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REBLOG:Here, A Hypocrite Lives: I Probably Get It Wrong On Leslie Jones But I Tried

When I saw Leslie Jones on Saturday Night Live doing that Weekend Update skit, it brought out so many feelings in me. I discussed her kind of comedy with a friend. It’s similar to that of Sheryl Underwood– the self-deprecating humor of being a big, dark woman, embracing “masculine” features that stupid people put on them over their development as black women. It kills me when she’s on the Steve Harvey show describing herself as men. She does this often. There’s hurt there. That’s obvious. And comedians tell you that they draw on pain and they draw on their truth. But when it comes to these female comedians, whose truth are they really drawing on, when hurtful people lied to them about their beauty and significance and their value? That kind of humor puts my limited privilege as a lighter-skinned black woman on front street, but it doesn’t make it less hurtful, that my black sisters take this on and this is their reality and that this is a coping mechanism.
But is it a double standard? Kevin Hart can make jokes about being short… But I still can’t find the humor in a black woman reducing her own body and her color and her self-worth in such a way.
I think it’s far easier to make fun of yourself for being clumsy, or a bad dancer, or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Maybe she was attempting to be revolutionary and calling out the elephant in the room maybe she was giving a big f U to all of the folks who never accepted her and saw her beauty or placed a qualifier on it… “for a big girl.” “For a black girl.”
I don’t know. But I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. Here we are in the age of Oprah, and Michelle Obama and Misty Copeland and Kerry Washington and Lupita and then we have Love and Hip Hop and Leslie Jones. It hurts. It hurts terribly. Tressiemc put together all of the thoughts and the frustrations I felt so eloquently, dripping with the pain and the unease of being a witness to such a thing. I really had to share it.

tressiemc

I want badly to get this right. That, of course, means that there is no way humanly possible for me to get this right.

I want to get this right for the usual reasons. I want Twitchy and professional feminists and black nationalists and the identity policy and FOX news ambassadors to stay out of my comment section. I also want to get this right because I spent a fair amount of time this week explaining to mostly non-black academic labor organizers why they are nowhere near adept or oppressed enough to use slavery metaphors. Then, too, this is the week that Miley Cyrus called me old for publicly ruminating on the tensions of her adoption of a specific kind of black female affect in a capitalist beauty structure where chicks like me stay losing, even when we’re paid to dance like we’re winning.

And, Miley’s is some of the…

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Pushing toward purpose

I won’t even fake.

It’s been a long and emotional week. Me and my friends said goodbye to a friend who passed away, we spent time with one another, thankful we are still living and healthy and making our little way in the world. I spent time with my parents, I laughed, I cried.

I helped one close relative put an end to one chapter in their life and watched them step out on faith to start anew. I was scared for them, but also proud of them too. Life is really unpredictable and complicated and we are all on this path to trying to be happy and it’s one of the most difficult things to accomplish because you basically can’t be happy all the time.

I’ve started prepping for my grad school classes that start this week and I’ve already learned about a whole lot and the material is exciting to me. One of my classes started out talking about the cells in our bodies and how these cells do nothing but try to help us stay balanced. The world is made up of all sorts of stuff that is in fact, trying to break us down and disturb our homeostasis, and all our body and mind wants to do is maintain that, but the environment that is around us, the air we breathe, the food we eat, our stress levels, the things that stress us out they continue to wage war on us everyday, and our poor, brave cells are fighting non stop to keep us mentally and physically balanced.

Isn’t that wild?

Life. That’s what it all is, trying to maintain balance, being cognizant of a whole lot of stuff that inherently attempts to break us and stop us, but like those cells, we fight. On a cellular level, even if it seems like we’ve given up mentally, our bodies are programmed to still fight until it burns out (cell death– which leads to ultimate breakdowns in health and eventually our own demise).

See? I’m learning stuff.

So I was up late last night prepping for my classes after driving five hours back from NY, and meeting a younger cousin visiting from Mississippi for dessert, dropping him off at a friend’s house. I was up until one a.m. and was deeply engrossed in the material I was studying. There were studies about the “weathering” effects on black Americans and that a middle-aged black person has an equal amount of wear and tear on the body and emotions as a very elderly white person. Disparities and injustice are real. And to see studies, and documentation confirming things black folks felt like the world tends to ignore and that we just have to live with it first affirmed me, then it made me sad, then it made me furious.

There are even terms for how black people are high functioning copers. That black women, no matter their economic status are the most highly stressed even though recent articles have said we have now become the most educated group in the country right now at really high rates.

Reading all of this at first made me proud, like yup, look at us we still achieve we still go higher. But then I got sad and upset. Why can’t the rest of the world see what I see, and even what these academics have found? But instead a lot of people see something else. Something completely different.

I do like that these courses are asking people to look at the complexities of society and the implications of things like racism, and classism and how it does affect the greater good.

I found myself in the texts, my brain working and wondering how I can craft solutions to these problems, to this calling I have to help women and children and people of color and the disenfranchised. I found an energy even at one a.m. I knew I was tired, but I knew I picked the right path.

I’m going to be exhausted. This is going to be tough. But this certainly feels like the right thing to do.

“Naturally” Supportive????

Hmmmm I feel stuck, blog family.

I really do.

My work rival/bully was in the office today, and I don’t speak to her much. But every now and then, I will pop in to check on her and ask how she’s doing.

She’s been attempting to go natural (and I’ve joked that once again she’s copied me). Some days have been more successful than others. Ok, most days haven’t been successful.

Because hair is a sticky subject for black women, especially those doing the natural thing, I haven’t commented on her hair. Because trust me, I’ve had my fair share of moments where I felt downright ugly.

The truth is I do think her natural look, while she is still trying to figure out what works for her, is probably an improvement from her relaxed hair that had no life, no movement and straw-like. But I was taught early on, if you don’t have nothing nice to say, or you don’t know what to say, shut up.

So I popped my head in the office, and I mentioned my latest product obsession. I really like it a lot. And I wanted to share it with her.

Then it happened. She said no one mentioned her hair save for a very kind, chatty, liberal white woman (who once lived in Africa with the Peace Corps). She said even me not giving her a compliment caused her to feel like her efforts were in vain. She even said she felt invisible. When she mentioned to our co-worker that no one complimented her hair, she did what most nice people try to do.

They were in the break room and two other co-workers came in. Kind, chatty, liberal oohed and awwed over homegirl’s hair and asked the other women, don’t you like it? Welp, as sister girl told me her story, she said she knew the other women didn’t like it and to avoid further embarrassment of seeing the looks on their faces, she purposely opened a cupboard to not look at them.

This broke my heart.

Keep in mind I was recently invigorated by watching an amazing discussion featuring Melissa Harris Perry and acclaimed pioneer in black feminism bell hooks. And they talked about black women, and our esteem and our bodies and shaming and fighting negative images and stereotypes of ourselves and I was cosigning and nearly in tears at how profound they were, and another sister was hoping I’d step in and lift her up.

We’ve had beef though. So more often than not, I don’t see her as a sister in the collective sense, because there have been times she’s stepped on me and seemed to take delight in my discomfort and set backs.

So this dysfunctional relationship that we have continues to challenge me spiritually.

She said she supported me, she complimented me, so it hurt that I said nothing.

I had no real response for her.

So I said, “well how do you feel about your hair?” “Do you like it?” “Is this journey worth it for you?”

Yup. I deflected.

I told her that there were plenty of times I woke up in the morning and thought I was ugly. I had my own parents look at me sideways with disapproval the first time I came home. But I had to keep working with and on my hair.

It became a new thing I had to study. I’m still learning what products will or won’t do.

She’s just started and she’s going through what thousands and thousands of black women are going through and in the earlier stages, after you’ve big chopped and your hair is really short, YOU GO THROUGH IT. Especially if you hadn’t worn your hair short before. It’s a shock to the system.

As for the other work people. There are only four black women in our office.

The white people at my job are smart people, and while they’ve had a number of cultural snafus in the past, they knew damn well to steer clear of our hair. They leave it alone. Honestly, the same sweet, kind, liberal lady was the one to compliment me on my hair when I changed it. No one else said anything to me either. But she understood the context, and she understood what it meant for me to do what I did, she’s quite aware.

It still broke my heart. My newly natural co-worker apparently needed my support and in my silence, I dropped the ball. There was no point in giving her a compliment now. So I didn’t.

I’m really not sure what to do at this point. She also mentioned that her boss told her she needed to be “nicer” and say “please” and “thank you” more.

The truth of the matter is, the boss was kind of on point with that. She has always had a smug kind of attitude, that didn’t sit well with most people.

So, there are self-esteem issues galore. Which I get as a fellow black woman. But at the same time, as a human being, an individual, you dish out funky you get funky. You funky on the inside, it radiates on the outside. People can’t see your true beauty if you don’t give up something and make yourself vulnerable.

I don’t agree with being fake either or overdoing it on the nice.

And sometimes I wonder what kind of vibe I put off at work and I try to be conscious about that. I do speak to people, say good morning, give compliments when it’s warranted and offer to help people out when I can. But, I know that my conversations only go so far because aside from the race, I’m a different age than most of these people, I’m single and I’m childless. I just don’t have the same interests.

So I’m stuck yall. Should I have bent over backwards to show my approval of my co-worker’s natural journey because I also went natural? Or am I right in the belief that choosing to go natural is a very personal and intimate thing, but it tends to affect the way others look at you and the way you look at yourself. It’s scary. It is raw.

But I’ve found, the more comfortable I got with my hair and the more confident, people started seeing other features of mine more clearly. I felt really, really honest and I noticed, that I felt other people and their reactions to me were really, really honest, positive or negative and I accepted those things.

I don’t suggest drastic changes to your hair if you don’t have a solid foundation of self-esteem anyway. Because it takes a long time for your hair to grow back or change color.

So, maybe my co-workers reactions and feelings of isolation reflect something deeper and reflect a truth about how she deals with the world and it doesn’t feel good. I sympathize with her. But basically saying I had a responsiblity to compliment her because she did it for me, ergo, because we are both black women in a workplace of so many white folks, it kind of had me stunned. But she said it.

He final words before heading to a meeting, she said she just didn’t even know if all the twisting and untwisting was worth it, and that she struggles because she’s raising two little girls and she wants them to feel that their hair is beautiful.

But if she’s walking around miserable, and expecting other people to say she’s pretty, hair isn’t the only thing her girls have to worry about learning from her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Black Don’t Crack, But You Should Start Early, For Only $500…”

I knew I was in trouble when the siren call of the mall was completely drowning out that of the gym during the later hours of work yesterday.

So I listened. After all, the day after tomorrow, I will be in the fabulous city of New Orleans for the Essence Music Festival.

This will be the third time I’m going. I went for the first time in 2005, and then again in 2008.

Let me break this down for you. The Essence Music Festival is always held fourth of July weekend and draws hundreds of thousands of primarily black women from all over.

This straight up is black woman/girlfriends/exhale weekend. It’s a spring break for black chicks with wall-to-wall concerts with the most amazing R&B, neo-soul, jazz and gospel artists on the planet. Beyoncé is headlining. That alone is a reason to go, but I’m foaming at the mouth to see the following artists:

Friday, July 5: Maxwell, Jill Scott, LL Cool J and Brandy will take the mainstage. While Blackstreet, Anthony David, Les Nubians, Emeli Sande, Maya Azucena, Simphiwe Dana, Mali Music, Shamarr Allen and The Underdawgs will perform in the superlounges.

Saturday, July 6: New Edition, Charlie Wilson, Trey Songz, Keyshia Cole and Solange will grace the mainstage. Faith Evans, Bridget Kelly, Big Daddy Kane, F. Stokes, PJ Morton, Jody Watley, Leela James and Avery*Sunshine will rock the superlounges.

Sunday, July 7: Beyoncé, Janelle Monáe and supergroup TGT (Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank) will storm the mainstage while Rachelle Ferrell, Mia Borders, Mint Condition, Luke James, Daley, Tamia, Kourtney Heart, Greta Prince and Alice Smith perform in the superlounges.

http://www.essence.com/2013/04/04/2013-essence-festival-night-night-concert-schedule-revealed/

Let’s also keep in mind that every year I’ve gone, I’ve gone with dear friends that I really love. We’ve enjoyed the amazing food that only New Orleans can offer (including Brothers chicken, the most amazing chicken you can buy in a convenience store 24 hours for like $3 for a three-piece), the drinks (I will have a hurricane or a hand grenade or both at nearly all times) and just the fun and revelry of being in such a sexy, awesome, historic city.

This year is the first year I won’t be with one of my most fabulous travel partners. I’m going to miss her. Instead, I’m accompanied by some EMF virgins- my college roommate, and two older cousins. These ladies are a lot of fun, so I’m sure they will bring an interesting vibe to all of the festivities.

This will also be the first year I actually spring for nicer seats at the concerts, so it’s going to be cool to enjoy that perk. I had loads of fun in the nosebleeds getting plastered and making friends with the bartender, but it’s nice to take it up a notch in that department.

Because there are droves and droves of women, men make it their business to come and take advantage of women loosening up because they are on vacation and in New Orleans, fueled by liquor and the atmosphere.

I won’t lie. I’ve packed short, shorts, revealing tops and a freakum dress or two. I’m ready to get loose. I’ve got cute flats, breezy summer dresses (truth be told I’ve been shopping for this trip since March.)

But the initial inspiration for today’s post comes from my visit to the mall. A sweet charismatic young lady got me to walk over to her kiosk for high-end, paraben free, mineral make up.

Her presentation was impressive. I did enjoy how the eyeshadow could transform to a lip gloss with just a little bit of water. I was most impressed with the foundation.

I won’t lie. I hate make up and I want things to be as simple as possible. If someone can help me find a foundation, that’s half the battle and that’s why I let her do her thing, and that’s why I forked over the ridiculous amount of money for it. It was light and it did make my skin look great and naturally glowy.

But what killed me was her partner who was giving me a facial with all of this stuff that’s supposed to tighten my face and fight aging. He went on and on about botox and how even at the tender age of 31, the key is to start with all these creams and gels.

“You look great, you look beautiful. But everyone thinks in 20s and 30s they don’t have to start with the creams. In 40s and 50s, you are already too late. You must start now. Black don’t crack right? But you should start early. For $500 I will give you…”

And he starts stacking boxes of so many products, I just couldn’t take it and I knew for damn sure I wasn’t going to spend $500 on any of that mess. I’d buy a new bag or some damn Jimmy Choos before I spend that on those kinds of products. Beauty products are not my drug of choice. They just aren’t.

The women in my family age beautifully. My late aunt was a faithful Oil of Olay user. So I’ma stick to that and my occasional bentonite clay mask.

He can go somewhere with all of that.

AINT NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT, SIR!

So I would like to share a few tips for the newbies.

You need flats. Or wedges you know you are comfy walking or standing in (standing particularly if you hang in the superlounges). Most people walk to the Superdome every night because the weather is awesome, the people watching is great and most people want to burn off the calories from all of the amazing food. Now for the more practical reason. Traffic near and around the Superdome is stupid. You’ll just be sitting in your cab. You’ll get there faster if you walk. If your hotel is in a mile radius, hoof it.

DRINK LOTS OF WATER. I know, you are going to be taking down those hurricanes and hand grenades, but seriously, get you some water, you are going to need it.

Sundresses are the way to go. It’s a music festival, they are cute and sexy and women of all sizes usually look pretty nice in them. You feel better when you catch a breeze. Trying to teeter around in heels or things that are too tight, you are going to end up looking silly as the night goes on, unless you have VIP tickets. Keep it simple.

Buddy system. Ladies, you are grown, but seriously stick with at least one other person in your party at all times. It’s easy to get lost. Put your section number in your phone and text it to yourself. One of my homies came up with the brilliant idea of texting the address and room number of our hotel to herself. I’d suggest that too. The street names can be hard to pronounce anyway and when you are stumbling in with the sun in the a.m. remembering your room number is harder than it looks.

Keep your cell phone charged. For some reason, I remember my service being spotty in the Superdome. But who needs a phone? It’s too loud to talk. Just use it for selfies and cute pics with the homies.

Safe sex. That’s a no-brainer. Let’s keep it real. People relax their standards during these kinds of trips. Wrap it up. No exceptions.

It’s always a good idea to have blotting papers and hand sanitizer. The heat and the nastiness of Burbon street will get all up on ya. It’s nice to be able to freshen up a little.

No large bags. You do not want to be fumbling with a huge handbag. Get yourself a cute, small cross body or a wristlet with just enough room your id, cash, cards, room key, phone, lip gloss and blotting papers and hand sanitizer.

Carry a little cash. The restaurants are packed. If you and your party pay in cash you can get the hell out a lot faster. Also if you pay in cash, you may be able to haggle with the fantastic street vendors for art and various things. Now, I’ve never managed to make it to the convention center, but this year, I plan to check out the day time events over there. It should be pretty cool. So I don’t have tips for that.

Oh yes! The superdome is freezing. A cute cardi is a must.

So if you’re going, have a fantastic and safe time! It’s going to be amazing!!!

xoxox

 

 

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