you don’t even know me

I posted this video on the vlog the other day…

…and then I found this clip of Tia/Tamera’s brother, Taj, addressing the same issue.  And i love it!  Makes me wonder if males are less sensitive to these things.  I mean, I already wondered that, but now i re-wonder.  Skip to 4:00 to catch the clip…

 

 

 

black (snl) history

Drake, I totally loved that isht the other night.  While I appreciated the black bar mitzvah skit immensely (it prompted this post after all), the Katt Williams! Oh my Jesus…. the Katt Williams.  Great night for SNL!88310f8ba419c42692e4dbd7d1019c0d.467x259x1

Saturday, Jan. 18 was a big night for Saturday Night Live. Not only did rapper Drake host and serve as a musical guest, but it was also new cast member Sasheer Zamata‘s first time on the show….The former Canadian actor-turned-rapper talked about having a Jewish mother and a black father in the skit where SNL cast member Vanessa Bayer (who is known for her recurring role as Bar Mitzvah Boy) played his mother and Jay Pharaoh played his father. Read more
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Ok. That hilariousness has been noted.  Now let’s take a look back in Black SNL history. We all know there’s not much of it, so this shouldn’t take too long. I like what Bond and Morris did.  I don’t like the fact that colorism is alive and well.

Julian Bond Regrets his 1977 ‘SNL’ Skit on Light Skin Vs. Dark Skin (Video)

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With all of the talk surrounding “Saturday Night Live’s” new African American female cast member and writers, Julian Bond has come forward with a column in The Hollywood Reporter lamenting a skit he did during his hosting turn 37 years ago.

The civil rights leader was chairman of the NAACP board of directors from February 1998 to February 2010 and now is chairman emeritus.

Below is his column in its entirety, followed by a clip from the “SNL” sketch.

I hosted NBC’S Saturday Night Live back in April 1977, during its second season. I used to say that I was an SNL host when it was a comedy show, and people would laugh. More recently, I had taken to saying that I hosted SNL when it had black people on it. So as a former host, I was happy to read the news that an African-American woman (Sasheer Zamata) and two black female writers (LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones) were hired for the show because people of color, especially women, have been conspicuous by their absence.

I’m a professor emeritus at the University of Virginia, so I’m delighted that Zamata is a UVA grad. But I’m also a civil rights activist, so I’m appalled that the circumstances of their hiring would lessen — in some viewers’ minds — the talent and skills they bring to the program.

There are sure to be those who think that their race, not their talent, won them their jobs. The women were hired after an explosion of outrage at SNL’s shameful record of minority employment. Before Zamata was hired, in the 39 years since SNL began in 1975, the show had 137 cast members. Only 14 of those were African-Americans, and only four of those were women. The tally for Latinos is even more negligible — only three in the show’s history, all of them men.

Looking back at the episode I hosted, I felt discomfort with a skit we did. Appearing as myself on a mock television interview show about black issues, I told Garrett Morris, one of SNL’s original “Not Ready for Prime Time Players,” that light-skinned blacks are smarter than dark-skinned blacks. Morris, who is darker skinned than I am, did a perfect double take. I felt squeamish then but did the skit anyway, and I feel uneasy about this joke even today. I believed it treaded dangerously on the fine line between comedy and poor taste.

But that always has been SNL’s fine point, the line delineating comedy — and especially satire — from tastelessness. I always have believed that a skillful comedian — or comedienne — can make a joke out of anything. No subject is immune. Comedy is crucial in our lives, especially political satire. The ability to make fun of life’s vagaries helps us deal with them. That may be why there are so many black and Jewish comedians and why their presence on the air is so important.

SNL used to be on the cutting edge. Let’s hope Ms. Zamata helps restore some of its sharpness.

get him

beard force

The news story below is profoundly upsetting to me.  Not only because I become indignant in the face of injustice and cruelty, but also because a major and beautiful element of my super-special summer was a Sikh.  A Sikh taught me how to free my mind and body (through kundalini yoga and mantra) thereby connecting me back into my heavily guarded heart.  Her name is Nirinjan Kaur Khalsa, and I obvi think the world of her.  So, I read this news item and I think of Nirinjan and her family and my heart becomes heavy.  And then I think of all of the black people who experience(d) the constant threat of this type of… terrorism incident.  Back when there was no such thing as a hate crime, but there such a thing as nigger hunting.  I don’t mean to be rude or abrasive.  I mean to be truthful.

ATF 1995 nigger hunting liscense

 

 

 

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How many black men, young and old heard “get him” as they were walking down a street?… or in their nightmares?  What kind of armor does that compel a person to take up?  In 2013, when a man is aquitted for shooting a black teenager armed only with a bag of skittles, what message does that send to a community about the value of it’s lives in this society? I think we can look around and see the answer to that.  Heavy armor,  is all I know to call it. And a message of meritlessness.

I hope you will take the 6-7 minutes it takes to watch the video interview with Professor Singh.  Here are a few things that stood out as insightful and relevant to this discussion at large:

  1. (In) the Sikh community, having a turban and a beard is…a trigger for fear in the mind of a large fraction of Americans who may not know that it’s an integral component of the sikh tradition. (That) is part of the problem.
  2. ….reach out to people so they don’t feel afraid to ask, “What’s that turban? What’s that beard all about? Who are you? Are you American or not? …Learn to invite people to ask those basic questions.  People have to not be afraid to ask those basic questions.

My thought on item number one is that there are stereotype-upholding attributes (physical and/or behavioral) of “african-american” people that trigger fear in the mind of a large fraction of Americans.  And that must be a really large number because this fear response thing has been so deeply ingrained our collective subconscious that even “african americans” can be fearful of other “african americans” for no reason other than that they “are” “african american”.  (I know that that was a lot of quotation marks.  Every one of them deliberate, btw.)  That is indeed a part of the problem.  A solution may be a conscious effort on everyone’s part to understand the roots of those particular attributes and to hold the intention of healing the historical trauma.  That may mean, if you’re white, consistently seeking to understand even after you are met with the discomfort of knowing that it is truly a privilege not to be laden with such a heavy historic burden and that, while you have every right to that freedom, you are no more entitled to it than any other living creature.  If you are black it may mean seeking to understand the suffering, overcoming,  nobility, and grace that come along with this history, but not ignoring the dysfunction and self destructive ways born out of a system designed to maintain a certain heirarchy.  A system that is so well implemented that we take it for granted.  We take it for truth and we create our reality on it’s baseless foundation.  We form our identities around it and we become another fragment of the illusion unwittingly yet obediently holding it in place.

The second quote struck me as wise and necessary.  It also took me back to Maui.  The moment I met Nirinjan.  Backstory- I was in Maui for The Daily Love: Enter the Heart retreat led by Daily Love founder Mastin Kipp.  Mastin Kipp = major catalyst for my growth, so I obvi think the world of him as well- Anyway, we all gathered for the first time and Mastin introduced Nirinjan and immediately asked her to explain Sikhism and her turban and to assure us that she was not a terrorist.  Point Blank.  Just like that.  He made it safe to ask, to be curious.  He acknowledged the stereotypes and the triggers that may surface in the presence of a turban.  There was nervous laughter amongst the group.  Some expressed shock.  But Mastin was like, “we see turban, we think terrorist.”  Just like that.  Point blank.  With no judgement about any of it.  Just focusing on the truth and then… the Truth.  We all need to do that.

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But the responsibility does not fall completely on the shoulders of the one perceived as different.  The one with the questions has a duty here, too.  The way I see it that duty is to ask the questions in a way that acknowledge your ignorance and does not impose a sense of “otherness/strangeness/weird” on the person who has piqued your curiosity.  Also be genuinely interested and curious.  Seek to understand and see it from a fresh perspective.  More simply, be respectful.  So much of this has been born out of a lack of respect.  All around.  It’s really all just one big misunderstanding.

Sikh Professor Attacked in Potential Hate Crime

VIA

On Saturday night Dr. Prabhjot Singh was brutally attacked in his neighborhood by a large group of young men, who yelled the words “Osama,” “terrorist,” and “get him.” He says they grabbed his beard, punched him, and dragged him to the ground where they continued to beat him. He was rushed to the hospital with a fractured jaw and several missing teeth. Singh is Sikh and wears a turban and beard, and says he’s been profiled as a Muslim and attacked in the past, although never so violently.

Singh is a professor at Columbia University, and is also a practicing physician. In addition he has also been an advocate for addressing historic discrimination against Sikhs in the U.S., which he says goes beyond mistaking this ethnic group for Muslims. The suspects have not yet been detained.

Video Interview with Professor Singh

Click here to Meet a Sikh Family

http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Jy0TOw1sBkU

signs

I think this list is cute.

For the record numbers 6, 9, and 16 do not apply to me at all.  I’m not sure if 13, 14, or 19 do either.  Not very important, just sayin’.

But especially not #6.  That is important.

Summer 2010 021

Not awkward, and I only “don’t look like them” if you’re only looking at color.

#2 “Growing up you experienced premature existential crises over not fitting in to one specific ethnic marker” is the one that strikes me as true in a bittersweet kind of way.  I am not sure if existential crisis was used here for humorous exaggeration, but I can genuinely relate to that.  Almost literally, but I would say racial marker, but who cares, so anyway…I am not saying that I would prefer to fit into any one specific racial marker.  I would not.  I would not prefer that anyone prefer to fit into or view themselves as exclusively belonging to any one specific racial marker.  I would really, really, really prefer that no one expect anyone else to fit into any one specific ethnic marker.

Then it wouldn’t matter that I don’t fit into one, but I look like I do, but I don’t meet the expectations set by the color, I mean, assumption.  It would be irrelevant that I don’t get counted on my terms, am rarely acknowledged or seen in the way I perceive myself. Which is kind of raceless.  But kind of not because, clearly, I’m so not raceless.  I’m race-ful. Biracial is two races.  Multi-racial is however many more than that. And that shouldn’t be difficult, but it is, so I’d like to get rid of the whole thing.  If two is nearly impossible (and not really allowed if one of them is “black”), then one race can’t be very healthy either.

Oh! Wait!  We can’t forget that everyone is multiracial in some real, dna-tested kinda sense.  So basically everyone is “mixed” therefore everyone is not allowed to be who they really are.  And the system is set up so that we are unconscious to this because it’s “normal” and so we believe in the status quo and we don’t even want to know the truths underneath all of these restrictions that we accept as natural and allow to heavily influence our lives.

Switching to a lower gear… It’s also worth mentioning that any early existential crisis(es) shaped me into the person I am, and that person is pretty cool, so I’m at peace with the challenges I faced.  As futile and unnecessary as I believe them to have been.  That is why  I am not at peace with things staying the same, or thinking staying small, or identities and lives being wrapped up in artificial boxes that must be checked to maintain the political, economical and social status quo.  The status quo needs to go.  That just came out  rhyming like that, sorry.  It’s just that there’s so much time and energy being wasted in the world on the wrong things.  In my humble and guilty opinion.  I still waste and misplace all kinds of energy.

19 Signs You Are Multiracial

DEC. 2, 2012

1. People speak to you in various foreign languages you do not understand.

2. Growing up you experienced premature existential crises over not fitting in to one specific ethnic marker.

troubled thoughts

3. People often ask, “WHAT ARE YOU?”  in tones which make you feel subhuman or extraterrestrial.

4. You hesitate before filling out the “ethnic background” section of tests/ questionnaires.

5. You feel mild guilt over not identifying with one of your cultures (i.e. you hate the food).

6. You feel awkward during get-togethers with one side of the family because you look nothing like your other family members.

7. Men (or women) use your questionable ethnicity as a means to hit on you.

8. You’ve been examined like you are some rare, exotic creature.

9. You can’t understand your grandparents’ language.

10. There is an undeniable clashing of cultures whenever the two sides of your family meet.

11. Your grandparents initially disapproved of your parents’ union.

12. Similar to a “gay-dar,” you’ve developed a “multiracial-radar.”

13. You were totally eating fusion cuisine way before Kogi came into existence.

14. Playing “guess my ethnicity” is a legitimate game.

15. You’ve lied about your ethnicity in the past just for the hell of it, or to avoid conversation.

16. Your last name doesn’t really look like it belongs to you.

17. You’ve been criticized for not being [insert ethnicity here] enough, or speaking [insert language here] well enough.

18. People you meet over the phone are surprised when they meet you in person.

19. You identify as a person of color, you just don’t know which.

interracial relationships still viewed as outlandish

I’m excited to share this article, not only because my friend Nia wrote it, but because finally someone has been bold and truthful enough to lay this stuff out for us.  I mean, yes, we all know that these stereotypes exist.  We have all heard, witnessed, or discussed these taboos.  But in bits and pieces.  Nia gave us, like, the entire run down.  From personal experience.  It’s the kind of experience that literally created me, yet it’s also one that I haven’t had exactly.  I have dated white guys certainly.  I have had people say to me, with words or hostile, disappointed, or dismissive glances “you’ve turned your back on your own kind.” But because (despite appearances and societal definition) I’m white too,  I never felt like I was really in an interracial relationship in the same way that a “monoracial” black woman might.  I ponder different things when I imagine my future children.

So, thank you, Nia for boldly going where most wouldn’t.  For candidly and hilariously covering the whole story. I hope your kids don’t get asked “What are you?” I hope that if they do, they’ll know with unshakeable certainty that the answer is “I am a brilliant child of God and Nia and Bill.”  I know they will have a sense of humor about it.  I can’t wait to meet them.

I’M A BLACK WOMAN WHO DATES WHITE GUYS –

 

HOW TO NOT BE A DICK

 

I am not some census-taking dick measurer, OK?
Mar 14, 2013 at 12:00pm
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The first time I ever kissed a white guy, I swore I would never do it again.

It was high school, it was my friend’s brother and I’m pretty sure I was drunk. I gave him a massive hickey, which I found pretty amusing, and I figured it was just an “experience.” Something I’d write about in my journal, the one with Maya Angelou’s picture on the cover.
I attended a posh mostly Catholic prep school in the suburbs of Atlanta. I knew every Black person in my school. A lot of us took MARTA (the public transportation system) home. Once when it was pouring rain, one of the priests gave a couple of us Black kids a ride to the train station so we didn’t have to get soaked waiting for the bus.
We joked that those rain affected our hair in such a way that it made the priest’s car smell like activator.  We bonded, this small circle of Black kids in a privileged white world.
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Despite the fact that this was the 90s, it was still the South. So many of my classmates mocked Black culture, defended the Georgia state flag and compared slavery to the potato famine that I didn’t exactly feel like interracial dating was an option. That all changed when I went to college.
I mean, how could I not eventually date a white guy? I went to a liberal arts college in Boston. Along with Sociology, it was practically a required course.
In that blissful 4 years, I hooked up, dated and fell in love without a care in the world. I moved to New York after college and continued to tear through men with abandon. It was a glorious time. I’m proud that I had a lot of not so great relationships with men of varied ethnicities and didn’t become bitter and jaded.
That being said, I still ended up feeling like I was constantly defending and explaining my choices to overly enthused white women, annoyed Black men, judgmental Black women and fetishizing white men. Hopefully, this handy guide will help all of us approach the subject in a more informed and less dickish manner.
DON’T ASK ME IF WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT BLACK GUYS VS. WHITE GUYS IS REALLY TRUE. WINK WINK.
 
Please don’t go there. Let’s just say I’ve been surprised about how UNTRUE it is. Also, I am not some census-taking dick measurer, OK? While we can certainly generalize about the physical attributes of all races, penis size seems to be the most obsessed over. It’s gross and unnecessary.
Also, you don’t need to be all up in my sex life like that. I’m not the kind of chick who needs to go on and on about the size of a man’s penis and those that do get an eyebrow raise from me. I had this one friend and I swear to God, every time she started dating a new guy he had the BIGGEST PENIS SHE HAD EVER SEEN. No, he didn’t. Stop.
Do you really want to know if what they say is true? Sleep with a white guy, then sleep with a black guy. Better yet, invite them both over and do a side-by-side comparison. Take pictures, make a graph, email it to me and we’ll meet for scones and tea to discuss it. Just kidding. Black people don’t eat scones.
DON’T ASK ME IF I’VE GIVEN UP ON BLACK MEN.
There seems to be this pervasive idea that if you date a non-Black man as a Black woman, then you must hate Black men. I’ve had Black women say to me, “Oh, you like WHITE guys!” as if they were unlocking the secret to my personality.
Even a childhood friend remarked very flippantly, “Oh, Nia only dates white guys,” when she knew very well that wasn’t true.
We also seem to be living in a time when the media is very concerned for us poor Black women. You see, apparently there are “no good Black me left” so many of us are single and alone. I refuse to participate in that discussion because I don’t believe that is true. I’ve seen too many awesome Black husbands and fathers (including my father, step-father, grandfather, uncle, etc.) to give into that line of thought. These books and TV shows that continue to perpetuate this lie, are only interested in profiting from our insecurity and we need to call them on their bullshit. It creates more of a divide when we need to keep fighting for unity.
There are certainly some issues involving the personal and professional successes of Black women versus men but to think that I have turned my back on my brothers because of who I am romantically involved with implies that I see them as one and have dismissed them all. Not true. I try to treat everyone as an individual and you should do the same. Yes, I am on my high horse, thank you very much.
DON’T ASK ME WHAT MY FAVORITE KIND OF GUY TO DATE IS.
Here’s a sampling of the various types of men I’ve dated: Black, White (Irish, German, Italian), Jewish, Latino, and various combinations of all of the above. You want to know which were my favorites? The ones who didn’t treat me like shit. The ones who cared about me.
I find that some Black women feel that a White guy will treat them better than a Black guy will. News flash, ladies: All men can be assholes. Douchebaggery isn’t race specific. This need to lump everyone together instead of taking the time to learn things about the individual is so lame and lazy.
Men like to joke about this as well. Black women are difficult. White women only want to please. Asian women are subservient. It seems odd to have to remind people not to give into stereotyping but everyone from the hipster to the executive feels like they’ve done enough cultural studies to know everything about everybody.
DON’T GUSH TO ME ABOUT HOW PRETTY MY BABIES WILL BE
Well, maybe this is a little true. Bi-racial people of all combinations do have a tendency to be beautiful. But still! Don’t put that pressure on me!
Ever since I began dating my White fiancee, people literally gasp when I talk about starting a family. They fall all over themselves envisioning our light-skinned children with their silky hair and light eyes. But what if they don’t look like that? What if they look traditionally Black? Are they not as beautiful? If my daughter’s hair texture is more like mine (kinky) than my fiancee’s (fine), did she lose out somehow? If instead of getting her father’s genes of being tall and skinny, she gets mine of being short and round, has she gotten the raw end of the deal? What if they aren’t what you consider beautiful?
I mean, of course they will be, my fiancee and I are both INCREDIBLY good looking but that is always the first thing people comment on. I’m more interested in what my children will aspire to be, having creative parents. I wonder who will be the fun parent. I wonder how people will see them. I wonder if kids will mockingly ask them, “What ARE you?” I wonder, if they acknowledge both their Black AND White sides, will people insist that they choose just one. I wonder if they can have a sense of humor about it all.
But mostly, I just hope they aren’t dicks.

joys, complicated

Joys should be simple.  Didn’t Pippin teach us that?  Sorry, my musical theatre nerd wanted to speak.  But anyway, joys should be simple not complicated.  While I’ve been away examining my life, living my life, changing my life I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to shy away from things that bring me joy.  I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s the experience of feeling that my joys are complicated that informs my reticence.  But the joys actually are not complicated.  Not to me.  Only from the outside looking in.  Only within the parameters of a paradigm in which black and white are mutually exclusive.  Only when clinging to a dogma that rigidly defines an “us” and a “them” and prescribes clearly definable attributes to each.  I’m gonna be a rebel here and doubt those antiquated notions.  That’s not new for me though.  Actually I’m going to be a rebel here just for myself and let go of my discomfort with the complexity others may still perceive in the things that bring me joy, in the things that are me, and I’m just gonna be and enjoy them.  That is new for me.  That is a challenge. But, hey, why not go ahead

As for this article, I love that Mr. McCollum’s mother mandated that his Irish pride run fierce.  I love that he takes pride in facilitating the paradigm shift.  I love that someone wrote this article.

St. Patrick’s Day holds mixed emotions for some

By Martine Powers

Ryan McCollum knows that on St. Patrick’s Day, he cuts an unusual figure.

All in green, a traditional Irish Claddagh ring on his finger and a houndstooth flat cap on his head, everything about his attire screams “Irish and proud.’’

But McCollum, 33, is also black. His father, a Navy man from Springfield, married an Irish-American girl from Downeast Maine.

He knows his appearance does not fit the bill of a stereotypical Irishman – most assume he’s black, or maybe Latino – but since childhood, his mother mandated that his Irish pride run fierce.

“Growing up, I knew I was Irish,’’ said McCollum, of Springfield, “even if the rest of the world didn’t know I was Irish.’’

As the American population has grown increasingly mixed-race in recent decades, some descendants of Irish immigrants are claiming a multiracial heritage, though they may differ in appearance from their red-haired, freckled ancestors. For them, the joys of embracing Irish roots are complicated by the challenges of being multiracial.

“I always feel this deep kinship with Irish people in Boston,’’ said Kelly Bates, a mixed-race Irish-American who lives in Roslindale. “But I don’t always feel like they have this kinship with me.’’

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of Americans who checked two or more races on the US Census increased from 6.8 million to 9 million.

Paul J. McNamara, president of the 275-year-old Charitable Irish Society, said he does not believe that any of the organization’s 400 current members are multiracial, but the group welcomes membership applications from anyone interested in promoting Irish history and culture.

“Most people in our group want to appreciate and retain their Irish roots,’’ McNamara said. “There is a strong element that you want to participate and preserve aspects of the culture.’’

But for Bates, it’s not quite so simple.

Her mother, a black woman from Harlem, married an Irish-American man from Massachusetts. Bates loves to visit her huge, boisterous Irish-Catholic family in Lynn. She grew up reading Irish poetry with her father. She calls him every March 17 to hear the legend of Saint Patrick and the snakes.

In a ritual that is all too familiar for many mixed-race people, new acquaintances try to guess Bates’s heritage. Usually, they pick Puerto Rican or Colombian. Maybe Middle Eastern or Italian.

But Irish? Never.

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Kelly Bates, executive director at Access Strategies Fund, is also part Irish.

“You could look at my cousins and me, and you could see the resemblance,’’ said Bates, executive director of the philanthropic foundation Access Strategies Fund. “But they would be accepted [as Irish] right away, and it would be very different for me.’’

Part of that divide may come from Boston’s racially fraught past, she said.

“I’m aware of the fact that my cultural communities have not always been able to build a bridge toward each other, especially in this city,’’ said Bates.

While Irish and African-American communities worked and lived in close proximity in the decades after America’s founding – both groups were stigmatized by English landowners – they grew antagonistic toward one another at the end of the 19th century, said Marie E. Daly, library director at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. In the last century, the communities have butted heads over labor rights, housing, and public school desegregation.

Bates said she is just as proud to be African-American as she is proud to be Irish. After all, she said, the sound of bagpipes and African drums both give her chills. But she sometimes worries about expressing pride in her Irish roots. As much as Irish is a national origin, she said, it also identifies her as white. She does not want others to think she has distanced herself from her black identity.

“I think my black friends and black colleagues don’t know what to make of it when I talk about my Irish heritage,’’ Bates said.

Mari Tanaka, a junior at Harvard, knows that most people think they immediately have her pegged.

“I guess I look Asian, but I don’t feel comfortable with people just assuming that’s all I am,’’ said Tanaka, 21. “Growing up, being Irish has been such a big part of my life.’’

Most of Tanaka’s ancestors hailed from Japan, but her mother’s father is Irish-American. During her childhood in Hawaii, he ensured that she listened to traditional Irish music, watched “Riverdance,’’ and ate corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day.

College has offered her an opportunity to further explore her Irish roots. She has connected with Irish-American relatives in Cambridge who show her genealogical charts and tell stories about her ancestors. While she felt pressure to take a class in East Asian Studies, Tanaka, a biology major, instead chose to enroll in a class on Celtic history and culture where she was one of two nonwhite people.

“I felt like, yeah, being Asian, that’s a part of me,’’ Tanaka said. “But there’s another part of me that is much less explored.’’

McCollum, a political consultant, hopes to travel to Ireland, and he knows he will arrive in the land of his ancestors and find that no one looks like him. But that doesn’t bother him.

A history buff, McCollum spends much of his time reading about Irish history and culture, learning about his family’s genealogy, and watching Irish sports.

“For people who are proud of being Irish and knowing their Irish roots, it’s almost like a game – like, ‘How Irish are you? What county are you from? How many times have you been? Is your family still there?’’’ said McCollum, who is board member for the Irish Immigration Center. “If I’m in a room with Irish folks and have to re-prove my Irishness, I can talk to them about facts and history of Ireland.’’

McCollum’s surname adds further confusion: People often assume it represents his Irish side, but it’s a Scottish name probably adopted by his father’s African slave ancestors from their owners.

His African-American heritage is just as important as his Irish roots, he said; his passion for history extends to antislavery politics and the Black Power movement. But because of his skin color, he has no trouble relating to other black people. Being Irish, he said, is a less obvious part of his identity.

“A lot of times, I am that reminder that every Irish person doesn’t look like a stereotypical Irish person,’’ McCollum said. “And I don’t mind being that reminder. Sometimes, I take pride in that.’’

wee bottles of leprechaun gold st. patrick's necklace 8

sambo meets jim crow

i thought this worth sharing.  i’ve been questioning myself as to why i keep posting these old negative images… what’s my point?… how is this helping?… i’m not exactly sure, but i think it has something to do with wanting everyone to examine the framework from which our racial paradigm originated.  to see how these notions of majority vs. minority (and all of the implications held therein) came to be ingrained into our national subconscious… how they continue to be perpetuated on some level by today’s media/advertising… and how, perhaps, we just take it all for granted… “it’s just the way things are, the way we are”… but it’s all so preposterous… things can be any way we choose to make them, any way we choose to see them… choose to see ourselves and each other…

The Black Conscription.

When Black Meets Black Then Comes the End(?) of War.

Punch, Volume 45, September 26, 1863, p. 129

To modern sensibilities, this is one of the most offensive of Tenniel’s cartoons, as its theme is the notion that black men are incapable of becoming good soldiers. In a (wholly hypothetical) meeting of Union and Confederate black troops on the battlefield, martial ardor dissolves into comic stereotype. The Northern conscript is identifiable by his striped trousers. His Southern counterpart, dressed in a white cotton uniform distinguished only by a capital letter “S” on his belt and bandolier, breaks into an open-mouthed grin and begins to caper as the two clasp hands. Behind them, surrounding their respective flags, representatives of the two black conscript armies socialize with obvious amiability, forgetting all pretense of military discipline. In word balloons, the Northern soldier asks “Dat you Sambo? Yeah, yeah!” while his Southern counterpart responds “Bless my heart, how am you, Jim?”

While the ranks of Northern black regiments ultimately included many “contraband” fugitives from slave states, the earliest black troops (such as the famed 54th Massachusetts) were recruited exclusively from the free black populations of Northern states. Many of these units acquitted themselves bravely on the field of battle. Officially, there was no conscription of blacks as combat soldiers by either side: all were volunteers. While blacks were used by the Southern forces throughout the war in non-combat roles (especially as laborers for tasks such as the construction of fortifications), the raising of black troops to fight for the Confederacy, though proposed cautiously by a few within the military, was vehemently resisted by most Southerners as deleterious to the slave system until the war was almost over. There is no record that the few units of black Confederate soldiers, organized during the final weeks before the fall of Richmond (nearly eighteen months after the publication of this cartoon), ever met black Union troops in combat. The name Sambo, the “characteristic” dialogue of the two principal figures, and the capering dance of the Southern black soldier all are based on the stage caricatures of blacks presented by (mostly white) actors wearing burnt-cork makeup in the minstrel shows popular during the mid-nineteenth century, some of which had toured to London.

The cartoon’s subcaption is a play on the old English proverb “When Greek meets Greek, then comes the tug of war,” a way of describing a situation in which two sides are so equally matched that neither is likely to prevail. Its use is documented as far back as the seventeenth century, and it had been quoted by the popular novelist Anthony Trollope as a chapter title in Doctor Thorne, published a few years prior to the Civil War in 1858.

African Americans in the Tenniel Cartoons

Black Americans appear in twelve of the cartoons. Tenniel tends to treat them in a condescending, stereotypic manner. In his own time such images were doubtless regarded as humorous; the modern reader is more likely to see them as examples of blatant racism. Southern slaves are typically shown wearing simple white cotton work shirts and short trousers, and are usually barefoot [601201610119;650506]. Free Northern blacks are sometimes differentiated by their better-dressed appearance, including long trousers and shoes [620809630808]. Blacks (always male) are alternatively the hapless victims of oppression by the Southern slavocracy [610119], the dupes of Lincoln and his Black Republican cronies [620809630124], or gleeful observers of the white man’s cataclysmic war [610518;620913]. Tenniel and his contemporary British audience seem a bit too eager to dismiss out of hand the notion that blacks themselves had the capacity to be good soldiers, willing to fight and die for their freedom [630926641119] — perhaps because of concerns about the possible implications of such a radical idea for the future of their own Anglo-Saxon Empire’s dominion over darker-skinned people around the world.

The cartoons’ captions and text balloons often contain examples of pseudo-black dialect speech. While the intent is humorous, it also serves as a way to underscore the presumed social and intellectual gulf between the childlike, uneducated African American and Punch‘s sophisticated, urbane, upper-class readers. It is unlikely that Tenniel and his colleagues were familiar with actual black speech. As an avid patron of the theatre, Tenniel may have attended performances by American minstrel troupes, some of which had toured to London. In these shows, white actors in burnt-cork blackface makeup parodied the “characteristic” language, music, and dancing of blacks (who in many American cities were not themselves permitted to appear on stage). From the vantage of hindsight, we can see today that the minstrel shows allowed the dominant white culture to use humor to depersonalize blacks and perpetuate stereotypes of racial inferiority.

Scene From the American “Tempest.”Punch, Volume 44, January 24, 1863, p. 35

In Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, the misshapen slave Caliban is promised his freedom by a pair of drunken rogues, Stephano and Trinculo. Although they desire only to use the gullible Caliban to accomplish their own selfish ends, they gain his trust by feigning friendship and equality. In Act III, Scene 2, they gleefully plot with him to take vengeance on his master, Prospero, by destroying his property, murdering him, and ravishing his daughter.

Many in the South feared that newly emancipated slaves would violently turn upon their erstwhile masters. Apparently these fears were also shared by some in England. Here, Lincoln stands in for Stephano and Trinculo, handing a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation to a slave and giving tacit approval to the black man’s desire to take revenge upon his former oppressor.

SOURCE

social differences/systematic consequences

I’ve just spent the last two hours transfixed by this website.  Definitely worth perusing!

A few personal asides:

I must say that I’m sure my (white) dad would have gotten on the bus and had some words with folks if that thing had happened to me (you’ll read it)…

biracial people can be as insensitive as everybody else and aren’t always the “victims” of ignorant words…

the “you’re gay be with that gay guy” one reminds me of the times someone has wanted to fix me up with someone they’re sure I’m perfect for and it turns out it’s just the other “black” person they know….

ABOUT THIS PROJECT

this project is a response to “it’s not a big deal” – “it” is a big deal.  ”it” is in the everyday.  ”it” is shoved in your face when you are least expecting it.  ”it” happens when you expect it the most.  ”it” is a reminder of your difference.  ”it” enforces difference.  ”it” can be painful.  ”it” can be laughed off.  ”it” can slide unnoticed by either the speaker, listener or both.  ”it” can silence people.  ”it” reminds us of the ways in which we and people like us continue to be excluded and oppressed.  ”it” matters because these relate to a bigger “it”: a society where social difference has systematic consequences for the “others.”

but “it” can create or force moments of dialogue.

~~~~~~~~~

This blog seeks to provide a visual representation of the everyday of “microaggressions.” Each event, observation and experience posted is not necessarily particularly striking in and of themselves.  Often, they are never meant to hurt – acts done with little conscious awareness of their meanings and effects.  Instead, their slow accumulation during a childhood and over a lifetime is in part what defines a marginalized experience, making explanation and communication with someone who does not share this identity particularly difficult.  Social others are microaggressed hourly, daily, weekly, monthly.

The term “microaggressions” was originally coined to speak particularly to racialized experiences.

“Racial microaggressions are brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.”  - “Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life”

This blog, however, is a space to extend this concept to different socially constructed identities that embody privilege in different ways – sexuality, class, religion, education level, to name a few – in hopes of making visible the ways in which social difference is produced and policed in everyday lives through comments of people around you.

  • Me, a light-skinned biracial girl at a party last weekend:: Okay, a Jack means categories.
  • White guy:: How about minorities you would sleep with?
  • Me:: As a minority, I find that offensive, like sleeping with us is a sacrifice.
  • He looks at me like he hadn’t realized he was in “mixed” company and back-pedals (“I didn’t mean it THAT way”); kisses my ass for the rest of the night, but never apologizes. Made me feel frustrated and invisible.
  • Teacher :: Black men are naturally more aggressive and strong than white men.
  • Me:: No, it has to depend on the man, surely.
  • Teacher :: Not really, no white man could…
  • Me:: Your husband is 6ft tall well built and my dad is 5’7ft and very lean, your husband could wipe the floor with him.
  • Teacher :: There are odd exceptions but, in general.
  • I was 15, Secondary School, England 2001. Made me feel gobsmacked, worried that I would be graded unfairly.
  • I was at the mall earlier today with a group of friends. Another guy from school joins us.
  • New guy:: So, what are you?
  • Me:: My ethnic background?
  • Him:: Yeah
  • Me:: Well, I’m French, Spanish, Irish, Italian, Black American, Mexican, Puerto Rican, American Indian–
  • Him:: No you’re not
  • Me:: Pardon?
  • Him:: You can’t be American Indian. They’re all extinct.
  • I am a 17 year old girl, at a shopping mall. Made me feel frustrated, invisible, patronized.

    They probably just had a crush on you.”

    -What my white father said when I told him two white students called me the n-word on the bus.

    “I would never, ever hire someone with a “black” name on their resume. I wouldn’t even interview them.

    -An African American co-worker at a team dinner.

    • Girl at country themed bar:: Hey, you’re black…
    • Me, a 23-year old male::
    • Girl:: I’m not racist or anything…but WTF are you doing here? There are Confederate rebel flags and sh*t here.
    • Me:: ….
    • Girl:: Oh, I know. You’re here for the white girls.
    • Me:: -_-
    • Girl:: Buy me a drink.
    • Made me a bit uncomfortable.
    • Customer:: If more black people were like you the world would be a better place.
    • Black me:: Have a nice day.
    • What I wanted to say:: If fewer people were as ignorant as you, people who look like me would have better lives. I was 18. (He was in his 40s or 50s.) when: spring 1998, working at Barnes & Noble in Louisiana. 

    You know, it’s so amazing. I was just looking at your hands and feet- they’re so dark on the top, but then at the palms they look just like ours! Hahaha.”

    -My gymnastics coach in front of my suburban, entirely-white team, in which I am the only black person.

    • Workfriend:: Hey that new guy at work is gay; you should totally be with him.
    • Me:: No I don’t find him attractive.
    • Workfriend:: But… he’s gay! You’re gay, he’s gay, what’s stopping you??
    • Me:: Just because he’s gay doesn’t mean-
    • Workfriend:: Ummmmm, he’s gay. He likes having sex with guys like you. You’re just afraid. Duhhh.

    I was 21, at work. Made me feel annoyed, hurt and trivialized. Gay people don’t have sex with anyone just because they are both gay.

     

     

    He was pretty dark, so he’s probably not paying rent because he’s an illegal and doesn’t know English.”

    -My (white) stepfather regarding one of his renters. Made me ashamed because I’m Hispanic, too.

    I’m a black woman. My black female friend once told me that a white guy once said to her, “You’re really pretty for a black girl.” And her response was, “I know.”

    Made me realize her and my own unrecognized self hate. Made me feel sad and guilty.

    You could pass for Dominican; some of them are really dark and have bad hair like you. Luckily, I got the GOOD hair”.”

    -Said to me by the black Dominican-American boyfriend of my biracial (black/white) friend visiting us during Spring Break. I am a 20 year old black American woman with naturally kinky-curly hair. Made me feel shocked, ugly, unimportant.

    This 1895 charicature is an unkind parody of a woman seeking to smooth out her hair. The comic strip suggests that her hair stood out on end because of a hair-raising novel.
    • My black/white biracial friend looks at the Facebook profile of a black man she’s crushing on.
    • Her:: Ugh, his [mono-racial and black] girlfriend is so ugly. They’d have kids with huge nasty noses. He needs to get with me and my good mixed nose. *giggles*

    I am a black 20 year old American woman. We were studying together at another friend’s apartment. Made me feel insulted, ugly, disfigured, and defective.

    You know why Vermont is so safe, don’t you? There’s hardly any minorities in it!”

    I was in NY yesterday, meeting my future in-laws for the first time when my fiance’s father said this. He is a white man in his 70s. I am a 22 year old biracial black cis woman …who lives in Vermont. It made me feel furious, invisible, helpless, rejected.

    re: a mammy tale

    I want to yell so loud that Baby Girl can hear me that dirty ain’t a color, disease ain’t the Negro side a town.  I want to stop that moment from coming-and it come in ever white child’s life- when they start to think that colored folks ain’t as good as whites.- The Help

    old photo of baby Ralph in an elaborate lace christening dress held proudly by a large black woman

    "Black man with white child and dog." http://www.flickr.com/photos/george_eastman_house/2720789660/

    “Black man with white child and dog.” via a “Manny”

    "White-capped nurse holding infant." http://www.flickr.com/photos/floridamemory/3248110220/

    “White-capped nurse holding infant.” via
    "Negro domestic servant, Atlanta, GA, May 1939." http://www.flickr.com/photos/nypl/3110575890/“Negro domestic servant, Atlanta, GA, May 1939.” via

    "Child and nurse." http://www.flickr.com/photos/george_eastman_house/2678243048/

    “Child and nurse.” via

    …the dichotomy of love and disdain living side-by-side is what surprises me- The Help

    Mammy & Child-1850

    some photos found @ postpostracial

    a mammy tale

    The following essay is reblogged from Southern-Style.  A real life modern-ish mammy story!  I’ve long been interested in the dynamic between black women and other people’s white children.  When I was in college studying African-American history for the first time, I stumbled upon the thought that Mammies had raised our nation and yet black women generally are not revered (to say the least).  When I was a nanny myself, I thought a lot about mammy.  And, back in January, when I devoured The Help I pondered her some more.  If you haven’t read it yet, please do yourself a favor and put Kathryn Stockett’s The Help on your summer reading list.  It’s one of the greatest books I’ve ever read.  Right up there with The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, Caucasia, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Life of Pi.  i.e. the rest of your summer reading list.

    I Remember Mammy:
    Mattie Lee Martin (“Mammy”)
    By one who loved her, Sharman Burson Ramsey

    Thirteen year old Mattie Lee Martin took her mentally challenged older sister by the hand and led her down the rutted, red clay country road. Neither looked back. Mattie was determined her sister would not be abused again in their grandparent’s home. She’d finally accepted that her parents would never come back to get them. The road led to the town of Dothan, Alabama, and a life, Mattie Lee hoped, that would be better than the one they’d known on that god-forsaken farm.

    Mrs. Bender stood at the door of her variety store, broom in hand, and watched the two girls walk toward her down the sidewalk. Mattie, the spokesperson for the two, stepped forward and boldly asked, “I need work and a place where me and my sister can stay. Do you know of anything?” She looked up at Mrs. Bender quite seriously.  Her black eyes were wide.  Anxiety was written all over her round black face that now dripped in sweat in the hot summer day after her long walk. Mrs. Bender read in that expression that she’d gotten this far, but now the little girl was in a quandary as to what should she do now? She looked at the tight grip she had on her much larger, but obviously more dependent, sister.

    Mrs. Bender sized them up and in her gentle voice said, “I hear they are hiring maids across the street at the Wadlington Hotel, but come in here and let me help you with something to wear to your interview. Your sister can rest here while you go and inquire. Tell them I sent you.”

    Mattie stood straight and said, “I don’t take no charity. I’ll pay you back.” Mrs. Bender nodded.

    That Jewish lady remained a dear friend to Mattie the rest of her life.

    Mattie Lee Martin later became highly regarded for her cooking skills. She cooked at the restaurant of the Houston Hotel for awhile and then took a job as the private cook for Dr. Moody, founder of Moody Hospital in Dothan. When the Moodys moved into their big house on Main Street from the house across from the hospital, Mattie for some reason was not going with them. Dr. Moody recommended Mattie to Dr. E. G. Burson, my father. The Moodys gave her a house as a parting gift.

    When Mattie Lee Martin interviewed with my mother, she told my mother, “I don’t work with children.”

    Yet as the pictures reveal, Mattie Lee Martin became as dear to us as our grandmothers and so she deserved just as endearing a name. Thus she came to be called “Mammy.”

    Mammy came to work every morning before seven, except Sunday, either by bus or by taxi and stayed until after five.  Even after our overweight dog, Sir Bow Wow, went blind, he would meet Mammy at the bottom of the hill where she got off the bus every morning and together they would plod their way to the house.  She cooked, cleaned, and loved us. I remember seeing one of her paychecks in the amount of $27.00. I also remember the days we’d take Mammy home and she’d ask Mother to stop by the grocery store several blocks away. Then she’d put some money in my hand and I’d run into the grocery store and plunk the money down saying, “Bit o Dental Snuff, please.”

    Mammy ordered the groceries to cook for lunch from Murphy’s Market downtown first thing in the morning and a boy on a bicycle delivered them in time for her to cook. Dinner was served at exactly 12:00 noon. (In the South we eat breakfast, dinner and supper.) The meat went on a platter before “the doctor”. The table was set precisely with forks on the left of the plate (with the napkin) and the knife (facing inward) on the right. The glass was placed above the knife. She trained us well.

    …Mammy had worked for the aristocracy of the town, Dr. and Mrs. Earl Moody. While she often locked horns with my mother (whose own father had been killed when logs rolled off a log truck when she was 13 leaving her mother to struggle raising five children) she refused to give up on us. “Yo mama, she be mean. But I be mean too, so we get along.” Mother had been awarded campaign ribbon for service in World War II as a nurse at the Battle of the Bulge. She could curse a blue streak and did so on occasion when things did not go to suit her. Sometimes those disagreements would get so heated that Mother would fire Mammy, but we’d cry and carry on so, she’d have to go and ask her to come back. My father was a doctor and his father was a doctor and that made us worth Mammy’s time and effort. My mother might not know what was “proper” but Mammy did, and she was determined to turn us out well.

    …Mammy did have her own family…a daughter Lucy Mae Dixon who was my Mother’s age. Mammy had very little education herself and the lists she made could barely be read, so she valued a good education. Mammy skrimped and saved and sent her to college in the North. It must have been a Catholic college because Lucy Mae converted to Catholicism. Mammy was a dedicated member of the Cherry Street AME Church. Lucy earned her Masters and came home to teach. Mammy bought her items of silver “on time” as birthday gifts. The mahogany furniture in their living areas was always covered in plastic to “save” it.

    …I guess Mammy told my brother and sister the same thing she drilled into me. “Yo daddy be somebody. You gotta be somebody.” My sister is a cardiologist in New Orleans (Dr. Sylvia Burson Rushing) and my brother (Elkanah George Burson III ) has just started a pharmaceutical company (Burel Pharmaceuticals). Me? After you’ve got a man it’s all right “to rune yo hands” with Ajax, I learned. I wash a mean bathtub and have stayed married to the same man, an attorney of whom she approved (whose family once owned the Houston Hotel where she had worked) for forty years doing a little teaching and writing. This humble generous woman whom I never saw wear a single piece of jewelry gave me a pearl and gold bracelet for graduation from high school.  She who worked from can to can’t all of her life gave me a silver goblet when I got married.  I wonder if she ever knew how much they mean to me and that I realize the sacrifice and love those gifts demonstrated.

    …Mammy was a proud person who made the most of her situation and, selflessly, with hard work and determination earned respect and made a good life for herself and her family. She raised us, her white family, to believe we could do whatever we chose to do and that we should make our parents proud. She drilled into us values of honesty, integrity, and a sense of responsibility.  Because we had been given so much; much was expected.  Because we loved her, it was Mammy we wanted to make proud.

    Read more HERE