Category Archives: Race


Diversity is like a super buzz word uttered by folks from all sorts of backgrounds and professions. Stockbrokers advise everyone to “diversify” his/her portfolio, workplaces like to have “diversity” workshops to teach employees to respect and interact with all sorts of people, and I live in a country known as a “melting pot”, a cutesy term for “diverse location”, which I don’t think is the best description, but I digress. Diversity is a topic that comes up regularly in all sorts of environments and most folks seem to be all about it – until it comes to a woman’s appearance. braids

In fairly recent times, I’ve read responses via social networks, heard forums made up of single men, and listened to the rantings of all sorts of self-righteous women talking about how black women don’t love themselves, don’t value their natural beauty, and have fallen prey to the white standard of beauty because they wear makeup, enjoy a false lash every now and then, and the worst of all; because they opt to straighten, color, or weave their hair.

In all fairness, I will agree there are some black women who are afflicted with a growing self-hatred that leads them to attempt to alter everything about their physical appearances. Some of them try to counteract years of systematic degradation that implies they are not beautiful through the use of health and beauty aids and a good piece of Brazilian hair. And though this is a reality for many, it is not a truth for all black women.

Though I certainly acknowledge the presence of the aforementioned women, I do not believe they are a representation of all black women at all. What folks often fail to consider are the sistas who simply want to diversify. Remember earlier when that word was positive? Yeah, it kinda loses its support when it comes to the way sistas want to look.

I absolutely love being a black woman. I love my brown skin, melanin privileges, rounded nose, full lips, kinky hair, and strong curvy body.  I also love false lashes, makeup, nail polish, and every now and then, a really cute wig. Am I ashamed of my natural appearance? Not even a tiny bit.  And I definitely don’t use any of these accessories as a way of hiding who I am. I use them to enhance my appearance and sometimes, I use them to DIVERSIFY.locs

Contrary to those who insist any type of makeup or hair change is a way to cover up those attributes one finds shameful, I actually see them as a way to take beauty and make it bigger. I am pretty sure I am not alone in this thinking. I mean, who is it that grants a certain group of folks the power to determine a woman hates herself because she dares seek out a hair color, style, texture, or length with which she was not born? Is there a committee? Do they all meet once a year for a conference?

Something about the idea of a woman seeing me with a big ol’ weave of kinky hair on top of these locs and deciding I must hate myself and the way I arrived from the womb makes me irritable. The unfair, illogical, and overly generalized ways in which we judge one another are ridiculous and need to stop. If we truly want to ride the diversity wave, we can’t stop it when it comes to makeup and hair weaves.

As it stands, weaves really aren’t my thing and I have no interest in cutting off these five year old locs, but there may come a time when I want a little something different and if and when that time comes, I will absolutely not allow anyone to question me or my level of comfort with my blackness based on some hairstyle choice. India.Arie said it, so I won’t bother repeating it, but folks really need to understand personal style diversity and self-hatred do not always go hand in hand. Wearing a weave does not mean I hate my kinky existence any more than wearing glasses means I hate my eyes for their lack of perfect vision. I do not need educating or setting straight. I just like to keep my look interesting.kinky weave

I am all about loving myself and any kind of campaign, mantra, social group, etc…that encourages a healthy dose of self love has my support, but these rushes to judgment based on how a woman wears her hair and makeup has to stop. Folks are so unfair to one another and so quick to put each other in boxes that just don’t fit. If I can diversify the way I invest my money in the interest of a better future, I should be able to diversify the hair I wear while doing it. It’s only right. ©





That’s Really How You Phil?

So, this happened –> . Phil Robertson, a pivotal member of the Duck Dynasty show, did an interview with GQ during which he was really candid about his thoughts on gay folks, folks who whore, folks who cheat, folks who steal, folks who don’t worship properly, and, of course, black folks.  Because no tirade would be complete without some sort of out of pocket statement about the blacks.  Now, a bunch of folks are upset.

A&E is upset about Phil’s disparaging comments about gays, The NAACP and The Human FieldworkRights campaign were upset about the comments on gays AND black folks. Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, and Sarah Palin are upset because of what they see as hypocrisy from political leftists and intolerance of expressed opinions that do not seem to go with the mainstream. Well, I figure, why let these folks be upset alone? I think I will join them and take my ire up a notch as well.

As a black woman, I suppose most people will think I am upset with Phil for his comments about black folks and how growing up in the Jim Crow south, he never “with his own eyes” saw black folks mistreated (maybe he was using loaner eyes while his eyes were out for repair). After all, those black folks had no time to be angry because they were far too busy hoeing the fields while singing and being happy. And, to be honest, what black folks don’t like to do back breaking work all day as indentured servants while crooning a little ditty? I mean, I can hardly write this without jumping up from my chair, dancing a quick jig, and singing about how great it is to be black, female, and equal. But, I digress. No, I am not upset about Phil’s comments. I haven’t ever watched Duck Dynasty, but the commercials alone let me know he is someone whose opinion is completely irrelevant, though I know there are many folks who probably share his sentiments. What has me a little annoyed are folks like Jindal and Palin who think those who are offended, A&E included, are unfair and hypocritical in their offense. To that, I have to say there is a reality with which folks have to deal when it comes to the First Amendment.

Freedom of speech DOES NOT mean freedom from consequences. Sure, everyone can say what she likes, but what makes one think she does not have to deal with the repercussions of her words? This Duck Dynasty nonsense and the conservatives referring to  the pushback as “intolerance” haven’t a clue. Then again, if folks who think like Phil had their way, this little brown woman wouldn’t even be able to read so I could make this point. I have had a few jobs in my day and not even on the most menial of them was I free from parameters on what I could and could not say at work. I didn’t always like it, but I ultimately understood the job was not mine, but simply an offer extended to me by the business that owned the job. That idea made it easy to choose my words carefully because the thought of damaging my pockets just for the right to say something rude, disrespectul, or incendiary for incendiary’s sake just never seemed worth it to me. Technically, I can always say what I like, but I know I can also be fired if what I say appears to veer away from the ethics I agreed to uphold as an employee. There has to be some accountability in there somewhere.

I am also a tad miffed at A&E for stating they were “bothered” by Phil’s statements about gay folks but seemingly not bothered by his statements about blacks and how “godly” and chipper we were before all that equality gobbledegook came into play. Really, A&E? You all couldn’t even pretend to care? I mean, it’s what everyone else does. Come on and get with the politically correct program and make a tiny effort to shine us on. Sometimes, we appreciate that kind of thing.

I tell you who I am not upset with at all – PHIL. He is exactly who I would expect him to be, he spoke his mind, what little of it there is, and he was just being honest. Phil does not seem like the brightest bulb, but I will always support his right to make idiotic statements because the minute I protest about what Phil cannot say is the minute I start to lose my right to speak my mind. However, just as much as I support Phil,s rights, I equally support the rights of every viewer, offended party, TV network, media outlet, sponsor, and special interest group to protest Phil’s foolery verbally and in writing, pull their money from his show, write to the network, and suspend him for the words his employer felt misrepresented them. It is simply the way accountability works.

As this story gets bigger, I really hope Phil won’t become dishonest and pretend he is sorry for what he said. I think he should absolutely stick to his convictions because it is his truth and I appreciate knowing where I stand with folks from jump. However, as long as Phil opts to share those views with the public, he will have to accept the results. So, during this time of rest, reflection, and relaxation, I hope Phil takes a moment to draw some conclusions over a nice plate filled with his own well-seasoned foot.


Splitting Hairs

Natural3As a little girl, getting my hair washed, conditioned, blow dried, and styled was like living a mini nightmare. A tender scalp full of thick hair, a trip to the kitchen counter top, and a bunch of warm water mixed with shampoo still finding a way to seep into my tightly shut eyes was never my idea of a good afternoon. I would cry, my mother would fuss, and in the end, I would look what I considered to be pretty then easily fall into a coma-like sleep exhausted from all my tantrum antics. It sounds awful, but it was part of my childhood  and still a  part of my adult reality. During those hours between the kitchen and the living room floor between my mother’s knees waiting for her to carefully part, braid, and barrette each section of hair, I got my first experiences with beautification. My mother wasn’t just providing basic baby maintenance, she was showing me how to care for my hair, how to take pride in my appearance, and how to find my beauty. Sure, I cried myself sleepy, but when it was over, I felt pretty.  Now, it seems like there is some sort of ongoing effort to take away that experience little girls and women who look like me end up feeling as if there is something wrong with their pretty and that is something I just cannot accept.

Over the past year or so, I have read several articles, seen a few television news stories, and heard first hand accounts from black women who are suddenly being made to feel as if their hair in its natural state isn’t acceptable in the workplace or school. Too kinky, too colorful, too ethnic, too….black? I mean, blackness does seem to be the real problem at the base of everything. It is as if we cannot win unless we are weaved out , permed up, or wiggin’. To the masses who disparage us for our hair, we should strive to look more mainstream, which really just means less black and way more white. Recently, I have seenNatural1 stories about a little black girl who was expelled because she had locs (, a hairstyle against school policy, a young black woman who was terminated from Hooters, a place riddled with fake body parts, double stick tape, pushup bras, and body padding, for having blonde highlights her superiors deemed “unnatural” for a black woman (,0,7218061.story?page=1#axzz2jDjCWRJq),  a woman who was told she should cut her locs or find somewhere else to work (, and heard a story from my loctician who sent her little girl to daycare with a perfectly lovely afro only to be admonished by the daycare provider to “comb her daughter’s hair.”

Natural2To me, this isn’t just a variety of unconnected stories, but an implication of a school of thought that continues to question beauty as it applies to black women and girls. Despite the various fabricated stigmas attached to locs and other natural hairstyles, people have to be able to see past it at some point and give reality a good look instead. An applicant or employee who has the professional experience, educational background, proper workplace decorum, and references to support being hired for a position or to warrant her educational pursuits in a school should be a shew in for employment, not a target for discriminatory practices.

And just what did natural hair ever do to anyone? Is its beauty too intimidating? Is the strength that accompanies a head of unapologetically kinky hair just too much for the office and the schoolhouse? Are folks afraid all the natural hair folks will form one big army and go around picking, twisting, and braiding everyone against his or her will? Why must we always be made to feel inadequate about the amazing way we were born?

I suppose there really is no way around this clear racial discrimination outside straightening our hair and avoiding any sort of hair color white folks deem unnatural for us, but where is the honor in that? We could provide ongoing education about our hair and how we care for it, but really, why must we explain ourselves, particularly to those who probably do not care anyway? Sometimes, this whole being black thing is some really hard work.

I realize I do not live in the kind of decent world that sees every woman’s beauty instead of creating one standard of it to which all women are to adhere, but that does not mean I will stop trying to create one. I will continue to share images and ideas about black women and our beauty that knock the traditional views of what pretty is and I will get up every day, look in the mirror at my full lips, round nose, brown skin, and five year old locs, and remind myself of a truth I already know; I am just as good for the workplace and the schoolhouse as any woman has ever been. I will never apologize for being natural me. No woman or girl should.



Here She Is – Miss. (Real) America…

Growing up, I would always let my grandmother sucker me into watching corny “beauty” pageants, or as they are now called, “scholarship programs”. Back then, all I saw were  young, blonde, long-haired white women with super white teeth, skinny bodies, and random “talents”, like bell ringing, competing to win money for college, free travel, minor prestige, a car, and whatever other prizes were offered. As a five or six year old, I even found myself in a pageant. But things were not quite so complicated then.

Back in the day, when I watched those pageants, it was a given the contestants would be white and mostly blonde. Sure, there were a few women of color and some brunettes sprinkled through the group, but one always knew the winner would look like America’s myopic standard of beauty despite the occasional anomalies like Vanessa Williams. NinaDavuluri

Over twenty five years after the days I would sit and watch those pageants, I can see not much has changed. If anything, the short-sighted perpetuation of one way to be beautiful has gotten worse. This was evident by the racist rantings of tweeters upset the 2014 Miss. America winner, Nina Davuluri, has the nerve to be brown-skinned and dark-haired. Of course, her Indian roots have made her the victim of all sorts of stupid allegations and insults, including the one that says she isn’t American and is probably a terrorist of some kind because she is Indian. I wish I could be surprised by these responses, but sadly, they are par for the course for most black and brown folks in America. In this faux post-racial society, racists are emboldened and have taken their attacks to another level. The more people insist we live in a colorblind society, the more racist bigots rear their heads via social media sites like Twitter to let everyone know they are still very much alive.

I suppose I could get all self-righteous and start talking about how there is only one true race; the human race, how we should all see each other for what’s on the inside, how we all bleed red, and how we are all Americans despite our skin color, but I’m not really into that stuff. As a tackler of life’s tomfoolery, I feel inclined to just speak the truth as I see it without any sort of sugary coating to make people feel better about swallowing it. I actually like folks to know what I’m giving them is medicine. SO, what I really think is Americans need to stop closing their eyes to our ugly parts and start a dialog based in truth about race and citizenship in this country.

Brown and born and raised in America? You’re an American. It is just that simple and those wrapped in a blanket of ignorance and intolerance need to be shamed in much the same way they tried to shame Miss. Davuluri for being born too dark and with ancestry in a country dummies clearly cannot locate on a map. I do not wish to live in a colorblind society. I actually enjoy the idea of many races inhabiting one world and coexisting in the most amazing way. I love and respect the idea of different races, ethnicities, and cultures. That’s what makes the world in general, and America, in particular, so wonderful. However, there is always that subset of douches aiming to homgenize the world to suit their narrowminded ideals. My advice is for Miss. Davuluri to put up her figurative middle finger and keep it moving. She is gorgeous, she is talented, and she won that pageant fair and square without tattoos, military fatigues, blonde hair, or a penchant for hunting wildlife. If she isn’t proof there is more than one way to be an American, I don’t know what is.

Early in life, I realized beauty pageants…CORRECTION: scholarship programs were kinda wack and corny and seemed to imply looking good in a swimsuit or being good at tapping glasses of water with a stick made a woman well-rounded and smart. I don’t knock the hustle, but it isn’t my thing. Nonetheless, any woman who wins fairlydeserves the respect that accompanies the title, so today, I salute Miss. Nina Davuluri for trailblazing through the manure and staking her claim to the Miss. America title. Congratulations and don’t forget that middle finger, Nina.

Have a Seat, Miley

So, yeah, it happened. Little Miley Hannah Cyrus Montana got on an international stage, put her nonexistent ass on a married man’s crotch and proceeded to bounce her would-be hind parts. Ugh, just thinking about this long enough to write something makes me cranky and acknowledging it even happened makes me feel like I am giving credence to it on some level, but I believe I have to speak my mind.

Nope, Miley was not the first young woman to ever get on a stage and behave like a two dollar crack ho. Sadly, she will not be the last, though she may be the worst. Gyrating for a crowd is nothing new. I mean, one would be hard pressed to find a male or female pop/rock/r and b/rap, etc… artist who has not resorted to dry humping the air or shaking his/her ass for viewers, followers, and “likes”. So, for me, it wasn’t really the movement of her pre-pubescent boy body or the foam hand she used to simulate masturbation. It wasn’t even the fact she disrespected her upbringing,  fan base (whoever they are), Robin Thicke, or his wife and child that have my dander up, though all of those are pretty legitimate reasons to be disgusted. The source of my irritation comes from a much different and far more personal place.

For me, it is not just Miley. It is also that white woman in line behind me at Walmart with her slicked back ponytail, extra dark Wet N’ Wild lipstick, and hoop earrings calling me “girl”  in that extra familiar way because she thinks her trips to the hood, her black boyfriend, and that lipstick make her able to relate to me. It is Robin Thicke stealing from the legacy of Marvin Gaye, one of the most amazing musicians in the history of soul music. then suing his estate to protect his right to thievery. It is the taking of the worst parts of us and using them in a way to tell their white followers that this is indeed the way to “be black”.

People say imitation is the highest form of flattery, so I suppose one could opt to view Miley’s fledgling efforts at “onstage hood rat appeal” as some sort of compliment for all the other crass women who came before her. I, however, do not choose to see it that way. Instead of a compliment, I see Miley’s actions as yet another example of the way non-blacks (read that to mean mostly white folks) like to take the most dire parts of some black cultures and subcultures, bastardize it just a little bit more, and use it as a blanketed expression to describe ALL black folks for a profit. It really turns my stomach. Miley can tell you how she learned to twerk, but she probably doesn’t know who Madam C.J. Walker is, what the Voter’s Rights Act of 1965 meant and still means to black Americans, or even the significance of commemorating the March on Washington this week. Naw, Miley does not care or know about any of that because she is more interested in repeatedly presenting her skewed view of what “black” is as if there is only one tried and true way.

Truthfully, I have no issue with anyone adopting certain aspects of black culture and subcultures because they are fascinated by it, feel connected to it in some way, or just respect the artistry, construction, or thought process behind it. The problem I have is when one pretends to adopt it out of genuine interest, profits from it as if it is their own creation, then denigrates it and throws it away when it gets old. Taking a tiny section of a population and relegating an entire race to that small group’s set of behaviors is the ultimate form of racial stereotyping.

Cyrus said she wanted to make music that “sounds black”, but I keep wondering what black sounds like. In my world, black sounds like B.B. King, Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone, and Leontyne Price. It also sounds like Darius Rucker, Trinidad James, and Talib Kweli. Black folks are as broad in our musical stylings as we are in our politics, religious views, thoughts on relationships, and fashion. Black folks are not all one way. We do not follow The Black Handbook that provides us guidance on what to wear, what slang terms to use, and how to shake our behinds for the masses, but for some reason, a group of non-black people seem to have gotten together and written it without our knowledge.

As far as I am concerned, Miley can faux-twerk until her heart is content, but those sad little gyrations will never define who I am, no matter how hard and fast she tries to twerk it. I will not continue to be objectified and pigeonholed by a group of people who are just arrogant enough to believe they have the right to say who I am without my input. I will never understand how the need to make a mockery out of black folks’ legacy of creativity is acceptable as a marketing ploy so more teenage white girls with vivid imaginings of life in the hood will buy more records and concert tickets. This imitation is not flattery, it is foolery of the very worst kind.

History Hysteria

Black History Month makes me mad. Aaaahhh, just saying that makes me feel better. For many years now, as February approaches, I roll my eyes and brace myself for more of the usual. Teachers will start smiling more at the black kids while patronizingly patting them on the back, work and school cafeterias will start serving Jiffy cornbread and greens from a can, and businesses everywhere will start taking out their 15 year old dusty pictures of great Black Americans to put on display for the next 29 days (it’s leap year, y’all). Wait, who am I kidding? Actually, black businesses will take out their 15 year old dusty pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, the only two black folks who count during Black History Month, to display for the next 29 days. I used to love the idea of Black History Month but the changing times and my chaging mind have made me question its validity.

Now, before everyone gets all in a huff, just hear me out. I absolutely LOVE being a black woman. I love my race’s history, our struggles, our triumphs, our accomplishments, our relationships, our culture….Hey, I love it all, including our downfalls. However, I’m not so sure designating one month per year to talk about those things is the best way to perpetually celebrate all that we are. “Some” people may not like the idea, but black history is American history. Each time a teacher stands before a classroom and announces it’s Black History Month, they are automatically reflecting black folks in a negative light, alienating black students from the other students, and implying the history of blacks in America is separate from all the other history. It’s almost like the teacher is saying, “Class, before we get back to the real business of talking about this here white people, let’s take a few days to talk about the two black folks in America who did special things”. That isn’t really the black history experience I want to continue to have.

Granted, I know Black History Month is often the ONLY time young and old black people get to hear about their history but really, whose fault is that? Just as we teach our children how to bathe, tie their shoes, read, and take care of themselves in other ways, teaching them the rich history of black folks in this country should be a part of their upbringing. Yes, it will require some reading and research, but it’s well worth it in the interest of teaching children how relevant they are to the country in which they live.

More than anything, I want to see the contributions of Black Americans taught throughout the year. How can one separate Black American History from American History? Are they not the same? Were it not for some of the contributions of Black Americans, this country wouldn’t even be what it is. How can the toiling, innovation, and intellectualism of black people in America be ignored? Every stride we’ve made is a part of American History so I don’t understand an institution that continues to perpetuate an idea that what black people have done in America is somehow subordinate to what white people have accomplished.

Ultimately, I know my wish for the teaching of American History in truth and entirety, which would include black folks without question, is a pipe dream, I still feel entitled to the fantasy. I know there is Black History Month because if there wasn’t, nobody would ever hear about Dr. King and Mrs. Parks (never mind all the other amazing pioneering black folks). I know I don’t live in a country that teaches history with parity and I know this country may not ever be that place in my lifetime. However, like Dr. King, I dream.

Scientifically Ugly

It seems black women can’t catch a break lately. Stories about black women’s constant and pathetic state of “singleness” have been featured on national news shows, the majority of celebrity black men seem to be dating anything but black women, we are absent from storylines featuring black men on television (see shows like Happy Endings, Private Practice, and Parenthood for examples), black women have taken to listening to the advice of comedian and three time husband, Steve Harvey to tell them how they should behave, and it’s even gotten to the point where our fair Beyonce’s skin is lightened on magazine covers to appeal to the masses. This is clearly not our millennium. To add insult to injury, in Mid-May, “scientist”, Satoshi Kanazawa, posted a blog entry on Psychology Today’s website in which he discussed his findings on how black women are far less attractive than nonblack women. He primarily cited the higher concentration of testosterone in our systems as the culprit because it makes us appear more “manly” than any other race of women.  So, there you have it, we no longer have to just contend with the stereotypes that we are all fat, lazy, persistently pregnant, loud-mouthed, mean and hateful creatures. Kanazawa upped the ante and now we have to also contend with being scientifically ugly.

Granted, I heard about the study and assigned it no validity. I don’t just think black women are beautiful – I know we are. Our varying skin tones, hair textures, body types, and ability to adapt and persevere under the most horrendous of conditions are just some examples of our beauty. We are constantly emulated by others from everything from cadence of speech to surgical procedures to look more like us. Obviously, somebody thinks we are beautiful. The only problem seems to be most people want the black benefits without the black experience.

Even though I know we are beautiful and remain confident of that despite all the information that seems to oppose that assertion, I was still disturbed by what didn’t happen after the release of this study. There was no uprising of black men arguing against Kanazawa’s claims. I waited patiently hoping it would happen eventually. I turned on my television awaiting the protests, tuned into NPR thinking I would hear an interview or two, and I even waited for my phone to ring with one of my male friends on the other end calling to reassure me that he knew the real deal but absolutely nothing happened. I was greatly disappointed, to say the least.

Being sure black women are beautiful and worthwhile and valuable would be a whole lot easier if black men would concur. Where was our back up when we were being disparaged in the media? Where are the black men who will gladly say how much they love, value, and admire us? I’m sure there are some but it appears as though their phone lines were down that day. Oh well, maybe next time.

Pretty Baby Maker

I am brown skinned. My hair is kinky. I’m not thin, my nose is rounded and not pointy, and yes, when I am passionate about something, the target of my rant will undoubtedly be met with some sass. For all of these things, I make absolutely NO apologies. I don’t feel bad that I’m not skinny with a flat chest and a size two frame or tall with long wavy hair like a biracial woman.  I am a “regular” black woman and guess what? I can still make some pretty babies.

Today I had a discussion with a friend of mine about black folk’s obsession with mating with non-black people for the purpose of “making some pretty babies”.  If a potential love interest is fair skinned, has that “good, non-nappy hair”, or better yet – isn’t black at all, he or she suddenly moves up on the food chain of potential baby-making partners. I can’t help but be sad, hurt, disappointed, and disenfranchised to find that black folks still haven’t learned that we are enough on our own.  Our beautiful skin hues, proud bodies, curves, and strong hair emit our power and reflect our unique beauty. How can that not produce pretty babies?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking anyone’s genuine love. It isn’t for me to say who folk should date, love, marry, and mate with because we honestly never know who we are going to love.  What I am saying is choosing a mate out of hatred of oneself lends to nothing more than the perpetuation of that ill will and insecurity.  As trite as it may sound, black is, and always will be, beautiful.

Whether one is fair skinned with curly hair or the darkest black with the strong kinky hair of our ancestors, we are beautiful. The decision to remain obsessed with color and race as a way to create better looking babies is nothing more than another example of the long lasting remnants of a slave mentality. Those before us were told black was subpar but the sooner we realize that we are beautiful, our love is beautiful, and the babies we create are beautiful, the better off we will be.

I guess the best way to tackle this issue individually is to tell every person I hear spew some self hating sentiments about only being able to make a pretty baby with a non-black partner that he or she needs to take a look around and see all the beauty we possess that far exceeds the surface.