Where My Girls At? (Part One)

Last night, which was one of the rare occasions I’ve been home on a weeknight, I had an opportunity to watch re-runs of one of my FAVORITE shows growing up, “Living Single”.  (I’m sure I’ve given  you my history with this show before.)  And it got me to thinking about one of my favorite shows from my young adulthood, “Girlfriends”.  I tweeted, “The early 90s had “Living Single”; the late 90s-early 2000s had “Girlfriends”. What do we have now???”  I was sadly met with replies that included, “Basketball Wives and RHOA”, “Nothing”, and (my fave from big blogging cousin OneChele), “Reruns”.  Once I read their tweets and really digested their responses, I wanted to cry.  Unfortunately, I don’t see myself, a late 20s/early 30s single lady and her friends and life portrayed on TV.  No, I’m not the girl who’s the singer or dating a rapper or is looking for my 15 minutes of fame and will do darn near anything to get more screen time.  I’m just a simple girl with real life problems but who really has no complaints. 

Now, I want to be very careful (because I would like to have this person visit us again), but I respectfully disagree with some of Brian White’s recent remarks in an interview he did with “Hello Beautiful” magazine.  No, I did not listen to the audio, but I did read the article and was stunned by what I saw.  First, let me say that I am a Black woman who was raised by a Black woman and have Black women in my family and in my circle.  I can honestly and wholeheartedly say that NONE of the Black women in my circle behave as the women (or characters) in some of these reality shows.  I did tweet to Brian a while back that I do watch these shows but would not let my (imaginary) children watch them.   Why?  Because I know the difference between reality and fiction.  And I keep my life drama-free; that’s why I watch it on television.  I’m not saying these women don’t exist; I’m saying they don’t exist in my circle, and I definitely don’t believe they represent the majority of Black women. 

I also don’t know if I agree that Tyler Perry is holding a mirror up to Black America with characters like Angela from “Why Did I Get Married?”  But I will mention that I really think people are WAY too hard on TP about Madea.  I mean, does anybody give crap to Rickey Smiley for impersonating a “church lady” with the morning announcements on his morning show or Steve Harvey for his antics as “Sister Odell”?  Anyway, I’m getting off track….

I will say that positive images of Black people are missing on network television.  I am happy to see that Shonda Rhimes created a new show for ABC titled “Scandal”.  One of my favorite actresses, Kerry Washington, will be the star.  And the show is based in DC! 🙂  But, I’m not an investigator impersonating a lawyer, so she’s not me in that sense, but I am anxiously awaiting to see what this show brings. 

I’ve decided that my 30th year is going to be a year of new, exciting changes in my life.  One thing I would like to add to that is writing, on a serious basis.  It can be a book/short film/sitcom/web series…just something to show my life portrayed for the masses to see.  Like I told my “friends” on Facebook who were going in on “Red Tails” (another post for another day), if you don’t like something, make constructive suggestions…or just do it yourself.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

Bloggers Note:  As I began writing, this post took on a life of its own and totally went in a direction I didn’t know it was going to go.  So Part Two will most likely focus on what I really set out to blog about in the first place. 

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The Modern Day Minstrel Show

The promotional poster for "Bamboozled"

Last night, I was watching one of my favorite movies (and probably Spike Lee’s most under-rated motion picture), “Bamboozled”. If you’re not familiar, this movie is a satirical film that focuses on a modern day minstrel show and shows the fallout of those involved.  (I remember being excited about this film during my freshman year at FAMU, and I’m sure I went to go see it with multiple friends, but the only person I remember being in the theatre with me is my boy Brew.)  If you haven’t seen this movie, you need to find it and watch it.  Actually, my first Black Movie Night this summer will probably be this film. 

Watching the film last night had me thinking about the modern day minstrel shows we have on television now.  Show producers don’t have to find any actors to play in these shows.  Why?  Because they can find people who want to be “famous” and will do darn near anything for a buck.  Since this movie was made in 2000, there have been multiple shows that have come out that have been minstrel in nature, such as “Flavor of Love”, “I Love New York”, “Frankie & Neffe”, and “Real Housewives of Atlanta”, just to name a few.  And with the exception of “Frankie & Neffe”, yes I, too, contributed to the tomfoolery and was a viewer of each of these shows.  I lived to see what crazy antics would take place.  Probably because I live a drama-free life and wanted to see how foolish people would actually behave on national television. 

So, what do we do?  Do we continue to watch the public image of Black people deteriorate back to the days of Mantan Moreland, William Best, Lincoln Perry, and Bert Williams?  Do we allow these images that we see on our tv screens to define who we are?  I don’t think so.  As Pierre Delacroix stated in “Bamboozled”, Black people are not monolithic.  We’re more than rap stars’ and atheletes ex-girlfriends and ex-wives.  We’re more than a washed up rapper looking to regain his 15 minutes in the spotlight.  We’re more than an R&B singer’s birth family who’s looking for our own celebrity.  We’re more than some women who think we’re more important than we are just because we have some money and live in a mini-mansion.

We’re first generation college students who go on to have successful careers in social work.  We’re entrepreneurs who hustle to see our businesses succeed.  We’re people who fight for our country and serve with grace and poise.  We’re immigrants from other countries who strive to make a great life for our families.  We’re people who work hard and play harder.  And sometimes, we’re just a Southern girl living, laughing, loving, learning, and making her own way…in the city.

What is Black? Part 2

Wendi Levy and Kim Etheridge-Founders of Mixed Chicks

Tuesday’s post on “What is Black? Part 1” sparked some much appreciated comments.  And people are still reading it.  Today’s post is mostly inspired by an article I read on Coco and Creme by Alexis Garrett Stodghill.  The article, titled “Do Mixed Chicks Hair Care Products Make Light Seem Right?”, rubbed me the wrong way a little.  What I got from the article was another way to divide the Black community.

According to Stodghill, the name Mixed Chicks, a fairly new hair care line targeted to women of biracial or multiracial backgrounds, is a way to divide Black women and make us feel inadequate about our hair.  Um…yeah, not me!  Yes, at one time I wanted hair that’s a little softer to the touch (I’ve been natural for almost six years), but I have grown to love my hair and work with what the Lord gave me.   The title of this product does not invoke an inadequecy in me because I’m not a “mixed chick”, and I can’t use this product.  My BFF from undergrad is not biracial, and yet she could probably use Mixed Chicks.  Why?  Because her hair is soft to the touch, naturally curly, and has the type of hair that the creators are marketing to.   Look at the product Kinky Curly.  Should biracial women or women who have softer hair be offended by the term kinky?  Apparently so, according to the author of this article. 

Another issue I have with the article is how she goes in on Halle Berry.  Berry, a biracial actress, strongly affirms being African-American and embraces her Black heritage.  A few years back, when Mixed Chicks first came on the scene, Halle was very vocal about her use of the product and how she loved it.  Ms. Stodghill states that if Halle identifies as Black, she can’t possibly be part of the “biracial/multiracial” demographic that is the target audience for Mixed Chicks.   This is another utterly ridiculous notion.  Despite the old adage “One drop of Black blood makes you black”, who’s to say that a woman who identifies as Black can’t use this product?  I’m sure other multiracial women who identify as being Black, such as Raven-Symone, Thandie Newton, or Michael Michele, could use this product. And according to Eugene Robinson, in “Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America“, biracial and multiracial people are still part of Black America. 

Why can’t we just say “KUDOS!” to these women who saw a need and supplied a product to a particular demographic?   It’s going to take more than some shampoo and conditioner to separate us as a people.  I implore all of you to read the article for yourselves.  I believe the author missed the mark on so many levels.  I am a beautiful Black woman, and the name of some hair care product is not going to affect the way I view myself.   What say you Southern audience?  Is there any validity to this article?  Or is Stodghill just looking for another way to divide us as a race?  As I stated in the first portion, Black comes in all shapes, sizes, hues, and cultures.  We need to work on being inclusive as opposed to exclusive.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

What is Black? Part 1

Please Black People Ask God to Help Us Stick T...

Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

It’s a shame that in 2011 race is still an issue in the United States.  What’s even more of a shame is that Black people are still finding ways to tear each other down, ridicule each other, and find ways to separate us, based on skin color, our neighborhoods, and our familial backgrounds.  I’ve come across multiple articles within the past week that discuss race within the Black community.  A few weeks ago, my book club read “Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America” by Eugene Robinson.   I’m sure we’re all familiar with the comments Jalen Rose made regarding Grant Hill and other Duke University basketball players during the documentary “Fab Five”.  “Clutch” magazine had an article titled “What Kind of Black are You?“.  And lastly, “Coco and Creme“, another on-line magazine, had an article titled “Do Mixed Chicks Hair Care Products Make Light Seem Right?”.  Because I have a lot to say, this will be (at least) a two-parter.

First, let’s discuss what is Black.  Black is beautiful, successful, strong, educated, resilient, historic, amazing, wonderful, insightful…I could go on.  What I don’t understand is why we, Black folk, continue to find ways to divide ourselves.  Some think you’re not Black enough if you use proper English.  Others think you’re not Black enough if you do well in school.  You might be too Black if you wear your pants hanging from your tail.  Too Black may include having locs or being natural.  All of these things are ridiculous.  Growing up, most of my friends in school were white, and I got ridiculed by some of the Black kids; I got told things like “You talk like a white girl”, “Is everything all white?”, and my personal favorite (a message in my middle school yearbook) “Oreo, I hope you unlock the magic this summer.”  Yes, kids are cruel, and we hope they don’t grow up to be cruel adults.  Having an education has always been synomous with being an “Uncle Tom” or acting white or not being Black enough.  Why is that?  Why is it cool to not do well in school?  Although Southern parents divorced when I was young, both parents were, and still are, involved in my life and made sure I did well in school.  Both parents are college educated so going to college wasn’t a question for me-the question was, “Where are you going?”  But I digress…

Why must we separate ourselves?  The author of “What Kind of Black Are You” and Robinson address the various “sub-groups” in Black America, those Blacks who are from the Carribean or Africa.  I strongly believe in embracing your culture and your country of origin if you’re not American, but why must we belittle others who aren’t like us, which happens at times?  Black people come in all hues, shapes, sizes, cultures, and the like, so we should embrace our differences, but not go so far as to demean someone who’s not EXACTLY like us.  I love my Southern heritage, but embrace those Blacks who are African, Caribbean, Northern, and wherever else they may be from.

That’s it for Part 1.  What do you guys think?  Why are we still finding ways to separate ourselves as Black people?  Is this all this still relevant in 2011 or should we find ways to bring ourselves together as one race?  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

You’ve Got to Be Kidding…

Sanaa Lathan and Simon Baker from one of my favorite movies "Something New"

I normally don’t respond to other writer’s blogs/comments/post in a negative way, because we all are entitled to our opinion, but as Katherine Jackson said to her husband, Joe, “On this, I gotta speak.”  In case you missed it, MadameNoire.com posted an article by LaShaun Williams titled “8 Reasons to Date a White Man“.  As someone who has dated a white guy before and is open to doing it again, I was interested in reading the article.   I’m sure Ms. Williams is a lovely young lady…but her reasons are crazy.

The comment that has most of my friends commenting on Facebook is, “They have no problem turning a hoe into a housewife.”  This corresponded with reason # 7-“Have the Ability to Look Beyond Your Past”.  What I gathered from this comment is that Ms. Williams is implying that ALL black women are promiscous.  Her reason started out stating white men have no problem dating the friends of exes and so forth.  I’m wondering how this turned into an attack on black women’s sexual behavior.  Reason # 1-“They Open Wide Instead of Down Low” REALLY takes the cake.  Don’t get it twisted-white men are on the down low, too.  And if they’re gay, they won’t be interested in dating ANY woman, now will they???  And white people have bad credit, too!  (Reason # 6 is Financial Planning and Stability.)  Being fiscally responsible is not determined by race or gender.  I hope she doesn’t think that we are all so small-minded to believe these stereotypes are going to be true about every white man we meet.  And as someone who is married to “a Black man—dark-skinned, 100 percent cocoa”, I wonder if she believes what she’s written about black men?  And how does her husband feel about what she’s written?

And of course, there is a rebuttal article.  Boyce Watkins, Ph.D provided a response to Ms. Williams crazy list.   In the end, he points out that his list is not geared towards good black women-just those who are bitter, nasty, judgmental, angry, and arrogant.  His list made me chuckle a little, but of course his list reached certain levels of ridiculousness as well.  

I’m not sure how serious Ms. Williams was with her list, but I can tell you I truly hope she was kidding.  Maybe it’s because I’m single, but I’m almost tired of hearing about why we should date this group of people or why we should leave this group of people alone.  I have met enough black and white men to know that being in a relationship and remaining single are not exclusive to any one race.  It’s a personal preference.  Some men want to play the field; others are always looking to be in a relationship. 

What do you guys think of the article?  Was Ms. Williams dead on with all of her reasons?  Or is she completely off her rocker?  Maybe she wrote this article just to stir up some stuff and get people all hyped, like yours truly.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.