…They are biological parents of black and white children (if we’re going to identify by race) seeing as biological means they share the same DNA. Doesn’t it? Or does race really just mean status, leaving biology out of the equation altogether? In that case, I guess the children are black because that’s how the world will perceive them whether their famous white parent is around or not. Until all of that changes 😉
Seeing as this is byeracial blog, it’s about time I posted about hair. Not my own. I really do love my hair and I suppose it’s the one physical characteristic that gives a clue as to “what I am.” Nothing more interesting to report on that. However, this article below is much more about identity and not having a culture to fall back on than it is about curls and that is interesting to me. More often than not, when you’re mixed, you really don’t have that soft place to fall. The mixed experience has historically been ignored, making it nearly impossible to forge a cultural identity. Good news: We have the opportunity to transcend attachment to a cultural identity. Bad news: This leaves us at the whim of the cultural identities projected onto us.
About a year ago, I wrote an article about how much I disliked being mixed because of my hair. These last few months, I realized that I didn’t embrace the natural hair life because of others and not me. I liked my curls and had already transitioned not knowing it. I still didn’t accept the fact that my curls were acceptable. In my mind, straight hair was the ideal. To be honest, I didn’t really know how to take care of my hair yet but the main reason I thought this was because of negative comments. Comments such as…”You should relax your hair again.”, “Your hair looks messy all the time.”, and the last and most important one was…”You need to stop trying to look black”. They always ended up going back to that one.
The race topic is one that strikes me the hardest when it comes to my hair. Many people believe that natural hair is just for blacks. They forget that the world is not simply made of blacks and whites. Many cultures and races have mixed. The end result of that is people like me. People who share features of both races or may only have features of one but who feel attached to both. I am a born and raised Dominican. If you spend a lot of time with Latinos or Dominicans, you will quickly realize that we believe we are a different race. It’s actually very confusing because there are a lot of forms that will have Hispanic/Latino as a choice for race and not for ethnicity. A lot of people will tell you that Latinos are not a separate race. This doesn’t stop us from feeling that way. The problem with this is that even though they have a lot of african heritage as well as native american heritage…they refuse to acknowledge it. It’s not a lack of education, but a lack of acceptance.
So what does this have to do with hair? If you’re black or if you’re Latino, you were most likely raised hearing negative comments about your hair. Now, you might be saying…”Well, I know. What’s your point?”. My point is that I didn’t have one or two races/ethnicity telling me I looked undesirable, I had three. This had an impact on how I felt about myself. Even though black naturals may get a lot of crap from relaxed hair women or women who naturally have straight hair… they still have natural sistas. I had and some times still don’t have a culture to really fall back on and say…”You understand what I’m going through”. The reason is that my skin is white and my physical features are mostly European. My hair is pretty much the only thing that lets you know that I’m mixed. This causes a problem because white people expect an image of me that I don’t quite complete, black people expect an image of me and Latinos/Dominicans expect a certain image of me. In comments and forums, I have received things like “Well, you’re mixed so you don’t really know the struggle”. In school, I was told my fro was a distraction (I never told anyone that). In the streets, I’ve been told…”Your skin is far too fair for you to wear your hair like this”(it was in a fro). You can take a guess at which races/ethnicity said each.
What I would like is for women to realize that you can’t really know someone else’s “struggle”. Relaxed women and natural women should stop trying to debate about what is the right choice, because guess what? It’s a personal choice. This also applies for big choppers and transitioners. It would also be nice if business people realized that curly/kinky hair doesn’t reduce our ability to work effectively. The last but the most is important is that I would like for people of all races to realize how much it hurts to be pushed away because of your skin color or your features. Usually when people think of racism, they think of whites against the minorities. The thing that most don’t realize though is that we judge each other just as much as other races do.
…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…
Apparently three years have flown by since I first learned of and blogged about Mary Ellen Pleasant. Whoa.
Anyway, I was truly delighted to come across this Drunk History segment on a Sunday afternoon #sharing. I love that some funny creative knew of the story and decided to give it life as an inebriated tale. The piece is actually longer, but this is all I could find on youtube. If you have Comedy Central and On Demand you can find the entire tale in the “San Francisco” episode. Highly recommended.
Speaking of my Oakland County days, a few months ago I came across this photo on Abagond’s blog:
When I saw this photo I saw myself in it. Kind of. For me, I could have been that speck of color in a group photo of friends going to a high school dance as easily as in posing for a family reunion photo. And I suppose that’s the difference. I don’t think I look much more awkward than the typical teenager in the photo below. Not that I don’t look awkward, good lord the dress, but I’ve got nothing on the guy in the picture above.
Perhaps that’s because when (half the time) you’re the only “black” kid in your family as well, there’s less propensity to be so fraught with anxiety in similar social situations.
Maybe there’s an extra layer of ease that comes with the inner-knowing that, no matter who recognizes it or doesn’t, you belong. Given, of course that one is able to hold on to the truth that she belongs amidst the many dissentient voices.
can hardly imagine what it was like for this little dude in 1937
I’d have thought this story straight out of (august)Osage County. But, nope. This story comes from the county that I come from. Oakland County, MI. Honestly though…and on second thought… that’s no surprise…
Excuse me while I get real with myself for a minute… I think I just stumbled upon some version of reality that I concocted where I, an inherently integrated person, grew up in segregated communities, and in this version of reality of mine, even though I was usually the only “black” person wherever I was, those “conditions” never mattered. Also, in this reality I like to believe that everyone was free of prejudice and just happened to live somewhere where almost everyone looked like them. As if it were a coincidence. But that is not true. Those conditions were a strategically planned. Generations before. Of course there were and are exceptions, like me, but I must admit that there is a palpable sense of “us vs. them” in Oakland County. And by “us vs. them” I mean white vs. black. The funny thing is there’s that age old adage about the savage (see entire debate here)…
Why are black people savages?
Click on an option to vote
They just are
They can’t help it
…and I gotta say when I watched The Butler and saw what the Freedom Riders went through, I thought which group played the role of savage there? Or, Emmitt Till. Did the 14 year old child behave in an undomesticated way, or was it the grown men who hunted him down? This dogma, this ideology that we just kind of accept and play by the rules of…well, it’s just so twisted. It is detrimental to all. It is not in line with the Divine. That’s really all I know to say about it right now.
Jackson Woolworth Lunch Counter Sit-in
Oh yeah, the article…I have much love for Oakland County (and many of it’s residents), btw. And I thank it for lending itself to my racial discourse. In so many ways.
By David Edwards
Tuesday, January 21, 2014 11:44 EST
A Republican county official in Michigan is in hot water after making racial comments about Detroit, including the idea that the city should be turned into a detention center for “all the Indians.”
In a recent interview for a profile by The New Yorker titled “Drop Dead, Detroit!” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson admitted, “Anytime I talk about Detroit, it will not be positive. Therefore, I’m called a Detroit basher. The truth hurts, you know? Tough sh*t.”
Patterson recalled telling his children to “get in and get out” if they needed to go to Detroit.
“And, before you go to Detroit, you get your gas out here. You do not, do not, under any circumstances, stop in Detroit at a gas station! That’s just a call for a carjacking,” he said.
Patterson also proposed a fix to Detroit’s financial problems: Turn the city into a reservation for Native Americans.
“I made a prediction a long time ago, and it’s come to pass. I said, ‘What we’re gonna do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and the corn.’”
After Detroit officials and activists reacted with outrage, Patterson’s office released a statement accusing The New Yorker of having an “agenda.”
“It is clear Paige Williams had an agenda when she interviewed County Executive Patterson,” the statement said. “She cast him in a false light in order to fit her preconceived and outdated notions about the region.”
Activists with Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network had planned a news conference on Tuesday to call for Patterson to apologize.
National Action Network’s Michigan chapter president Rev. Charles Williams II said that the comments were “repulsive” because they were an insult to the city’s African-American population and “a direct slight to the American Indians who occupied the land before Detroit was Detroit, and Oakland County.”
In recent years, Patterson has also come under fire for comparing Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger to Hitler and for suggesting that Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano kill himself.
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!
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
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)
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.