Mixology

As a person of color I’ve grown up noticing that there aren’t many representations that I or others could relate to. This so called melting pot we like to call ourselves living in is a figment of our imaginations. There are all kinds of uniquely beautiful mixtures of people today that allow everyone to have the opportunity to be represented.

For as long as I can remember characters no matter what race were always portrayed by a white person. Like Jesus, Moses, Othello, Native Americans, Egyptian Kings and Queens etc. come to mind that were misrepresented by white people. They would do whatever to pretend to be another ethnicity instead of just using a real person from that particular ethnic background. It’s really offensive and insulting when you think about it. The issue is that most people don’t think about it because it doesn’t directly affect them. But it’s okay to get upset when a fictitious character is updated as a person of color, yeah whatever!

Like take Disney for instance. They just announced there will be a black girl playing Ariel in the new The Little Mermaid movie. I think it’s great! I mean I absolutely love that movie and I believe I’m a real mermaid anyway despite not having red hair. Mermaids aren’t real so they aren’t offending or misrepresenting any racial group. But just like Will Smith as the genie in Aladdin, folks are tripping over the blackness. Come on, there’s like 50 Disney Princesses with only like 6 or 7 non-white ones. That leaves how many now and they can’t let one go. Trying to find ways to justify why everyone in everything has to be white or why using racist stereotypes is okay to express anger towards Disney’s choice. They couldn’t even cast a French actress to play Belle in Beauty and the Beast which bothered me if we’re really trying to do true characterization.

It’s sad that European influences must stay prevalent as minority populations aren’t being celebrated. All the little white girls get to grow up knowing that they can be anything they want including fictitious characters. But little brown girls only get to know not much past slavery and are being made to feel like they can’t be royalty as if it’s not a part of their history too. I’m tired of “white is right” thinking and that everything outside of Euro beauty standards are ugly and wrong. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder not of the white man.

Just a friendly reminder that “The Little Mermaid” is based on a book by Hans Christian Andersen published in 1837 where “Ariel” has her tongue ripped out in exchange for feet (feet that bleed the entire time she’s on land). She comes on land to try to win the prince’s love in order to steal part of his soul because mermaids don’t have souls. She fails, and the prince marries someone else. She contemplates murdering him in his bed, but can’t bring herself to do it, so she dies/melts into seafoam.

By the way, her skin is green!

There’s origins of Mermaids within many cultures not just reserved for any particular group. All around the world there are tales of these mythical creatures.

Here are some examples:

https://www.wired.com/2014/10/fantastically-wrong-strange-murderous-sometimes-sexy-history-mermaid/amp

http://mentalfloss.com/article/75471/9-mermaid-legends-around-world

https://amp.livescience.com/39882-mermaid.html

https://amp.abc.net.au/article/9846210

https://people.howstuffworks.com/mermaid-folklore.htm

I remember when The Princess and the Frog came out and I was happy for a second that there was finally a black Disney princess. But I quickly realized how differently Tiana was depicted from the princesses before her and she spent a good 85-90% of the movie as a frog. Folks get upset whenever black people are shown in a good light or when they outnumber white characters. It’s always an issue! Even the Voodoo in the movie was targeted since to them all non-Christian religions are wrong. Umm how come witches doing witchcraft and black magic isn’t causing an uproar? It’s all the same to me. I thought Disney was showing cultural diversity not trying to coarse your kids. But somehow minority characters are always scrutinized for doing exactly what white characters do. The tan changes things!

Look around people, this country is mixed like it’s never been before showing how things are now not how they were or how narrow minded people think they should be. I don’t care who plays what as long as they aren’t disrespecting another culture or a real group of people. Fake creatures can be any color period. The world isn’t catering to anyone’s negative, closed minded, racist or biased opinions anymore. The world is changing. Try and keep up won’t you!

Hear Me Out

Have you ever had a time when you felt stuck not knowing what to do? You had no one to turn to that you thought would understand. That would even take the time to without dismissing your pain. A time when friends prove their loyalty and others their worth. It’s a part of the struggle when bridges are either made stronger or burned to the ground. Where you learn more about yourself and how strong you really are. If you can actually handle all the responsibility of your healing process on your own or if you need that helping hand.

I’ve been through some things in my almost 40 years of life. One thing I’ve noticed is that people will show you who they truly are when there’s a crisis. Whether it’s a matter of the heart, a serious health scare, a mental disruption, or a lack in family structure we have to learn how to grow from these life pauses. People can’t expect you to stay the same forever and never give you the opportunity to change. Holding grudges and not being able to express the hurt they felt while going through this temporary life bump. They are so consumed by their pain they refuse to believe it’s different this time around.

Going through my own struggles vs being supportive during someone else’s is a lesson in itself. I didn’t have much support or understanding so my journey was a solo one. My life is mostly made of judgments and assumptions based off of what others think they know about me instead of taking the time to actually know me. People project onto me the anger and resentment they had towards someone else that set the stage before me. I end up catching all those misplaced feelings. I’ve said it many times and will continue until folks get it. “Hurt people…..hurt people and messed up people….mess people up!” But deciding to be a caregiver to someone that is on the edge, that lost hope, was completely alone in their situation, and had nothing but toxicity around them making a little problem into a huge problem, shows you truly care about another person’s wellbeing.

I couldn’t watch someone I loved be constantly reminded that while in their pain, so many mistakes were made and that so called friends weren’t adult enough to forgive and move on. I hated that they were judged on how they chose to fix their current state and how long it took them to get finished. Being on the world’s timeline, being told it’s too late. It’s never too late to turn things around for the better. Healing takes time and for some, longer than expected. Without acknowledgement that now you’re the best version of yourself and have finally put yourself first, you can’t care for others. It wasn’t planned this way, life just happens this way sometimes.

There’s always an opportunity to start over. We just have to be willing to take that chance and also allow others to. Can’t say “just get over it” every time you don’t want to face things head on. Communication is the key to everything! If we communicate how we feel, how we’ve been effected, how we would like to go about fixing the problem, accepting the assistance that comes with taking the blinders off to the problem etc. so many issues could be resolved and relationships salvageable. But you got to be a grown up about it. Immature childish behavior isn’t the answer to adult situations.

I get it, you’re scared to step up, admit there’s a problem and set things right. It’s a process! It’s also a choice to be there for others even if their circumstances don’t mesh with yours or their struggle suddenly becomes yours. Maybe you’re being tested to see how much you really care, how selfish or selfless you really are. If you can’t take the time, a second to listen and understand outside of your own biases and perspectives to not be all up in your feelings, what kind of person are you? Are you hearing or just listening? Do you care or just stand by watching? Do you forgive or hold onto unresolved anger? Are your own personal feelings more important than supporting others on this complicated thing called life? Look if stepping up is too hard then do yourself and that person in need a favor…….step off!

Black Sheep

Hiding behind masks, makeup and fake personas trying to act like you’re the real deal. Inflicting pain through their own projecting and criticizing. Expecting you to be strong enough to handle it every time, with every blow that chips away at your soul leaving you helpless and vulnerable to those who prey. They sit back and watch you deteriorate from your true self not given a helping hand or any support. Then passing all that judgment they feel so inclined to do to avoid it’s reflection. Branding you and not letting you fit in anywhere. Constantly on your back, up your butt and in your face about what they only think they know, what they never knew.

Isn’t it weird how people talk trash about you, when the only thing they actually know about you is your name.

That life you live and wake up to everyday. That person you see in the mirror that represents your being. That reputation you earned or that was put upon you without permission. That persona you created to make it through the tough moments and get over those barriers they sometimes make unbearable obstacles. That generational dysfunction that’s passed down for too long without ceasing. The memories we try to move on from and they can’t seem to forget. The temporary mistakes they try to make permanent. That level that was achieved yet never acknowledged. We don’t have to be forced to remain where they put us to appease our audience. These fans of misery, negative energy and rejection.

Nothing annoys me more than when someone expects you to be okay with something that they wouldn’t be okay with if you do it.

After every failed relationship there’s judgment. Sometimes it’s not meant to be no matter how hard we try to make it work. They think they know what’s best for us when their lives aren’t reflecting perfection itself. Watching from the outside assuming they have a position within the company, establishment and kingdom you built. It benefits them to do nothing and then reap the results. Non-stop drama seems to add to the situation which further outweighs the goal of trying to prove people wrong. But we know they’re wrong!

Drama does not just walk into your life. Either you create it, invite it, or associate with it.

They try to detect a pattern with you in which to justify their opinion of you. Yes I attracted nothing but assholes like a magnet and with my man’s chicks, each worse than the last with the poor dumb life choices and bad family dynamics. But that’s not something we choose especially if we really didn’t choose those people. They chose us and the ONLY choice we made was to give them a chance to show us they were worth our time. When you finally raise your standards and force the potentials to try to rise to them, you truly see who is meant to be and who was only meant to be a life lesson…..never again! Because some people are marriage material and some are just mattress material. Believe it there will be someone who will love the parts of you that no one else knew how to.

Attract what you expect, reflect what you desire, become what you respect, mirror what you admire.

This holds true with friendships as well. If they aren’t showing you they deserve the title please stop listening to their excuses for demanding it. Actions speak way louder than words and you are the company you keep. Keep good company! They can’t hold you to that momentary lapse in judgment, that moment of settling, that desperate attempt at false happiness and blind love. We all had them yet we all aren’t still suffering the consequences. Only a few of us that didn’t abide by the masses have learned not to repeat the trauma. Live and learn!

Again we didn’t choose this life, this path, this journey. There’s a method to the madness but only God knows exactly why. For some reason they believe they too have the right to judge, change, manipulate and control our lives. After 20 years in the making with 30 years of friendship and almost a year in love apparently there were many lessons we each had to learn so that we could be the right people for each other at the right time. We had been forcing things for too long with the wrong people so God made this love easy with the right person. We were focused on the outsiders that pretended to appreciate us and our love but in reality were jealous enough to try to interfere in our relationship, try to destroy what they couldn’t have while with us.

If God wants you to be with someone, he’ll make it happen at the right time and with the right person. Don’t force it!

Trust me all the lessons I’ve learned from the mistakes I’ve made, I now know a good man when I see one. I know how girls perform verses how a woman presents herself. A little girl seeks revenge. A real woman moves on while karma does the work. I know the difference because I’m different and no one can tell or advise me on my own experience. I can now write the book, teach the class and go on tour thank you very much. Don’t be mad that “baby something” title didn’t equal to gf/bf or spouse. That’s the position you earned and the lane you need to stay in. Don’t hate because your significant other complains about you and mine raves about me. Or that you weren’t good enough to bring out the King or Queen in them while they were with you but someone like me is about that life.

Build a friendship before marrying someone. Marry your bestfriend.

You hate on us because you desire to be us. We aren’t outsiders or black sheep. We’re too much for you to handle because you weren’t meant to handle us. We don’t need your validation, recognition, advice or attention. Some people create their own storms, then get upset when it rains. When something bad happens you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you. I won’t apologize for evolving past your comfort zone. But we won’t stress ourselves over people who don’t deserve to be part of our lives. Nobodies don’t have the right to come for somebody’s!

Inappropriate

Cultural appropriation, ever heard of it? People use the term all the time yet most mainly use it out of context. There’s a clear definition that could help folks truly understand but when has anyone not distort definitions to benefit themselves?

cul·tur·al ap·pro·pri·a·tion

Dictionary definition of cultural appropriation

noun: cultural appropriation; plural noun: cultural appropriations

1. The unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society.

2. It’s an inadequate citation, acknowledgement and or credit given to an original source or group attempting to pass off the work as ones own without acknowledging the originator. Some profit and benefit from the borrowing of another culture without the intention of equitably sharing in said profit or benefit or giving due credit. When those fail to consult or research the borrowed culture they end up misrepresenting that culture.

3. It’s failure to seek out input or approval from the originators or community.

Hair Raising Examples
  • having dreadlocks yet not understanding the cultural history of them
  • criticizing a person of color’s hair texture
  • asking to touch another person’s hair because you’re curious
  • discriminating against someone because they don’t fit into European beauty standards
  • mocking another hairstyle that may have cultural significance
  • creating laws and societal rules that limit expression of a particular cultural group through hairstyles within professional and academic environments
  • imitating a hairstyle of another yet taking credit for it

The reason I chose hair as my topic of interest is because most don’t know that hairstyles are an important topic among people of color. It’s a very deep cultural thing that most treat less than due to lacking a true understanding of it. As a black woman with a very diverse family hair is spoken about quite often. I have naturally curly hair as most black people do to varying degrees. People treat natural hair like it’s new and unique. But its been around for decades yet never really accepted or respected even by those who have it. Being that it’s full of versatility, it creates huge opportunity for those in the natural hair business with products, salons, hair shows, YouTube tutorials and of course the envy of other cultures.

Unattainable and unacceptable hair are discussed the most. Those with one particular hair type so desperately manipulates their hair to be like another type. No one is satisfied with what God gave them. Some may even suffer from Texturism which is very similar to Colorism. Texturism has a way of dividing people more than bringing them together. It falls under the good hair vs bad hair category whose origins stem around the time of slavery and gradually got worse over time. Good hair was a looser texture that could pass for the texture of a white person and bad hair was anything that was far from it. If a black person wasn’t getting judged by their complexion they were by the texture of their hair. Some went as far as to say that if someone’s hair was less African looking then they had to be mixed with some other ethnicity. Black hair is beautiful because it can be thick, thin, fine, curly, kinky, nappy, straight, wavy, synthetic, natural, permed, relaxed, texturized, long, short, manageable, unmanageable, porous, dyed, oily, dry, moisturized and the list goes on. Just like the multitude of shades we come in, our hair is just as versatile.

https://www.ddsmagazine.com/single-post/2019/02/17/Texturism-An-Underlying-Layer-to-Colorism

Sometimes people get what I like to call, scissor happy and cut their hair off multiple times. I tend to get an itch to chop my hair like every Summer even after I lost all of it to chemo. I had no hair on me head to toe for about a year during my cancer treatments. Having curly hair was my signature, what I was known for so being bald felt weird. The funny part is that it growing back from baldness was an interesting experience and I honestly loved how the water felt running on my very short hair in the shower. Unfortunately I still wanted and did cut my hair 2 years after it grew back. I feel bad that many people aren’t able to get their hair to grow back once treatments are complete. For some reason hair just became nothing more than an accessory to me. I really don’t care as much about my hair because when your life is in question, your priorities most likely will change. But I can definitely sympathize with someone who would like to change up their hairstyle yet lost their hair permanently. It’s because some people identify only by their hair with their whole existence revolving around it.

I recently read this article about jobs not hiring people with certain hairstyles and it being legal. So not only did this melting pot of a country make racism the norm but now the hiring process is using hair as a way to further discriminate against prospective employees. Who is to say something like an afro, dreads or braids aren’t professional when that’s what our hair does? Has anyone ever looked into the religious history or cultural significance of these hairstyles? It’s not just some weird thing that should invoke curiosity and criticism.

https://thegrio.com/2019/03/03/u-s-companies-dreadlocks-jobs/

It reminds me when people ask to touch someone’s hair. That is ridiculous! This isn’t a petting zoo and we aren’t on display. More and more a ditching perms, weaves, and anything that makes curly kinky hair look more Eurocentric. I still hate when I’m asked to straighten my hair because someone wants to know what it would look like. I’m ‘Team Curly’ for life! I really wish they used their imaginations instead of having someone damage their hair for their ignorance. I had to painfully watch a referee cut a young black wrestler’s hair at a match with scissors because it wasn’t acceptable in order for him to perform. I’ve seen children on the news getting suspended, reprimanded and detention for having braids, natural kinky hair or locs. Why is the world so scared of hairstyles? Pay attention to the fact that if a person who isn’t of color decides to wear braids or dreads etc. it’s regarded as a cool new trendy hairstyle. Lots of hypocrisy going on if you ask me!

https://blavity.com/discriminating-against-someone-based-on-their-hair-is-now-illegal-in-nyc?_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=tz&utm_source=zulu

It’s enough that black women are very hard on other black women when it comes to how well kept their children’s hair is. Trust me when I say you will never catch a child of mine with hair that isn’t done. It’s a reflection on me and I have no time for anyone’s judgment of my parenting okay. I feel for the mother’s of mixed, biracial or adopted children of African decent that have hair unfamiliar to the mother to manage properly. Hair is a big deal whether anyone wants to admit it or not. You want the children to feel confident in their appearance and have identifiable images to relate to but a lot of times mothers struggle to find any support from other mothers and society’s beauty standard doesn’t support the children either.

https://www.bustle.com/p/as-a-biracial-woman-with-4c-hair-getting-braids-for-the-first-time-was-my-moment-to-relish-in-black-joy-15961329

Even if hair wasn’t an important factor in your life it does have an impact on your life whether you care to admit it or not. I suggest watching the documentary “Good Hair” by Chris Rock. It really illustrates the cultural, economical, historical, and psychological affects that the topic of hair has especially in the black community. When I see people shaving their heads or rocking it bald after cancer, I think how brave they are. Having a crown of glory usually equals beauty in this society. But to not care what anyone thinks and the riddance of all the unnecessary maintenance is so liberating. Making a statement, expressing oneself and standing out is really what it’s all about. I am not my hair…….wake up…….neither are you!