Identity

 

thesearchThe most painful part of being a Black American is the fact that our history stops at slavery. Many African-Americans know nothing beyond that their people were once slaves. We don’t know our African tribal languages or rituals. Our ancestors were so terrorized by slavery that survival was the only imperative. Documenting their past wasn’t high on the agenda of a black American slave. So the past went undocumented and soon unspoken of and then completely lost.
Because of this stoppage, this unknown component, it is so easy for us to develop low self-esteem. Jewish people can hold on to a time before and after Hitler. They have a lineage to reach back to and know that they functioned with pride prior to being dehumanized by the Nazi regime.
Black American’s have tried to reach over the sea to the African continent and use African traditions as a foundation for a declaration that even before slavery we proudly existed and thrived.
I am Black American female and my ancestors, no doubt, were taken from somewhere from the shores of the African Continent. Where, exactly? I have no idea.

Advertisements

SWB: shopping while black

Justice clothing store is apparently THE place where every eight to twelve year old must shop. My daughters bugged me for a month about this cool interesting store so I finally gave in and we visited this tween sparkled heaven.

 

Marketing executives did a superb job making all the products shiny in come hither gold and optimistic yellow.  Every tee shirt is a blindingly happy shade of neon green or smurf popping blue.  What the marketers hadn’t counted on was haughty racist counter staff who, with faux politeness, told me to step aside so she could help the woman behind me who looked more financially secure with her Burberry scarf, crisp brown trench coat and arms filled with long pants, shirts, a jacket, a bath robe, and so many other pieces that her credit card was either about to take a major hit, or she travels with a suitcase packed with cash; oh, and she was white.

woman_with_angel_wings_2_poster-r6b1146c80844489bb0fafdcc5b5138fa_wv3_8byvr_512

I am evil retail fairy. I keep social customs from advancing.

 

I only had three measly tiny toy thingies for my daughters, all braided and twisted and ethnic we stood in the line waiting for a little piece of glittery joy just like everyone else.

“This lane is closed and I think that woman was in front of you.”  Blondie said looking at me and my brood.

 

That’s when I turned to see Burberry lady who was miles away, her eyes glazed over with retail inebriation, arms overflowing with product yet she was hunched over looking at a key chain display not paying any attention to the line in which the sales woman insists that she is in.

“Okay?”  I said calmly as I watched the saleslady walk away pretending to tend to a stray dress someone left behind the counter, refusing to wait on me.

Burberry lady had walked away.  She was perusing the display of flipflops on a far off wall.

I stood there lips pressed, conscience of what was happening but keeping my back stiff and reminding myself to breathe.  My daughters were with me and getting mad at sales people isn’t something I want to demonstrate.  There are far better, worthier skills young black girls need to learn and emulate.

I stood there composedly and talked to my daughters about the fuzzy patterned diary with a lock that they wanted.  Maybe we’d come back another time and get those.

Finally, an African American sales lady called to me from a far off counter.

“I can take you over here.”

I went and got checked out by the nice young black girl.  I looked over and miraculously the unpleasant counter lady’s line was back open.  A customer to her liking had wondered over.

Undercover situations like these happen daily.  It is important that we not give them merit by attending to them but sometimes stupidity seeps into your pores and activates an unforgivable venom that must be purged.

 

With that we move onto better things and pray for God to open the eyes of the ignorant.

 

 

crazy ohio

Some days the world seems to be full of freaks.

weirdos

I wake up drink a cup of coffee, get ready for the day and things seem so normal and peaceful inside the comfort of my private living space.

Then I walk outside to run errands and everyone I come across either has a severe mental illness or some overt quirky personality.  I encounter the homeless man standing in front of Walmart wearing a black leather jacket despite the fact that it is August and the hottest day of the year.  The homeless man isn’t asking anyone for money; he’s just standing there staring people down with his beady eyes.

Since the confused man isn’t panhandling, I wonder if he is waiting for someone to come out of the store.  Whose family member is he? Why didn’t his people advise him to dress appropriately for the weather?

Careening down the aisle I pass a heavily bearded man wearing a ripped stained white tee shirt and strong body odor.  Smelly man also has a skin disease I observe as I look down at his legs.  His cut-offs clash with the redness of his legs.  Why are his legs the only part sunburned? The rest of his skin was apricot and normal but his legs were red and peeling like the skin of an onion.

In the meat section I always encounter a black woman yacking loudly into a cell phone while shifting through the cold packages of raw chicken.

carts

It is inevitable that I hear:

“…and when Jason came walking in at two a.m.  I asked him where was all night and you know what he said to me, girl?”

Over hearing her loud conversation, now I what to know what Jason’s excuse was.

“…he said he was hanging with friends.” She would finish and I would move on thanking God that I didn’t have to deal with a cheater like Jason.

Carting through the rest of the store, I realize that every other black woman in the store is wearing a headscarf.  Some are silk and tied awkwardly in the front of the head making the woman look like a unicorn.  The ambitious ones will warp the scraf around their heads like a head piece that goes to traditional African outfit.  As I look around I begin to feel left out. Should I have come to the store with my nighttime head scarf on?

Most black women wear head scarfs to bed and I am no exception.  Every night I put on a scarf so my hair doesn’t turn into an afro in the middle of the night. But it never occurs to me to just keep my scarf on when I run my errands.  So naturally when I see my sisters running errands in their head scarf’s I assume that they’ve just rolled out of bed, even if it is four o’clock in the afternoon.  Either that or they just got finished cleaning a white woman’s house and now they are stopping at the market to buy groceries for the white family whom they work for.

With a cart full of plastic bags of groceries I try to make my way to the parking lot but get stuck behind a woman with wildly awkward gait.  She limbers from side to side looking as if she will fall over on her next step.  Does she have a wooden leg under her beige leggings?  I am behind her in the exit way with a cart full of groceries but she is walking out empty handed.  Why doesn’t she have any purchases?  Did she come in just to ambulate around in a retial environment?  Perhaps she is just strengthening her legs under physical therapists orders.  Okay…she probably just dropped a prescription to the pharmacy.

In the parking lot, it never fails.  I always see an androgynous person loading groceries in the trunk of an SUV.  There is frequently a person who is clearly a woman along with the ambiguous person and they tend to participating in an ambiguous conversation.  The androgynous person usually has a low haircut, but not too low as to liken itself to a men’s haircut yet the style isn’t like a woman’s either.  The person is wearing men’s tee-shirt and unisex khakis.  The diamond earrings can’t confirm the sex because men and woman wear earrings these days.

I try to listen in on their conversation.

Androgynous person:   “What do you think Paul will say?”

Woman:  “I don’t know…screw Paul.”

Is the woman cheating on Paul?  Are they on their way to tell Paul the truth about their relationship?  Or is the androgynous person just a supportive friend helping her lady friend through a breakup?  I look for signs of public displays of affection.  No hand holding, no playful tapping or seductive staring.  They just get in the car and leave and I’m left wondering if that was a lesbian relationship or a dude and his girlfriend talking about military recruiter named Paul.

Now off to the public library where I will be surrounded by colorful books in an inner sanctum of peace. But realistically, walking into a large public library is like walking into a booming men’s shelter.  Every dysfunctional, homeless male schizophrenic has wandered into the public library and are mysteriously sulking around bookshelves and giving the enormous prestigious building an air of creepiness.

Man Reading Book and Sitting on Bookshelf in Library

What is encouraging is the fact that you will see some of these scruffy men actually reading a book or taking advantage of the free internet services. Sometimes I wonder, which book the guy who has four plastic bags on the floor, wearing punctured sneakers you can see his toes through, a dirty white toboggan, and a stained and shredded Izod shirt, is reading.  Where does his interest lie? Is he reading a sci-fi thriller? A romance?  A book about homelessness?

The most maladjusted man always gets into the elevator with me. I’m usually holding a book I’ve picked from the lower level.  The weird guy always stares at me the entire elevator ride.  It seems like he is trying to get a glimpse of my reading selection and but his stare is still inappropriately long.

“Nice day out.”  He’ll say.  Except his speech is slurred and disorganized so it sounds like, “Ny day…(grunt).”

I smile politely at him hoping that he isn’t the violent kind of vagabond. He takes my friendly smile as an invitation to open up a conversation.

“Day took my coat…do ya know day took my coat?”  At this point I’m squinting at him and wondering why it’s taking the elevator so long to get up to level two.

“Day know, right?”  He says.

“Yeah.” I reply nervously still trying to smile politely. But now I’m wondering who “Day” is.  A family member? Caseworker?

When the elevator beeps my new friend follows me out to the foyer on the second floor.  Suddenly, my new friend decides that he is now at a football game and his team just scored a point. He screams “yeah” at the top of his lungs making every patron in the library look over toward us.

The librarian, who isn’t without quirks herself, wearing a XXL sweatshirt on her extra small frame and hair that is in a messy ponytail like she just got out of a rowdy sexual encounter, looks over at us and I can tell that she assumes that I am with the schizophrenic screaming man. I see her walk out from behind her desk and start walking toward me. Her mouth is fixed to inform me that I needed to keep my patient quiet so not to disturb the library patrons.

I move quickly away from the man and bolt towards the back by the cookbooks. I don’t really cook. I know a lot of women find cooking relaxing or they take pride in being able to feed their families gourmet dishes, but I am not one of those women.  Although I will admit that I am proud of myself for keeping my daughters alive by routinely giving them the required doses of editable items.  So I don’t really want to look at cookbooks but I feel trapped because the dowdy librarian and the crazy man are still standing in the common area confused.

I break down and look through a couple of cookbooks figuring that I would at least try to make something fried or baked or pouched this weekend.  By the time I’m done choosing, the coast is clear and I make my way up to the third level so that I can look at some serious books about parapsychology and psychoanalytic theories.

On the third floor there is a big space littered with long work tables for tutoring and studying.  I always see the most drastic social combinations at these tables. There is always a very pale dainty white woman tutoring an enormous dark black guy, a black woman tutoring an Asian kid, and a Rastafarian dude with dreads to his waist sitting across from a corporate looking white man. I can never tell who’s tutoring whom in that combo.

I trot past the United Nations feeling good that we all can come together in the name of education.  Once I get back in the shelves holding literary novels, there is always…and I mean always, some older black woman schooling her daughter or niece in the aisles. I can always hear her voice from three aisles away.

“That’s how Shelia got raped.  I keep tellin’ her to stop wearing those low cut tops. I don’t want to see you end up like her.”

The older woman will caution her young charge, but then almost in the same breath, she’ll start giving unsolicited sex advice. “…and then you roll it around your tongue a little bit…if you do that your man will go wild…”

I’m usually standing in the aisle holding a paperback with my mouth hanging open.  By this time I am shocked and confused, so I know that poor little Keisha is perplexed about how she should approach sex and relationships.

I have my selections and finally check out and head to the parking garage.  Things go smoothing in the concrete structure until a young couple who just pulled in get out of the car and start yelling at each other.

“Screw you….screw you.”  The woman yells at her boyfriend.  As they’re fighting they are making their way toward the library entrance.  The boyfriend tries to lock the car doors with some device but ends up setting off the car alarm instead.

So the car alarm is blaring, the girlfriend is now screaming, “you’re so stupid” and pushing her boyfriend’s shoulder. I quickly get in my car before he hauls off and hits her. I certainly wouldn’t want to be subpoenaed as a witness.  I’m about to start my engine when I realize that I forgot to validate my parking ticket.

Now I have to walk back inside right behind Ike and Tina.

it’s okay to have quirks

I let out a low sigh feeling glad that I’m not the only weirdo in town.

 

 

 

 

soul junk

I am subscribed to my local library’s great reads newsletter.  The library service emails patrons listings of new book releases in different categories. For the past two years I’ve been getting the African American New Releases. And for two years I have exclusively seen books that are about neurotically religious freaks that sleep with preachers, pimps, kinky sex pots, gold diggers and drug dealers.  Here is a sample of the listing I received today:

_______________________________________________________________

African American December 2012

New and Recently Released

 By the Grace of God – by Keshia Dawn

Gracie looks to God for strength when her fiancé, Dillian, leaves her one day without so much as a warning, and when she finds out the reason for his abrupt departure, it causes her world to flip upside down.

Outcast – by Lewis Ericson

A gritty, page-turning Urban Renaissance debut introduces a troubled young man who gets mixed-up in a dangerous drug trade that threatens to destroy his life.

Gift of Faith – by Robert Fleming

Fleming reminds readers that even a man of God can sometimes falter in his faith.

The Other Side of Dare – by Vanessa Davis Griggs

Griggs weaves the compelling story of a family threatened by a shocking secret.

Playing the Hand You’re Dealt – by Trice Hickman

After her mother dies, sweet-natured Emily Eloise Snow joins her best friend Samantha in Washington, D.C. where she comes face-to-face with a man from her past and must make a choice that could destroy not just her life as she knows it, but the woman and friend everyone believes her to be.

Rise of an American Gangstress – by Kim K.

Born with a platinum spoon in her mouth thanks to her drug dealing parents, Fancy is a young, spoiled princess. But when havoc enters the picture and the Feds seize her family’s ill-gotten gains, Fancy’s lavish Caribbean trips are traded in for cold winter nights in the heart of the hood.

P$$y Power – by Tya Love

Precious, Baby Doll and Sassy, three call girls from the Diamond Palace, are on their grind, living the street life and chasing the all mighty dollar. Beauty, brains and a feisty attitude are a deadly combination when running game.  Will this combination work for them or against them?

Reverend Feelgood – by Lutishia Lovely

“Lovely once again expertly illuminates the wacky world of the devout and devoutly devilish.” (Publishers Weekly)

Make Me Yours – by Sophia Shaw

A free-spirited woman. A man with a plan. Filled with fascinating characters and steamy romance, this sizzling romance contains plenty of heat that will keep readers hooked.

Contact your Librarian for More Great Books!

 _______________________________________________________

Really?  Trust me when I say that EVERY list is similar to this one. I am let down and insulted by this list.  Not one book about deep spirituality experienced by an adult who’s not obsessed with money, delusional about religion, caught up in appearances, or heavy in drugs? Not one book that appears hopeful in a non-sensational way?  Not one imaginative story about a black person who transcends the stereotypical lifestyles of the bravado laced hood society?  I suppose it is these popular ideas that sell books.  But the black experience is so much more than this.  I understand that publishers want to sell books but some inventive, positive, and bohemian perspectives are desperately needed in the market.

The first title by Keshia Dawn (By the Grace of God) is the only one that I would even attempt to read.  The rest of them come off as soul junk.

a soul weighed down

a soul weighed down

Soul Junk – literature, images, movies, people, attitudes, lifestyles, drug use, violence, wickedness, or any substance, place, person, or thing that causes, induces, teaches self destructive behavior

America: crazy people with guns

Another mass shooting. When, oh when will America understand that mental health and weaponry don’t mix?

 

A cousin of mine was shot to death. I had a shot gun pointed at my face once. I’ve been shot at as I stood on my front porch as a teenager. All my experiences with guns have been negative, scary, and lasting.  I suppose NRA members and “responsible” gun owners have heartfelt stories to tell about their love affairs with their 9 mm Beretta’s. I unfortunately have a hate-hate relationship with weaponry.MP900315556

Give a gun to a mentally unstable person and you get Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson Arizona, Omaha Nebraska, Henderson Kentucky, and that Pennsylvania Amish school. The trouble with gun law is that people are probably not crazy when they legally purchased their guns.  Declining mental health dilapidates in spells.  A bipolar person is not manic every day. A depressed individual may have days where he feels like his life is going okay. No one truly knows if their put-together next door neighbor who works as an accountant is capable of pulling his 45 out of a locked box and then walking outside and start shooting at random cars passing by.

Afghanistan and Syria have terrorists; groups of trained vigilante killers who cause havoc to all who oppose their laws. America has the mentally disturbed; typically single white males who feel underscored, failed, or simply confused about the capitalist society in which they dwell.

A terrorist is a terrorist no matter what his evil purpose appears to be, but still I can’t help but wonder what’s crazy American Joe Smith’s purpose? What is he avenging? Protecting? Fighting for?

America: crazy people with guns

A cousin of mine was shot to death. I had a shot gun pointed at my face once. I’ve been shot at as I stood on my front porch as a teenager. All my experiences with guns have been negative, scary, and lasting.  I suppose NRA members and “responsible” gun owners have heartfelt stories to tell about their love affairs with their 9 mm Beretta’s. I unfortunately have a hate-hate relationship with weaponry.MP900315556

Give a gun to a mentally unstable person and you get Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson Arizona, Omaha Nebraska, Henderson Kentucky, and that Pennsylvania Amish school. The trouble with gun law is that people are probably not crazy when they legally purchased their guns.  Declining mental health dilapidates in spells.  A bipolar person is not manic every day. A depressed individual may have days where he feels like his life is going okay. No one truly knows if their put-together next door neighbor who works as an accountant is capable of pulling his 45 out of a locked box and then walking outside and start shooting at random cars passing by.

Afghanistan and Syria have terrorists; groups of trained vigilante killers who cause havoc to all who oppose their laws. America has the mentally disturbed; typically single white males who feel underscored, failed, or simply confused about the capitalist society in which they dwell.

A terrorist is a terrorist no matter what his evil purpose appears to be, but still I can’t help but wonder what’s crazy American Joe Smith’s purpose? What is he avenging? Protecting? Fighting for?

the psychosis of marriage

Prior to my marriage, I hated horror films.  I disliked all the blood, gore, and deep spooky music that made goose bumps scale on your arms.  Witnessing a beheading was a barbaric act and all those who found human mutilation entertaining were mildly psychotic.

MP900382871

Then I got married.  I married a great guy, handsome, responsible, a good provider and in all of his goodness, there are also complexities that I cannot even begin to understand.  As I irritate him with my tendency to leave half empty glasses of water around the house, he irritates me with perpetual condescending questions.

As we tried to talk through our differences but sunk deeper into frustration, I began to feel anger building in my stomach.  I couldn’t understand why he felt the need to remind me seven times to mail the mortgage check and he couldn’t bare to see yet another forgotten glass on the nightstand. The tension in our talks sucked all of the air out of the room.  We could no longer breathe so we stopped talking.

Each day we go through the motions of daily living, caring for the children, running errands, reporting to work, and still I feel the bridge between us grow wider because we don’t take the time to discuss our grievances.

I know that our petty aggravations must be stress reactions put upon a fast-paced young family. Our fights are either stress related or they are motivated by some deeper issues that we would need a therapist to uncover.

The days rush by and we continue to plug away at our domestic duties in our suburban shell and I can feel the resentment tank filling to my chest now.  After helping the kids with homework, making dinner, giving baths, cleaning the kitchen, and prepping for morning, the house is finally quiet besides the snore of my spouse. I plunk down the sofa and take a breath.  I realize as I flip through channels that I could do with a little blood right now, and a healthy dose of gore would do me some good.  With all my frustrations and tensions, I can witness a beheading without wanting to gag.  I can yell at the foolish young girl who trips on purpose as her stalker gets closer.

A chopped off head symbolizes the severed bulk of connectivity in my marriage.  The monster hunting the teenage campers and slashing them one by one is the same evil that comes into my marriage flinging its machete causing chaos, confusion and unnecessary pain.

MP900387501