2014-08-29

Black Breastfeeding Week Offends People


This week is Black Breastfeeding Week! The purpose is to spread the awareness of breastfeeding to black women, who typically are the least likely to breastfeed.  Reasons for this is usually due to socio economics, but there is also a cultural aspect. From my own personal experience, the concept of breastfeeding past six months is considered absurd to many in the black community.  
With my first child, I breastfed for 26 months. Yes, I breastfed her for over two years.   The comments I received from well meaning friends and family for doing this were at times, downright offensive, other times just out of plain ignorance.

I have received comments about me breastfeeding because it was a sexual thrill; trust me, it’s not.   I have been told that only poor people breastfeed when they can’t afford formula.  I’ve heard that formula was superior to breastfeeding.  For the record, there is no proof formula is better than breastfeeding.  I’ve been told my breasts would be ruined, and my husband wouldn’t want them anymore, as if my boobs belonged to my husband, and breastfeeding would give him an excuse to cheat on me.

We also need to discuss the fact that many black women do not have jobs with maternity leave.  That ability to pump at work, might not be as readily available.  These are more of issues of class, but still issues that would encompass many black women.

I recently went to one of my favorite pages on Facebook, Best for Babes Foundation.   They are happily posting some great information about Black Breastfeeding Week.  It is being met with the usual backlash of any type of celebration or acknowledgement of blackness in America.

“Why isn’t their White Breastfeeding Week?”

“This is why we are a nation divided. How about just breastfeeding week?”

Then we have these gems:





I’m going to deviate from the issue of Black Breastfeeding Week and ask some questions:

How do white people equate into Black Breastfeeding Week, and how are they being blamed for “Blacks Problems”?

Why do we mention slavery, but never the subsequent century of segregation that happened afterwards?  

What exactly are the special entitlements and benefits received by blacks?

Why is it always assumed blacks need to “pick themselves up”?

No matter what the conversation about black people or black americans in particular, why do these “concerns” always come up?  This is about breastfeeding.  Not about slavery, not about entitlements and benefits, just about encouraging a group of women with low breastfeeding rates to actually breastfeed.   Why is it that black people are no longer allowed to have spaces that feel safe for them? Why is it we must be relegated to the backseat of all conversations to address the concerns of the majority?  The focus can never be on the minority, we must first address the needs of white people, and then any concerns or questions specific to a minority group can be discussed as an afterthought.   The fact that anytime a minority issue does come to the forefront, the discussion from white people is to discuss and critique it’s very existence is the definition of white privilege, but it won’t be acknowledged or questioned, because some in white America will gladly pat each other on the backs and convince each other in an echo chamber that they aren’t racist.

2014-08-02

Five Years Gone

August is a weird month for me. It’s a month where I can be insanely happy and also a month I can be supremely depressed. August 2009 I should have had Lillian Jean. Lillian Jean was my daughter who was born way too early and died in April 2009. August 2009 is when I discovered I was pregnant with Rabbit. I really don’t call her that anymore, but it’s the name I originally gave her here, so I’m sticking with it. I decided just to use Lillian’s name because she never got the chance to have a nickname, and unlike Rabbit, who I see and touch everyday, she’s abstract to me. Sometimes it feels as if she was nothing but a dream and a nightmare rolled into one. Finding out I was pregnant will Lillian made me extremely happy and losing her made me almost lose my mind. Something I often wonder if I ever wish she didn’t exist. The problem is she did exist and I’m not willing to give up the brief happiness I had with being pregnant with her, so I answer no to that question often. So for that reason alone, I’m not going to make up some silly name for her, I’m going to respect her enough to use her name and let the world know she was here, and I still miss her.

Talking about dead babies doesn’t make one really popular. It makes people uncomfortable. They don’t know what the say, and to be fair, there isn’t much to be said about dead babies, except “I’m sorry”. For that reason, I don’t get to talk about Lillian, and it makes me feel guilty. She deserves to exist, and even if she’s no longer here, it’s not her fault people are uncomfortable about it.

What I can talk about are my kids that are here. Yeah, I said “kids”. I have two now. Rabbit and He-Man. He-Man, if you cannot tell, is not his real name. He also goes by Mr. Hopper and Gaston, depending upon who you ask, so really I could have gone with any of those names. People like discussing the happiness. I can talk about Rabbit and He-Man all day long. The pictures of them I happily share. The pictures of Lillian, I keep those to myself. They are in a box, scared for me to look at, and the only time I acknowledge them is when I see the box, which is usually when I miss her terribly and I want to see the few things to prove she existed, so I know it wasn’t some horrible dream I just can’t shake.

It feels so horrible at times to be so happy for the two I have. Being so happy Rabbit and He-Man are here makes me think I don’t miss or love Lillian enough. No one really mourns her, except me, and I do that often silently. Maybe my husband. I think he doesn’t so much mourn her, as he empathizes with me. He mourns for my ache and he fears the crazy months that followed after I lost her might return. It won’t. I can’t let that happen again, because I have two kids to take care of now.

So I typed up this mess of a blog post to let the world know I still miss her. She still existed, and that I acknowledge her. I’m publicly acknowledging her to let people know that, yes I moved on. I had the living babies wanted, but I still ache for her, and no matter how well I’ve moved on, she is still gone, and so is part of me. That’s ok. It’s life, and shit happens.

Lillian, I’m still sorry and I still miss you. You are loved, and the hurt is still there, I just had to move on for my sanity. I’m no longer sitting in the floor in a puddle of tears, but I miss you Lillian Jean. My biggest regret, I think having Rabbit and He-Man has to some people, made them think I forgot about you. I didn’t. I won’t. I can’t

2013-10-16

The Problem With Tommy Sotomayor, Tariq Nasheed, and the Cult of Black Female Degradation

This is nothing new, at least in the last decade or two we have had the black community theorize and explain the current condition of the black community.  The focus is always on relationships and how black men and women communicate with each other, usually focusing on the shortcomings of black women.   Black women are vilified, insulted, stereotyped, and shamed.  Not by white men, not by white women; but by black men, and even sometimes other black women. Check out YouTube.com.  You will see it en masse just by simply entering a search for 'black women'.   There are a few who currently stick out in this universe.  You have Tommy Sotomayor, who not only has a strong disdain for black women, but fiercely believes in the color hierarchy; even though he himself, is dark skinned.  We also have Tariq Nasheed, who teaches men how to  be "Macks" and feels it is a badge of honor to put a woman out of your house and car.  

I'm focusing on these men because of their following of black men who love and embrace their message, and because frankly, they are the ones most talked about. 

They both oppose feminism and say it is the biggest problem that black women face and the downfall of the black community. 

The biggest problems I see with this whole cult of black women degradation are that they are not steeped in reality. 

Feminism is not the downfall of the black community. It never ever was.  The biggest issue of the black community is inequality, and the feminist struggle for black women has always been different than from white women.  We never had to fight to work outside the home, like most poor people, black women and black men both worked outside the home just to make ends meet.  We were never seen as "weaker" or "fairer" we were treated as masculine, we were never treated as gentle and meek.   Not to mention the base definition of feminism is essentially to treat women as equals to men.  It was never the idea to surpass men or dominate men, but for some reason the idea of feminism is seen as domination.  I do not know if this is due to how the Civil Rights Movement, the Feminist Movement, and the ability of black women to be seen as less threatening to non blacks helped black women achieve in areas of education and work in comparison to black men, but we wanted to be equals, not just to black men, but white women and white men, and not that black women are anywhere close to that place, but we've moved ahead, and it has changed the gender norms in our society.

With all that being said, the gender norms of society have never really applied to black people in America.  Black women did domestic work, but we didn't just do it in our own homes.  We did it as a way to make money.   We did it as a way to survive. We did it because we had to do it.   We did it to help support our families along with black men, who did jobs that they were forced to do. We did what we were limited to, and for us to assume gender norms that applied to the white community does nothing for us.  We have to make our own "norms".   I'm thinking with the amount of women in professional jobs and the work force, this is the case in many instances for ALL people. The feminist movement has made both men and women of all genders adapt.  

The message of these men and others like them are confusing.  They want traditional male roles, but they want their women to reap the benefits of feminism all while adhering to "traditional" gender roles.   You don't want gold diggers, your woman needs to work and have her own things, yet when she gets off of work, you want her to cook your dinner, clean your home, and assume what you say is law.

If you feel feminism is about domination of black men, what are traditional gender roles to the domination of women?  You feel black women protect white men and put them on pedestals, but you've bought into European beauty standards that never applied to black women in the first place.  You want black women to be weave free, but have "good hair", and if a black women with "nappy" hair does go natural, you're the first to make jokes and tell her to straighten it.

You can't have it both ways, something has to give.

2013-09-28

Racism vs. Preference




Note to black ladies:  Don't cry, but you can't have the guy in the picture.  His name is Romeo Rose.  Yeah, I don't think his mom named him that.   He has a website, Sleepless In Austin.   He's looking for a woman. He's even willing to pay a finder's fee.  He has some requirements.  Too many requirements.  I'm not going to focus on ALL the requirements, just a couple. 

Let's focus on these comments:


I will not date a Black girl.

I don’t care if she looks like Halle Berry, I will not ever date a Black girl. 


However, I will date any other race, Hispanic, Mexican, Spanish, Russian, Italian, French, European, White, whatever, anything except Black.

Yeah. I've heard this before from "non racist" white people.  Like all of my life.  Welcome to Texas, and yes this mother fucker is from Texas. 

The people who usually say this are also tired of the word "racist" being thrown around.   They have no idea why saying things of this nature is racist.  So I of course will share why saying stupid, idiotic things like this are racist. 

You tend to have preferences.  Everyone has preferences.   I have a preference for pale, tall nerdy guys with dark hair.   I tend to not be attracted to short guys.   That being said, have I dated guys who weren't pale, tall, and nerdy.  Why yes I have!!!! I've even been on dates with guys shorter than me.  ::gasp::  I should note all this happened a long time ago.  Like you know before 1999, when I met my husband who is pale, tall, nerdy, with dark hair.  However this guy has essentially said this, he doesn't care what the black woman looks like, he will not date her simply because she is black, even if she looks like Halle Berry, who happens to be half white.   Even if you fit ALL of his criteria, if he sees the blackness, you're out, because you know blackness is a thing, and it's a BAD thing.  He can even be attracted to you, but that black thing CANNOT be overlooked.

He has also fallen into the "everything but black camp".  I should correct that "everything but black and Asian".  He's willing to lower his standards to hispanics, but he can't go beyond that, as it would be too primal for him to fathom. You know hispanics are assimilated in his mind for them to be ok enough to consider.  Congrats Hispanic women everywhere, you've got a shot with this looker.  

Mr. Romeo participated in a Reddit AMA, and he goes extra crispy crazy referring to black people as gorillas and compares having sex to a black person as bestiality.  Also he will not date a white woman who has dated a black guy and believes that whites and blacks should not mix sexually and make babies. He's not racist though......in his mind......in his warped, deluded mind.  

Sad thing is I know people like this, and in their minds they aren't racist either.  

2013-09-06

I'm Already Messing Up



Dear Rabbit,

I've had you for over three years now. You're awesome.  You're sweet. You're really smart.  You're also the most beautiful thing in all of my world.  I love you bunches, and my job is to be your mom, but sometimes as a mom I fail you, and I'm sorry.   I'm supposed to protect you and defend you, but sometimes I don't.   I have come to the realization if there is conflict in the room, I always assume you're at fault.  I shouldn't do that.  Yes, you've taken toys, yes, you've probably said or done things you shouldn't have, but I should have the common sense and foresight not  to assume.  You can talk now, and you talk a lot, so I need to just realize I can ask you, listen to you, and listen to your side. You are worthy enough to listen to.  I will not believe that you should only be seen and not heard.  You're voice is important and deserves my ear.

I've been taught all my life to expect the worst.  Just because I was taught that doesn't mean you should be.   You deserve to know that there is a good and bad side to just about everything in the world.   You are going to be living in a world in which people will make assumptions about you, so why as your mother should I pile on?   You're going to be viewed as a black woman in America.  People are going to assume a lot about your based upon your appearance.  People are going to say things to you that aren't fair.  There is going to be a lot of generalizations, and that's not fair either.    So as your mom, I'm going to try harder.

I'm going to make sure I don't fear you are to blame for all "conflicts" at play dates. I'm going to make sure that you love your hair, your skin, and just you in general.  I'm going to make sure I stick up for you when grown ups make mistakes. 

I'm sorry Rabbit, you aren't always the center of all trouble, and I shouldn't assume you are.  You are not inherently bad, you are a three year old, and like all people you are multifaceted.  You are you are growing, learning, and changing by leaps and bounds every single day.   You deserve better, and I'm going to give it to you.  


Love,

Mom

2013-07-17

If Trayvon Was White

If Trayvon Martin identified as white and George Zimmerman was black, this case would be seen so differently by so many.   If Trayvon was white, he would have been heralded as brave, taking a stand to fight off the armed man who was following him.  He would have been a symbol for taking a stance for what is right.  The media would have mentioned his lack of criminal history, they would have considered him a normal, everyday teen, a little mischievous, but a great kid with a promising future. We would have mourned his lack of opportunity to live out his future. The police would have done a thorough investigation, so that his parents would have had their questions and concerns answered, so even if it turned out it was an accident, they could lay their heads down at night knowing that there was no fault to their son's death.  

If Zimmerman was black, he would have been the thug. His criminal history would have been mentioned several times.  His views on other races mentioned repeatedly.  His list of calls to 911, seen as wasting tax payers resources and time noted, over and over again.  He would have been seen as a menace to society, a person who should have never ever had a gun.   He would have been seen a murderer and been sentenced to prison time. 

Alas, this is America, this is not how these people were portrayed.  Trayvon Martin was noted as thug. Trayvon Martin was the aggressor, even though George Zimmerman was following him with a gun. George Zimmerman was treated as a hero and a champion of gun rights. George Zimmerman is a free man and Trayvon Martin is dead. Trayvon's crime was walking while black.  His crime was noticing an armed man following him and being alarmed.  His crime was questioning the authority of someone lighter than him.   In America, being a vigilante if you're white or identify as such, is seen as a great thing, if you are black and do the same thing, you're a troublemaker intent on killing someone.   Zimmerman is seen as the hero for getting rid of a thug....with no proof of Martin being a thug.  Martin is accused of attacking Zimmerman, the armed man following behind him as he came home from a convenience store. We praise vigilantism when a white person does it, and gasp at the concept a young, unarmed black man thinks he can too.  

As people celebrate the death and murder of a seventeen year old boy, many of us are angry.  We're angry at the death of this boy, we're angry the a dead child was put on trial, we're angry about racism, but for a lot of us, we're angry because we're going to have to have the same talks our parents had with us about racism.  About the unwritten rules that don't apply to other kids.  We have to be extra careful to look like we're not stealing.  We have to have quick answers to questions about our existence to white people of no authority, no matter what.  There are severe consequences to our insignificant actions.  We have to tell our kids that their lives are no value to most white Americans.   That is what I'm angry about, that I have to balance making sure my child is worthy with the concept that other people don't deem her as worthy as themselves because her skin is a darker hue.  It doesn't make sense, and she won't get it, until it happens to her. Unfortunately, it's going to happen to her. 

2013-06-20

It's Buttery Racism Y'all!!!!!! Paula Deen Messing Up


Oh Paula.  We wanted to believe in your buttery goodness, but alas, the butter made everything too salty.   Now we have the deposition, and it isn't looking good.   Paula and her brother were sued by a former manager who worked in their restaurant.  She accused them of being racist, and Paula's brother sexually harassing her.   She claimed that Paula wanted black servers at a wedding party, so they could be like slaves, told racist jokes, and used the n-word.   Her brother apparently wanted the employees at the restaurant to watch porn with him.

This is just a hot mess y'all!!! But are we surprised an old white southern woman is racist?   Nah.    I'm not surprised.  I'm not angry, but I am disappointed, because as this story surfaced, it was dismissed as fake.  It's like the accusation and barometer of racism has a burden of proof, and often times the person who is experiencing the racism has to be responsible for proving the acts of racism happened.

Now mind you this story first broke out on the National Enquirer.  We know this isn't a news organization well known for it's high standards, but once we started seeing this same story on multiple news sites, we should have thought that maybe the story was legitimate, but no, it was quickly dismissed as botched journalism or something done a satire site.   As one person online put it, "I get tired of folks always crying racism!".  I get tired of it too, but you know why I get tired of people crying about racism?  Because I'm tired of racism.   People in most cases would cry about racism, if racism didn't exist.  

Why is it in our country, the burden of proof lies on the oppressed,be it women, minorities, etc?  Why are we good at trying to shame people into shutting up when injustices happen?