19 again

Basically, I never want to hear about post-racial America again.  And I hope no one is left wondering why I would spend so much time and energy talking about race since things “are so much better.”  Because they aren’t.  We’ve just gotten comfortable pretending that they are.

Today would have been Jordan Davis’ 19th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Jordan Davis.


I don’t know what else to say about it right now.

This lady did:

How Keeping Our Sons Safe Makes It OK for Whites to Be Racists


The Jordan Davis case led some parents to give their kids “the talk.” But doing so absolves white people of their responsibility to unlearn stereotypes that scare them.

The slaying of 17-year-old Jordan Davis by a white man who didn’t appreciate his taste in music had some black people scrambling to give black boys “the talk” about how not to scare white people into shooting them…a lot of black parents who love their children are probably repeating it. I understand it.

But I don’t like it.

I don’t like it because as practical as it is, it inadvertently feeds the notion that black youths, and black males in particular, ought to capitulate to racist whites in order not to suffer at their hands.

And any white man who believes that black kids ought to turn down their music because he doesn’t like it, even if they are only sharing the same parking lot for a few minutes, isn’t seeking respect.

He’s expecting submission.

Any white store owner, or night watchman, who expects a black youth to take off his hood because it scares him, even though that black youth has no plans to do anything scary, isn’t asking for respect but for his irrational fears to be coddled.

Most of all, I don’t like it because we’ve been through this before.

In the 2002 book Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South, Charles Gratton recalled his mother’s instructions when she sent him to the grocery store. She told him, “If you pass any white people on your way, get off the sidewalk. Give them the sidewalk. Don’t challenge white people.”

Similarly, many black people who grew up during Jim Crow times remember being told not to look white people in the eye and to avoid doing things that might get them hurt or killed for being defiant or, as they would say back then, uppity.

A refusal to turn down music or take off a hoodie could translate into being uppity for whites like Dunn, who believe that black youths—who, like many of their white counterparts, are grappling with awkwardness and immaturity—owe it to them to suppress their attitude.

They don’t.

I get that it’s important to give black youths the advice they need to be able to live to fight another day, as Guns and others are doing. But we cannot forget the importance of fighting conditions, such as Florida’s “Stand your ground” law, that feed the idea that whites like Dunn can get away with fatally shooting a black youth like Jordan because he and his friends didn’t comply with their request.


Jordan Davis’ friends

We cannot forget, because something is horribly wrong when, more than a half-century after legal segregation ended, when we have a black man sitting in the Oval Office, Jim Crow-era instructions are being revived to protect black youths. These instructions have little to do with young black people being respectful to white strangers and everything to do with them being submissive to whites—with black youths giving white strangers permission to cling to fears about blackness by not being so, well, black.

And when we make black youths solely responsible for not frightening white people with their music or their style of dress or their swagger, we absolve white people of their responsibility to unlearn the stereotypes that are scaring them.

Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy, The Butler) did too:


i’m sorry but, no, they aren’t atlanta black star…

…They are biological parents of black and white children (if we’re going to identify by race) seeing as biological means they share the same DNA.  Doesn’t it?  Or does race really just mean status, leaving biology out of the equation altogether?  In that case, I guess the children are black because that’s how the world will perceive them whether their famous white parent is around or not.  Until all of that changes ;)

8 Famous White Celebs You Didn’t Know Were Biological Parents of Black Children

February 13, 2014 | Posted by 


Bob Dylan


Mick Jagger


Ellen Pompeo


Justin Chambers


David Bowie


Peggy Lipton


Chris Noth

Robert-De-Niro-Children-600x321Robert DeNiro

curls are acceptable

Seeing as this is byeracial blog, it’s about time I posted about hair.  Not my own.  I really do love my hair and I suppose it’s the one physical characteristic that gives a clue as to “what I am.”  Nothing more interesting to report on that. However, this article below is much more about identity and not having a culture to fall back on than it is about curls and that is interesting to me.  More often than not, when you’re mixed, you really don’t have that soft place to fall.  The mixed experience has historically been ignored, making it nearly impossible to forge a cultural identity.  Good news:  We have the opportunity to transcend attachment to a cultural identity.  Bad news: This leaves us at the whim of the cultural identities projected onto us.


105_2119-1About a year ago, I wrote an article about how much I disliked being mixed because of my hair. These last few months, I realized that I didn’t embrace the natural hair life because of others and not me. I liked my curls and had already transitioned not knowing it. I still didn’t accept the fact that my curls were acceptable. In my mind, straight hair was the ideal. To be honest, I didn’t really know how to take care of my hair yet but the main reason I thought this was because of negative comments. Comments such as…”You should relax your hair again.”, “Your hair looks messy all the time.”, and the last and most important one was…”You need to stop trying to look black”. They always ended up going back to that one.

The race topic is one that strikes me the hardest when it comes to my hair. Many people believe that natural hair is just for blacks. They forget that the world is not simply made of blacks and whites. Many cultures and races have mixed. The end result of that is people like me. People who share features of both races or may only have features of one but who feel attached to both. I am a born and raised Dominican. If you spend a lot of time with Latinos or Dominicans, you will quickly realize that we believe we are a different race. It’s actually very confusing because there are a lot of forms that will have Hispanic/Latino as a choice for race and not for ethnicity. A lot of people will tell you that Latinos are not a separate race. This doesn’t stop us from feeling that way. The problem with this is that even though they have a lot of african heritage as well as native american heritage…they refuse to acknowledge it. It’s not a lack of education, but a lack of acceptance.

So what does this have to do with hair? If you’re black or if you’re Latino, you were most likely raised hearing negative comments about your hair. Now, you might be saying…”Well, I know. What’s your point?”. My point is that I didn’t have one or two races/ethnicity telling me I looked undesirable, I had three. This had an impact on how I felt about myself. Even though black naturals may get a lot of crap from relaxed hair women or women who naturally have straight hair… they still have natural sistas. I had and some times still don’t have a culture to really fall back on and say…”You understand what I’m going through”. The reason is that my skin is white and my physical features are mostly European. My hair is pretty much the only thing that lets you know that I’m mixed. This causes a problem because white people expect an image of me that I don’t quite complete, black people expect an image of me and Latinos/Dominicans expect a certain image of me. In comments and forums, I have received things like “Well, you’re mixed so you don’t really know the struggle”. In school, I was told my fro was a distraction (I never told anyone that). In the streets, I’ve been told…”Your skin is far too fair for you to wear your hair like this”(it was in a fro). You can take a guess at which races/ethnicity said each.

What I would like is for women to realize that you can’t really know someone else’s “struggle”. Relaxed women and natural women should stop trying to debate about what is the right choice, because guess what? It’s a personal choice. This also applies for big choppers and transitioners. It would also be nice if business people realized that curly/kinky hair doesn’t reduce our ability to work effectively. The last but the most is important is that I would like for people of all races to realize how much it hurts to be pushed away because of your skin color or your features. Usually when people think of racism, they think of whites against the minorities. The thing that most don’t realize though is that we judge each other just as much as other races do.

hair girls1

Keturah Ariel


And to include the boys…Something about the commentary on this photo of Pete Wentz reeks of nappy headed-ho…😡

white man afro: Pete Wentz ditches his straightener, looks unrecognizable


After a seemingly life-long love affair with his hair straightener, Pete Wentz has debuted a more natural, afro-esque head of hair. Gasp!

The emo rocker was launching a a new car or something, no-one knows for sure – all eyes were on his frizzy head pubes.

We’ve got to give the guy credit – he managed to get that thing poker-straight every day for years!

hair boys

you don’t even know me

I posted this video on the vlog the other day…

…and then I found this clip of Tia/Tamera’s brother, Taj, addressing the same issue.  And i love it!  Makes me wonder if males are less sensitive to these things.  I mean, I already wondered that, but now i re-wonder.  Skip to 4:00 to catch the clip…





Today would have been Trayvon Martin’s nineteenth birthday.  I wish I didn’t know that.  I wish there were no reason for me to know this information. I wish Trayvon Martin was some random guy in Florida that I would probably never have the pleasure of meeting, let alone wish a happy birthday.  But I do know about Trayvon Martin.  And I think about Trayvon Martin.  And I am grateful for Trayvon Martin.  Happy Birthday Trayvon Martin.

trayvon martin aviator

When the verdict was read, I felt it in the gut.  I’m usually not emotionally invested in trials.  I believe this was a first.  I didn’t even know I was invested until the “not guilty”.  I was stunned and disappointed and hurt.  And angry.  But mostly hurt I think.  Because Black men in America had just been given confirmation that their lives don’t matter.  Are not valued.  That’s the message I received.  You are not valuable.  And I guess that’s the message we’ve always received on some level.  Our country has relied on this notion of inferiority being taken for granted.  We don’t all believe it.  But we are working a system that is held together by it.

I’ve been meaning to start a series of “White Privilege is…”posts.  Both here and on the youtube.  So this is gonna be the first one:

White Privilege is going to the store for skittles wearing a hoodie and not being followed.  Or harassed. Or shot.  To death.


drunk history or re: mary ellen pleasant

Apparently three years have flown by since I first learned of and blogged about Mary Ellen Pleasant.  Whoa.

Anyway, I was truly delighted to come across this Drunk History segment on a Sunday afternoon #sharing.  I love that some funny creative knew of the story and decided to give it life as an inebriated tale.  The piece is actually longer, but this is all I could find on youtube.  If you have Comedy Central and On Demand you can find the entire tale in the “San Francisco” episode.  Highly recommended.

“Where was I at historic-al-ly?”


the only ‘black’ kid

Speaking of my Oakland County days, a few months ago I came across this photo on Abagond’s blog:

abagond stunned

When I saw this photo I saw myself in it.  Kind of.  For me, I could have been that speck of color in a group photo of friends going to a high school dance as easily as in posing for a family reunion photo.  And I suppose that’s the difference.  I don’t think I look much more awkward than the typical teenager in the photo below.  Not that I don’t look awkward, good lord the dress, but I’ve got nothing on the guy in the picture above.


Perhaps that’s because when (half the time) you’re the only “black” kid in your family as well, there’s less propensity to be so fraught with anxiety in similar social situations.

elkhart reunion

Maybe there’s an extra layer of ease that comes with the inner-knowing that, no matter who recognizes it or doesn’t, you belong.  Given, of course that one is able to hold on to the truth that she belongs amidst the many dissentient voices.

only black kid in class

1937-38 only black kidsonny-clark-class-1024x705can hardly imagine what it was like for this little dude in 1937

oakland county?

I’d have thought this story straight out of (august)Osage County.  But, nope.  This story comes from the county that I come from.  Oakland County, MI.  Honestly though…and on second thought… that’s no surprise…

Excuse me while I get real with myself for a minute… I think I just stumbled upon some version of reality that I concocted where I, an inherently integrated person, grew up in segregated communities, and in this version of reality of mine, even though I was usually the only “black” person wherever I was, those “conditions” never mattered.  Also, in this reality I like to believe that everyone was free of prejudice and just happened to live somewhere where almost everyone looked like them. As if it were a coincidence.  But that is not true.  Those conditions were a strategically planned.  Generations before.  Of course there were and are exceptions, like me, but I must admit that there is a palpable sense of “us vs. them” in Oakland County.  And by “us vs. them” I mean white vs. black. The funny thing is there’s that age old adage about the savage (see entire debate here)…


Why are black people savages?

Click on an option to vote

  •  They just are
  •  They can’t help it
  •  Jungle syndrome

…and I gotta say when I watched The Butler and saw what the Freedom Riders went through, I thought which group played the role of savage there?  Or, Emmitt Till.  Did the 14 year old child behave in an undomesticated way, or was it the grown men who hunted him down?  This dogma, this ideology that we just kind of accept and play by the rules of…well, it’s just so twisted.  It is detrimental to all.  It is not in line with the Divine.  That’s really all I know to say about it right now.

woolworth counter freedom riders

Jackson Woolworth Lunch Counter Sit-in

Oh yeah, the article…I have much love for Oakland County (and many of it’s residents), btw. And I thank it for lending itself to my racial discourse.  In so many ways.

Michigan GOP official: ‘Herd all the Indians’ to Detroit, build a fence and throw in corn

By David Edwards
Tuesday, January 21, 2014 11:44 EST

A Republican county official in Michigan is in hot water after making racial comments about Detroit, including the idea that the city should be turned into a detention center for “all the Indians.”


In a recent interview for a profile by The New Yorker titled “Drop Dead, Detroit!” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson admitted, “Anytime I talk about Detroit, it will not be positive. Therefore, I’m called a Detroit basher. The truth hurts, you know? Tough sh*t.”

Patterson recalled telling his children to “get in and get out” if they needed to go to Detroit.

“And, before you go to Detroit, you get your gas out here. You do not, do not, under any circumstances, stop in Detroit at a gas station! That’s just a call for a carjacking,” he said.

Patterson also proposed a fix to Detroit’s financial problems: Turn the city into a reservation for Native Americans.

“I made a prediction a long time ago, and it’s come to pass. I said, ‘What we’re gonna do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and the corn.’”

After Detroit officials and activists reacted with outrage, Patterson’s office released a statement accusing The New Yorker of having an “agenda.”

“It is clear Paige Williams had an agenda when she interviewed County Executive Patterson,” the statement said. “She cast him in a false light in order to fit her preconceived and outdated notions about the region.”

Activists with Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network had planned a news conference on Tuesday to call for Patterson to apologize.

National Action Network’s Michigan chapter president Rev. Charles Williams II said that the comments were “repulsive” because they were an insult to the city’s African-American population and “a direct slight to the American Indians who occupied the land before Detroit was Detroit, and Oakland County.”

In recent years, Patterson has also come under fire for comparing Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger to Hitler and for suggesting that Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano kill himself.

cherokee prayer whole human family

black (snl) history

Drake, I totally loved that isht the other night.  While I appreciated the black bar mitzvah skit immensely (it prompted this post after all), the Katt Williams! Oh my Jesus…. the Katt Williams.  Great night for SNL!88310f8ba419c42692e4dbd7d1019c0d.467x259x1

Saturday, Jan. 18 was a big night for Saturday Night Live. Not only did rapper Drake host and serve as a musical guest, but it was also new cast member Sasheer Zamata‘s first time on the show….The former Canadian actor-turned-rapper talked about having a Jewish mother and a black father in the skit where SNL cast member Vanessa Bayer (who is known for her recurring role as Bar Mitzvah Boy) played his mother and Jay Pharaoh played his father. Read more

Ok. That hilariousness has been noted.  Now let’s take a look back in Black SNL history. We all know there’s not much of it, so this shouldn’t take too long. I like what Bond and Morris did.  I don’t like the fact that colorism is alive and well.

Julian Bond Regrets his 1977 ‘SNL’ Skit on Light Skin Vs. Dark Skin (Video)


With all of the talk surrounding “Saturday Night Live’s” new African American female cast member and writers, Julian Bond has come forward with a column in The Hollywood Reporter lamenting a skit he did during his hosting turn 37 years ago.

The civil rights leader was chairman of the NAACP board of directors from February 1998 to February 2010 and now is chairman emeritus.

Below is his column in its entirety, followed by a clip from the “SNL” sketch.

I hosted NBC’S Saturday Night Live back in April 1977, during its second season. I used to say that I was an SNL host when it was a comedy show, and people would laugh. More recently, I had taken to saying that I hosted SNL when it had black people on it. So as a former host, I was happy to read the news that an African-American woman (Sasheer Zamata) and two black female writers (LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones) were hired for the show because people of color, especially women, have been conspicuous by their absence.

I’m a professor emeritus at the University of Virginia, so I’m delighted that Zamata is a UVA grad. But I’m also a civil rights activist, so I’m appalled that the circumstances of their hiring would lessen — in some viewers’ minds — the talent and skills they bring to the program.

There are sure to be those who think that their race, not their talent, won them their jobs. The women were hired after an explosion of outrage at SNL’s shameful record of minority employment. Before Zamata was hired, in the 39 years since SNL began in 1975, the show had 137 cast members. Only 14 of those were African-Americans, and only four of those were women. The tally for Latinos is even more negligible — only three in the show’s history, all of them men.

Looking back at the episode I hosted, I felt discomfort with a skit we did. Appearing as myself on a mock television interview show about black issues, I told Garrett Morris, one of SNL’s original “Not Ready for Prime Time Players,” that light-skinned blacks are smarter than dark-skinned blacks. Morris, who is darker skinned than I am, did a perfect double take. I felt squeamish then but did the skit anyway, and I feel uneasy about this joke even today. I believed it treaded dangerously on the fine line between comedy and poor taste.

But that always has been SNL’s fine point, the line delineating comedy — and especially satire — from tastelessness. I always have believed that a skillful comedian — or comedienne — can make a joke out of anything. No subject is immune. Comedy is crucial in our lives, especially political satire. The ability to make fun of life’s vagaries helps us deal with them. That may be why there are so many black and Jewish comedians and why their presence on the air is so important.

SNL used to be on the cutting edge. Let’s hope Ms. Zamata helps restore some of its sharpness.