Tag Archives racism

#AirbnbWhileBlack aka Racism Lurks Everywhere

Disclosure: I received compensation for this post. All opinions are my own since I have too many lofty standards for integrity to write about something I don’t believe in. Plus, this is a legit post in and of itself.

Since moving to New York not too long ago, I’ve stayed in six different homes in three different boroughs. All but two of those places I booked through Airbnb, a peer-to-peer service similar to Uber and Tinder, but not for ride-sharing or getting your freak on. It’s like matchmaking for people with short-term rental property and people looking to rent. I’ve got stories for days about my experiences as an Airbnb renter, but I want to touch on one in particular.

#AirbnbWhileBlack

You may be familiar with #AirbnbWhileBlack, the hashtag that quickly gained traction on Twitter, and attracted coverage from several media outlets. NPR even hosted a Twitter chat on the subject. Tweet after tweet, Airbinb users contributed personal accounts of rental requests being rejected due to discrimination by the host.

Unwelcome Mat from "#AirbnbWhileBlack aka Racism Lurks Everywhere" at The Girl Next Door is Black

Back in 2014, a Harvard study found that: “…requests from guests with distinctively African-American names are roughly 16% less likely to be accepted than identical guests with distinctively White names.”

This data doesn’t surprise me as someone named “Keisha,” born and raised in these United States, where the current presumptive Presidential nominee from the Republican party wants to ban Muslims from immigrating, export undocumented residents – zeroing in on people of Mexican-descent, and refers to Black people as “the Blacks.”

I’ve encountered some roadblocks with hosts – specifically three different White men – whose listings showed their rentals as available on the dates I wanted, but they denied my requests when I inquired. Each claimed their rentals were already booked. I didn’t think too much of it, other than feeling frustrated that they wasted my time. However, when I read that other Black people had experiences very similar to mine, I couldn’t dismiss the issue.

In one particularly glaring example of #AirbnbWhileBlack, a young black man, Rohan, shared his jaw-dropping exchange with a White host who denied his booking, again claiming unavailability. Amazingly though, when Rohan’s White friend inquired about reserving the place for the same dates, miraculously the rental became available! Divine intervention or good old-fashioned racism?

When Black people point out racial bias (of the conscious and unconscious types) and outright racism, we sometimes hear a common lazy retort from the callous and unsympathetic: “Well, why don’t you start your own thing then?”

That’s exactly what Rohan did.

Along with his co-founder Zakiyyah, the two developed a new vacation, and short-term rentals service:  Innclusive (formerly known as Noirebnb). This new platform aims to provide a space where people from all backgrounds will feel welcome regardless of what you look like, how you identify yourself, what you believe in, or what name you were given.

The discrimination issues extend beyond Black people, as folks from other marginalized groups (including non-Black Muslims, and a transgender woman) have reported similar issues. They inquire about booking an available rental, only to have the host deny their requests, again responding that the listing is already booked. How curious.

Clearly, something needs to change and short of ending all forms of bigotry overnight, a platform like Innclusive stands to expand access to the home-sharing economy to people who might otherwise be shut out or disadvantaged.

 

I believe in the concept of home-sharing – despite a few bizarre experiences, including a near poisoning by carbon monoxide! –  especially in a society where we’ve become increasingly isolated from each other. When you meet the right host, you have the chance to connect with someone you may not have otherwise met. Other benefits are the comfort of a more personal experience, as well the opportunity to live somewhat like a local – factors which differentiate home-sharing from hotel stays.

As someone who faces potential discrimination by hosts on Airbnb, I look forward to trying out Innclusive. Who needs a side helping of racism when they’re searching for that perfect spot for their next vacation?

Visit Innclusive here and sign up for an email notification when the site officially launches! You can also follow Innclusive on Facebook and Twitter.

Have you experienced discrimination online? Do you think there’s a need for spaces like Innclusive?

Stop Lecturing Black People on How to Behave

Over the weekend I had the displeasure of reading some of the most insulting, patronizing collection of words penned by a man of supposed higher education.

In an LA Times op-ed Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor at NYU, and judging by his photos, decidedly not Black, deemed it necessary to take to a national newspaper to tell Black students how to behave and advise university faculty and administration on how to treat them. Not only did he step out of his lane to admonish America’s least favorite ethnic minority, he had the nerve to use the name and highly regarded words of Black writer Ralph Ellison to do so.

Here we go again.

It’s almost inevitable that after each Black Lives Matter protest (or any protest where the majority of the faces are Black), particularly those which the news reports as “violent,” sanctimonious White people will finger wag at Black people, twisting the legacy of Reverend Dr. King to fit their narrative with some variation of: “Dr. King would be appalled by this behavior.

In fact, there is such a history of white people talking down to their Black peers the same way one speaks to a child, that there’s a term for it: white paternalism. What Jonathan Zimmerman wrote in his needless piece – without irony – smacks of this, no matter how academically he couches it.

He writes:

Ellison would be appalled by our current moment on American campuses, where the damage thesis has returned with a vengeance.

The arrogance to presume one could know how Ralph Ellison – born only two generations after slavery was abolished – would view today’s Black student rights’ movement. A growing movement with a should-be simple request – to be treated with the same respect, and afforded the same opportunities, as their white classmates.

Zimmerman goes on to say:

I don’t doubt that African American students — and other minorities at our colleges — experience routine prejudice and discrimination.

[But, now I am going to undermine what I just said by dismissing the students’ grievances as simply a matter of hurt “feelings.”]

If we let ourselves be governed by feelings, we’ll go down a rabbit hole of competing grievances and recriminations.

What’s the competition? Students requesting they not be subjected to racial abuse by ignorant classmates and faculty; better representation among faculty and students; initiatives to aid in retention of students of color; and increased (or new) campus-wide racial sensitivity education programs – to name only a few of the students’ demands – isn’t about winning.

It’s about the same thing it’s always been about: Black people having to fight white systems tooth and nail to get access to the same opportunities and see equitable treatment.

If there’s a competition, Black people have always been at the back of the pack, and the US has a long history of doing everything it can to keep us there.

This isn’t just about “hurt feelings.” This isn’t a game. This is about survival.

This is about people having to demand they be treated as human beings.

It’s about having to prove to people whom – subconsciously or not – think less of you, that you deserve to be where you are.

It’s about having to repeatedly to explain your experiences to those in the dominant racial group whom are all too willing to dismiss them because it makes them uncomfortable to consider.

It’s about having to shout “Hey! Stop talking over us and telling us how to live. WE ARE EXPLICITLY TELLING YOU WHAT LIFE IS LIKE FOR US IN THIS RIGGED SYSTEM.”

To reduce these students’ harmful experiences on college campuses to nothing more than “hurt feelings” greatly underestimates the impact repeated racial macro- and microaggressions have on the mental and physical health of Black Americans.

We are not fragile people, that is true. We have survived centuries of oppression and inhumane treatment. So, if students are “complaining” about the atmosphere at Predominately White Institutions – and so.very.many are speaking out, including alumni – perhaps there’s something to it? Perhaps folks should listen to them.

Why does Mr. Zimmerman weigh his words above those of the students who are telling their own stories?

It concerns me that this professor, someone whose words are consumed by the most malleable minds, seems to have such little interest in listening to (and absorbing) the lived experiences of university students. He is not someone who I would trust as a professsor.

Like Ellison, I “am compelled to reject all condescending, narrowly paternalistic interpretations of Negro American life” from someone who has no idea what it’s like to be Black.

I will never have the honor of meeting Ralph Ellison, so I cannot presume to know how he’d feel about Mr. Zimmerman’s opinions. However, when I consider The Invisible Man, in which Ellison heartachingly details the hard-to-describe, yet nonetheless wholly isolating experience of being a Black American living in world not built for us – I somehow can’t see Mr. Ellison appreciating a white professor using his very personal work to belittle the experience of Black college and graduate students.

Is this the competition Zimmerman means?

What do you think about the recent Black student protests and their demands?

Like what you read? Follow The Girl Next Door is Black on Twitter or Facebook

Growing Up “Keisha” in a World of Ashleys and Joshes

In 7th grade, I pleaded with my mother to let me change my name to one less “black.” I didn’t use those words exactly, but I’d gleaned by then that, just like my dark skin, my name was considered inferior somehow. We’d just moved to Texas from Georgia where I’d experienced for the first time the anguish and confusion of being the only black girl in my “gifted and talented” classes full of white kids. I was in the midst of my racial identity crisis.

My mom took me and my sister to an enrollment assessment a few weeks before the school year began. As she checked boxes on forms and took notes, the counselor asked me, “Do you have a nickname you’d like to go by?”

Seeing this as an opportunity to create a new identity from the start, my eyes danced as I answered: “Yes! My nickname is Amy.”

She gave me a curious look, no doubt wondering how you get “Amy” from “Keisha,” then glanced at my mom, who pursed her lips and said firmly, “She doesn’t have a nickname. It’s just Keisha.”

I folded my arms across my chest, slid down in my chair and pouted. There went my chance to have a wonderful life as a black Amy. Keisha it would be. Me and my “black” name. Why had my parents saddled me with this glaringly “ethnic” moniker? My three sisters all have French names!

Recently on the talk show that I hope is in its ninth life aka The View, co-host Raven- “I am from every continent in Africa, except for one” Symoné spouted:

Just to bring it back, can we take back “racist” and say “discriminatory,” because I think that’s a better word. And I am very discriminatory against words like the ones that they were saying in the video. I’m not about to hire you if your name is Watermelondrea. It’s just not going to happen. I’m not going to hire you.

There's nothing wrong with having a "black" name Raven-Symone | The Girl Next Door is Black
source

Raven, dear badly needing to have your mind decolonized Raven, have you ever wondered why we live in a world where words like “white” and “light” connote purity, but “black” and “dark” signify evil? A world where the “black” people have been continually subjugated merely for existing with “dark” skin? The same world in which names popular among “black” people, like Sheniqua, LaShonda, Terrell or DeAndre are derided, but names popular with the “white” people such as Susan, Becky, Josh and Tanner are respected?

As mentioned in this excellent piece from Gadfly on the Wall, black American names are often influenced by several factors including religious, historical, political, cultural and just plain old creative (and last I checked, creativity is laudable).

My own name is believed to derive from the biblical name “Keziah.” I’m eternally grateful to my parents for refusing to let me discard my name. A name which I’ve grown to love and wouldn’t change for anything.

There's nothing wrong with having a "black" name like Keisha| The Girl Next Door is Black
“Keisha” reached its height of popularity in the mid-1970s | source

I’ve seen the statistics, I’ve read Freakonomics and I know some people discriminate against those of us with so-called “black” (or pejoratively: “ghetto”) names because of their prejudices. What else is new? If it’s not my skin color that’s too dark, it’s my hair that’s too nappy or unprofessional, my nose is too wide, or my name that’s too black.

I learned a while ago to stop trying to change myself to fit European standards in search of acceptance. I like “Keisha.” What Keisha is, is what I make of it. My name doesn’t hold me back. You know what holds people back? Trying to be someone they’re not, to please and gain approval from others.

I am not interested in befriending, spending time around,  nor working with people who would dismiss me without knowing me solely due to my name – which I didn’t even have any involvement in selecting. You become who you surround yourself with and I’ll pass on ignorance.

When I did the Jesse Lee Peterson show earlier this year, toward the end of the show, a white man who called in asked me to repeat my name. When I did, he replied with a snide chuckle, “Keisha? Oh that’s a good one” and then proceeded to try to put me in my place. I don’t need approval from the likes of him. He can keep his nose in the air. The molecules he’s breathing must smell foul with the stench of ignorance.

Again: there is nothing inherently wrong with being “black.” It’s a skin color. The meaning is human-infused. Likewise, there’s nothing inherently wrong about black culture. Our view of blackness is influenced by white supremacy which needs anti-blackness to survive.

For Raven’s sake, I hope she learns from this. There are people who will judge her for being a black lesbian with a shocking-pink birdhawk, dating a woman named AzMarie, but I will only be judging her for the ridiculous words that continue to spew from her mouth.

There's nothing wrong with having a "black" name Raven-Symone | The Girl Next Door is Black

To the Keishas, Jamals, LaKeishas, Marquis’, Sheniquas, Tyrells, Ebonys, Darius’, Beyonces, Maliks and yes, Watermelondreas, embrace your name. Never let anyone make you feel you’re less than for being given the name you have.

What do you think? Do you agree with Raven or think she’s wrong? Have you been discriminated against because of your name?

 

Like what you read? Follow The Girl Next Door is Black on Twitter or Facebook

As seen on For Harriet.

Taking a Break from Blogging

Taking a blogging break | The Girl Next Door is Black
source

I’ve never really taken an official break from blogging in the three years of this blog’s existence – even when I’ve gone on vacation. So, I’m taking a break.

Why now?

Quite frankly, I am exhausted by what’s going on in the world, particularly in the United States.

We’ve got a racist, ethnocentric, xenophobic, entitled demagogue running for President and dominating the media.

Meanwhile, people actually dedicating their lives to fighting for racial equality – you know, doing good work – are spied on or dragged through the mud and the media jumps on the story like a rabid pack of dogs.

Police shot and killed yet another black person and again people are blaming the victim and not questioning the police statements full of holes. Protestors seeking answers received responses in the form of tear gas and officers marching toward them armed like they’re off to fight ISIS.

And the Federal government is doing what about this?

That’s just a fraction of the nonsense.

I find myself becoming more misanthropic each day and wondering if humans will ever collectively get our shit together and stop behaving like assholes.

I have nothing to say about these events that I haven’t said before. I feel like I’m screaming into a void and it’s worn me out.

Lately I haven’t had the energy or focus to write and I don’t want to push out content I don’t feel proud of just for consistency’s sake. This goes beyond writer’s block.

On a personal level, I want to focus on continuing to build the foundation for the next phase of my life.

Ultimately, I am taking time to focus on my personal well-being. I need to get my mind right. Recharge so I can return motivated and enthusiastic.

  • I’ll also mostly not be responding to comments during this time.
  • If you’re not already an email subscriber, you can join today to keep in touch and be notified when I return.
  • You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook.
  • I’ll return in mid-September.

What Emotions Am I Allowed to Have as a Black Woman?

It seems as though Black women in America are not allowed to express anger, otherwise we're seen as combative, mean or "having an attitude." So what emotions are we allowed to show? | Read more on The Girl Next Door is BlackYears ago, my visiting sister and I were teasing each other about one of those random topics siblings joke about. My roommate overheard us as she climbed the stairs in our apartment and gently admonished us:

“Now girls, don’t fight.”

My sister and I turned to each other with the same puzzled expression. We weren’t fighting. We were joking around, having a good time. What was she talking about?

I considered my roommate’s perspective: she saw two sisters in conversation with raised voices, using animated gestures.

I studied the situation from a different angle: my not-black roommate, saw two black women being loud and assumed we were fighting. This is the same roommate whom I once heard describe me to a white friend who’d asked about her new roommate, as “African-American from a middle class family,” and I wondered what my race or socioeconomic class had to do with anything.

That situation stuck with me all these years later and led me to review past and future encounters with different lenses.

America (specifically, the USA) thinks black women are loud. America finds a black woman with a raised voice angry and potentially threatening. Don’t believe me? Google: “loud black women” or “angry black woman.”

A few days ago, rapper Nicki Minaj tweeted out her frustration that her big booty-full, controversy-generating Anaconda video was overlooked for a Video of the Year Award by MTV. Soon after, media darling and America’s archetypal sweetheart, singer Taylor Swift, inserted herself into the situation, which was NOT ABOUT HER, tweeting Minaj with her hurt feelings and ivory tears.

A flurry of comments followed from Minaj, Swift, their loyal fanbases (the “Barbz” and the “Swifties”) and the media. On Air with/Ryan Seacrest got in the fray, framing the events in Swift’s favor:

It seems as though Black women in America are not allowed to express anger, otherwise we're seen as combative, mean or "having an attitude." So what emotions are we allowed to show? | Read more on The Girl Next Door is Black

The tweet has since been deleted since they were called out by the many who saw what actually happened. I took a screenshot because I knew their hot racist bullshit would be retracted. Nicki did not “jab” Taylor Swift. She addressed the erasure of black women in music and the double standards in societal standards of beauty.

Black women whom, as she said, “influence pop culture so much but are rarely rewarded for it.” Think about how many of your favorite songs are sung, written or produced by black women. Now include the women who sing background for some of your beloved artists. Never receiving proper credit for their contribution to songs which, without them, wouldn’t be the hits they are.

Perhaps Nicki was angry. Is she not entitled to feel anger? Frustration? Just being a black woman in the United States is reason is enough to be angry sometimes. She got angry and tweeted her discontent – likely to start a discussion. She used her words to vent. Dylann Roof, a white male, got angry and killed 9 black people after they welcomed him into their church.

Yesterday, I watched as Access Hollywood continued the portrayal of Nicki Minaj as an angry black woman, even going so far as to list all the times she dissed the show.

 

Meanwhile, Taylor was let of the hook for being oblivious and distracting from a racial discussion with her self-involvement. “Poor innocent Taylor”, attacked by that vicious, “angry black woman”.  They ignored the opportunity to elevate a real world, important issue – tied to pop culture, therefore relevant –  to center a white woman and her feelings. Racism? Yeah, that sucks, but what about Taylor’s feelings about how that mean ol’ black woman treated her?!

Sandra Bland, the young black woman from Texas (an “African-American from a middle class family”) who was arrested for “switching lanes” and somehow ended up hanged in her jail cell three days later, has been accused of being “combative” with the arresting officer – as though that would excuse murdering her!

Let’s see:

You’re a black woman minding your business, happily driving to your new job, where you’ll be helping others, when you notice you’re being trailed by a cop. No person with dark skin in the United States wants to be followed by a police officer. So you switch lanes, hoping he’s not, in fact, following you. You’re not doing anything wrong, as far as you know, but you’re pulled over.

The officer speaks to you like you’re beneath him and becomes increasingly agitated during what should have been a routine stop. When you ask, at least 14 times, why you’re being arrested, you don’t get an answer and are physically abused. I don’t know about you, but I’d be angry as hell. I am angry just writing about it.

I am angry.

Black women are being diminished, degraded and dehumanized in the media and in our real lives because racist people find our righteous anger scary. That makes me angry.

It makes me VERY FUCKING ANGRY.

But, I can’t be angry. Black women get fired for being angry. We get derided for being angry. We get killed for being “angry.”

I can come back from losing a job. I’ll survive being mocked. But please, tell me how I am allowed to behave that won’t get me killed?

 

Like what you read? Follow The Girl Next Door is Black on Twitter or Facebook

Syndicated on BlogHer

Why “Black Twitter” is Important

The benefits of social media, particularly Black Twitter | Read more from "Why I Am Grateful for Black Twitter" on The Girl Next Door is Black
Source

I’ve been in San Francisco for two and a half years and I feel I am withdrawing. I don’t think I fit in here. I spend a lot more time alone than I did in my former life in Los Angeles.

This past year has been particularly isolating as America’s longstanding simmering racial tensions bubbled up to the surface with a vengeance, ignited by Michael Brown’s murder last summer. After which, conflicting emotions of hopeless grief and building fury alternately gnawed at me.

Facebook, on which I was still somewhat active at the time, was a sickening cesspool of cruel, ignorant and outright racist commentary. Or silence. It incensed me how mute some people I followed appeared to be on the subject of police brutality and racism. And if I had to read one more disingenuous, noncommittal: “We don’t have all the evidence yet,” I was going to go mad. Y’all wait around for the evidence, others of us are already awake to what is going on and demand justice.

My isolation threatened to crush me. I didn’t know what to do, but I had to do something. Unfortunately, no one in my small San Francisco network seemed as activated as I was.

I found solace in “black Twitter.” That population of other tweeters united by shared cultural influences, social experiences and united by inclusion in the most disparaged racial group. People from all over the world, not just blacks in the US, with whom I could commiserate; microbloggers who so eloquently voiced the emotions many of us struggled to express; a group of people who wouldn’t try to convince each other that racism is just in our heads. I found comfort in those whose views align with my own, including my belief in the importance of standing up for what’s right.

The benefits of social media, particularly Black Twitter | Read more from "Why I Am Grateful for Black Twitter" on The Girl Next Door is Black
Illustration by John Ira Jennings (@JIJennings)

With each tragedy black Americans suffer, the number turning to the internet for support grows larger. After the recent terrorist attack on the 9 churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, black Twitter was a virtual community in mourning. For some, it is the only space they have to somewhat safely* discuss topics which too many in the offline world try to avoid.

My youngest sister sent me a beautiful post written by a friend of hers which he’d shared on Facebook. It encapsulated the words that I, the “writer”, couldn’t find. I asked her to get his permission to tweet it. As much as his language resonated with me, I knew others would find comfort in it too.

I didn’t anticipate just how much.

That is my most retweeted post in my almost seven years on Twitter. Clearly it struck a chord with many. The replies touched me. To think that so many of us live significant portions of our lives in spaces where we feel isolated and misunderstood is quite distressing.

A few weeks ago, when Rachel “black by spray tan” Dolezal’s “Soul Woman” offense came to light, some of her defenders were quick to lecture remind us all that race is a “social construct.”

Yes, it is a “social construct” and that social construct makes real life more difficult than it should be for some of us. So much so that it sometimes threatens our mental and physical health, even just as observers.

Without Black Twitter, I shudder to think how far off-center I might be today. I’m grateful for the activists  – accidental and otherwise, the educators, podcasters, YouTubers, influencers and entertainers, the natural comedians, writers and bloggers, and the other everyday people across the type of economic, gender, age and educational lines which might otherwise divide us, who inspire and encourage me to keep my head up even when the world seems to have sunk to it’s depths.

The benefits of social media, particularly Black Twitter | Read more from "Why I Am Grateful for Black Twitter" on The Girl Next Door is Black

 

*Trolls who actively seek out and target black people on Twitter are a serious problem. I will cover this topic in a future post.

Like what you read? Follow The Girl Next Door is Black on Twitter or Facebook

[spacer]

When You’re Confronted With Racially Insensitive Terms at Work

View of Downtown San Francisco from "When You're Confronted with Racially-Insenstive Terms at Work"Last week I sat in a meeting where the word “slave(s)” was said at least 20 times.

No, I wasn’t involved in a discussion on slavery or history, as someone asked when I tweeted about it. I was in the office of a tech startup. [I’m contracting in my old career until my new one takes off.]

Each time “slave” escaped someones’ lips, I cringed internally, trying hard not to externally display my discomfort. However, with each “slave” uttered, I sank deeper in my chair as my tension found other ways to release itself: a bouncing foot, a tapping finger, deep, quiet sighs, shifting positions in my chair. With every vocal release of “slave” it was as though someone tossed the sharp-edged word directly at me. A lashing by lexicon.

I was the only black face in the room. Of course I was, this is tech in San Francisco.

In technology, “master/slave” terminology describes the relationship between entities. In the case of this meeting, the discussion centered around databases.

I’m familiar with the terms from reading about them during my undergrad studies, though they never made the cut for class usage, thank goodness.

I’d also heard the terms during orientation months ago. Mercifully, they were only vocalized twice on that occasion. Afterward, thrown by the incongruity of this word usage in 2015, I turned to Google to research if it’s a topic that’s been addressed before.

Master_Slave_Diagram from "When You're Confronted with Racially Insensitive Terms at Work" on The Girl Next Door is Black
Diagram representing the relationship between databases.
Source

While I didn’t find much, there is one notable case. In 2003, Los Angeles County requested the naming convention not be used in county operations, despite much opposition to the change. They took action after a county employee filed a discrimination lawsuit upon coming across the phrase at work.

Unsurprisingly, those online who criticized the change – with the majority who weighed in being non-black people responded with over-intellectualized arguments about the origin of the terms, their multiple meanings, complaints about an overly PC culture, and other irrelevancies.

As a black American who descends from enslaved people, in a country where the legacy of slavery STILL has its tentacles ensnared in so many institutions and systems, not to mention daily life, it disturbed me.

Do I think that the folks in the room used the words to hurt me directly? No.

Do I think they are evil racists? No.

What I do think though, is that usage of the terminology is insensitive because it ignores the negative affects such words have on some employees, regardless of how small they are in number.

I don’t really care about the history of the words, anymore than I care about the history of the words “ghetto” or “thug.” I do not care about the usage of the phrase in other countries or in peoples’ bedrooms. I care about how the words are used here, where stolen human beings were treated like chattel, with fewer rights than a dog, for hundreds of years. I care about the fact that no one’s work experience should involve them feeling assaulted by the free usage of outdated terminology.

Words evolve in meaning and association. It’s disingenuous to pretend otherwise. We can talk circles around the topic, but I will never again sit through this crap.

I wish I’d left the conference room. I think I was rendered immovable by the shock of the situation. My mind reeled with options. I’d considered walking out as I uncomfortably anticipated the next utterance of “slave.” I didn’t want to seem unprofessional, especially if I left mid-meeting without explanation. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I didn’t want to make a scene.

Ultimately, I endured the meeting and bolted out of the room the instant it concluded.

I am somewhat ashamed by my response. I promised myself I’d no longer refrain from addressing difficult subjects just because it might make other people uncomfortable. I WAS EXTREMELY UNCOMFORTABLE. The longer I sat in the meeting, the more I heated up, stewing over the fact that if the racial makeup in the room were different, this wouldn’t be an issue. But, I was alone and no one else appeared bothered.

diversity trainer from craigslist" border="0"></a><br>More career  humor at <a href="http://academy.justjobs.com/cartoon-caption-contest">http://academy.justjobs.com/cartoon-caption-contest
Source

I don’t expect the use of this terminology to change – at least not anytime soon. Tech is ruled largely by white men and as the thinking goes in this country when we gauge offensiveness, if it doesn’t bother them, why should it bother anyone else, right? If they don’t see a problem, it doesn’t exist.

The tech world is known for a serious lack of diversity. Words matter and continuing old practices like usage of “master/slave” terminology doesn’t help people like me feel included, nor valued.

If the tech industry really wants to attract and retain more black talent (as well as Latino/a, Native American and female), issues like this require addressing. People whose experiences differ from the majority shouldn’t be dismissed as “too sensitive.” Diversity isn’t solely about increasing the number of employees from underrepresented groups, it also involves adapting and evolving customs and practices to foster a culture of inclusion rather than marginalization.

[spacer]

Not Your Grandparent’s Brand of Racism

Stone Mountain, Georgia is where I lived when I first realized I was “black.”

By that I mean, I realized that people would see my skin color, make up all kinds of prejudgements and adjust their behavior accordingly.

It is the place where I first felt the weighty isolation of being the only black kid in a class full of white kids. It’s the place I lived when I was first teased for my hair type, my nose size, my round, protruding butt that’s now considered trendy, and of course my skin color.

It’s where my white teacher told me that in the “old days” some white people thought our skin color would rub off on them. That by touching us they’d become black. The horror! This sounds as ridiculous to me now as it did as as a 10-year old.

It’s where three Confederate leaders are carved into the granite mountain from which the city derived it’s name.

It’s the location of the former headquarters of the KKK, that bastion of white supremacy that’s terrorized black Americans for decades.

Today's racism doesn't look like it did 50 years ago. It's not always as obvious as using the "n-word". Saying you're colorblind doesn't mean you aren't racist. Being a nice person doesn't mean you can't hold racist beliefs. | Read more from "Not Your Grandparent's Brand of Racism" on The Girl Next Door is Black
Stone Mountain bas relief sculpture of Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee & Stonewall Jackson
Source

Stone Mountain, GA is also where high school principal Nancy Gordeuk singled out black audience members during a recent high school graduation. Gordeuk made the mistake of ending the ceremony before the Valedictorian’s speech. When audience members filed out thinking it was over, Gordeuk – who is white – said, “Look who’s leaving—all the black people.

After first apologizing for her “racist comment’ in an email to parents, Nancy later backtracked saying: “I didn’t know ‘black people’ was a racist term. I didn’t say the N-word or anything like that ’cause that isn’t in my vocabulary.”

She continued sticking her foot all the way in her mouth with: “People always think the worst, you know. You say the word ‘black,’ you know. Was I supposed to say African-American? Were they all born in Africa? No, they’re Americans.”

Just because “the n-word” is not in your vocabulary, doesn’t mean you’re not racist, hold racist beliefs or that you didn’t make a racist comment.

  • Just because you don’t say “nigger” or use other racial epithets doesn’t mean you aren’t racist.
  • Just because you’re a “good” person, doesn’t mean you can’t be racist.
  • Just because you have a Black friend or friends, doesn’t mean you aren’t racist.
  • Just because you “don’t see color” doesn’t mean you aren’t racist.
  • Just because you listen to rap or hip-hop, doesn’t mean you aren’t racist.
  • Just because you are nice to the Black person at work, the grocery store or in school, doesn’t mean you aren’t racist.
  • Just because you say “African-American” instead of “colored,” or “negro” doesn’t mean you aren’t racist.
  • Just because you voted for President Obama, doesn’t mean you aren’t racist.
Today's racism doesn't look like it did 50 years ago. It's not always as obvious as using the "n-word". Saying you're colorblind doesn't mean you aren't racist. Being a nice person doesn't mean you can't hold racist beliefs. | Read more from "Not Your Grandparent's Brand of Racism" on The Girl Next Door is Black
Illustration by Gabriel Ivan Orendain-Necochea |  Source

This isn’t the 1950s anymore. Today’s racism isn’t your grandparent’s brand of racism. Today’s racism is cloaked so well we can have a biracial black President, while unarmed black civilians are gunned down by law enforcement with seeming impunity.

Jim Crow Era Segregation Signs |  Today's racism doesn't look like it did 50 years ago. It's not always as obvious as using the "n-word". Saying you're colorblind doesn't mean you aren't racist. Being a nice person doesn't mean you can't hold racist beliefs. | Read more from "Not Your Grandparent's Brand of Racism" on The Girl Next Door is Black
A Florida sign from 1969 – Today’s racism isn’t always this obvious | Source
Some examples of what racism looks like today:

Unfortunately, the list goes on and on and on.

People sometimes refer to the regressive racism of their grandparents and sometimes their parents, while at the same time, dissociating themselves from such inane views. I wonder: what did their grandparents think of their grandparents beliefs?

What makes some people think they’re the magic generation that’s suddenly stopped racism in its’ tracks?

What will your grandkids say about your beliefs?

Can you think of other examples of present day racism? Have you experienced covert or subtle racism?

Like what you read? Follow The Girl Next Door is Black on Twitter or Facebook

Friday Five: Weekly Twitter Roundup 5/01/15 – Baltimore Uprising Special Edition

5 Myths About Black Americans That Need to Disappear

Despite significant and continued economic, educational and social progress among black Americans, inaccurate and offensive stereotypes persist. In part these myths are aided by the mainstream media (MSM). In reports about the state of “Black America” MSM tends to focus on reporting negative news or framing reports around the pessimistic view.

The MSM holds a lot of power to sway the minds of the American public. Not only does biased reporting reinforce negative characterizations of black Americans, it can also damage our sense of self worth as these images seep into our unconscious. Imagery and terminology that lead some to hear the word “black” and automatically think “bad.”

Black Americans are also routinely compared to white Americans when it comes to presenting measures of progress. These comparisons almost always inherently favor white Americans considering the history and current state of our country. If one group holds economic, political and cultural power over another for centuries – at times actively working to keep the other behind – should it really be surprising that the dominated group struggles to make gains?

This continued differentiation does more harm than good and serves for some to uphold white supremacy – the idea that white is better, black is inferior. It needs to stop. So, here are 5 myths about black people debunked.

1. Fatherless Homes/Broken Families

Just this week 2016 Presidential candidate Rand Paul invoked this stereotype as a reason for the unrest in Baltimore (instead of attributing it to a corrupt police system and systemic racism). Meanwhile, his 22-year old white son just got a DUI after crashing his car while driving drunk, among other dalliances with the law. Glasses houses, Mr. Paul.

  • According to a study published by the CDC in 2013, across most measures of parental involvement, black fathers are actually more involved with their children than white and hispanic fathers.
  • US Father Involvement Chart by the CDC Not only that, according to a Pew Research Center report, both black mothers and fathers are more likely to rank providing income as a parental priority than their white counterparts.

    Role of Father and Mothers in US - Chart by Pew Research Center | The Girl Next Door is Black
    source

In general, across racial groups, the report also highlights that fewer men live with their children than in the past, so it’s not a “black thing.”

Does this sound like people who don’t care about taking care of their children?

Don’t get me wrong, there are a significant number of black fathers absent from their children’s lives due in large part to institutional racism that seems to embody a new form every few decades.

2. Under/un-educated

In the early 1960s, about 20% of blacks over 25 obtained a high school diploma. By 2012, that number climbed to over 85%!

African-Americans High School Grad Rates Over Time | The Girl Next Door is Black
source

When slavery was abolished in 1865 (which doesn’t mean everyone was “free”), approximately 40 black Americans had graduated from a college or university. Nearly 150 years later, over 3 million blacks have a 4-year graduate degree.

College Graduation Rates for Black Americans | The Girl Next Door is Black
Source

These educational attainments took place despite years of being legally denied access to white educational institutions, left to crumbling and underfunded infrastructure, and the dangers of lowered expectations.

3. Poor/Lazy/ Welfare Queens

Welfare

A common retort of racists when they have no valid argument, is to carry on about black “welfare queens.” Not only does this serve to demonize the poor and struggling – which is a topic for another post – it conveniently ignores the fact that white people (and other racial groups) also benefit from government assistance programs such as SNAP (food stamps). In fact, whites receive the greatest percentage of SNAP benefits.

Income

In terms of economic gains, the median income of black Americans has steadily increased since the Civil Rights era.

 

Black American Income from Nixon to Obama Chart | The Girl Next Door is Black
The decline that began in 2008 reflects the economic recession that negatively impacted Americans across racial groups.  source

People have to work to make an income. Lazy people don’t usually work.

4. Affirmative Action

Some people hold the false belief that among other “handouts” black Americans receive, we also get preferred access to the best jobs and schools.

Historically, white women have benefited the most from affirmative action. Meanwhile, black and Hispanic students continue to be underrepresented at universities and generally make less money than their white counterparts.

5. Black on Black Crime

Is not a thing. To believe in the myth of black on black crime is to buy into the idea of innate black pathology. That somehow black people are predisposed to be more violent and destructive than people of other ethnic groups. It disregards the truth, which is that most murders are intra-racial in part due to proximity. Many cities the United States are still largely segregated by race, such that white people tend live around other white people, black people tend to live near other black people, and so on. You could say it’s murder influenced by convenience.

Black on Black Crime Debunked | The Girl Next Door is Black
source

As you can see, the plight of black Americans is not as dire as some would have us believe. We have and continue to make tremendous strides and I for one am proud and other Americans should be, as well. Black people continue to survive despite having dogs sicked on us, being whipped like animals, strung from trees like dolls, raped like land to pillage, forbidden from attending the same educational institutions as whites and then mocked for being uneducated, tossed in prison with disproportionately longer sentences for burning rock instead of snorting powder, blamed for our own oppression and WE ARE STILL HERE. Look how far we’ve come!

Like what you read? Follow The Girl Next Door is Black on Twitter or Facebook

Another Black Life As a Hashtag

Police Brutality from "Another Black Life As a Hashtag" on The Girl Next Door is Black
source

I felt the sting of threatening tears as I read tweet after tweet, largely authored by black faces. Individual, collective, virtual protests over the acquittal of the police officer who killed Rekia Boyd. Rekia, a 22-year old, black Chicago resident was unarmed when off-duty officer, Dante Servin, shot her in the back of the head, killing her. Rekia joins a growing list of unarmed black Americans who’ve died as a result of encounters with law enforcement. Rekia Boyd also became another hashtag: #RekiaBoyd.

As the burning tears pooled, I noticed another name repeating in my feed, another black death turned symbol of America’s continued refusal to acknowledge it’s institutional racism problem. This time it was 25-year old Freddie Gray of Baltimore, who suffered a SEVERED SPINAL CORD after an arrest, the cause of his eventual death on April 19, 2015.

Last week it was #EricHarris.

The week before that, it was #WalterScott

Unfortunately many other names accompany theirs on the registry of lives ended by those hired to “protect and serve,” including those whose stories for whatever reason don’t get socially amplified.

All around me life goes on. The media makes a fuss over the usual news of unimportance like fashion at Coachella, Kylie Jenner “lip challenges” or which fast food establishment a Presidential candidate visits. Meanwhile, more Americans get shot by law enforcement and in some cases even pay-for-play officers, and life goes on for every else.

Why does this keep happening? And why do so few people seem to care?

I’m sick and tired of seeing black lives as hashtags.

Every hashtag inflicts another cut on my soul and dampens my faith in America’s ability to overcome it’s oppressive roots.

I’m tired of seeing people erase #BlackLivesMatter with #AllLivesMatter nonsense when we routinely see examples in this county of just how much black lives DON’T SEEM TO MATTER.

It’s evident in the amount of energy some people waste in forming intellectually dishonest comments like:

“Well, why was he running from the cops?”

“If you just obey the law, you have nothing to worry about.”

“What about black on black crime?”

“Not all cops are bad.”

We all know not all cops are bad. Right now this isn’t about cops. This is about a flawed system of government-sanctioned murder. This is about people routinely abusing their power and getting away with it while dead bodies pile up.

I think we’re in the middle of a national crisis and not enough people are talking.

I’m laying low this week, turning away from media, social and otherwise. I can’t handle another hashtag.

Rest in peace to all the black lives lost in this crisis. May their families also find some relief from their suffering.

May more Americans wake up to the reality of what’s going on in our “justice” system.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Quote  from "Another Black Life As a Hashtag' on The Girl Next Door is Black
source

When You Agree to Discuss Racism on the Radio with a Black Conservative

Radio Mic | Source: Alan Levine, Flickr.com  - As seen on The Girl Next Door is Black
Source

When I was on the radio last week –

Oh wait, I should back up…I was on the radio last week!

A radio producer contacted me with an invitation to come on the Jesse Lee Peterson show to discuss my recent post I am Sick of Having Conversations About Race with Brick Walls.

Me?

My blog?

To think, I almost didn’t write that post. However, as part of pushing through my writer’s block, I’ve realized I’ve got to stop self-censoring so much. It’s damaging to the story and to my contentedness.

I didn’t say yes immediately. I needed to confirm the legitimacy of the show and find out more about what I’d be getting into. In my research, I discovered that one of the show’s previous guests is a writer and activist I follow on Twitter, Feminista Jones, whom I respect. I figured if she did it, it was credible. I listened to a podcast of her stint on the show and got a good idea for what I might be in for with Jesse.

The producer explained that the host, Jesse, would ask me a bit about my background and then delve into questions about the thoughts expressed in my post.

Seemed doable.

I scheduled my radio début for 8:05am, April 2nd.

The morning of the show, I felt like my heart wouldn’t shut up. Boom, booom, boom at a thousand beats per minute. I forced oatmeal down my throat. It’s good for your brain, they say. I wanted all the brain boosting I could get. Family and friends sent texts of well wishes and affirmations which comforted me. Conducting the interview from the comfort of my couch helped too.

Jesse Lee Patterson is a pastor, baby boomer, and black Republican. He’s known for making controversial statements like:

“Thank God for slavery, because if not, the blacks who are here would have been stuck in Africa”1

“When black liberals say they want to have a ‘conversation’ about race, what they really mean is they want to continue blaming whitey for past racism and perceived ‘white privilege”2

“Barack Obama hates white people — especially white men. Sorry folks, but the truth will set you free!”3

Yeah.

So, I had my work cut out  for me.

I remember only snapshots of the experience. I enjoyed the debate. I get a kick out of genuine volleying back-and-forth that doesn’t devolve into name-calling or other foolishness. Jesse did his best to contort some of my statements and paint me into corners, but I think I successfully manage to keep the conversation focused. I agreed with none of his opinions.

Halfway through the show, one of my sisters texted:

“I hate this guy.”

That was around the time Jesse asked me, “What else can white people do for black people, so that black people will finally say: ‘ok you’re not racist, you love me, you’ve given us allllll that we’ve wanted, and we appreciate it, so now we’re going to take control of our own lives’? Is there anything else that white people can do to satisfy black people?”

Oprah Side Eye |  The Girl Next Door is Black
Source

The discussion lasted for almost the entire hour, broken up by a few commercials. I even got to speak to some callers. One caller tried to trap me by quizzing me on the date of some vague historical event.

My mom texted: “Excuse yourself. You don’t need to be ambushed.”

Of my name, another called commented, “Huh, that’s a good one.” I’m fairly certain that wasn’t meant as a compliment. I could hear him smirking.

As the show neared its end, Jesse thanked me and asked if I would come back. We’ll see. My mom and sister are both adamant that this be a one and done.

Jesse’s approach didn’t faze me. I’ve seen enough talking head interviews and debates to have picked up a few things. Your opponent will always try to distract you with non sequiters. They will attempt to take your words and twist them into a statement so ludicrous you wonder whether your brain sent the right words to your mouth. No distractions. You just gotta stay focused on your mission!

“He’s gonna make me lose my way to Heaven; I’m so angry I’m almost cursing!” My mother didn’t like Jesse Lee Peterson one bit.

You can listen to the show below. Leave your thoughts in the comments!

1 Salon

2 Raw Story

Crooks & Liars

I Am Sick of Having Conversations About Race with Brick Walls

I was in a pissy mood on Friday afternoon.

I’ve written before how I get sick of talking about racism. I just want to live my life. Wake up, do what I do and keep it moving like many other people have the privilege of doing each day. I do not have such privilege, however. Just going to the corner drugstore some days ends with me wondering when the day will come when I won’t have a clerk unsubtly follow me around the store as I shop.

Castro Theatre Marquee Talib Kweli  March 2015 | From: "I Am Sick of Talking About Race to Brick Walls" on The Girl Next Door is Black Friday night, as I sat on the train on my way to a discussion on race, hip-hop and justice, with “conscious” rapper Talib Kweli as guest, I thought, “Why am I going to a discussion about race?”

Over the course of my 35+ years I’ve engaged in so many discussions about race, whether I’ve wanted to or not, I should get life experience credits toward a PhD in the subject. I voluntarily attend seminars and talks and I choose to read books on the subject. On my blog I discuss it in hopes of making continued progress, opening minds and presenting a different perspective.

Involuntarily, I’ve been dragged into race discussions with some of my fellow Americans who happen to have paler skin. I’ve fielded questions from those friends along the lines of “Why do black people ___?” as though I am a black American ambassador. I’ll never forget the time a white classmate in high school asked me, “Why do black people have the same color palms and feet bottoms as white people? Why aren’t they brown?” From her question, I extracted the subtext, “My body is normal, yours is different.” Am I responsible for the design of the human body? My birth certificate didn’t come with a guide to “understanding your black body.” How the hell should I know? I hope she attends discussions about race.

It’s been a particularly rough few months with racist incident after racist incident happening in the country.

So what caused the downturn in my mood on Friday? I read a blog post on race and segregation, called Al Sharpton I Hope You See This, written by a white man, that sent my heart racing, got my hands shaking and my mind reeling with various responses to the elementary logic. This excerpt particularly troubled me:

“Segregation is real. We see it every day without realizing it.

Like a “Miss Black America” that excludes white people. Or a college fund for blacks only. Or a blacks only television channel. Or blacks only magazine. Oh wait…uh oh. I thought we did away with segregation back in the 1960’s? That’s odd, seems segregation and racism are very much alive and thriving. Only difference is, if white people mention it they’re racists. Interesting turn of events.
So what if we had a White Entertainment Television? Let’s face it, WET sounds like a fun name for television. “

Dr. House's Are You Kidding Me Face as seen on The Girl Next Door is Black
Source

I decided to respond to the post because I noticed a few people praised the author for his observations and I couldn’t just let that mess of thinking sit there unchallenged.

Below is the exchange. It’s unedited, so please forgive my grammar imperfections, incomplete thoughts, and lack of citations.

Please share your (civil) thoughts below, I’m curious what others think.

Oh, the Talib talk was incredible, insightful and engaging. I’m glad I went and happy with the diversity of the crowd. I hope minds were opened.

——

Keisha TheGirlNextDoor:
“Like a “Miss Black America” that excludes white people. Or a college fund for blacks only. Or a blacks only television channel. Or blacks only magazine. Oh wait…uh oh. I thought we did away with segregation back in the 1960’s? ”

These institutions exist largely because black Americans were expressly excluded from these predominately (or exclusively) white institutions, not from a desire to self-segregate. In other words, segregation of black people prompted the formation of this things.

It wasn’t until the late 60s/70s that some universities even “let” black people enroll. The first black model didn’t land the cover of a fashion magazine until the mid 1960s. That was less than 60 years ago. If I pick up an Elle or a Glamour magazine for beauty and hair tips, I’d look like a clown because usually the tips given work for pale skin and straight hair that hangs down. It has to be pointed out to the editors of these magazines that part of their readership has darker skin tones and different hair textures. Even the PGA is notorious for excluded black golfers.

People like to bring up the example of “WET” or white history month a lot, but they are false comparisons. When it’s no longer a big deal that there’s a black director, a black lead in a TV show (or Asian or Latino), or a first black President, then channels like BET (which is watched also by non-black Americans), HBCUs, and history books that highlight non-white contributions to the development of America would not need to exist. It’s 2015, we have a diverse America, yet Congress is made up of mostly white males, who are incredibly over-represented.

I could spend most of the day listing all the shows, magazines, movies, books or economic realms where white Americans are represented, but for non-white Americans, the list is quite short.

None of the “black versions” of these institutions exclude anyone by race. What they do provide is an opportunity for black Americans to have a space to see themselves recognized and accepted. You’ll see non-blacks on BET, magazines marketed to black audiences that include white and Latin (and black Latin) people and white student at HBCUs. (One young white student actually wrote a great essay about how welcoming she found her fellow classmates at the HBCU she attends). Meanwhile, just last week the young white men of the SAE fraternity at OU delighted in singing about how they would never welcome a “n—.” Doesn’t exactly make a black person feel welcome.

A desire to be included as part of the fabric of America, recognized for your contributions, not devalued, not immediately thought of as suspicious or less than, in a society where you’ve been excluded and treated like the scum of America for hundreds of years, is not segregation.

No black American wakes up and says “Gee, I think I’ll start labeling myself, hyphenating my identity.” We get labeled first, treated as minorities rather than equals and then we adapt. Then we get called racist for it.

Lastly, we hold no meeting of American blacks. So no one elected Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson as king of the black people. I wish the media would stop running to them every time they want a black spokespiece. Most of us don’t care. It’s so 1985.”

C– T—

I do agree that there was a movement to incorporate black people into these institutions. It was called desegregation.
However, the very act of having institutions such as these that excluded individuals based on color was the very point in desegregation. Integrating society was the reason for it. And society has since integrated. Yet we still have forced segregation.
There were schools and other institutions in which blacks weren’t permitted. A movement was led to end that. So why do we still enforce segregation if it was made illegal? So in the 60’s it was wrong but now that “color exclusive” things exist in the favor of blacks it’s ok?

Keisha TheGirlNextDoor

There is no forced segregation. Comparing the legal, government condoned exclusion of an entire “race” of people from opportunities to forge a livelihood to the creation of a school to educate those segregated people is a not valid comparison.

If a white person isn’t on BET (which is not the case), a white person can check one of at least 30 other channels to find a variety of white people to watch. That’s not exclusion.

Perhaps it’s not that white people are excluded from these forums, but rather that they choose not to include themselves. White students are welcome to attend largely black colleges. They choose not to. It’s like the term “white flight.” Black people do not necessarily choose to live in all black neighborhoods. The term “white flight” exists because once black people moved in, the white people left.

No one has banned white people from anywhere. No white person is in danger of facing meaningful, systematic discrimination from a black american.

Desegregation is a long term process. Surely you’re not saying the day a law passed that everything became okay? Not in a country where it took some states decades acknowledge that slavery was illegal. In a country where people enacted laws via loopholes to ban black people from living, working and exiting in certain areas? Some of those states didn’t remove those laws from the books until decades after the Jim Crow era. These things didn’t occur hundreds of years ago. People alive today are still living with the affect effects.

Everyday, I exist in a world that is largely white. I’m surrounded by white people. It’s unavoidable. Once, I invited a white friend to a largely black church (mind you, white people were welcome, just chose to attend the largely white church instead), my white friend said to me with no irony, “It’s so weird to be the only white person in the room.” “Welcome to my everyday,” I told her.

She said it made her uncomfortable. Had never thought about what it might feel like to live that way everyday.

I think instead of placing the blame on black people for creating opportunity in the absence of inclusion, ask why people feel these institutions still have a place in the world. I’d ask why polls show that white Americans think we talk about race in this country too much, but black Americans think the complete opposite. And it seems that white people expect that to be the end of the conversation. Are we once again being told by white people what we should and should not be doing?

C– T— 

Ok. So, by your reasoning there, segregation is ok so long as it’s condoned by the government. I’m not saying that’s double standard but, well, yeah it is.
Which is the point. We passed laws to prevent segregation. Now it’s ok so long as it’s “condoned”.
A fight was made for “equal treatment” so long as it means “preferential treatment” as well.
I live in a predominantly black neighborhood. I’m literally the only white family within several square miles. I don’t feel out of place. I deliberately bought that house. As such, however, I’m a “minority” in my neighborhood. I don’t expect special reliefs or organizations as a result. Nor do I get offended if someone uses a word around me that’s only “ok” for other white people to use.
I honored the laws regarding equality. So what’s equal about “color exclusive” organizations?

Keisha TheGirlNextDoor

“So, by your reasoning there, segregation is ok so long as it’s condoned by the government. I’m not saying that’s double standard but, well, yeah it is. ”

Never did I say this. If that’s what you’ve extrapolated, then you’ve misunderstood what I’ve stated several different ways and provided examples for which did not get addressed in your reply.

I’ve stated multiple times that I don’t believe what you’re pointing to is segregation. Segregation does not exist when people aren’t excluded. You keep saying “color exclusive” as I provide examples that no white people are being excluded. No white people are banned from BET. No white people are banned from being spoken about during Black History Month. No white people are banned from enrolling at historically black colleges. No white people are banned from being in magazines that target black audiences. Where is this exclusion you’re insistent exists for white people?

If white people choose to exclude themselves from environments that aren’t predominately white, that is a separate situation. YOU may live in a majority black neighborhood, but you are in the minority of white Americans, who largely CHOOSE to live in the same enclaves.

Most white Americans only have white friends. Few question this. However, when a group of black people get together, it’s assumed they’re segregating themselves, DESPITE the fact that black Americans are have more white friends than whites have black friends (or friends of any other ethnicity for that matter).

If white people want to say the “n-word’ they can. They invented it for use against black people. That’s kind of why it’s offensive to begin with. No one is banning any white person from saying it. There are now just greater social consequences when one chooses to do so.

The additional points that you’ve added, I never stated. Please don’t make the mistake of assuming all black people are looking for handouts. We fall all across the economic strata. We just want the road to opportunity to not be paved with bombs, traps and ditches.

Have a blessed day!

—–

I believe he replied, but I didn’t read it because I decided it was bad for my health.

Like what you read? Follow The Girl Next Door is Black on Twitter or Facebook

Don’t Be That Insensitive Jackhole

On Sunday, after the Academy Awards, Giuliana Rancic, co-host of E!’s Fashion Police, made a few contentious comments in reference to the locs worn at the ceremony by 18-year old actress/singer Zendaya.

In a previous post, I touched on the complicated relationship many black women have with their hair. I shared that in the present day black women have faced reprimands and job dismissals for daring to wear their hair in natural styles. Giuliana’s language touched a sensitive nerve in many, including Zendaya who responded in an eloquently worded message posted on Instagram.

Many on Twitter objected to Giuliana’s comments with Vine clips of the episode retweeted like crazy. There were also the expected oppositional replies that disregarded Zendaya’s feelings. 

These are the fiery retorts that almost inevitably materialize when someone objects to language steeped in ignorance, bigotry, prejudice, racism, sexism or many other -isms.

A quick scan of user photos when I searched Twitter for “Zendaya, sensitive” showed that many of the people instructing Zendaya to “stop crying” aren’t the ones likely to be impacted by negative hair stereotypes. Yet, they think they’re qualified to tell Zendaya how to feel and respond. They haven’t lived her life, but they have all kinds of opinions about it.

Who is anyone else to decide how another person should feel and react to their environment? Who are any of us to tell someone else they are being too sensitive? Why is it often that the folks not directly affected have the most to say about others’ sensitivities?

Giuliana issued a sincere and adult public apology to Zendaya, the type of which we rarely see when a celebrity atones for a public snafu. She accepted responsibility for her words. She referenced listening and learning why her comment offended instead of focusing on her intent and defending herself.

Thinking Allowed Written on Brick Wall from Don't Be That Insensitive JackholeInstead of deriding other people for being too sensitive, we should ask ourselves whether we’re being sensitive enough.

As someone who’s had a lifetime of people telling me that my own feelings and experiences are invalid because they don’t match the narrative of the dominant culture or viewpoint, my skin is pretty damn thick. If it wasn’t I wouldn’t last very long in this America where I am at a disadvantage from the jump just by being in the body of a black woman. A society that tells me that my gender is weaker, too emotional; my hair too nappy, my skin too dark, nose too wide, intelligence limited. To withstand years upon years of ignorance directed my way or anyone else who shares the designation “female” or “black.” A society that tells me I have to act, speak or dress a certain manner just to be respected. If I’m offended by someone coming at me with ignorant nonsense, it’s not because I’m weak. The “strong black woman” stereotype didn’t come from nowhere.

We have to get better at practicing empathy. We have to become comfortable with the idea that we may not always be qualified to speak intelligently on a subject. It’s okay sometimes to stop talking and typing and just listen. To dig deeper and THINK about why someone might be offended. We shouldn’t dismiss other people’s emotions and thoughts as less valid than our own. None of us is better than the other, even those born into royalty, wealth or the dominant ethnic group or gender.

Just because you’re not offended, doesn’t mean another person isn’t and doesn’t have the right to be. Not a one of us is the center of the universe.

Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?

 

Henry David Thoreau

Friday Five: Weekly Twitter Roundup 11/28/14

Here are five things you may have missed on Twitter this week.

Friday Five Weekly Twitter Roundup | The Girl Next Door is Black

 

1. Some of today’s hottest music artists performed at Sunday’s American Music Awards. Hosted by rapper Pitbull, the AMAs provided plenty of tweet fodder. #AMAs

 

2. On Monday, November 24, after a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri elected not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, the mood on Twitter was tense and reactions mixed. #FergusonDecision

 

3. In response to the Ferguson Decision, many took the protest to their wallets and participated in the anti-Black Friday, national day of activism. #BlackoutBlackFriday calls for those who support the fight against racial injustice to boycott shopping on Black Friday.

 

4. Rarely is there a dull moment when families gather together for Thanksgiving each year. #Thanksgiving 

 

5. The day after Thanksgiving in the US marks Black Friday – a day when people go Hunger Games on their fellow citizen in the name of shopping. This year, it’s not just Americans going bananas for electronics at reduced prices. #BlackFriday