All Articles Tagged "stereotypes"
Springer Taught Me: Why It Doesn’t Make Sense To Blame Mona Scott-Young For The Downfall Of Black TV
Picture it: Richmond, Virginia, around 1996. It is Monday, mid-morning, and students on the campus of Virginia Union University are trying to figure out ways to pass the time between classes. While the library would be the most productive option, instead, dozens of students squeeze into the activity room at the Henderson Center and huddle around the television. With so many of us in the room, the temperature always managed to climb to a stifling degree, but whatever discomfort was felt from the heat paled in comparison to what was heating up on the small screen.
You see, between the hours of 11 a.m and 12 noon, it was known campus-wide as Jerry Springer hour. It was the time where we squelched our hunger for the shenanigans. There were public spectacles like a Nazi family reunion with a Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner twist; a deceitful lesbian, who tricked a straight exotic dancer into believing that she was actually a dude; and a love triangle involving an amputee man with no legs. It was crass, lewd and very ludicrous. It was the embarrassing part of America, of the community and heck even our own families. And yet here we were, W.E.B. Du Bois’ dream, sitting together in the hollow halls of a prestigious HBCU, hooting, fist pumping and booing every time someone manages to break free from the arms of Steve Wilkos and throw a fist or chair across the stage. Yes, it was shocking and appalling. But in between the tomfoolery, some discussions would happen; sides would be taken, and suddenly the real show was going on inside of the activity room.
Watching Mona Scott Young moderate the reunion episode for the third season of Love & Hip Hop on Monday, I realized how much she reminded me of that golden era of talk. I mean, that reunion episode had it all: lie detector tests, screaming matches, surprise twists, love triangles…and that was in the first 20 minutes. I watched as Mona was a referee between Raqi and Rashidah, who bickered over which of the two was a bigger industry “h*e” (I’m not being facetious; that was the actual conversation). My inside dialogue was like, well that’s just like debating Golden Delicious apples versus Granny Smith apples. However, Scott-Young took a different approach: She had respect for her guests, in this case, her cast mates. She didn’t mock them or make light of their petty disagreements. Instead, she tried her best to get to the bottom of their conflict by giving them the stage to air out their grievances. If the two wanted to deflect or skirt around the elephant – or should I say Joe Budden – in the room, well, that’s on them.
That’s why the whole, “she is bringing down the community”-talk just doesn’t work for me. Or if it does, I feel like this is a conversation we should have been having years ago when we were soaking up Donahue, Morton Downey Jr. and of course Springer. It’s so funny because so many people say that they don’t watch these type of shows and yet the numbers do speak for themselves. I don’t see why we folks have a hard time admitting to liking that there is something more realistic and pessimistically relatable about the people we see on her shows. It’s more than identifying with the characters themselves and what they do (very few of us can put video vixen on our resume), but rather an acknowledgment of the imperfect world we live in, where obscenity-laden screaming matches (with the occasional fist fight) and accusations of being h*e are pretty common. You don’t even have to be at the center of the drama. You could be standing in line at the supermarket or on the train and the drama will pop off around you. Believe me, I have been around some smack downs before and not once did anyone stop watching. Truth is, real life is messy and people can identify more with the emotional roller coaster (should I leave him or should I stay?) of dealing with a cheating partner more than they can the watered down, and often patronizing adversity we get from the Cosby Show-esque clones we have come to associate with more positive representational television.
It just seems like to blame Scott Young for the downfall of black television is a cop-out to all the not-so-kind images of black folks on television before her arrival. There was reality television, there was daytime television, and before that there were soap operas, or as the women in my family would call them: “stories.” No one ever complained about how black women looked on television when Drucilla Barber Winters was getting her Granny Golden Delicious Smith apples on with brothers on the Young and the Restless. Scott Young has just managed to find a way to combine all the melodrama of the soaps with the tomfoolery of daytime talk and call it reality.
By Ashley Pettaway
A couple weeks ago while sitting in a staff meeting a coworker made a comment that was undeniably offensive. I stared at her blankly trying to find a way to explain to her why what she said was not only ridiculous but also prejudiced. I made sure to check my tone and say things clearly, but as I made my point her reaction was less than satisfactory. I could feel my voice rising and a little voice in my head began to scream, No don’t do it. Do not be the angry Black woman. Of course, I had to be respectful but this voice was different from the usual “keep it professional” mantra I generally live by. This was about a second layer of corporate professionalism we worry about as Black women.
We’ve all had that experience when someone has said something they shouldn’t have and you have to make the decision whether to address or ignore the comment. That little voice in your head that says, “No, don’t be that girl. You don’t want to be the angry Black woman” is an example of stereotype threat. Psychologist Dr. Claude Steele first identified stereotype threat in 1995 as essentially the anxiety that you feel when you fear that you will confirm a negative stereotype. [Source] We mostly talk about this concept in relation to school performances and things of the like, but stereotype threat follows us throughout our lives, in the workplace, and in relationships.
As Black women, we navigate several stereotypes, most notably the angry Black woman and the clingy girlfriend. For some, the fear of confirming these negative stereotypes prevents us from expressing ourselves in times when it’s truly necessary. I get it, you want to put your best foot forward, but at what cost? Let’s be clear, this isn’t about holding your tongue because you know you can’t just go off on whoever you want for looking at you the wrong way. This is about times when you keep silent on important issues simply because you don’t want to be perceived negatively.
Stereotype threat can also influence our behavior in relationships. How often have you said things like, “I’m not like other girls,” to indicate that you’re not clingy or overly sensitive? The problem with this assertion is that it does not allow you any individuality. Being angry, or sensitive, or whatever emotion is part of being human. Women, and especially Black women, do not have the monopoly on these emotions. Trying to avoid them for fear of being negatively stereotyped denies us a part of ourselves.
What are we giving up when we allow these stereotypes to influence our decisions? Of course, some of this is beyond our control. We cannot help the negative stereotypes that folks will place on us, but by stifling ourselves to avoid confirming these stereotypes we are giving away our power. We have to be honest with our coworkers, our loved ones, and most importantly ourselves.
So let’s talk about stereotype threat. Have you ever held your tongue because you didn’t wanted to be seen as a negative stereotype?
Same Stereotypes, Different Day: What’s So Insightful About Philly Mag’s “Being White in Philly” Article?
It’s hard to get the point of the article in Philadelphia Magazine, entitled Being White in Philly, especially considering that most forms of media already act as a daily conduit to how white folks specifically think, feel and basically are being.
But despite the title’s proposition to offer some keen insight into the world of white thought we haven’t heard of, by the five paragraph it is clear that we pretty much heard it all before:
“I’ve shared my view of North Broad Street with people—white friends and colleagues—who see something else there: New buildings. Progress. Gentrification. They’re sunny about the area around Temple. I think they’re blind, that they’ve stopped looking. Indeed, I’ve begun to think that most white people stopped looking around at large segments of our city, at our poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods, a long time ago. One of the reasons, plainly put, is queasiness over race. Many of those neighborhoods are predominantly African-American. And if you’re white, you don’t merely avoid them—you do your best to erase them from your thoughts.
So this is not necessarily a story about white folks in Philadelphia but rather a story about how white folks feel specifically about black folks in Philadelphia. Sure black folks make up the biggest minority population in the city, however the Asian and Hispanic communities respectively represents. But nope, just black folks. At any rate, Robert Huber, the writer of this article, along with his throng of real white Philadelphians, pontificate upon the sometimes difficult relationship that they have with us colored folks including Huber’s awkwardness at having to be “overly polite” to black folks at the local WaWa.
Most of this narrative is told anonymously through the mouths of those in the more well-to-do parts of city like *Anna, whom Huber describes as a beauty from Moscow, who now lives in the more affluent and predominately white Fairmount section of the city. As she gets out of her BMW, she tells Huber, “I’ve been here for two years, I’m almost done,” she says. “Blacks use skin color as an excuse. Discrimination is an excuse, instead of moving forward. … It’s a shame—you pay taxes, they’re not doing anything except sitting on porches smoking pot … Why do you support them when they won’t work, just make babies and smoking pot? I walk to work in Center City, black guys make compliments, ‘Hey beautiful. Hey sweetie.’ White people look but don’t make comments… ”
So a white woman freaks out every time a black man whistles at her and she believes that black folks in general are lazy and don’t work? Got it. But again, is this negrophobia news to anyone? Anyone, who reads the comment section of any article, which mentions black folks in any context, already knows about this perception. Black teenagers are regularly stopped, frisked and even murdered because of the perpetuation of this thought. Heck there are political campaigns run and won on the premise of the welfare queen and the threatening black man. To be fair, there were a couple of anonymous white folks quoted in the article, who cautioned Huber about his racial generalizing. However there is enough about missing Halloween pumpkin from the front stoop that they are pretty sure was stolen by some black kid and the dismal graduation rates among blacks and the good ole’ days in the city, prior to the arrival of those blacks, who arrive from the South to Philly en masse with “chips on their shoulders.” So I’m sorry Huber and Philly Mag but you don’t get any less traditional than what we read in those pages.
Bury The Ratchet: Howard University Medical Students Petition To Have Bravo’s ‘Married To Medicine’ Canceled
Just yesterday, the cast of Bravo’s forthcoming reality show, Married To Medicine, which is a docu-series that follows the lives of some fairly prominent Black women doctors and doctor’s wives in the Atlanta area was revealed. Less than 24 hours later, an internet petition has surfaced on Change.org, urging the network to cancel the show. The petition was organized by a group of Howard University College of Medicine students, who believe that the airing of this reality show will leave the stain of unprofessionalism and cattiness on the image of Black female doctors for years to come. A portion of the petition reads:
“Black female physicians only compose 1% of the American workforce of physicians. Due to our small numbers, the depiction of Black female doctors in media, on any scale, highly affects the public’s view on the character of all future and current African American female doctors. Bravo’s “Married to Medicine” not only exploits the 6 lives of its Black female cast members, but, through its advertisements and commercials, heavily associates Black females in medicine with materialism, “cat fights”, and unprofessionalism. In a time when doctors are being held to very high standards by the public and each other, it is unfathomable for such a depiction of medicine and black women to be broadcast on tv where it will be inevitably available for years to come, on the internet and through other media outlets.”
The ladies also went on to suggest that shows such as this one make it difficult for young Black women like themselves to move ahead professionally in the medical field:
“Additionally, as residency positions are becoming increasingly more competitive (particularly for Black women) and contingent upon social behavior of graduating medical students, this depiction will only hinder black female physicians from attaining competitive residencies. Hence, for the sake of integrity and character of black female physicians, we must ask that Bravo immediately remove and cancel “Married to Medicine” from its channel, website, and any other media.”
According to the cast bios, which appear on the Bravo website, the cast of Married To Medicine includes:
“Dr. Jacqueline Walters: Doctor to stars like Toni Braxton, T.I. and Usher…”
“Dr. Simone Whitmore: The independent OBGYN, who has her own practice since 2004, has been married to her more laid-back husband, Cecil Whitmore, for 16 years, and they have sons together…”
“Toya Bush-Harris: Bush-Harris met her husband, emergency medicine physician Eugene Harris, during a speed dating event five years ago while pursuing her master’s in education from the University of Phoenix and working two jobs…”
“Mariah Huq: Dubbed “Queen Bee” and a mother of two, Huq is married to Dr. Aydin Huq, an emergency physician and native of Bangladesh, and openly embraces her husband’s culture…”
“Quad Lunceford-Webb: Known as the “Black Barbie” in her social circle, Lunceford-Webb is newly wed to psychiatrist Dr. Gregory Lunceford, whose reserved demeanor often clashes with her unpredictable feistiness…”
“Kari Wells: The British-born model has been married to Colombian-raised orthopedic surgeon Duncan Wells for 10 years.”
The show is scheduled to premiere March 24th.
Check out the show’s trailer on the next page and let us know if you think the Howard students have a valid argument.
Normally I don’t like to engage in stereotypes however if there is one behavior, which could be classify along racial lines, I would think it could be black folks love affair with napkins.
Yesterday I was at McDonalds, getting some sort of salad with what tasted a lot like crushed up Doritos on it (that is what I get for getting a salad from McDonalds), when I notice that the drive thru cashier forgot my napkins. I asked her for a couple. She apologized and then reached behind her cashier’s terminal and came back with what can be best describe as a small evergreen shrub. The stack was so fat that if you counted the leafs, you could probably determine from what tree in which deforested part of the rainforest your napkins originated.
Why would she think I wanted all of these napkins? Oh I see: it’s because I’m black. I give the cashier the side eye. She, overworked, underpaid and probably not knowing what my problem is, gives me one right back…
Yeah I know, generalizations are bad and most times are not reflective of an entire community. Hello? Like, some of us actually use paper towels. However with my years of experience in the restaurant industry (working through high school and college in some capacity as a waitress/bartender), has made me witness to how glaringly neurotic our napkin consumption is at times. A good server worth his or her apron in tips, knows that if your guests happen to be folks of a darker hue, you better make damn sure to come to the table fully equipped with the right amount of disposable napkins. What is the right amount? Who knows for sure. But to be on the safe side, just bring about half a sleeve.
I have never been a napkin hog. Two to four (depending on the ply-count) disposable napkins per dining experience is enough for me – unless I am eating something messy like ribs. In which case I will grab about two or three more. However in instances where the napkin distribution power is out of my control, I also end up with more napkins that I could possibly need. So then I am stuck with all this paper product, which I really don’t have a use for but as an Eco-friendly citizen, just can’t seem to garner the necessary fortitude to throw them away. So I stick them in my drawer in the kitchen with intentions of eventually finding some purpose or task around the house to us them. That chance never comes. Mainly because I always forget that this accumulation of fast food restaurant disposable napkins even exists – until I come home again with a fresh stack to add to the collection.
The most contradictory thing I have noticed about black folks disposable paper consumption is how even in our waste, we can still manage to conserve. For instance, last summer my brother and I, along with my four nieces and nephews, were having lunch at the buffet (Oh shut up! It was the kids choice and the children love the buffet). After noticing that none of us grabbed anything to clean our hands with while eating, my brother goes, retrieves some napkins from the dispenser and then plopped them in the middle of the table. The pile was so thick that it made a thud sound when it hit the table top. I spent the rest of the lunch counting how many napkins we used. The answer: sixteen. Out of the gazillion napkins my brother took, we only ended up using less than a third of them. Curiously, I asked my brother, “Why the heck did you get all of these napkins?” He shrugged, “they free, why not?” Then he paused, thought about it some more and said, “Plus the kids stay spilling stuff.” Well I guess in some instances having lots of napkins makes sense but what about the fate of the rest of these napkins? My brother shrugged again, “I dunno. I usually leave them on the table. What they [eatery] do with the unused ones is on them.” He has a point there too.
Internationally, but more specifically to Western countries, our environmental policies are pretty warped and there are certainly a lot more impactful ways we can reduce our carbon footprints as a species than worrying about how many disposable napkins black folks have stuffed into the glove compartment box of their vehicle. And according to this article in Treehugger, the disposable paper napkin produces less grams of greenhouse gas emissions than its cotton counterpart. However as it has been reported that the average American goes through 2,200 napkins a year, I can’t help but also cringe at the little ways in which we basically co-signed the mindless degradation of the planet – even if we are just talking about a flimsy napkin.
Volkswagen unveiled the 60-second commercial, which they’ll be dishing out $8 million to air during the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for the company, they didn’t receive the response that they were expecting. According to the Daily Mail, many are outraged over the German car company’s commercial, which depicts non-Black actors speaking with Jamaican accents. In the commercial, one man is so excited to be driving a Volkswagen that he gleefully walks around his office seeking to spread the cheer among his co-workers.
People have found the ad to be an offense to Caribbean people for multiple reasons. One reason being that they feel that it implies the untrue notion that all people from the Caribbean are super relaxed and never experience stress. New York Times columnist Charles Blow recently appeared on “Starting Point With Soledad O’Brien”, where he expressed his disdain for the 60-second ad.
“I don’t like it all… It’s like blackface with voices. I don’t like that,” Blow expressed
Jamaican-born journalist for the Wall Street Journal, Christopher John Farley expressed that the accents were reminiscent of Jar Jar Binks, the widely contended Star Wars character who spoke in a Caribbean dialect.
“It’s off-putting to see the Island spirit used as a punchline… The Jamaican aesthetic–shaped by such Jamaican-born notables as Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey and the revolutionary Nanny of the Maroons–is founded on positive vibration, not mindless happiness,” penned Farley.
Tim Mahoney, executive V.P. and CMO of Volkswagen America expressed to CNN that his company had done extensive research and consulted with 100 people from Jamaica and even utilized the services of a dialect coach to ensure that the accents were non-offensive.
“We obviously did our homework to make sure that we weren’t offensive,” said Mahoney.
As with anything, there are opponents to the ad, as well as people who are for it and don’t seem to find it offensive. For example, the Today Show’s Matt Lauer, who expressed that he actually enjoyed the ad.
“I thought, If you buy this car, it puts you in a happy place… And what’s happier than the memories we all have of being on beautiful islands on island time? That’s the way I took it.”
Check out the commercial on the next page. Do you find this ad to be offensive?
Photo courtesy of YouTube
I was fired a few years ago as retaliation against complaints of unlawful discrimination that occurred at a company I previously worked for. That termination bruised my ego but eventually the saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” became one of the most important mottos of my life.
It all started when I accepted a position at a company that leased luxury rental properties. All of my co-workers and managers were white, obviously making me the only black person that worked there. On my very first day of work, one of my co-workers asked me if I tanned. When she immediately started laughing after she asked me her question, I assumed that she was attempting to humor me. I didn’t find her question funny and after she saw the serious expression on my face she didn’t either. But I let it go and we moved on.
A few days later the same co-worker received a call from a resident complaining about something that went awry in her townhome. When she got off the phone, my co-worker proceeded to tell me about the differences between black people and “crazy” black people. I was shocked and dismayed to hear another racially offensive comment by this same chick within my first few days of employment. Clearly she was going to be a problem.
Not long after that incident, the same co-worker started calling me “Shaquita.” When I told her that my name was not Shaquita, doesn’t sound like, rhyme with, or look like Shaquita, she told me to lighten up and said that I was being too sensitive. I didn’t realize that I applied for a position that came with an added bonus of having to deal with harassment with a side of racism.
As the days and weeks went by the derogatory terms became more pervasive. There is a predominately black neighborhood in my city called Trotwood. When potential residents listed Trotwood as the neighborhood they resided in, my co-worker would call the neighborhood “Trot-hood.” She would also call black male applicants from the area “Craig.” And when I asked her what she meant by the term Craig, she said “You know Craig from the movie Friday.” From what I remember of that movie, Craig played an unemployed man from the hood that lacked aspirations and hung around a weed dealer all day. Her disrespectful nicknames and unwarranted stereotypes went too far and it was time for me to take action.
Each time my co-worker made inappropriate comments I always corrected her in a professional manner. Maybe if I would have gone all “Gangsta Boo” on her then she wouldn’t have made so many racist cracks, but that’s not my way of doing things. My professional warnings went out the window as she continued to stereotype virtually every black person that went in and out of the office and did so as though it was funny. She told me to call black applicants and to use my “black” voice to relate to them. I asked her for clarity into what a “black voice” sounds like so she started mocking what she thought black women talk like. Trust me, it wasn’t flattering. When I told her that her comments and behaviors were racist and needed to stop, she had the nerve to say she was part Native American so she couldn’t possibly be racist. I guess I must have missed the memo that exempted racist behaviors from people who could claim a different ethnicity.
Since addressing my concerns with my co-worker fell on deaf ears, I decided to solicit management’s assistance in stopping her behavior. One manager never followed up with my issues, while another manager said she would say something to the co-worker so that her behavior would stop. Unfortunately, my co-worker’s antics continued.
I sent an e-mail to my co-workers and managers outlining the racist comments and attitudes that were occurring at the company. In the e-mail I suggested diversity training as a potential solution to what was then an ongoing issue. I told my manager that I sent her an e-mail and that I wanted her to read it. She read it, asked me to come into her office, and decided to fire me five minutes later.
That experience would have left me humiliated and broken had I not known that my termination was illegal. My state’s Civil Rights Commission accepted my case, conducted an investigation, and informed me that the company was interested in offering me financial compensation for all of my pain and suffering. Their offer didn’t heal my wounds, but I won’t front, it did make a nice Band-Aid. I think so often many of us sit around and accept egregious behavior because we don’t want to look like we’re not a team player at work, or because we’re afraid of what can happen. But at some point, it’s hard to look yourself in the mirror knowing you allow people to disrespect you and your people on a daily basis because they think it’s harmless and funny. Newsflash: It’s not funny and it’s definitely not right to stand by and let people think that such behavior is acceptable. You don’t have to argue with these people, you don’t have to act a fool. You can go directly to management or just lay down the law to your co-worker in a calm and respectful manner, but however you choose to act, don’t do nothing.
Writing for CBS News, Mo Ivory has a pretty tough critique of the television show “Scandal”:
“And I am going to just say it: Olivia Pope is no different than Joseline from “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta” or Kim from “Real Housewives of Atlanta” – she just has more expensive clothes, a higher paying job and tighter security. She is no breath of fresh air, nuanced or complicated, and definitely not a rarity in black female representation. She is merely presented on a shiny platter in a sparkly house instead of at the bar in a strip club.
A street worker provides the same service as an escort…they just cost more and are found in different locations.”
Ivory continues her assessment of the show by critiquing some of the fans of the show, who she said might be “presentation hypocrites” – a person who classifies the exact behavior differently based on the presentation of the acts – for viewing Olivia Pope as deep and thought-provoking while chastising the women of reality television for the same sort of immoral behavior, such as an affair. Ivory writes:
“Here’s the truth: She’s having an affair with a married man who made sure he secured a really good job for her that she has been able to turn into a profitable business. But not before she engaged in criminal activity to make sure he would get his job and formed a partnership with another woman he sleeps with. She sneaks over in the middle of the night for booty calls and has her “yes” men and women to cover her tracks. She keeps a thug around (Huck) for protection and to do her dirty work. She keeps a good guy on the side who she should “really be with” in order for her to claim to herself and others that she is finished being a Slore. If this plot was being cast as a reality show it would be called, “Housewives of America,” “Love & Hip Hop USA” or “Politicians’ Wives.”
…and that is how you draw the ire of a good portion of the black blogosphere. Seriously, there are lots of pissed off fans of “Scandal” in the comment section beneath her post. She might want to call in Judy Smith, the real Olivia Pope, to come handle that. Anyway, I think that Ivory is both right and wrong in her assessment of the television show. Let’s start with what I think she gets right:
I have written about presentation hypocrisy before, most recently the flap over the reportedly canceled reality show All My Babies Mammas, I just didn’t know that this television double standard actually had its own terminology. The only time we are concerned about challenging potentially harmful images of ourselves is when those images come from a less affluent part of our community. I also think that what people get caught up in is that this major network television series was produced and written by a black woman (Shonda Rhimes) and features an educated, independent and powerful black woman as lead. Those historic markers alone gives “Scandal” a pedigree above your typical reality television series starring black characters. However, contrary to what the show’s accomplishments suggest, the Olivia Pope character is not Claire Huxtable. And she does appear to embody the same sort of messiness, which befalls many of the characters on television. Straight up drama. Olivia Pope may not hop on tables with veins bulging out of her forehead, threatening to be “about that life,” ala Evelyn Lozada but best believe Huck will give you the business – after she discreetly leaves the room. Now that’s classy.
Therefore, I don’t quite understand the push back Ivory has received for stating the obvious: “Scandal,” on the whole, is pretty damn ratchet. I mean, isn’t that what we expect from a night time soap, particular one called “Scandal”? Or does the pedigree prevent us from admitting that yes, between our Toni Morrison, pearl necklaces and Alice Walker, is space for the tawdriness too? Growing up on a steady diet of daytime soap operas like “All My Children” and “Young and Restless” as well as the various night time romantic dramas, such as “Dynasty,” “Dallas,” “Falcon Crest,” “90210,” “Buffy,” the male version of Buffy (I can’t remember the name of the show), “Roswell,” etc…, I often wondered when black folks would have their own scripted version of a soap-type drama. Of course, the answer is our overall representational problem behind the television cameras, which creates an imbalance of quality characters on screen. However, even in spaces where black folks had some sort of say creatively, it has truly been difficult finding nuance characters – and I am not quite sure if that is all due to racism in Hollywood or this shroud of anxiety black folks live under, which requires us to present ourselves “right.” I always said that a true sign of progress would be our ability to create and have see complex and dysfunctional black characters without concern or anxiety about how others might use said image to define our entire cultural experience. In some respects, “Scandal,” with its expensive tailored suit, master’s degree and more affluent contacts, is a sign of not only how far we come but also how much more progress is needed to make real representational equality (trademark pending) a reality.
The latter is where I believe that Ivory gets wrong in her critique. Although she hits the nail on the head in her summation of the hypocrisies in passing moral judgment over a basketball wife but not a Pope, Ivory ultimately misses the point that we should not be making any moral judgments about these women’s sexual relationships – be it real or fictional. I don’t see Olivia as an immoral specifically because of her relationship; nor do I make the same sort of sexual moral judgments about the women of reality television. There have been tons of shows with male-centered characters, who engage in relationships with not only married women but outside of their own marriages, and still get to be regarded as the hero and good guy of the story. Male characters are allocated more freedom in the moral value system whereas women are regulated with more stringent standards. In in some cases, a female character’s entire value to the a story will be determine exclusively by whom they’re sleeping with.
In the article, Three White H0es and Betty White: The Unspoken Double Standard, Kirsten West Savali writes about another form of presentation hypocrisy in which white female sexuality is normalized and encouraged while black women and sexuality is still regarded in negative and fearful terms. Writes Savali, “White women can refer to themselves as “h0es” tongue-in-cheek, because they do not accept ownership of the word — it is not disrespectful, because, in our twisted society, it is a word that does not belong to them — it belongs to us. They are free to sexually express themselves, without fear of judgment and repercussions, because their sexuality has been ruled safe for mass consumption; conversely, the power that is sheathed in the sexuality of black women cannot, and will not, be harnessed, and that will continue to affect our presence in the media until our economic conditions reflect our true value.”
I have to say that as a fan of “Scandal,” the relationship she has with the president is probably the least interesting part of both the Olivia Pope character and the subplot of the show. But I do appreciate the irony of a story about a professional fixer, whose job is to help the connected out of a scuttlebutt, finds herself dead-smack in the midst of one of her own making. And I also appreciate Rhimes courage to “go there” with the Olivia Pope character. Racial mythologies, which have historically painted black women as pathological Sapphires and Jezebels, means that the terms, “Slore” or “Slore” or some other sexual epithet gets thrown around way too loosely and too frequently. And while white women can feel free to embrace some levels of sexual complexity on television, black female television characters are not generally written or accepted in such expressive roles. I’m not saying that women characters need to engage in more televised extra marital relationships in order to provide some sort of representational equality on the screen. But I feel that we shouldn’t necessarily feel compelled to completely divorce ourselves from those television images of black women and complex sexuality based around the desire to keep up appearances.
As I sit and stare down at my laptop writing this article the pudge peeking from below my tank top serves as an unwelcome reminder that I am getting older and my metabolism isn’t what it used to be. Although the workings of weight gain and loss are quite complex, simply put most doctors agree that as we age our bodies tend to lose muscle and as we lose muscle our metabolism tends to decrease. What does that mean for me? It means in order for me to maintain this size 3 waist I may finally have to admit that the pickles on my Big Mac don’t count as a vegetable and stop counting my ten minute walk to the train as a workout.
For many women big and small, weight consumes their world. But the only reason I ever watched my waistline was to put the belt through the loops on my skinny jeans. It’s true; I’m the evil skinny woman that Monique threw shade at in Skinny Women Are Evil: Notes of a Big Girl in a Small-Minded World which some would argue doesn’t encourage self-confidence but excuses an unhealthy lifestyle by throwing around phrases such as “fabulous and thick.“ At 5’2” and 115 pounds, I wasn’t offended. Us skinny girls have our own problems, but don’t blame me for being genetically blessed. And it’s not that I don’t think big girls are beautiful. Are you kidding me? If you tune in for 15 minutes of 106 and Park you’ll be bombarded with images of voluptuous backsides bouncing beneath trial size waistlines. Most of the girls glorified by our culture don’t look like Monique, but they don’t necessarily look like my no-hips-having behind either.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t painfully aware of the fact that petite privilege exists. It’s why employers typically hire pretty, thin woman as administrative assistants rationalizing, “They’re the first image that introduces a client to the company,” as if being pretty and skinny means that you’re a competent employee (if that even really matters). I first became aware of the fact that these judgments came naturally to me when I noticed I instinctively breathed through my mouth on the bus whenever a bigger person sat near me. We’ve rendered fat people as the scapegoats for every social group’s flaws. We automatically associate obesity with odor, poor hygiene and a lack of self-control…and that’s completely foul. Still, the first step is recognizing that you have a problem and I recognize my way of thinking about weight is seriously flawed.
Christmas Shopping Fails: Going Into “Upscale” Shops And Employees Making You Feel Like You Don’t Belong There
How fun is Christmas shopping!?
If you could see me right now, you would know that the sarcasm in my voice as I read this out loud is major. Christmas shopping is very difficult. If you’re not dealing with a big family to shop for but with less than baller funds, you’re buying gifts for people who never wear or use what you spent good money on. Successful Christmas shopping all depends on the reaction you get on the big day, and up until then, you can only sit back, wait, and wonder if what you bought will knock some socks off.
Seeing as how very underwhelming all that is, things can get ten times worse when you have an experience like I did early this morning. Feeling a bit inspired after a good night’s sleep to go out and shop on 5th Avenue, I got up, got dressed and tried to get in the holiday spirit. Being that it was still relatively early (I left the house at late 9 a.m.), I went out in clothes that I would later return home and go work out in. Some yoga tights with combat boots, a long tunic-like shirt, my long utility coat, (which covered my tight-adorned booty), and a long colorful scarf. Did I look like something out of the pages of Vogue? Uh, no, but I didn’t know you had to be all Style to Steal just to Christmas shop with thousands of other people. Indifferent, I headed to a very popular jewelry and accessories shop on 5th Avenue, jamming with my Beats by Dr. Dre headphones on. When I entered the store, it was gorgeous! A huge Christmas tree covered in gold tinsel, clutches and bracelets in candy colors–it was enchanting at first glance. I pulled my headphones down around my neck and proceeded to shop around, half browsing, but half keeping an eye out for the pieces I was interesting in picking up for my mother that I had seen online.
As I walked over to a tall section of bold bracelets, I stared hard, looked them over, touched them a little bit. To the right of me were two employees, chatting it up and laughing about whatever. When I looked their way to see if they were even going to greet me, they looked at me kind of weird, and then looked back at each other and kept talking. I didn’t let that that bother me, but as I moved around the store, I noticed many other employees treated me in a similar manner, and I wasn’t appreciating it…
As I went to another room, I looked at fly bracelets with bright Swarovski crystals. When I picked one of them up to make sure it would be long enough or big enough for my mom’s wrist, that’s finally when someone finally walked over and asked me if everything was all right: “Oh yeah, I was just wondering, if this is too short for a person’s wrist, can an extra link or two be added?” She quickly said no, but that I could return it. I smiled thinking that she, out of all these lazy employees, would finally offer me some steady help, starting by asking me the million dollar question: “So, what is it exactly that you’re looking for?” But she walked away quickly and proceeded to get on the phone behind the register for someone else.
Another employee, a young man, was working in that room, and I felt him watching me, but definitely not helping me. When I looked up to ask him a question, he walked away and talked with other customers. With my Beats headphones on, my locs and my colorful, dare I say, tackalicious outfit, I thought that maybe I looked like a broke a** teenager to the employees and felt a little embarrassed. While I didn’t try and adjust my ensemble, I put the headphones away and kept shopping. However, I couldn’t help but feel like the lack of help and attention (positive that is) I was receiving was a way for someone to let me know I didn’t really belong in the place. I became pretty uncomfortable with the whole scenario, so I decided to scoop up the gifts I knew my mom and my boyfriend’s little sister would like, and hurried to get the hell out of there. And guess who was more than ready to help me out at the register? The same guy who avoided me the whole time I was there, this time very giddy: “Were you ready to checkout!?”
As I stepped up to the register and pulled out my fancy wallet, the guy was finally looking at me, a smile on his face. When he asked me was I helped in picking up the bracelet and other items, I thought for a sec–did that girl REALLY help me?–and I confidently said “No.” He said nothing, and I wasn’t surprised. I could feel that the girl who answered my question earlier was staring at me from the other register, and I didn’t care. With all the energy she put into everyone else, I knew she really didn’t think she did a damn thing for me now did she?
I get it. I used to be a sales assistant trying to survive in different retail stores during the holidays. It can be terrible, and it can be VERY terrible when you put a lot of attention on a needy customer who walks out empty handed. However, it’s part of your job, so you should do it, not pick and choose who looks like they’re worth the time and energy. I didn’t have a million and one questions for these people, and in all honesty, as you read, I could move my way around and figure out most things on my own. Yet and still, it’s the principle of it all. Don’t go through hell and high water for the older white woman who later tells you they’re going to change their mind on a product, and ignore me, a paying customer, because I don’t look like a soccer mom or a city girl with a very big disposable income. You can’t judge what’s in my wallet based on what I look like or how eclectic my attire is, and you shouldn’t try to. While I’m sure the recipients of the gifts I bought at this boutique will definitely appreciate them, I didn’t appreciate my experience in the store, and I definitely won’t be back.
Have you dealt with a lack of customer service like this while shopping? Have people made you uncomfortable in their place of business?