#mymothermademe… (OR DID SHE?)

DNA

No. Not Kendrick’s version of DNA… the actual DNA. Deoxyribonucleic acid, a self-replicating material present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes.

The carrier of genetic information.

I’m planning on having my DNA mapped, y’know that ancestry.com / 23andme type shit. I’ve always had questions, so now I want to get some answers. I know both my parents. That’s not a question. I know I’m Black. THAT IS NOT A QUESTION DAMMIT. But, both my parents are from the Caribbean and if you know anything about the transatlantic slave trade, you know that means the lines back to Africa aren’t as straight as they could be.

My first question would be more of an explanation. You see, I don’t LOOK like either parent. It’s said that I look JUST like my father, but yeah…no. People who know both of us don’t see it. My mother used to say it all the time, but I think that was just the angry divorcee talking.

I don’t look like my mother and since I was raised by her, the “oh! That’s your mom/daughter” surprise was – and IS – constant. For example, the day after the parent teacher conference my gym teacher said, “I didn’t know your father was White.”

Me: He isn’t.

Her: But…I…your mom? Are you sure?

Me: BITCH I’M SURE!

I didn’t SAY that, but my face did. Annoyed, I asked my mother’s permission to take one of the three photos of my father she had to school with me.

My mom: WHY?

Me: Stupid gym teacher met you and assumed my dad is White. I need to prove her dumb ass wrong.

My mom: (handing me the photo) don’t swear! Don’t lose the picture.

Brought the photo to school the next day and said, “HOW YA LIKE ME NOW?!?”

Okay I didn’t SAY that. I said, “THIS is my father.”

Or IS he?

There was a joke in my family that I easily could’ve been switched at birth and that my mother actually wondered that when she first held me. I was born via C-section, so there was a curtain, and my mom was drugged up a bit, and they just kinda said, “here she is (held up), and she’s healthy! BRB!”

Later, when she was in the recovery area with the other new moms, they brought me over. She took one look at me and (allegedly) said to the nurse, “are you SURE this is her?”

As her second child, my mother was expecting me to look similar to my sister. My sister was an adorable little light brown bundle (our father is #teamlightskint) with a tiny baby afro (“so much hair!”), and chubby cheeks. Me?

Growing up I heard the story. One day my mother heard me repeating it to a friend and stopped to correct me. You see, I thought I was told that when my mom first saw me, she thought I was Puerto Rican.

My mom (to me an my friend): I NEVER said that! I didn’t think you were Puerto Rican when you were born…

I thought you were PORTUGUESE.

Yup. My mother thought I was some random White baby and Portuguese because that was the first type of White person she thought of.

Puerto Rican would’ve made MORE sense because growing up in my neighbourhood, I was mistaken for Dominican or Colombian on a fairly regular basis. My friends’ parents would speak to me in Spanish when they met me, and then I would have to awkwardly explain that I wasn’t Latina.

“Oh. So your parents didn’t teach you Spanish?”

“No. I’m not Dominican.”

“Oh. Really?”

This happened to me as recently as ten years ago. By that point I had picked up a few words and phrases. We had taken a trip to the Dominican for a wedding. When we arrived at the resort, the man behind the desk said, Hola y bienvenido, ¿quieres una bebida?

Me: whaaaaaaaaa? Did we pick a resort with no English speaking staff?

(Please keep in mind that this was the third person to speak to me in Spanish.)

The same gentleman, turned to my friend and said – IN ENGLISH – “welcome to our resort. Would you care for a beverage? If I can get your name I can check you and your party in.”

Me: whaaaaaaaaaaa.

For the rest of the trip, I had to correct people in town, the staff at the resort, and even GUESTS at the resort. I even learned to say, “No soy dominicana, soy canadiense” (I’m not Dominican, I’m Canadian) because it happened so much.

One of the guys who worked near the beach looked me up and down, laughed and said, “you need to talk to you mom”.

YEARS later, I take my beloved mother out to lunch. Over our appetizers she says, I was talking to your aunt the other day, and we were talking about how Daddy (my Bajan grandfather) would reminisce about his childhood in Cuba—

I snatched the edamame my mother was causally putting into her mouth and said, “woman what are you talking about?”

My grandfather had passed away 15 years earlier. At the time, I was confused about two things: the name on the program was a completely different name than the one I knew him to have and, in his last days, he only spoke Spanish. Both were explained with a hand wave and the words, “don’t ask me now”.

If you have West Indian parents, then you know “don’t ask me now” means, “never speak of this again”. Which is how #SecretsOfTheWestIndies are created. This is how people find out about long lost siblings, uncles who are really brothers, second wives, first husbands…

…and why I want to get my DNA mapped. Questions need answers.

My friends have already started taking bets. If you want in on the pool, there is an assumption that I have Asian blood.

HAHAH NO*

 

 

 

*pending results.

 

 

 

 

#NOJULZ

 

No Julz.

No Kylie. No Kendall. No Khloe. No Iggy. No Kim. No Miley. No Rachel.

No.

No to all y’all.

This past week has seen Miley Cyrus “give up” hip hop, and Julz whatever her name is cancelled in my city for using the word “nigga” one too many times. Once again, Black women stared in collective confusion wondering (rhetorically) how these women achieved this notoriety in the first place.

WE know. So lemme try to explain it to those who don’t get it, or who are woefully obtuse.

BEFORE you grab a cape and tell Black women – or any other woman of colour, or hell, women period – that this is about race, it’s NOT about race.

This is about being rewarded for plagiarism. Remember that time you let a kid copy your homework and they got the better grade? Yeah. Exactly. Julz and her aforementioned cohorts are regularly criticized for their performance of Blackness. Let me be really clear: these women were NEVER “down”, they were NEVER “cool with us”, and they were NEVER given an invite to the cookout. We get mad with those of you who elevate their mediocrity because we know you only do so because it seems like a novelty.

Meanwhile, those who ARE, those who CAN, and those who will ALWAYS be, are told that they’re just “regular”, or worse, lesser than.

Julz and her ilk are not new. I knew girls like Julz in high school. They dated Black guys to upset their fathers. They even had “likkle brownin’s” that looked like me to further solidify their hood passes. Keyword: pass. Just like Black people have done throughout the years, these women were simply “passing” as a means to an end. They capitalize on the novelty, earning money, fame, and more money from it.

The money YOU give them. The money you won’t give us because we’re not enough of a juxtaposition to make it seem cool. Rather than recognizing the magic, you get excited by three card monte.

They co-opt our shades with buckets of self-tanner stopping just short of blackface. They braid their hair in intricate styles and post up on the Pinterest instead of the ‘Gram. They squat, inject, and twerk their asses to Hottentot proportions and you buy it every single time. But if we object, we’re jealous. We’re haters.

Shut up.

For every NO we say to Julz, there are yes’s to our White girlfriends who sing along to Beyonce with us at the club. For every NO we say to Kylie and her Khornrows, there are dozens of yes’s to our White girlfriends who have Black boyfriends and husbands and we HAPPILY stand as bridesmaids at their weddings. For every NO we have for Rachel, there are hundreds of yes’s for our White friends who stand beside us and shout, “BLACK LIVES MATTER”.

Sure, they sometimes have to get jokes and song lyrics explained to them. They know we can lose a whole day to getting our hair braided (properly). They love plantain even if they pronounce it “plan-TANE”. They body roll to Chaka Khan, think we are beautiful in all shades, and ask for cocoa butter beauty secrets. They watch Scandal and ooh over Olivia’s outfits with the same passion we do. We aren’t mad at them.

BECAUSE:

They don’t try to Columbus our lived experiences for their personal gain, because they are confident in who THEY are and what their relationship to us is in the world. Because they also know how OUR relationship to the world differs from their own. When they call to see how we’re feeling about the latest #INSERTDEADNEGROHERE hashtag, they don’t open the convo with “hey girl heyyyyy” or perform Blackness to engage in a conversation with us– they are our friends and they want to know how we feel.

But you don’t see those women, because they’re not injected and deep-fried for your misguided consumption. So instead, you accuse Black women of being mad that “White women are taking over”, and assume means every White woman.

WE are mad at the White women who are TAKING FROM US because they’re the ones YOU KEEP GIVING YOUR MONEY TO. Because once they’ve exhausted this revenue stream, they will cut their hair into a pixie, put on a long flowing white dress, and pose on the cover of Marie Claire with a doe-eyed expression announcing their return to virtue or if they’re not famous, they’ll submit a personal essay to Jezebel or Buzzfeed. They will talk about lost years spent with all the “wrong people” and detail that one morning they woke up and thought, “what am I doing with my life?” They’ll talk about how misogynistic the music was, and how they’ve realized that bodies shouldn’t be objectified. They will find peace and “real love” through a guy named Will. The main picture will be them sitting on their porch with their cocker spaniel named Daisy. You won’t recognize her at first because her name will be Julieanna, or Chloe, or Sam, her skin will be it’s natural shade of milky white (“SPF 50 is, like, so mandatory”), and her “thug life” tattoo will have been lasered off.

They’ll sit back and reminisce about “those days” with “those people” and they will chuckle softly to themselves while they count all that money you gave them.

As for us? We will go back to living our lives and comfort each other with reminders that these chicks never had the range. We’ll dance in a circle and celebrate our magic. We’ll braid our hair and revel in our melanin. We will say YES to all that is real and wonderful and ours. We will give each other OUR money and be enriched through our mutual support. But YOU will be denied entry from her world…and ours.

So you tell me: why do you keep saying “yes” when at the end of it all, you’re only going to be told, “no”?

C_B3iRaVwAAJ_kb

When the Shoe Doesn’t Fit…

If the shoe fits, wear it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that phrase this week. I was in a situation where the shoe most definitely did NOT fit. At the end of each day, my feet would be hella sore, I had blisters, and I swear a corn was forming on my baby toe.

By “feet”, I mean my psyche…my soul.

I had already taken measures to get out of the situation, but before I could make my move, I was told to move. You would think that for a person like me that being kicked out would set me off – I make the decisions in my life thank you very much – but it didn’t. It was the opposite.

That feeling of relief when you remove a pair of ill-fitting shoes? That wonderful ache when the blood starts to rush back to them? This was ten times better. It was GLORIOUS.

Now here’s thing, especially for women: you get these ill-fitting shoes – aka these situations in life that just DO NOT FIT – and after that first painful wear, you put them aside for a little bit. But you wear them again because you hope to break them in. Go look in your closet – go look at your life.

How many ill-fitting pairs of “shoes” are in there?

Mmmhmm.

These shoes SUCKED. I was miserable with every fucking step. Wearing bad shoes means that your feet hurt, yes. But eventually your legs cramp from hobbling about. Then, your hips go out of whack from trying to compensate for the hobbling. You lower back starts to ache. Your spine goes out of alignment, and you start to get headaches. All from shoes that don’t fit. You start walking funny and eventually your lopsided steps are the steps you take every day.

Because you put on a pair of shoes that don’t fit and continue to wear them.

What the fuck?

That’s what I said to my reflection one morning as I was getting ready to put those damn shoes back on to go through another day of bullshit. Constantly forcing something into my life that didn’t fit? WHY? I got to thinking about all the situations we put ourselves into that we COULD get ourselves out of, but we keep trying to force the fit. To break them in.

No. Noooooooo.

The shoe didn’t fit to begin with. When you tried them on that first time, you felt a twinge. You knew. You took a step. You might have even stumbled. Yet…

Maybe they were pretty. Maybe you got a good deal. Maybe they were a gift. Maybe it’s the “it” shoe that everyone covets.

But seriously, is it worth it?

Is it worth being hobbled? Is it worth stumbling through life? What happens if you need to run but you can’t because of these fucking shoes?

These shoes could be a job that sucks. A relationship that is only so-so. A life choice you’re not 100% satisfied with. But hey, they’re shoes right? Other people would love to be in them. Your boss reminds you that in subtle ways that you are expendable. That so-so relationship is better than being on Tinder, right? That life choice you made, well…there are hundreds of people who which they could have what you have.

So you hold your head up and try to walk tall in these shoes and you hope no one saw you trip on that crack back there. That’s what I’ve done so many times before.

This week, I’m going to get a pedicure and walk around barefoot.

Life is too fucking short to be wearing bad shoes.

xo/rr

p.s. The shoe in the featured image? I’mma need that shoe to fit. It’s Tom Ford. If anyone has an extra $1200 lying around and wants to buy me a nice pair of shoes… 

 

EVERY DAY LOVE

FACT: I LOVE love.

Your reaction as you read this:

uh-huh

I DO! 

I just don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day though. I’m not one for sentimental displays of affection. I joke that boyfriends have always gotten off easy, because I refuse the acknowledge the day.

Which leads people to believe that I hate romance, or love. That I reject the idea of it.

Nope. Not true at all.

It’s lovely. Besides, to know me is to know I LOVE candy. How can a person who loves candy as much as I do even possibly dislike the second most candy-oriented holiday of the year?*

Kids. Love is this awesome and amazing thing, and it does more than release endorphins. It motivates. It inspires. It creates.

Well… I think it should.

Too often, #LOVE is often relegated to this one day.

A shit ton of importance is placed on this day.

A day for a grand and wonderful expression of love.

lucillegifugh
Me, when people start talking about #VALENTINESDAY

That? That’s boring. I HATE that. That I hate. Ick. It’s so…

Mediocre.

That kind of love, that same old, same old love is what I raise an eyebrow to and kiss my teeth at. I have higher standards for love. I don’t want the same old. I don’t want sentimental teddy bears or milk chocolate hearts. I don’t’ want lukewarm bubbly, or a dinner out.

Been there. Done that.

Do better. Expect better.

My standards for #LOVE is means that I’m ACTUALLY a romantic.

(Waits for y’all to stop laughing)

(Waiting. Waiting…) 

I AM!

Love should be an everyday expression, and not one that you wait to toss into a card. You have 365 opportunities to show love, so why try to cram it all into one day? By cramming it into this ONE day, most people end up getting half assed attempt at a grand gesture, and THAT is something I hate. Half-assery. Y’know what I hate even more? People giving credit to half-assery. Thinking that this ONE day is the one day to know and experience love.

ONE. DAY?

Are you serious?

You got a card today. A dinner even. But tomorrow? Do you just go back to the same old tomorrow? WHYYYYYY? By placing importance and value on that ONE day, you miss out on the other days. You inadvertently tell the people in your life that they don’t have to make any effort the other 364 days because as long as they show they #LOVE you today, it’ll make up the difference.

I know…other holidays are relegated to one day. We don’t celebrate Christmas 365 days of the year, so why this one. Really? Look at this way: a faithful Christian** gives thanks for the life of Jesus every day, so why can’t we acknowledge and give thanks for love every day?

I’ll be honest: part of me just wants cinnamon hearts to be available year-round, but also, I want…seek out…and cultivate love every day.

It’s more effort. But it’s worth it. You’re worth it and you know for DAMN sure I think I’m worth it.

xoxo

* – candy usually goes on sale at 6 pm…y’all have no idea how excited I am

giphy

** – faithful Christians, feel free to correct me on the frequency thing. I got kicked out of Sunday school when I was 8 AND I’m an atheist, so I’m basing my assumption on how my friends and family act.

I Am Not Your Feminist…

Yesterday, millions of women marched in protest against what is happening in the United States. My city organized a sister march in solidarity.

Yeahhhh….I didn’t go.

I watched Netflix. Played with my dog. Did chores. Tweeted. For me, it was any other Saturday. Because the things everyone was protesting about were the things that happen to me on any other day.

You see, when the event was first announced, it was called “The Million Woman March” and everyone got REALLY excited, but me? I had a “but wait” moment.

“But wait…didn’t the Million Woman March happen 20 years ago?”

But I bet y’all didn’t know about that one…do your googles.

The organizers changed the name. Then, I read that the “official” march excluded sex workers, and had partnered with a group who were anti abortion.

“But wait…I’m friends with sex workers and women who have had abortions. Who marches for them?”

——–

When I was about 8 or 9, I proudly announced that I was a FEMINIST. It was the 80’s and “Working Girls” were everywhere. My mom, my Aunts, and my friends’ mothers were all out there, every day, working. I only knew two stay at home moms during my elementary years.

My mother would kind of shrug off my “FEMINIST” declarations. She didn’t discourage them, but she never overtly encouraged them. I foolishly chalked it up to cultural differences and a generational divide. By the time I reached my teens, I was such a “FEMINIST”, that I could’ve been cast as the “progressive teen girl who inserts facts and figures into EVERY conversation (and wears glasses)” on any sitcom or movie. While writing a paper for my politics class, 17 year old me asked my mom if she ever protested; if she had burned any bras.

“I was too busy working to protest and bras are expensive. Who was gonna buy them back for me? Cha.”

(for those who don’t know, “cha” is a disdainful expletive used by West Indian women to express annoyance, my question was highly annoying)

“But those protests were important! Without them you couldn’t go to work!”

“I was ALREADY WORKING. What did you think we were doing?”

When one of my Aunts passed, her obituary read like a shopping list of achievements. There were a lot of “The first…” type sentences in there. In my eyes, she was my Aunt Jenny: a nurse who was the first in her family to come to Canada, and paved the way for her siblings. She worked insanely hard (nurses hours); maintained a household, raised two kids, and still managed to grow beautiful roses and fresh mint in her backyard. She was also very intimidating in a Maxine Waters kind of way. She didn’t come this far for any of us to come half way.

My mother was a divorcee. She had to move back in with the sister mentioned above, and then to get her own place, worked two jobs, raised two kids, attended every parent teacher conference, and cooked every meal. Every single one.* When technology changed in her chosen line of work, she went back to school at the age of 40, and upgraded her skills.

Looking back, I realized that the women in my family didn’t have to fight for the right to work, they were already putting in the work and then some.

By the time I reached adulthood, I realized that I too had put in a LOT of work. Plus, I had endured sexual harassment in the form of fondling by the guy who owned the clothing chain I worked for (he grabbed me by the ass). A boyfriend had assaulted me in broad daylight. I had been rejected from opportunities even though I had worked “twice as hard to be half as good” since I was child. I had put in the work and then some. I was out protesting for a better tomorrow…hell I was protesting for a better today.

But I didn’t see the results.

In fact, instead of results, I’ve had my citizenship and my parentage questioned by so many other women, and therefore my commitment to “the(ir) cause”. I realized that mainstream FEMINISM does not welcome me, just like it didn’t welcome my mother or my aunts.

So I followed her lead. I did the work. When I was invited to protests, or meetings, or groups. I just didn’t respond to the invites just like they didn’t respond to my questions about the(ir) cause.

Don’t ask me to lean in when you haven’t even invited me to a seat at the table.

But I will be here. I’m going to do the work like I have been doing, the way my mother and my aunts did, and I will support every effort simply becuase:

I am a feminist.

I’m just not YOUR feminist.

This photo perfectly captures my feminist experience:

 

*my mother is embarrassed by my lack of cooking skills and brings it up often.

Dream Analysis – HALP!

My subconscious is trying to tell me something. Again.

Two strange dreams. Both during the same sleep cycle.

Dream #1

There’s a dude I’ve known for almost 20 years.

About 10 years ago, he admitted that he had a thing for me waaaaaaay back when. But I curved him.

Uhm. NO I didn’t. I didn’t realize he was expressing interest. Because, clueless. Carrying on. 

About 6 years ago, he made an overt move. Initially I said no…but then I said yes, thinking, “what have I got to lose”. Well. The moment I said “yes”, he disappeared faster than David Blaine and David Copperfield combined.

It was beyond being stood up. Dude basically had me standing around looking more alone than Tom Cruise in Time Square.

Meh. Bygones.

But I had a dream that he made another play and I was accepting of it. I’m not in contact with this guy and honestly? Haven’t given him much thought since the Great Curving of 2010. Why him? Of all people? I would think that if I were going to give someone a chance, it wouldn’t be him.

Hmmm.

Dream #2

My ex boss offered to take my blog and produce a series out of it. Strange because a) he doesn’t know THIS blog exists (he was familiar with HLBB) and b) WE don’t keep in touch.

Funny part: that whole dream was from my POV, looking down at my phone as the offer/subsequent conversation took place via text message).

 

So here we have it kids: two people from my past, that I don’t keep in contact with/think about, have offered to “improve” my personal and professional lives.

What gives?