Friday, February 26, 2010

Bringing Home a White Boy

Have any of you read this new Washington Post article about how "Single Black Women [are] being urged to date outside race"? It's based on a conversation with the author of the new book "Don't Bring Home a White Boy: And Other Notions That Keep Black Women From Dating Out".

I think she makes a valid point; if anything, the flurry of articles about black female singledom (yes I just made that word up) have proven that the numbers simply aren't there. But I'm not a fan of the way she sort of glosses over the difficulties that come with dating outside your race: she makes it seem like being veritably disowned by your family and possibly your friends is a sacrifice black women should be willing to make unquestioningly, and I just can't agree with that.

I'm not gonna claim personal experience, because the white guy I have dated was just...not the right kind of person for me, and I was aware of that from the beginning, so I can't really tell whether the backlash I received from my friends and family was from the fact that he was white, the fact that he wasn't good for me, or some combination of the both.

And then there's just the peculiar problems of being biracial. I don't want to have kids, but if I did, I wouldn't want them to feel like friends I have who have circles of white friends and circles of black friends and feel like only half of them is ever in each group. I want to be able to talk about black power and celebrate Kwanzaa in my house...maybe I'm not open-minded enough, but I don't see a possibility in which I could be married to a white guy and keep these things.

But I don't think that means I wouldn't be willing to try. I'd just...have to be entirely sure the relationship is worth the strife.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Come Hell or High Water

I wanted to write a poem about Haiti. I came up with one about Katrina. Regardless, I thought I'd share.

Come Hell or High Water


She is a woman, tall and solidly built;
you have criticized her for not being dainty.
But none of that matters now because,
along with her mother’s swaying hips and
her father’s broad nose, she has inherited
her great-great-grandmother’s hands.
Hands that picked more cotton than many a man’s,
then graduated to nursing other women’s babes
for a dime she couldn’t even depend on.
These are this woman’s hands, on hiatus
from history, needing no training to pluck
half-drowned children from rising waters and
baked beans bobbing like buoys from Piggly-Wiggly aisles.
She’s a survivor, you’ll justify,
ignoring how your mother’s mother made her earn the name.


She is a woman, single, holds down two jobs;
you have criticized her for not being in the home.
But none of that matters now because
her pots and pans are floating up the stairs.
No longer confined to the hearth,
she has risen above –
beside her, as she sits on the roof,
staring in disbelief at the deep that,
yesterday, was her neighborhood,
her youngest son shivers. She wraps him
in the only cloth in sight, that striped and spangled
banner she hanged proudly four years since.
As the news choppers pass loudly by, she hopes
you realize that saving his American (albeit black) body
is the only thing can save your white soul.


She is a woman, barely. A girl of 9 years;
you have criticized her for being an animal.
But none of that matters now because,
despite all the decency her mother ever wished,
she has been leashed like the children in the malls.
Her orange jump rope winds around her delicate waist
reaching all the way to her mother’s strong wrist,
matched by the garden house binding baby brother
to Mama’s breast as through the water they wade.
She mourns the loss of her best babydoll,
hoping Evelyn can swim, like Mama is telling her to,
now that the water touches the beads on her braids. 
Stay close, Mama warns for the umpteenth time.
Over and over (you’ll refuse to believe her love is this fierce)
If the water wants you, it has to go through me.


She is a woman, almost. A grand stands between her and surgery;
you have criticized her courage to be herself.
But none of that matters now, because,
as she sifts through silt searching for salt-water-soaked
sunken treasures, of the personal sort, namely a photograph of
the father who disowned her and her most expensive pair of
Manolo Blahniks, she begins to remember the existence of
muscles she’d forgotten she had. Her Adam’s apple bobs
with exertion, sweat running from between her bought 38 Bs
 down to her carefully hidden penis, with its numbered days.
Her house is empty. Godless, she blames Mother Nature for having
giveth and taken away. Cursing the setback, Roberta remembers
what is was to be Robert. You will snort in disdain as,
armed with nothing but the halter top on her back,
she leaves for a house permanently halfway.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Interview Hair

I have an interview today, in about an hour and a half, and all morning I've been really concerned about what I'm going to do with my hair. My mom says my natural curls are "cute", but not "professional" enough for an interview. She thinks I should comb it back into a ponytail so I don't come off as some kind of a radical. But what I don't think she understands is that this isn't some phase I'm going through or a style I'm into right now; this. is. my. hair. And this is how I'm going to wear it every single day I'm at work, so why lie to them in the beginning? If something as simple as the style of my hair can keep me from getting an internship at this company, then this company probably isn't a place I want to work for, now is it? I don't think so. So I will wear my hair the same way I do every day, out and free to be itself; how can I be confident enough to shake hands strongly, look my interviewer in the eye, and all the other points that win jobs if I'm not even confident enough to be myself? It just doesn't make sense. Love yourself first and the whole world will love you too, right?

Wish me luck!

Monday, February 15, 2010

If There's a Prize for Rotten Judgment...

Sigh. It's been really hard for me to focus all day. And I feel like it's not going to get any better unless I get this out of my head: it's his birthday today. Yes, him--the him who managed to bring my world crashing down around me twice in 3 years, first by walking out of my life and second by inviting himself back in. He who really just the sight of his name has reduced me to a Fistful of Tears. He who I've known for all 20 of my years. Today he's 20 too. He's exactly two and a half weeks younger than me, you see. Our Moms used to joke that we should have a joint birthday party, since it would save them money and we did everything else together anyway.

I hate that today is the day after yesterday--it's like the Universe plays this cruel trick on my where I can never unlink the two.

Last April, after two and a half years, he made a Facebook to find me and sent me a message that literally made my knees give out and sent me crashing down into my chair. It was a Friday afternoon and I was instantly crying and trying not to let my mascara run because I had Spanish 108 in about ten minutes. He wanted to talk. He wanted me back. It took a lot of soul-searching and friend-conferring and determination not to scream and (this was a fail) not to cry before I called him. We talked for almost two hours, a lot of it me being stronger than I'd known I could and firmly saying that we could be friends, but too much had happened for us to be anything more; we weren't the people we were then.  My roommate congratulated me, but that night I couldn't sleep; I just felt so empty. I wound up sneaking out into the living room curling up in the window seat and sobbing so hard I woke her up and then screamed at her when she came to console me.

The next day I spent hours and hours listening to Ne-yo's "Do You" on repeat, wondering if my decision had been a mistake too. I messaged him back and said that maybe I'd been wrong and obviously I wasn't comfortable with my decision and maybe we should try and he said no, that I'd been right and he wasn't right for me anymore. He said we could still be friends. And then he deleted the Facebook he'd made to find me and I haven't heard from him again.

I deleted his number after a few months, trying to reclose that chapter of my life.

Facebook still had it. Wasn't that hard to find.

I know it's a bad idea, but I really want to contact him before the day is over. Now that I can, I want to wish him a Happy Birthday. And it's not just because of yesterday--it's not! I promise. I really meant it when I said I wanted him to stay a part of my life, that I wanted us to be friends. And it really hurt me when he took that as an opportunity to walk back out of my life again. So I shouldn't even be considering giving him the chance to come back in, right?

Meg's song from Hercules seems appropriate here:

"If there's a prize for rotten judgment, I guess I've already won that. No man is worth the's ancient history--been there, done that. (Who you think you kiddin, he's the Earth and Heaven to ya; try to keep it hidden, honey we can see right through ya... *insert all the words I've forgotten here* I thought my heart had learned its lesson; it feels so good when you start out. My head is screamin get a grip, girl, unless you're dying to cry your heart out..."


Last night my roommates were crowded around a laptop screen, Googling images of beautiful celebrities and asking questions like "How is it possible to be that gorgeous?" and "Why can't I be that pretty?" etc., etc. This is not the first time they have done this, nor are they the only women I have seen engage in this as a regular pastime. It's just self-deprecating and I don't understand it, and I don't understand whey looked at me like I was crazy when I wanted to leave the room because it was making me sick to my stomach. Habits like that are what make 9 year old years become anorexic, thinking people will only think they're pretty if they're Lindsay Lohan skinny with Angelina's eyes and Pamela's boobs. It absolutely disgusts me that young educated Princetonian women are still holding and comparing themselves to these so-called "standards" of beauty. My roommates are from Ghanaian, Chinese, and Chinese-American--Angelina Jolie is NOT the idea of beauty they should be trying to match. And I really don't want to sit around listening to them talking about why guys think so-and-so is soooooooo hot, because honestly that shouldn't matter. YOU should be your own standard of beauty; be true to yourself and your confidence will shine through, making you beautiful. Guys I've talked to have said that confidence is key--so own yourself, rock your own body, and to introduce my first Quad meme in a blog post: what "society" says "beauty" is? DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT.

I know it's a few hours late, but...

Dear Valentine,

In a Youtube video I watched at a Delta event this week, this guy said that the girls who shut guys down because they think of them as friends or brothers are idiots because the person you spend the rest of your life with should be like your best friend or your brother. From the moment I heard that, I haven't been able to keep you out of my head all over again. You once told my friend that if a girl liked you, you'd want her to just come out and say it. So how come last night I could massage you and use you as my pillow, but every time I thought about saying something to you I clammed up and just rubbed my left ear on your body, trying to get closer to you? Why when I had dinner with you today did I avoid even mentioning the fact that it was Valentine's Day? I'm always so quick to tell other people that you can never know the results of something until you try it, so why can't I just try starting something with you and see what happens? Why can't I be enough of an adult to know that a heart's possibly unreturned flutterings aren't enough to kill a friendship? Why am I content to have a piece of you, afraid to try for the whole thing for fear of losing it all?

Chocolate and flowers and rampant commercialism aside, Happy Single's Awareness Day, my lovely Valentine.