All Articles Tagged "white women"
Crissle has built quite a name for herself over the last few years. From her Twitter presence to her thoughts on the podcast “The Read,” which she shares with Kid Fury, to her seat on the panel of MTV2’s “Uncommon Sense,” Crissle is known for her opinions. From her love of Beyoncé to the way she rides for Black women, she is that girl. One of my favorite moments from her came when she read this White man for filth after he suggested she was overreacting for disliking Sarah Silverman’s Blackface.
Late last year, we named Crissle one of the people we wish were our friends. She’s just that cool, really.
But none of us get it right 100 percent of the time. And last night, our beloved Crissle found herself making some controversial comments about biracial children.
It all started with a screenshot of a tweet from a White woman who wrote:
Someone suggested the Crissle “finish” the woman who tweeted this. But she declined, referencing the fact that far too often Black men don’t come to our defense.
I meeeeeaaaan, facts. The rider-ship is not reciprocal.
But things took a left turn when Crissle tweeted about White women and the children born from their interracial unions.
And the clapback was swift.
Crissle went back and forth with several people throughout the night talking about mixed-people privilege, our current definition of Blackness being deeply rooted in slavery and racism and more. And while she brought up these valid points, and even deleted the original tweet, the statement was just flagrantly wrong.
I know how Black women feel watching Black men go out of their way to choose White women, diss, dismissing, stepping on or over us in the process. I’ve seen it far too many times to ignore. And I’m not talking about the celebrity realm. I’m talking about everyday, ordinary Black men, bashing everyday, ordinary Black women. I know it’s real. And I even agree that Black men don’t support us in the ways they should. Issues that are specific to Black women are either diminished or completely disregarded. So I can understand a Black woman choosing to opt out of caping for Black men.
I even understand the biracial children enjoy a different type of privilege that other Black people. Biracial kids, children who are Black and White, are believed to have the ideal hair texture. They’re often the children we see as child stars. I remember when I was growing up, there was the very prevalent belief that biracial children were prettier than Black children. There was a time, as a young girl, where I actually believed that. I thought that God made biracial children beautiful as a way to encourage Black and White people to get over their centuries-long beef and come together. Literally and figuratively. Now, I recognize that the fetishization and uplifting of these biracial children is really just a thinly masked attempt to belittle Blackness. The sentiment is that one needs European ancestry to appear more attractive. We’re attractive all on our own.
I get Crissle being mad at White women who actively and specifically seek out Black men, trying to live out some type of sexual fantasy or piss their parents off.
There is a whole lot of truth in the fact that the lines we’ve drawn around Blackness, in this particular country, are rooted in slavery. There are actual codes, from the 1600s that dictated how children born of a slave and free person, one most likely Black and the other White, were to be treated. They were called Code Noir, a decree passed by the French King, were adopted in the West Indies, in some South American countries and in some Southern states in America, most notably Mississippi Louisiana,
And in those codes, meant to control the economic labor of White people and protect their assets, the authors of these codes wrote, “Children between a male slave and a free woman were free; children between a female slave and a free man were slaves.”
We all know that after the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, Black, outside the continent of Africa, was often synonymous with “slave” and White was synonymous with free. And Crissle was trying to argue that our very definitions of Blackness come from that system. They were set in place so that White men who raped their slaves could still maintain, not only their resources— in not having to include these Black children in their will—but also their work force. If your child was, by law, your slave, you could deal with him/her however you chose.
Still, we could also argue that her refusal to see the children of White women as Black is also a result of those very same codes.
Yes, Crissle. Blame Black men for the way they’ve denigrated their own kind. Blame White women for the hyper-sexualization of our men. But I got lost when we started talking about the children. They were born, not understanding society’s construction of race and the implications of their identity. You know, tabula rasa. Whether a child is born because of rape, or two consenting adults having sex, the child has nothing to do, at least in the beginning, with those racial politics. And ultimately this same child will have to decide for him or herself how they will be identified.
Furthermore, if a biracial child chooses to identify as Black, I can’t imagine how that poses a threat to our own identity as “just Black.” How does isolating this many people help to illuminate the issues of our struggle for equality? How does embracing children with a White mother and Black father as Black pose a threat to Black women or the unity of Black men and women? Really, who does this help? Perhaps the statement was directed toward White women specifically and just so happened to directly impact another group.
But more importantly than this, I wonder where do we draw the line? Anyone from the diaspora is very likely not 100 percent Black. Based on Crissle’s standard, many of the biracial children who were forced into slavery, despite having a White parent, wouldn’t be Black, though they certainly lived the Black experience. Not only that, so many of the historical figures who we praise, who identified as Black, were also biracial. Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, some of the wokest Black men of their time, some of the men who helped liberate and empower thousands of other Black folk, were biracial. We have to ask ourselves, where would we be if biracial Black people hadn’t chosen to identify with us and fight to bring awareness to our struggle? Are we going to pretend that Jesse Williams, with his light brown skin and blue eyes, is not one of the loudest voices in entertainment, fighting for our equality?
Again, biracial Black folk enjoy a level of privilege, but still they experience oppression and ostracism. So many biracial children feel like they have to choose between being Black or White. They feel like they don’t fit in with one group or the other, or both. And if a biracial child is in a room full of White people, as so many Black folk so often are, they’re still other. And in many instances, will be treated as such.
Honestly, I struggled about whether or not to write this. I saw the ways in which people tried to attack Crissle personally for expressing her opinion. They said she was mean and nasty. One person even alleged that “The Read” would be so much better without her. Truth is, “The Read,” has never been done without her. Honestly, I’m not here for another game of attack the opinionated Black woman. It’s tired.
And in Crissle’s defense, she ultimately realized that some conversations aren’t for Twitter and admitted “God ain’t finished working on me etc etc.”
I decided to ultimately write this because she is not alone in this school of thought. Increasingly I’ve noticed that Black people, on social media, in person, etc, are calling biracial people “not Black.” And I’m really wondering when this became a thing. Black people have always embraced biracial people as one of our own. When did this change? When did biracial people become excluded from Blackness? And I’m not asking that rhetorically, if someone has an answer, do share.
When I went to Ghana, during my junior year of college, I was hurt to learn how some of the people regarded me. I’m sure I told this story on MadameNoire before, but this artist, who I had just supported by buying some of his work, told me that I wasn’t Black. He nailed the point home by holding up his arm, next to mine, noting the difference in skin color. “Something happened in between here and here,” he said pointing to his arm and then pointing to mine.
Hell yeah something happened.
My ancestors, some of them from that very country, unwilling crossed an ocean. And after that, or hell, even on the journey, my female ancestors were raped. And some of them bore children. That’s what happened from his arm to mine. But just because someone literally forced their way into my family tree and genetic makeup, it doesn’t mean that I’m not Black.
And what I learned from that ordeal is that no one can tell you how to identify yourself. They don’t know what happened from one generation to the next. They don’t know the circumstances that led to your birth or the circumstances that led you to identify in the way you do. The work of self identifying is for us all to do individually. And it’s our job to hold on to our choice, despite what others may say about it. At the end of the day, Blackness is too broad to be boxed in.
I’ve been watching and re-watching “Sex and The City” with my sister and in addition to the very real, world relationship trials, tribulations and triumphs we can all relate to, I’m struck by the differences in the ways Black and White women regard and approach sex and sexuality. I won’t venture to guess that White women are having more sex than us. Who really knows? But I do believe they view it differently. And I’m not basing this theory off of a fictional television show, I also watched the very real, “Jersey Shore,” where both the male and female cast mates regularly took strangers back to the house to bone. And if that’s not enough empirical evidence, my sister, who lived with White roommates throughout her college years, corroborated the fact that the media depictions of a more frequent and carefree attitude regarding sex wasn’t too far from reality.
So why is this the case? What are White women being taught about sex that Black women aren’t? One White woman suggested that White women who are often presented as sexual objects in the media, are eager to perform those same roles for men; while Black women, who have higher rates and a history of sexual violence, and are often hypersexualized and demonized in society, view the act differently.
A Black woman, who happens to hang around a lot of White people offered that White women equate sex with feminism and being liberated and fun, like Amy Schumer.
I can’t say I disagree with either one of those theories.
The thought of the differences in our approach to sex and sexuality came back to my head again, after reading an article on Jezebel about body count. In it, this woman, a mother, who has long since lost track of her number of sexual partners (She said more than 30 but less than 70.), talks about body count, healthy sexual behavior and much more with her almost-19-year-old daughter, who is also sexually active. To be fair, I don’t know if this mother and daughter duo are White or not. But the attitude is still different.
Their very open and honest conversation made me think about the conversations Black women have with their daughters about sex and sexuality. In my house, we were raised in the church and were taught that sex before marriage is a sin. But I’m also very thankful that my mother always answered any question I had about sex honestly. But she also made sure to share her opinions. My mother explained to me that sex, in the right context, felt great and could be a very beautiful thing. She told me it was a very spiritual act and that you didn’t unite spirits with just anyone. She was sure to tell me that when you have sex with a man that there’s nothing more you can give him. That’s the ultimate. At the time, I thought that piece of advice made sense but today I think about things differently. I don’t believe that sex is the ultimate gift you can give a man. But, as my coworker, whose mother gave her similar advice pointed out, when they were telling us these things, as a middle schoolers and then a high schoolers, who didn’t quite understand all that we had to offer the world or a man, that may have very well been true. My coworker’s mother said that her mother said that waiting until marriage to have sex could provide more security in the relationship. My mother mentioned the fact that sex often fosters a different level of attachment that would a.) make it harder to leave a bad situation or b.) make the heartbreak of the ending of the relationship that much worse because of these heightened feelings. I don’t know if that’s the case for every woman, but as sensitive as I am, I was thankful for that piece of advice.
But in addition to the deep, philosophical stuff, my mother was also very practical. As long as I didn’t have children, my life was my own and I could do what I wanted. But if I had a child, I would have to devote my time and energy into making sure that he or she was good. My life would be put on the back burner for the sake of my child. And having watched peers and family members live that very life, I could see that she wasn’t lying. But at the end of it all, my mother told me that if things got hot and I just couldn’t hold it anymore, if I thought I was ready to have sex, I should come to her so she could get me some protection.
My other coworker talked about the ways in which her mother talked of cleanliness. Another one spoke about how sex was regarded as so evil, dirty and nasty that she couldn’t say the word “sex” in her house as a child because her parents didn’t want to have to answer any questions. The impact of religion on Black women and our sexuality can’t be overstated. Perhaps the reason we don’t get down, or don’t appear to get down as much or as freely as White women do, is because we carry around so much guilt about having or even wanting to have sex. So even if we are having it, we’re certainly not broadcasting the fact to any and everybody. Just the inner circle of girlfriends. Because there is likely another Black girl or woman who would be too quick to judge us. And it’s not just women either.
Far too many times, I’ve witnessed men refer to the very women they’ve had sex with as loose (literally and figuratively), hoes, skanky, dirty and a host of other unflattering names. It’s not just outside forces who have tried to paint Black women as hypersexual, men in our own communities do it all the time.
So, Black women are carrying quite a bit more baggage than White women when it comes to our views on sexuality, which no doubt accounts for some of the real or perceived differences in behavior. But these are just a few experiences and theories. Do you believe Black and White women approach sex differently? If so, why do you think that’s the case. And more importantly, what did your parents, particularly your mother or the women in your life, tell you about sex?
If you recall, we interviewed the founders of Black Girls Run about why they started their organization and what advice can they give women who are looking to workout. In this bonus clip, Ashley Hicks and Toni Carey talk about why it’s so important for women to workout in a relationship and be open minded while dating.
To join Black Girls Run in your area, visit their website.
Television has been pretty “ratchet” for years, it’s just that some of the supposed ratchetness gets called out and others get Emmy nominations…
What I’m talking about is the fact that recently I lifted my ban on HBO’s “Girls,” which was instituted because of Lena Dunham. (I detailed my concerns a while ago here.) During season three, I watched somebody ejaculate on somebody else. On television. More specifically Lena Dunham’s ex-boyfriend Adam made his new girlfriend Natalia, crawl to his bedroom on all fours before aggressively having sex with her and relieving himself on her chest. While we didn’t see any peen, we definitely saw its handiwork. The entire scene was awkward and, considering that the girlfriend didn’t seem to enjoy it, slightly degrading.
With that said it wasn’t pointless. Any former and current sexually active woman probably can tell you that it ain’t all great sex. Once in a while, particularly when you are younger and exploring boundaries, there are some really awkward and flat-out sexually humiliating moments, which makes us feel bad afterwards. Therefore being honest about what women experience during sex in itself is not inherently bad and can present itself as a learning (or unpacking) opportunity. My question though that knowing how prudish we sometimes tend to be about these sorts of discussions, how did it even make it on television?
According to this Slate piece from last year entitled, A Seminal Moment, Aisha Harris writes that it almost didn’t make it. In fact:
“The biggest fight we’ve ever gotten in with HBO was about a cum shot, a money shot. They thought it was really gratuitous,”Jenni Konner tells The Hollywood Reporter. “They begged us not to do it. We said, ‘OK, fine.’ Then the next year, we had a story-motivated, emotional money shot, and they let us keep it. It really felt like we all grew together.”
In the same piece, Harris also writes about how the “money shot” has been performed on television before, albeit it’s still quite rare. The short list includes: a late 90s, BBC documentary; HBO’s other hit show about sexually active women in New York City called “Sex and the City”; and on the Showtime series “Californication.” So in retrospect, the “Girls'” sex scene is not the groundbreaking television we might have thought it to be. At least not for white women.
Black women have yet to experience a true sexual awakening in film and in television. There I said it.
And it’s not like there hasn’t been a black woman in the history of black people, who hasn’t tasted semen? I mean, sex (if done right) is pretty out there. But in film and television, our sex lives are pretty conservative, if they exist at all. Sure, we may allude to it; and we may even have a scene or two where we see our ebony lovers intertwined and rolling around together in the sheets. But there are always sheets – you know, to hide all the secret parts. And the closest the viewers actually get to their actual love making is the follow-up scene where they awakened the next morning with hair tussled.
On television and in film, we are only supposed to be respectable people. At all times. Even in those instances when the show itself is produced by a black person, we are only supposed to show black relationships, which resemble Claire and Bill Huxtable, who never had sex even though they had a gang of children. Even with the majority of real life dark skinned consenting adults engaging in sexual relationships outside of the confines of marriage and/or procreation, on television the most we allow is a kiss with mouths closed and the family lip syncing about taboo topics around the Thanksgiving table. That’s what “Reed Between the Lines” was. That what “For Better or Worse” was supposed to be too. And then there was “The First Family.” You get no more Cosby-esque than that. And for the most part, those shows are boring, and they don’t last long. Mainly because the real The Cosby show is on Netflix…
And while the vast majority of television is swimming in large vats of debauchery and mayhem (also known as shows with plots and drama, which is normal of television), black folks’ scripted cinematically are still trying to maintain a morally righteous image of ourselves. Of course the exception are reality shows. But we shun those for the very reasons that many of us tune in to watch shows like HBO’s “Girls.”
And at whose expense does this happen? And how do we limit ourselves creatively if we shy away from images of ourselves, which are slightly perverse and subversive?
Often times it means that black centered film and television lacks the same level of openness and diversity meanwhile our mainstream counterparts’ with their vast expression of real life experiences become television shows, which everybody enjoys including black folks. Then we lament how black centered film and television lacks the same level of openness about human behavior. And realness. As such black folks can’t be “Breaking Bad” because that is just promoting crack. We couldn’t be “The Sopranos.” Nope that’s like promoting gang culture and y’all know we have that bad incarceration rate. We can’t do “Game of Thrones” either because…well don’t be disrespecting the ancestors like that. Even our beloved “The Wire” was created and scripted from outside of the community. It’s no wonder those shows, written and produced for mainly non-black audiences, become the stand-in for all, meanwhile our stuff becomes more niched to the after-church service crowds.
And it is not necessarily the fault our black filmmakers and writers, although folks could be a little braver in their own storytelling. But in spite of our political and social advancements including the election of the first black president, and proclamations by this younger generation of colorblindness, culturally “we” still care very much about how white folks see us – even when the odds are they can’t tell most of us apart. Even with the odds that since slavery, black women had to endure contradictory stereotypes like Mammy and Jezebel and no matter what we do, they still persist. To me that sucks and it is not how we should be forced to live.
Not just for film but because why are white girls the only ones who can f**k and suck on television while also maintaining legitimacy as feminine, good mothers and virtuous women? Why did we cheer for Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big in ways that we can’t for Mary Jane or Olivia Pope? Why must normal and healthy sex on black skin be seen as depraved?
And this is not a matter of doing something because white people do it. This is acknowledging that there is a remote possibility that someone black might do those things too. And white folks don’t have the monopoly on freaky sex. And this is also about the resentment, even envy, which comes from other women being able to publicly talk about all the joy and confusing proclivities around sex without having to worry about how such representation would affect her credibility, professional or romantic prospects. At some point we have to realize how much we (yes, including other black women) have become the guardians and gatekeepers of some of our own oppression.
Sex: We all like to believe that there are signs that can guarantee that we’ll get some and the getting will be good. I thought sex stereotypes for most people died in their undergrad dorms, but apparently there are still fully functional adults that believe race and gender somehow place you at an advantage or disadvantage when it comes to what you’re working with in bed.
At one point or another, I’m sure you’ve overheard someone make some generalization on sex based on one or two experiences they’ve had, or more likely, what someone else has told them, but in all honesty they usually just don’t apply. Take a look at some common sex stereotypes people like to throw around that have no factual basis whatsoever:
Just as some ladies love to tote around their Michael Kors bag as a status symbol, quite a few folks are of the belief that some men of color pursue white women for the same reasons. Playing around with the concept, Black artist Nate Hill pinched a few nerves by wearing unclothed white women around his neck — literally!
His photographic project is called “Trophy Scarves,” according to a Vice interview, and the Brooklynite artist has been traveling around town draping unclothed white women over his shoulders. Hill wanted to tackle the notion of non-White males using Caucasian women to elevate their own social statuses. He told Vice:
“There are people who see certain races as status symbols, and someone had to comment on that.”
While the Vice interview didn’t delve into the true essence and meaning of “Trophy Scarves”, the internet gobbled it up and used the artist’s work as a platform for a discussion on race.
“Marrying/having a relationship with a white woman seems to be something many successful black men do immediately upon gaining success and they do it for a number of reasons: because white women are the beauty standard, because of internalized racism, because they want children with lighter skin than their own so that their children don’t have to go through as much discrimination as their black parent. That’s what this art piece is criticizing,” commenter Iman Carol Fears said.
One commenter on The Root, who identified herself as a white woman, said she was offended by Hill’s art project — at first. But then as she continued reading about “Trophy Scarves”, she supported the overall symbolism behind the controversial photos:
“I have been on several (first and last) dates with black men who will for some reason think that it is ok to disclose to me that they don’t date black women. At that moment it becomes clear to me that this person is not the least bit interested in me as a person, they are merely using me as an accessory because they believe that my pearly white skin makes them appear more affluent,” she said.
While some people grasp what Hill is attempting to convey through his art, some critics are calling “Trophy Scarves” contradicting:
“Your project (since you’re a MAN of color) reinforces patriarchy. Despite what you said right there about “white women being people” and not trophies, your art systematically reduces them to objects just like the men you are intending to criticize,” a Tumblr blogger said, simply referring to himself as a MoC(Man of Color).
In Hill’s photos, he’s dressed in an urbane fashion: tuxedo, bow tie, and large glasses. The white models, on the other hand, wear their birthday suits mostly. The Tumblr blogger highlights that while the artist is subjugated by White supremacy and the subliminal pressure to marry non-Black women, he is, at the same time, uplifted by sexism — and he further supports misogyny by wearing unclothed women as scarves.
As Hill mentioned in Vice, he plans to continue toting unclothed white women for this “Trophy Scarves” project into the next year. “I don’t know how many is enough. I think maybe like 100 trophy scarves. And then after 100, maybe go to 200,” he said.
Along with a bit of outrage on the outside, Hill says that he also gets the side-eye from his wife for some of his risque art projects. But the Brooklyn native simply joked that he blocks her from his social networks. “I blocked her on Twitter, so she can’t see what I’m doing. She just followed me on Instagram, so I’m probably going to block her on there too.”
Sounds like risqué business in more ways than one.
What are your thoughts on Hill’s project?
According to the Huffington Post, our favorite famous-for-being-the-sister-of-a-woman-who-is-largely-famous-for-nothing-in-particular, Khloe Kardashian has channeled the innovative spirit of the late, great tech-god Steve Jobs, and has sent forth to the world a new hair trend called braids. All hail the power of the Kardashian name!
From the Huffington Post
“The Kardashian sis debuted her own version of the half-braided head on Wednesday evening, showing off her ‘do at an event for her family’s new line of self-tanner. Khloe drew attention with her sheer shirt (hello, bra!) but even more so with her braids, which reminded us of Jennifer Aniston’s hair at the Spike Guys’ Choice Awards last week. Carmen Electra has also rocked lopsided braids several times over the past few months, giving us the creeping feeling that this fancy update to the Skrillex-inspired hairstyle is becoming a trend.”
If ever there was a proof that we live in a WASP-focused culture, it’s that. Black girls have been putting braids in a variations and patterns since likely the inception of time – no one declares it a trend. White women come along and slap a couple of half-hearted braids in their hair and, with the wave of a wand, which could only be mimicked by the color-cueing commands of the great and powerful Wiz (the Black version), it’s considered not only a trend but also representative for all.
It’s no wonder so many people of non-WASP descent subscribe to the many philosophies of ‘white is always right’ and dark skin as nothing more than a synonyms of crime, poverty, immortality and all other pathologies. A couple of months ago, I drew the ire of a lot of readers to a piece I wrote in which I dared suggest that two black teenage girls did not deserve to be beat mercifully on camera by their father for twerking, especially considering that twerking is not as perverse as folks in the community want to believe. But rather follows a long tradition of cultural dances movements centered on the behind, which too have a long history throughout the Black Diaspora. People thought I was mad – among other things – for the mere suggestion. And some even went to great intellectual lengths to disassociate themselves from the immoral or bad behavior.
But that was a couple of months ago. Today, many of those same folks are raging mad again; this time about Miley Cyrus, her twerking across mainstream America and how everyone is loving it – well mostly everyone. You would think that folks would be happy she has taken this “ratchet” perversion of everything “virtuously black” off of our hands. But nope, folks are still pissed. Now it’s appropriation, they say. Now she is making a mockery of our culture, they shouted. Now she is a selective thief, stealing the fun parts of the black experience, in hopes of appearing cool and rebellious, but not bearing the brunt of the responsibility, they argue. All true however, how can we blame others from picking up the cultural baton when we give it away so cheaply and freely?
Since before our ancestors reached the shores of the original 13 colonies, folks of largely darker skin tones (as well as other non-WASPy differences), had their cultures demonized, removed or altered, in some instances violently, and were forced to adopt the culture of their colonizers – included religion, education and history and language – for the purpose of exploitation. That was colonialism. Yet as we have progressed onwards, hundreds of years into a future, mostly free of the sort of White oversight and exploitation, which ruled and basically developed the Western world, the beliefs of these ideologies still linger on in the hearts, minds and deeds of many of the same oppressed folks, who have conditioned themselves to believe that by internalizing many of the values and principles, it will provide them some leverage in this WASP-centered, thus inherently exclusionary, racist system. When in reality, all it does is reinforce the original oppression. That is called neo-colonialism.
Tia Norfleet made her mark in black history by becoming the first black race car driver. But then she made us all look bad when she was kicked out of NASCAR for lying about her identity to cover up a few drug and theft charges and faking her NASCAR racing license.
Tia also had a criminal past she tried to apologize for, saying:
“People make mistakes in their life and move forward and make a better way. I think things that I’ve done, people make mistakes, as a child, as a teen, and basically, it’s things that you may not be proud of but you move forward and you help others. And they may be in the same situation and you can relate and they can relate to you, and you help them as much as possible.”
But we still feel bad for all of the little black girls who looked up to Tia before they found out that she was a criminal and a liar.
My man keeps calling me a “n***er b***h” during sex and I hate it.
I have been married for a year and I am at my wit’s end. My investment banker husband is from a White old money family. I am a first generation Black-American woman whose family is from the island of Jamaica. We met at a reunion for the ivy league school we both attended, and he proposed in six months.
We have the picture perfect fantasy life. He wines and dines me and we travel and shop the globe. Unlike all of the Black men I dated in the past, my husband is generous, loyal, committed and considerate. He courted me and I never have to pay for anything. He said I could quit my job and I did. He makes me feel like a woman.
I am a little embarrassed to share our problem. The first time he let the n-word drop was during sex on our honeymoon. When I reacted negatively, he explained that a Black woman he dated in the past enjoyed being called racial slurs. Another time he joked that he had purchased my freedom. He also speculated about whether his family could have owned mine because I have “good hair.” Then he made jokes about my pubic hair. He called it my “negro bush” and referred to himself as a “n***er lover.” He says I am being overly sensitive because he loves me to death and should get a “Black pass” for marrying me.
I told him that I don’t appreciate these comments and he says that my friends and family probably use the n-word all the time. He also asked why Black people can use the word and he cannot. I don’t use the word or believe in the n***a/n***er differentiation. Neither does my family. I am too embarrassed to tell anyone about this because I know they might say: “That’s what she gets for marrying a White man.”
Continue reading this letter at Essence.com.
If there was ever a study about black women that I’m inclined to believe, it’s the one about us being more confident in our appearance than other groups of women. Last month, Kate Fridkis, wrote a piece called “Why can’t women think they’re pretty?” I read the title and thought oh, that’s tragic. Let me read. And while Fridkis brought up some salient points about how women often downplay and apologize for highlighting their flattering physical features; by the end of the article I thought to myself, thank God I don’t have this problem. You can call me vain or incorrect if you want, but I’ve always thought I was pretty. And even said it, out loud, in front of people a couple of times. Now, I don’t know if it’s because I’ve consistently heard this from others, because my parents promoted self confidence or because I’m just vain. I’m sure it’s a combination of all of these things; but whatever the reason(s), I’m grateful for this ability to be content, and dare I say very pleased, with what I see in the mirror.
I knew I was good- so I started thinking about other women in my circle. I had to start with the source. My mom. My mother, who I and others regard as beautiful, doesn’t meet European or mainstream beauty standards. She’s short, overweight, has dark skin and natural hair. But I’ve never heard her speak ill of her beauty. She might have talked about wanting to lose weight or wear her hair a different way; but when it came to her natural, physical beauty, there have been times when she’s been downright cocky. The same is true for my aunts, cousins and sister on both sides of the family. Hell, even the men talk about knowing they look good. I realize it may sound like we’re a bunch of self-obsessed jerks, but we’ll just have to be that. After all, in a world where people are constantly insulting folks based on their appearance I’d prefer we be overly confident in our looks, so we can shoulder that criticism than underestimate our beauty and let the naysayers break us down.
But I want to be careful not to dismiss anyone’s experience. I know I’ve had friends on both sides of the spectrum. I’ve had the “can’t tell me nothin'” friends and the friends who would say outright, to my shock and surprise, that they didn’t think they were pretty. I get how one could come to feel this way; but really I don’t understand it. (If that makes sense.) If beauty is subjective and increased exposure increases attractiveness how could you not at least be good with the face you’ve been living with all your life?
Maybe people have just had too many critics. Maybe they’ve internalized too many beauty standards that didn’t match their own. Maybe insecurity is stronger than we could ever imagine. I can’t call it. I’m just always surprised when I hear this type of talk from black women. Unfortunately, I’ve seen and heard far too many white women say they want Jennifer Anniston’s hair, Charlize Theron’s body and Pipa Middleton’s booty. All the while completely trashing their own, perfectly attractive beauty. If there was anything positive to come from a lack of minority representation in media, it’s that black women were less likely to compare ourselves to shapes and figures we could never achieve…naturally. Maybe white women, who’ve been watching their likeness on tv, seeing it plastered on billboards and magazine spreads have come to think that these are the only examples of hotness. While black women who didn’t see themselves represented at all but had the love, affection and attention of men, black and otherwise, knew that the media couldn’t be telling the whole story and decided to be good with themselves anyway.
Again, I can’t call it. What I do know is that every woman, every person really, regardless of what others may say about him or her, should strive to be able to look in the mirror and like what they see. None of us will ever be beautiful to everyone but the least we should try to do is be drop dead gorgeous to ourselves.
Do you think you’re pretty? Do you have problems claiming this either to yourself or others?