Where You From Pt 4

Where You From Pt 4

Caught in the Middle
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It’s a slightly uncomfortable feeling to be mentally, sometimes even physically, sandwiched between a mainstream white culture, and the culture of being a minority. I am a woman with sable skin, kinky hair, and a curvy body. I am black. My household is middle class; I went to private schools, traveled abroad, I’ve sat in the back seat of mom’s really nice, expensive cars. My identity is sweet and sour. Because on one hand, I am just black. A minority. On the other hand, I am privileged. I can relate to the mainstream. So how should I feel when I see unarmed black men being shot by police? How I should I feel when a part of my city is being destroyed from an uprising that began after a black man was killed in police custody? Do I employ my collegiate frame of mind and speak on the situations objectively? There is no right. But depending on the context, there can be a wrong. If I disagreed with #BlackLivesMatter and upheld the myth that it was a cult and terrorist group, I am wrong. If I fail to see the privileges that white people have and people of color do not, I am wrong.

There are moments that sometimes get awkward for me when I exist in the black space and white space simultaneously. What happens when my black friend takes a radical stand on an issue about whites? Do I also adopt that view, while in the space, in hopes of securing some kind of black code? If not, have I betrayed my black body and surrendered to the white conviction of domination?

Ta-Nahisi Coates’, Between the World and Me, is a profound, intimately written letter to his teenage son about growing up black in Baltimore and coming of age in the “Mecca” of Howard University. Reading it, I have had feelings of some kind of black guilt because my experience in the black body differs greatly from his. I have never had to protect my body so intensely that the thought of protection actually overshadowed my vision toward being a well-rounded, fulfilled individual.

In the midst of having privilege and being black in America, I have to decide on how to navigate race relations of today. I have to know when to address white people when they’ve commented on my “blackgirlsrock” post with “allgirlsrock.” I need to know how to support the successes of prominent black people without appearing disinterested in that of white people. I need to know how to be proud and black and be accepted in to white space. That’s a real thing. Appearing as a non-threat in white space. For some people, my even hair makes them uncomfortable.

My beautiful body receives stares from lustful men and envious women. I think of how the body of black women has been used and viewed during America’s history. The body of a female slave was often used for pleasure and profit. Sold for reproduction of more slaves. Cut for experimental research. Used for nursing of white children. Touched for the satisfaction of white men. Impregnated with mulatto children to be born also a slave. I learned in a rhetoric class that many white female abolitionists were against slavery because it threatened the sanctity of their marriages. The body of female slaves were a threat to their marriages? Or was it their husbands raping slaves? Ha, rhetoric. It’s an interesting thing.

The female slave casts a shadow on my present-day black body. I walk with conviction that I am more than my body. But my shadow follows, only to disappear in darkness after the body leaves the white canvas.

I am aware of self, and being self-aware has its virtues and costs. The benefits involve a cultural competency that shapes my world view and my position within that context. The price, ironically, is constantly knowing my position of being in a black body. Its appearance as a threat is that which also makes it invisible.

It’s a slightly uncomfortable feeling to be mentally, sometimes even physically, sandwiched between a mainstream white culture, and the culture of being a minority. I am a woman with sable skin, kinky hair, and a curvy body. I am black.

Cover Image Credit: Karin Yearwood

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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.
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It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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We're All Thinking It, I'm Saying It: Too Many People Are Running For President

I'm all for options, but man, do we really need 24? I mean, I can barely pick a flavor of ice cream at Baskin Robbins let alone a potential President.

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There are, currently, 23 Democrats running for President. On the Republican side, there's, of course, Trump, but only one other candidate, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld. Democrats have a whole range of people running, from senators to congressmen, a former vice-president, and even a spiritual advisor. We can now say that there are DOZENS of people running for President in 2020.

Joe Biden has been leading the pack for quite some time now. He was even leading polls before he announced his campaign. Although he is the frontrunner, there really is no big favorite to win the nomination. Biden has been hovering around the mid-30s in most polls, with Bernie Sanders coming in second. Other minor candidates in the hunt are Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris.

After the surprising defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2016, Democrats have become electrified and have a mission to take back the White House after winning back the House of Representatives in 2018. There are so many people running in 2020, it seems that it will be hard to focus on who is saying what and why someone believes in something, but in the end, there can only be one candidate. This is the most diverse group of candidates ever, several women are running, people of color, the first out gay candidate, and several more.

There could be a problem when it comes to debate time. I mean, the first debate is next month. Having around 20-plus people on stage at the same time, debating each other kinda sounds like a nightmare. How can someone get their point across in the right amount of time when someone else is going to cut them off? Debates are usually around an hour and a half. So, if you divide it up, each candidate would get just under five minutes to speak. That would be in a perfect world of course.

Democrats seriously believe that they can beat Trump in 2020. They say they have learned from the mistakes of 2016, and have the guts and the momentum to storm back into the White House. By July of next year, there will be only one candidate left. Will they be able to reconcile the divide during the primaries? We will see. It will surely be a fun election cycle, so make sure to have your popcorn ready and your ballot at hand to pick your favorite candidate, no matter what party you lean towards.

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