Wednesday, October 30, 2013

REALLY (Black People)?!

People are all up in a tizzy because Julianne Hough (a white singer/dancer/actress) dressed up as 'Crazy Eyes' (a black character from the Netflix hit show, Orange Is The New Black) for Halloween, complete with a brown painted face. They are comparing it to a highly racist and negative practice that whites used, way back in the day (and some still do), as a form of entertainment.

Really, Black people?! These are two totally different things, in my opinion. She was dressing up for Halloween, for goodness' sake! She wasn't doing a minstrel show or trying to be funny or derogatory with her actions. I don't know her personally, but I'm assuming that she is a fan of the show (as I am and alot of people are) and thought 'Crazy Eyes' made for a good Halloween costume. According to reports, Julianne was not aware of the history of 'blackface' and she did not mean any disrespect towards the black community. Some have suggested that 'her people' should have known and should have warned her that dressing up as this character would not be a good idea or that she could have done the character without the brown face. I beg to differ. Halloween is a holiday on which people dress up as all sorts of people, characters, things, demons, goblins and monsters. It's a day where you get to be something/someone other than yourself, in the name of fun (for the most part). I see nothing wrong with Julianne being this character and choosing to go 'all the way' with her costume. Sure, she could have donned the orange jumpsuit, put her hair in (some semblance of) bantu knots and kept her own white face buuuutttt......(in my opinion) it comes across so much better with the brown face.

To each his/her own but I think, these days, people jump on any little thing and scream 'racist/racism!' Now don't get me wrong, I'm not some black person who doesn't believe we've come such a long way that racism is not an issue. Oh, it very much is. But what I don't like, and refuse to cosign, are things that are 1)minor sand particles built up into a mountain 2)innocent occurrences (such as this) that get misconstrued or turned into something it is not or ever intended to be 3)jumping on the 'It's racism!' bandwagon just because somebody said it was racism. How are we ever to make more and bigger strides towards less racism if, at every chance (big or small), we are screaming racism and brewing major media storms about small or nonexisent issues? If everything a non-black person does that however remotely looks like they are being insensitive, disrespectful or derogatory is fodder for a race rally, how can we ever get past it? As it's said, perception is reality so, while there are definitely racist folks around and racist practices going down, I think we need to adjust our mind's eye just a little bit. One of my favorite quotes is:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
_ mahatma ghandi

Choose your battles wisely and fight when it's necessary, but please people, please....stop the 'stinkin thinkin!' Besides, Julianne's face ain't black. Like Tamar Braxton said, she just looks like she has a tan.

p.s. Julianne, stop stealing people's knew I was planning to be 'Crazy Eyes' for Halloween (I really was, y'all)!

Thursday, October 10, 2013


So, I flew into my hometown last night for a surprise visit. My daughter had no clue I was coming so she was pleasantly shocked to see me walking into her apartment. She and my granddaughter were soundly sleeping when I arrived and although it was a school/work night, I had to wake them up. The grandiva was not happy to be awakened and she had no problem with hurting my feelings with her resistance. But once she was fully awake and realized her Gida was actually in the bed with her (yes, I got under the covers with her, fully clothed), she lit up. Then she scolded me for being in the bed with clothes on. We spent a couple hours hanging out then she reluctantly went back to sleep. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed she woke up, 6 hours later, ready for more quality time with her Gida. My eyes were burning from lack of sleep but, of course, I got right up with her. I contemplated spending the day with the grandiva, thinking she would not want to leave me to go to school. But she made it very clear that skipping a day of play with her friends was not on her mind. She enthusiastically got ready for school and, as she made her way out the door, she put up two fingers and said, 'Peace Gida!'....but only after she made sure I would be there when she returns.

My next stop was my mother's house. I decided to go there while she was at work and visit with my cousin and grandmother. I was anxious to see my grandmother's reaction to me since she had promptly forgotten who I was when I moved away. I spoke with my grandmother on the phone, a few days after I made it to Charlotte, and she did not know who she was talking to. She didn't remember my voice or my name. I cried. It broke my heart. At 90 years old, it's to be expected and I knew she had forgotten a lot of people. But never did I think she would forget me, especially not that fast. I was worried my leaving would cause my grandmother to become depressed or even sick, so when I thought about it, I realized her forgetting me was actually a blessing for her. She would not become heartsick or miss someone she did not remember. Still, I held out the hope that, if she saw me in person, her memory would be revived. When I arrived at the house, I walked straight in the unlocked door. After being greeted by my startled cousin with a bear hug, I stood face to face with my grandmother and said, 'Hiiiii Grandma! and wrapped my arms around her. When I pulled away, I asked her, 'Do you remember me?' She said, 'Yes but I haven't seen you in a while.' Whew! she remembers, I thought. A few minutes later, I asked her if she knew who I was and she said, 'no.' I told her my name and I told her I am her granddaughter. She just nodded and said, 'Well, I'm glad to see you' with the unspoken words 'whoever you are' lingering in the air. Nevertheless, I am happy she is still with us and I feel blessed to be in her presence.

As I sit here and wait for my mother's arrival home, my head aches due to fatigue resulting from the late night/early morning I had with my grandchild, my ears are being assaulted by my cousin's loud enjoyment of raisins she's eating, my eye is irritated from the love I received from our very excited-to-see-me dog (I am allergic to animal hair yet I can't resist her doggie hugs) and my arms are cold due to the NY fall temperatures that my short sleeved shirt is not suited for. Yet, it all feels and sounds so good because, no matter the new places you go, people you meet or experiences you have......there's no place like home!

Thursday, October 3, 2013


I have been a 'natural' gal for over 3 years; natural meaning my hair has not been chemically straightened. The journey from getting relaxers to no chemical straightening was much easier than I thought it would be. However, the maintenance of that existence is just as difficult as I imagined it would be. It all started when, I decided, I needed a change after wearing different variations of the mohawk hairstyle. There's only so much you can do with a mohawk, so, I decided to chop it all off. I didn't do it with the intention of 'going natural;' I just liked the way I looked when I held my hair down and could see nothing but face in the mirror. I literally said, aloud, 'Damn, I'm pretty!' The barber who cut it off and shaped me up agreed.

I wore the brush-cut style for months, then I decided to let my hair grow back. I figured, once it reached a certain length, I could get a relaxer and a different hairstyle. But, when it grew and I saw the true texture of my hair (that I hadn't seen since I was about 12, 13 years old), I liked it. In fact, I loved it. I remembered having a 'nice' texture of hair but didn't quite recall what that looked like. I'm a 'nappy girl,' for sure, but there's a wide range of 'nappiness' and I happen to fall into the 'not-so-bad' range. Now, I'm not one of those people who uses the term 'good hair' (which is usually used to describe someone's hair that is straight, wavy or curly, with not a nap in sight) nor do I believe, 'there is no such thing as good hair.' People can try to make themselves or others feel better by saying that, but (I'm sorry), it's just not true. On one extreme, there are some curl patterns that are extremely tight & dense (that I wouldn't even describe as 'curl' patterns) which makes the hair hard to manage and difficult (or impossible) to mold or manipulate into any styles other than braids or an afro. On the other extreme, there is straight hair, with not a hint of wave or curl that makes it difficult to wear most hairstyles in its natural state. That's what I would call 'bad hair.' However, there are many hair types in between that allow for alot of maniupulation, variety and beautiful styling. That is what I would describe as 'good hair.'

I'm not really sure where my hair fits on the a-b-c (hair types) scale but I like to describe it as 'cotton curl.' It looks good and is quite manageable in its natural state. When it's wet, the curl pattern is tight & springy; when it's dry, the curl pattern is tight and soft. I like to wear it in various forms of the afro and I also like to do different kinds of 'twist-outs' (where you braid or twist the hair then keep it in that style for a few hours or overnight, then unravel hair to create a curly, coily or wavy hairstyle). However, maintaining the health of my hair and creating hairstyles takes A LOT of time, energy and product (money). I look forward to getting much (if not all) of my original length back but the more my hair grows, the more frustrated I get with the upkeep. Which is why, thoughts of the 'creamy crack' cross my mind, often.

'Creamy crack' is the name somebody (probably a naturalista) gave to relaxer products that are used to straighten the hair. Although there is a great number of women who have 'gone to rehab' and gotten their naps back, there are still many women who are still addicted to what the relaxer does for their hair. I was once addicted and though I no longer need that fix, at times I sure do want it. Sometimes, I want it, to be able to wear my own hair in certain styles and feel the air on my scalp as my tresses bounce and blow in the wind. Sometimes, I want it, so I can wear certain weave styles and get my various states of 'diva' on. And sometimes, I want a relaxer, because my hair would be much more manageable and require less daily maintenance. Whatever the reason is, it ain't got a damn thing to do with denying my blackness or 'wanting to be white' or being 'brainwashed by europeans' or any other shitty notion some people come up with to try to make a sista feel guilty, bad or 'less-than'. I don't care how I wear my hair, I know I'm a black woman, I love being a black woman and I am going to express my black woman-ness in straight hair, curly hair, nappy hair, weaved, braided, long, short or round-the-way hair. Whatever style I choose, these facts will remain constant.....I'M BLACK and I'M PROUD! BLACK GIRLS ROCK! MY BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL! it? Ok.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Queen City

So, I've been in Charlotte, NC aka The Queen City, for about 2 months now and, so far, so good. The city has a lot to offer a single, woman like me who prefers quiet living with city appeal, has creative wings that need to be spread and enjoys having an active social life. The community I live in is nicely designed (as most like it seem to be) with great amenities, my neighbors are seen but rarely heard and most of all, it's affordable. Granted, my sister is footing the bill for our living expenses, as she so lovingly offered to do, allowing me time to gain employment and use the funds I have to maintain the bills that this move did not eliminate. But once I get on, it's nice to know I will be able to maintain (and eventually, elevate) my standard of living. Many of you may be saying, "What! You moved to a new state and you don't have a job?!" Yes I did and no, I don't. Not because I am irresponsible, rash or naive but because I cherish my health over a paycheck.

I made this move for a few reasons, but my mental and emotional health was at the top of the list. The life I was living back 'home' became so stressful and overwhelming that it, literally, was life-threatening. This is not to say, a change in location is the remedy to a health problem, but sometimes, it needs to be part of the prescription. In my case, it was necessary. Since arriving in Charlotte, NC, I have experienced a significant change (for the better) in my mental & emotional outlook. I can move through my day without having to take care of, worry about or be infringed upon by another person. I don't feel the need to succumb to any pressures to do anything and I don't feel responsible for anyone else's problems. Being away from the sources of those issues allows me the time and space to correct them, within myself. Of course, I still have some concerns, that come with being away from my grandmother, my daughter and the gran'diva. I still experience urges to 'fix' whatever problems they may be experiencing but being 1200 miles away from them does not allow me to do so (as easily as being right there would). There are times that I wish I could be there to soothe my granddaughter when she's upset, assist my daughter when she needs a break and spend time with my grandmother, who has forgotten who I am (by voice and name). But I have to 'let go and let God.' Keeping the faith that they will fare just fine without me there to cushion every fall, soothe every hurt or ease every pain. Not only that, I now have no excuse to not 'get my life!' (as Tamar Braxton would say).

Of course, I miss my loved ones like crazy! I miss being able to jump in the car and drive a few blocks to one of my sister's houses. I miss Friday night girl talks with my favorite cousins & friends. I miss Sunday dinners with the family. I miss being able to 'dial-a-hairdo' or order up an impromptu meeting for dinner & drinks. I miss chilling out with my mother. I miss my daily work commute with my daughter and gran'diva. I miss chatting & laughing with a few of my coworkers-turned-friends. Hell, I miss going to work. I just miss home. But, overall, I am good here. I haven't quite started 'living' in the Queen City but the future looks promising. I plan to be here for a very long time as this is a great place for me to enjoy my 'Second Act.' I look forward to getting settled into a work routine, developing an active social life and making Charlotte, NC my home away from home.