Sunday, October 16, 2016

Hi Ladies! Here I am back again after almost a year of no blogging. I have decided to start up this blog again so that I can continue to document my Elegant Black Woman journey because it is not yet complete. So why even start this up again? Well with the US election coming up, soon Michelle Obama will no longer be in the public view. She has been a big role model for me on my EBW journey. There is also a lot of racial strife in the US right now and it makes me wonder what impact that will have on the perception of BW in general. Today we are being represented much more on television and wearing natural hair is no longer abnormal. So with all of these changes I wondered if my opinions have changed and if I have kept up with my EBW ideals.

I started this blog in 2011 when I was still in school, unemployed, and with limited funds. It's not as though I have tons of free time or cash now, but it's good to have a hobby to keep oneself occupied. To tell the truth, when I started thinking about this again I was so excited! I plan to revisit my old blog posts and do updates and make a bunch of tips that can be used to become an EBW. I would also like to try using new social media, graphic design, and monetization ideas I have been learning. This blog has just been sitting here for ages so maybe it can become a source of passive income for me. I'm being upfront and honest about this part and I think that BW could all benefit from using some of these ideas. I could even post the tips, videos, and articles I have been using and maybe it will inspire you too! This is a niche blog that only appeals to certain women, but a niche can be a good thing. Everyone has opinions so why not share mine on this blog? There is so much I have to do! I have to add images, update my links, open social media accounts, and check out whether there are any other Black femininity blogs around.

You may notice that most of my images have been removed because I don't want to risk infringing on copyrights and I may as well monetize the site since I put so much work into it! So I'm going to sign up for Adsense. I will also sign up to be an Amazon affiliate because that way I can post images of items I am talking about, including movie posters. I am in the process of collecting free clip art and I am looking around for inexpensive clip art and stock photos that I can use on the site. One thing I want to mention is that since I started looking for free photos and images it has become really clear that there are not many for Black women at all! Over the years I have gotten so many comments complaining that the women in the images I used were too light or that I should have more images. I should not have posted those images at all because they did not belong to me! I miss them because they were amazing and they are still on my Tumblr site though if you want to see them.

Well, that was my first post of 2016! Welcome or welcome back if anyone is out there watching!
P.S. I have also turned the comments back on. I had to turn them off because of annoying spammers.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

My Opinion About Rachel Dolezal and Appropriation

 Update #2: I'm so tempted to hide this post because some Black people are so mad about this and I'm not. I am so sick of people who call names and totally condemn a person just because they don't have the same opinion. I don't like to deal with such people because they are intolerant of different opinions, they think that there are concrete right and wrongs in controversial social issues, they catastrophize about one thing leading to something horrendous, and they act as if in hindsight they knew whatever would happen but everyone else was too stupid to see it. It's better to just live my life and try to be happy, find a husband, and have kids instead of bothering with this stuff. My opinion is like the opinions of the women in the video, this is just an odd thing it it not an indication that you are suddenly going to disappear because all the White women are going to turn Black. Chill. People are also mad at Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC because she was not mad at Dolezal either... I see things the way she does! You can watch a video about her views HERE. I like the last part of the video where she says Dolezal is like a Rorshach Test, you either see her as a hustler with bad intentions or you see her as someone who has a personal struggle with identity and doesn't see race the way everyone else does.

Well, the Interwebs are all aflutter about a professor and civil rights activist who was born to White parents but has been passing herself off as Black for 7 years. I think she has been working for the Black community for 20 years and went to Howard University. She teaches Africana Studies. You can read about her HERE or all over the internet. So what are my feelings about this?

1. I don't feel angry. Why? I just don't feel angered by what happened because it doesn't directly affect me and I don't feel the need to be angry for the people it directly affects. The people who didn't get a job because of her can be mad, or the people who feel she lied to them, but not me. Her parents can be mad that she denied her father but not me. She may be charged with fraud or something, but again, I'm not angry because this fraud isn't something I feel the need to get outraged about.
2. At first I felt flattered that she would actually want to pass as Black. She obviously did not think having dark skin was ugly (that tanning is not good for her though) and didn't find Black hair ugly either.  I can't hate her for wanting to look like a Black woman.
3. As long as she taught her courses well and helped Black folks I don't care what race she is. The people who lost out jobs to her can be mad though. As far as I'm concerned, unless race was not a requirement for the jobs and only an assumption then she can apply for any job she wants.
4. She made a great effort to be Black so I'm not mad. I am flattered that she likes Black people so much.
5. She might be confused or have a self-esteem or identity problem, so again, I'm not mad if she needs mental health intervention.
6. Basically I don't understand the whole appropriation thing. People go on and on that a White person can't just take a part of Black culture without knowing the people or the history, but she does! She works and lives among Black folks and totally embraced their culture and history. No one else is going to do that. I don't understand why it's not okay for this woman to embrace Black culture when Black folks embrace White culture?

Many Black people speak a White language, consume their entertainment, wear their fashion, learn from their books, wear their hair straight, eat and cook their foods, do their dances (e.g., ballet), play their music (e.g., classical), etc. Why is that okay and not appropriation? Do Black folks have to learn and embrace White history and culture before doing those things? Yes, I admit those things are forced on people in school but any Black person as an adult can choose to have natural hair, try to always dress differently from White folks, and reject as much White culture as they want (Black folks can learn more Black history and culture if they want, people of other ethnicities do it. I did it for a period of time).

But why is this not called appropriating? Is it the case that, by definition, a Black person can never be accused of appropriating because due to the power differential, there is always the excuse that they are trying to accepted (and get advantages) so it is never seen as outrageous? Instead, some people feel sorry for the Black person and claim they are brainwashed, or they have low self-esteem, or they had to do it to survive? But, due to the power differential a White person is NEVER allowed to take on a part of Black culture? When is it not appropriating? I think in this case Rachel Dolezal has paid her dues enough to have this not be called appropriating. Or can we just admit that there is a double standard and that it is ALWAYS okay for Black people to try and fit in by embracing White culture and that it is ALWAYS appropriating when a White person embraces Black culture?

If  we can just admit that people will always claim appropriation when a White person embraces Black culture then why are there all these dance classes teaching White folks Black dances? Why are they allowed at Black universities? Why are white rappers embraced? Why are Black folks selling artifacts to White folks vacationing in Africa or the Caribbean? Why are Black folks calling for White folks to listen to their stories and to value their culture but freak when they assimilate any of that culture? If you don't want to be assimilated then you have to keep your culture secret! But you aren't doing that, you are plastering your culture everywhere, selling it, and then getting pissed when people like it and want to be like you. I don't understand that! There are cultures that keep themselves secret, underground, and they keep outsiders out. I don't understand how Black folks can have their culture out in the open, selling it, and then complain about appropriation.

My feeling, keep your culture to yourself, sell it to outsiders if you want, and embrace other cultures if you want. In this information age people are going to find out about things, and unless it's against the law they are going to adopt whatever they fancy. Getting outraged all the time is just bad for your mental health because you will always feel like a victim. You are setting yourself up for misery if you keep asking to be accepted and then get outraged when you are. People will never truly accept Black women if they don't date and marry them, befriend them, hire them, and bring their form of beauty into the mainstream. The things Black folks do will never been seen as "normal and acceptable" unless the majority accepts it. In my opinion, the more the world accepts anything from Black folks (that doesn't make us look bad) the better. People may be worried that something may become a fad but why worry about that? Just keep keeping on before, during, and after the fad. If a bunch of White women start perming their hair and wearing braids that doesn't keep you being natural. But if you are of the mindset that 'if everyone is doing it then I don't want it because now it's not special' then you are choosing to reject the things you like because it became popular. To me, that isn't a good enough reason to get so outraged or for me to feel angry for you.

This whole thing reminds me of that whole debacle over that White woman who was wearing an Afro wig in New York. People trashed her for appropriation and she stopped writing her blog and wearing the wig. I don't get how so many people want to be accepted and rejected at the same time. This is my opinion and that's that.  I don't care if you think it's ignorant, that's what I think and anything else would be a lie. The End.

P.S. I also have to add that I am sick and tired of the term "caping". If an issue comes up and someone has an opinion, I think it's really annoying that they are shamed because their opinion does not automatically bash White people, or Black men, or whatever or if the person is of the opinion that a certain group (e.g., BW) is overreacting or in the wrong. If it's your opinion it's your opinion. I am FIRMLY against the policing of thoughts, especially if you have no direct influence in the situation. 

Enough with this generalizing that if you aren't foaming at the mouth because non-BW are wearing braids then that means you excuse everything negative White folks have done since the beginning of time. This is ONE incident. And for all of those high and mighty folks who act like we should be asking for blood because she lied on job applications...are you serious? People are getting murdered, raped, bankrupted, dying of diseases and worse things so I'm not going to bother becoming enraged, and saying "woe is me" because of this minor incident that only affects the people who actually know this woman. Take a minute to ask yourself if you are a negative person who mostly thinks the worse is going to happen and if you tend to blow the significance of things out of proportion.  This is nothing, relax.

Update June 16, 2015: Well after reading a lot of forum posts and articles about this incident a lot of Black people are really MAD about this. I'm just not, so my reading didn't change how I feel. I feel something when I hear about people defrauding others of their life savings, identity theft (no she did not steal a particular person's identity, buy things, and ruin their credit), assaults, rape, things like that. This was just nothing for me. I mean my life isn't perfect and I am stressing about a couple of things right now, but Rachel Dolezal definitely isn't one of them. People are acting like something was 'taken' from them and that this is the beginning of their erasure from the planet or something.

 I took a sneak peak at a BWE blog and this particular person has so much animosity for light skinned and biracial people she wants to prevent them from calling themselves Black (seriously, if you are light skinned, biracial, or not African American then you are not welcome on that Blog and the blog owner seems to think you are the enemy there to steal everything she is entitled to by the Gods or something). Well, one article I read called Sister Outside: Rachel Dolezal and the Ideology of Race made sense to me.  I'm surprised that the Black people writing and commenting on this thing are so attached to the idea of race when it was socially constructed to facilitate slavery and to create a hierarchy of races where Black people are on the bottom. Why hang on tho those shackles? I mean, from what the conservatives are doing affirmative action will not be around for long so is much of this because people expect certain jobs or scholarships to be reserved for Black people and they feel personally wronged because one scholarship, and two positions were given to Rachel Dolezal? Really? Okay.

I think what some people are saying is that if a Black person was to pass then they would not be accepted as They're being a-holes. Are you just doing what you think White people would do if the situation was reversed? Anyways, this is just an isolated situation and people are catastrophizing by acting like it's a hidden epidemic stealing half of Black people's scholarships and jobs or something. I've grown tired to the outrage.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Are Black Women's Standards Too High?

UPDATE: I was going to write something really hateful about certain people right here but I deleted it seeing how vengeful people over there can be. I don't know the commentators there anymore and I think they are very disrespectful, spiteful, self-righteous, closed-minded, and hypocritical. That is not a safe space for Black women to speak, it is a place for sheep to follow in line and call names if you don't agree with them. I don't associate with people like that in real life. It's actually making me feel sick to my stomach because I'm actually disgusted with how the people commented. I think, after all this I've lost all compassion for anyone over there I don't know who those people are. There is no bone in my body who looks up to anyone over there anymore and trusts any advice they give. They are so not for me anymore safe place for Black women my ass! I really don't like people who can't think for themselves and just jump on the bandwagon, they are freaking scary. I can't support the site anymore if I don't feel safe there and I have lost all respect for the people who comment there. I feel disgusted.

This post is about a situation that has happened on the Beyond Black and White website. Apparently the site arranged for a YouTube Blogger to go on dates with 5 Black women and it was suggested that he film those dates. Well he posts videos about dating Black women (he is White) and compared to all of the hateful BW bashing videos on YouTube I was soooo glad to find them. I think that the videos are well done and I plan to watch the ones I have not seen yet.

Well apparently, the guy said he wanted to find a relationship but then changed his mind. In one of his videos he said he is also changing the direction of his channel so I guess there won't be any more interracial stuff or saying great things about BW :( Anyways, on BB&W they were seriously bashing this guy and calling him a fraud in this POST! I can understand that the women who went on dates with him could be upset but there was no reason for so much anger and name calling! It makes us look really bad and I hope that this is not the reason why he has changed the direction of the YouTube channel. This really bothers me for some reason. His channel was a good thing for BW and now people are unsubscribing because of the dating fiasco and they are writing mean comments. I think they should be thanking him for devoting all the time and effort and probably money to boost up BW. People had the nerve to complain that he went on some dates with light skinned BW because their features were not Black enough. People were actually telling him it was wrong for him to be attracted to those women and you only really like BW if you like dark skinned BW and reject light skinned BW. Your complains will not make him like you more they will probably make him like you less :(

It reminds me of how irritated I was when people were bashing Sleepy Hollow because they wanted Abbey and Ichabod to fall in love right away and they were upset that his wife came back into the picture. In both situations I feel the BW had unrealistic expectations for the relationships, they were expecting things to happen right away, and merely showcasing positive images of BW (and making them stars) was not good enough. They have no patience! SPOILER ALERT: If these women had patience and didn't start telling other BW not to watch they would have seen that Ichabod ends up killing his wife this season so she is gone! But nooo, because BW have not been treated well most of the time they expect mistreatment and they walk out feeling hurt before anything bad has even happened. Women who have never even seen anything on his channel are being told not to watch any of his videos and they are slandering him to his readers! So what if he changed his mind about the relationship? I have wanted a relationship for so long but I put off seeking one because I was moving, I was busy with school, I was busy with work, or even because it was too cold in the winter. So what? It just wasn't the right time. But to them that means he's s sociopath and a fraud. Whatever. This may be part of the reason why some people don't want to deal with you, it's easier to just focus on something or someone else who doesn't turn against them so easily.

It just seems a lot of the time that BW cannot be pleased even when they are given A GIFT for free, a gift that they have been asking for over and over! It also reminds me of some of the comments I have gotten on this blog. This blog was about my personal exploration but I made it public as A GIFT to other BW who had similar goals. It took so much time to do photo posts like THIS ONE. I had to search Google Images or Tumbler for images of BW looking a certain way and I spent (I am tempted to say wasted) many hours finding the images that demonstrated what I wanted. People have the nerve to come on here and complain that some of the women are light skinned or biracial!? If you want images of dark skinned women you are free and welcome to find them yourself and post them all over your blog or Tumbler. You will probably find it difficult because you will have to choose from what is available and time is a finite resource you may not be able to spend. You will have to wade through images of BW scowling, looking hard, mean, and masculine, and once you get past that (if you care) you fill have to find someone ATTRACTIVE in a good quality photo. Furthermore, just because you have issues with light skinned women doesn't mean I do and according to some people I am actually light skinned. I tried to show variety but I will only spend so much time looking for images and I have no problem displaying light skinned or biracial women. I am not on a mission to promote dark skin, I (was) only on a mission to promote straight BW period. I am tired of these purity standards that will only accept dark women showcased. I showed variety but you choose to ignore that and have a fit if you see light skin. If you can do better please do it yourself and stop asking people for a handout. I can understand that it won't be easy to make your own TV show but if you have time to complain to me then you have time to look for images of dark skinned BW.

I think the reason why this sort of thing irks me is because sometimes it seems like BW will not be pleased and they complain even when they get a good thing. I dare say there is some entitlement going on where you feel the TV producers, the YouTube guy, and even I owe you something and that we are "wrong" for not doing what you want. I'm tired of it. Enough with the victim mentality.

Here is my post from the BB&W site, I think I'm probably the only person in dissent about the issue:

I don't know why I am the voice of dissent on so many things that have to do with Black folks but it is what it is. Something about this reaction just sounds so extreme to me. Everyone has the right to their opinions but all the name calling and labeling seems excessive given that this account is totally one sided. I'm not taking anyone's side I'm just being empathetic and putting myself in the shoes of each party involved. These are my opinions.
1) None of us know this man's true intentions but if I was a dude and I found out a bunch of women were attracted to me I would not want to settle down if I didn't have to. Many men play the field way longer than women would like, that's just the way it is and in that regard this man is not abnormal, a sociopath, or a DBR and neither is every attractive male who doesn't want a monogamous relationship. It helps you to get through the day by thinking he's an awful guy then go ahead and do what is best for you. Just remember how much it hurts when you hear about BW being labelled and scrutinized for their choices and the names we are called when we don't give men what they want.
2) BW complain that they are not the focus of dating shows and that they are not being shown as romantic interests. This guy is doing just that and because of that he is now a sociopath? He's trying to be an entertainer, did you really expect him to fall for a woman right away and stop doing his work? Think about how many people are set up on dating shows who want a many of those actually work out? BW are getting the attention they asked for but many of you have fairytale dreams and have unrealistic ideas about how relationships will develop (I'm no expert either) but I don't know why anyone would think a blind date would end up as a relationship. You want the attention but when things aren't perfect you don't want it. There was a post on this very site about Missy Harris wanting to be on The Bachelorette and people supported it and were disappointed when that didn't happen. Now some dude decided to give you what you want and you're pissed because he didn't want a commitment and wanted to date around more. Watch what you ask for because dudes might think twice about dating BW or encouraging it due to all of this vitriol. Please, EVERYONE, think about what the goal of this whole experiment what and Chris can tell us what he actual goal was. Was the goal to showcase interracial dates so the more dates the better or was the goal to actually fix us this man with a BW. If the goal was to showcase interracial dating then the goal was accomplished and this man should be thanked for doing it because I can't think or anyone else who is. If the goal was the second, ish happens, everyone you fix up is not going to fall in love, people change their minds, and things don't always work out.
3) Maybe he just wasn't into her. We all know great women who are single but just because we would date the girl does not mean that a specific guy would. He may very well want a relationship but he did not think he found the right girl. It happens, even to beautiful nice girls. Yo don't have to take it personally. Just because he is looking for a relationship doesn't mean he wants one with the girl you picked because he knows there is no shortage of great girls.
4) Think to yourself, is all this anger helpful to you or is it making things worse? Do you feel more open to interracial dating and more confident about your attractiveness or less? One guy did not want a relationship with one woman, no need to get so upset about that. It makes us look sort of bad. I could understand why the actual woman would feel upset, but I don't get why so many people in the comments section are. Maybe dude was a player and just wanted to get happens every day.
That's my opinion, everyone has one. Entertainment and exploitation goes hand in hand a lot of the time, for every beautiful woman there is a man who didn't want her, and just because he wasn't into her and wanted to get some does not make him the devil. If I was on the date I would be hurt and cry as I usually do though so I can understand her hurt. Fire away...
 I also want to ask the women here who think he looked suspicious from the get many White dudes have you dated or spoken to on a regular basis? The guy seemed fine to me, like someone I would get along with. Are you just suspicious of this guy or do you feel that way about most White dudes anyway? It might just be me but he didn't seen too weird to me, but I like guys who are humble anyway. I feel I guess disappointed that a good thing like this could be derailed because he didn't fall in love with one woman. How MANY times have we complained on our blogs about about the BM doing negative videos about us and this one guy has done so many videos saying great things about us and showing us as romantic interests. It's so refreshing and wonderful to me. Do you really want to destroy this? Does he not deserve any praise for not going around bashing us the way BM do? In fact, I found his videos a year ago after wading through all the hate videos. Please keep the greater goal in focus. This is what you want.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Black Woman Who Will Not Pathologize Herself

This is a follow-up from my previous post, "Freeing Myself from African American Cultural Limitations". I think that growing up I was freer in many ways. Yes I had self-esteem problems (still do), but that was based on my real-life experience and how I was being treated. I was free to like what I liked, be attracted to who I wanted, made friends with people of similar interests, and I was myself. If there was anything wrong with me I could see there was a problem because I was not happy or getting what I wanted. This made sense! This is how want to always think.

Unfortunately, opening myself up to African American history and online culture was eye-opening, sometimes enjoyable, illuminating, but I'm not sure if it has made me a better person. Maybe it has made me wiser because now I now what I don't have to be and what it important. Today it feels like I am back the way I was before in high school, when I was free, so I have come full circle. Was my venture into AA culture worth it or would I have been better off not venturing into that arena? Understand though, that my venturing did not involve physically living in the US, this great impact was made by simply reading texts, reading blogs, and interacting with people online! What you read can really affect your thinking.

So I am asking myself if all the reading I did made me better or worse as a person. Was I better off before I ventured into the AA section of the library and started reading? Was I better off when I wasn't reading about controversial AA issues and activism? Online people would always say "know your history" but was I studying my history, or was it really someone else's history that I read because I could not find my own? Well I guess like any sort of experience or study this experience has changed me. I know about things I did not pay attention to before. Instead of thinking, 'I don't know anything about that' I can now think, 'I've heard about that' or 'I remember when something similar happened before'. So I guess I can value that lack of complete ignorance.

But this knowledge came with a negative side effect, It made me feel like a victim, like I had been wronged, life was going to be bad for me, I was disadvantaged, people hate me, people in my life are going to betray me because I'm Black, I'm unattractive, there is something wrong with me and I didn't know it, and I should always be angry. It's as though I was feeling okay and then found out I had a horrible disease I didn't realize I had:
  • I was told all the horrible symptoms I had never noticed and had never interfered with my life. 
  • I was told this disease was the cause of all my life problems. 
  • The disease was incurable. 
  • I had to get it under control before I spread it to my future children.
  • This disease will destroy the Black race.
  • And guess what, the disease was given to me by White people through slavery, racism, and discrimination! So suddenly I had a horrible incurable disease, purposefully given to me by "The Man", that had a host of symptoms (that were supposedly already hurting me or would hurt me sooner or later).

Fortunately, there was a cure pedaled by many a charlatan (perhaps well meaning). They were so helpful in pointing out my symptoms and telling me then and there to take my medicine before it was too late! The cures was the following:
  • Being hypervigillant about everything The Man did and constantly see myself as a victim. This included complaining and being outraged about past horrific deeds (because they are having an impact on the present) and being outraged by everything overtly racist. In order to do this I had to constantly expose myself to the most horrible things in history and the news. Doing otherwise would mean I was being ignorant, ignoring my history, being a passive part of the problem, or not caring. 
  • Suspecting racism and a slight everywhere. I had to be offended and angry when The Man did not include dark-skinned Black women in the media. I also had to be offended if those women were fat, unmarried, adulterous, not chosen by the lead character, or were flawed in any way. I had to be angry if Black women were not on runways for White designers, leading more White-owned companies, in more commercials for White-owned companies, leading more White produced written shows, leading more White produced and written movies, winning more White- created awards. I had to be angry they didn't include BW because that was racist. I had to be constantly angry Black people didn't own more or have more power.
  • I had to be offended if The Man did or said anything negative about Black men. It didn't matter the circumstances or what the Black men did because racism against Black men was racism against all Black people (solidarity right?). I had to be concerned about the Prison Industrial Complex and men (who often made neighborhoods dangerous and victimized Black women) were getting long prison sentences for crimes they actually committed. It could happen to my brother or my father so I had to be mad in solidarity. I had to excuse their misdeeds or questionable choices because they are just victims of The Man.
  • I had to question every choice I made and every preference I had because being brainwashed accelerated the disease. I had to make sure my preferences for my hair, make-up, the attractiveness of women, the attractiveness of men, fashion, music, television, books, and activities were "Black". My preferences for education, speaking a certain way, marriage, children in wedlock, and interracial dating were all signs that I was brainwashed and a horrible prognosis. This meant choosing the Blackest of Black everything. I had to prefer the darker actress who was darker than myself, I had to prefer the hair with no curl pattern when I have coils, I had to prefer the shows/films with dark skinned actresses who where married, I had to choose African or AA clothing, I had to prefer hip hop or R&B etc. Before making any choice I had to ask myself , "How will this impact the Black community?"; "Am I doing this because I have been brainwashed by the Eurocentric media?"; "Is this a sign of self-hatred?". Depending on the answers I could feel good about my choice or chastise myself for helping The Man cause my own destruction and the destruction of my entire race.
The thing that was left out of this pathological situation was was the evidence that there was a disease in the first place, that any of the so-called symptoms were harmful, or that any of the cures worked!!! I was happier the way I was before I got involved in any of this. Was this anger, knowledge, and constant self- and other-monitoring beneficial to me in any way? Was it beneficial to anyone at all? Was this going to make my life happier, stop me from getting hurt, further my career, help me make friends and get dates, improve my health? Why should I have done any of this crap to live up to someone else's ideal of what a Black person should be? People complain that the White media pathologizes Blackness, but I think the opinionated/activist AA community pathologized me and is doing so to many others! They are constantly telling us we are doing life/Blackness wrong and making us feel guilty for just living! I am not diseased/brainwashed because I want to be free to be an individual and not live by some arbitrary "True Blackness" rules. I will not be in danger if I don't live by those rules or pay attention to any of the things they way so-called Blackness experts/activists say I should. Peddle you snake oil somewhere else because you are not qualified to diagnose me and there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. I have inoculated myself from your influence.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Freeing Myself From African American Cultural Limitations

Note: This post will make some readers angry if they choose to misunderstand and if they think their culture should be placed above the cultures of Black people who don't live in the USA.This is not about having pride in your culture, it's about understanding that all Black people don't think or act like you nor do they need to and embracing your culture could make their lives worse not better.

I think that from now on I need to be very critical of any theories, ideas, or culture that comes from AA people in the US because they are based on the lives, experiences, and reasoning of people who grew up in different environments different from the one in which I grew up. AA isn't the same as Black woman in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, or the same as growing up Black in any other country in the world. But for too long I (and many others) have been taking AA theories about what it means to be Black and AA culture and acting as though these socially constructed ideas should be adopted by Black people across the globe.

Even many AA people have written so much online about how they feel limited, stereotyped, and judged because of what other AA people say they are supposed to act and think. Why are we not free to be what we want to be? Why are we not free to choose from all ideas presented to us? Who decided what AA culture is and how they should act? Why should Black people in other cultures be expected to act and think like AA people? Why do so many people equate AA theories and culture with "Black culture"? Here are some of my thoughts.

1. Who created most modern Black thought in North America and should their writings apply to me? AA men wrote extensively about race (e.g., Frederick Douglas, WEB Dubois, Malcolm X etc.). These writings have been read by Black people in the US and even taught in classes. Black (and non-Black) people around the world have read these works. These men and many scholars (who are mostly men), shaped the way the world sees the Black experience but for them the Black experience is the African American Male experience! Do their theories and experiences apply well to AA women, Black women in other countries like me, or African women? Many of us have heard the saying "All the women are White and all the Blacks are men", well this is the case for many of the race theories I and many others have read. They are based on the reasoning of AA males of the past. Do these theories apply to a Canadian Black woman in 2014? Do their theories apply to you as a modern AA woman? Should be be relying on old writings and theories or should we be using updated theories based on modern evidence?
My Decision: I have decided to free myself from these old AA writings and ideas and probably most modern AA ideas about race. These theories colour the way people see the world and interpret things but they are theories that are biased, they are not facts. I do not think paying attention to these theories have helped me succeed in life and instead they made me suspicious, paranoid, and angry. These theories did not protect me from being harmed or help me so I choose to forget them. I am free to base things on my experience instead of being burdened with fear and feeling like I have been a victim my entire life. When I read these theories in the past and when I hear them now I do not have productive or helpful thoughts or feelings so I will stop exposing myself to them. I've heard enough and now it's time to focus on things that will actually help my life.  

2. Who decided what "acting White" and "acting Black" was and should this apply to me? In my opinion, it's AA males who decided what it means to be Black and this has spread around the world. But there is some historical White racism mixed up in there and some of what AA males decided is based on a reaction to this. Unfortunately modern AA males have decided to embrace some of the racist stereotypes and defined blackness as the opposite of their definition whiteness! In the past things like reading, doing well in school, being well mannered, dressing neatly, speaking well, working a respectable job were not labeled "acting White", these where just things people did. But nowadays, if an AA person does these things they are sometimes teased for "acting White". It has happened to me in Canada a few times when I was told I was practically White by a White person because I wasn't loud and ghetto a decade ago or when people are surprised I don't like R&B and hip hop. But in Canada I don't recall anyone saying that my doing well in school or getting an advanced degree was "acting White" and I remember reading a statistic years ago saying Black women are more likely to have a university degree than all other groups (not sure if this is still true). I recently read a similar statistic about AA women. So I wonder why are Black women letting AA men define what it means to be Black? Why are you letting them define you? Is there a better definition that would serve your needs and goals better?
My Decision: I am going to be extra vigilant to eliminate all ideas I have about "acting White" and "acting Black" and I will act however I feel comfortable and prefer whatever appeals to me. I will no longer pay attention to AA trends, art, music, ideas, style etc. over non-AA trends, art, music, ideas, or style. I will be open to ideas, think about the source and intended audience, evaluate the merits of the idea, and decide if it will enhance my life or not. I will have my personal goals and will not let race factor into those goals. I am not trying to live up to any expectations for what AA culture says a Black woman should be. I will try to be a great woman period. I will not pay attention to AA theories that race needs to be recognized and discussed all the time in order to prevent racism. I will discuss it when I feel like it and not because I feel pressured to do so. I want to be seen as a unique individual person not a Black woman stereotype.

3. Who is free and who is brainwashed? This is one thing that I have really struggled with. I am so sick and tired of people trying to shape me and telling me if I believe one thing or act in one way then I am brainwashed or part of the problem; but if I think differently or act in a different way then I've stepped out of the matrix and I'm free. I know I have only so much power and there are others who have way more. I don't want to spend my free time thinking about how powerless I am and being angry at people or the system. This means I will not question my preferences any more! These are the following preferences I will no longer feel guilty about:
  • I will date who I am attracted to and will not question whether Eurocentric society has shaped my dating preferences.
  • I will not feel guilty about disliking the shrinkage in my natural hair and preferring to wear my hair stretched. Some natural women online are acting like it's self-hatred to prefer your hair stretched but I'm done listening to them.
  • I will not feel guilty about preferring long hair on myself and other women. I think it looks better. I don't like Lupita Nyongo's hair and I think she would look better if she grew it out. It's my preference and I don't care where it comes from. 
  • I will not feel guilty about thinking a light-skinned or non-Black woman is attractive. I will not go on a smear campaign against any women in order to make dark-skinned Black women feel better. If you have great features you are beautiful regardless of your skin colour. I will not beat myself up or try to rationalize my preferences into something else out of fear I've been brainwashed. I like what I like case closed.
  • I will not feel guilty about watching television. I will watch whatever I want for whatever reason I want. 
  • I will not feel guilty about the music I like. I will not like something just because Black people made it or because it is popular. 
  • I will not support something just because it involves a Black person. I will not support something just because it is popular (i.e., all the White people are doing it). I will support something if I believe in the cause. 
My Decision: I am aiming to have my needs met and achieve my goals and I have decided to be satisfied with that. I am not on a journey to change the world or overthrow anything and if that makes me part of the problem then so be it. If this means I'm a follower and part of the system so be it. I'm making a choice to fight for my needs and goals and what I choose to fight for instead of being shamed into fighting for other people's causes. I will support something if I choose to not out of fear or irrational guilt. Most importantly, I will no longer pathologize myself based on my choices or preferences. I will not pay attention to any Willie Lynch, it started with slavery, Eurocentric beauty standard, etc. articles or arguments because I've heard them and want to move on. I am fed up with articles and news stories questioning if something is normal or not. As long as my needs and goals are being met I don't care about being normal anymore, I can be unique or unusual.

If anyone can relate to this post, great, if not oh well. It's me figuring out what bothers me and eliminating that thinking from my mind. For most of my life I have been free of these thoughts and I want to go back to that time. Instead I want to focus on ways I can improve my life and feel better about myself. Focusing on the things listed above just created mental turmoil for me so I am throwing them to the side. I am free of the restriction I previously felt pressured to adhere to because I am Black. I am free.