Title Reference: Terms used to describe the light-skinned vs. dark-skinned characters in Spike Lee’s 1988 film School Daze (a film that explored intra-racism on a college campus).
Today I was reminded that it is important to read and become acquainted with other cultures. Doing so reminds us that we, mankind, share many of the same insecurities and issues. This was evident when reading Annie Khan’s article in the November 2012 issue of Marie Claire. Her piece Fair and Lovely, documents her journey growing up in Pakistan harboring insecurities about her darker skin to the point of trying a skin lightening cream and later modeling for that same product. While reading her piece, I was shaking my head, my own memories of growing up black in rural-suburban Maryland flooding my brain. I always attended private predominately white schools and so, being young and ignorant (in the dictionary sense of the word), I often wished to be white or light-skinned with curly hair. I shunned my nappy hair and burnt sienna coloring.
Like Khan’s parents, mine thought I looked just fine and did not perpetuate stereotypes; however I would venture to guess I was impacted by what I was seeing in magazines and music videos. During the late 80s and early 90s of my formative years, light-skinned and curly-haired were the primary black ‘reflection’ the entertainment industry allowed. Everything I saw around me in my daily life outside my home fed into whatever insecurities I already had. It took years for me to celebrate my unique color bequeathed me by my ancestors.
In college I finally met other black girls like me who were accused of ‘acting white’ because they didn’t split verbs, liked alternative and rock music, and had white friends. Now I know that didn’t make me any less black, but back then local black youth quite enjoyed highlighting my shortcomings at fitting in with ‘my people’. That’s why Toure’s 2012 book Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? was so intriguing to me. Toure discussed what it actually means to be black and if there is a definition of blackness. He leaves it up to the reader to answer the question but one could venture to say there is no one definition.
Thankfully I have since embraced my heritage as well as my color. Khan’s article is a visceral reminder of my insecure youth and struggles to accept myself; I’m so far removed from my former self-hatred that I rarely dip into this well of memories. Thank you Khan for sharing your story!
I’m clearing random crap from my kitchen and came across my wine boneyard. I’ve kept these bottles so I would remember the stellar ones. Today I realized I could just take a picture, store it on my phone and pull it up when needed. I sure wish all these bottles were full (insert wistful face).
Do you ever notice those people who go out of their way to cravenly compliment someone in the hopes of making new friends? I know I sound judgey and I am (don’t judge me) but I have watched this unfold. Recently at the jobbie I watched as a woman (known for false pretense) complimented another (who never talks to her, ever) on her shawl. None of this would have triggered anything in me; except for the ‘shawl’ the other woman was wearing was actually an unremarkable navy blue promotional Long Beach, California blanket. The font on the blanket was not particularly fascinating either. I stared aghast as the needy chick revealed her desperate desire for approval. Perhaps I’m being unfair, maybe she hasn’t caught on that she needs glasses and thought the ‘shawl’ was a soft luxurious cashmere throw rather than a nubby blanket meant to shield arms and neck from overzealous air conditioning vents.
I’m shameless and must admit this little display was deeply satisfying from a hysteria perspective. When I’m at work, what gets me through when the going gets tough are these beautiful little moments where people reveal their true selves. As entertaining as these reveals are, I’m bothered that at my age, just turned 37 thank you very much; grown ass women are acting like they’re one of the fringe kids in high school. I hate when people kick up dirt unearthing my buried mean girl…after all she’s in a shallow grave so it doesn’t take much.
In high school I was one of those chicks that had that ‘cool with everybody’ vibe. I hung out with my core crew but frequently mixed it up chilling with different groups. Despite this, I had an inner mean girl, an inactive mean girl if you will. I’m the type who never -after the notorious middle school years of crack on someone or be cracked on- started shit with someone just because I felt like it. My mean girl would come out of hibernation when someone, kinda like the chick described above, would lay themselves prostrate in front of me with some situation so ludicrous and desperate my innate contempt would rise to the surface. For instance, I had many party nights in high school, many of them memorable but one particular one stands out. Me and my girl K went to a party, the guy who was throwing the party was (in retrospect) probably an early 20s rocker who became a paraplegic due to a motorcycle accident. He was cool in the, having an apartment beer-buying kind of way.
One particular evening a group of us high school kids were getting progressively drunk while watching dude pop wheelies in his chair. Well I’m thinking his excitement at having two dilly drunk chicks in his lap pumped his adrenaline because after they got up he popped a succession of wheelies to my beer-stained delight. My inner mean girl bubbling just below the surface, mirth flooding my bloodstream, dude popped the wheelie that ejected my last bit of control. I do believe he sat back on the back wheels for what seemed like a long time, arms flailing, before the chair crashed back, the little navigational front wheels still spinning. There really was a moment of silence and then the eruption of laughter, even dude was laughing although I’m sure his was a mixture of embarrassment and drunkenness. He was eventually lifted up by someone, whom I can’t even remember because I was laughing with the gasping breath of someone who needed to be slapped to be brought back. Eventually my tears and laughter subsided and never once was there a moment of regret. I attribute this to the fact that although I was partying with this guy I didn’t feel sorry for him; I thought it was pathetic that he partied with teenagers and tongued down the girls who would let him. So I laughed and had no shame.
Nowadays I try to do better but it’s not always easy. I’m always noticing things I shouldn’t and my friends enjoy letting me know those things I missed. I guess I’m just going to have to thrust that inner mean girl a little further back in my closet behind my summer shoes. Now I wish I owned the movie…I was never out of control like those chicks but I guess I can’t act holier than though can I?
I have been feeling quite irritated, overwhelmed and tired so I know I need a nice dose of Emergen-C to dose up the mental liquidation I’ve been feeling. M.I.A.‘sBad Girlsvideo is just the type of riot grrrl power I need to rejuvenate. I’ve posted this video before and you will probably see it again; if you’ve never seen it ENJOY cause it’s a hot song you’ll never hear on the radio.
M.I.A. Bad Girls Video…just because this is how I feel today!
I felt it imperative to post this article.Apparently this shooting took place last week and yet I never heard about it. I only became aware of this horror when checking out my weekly email highlights from HelloGiggles. It saddens me to think that this young girl was shot for expressing her opinions, a freedom I know I sometimes take for granted. According to the following BBC News link, she has been in surgery and is still listed as being in critical condition: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19954043
HelloGiggles:14-Year-Old Pakistani Girl Malala Yousufzai Shot By The Taliban For Being a Feminist Blogger
Haiku in the order I wrote them. Psychotic inspired by Arnold Schoenberg piece, 6 Little Pieces, that I listened to for Creativity assignment. Nails and Hip Hop I wrote just because.
Stalking cold dreamless darkness
Stems torn at the root
Purple nails accent
Liven fingertips sweetly
Hip Hop at its best
reveals truths to the masses
Nourishes the soul
…I just wanted an excuse to quote Biggie
Unsaturated lips; desert dunes
Unadorned ears & wrists
Smoothed & filled eyebrows
Shaped & embellished lips
dashed with color
Twinkling earlobes & illuminated wrists
Headbanded hair with flapperesque twist