“The Bluest Eye” and What it Means in 2019 – Toni Morrison February 18, 1931 – August 5, 2019

Literary hero Toni Morrison died earlier this week.  Her powerful novel The Bluest Eye is what makes Ms. Morrison a legend in my eyes.  The book was released in 1970 and exposed ugly truths about Black women and self image and the effect it has on an individual’s psyche and overall well being.

I read The Bluest Eye long ago and it has resonated with me for years.  I am a Black American woman and I refer to the story of Pecola Breedlove often as I observe Black people in modern culture.  The story revolves around around a young dark skinned Black girl named Pecola Breedlove.  She is seen as ugly and not treated very well throughout her life.  Pecola becomes fixated on blue eyes that she sees in popular images and wishes that she had them herself.  Pecola thinks that her quality of life would improve if she has blue eyes, blonde hair and light skin.  Was she wrong?

bluest eye 3

I certainly don’t think so.  And it’s sad that the world that Pecola lived in made it impossible for her to accept herself.  Pecola’s dark skin condemned her to a lack of opportunities and second class treatment in the culture of the day.  She was born to be a proverbial whipping boy.  I wouldn’t dare say that things haven’t changed.  It would be incredibly entitled for me as a dark skinned Black woman born in 1975 to say that things have remained the same.  But they aren’t very different.

Globally, people of African descent see beauty and freedom in adopting and mimicking European aesthetics.  I personally have regularly chemically straightened my hair since I was around eight.  It wasn’t my decision to start relaxing my hair but I haven’t made an adult decision to stop doing what I was taught as a child either.  Many Black women go through the expense of wearing fake hair that is usually a straight texture.

I don’t blame or criticize Black women for trying to meet European beauty standards.  Life is competitive and black women want the same things that everyone else wants such as basic respect, career and romantic success.  It’s a little easier to achieve those things when you look like a person of European heritage.  Pecola was a simple girl but she was smart enough to come to that conclusion.

I feel like as time goes on Black girls and women are having a more difficult time accepting their appearance in this image conscious, Eurocentic society.  I had heard of several suicides of young Black girls over the last few years but the first article that I pasted below says that suicide rates among young Black children have doubled between 1993-2015

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/12-old-girl-commits-suicide-113320792.html

Heartbreaking: 6-Year-Old Girl Commits Suicide With Jump Rope

10-Year-Old Colorado Girl Commits Suicide After Bullying

9-Year Old Girl Commits Suicide After Months of Being Bullied at Her School

https://www.theoaklandpress.com/news/nation-world-news/in-wake-of–year-old-s-suicide-waterford-father/article_3130e765-8b71-5644-aab4-236d2e592496.html

I never realized how much vitriol there was within the Black community towards Black women until I became a consumer of social media.  YIKES!  The voices are often mean spirited and openly hostile towards Black women who are not given much support or positive reinforcement.  Meanwhile images of racially ambiguous and White women are glorified and placed on a pedestal for Black audiences.  It’s a complete mind f—.  I’m not surprised that we have problems and tragedies.

There’s no good way to end this post because the real life stories of Pecola Breedloves continues to unfold.   My hope is that all Black people will learn to accept and love themselves.  I hope that the world learns to accept Blackness but that is doubtful because there is a perception that there is something for others to lose if people of African descent improve themselves and stop being so European focused.  I am grateful to Toni Morrison for illustrating this matter so beautifully.  I urge you to read The Bluest Eye if you haven’t.  It’s unforgettable and timeless.

 

 

Organic is Great Until it’s Too Organic

Every Wednesday morning during the summer there is a little farmers’ market that operates out of the parking lot that I park in at work.  It’s called the KCK Farmers’ Market.  The farmer’s market is in an inner city neighborhood that doesn’t have a grocery store nearby.  It’s great that residents of that community can get fresh vegetables without traveling far which may be a challenge for some.  And government food assistance coupons are accepted.

https://www.facebook.com/kckfarmersmarket/

I recently learned that the sellers are also a part of the community.  I was wondering how far they traveled to participate in the market.  Most of them are Muslim Somali women and a few very well mannered children, Southeast Asian and African American farmers that grow their crops locally.  I think that the market is a win – win for everyone involved so I like to support them.

I don’t buy organic food at super markets because it is more expensive and I have no way of knowing if it’s organic or not.  I’m also not sure if the difference is something worth the extra money.  Some years back I jumped on the organic food band wagon but quit after it started taking a toll on my bank account.  It was back to pesticide laced veggies for me.  The prices at the KCK Farmers market are comparable to non organic food at the super market.

Last week I bought some red potatoes and a bell pepper at the market.  The pepper was a great fresh snack.  I was completely satisfied.  I cut up the potatoes this morning to cook with chicken breasts and I was in for a bit of a surprise.  Half of my potatoes were a bit rotten in the center.  I was kind of freaked out.  I’m not actually sure my red potatoes were spoiled.  I don’t know what I was seeing exactly because I’ve lived my life in a bubble with genetically modified and chemically altered fruits and vegetables that have been sorted for super market showtime.

I wasn’t comfortable with the brownish gray soft spots in my potatoes so I threw half of them away.  The potatoes were probably edible but still.  I had enough potatoes which met my standards to prepare with my chicken and have a hearty side portion.  I was making too much for one meal anyway.  I was planning on having left overs.

So I said all of that to say that there are benefits and drawbacks to everything.  The chemicals may cause you cancer and an early death but while you’re alive you will have pretty fruit with a longer shelf life.  Organic food is pure and raw.  But I, like most people am not quite prepared for pure and raw.  It’s not what most of us are use to in these United States where absolutely everything is manufactured in one way or another.

There isn’t much of a point to this post.  I just thought that my experience with organic, locally grown red potatoes was an interesting learning experience.  I will continue to support the KCK Farmers’ Market.  I may even buy more red potatoes there because I absolutely love red potatoes.  The KCK Farmers’ Market is a great asset to Wyandotte County Kansas that benefits many people in the area.  If you’re ever in the area please support this enterprise.

http://www.kckfarmersmarket.com/contact-us.html

The Greatest Generation

The title Greatest Generation is typically reserved for those that came of age around WWII.  For Black Americans the Greatest Generation is those who came of age during the Black Civil Rights era.  People such as Sadie Roberts-Joseph who recently lost her life to a senseless murder in Baton Rouge, LA changed the world and they don’t get enough respect for their accomplishments.  This post is not a discussion of Ms. Roberts-Joseph’s murder.

Black Americans of the Civil Rights era made the blueprint for protests and activism.  The LGBT movement, feminists and supporters of undocumented immigrants use the Black Civil Rights movement as a tool in which to gain sympathy for their struggles as a basis of comparison.  The Black American Civil rights movement has been a source of global inspiration.

These people were real activists that sought change and got it.  They risked their freedom, bodily harm and death while fighting for their rights against the most powerful country in the world.  I have a great deal of respect for some Black Lives Matter organizers and protesters.  But overall, the younger generation limits activism to hash tags and they accomplish very little.  At times I find social media activism to be counter productive.

I enjoy social media but it is what it is and it’s not what it’s not.  It’s not meaningful activism because it only makes a difference if it’s something popular.  Most social media advocacy is a matter of jumping on the right on line bandwagon.

That’s why the movement to fight sexual harassment caught on but the one to fight sexual harassment in the fast food industry didn’t. There’s no glamour to the fast food industry so not many people are willing to advocate for them.  That’s why there was an on line campaign to bring R. Kelly to justice but there isn’t a mainstream campaign to protect Black children from sexual abuse within the Black community.  That’s why police brutality is not protested until there is a shocking video.  If there isn’t a celebrity or shock value involved social media activism doesn’t seem to catch on very well.

Sadie Roberts-Joseph was not an arm chair activist.  She created a legacy for her community.  Ms. Roberts-Joseph founded an African American museum in Baton Rouge.  She worked with law enforcement in an effort to combat gang violence and drug abuse.  She also organized a Juneteenth celebration and mentored young people.  Ms. Roberts-Joseph was a real treasure to her community.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/16/us/sadie-roberts-joseph-profile/index.html

Most young, so called activists do not have this same kind of spirit.  They just want to throw their identity in another person’s face to be validated.  There are a lot of issues facing this generation that don’t seem to get addressed.  I feel like most young people are more interested in the trials and tribulations of celebrities than they are issues that affect the middle, working class and the poor.

There are a lot of people that think of themselves as “pro Black” or activists but they complain on social media all day about trivial things such as swirling (inter racial dating), fake hair and twerking.  I think that all of those subjects are worth talking about but Black social media outlets beat these conversations like they are dead horses.  On line activists rarely discuss the other dozens upon dozens of matters that affect Black Americans.

It is rare to run across intelligent conversations on social media about nutrition, education, health care, finance, parenting, inner city violence, domestic violence or the high infant mortality rate in our community.  Most of the conversations focus on a bunch of bickering about other people’s personal choices.  They want to try and change another person’s ideology instead of getting up from behind their lap tops and mobilizing something that will positively affect lives where they live.

And all of that is actually fine with me.  Perhaps people are mostly satisfied with their lives and simply enjoy complaining on the internet.  Heck, I complain on social media too.  But here’s the kick in the pants.  A lot of the armchair activists are very critical of The Greatest Generation.  They are critical of their parenting style.  They are critical of their religious beliefs.  And they are even critical of the activism from which they have directly benefited.

These Monday morning activists question whether integration was a good idea.  They consider The Greatest Generation to be soft because they took a non violent approach to protesting.  But the younger generation doesn’t stand for much at all other than inclusion and diversity.  Neither issue is a priority to me as a Black American.  Some don’t seem to notice that all this inclusion and diversity is pushing them out of influential positions and opportunities.  But go off!

Youngsters don’t put themselves on the line.  They don’t risk anything.  Whether you agree with The Greatest Generation or not their accomplishments and spirit deserves respect.  A lot of Black people that are the beneficiaries of the Civil Rights movement don’t offer that.  It’s a shame and it’s very sad.  But once again Black people turn their backs on their own accomplishments, history and culture.  It seems to be so much more natural for Black Americans to tear themselves down than build themselves up for some reason.

I am a part of Generation X which is a bridge between the Greatest Generation and the people that I’m complaining about.  You may ask what Generation X stood for or accomplished.  Honestly, not that much.  We’re kind of vapid at times.  But at least we respect our elders.

Rest in peace to Miss Sadie.  Her end was tragic but the story of her life is inspiring.  Women like Ms. Roberts-Joseph have always been the cornerstone of Black families and communities and they are deserving of praise.  She makes me proud.

 

More Feminist Confusion

The feminists are at it again.  These people are harder to understand than calculus.  Music producer Jermaine Dupri made a comment that most female rappers today make songs about the stripper life.  Social media feminists got upset for some reason and somehow Jermaine Dupri has become a prudish hypocrite in their minds even though their response is a bit prudish.  I thought feminists were in favor of “sexual liberation” and expression.

I don’t listen to much new rap music anymore.  I’ve gotten too old.  So if I have heard of you that means that you have become pretty darn popular.  Cardi B is a hip hop pop star that has become difficult to escape.  And I’ve gotten introduced to Megan Thee Stallion and City Girls.  I don’t care for Cardi B. at all but I think that Megan Thee Stallion and City Girls are quite talented.

I’m a Bible thumper that believes that there is more power for women in modesty than there is in raw sexuality.  I also believe that these talented young women would be better served by not flaunting their sexuality.  The public will only tolerate that without mocking it while a woman is young but no one is young forever or even very long.  You have to have something to sell and talk about other than sex.  But I’m not the target market for the music industry and I’m in my middle forties.  The City Girls and Megan didn’t ask for my opinion.

I like these girls because I can understand what they are saying.  They aren’t mumble rappers that sound like they are coming out of a cold medicine induced haze.  They are charismatic, energetic, young, brash and beautiful.  They are urban or perhaps ratchet is the better word and make no apologies for it.  Their music is fun.  And yes, they are sexy and put forth a stripper like image.  When I ran across their videos on You Tube they made me smile.  I don’t know City Girls and Megan Thee Stallion’s backgrounds but Cardi B. was an actual stripper.

Hip hop has been filthy, blunt and telling tales of urban counter culture since the late 80s. That’s the draw and the charm.  Hip hop has sold millions and probably billions because it sells a fantasy to those of us that are students, housewives and work cubicle jobs.  They say and do things before an audience that most of us would never do even after a couple of shots of tequila.  Feminism has done it’s job.

The City Girls parents probably hadn’t even met yet when tawdry rap music gained popularity and began to dominate the charts. Megan The Stallion and Cardi B. never really had a chance and most young women are never really given a different option to present themselves as something other than slutty.  But hey, we’re talking about grown, career women and I respect their choices.

Explicit lyrics, filth and racial slurs ahead.

I thought that feminists were in favor of women expressing themselves sexually and on their own terms.  That’s what the City Girls and Megan Thee Stallion are doing.  It’s what Nicki Minaj did before them.  And it’s what Lil Kim and Foxy Brown did before her these girls’ parents even met.  The young feminist response to Jermaine Dupri’s response should have been “So what if they rap about stripping.  What’s wrong with stripping?”  That would have made more sense to double down on their feminist values.

More trash ahead.

Instead they name off a bunch of other current female rappers that have a more wholesome or emo image.  In order to say that all young female rappers aren’t stripper like.  If feminists are truly supportive of these modest rappers why aren’t they more popular?  Capitalism is it’s own form of Democracy and feminists get a vote.

Jermaine Dupri is absolutely right.  Most popular young female rappers are selling sex.  It’s the way of the world and you need to be a real rebel to make a different choice.  There may be a Lauryn Hill or Missy Elliot equivalent for today but she doesn’t seem to be selling much music.  Or at least she’s not selling enough downloads and getting enough buzz to become mainstream like Cardi B.

Jermaine Dupri isn’t young anymore.  He’s forty six years old and it sounds like he’s gained some wisdom along the way.  He understands that there is more power for women in modesty and using talent and intelligence.  I hold the same opinion but I guess I’m enough of a feminist to respect an adult woman’s life choice.  He’s just trying to let young women with aspirations in the music business that their longevity is not in blatant sex appeal.

After all, Lauryn Hill still sells out concerts even though her fans know she might show up two hours late.  And we’ve never seen much of her body or heard much about her sexual experiences.  She did it all with talent and hard work.  Punctuality, not so much.

But feminists are interested in arguing and becoming outraged no matter what.  That seems to be the goal.  They aren’t even standing behind their cause of sexual liberation and expression.  A man got them to rally around modest rappers today which is what he was supporting.  Women stay losing.

The Little Mermaid 2019

There’s been a lot of discussion about the young actress Halle Bailey playing the part of Ariel in the “The Little Mermaid”.  Most of the conversation has centered around race.  evidently some are upset that a Black woman is playing the character and others are upset that someone is upset.  I don’t have any strong opinions on the matter but I’ve enjoyed the jokes and memes on social media surrounding our new Little Mermaid.

It’s always nice to see Black actors getting opportunities but aside from that I don’t care about this.  I don’t take much interest in anything Disney related.  I had never heard of Halle before.  And I’m not one to take a lot of pride in a Black character being added to an all White cast of a TV show.  It actually bothers me that Hollywood remakes films and they think they are being edgy by making a male character female, a White character Black or by making everybody gay.  Ooooohhhhh.

While wasting time on You Tube the other day I ran across a few videos featuring Halle Bailey and her sister.  I was instantly charmed.  Halle Bailey is perfect.  All of these people that are debating and making think pieces on this matter have sold Halle short because I didn’t hear any of them describe her as perfect until I saw this.  Please watch.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/video/chloe-x-halle-perform-america-beautiful-at-super-bowl-watch-1182246

 

 

Halle is the one in the red jogging suit.  She is young, innocent, pure and sweet as pie.  She sings like a bird and has a face like a baby doll.  Disney could not have done better if they grew this girl in a lab and raised her themselves to star in their film.  She was born for this and she is going to kill it.  I think this will be legendary.

Her sister is lovely as well so Disney might as well put her in the film too since Ariel had a bunch of sisters.  Are there more Bailey sisters?  We need more!  Tell me about their dad.  Is he a singer?  Cast him.  He’s a good man and he deserves it.

ariel's family

Unfortunately race is a big issue in the world but I bet Disney casting agents didn’t even think of race when considering Halle for this role.  I’ll bet it was an afterthought;  like “oh yeah do we care that she’s Black and the cartoon isn’t?  Nah me neither.”

I have a hard time imaging that there are many more young women out there who can fit the bill as well as Halle.  I had no intention of seeing this movie but now that I’ve seen how talented this young star I’m actually interested.  My big question is how are they going to make a live action movie about sea people?  That should be the real conversation.

A Dangerous Precedent Has Been Set in America

I’ve read two very disturbing stories this week and both ended with Black men being killed.  In both stories White people were made to feel uncomfortable and they thought that their discomfort was enough of a reason to confront and kill a man.  This precedent has been set by American law enforcement.

We’ve all heard dozens of stories by now where a law enforcement officer opened fire on a citizen and killed them.  The officer’s excuse is often I feared for my life.  They rarely say that they were assaulted in any way.  They claim that they were simply afraid and that was enough of a defense.  Most of these officers avoid jail time and some of them continue careers in law enforcement.

The notion that being fearful is enough of a reason to kill a person has spread to the masses.  Over the Fourth of July weekend in Aurora, CO a White man killed a Black man because of an argument that started when the Black man’s children were outside popping fireworks.  The noise from the fireworks startled the White man’s dog.  He and his fiance confronted the children and their mother and assaulted the mother.  The Black man came out of his apartment and was shot in the chest by the White man.

The couple with the dog brought guns outside to confront a woman and her young children about the noise they were making with fireworks.  They were ready to react with violence because of children celebrating a holiday with noise makers.  They were prepared to harm and kill and they did;  because their dog was afraid.

Man shot to death in dispute with armed couple angry about fireworks on July 4

In Peoria, AZ a 17 year old young Black or perhaps mixed race man stopped into a Circle K gas station last Thursday after work.  He was followed into the gas station that by a 27 year old White man that was made uncomfortable by the rap music he played in his car.  While the 17 year old was at the pop machine the 27 year old came behind him and slit his throat and stabbed him in the back.  The young man stumbled out of the gas station and died in the parking lot.

elijah el amin

The older man claimed that he had been harmed by people that listened to rap music in the past.  He felt the need to be proactive and offensive; because he claimed to be afraid and in fear for his life.  He felt justified because of his fear.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/07/09/elijah-al-amin-killing-man-charged-teenagers-death-told-police-rap-music-made-him-feel-unsafe/?utm_term=.a28ce5a3c64e

I supposed this is nothing new.  American racism has always been fueled by White fear and White Americans have always used that fear to justify violence against Blacks and others.  But “I feared for my life” has become a platitude over the last decade.  We expect to hear it every time there is a new story of police misconduct or violence.

And this country arrogantly accepts this excuse because White lives matter and Black lives don’t.  I lay the blame for the popularization of this phrase and thought pattern at the feet of American police officers.  I also blame feminism to an extent as well since they can’t tell the difference between social awkwardness that is caused by innocent flirtation and actual sexual harassment and assault.  Most Americans need to grow up.  Adult hood can be scary and uncomfortable.

It’s mind boggling to think that anyone can be so arrogant and have such a sense of superiority to think that their comfort and sense of security is more important than someone else’s physical well being or life.  What kind of mental gymnastics did these people go through in order to see themselves as a victims and valiant protectors as opposed to aggressive, blood thirsty thugs?

I will never understand them but White America needs to be shaken out of it’s self righteousness, perpetual victim hood and violent reactions.  Aggressive behavior masked as fear is a farce.  White America is use to being pandered to and having it’s feeling coddled.  As an American that loves her country I’m here to say –ck your –cking feelings!

 

 

Grace and Hypocrisy in the Black Community

The African American community is very hypocritical.  I’m sure you’ve seen the video of the woman that licked the ice cream at Walmart and put in back and left the store.  Yes, it’s nasty and childish and she is facing criminal consequences for food tampering.  But I think that the social media drama is another example of fake outrage and an on line lynch mob.

Black Americans are very forgiving and protective of Black men.  No matter what Black men do they will find grace within the Black community.  Pictures were released of pop star Rihanna’s face after being severely beaten by Chris Brown and continued to have successful recording career.  Marion Barry was caught on video tape smoking crack while he was the mayor of Washington D.C.

He served time in jail for his crime.  Got re elected to the city council, ran for mayor of D.C. and was re elected.  There was a video tape of R. Kelly involved in sex acts with young girls.  He went on trial for the crime beat the charge and came out with another album which became legendary.  African Americans forgave and supported all of these men after they were caught red handed committing serious crimes.

Those are high profile examples of the grace that Black Americans extend Black men but it happens among people that are out of the public eye as well.  We see it on the news when a young man is accused of pulling a drive by or robbing a liquor store.  His family defends him on the news and says that he is really a nice guy.  Excuses are made for such behavior by saying that he was trying to survive or he had a tough upbringing.  So be it.  But do people want to crucify this girl in Texas for licking ice cream?

I get it, it’s gross.  But did anybody die?  Can germs even survive on a cold surface in a freezer?  First off I think that the criminal justice system in the US is a prime example of government over reach.  I think it’s a gross injustice that people spend time in jail over traffic violations and unpaid parking tickets.  The parole system in America is a set up.  It sounds to me that being on parole is like walking a tight rope unless the parolee has strong support system around them.

The justice system targets and is particularly heavy handed when African Americans are involved.  The criminal justice system has done a lot to hinder Black American progress and destroy Black families.  Yet, this week in 2019 Black people are all over social media crucifying a teenager in Texas and rallying for her to get twenty years in prison for licking ice cream and putting it back.  It’s Black women that are leading the lynch mob on Black social media outlets.  Where is the grace and forgiveness for her?  Why do boys that pull drive bys get sympathy but girls that lick ice cream don’t?

Granted, I don’t see this ice cream licking as my problem.  I don’t live in Texas.  I don’t buy ice cream often.  I avoid Walmart.  And the flavor she licked doesn’t look like something I would choose.  And I think that I would notice if I bought a tub of ice cream and it had been licked.  That girl’s prank doesn’t affect me in the least.  But I’m empathetic so I can put myself in the shoes of the ice cream buying public.  This doesn’t warrant twenty years in jail or even six months.  At most she should have to do community service for the weekend.

Give the girl a break.  Ice cream licking isn’t an epidemic like gang violence or drug trafficking is.  This is a one off which is why it is shocking (or funny) to people.  She did not commit a violent crime.  At worst she committed a property crime worth about $3.99.  The punishment needs to fit the crime and the crime insignificant.