have to pay for access to more detailed pictures, which I promptly did to color in order to color this lotus flower.

It also does this awesome time lapse video after you fill it in.

So there are all sorts of pictures you can color. Flowers, cars, cartoons, people, cartoon people in cars holding flowers. Okay maybe not that one but anything is possible.

The other day, however, I noticed something when a picture popped up. I had been coloring in very detailed and beautiful pictures of white women. Pictures like this.

And this

And I just want to throw out this picture of a tiger in here, because it’s awesome

There were also some really cool cartoon white people as well

But after playing for almost a month this was the first person of color that I colored

Do you see the problem?

If you don’t. That’s another post for another time. But for those who already get it let’s proceed. If you don’t, you can still proceed and maybe you’ll catch up.

I really didn’t want to believe this person was black but as I filled her in and the complexion was completed and that awkward butt thing finished I had to acknowledge it. This was their first and only black woman or even person of color all month. Unless you count this guy

And I don’t.

This one came later, but I wasn’t sure if they were black or a seriously tanned version of Gene Simmons

Even these clearly non white characters just looked like white people in costume

This initially started me writing a post in my head about white privilege. White privilege is seeing yourself represented in apps automatically and not having to question why there are no people of color.

But then I decided to try something. I never review apps or leave comments. This time I did. I left a comment for sandbox pointing out the lack of diversity and how it would be nice to see more detailed pictures of people of color and men (white men included). Diversity is an amazing thing.

I honestly didn’t expect much. Maybe a response about how they were working on it. Or no response at all.

But y’all…the most beautiful thing happened.

Every morning I wake up to 5 or 6 new pictures to color. THE VERY NEXT MORNING this is what I saw.

DO Y’ALL SEE THAT?!? Not the astronaut or the gems or the watermelon or that angry knight in the corner. No. Right there. That beautiful, detailed, obviously BLACK woman!!!

I can not describe how full my heart was when I saw that. I immediately got to work coloring her in to see how gorgeous she was. With every shade of brown that I applied my heart grew bigger. I ran to my daughter and her friend and told them what had happened. What I had done.

Yep. I’m taking full responsibility for this one. Maybe they were already working on it. But that’s a huge coincidence. THE NEXT DAY!! I’ve had guys take longer to respond to a text message than it did for this app developer to respond to my suggestion.

And then I got to thinking. Why isn’t it always that easy. That’s all it took. Correcting the issue. They didn’t have to respond. They didn’t have to apologize. All they had to do was correct the issue. No questioning. No trying to convince me I was making things up. No defending why they hadn’t had a diverse selection of skin tones up until this point. No blaming. No finger pointing. No all coloring lives matter crap. Just correction of the problem. Why can’t it always be this easy?

Maybe one day the rest of the world will learn from the Sandbox app and quickly acknowledge and correct racism when it is pointed out. Until then I will keep admiring this beautiful lady I colored in and count this as one itty bitty teeny tiny step to equality.

Here she is!

Here’s her video

And just a few days later I got to color in this possible Cardi B image that I love too

(Or is that Miley?!?)

Ps. My daughter says that if you want some good entertainment read the other reviews to the app.

The Oppressor can not be Oppressed…

This is the same as reverse racism. Sure, if defined in text, can be explained simply.  But this is simply NOT a simple issue.

Now, let me preface by saying this; You all know, I’m not the best writer, and I don’t speak much on social things because I’m just not that good at expressing my thoughts and how I feel completely.  I tend to have incomplete thoughts and also tend to not get my point across properly at times.  BUT! Know this. I know what side I stand on. And this here thing…I’m not standing with.

Look at the following image.  This image comes from some training material about workplace harassment. Note: This training was not generated from my company, but sourced out from another training resource.

reverseOpression

Now…

Being an African-American male, living in America, working in Corporate America.  My first response is exactly what the “contestants” in the image show.  TRUE TRUE TRUE MOTHERF**KING TRUE!

Why?

Because the oppressor cannot be oppressed.

What does this mean? Someone who benefits from racism cannot suffer from racism.

Now, being that this is a training resource, to be politically correct and whatnot about this, the answer to this question is False, by definition.

BY. DEFINITION.

But that’s just the problem with this image.  You cannot just simply paint a black and white picture for this.  In most cases, a non-minority would not face any type of racial harassment, due to the fact that he/she is white.  Putting it in perspective on a high level (we’ll get to a lower level, deeper conversation a little further down in this post), a non-minority person would never have an issue with this. I can never in my life recall any time any of my white friends suffered from ANY type of racial harassment, and I have a LOT of white friends.

Who in the HELL thought this was a good question to put in training information in the first place?

The company I work for, at the corporate level, is probably around 75% White.  Keep in mind that this is just an estimation, so I know I’m wrong on the actual percentage, but I’m probably close enough.  If you look at only my office within the company, and go deeper to my specific department, that percentage is even higher. With my team undoubtedly being >85% white, as I can count the total number of African-Americans on one hand. If I include other minorities, I think I may get up to 10 total, but not much higher.

So this image here, in all it’s glory assumes that white people are subjected to suffer from workplace racial harassment.  Which, sure they can, at a definition level.  But how? Tell me when this would most likely happen? This picture screams to me that “white people have it just as bad as black people when it comes to racism”, which that could not be any more wrong. As mentioned in a wonderfully created movie “Dear White People“, there was a line stated that Black people can’t be racist.  Why? Because black people can’t benefit from it.  White people, on the other hand has benefited from racism for CENTURIES.  Black people and other minorities are at a disadvantage EVEN BEFORE THEY ARE BORN, because of the color of their skin. Yet, I’m sitting here looking at a video of an African-American man, asking a question about if it’s True or False that a non-minority in the workplace can be a victim of racism.

Excuse me sir…Let’s not…

Even the white “contestants” has more sense than that.

And I can already hear the moans and groans of white people all over America right now because they speak words of how everyone is equal and racism isn’t a thing anymore and we won’t “let it go”.  I implore you to read my blog post from a while back about Growing up an “Oreo” in America.  This is a minority’s reality.

Resources like this perpetuate the idea that racism can be played on both sides, but that’s just not true.  And for this to be in training material for a pretty big corporation that hires thousands of people, It makes me sick.  Then I think about how many companies are using the same training resource.  This is just a form of institutionalized oppression, spreading the idea that you can be racist toward white people, and that’s just not true.

For years, black people have had to have shows like “Black-ish” and networks like “BET” and celebrate holidays such as “Black History Month” or “Juneteenth” to show our greatness. Why? Because of racism.  Because we needed somewhere to go to celebrate our culture, our greatness of who we are, because white people kept us from showing how great we were.   White people don’t have these things, because they already control all of it.  Their culture bleeds throughout every facet of life.

So I ask you to read the question again and if you think that someone can be racist towards white people.  I urge you to think outside of the black and white box.  Stand back, take a look at your life, and ask yourself, if you’ve ever suffered from or was ever at a disadvantage because of racism.