Brown skin, curly hair

Good Monday morning to you!

I trust everyone had a good weekend. I started writing today but couldn’t decide if I should write about my new tattoo or if I should write about the fact that I’m going to start giving less f**ks about things! Then I thought, “It’s my blog, I can pretty much write about whatever I want, so I’ll do both!”

I never thought I would be a tattoo person. Trust me. I have always walked the straight and narrow, but over the past few years, I realized that what I wanted shouldn’t really matter to anyone else but me. I wanted a tattoo, as long as I could afford it and I was happy with what it was, why the heck not?! So I got one, then another and now another.

This photo was taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not copy without permission.

This photo was taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not copy without permission.

This last tattoo is kinda personal to me. I’ve written before about how I feel about being black in Vancouver – isolated and different. Over the years though, it’s gotten better. I feel more comfortable. I’ve started getting more in touch with the woman that I am. Over the Christmas break, I watched instructional video after video about applying makeup on dark skin. I’ve gone through that exercise before where I look up how to put makeup on, but this time I tried to find women as dark as me. It made a difference hearing advice from women who looked like me. No longer was I trying to work with what was available, I wanted to validate my own existence. I wanted to validate my dark skin. I’m proud of it and I’m not going to try to marginalize it anymore. I’m trying to make a conscious effort to embrace who I am even if I don’t get that external validation.

My brown skin and curly hair are what make me me. It makes me feel different, yes, but I’m done apologizing for being me and I’m done pretending that I’m the same when I’m not. I saw Kidlet’s face when I showed him the tattoo. He had a smirk on his face. I think it might have been the moment when he realized that this tattoo applied to him as well and that I placed value on those things about myself and by extension those things about him too. I don’t know for sure. For me though, I wear it as a badge of pride.

A couple people have asked why I tattooed something so obvious. I think a tattoo is not like a sign I wear around my neck advertising something. For me, I will only put on my body the things in my life that mean something and will always mean something to me even 20 years from now. I’m not saying what I am, I’m saying what’s important to me. You can hear me talk and know I’m a Trinidadian, I don’t need a Trinidadian flag on my ankle to say that – but when you see it on my body, you know I’m not only a Trini, but I’m proud of it!

This last paragraph is a nice lead in to the other part of today’s post: I’m going to try to start giving less f*cks! My sister-friend sent me an article about how to give less f*cks about things. I’ve shared with you before about how anxious I get about things – either rationally or irrationally. I worry about so many things all the time. I plan, I obsess, I think, I worry. Understandably, she sent me the article in an attempt to get me to relax.

The writer of that post FINALLY got me to understand that I don’t have unlimited f*cks to give in a day. I should really be more selective about what I choose to worry about. If I’m disproportionately annoyed about forgetting to add a dryer sheet to the laundry or incensed about something that happened to a friend, I’m just squandering my annoyance.

I have to learn how to not get worked up over everything. The article really made me see in a straightforward way that living this way will only stress me out. Now, this is a work in progress, but I already see where I’m making a conscious effort not be annoyed. I am CHOOSING not to be annoyed even though I very well could be! Being in traffic this morning, for example: whether I’m annoyed or not, will not make the traffic dissipate. Whether I’m annoyed or not, instead of tailgating the people ahead of me and being grumbly, I chose to sing one of my favourite songs on repeat a few times instead at the top of my lungs. There is so much in my life right now that I can’t control, being upset and outraged about it without having any control over it just seems like a waste of my emotion.

Now this new frame of mind is a work in progress, but I’m going to give it a shot! I’ll let you know how this week goes.

Have a good week ahead!

V

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Wine, therapy and Black women

So this is the second time I socialized with this group of Black women and my mind has been blown yet again. First off, I know what you’re thinking: group? Black women? Vancouver? Yes, I know, it’s a shock!

I met this one woman years ago from the islands. She is absolutely lovely and I made up my mind then and there that I would like her to be my friend. That’s how it is when you’re an immigrant. You have to make friends. There are no built-in friends or anything, you have to make them. Or, at least, that’s how it is for me. At first, we would meet a couple times a year at the Caribbean events in the city and then one time, after exchanging numbers a couple of years before but never using it, she called me to ask a question about the Trinidadian Society and we were on the phone for over 3 hours. We’ve been friends ever since.

Having had her in my life, though, the landscape of my social activities has changed. Since she has Black female friends, I get invited to events where we would all get together and talk and talk about ‘issues’ under the guise of having a party. What started off as something social, turned into something deeply emotional and extremely supportive.

Caribbean women….sigh. We are phenomenal, we are outspoken, we are strong, we are intense, we are just amazing. Sitting in a room with these women talking about their lives and their unique and common struggles to raise their families, to desire keep their relationships healthy, to keep themselves sane, made me feel so validated and ‘normal’. Don’t get me wrong, there are others in my life who make me feel the same way, but to hear the words coming from someone who has the same background and upbringing as me and can talk so freely about it, just made it feel different. The homogeneity among us made it easy to trust and identify with each other.

We talked about a lot of things, the topics of which are not even important. What was important was the expression that was so honest and open and unapologetic! I forgot how straightforward Caribbean people could be sometimes.

The first time I went over there, it was great: I felt like I was given the password to a secret society and I could finally get to see the inner workings of Black women my age. What I didn’t realize is that there would be no long preamble. We would get to the nitty gritty of things immediately whether we all knew each other or not. They shared their stories with no filter. I thought, “Hey, you guys just met me 2 hours ago,” but the fact that that didn’t matter made me feel like part of a sisterhood. By the end of it, I too shared my stories. I didn’t feel judged even though some people didn’t agree with me. I expressed my opinion and right there and then, I was told, “You’re talking s**t! That not making sense!” I then defended what I had to say in a way I could get across my point clearer. In the end, they didn’t agree, but they understood that my opinion was based on my unique situation. In the end, I felt comfortable enough to share an opinion that was honest, open and unapologetic.

Don’t take for granted the people you have in your life who you are able to be yourself with, people who will call you on your b**ls**t and point a mirror in your face and let you know how wrong you are, people who will tell you their story and show you that you can rise despite how traumatic life can be. People walk into your life for a reason. They come in to show you something or to teach you something. Embrace it.

 

Why I get pissed off before 9 am!

So yesterday, I was sitting here, minding my own business, not knowing that I would soon be incredibly pissed off!

I should start at the beginning. I went searching online for some hair advice and stumbled up one of those ‘list’ websites with articles like “Things you didn’t know about bananas” or “Celebrities who are right handed” and other brain-clogging information. I wasn’t looking for trouble at all. I clicked on this article which lists the reasons why Black women don’t date White men and the more I read the more annoyed I got.

I always get disproportionately angry when there’s anything about ‘Black women’ as if the only Black women in the world are the ones that live in the US with their specific set of problems. What about Caribbean women, African women and others in the diaspora? Black women in America have their issues and life has not always been easy for them, but I just don’t like it when they speak for all of us happy Black women in the rest of the world.

What I’m about to say is based on the article I read. If you’d like, please read that article. You may have a completely different take on it and we can hash it out….or don’t read it and just read my reply to it in isolation.

In the Mind Maze, you are free to do whatever you want!

The writer opens with saying, “I recently did a survey on a group of Black women regarding their reasons for not dating men who are not of color.” By show of hands, how many of you think that she just asked her girlfriends if they’d ever date a guy who’s not Black one night over a bottle of wine a la Waiting to Exhale?

From the outset, the survey doesn’t seem scientific nor does it seem to cover a wide range of Black women. Articles based on real surveys would say, “I interviewed 100 women between the ages of X and Y and asked them these specific questions.” Now the fact that she did not outline this doesn’t mean she didn’t run a legitimate survey, but if she did, wouldn’t she have said so?

When I began reading, I decided to assume that it WAS a diverse range of Black women and she presumably asked someone like me. I didn’t want to be hasty. I wanted to hear her out.

Let’s look at the reasons presented why Black women don’t date White men. *takes a deep, cleansing breath*

1. Body image

Apparently White men won’t like our bodies. So every Black man likes every Black woman’s body? According to the writer, “Thinner is usually all around better within the White community. This is naturally engrained in both African American and Caucasian people’s subconscious.” Oh really? Can you prove that?

I don’t get it. Black women tend to have curvy bodies – hips, butt, big thighs – but not all of us do. We don’t all look the same. Haven’t we been insisting on that for forever?! What about the non-curvy, thin Black women? Can’t the White men like those?

Oh and here is where we find out that it was 6 Black women between the ages of 25-40 that were surveyed. I wasn’t one of them. I would have wrecked her survey AND probably her article. Without her article though, I wouldn’t have mine, so it’s all good! (You know I’m the eternal optimist!)

2. Hair

Okay, so this one may have a tinge of truth to it. Having said I, personally, laugh at hair ambiguities. I very casually explained to a curious White man last weekend the difference between a weave and a wig. No biggie!

Most guys are clueless about hair anyway. Even I don’t know the difference between lowlights and highlights! Also, the comment “A white man on the other hand is used to naturally unenhanced straight hair that he gets to run his fingers through.” Hmmmm….really? White men don’t date curly hair women or women with hairsprayed hair or women with short hair? Who are these White men? Do ALL White men have a need to run their fingers through their women’s hair? Is it a genetic thing? Can I get a consensus from 6 White men please to speak on behalf of White men everywhere?

Yes, Black hair is not a simple thing to explain because, yes, it is different from Caucasian hair or Asian hair. It’s not always straightforward, but it can be easily explained and understood. As with anything else, either he can accept it and can experience the pleasure of dating you or he can bounce! He decides that, not the kind of hair you have. It’s ridiculous that I even have to clarify that!

[Okay, after I read #3, I had to walk away from the computer, get a glass of water, then come back to read #4.] 

3. Background/Education

So apparently successful White men will only want to date “a woman who is as successful or at least in the same class as himself” and “Because the Black community doesn’t have as many advantages this leaves desirable Black women to a minimum.” (She’s not serious, is she?) 

I guess in the writer’s reality, gold diggers and sugar Mamas don’t exist. Every relationship is ALWAYS equal. Oh, I see. 

There is so much more I can say on this, but I think her comments themselves speak volumes. 

4. They are never approached by White men

What if these 6 women live in one of those infamous predominantly Black neighbourhoods we see on TV where there are no White people….ever, then I guess it makes sense that White men don’t approach them since there ARE no White men around. If she would have asked me, I would be lamenting that I never even see any Black men, let alone get approached by one and even less likely to be approached by an eligible one!

(Hmmm…..yes, I do think it’s better that I wasn’t in the survey. It might throw the whole thing off.)

She also brings up here the fact that “the majority of Black men nowadays marry outside their race.” My question is, if the Black men are out dating all the non-Black women (according to the survey), wouldn’t it stand to reason that the odds of being approached by a White man will increase since we’re the only ones left to date?

5. Just not attracted to White men

“Four out of the 6 women said they were simply not attracted to White men” so there you have it. Most of the article is “Why White men don’t want Black women” only to close off the article saying, “Well, Black Women (well, 4 out of the 6) didn’t actually want White men in the first place.” So if you don’t want them, why are you going on and on about them not wanting you?

Apparently White men lack ‘confidence (swag) and sex appeal’. If the writer thinks that if Channing Tatum or Ryan Gosling were to show up at my front door (clothes on OR off!!), I’d close the door talking about no sex appeal, she is sadly mistaken! (I’m sweating just thinking about if that were to happen!)

There are a lot of Black men who lack sex appeal. I have two words to say to that: Flava Flav…..and he seemed to like Black women just fine!

The closing paragraph goes on about how love should be colour blind and we shouldn’t turn down chances and be happy and if a White man comes into your life, you should snatch him up.

Having said all of that, her last words were: “Let’s not ever allow stereotypes and judgements determine who we can fall in love with.”

Hey, you started it!

V