I’m sick of everyone’s misery!
Today, Snarky B is venturing into the world of Video Blogging…or VLOGGING (I’m so modern)
Recently, a friend shared a story Stylist Cuts Little Girl’s Braids After Mom Refuses To Pay.
At first, I was filled with maternal rage, wondering what the heck got into the stylist’s head to think it was ok to treat a child that way, but as I considered it further, I wondered why the mother would leave the child with someone for hours, and why the mother thought the child needed a hairstyle that took several hours and hundreds of dollars to accomplish? The answer was not as simple as a mother who wasn’t thinking of her child’s best interest. The answer lays a lot deeper and involves the unstated standards of beauty we place on women in our society. The rest of this blog entry may be a study in surrealism as it’s coming from a White woman who is tired of having White standards of beauty imposed on Black women. Many may think it’s not my place to take up that flag, but they would be wrong. It is not my goal to insult anyone with this entry, but if you are, I hope it makes you think and you eventually take it how it is meant: A love letter from White Women to Black Women.
I grew up in a predominately Black, rural area. I moved back to that area after my parents split, at 10 years old. I remember walking into the classroom, filled with faces that looked very different from mine and being scared to death. Not because they were Black, but because I was the dreaded new kid. A young girl named Bridgette was the first person to talk to me. She didn’t hover or make me feel uncomfortable, she just included me in conversations, picked me for softball and made me feel welcome. I had the opportunity, recently, to photograph her daughter for her college graduation and I couldn’t help thinking how lucky I was to have had her in my life then. Not just because she made me feel welcomed during a very emotionally stressful time in my life, but because she was my touchstone in a society that told me that she and I were too different to be friends. When I heard negative things about Blacks, it was her face, and several others, I saw, and I knew those things were wrong. Later, when high school was over, it was her and a few others I thought of when a young Black Lawyer asked me to dinner and punctuated his invitation with “I don’t date sisters, only white women…can you imagine taking some ghetto girl to a dinner with my law firm??” I politely declined his offer and pretty much told him I had no intention of being a “token”. The more I thought of his words, the more I realized his judgement of Black Women was also a judgement on White Women. Though his words were only about Black Women, his meaning was a racial expectation of both me and those Black women he wouldn’t be asking out. He believed Black women to be “ghetto” and White women to be demure. I had examples of both that shot those preconceived notions to hell. It was then that I realized, that no matter how much society tried to tell us otherwise, Black Women and White Women would always be intertwined and subjected to what the world told us we were supposed to be, but all the while telling us the other was to blame. Black Women would be held to some impossible White standard of behavior and beauty, and White Women would be implicated as the evil that perpetuated it, when the truth was the complete opposite.
I want to speak on behalf of a lot of White women, directly to Black Women when I say STOP! Stop falling for all those standards the world sets you up for. We already think you are beautiful. You know that annoying habit White women have of wanting to touch your hair? It’s not because we think you look like a side show freak, quite the opposite, we are fascinated with it. Your skin, that you wish was lighter, we think is amazing. It shines with health, looks gorgeous in any color, and lets face it….”don’t crack”. Yes, when it comes to the aging process, Black women have it all over white women. But the most amazing thing about you, is your confidence. A White woman who gains 10 pounds will dress in a flour sack and stay in her room until she looses those extra pounds. A Black woman will dress it in a fabulous dress, new shoes and earrings and take pictures of it for Facebook. Because of this, you are our heroines! We admire you, we adore your strength, your confidence AND your beauty, so to see you falling for the bullshit the world is trying to feed you that you need to look more like what I see in the mirror each day, is heartbreaking. I can’t imagine the world telling my beautiful, funny, smart and amazing friend that she isn’t worth as much because she doesn’t fit into a very tiny standard. It angers me that the other beautiful, funny, smart and amazing women I have met over my lifetime work so hard to stuff themselves in a box I have struggled my entire life to break out of. It is especially frustrating to think the mother who sat her daughter in that stylist’s chair that day, was the catalyst for that child to try to stuff herself in that box as well.
Unless you live under a rock lately, you have heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge. To give you the condensed version, because I don’t want to alienate my under-rock-dwellers, it is a challenge on Facebook to raise funds for ALS research. In short, a person accepts the challenge and videos themselves pledging to donate $10 to ALS research and dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads. The person then challenges 3 friends who have 24 hours to accept the challenge, or donate $100 to ALS (or charity of their choice). Honestly, you can’t swing the proverbial cat on Facebook without hitting on a dozen videos from friends and celebrities. As of this writing, the challenge has raised well over $15 million. Now you are probably thinking “That’s a fun and awesome way to raise money for a worthy cause…” but you would be wrong. Like almost anything anymore, there is a contingency of grumps out there who are trying to detract from the challenge. Everyday I open my news feed to see one more person bitching about how ridiculous it is, or one more forwarded video of someone trying to make everyone else feel bad about the challenge. It seems the Ice Bucket challenge is not just a way of raising awareness and funds, but a socio-economic indicator of how big of an asshole you can be.
It started with the occasional “Oh I am so tired of seeing all these ice bucket challenges on my news feed” whiney posts. So lets start there. So the hell what? You know if the President or Mark Zuckerberg or someone like that posts that all these ice bucket challenges are wearing them out, ok. Let’s face it: they deal with a lot of shit in a day and have a lot on their plate. On the other hand, I’d wonder why the President is doing so much Facebook time and why someone like Mark Z is smart enough to build Facebook but not smart enough to find someone to cruise the Interweb for him…but still, granted, they are pretty busy people. For the people who come through my news feed, however, let’s be honest, you people are on Facebook avoiding work so shut up. If seeing the videos are making you tired, try watching your work email for a little while. It’s a fun challenge that raises money, don’t watch if you don’t want to, you are being an asshole.
Then we moved to the “I don’t understand why dumping water on your head is a good thing….why don’t you just write a check???” Yeah, ok, let’s examine that. Certainly the ice bucket challenge came about because everyone donated money to it all the time. Seriously? The Ice Bucket Challenge came about because it’s sort of human nature to want to be recognized for what we do. The average person can afford $10 for charity, but would rather blow that $10 on a pretentious Starbucks drink instead. If they video themselves saying “Yo Facebook, I’m donating $10 to charity” everyone would give them crap about donating more, and would think they were douchebags for coming out and practically asking for recognition of their donation. The Ice Bucket Challenge lets those people have fun at their own expense and be recognized for doing something good. So really you don’t understand? Maybe someone should create a challenge for you for being sort of stupid.
Now the latest group of Assholes are the ones playing a game of social consciousness one-up-man-ship. Pamela Anderson, I’m looking at you. For those that don’t know, apparently Pam can’t participate because ALS research involves animal testing. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t condone animal testing for things like eyeliner and soap, or, wait for it………….SILICON BREAST IMPLANTS! Didn’t have a problem with that one when you were slo-mo running on Baywatch and smoking Tommy Lee pole did you Pam? But a deadly disease is causing you an attack of conscious? Give me a break. Even more douchebaggery, are the people who have to forward pictures like this:
Seriously? The Ice Bucket Challenge is really causing a drought in Africa? Then there are those people who think we should not waste the water at all because we could use that water to hydrate some non-GMO crops. Come ON!!! If it bothers you that bad, send your $10 to Africa! Or South America, or PETA, or whatever YOU think is the more important charity, but for fuck’s sake shut up, you have no idea how big of an asshole you are. That pedestal of social virtue you are sitting on is impaling you and the rest of the world wishing you would pull it out of your ass and get on with life.
The Ice Bucket Challenge started with a couple of friends trying to raise money in honor of their friend. Their friend who will die of ALS. Their friend who was diagnosed in the prime of his life and has to watch his body betray him in the cruelest of ways. How is that offensive to you? Why are the numerous other forwards not offensive, but a video you don’t have to watch is? Check yourself and get back to me on how much of an asshole you want to be.
For those who would like to participate, I nominate you. If you would rather just donate anonymously:
The ALS Association
Gift Processing Center
PO Box 6051
Albert Lea, MN 56007
People can accuse me of a lot of things in life, but I will assure you, being a snob is not one of them. I find all people fascinating, some for all the wrong reasons, but fascinating nonetheless. As a result I have accumulated people from all walks of life, experiences and rungs on the socio-economic ladder. This menagerie of people mixes themselves into a very schizophrenic soup on my Facebook news feed. In the course of an hour I can read quotes from Buddha, Gandhi, Eminem and Honey Boo Boo (is she still around?), see videos of current events, tractor pulls and LOL cats, forwards warning me about the National Reserve removing “In God We Trust” from a quarter, pictures of horribly mangled children telling me it will all get fixed if I just click “like”, and endless game requests. But nothing compares to the posts directly from the author’s voice. These are among my favorite and my most frustrating.
Most frustrating of all are the relationship posts. Especially the ones from full grown little girls (and some men), lamenting on how wrong this guy has done them and that guy has done them. Now I may not be a trained relationship expert, but a Facebook page is a lot like a Psych exam. Looking back over some of their respective pages, it’s pretty obvious what the problem is….you can’t align what you want, and what you think you want. Until that happens, you will never be happy.
To illustrate what I mean, indulge me in an example. Suppose you are sitting around your house just relaxing and you are suddenly attacked by a craving. You are hungry, but you aren’t exactly sure what you are hungry for. You go to fridge, nothing looks appetizing. You look around in your cabinets, nothing looks appetizing there either, so you go sit back on the couch. You are still hungry so you get back up and go back to the fridge. You take a few bites of some leftover takeout….no, that’s not what you want. You go to the cabinet again and grab a handful of dry cereal….no. So now you resolve yourself that you are just going to have to go out and grab something, but you still aren’t sure what. Well, you think, maybe I’ll figure it out while I’m getting dressed. You get dressed and you still aren’t sure. Maybe you’ll figure it out while you are in the car, you think. You drive all the way into town and you still don’t know. Well, I’ll drive around and maybe I’ll know when I see the sign, you think. You drive around for a little while and it still doesn’t come to you. You finally realize you want a big, juicy burger so you pull into McDonald’s. As you dig in, you realize the burger isn’t all that big, and tastes a little flat, but it’s what you wanted right? Then you pass by the little hole in the wall diner that has the types of burgers you really wanted and you get mad at your Big Mac for not being the diner burger. They are both burgers aren’t they? But they are miles apart and you went for the surface criteria instead of what was really going on under the bun.
Now let’s put that in context. There will come a day when you are sitting around your house watching some Lifetime movie and you will realize you are tired of watching that tv alone. So you will get up, look around your social group and think that’s not really what you want, then you will look at some exes, and you might even give one a second chance, but realize it was better the first go around and you break up with people for a reason. You might actually try a few that are easy and not that long lasting until you realize you need to actually get out of the house and go looking. You will see a lot of people that look good, and at any other time you would probably be happy with, but just don’t fit you right now. Then you will come up with what you think you want, and think your searching and worrying is over and pull into the first guy that fits that criteria. But I’m here to tell you, when you come up with what it is you think you want, you still need to take a step back and finish the list of what you REALLY want. You also have to give up on expecting that Big Mac dude to be the diner dude just because they are both burgers. You can’t want the bad boy and then be mad because he is a bad boy. What you really want is the bad boy that holds down a job, pays bills and will rub your feet when you are tired….but honey that doesn’t always exist. You can’t go searching for that thug that calls women “bitches” as if it’s just another part of his vocabulary and then get mad because he treats you like a bitch. Grow up honey, that’s not how the world works. Grow up even more and stop blaming others for your poor choices. Go sit back down on your couch for a little while and work out what you REALLY want before you even get in the car to go find it.
So first of all, this does involve Justin Bieber, so let me get that apology out-of-the-way. But just follow me for a minute. It may surprise you as much as it surprises me that Justin is a perfect example in a Sociological debate.
Like, probably none of you, I saw a snippet of a deposition where the Biebs was answering for hitting a paparazzi or something. I was immediately struck by Biebs very….erm….URBAN accent. It sounded like he was raised in some New York Borough instead of CANADA. I actually said “Bitch you’re from Canada!” to my computer screen. It must also be noted that the Biebs has, lately, tried to portray himself as somewhat of a rapper. He frequently takes his shirt off in public (seriously all the time…really, congrats on the puberty, now get dressed fool), is chugging the Purple Drank (allegedly) hanging out with some, not so well-known, rappers, and, inexplicably, attempting to “sound Black”
He is hardly the only one. I notice this phenomenon a lot with White women who date Black men. Suddenly they go from sounding like Marsha Brady and start sounding like a Dave Chappell skit. As if being in the presence of a Black person makes a person who has never left the state of South Carolina, suddenly start speaking like they’re from New York.
Now, I know you are ready to start foaming at the mouth and throw fruit at your computer screen…but still, hang with me just a minute. My disclaimer here is: I don’t dislike Justin Bieber, and I think love is love, so I don’t disagree with Bi-racial relationships. And for the record, I didn’t invent the phenomenon of “Sounding Black” or “Sounding White“. What I do disagree with is the ridiculousness that Black is a sound. What I do disagree with is a White person trying to change their syntax and manner of speech in an effort to sound more like a person or group you claim to care about. It is the verbal equivalent of “I can’t be racist, some of my best friend’s are Black”. Guess what, when you say that and when you say it the way you do, you are the very epitome of racist. You have boiled your relationship with your friend or partner into a TOKEN relationship. You have reinforced the notion that Black people sound “street” and white people sound educated. It is the verbal equivalent of Black-face and makes you sound like an idiot.
I read this week of the death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman. A brilliant actor. A partner. A father. A human. I didn’t know him, I wasn’t necessarily his fan, though I enjoyed his acting very much, but yet I was still touched that someone was so gripped by addiction they died with a needle in their arm, alone in a hotel room. He was a junkie. The only difference between him and the nameless homeless guy od’ing in a flea-bag hotel on the wrong side of town is geography and a higher thread-count on the sheets. Then I stopped feeling sorry for Phillip, and started feeling sorry for those he left behind. Not just the kids, but yeah the kids who will forever be labeled with the shame of knowing their dad, the celebrated, Academy Award winner, died of a drug overdose. Although, they won’t be able to call it shame, unless it’s with their therapist, who will probably try to tell them they shouldn’t feel shame, they should feel sympathy for a man so gripped by addiction, and how his addiction was a manifestation of his own pain…blah, blah, blah. . .all the while looking down his/her nose at them for not being more supportive of an addict and his struggles. No, I feel sorry for all those he left behind, particularly his partner, family and friends who tried to stand by his side and understand his addiction. Because that’s what you do when you have a loved one with addiction, or depression, or sickness or whatever other war they are fighting. You understand. You read books on it. You watch very thoughtful and poignant YouTube videos about other’s with that struggle. You post “hang in there” messages on the person’s Facebook, and then feel like an idiot when they turn around and post a status like “I’m sick of people telling me to ‘hang in there’ when they don’t really understand what I’m going through”. Nice. Or the even better…”No one understands my pain, they say they do, but they don’t”. Awesome.
There are people in my life who I love dearly, who were at war, be it depression or addiction or other physical illness. And, there are loved ones who have passed on who never won their war. One thing they all had and have in common, however, is I stood by and tried to be understanding, while at the same time was reminded time and time again how I couldn’t possibly understand, but yet couldn’t stop trying because then I would be abandoning them. See that is the Catch-22 of being the loved one of a person at war. You get to be treated like you aren’t doing enough, but you can’t stop doing because then you are the asshole who abandoned them when they needed you the most. Being the loved one of someone at war is to be constantly reminded how very inadequate you are. All the nights you lay awake crying, praying, wishing, imagining things getting better, won’t matter a rat’s ass in the end. No one is going to say thank you. As a matter of fact, some people might even get blamed and labeled an “enabler” if that war is some sort of addiction. All those suggestions you make will be brought up later in a conversation where the, now rehabbed veteran, will tell you made them feel worse about their addiction/depression/illness, and they will tell you it made them feel more hopeless and inadequate. You will apologize profusely and feel even more like shit because you know full well how it hurts to feel hopeless and inadequate, because that is exactly what you felt the entire time you were trying to be supportive of your loved one at war. The even worse part of everything, is the person struggling with addiction or depression or illness, gets to go to rehab, or the hospital or what have you, and get somewhat better. They will go on with their lives because they feel so much better and more positive about that new life. You on the other hand, didn’t have a needle to put down, or serotonin levels to work out, or an illness to overcome. You will be right where you are, forever changed because you have been reminded time and again how inadequate you are and how very little you mattered. You will rethink every word you say because for however long, you were constantly guarded about saying the wrong thing and causing the other person hurt.
You see, I know this little drama because I lived it. My father died of alcoholism, and the whole time he was an alcoholic it was someone else’s fault. I have, or should say, had a good friend who struggled with alcoholism as well…we don’t talk anymore, but we talked plenty in the past, mainly about how she had all these reasons for being a drunk that no one understood, and “No Carol, you don’t get it….” when I suggested counseling. But my favorite conversation happened at 4 am, 2 hours before I had to be up for work, when she told me all the same shit she always told me when she was drunk and then ended it with “I thought you were my friend…” when I had to tell her I needed to sleep. Hmmm. All those other talks, which were just her wanting to tell me the same shit for the 100th time. I also had a couple of friends who struggled with depression, who constantly took offense to everything anyone ever said, because depression is real. Yeah, we know, but every word that comes out of someone’s mouth isn’t a judgement about your depression. And though I was available to them anytime they needed to vent, and accused of being a bad friend if I didn’t call or reach out….none of them seemed to take a moment to call and just see how I was doing. See, there is the other draw back to being the loved one of someone at war. Your problems are “small” by comparison. You aren’t allowed to have your own moments, or allowed to vent, or even allowed to call your loved one when you need a friend because then you are selfish, and when that loved one gets better, no one is going to hold them accountable for not being there for you because they were so sick.
So, I’m sorry Phillip Seymour Hoffman is dead, but I’m even sorrier that his loved ones aren’t going to get the opportunity to tell him to sort his own shit out and feel better about their own wars. They will forever feel they should have done more. No one will ever tell them they were enough and gave him more than he really deserved. No one will ever tell them they loved him more or cared more for him than he cared for them. It wasn’t because he wasn’t capable…it was because he was too damn selfish.