WCC: To Be a Black, Female, “Special Negro”

I have been called a “special negro” since elementary school. It started when my love of math turned into a game of wits for older kids who were not so good at it. My diction, my unintentional word choice – from hours and hours of reading the Encyclopedia Britannica (yes, I predate Google), and my overall poise made folks think I thought I was “all that.” They told me I thought I was better than them. While it wasn’t true, it still resulted in the name-calling and the isolation many geeky black nerds (glerds) experience in circles where mainstream ideals are pervasive and normalized. I still get the occasional “special negro” insult. I have to ask though: Isn’t it about time we retire that term and find more effective ways to empower ourselves?

If you have never heard the term “special negro” before, count your blessings. It originated as the “house nigga” in slave days. It later evolved into “uppity negro” in the twentieth century. And while terms like “bourgie”, “uppity”, and “high saddity” still prevail, it is the “special negro” moniker that is the most dubious. The special negro is the token black person. He or she is the individual that white people are talking about when they mention their one black friend. Being tokened has an equal and opposite effect. To whatever degree one is accepted by whites, one will be equally rejected by blacks – or so it seems.

Read more at WCC.

WCC: We Are Ready to #CancelSNL After the Coondoggle of ‘Black Jeopardy’

What’s a ‘coondoggle?’ It’s when a boondoggle is initiated by people who are cooning. A secondary definition of it is Saturday Night Live writers’ weekly attempt to make black stereotypes funny. Well, funny in a general sense – not just to white people. Really, the rest of the show isn’t that funny either so we think it’s time to go ahead and put it out of its misery.

We’ve done our fair share of covering the perennial Saturday night comedy show. First, the 39th season opened with a gang of new (all-white) castmembers. Then they tried to make up for it by having Kerry Washington host and play a slew of black characters (offensively). Next, they cast Sasheer Zamata after a “black female only” casting call. And finally, they added two black females to the writing staff. Amongst all of this, we debated whether to continue watching the show. And, we decided to give it one last chance.

Since then, SNL has become more and more of a weekly coondoggle and black people are usually the butt of the joke. With Kenan Thompson, Jay Pharoah, and Sasheer Zamata, Lorne Michaels has managed to meet the call for more diversity he was burdened with after Maya Rudolph left. Yet, having a representative comedic and writing staff has done little to nothing about the piss-poor, basic writing which constantly depicts black people as the worst of ourselves.

The most recent example of this was “Black Jeopardy”, a skit in which three contestants, 2 black and one white, answered questions meant to be tailored to black folk. These questions painted blacks as chronically late, poor, and simple-minded. This, in the same night that Louis CK opened with a joke about ‘starving kids in Africa’ to make a point about Americans’ lack of perspective. Score one for SNL.

Ebony.com: The Politics of Pregnancy and the Workplace

As I sit here gazing at my newborn son, I can’t help but reflect on my experiences in parenting over the years. Having given birth to three beautiful children, I have spent almost three of my seven years in corporate America pregnant. It hasn’t been easy. It has been extremely difficult. But with Congress recently introducing the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act—mandating paid leave insurance for workers— it seems our political leadership may be taking these struggles more seriously.

A placement counselor once mentioned to me that the automobile company I was interested in would want “foot soldiers” as opposed to people who were interested in starting families. I then imagined myself wearing Army fatigues in a sea of cubicles tucking and rolling over to the printer station. No, I was not a “foot soldier” if that was the criterion. When that company made me an offer, it was one I definitely could refuse. I was married and I believed I had the right to start a family whenever I wanted. Who were they to tell me I wasn’t “soldier” enough?

After suffering a miscarriage that year, I unexpectedly became pregnant again. I had already interviewed at several companies and not working simply wasn’t an option for me. So, I started my first job in an industry that I thought would be the perfect fit for an expectant mother. I trudged around attempting to look normal for three weeks until I had no choice but to tell them I was three months pregnant. I could sense the disappointment from pretty much everyone.

WCC: ‘Hyper-Racialism’: Where White Privilege Meets White-Guilt-Paranoia

It seems the quickest way to see a white person in America clam up is by mentioning the obvious. I have done this many times without meaning to. What did I do? Well, I just started talking about the color of my own skin. You see, it’s brown. I just so happen to be a black woman. This fact – though normal to me – seems to send white folks into a tizzy whenever I talk about it. I have termed this issue “hyper-racialism.” And, it just so happens to be colorblindness’ ugly, disfigured cousin.

What is Colorblindness?

Colorblindness is a unicorn. It is a figment of our collective imaginations like dragons and fat free milk. It is the assertion – mainly by whites – that it is possible to be ‘blind’ to the color of one’s own skin – and anyone else’s. Somehow, by simply ignoring skin color altogether, colorblind and post-racial zealots believe that all racial animus will be assuaged. Not so.

As Aamer Rahman has noted, race and racism are intrinsically linked to history. Racial genocide is in our blood. As long as we have history books, old people with memories, and our own functioning cortexes, we will have racial animus, awareness, and shame. To be actively colorblind is to be self-inducingly ignorant.

And who wants to be ignorant?

This is the equivalent of closing your eyes when you see someone’s broken arm. Simply shutting it out doesn’t make it go away. And, it does nothing to help the person who has the broken limb. All it does is make you look like a jerk for being insensitive, in-compassionate, and too immature to handle the situation like an adult.

Read the full article at WCC.

xoJane; IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Was Punished For My White Co-worker’s Racism

Graduating from USC with a degree in industrial engineering never could have prepared me for the racism I would face living in Orange County, CA. In fact, my education at USC did the exact opposite. I moved in diverse circles, chatted with folks from all over the world on a daily basis, and even though I was born in a predominantly black area in Oakland, CA, I had pretty much become accustomed to racial heterogeneity. There were tons of people like me on campus and in Los Angeles. Then I got my first job at a popular theme park and everything changed.
I was 22. It was my first job. I loved the company and intended to be there until I retired. I had pretty much worshipped the brand since I was a small child. I basically came in both wide-eyed and with my eyes wide shut at the same time.
I was the only person of color on my team, but that didn’t bother me. It actually seemed like an asset at first. Being black with an engineering degree drew people to want to know more about me. No doubt they thought I was some kind of exception -– even though I really wasn’t. I enjoyed it nonetheless. I was more than happy to show my analytical ability in just about every scenario I found myself in. I was confident.
I had an older peer, about 60, who had been at the company for 40 years. He was a pretty nice man. He made jokes about everything and knew the theme park like the back of his hand. Our jobs required that we work in close proximity to one another. He was a white male who, as he got more comfortable with me, frequently used the term “cholo” as an adjective. He found great amusement in the Spanish-speaking staff on campus. I never said anything. It was the combination of a fear of ruffling feathers, desperation to have a paycheck for my growing family, and acquiescence to authority that silenced me.
One day we had some downtime in the office. We were chatting about life at the park. He started,” I have been here a very long time.”
I was eager to hear more.
“You know, when I first got here, you had to be dressed up to go into the park. All the receptionists, hostesses, and food workers were these tall, thin white women.”
He chuckled. I did too.
Then he pointed at me and said, “And, ‘Africans’ -– like yourself –- they would never have been allowed to work front of house. They had to stay in the kitchens.”
I froze. I had no idea where this was going next, but I was already hurt. I just stood there and plastered a smile on my face.
Read the full article at xoJane.

WCC: We’re Black, We Didn’t Jump the Broom, and It Kinda Sucks

I never expected to get married at 22-years-old. I envisioned myself as a briefcase wielding, pseudo-Oprah taking over the world. Then, my husband happened in my freshman year of college. And that was that. While we have a pretty fairytale style romance, we neglected to do what most black couples do on their wedding days: jump the broom. I feel pretty sour about it.

We were college sweethearts. We knew we wanted to get married and have children within months of dating. After being best friends for almost a year, it was like the stars had aligned. And, the wedding was the best day of our lives. It was a beautiful sunny May day in Orange County. We had everything and everyone we needed. Everything except the broom.

We are both black folks from California. He is a Socal native and I hail from the Bay Area (Oakland to be exact). We were both raised by single mothers. And, we both understand our black history. So, everyone expected we would be ‘jumping the broom’ at our wedding. But, neither of us was interested.

Several times during our two year engagement I asked him, “You sure you don’t want to jump the broom?” To which he’d answer, “For what?” “I don’t know…tradition,” I’d say reluctantly. Then we’d both do a Kanye shrug and go back to playing video games.

What was most interesting was everyone else’s reaction to it. “So, who’s going to carry the broom?” my wedding planner asked me a few months before our wedding day. “No one. We aren’t jumping the broom,” I said ready to rattle off all of my reasons for that choice. She looked at me. Her eyes were gasping. You know that look when, if eyes could talk, they’d be saying “Gurl! Are you outta your mind!?!” It was actually pretty funny. “Well, I am sure you have a good reason for that. So, do you honey,” she chuckled after her eyes caught their breath. But, I knew her judgey eyes linked to judgey thoughts.

 

Read the full article at WCC.

WCC: Public Spaces, Black Faces, Latino Gazes

Race in America is often discussed in a continuum of black and white. One’s worth is measured by one’s simultaneous distance from blacks and closeness to whites. One group that likely finds itself pulled in either direction on this linear structure is Latino Americans. Often clumped into race conversations as the “brown” to our black, Latinos face wholly different social and economic circumstances than blacks. Not only that, they have a range of socio-political issues which can draw them toward blacks and away from whites. But, in an attempt to distance from blacks, Latino Americans sometimes embody the very same racial animus some whites show toward black Americans. When that happens, we all lose.

Saturday was an atypically cold day in the sunny SoCal city of Orange. My children, husband, and I decided to go catch breakfast at a local diner we have eaten at at least 100 times. The place was surprisingly packed from front to back. We were toting two little ones and an infant in a car seat. So, we were obviously laden with parental responsibilities – along with a giant diaper bag and bejeweled princess backpack for the two-year-old. While I have previously written about the negative reception I have gotten from unwelcoming white folks in the OC, today’s gazers, avoiders, and repugnant face-makers were all Latino women.

When we entered the restaurant and added our names to the waiting list, there were two open benches. I told my husband, “Let’s sit down over here” while walking toward the seat nearest the door. I was no more than three feet away when a Latino young lady turned, and raced toward the seat. As intended, she beat me to it. Snarkily, I said, “Well, nevermind.” Since we were already walking in that direction, my husband and I stood next to the seat organizing ourselves and children. The young lady, so concerned that we wanted to share the four-foot long bench with her, scooted to the middle, sat her purse down next to her, and put both hands out on the bench beside her. We definitely got the message; she was waiting for others and she didn’t want us to sit on the bench.

Read the full article at WCC.

WCC: On the Jordan Davis Murder and Why I Avoided the Michael Dunn Trial

On Saturday, Michael Dunn was convicted of three counts of second-degree murder while the jury was torn on the killing of unarmed black teen Jordan Russell Davis, 17. It happened. It was sad, wrong, and terrible and it happened. Most of us expected some type of injustice to ensue. But, I’m sure none of us could have imagined that Dunn would be convicted for not killing enough young boys that day. This is my first time writing about the trial because…well, because I got too invested in the George Zimmerman trial last year. It became a personal issue for me. It hurt me so deeply. So now, I have taken to emotional detachment as a coping mechanism.

I took to Twitter to read words from acquiescent black murder apologists like “grateful,” “at least,” and “partial justice.” Some folks were happy that Dunn would be going to prison for “attempting” to kill Jordan Davis’ three other friends who were in the car with him that day. They felt at least partially satisfied that, unlike George Zimmerman, Michael Dunn wouldn’t be walking away free. What they didn’t realize was that the conviction – no matter Dunn’s age and likelihood of rotting in a prison cell – was not justice for Davis.These folks don’t have the courage to admit that their Kool-aid has gone sour. There just aren’t enough straws to grasp anymore.

In essence, Dunn could have shot and killed Davis, walked down the road, then shot at – and missed – all of Davis’ friends and the same outcome would apply. Dunn didn’t kill enough young boys playing “thug” music to walk free.

Only in America can a grown man – with obvious racial hatred – shoot and kill a young black boy only to go to prison for shooting at the boys he didn’t kill. Had those boys not been in the car with Davis, Dunn wouldn’t be serving any time at all. Let that marinate with you for a bit.

Read the full article at WCC.

WCC: Coke Ad Shows Diversity, White Conservatives Die a Million Deaths [VIDEO]

Americans are vile human beings. Besides our issues with jingoism, white superiority, and ethnocentrism, we are also stupid. So stupid in fact that we become completely bent, afraid, and offended over the stupidest things. For example, a man in Temecula, CA answered his door by pulling a gun on a young girl there to sell him cookies. Cookies. What imminent threat she presented is unknown. It is truly frightening the amount of freedom these simpletons have. But, something else happened recently that sent Americans (read ignorant white Americans) over the edge once again. It was a Coke commercial that featured people who weren’t white and English-speaking singing ‘America the Beautiful.’ Cue the tiny racist violins and white people tears.

The minute long ad called ‘It’s Beautiful‘ is a patriotic tribute to this country ‘from sea to shining sea.’ What ruffled feathers? Well, the people in the commercial weren’t the right complexion for many white viewers. You know how that goes. So, those pissed off white people had no other choice but to lash out.

Read the full article at WCC.

WCC: Disney’s ‘Frozen’ Left Out Little Girls of Color…Again

My family went to see Disney’s hit movie Frozen this weekend. It was really amazing. And by amazing I mean the little four-year-old girl inside of me put on a princess dress and crown, grabbed a magic wand, danced around in circles and swooned for an hour and a half. It was that good from start to finish. But, at some point, I glanced around the theater and noticed the two other brown or black families. Then I became an adult again. And I got sad.

The movie’s powerful messages of self-acceptance, overcoming bullying, succeeding in the face of stigmatization, and remaining true to one’s self seemed to fit almost perfectly with the conversations us brown and black mothers have to have with our little girls almost daily. I think Disney may have missed an opportunity to really make a difference with this film. Or, they just chose not to touch it. Either way, little black and brown girls continue to exist on the periphery of the American fairytale.

During the movie, my two-year old tuned in an out. At times she was fully engrossed in the popcorn rather than in the giant screen in front of us. But, whenever the singing geared up, she was at full attention. She was wide-eyed and absorbing every moment of it.

The signature ballad for the Snow Queen, performed by Wicked‘s Idina Menzel, was gorgeous, instilled hope and wonder, and was sung flawlessly. During the song, there was a moment when I could see the same youthful exuberance and inspiration in my little one’s eyes that I must have had when I first saw Cinderella a quarter of a century ago. Like me, she was seeing not just the animation but the messages of hope it imbued. Those messages, however, were coming from a gorgeous blonde character surrounded by other sparkly-eyed white figures. None of them looked like us. So, was the message really for us too?

Read the full article at WCC.