Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I don't know nothing about no Afghanistan!

Hey everyone...actually, let me start over, because since I haven't been around for a few months, "everyone" might be a stretch.

So, I am not a professional blogger, just a girl with some free time and thoughts and my free time (thank you Lord!) has all but disappeared in the past few months. In other words, I got a job!

Before I start in on Afghanistan, I just have to say that I don't give a farthing, a fig newton, a rat's patootie nor a good gosh darn about Tiger Woods, Elin Woods or his mistress. Who the hell cares? Certainly not this Black American, non-White, non-Cabalinasian, non-Swedish nanny, non-Blond woman. Nope, not me! Whew, okay I feel better!

I also want to admit that I didn't watch Obama's speech last night. I was on the plane and I decided to watch Terminator Salvation instead. I think subconsciously, I wanted to see a movie about armageddon instead of watch a speech about it.

Listen, I don't know nothing about nobody's Afghanistan. I promise. And it is not for lack of trying. I have been reading about the war, Iran, Iraq, the middle east and Afghanistan for the past few years, and admittedly, I have been reading newspapers (all of them), the Huffington Post and TIME. So no, I have not been reading books and studying as though I were about to present a dissertation on the subject. What I realize is that the situation is so very complicated, so very rife with opinions presented as fact, and with a long and twisted history, that I feel it is almost impossible to have anything other than a cursory understanding of the subject.

So, I don't know what to say about the subject except to say that I think that President Obama is making a grave error. And I don't know what the answer is. It has been said so many times that if we leave it will only strengthen our enemies, that even I believe it. Apparently, so does President Obama. However, the logic remains that we are in someone else's country, and it stands to reason that the longer we are there, the longer the fighting to GET US OUT will continue.

I am concerned for our service men and women. I am concerned for their families. And I am very concerned about the future of Barack Obama's presidency. If we are still at war in three years, then Barack Obama will not win a second term. But, I will sit tight. I will do what I can to support my troops and support my president for however long he holds office. I just wish I could shake the feeling that the dream is over. That it only took less than a year for the dream of a new future, of true change in Washington, to crumble at the feet of an impossible war.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Love's Labours Lost. What Women Don't Know about Love.

Happy Labor Day everyone. I hope that the grilled meats and cold drinks are feeling real good to you right about now.

I got love on my mind today, but in keeping with the theme of no labor, I thought I would keep it short and sweet. Just like the summer that we say goodbye to this time every year.

What Women Don't Know About Love (From the Visible Perspective)


1. It ALWAYS requires settling

2. He won't be rich, handsome, smart and have a big dick. If you get 3 out of 4, you are doing great!

3. Love won't look ANYTHING like you expect.

4. Great sex, no matter how great, great chemistry, no matter how great, IS NOT LOVE!

5. It is something that you have to create newly everyday, no matter who are with.

6. It really does happen when you least expect it.

7. It follows a certain set of rules.

8. LOVE makes the rules, all you have to do is be up for the game!

9. Love will stay with you forever, long after the man is gone.

10. Loving someone, even if it doesn't work out, is a good sign that your heart is big enough to love again.

11. It always comes back to you.

12. It DOES NOT CONQUER ALL. It does give you a headstart, though.

13. You can force it away from you.

14. Never use your love as an excuse to cause anyone else pain. Ever.

15. In the place of the love of your life, buy shoes. It will make you feel better.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Good Negress

I have been thinking about Michelle Obama lately, a lot. A whole lot actually.

Clearly, I am a fan as she is the face of my blog. She represents a world of what's possible for women, for women of color, for Black women and what's possible for me.

In the words of my president, Barack Obama, let me be clear; Michelle Obama wins with me. She wins all the time. I am biased, squarely in her corner and will come out swinging if I think that my beloved Michelle Obama is being maligned in anyway.

And yet it occurs to me that my beloved Michelle Obama is doing something EXTREMELY radical. Beyond radical. Inexplicably shocking, actually. Michelle Obama is not acting like the first Black First Lady of the United States of America.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. The wearing of the shorts should have been my first clue. But I was so busy defending her from the blogosphere haterade that I was temporarily blinded. I was tipped off when she wore shorts and a tank and a helmet to go biking with her children around Martha's Vineyard. But it came crashing home when I saw her at the late Senator Ted Kennedy's funeral. She wore a skirt, some heels, an organza blouse and a bolero jacket. In a sea of dark suits, she wore a big black bow.

When I was a child, my mother...hell, all my damn life, the women in my family, my mother, grandmother and aunt have hollered from the rooftops to the floor about how a woman should look when leaving the house. I am a source of shame for them. I am not always dressed in a power suit and sometimes I wear jeans on the airplane! One time in church, my mother looked at me and said "I am ashamed to be seen sitting next to you. You look like you fell out of a Goodwill bin!" Ah, the Goodwill bin, a favorite insult of my mother's. Her other favorite insult? "You dress like a White girl". You see, being well dressed was not just a hobby. Oh no. It was the first line of defense against racism and discrimination. Being accused of dressing like a White girl was an insult because White women could (and would) be seen looking any old which way, but we as Black women didn't have that luxury. White women could wear leggings and slouchy tops, but in mother's house there were never any slouchy clothes. We had to be twice as good, and apparently, twice as well dressed, to get half as far as a White woman. So, dressing well for my mother and for my family was not just about what looked nice, it was also about the fact that as Black women, we didn't have the luxury to be anything other than beyond reproach when it came to our clothes. I imagine that I am not the only Black woman who has been raised with some version of this story.

Michelle Obama has tossed that logic out on its ear. And I don't know how I feel about it. I keep thinking about Coretta Scott King. She always looked like a doll. There are pictures of her marching for freedom with her face beat, in her suit and pumps, gloves and pearls. Didn't they march all the way to Washington? She was NEVER seen without makeup, much less galavanting with her children. In fact, we never saw the children galavant either. And yet, Mrs. Obama runs around in shorts, sneakers, tank tops, helmets, rides bikes, goes hiking! What's next? Flying a kite?

And finally, she actually takes fashion risks! Dresses and cardigans. Full skirts and bows. She has to know that as a Black woman she can't make those kinds of choices. If a White first lady had shown up at a funeral in Moschino I dare say it would have either A. not been news worthy or B. been ALL the rage. Mrs. Obama has to know this, and yet, instead of having a closet full of navy, black and red suits, she has CARDIGANS!

There are times, even now, when I am going somewhere really fancy with a bunch of White people and I still hear my grandmother say, "You can't wear that around all those White people!" I still cave from time to time, because I don't want to give anyone a reason to talk about me or look down on me. And yet, here Michelle Obama is, seemingly free from that particular Black girl neurosis. And she is paying for it. There are those out there who talk as though she were an embarrassment to the White House and to America. There are those that claim that she should hire someone to help her with the protocol of what it is to be the First Lady. There are even those that claim that she shouldn't be allowed to ride in Air Force One. There are so many claims of unworthy and unfit that I am starting to lose track of all the insinuations.

There is a part of me that doesn't really know what to do with this fresh new Black American woman, who dresses herself without thinking about "What will all the White people say?". This is all very new to me. A Black woman who embraces her humanity instead of constantly defending and guarding it. Someone who is malleable and flexible and real, instead of fixed, rigid, perfect and beyond reproach. As much as I love Michelle, this is taking some adjustment. There is a small part of me that wants her to retreat into the land of Oscar De La Renta suits and pumps, never leaving the house unless she has on lipstick and a strand of pearls. Because anything less leaves her open and vulnerable to attack. But perhaps that is the whole point. Perhaps there is a unspeakable bravery in laying it all bare, her arms, her legs, her face. This is unchartered territory for the Black woman. And Michelle Obama is laying a new course for us all. I am following, but right now, I am shaking in my Christian Louboutin boots.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I imagine that the same thing is happening all over the country. Urban (read Black) radio stations are playing Michael Joseph Jackson all day long. Today is his birthday.

Even now, as I write this, tears threaten to spill over, tears that I have not shed since I found out about his passing. I still don't believe it. Perhaps it is easier because I never knew the man. His physical presence wasn't a part of my life. But, still I feel the loss and I struggle because a part of me can't really imagine a world without Michael.

I was disappointed in him at times. Debbie Rowe, really? The children who look like the post surgery Michael, but bear little to no resemblance to the boy Michael, the Thriller Michael, The Wiz Michael, our beloved Michael. The fact that he made poor choices about the people he surrounded himself with and the inappropriate activities with young children left me sorely disappointed as well. Let me say for the record that I do not believe that he ever molested any child. I do think that a grown man sleeping in the bed with a child who is not even related to him is highly inappropriate, but certainly not a crime.

When I was a child, I had the opportunity to meet Michael. I remember his bright, bright socks. Shiny and sparkly. And this very tall man folded himself down to look right in my face and shake my hand. I promise you, in that moment, with all the flashing lights, I felt like I was the only person in the room. I felt like he had eyes only for me. I felt like what I had to say was important to him. I believe in my heart that my child senses would have picked up on something not right about him if it was there, however, I recognize that that is also what I want to believe.

When he first passed, I couldn't even really be with the whole thing. I didn't watch the funeral, I didn't watch CNN, I just avoided it. But now, I am starting to allow myself to feel the loss of Michael Jackson. He was beloved. He will be missed.

Happy Birthday Michael. Happy, happy birthday.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dear Readers.....

I started this blog in an effort to be a part of the blogosphere, a place where ordinary citizens can have a voice. Where we can have a hand in shaping rhetoric, or at the very least, contributing to our national discourse.

Now, I need you guys. Some of you, hell most of you, are people that I know and love, and some of you are strangers. I need all of you to send a quick comment about one or some of the posts. Just a quick comment about any of the things that I have said. It helps me to hear from people. It gives me a boost of energy and focus to keep on blogging!

Thanks! I appreciate you!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Race, Politics and Health Care, Part II

So how about those town hall meetings?

I happened to catch the town hall meeting in Pennsylvania. It was a very angry crowd that showed up. Angry and very patriotic. It wasn't just about health care for these Americans, it was about America itself. The very fabric of our culture, the fibers that make us who we are. The founding fathers were invoked, as well as a reminder about the nobility of the constitution. And we were warned in the town hall meeting, warned that if America continues on this eight month trajectory of socialism, that we will become just like Russia.

All of this was met with rousing applause from the good, decent solid Americans who believe that the state of health care in America is JUST FINE. There is nothing wrong with health care, just leave us alone, they shouted. According to one man, the biggest problem with our health care system is the illegals (his word, not mine) that come here who don't belong and we end up paying for them. The second biggest problem, according to him, is people who just won't pay for their own health care and we have to pay for their stupidity. He highlighted this little nugget by saying "In the words of the great George Bush, 'we help those who help themselves.' " This was also met with cheers and cheers from those decent Americans.

I point to my earlier post where I presented my case;

White Americans don't want Black and Brown people to get shit for free.

So now, here we are, and we get to hear it straight from the horse's mouth (or ass), as it were. There are people in these town hall meetings, predominately White and predominately conservative, who are screaming at their elected politicians and are ready to come to blows. And what are they screaming? That we need to get rid of the illegals, that people who don't want health care shouldn't bring the rest of us down (which sounds a lot like the "homeless people are homeless cause they want to be" argument) and that we are going to become socialist over night because of crooked politicians. Did I mention that they claim that there is nothing wrong with our health care system?

Okay, let's back up. Some conservatives say that the reason they don't want this bill is mainly because it will increase our national deficit. I agree with that line of thinking. Yes, I do. I think that the problem with our health care system is not that we don't have enough money, rather that we don't spend what we have wisely. However, that last part, the part about spending what we have wisely, is no where to be found in the republican talking points, at least not the ones that I have read. Rather, they argue about the deficit, when the only reason we have a deficit is because of the previous administration. A conservative, Republican administration. Nobody said anything about the funding for No Child Left Behind, which, "since [it's] enactment, Congress [has] increased federal funding of education, from $42.2 billion in 2001 to $54.4 billion in 2007. No Child Left Behind received a 40.4% increase from $17.4 billion in 2001 to $24.4 billion. The funding for reading quadrupled from $286 million in 2001 to $1.2 billion." Those same Republicans did not say a thing about the funding for the war in Iraq, which we are still funding, by the way. So, I seriously question the motives of these fiscally conservative Republicans who claim to be thinking about the debt we are passing on to our grandchildren. Funny, no one had a problem with debt when it was George Bush pushing through costly legislation. However NOW everyone is worried about their grandkids' pocket books.

Hmmm, I could make the argument that "Russia" was a paragon of standards based education and that the entire country had one standardized system of education, which, I could argue, didn't take into account the individual student and their talents and weaknesses. I could then stretch No Child Left Behind into a "scary and evil" piece of legislation aimed at taking away freedoms from Americans, starting with the most precious and vulnerable among us, our children. We as Americans should only support education that allows the teacher, the principal, the student and the parents to dictate what the student learns and what the student needs, not some evil "death panel" of politicians and bureaucrats who will stand in judgement of my child and deem him unworthy.

Actually no one made that argument. No Child Left Behind got passed merrily on, because imbedded within the legislation was the assurance that schools that didn't pass the tests would not get money. I promise you that White Americans heard that and felt good knowing that stupid, lazy, criminal minded inner city youth would finally be punished for not studying. And good old boy Bush would never sell his people up the river. So even if the legislation sought to fix public schools, nobody would get anything unless they earned it. More money for Johnny, less money for JohnTayQuanay.

And here is the bottom line, in my opinion. President Barack Obama received 52% of the vote. 52%. John McCain and Sarah Palin received 45% of the vote. That means that 45% of the people in our country thought that Sarah Palin would be fit for the vice-presidency of our country. That doesn't take into account the people who were on the fence until the last minute. So how many people really thought that Sarah Palin would make a good VP? My point is that we should never underestimate the conservative nature of the American people. We should never underestimate our core values. We have some ugly beliefs in this country. We are not a nation that believes in helping our fellow man, especially if our fellow man is Black or Brown and they don't work anyway. They are just looking for a hand out.

So, if you want ANY KIND of health care reform, call your senators, call your representatives. Write a letter, send an email. Get involved in as small or as large of a way as you possibly can. Do not think that somehow the President will just manage to pull a rabbit out of a hat. The only reason he won in the first place was because of the organized work and support of people who believed that he could make a difference. Unfortunately, the work is not over.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Working on a Post!

Hey Y'all!

Things have been busy, busy! Sorry for no posts in a while. I am actually feverishly at work on one but it actually requires research, not just off the dome types of conversations!

So, I invite you to re-read some of the other posts. And feel free to comment so that I know that you are out there!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Race, Politics and Health Care

I have been really on it lately. Just on it, mad, angry and upset.

I got health care. I got it, I am grateful. However, recently I was in an accident, went to the emergency room and, had it not been for my CAR insurance, I would have been stuck with a $3,000.00 bill. $3,000.00 for a C-collar and some x-rays in a shabby, run down, cold ass hospital where I thought I would also contract pneumonia.

I know of another story where a young man got dizzy at the gym. Because gyms have strict rules about that stuff, he went straight to the ER in an ambulance, where he waited for ten hours, only to be held over night because it turns out that he had an irregular heart beat and elevated sugar levels. Now, he is a Black man whose father was a diabetic and died from a stroke at forty four years old. So, the doctor ordered some test that supposedly would determine something very important that he swore any insurance plan would certainly cover. Test comes back negative, but of course the insurance won't pay. So the young man finds out he is fine, all for the small fee of $1,500.00. For one night in the hospital. One night.

So I have been following this health care debate very closely. Now, of course, I am a liberal, left wing, Obama supporting Black woman in America, HOWEVER, for the life of me, I can't understand why Americans don't overwhelmingly support President Obama on his health care plan. I am baffled.

Watching Fox News last night I was even more baffled, and then I just got pissed. And even more pissed!

I have come to the conclusion that the reason we can't get universal health care, consistent with industrialized nations such as France, England and Canada, just to name a few, is because of the insidious nature of racism and the role that race and racism play in American politics.

Said another way, White America can't stand the thought of Black people and Latinos getting some free shit that White people will ultimately pay for.

Period. End of story. And all the junk about the insurance companies having a powerful lobby is horse shit. Oh, they have a powerful lobby, but the only reason why they are so powerful is because of the backdrop of Americans who hear "universal health care" and "helping out your fellow man" and think "I will be paying for some lazy Negroes and trifling illegals to get even more free shit." Do White people have a colloquial equivalent to "Aww, hell to the NO!"?

Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th POTUS, on the heels of the historic Civil Rights and Voting Rights legislation, ushered in legislation that became known as the "Great Society". Began in 1965, it was to be a war on poverty in America. The Great Society required funding, of course, and a great deal of federal money went to the establishment of Medicare, Medicaid, bolstering the public school systems, PBS, the National Endowment of the Arts, Head Start, government grants for higher education and a whole host of other things that we still have to this day. However, by 1966, LBJ's popularity was beginning to fade. Granted, the Vietnam War had a lot to with it. But, it was his federal spending that caused many to turn against him. Mostly because his spending benefited Black people. Not only Black people. Not even mostly Black people. But Black people were the most visible beneficiaries of LBJ's legislation. For instance, elderly people of all colors probably benefited the most from the legislation, however do you think that the conservative backlash could have gained traction from people thinking that The Great Society had as much to do with their sweet little granny as it did those rioting, looting Negroes across town? The then governor of Missouri told LBJ that he could lose the state in the next election because of "frustration over Vietnam; too much federal spending and... taxation; no great public support for your Great Society programs; and ... public disenchantment with the civil rights programs". Come on governor, really? LBJ's Civil Rights "programs" and the Great Society were started in 1964 and 1965 respectively, and yet by 1966 people were disenchanted? It took people how long to become disenchanted with slavery? How long to become disenchanted with Jim Crow and yet it took all of two years for Americans to become disenchanted with legislation aimed at moving forward with a society that attempts to eradicate poverty and unemployment for all Americans, including Black Americans?

When LBJ signed the Civil Rights bill, he famously said that he had just lost the South for the Democratic Party for a generation. The man was from the country of Texas, as my brother the field negro would say, and therefore he knew whereof he spoke. He knew that the South would never forgive anyone or anything responsible for the end of their beloved Jim Crow. And to add insult to injury, LBJ then expected White tax dollars to go to the upkeep of Negroes. Again, what's the White way of saying "Hell to the No!"? So, in droves, Southern Dixiecrats began to flock to the Republican party.

By the time Ronald Reagan ran for office, in 1979, he would be the first Republican to carry the South. It signaled the actualization of an ideological shift, which was dramatized by Ronald Reagan's campaign images of the now famous "Welfare Queen". Americans came to believe, and still operate from the belief that Black people are lazy, shiftless and don't work, and that welfare, or any other programs aimed at ending poverty in Black America only mean that White Americans are going to foot the bill for criminals who don't deserve it in the first place. From 1966 to 1979, American racism, like a spectral haint that needs a body, looked for a way to reincarnate. Jim Crow gave racism a physical home. Legislation killed the body of racism, but did nothing to eradicate it's ghost. In fact, pairing the Civil Rights legislation with the Great Society legislation, only increased the urgency for racism to survive. The ghost had to find another home. And the very legislation aimed at moving America forward, provided the fodder for the movement called Conservatism in America. The ghost found a new home.

It is the home of the Conservative movement in America paired with the ghost of racism that kills off any possibility of health care, improving schools or anything that even hints that it would impact Black America. And since the Conservative movement in America doesn't look like slavery or Jim Crow, then it gets to pretend that it is not the same damn thing, just in a body that can adapt to the times. It is this new body that allows it (racism) to get away with crying "reverse racism" at someone like Sonia Sotomayor. It is this new body that allows it (racism) to declare it's own death. And it is this new body that can talk about universal health care as an evil, without batting so much as the proverbial eyelash, knowing full well that American lives are at stake due to a rapidly failing health care system. Why does England have health care? Because their people knew it was a good idea for all their people, and they were able to see themselves as one people, one England. I pay for you, you pay for me and we all win. White people don't want to pay for Black people, because they don't think that Black people deserve anything for free. They also don't see us contributing to the system, i.e. paying taxes. White people don't even see Black people as "real" Americans, and they for damn sure don't see us as "one". How can we have universal health care, when the conditions are so different in America than they are in the countries that actually provide their citizens with health care?

This is a long post, with a part two to follow. Of course, when I say White America, I don't mean every single White person in America. But I mean White America as it pertains to a group of people and the overarching set of ideals to which the group subscribes. Basically, racism only allows for a "them and us" rather, a "them versus us" context. The details may change, but the basic context of them versus us remains the same. I believe that at the heart of the debate about health care is the same them versus us mentality which dictates that the dynamic of separation must always be at play in the discourse. Universal health care has been painted with the same brush that the Great Society was painted with, which is a whole lot of government spending for the advancement of people who don't work, read Colored people. The truth is, without the advancement of Colored people, the advancement of ALL people simply can't happen. And so I wait with baited breath to see what happens to health care. Let's hope I don't need a defibrillator while I wait, 'cause I sure can't afford it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Transformers. Yes, the robots were racist!

I loved Transformers when I was a kid. I like to think of my childhood as a sort of golden age for cartoons. Transformers, He-Man, Thundercats, Batman, The Animaniacs. Hours and hours of time that I could have spent learning how to play the cello, and instead I was watching animated creatures wield swords and plot to blow up the world.

I saw the first "Transformers" movie, and was mildly disturbed by Jazz, who spoke in a very specific urban/rap/black male voice and diction. And then he had to die! That aside, Shia LeBeouf was amazing and I love him and I loved Optimus Prime, so all was forgiven. That, and the fact that as a thinking, cognitive, socially and political aware Black woman in America, I am so consistently assaulted with racist imagery that it is just a matter of course.


"Transformers 2" was not as good as the first. I still enjoyed it. Shia LeBeouf makes the movie, and I would watch him read the phone book. I don't really have much to say about the movie, because like I said earlier, as a Black woman in America who won't completely shun modern culture, ala the Amish, I really just have to put up with certain insults. What insults in particular?

First of all, the complete objectification/glorification of Megan Fox was simply ridiculous. On the other hand, what else is Megan Fox working with? She is a beautiful White woman, with a great body and a porn star vibe. Guess what? For the sake of her career, she would want to be objectified. I can imagine that when she brags about her 20 inch waist, or when she is posing on the cover of Entertainment Weekly looking quite suggestive, that the last thing on her mind is whether or not she is being objectified (perhaps she is even hoping for it!). And of course, because this is Visibility, I will ask my dear readers, all fourteen of you, why couldn't her character be a Black woman? Is Megan Fox the best actress? No? She is really, really pretty. Why couldn't they find a really, really pretty Black girl who is a passingly decent actress? Nobody knew who Megan Fox was before "Transformers ", so it's not like she was a star. But really, I digress.

The twins. The racist little autobot twins. The embarrassingly, awfully racist twins. I don't care if they weren't human, they took their clues on how to be human from the worst of how to be "black". Optimus Prime takes his cues on how to deal with humans from world leaders. The other autobots sound like stately, strong men (read White men). Starscream, Megatron and Soundwave (all Decepticons) all sound like intelligent and devious robots, taking their cues from intelligent and devious human voice patterns (read White men). Even the evil she-bot Alice (a decepticon who can disguise herself as a human) figures out how to be a sexy she-human (read White girl).

So why is it that the two bots who seem to be the most bumbling and idiotic, who seem to know the least about their own Transformers history, who are ILLITERATE, who disappear when the real battle happens, sound like ghettoized Black men? So the real heroes sound like articulate white people but the comic relief idiots sound like Black men? Even if they are robots, not human, it is still racist because presumably, even aliens who come to earth from a gagillion light years away, know their place within the race pantheon of America. If you are ignorant and trifling, then of course you identify with the Blacks.

But, here is where I differ with most people.........


So what? So there are some blatantly racist images in one of summer's blockbusters, from one of Hollywood's most successful film franchises? So? So Michael Bay (the director) denies it? So? So most White people think that it is fine and dandy? So?

The last people who can be upset about it are Black people. Not Black people. Do you know that Harvey and Bob Weinstein (look them up) started a film company, called Our Stories, headed by Tracy Edmonds (Babyface's ex wife, Stanford grad), specifically for telling the stories of Black America, presumably in a positive light? Do you know that the first film was "Who's Your Caddy"? A film so rife with racial stereotypes and bad acting that even other Black people didn't go see it, despite the fact that it featured Big Boi! How about "Obsessed"? A film that was just plain bad, but did so well at the box office that Beyonce is now considered a legit actress. Beyonce wishes she could act as well as Megan Fox. I can't even begin to point to Mr. Tyler Perry. "House of Payne" and "Meet the Browns" rely on more cooning and shucking and jiving than a minstrel show, and yet, those two shows have a loyal viewing public. Yet, if anyone points out the inherent (I so want to use the N word right now, but we don't know each other that well so instead I will use another word) low brow humor, then other Black people come out of the woodwork to defend Tyler Perry and everyone else. They label the critics bougie, stuck up and out of touch. When one states that Beyonce is doing Black women and Black actresses a disservice by having such incredibly poor diction and acting skills, once again, one is criticized as being snobbish and unfair to Beyonce, just because she sounds uneducated.

Well, in the words of the most esteemed Malcolm X, the chickens have come home to roost. Look at what all that shucking and jiving has brought upon us. It is open season now, people. We opened the barn door and now we want to wonder what happened to all the cows. Okay, perhaps that last analogy fell flat, but my point is, we have abdicated our responsibility for our own positive image throughout the world, and this is the result. For the past decade or so, Black writers, filmmakers, actors and most importantly AUDIENCES have been the reason why the image of Black people in America has been so incredibly backward and stereotypical. We as Black people have really only wanted to see each other shucking and jiving and farting and being loud and ignorant. We as Black people think that it is hilarious! Side splitting! So why are we mad when other people think that it is funny as well? Equal opportunity humor, I say. If we can prance around in our dirty laundry, laughing our asses off, then why can't everyone else join in on the joke? It's so funny, right? Right?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hair, hair everywhere!

On CNN yesterday I came across this headline; "In the Black culture, a richness of hairstory." I was, of course, intrigued. The headline was accompanied by a picture of a beautiful little Black girl, with double strand twists, in the arms of her White father.

The short article is well worth a read, and can be found here,

However, the part that ruffled my visibility cloak was when the article refers to a one Ms. Ingrid Banks, an associate professor of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. When talking about natural hair versus straightened (I assume she means chemically straightened) hair, Ms. Banks says that women who have straightened hair are seen as "sell outs" and "embracing the White standard of beauty" and that the natural sisters are "blacker than thou". Ms. Banks goes on to say that,

"When we think about that, there is no other racial or ethnic group in which those ideas come to bear on someone's politics...No one is saying that about (W)hite women, Asian women or Latino women."

Before I launch into what I want to say, let me first say that this visible woman has been relaxer free for six years. However, I have rocked every style in the spectrum except locs. Weaves, presses, relaxers, naturals, short naturals, short relaxers, and just to be perfectly clear, when I die, I want to be buried with a bottle of peroxide! I haven't seen my own color in forever, and hope I never have to!

So, first of all, there is merit to the rift that Ms. Banks describes. If one surfs around the natural online community, one will read things like "Put down that creamy crack (aka, relaxer)" or "Embrace your natural goddess given power and be strong in your beauty, ye daughter of Africa". Yes, the natural community can be quite vociferous in the way that "going" or being natural is presented. In fact, many black women who have "gone" natural see it as a rite of passage. It can be a very emotional moment, one that forces many of us to confront our own beliefs about beauty. In that moment, however, lies the crux of the issue. Almost every woman I know who has "gone" natural, has had to really face her own fears about her own "nappy hair". We ask ourselves, "Will I still be pretty", "Is my hair really my crown and glory", "Will I look like a boy", "Will it look crazy". And every question brings us closer to our own truth about the matter. We are about to take a leap of faith that beauty really does come from within. It is our entire being, our entire belief system, that is called into question when we go natural, not just our politics.

So I could see how the natural crew could sound almost religious in their fervor. We probably do sound like Moonies or Jehovah's Witnesses. We just can't wait to share the good news. So, I can see how a relaxed woman can feel like she is being assaulted with a "Blacker than thou" diatribe every time she encounters one of the converts.

However, the way Ms. Banks describes the rift is quite suspicious, because there are far more relaxed and straightened among us than there are natural. As a natural sister myself, I can tell you that I am in the minority. Of all my Black friends, I have three that have actually worn their natural hair as adults. She makes it sound like there are two camps, when in fact, there a few natural rebels out there who just seem to make more noise than the mainstream Black women who relax their hair. In fact, I think that it is far more likely for a natural sister to get the side glance from other straightened Black women, especially when dealing with the differences in generations. I could (and probably will) do a whole post on how hard it is for the older generations to deal with this new crop (no pun intended) of natural sisters.

It sounds to me that Ms. Banks is not speaking as an academic, rather she is speaking from personal experience. I could be wrong, but it sounds like Ms. Banks is one of those relaxed sisters who is a little tired of hearing it from the natural sisters. Almost like she has been called a sell out, conforming to a White ideal, by a sister that she thought was acting "blacker than thou."

As far as White standards of beauty are concerned, that is exactly why Black women straighten their hair, to conform to a White standard of beauty. Very few Black women have the power of real choice in the matter. They think they do, and they are not consciously saying to themselves "I want to look like a White girl" but any Black woman who has grown up in America has been exposed to a White ideal of beauty, so much so, that it is largely unquestioned. It is so insidious that an educated Black woman like Ms. Banks can actually think that the ritual of straightening Black hair has nothing to do with a White standard of beauty. How can Black women have the power of choice, when most of us have no idea what to do with natural hair, other than to straighten it. If the vast majority of Black women have no idea what to do with their own hair sans chemicals or hot combs, how is it a true choice? It is lunacy to pretend that most Black women just decide, completely on their own, to straighten their hair. In fact, most Black women get their first relaxer when they aren't even grown women. I have heard of girls as young as three getting relaxers, and while there are no statistics, the average age is probably about eight. Now, conforming to a White standard of beauty, or rather a standard of beauty that is based on White women, is not the same as wanting to be or look White. It is simply wanting to look like the best version of yourself, within the given parameters and definitions of beauty. And that, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, and it doesn't make you a bad person. When it comes to Black women and beauty, we can't simply brush off the last hundred years or so of media influence on our collective psyche. It manifests itself in comments that I hear all the time like, "Oh, you look good in natural hair, but I know that style won't look good on me" or "It's fine for you because your hair curls like that, but mine is just too nappy."

Which brings me to the last part of her comment, where she compares Black women and their hair to White, Latina and Asian women. The majority of White, Latina and Asian women have straight hair. Now, let me digress for a moment. How many Black women have ever read a beauty magazine, where they have an article about curly hair? And how many times is it a White woman who happens to have curly hair, and the advice they give doesn't have anything to do with you and your "curls"? See, there is curly hair, and then there is a whole other category out there called kinky, curly, tightly coiled, springy hair, that doesn't behave or feel like the curly hair that White people have. My point is, when I say straight, I mean that the texture is pretty much all the same between White, (non-Black) Latinas and Asians. An Asian woman doesn't have to go to only Asians to get her hair done. A Latina woman doesn't have to only go to Latinas to get her hair done. They can go to Super Cuts. But send me into a White salon and listen to the proverbial record scratch as everything comes to a grinding halt. Non-Black stylists, by and large, don't know what to do with Black hair, straightened or otherwise. How do you so blithely compare Asian, White and Latina women to Black American women, as though they have endured the same hair history that we have? Black American women are the only group of women on the planet, that I know of, who have no idea how their own, non-processed hair looks. To me, that is the weakest part of her whole argument. You simply can't compare the hair struggles that Black American women have with any other ethnic group. The hair textures that are indigenous to Sub-Saharan, Western and Southern Africa are like no other hair types in the world. Black American women, who are largely descended from these groups, have inherited that uniqueness. As such, we can't be compared to other ethnic groups.

As a young girl I hated my hair. I just wanted it to grow out of my head, strong and straight and long. I didn't want to have to go to a salon to get my hair did. I didn't want the special magic lotions and potions that would make it grow. I wanted God to give me what seemed to be so special. Pretty hair. Like the kind Sleeping Beauty had. The kind I pretended I had when I wrapped a towel around my head and stood in the mirror, flipping it over one shoulder and then the next. It was only when I went natural that I began exercising those demons. And that is why I feel so strongly about Black women being real and honest about the reasons why we do what we do. That is when real choice and real power become available. But we are too busy surviving, trying to prove that our choices are not the product of our collective history, when we all know, deep down inside, that our choices come from our desire to want to look and feel beautiful. Unfortunately for us, in this time and space, long and silky and straight is what is considered beautiful. And for most of us, that doesn't come naturally.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Proofread, Child!

I have realized several mistakes in my postings. I would like to apologize for every single one. You guys can count on me to be more diligent in my proofreading in the future! So, as I am still getting up and running, I ask you all to be patient with me and my editing skills!



Monday, June 15, 2009

You Be a Man!

Full disclosure...

I love Bill Maher. I do. Don't ask me why. I think it has to do with his mix of reverent irreverence, his totally transparent shadiness, his brilliance, and yes, I love a man who has a thing for Black girls. Sue me on that last one.

His show this week took President Obama to task, for real. Maher accused the President of not having the stones, the chutzpah if you will, to do what needs to be done for the country, i.e. civil rights for Gay Americans, legalizing marijuana, telling the banks that they can't have anymore money and ending the war. These are all things that Bill Maher thinks should be done and done pronto. He even said, much to his own chagrin, that he wishes that Obama would be more like Bush. A good old cowboy who would run roughshod over congress and the Constitution, because Jesus told him it was his will.

You know, I have to agree with dear old Bill. I do wish Obama would just do what "we", meaning all us lefties, would like him to do. And in the process, give a nice big fat middle finger to all the people who would seek to stand in the way. That would be a nice moment. No wars, people getting high in the street, my gay friends having all the civil rights that I enjoy.

However, it occurs to me that for Obama to be like Bush, it would require his supporters to be more like the people who supported Bush. And that is the crux of the issue. President Obama asked us to hold him accountable, at all times and all ways. President Bush was never required to be accountable, because his supporters knew that if all else failed, he would stop gay marriage, fight to end abortion, and cut taxes. That is all they required of him. He held up his end of the bargain and in return, received their unflagging loyalty. So are we prepared to offer up our list of demands in return for our blind loyalty? Is that what we want of our President?

I can guarantee you that civil rights for Gay Americans threatens to be an issue that could effectively end his presidency. And I support civil rights for Gay Americans. But in order for President Obama to do what is right, he can't stand alone. He needs us, those who support civil rights for Gay Americans ,to be his attack dogs, tirelessly supporting him through the certain shit storm of controversy. Are we vicious enough for that? Can we beat the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs of the world at their own game? Perhaps, we have to get a new game, but we had better come up with the rules for our game fast. You know Bill, like your segment "New Rules"? If we want President Obama to show and prove, we gotta go first. Cause the last thing anyone wants is for President Obama to stand alone, and in four years have to hand over the White House to Sarah Palin. Think it can't happen? Let's really not wait to find out.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Kristin and Halle; A Tale of the Titties.

So, first off, I need to get my Racialicious grove on and start thinking of better names for my posts!  If anyone has any snazzy ideas, holla!

This may come as a surprise to some, but I have never seen "The English Patient".  So I was so excited to record it on my DVR and then I had a little date night with myself.  It was a beautiful movie.  Unfortunately, since it was so old, I sort of knew what was going to happen, but still, WOW!  Great film, great acting, the cinematography was outstanding.  I could go on but I don' t have to.  The film won how many Oscars?  And the all important, Best Picture.

As I sat there watching Kristin Scott Thomas in all her glory, I couldn't help but have the thought "She ain't got no titties at all!"  And here she is, the leading lady, the beauty, the gorgeous object of the desire of not one, but two men who both risk their lives for the privilege of being her man.  The artist in me couldn't help but marvel at the way the actors served the stories and their characters.  The Black woman in me couldn't help but feel (large) twinges of pain that still, Black people have yet to be able to achieve that level of mastery.  There just aren't the roles and stories out there for Black artists to create with that kind of detail and beauty.  How many examples do we have of that kind of complete story telling and film making that are considered "Black" movies?  Or for that matter, and what I really care about, how many Black women have gotten a shot at the kinds of roles that Kristin Scott Thomas has been able to sink her teeth into?

So, as I sat there watching her, I couldn't help but think about Halle Berry.  Halle Berry is arguably, one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood.  And, THE BITCH WON'T AGE!  She looks more lovely now, especially after giving birth to the ADORABLE Nahla, than she ever has.  She has retained that dear perfection which she owes to the good lord above.  She is perfection.  She is on the cover of Essence looking perfect.  She is hawking her perfume looking perfect.  No lines, no wrinkles, no proof that she is human.  No, just picture after picture of angelic looking features, that have not shifted one iota in the many years that she has been a star.  And that is just her face!  I have not even gotten to her body and the, as Hugh Jackman has dubbed them, "perfect pair", meaning her titties.  So, here she is, with a tiny, tiny waist, big titties, even a respectably round bum.  Halle, one of the most successful Black actresses, EVER!  Halle, whose very success lies in her gorgeosity, is the best thing Black actresses got going.  

Of course she is the standard by which all others will be judged.  But the secret is, Halle Berrys don't come along very often.  I don't know anyone who doesn't age, except Halle Berry.  Who can have a baby and still flaunt a near perfect body.  And yes, there are tons of Hollywood women who do it, but Halle seems to do it ALL and do it well and with no assistance from a well trained dermatologist.  

Kristin Scott Thomas is a beautiful woman, but not perfect.  Flat chested, a few fine lines, a scar here or there, a less than perfect nose.  Beautiful and can act her ass off, but not perfect.  Halle, is perfect in every way, with a rack that stops traffic.  What my soul, or maybe my ego, has trouble reconciling is why does the Black woman have to be perfect to have half the career that the White woman has?  Halle has won the genetic lottery in spades, while Kristin is just a good looking girl who worked hard on her craft, and yet Halle is the standard by which all other Black actresses are judged.  She is the only one who can even remotely call her own shots or get her projects produced.  She is who everyone wants because she is the only one who will sell, or so they say.  So where does that leave the average, everyday looking Black actress who can act her butt off, but needs, unlike Halle, a little foundation when she goes on camera?  Where does that woman fall in the scheme of things?  Why is there no beautiful, but not perfect, Black woman who can fall in love and die in a beautiful story of star crossed lovers?  Why does the Black woman have to be flawless, with a perfect pair?  Why can't she be a flat chested, flawed and yet deeply wonderful actress to watch on screen?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sisters are doing it for themselves!

Quick post, short and sweet for my lazy Sunday afternoon.

So, even though I aspire to the blog heights of Racialicious and the field negro and all the other beautiful brown blogs out there, I also have to face reality.  I ain't even close.  Yet!

However, today I looked at my blog and I actually had a comment!  My very first comment!  A beautiful sista named Lisa, with her own blog,, stopped by to say hello and to encourage me.  She is not someone I know, just another soul out there who took the time to reach out and in doing so, lifted my spirits!

Which reminded me that we ARE visible ladies!  We are visible to each other!  And we are vital to one another for encouragement and support.  Remember, sometimes the most important thing we can do for each other is just that simple gesture that says, "I see you."  Well, I see you ladies, and I see you seeing me!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Me and Mariah....

So when I was in college my friend and I had an ongoing debate about Mariah Carey. She loved her. Me, not so much. I would always say "She is fine, but she ain't no Whitney."

Fast forward to the present and now we all know that our Whitney is well, lost and Mariah is well, still holding it down. And she is Mrs. Nick Canon, not the ex Mrs. Bobby Brown.

Which brings me to my point. There has been a lot of flack recently regarding Mariah, Nick and Eminem. Eminem called her names in a song “Bagpipes from Baghdad” and Nick Canon fired back by saying, in essence, "Don't call my Black Queen a whore, you white racist punk." For more see the link below:

So of course, the battle on the blogosphere was, in part, about Mariah's ethnicity. Is she really a Black Queen? Or is she not? It is horribly confusing and not being a mixed race person myself, I don't claim to understand all the dynamics at play. But I will say this, self identifying as mixed race or as a person of color is not the same as self identifying as Black. Mariah has never said "I am a Black woman who is also a mixed race woman." or "I am a mixed race Black woman." Mariah has said, "Ethnically, I'm a person of mixed race. My father's mother was African-American. His father was from Venezuela. My mother is Irish. I see myself as a person of color who happens to be mixed with a lot of things." That is distinct from saying "Ethnically, I am Black person of mixed race....I see myself as a Black person who happens to be mixed with a lot of things."

It took me a long time to come to grips with the fact that Mariah didn't refer to herself as Black. When "Vision of Love" first hit the scene, I was at a young enough age that I was still deeply conflicted about my own looks and self image and still collecting sheroes that would help me construct my own self view. So when "Vision of Love" dropped, and MC hit the scene, I was instantly enamored. The fact that White people, more specifically, my White peers, found her beautiful and sexy and talented was like manna from heaven. I now realize that I thought that some of that would rub off on me.

So when Mariah was very specific about the fact that she was NOT Black, or rather didn't identity as Black, I was crushed. See, I have noticed that White people, at least White people in my generation, are very open in certain ways when it comes to race. Previous generations adhered to the one-drop rule a little more closely. My generation is very quick to accept someone as non-Black, however, they still look at Black people as less than. So while Mariah's choice was hers and hers alone, the ramification was that White people still got to indulge in her beauty and her music, while still being free to look at Black people as somehow less than. As though the other parts of her ethnicity made it okay to like this Black chick, or rather it was okay to like her because "Hey, she isn't really Black". Let me totally honest about what I mean, they (the White kids I went to school with) still got to look at me like I was less than they were because I was Black. And it is not fair to her, but I felt like Mariah somehow personally let me down.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I am not mad at Zoe Saldana

So, a few disclaimers.

First of all, I am not really a Trekkie.  Although, I do consider myself a fan of the shows and movies.  My mother is a huge Trekkie, and while you would think that Uhura was her favorite, actually Bones was one of her most all time favorite character on the show.  And indeed her love extended to TNG, DS9 and the Voyager series.  One of my earliest memories is watching the first Star Trek movie and my earliest nightmares involve that armadillo thing with the worms that Khan drops in the people's ears in Wrath of Khan.  Gross!

That said, I loved the new Star Trek movie.  Loved it! I left the theater with huge smile on my face.  It reminded me of how movies used to make me feel when I was a kid.  Movies like Return of the Jedi, or ET.  Now I am not putting J.J. Abrams' Star Trek in the pantheon of the best movies of all time.  Whether or not it stands the test of time remains to be seen, but I must say that I haven't felt like that upon leaving a theater in a long time.  Good old fashioned fun, beloved characters, a few laughs, a lot of breath holding, draw dropping effects, and dare I say something akin to hope.  

Now I know that I am more nostalgic and sentimental than most.  In fact, it is why I am an artistic in the first place.  Many of my lawyer/doctor friends don't always have the same appreciation for being touched and inspired that I have.  In fact, I crave and demand being moved when I go to the theater, the movies and hell, even the mall!  At least make me think!  And even though my more right brained friends and family claim to only want to go to the movies for mindless fun, I really think that deep down inside they don't want mindless fun, they want to escape and for a little while, indulge the very things that they claim they want to escape from.  I think that most people don't have the time actually experience the full range of emotions that is healthy and necessary.  Today's professional is actually trained to keep their emotional at home and out of their work.  I wonder if the reason why we need movies that in fact, allow us that rare reprieve in being able to experience a full range of emotions, is because we can't really live without not only being able to access our emotions, but we desperately need to know that we can, in fact, survive them.  Movies, movies that I call "good", from Star Wars to The Color Purple, teach us that for two and half hours being numb to what we feel is not only limiting but that we can feel loss, sadness, anger, hatred, jealousy, happiness, elation and that we will not only survive but we will be better for it.

So, I was hoping for a snappy and wonderful tie in to Zoe Saldana, but it ain't happening right now.  Zoe Saldana has come a long, long way.  Her growth as an actress has unfolded before our eyes and even though she is one of the same 6 or 7 Black actresses that work all the time, over and over, Zoe Saldana did something very rare.  She didn't embarrass Black actresses.  In fact, she did way more than that, she held her own among a cast of some good actors.

Now I know that many people take issue with the fact that she has allegedly said that she doesn't consider herself Black, she considers herself Latina.  I don't know if she said that.  I do know that many, many people from the Caribbean and Africa don't consider themselves Black.  Many, not all, maybe not most, but many people who have dark skin and African ancestry come to America as Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Ghanaian or Nigerians.  Many of them don't feel a kinship with Black Americans, and if they do, perhaps they are ashamed at a lot of what they see around them.  Let's be real, Black Americans have many pockets through out the country where crime and poverty and sub standard education have created a seemingly hopeless sub-culture where children and adults behave in ways that seem unthinkable.  Even the most compassionate among us have to ask the question, "When do Black people start making different choices?"  The truth is, what we see in those pockets, is the culmination of centuries of disenfranchisement.  Just as Black people who are successful have a saying that they stand on the shoulders of those who have come before them, so too do Black people who lack the opportunity for success, stand perhaps not on the shoulders of those who came before them, but they are weighted down by the same poverty and racism that the generation before them couldn't escape.  

So, I give Zoe Saldana a pass for claiming a heritage that she sees as perhaps more acceptable, and bright and shiny, and is rightfully hers.  She is Dominican and Puerto Rican.  She is Latina.  Being a Black actress in Hollywood can at times fill you with an inexplicable sense of frustration and hopelessness.  If in her mind, it helps her to attach herself to a group of women who are more tolerated and accepted than the Black girls, then why the hell not let her hold on to whatever she needs to make it through the day.  "Well, if she thinks that she is Latina, then she should only do Latina parts and let a Black girl play Black girls!" is what a close friend said.  And my friend has a great point.  But, whatever Zoe Saldana may think of herself, Eva Mendes she ain't and she knows it.  

Now, I don't know what Zoe Saldana did to be a better actress.  Part of it is just that she does it so often that she is simply getting better at the job.  She is working with some of the best directors in the business, and some good actors.  A good actor will always make a lesser actor better.  So that might be a piece of the puzzle.  Whatever it is, I gotta give credit where credit is due.  Zoe Saldana did her thing.  And whether she knows it or not, the world saw a Black girl stand shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of boys and do her thing right along with them.  And she stood on the shoulders of the great Nichelle Nichols to get there.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Why Michelle?

Okay, really quickly.  Obviously the pic of Michelle Obama is not me.  But yes, she is a shero.  Yes, she is fly.   Yes, she represents a transformation on so many levels.  I thought that she would be the perfect face for this blog!

Why Visible Woman

So, I am creating this blog the way that I am taking on creating my life.  Originally, I thought about all sorts of race/culture specific names like The Invisible Woman, Mammies and Mulatresses, Why Don't Y'all like Black Women? (that last one is a joke, but I thought about it).  And, most of the ones that I wanted were taken.  

I settled on something like Mammy and Mulatress but it never really clicked.  Then I got inspired one day to actually start blogging (today actually) and then it hit me. This blog is about creation.  Indeed, life is about creation, and when things get really bad, life is about being responsible for creating your life in the face of whatever circumstances present themselves at the moment.  Which is why The Visible Woman jumped out at me.  Because why name my blog something that only reinforces what is already so? And, it was available.  

This blog is about the creation of things as I think they should be, want them to be, need them to be.  All the while, giving myself permission to discuss and even, from time to time, allow myself to lament things as they are.  But the title is my reminder to always be in the act of creation.  Always keep a context for the circumstances so that I remember that the power is over here, with me.  Responsibility is power.  To be responsible simply requires declaring oneself responsible.  Pretty simply right.  Easy, even.  

That said, I will from time to time, talk about race in America.  And more often than not, I will talk about things from the perspective of Black Women Artists.  And all the things that affect us.  Weaves, perms, press and curls, kinky curls, skin color, make up, scripts, other artists, the lack of artistry, White men, white people, White women, Asians, Asian hair, Oprah, sisterhood, the lack of sisterhood, love, men, Black men, etc.

And selfishly, I hope that the act of writing and venting and creating help me to be a better person.  Someone who doesn't want to tear her hair out when she sees the injustices of the world all around.  Or someone who doesn't have to take to her bed for a week simply when she doesn't get what she wants.  Here's to creation!