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Troy

Here's Why We Are Confused About "Race"

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This is the cover of the latest issue of Ebony.  The adjoining opinion piece appears, apparently, in the same issue.  I say apparently, as I have not received my issue yet; I found these images on their website.

Much of the critique about Rachel is that she misrepresented herself as Black.  We misrepresent ourselves as white every day of the week. The notion that we do not state that we are white, makes no difference.  What we do, what we celebrate makes this quite plain.

ebony-miss-ann.jpg

As an aside, two weeks ago I got the May issue.  Yesterday, I got my June issue with the Father's Day buying guide?!  Is anyone else getting their issues of Ebony magazine so late?

Edited by Troy

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We have two subscriptions, though one I don't recall purchasing both come late one comes extremely late.  I should have received the issue above already, but I probably will not get it until August.  

 

 

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And there in lies the problem with supporting Black business... That was a generalization, but when people actually think this way it hinders the progress of Black businesses. Then again, when a company that makes millions acts this way it is generally the flag bearer for the community.

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I hear you Chris, but I'm not so confident that Ebony is making millions. I suspect they are struggling, as evidenced by the late issues and other things.

But I still subscribe, because other than Ebony what other magazine is left in this space?  I think we need Ebony.  It is not like we still have Emerge, or any other magazine to fill the void. 

Ebony like most big Black communities I've encountered are very difficult to support.  They simply don't reciprocate.  Now I don't say this lightly, but I say it because it is important and it stands in stark contrast to white owned indie companies that I deal with.

This unwillingness to collaborate is both shameful and self destructive, and helps explain why indie Black businesses struggle and even why non-black owned businesses can thrive in our communities and with our dollars. 

Leaving the corporate world for entrepreneurship has been very enlightening with regard to the plight of our people.

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Wow! I read the article and I do agree that 'we' tend to give White women a pass and view them as being fragile should be be called out or exposed for doing something cultural offensive. Even though, I am pretty critical against wrongdoings that I see in regards to White women, I too find myself sometimes willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for certain issues, that I find myself wondering why I do that. And, I kind of know the answer, it's deep seeded and I believe comes from a pre-conditioning and from the feeling of suppression and White Supremacy being masked behind White men as taking the wrap for issues that have been exposed. I believe we have been conditioned to overlook White women and view them as being off limits no matter how they show themselves as being just as active about racism and White Supremacy as the White man. And I really have a lot of emotions about this topic because I have had to deal with issues that I have been faced with that makes it hard for me to ignore now. This issues just strikes a tune with me because I constantly have a burning question in my mind concerning 'the reaction' of Ms. Dolezal being exposed in comparison and contrast to so many other issues, one that would include Black people have downplayed Ms. Stanely Dunham.

I'm trying to wrap my head around how the presidents mother could have been given a pass to be able to be considered a foundation of our Black race and culture when every thing that I read doesn't show anything credible! She has been given credit, but she didn't live the life of a Black woman or African or African American. So, what is so different from her and Ms. Dolezal? In fact, Ms. Stanley Dunham moved in on another Black woman! The president's father was married at the time the president was conceived. He was 'a money train' sitting in a college class on some kind of scholarship or something at a time when Stanley Dunham's parents left the continent to move to Hawaii to seek a better life. During the 60s when the Civil Rights Movement was in swing, she was not apart of any movement that I read about that aligned her to the plight of Black people at that time. The write-up throws down the presidents father, but builds up his mother and in my opinion, GIVES HER A PASS, but she is just as negative as what his father as been portrayed to have been. She was not embracing the Black plight, rather, she was looking for  relationship that gave her economical gain. I just don't get it. Ms. Dolezal is by far rare in her actions to have a passion to align herself with the Black race for gain when things are going well. 

I mean, the very epic film of a White actress portraying the part of a well documented Black woman just screams to this issue. NO, Cecil B. DeMille did not cast a Black woman to play the part of Zippora, but he chose a White woman! I think too, that many White woman possess some kind of imbalance when it comes to the plight of Black women in many ways that we have been made to 'not see'. Many of them hide behind White racist men, but it just doesn't seem natural for White men to be racist against Black women, and not White women too. i think many of them hide their racism and want to be portrayed as being passive, but that is not true.  

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Right! because too many African American celebrities get their skin bleached their nose done to a pointier shape and get all weaved up.

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OH yeah they were not the ones that were forced on the ship or was raped by a slave master or beaten or segregated against.

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If people are not satisfied with how they look, then who is to say that they can't change their appearance if they so chose??  We are urged to change our personality flaws to make us better persons and if aspiring to a "be-all-you-can-be" vision of themselves motivates people to do what makes them feel better, then I say so be it.  All the judgmental people who want to lecture about self-hate and low self-esteem need to chill.  Should an obese person not try to lose weight? Should a person with acne not try to clear up their skin? Should a person with protruding crooked teeth not get braces? Should a extremely myopic person not wear contacts. And why is it any more of a crime for a black female to want long silly hair extensions as opposed to the coarse synthetic fiber that is woven into the dread locks so favored by other black people who are always yapping about racial pride. One is no more of an affectation than the other. If a dark person wants to lighten their skin and or a white person wants to tan theirs, then it's nobody else's business and they shouldn't have to justify why they decide to do this.  We should be more interested in what's in a person mind instead of what's on their head, less critical of their complexions and more intrigued by the complexity of their individuality. Everybody is entitled to choose their way of competing and coping in a world that in spite all of its noble rhetoric condemning superficiality,  is the very essence of it.       

Edited by Cynique
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Cynique fixing one's teeth, so that one can eat properly; losing weight, to avoid heart disease and diabetes; or getting contacts so that you can see properly can't be compared to someone dying and straightening their hair.  I'm surprised you tried using that analogy to support your argument ;-)

That said, of course we all should be more interested in what's in a person's mind instead of what's on their head.  Further, we can never truly know what a person is about until we get to know them and you'll probably be wrong 99% of the time if you judge a person by the style of their hair.

There are devils rocking afros and some very conscious sisters with straight hair.

My issue with hair styles stems from two main issues; (1) the standard of beautiful for Black women's hair is the exact opposite what grows out of their heads naturally.  This is a big problem from self esteems issues, stress and huge resources going toward maintenance of hair.  We did not create this standard but across the globe we perpetuate this mythology (see any cover of Ebony magazine); (2) We don't even benefit financially from all of the money spent on hair care; most of this money goes outside of our community.  These two things combined define exploitation.  

I'm tired of seeing us exploited.  But we are such easy marks, like shooting ducks in a barrel.

 

 

 

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"Naturally, I disagree, Troy.  Losing weight for health issues is just one reason why women do it.  Many do it to slim down their figures so they can wear fashionable clothes, something that is also an added incentive to the ones who do it for reasons of health.  Braces are a cosmetic issue. You can eat with protruding crooked teeth but everybody wants that toothpaste grin because a perfect smile is an asset.  And getting contacts as opposed to wearing glasses to improve your vision is comparable to straightening your "kinky" hair. If a woman thinks she looks more glamorous without the encumbrance of glasses, and with the enhancement of long silky hair and arched eyebrows, this is not a sin. That's her prerogative.. "Vanity, thy name is woman!"   Self-esteem comes in many forms.  Where is it written that you have to be satisfied with your natural appearance if it doesn't prove to be an asset in the sphere where you function. Ignorance is a natural state but going to college to acquire knowledge and skills so you can better navigate through life, is not a case of self hate; it's a practical decision and could even have something to do with self love.  I think this applies when it comes to do-overs, too. 

My point is that self-hate is a label that is placed on people so they can be categorized and dismissed. If a person chooses to adjust to the social turf where they compete, then self-appointed arbitrators need to butt out.  

All people are exploited in every area of their life.  When black men give up  the extravagant consumption of things that advertise their status and polish their image, then I'll encourage sisters to do likewise.  In the meantime, I say: "do your own thing, girlfriend; it's your life".

Edited by Cynique
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Cynique, changing one's hair color and texture are never done to improve one's health or physical condition.  Hair styles, unlike the other examples you've attempted to equate, are changed for mental reasons; how they make someone feel about their own appearance.  Indeed people will disagree about whether the person actually looks better.

If you are obese losing weight is virtually always a  good idea, as is correcting crooked teeth or bad vision.  People can not reasonably disagree about this.  While the improvement in physical appearance may an additional motivator some some, it could be incidental for others.  But we'll agree to disagree on this.

Cynique, I believe some Black women change their hair to mimic European standards of beauty imposed upon them; even if they comply unconsciously.  Do you disagree?    

If you agree, do you think this would tend to have a positive or negative impact on that person's self-esteem?  

In my mind, this is particularly evident by the number of women who fair at the attempt to turn Black hair into white hair, despite prodigious efforts.  The overabundance of Black women blogging about natural hair care is in direct reaction to this condition.

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May I again remind you Troy, that contact lenses are not about improving your vision so much as they are about replacing the glasses that people are too vain to wear. Crooked teeth are not an ailment, they are an impediment that has little to do with improving one‘s health.  These  options are “cosmetic”  changes that apparently make people feel better about their appearance, and nobody ever criticizes women about them the way they chide African American ones who when it comes to their hair, are  accused of "mimicking European standards of beauty imposed upon them" -  the choice of words you use to advance your point.  I could similarly put my spin on the situation and say that black women straighten their hair because, like all women in this country,  they want to wear it in a popular American style. Why is it so much emphasis is put on self-acceptance but few have a problem with women wearing make-up,  - something that isn’t natural.

Whatever. I don’t think black women have an obligation to justify an alternative  hair choice because they are not conceited enough to think they are perfect the way they are. You make it sound like hair is an extension of one’s psyche, and a session on the psychiatrist couch is in order to reveal why black women reject their locks, insisting that they have low self esteem because they want to conform to Caucasian standards.  But actually, it’s as much about wanting to conform to popular standards. And incidentally, this can entail sistas  "consciously" copying white women since they are who so many brothas are "unconsciously" attracted to.   
 
And it’s not as if what black women do their hair is a big deal.  It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. You can go to the drug store and buy a kit for about $7.00 and in no time at all with a minimal amount of fuss, tint or dye your hair to a shade that changes your natural color.  Or is getting your hair permed a monumental undertaking for a black women. You can do it yourself or have a hair dresser do it.  This treatment will last about 3 months and doesn’t call for anymore upkeep than an Afro, considering all of the things that women do to maintain this “natural” coif. Also you can buy synthetic hair extensions at a beauty supply store and attach them yourself.(it amuses me how braided extensions seem to get a pass, as  if  this  expensive, time-consuming choice is an authentic style.)  Wigs, of course, are  not that expensive and are low maintenance.

In its natural state, my hair is wavy and frizzy.  I can simply wash it, put some pressing oil on it, and straighten it with a hot comb. When I used to do this, self-hate was the last thing on my mind. I just wanted my hair more manageable.  When Afros became popular, I wore one because they were all the rage, not because this elevated my self-esteem.

I can only speak for myself when it came to there being a connection between what was on my head and what was in my head.  My hair was a part of my total look and this persona was a manifestation of my individuality.  I never felt a need to apologize for not being Afro-centric. I was who I was. I dressed the way I pleased and did whatever I felt like doing with my hair, and this included hiding it under wigs.   The only time my self esteem was affected was if I didn’t do well in school or didn’t move up on a job or didn‘t get a guy I had eyes for.  Whatever the circumstances, I refused to let someone else define or shame me. And I don’t think I am that unusual.  

In the present, tresses are becoming a fashion accessory.  I keep in mind that a woman's hair is "her crowing glory" and as a queen in her own right, she can do to it whatever makes her feel royal. When it comes to the root of her motivation, I'll leave the psycho-babble  to those who think  black women should adhere to the taste of their critics..  

Edited by Cynique
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Well as someone who got veneers and a cap to replace bucked, crooked and a chipped teeth.  I will admit the motivation was cosmetic, but my improved bite was a tremendous benefit; any dentist will attest to that.  Improving my bite alone was worth the dental work.

I also wore contacts for most of my life to correct very bad myopia. Sure switching to contacts was an improvement of my appearance (IMHO), but contacts improved my vision better than glasses ever did, and glasses have additional downsides.  About a 15 years ago I had the lasik procedure done, again this was a permanent fix to my vision problems having nothing to do with my appearance because I was already wearing contacts.

I also loss about 20 pounds about 7 years ago, sure I look better, my clothes fix better, but the real benefit was my heath.  

But we can agree to disagree on those points.

As far as Black women and hair, you are my senior and a woman, so of course I'm very much inclined to yield to your wisdom on issues like this.  I also have to admit you have a point when you say "...sistas 'consciously' copying white women since they are who so many brothas are 'unconsciously' attracted to."  

But you hit upon nuance I overlooked. It makes all the sense in the world that women would wear their hair in such a way that is attractive to men.  Black men of course are not immune to the europeanized standard of beauty, and probably do find women with straightened hair more attractive.  

I think you underestimate the amount of time, effort and money some women put into their hair.  None of the sista's I know are going to go 3 months without getting a touch up. Many professional women I know go to the salon far more regularly; weekly is not unusual.

To be clear, I'm not critiquing any woman's hair style. What I'm attempting to do is understand the motivation for imagery we see on the Ebony cover, why a blond haired, blue eyed white girl can pass for Black, and why all of this might point to some cultural confusion.  I'm also suggesting that all of does not do us very much good mentally or financially

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Hey, I have gaps in my teeth and although I've had the money to get them fixed, I never have. I was able to find a beautiful wife with these teeth and I'm able to eat at incredible restaurants with these teeth. I have always been self conscious about my teeth and as confident as I am, I still realize that people value "a perfect" smile over an "imperfect" smile. After years I've gained considerable confidence and I smile with the best of them. I now realize that a smile is infectious no matter if it's raggedy or not. According to society I am not handsome because of it, but according to my wife it doesn't matter. You even have rappers who are discussing the perfect smile now. The song also discusses what you guys are going back and forth about. I thought I'd add it here.

 

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Bucked teeth never stopped me from getting a girlfriend or a wife either, but Chris I would recommend correcting your bite.  Keeping it real is one thing, but not fixing you bite, when you can afford it, is like not buying glasses.

Now if may be possible that your bite really is not that bad at all and correcting it not worth the effort.  I could not bite into a sandwich without using my incisors/molars.  The cap was really not an option as 1/2 of my front tooth was knocked out when I was a teenager. 

Now if you are someone like Michael Strahan where your gap-tooth smile is part of your signature that is one thing and may not be worth changing,

I got braces for both of my daughters, not only do they have nice smiles they also have a set of properly working chompers, that will hopefully serve them for a lifetime.

Rap artists are not typically role models for me.   ;-)

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My final input on this subject is that woman not only adorn and embellish themselves to attract men, but - they do this to compete with and inspire the envy of other women. They are steady checking each other out,pricing each other's clothes, and grading each other's over-all appearance.  They will wear high-priced stilletto heeled shoes that are killing their feet, not to seduce men but to impress other women. 

Yet, women are  more inclined to overlook physical "flaws" than men are.  A smart male with a good job has better luck with the opposite sex than his plain-Jane female counterpart. It's rough out there in the mix and it requires a lot of  perserverance and savvy to cut through the BS.  It's easy to prate about beauty only being skin deep, but in 2015, all bets are off.

I've needed glasses since 8th grade and also have an overbite that had a slight effect on my eating and my smile.  But the one natural asset that worked in my favor were my - dimples.  Who'd have thought it?   My husband.

Edited by Cynique
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I like that song and it really does a decent job of explaining how people look at others only on the surface. I have multiple gaps. I also weighed 260 at one point, so I don't think my gaps have anything at to do with my eating, lol! I just don't see the point in paying for braces other for the sake of vanity. I can understand getting it with the chip tooth though. My son was going to have gaps because I have them so I paid for his braces early. He's in good shape and won't have to overcome the jokes or the self consciousness which gives him a leg up on confidence.

As far as glasses, I wear them but I haven't bought a pair in 20 years. I'm a disabled vet and they are free, lol. When I play in a basketball league I don't even use glasses and I've never had contacts. I play damn near blind, but muscle memory is an excellent thing to have. I can still nail threes with blurred vision. 

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