Who Are You? Part #2

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Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 8.48.19 PM.png(Photo Courtesy of Damon Mackin)

Thoughts from a white male. No introduction need because his thoughts were well received.

“Let me preface this with two things…thanks for valuing my opinion enough to even ask me this question and I am approaching this with black men in mind….I have no idea what it means to be a woman in this country, much less a black woman, so I’ll stick to the gender I am familiar with, my own.

I think I can sum the question up in one word…Pressure. And the Pressure is all encompassing. Every responsible adult has a certain amount of pressure upon them, especially if they have children. There’s the pressure to be responsible etc, but that’s all very normal. The Pressure that comes with race however is over and above what’s normal.
To be black in America means to know that a certain segment of society will see race first rather than the human being and in that instant, the first impression is one of race rather than human. A black child grows up with the ability to think, to learn, to love, to hate, to care, to sympathize, to empathize, just as any child does. But at some point in childhood the Pressure starts in. And what I mean by that is despite the individuals ability to think as a stand alone human being, that very thinking is beginning to be judged not just by whites, but by fellow blacks as well. Both races will now judge the individuals thinking based on their own worldview. If a black man thinks he needs to kneel during the national anthem, he’s judged as unpatriotic by whites because he’s suddenly thinking on his own, not following the whites transcript of American life. However if a black man stands up and says I disagree with kneeling during the anthem, it’s disrespectful of the flag, he’s also branded by his own race and being some sort of traitor to the race (Cam Newton took a lot of grief for not fully coming out in support of this very thing).
A black (man) in this country is expected to think a certain way by his racial peers (Pressure). It’s been stated that the black community is not a monolithic one, and that should certainly be true. But to think outside that “norm” gets that same black person derision and labels from a by gone era that in turn create more Pressure on the young, growing, maturing black person. That growing person doesn’t want that same derision from his/her peers because they do not participate in this massive “groupthink”. Some don’t care and forge their own path not necessarily in line with the prevailing patterns of racial thought.
Others however, buy into the “groupthink” without ever exercising their own individual ideas as to what life is about and how they want to conduct themselves as not black individuals, but rather HUMAN individuals. Some honestly believe in it and that’s fine, but my point is some are pressured into it rather than moving in that direction through any individual initiative of their own. The definition of peer pressure, only this time it’s based on race. And then the Pressure comes from the other, white side. They are labeled again, and again with labels perhaps of a by gone era and they are judged just as harshly.”
https://youtu.be/przRFn1eRCI
(I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS SONG)
Hood Citations:
L. Trott – thoughts
Good Articles to Read:
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Who Are You? Part #1

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We are often plagued with winless fight to true equality because we think we should fight this fight on our own. Dr. King knew we could not win this alone and to this day we must understand we need others by our side; those who sympathize with us, understand what it means to be discriminated upon, those who are willing to risk their comfort to fight alongside the cause.

I have always understood the “fight” is not just ours – it’s about humanity. A friend of mine asked me a question once about ways she could help the plight and I could not give an answer because it’s difficult to ask someone to risk their level of comfortably for the lives of others however, it begged to question what does it mean to be “black.” Not the publicized tv series where rich people walk around with cameras to find those who are willing to give an answer just for the sake of an answer but from one common person to another common person – what does it mean to black to you?

(Photo courtesy of D.Mackin)

Answer from 30+yr old White Woman

“So, I don’t know that this truly answers your original question, but I sat down to write and this is what came out….

I am not black. I don’t know what it’s like to have ancestors who were enslaved by other people. I don’t know what it’s like to teach my children that unless they behave perfectly in interactions with police officers, they might be killed (and that even if they do behave perfectly, they might be killed anyway). I don’t know what it’s like to struggle to find Band-Aids in my skin tone. I don’t know what it’s like to have a museum dedicated to my heritage and culture finally open on the National Mall — 400 years after the first black people arrived in this nation. I don’t know what it’s like to be called exotic, or thug, or the n-word. There is a lot that I don’t know. There is a lot that I can’t know.

I am not black, but I am a human being. And being black in America is something I observe, if not experience, every day. I absolutely know that I cannot speak for black America — and I also know that there may be no such thing as one single black America, simply due to the incredible diversity within a community that’s often painted with one broad stroke of the brush. But I saw Dae’Anna Reynolds comfort her mother as Philando Castile bled out in the passenger seat. I saw a murderer successfully defend himself after shooting a black teenager carrying nothing but Skittles. Just today, I saw a black female doctor recount a story of being ignored on an airplane when the flight attendants called for medical assistance and she volunteered. I see the anguish and exhaustion of black Americans who have simply had enough — and yet it keeps on coming.

But lest you think that, like Donald Trump, I only see being black in America as something to be remedied — to be pitied — I also see joy, and community, and power. I saw Black Lives Matter come together and make its voice heard when its members were too frustrated and angry to continue living in silence. I saw #oscarssowhite become a trend when black Americans and their allies grew tired of black invisibility in film culture, and I saw Hamilton rocket to the top of the cultural zeitgeist for its portrayal of our founding fathers as black and Latino men. I see joy in the face of Zoe, the two-year-old black girl who became Internet famous when her mother posted her first-day-of-school picture on Twitter, her eyes alight and her tongue poking out of her mouth in a goofy grin.

I can’t experience it myself, so I can only see being black in America through these glimpses, and thousands and thousands of other glimpses like them, into other people’s lives. I know that my countrymen are struggling, and that I could be doing more to help. I don’t ask that they educate me in what I could be doing; I know that’s my responsibility to discover on my own. But I also know that black America has its successes and triumphs and happinesses, and I refuse to discount those. For now, I can continue to pay attention to the people and the culture around me — to Zoe, to the cultural significance of dreadlocks, to that female doctor on the airplane, to the black/white wage gap, to Philando Castile, to Michelle Obama, to the black man who panhandles on my street corner — to so much and so many who help make up the rich fabric of the world in which I live. And I can pay attention to, and learn from, the millions of Americans whose struggles and joys I cannot begin to truly understand, but with whom I nonetheless share the most important trait of all — humanity.”

-A.L.D 2016

I️ Reject Your Reality

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I️ defy the odds,

My reach is amongst the stars.

Don’t set my limits

Don’t give me goals.

That’s not how I️ work

For only I️ know.

My sight is set on what has not

Been found.

History, happiness, luv, philosophy

That which is profound.

Knowledge is never ending

So, why should I️ concede?

My drive should not intimidate you

Instead, paint a scene.

Try matching my fresh

Let’s take a ride,

Go on a journey

To space; a futuristic time.

Alternate realities are meant to be challenged

It’s only fair.

Just don’t tell me I️ am wrong

Because I am not you

And to tell the truth,

I️ really don’t care.

💋

Impression

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We search for acceptance from our friends, family, co workers, children, husband/boyfriends, the person walking down the street, the waiter at a restaurant, not realizing that an impression has already been made.  A person has already looked at you and assessed your actions based on their standards.  It’s not until one decides they want to know you that their initial impression ranges from dislike, content, and/or admiration.  Questions: “So why?,” “Why should you care?” and “What is the fix?”

So Why?

Why do we try to make an impression? Why do we care so much? Why? Why? Why? My five cents…we do it because we were conditioned this way.  Think of when you were a kid; before you left the house your parents would warn you not to “act a fool,”  “your actions are a reflection of this household,” they would say.  What about your first date?  The unwritten rule, “Don’t show him/her who you really are.  “Wait a few dates/months’ or the crazy one “until you are married and he’s trapped.”  You go on a job interview, wear certain clothes, you speak and conduct yourself in a manner that is so uncommon that you have to coach yourself days before the interview; then you get the job and the first few months you are on your best behavior and once you feel comfortable you become a little more relax.  Restaurants – same thing, there are even social etiquette classes on how to conduct yourself in a social setting; as we speak, there is a format on how to engage your audience when blogging – “Social Norms” we call them.

So…why should we care?

I have a coworker who wants a James Jean “Crayon Eater” tattoo, however, is hesitant because of the social stigma that blinds our creativity and individuality.  She’s not sure how she would be perceived.  In speaking with her, this is one of her favorite artist, his work describes perfectly what is in her head.  Why should she care?

My son, a young black boy growing up in a “free”  but racist, discriminant, world.  Why should I care? Especially when, as much as you try to ensure they speak /respect others, peoples hate can sometimes affect how they treat people of color.  Why should I care?

The Fix

If we were meant to be the same, we would all be the same color, height, weight, sex; we would speak a certain way, conduct ourselves as a “Collective.”  My response to my coworkers hesitancy about getting the tattoo, “Tattoos are extensions of art, an extension of you.  If this is something you luv, do it.  When you luv it, you don’t regret it.”  In her situation she should not care what others thinks.

Me, I am 7 of 9.  I was once part of a collective: I had to think, act, and dress a certain way until I realized there was a way to construct my social etiquette without losing sight of who I am.  As I mature, I realize there is a need to “instruct” others on how they conduct themselves.  Every action will have a reaction.  We as individuals choose how our first impressions to others will be and should accept the reactions given.

My son, I should care.  I want him to make an impression, his impression.  So, what do I do?  I explain to him what I have learned, show him what happens when he goes left, or goes right, I teach him to think for himself, I provide him with the good, the bad, the ugly; I explain to him my idea of life and what it’s about, and as he grows/matures I pray that his impression is a positive lasting impression.  I pray whatever path he chooses, he thought about it and accepts the journey he will take.

As long as we are aware of our actions, impressions though needed should be our own.

Single Black Female

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Being me is not easy.  I am supposed to speak a certain way, dress and date conservatively, wear my hair “traditionally,” and succumb to societal norms.  I am not defined by my actions and character but, my outer appearance or the tone of my voice.  I am told I have to work twice as hard as any other race.  And no matter how much I tried to concede to the provided standard, acceptance never chose me.  So…what do I do – I go back to the drawing board, the real me.

What did she say?

You go to school and taught to speak properly, annunciate your words and speak with diction and conviction.  Subjected to peer pressure, you defy what authority states you do and become creative with your words.

In 1999, Aaron Peckham created the Urban Dictionary for fun but, unbeknown to him, it became more than just fun; it became life.  In 2012 there were more than 6.3 million untraditional words defined – proving urban terminology carries as much weight verses the conventional way of speaking.  Proving vocabulary is meant to be colorful and explored.  I say “Good Morrow” or when asked how I am doing, I say, “Well” and mocked in return.

Which is it, do you want me to speak properly, speak with urban dialect, merge the two or…? I sure as hell don’t know.

What is she wearing?

I could never dress the way society would socially accept me because of the contour of my body.  I learned what best fit my figure and made it work for me.  However, if I wore a pencil or skater skirt, I was condemned or said as being too racy for the clothes I wore. “Oh! She’s trying to get a promotion.”  The only way I could get away with appearing professional was by wearing clothing twice my size and who wants to do that. The same with the African American female teacher in Atlanta, who wears bodycons to work with sweaters and is still chastised where as others wear body cons (no sweaters), mini skirts and see through shirts and they are viewed as professional.  Still confused.

Why does your hair look that way?

As I began to embrace the skin I am in, I also began to luv my hair in its natural state.  The versatility it yielded.  But I had to be different; it wasn’t enough to have natural hair, I also had to dye it red.  How dare I?  My cousin said one day, “My mom won’t allow me to dye my hair red because she said it is ratchet and ghetto.” Hmmm.   I guess I am ratchet though none of my actions exemplify it.

Then, I arrive to work one day after I changed the style and color of my hair and my coworker says, “Oh! Your hair is nice.  The color is more inviting/welcoming. (My current color is more of a natural “dark brown” color with burgundy/auburn highlights)” versus my fire-engine red hair.

Basically saying that I should succumb to the standards of society – blend in. However, Marc Jacobs can appropriate our culture of having all white females on the runway with locs because if “black females can appropriate their hair by straightening it then, why can’t I do the same.”  Oh! Aight.

Doesn’t she want to succeed?

If she wanted to succeed, she should listen and do what is asked of her.  “Sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture.  Do you your job.  No more, no less.” He said, “As long as you are providing steady income, what does it matter if you are right and they are wrong.” He exclaimed definitively.  “You will not elevate your success if you keep ‘bucking’ the system.”

Okay…

Well you know what?  “I reject your reality.”    I’ve tried fitting in and “keeping up with the Joneses.”  It failed.  I am not your ideal truth.  I am a black female, with curvy hips, natural hair, poetic speech, determined mind, and person who does not accept no as answer.  I grind, for what I want, I have conviction for right vs. wrong.  I may not always make the best decisions but, I try to a fault.  My hair is red, my skin is a beautiful chocolate brown, my accent has a hint of urban in it but, she speaks proper; this does not define me.  What defines me is my humble personality, my luv to help others, my thirst for knowledge, the want to make a change – a positive change, the need to laugh and in doing so, make others smile.  I am a single black female who is succeeding on her own terms.  It may not be the traditional way but…I am doing it my way (in my Sinatra voice).

afro

picture courtesy of Pinterest

Daddy’s Girl

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Defying Stereotypes

I grew up in household of a mother, a father, a sister and a dog.  We were not the perfect family by any means. We were a middle – hardworking class family who struggled with debt; the “bird and the bees” conversation consisted of “You betta not come home pregnant (with enough force that you knew what you should not do if you wanted to live).” There were ups and downs however my parents made sure food was always on the table, the lights were on, manners and respect to our elders was always given and you worked hard for what you wanted in life.

Growing Up

I was never allowed to take the easy road out of anything.  If I wanted to know what a word meant, I had to look it up in the dictionary and to show I knew what it meant; I had to give the definition/use it in a sentence.  When I began my first job, a 15 and 9 months, the only way I was going to get my license and a car was if I kept a job.  And so, I did.  When I turned 19, responsibility was solely on me. My mom helped me with a career change, I moved out of my parents’ house and started the process of becoming an independent woman.  Did I have a few setbacks? Yes but, “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

Thinking I was Grown

One Thanksgiving I decided to challenge my father…I thought I was grown and he should have respected my opinion and I his.  Instead, the conversation was one sided and in return placed a huge strain on our relationship resulting in us not speaking to each for several months.  It was tough on me because, I lost a huge part of my life; my dad, someone who was always there for me. Results of that one event affected other aspects of my life in a negative manner.  It changed who I was and I how I treated others, especially men.

Fast-forward to My Now

I never truly remember how my dad and I began speaking to each other again however; I know our relationship has blossomed into an unbreakable bond.  When my son was born, my dad showed up to the hospital – showing his grandson and I so much luv, when I was struggling to buy my sons formula – he purchased some from Amazon for me, when my house was flooded – he gave me a place to stay until it was fixed, when he sees his grandson he makes sure he has chocolate chip cookies for him, when I said I wanted to build a Jenga Set we spent all day cutting and sanding wood, when we hang out with the family he makes sure I am enjoying myself and not solely focusing on my son, when we talk on the phone – we are able to talk about politics, family, life, sports, etc.


So…yes I am a Daddy’s Gurl.  My mom and my dad have always been there for me, my mom to teach me how to be a woman but, my dad to teach me how a man should love me and take care of his family.  He was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and no man or woman ever is however, when it counted he always there.  Daddy’s Gurl does not mean spoiled or overly attached to her father in my eyes.  Rather, what you should expect in your future husband.