And black women and their men everywhere are nodding their heads at this. You know when you get home and that straight wig comes off, and your hairs braided and your wrapping it up in all its black glory. Sad but true.
Remember that Sopranos episode where Tony and his guys basically blame every misfortune, murder or general mess on non existent black men? Well, that’s what one Ontario Provincial Police officer did after he shot himself in the leg and was too embarrassed to ‘cop’ to it. He just decided to blame it on two imaginary black males.
The problem is, those words may have rolled off his tongue as a plausible way (in his head) to get himself out of trouble but it could have easily been my uncle or my cousins walking down the street and targeted by police on suspicion of shooting a police officer. And chances are, they may not have made it out alive from that incident. What a callous, indifferent idiot.
I’m so disappointed in Dove. I really am. I buy their products, I’ve been using #Dove for years. I loved the real women campaign. But this….this is unbelievable. Actually it isn’t. This is what happens when you don’t have a diverse marketing team and by diverse I mean black people.
I’m sick of people using diverse as a catch phrase to mean, hey look we employ women, or hey look, we have one Asian person on our team or we’ve got two people of East Indian descent they can speak for all people of colour.
A diverse workplace should be a reflection of your city. Employing more women than men does not equal diversity, that’s just a reflection of statistics.
A diverse workplace is a place where people of colour feel empowered to speak up. A diverse workplace isn’t one where you check the credibility of your images by comparing them to your black cleaner. Yes- that happened.
Dove missed the mark. But their acknowledgment shouldn’t just end there. What are they going to DO about it? The fact that this ad left their office and NO ONE saw a problem with it, no one at all, tells me all I need to know about who is sitting around the table making decisions at that company. I’m moving on. Someone message me with a list of minority owned soap companies please!
So apparently black pride is a threat the FBI feels the need to name and deal with. I know some people hate the term Woke. It’s overused. It’s also used in the wrong context and yes it’s become commercialized. I’m sure you’ve seen the t-shirts. But despite that I still like it. And for me at least, it truly describes my experience. I’ve always been proud to be black. I was raised to know and appreciate my history, but even so I feel like I’ve spent most of my life apologizing for my blackness. And I don’t mean feeling bad about being black, I mean apologizing in the sense of toning down who I am so that other people (white people) feel comfortable around me.
That has meant code switching, speaking differently, talking about race, black issues and ‘keeping it real’ only with my black family and friends- for everyone else it was surface discussions, smile, don’t talk about politics, don’t talk about race, don’t get angry (you don’t want to be the angry black women), don’t conform to any black stereotype they may have. Don’t call out blatant or subtle racism. Ignore it, second guess it, maybe it’s not what you think. Smile and engage when they ask about your hair.
But having children has changed this for me. I don’t want my kids to live like that. I don’t want them to divorce their race from who they are in order to live in a mainstream world. I want them to be unapologetic in their blackness.
My Woke moment came last year, in the midst of all the black lives being taken by police force, my son was grappling with his own identity and I realized that we had to do things differently. We had to talk about race, because there was no getting away from it. There’s no transcending it- and that is OK. The point is you don’t need to transcend it.
I’m going to talk about being black, I’m going to surround myself with black people. Yes, on occasion I self- segregate and I do that for my own mental health, because dealing with consistent micro-aggressions can be draining. I want to build a career that will help improve the lives of black people.
I want my kids to have black friends, I want my daughter to go to a black dance school, because I want her to feel comfortable in her body, in her skin and I would like for there to be one place, where she isn’t different, where she doesn’t have to worry that her hair won’t be ‘flat enough.’ I want to find a black scouts group for my son, because I want him to feel confident in who he is and be around others that look like him. If I could, I would send my children to an all black school that can cater to their specific needs and build them into the resilient people that they will need to be to survive this world. Because in our society, there are so few spaces where they can truly be accepted as they are. That doesn’t mean I don’t like white people. It doesn’t mean I don’t like my white friends anymore. It doesn’t mean I don’t value the friendships my children have made with kids of other races. It doesn’t mean any of that.
What it means is that I no longer care to make other people comfortable at my expense. What it means is that my comfort, my well being and that of people like me is now a priority. And that doesn’t make me an extremists. But my pride in being black is what makes me and others like me, whose eyes are open, who are unapologetic in their blackness…a threat. Because we are no longer playing the game. Because we no longer have the patience for understanding. Because we no longer care whether others feel comfortable with who we are. Because we are putting black first. Because we are betting on black and shopping black and rooting for black and living black proudly and loudly. And that’s a threat.
Woke Mommy is working on a podcast that will be coming your way soon! Look out for it and listen to the intro I recorded to learn more.
2016 sucked and not just because that is the general consensus, but because it truly did.
Personally it’s been a year of transition for me. We started 2016 in a new home, in a new town, that still doesn’t quite feel like home. The DH started 2016 in a new job that’s really enlightened us on the value of family time and balance.The little madam is growing up and is truly not a baby anymore. The boy child left kindergarten behind and started grade 1.
On the world stage, this was the year that the randomness and fear of terror attacks truly hit the western world with the attacks in Brussels and Paris.
Then there was Syria and the baby Alan Kurdi, whose tiny little body, washed up on a beach and shocked the world out of complacency.
There was the Dakota pipeline and the beauty of defiance.
There was Brexit and the racist vitriol of that campaign that culminated with the murder of British Member of Parliament Jo Cox.
And there was Trump, and death, and more Trump and more death.
But what really defined 2016 for me, what galvanized me to start this blog was the shooting after shooting of black and brown unarmed men in the United States and the denial of the existence of racism, the nonsense of colour blindness and the comments after comments that refused to accept that systemic racism exists and impacts decisions, both in the US and in Canada.
I realized, through many of those conversations, that I was part of the problem, because my experiences, or the challenges my kids faced because of their race, was not something I discussed openly, but instead was something I saved for my black Facebook groups, or to discuss with black family and friends. No wonder people think racism doesn’t exist!. So in a way 2016 gave me a voice. This blog has truly been a gift ( a much much more time consuming gift than I thought, but a gift non the less;))
So 2016 wasn’t all bad….here are a few more of my highlights:
1. Lemonade! This album just defined 2016 for me. Beyoncé was everything this year. I was NEVER a fan. I thought she was shallow and fake and well, silent. But I was wrong…and from the moment she blasted onto that Superbowl field in that black panther outfit,with all those beautiful black women behind her, I was converted. Then there was the visual album, which was just beautiful and unapologetically black and just magic.
2. Angela Rye.…because she said what every black person in the western world was thinking and she said it loud and proud on national TV.
3. Jesse Williams at the BET awards- Black women are always the first to jump to stand up to injustice and defend and fight for black men, but sometimes that isn’t reciprocated, and here was a black man who acknowledged that and told the world… and it was nice…and well, vindicating
4. Solange…this was also the year of Solange. She’s so woke, she was woke before anyone else even opened their eyes and I can bet she’s the one who breathed life into Beyoncé…. her album, A seat at the Table was magic. 4 words…’Don’t Touch My Hair’
5. Trudeau. Trudeau. Trudeau. He’s North America’s only hope now. Enough said.
6. Colin Kaepernick: Because it’s one thing to recognize injustice, but to fight and protest against it, by putting your own career at risk, is truly heroic.
So 2016 wasn’t all bad, but I am still hoping that 2017 will be better. Happy New Year Woke Peeps. See you on the other side!
It’s done. As absurd as it sounds, Trump is the president-elect. Right wing radicals joined forces with otherwise descent people, who closed their eyes, held their nose and put a tick beside the name of a man backed by the Ku Klux Klan, an organization responsible for the deaths and lynchings of tens of thousands of black american men, women and children.
Trump isn’t the first leader head of state in North America, I believe Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper took the title on that one. But he at least had the descent to keep it quiet and to make vague statements backing away from his Northern Foundation past. Trump’s hate connections are loud, proud and unapologetic. Is this better? Is it better to know exactly who your enemy is? Probably.
But it doesn’t make it any less scary.
From, bro- nazi groups holding a parade to honour Trump, to the shouting of Heil Trump, Heil Victory, to Trump gathering all the media to chastise them for their coverage of him. Or his insistence that anyone who utters a whiff of descent in his direction apologize for it. Do you know what that sounds like? Do you get where I am going?
The threat to create a Muslim registry is real. The deportation of millions of people is real. The ‘solution’ to ensure ‘law and order’ in black communities is real. Don’t look away, don’t bury your head in the sand and don’t think this doesn’t affect you. This will affect the entire world in one way or another. This is it just an American issue, this is a world crisis. What is the world going to do?
https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FTEDEducation%2Fvideos%2F1240972065915997%2F&show_text=0&width=560“>Ted Talk Video- How Hitler Rose to Power
It’s D-DAY. Today is the day that changes the course of history. Either America elects it’s first female President, or it elects the most divisive and questionable president ever.
I genuinely don’t understand the hate for Hillary Clinton. She’s like any other politician as far as I am concerned, they all have skeletons, they all do back-room deals, they are all war mongers, they all have something to hide. She happens to be a woman. She happens to have been ambitious, she happen’s to have been a first lady with opinions and a mission.
Do I think that her campaign played a very very dirty game to ensure her nomination when it looked like Bernie Sanders could have stolen it from her. Yes. Do I like it? No. It doesn’t sit right. It feels like they knew she could loose and they cheated to ensure she would win.
Has she said some questionable racist things in the past? Yes, but let’s be honest, what white American politician hasn’t and at least she’s apologized.
And then there is Trump. That’s all I will say. There is Trump.He’s not even worth another sentence.
Here’s hoping America does the right thing! A toast to the first female president of the United States!
There’s a quiet support that black people have for one another in the workforce (usually). It’s an invisible fist bump, a look, a half smile, an acknowledgment that says, ‘you made it brother, you are here sister, I see you’. For black women, that is double true. In so many workplaces, emphasis is placed on this idea of the glass ceiling. That the barriers to getting ahead at work are solely based on gender, and that if an organization does their due diligence, ensure’s their workforce is well balanced with men and women, that they somehow deserve a pat on the back for reaching tremendous goal.
The truth is that in 2016, the real issue with workplace diversity is not the glass ceiling, but the concrete ceiling. It’s the fact that people of colour that rise above senior or management positions to executive level positions, even if they are well qualified for the role. And that is when they have a job! If you are black and out of work, chances are you will be looking for work longer than a white counterpart. There’s a CBC article that talks about the particular stresses black women face when they are looking for work.
The pressure many black women feel of having to straighten their hair for an interview. I know this is always a stressful for me and I can honestly say that i have never been to an interview with my natural hair. Would I go to an interview today with natural hair? Yes, I would. Would I have done it two years ago. Most definitely not!
So, The City of Toronto has launched a campaign to target anti-black hiring practices. This is good news, in that it raises awareness about a very real issue and forces people to confront any bias’ they may harbor. The question is, what happens when a black person does get the job? We know well paid full time work, with vacation and benefits are hard to come by, but for minorities, these jobs are even harder, even rarer. How do we ensure that a rash of minority hires aren’t contract hires, forced to work short term contracts to a. fill a quote set by an employer and b. ‘prove’ that they are worthy of a full time job (something many of their white colleagues wouldn’t have to do). I think often people of colour are hired, but they are hired on terms, maternity covers or contracts, because companies simply are not willing to take a chance and invest in hiring them full-time, because they aren’t certain it will work out. The trouble with this uncertainty is that it doesn’t extend to all employees.
So while it’s great to put two faces side by side and ask the question ‘who would you hire?’ maybe the question should be ‘who would you hire full-time, for an executive role?’ That would really make some employers uncomfortable.
I have to share the goodness that is the wash-day visor. Why didn’t anyone tell me about these before? Essentially they are plastic visors that sit at the front of your wriggly child’s head and prevents water from falling into their face or eye. I need one of these. NOW!
Washing the little madam’s hair is a real struggle. We attempted a salon style sink wash, with her lying on the kitchen counter. That resulted in my kitchen looking a bit like a wading pool. I moved on to shower her hair and having her tell me when to stop. I ended up more wet than her. Now we’ve come to an amicable agreement where she will allow me to through a basin full of water over her hair, because she thinks it’s hilarious, but I can’t wash her hair as thoroughly as I’d like doing this. So this visor is looking pretty good.
YouTube black hair tutorials have really become my hobby. One of the sad legacies of slavery and colonialism is that we (black people) have forgotten how to care for our hair. We’ve retained some of our wonderful traditional styles, like twists or cornrows, but we’ve forgotten how to really care for our hair. In the last 10 years or so, there’s been a rediscovery of natural black hair and a push for black people to use natural products and re-learn how to take care of our hair.
My mother swears she would never have permed my hair so early, but I distinctly remember getting my first perm (as in permanent press/burn your scalp-hair straightener, not the 80s crazy curl) at 7 years old. So, like a lot of young girls, I never really learned how to take care of my natural hair and the chemicals, meant it didn’t grow properly, was super brittle and unhealthy. Looking back I can’t believe I spent so many years and so much money, literally frying my scalp so that my hair would conform to a socially acceptable standard of straightness. It’s just insane. Even today, when we know better, I still see little kids running around with obviously permed hair. I want to cry when I see this and I want to shake their mother.
That said, my hair might be natural, but I’m still working my way up to taking the twist extensions out. As the little madam and the boy child get older, I want them both to see me loving and wearing my natural hair, the same way I am teaching them to love and wear their natural hair.
That means I have to embrace my hair, shed the negativity and the fear and wear it proud!
So as #woke individuals, I am going to assume we all understand the problems with representation, sexism, racism etc. that Disney has. Yes they’ve made efforts and strides towards being more inclusive, but even those efforts are fraught with problems. It’s fantastic that there’s a black ‘princess’, and maybe I shouldn’t read too much into it when the little madam takes the wash cloth from the kitchen sink and says ‘Look mommy, I’m cleaning like Tiana.’ Nope, nothing to worry about there. Not at all Disney.
But none of the stereotypes and idiocy that occasionally comes out of the Disney machine can match this latest #DisneyFail. Absolutely nothing.
The movie Moana is due to come out soon (or has come out, I can’t keep up). Anyway, the Disney merchandising unit is in full swing and some brilliant marketer thought it would be a great idea to develop a brown skin Maui costume for kids.
Any quasi woke, reasonably astute person developing this product would think…ok, let’s create the costume using the traditional dress and maybe a few accessories (cultural appropriation? Yes, but nothing new for Disney).
But no, this is Disney and what’s point of doing something if it’s not going to cause major offence, so wait…light-bulb moment…let’s take it all the way and…wait for it… replicate Polynesian brown skin and literally let kids ‘wear another cultures skin’. (thanks @Karnythia for that on point quote)
Good job Disney. Nope, not offensive at all. Thankfully, someone helped them see the light and they pulled it from the shelves prior to Halloween. But, I can’t watch the trailer for the movie now without thinking of the costume and it’s taken all the joy out of seeing people of colour on the Disney screen again.