Thursday, June 21, 2007

Our Evolution...(un)Televised

[I've finally granted all requests for intvws in the comments of the last post. I havent been foloing up to see if yall all answered yet, but if you havent, get ta steppin! Anyone else wanna quiz me, speak now or... ~Management]

"Black women are the mules of the world."


I’ve been inspired.

Nikki’s recent post about images of sistas on TV, resonates because of its truth. But there is, I believe, also a hidden truth behind the truth…

Fact is, yup, we’re still largely relegated to 3 familiar roles on TV…angry asexual, marriage-obsessed neurotic, and whore. A shame really, because our truth is that we all know Black women to be a diverse and varied soul. We know this because we know each other. We know our mothers and sisters and girlfriends and neighbors. Hell, we “know” our fellow blog sistas.

Problem is folks, that white people don’t know us, and it’s all our fault.

When’s the last time you took a co-worker up on an invitation for a few drinks after work? Or said yes, when the white couple across the street extends apple pie or hot dogs or whatever the hell else they be cooking over there and offering? Or that you actually indulged in a frivolous convo on the elevator, in line at Wa’Mart, or on the A train?

Hell naw. Why? Because “white people so damn nosy!” Always in your business. Always tryna see what you about. Which kind of Black girl you is.

But we steady don’t let em.

So that leaves white people to their own devices. They basically “know” 3 Black chicks besides you…Opr.ah, Bey.once and C0ndi. All us others are a mystery.

Interestingly enough, though I’m very cool with white folks, having grown up with some good ones, I noticed something recently. The only time I go to a predominantly white social spot is when I’m with one of my (Black) homeboys. Otherwise, if it’s me and the girls, we’re heading to somewhere where there’s some nggas.

While brothers are undoubtedly more nondiscriminatory than we are when it comes to sexual conquests, they are also much more open to white folks in general. They stand around and talk baseball with the white guy in Accounting. They don’t mind grabbing a bite with the white chicks from down the block. They accept an invite to the Blessed.Sacrement fellowship picnic.

They are just not as guarded as us. In fact, I believe brothers are more open because they want to be accepted. And I don’t mean in a pathetic-smelly-5th grader kind of way. I mean, it is important that they are seen as a whole person, not as an image. Not as angry or thuggish or violent or stupid (like my pet peeve dude who apologizes for his girl's "attitude" when some white authority treats to play her, instead of having her back when she's justified). They want white men to see that they can look them in the eye without averting, because they are men too, and ought to be treated as such.

Sistas on the other hand, as Zora said, are the mules of the world. We know this. We resent this. And we don’t give a fcuk about proving you wrong. That’s on you for thinking it. We expect that when we work hard we ought to be seen as whole and competent and intelligent and nuanced and complex and human. Just like any other woman. Problem is, we don’t care for the follow up. We don’t want you in our business bec we refuse to be exploited. We refuse to give you the satisfaction of thinking you know us.

So we get the Big 3 when it comes to TV, and film for that matter. Because of course, white folks are the ones behind the lenses and the scripts. They are the ones reflecting to us what we have or have not projected to them.

So while you got brothas like Omar.Epps and Gary.Dourdan. and Isaiah Wash (RIP Burke) and Dennis.Haysbert and Shamar.Moore and Harold.Perrineau and DL.Hughley getting the opportunity to play such complex, meaty roles on TV…sistas, not so much.

We get to play Joan and Miranda and Whoreen. Cuz that's what they know.

But to be sure, Asians fare far worse on TV, and I’m betting for very similar anti-social reasons. Even Latinos who are pleasantly becoming more visible, are often, as in the case of the Solises on DHouse.wives, little more than white characters with tans and accented surnames.

I actually love Miranda’s character on Grey’s. She’s vilified for being a typical Mammy, but dammit, have YOU EVER spent any extended periods of time with emotional, neurotic, hard headed, know it all, young, overly ambitious white kids? Well, it’s her job to baby sit them muhfcukas. A job I couldn’t see none of them other Mcdreamy/creamy/schmeemy bastards pulling off. You’d be pissed off too.

As for Joan, well, she’s written by a sista, and her obsession with finding a soul mate and her life’s work is woefully authentic. Very familiar to me, not unlike many sistas I know, or many of you bloggers I read, for that matter.

Was Carrie.Bradshaw of Sex.And.The.City similarly criticized? Naw. And that chick was all about snagging Big, Manolos and living beyond her means. Basically a paler Joan. The difference of course is that for every televised Carrie or McBeal or Mary.Tyler.Moore, there’s a televised Blanche, Roseanne or Alexis.Carrington. A variety. A balance.

I’m very proud of the Wanda.Sykes, the Khandi.Alexanders, Tonya.Pinkinses, Tia/Tamaras, Epathas, Dianne.Carrols, Tischina.Arnolds, Latonya.Jacksons, and Ryan.Bathes that do exist and that do add a splash of diversity to TV.

And Im very proud of the real life sistas who every now and again accept an invitation from nosy white folk.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

On The Couch

Jameil has been getting her Barb Walters on this week. And I am officially on the couch…

1) what is the stupidest thing you did in your 20s?

The stupidest thing I did in my 20s was not purchasing the co-op I rented when I first moved to NYC.

::squiggly lines, squiggly lines::

I got off the D train at a stop in Brooklyn that I never heard of and stepped into a neighborhood I had no idea existed. Flatbush. Except this wasn’t rowdy yardies in mesh tanks and open toed sandals, Flatbush, this was residential, upper middle class Flatbush, complete with large homes and lush green lawns (ok, it wasn’t the Hamptons or nothing, but you feel me).

E. 19th St btwn Foster and Newkirk. Beautiful 1 bedroom co-op (which was a pain in the ass to get into. We had to o thru a review board in order to rent from the owners, this really nice Caribbean couple who was cool with my soon to be crazy roommate’s family).

It’s beaaaaauuuuutiful! Hardwood floors and granite countertops and a really large bedroom (the roomie held down the large living room with a Chinese divider thingy).

And I recall my roomie’s dad mentions that maybe one day I’ll buy the place...

It’s $40,000.

Need I even go on? *sigh*

Maybe this isn’t really a mistake, because at 21 years old I didn’t know the first thing about investing, and didn’t know the second thing about how I could ever afford it.

[Honorable Mention: Leaving a job with no plan at age 24. I bounced back and all, but lost a lot in the process, including eventually a true love.]

2) what are the best and worst lines you've ever heard?

I wouldn’t say it was a line, per se, but Memorial Day weekend I was walking down the block after a night out and there was a bunch of people out, just chillin. I walk by a group of guys sitting on a stoop and some muhfcuka GRABS MY ARM. Dudes still do that shit???? And that’s exactly what I said to him, and of course he tried to dismiss me and joke to his boys. But in my imagination, I envision him thinking that I would stop, gaze into his eyes, and bend over right there on the block.

Funny thing is, if I had, I bet his bitch azz wouldn’t know what to do.

The best line I’ve heard in a while was from that sexy ass Mc.Nulty on the Wire. He looks me up and down and asked me if I was married. I said, ‘Wow, did you just propose to me? I think we’re engaged.’ And he said, ‘Let’s do it, man!’ in that drunk/dirty brit accent (which by the way I normally abhor (sorry My Neil))

3) if you could do any job in the world without having to worry about money, what would it be?

I would be my own boss.

Oh, I’m already that?

Um, I would own and operate a media conglomerate.

Oh yeah, and a writer.

Oh, I'm already that?

I'd be a productive one.

4) say your house is on fire and all your pictures and birth certificate, etc are safe, then what's the one thing you take?

I’m practical if nothing else. Sentimental things like a photo of my dad, or my Bible, or journals mean a lot to me, but they’re things I don’t even think about or use on a daily basis.

So I say all that to say I’d take this...

5) what is your favorite thing to buy and that you know you should stop but you just can't?

What should I stop buying but just can’t? Gas! How bout that.

Well, I’m fairly thrifty, but I must say that I spend a bit much on shit for the house. Like, get me in T@rget and it’s a wrap. Ditto with food. If you have a Wegman’s grocery store in your town, then you know what I’m sayin.

I also tend to go spend well beyond my means when traveling. Speaking of traveling…

bonus: tell us one thing that should've stayed in vegas but you're going to tell us anyway! :)

Um…I’ll keep it brief…

Me, at the spa, after a sauna and hot stone massage, naked in the hot tub, much to the delight of a group of Midwesterners.

Sorry, no photos. :(

PS...If you wanna be intvw'd I'll try:)

Friday, June 08, 2007


My friend Curly is finally over her son’s father. The journey was like a bumpy ride through the old neighborhood now gentrified. A lot of neck craning. A lot of reminiscing. A lot of disbelief. And ultimately a tremendous growth that rendered her a new, whole woman.

Her kid’s almost 2 and she’s living back Upstate to raise him near her family, which means a definite downgrade in quality of life and similarly very slim pool of quality dudes. But there is a new man in her life that she is contemplating. This one is a winner…or a loser, depending on which way you view him.

He’s 28.

He’s a hometown boy (we LOVE hometown boys).

He’s an amazing graphic artist and gifted poet.

He’s childless.

He’s tall and handsome.

He’s fun, spontaneous, thoughtful, a deep thinker.

Don’t you love him already!

As we sat on the phone this evening for nearly two hours, as she was waiting for him to arrive at her crib, I was struck by the idea that guys insist that they are not all idiots. Some, like Hometown Boy, are quite caring and loyal, honest and ambitious. Affectionate and genuinely in search of a companion (not a meal ticket/trophy/whipping post).

“What I love about him is that he’s not trying to be all up ON me. He likes to be all hugged up, but he’s not a fcuking vulture. He’s not like those relentless nggas who act like they never had their dick sucked before.”

I feel her on that. And in some ways I think that trait separates the men from the boys.

Problem is, in many ways this man is still very much a boy.

His mom died when he was 14. His dad died not longer after. All he’s got in this world is an aloof grandmother and a handful of true friends.

He had a very serious girlfriend a few years back. They were planning a future together, until she announced that she was moving to Chi to go to school. And leaving him behind.

He still hasn’t recovered from that. Just like he hasn’t recovered from his stint as a teenage orphan.

His claim to fame is that he’s the hottest MC Upstate. Yuck, I know...but dude IS nice. When Curly first told me about him, I knew immediately who she was talking about, having seen him rip more than a few open mic nights and freestyles alongside platinum artists touring thru town (he damn near had Com.mon in tears with his flow).

All in all he’s a great guy. So yeah, gentlemen, you’re right. There are indeed a few of you left out there hanging tough. And women should recognize that. We should give the good guys a chance instead of the jerks that get mad burn in our rotations.

But at what point does a good guy become a liability? Or worse yet, not worth the good?

Hometown Boy has a bit of a hustle.and.flow complex happening. He believes in his art. He moved to NYC without knowing anyone, not long after he got played by Chi chick. He was living outside the city with some people who didn’t have his back, had a tough time and soon found himself back Upstate. Everyone knows him at home, and he produces his own music in pursuit of that elusive big break.

Yes, I did say 28.

He works a temp job 4 days a week, doesn’t have a car, lives with a couple who is family to him, and the computer he does his music on just crashed.

Hometown’s had a lifetime of hard times.

But he’s still a great guy. A shell of a man, who could be whole, given the right opportunities.

My friend likes him a lot, but loves herself more. She realizes that she needs more out of a partner. I mean, the word partner suggests that both have something to offer. Right now, all he got for Curly is a few bars.

I already know the answer. So does she. But what I don’t know is if I will have the same answer 5, 10 years from now (bec my answer would have been the opposite 5, 10 years ago). If I wont see the shell of a man as a valuable investment. A missed opportunity. Particularly if he’s a good man. Conventional wisdom says that if you’re in the market, you set your sights on the brand new developments. Rehabs and fixer ups aren’t worth the trouble…no matter how detailed and gorgeous the craftsmanship and original woodwork.

But is the convention correct? I dunno, cuz truthfully, I seen too many foreclosures on these so-called desirable dudes. The gentrified real estate, if you will. They’re fantastic on paper, have great curb appeal, yet lack the durability to satisfy the buyer longterm.

Chances are Hometown will never blow up as the next Mos.Def. But he’s likely to blow up into a whole man. A good, long-lasting, whole man.

A steal at the current market value.

Disqus for She's Just Not Feeling You...

  • So...Wise??

    My photo
    Our Nation's (HIV) way of Harlem, NY and Upsteezy NY
    I'm older than I look, and stupider than you think. But I'm quite proud of my sharp eye for The Ridiculous, and by Ridiculous, of course I mean Me.