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Posts Tagged ‘Black’

What’s the female version of an Uncle Tom?

April 30, 2017 Leave a comment

img_1542This is it. I am turning the corner and shedding my attempts at being welcomed and accepted by the black community. This journey is my own. I will go my own way.

35 years and I am finally here. I will still have my moments of regression but I have since learned that several members of the black community have turned their backs on me after learning that I am pro-life and do not support Planned Parenthood. If this is what isolates me from the black community, so be it. I will fight for the right for developing cells/human beings/fetuses/babies to live.

It doesn’t matter that we probably agree on everything else. No war. No death penalty. No injustice. Social justice for racial minorities. Undocumented immigrants. LGBTQIA+ community. Trump is a lunatic.

I’m tired of hearing tirades against white people. I’m so over it. Stop ranting against white people, band together, and DO something other than protest.

I’m tired of blaming whitey for everything. Did whitey do their fair share of oppressing black people back in the day? Yes. But it’s  significantly better for black people to advance in 2017 than in 1967. The white people who oppressed black people aren’t the ones in power anymore. A new generation arose that rebelled against the segregation of their parents. Did anyone give any thought to those white people who thought segregation was wrong and unjust? (Just like the white people who thought slavery was wrong and unjust during the Civil War era?)

And then there’s the issue of reparations for black people. No, thank you. White people can keep their money and their land. See how well reparations worked out for Native Americans? Government-protected reservations with high crime rate, high gambling problems, high suicide rate, high drug use, and high alcohol use. Nope. No support for reparations from this here colored girl.

I’m a black American princess. I went to a Catholic school K-12. Started at NYU with $18K in grants and scholarships and graduated from Hofstra on LI with departmental honors. I interned for a high-profile NY senator for a semester. I was a successful, established sole proprietor for several years after a full-time stint as an entry-level editorial assistant didn’t work out.

All along the way, the people who reached out to me and helped me along to get me to the next level were…guess who?

White people.

In grade school, other black students made fun of me and cut me down as I tried to assert myself as a young, smart girl.

In middle school, the black kids (and “wiggas”) would shut me out of their core group while white people interested in their education would interact with me and eventually become lifelong friends.

In high school, perhaps the roughest period of my schooling, I attempted desperately to fit in with my black peers only to get made fun of or used for my intelligence for the next quiz or test. The only students who were willing to offer friendship without strings attached were white people.

Even the one black boyfriend I dated (in an effort to gain credibility with the black community) dumped me after he made an attempt to have sex with me and I kept to my vow of purity.

So the long and short of it is, black people and I just don’t get along. It’s taken me 35 years to realize this but better now than later. I will never have a black BFF. And I need to be OK with that. Because I have so many wonderful friends—of all other races, though mostly white—who I can rely on.

This is an issue that’s on my mind so I’ll probably be blogging about it for a bit. But I needed to get it out that white people are not my enemy. They literally are my friends.

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The issue isn’t white but black

January 6, 2016 1 comment

black and white

I idolize wanting friendship and more contact with people of the same race. One of the common complaints I have about my life is that I don’t have contact with enough black people. I have plenty of white friends—that’s no issue. I have a set of diverse friends: Filipino, Indian/Sikh, Ethiopian/Muslim. But few black friends. I actually can count on one hand the number of black friends who aren’t related to me. My white friends are too numerous to count.

This is a problem. Somehow I’ve made it an issue that it’s important to surround myself with more black friends so I can be more “in tune” with black culture. I don’t fully understand the talk about white supremacy. I only partially understand the idea of white privilege and don’t fully agree with it. Ferguson was a big deal but how did it suddenly become a turning point in race relations? The deaths of Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, and Sandra Bland are tragic, but how are they significant in the sense of how they play a larger role in racism?

You’d think because I’m black that these things would automatically make sense to me. But they don’t. I think Freddie Gray was surrounded by idiot cops, Tamir Rice was shot by a cop who should have never been let out of academy, and Sandra Bland paid the price of nervousness around a cop for failing to signal. (I have been guilty of the same when seeing a cop behind me; moving out of the way is instinctive and automatic. I make sure that my failing to signal doesn’t happen now.)

I don’t necessarily see race as the main factor in all these but I do think they play a role on some level. Had Sandra Bland been white, she would have had a slap on the wrist and been let go. A cop who saw a white boy with a gun would have been a bit more cautious about opening fire than making hasty judgments. And Freddie Gray was the victim of being a black man who seemed untrustworthy and would do or say anything to get out of being arrested.

I want to understand these things. I even want to understand these things to the point of agreeing with them. How is that white people get these concepts and I don’t? Is white guilt truly a thing that causes white people to hate themselves and blame their own race for injustices upon other races?

These are all questions I’m asking myself and wrestling with. I may never have a significant friendship with another black woman. And I need to be okay with that. Because I have friendships with wonderful people: secular and religious. They all teach me something and all make me a better person in different ways. And those kinds of friendships transcend all boundaries of race.

Running the race treadmill

May 6, 2014 2 comments

I’m always thinking about issues of race.

No, no, not Jesse Jackson-type issues. More like fitting in with the black community-type issues. Read more…

Race All Around

January 30, 2013 Leave a comment

The older I get, the more I see race. I really shouldn’t since I’m in an interracial marriage, but I’m well aware of when I’m the only black person around. The best moment are when I forget I’m black and just feel like a person (only around close family).

But sometimes when I’m working, race creeps into my mind. Did that person choose to ignore me because she’s white and I’m black? Does this person not like me because I’m a different race? Why am I in an office full of white people?

My increased thoughts of race aren’t really that great in a society that should be so past this. But I get excited when I see a person of color in my community because we are so few. I get even more excited to see Hispanics (of which there are fewer).

I grew up on Long Island, New York where everything was mixed and integrated. White people walked into bodegas, Jamaican people served beef patties to Hispanics, and black people lived peacefully in traditionally white communities. I never though about race much because people mixed so freely. Then I moved to Pennsylvania where people aren’t really prejudiced but still remains somewhat segregated. I’ve gotten looks from white toddlers who simply stare at me, probably because I’m the darkest face they’ve ever seen in their entire lives. (I’ll think that over the fact that I may be the ugliest person they’ve ever seen in their entire lives.) When I see a black woman with white children, it’s usually (but not always) the nanny.

Yes, I live in a community affluent enough to afford nannies. They’re not always black; sometimes they have Eastern European accents.

I don’t know how to stop seeing race. I’m not a Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton advocate—quick to point the finger to discrimination but sometimes I wonder how my race has played a factor in certain things in the past couple of years.

Maybe it’s the curse of this fallen world that I’ll see race play a prominent role as I get older. I think Barack Obama became president (and was re-elected) because he is black. I’ve lost black friends because I vocally opposed his candidacy the first time around. In the end, our differences came down to… race.

I’ve probably said before that in some ways, I’m more comfortable around white people because in my experience, they are not as outwardly judgmental as my black peers are. I’ve had people show up to my wedding and not show up to the reception after discovering that my husband is white. I have family that hasn’t treated my husband with the respect he deserves, and I suspect it is because of his pale skin color. All the people I am thinking of are black.

I should not be self-conscious. I should be secure in my own skin. I should not let others make me feel inferior with my consent. There’s a lot of should nots. But what should I do?

Black pride is cultural more than racial [repost]

February 16, 2011 1 comment

This is a repost on my thoughts on celebrating Black History Month from last year. I believe that once the American school system fully integrates—not only Black culture but also all other racial and ethnic groups into American history and American literature curriculums—will America be able to move forward in transcending racial barriers. As it stands, the election of a biracial president is simply not enough (even though many people thought and hoped it would be).

Noted Black American poet and writer Langston Hughes

February 28th marks the end of Black History Month for 2010—something I chose not to take part in this year. Not because I have any personal objections to commemorating Black American history or anything; I was simply preoccupied with other things like reading up and writing about the Emergent Church. I also read the hardcover version of Joseph C. Phillips’s book, He Talk Like A White Boy, and had hoped to provide a review sometime during February but upon receiving the paperback version, I discovered more essays were added so a book review on that has been put on hold for now.

For some time, I have been mulling on and off about the issue of Black pride. A counter in this discussion is often, “Why is it okay for people to have Black pride and if a White person has White pride, it’s White supremacy and racism?” While I can see that as a valid argument, I submit the idea that Black in America has evolved from a purely racial context to a mostly cultural context.

Many white people (or Caucasians) in America likely know their ethnic background based on their last name or some kind of genealogy. No one knocks Italian-Americans for having Italian pride or Irish-Americans for celebrating their heritage on good ol’ St. Patty’s Day. Americans who have an Italian or Irish background are, quite frankly, part of the White race but choose to emphasize their ethnicity rather than simply the color of their skin. Even those who are of white supremacy organizations are known as WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants). This WASP indication places them in the context of British, Germanic, and possibly even Danish ethnicity. I daresay most people don’t have a problem with Americans celebrating their Polish or Germanic heritage.

But when it comes to Black people, they are slammed for choosing to identify themselves as African-American: “Oh, you’re not really African-American. Look at Kwame over there. His parents are from Zimbabwe—he’s a real African-American.” So what are Black people in America?

Well, simply put, Black people in America are Black Americans. Should they choose to identify themselves as African-American, that is purely their prerogative even if the last ancestor that hailed from Africa was back in 1776. The fact of the matter is that most people who are considered Black in the United States are most likely of Sub-Saharan African descent.

But 1776 is a long way away from 2010. A Black American stepping onto African soil would feel strangely at home and strangely out of place at the same time. Joseph C. Phillips writes:

There is a romanticism associated with Africa that runs deep in the black community. … For me, the bloom fell off the African rose fairly early. Maybe it was when a soldier armed with an AK-47 boarded our bus on the way to the hotel. Or maybe it was when I realized Nigeria was so rife with corruption that cashing a traveler’s check was a major ordeal. The romance was certainly gone once we drove through the countryside and witnessed poverty like I have never seen before. … Alas, my visit to Africa proved less of a homecoming than an affirmation of my Americanness.

… Later in the trip, I had an opportunity to meet socially with several Nigerians. Among my fellow travelers there was a tendency to speak of American blacks as if we were Africans living abroad, everyday Africans did not share this view. They saw us as Americans, first and always. Even to the Nigerians I met who, by and large, were educated in the West we were as American as, well, George Bush.

… That’s not to say I did not feel the tug of Africa at all. I discovered that it is very difficult to be a black American and experience Africa purely as an American. Everywhere I looked, there were bits and pieces of myself.

Black Americans, like Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans, or Polish-Americans, are very much African but moreso very much American.

The estimated date for final importation of slaves from Africa is in the mid-1800s. That leaves a century and a half in which generational Black Americans are most likely to have had ancestors directly from Africa. Within two centuries, however, Black Americans have evolved from African culture and developed their own kind of culture relative to the United States alone. As a result, being Black in America is not simply a matter of race, it is also a matter of culture. Race and culture are now inevitably intertwined.

So when I think of Black pride, I don’t necessarily think of Black Americans taking pride in the color of their skin but rather who they are as a culture that happens to be connected to the color of their skin. I do like the way the writer of the wikipedia entry on African American culture put it:

For many years African American culture developed separately from mainstream American culture because of the persistence of racial discrimination in America, as well as African American slave descendants’ desire to maintain their own traditions. Today, African American culture has become a significant part of American culture and yet, at the same time, remains a distinct cultural body.

There is a style of worship, a style of music, a form of art, and a form of dance that is intrinsic to Black American culture. While some of it may be derived from Africa, it has evolved over the centuries to become uniquely Black American (or African-American, if you will).

But then I wonder whether if it’s sinful to have Black pride within a cultural context and I don’t believe so. Just like the ethnic pride of being Spanish, Germanic, or Swedish, I don’t believe pride in immutable, nonsinful qualities is wrong—it’s the way God made us! Where it does start to go wrong is when these groups use their ethnic position as a form of superiority, especially in order to oppress one group over another. Black supremacy is just as wrong as white supremacy, no matter what the context.

So when I think of Black History Month, and heading into March Women’s History (or Herstory, whatever you want to call it) Month, I don’t see such remembrances as an issue of superiority of one group over another (black vs. white or male vs. female). Rather, I see them as a way of celebrating and reflecting on the accomplishments of formerly oppressed groups that overcame significant obstacles to become thriving members of American society.

Black pride is cultural more than racial

March 1, 2010 4 comments

Noted Black American poet and writer Langston Hughes

February 28th marks the end of Black History Month for 2010—something I chose not to take part in this year. Not because I have any personal objections to commemorating Black American history or anything; I was simply preoccupied with other things like reading up and writing about the Emergent Church. I also read the hardcover version of Joseph C. Phillips’s book, He Talk Like A White Boy, and had hoped to provide a review sometime during February but upon receiving the paperback version, I discovered more essays were added so a book review on that has been put on hold for now.

For some time, I have been mulling on and off about the issue of Black pride. A counter in this discussion is often, “Why is it okay for people to have Black pride and if a White person has White pride, it’s White supremacy and racism?” While I can see that as a valid argument, I submit the idea that Black in America has evolved from a purely racial context to a mostly cultural context.

Many white people (or Caucasians) in America likely know their ethnic background based on their last name or some kind of genealogy. No one knocks Italian-Americans for having Italian pride or Irish-Americans for celebrating their heritage on good ol’ St. Patty’s Day. Americans who have an Italian or Irish background are, quite frankly, part of the White race but choose to emphasize their ethnicity rather than simply the color of their skin. Even those who are of white supremacy organizations are known as WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants). This WASP indication places them in the context of British, Germanic, and possibly even Danish ethnicity. I daresay most people don’t have a problem with Americans celebrating their Polish or Germanic heritage.

But when it comes to Black people, they are slammed for choosing to identify themselves as African-American: “Oh, you’re not really African-American. Look at Kwame over there. His parents are from Zimbabwe—he’s a real African-American.” So what are Black people in America?

Well, simply put, Black people in America are Black Americans. Should they choose to identify themselves as African-American, that is purely their prerogative even if the last ancestor that hailed from Africa was back in 1776. The fact of the matter is that most people who are considered Black in the United States are most likely of Sub-Saharan African descent.

But 1776 is a long way away from 2010. A Black American stepping onto African soil would feel strangely at home and strangely out of place at the same time. Joseph C. Phillips writes:

There is a romanticism associated with Africa that runs deep in the black community. … For me, the bloom fell off the African rose fairly early. Maybe it was when a soldier armed with an AK-47 boarded our bus on the way to the hotel. Or maybe it was when I realized Nigeria was so rife with corruption that cashing a traveler’s check was a major ordeal. The romance was certainly gone once we drove through the countryside and witnessed poverty like I have never seen before. … Alas, my visit to Africa proved less of a homecoming than an affirmation of my Americanness.

… Later in the trip, I had an opportunity to meet socially with several Nigerians. Among my fellow travelers there was a tendency to speak of American blacks as if we were Africans living abroad, everyday Africans did not share this view. They saw us as Americans, first and always. Even to the Nigerians I met who, by and large, were educated in the West we were as American as, well, George Bush.

… That’s not to say I did not feel the tug of Africa at all. I discovered that it is very difficult to be a black American and experience Africa purely as an American. Everywhere I looked, there were bits and pieces of myself.

Black Americans, like Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans, or Polish-Americans, are very much African but moreso very much American.

The estimated date for final importation of slaves from Africa is in the mid-1800s. That leaves a century and a half in which generational Black Americans are most likely to have had ancestors directly from Africa. Within two centuries, however, Black Americans have evolved from African culture and developed their own kind of culture relative to the United States alone. As a result, being Black in America is not simply a matter of race, it is also a matter of culture. Race and culture are now inevitably intertwined.

So when I think of Black pride, I don’t necessarily think of Black Americans taking pride in the color of their skin but rather who they are as a culture that happens to be connected to the color of their skin. I do like the way the writer of the wikipedia entry on African American culture put it:

For many years African American culture developed separately from mainstream American culture because of the persistence of racial discrimination in America, as well as African American slave descendants’ desire to maintain their own traditions. Today, African American culture has become a significant part of American culture and yet, at the same time, remains a distinct cultural body.

There is a style of worship, a style of music, a form of art, and a form of dance that is intrinsic to Black American culture. While some of it may be derived from Africa, it has evolved over the centuries to become uniquely Black American (or African-American, if you will).

But then I wonder whether if it’s sinful to have Black pride within a cultural context and I don’t believe so. Just like the ethnic pride of being Spanish, Germanic, or Swedish, I don’t believe pride in immutable, nonsinful qualities is wrong—it’s the way God made us! Where it does start to go wrong is when these groups use their ethnic position as a form of superiority, especially in order to oppress one group over another. Black supremacy is just as wrong as white supremacy, no matter what the context.

So when I think of Black History Month, and heading into March Women’s History (or Herstory, whatever you want to call it) Month, I don’t see such remembrances as an issue of superiority of one group over another (black vs. white or male vs. female). Rather, I see them as a way of celebrating and reflecting on the accomplishments of formerly oppressed groups that overcame significant obstacles to become thriving members of American society.

An open letter to God, re: Haiti

January 16, 2010 6 comments

WARNING: Objectionable photos below the cut. Viewer discretion is advised.

Dear God,

I know I’m supposed to pray in a private place with the door shut and stuff but I hope you won’t excuse me writing this and making it public. I think some people feel the same way I do. I can’t officially speak for them but I know I’m not alone when I ask you the following:

Do you hate the Haitian people?

No, I mean, seriously? Like, do you hate them? Did Satan make a deal with you that he’d pick this one country in the Western Hemisphere and beat it down and allow all others to look comfortable in comparison? Is Pat Robertson right? Did you curse this country because some idiot slaves wanted to be free from French rule?

I am conflicted, Lord. I was born in New York. I am a first-born American. Yet, Haitian blood flows through my veins. I am more related to a country that was reigned by terror and plagued with fear than a country that gave people of my skin color the right to attend any school of their choosing only 45 years ago. I have never known the fear of Papa Doc and Baby Doc but then again, I have never known the fear of the Ku Klux Klan or other white supremacy organizations. I feel straddled between two countries.

I have never been to Haiti. Out of concern for my safety and protection, my mother and father would never take me there. “It’s not the country it used to be,” they lament.

Lord, were there ever glory days in Haiti? What was it like when my parents were growing up? They speak of it fondly as though those were the good ol’ days. But you allowed my grandfather to be gunned down in cold blood during those good ol’ days. Political strife was still present even back then.

Even though I have never been to Haiti, it is a country my parents grew up in. I am first-generation. I guess I don’t need to tell you that; you ordained it. As a result, when I see the images of bodies strewn everywhere, buried under rubble, piled up on one another–I am cut to the quick. Read more…

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