Light Skin vs. Dark Skin? What About Me? (A “Peanut Butter” Chick’s Story)

(Part II of “Kendrick Lamar’s Fiance is Light-Skinned. SO WHAT?!!)

“Teach me how to flirt.”  I awkwardly asked my best friend.  That had to be it.  That had to be what it was, why I felt like the twin sister of the “Invisible Man” when she and I went out together.  “Um, okay.  You just make eye contact,” she responded as she continued applying her make up.

“What if I do that and they don’t look back or worse, look away?”  I asked anxiously.  My BFF stopped and thought for a moment and then said, “I’ve never had that happen.”  Well, shit!

And that was my introduction into the socially awkward world of clubbing and dating.  I didn’t start really clubbing until after I graduated high school.  I was a geek in every way and although I wilded out in the privacy of my home, I just couldn’t bring myself to show that part of me in school.  Too many eyes.  Too many expectations.  I was senior class president, vice-president of the drama club, three time state champion in the Speech and Drama competitions. Voted Most Talented, Most Likely To Succeed and Most School Spirit.  If there was a club, I was in it.  If there was a cause, I was for it.

I eventually did find love my senior year.  He was my first real boyfriend, my first real everything, so many of my worries about male attention were eased for a year and a half.  Then we broke up.  One of the worst times of my life and that’s when my best friend and I immersed ourselves in the club scene.

Did I mention I was a geek?  I didn’t know many of the social rules.  I thought if I went to the club, looked pretty, danced, had a good time, then some guy would naturally be drawn to my energy.  And I really did have a good time.  I love to dance.  Even to this day, when I go dancing, it takes me to another place, it is truly my escape.  That’s the one place I don’t care who sees me or what they think, it is my get away.

But no matter how many times we went out (and we went out often), the guys always flocked to her, not me.  I became extremely self-conscious.  And although I still loved going out with her, I had to prepare a script to tell myself why this guy who I thought was fine, chose her instead.  Don’t get me wrong, my best friend is beautiful and deserves all the attention she received, but damn, so was I, so what was I doing wrong?

That questioned was answered for me one night I went out with another good friend of mine.  He was interested in getting into exotic dancing (no joke and has become quite successful since that time). We decided to go clubbing so he could practice some of his dance moves.  He had already demonstrated some of the moves at my house unknowingly witnessed by my then six year old nephew who immediately changed into his underwear, cowboy boots and proceeded to grind on the  dining room wall.  Yeah, that happened. But I digress.

That night changed my entire perception about my guy magnet dilemma.  The club we went to had separate rooms with different types of music, so I found myself in one room and my friend found himself drawn to another.  Like always, when the music started, I completely got lost in it.  However, this time, something odd happened, at least for me.  Guys were flocking to me?  In droves.  I hadn’t drastically changed anything about my appearance and could not figure out what was going on.

Then it happened.  Two beautiful, very fair-skinned women walked into the club and the attention shifted.  I was in disbelief. It started analyzing.  Surely the reason I hadn’t gotten action at the club couldn’t be because my best friend was lighter than me, surely that couldn’t be it.  I flashed back to a conversation we once had where she revealed what she believed her strongest asset was when it came to attracting guys – her skin color.  However, she didn’t say that proudly, more so with a hint of sadness in her voice and I didn’t understand why I picked up on that then.  Looking back, I think what was behind that was, “There is so much more to me.”

After I came to accept that at the Memphis,TN clubs, light skin rules, I stopped trying so hard when we went out.  Of course, it still would sting when a guy would approach her, she not be interested and he then finally “notice” me afterwards.  I developed a firm diss rule when that would happen.  I’m not a fallback bitch.

That was in my early twenties and was a very confusing time.  My first love and I had broken up, but were still going back and forth with one another.  I was in college, working as a part-time teller while performing in plays.  And more than anything, I was trying to find myself.  In some ways, those who fall into the strict definitions of “light skin” and “dark skin” have it easier.  Most men have a specific preference, so there is not a lot of back-and-forth about it. However, the peanut butters, like myself, get confused as to where we fit into the debate.  I am not a red-bone (although I’ve been called that but was quickly corrected by a “true red-bone”) and I am not the deep cocoa brown color that is often associated with the motherland.

I have heard the worst said about both sides.  I have participated in the bashing when I felt slighted, insecure and those are definitely thoughtless moments of my life in which I am not proud.

And looking back, perhaps some of reasons I didn’t have much luck was really due to my flirting. I sucked at it.  Perhaps I felt so intimidated by my BFF’s confidence when it came to pulling guys that my confidence completely dwarfed in her presence.  I know many women of all shades who have no problem pulling guys because they know they have it going on.

Through a lot of self-discovery, I released the invitation to be seen and evaluated by such shallow measures.

Yet, when I hear songs with silly ass phrases like, “I want a red-bone girl” as if that is the utopia of existence or receive a flyer from a club promoter captioned “Light Skin vs. Dark Skin” or when some pro-black guy tells me I am too light and act “too white”, I am reminded that colorism is a real and unfortuante phoenmen .  Some folks call it color struck. And many proudly proclaim their preference as if it is a score board around somewhere. And everybody has the right to their preference about melanin, nothing wrong that.  Then again, maybe everything is wrong with that.

 

Seriously, Why is Wearing the Same Outfit Twice (or Thrice) in a Row a Bad Thing?

Yesterday I found myself pulled in a heated debate about clothes. I chose to wear the same outfit that I wore on Saturday for Sunday because, well, I liked it and giving my incredibly busy schedule, it was the one thing I did not have to think about. The outfit was clean and appropriate for the occasion, yet I was told that it was not cool to wear the same clothes consecutively.

This person and I found middle ground on the issue, probably with both of us still in our shit about it but it really got me to thinking – what is so wrong with wearing the same outfit two or three days in a row if it is clean and you don’t see the same people?

When I asked this question, the only answer I got was,”It is not cool,” later followed up with because I was too beautiful to do so. Both answers seemed very ambiguous and I honestly think it had more to do with fear of how I would be perceived by others.

American culture is one of the most superficial. Celebrities make headlines if they wear the same outfit twice, an analytical article is written about the state of their mental health if it is more times than that.

The rules I grew up with was as long as the same people didn’t see the outfit and it was clean, it was okay to wear it a consecutive day. However, why is that rule? What does it mean if a person chooses to wear the same outfit every single day as long as it is clean?

I know, some of y’all are probably giving me major side-eye, but hear me out. Of course, there are some, a lot of women who love clothes and fashion. It is basically a religion, so wearing the same outfit more than once could probably be considered blasphemy. However, what about the rest of us? Folks like me who are putting 60+ hours a week and barely have time to sleep. Is it so bad if I choose to wear the same outfit more than once in a short period of time?

What does it mean? I’ll tell you what it means…nothing. Absolutely nothing. Only that, that is what I wanted to do. If any assumptions, beliefs or judgements are formed about me because of this very common practice, that says more about the person doing the judging than it does about me.

However, in the moment, it doesn’t feel that way. Y’all know it goes. We can give these speeches all day about why other people’s opinions don’t matter…except, they do. At least initially, otherwise, there wouldn’t be a speech necessary to give. And I think that’s how I felt in that moment when I was “scolded” for choosing to wear the same outfit a second (and possibly a third) time in a row. I felt the need to give the “Your opinion does not matter,” speech.

Later, this person did apologize. I’m sure how they see the world and their customs are just as fundamental as my commitment to challenge them. It is not easy choosing to be a free agent in this life. It seems that people are often pulling at me to define myself by their standards. I am not innocent of this.

As my grandmother once said, “I am consistently inconsistent.” We are all paradoxical at heart and more than that, we are human. We have all customs, attitudes and beliefs drilled into us from the very moment we take our first breath.

So even though I was extremely triggered yesterday by this very trivial, yet very much needed incident, it actually provided an opportunity for me to look at certain beliefs and customs I have and ask myself, “Is this belief or value truly serving me? Or do I just practice it because I was told I was supposed to and fear the social stigmatization if I don’t?”

So what are your thoughts on this? Do you think it is “low class” to wear the same outfit two or three days in a row?

Are “Black” Women the LEAST Desired in Online Dating? OKCupid Thinks So…

Every year it seems that some set of statistics come out with the unconscious intention of crushing “black” women’s confidence. The stats from Online Dating Site “OK Cupid” seems to be the ring leader this time around.
Okay, so I know that OKCupid is not responsible for their customer’s personal preferences, but I have a serious problem with the skewed, absolute way the information is presented.

On the wrong day, a woman can read those stats and interpret them in a very unhealthy way, I know, I was once one of those women. So after a lot of soul searching, I got busy and did some research of my own.
What I found was very interesting and proved that stats, like most other things in life, should be taken with a grain of salt.

Hit play below to watch as I break down what these numbers REALLY mean!

Women, Stop Letting Your Boyfriend Beat Your Children!

Hit play below to watch this episode of “One Chick Army”!

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What do Dominique Smith, Jillian Tate, and Chante’ Hays have in common? They were all young women who fell in love, trusted in love and sold-out for love. The sacrifice? Their children. Each woman moved a man into her home.  He was quickly promoted to “Daddy” but the dream didn’t last long.  

The bruises started to appear. The burns.  She noticed the marks, but chose to ignore them because if she confronted him, she feared being abandoned and alone.  Soon after, she rationalized the abuse, lied to herself until she could no longer lie anymore – because her child is now dead; beat to death by the man whom she thought she could trust, whose love she so desperately craved.

Perhaps she feared for her own life. There are more questions than answers, but what is evident is that this is a gross epidemic. If you google “boyfriend kills baby”, you will find an overwhelming amount of cases. Why is this so common and who is really to blame? Is it the mother? That’s an easy target, but I am a firm believer that if something happens repeatedly, then there is something we are missing.

Is it generational trauma? Learned self-hatred? The fact that women grossly outnumber men so many women feel that they don’t have many options. Is it these men and women are only taught one form of love? Toxic.

Whatever the reasons are, children being abused and dying at the hands of mentally disturbed, jealous boyfriends has happened too many times (one time is actually one time too many), so I decided to vlog about it. Share it with someone you think could use it.

 

“Ethnic” Casting Too Much of a Good Thing? What the f%ck does that mean?

Looks like another reporter is about to feel the wrath of Shonda Rhimes and her own army of fans.  Deadline published an article yesterday entitled, “Pilots 2015: The Year Of Ethnic Castings – About Time Or Too Much Of Good Thing?” which inspired Shonda Rhimes to post the cryptic tweet:

Shona-Rhimes-tweet-web

I pride myself on looking at issues from multiple perspectives, but I have to roll with Shonda on this one, if for no other reason that this delusional part of the article:

“Instead of opening the field for actors of any race to compete for any role in a color-blind manner, there has been a significant number of parts designated as ethnic this year, making them off-limits for Caucasian actors, some agents signal.”  – Deadline

Wait?!  What? Some “White” actors feelings are hurt because they are being demoted to equality?  How many times do you think an actor of color was turned down for not having the right skin color?  Yes, the tide is shifting, and it may become extreme for a little while, although I doubt it.  It may just trend, I certainly hope not, but if it is, I encourage all actors of color, myself included, to ride this train out and IF it does end, have enough connections and resources to create your own.  Read the entire Deadline article here.

Do you think “ethnic” casting is too much of a good thing? Share your thoughts below.

 

Empire & the “Black Stereotype” Myth (The Coon Hour) Part 2

Empire & the “Black Stereotype” Myth Part I

And part II is here!  In this episode of “One Chick Army”, I talk more about the word, “coon”. Not only is the hit TV show “Empire” accused of being stereotypical and portraying blacks as criminals, it also gets the “coon” label too. But what exactly is a coon?  More importantly, why is the word so often used against those who create controversial material or go against what “it means to be black”?

Hit play below to watch!  And remember to subscribe to One Chick Army’s Youtube Channel and email list.

 

When Keeping It “Free” Goes Wrong: Elton John Boycotting Dolce & Gabbana

This is a touchy one right here.  Mega-pop-singer Elton John is so furious with comments that superstar designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana made about in vitro fertilization (IVF) that he is calling for a boycott of their clothing line.

In a recent interview, the designers told Italian magazine Panorama, “No chemical children: life has a natural course, there are things that shouldn’t be modified,”

The boycott has started to gain traction as well, with over 14,000 shares on Twitter including support from fellow celebs Courtney Love and Rickey Martin.

Gabbana’s “right to speak” position gained traction as well with many Instagram supporters showing solidarity for the designers.

I understand this one on both sides.  Dolce and Gabbana’s comments were a bit crude and insensitive to parents who cannot conceive naturally, however, should they be boycotted for speaking their mind?  I worry that social media is becoming more Big Brother and less freedom of expression.  It can also be argued that no one is stopping the designers from speaking their mind just like no one can stop those who feel offended to NOT boycott the designer’s clothing line.  You decide. Click the link below to read more.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/15/living/feat-elton-john-dolce-gabbana/index.html

 

Empire & the Myth of the “Black Stereotype” Pt. 1

Saying that the “Empire” TV show is stereotypical and coonery is an easy accusation to make and has a host of supporters.  I see why, the show has all of the elements and representations of which many people of color try to distance themselves.  But are these accusations true or are they just myths?

Labeling “Empire” stereotypical removes the need of accountability by throwing a veil over the problems and obstacles that truly affect many people of color. It puts “black” artists in an unattainable position of needing to be perfect while shaming them for being human and flawed. Hit play below to watch and then check out Part II of my Empire rant here.

 

Are Women Too Possessive (Stalkerish) in Relationships?

You know how the story usually goes. Girl meets boy. Girl likes boy. Boy likes girl. After the first date, girl starts planning her wedding. If there is a second, third, fourth, etc. date, Girl often puts a collar on boy. Are women too possessive in relationships? Do we have often show up more like a stalker vs. a lover? Controlling women and men seems to be a form of love? Questions! Questions!

How does this happen? How do so many women end up behaving their partner’s owner instead of an equal mate? And, why is it often so hard to let when it is over? Hit play below and let me know your thoughts!

Are Black People Bad Tippers?

It’s the stereotype that just won’t die!  “Black people are bad tippers at restaurants!”  I have heard it most my life and didn’t believe it had any merit until I started waiting tables. The results were surprising and the experience forced me to look at my own tipping habits and finally ask, “Is there any truth to this belief?”

Feel free to post your thoughts below!