Whenever some celeb gets in trouble for alleged racism there is always a hue and a cry and a lot of talk, talk, talk.

I applaud all the companies that have made the entirely appropriate response of severing their business relationships this individual.

I’ve never really been interested in her or her products so I have no support to pull.

Consistent positive action, I believe is what will make a difference. I hope all the African-Americans who are upset that they helped make an (alleged) racist rich are giving serious thought to what they do with their dollars. I hope that they are committed to give due consideration to where their money is going all the time and not just when a scandal breaks. And not just, you know, expending a lot of energy on twitter and facebook and blogs reacting.

Don’t get me wrong. Boycotts and letter-writing campaigns can indeed be useful. But one has to be proactive as well. Personally, I went and bought that Patti Labelle cookbook I’ve had my eye on for some time now.https://i2.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51GoJFTIj0L.jpg

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Waiting for Superman

November 9, 2010

Yeah, he's fine. But he ain't real.

“If I’m gonna date a white guy, I’m not getting Opie.  He has to be fine.”

“He has to really care about racial justice.  I’m talking a Tim Wise type.”

“He has to have some kind of swagger.”

I have heard variations on the above from black women when talking about the sort of white man they could be persuaded to date and/or marry.  Sometimes, they want all of that in one man (plus education, a fitness model body, etc.etc.)  I’m going to ignore #1 and #3, as Evia and others have more than adequately addressed those.

When I read that, I kind of laughed.  Think about it.  Who makes up 75-90% of the footsoldiers in  IBA (Indigenous Black Americans, yeah I just made that up, feel free to use it) civil rights/racial justice associations?

You’d be hard-pressed to find a black man who spends a great deal of time writing articles/organizing protests/giving lectures on racial justice to seriously date. (Statistically speaking)  Listing that as a requirement for a white man effectively eliminates them as an option.  See how neatly she did that?

I doubt such women who are so very concerned with this issue would even consider making that a “must-have” in a black man.

So why would she be so insistent on this behavior from a white man?  My theory is that this is another part of the “Keeping it Real” trickbag.  By insisting that any white man she dates be a “Tim Wise”, she can deflect any accusations that she has “sold out” by dating/marrying white, “forgot where she came from” and all the other nonsensical foolishness sometimes hurled at IR married black women.

Like I said above, it also shrinks her possible pool of white potential mates to teaspoon size.  By throwing up ridiculous obstacles, she can justify never taking the risk of trying “something new.”  She can use the excuse that she is “waiting for Superman,” who as we all know, doesn’t exist.  But, as a source which I can’t find yet once said,

“To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.”

Dear Grandpa

September 22, 2010

Dear Grandpa Mac,

It’s fall and the leaves are turning.  As the days grow colder, I’ve been thinking of you more and more.  The world changed so much in the time between your birth in the early part of the last century, and just a few years ago when you left us.  We never spoke about it much.

You grew up in the South during Jim Crow, “Whites Only” signs and other limitations and indignities were your everyday realities.  For me they are only photos in a history book.  You were a young man during the Great Depression, just beginning life with your sweetheart, a life that lasted nearly 75 years.  You saw the Civil Rights movement, Motown, and watched bell bottoms come in and out of style a couple of times.

You had a good life together.  Mom talks about furniture that never matched and Aunt C complains about all the chopping and peeling involved in preparing and preserving often home-grown food, but they’re very proud of the fact that you and Grandma took care of your family without a dime of charity.  Even when you qualified for that aid.  You didn’t make excuses when you could make things happen.

Mom said that despite the fact that you worked long hours to support your family, you would always listen to her problems and give advice. She had to get up early and talk to you as you ate breakfast before a long day of work.  It makes me smile to picture mom as a preteen, sitting in a small kitchen at a small table talking to you in the pre-dawn hours, the rest of the house asleep except for Grandma at the stove.  I cherish a photo of taken of you in what I guess is the late sixties, frowning at the camera as you are about to carve the Turkey at Thanksgiving.  You just wanted to get going, but Mom insisted on taking a picture first.

The world changed so much in your lifetime. At the time of your death Black Americans could vote without fear of violence, had won equal access to public facilities, and some held high positions in the government and private sector. Your sons had served in the military, a daughter had led a professional association, and a nephew who traveled the world on business.

Everything wasn’t all rosy though. The Black American out-of-wedlock rate skyrocketed to shameful heights, with too many of us defending fatherless homes as “normal” and bringing up the odd serial killer raised in a two-parent home whenever the problems with this widespread practice were so much as hinted at.  It seems we gained so much, but lost alot of our old-school values.

When you and Grandma got married, you weren’t doing anything out of the ordinary. It seems back then we knew the value of family. You and Grandma were a team.  You hunted rabbits, and she cleaned them and made them into stew.  You worked hard to make money for your family, and she managed it carefully, stretching the budget by growing food, having the kids wear hand-me-downs and making crazy quilts out of clothing that could no longer be worn.  At night, a child tiptoeing past your room could hear laughter coming from beyond the closed door.

Together, families like ours got through stormy weather like the Great Depression.  Hardship was eased because they were together. They worked together, ate together, celebrated together.

I always told you I loved you.  But I never told you how great you were, just for being a good man.  Because you married my Grandma and were an excellent husband, you gave my mom a dad. Beyond that, you gave me a grandfather and my children a great-grandfather.  They were all pretty young so they will remember you mostly through pictures, but also by the stories mom, I, and their uncles and Aunts tell about you.  Your committment to family is probably your most important legacy.

I worry about the future of Black Americans.  I worry that our professional, financial and political gains–generations of effort– will be undone by personal recklessness. So many children will not have a grandpas and great-grandpas in their lives because their parents never married.  They will not have the love and support they deserve.  So many heartwarming stories will never be told because they will never happen.  So many children will grow up with gaping holes in their souls, not just where their fathers should be, but where their grandfathers and great-grandfathers should be.  So many families have those gaping holes, right now.

It’s fall, Grandpa, and the leaves are turning.  Not just literally, but metaphorically.  Unemployment levels are high, and rising.  Many people have lost their homes, with many more living with that possibility at any moment.  Unlike the past, most of our families are fractured and therefore weak.  They are not functioning as strong teams, and as blogger Khadija Nassif said, “Survival is a team sport.”  Most tragically, they deny that this sort of family team is even necessary.

Most of us seem to not be able to find our commonsense.  And as you used to say, “If you have something and can’t find it, it’s the same thing as not having it.”

I thank God that I have mine. As you know, I married a man much like you.  A hard worker, as you once noted.  Someone who loves and is committed to his family, someone to work with me to make life good for our children and for us. Someone to frown impatiently as I flitter around taking photos at holidays.

The leaves are turning.  Winter is coming, but I feel confident we’ll make it through. Together.

Why a Black Woman?

March 21, 2009

flirtymarthajones

DonDadda
November 21, 2007 at 9:29 pm

This reminds me of when a friend and I were in Jubail a few years back.

We were invited to a village, and upon entering went to the masjid as it was maghreb. After the prayer, the guy that had invited us to the village introduced us to one of his uncles. Now this uncle was very friendly, spoke reasonably good English, and seemed to be pretty pious. We got talking and he asked if we were both married. Upon affirming this, he asked where our wives were from, and this is how the rest of the dialogue went:

Us: Yeah, they’re from England.

Him: Are they British?

Us: Yeah.

Him: White, ya’nee?

Us: erm.. no, they’re both Somali.

Him: Somali?! You mean….. black woman ya’nee?!

Us (looking at each other, quite bemused): Yeah…

Him: Lot’s of people in the west marry black woman…. but WHY?!

Shit man… astaghfirullah. I thought ‘My dad’s friggin black you racist bastard… why the hell wouldn’t I wanna marry a black woman?’

It has affected me, as whenever I’m asked where my wife’s from I always keep it to, ‘England’ and she’s ‘British’. Not because I’m ashamed of her, but because I don’t want to have to smack the crap out of another Muslim if they respond in a worse way than that guy did.

(I found the above on Umar Lee’s blog)

I have written in the past (https://foreverloyal.wordpress.com/2007/09/04/say-it-loud-im-jahil-and-proud/) that whenever you see a white muslim man, odds are good, very good that his wife is a black woman.  Some people are confused by this phenomenon.  I’ve read some negative theories as to why this may be the case.  Allow me to offer my own thoughts. 

1.  Black is beautiful

2.  White guys have eyes

Muslim or not, terribly religious or not, men have eyes.  And black women,  like the other women that Allah has created, are beautiful.  Say what you want, all these white converts marrying black women aren’t doing it as an act of charity.  They aren’t doing it because they’re a bunch of wishy washy, nambypamby emotional weaklings who wish to suffer under the oppressive domination of a nagging, shrewish, “strong black woman.”  (No wise person is going to mistake Mr. Foreverloyal for a wimp.  Laughable.  Nor do I get that “wimpy” vibe from the white husbands of any of the muslim sistas I know.)  They marry these women because they’re attracted to them and want to spend their lives together. DUH!

Those who’s lives are restricted by colorism are blind.  They will forever be shaking their heads, “why did that white convert marry a black woman?”

Can’t be that the sound of her laughter reminds him of a woodland stream.

Can’t be her smooth, unblemished skin.

Can’t be because when he told her his dreams, she looked him in the eye and said, “You can do it.”

Can’t be that they agree, Benjamin Sisko was the best Star Trek captain.

Can’t be because she wants 7 children and a backyard garden just like him.

Can’t be because she can make schnitzel for dinner on Tuesday and fried chicken with mashed potatoes and buttermilk biscuits on Wednesday.

Can’t be because she knows the difference between Kant and Kiekegaard.

Can’t be because she makes her 5 daily prayers diligently.

Can’t be because she’s got hair like cotton candy–and he loves cotton candy.

Can’t be the way she hums Billie Holiday when she’s washing the dishes.

The exchange with which I opened this post would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad.  The poor man really could not see the appeal in black women.  That’s fine really, because there are  plenty of other women for men of his type.  What’s sad about it is that he could be rude enough, and forgetful of his Islam enough, to imply that black women are inferior to others.  That he could insult his brother in Islam like that is a real cause for finger-wagging.

Why a black woman?  Well if you can’t see why I won’t waste my time trying to explain it to you.

*Goes off singing…  “Me I’m super fly, supadupa fly…ahem–masha’allah”

What Will People Say?

October 17, 2008

So what if they do?

So what if they do?

I cannot ride a bike.  I tried once or twice as a kid, but I never learned and never got a bike.  No big deal. 

Every child of mine old enough to ride a bike has one, however.  To keep up with them, I have to jog.  Last time we were at the bike shop, I mentioned aloud that I’d like to get a bike, but “They don’t make training wheels for grown-ups.”  The bike-shop guy assured me that I was wrong and they do in fact, make such things.

“People will laugh at you mommy,” says my oldest girl.

“So what if they do?” I shot back.  “What will happen if I get a big, purple bike with training wheels and ride around the neighborhood?  Maybe someone will laugh.  Maybe someone will be rude enough to point and laugh loudly enough for me to hear. What then?”

OG seems to think this over.  I continue, “Then I keep riding past them.  They don’t care about me.  Should I let the fact that they think I look silly stop me from learning to ride?”

“No.”

“You can’t let the opinions of people who don’t even care about you stop you from doing what’s good for you.  How dumb would I be not to learn to ride a bike just because some people may laugh?”

Occasionally Mr. Foreverloyal and I get a few looks when we are out and about.  Some curious, some a lil peeved.  Only once have we experienced a hostile glare. (If looks could kill we’d be DEAD, I tell you, along with the two children we had at the time.)  Once my husband was the target of some loud hostile blathering https://foreverloyal.wordpress.com/2007/09/04/say-it-loud-im-jahil-and-proud/ but really, big deal.

Refuse to date/marry outside of your race/culture because it’s THAT important to you to have a monocultural/racial household.

Refuse to date/marry outside of your race/culture because you just don’t find “others” attractive, point blank.

But for the love of all that is sensible, for the love of self, don’t refuse just because you fear what people might say.

Colorblind?

October 11, 2008

Honestly, I “forget” all the time that my husband is white.

When I go to call my husband at work to see what time he will be home, I think, “Let me call Mr. Foreverloyal.”  I don’t think, “Let me call my WHITE husband to see when he will be home.”

I think to myself, “I LOVE my honey,”  I’m not thinking, I just love my WHITE honey!”

In our day-to-day relationship, we are not constantly navigating racial issues.  We discuss what to have for dinner, how are the kids doing academically, how funny it is that our baby grabbed him in the middle of the night and demanded to be nursed (Um, wrong parent, kiddo!).  You know, normal stuff.

Naturally, we sometimes see things differently as a result of being two different “races” in America.  But I am here to tell you that if you have mutual respect, shared values and some similar interests, race will not be a huge daily issue in your relationship.  Something that may have seemed like such a HUGE deal in the beginning to fade to the background as largely insignificant.

Solitary

August 26, 2008

Abu Sinan recently made the following controversial statement: I am not a fan of the Muslim community, anyone who reads my blog or posts for long will realise that. I have made it clear that I remain a Muslim despite the seeming attempts of the Muslim communities I have been a part of to rob me of my love of Islam.  http://abusinan-sayf.blogspot.com/2008/08/i-am-not-fan-of-muslim-community-anyone.html

I don’t know that I have ever actually felt that way, but I have had related emotions.  Feelings of not being altogether welcome as a black person in a predominately southeast asian/arab immigrant masjid.  Feelings of not being fully accepted because I wasn’t a salafi.  (Found out there was a rumor going around that my husband and I were sufi, which was apparently akin to devil-worship amongst those doing the yapping.)  Ticked off as a woman used to equal accomodations, that I had to use the rear entrance of the masjid. (This was especially unsettling after 9/11.  The rear of the masjid faced a wooded area.)  Annoyance at being expected to shut off my brain and accept another human, and not even the prophet, as an infallible source of islam, not to be questioned lest I be called a kafir, hypocrite, or maybe just someone skating toward hell.

With experiences like that, and the ones Abu Sinan has apparently had, one can just decide to throw in the towel.  Show up for Friday prayer and ‘Eid, and that’s it.  Keep from expressing doubts or a difference of opinion for the sake of keeping the peace or just plain ol’ not being bothered.

The problem with that, though, is that it keeps like-minded people from finding community in each other.  Sometimes after a much-needed break, it’s necessary to reach out.  Take the risk of being tsked and shushed for having an opinion, for being a little different.  You just might find a few people in that crowd nodding.  Wouldn’t it be refreshing, comforting, wonderful to have a place to belong?  Afterall…

Making the way in the world today

Takes everything you got

Taking a break from all your worries

Sure would help alot

Wouldn’t you like to get away?

To someplace without alcohol, of course.  Pretzels are fine though.  Maybe some green-tea smoothies and butter cookies, too.

What do you think?

 

* You may be interested in Jeffrey Lang’s Losing My Religion for a bit more on this topic, or https://foreverloyal.wordpress.com/2007/11/20/check-your-brain-at-the-door/ for my related ramblings.

He Did it Again

August 16, 2008

The master variety?

The master variety?

So dh decides to make dinner and asks if we have any mushrooms.

“No, but I can run to the store and get you some.  What kind do you want?  Do you want some of those brown mushrooms or–”

“White mushrooms. Those are the best.”

*Foreverloyal raises eyebrows*

Mr. Foreverloyal ( standing firm and defiant, daring me to say anything): “That’s right, White Mushrooms are the Best!”

Me. “humph”

I did go get the mushrooms he wanted though.  Who am I to argue with White Mushroom Supremacy when it means I don’t have to make dinner?

At one of our usual places.

Hostess I have never seen before has a disapproving expression when we come in, then pastes a phony smile and dons a fake polite demeanor to show us to our table.

Gives me another look later on, as she seats a group nearby.

Whatever.

Discussing Race

June 13, 2008

Some people will have you believe that any white man who marries a black woman is free of racial prejudice.  But let me tell you that is not true.  He may love and accept you, but he may have a different feeling about brown people generally.

Once in awhile, how he really feels will breakthrough.  At that point, you, as a black woman, must defend your people, even though you may love him.

For example:

Recently I made a pasta dish, which Mr. Foreverloyal enjoyed.  After dinner he said, “This would be so much better with white pasta”.

So I said, “No it wouldn’t.”

“Yes it would.”

“No, it wouldn’t.  Brown pasta is better.” At this point this blatant display of white supremacy was really getting to me.

“Oh, it’s better?”

“That’s right it’s better!  In this house we do not subscribe to the mentality that white pasta is better!  We will not be brainwashed! We stand up for the asiatic brown pasta!”

Mr. Foreverloyal: “You sound like Farrakhan.”