Friendships and Race- Black women and white women

Since moving to Maine, I have spent a lot of time by myself, since when I made the decision to relocate 1100 miles away from family and friends it pretty much meant re-starting over as far as friends. Don’t get me wrong I still have some close friends back in Chicago but the one thing that is missing for me here is just some girls to kick it with. Either Sex and the City Style or Girlfriends style since I couldn’t convince any of my friends back in Chicago to move out with me and the family. (don’t know why they didn’t want to come, LOL)

That said, making friends as an adult, plain ole sucks. It sucks even more when you are a Black woman living in the whitest state in America. That said after a few years the realization that if I were ever going to even have any casual grab a drink buddies, that I might need to expand my horizons to include white women has always left me feeling unsettled.

Now some might find the fact that I am not comfortable with white girlfriends a bit laughable especially when you consider that I have a white husband. I will admit maybe I have some deep down prejudice but the truth is that since the age of 17, its been real hard for me to ever get past the casual acquaintance stage with 99% of the white women I meet. The only exception has been my girl “C” back in Chicago, we used to work together in fact she was my boss, she can work my nerves but on some levels she is the only white woman I have met as an adult who is not walking around with that attitude and air of privilege that seems to infect so many white women at an early age.

No, truthfully my experience is that most white women are looking for a “Mammy” to their Scarlett or maybe even a nice warm Oprah to call a friend and this sista is not the one. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t try to be a bitch, I try to give folks the benefit of the doubt but inevitably on some level it just is never a match. That said I know I am not the only sista who suffers from this dilemma, I recently saw Sex & The City, the movie and was down right offended that one of the girls finally gets a Black “friend”. Carrie needs an assistant and hires Louise (played by Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, damn a Oscar winner can’t do better than being a modern day Mammy), interestingly enough I saw this movie with some white woman and while they generally enjoyed the movie, me, I was fuming over how come the helper, the savior had to be a sista?  Super Negro woman to the rescue to help restore the fallen white women, um.. no, at this stage in my life that shit is just not happening. I wanna know where is my Mammy to make it all right?

Then again, I thought about it on a large scale, sistas are often portrayed as being strong women, yet white women can just be human and on some level I have seen that at work in my real life relationships. If and when a Black woman shows emotion, its like folks cannot handle it so we stifle that shit which we all know is a bad bad thing, hello health problems.

Even well meaning white women who try to connect with a sista still get it wrong since even when a white woman is not looking for her long lost Mammy, the opposite end is trying so hard that a sista starts feeling like a special Negro pet project. Yep, I have been there, done that and that too does not work for the kid.

I was thinking about the recent primary season here in America and while there were sistas who supported Hillary, there were those of us who just could not buy into her brand of feminism that her white female supporters were selling..

After all many of the loudest and most ardent Hillary supporters where women who cracked the glass ceilings back in the 80’s while keeping some 3rd world woman of color at home tending to her family. As a young Black woman, what would I have in common with that? Not a thing. Its the reason that for sistas like myself feminism will never appeal to me, at least not in the form most commonly espoused by old skool feminists.

Perhaps white women and black women can one day find a common ground when white women can acknowledge the inherent privilege they have by virtue of being white. Until then I suspect most white women will just be casual acquaintances.

Acting and Talking White

I was reading at another blog today and the issue of acting white came up, I gotta laugh because most of my life I have been labeled by my extended family as acting white. Truthfully when I was young, I probably did go through a phase where I was acting white, I went to predominantly white schools, up until I was in the 5th grade, I was the only chocolate drop in my class.

 Even in high school, we lived on the south side of Chicago but I trekked across the city for high school which most of my classes were with white folks. So to some degree I think it was natural that constantly being surrounded by white folks, that well I learned to talk and act like white folks.

Hell, back in the 80’s I was thumping The Police, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, you get the picture. To further scare my family into beleiving that I was going to be a lifetime member of the confused Oreo club, I started wearing doc Martens, Black trench coats and generally looking a bit strange.

All that said, by the time I hit my late teens race started to be a factor in my friendships/relationships and I met some folks who started me down the path of realizing I was not a Becky and at 17 I read the Autobiography of Malcolm X. That book factored with being introduced to folks like KRS-1, X-Clan and a host of other positive hip-hop really made an impact on me. It wasn’t long after that, that my so-called best friend who was white pretty much grew distant from me and without getting into a long drawn out story, race was an issue. To this day, despite being married to a white man, I hold white women at arms length but that is another post for another day.

I spent the next decade almost, being confused about this acting white shit. See, up until I hit my late 20’s, I never knew too many Black folks who would confess to digging rock music but at the same time being into Miles Davis, Minnie Ripperton, and so on. It was in my 20’s that I finally learned  the art of speaking another language aka switching up the speech. Though somewhere along the way in recent years, my true speech has emerged and at times its the King’s English with a sprinkle of what some might call Blackness, based off a recent conversation I had with one of my Maine white friends who asked me a question and I guess my response was Black since she told me, I sounded Black. Duh, I am Black.

Now in my mid 30’s, yes I am partnered to a white man, yes, I live in Maine, that said if you step out of line and try to imply that I am less than Black, I have no problem checking a mutha and letting you know what time it is.

No, all this acting white shit is just one more smokescreen we as Black folks throw up to divide, kinda like how back in the day every Negro and his brother or sister it seemed was claiming a Cherokee relative as proof they were less Black.

Then again, this is a land that at times has rewarded some of us for being less Black, but at the end of the day whether you got good hair/bad hair or speak white or not the reality is we are all Black folks. Just as there is no one way to be white there is no one way to be Black. That said, there are some self hating Black folks who really don’t want to be Black but generally them folks make it clear what they are about and well them brothas and sistas are not who I am talking.

So if you get that acting white label thrown at you, brush that shit off and keep steppin.

Black Fatherhood

The idea for this post has been in the back of my mind since Father’s Day when my Dad left me a short sweet message. ” Hey, its the Ole Man, I got your message, thank-you. I hope I have been a decent father over the years, I made a lot of mistakes but I did the best I could.”

My Pops is not a man prone to being emotional, even when my Mom passed way suddenly leaving him alone after 33 years, this was not a man who broke down. This was a man who in delivering the message by phone to both my brother and I, that Mom had passed literally told us both “Mama passed. Well have a good cry tonight and we will talk in the morning.”. Yes, that is what he said verbatim and at the time both my brother thought damn can he get any colder.

Pops aka the Rev (yep, Pops is a preacher though retired these days) is a cold blooded man but in recent months after looking at all the pictures of Obama in the news with his family and the marveling over how wonderful it is to see a Black father and family, I feel the need to share about my own Pops. Especially in a time when the media would have us believe that all Black men are shit when it comes to their kids.

My Pops always left the rearing of us kids, all two of us to my Moms, in our family Moms was the main dish and Pops, well he was the sides. Yet this is a man who pretty much gave up his own dreams for his family. Pops was one of 16 kids born to a Arkansas sharecropper, growing up he dreamed of being a pilot but was told that was not possible, niggers don’t become pilots. So like many folks down south, when he graduated from HS at 18, 3 days later he was on a bus headed to Chicago where several of his older brothers had already landed and found good jobs.

It wasn’t even a year after landing in Chicago that he met my Mom and was smitten, except there was the issue of class, see my Moms folks were a mixed breed of Black and Mexican, who also had a little money. My Mom was an only child who was doted on and everyone assumed one day she would marry into a nice middle class Negro family. Yeah, the son of a sharecropper did not rate high on the list of possible suitors for Mom.

Long story short, my folks got married and  I arrived not long after, their first apartment was on the Westside of Chicago, in the area known these days as K-town. I was born at the former free hospital. By today’s standards this union one might assume of course this could not last but it did, it lasted for 33 years literally until death did they part. I won’t romanticize it and say it was peaches and cream but my Dad is a man and as a man despite being a terribly flawed human I can say that for the most part he did right by his family.

However my Dad in all my life always worked and was always there, emotionally he needed and still needs work, then again I suspect growing up the way he did, did not allow for great emotional development. I struggle with 2 kids, how my Grandma handled 16 of em, I will never know. That said, Pops worked every and any kind of job from teamster, dry cleaner, you name it, Pops did it. He handled his business.

Now Pops could be heavy handed on the punishment, when I was 16 I came home drunk as a skunk at 4 am, trying to talk greasy and Pops smacked my ass sober. At the time, I was mad and even though I know longer beleive in corporal punishment, fact is Dad stayed on both me and my brother and turned out 2 decent kids. I look at my brother, he is 27 college educated, a professional, no baby mama’s, no prison record and think guess all them years of Dad staying on his ass kept my little brother on the right path. To this day I joke, I have never stolen anything because at 5 I decided to steal some bubble gum and lets just say my Dad gave me a lesson that at 35 I will never forget. Even in high school when friends would shoplift, I knew better.

I share all this to say that as I get older and read the news talking about Black men this, Black men that, I know there is a breed of Black men that will do right by their wives and kids. I look at the pictures of Michelle and Barack and while I love to see how visible their love is, I think its important for every day Black folks to let the world know hey, there are some good Black men out there.

The average brotha may not be a presidential candidate but there are a lot of cats who will and do, do right by their kids; so on a sleepy Sunday afternoon I salute them and my own Pops.  And yes Dad despite the Ike Turner style ass whippings you doled out when we were kids, you have been a decent Dad.