Little Black girl: A Halloween costume and a white woman’s threat

Today’s post is a first for the blog written by guest writer Dontavis Hines, and you can read about him in his own words:
My name is Dontavis Hines. I typically go by “Dante” and recently started using the name, “Dante Speaks” to raise the volume of my voice surrounding racial issues I face as a black man in Maine. I’m a man of many talents including dancing, singing, story-telling and nurturing others; you can always ask more about my personal life.
I moved to Maine in 2011 to be a missionary in the campus ministry, associated with my church. Although I had only planned on staying in Maine for one year, God has his ways of twisting up one’s journey here on earth. I’m still here in one of the whitest states, seven years later. During my time here thus far, I realized that I was different and that I needed to start talking about those disparities more. I currently am aiming to become a Nurse Practitioner of Psychiatry and one day hope to reach out to many who suffer (some unknowingly) from mental disorders. I’m a nursing student by day and night and an activist whenever the opportunity presents itself.


​I’m going to keep this real simple and discrete. Over the past few years of living in Maine, I’ve had to deal with a lot of white people’s ignorance. In this particular case, a white woman decided that she was going to casually joke about little Black girls and how her white mother perceived our beautiful princesses.

I believe God put me in the right place at the right time. Why else was I there to witness such racist remark? As I stood near this white woman, she proceeded to make her “joke” about how her mother would threaten to dress her up as a little black girl for Halloween. For some reason, she decided to tell this story of hers, in my presence. I’m a Black man with a little Black sister and little Black girl cousins. It was almost as if she was trying to provoke me in which she succeeded at to some degree. Did she really think I wasn’t going to say anything and just let her be a “Passive Patty?” You know? White women who attempt to be slick at the mouth with racial microaggressions and think that a Black person like me is just going to be accepting of it? Yeah, I don’t tolerate those kind of white women.

As she continued telling her little “joke”, she went on about her mother’s threat. “My mom used to threaten to dress me up as a little black girl, to paint my face black and to put brillo-pads in my hair if I didn’t behave,” she announced as everyone else around us laughed out loud. I immediately thought to myself, Is she really doing this right now? Is she trying to get my attention?

I knew I couldn’t say what I wanted to say. I didn’t want to be deemed the “angry Black man” so I turned around calmly and said, “You cannot dress up as a Black person for Halloween.” Her and her other white peers, and one other brown lady, ceased at laughing and went back to minding their business. I was so annoyed, upset and hurt all at once.

I later made a complaint about her racial remarks and of course, we all know how that turned out. Nothing happened other than an apology; this was not how I hoped for the situation to turn out but when you’re a Black man in America, trying to stand up to a white person, we typically don’t stand a chance. I honestly didn’t even know what brillo-pads were until I googled them. I was humiliated. I couldn’t believe that she grew up in a home where her mother taught her to compare Black hair to brillo pads; a scrubbing tool used for washing dirty dishes. Who knows what else she was taught by her white parents?

Racism is often taught to white children in their homes, even when it’s subtle or seemingly innocent. As usual, white folks “mean no harm” but they never fail at causing it nonetheless.

Dear white people: As we approach Halloween, please don’t attempt to dress up as Black person. Please don’t paint your face black to try to be any Black person. Please don’t threaten to dress your white children up as Black people, as if we’re some scary costume or a sort of punishment.


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If you see libraries as the enemy, then you’ve needed more libraries in your life

There are some things you just shouldn’t do because it’s just mean, or maybe stupid, or possibly something that would bring a smile to Dick Cheney’s or Sean Hannity’s face—which is only a short step from giving Satan a sensual foot rub. Basically, things YOU JUST DON’T DO. These include:

  • Going alone and unarmed into the scary basement of a freaky house (or, for that matter, your own basement or backyard at night when there is a suspicious or frightening sound emanating from it)
  • Punching babies in the face
  • Bringing any dish to the cookout that’s been updated with new and surprising ingredients by a newspaper or magazine recipe section
  • Pulling on Superman’s cape, spitting into the wind or pulling that mask off the ole Lone Ranger…or messing with Jim
  • Saying anything bad about Beyoncé on social media
  • Calling for the removal of public libraries from society

Well, maybe that last one got an exemption of some sort recently from the Oval Office. Oh, who am I kidding? Even before the current administration, I’ve seen people trying to destroy the whole concept and institution of public libraries for at least a decade. No doubt they are the people who also think teachers should pay for all the classroom supplies out of pocket and that poor people just need to yank harder on those bootstraps while working 20-hour days at three minimum-wage jobs to end up as famous business-people who can one day be elected to destroy civilization as we know it.

To be perfectly honest, I spent a whole lot of years (and still have partial ownership of a house) in a town where one of the most cherished annual activities of the city council was to cut the public library’s budget just a little bit (or a lot) more because apparently inflation doesn’t exist, and no one should have ready access to knowledge, entertainment and a safe public gathering space.

Yes, I lived somewhere where people were convinced that the only thing standing between them and a cushy retirement in the Cayman Islands was a librarian’s salary. I mean, that library is truly staffed by superheroes because they keep things going despite having a constant fiscal gun to their literary heads—but they shouldn’t have to be superheroes to keep the library open. No library should have to go through that, though many do.

I’m saying all this largely because of the story that was published recently by Forbes online titled “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money,” written by Panos Mourdoukoutas (the story has since been deleted; get the story about that here).

Naturally Forbes will publish some other gems along the lines of “Corporations should take over police functions” (Robocop) or “We should make intelligence and science things to be ridiculed to improve society” (Idiocracy…or the actions of almost every Republican politician and pundit for the past 20 years). Right? Right!? C’mon Forbes, you might let the librarians down but surely you don’t want to let the extreme libertarians down, do you?

Now, the article I linked to above breaks a lot of this down, already, and literate non-Trumpite denizens of social media’s saner neighborhoods had a field day dragging the author and Forbes on Twitter (here, and here…also here…and hey, here too..oh also this and that one…just to share a few), but here’s my own bullet list to consider for those who have a brain and don’t hate libraries because gun-loving anti-healthcare blue-eyed white Jesus told them so:

  • Not everybody has access to tablet readers or other mobile devices
  • Not everyone has easy access (or even access at all) to the Internet (so having those devices means nothing and besides, plenty of people rely on libraries to access the Internet…including to look for jobs even though some of y’all think they’re all just lazy porn surfers)
  • Amazon and other businesses don’t do wide-scale social charity like that. Privatization doesn’t mean better access; it means controlled access
  • Physical books can go places it isn’t wise to bring electronic devices, and physical books don’t need power
  • Many libraries now serve the function with movies that rental places (which no longer exist much) used to, and many people still want to watch movies on something other than Hulu or Netflix
  • Libraries provide meeting spaces and the ability to publicly gather
  • Many libraries provide spaces for free meals to kids and teens who otherwise don’t have access to three squares a day
  • Libraries provide ways for families of very small children to interact and to grow those little minds and develop their social skills
  • And a thousand other things I can’t think of right now (a few of which are mentioned in some of those tweets I linked to above)

Basically, libraries are spectacular. Stevie Wonder “Songs in the Key of Life” wonderful. Getting a fat refund from the IRS at tax-filing time kind of goodness.

If you don’t want part of your tax money going to fund public libraries, I don’t want my tax money funding emergency response people to pull you out of your mangled car after you have an accident because you’re laughing so hard at how FOX News just owned those liberal snowflakes again.


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Photo by Susan Yin from Unsplash

 

Fascism takes shape and ICE is key to that…and not just at the southern border

Look, I’m about to get into some serious shit, so let’s start off by lightening the mood. Check out these silly-ass animals!

I hope that brightened your day.

OK. Now for the serious shit.

The United States of America will probably become a literal dictatorship very soon.

Every person of color in the USA saw this coming a long time ago. Even those of us not paying attention figured it out at this point.

But since then a lot has happened and you better believe it all goes in the same direction.

The president of the United States of America is separating the country from its democratically elected allies and aligning the country with cruel and brutal dictatorships. He speaks ill of democratically elected leaders and fondly of cruel and brutal dictators. He has always enjoyed the support of klansmen and Nazis and all other brands of bigots within the United States, so, naturally he publicly speaks fondly of them.

Like all cruel and brutal dictators, the president of the United States dehumanizes minorities and immigrants with his speech, calling them animals and their presence as an infestation.

The president often speaks of changing the country into a dictatorship. He publicly wishes United States citizens would obey him like those suffering under cruel and brutal dictators. He talks publicly and hopefully about getting rid of his own term limits and suspending due process, which is probably more important than you think.

The president’s administration is deliberately separating children from parents with no plan or desire to reunite them. They are even going so far as to have toddlers appear in court all alone. These peoples’ lives are so meaningless and disposable to this administration that the attorney general even publicly jokes about how meaningless and disposable he thinks they are.

And there’s also the recent Supreme Court rulings furthering institutionalized racism and sexism as well as continuing to destroy workers’ rights. Adding the likelihood that the shockingly corrupt court itself will soon begin dismantling the rights of gay people and women and minorities and voters in general, It’s clear that a dictatorship is on the rise, if not already risen.

This is not an exaggeration or hyperbole. Again, the president is talking about actual people as animals and he’s seeing to it that they are caged and abused worse than animals. People are being kidnapped, beaten, sexually abused, their identities are being stolen, their children are being ripped from their arms and then those children are beaten and sexually abused—and it’s being done in your name by the United States government.

And again, the president is referring to actual human beings as an infestation. We all know what that means. We all know there is only one thing to be done about an infestation. We all know that dismissing one’s humanity makes it very easy to kill them. And we all know that there are certainly active members of the military who appear ready for the killing to begin.

Now, if you’re reading this and thinking to yourself that the president probably isn’t really serious or that he’s just talking tough, you should know that we’ve been down this very predictable road before. Also, you’re being this guy. Don’t.

The secret police are roaming the streets and kicking down doors. They’re setting up check points. They’ve even got German Shepherds. And they are everywhere. Seriously, everywhere.

They’re even here in my state, in Maine, where there are barely any people of color. That makes it pretty easy for one of these Schutzstaffel pieces of shit to single out a person by their race. Yeah, it’s illegal, but of course it happens.

Now, look at this stumblebum, Hogan’s Heroes-looking, schweinhund right here. The driver asks him if she has to answer his questions and he just straight-up lies to her face, telling her that she does. Listen to him stutter and stammer like so many fascist Porky Pigs as he attempts to trick the driver into answering his questions with some kind of bullshit hall pass he pulls out of his filthy, Stasi pocket.

And it’s this moment that is going to decide where this country goes.

As Corporal Goosestep is trying to manipulate those young women into answering his questions, we need to ask ourselves the age-old question: How heroic would you have been had you lived in Nazi Germany?

Who would you have been?

What would you have done?

When you see a person of color in Maine, do you think we belong here?

You may have some kind of terrifying, Christophe-Waltz-type of idea as to who or what state-sponsored evil looks like, but real evil isn’t necessarily cruel on its face. Real evil is disarming. Real evil can be as charmingly inhibited as that crossing-guard-Uncle-Fester-looking motherfucker politely telling that young, white, female driver that he’s only attempting to detect accents.

How heroic would you have been?

If we don’t already know, I think we’re gonna find out pretty soon.


If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

Comments will close on this post in 60-90 days; earlier if there are spam attacks or other nonsense.