International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day was Friday, March 8.  I thought nothing of it on Friday because I don’t know how to observe the day.  Do we go shopping, bake a cake, have a parade or what?  Beats me.

But over the weekend I ran across a video on YouTube of an Air Force service woman complaining about her subordinates having bad attitudes.

 

The soldiers post is bad enough but as always the comments underneath the video were far more extreme.  I read dozens and dozens of comments expressing disdain for and superiority to Black women.  YouTube is a haven for those who hate Black women.  Insults to Black women can be found underneath videos that have absolutely nothing to do with Black women.  I read this stuff and I’m like, sheesh can I live?  I’m just minding my business and trying to live here.

There is a YouTube host by the name of Tommy Sotomayor that has been preaching his hatred of Black women on social media for years now.  His success has inspired copy cats and their sentiment is repeated all over YouTube and Twitter.  I’ve come to the conclusion that the easiest way for a Black man that isn’t a celebrity to gain a large social media following is by degrading Black women.

tommy sotomayor Tommy Sotomayor

Stereotypes are usually based in truth but I still don’t find the perceptions that people have of Black women to be fair.  I am familiar with “Black attitude” and have encountered it.  I’ve dished some out.  So I’m not saying that “Black attitude” doesn’t exist.  I’m just saying that it is misunderstood and sometimes justified.

Hostility towards Black women has been very open in the media for years.  As I pointed out before it is all over the place and the Black community is not even a safe place from it because Black people often hold the most hostility and do a lot to perpetuate the harmful stereotypes.

Black women are often described as terrible mothers, terrible domestic partners, terrible people and ugly.  I’ve seen numerous social media posts telling Black women  that we are the so called bottom of the barrel women.  With so much negativity aimed at Black women I don’t understand why anyone is surprised that they would have attitudes or feelings of bitterness and resentment.  It is inevitable that all of the negativity would affect the image of Black women and girls.

Black women are often put down for the way they present themselves.  A lot of Black women wear hair weave around the world.  In countries outside of the US skin bleaching seems to be common.  Men that enjoy degrading Black women by telling them that they need to learn to love themselves.

What people choose to ignore is that European features are the standard of beauty globally and women of African descent that alter their appearance to look more European are trying to compete.  They are competing for economic opportunities and the affection of men.  Black women often feel that they need to make themselves look more European to gain the attention of Black men.

Black women are human beings and like all human beings they are seeking out validation and love.  Black women are fighting to gain economic resources in this modern economy.  Most of us are raised to believe that we need to alter our appearance to look more European in some form in order to do that.  Anyone that says that looking more African and less European in this world is an asset is not speaking the truth.

So that covers the why of some of the actions of Black women but that’s not where the bias stops.  I admit.  Some Black women have an attitude and are easy to trigger.  But so are a lot of other women that aren’t Black.  Why aren’t those women stereotyped as having bad attitudes?  In fact, when certain races of women have temper tantrums men think it’s cute, sexy and exciting.

 

If you take a gander at my profile pic you can clearly see that I am a Black woman.  I think I’m a pretty nice and easy going person.  I don’t like to be at odds with people or have conflicts.  But I’m not afraid to stand up for myself.  And I’ve noticed as a Black woman there are times when I have had to struggle to be heard.  When I don’t stand for being treated poorly or I feel the need to make myself clear so I can ensure that I am being heard and understood people often like to act is if I am the aggressor and they are the victim.

All a Black woman needs to do is stand up for herself or assert herself and many people will be offended by it because the woman that they deem as beneath them or bottom of the barrel is asking for fair treatment.  Others actually enjoy the nasty stereotypes of Black women.  It gives them a fool to laugh at and someone to make them feel superior.  I have had problems in the American workforce for not fulfilling the Black woman stereotypes.  A Black woman will be left in peace if she plays the role that others thinks she should play.

I grew up in the Detroit area and now I live in Kansas City, MO.  I’ve always lived places with sizeable Black populations.  So indeed, I have met unpleasant Black women but I’ve also met a lot of sweet as pie, smart, professional, family oriented, hard working, feminine, full of personality and drop dead gorgeous.  In fact, I think that most Black women are lovely people.  Most of the people that I have been close to and supported me in my life have been Black women.  I have absolutely no reason to put down Black women or try to put a different race of women on a pedestal.

Black women are like everyone else and should be judged as individuals.  Give us a break.  And no, I’m not pleading with anyone to like or love us.  That is a personal matter.  But I don’t think that we deserve the constant degradation that we receive.  It’s not even as if we are being accused of pulling off mass shootings or drive bys.  Even if you buy into the stereotypes we still really aren’t all that bad.  How can we be?  Black women don’t hold much power in society so we aren’t even able to hurt anyone.  I don’t understand how we became the boogeyman.

As far as the soldier that made that video I have some theories about why she has a problem with her subordinates but I will keep that to myself.  My hypothesis is not politically correct and would do nothing but hurt feelings and spread negativity.  I know when to keep my mouth shut.  I only know what this soldier shared in her profanity laced tirade which said a lot about her.

This woman clearly loves drama because there are other, less public, more professional and mature ways that she could deal with disrespectful subordinates.  I’m sure the Air Force has some sort of disciplinary system in place to deal with valid complaints.  And this lady said she wanted to fight the Black women that reported to her.  For goodness sakes that’s not lady like at all.  Is violence really necessary?  I’m thinking that she is the problem here.

So anyway the world really needs to back off of Black women and girls.  We don’t deserve the hostility.  We’re just trying to live our lives.  In the past year or so I’ve heard of about three stories of elementary school aged girls committing suicide because of bullying at school.  One news report said that a girl was being teased because of her hair.  She looked like an average little Black girl with two Black parents to me.  This negativity has consequences.

The mainstream American feminist movement rarely addresses the concerns of Black women.  Body positivity and other modern feminist causes exist to improve the conditions of affluent White women that only seem to have cellulite to worry about.  So in honor of International Women’s Day please, give Black women a break.  We’re having a hard time out here.

Happy Birthday Naomi Campbell

Happy belated birthday to Naomi Campbell.  The hardest working woman in fashion turned forty eight on May 22.  Naomi is from the era of the super models and hasn’t slowed down since the 1990s.  Naomi has challenged beauty standards in the fashion industry for decades and continues to do so as she nears fifty.  Naomi Campbell has been a hero of mine for many years.

I remember the first time I ever saw Naomi Campbell.  She was doing a seductive dance in Michael Jackson’s “Keep it in the Closet” video.  She was an absolute sensation in my middle school suburban Detroit social circle at the time.  Me and my young girlfriends were fascinated by this dark skinned exotic beauty and her waist length hair.  There was some debate among us whether the hair was real or not.  I was on team weave but it didn’t even matter.  I loved that woman.

She was a stunning Black woman with African features. Her contemporaries were Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and another favorite of mine Tyra Banks.  There had been successful Black models before but none as dark and lovely as Naomi at that time.

Some of you may be unaware that lighter skinned, European featured beauty is highly favored in the world.  Even in Black communities light skinned, straight haired looks are praised over dark skin and kinky hair.  I had childhood experiences that involved me being teased for being dark.  As an adult it’s been clear to me that most men prefer lighter, European women over African looking ones.  So it meant a lot to me as a young girl coming of age to see someone with dark features in the limelight.

Other models from the super model era have either retired or play different roles in the fashion industry now.  At forty eight years old Naomi is still working the runway better than anyone and I mean anyone.  Young models of the day can’t match her stage presence.  In April 2018 she was on the cover of “GQ” magazine.  Ms. Campbell shows no signs of slowing down.

naomi-campbell-gq-skepta-600x736

Naomi has a bad reputation.  She’s been accused of abusive behavior and has served time for her crime.  She paid her debt and hasn’t had any legal problems in years that I know of but I believe that Naomi is misunderstood.  It’s hard for Black women to stand up for themselves without being seen as being combative or aggressive.  Unfortunately, Black women, even tall and glamorous models are forced to defend and demand their worth themselves often in this world.  The world doesn’t just give people of African descent respect we quite often have to demand it.  I think Naomi may have just been demanding to get the respect she deserves.

Despite Naomi’s notorious temperament she seems very polite and gracious to me.  She doesn’t seem to take her lot in life for granted and she has worked very hard for all she has.  I also respect a person that is able to maintain long term friendships.  Friendship is under appreciated in this world and Naomi is still friends with some of her modeling colleagues from the 90s like Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista.  I respect and admire people that maintain long lasting friendships.  She also has a long term relationship with P. Diddy that I find to be, well, intriguing.

Happy belated 48th birthday to Naomi Campbell.  The diva, queen of the catwalk, hardest working woman in fashion, muse and one of my personal heroes and an inspiration to millions.

 

 

 

Who do Black Men Value?

Last Sunday afternoon I stopped at a gas station for a drink.  A tired looking Black man, in his late forties to early fifties, was standing outside the gas station.  I could tell he was a pan handler because he was waiting outside the building watching people come and go.  I parked my car in front of where he was standing and he approached me and asked me for some spare change.  He tried to follow up with a story about how he was trying to get somewhere and needed money.  I told him I would give him some change on my way back to my car.

As I was leaving the gas station the pan handler was standing in the same spot in front of my car.   I gave the man some spare change.  I think it was about thirty five cents.  As I was getting in my car a middle aged, White man was going into the gas station.  The Black man did not approach him for any money.  He just made eye contact and just nodded.

I was a little troubled by this.  Why did the Black male pan handler have enough pride not to ask the White man for money but he had no problem presenting himself as a pitiful bum to a Black woman?  Why was it more important to the Black man to save face in front of a White man but he didn’t care what a Black woman thought of him?

Besides that, the entire global economy is set up so White men can prosper.  Black women are pushed to the margins of the economy.  The White man is more likely to have a dollar to spare whereas I may or may not have much more money than the panhandler.  In fact, I’m sure the panhandler has more money than I do because I have student loan and car debts.  My have negative net worth.

Despite the paltry sum of money I gave the man I felt really taken advantage of in that situation.  I hate it when men ask women for money.  Unless there is a very close relationship between the two it shouldn’t happen.  I’m old fashioned and I think that men should provide leadership.  The man could have shown me, a Black woman a little respect and had some pride in himself but he chose to reserve that for the tubby, middle aged, White man.

I would love to know why the panhandler made the choices that he made that day.  I bet if I asked him why he begged from me and looked the White man in the eye and nodded hello he couldn’t give me an answer.  But I think this is an example of how Black women are seen in the world at large.  This story is also indicative of a problem in the Black community.

Black women are often seen and treated as people that are to be taken advantage of and used.  People expect Black women to give, serve and work and never prosper or expect recognition or respect for her efforts.  I often feel that Black men are the biggest users of Black women.

I also feel that Black have abdicated their positions as leaders in the Black community.  Men should be leaders.  That’s not to say that women can’t be leaders but in Black families women often provide emotional and financial leadership for others and often times there is no one for Black women to lean on.  It’s not always the case but often times the men are just not there at all or in a supportive way.  I think that the lack of men taking responsibility for women in children is a large part of the problem in Black America.

All of this came about because of an interaction with a bum on 24 Highway.  He chose to be a bum for a Black woman but a man for a White man even though the White man probably pegged anyway.  Had he not asked me for money I would have thought he was waiting for someone in the gas station or something.

I would really love to hear feedback on this essay particularly if you are a part of the African American community.

 

 

Waitressing While Black – Shannon in Kansas City

I have had several customer service jobs in my life.  My career has mostly consisted of working in retail and I have had restaurant jobs as well.  I have learned a lot about the human race while working as a public servant.  Some of it is good.  Some is just matter of fact.  Much of what I’ve learned is disappointing.

I am a Black woman and I’ve noticed that some customers treat me differently than my non Black counterparts.  I have had retail sales jobs where I greeted a customer and asked them if I can help them find anything.  They would coldly tell me that they were just looking and barely make eye contact.  A non Black store employee would approach them a minute later and the customer’s entire demeanor would change and they gladly let the non Black store associate assist them.  I have witnessed this scenario time and time again.

The world has a coldness and condescending attitude towards Blacks.  I have often felt that a lot of non Black people have a hard time interacting with Black people without trying to correct or dominate them in some way.  A lot of non Black people feel like it is their right to dominate any interaction with a Black person.  Sometimes they try to dominate through subtle hints which express disdain for the Black party and sometimes they are more aggressive.

I currently work as a server at a chain restaurant that is popular across the U.S.  I had a string of customers over the weekend that were very course and rude over the weekend.  Now I’m sure you’re saying all servers have dealt with rude customers and you would be right.  But I’ve been Black a long enough to know when I’m dealing with the passive aggressive “You ain’t shit nigger” type of rudeness which is pervasive throughout America.

These particular customers had harshness in their eyes and were very coarse with their words.  If I said something to clarify their order they would snap back in a snotty way in order to imply that I was stupid.  Some of them avoided eye contact all together when speaking and talked down into their plates.  They were very cold, distant, dismissive and rude.  This type of behavior is common in Missouri.  I’ve never thought that people here are very nice.

People love to find and excuse for racist behavior so I want to say that these particular customers had nasty attitudes as soon as I approached their table so I know it was nothing I did.  It was the way I looked that made them so hateful.  Some may tell me to just suck it up sister.  Believe me I have.  Sucking it up and toughing it out gets tiring.  So I’m writing about my experiences as a creative outlet and to let my voice be heard among the handful of people that read this blog. (Thank you)

I want to encourage any other Black public servants out there to keep your head up and be professional.  It’s not your problem my friend it’s theirs.  Keep working hard.  Don’t let the prejudice and hatred on someone else’s heart affect you in anyway.  Like Beyoncé said “Always be gracious your best revenge is your paper”.