Black History Month Review: “Scrub Me Mama With a Boogie Beat”

I ran across a racist cartoon from 1941 on You Tube called “Scrub Me Mama With a Boogie Beat”. It’s an animated music video about a Black woman referred to as Mama. Mama is a wash woman, meaning she does laundry for a living. She washes clothes by hand in a metal pail with a scrub board to the beat of a jazz tune. Mama is a likeable character that happily smiles and claps her hands to the beat of a song about her rubbing her knuckles raw washing clothes for others.

Most of the commentary under the video was supportive of the video. Many viewers enjoyed the video, saw it as positive or made excuses for the portrayal of Black people. Some commentators enjoyed the video because it brought back childhood memories. I can’t say I’m surprised by the commentary on social media regarding this video.

Black people are portrayed as sub human in “Scrub Me Mama With a Boogie Beat”. They live in a town called Lazy Town. Everything in this town is lazy and slow moving. The inhabitants of Lazy Town are slow moving, slow talking, ugly, dumb and quarrelsome. The one person in the video that has human like characteristics is a biracial or perhaps 1/4 Black woman. She is pretty, smart and has a human voice.

The men of Lazy Town perk up and become more energetic when the mixed race woman comes ashore. The only feminine looking women in the cartoon are fair skinned. The light skinned feature of the video is no lady. She struts around Lazy Town in a see through skirt. The men run behind her in excitement. Most of the darker skinned women are all heavy set with deep voices. The little girls even have deep voices.

I was aware of these portrayals before this popped up on You Tube. Newspaper comic strips use to mock Black people in newspapers daily. I recall a “Mammy” character in the old “Tom & Jerry” cartoons from my own childhood.

I think that there is some truth to the way men of Lazy Town reacted to the fair skinned women. Black men have defended their preference for lighter skinned women for years in public. Fair skinned women are the beauty standard in the Black community. Black men have been successfully brainwashed by racist media and it persists to this day. If you want proof look for the Black Manosphere on You Tube. They have been expressing their disdain for Black women that look Black for well over a decade. The Black Manosphere refers to Black women that look like Black women as masculine, loud and criticize Black women for having children. I won’t post a link but please feel free to explore You Tube on your own for more information. Instead here is an old clip from “The Ricki Lake Show”.

First, I’ll address the lazy and slow moving stereo type. Black Americans were concentrated in the south eastern United States. It gets hot and humid in the south. They were also performing labor intensive tasks like picking cotton. Black people were tired and likely suffering from heat stroke. Picking cotton in high heat and humidity all day would do that to a person.

The residents of Lazy Town ate watermelon and had chickens. The towns folk were likely share croppers as all four of my grand parents were. They didn’t make much money. My mother told me once that she was paid by the weight of the cotton. After picking cotton all day she earned $3. $3 for the entire day. My mother was one of nine children. My mom’s family was typical of Black southern families. They were dirt poor and lived in poverty.

I never understood why eating watermelon and chicken was a negative stereotype. I unabashedly enjoy both with no shame. The answer is that anything associated with Black people and Black communities is mocked and made into something negative. Watermelon is relatively easy to grow. Small seeds give you a large fruit. Watermelon was an economical crop for large, Black families for whom food was scarce. Growing watermelon was a smart means of surival.

Chicken is a relatively cheap and easy animal to raise. It provides meat and eggs. Poultry was accessible to Black families unlike livestock like cattle that requires a lot of land and is expensive. Chicken was economical for a poor community. As far as voraciously eating chicken and watermelon I’m sure Black people were hungry. Hunger was constant. Of course they hungrily ate and were grateful to what was available to them. I sure can’t blame them.

Those are just a few of my thoughts on “Scrub Me Mama With a Boogie Beat”. The short film speaks volumes about American history in culture in less than seven minutes. The You Tube comment section under further educates viewers on current attitudes towards Black people. I hope you enjoyed my insights and commentary on this video.

“Little Black Sambo” was the next video suggested to me after “Scrub Me Mama With a Boogie Beat”.

Job Search 2023

I’ve been looking for a new job. I won’t tell you how long because it’s kind of disheartening and I don’t want you to be discouraged. Looking for a job even if you already have one is stressful. I will share my experiences with you so you can be prepared for interviews and hopefully find success.

For context: I’m a Black woman in my late forties in a midwestern metropolitan area. I’m currently in an administrative role and I’ve been employed at the same company for six years. I held a marketing position my first two years with the company. I’m looking for a job in graphic design, marketing or administration that will increase my salary by at least $10k.

A big part of the challenges I’m facing are that there aren’t that many jobs paying what I would like to make. I’ve been searching on job websites and there aren’t many jobs that pay much more than what I currently earn. Pickings are kind of slim overall.

My first bit of advice is simple. Have something to wear to an in person interview. A year or so ago I had an interview and tried on my suit the day before. I had put on weight and my clothes didn’t fit. I didn’t have time to find something new. I pieced an interview outfit together out of a sport jacket, blouse and slacks. It was OK but the blouse was a bit low cut and I was self conscious throughout the interview. Since then I have cleaned out my closet and updated my wardrobe. Always be prepared for a great opportunity.

It is common for interviewers to ask behavioral questions. Behavioral questions are questions where the interviewer asks you to tell them a story about a particular scenario. They say things like “Tell me about a time you worked as a team”, “Tell me about a time you failed”.

I hate these questions. They are too vague and I’m unsure of what to say. I don’t understand what the answers have to do with the position that I am applying for. I’m pretty guarded when it comes to workplace situations and I don’t like to reveal personal, non business related information so these question make me uncomfortable. I’ve been on interviews where I wasn’t even asked about my background and skill set. I felt like I was being pranked and not taken seriously.

I researched how to answer behavioral questions. I followed the advice of this video. I thought about the questions I’ve been asked more than once . I typed them up and typed answers and saved them on a file that I saved to my Google drive.

It’s also a good idea to research questions to ask on an interview. I never know what to ask. I know what I would like to ask but if I actually asked them I would tank the interview. The wild card at work places is group dynamics, personalities and cliques but of course an interviewee can’t ask those questions. I’m mostly concerned about how much they pay, the benefits package and how far the drive is to work. Otherwise, I will show up and do what I’m asked with my game face on.

Be prepared for some inconsiderate and unprofessional behavior from prospective employers. I have been ghosted by interviewers during the interview process. I have had interviewers never get back to me after an interview even after I contacted them to ask about their decision. A lot of prospective employers are not very considerate of interviewers time and energy during the process. Put yourself in the right head space to deal with the flakiness and passive aggressive, phony behavior. Roll with the punches.

It’s OK to not accept every invitation to interview. There is investment involved with interviewing. If you work a 9-5 the interview likely does as well so you need to take time away from the position that is already paying you in order to explore a different opportunity. There is time involved in preparing for the interview and possibly travel if the interview is in person. If the offer does not match your goals respectfully decline unless you want to meet with employers to practice interview skills.

My last bit of advice is simple encouragement. Be focused and specific about what you want and keep plugging away. A job search can be discouraging because all you can do is express interest and interview; and wait. Be confident in your abilities and what you have to offer. Your education and experience is behind you.

The foundation is laid and the hard work is behind you. You can’t do much about whether people like you or not. Believe that things are going to work out for the best one way or another. A rejection may be a blessing in disguise. Best wishes.

Winter Review: Falling Down

Falling Down is a 1993 film starring Michael Douglas and directed by Joel Schumacher. It’s an interesting film and I think you would enjoy it. The film features a character named William Foster. William represents the common American man and the pressure of modern, urban life. The film depicts how William copes with his pressure. He didn’t handle the pressure he was under well.

William is in his late forties, has financial and family problems. William was divorced and didn’t make enough money to pay child support for his daughter. He drove a raggedy car. William is White and feels displaced by immigrants to his area. Oddly he identifies with a Black man that he saw protesting in front of a bank for being denied a loan. The Black man was arrested for protesting with a sign on the side walk after being told he wasn’t financially viable.

William coped with what he sees as injustice by going on a violent rampage throughout LA for an entire day. William was upset with things such as not being given change without buying something first and not being able to buy breakfast a few minutes after a fast food restaurant shifted to the lunch schedule. William was going through a recent break up with his wife. I’m sure marriage to William was no pic nic but his wife seems like what we now refer to as a Karen. They were likely a perfect match for each other but didn’t get along.

“Falling Down” is an interesting film especially from the current day lens. William snapped and went on a violent, armed rampage. It’s debatable on whether some of his actions were justified. Regardless of our judgement on his actions only a White man would be given the space he was given. For instance, the shop owner would have likely called the police on him immediately. I remember when “Falling Down” was a new film. The idea of going on a shooting rampage was shocking and sensational. It’s now commonplace. It seems to me that people use to manage pressure and emotions a lot better.

I recommend “Falling Down” it’s an interesting movie and a great film to analyze especially considering it was made thirty years ago.

Product Review: Coffee Creamers

This is my review of different coffee creamers that I have tried. I’m doing this from memory so I may have the brand wrong. I’m mainly reviewing the flavor. I’m not a coffee snob. I enjoy gas station coffee and free coffee from casinos. My favorite coffee shop is Dunkin Donuts.

Pumpkin Spice

I’m not a big fan of pumpkin spice anything but I got caught up in the hype last Fall and tried Pumpkin Spice coffee creamer after spotting it in the store. Pumpkin Spice coffee creamer is OK. I didn’t love it but it was nice to try something different. On a scale of three I give it a 2.

Peppermint Mocha Coffee Creamer

Peppermint Mocha coffee creamer was a nice treat for the holiday season. I’m not a huge fan of minty flavors but I enjoyed this mint flavored coffee creamer. People that like Thin Mint cookies will love Peppermint Mocha creamer. It’s especially good if you add a bit of vanilla creamer. I give it a 2.5 on a scale of three.

Southern Pecan

I love butter pecan ice cream so Southern Pecan creamer was a nice treat. I enjoyed the sweet and buttery flavor. I give Southern Pecan flavor a 3/3.

Caramel Macchiato

I ordered a caramel macchiato latte from a coffee shop one day. It was pretty good so I bough carmel macciato creamer from the store when I saw it. I’m not a coffee snob so pouring caramel macchiato creamer into a cup of coffee is comparable and a lot less expensive. I rate Caramel Macchiato 3/3.

Italian Sweet Cream

Italian Sweet Cream is one of my favorite coffee creamers. It’s sweet, rich and simple. 3/3

Dunkin Donuts Extra Extra

Dunkin Donuts Extra Extra is my favorite coffee creamer. It’s vanilla flavored, rich, thick and extra, extra creamy. 3/3

Cinnabon Coffee Creamer

I use to love getting cinnamon rolls from Cinnabon at mall food courts and airports. I decided to try Cinnabon inspired coffee creamer when I saw it at the grocery store. It’s very sweet but it’s good if you figure out the proper coffee to cream ratio but it’s easy to over do it with this creamer. 3/3

Clover Valley French Vanilla

You can’t go wrong with French Vanilla coffee creamer. It’s a standard and a staple. Clover Valley French Vanilla coffee creamer is sold at Dollar General stores. It’s a good coffee creamer at a discounted price. 3/3

Original Coffee Creamer

If nothing else is available original coffee creamer will do. I will need to add a bit of sugar. It’s far from my favorite but Original Coffee Creamer will get me through the day. 2.5/3

Powdered Coffee Creamer

Powdered coffee creamer is the pits! The flavor and the brand is irrelevant. If powdered coffee creamer is all that’s available skip coffee until you have better choices. There is no richness or flavor to powdered 0/3

Winter Review: A Tale of Love and Desire

Last night I watched the 2021 film “A Tale of Love and Desire”. “A Tale of Love and Desire” is French with English subtitles. “A Tale of Love and Desire” is a modern romance. It’s not my favorite romance but I enjoyed the film. Unfortunately there aren’t many romances being made these day and I love a good romance. I recommend “A Tale of Love and Desire” if you enjoy foreign, artistic films.

The film is a love story of two students at the Sorbonne who meet on campus and fall in love. Ahmed is a French man from a first generation immigrant family from Algeria. Farah is a foreign exchange student from Tunisia. The pair are from a similar cultural background but have different and surprisingly different viewpoints. A Tale of Love and Desire makes subtly commentary about immigration, identity, racism, traditionalism, feminism and sexuality. It’s an intelligent and thoughtful film with youthful sex appeal. I enjoyed it and recommend it.

Winter Review: Top Gun Maverick

I recently watched “Top Gun Maverick” and I recommend it. “Top Gun Maverick” stars Tom Cruise as Navy pilot Pete Mitchell who also goes by Maverick. Pete is an instructor that teaches aviation skills to a young group of elite pilots as they embark on a dangerous and complicated military mission.

The plot is fairly simple and the movie is well done. The cast is great looking and the special effects are sharp. There is a wholesome love story between Maverick and Penny, played by Jennifer Connelly. There are swear words but aside from that this is a film that a family can enjoy together. Tom Cruise looked great but my one complaint of this film is that I wish Tom had some gray in his hair. A little gray would have at his temples would have taken Tom’s sex appeal up a notch in this film.

Despite the lack of gray hair this is an enjoyable film. It’s not a film that takes a social or political stance. It’s an old fashioned movie where you root for a hero to succeed at his mission and love life. Tom Cruise and all involved did a nice job on “Top Gun Maverick”.

Product Review: Starry

Pepsi has replaced their lemon lime flavored pop Sierra Mist. The new beverage is called Starry. Clear pop is my drink of choice when I have a carbonated beverage. For some reason I was kind of sad when i heard Sierra Mist was being taken off the market.

Evidently, Sierra Mist was having a difficult time competing with Sprite for market share of lemon/lime flavored pop. Pepsi decided to try and appeal to younger consumers by changing their clear pop formula and changing the marketing. Starry is what they came up with. I tried Starry over the weekend. This is my review of the new product.

My first impression of Starry is that it was flat. After a few more sips it reminded me of sparkling water. Starry is like sparkling water with lemon/lime flavoring and a bit of sugar. Starry is not as syrupy and sugary as Sprite, Sierra Mist and 7 Up. I don’t really like it but younger people may. They seem to be more health conscious than Gen X and Boomers.

I couldn’t tell the difference between Sprite and Sierra Mist in a blind taste test. I wasn’t picky and would drink either depending on availability. But I don’t think I would choose Starry again. I would choose something like orange, strawberry or root beer instead. Starry isn’t terrible once you get use to it but it’s still a downgrade from Sierra Mist.

RIP Sierra Mist 1999-2023

African American Studies

I remember learning why Frederick Douglass had two s’s in his last name when I was in the fifth grade. He added the extra s in order to distinguish himself from his legal owner. Black slaves carried the last names of their owner. The legacy has continued. Black Americans carry the last name of their families former legal owner. I recall admiring the subtle act of rebellion. I respect Frederick;s strong sense of self during the times of legal slavery.

I remember wanting to change my last name. However, I didn’t want to change my name to X like Malcom Little did. I wanted to change the spelling of my name. There is no way to change the spelling of my and have it make phonetic sense so that idea was fleeting. But I have taken strong interest in Black American studies since then. Learning about Black people’s history in America has given me perspective, admiration for Black Americans and a strong sense of self, pride and belonging.

The story of Black people in America is very dramatic. It makes me sad, angry, confused and dismayed. But some of the stories of Black people in America are historic and awe inspiring. Black Americans are ironically very patriotic and have stood up for the American way more than anyone else. Other disenfranchised groups have modeled their campaigns for equality and rights on the African American struggle in this country. African American history is fascinating.

The governor of Florida wants to block advance studies of African American studies in Florida. He wants to limit the history of what is taught about Black people in American schools with the Stop WOKE Act. Rob DeSantis doesn’t want any subject matter about race taught in schools. I’m unsure how you teach American history without talking about ethnic background when you consider the vast majority of this country has ancestors that originated outside of North America.

The current political attitudes in the US are very disappointing and insulting. Republicans are firmly committed to dishonesty and controlling Americans. They are also devoted to presenting White people as morally righteous and admirable. The agenda of White Americans is thought of as destined to be and all their actions are thought to be justifiable. That’s not history. That’s not education. That’s propaganda.