Monday, December 23, 2013

Music Mondays, and why hearing Black is Beautiful shouldn't scare you...

This song is for all of my black girls (and women). If you want to read the lyrics, you can click here.

Originally, I was just going to leave it that. But then I remembered this post, where I learned that it's important to explain to avoid ambiguity. And if you don't learn from your life experiences and change your behavior accordingly, what the heck are you doing with yourself?!

First, something non race-related: It's actually not a good idea to tell your children that if someone ever hurt them, that you would kill that person. Because God forbid someone was harming your children, the fear that you would go to jail for seeking revenge could actually keep your child from telling you about it. And we don't want that.

Okay, moving on...

I really like this song. It's got a great beat, and a positive, uplifting message. I hesitated a bit to post it here, because I don't want to give the impression to my white readers that being a black woman is just a giant bag of suck. I mean, the song is called Black Girl Pain for Pete's sake. But the reality is that black and brown girl's do face unique challenges that other people don't (if you need some examples, click here or here.) I'm sure this part of why Talib Kweli and Jean Grae chose to write what someone on Rap Genius called An Ode to Black Women.

I also know that some people might be put off by me saying, "This is for all of my black girls (and women)." Saying it's for one group of people implies that it's not for others. So...if you are not a black woman, but identify with any of the themes in the song--then it is for you as well.

But...why do I have to say that? Why are some people uncomfortable with hearing pro-black messages? Why are such messages sometimes perceived as Reverse Racism?

It's true, whenever you hear someone expressing a pro-white message, they usually have shaved head and a swastika and/or confederate flag on their jacket. So if pro-white is racist, then wouldn't pro-black be racist too?

No, and here's why: Being pro-black is more like being pro-Irish than it is being pro-white. When a white identity is discussed, it is usually in reference to white people being better than other people. The only people you hear talk about being proud to be white are white supremacists. But there are lots of Irish (and Italian and Polish and other,) Americans that are proud of their heritage, difficulties that they've overcome, distinct parts of their culture, etc. The reality is that white is way too big of a category for people to have legit sources of pride or connection. And it doesn't help that the whole concept of white only came to exist to justify the subjugation of people that weren't white. So it's kind of a flawed grouping to begin with. (I'm not saying white people are flawed, I'm saying the categorization of people as white has problems.)

But when you hear that someone is a proud Irish-American, people don't immediately become fearful, or think those Irish-Americans need to get over themselves or anything like that. You just think we're talking about a group that is proud of a unique part of their identity. And if you know anything about the history of white people in this country, you know that these white ethnics were pressured to give up their identities and assimilate (i.e. become more like the white immigrants from Western and Northern Europe that had arrived before them.) Many did, which is part of why you hear so many white people referring to themselves as mutts, or thinking that they don't have a distinctive culture. But some resisted, and held on to the traditions of the countries they were emigrating from. [Granted, these white ethnics don't have centuries of being enslaved and then targeted by the U.S. government for various forms of maltreatment--but other than that, it's pretty similar. :p] They held on to things that were important to them, and made this country more interesting and dynamic as a result.

So, white people, the next time you hear a black person say something pro-black, don't be scurred. Unless they're advocating physical violence towards you, I don't think you've got anything to be worried about.

And to all my black girls out there, when the world starts to get you down, remember:

Please hold your head up high
Don't be ashamed of yourself, no I
carry you forth until the day I die

belee' 'dat. (:

What do you think? Let me know by leaving me a comment.

To like on facebook, click here.
To follow me on twitter (@myblackfriend) click here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Black people, camping and you.

Commercial time! I've been working on a post on ENDA, but it requires thinking and arguments and reasoning and whatnot, so it's been taking me awhile to get it up. But this post just requires me to be funny, which comes just about as easily as breathing ;) And now I'm cracking up, because I always crack up when I say something I think is funny.

OKAY...Watch the commercial below:

Black people in the wilderness! Woot woot! Big house, big cabin, no smooth jazz playing in the background*--This trend of people of color doing stuff that is not stereotypically associated with them might just be here to stay. I say might because it might not.

For example, I was watching this documentary about the 60's and the hippies. They were talking about how when an idea gets really big corporations co-opt it and then use it to sell their products. Like that, I'd like to teach the world to sing commercial that Coke put out. That was all about riding the wave of the various civil rights movements that were going on during that time and contorting it into an opportunity to sell product. Since we elected a black president, it is safe to say that we are looking for something different when it comes to race. Corporations are listening, and so now they're making commercials like the one above.

I am just wary because you know what happened after the 60's and 70's? The 80's. Politically it was a shift back in a lot of ways--the War on Drugs ramped up and really damaged the black community. I can't help but wonder if something similar is going to happen after Obama finishes up. Are we going to see some Reagan-esque guy get elected? The pundits are saying there's no way Republicans can ever win nationally again unless they change their strategy and reach out to groups of color, but is that really true? The Tea Party is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. I could see one party getting complacent/cocky and another party getting fired up and organized and moving everything back a few decades. I'm not trying to say here that I think Democrat= good Republican= bad, even though it might seem like it. I'm just trying to point out the fact that these things seem to ebb and flow and I'm concerned that the move towards more multi-dimensional representations of black people might ebb again. I'm a fan of perma-flow.

In case you were wondering, I actually like camping. If by camping you mean sitting around a fire, drinking beer and looking at the stars. But if you mean not showering, walking far, and peeing on the ground, then no--I don't like camping. But I'm thinking this has more to do with my life experiences and personal preferences than being black.

So what do you think? Do you think the increased and varied exposure we're seeing of marginalized groups is here to stay? Why or why not? Feel free to talk about this or anything else in the comments.

*If you're a new reader, know that I like smooth jazz and many other things that are stereotypically associated with black people. I am not arguing that some presentations are better or worse, just advocating for a variety of representations like white people have the privilege of seeing. I would also strongly encourage you to like on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter. Thank you kindly (: