Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Attack of the ABW...

Q: Why do many black women always seem like they are pissed off or bitter?

A: Each morning Loretta has to mind her temper. Many things can "Set it off" on the left AND the right for her. It's almost as though she served herself a bowl of Cheerios with "Vitamin B Pissed" fortified milk. Sometimes the milk is sour and you get an extra evil dose of ABW - "Angry Black Woman".

Loretta knows she's particularly cranky. "LAWD, don't let me go off on this man. He better stop talkin' to me like he ain't got no sense. I don't wanna snap his got-damn head off!," Loretta says in her internal dialogue. "His punk ass better not ask me for another got-damn thing!", she mumbles as she glares at the man behind the counter. You see folks, Loretta is angry. Not because of the shitty Cheerios, but because each day she is reminded of the things she wants to transcend. Debt, family issues, a job she might not like, or just the everyday struggle of being black in America. The women associated with this type of behavior are often those who were never taught how to have more control of their emotions and are usually suffering from deeper personal issues.

"But Dennis, what would cause a woman to go all ABW on me? I've done nothing wrong", you ask. You might not have done anything wrong. You might have been cordial as a mutha fucka - but this makes no difference to a woman in ABW mode. You say, "Good morning, Ma'am." and they look at you like you have three heads and now asking for a fourth like the greedy mofo you might be. You tell a black woman in ABW mode in any form of the word, "no" then you best be prepared. It's like they're in a constant state of PMS.

Pissed-off at Men Syndrome or PMS if you will, is the culprit of many an instance of ABW behavior. Black women are pissed off at men for a number of reasons. You have your Don Imus like folks callin' black women "nappy headed hoes". You have husbands cheating on their wives with both women AND men - D.L. doesn't just stand for driver's license, download, or down low - it also stands for dick lovin', but I've digressed. Sometimes she's a mom, single or otherwise, who is at her wits end. Maybe she's having a hard time at work. An ABW will blame the fact that she broke her nail on a man. Had she not been trying to attract a man, she wouldn't have gotten her nails done... and had she not gotten them done, she wouldn't have broken her got-damn nail!

When you think about it, ABW should just stand for Angry, Bitchy Women because all women can get quite angry, evil and hard to deal/work with. What would we call a white woman who is pissed off and not gonna take it anymore? I guess just a bitch, huh? We don't say that WHITE bitch.. we just say bitch. Well, actually, some people will say white bitch... but that's another topic.

Let's take a peek into the lives of Heather and Melissa as they have an argument. (the video is SO worth watching... it's ghetto fabulous)

"Oh My God Heather! Why do you have to be such a bitch?", Melissa shouted at her cousin.

"Because you're the biggest bitch I ever met and, and, and your boyfriend felt me up that night you were passed out in the bathroom floor. That's why I slept with him - because you're a bitch!", Heather retorted.

If you paid close attention, you see the word bitch several times without regard to race. It would be quite silly for them to call one another an Angry White Bitch. Doesn't hold as much "ooomph". Another silly thing is that they're fighting over a man - and while both may be bitchy, one is definitely a ho - sans the nappy head.

The thing that separates a black woman from her other racial counterparts is the culture in which they were raised. I know women who were raised to be very independent and direct with what they want. I also know women who always had to defend themselves verbally and physically, which lends itself to a more aggressive attitude. Just like Miss Sophia who had to "fight all her life." A lot of times these very women aren't even meaning to get "'bout it" with you - that's just the tone of their voice and how they've adapted their communication style. As the receiver of whatever question, request, or information they provide, you may interpret it based on your own experiences.

This concept of personal interpretation reminds me of some my interactions with Asian women. These aren't Asian Americans. These are interactions with Asians whose first language is NOT English (not that there's anything wrong with that). These interactions with them, be it in a restaurant or elsewhere (but typically in a restaurant because I LOVE Asian cuisine) always make me feel they have an attitude. Their body language and quickness to spurt out an answer in broken, mumbled English makes me feel as though they could not really be bothered with my dumb ass order and want me to just hurry it along so they can scoop up another spoonful of fresh, hot fried rice from a steam tray.

"What you like!?", the lady says as she holds her serving spoon in her right hand and the styrofoam (and environmentally UNFRIENDLY) container in the other, with what appears to be attitude.

I must add that it also looks like she is forcing a smile which makes me suspicious of her authenticity.

As I tell her what I want, she tries to predict my choices by preparing to scoop up the rice. She has no idea if I want white or fried rice or maybe lo mein! After she hears my choices, she hustles the food in the box. I'll give her credit, she ALWAYS tries to make sure I have equal amounts of entree but the manner in which she took my order and placed it in the box said to me, "Here you are fat mother fucker - eat all MSG and die. Just make sure you pay on way out! Would you like drink with that? Large? Soy Sauce?" as she giggles at me because I look confused. Do we have an AAW on our hands?

My friends, being angry is not something unique to black women. I think the term was coined by a white man - but it's oral history has been lost in translation and interpretation. Men and women of all races get bitchy and angry too but what name do we have for them? Asshole? Son of a bitch (which goes back to women)? Well that's not gonna cut it. Hateration also crosses into sexual orientation. Gay men will get "Rainbow Brite"on you in a heartbeat if given the opportunity and cut you with some quick sarcasm. You won't even realize they've done it until minutes (or days) later. What do we call them? Oh yeah... Gay (among another word that rhymes with maggot). However, the gay men you see doing this are typically white.

So don't believe the hype. Anger and bitchiness surrounds us. Black women don't own the exclusive rights even if they're typed cast to be an ABW (Omarosa, Coral from The Real World). The next time you're ordering food from a Japanese/Chinese/or other Asian establishment - pay close attention. I betcha you'll bear witness to an AAW.... shiiiiiiiiiiit.

Links used in this entry:

Angry Black Woman
Heather and Melissa
Miss Sophia
Rainbow Brite (pay attention to her sass in this clip - that heifer!)

Other useful links:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mommy, what's a whigger?

Q: What do black folks think about these white dudes who pretend they are black?

A: In history we've had Hall & Oates, George Michael, Jon B. and more recently, Robin Thicke - Oh and if we take a look at the ladies, there's also Celine Dion (that's right Girlfriend!) in the areas of music. There was also Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch and he's now made his way as a full fledge (and talented) actor. If you want to be cool and you're white - you go black. Isn't that right, Justin Timberlake?

I really have to wonder if they're even pretending. Well, they might be. If they're from a one stop-light town with no black people - then I'd be awfully suspicious!

Picture it, a white kid in junior high. Homely looking, acne, bad body odor covered up by the glorious scent of Brut by Faberge'. He finishes 8th grade and is hangin' with some people from his hood (oftentimes it's just a group of white guys who wear Chuck Taylors, Lee Jeans, and a bad ass Van Halen t-shirt), drinking Sunny Delight. "Duuuuuudes, did you hear that song by Aerosmith and Run DMC?", Jimmy asks of his friends. Jon replies, "Yeah, it's pretty rad." And there you have it folks, the birth of what white folks refer to as a "whigger".

Now, I can remember the first time I heard that word. I was like.. WTF? Then I recognized my neighborhood friend, Robert who would be the very definition, resembled one. All his male friends on our block were black! When we all hit high school he transitioned from Robert to "Rob". His facial hair got more urban looking - you know what I'm talkin' about.. the thin mustache/goatee thing - and he sagged his jeans and wore shirts much larger than necessary. His tees went from rock bands to silk strands (cause the late 80s were all about the silk shirt). Rob was officially what his family would refer to (behind closed doors of course) as a "whigger". A white nigger! DOH!

What did we think of it, being his group of friends in the neighborHOOD? We thought he was one cool ass mofo (for the most part)! That's what! Shiiiiiiiiiiiit... anytime we can have someone emulate black culture and style we were like... "He's a down ass brotha!" That level of down-ness was even more "dope" if he had the black girls on his jock. That meant two things - Homeboy was authentic (through weeks of intense black training via BET's Rap City and Yo', MTV Raps) and he had "game". You would know a newbie to "whigger-dom" because they would fuck up the pronunciation of slang words - but when they became masters at it, their faces develop the scrunched up, perched lips, speaking from the side of their mouths look. They could also earn endorsements. Those endorsements would come in the form of knowing the neighborhood dope dealer, knowing someone who knew a dope dealer, you being someone who smoked the weed from the dope dealer (this gave you instant friends as a whigger because people LOVE LOVE LOVE a free high!) or being "that guy" who could supply a hook up of any kind to a brotha or a sista because they worked at Merry Go Round or JC Penney's. Another endorsement was a car that was pimped out somehow and contained a speaker system that could "Drop that Bass". I'm not sure just how many endorsements one would need to be DOOOOOOOWN, but I would imagine that it depends on the general requirements of each black constituency.

In the 21st century - whiggers have become a dying breed and has been taken over by metrosexuals! The metrosexual is a vicious beast - devouring every man in its path. Gone are the days of hip-hop culture with the baggy jeans and shell-toe shoes. With the increase in college educated rappers, we have now entered a more refined, preppy, fashion model culture. This forces us to look at what I will now refer to as a Blonkey (waaaaaaait for it... waaaaaait for it... There you go!!!) :0)

Definition: Blonkeys - An African American who emulates the culture of the Abercrombie & Fitch, Roxy, Hollister fashion, et. al. They are often understood as those members of the African American community that speak with very little urban slang, yet use the following words in a sentence at least twice a day: awesome, totally, fabulous, fantastic, seriously?, really?, amazing. They also use the proper pronunciation on the end of words - i.e. mother fucker (mutha fucka) and refer to a group of friends as "you guys" instead of "y'all" or "mofos". Another signal that you're in the presence of a blonkey is their hairstyling and their use of hair product. Last but not least, their shoes are Chuck Taylor's, Ed Hardey, Airwalk, Skechers, the classic New Balance shoe or some sort of loafer. Think Carlton Banks.

The reality is - black folks will most likely be MORE critical of a blonkey than a whigger. We see whiggers being more of a problem for y'all to deal with - UNLESS homeboy stole somethin' from us - then we'll set out to whip his ass and revoke his "Hood Pass". This goes for music, money, drugs, personal belongings and women (or as they are probably referred to - bitches)

With all of this said, There's nothing wrong with embracing a culture and immersing yourself in it. Sometimes you just can't help yourself. If you can sing soul music - sing your ass off, Celine! Our hearts will go on! If you got the fevah for the flava of a Nubian Queen - do yo' thing! Just don't pretend to be anything other than yourself - just be you and it'll all be okay.

Links used in this entry:

Brut by Faberge'
Aerosmith and Run DMC
Yo', MTV Raps
Drop that Bass
Carlton Banks

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Name is FaLa'La'La' Jenkins - And Don't Forget the Accent Marks!

Q: How do black people come up with these unique first names?

A: "Shalonda? Girl, can you believe this question? They got the nerve to be askin' 'bout how we come up with our names! I mean... why they gotta act like it's different. I know 12 other Shaquonda's and 5 more Kelendria's and Jay-kwon Rayshawn is so common that I ain't NEVER namin' my child that. This don't make no sense!"

Sometimes our homegirls choose some f'ed up names. I'm not going to try to defend it at all. It's like the parents put their favorite French and Spanish sounding syllables of names in a grab bag and rolled the die to decide how many pieces of paper they'd draw. From those pieces they pieced together a name. Words often chosen for this task are: LaBelle - for Miss Patti, Patti! Vous avec moi?, Shasta because they make so many delicious soda pop flavors, including Red Pop!, and just about any word ending in the sound "ay" and "uh". One of combinations you might pull from the bag may create names like LaShontay and Shastelle. Once a name is chosen, we just need one person to agree that it sounds cute and MOST IMPORTANTLY, unique. The best friend will agree with the name and say, "Mmmm hmmm, girl - that name LaShontay sound reeeeeeeeal cute. I saw on some cable channel when I was flippin' channels that in France, words that have that "ay" sound on the end is spelled with an "e" girl... with one of them accents marks. You should do that, fo' reeeeeeeal. Then she'll have a French name and she'll be sophisticated AND shit with a unique name that aint' nobody gone forget!"

Oftentimes I think that my sistas will just make up names out of the blue. Here are some names I have heard and thought, "Hmmm.. that is QUITE different!"

  • Kenetha - a feminizing of the name Kennth
  • Twiniece
  • Georgetta - which isn't really THAT different.. just COUNTRY!
  • LaQuincia - I guess they used the grab bag method and the father's name.
  • DeMarcus - I guess they meant he was "Off his Mark"
  • Ja'Quan
  • Tamiska
  • Tomisina
  • DeJuan
  • KeyShaun
  • Te'Quan - Doesn't it just make you wanna say Tae Kwon Do?
  • Breniecia
  • Shaneeka
Those are just a few.

Now, I might add that just because you've never heard of the name before doesn't mean it's not a valid and important name. Look at Beyonce'. Her momma was using her maiden name (Beyince) and gave it some extra French flava to an already Creole name. This same name is probably on the rise with babies that were born during the height of Destiny's Child. These are the names that go down in what I like to call, Black Baby Name Hall of Fame. These are the names that were once unusual... but they are now so common that it's normal (at least in their neighborhood).

Let's ask Aquanetta how many people she knows that share the same name.
Let's start with... BoonQuisha?

"Shiiiit... I know about 5 of dem! In fact, my cousin Mopey (who's real name is something completely different and could be a whole other topic) is married to a BoonKeisha... wait.. I guess that's another name."

Actually Aquanetta, we'll go ahead and count that one. How about Chardonne'?

"I know a Nay Nay. I think her real name is Chardonne', though. Or is it Jean-Nate'? Hell, I don't know!"

It's okay.. I think we get the picture.

Honestly - there are some names that have made the Black Baby Name Hall of Fame. Some of these names are:
  • Nakia
  • Shamieka (I had to add this one because I JUST met another Shamieka - the first was in high school)
  • LaKeisha
  • Shareese - and all variations
  • Devonte
  • Kenyatta
Uniquely made up names seems to be more relegated to people in a lower socioeconomic level. But that's not to say that those individuals will always be poor. Look at Oprah Winfrey (although her name came from the name Orpah which came from the Book of Ruth in the Bible but changed to Oprah because it was easier to pronounce). However, we don't think anything of Oprah's name these days.

Now.. when you get to the educated black folks.. and I don't mean they need to have a college degree, they are just well read and sometimes bourgeois folks (pronounced boog-wah, or as my people call it.. "boo-zhee" phonetically said... because NONE of us know how to spell it because the word doesn't exist in standard dictionaries). These people will take an Anglo name or a name from our African ancestry that has a deliberate meaning. African names such as Diallo (meaning "bold) and Zuri (meaning "beautiful") have a distinct meaning behind them. These names are accepted by the masses - quite possibly because they're more commonly heard and because the person who named them actually knows what the hell it means! Let's rewind to the name BoonQuisha... what the FUCK does that represent, that the child was conceived in the "boonies"?

That takes me to another way of naming their child. Black folks naming their kids after areas they were conceived in or on... but I digress.

We can't end this blog without mentioning the hippies of the black community. These folks can easily be mistaken for white celebrities who name their babies crazy ass names.

How's this?
  • Apple
  • Dweezil
  • Tiger Lilly
  • Jigme
  • Kafka
  • Pilot Inspector
  • Poppy Honey
  • Rumer
and the list goes on and on. Is there the same scrutiny? At any rate...

Some black hippie names are (and yes, i know/knew people with these names):
  • Sparkle
  • Honey
  • Cookie
  • Jazzmin
  • Caprice (Classic, as in conceived in an automobile)
  • Tangy (short for Tangerine I think pronounced Tangee and not tangy)
  • Lyric (I think a surge of this name happened after the movie Jason's Lyric)
And I REALLY want to get into why black people of NON-Hispanic decent have these Spanish names such as Carlos, Yolanda (yep.. that's not just a black name!), Consuela (yes, I knew a girl named this and she was definitely black!) and Roberto. As a good friend of mine says, "Never trust a black man with a Spanish first name. And especially don't trust them if they're wearing a pinky ring!" This is a topic within itself! But I have a feeling it's all about the exotic feeling of the name and it's uniqueness among blacks.. although, those names are HIGHLY popular in Spanish speaking countries.

With all of that said.. I still don't know why people do this to their children. But I say, keep on keepin' on. But keep in mind, a name that's unique has it's pluses and minuses. These kids are often labeled right off the bat as being dumb or hopeless - it migiht have something to do with them not even being able to spell their own damn name because they didn't know how to properly spell it themselves or phonetically it just wasn't right (e.g. Shanta - to me and MOST people.. that is pronounced Shon-tuh or Shan-tuh... but the girl I knew who was named that pronounces it Shon-tay. Go figure!) I just urge you to stay away from naming your kids after areas where conception occurred. The world does not need another Chevelle Diamonique LaChanel Thomas just because her parents got it on in a Chevy and her dad proposed with a stunning diamond-like ring with a Technibond ™ gold band on the HSN channel because that is just TOO MUCH!

Links used in this entry:

Oprah Winfrey
white celebrities who name their babies crazy ass names

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Why are black people so loud when they are in groups of any size?

Q: I work on a college campus and see black students standing around talking loudly/yelling at each other and at people that are walking by them. I have also noticed this in office settings and when it is totally inappropriate. Like in a movie theatre.

My question is why are black people so loud when they are in groups of any size? And do they realize that it frightens some people?

A: So you think black people are loud? WHAT IN THE HELL DO YOU MEAN, FOOL!? My people did NOT sing "We Shall Overcome" and "Lift Every Voice and Sing" to NOT be able to talk at whatever decibel they like... Hell... we need to be able to shout at the top of our lungs anytime we feel just as every human being should be able to.

We can't ALL talk like Samuel L. Jackson? Want us to speak with the calmness of Denzel? You do realize that Ralph Kramden (played by Jackie Gleason) was a loud talker too, right? You might be wondering who Ralph Kramden is. He's the lead character in the old show, The Honeymooners, (and a time when blacks were RARELY seen on TV) who talked loudly and promoted domestic violence when he said, "One of these days, Alice. One of these days... POW! right in the kisser!" These folks were always yelling at each other. Did he learn this way of communication from a black man or did we, the black folks of America, learn it from them?

Come to think of it, white folks do a lot of shouting themselves. Give them some alcohol and it's a natural amplifier of sound and stupidity. It's not unusual to get the random "YEAH, man!" or "Kick ass!" or even "Fuck, yeaaah!" You can be at a bar, a restaurant with a bar, or a bar in someone's house, or a tailgate with a "bar" so that they may get FU-BARed. But see, it's okay for white folks to do that because they're all around a bunch of other people doing the exact same thing they are - and if they aren't getting drunk, then something is OBVIOUSLY wrong with them and they try to coerce them into into drinking by telling them to "relax", have "a little fun" and to "live a little".

But why do groups of young black folks, of any size, talk loudly on a college campus? Simply - because they can. It's the same reason why you can wear New Balance sneakers and North Face jackets while drinking a Chai Latte on a crisp autumn day with friends. Because YOU can! You mentioned that they sometimes yell at each other. With black folks, it's like family anytime you come across another who looks like you - you get excited, have fun and are relaxed with your family... you get loud, laugh loud, and so forth. When they're yelling/talking loudly at people passing by - I guess it depends on the context because I've been yelled at by white men and it didn't frighten me. What it made me think - using my internal dialogue, "What the fuck is wrong with him - does he KNOW who I am? Jesse Jackson told me that I AM SOMEBODY! (oh.. and this link if WORTH checking out) and I will whip his ass if he doesn't watch himself!" I probably learned that set of dialogue from watching ROOTS - you know that's how Massa talked to his property and it's the 21st Century, dammit! It's time to flip the script! But even with that internal dialogue - I remember what happened to Ol' Miss Sophia in The Color Purple when she "sassed a white woman" and uttered these famous words, "Hell naw". Now, I'll admit, a group of white guys with shaved heads wearing all black and having a chain attached to their pants scares the shit out of me. Why in the hell are you wearing a chain and isn't it too damn hot for all that black clothing? That CAN'T be good. Same thing can be said when it comes to groups of folks wearing pointy white hats that don't say "Dunce" on it. How about this for real fear? Let's venture into traveling. I've driven across the United States twice and I have to say, there are states I'm more fearful in than others. There are cities that I have never stopped in because it wasn't a major city - so if I needed to do #2 I held that shit (literally) until I reached what I felt was a safe destination. There have also been times when I would NOT get out of the car because I know I was the EXTRAORDINARY man of color in that town. It's kind of unsettling. I imagine that white folks don't really think anything of it and if they do, they relate the feeling to something similar to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre - but homeboy wasn't wanting to hurt those folks because they were white!

When it comes to office etiquette, there seems to be an unspoken code of conduct. When white folks are in an office and they're talking about someone negatively or discussing "their business" - they tend to whisper. Sometimes it goes like this, "I heard that so and so is (whisper) gay.." or, "Did you know that she (whisper) slept with so and so?" Black folks generally will speak the truth out in the open, get loud and laugh about it. If it's about you, they'll most likely let you know - we get BOLD sometimes. If you want this loud-talking behavior to stop, you need to learn to not be afraid to communicate with black folks and teach them the code of conduct. Don't act like that's just how black folks are, loud and jovial. Most humans can and a lot of times be, loud and jovial - unless they're some goth kid with an iPod listening to EMO music, mulling over the meaning of life and how it's just not fair that they have to take algebra and why their mom likes to wear pastel colored velour track suits to the mall. For the vast majority of students in general they don't have any home training to teach them that code of conduct. Many just don't know how to act because their parents/guardians don't know how to act. It takes a village to raise a child - and just because I said village doesn't mean you had to have lived in a hut in a third world country to know the concept - Hillary Clinton wrote a book on it and made a LOT of money. With that said - each one, reach one unless you're too frightened to approach one. If that's the case, you should just get over it, look at the "Man in the Mirror" and make that change!

I do agree with you about the movies I can't stand when people talk to the screen either. In a theatre predominantly filled with blacks... you get the "shout outs" to the screen. Now, if commentary during the movie is what you like.. then more power to you. Let me direct you to a theater in Washington, D.C. where my Iron Man movie was both great (because I loved the movie) and annoying (I had the black version of "At the Movies with Ebert and Roper") because behind me two folks were giving commentary like, "God Damn that's a fly ass suit!" and "Look at that ride - that's dope! I want one of dem." and "He's about to kick his ass!" Then there was my experience at a Magic Johnson Theatre at "The Boulevard" shopping center. I saw Sex and the City and I remember a woman yelling out, "Don't do it girl!" Now, I ask, do you REALLY think Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha are listening to you?

With all of that said, here is the synopsis - most black people like to talk loud, laugh loud, etc because that's what they've been raised around - loud, jovial, energetic, charismatic families (for the most part). Visit a predominately black church and you'll find that the preacher gets all into the sermon and starts to yell himself! Let me remind you white preachers like to shout too! Jimmy Swaggart? Michael Pfleger? Paula White? This is not something dedicated to folks of a darker skin and hair texture. But I digress... If talking loudly happens at a time that is inappropriate - follow your code of conduct, pull these students to the side, whisper and let them know your expectations. If it's not your office, let someone in that office know - but don't be an ass about it. #1 they're students who WANT to be professionals. They'll understand what's up. #2 you're either part of the problem or part of the solution. If you're outside and you're casually walking by a group of students, gripping your keys/bag/purse tightly - KEEP IT MOVIN'! (that's what I do when I see those goth kids!) If they're talking about you (and I would bet that 9 times out of 10 they're not - unless you're wearing some whack ass outfit), what exactly do you plan to do? Nothing! That's what.

Lastly, I'd like you to also consider that the loud talking might be a result from having music that's playing in our headphones, car, or elsewhere. The music may be so damn loud that we can't even hear ourselves unless we're yelling . I suspect some white folks might have that problem, too - caused by a good Def Leppard, Aerosmith, Motley Crue, gangsta rap, "pour some sugar on me and make love in an elevator while I visit Dr. Feelgood, screaming along the way, "fuck the police" to the cop cars I see on the way to the clinic" track. To you I say, "Fuck yeah, man - Rock out with your c*ck out!"

* Remember, the view from my lenses may not be the same prescription as yours. :0)