All Articles Tagged "black"
Sometimes, depending on your field and where you work (or the gentrification status of your neighborhood), you find yourself being one of the only black people at your place of employment. And while you try to roll with the punches, it can get uncomfortable. Especially if you end up being a guinea pig of sorts for all the White people you work with who don’t usually fraternize with Black folks.
Most of your co-workers mean well. They’ve just always wanted to touch a Black person’s hair, haven’t figured out what types of statements are racist, or just really don’t know what to do around a co-worker of another race or background. In the end, it’s mostly all good–except for these awkward moments that every person who’s ever been one of the only black people at their job is sure to identify with.
Did we miss any of your least-favorite moments? Let us know in the comment section!
Do you ever feel like a Black ambassador? Sometimes it’s because you’re one of the few Black people in your office (or school, or book club, or church–whatever). And sometimes it’s because you know people are waiting for any possible chance to confirm their belief in certain stereotypes. At some point in many of our lives as Black men and women, there’s a particular kind of pressure where you feel like you’re supposed to be a representative for the whole entire race.
Whether it’s tipping excessively, worrying that people will label you angry for the smallest things, or politely answering the same silly question for the umpteenth time, there are a few things that we all do when we feel that it’s time to put the Black ambassador hat on.
Have you ever had one of these moments? Or do you do something different when our differences (real or imagined) are under the spotlight? Sound off in the comment section to let us know your feelings about dealing with such struggles.
Just one month after a group of black women were turned away from a London nightclub for being “too dark” and “too fat,” another shocking story as such from across the pond has brewed.
According to the New York Daily News, a group of eleven British women are claiming that they were denied entry to a nightclub because they were “too black.” Apparently, the Bambu Bar in Birmingham wasn’t too thrilled when the ladies arrived, quickly turning them away at the door after they drove nearly 100 miles to the venue.
One of the girls in the group, Jess Gregory, 26, said that security told them the club did not want any more black people inside. However, the club is denying the accusation.
“The (manager) pointed to two of the lighter-skinned girls who were with us and said they could probably get in, Gregory said, as reported by Mirror Online. “Then another friend spoke to the doorman who said there was no point in standing in the queue because they didn’t let groups of black people in as there would be too many in the club.” “Basically the rest of us were told we were too black to come in. It was appalling.”
Gregory went on to describe the incident as a “tainted” and “surreal,” as she planned the night out in celebration of her friend’s birthday. “We felt offended and it was embarrassing.” After leaving the Bambu, the group of girls ended up partying at a nearby club called Mist, where their entry was granted with no issues.
According to a spokesman for Bambu Bar the group of black females’ story was false, saying the club “never discriminates on the basis of age, race or religion.” He also offered that the club was just too busy to allow entry for any other partygoers.
“Our front of house team is nothing but professional at all times and have been commended on numerous occasions for this by the local licensing team, said the spokesperson.” “As a venue of 500 capacity, we have over 1000 potential customers attempting to gain entry to our popular events and it is inevitable that people will be refused entry.”
Just like the story we reported last month, this story continues to show just how ridiculous people can be when it comes to racism. When I first saw the picture of girls, the first thing I noticed was the light complexion of their skin. “Too black?” I thought to myself. Then again, the way they see skin color in every country is different. But still, this isn’t the time of the Civil Rights era, but reading Gregory’s account sounded all too familiar, especially when she recalled the rest of her friends being too black to come in.
There have been times I myself have come across this same notion while partying at various venues in New York and Los Angeles – they are sticklers for who enters their clubs. Recently, during a trip to Los Angeles, I visited a popular, bi-coastal night club with three friends: one Venezuelan guy, two light-skinned black girls, and myself, a dark skin female. Clearly we had come on what some would call “white night” because the line that was wrapped around with a predominately white crowd – I’d say I saw three black women at the most.
Honestly, we only came because we were close friends with someone who knew the performer, but as I watched girls that looked like me anxiously stand in line and be turned away immediately it was sickening. My friends and I entered after being summoned by a PR girl who had our names on the list, but I still felt uncomfortable most of the night after watching what went down, thinking that could have been me if I wasn’t on the list already.
While I have never witnessed saying that someone was “too black,” I have heard that either a girl was a little too overweight or just not good looking enough to enter the club. I understand that owners want to uphold a certain caliber and prestige to their establishments, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of someone’s feelings over something so petty…don’t you think?
Should we be called “Black” or “African-American”? It’s quite a contentious subject, isn’t it? “African-American” is the preferred nomenclature in the US, but some critics say this term discounts non-American people of African descent — y’know, like Black Africans or West Indians. But the truth is that one of these — Black or African-American — yield better financial consequences than the other.
Can you guess which one?
According to The Atlantic, a new study found that “Black” people are seen as more incompetent and “cold.” The report, authored by Emory University’s Erika Hall, found that there is a perceived distinction in socioeconomic status between the two terms.
Research participants were given a brief description of a Chicago man with the surname “Williams.” In one group, Williams was described as “Black”; in another, he was “African-American.” With this information, subjects were asked to estimate his income, educational background, and professional standing.
When Williams was labeled “African-American,” participants assumed he made $37,000 a year and had a two-year college degree. Almost 75 percent believed Williams worked at a managerial level. But when Williams was “Black,” he only pocketed $29,000 annually and had “some” college experience. Only 38.5 percent perceived “Black” Williams as a manager.
The study points out that the perceived differences between “Black” and “African-American” can effect job applicants of color who add seemingly harmless affiliations to their resume, such as “Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers” or “The National Black Employees Association.” In this case, you’d want your employer to perceive you as the hypothetical “African-American Williams” — not “Black Williams.”
Though Hall made a conscious decision to not discuss the controversial “Black vs. African-American” debate in the research paper, she told On the Media, a podcast, that she prefers “Americans of African Descent.”
“…It’s kind of a mouthful—but I’m hopeful that a new phrase, purged of the old weight, will arrive someday,” Hall said. “I think a lot of the stigma is embodied in the time in which the term was created.”
Which term do you prefer?
This study is poised to be published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology next month.
I always thought my parents were a little too militant. While most kids my age were watching Disney movies and ABC family specials, my parents had us watching “Eyes On The Prize” documentaries and Roots. People could tell from the soul music blaring from our house to the Indiana Black Expo license plates, to the big, black furry dog that scared the neighbors when he got loose, we were the Black and Proud family. No question.
So imagine my surprise when one day, as a middle schooler, I asked my dad if he would be interested in tracing our family history and he said, flat out “No.” I was floored to say the least. Mr. Blackety Black himself didn’t want to know about his own, personal black history? I really couldn’t understand it and I tried prodding my dad for reasons why. But his only response was, “I just don’t want to know.”
Well, I did. And so I continued my search. I say continued because from the time I was able to ask questions and comprehend I was unofficially collecting my family history. I’d spend hours with my grandmother asking about her life. I was the kid who went through family photo albums knowing I didn’t know 75 percent of the people in them. When I’d go over to my grandfather’s house, I’d search through his drawers looking for clues to…something. I found a marble once. My search even became supernatural at some point. My paternal grandfather died shortly after I was born and I remember always wanting to be able to have known him and I’d stand in the mirror, looking for traces of his face in mine or hoping that he’d send some type of message. I was thirsty for answers.
By the time I got to college, everyone kept telling me that I needed to be sure to study abroad before I left. Like most college students, I didn’t have a lot of disposable income. Honestly, it was a struggle to just figure out my tuition let alone a trip across seas. But I decided to make it happen some way or another. And there was no doubt in my mind that if I were going to go anywhere, it would have to be some place, some country in Africa. During my junior year I learned of an opportunity to spend two weeks in Ghana. The two week time span was a bit more budget friendly and I literally jumped at the opportunity. The time I spent there the end of 2008-2009 was marvelous, to say the least but we’ll get to that later. When we left the country, my professor, who went with us, told us that the lessons we learned there would reveal themselves in time. I didn’t know realize how right he was.
So flash forward to this year, a few months ago, when Ancestry.com approached the MN editorial team about participating in their DNA project that would be able to tell us which regions our families had come from. As you might guess I was ecstatic. I was so geeked to send in my salvia sample and I wanted to make sure that everything was perfect. A half an hour before I provided my sample, I brushed my teeth so my spit could be fresh. Mistake. Weeks, later after all of my coworkers had received their results, I checked Ancestry.com to find that my results came back inconclusive.
I had to resubmit.
This time I didn’t get cute. And in less than the six weeks, they predicted my results were here. Before I saw the list of the countries, I saw a list of my cousins…the first one a white man from Massachusetts with a young girl, presumably his daughter, sitting in his lap. Ancestry told me that this man was my 3rd or 4th cousin with, get this, 98 percent accuracy. Oh lawd.
Suddenly, it clicked. This is why my dad didn’t want to dig into his ancestry. He didn’t want to be outright confronted with the lighter, more European side of our family, you know, the ones who had more likely than not, forced themselves onto the tree. And my dad knew the white folks were there. There are just too many light complected folk to deny it. Personally, I know the deal. I’m not necessarily happy about it, but I’m not surprised either. It sucks that it happened but it is what it is at this point, white blood flows through our veins. Then I clicked to see how much.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was 90 whole percent African! And the first country, with 30 percent was Ghana. I’ve never been so happy to see a map in my life. I saw generations of me on that map and I could not stop smiling as I read the names of counties I knew very little about like Senegal, Nigeria, Cameroon, Benin and Togo. Then the 9 percent European, Great Britain was the highest with 6 percent and the rest Italy/Greece, European Jewish and Ireland all had one percent, all of which, with the exception of Great Britain, were surprises. Italian? Jewish? The Irish I have expected…but that’s another long story.
Despite the family lore, I didn’t see not a single drop of Native American, but the same week I got my results, Henry Louis Gates, would write an exceptionally thorough explanation as to why that might have been the case. In short, my ancestors were just like my father, not wanting to acknowledge the whiteness. Native American made for a better, less oppressive story.
I always thought that when I got my ancestry results, the answers that I had been searching for most of my life, that I would be so overcome with emotion that I would weep. But it didn’t happen…right away. I texted my coworker and friend Victoria Uwumarogie and told her what I’d found. The conversation went like this:
Victoria: “So how do you feel about your results?
Me: It’s cray. I’m kinda overwhelmed. I have so much diggin to do now. But I had a feeling I was Ghanaian…A lot of Jamaicans come from there (my maternal side is all Jamaican) and it was so funny Danielle (our Ghanaian coworker) looked at my grandfather’s pic rue and was like ‘Your people are from Ghana he looks just like my dad.’
Victoria: And to think you’ve already visited your homeland 🙂
And that’s when it hit me. I reflected back on my trip to Ghana, visiting Elmina slave castle, sobbing with my friend at the door of no return while our fellow [white] travelers looked on sympathetically but not feeling it like we were. This was full circle. I thought about how much I loved the music, the beaches, the fashion honey. (Some of thee flyest dresses I own, I bought in Ghana.) I distinctly remember being pleasantly surprised to find the smell of khus khus perfume, the same kind my Jamaican grandmother used to wear. I remember the elders who blessed us. And I never could forget the one man whose shop I brought from telling me, after noticing my Jamaica shirt, that there was a connection between us. And now, with my results, I knew his words were true. I felt it and I came back home telling my family, especially my mom that we were Ghanaian. But DNA makes it, for lack of a better phrase, hella real. Though I know I have so much more to learn about myself, (They don’t know it yet but my parents, will be taking this test.) but this information is the first really big, really significant piece of the puzzle I’ve been trying to put together my whole life.
If there’s anything that’s been made clear over the past two decades, it’s that there is a general perception of black men that’s not accurate. Hip Hop culture and pure ignorance has fueled the fire that pigeonholes many young men.
To defy these stereotypes 34 juniors and seniors from Illinois’ Central High School created a music video –of sorts– wearing their best slacks and button-ups. The gentlemen walk the halls of their school, shoot hoops and chat it up in the classroom all to Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie” record.
Best part: They’re all Honor Roll students, poets, future collegiate athletes and National Honor Society members.
Read more about these students at StyleBlazer.com
Late Friday night, the pop icon known as Madonna was feeling proud of her 13-year-old son Rocco and his MMA-style workout so she posted a picture of him on Instagram. Many parents are proud of their kids, right? Right. But the problem with her picture was the caption:
If you’re having trouble seeing it, the caption reads: “No one messes with Dirty Soap. Mama said knock you out! #dis[n-word]
Her comments section immediately blew up, both with people criticizing her use of the word as well as people defending her use of the word. Well, it all seemed to annoy Madonna so she took down the original picture but put it back up with a new caption that said:
“Ok let me start this again. #get off my dick haters!”
Hmm. So people who are criticizing you for using what many consider a racial slur are now your haters? That’s an interesting way of seeing things.
But of course, as all things go when celebrities find themselves in major hot water, she then took that picture down too and according to Hip Hop Wired, she apologized for it all on Saturday:
“I am sorry if I offended anyone with my use of the N-word on Instagram. It was not meant as a racial slur…I am not a racist. There’s no way to defend the use of the word. It was all about intention…It was used as a term of endearment toward my son who is white. I appreciate that it’s a provocative word and I apologize if it gave people the wrong impression. Forgive me.”
Be clear: Madonna is not apologizing for using the word, she’s apologizing to anyone who may have been offended by her using the word. This is obviously something she says on a regular basis under the guise of it being a “term of endearment.”
Madonna is also the mother of two black children and many immediately questioned how she speaks around them.
Here’s thing: If you’re going to say something, stand by it. There’s no way Madonna didn’t know that her posting that word would start this type of uproar. If you’re bold enough to use it, then be bold enough to stick by it and keep it up. Apologies are unnecessary when they’re empty and not truly sincere.
What do you think? Is Madonna wrong for using the n-word or is it okay for everybody to use it freely?
If you’ve had the pleasure of seeing 12 Years A Slave, you’ve seen Lupita Nyong’o (pronounced lew-PEET-tuh en-YON-go– thanks Slate.) but we doubt you know a bit of her backstory. Luckily, the Kenyan born actress sat down with Vogue to discuss a multitude of topics, including how she came to acting, her documentary about albinism, In My Genes and how she had to learn to see herself as black in America. The woman is physically stunning but her opinions and experiences are interesting and engaging as well. I found myself hanging on her every word in the video. Check out a few excerpts from the video below.
How she fell in love with acting
“I remember wanting to be an actor from the age of like 5. My family was really performative. We used to perform at family gatherings and stuff. But what actually did it for me was watching The Color Purple. When I saw Whoopi Goldberg and she looked like me. And I was like ‘Oh, I could do this.’ I could do this for a living.’ And that’s when I feel it really became a bug.
On her albinism documentary and learning to consider herself black
For my undergrad, I studied film studies and African studies as well. And I wanted to make a documentary because I had never tried to do a thing like that at school. And the subject that I chose was albinism in Kenya because I knew a person with albinism and I didn’t know anything about her experience. And I found myself feeling shame for not understanding someone that I considered to be my friend. And albinism in particular was an interesting subject because they’re the one group of people that unify all races. Having come to the United States was the first time that I really had to consider myself as being black and to learn what my race meant. Because race is such an important part of understanding American society.
Her role in 12 Years A Slave
One of the reasons why I enjoy acting is because it gives me a chance to experience circumstances and lives that I would otherwise not have the opportunity to experience. I enjoy being able to take on different social, economic and cultural backgrounds. So when I was given this opportunity to play this woman, a slave from a time that really is not part of my everyday life, it was such a gift as an actor to be able to lend myself to that kind of story.
Do yourself a favor and go ahead and watch the video. I know Lupita is far more than a pretty face but we would be remiss if we didn’t mention how utterly flawless she looks in this video. The poise and posture, her insight and beauty radiate eloquence and elegance.
Looking for a way to add a little more soul into your wedding?
Black weddings have always had a unique flair. From jumping the broom to pouring libations, there are plenty of wedding ideas to take from. We’re willing to bet that not even African-American history majors know them all. So check out our list for a refresher course on the most popular black wedding traditions.
We have had a long, tumultuous relationship with the n-word in the United States. And each time a celebrity lets their racism slip publicly, the debate pops up again. Here’s a review of some of the biggest n-bombs in history and what the fallout says about when it is and isn’t OK to use the word.