Getting Though

A black friend on twitter has asked for help trying to “get through” to his white friend, who has expressed a number of troubling ideas that display blind white privilege at best, outright racism at worst.

After a number of people told him to she was a lazy racist who would never be a real friend, he still was looking for answers.

“What do you think I could say to make her understand? ” He asks.

This post is my response, since I couldn’t fit my thoughts into tweets:

First of all: there may not be anything that you can say to make her understand, understanding requires an open mind, and unless your friend is committed to opening her mind, it may not be possible for her to understand.

Your friend is actively engaging people of different races, and doesn’t understand why everything has to be “all about race.” Now I can’t think of a POC who would not like for everything to stop being all about race. Unfortunately, white people won’t let them. POC have responded by creating their own spaces where instead of being marginalized, their voices are honored and privileged.

Based on what I saw, your friend is one of the statistically few white people who has gone beyond the ubiquitous “black friend” and actually entered POC spaces. Once inside POC spaces she realized that within POC spaces, POC voices are privileged. Not only that, but that some POC made assumptions about her based on her race and may have been pretty mean about it. She has discovered what it feels like (within the narrow confines of POC dominated spaces) to be the minority, to feel silenced, denigrated, and (somewhat) oppressed.

Being the only white person in a POC space is an opportunity. An opportunity to learn what it actually feels like to not have your voice privileged, and sometimes an opportunity to see what it feels like to be on the other side of racial animosity. (Prejudice against the people oppressing you seems like a pretty natural reaction to me) But it’s just a shadow, a pale reflection of the white supremacy that POC face every day.

Your friend can leave POC spaces, and return to the white dominated spaces that take up the majority of the country. She can easily find white silos where she can speak as frankly and with as much racism as she likes.

Meanwhile, while your voice may be privileged in POC circles, but as soon as you step into the rest of White Supremacist America, it is not.

I would encourage your friend to take these feelings of silencing and racial persecution, and multiply them: multiply them by ten, by a hundred, by a million. Imagine the experiences she has had expanded beyond words and hurt feelings to include poverty, violence, death,  or the threat of all three.

By gaining entrance to POC spaces, with the concurrent mixture of welcome and antipathy, your friend has a wonderful opportunity–an opportunity for empathy. But only if she can use her imagination, opens her mind, and get over herself.

 

British Hotness

A skinny interracial couple kissing

I Just Know

Just a little something to tide you over till I write again. (I don’t really know if this pic is British, it just looks it somehow.)

Butch For A Femme

Marlene Dietrich in a 3-piece suit & fedora--swoon!

Marlene Dietrich--Swoon!

 Part 2 of Too Many Dudes.

She changed into a thigh-length flowered dress and heals. I stood watching her primp her artificial locks in the mirror, thinking how much work a wig is. I mean, sure it looks good, but I’ll bet her natural hair would look good too.  Of course, I thought–tracing the curve of her shapely calves, thigh and ample booty with my eyes–she looked fine without heels–but then again I wasn’t complaining about how she looked in the heals, either!

Standing there against the wall, I couldn’t help wishing I was dressed as a boi. I would feel soo much sexier with her on my arm if I was wearing a tie, fedora and slacks! But she said she liked femmes–so there I was, feeling like a guy, but dressed femme in my sparkly tank & short-shorts!

She said she had to take her son to her sisters house (oh yeah, her son was still up at 11Pm! ) and he came out of his room bleary-eyed and sobbing quietly.
“Don’t worry about him, he’s just being dramatic.”
We drove about four blocks with him sniffling in the back while I wondered what horrible abuse awaited at her sisters. I offered to go back.

“Please!” She replied gratefully.

We got back to her house and now another dude was there–her room-mate! She finally made her son go to bed, and we smoked a blunt on the porch.

Once again the man dominated the conversation, and once again I edited my words so as not to mention anything gay. When he got up, I moved into his spot next to her and tried to explain how hard it was for me to be back in the closet.

“Why–did he ask you questions?” she responded defensively.

“No, it’s just…if I want to say that my ex girlfriend said something, I want to say that, not ‘my friend'” I tried to explain. I’ve worked so hard to be out, and as a femme that means not censoring my experience to conform with the straight world. I tried to explain it to her.

“Well ok,” she allowed, “You can talk about it for you–just don’t…”

Dude was back. As we small-talked,  all I could think about was her arm touching mine. But it started getting late. I went in the kitchen to get some water before heading home.

Next installment: Home or Hmm…?

Too Many Dudes

Dude in t-shirt--says "Do Not Cock Block"

Did I feel nervous driving to the heart of the ghetto to meet a woman who I had only met online at her house?

Yes.

Did I do it anyways? Yes.

I could hear my best friend Tina’s voice in my head:

“You better be carefull.” She’d say, shaking her head, her  neatly pressed hair waving back and forth under her cap, “Go ahead, boo boo, but you never know, you could show up at her house and there could be dudes there–” Implying dire consequences.

But my gut told me it would be okay, so I drove down there. Boston is an incredibly diverse, yet still  starkly segregated city. I’m reminded most vividly of that on the snake ride from my house to Mattapan,: as complexions darken dramatically from mostly white to almost exclusively shades of brown.

The early evening streets and porches were filled as I pulled up: people barbequing, dudes on bikes. I think its safe to say I was the only white person on the block. I felt like my skin was painted with iridescent paint–my skin glowed so bright in contrast with those around me. I covered my shoulders with a hoodie, wishing I had a cap on.

“Hello” A couple nodded as they walked by, me, and I said friendly “Hi” back.

She opened the door, even more gorgeous than in her pictures: sweet brown eyes framed by sexy black-rimed glasses and a swoop of wavy dark brown hair.  A tight t-shirt and jeans with a tantalizing series of holes up the thigh clung to her curvaceous form.

“Oh, you came earlier than I thought.” She greeted me, her smile shy and inviting. “My friend’s here-he just got here, but he won’t stay long. ”

We sat on the porch drinking Pina Coladas. I was trying to assess the situation: what was he to her?

From the looks he was giving her, he was more than just a friend. Or he wanted to be. As men do, he dominated the conversation, and I learned more about him than I wanted (just go away, already!) but I managed to learn a little about her in the kitchen as she mixed up more drinks.

She was 37, three kids, one grand-kid (!) and no job, but possibly going back to school. Not looking for a relationship, just something discrete. She said she’d been with women before, but always kept it on the low. Greeat! I silently cursed my libido that was drawing me towards her even as my logical mind screamed–not the one!

She finally got Dude to leave, and agreed to come out with me. (After I offered to pay her way in.)

“So, where y’all going?” Dude asked before leaving.

“The Randolph Country Club.” I answered.

“Where’s that?”
“Randolph” We both answered in tandem.

To Be Continued…

You Do Not Get A Laminated Ghetto Pass*

"Thugged out" white chick holding up some kinda medicie

Don't Be this Chick!

Some of you may have read My 10 Rules For White People Who Hang Out With Black People This young thing has broken rule #5, which is a soft rule, you can push that one and slide by, but she really stepped in it by breaking rules #1 and #2:

V-NASTY! FEMALE RAPPER FROM EAST OAKLAND! FOLLOW ME NOW..!! -VNASTY is out! R.I.P LIL NARIO , KERRY , CELL . FREEA ALL MY NIGGAS . IM THE FUCKIN GREATEST !

I really have nothing else to say about this…

SMH

*Thanks to my Man @SonnyBlowdro for calling her out w/this phrase:-)

Wednesday Night Part 1: Green-Eyed Monster

Beautiful eye highlighted in green

I got to the club about halfway through the show. Scanning the room full of mature, well-dressed women of rainbow hues, I finally spotted my boo talking to a white, short-haired volluptuous femme in a cute black dress. (Damn I wanted that dress!)
Was that a faint guilty look in Noma’s eye as I approached?

I said hi to Noma, positioning myself between her and the femme. My boo was looking so fly in white sports jacket and tie against a crisp black shirt. I’ve never been a big fan of ties, (except for Bee Listy, she rocks the bow tie.) but now I’m starting to understand the appeal. She looked hot in that tie!

The femme started chatting gregariously with me, (re)introducing herself as Nancy. (I have a vague memory of meeting her at another event targeted towards black lesbians, which might have endeared her to me in other circumstances.)

Although I wanted nothing more than to say “back off bitch, this is my woman!” I attempted to return her conversation courteously, as:

A) Noma doubtless did not tell her we were together, seeing as she’s still unwilling to make any kind of commitment to me.

And B) She was probably a nice person, and under almost any other circumstances besides talking to my woman while wearing a sexier outfit than me I probably would have quite liked her.

Noma saved the day (or at least staved off a femme-fight) by offering me a drink, and we went to the bar.

Returning to the audience we watched a kick-ass drag queen throwing down some gospel, followed by a gorgeous poet doing some spoken word.

Nancy rejoined us in the middle of a particularly powerful piece to babble about how she needed to eat something. I restrained myself from telling her to get her (skinnier-than-my) ass some damn food already and detailing exactly what she could do with it.

Fortunately she left not too long after that, before my veneer of friendliness could wear thin.

“So I was telling Nancy that I’m really stepping out of my comfort zone, coming here.”  Noma confided.

“Oh?”

“Yeah, all my friends are white and into sports.”
“Well,” I said looking around the room at the multi-hued artistic types. “most of my friends are artists, or black, or both.”

I think that’s pretty normal, really. They do say opposites attract.

I Am Not Clear!

Invisible man stands against the sky getsturing dramatically (hat and coat visible)

Actual words that came out of my radio this morning:

“A lot of my closest friends in college were actually clear.”

Really? Are you serious? Don’t make me reach into that radio and smack you! (I know how–after all, some of my “closest friends” are “urban!”)

(For those of you still wondering what the hell I’m talking about:  instead of using the words white and black to describe people, he was saying “Urban” and “Clear.”)
The first time I encountered the terms “Urban” and “Clear” used in such a “creative” fashion, was listening to Notorious VOG & his crew in the morning on Hot 97 Boston. I started listening to the station because they often have the best Hip Hop, R & B and Dancehall on the dial. Unfortunately if you wanna hear that during your morning commute you have to put up with some assholes talking shit. (Why do these radio stations think we want to hear talk in the morning? The only thing I wanna hear in the morning is some bumpin music to help me channel my road-rage!)

At first I liked Notorious, he had some good things to say about taking responsibility for your children and not being a deadbeat dad. Since I’ve got two no-show baby-daddies that was a message I was ready to hear.

But then one day he started going off on how he’d rather go to a movie with “clear” folk, because “urban folk just didn’t know how to act”.

“Clear?” “Urban?” Really?

Now on the face of it, this actually makes a lot of sense–who wouldn’t rather go to a movie with clear folk–after all, if a tall “clear” person sits down in front of you–no problem–you can see right through them!

But–naw–I don’t think that’s what he meant…

Over time I saw that this usage of the coded language of “urban” and “clear” is a hallmark of this show. Each time Nororious or Lady V drops the word “clear” there’s that slightly naughty tone to their voice. Exactly like a white person chortling over his new code for the N-Word.

Now I find the term “Urban,” used to refer to African Americans (as it invariably is on this show) problematic: what, are you saying everyone in urban areas are black? Or that all black people live in the city? Doesn’t that erase all the other POC in the community? (The white people in the city being already invisible).

But whatever, that’s y’all. If y’all want to call yourself, “Urban” who am I to tell you you can’t?

On the other hand, I have to call you out for calling me “Clear.” I don’t care how many “clear” friends you have, or how better you think we behave in the movies–when you use that word you sound blatantly racist.

Some people think that because they have been the subject of racism, they cannot be racist. Just like some people think that because they have black (or “urban”) friends, they can’t be racist.

Bullshit.

Anyone can be racist.

Now I’m not saying Notorious VOG and his crew are racist–but they sure sound racist.

I don’t have a problem with them talking about race on the radio–even saying ignorant things sometimes–but if you can’t talk about race without using code words, you need to re-think what you’re saying.

We do have words to discuss race. As imperfect and inadequate as the words black and white are, (after, all, how many people have you met in this country who are truly black? Most American “black” people fall somewhere on the spectrum of browns.) they are common parlance of this era, and you should be able to use them without offending people so long as the context isn’t offensive.

Now I’m not a big fan of the word white to describe my skin color or my people: what am I–a wall? A blank piece of paper? A sheet? (Thank you KKK for giving bedding negative connotations.)

I find it extremely frustrating that no word in the English language adequately describes the tan-peachy-pinkish color that I see when I look at my hands!

In the sense that my skin color was so ubiquitous in Europe during the formation of the language that they didn’t feel they needed a word for it, it does, in a way, make it clear–invisible, assumed unless stated otherwise by a white racist culture. But I still reject the term.

I am not invisible! You do not have the power to rob me of what verbal pigment I posses.

When I look in the mirror I see myself in color. I have substance. I am not invisible.

I am not clear.