Sunday, September 24, 2006

Recharging the Battery

Things were starting to get a little stressful at the Corporate Slave Ship. . .


I am back in a Little Over a Week, yo. . . Enjoy this and the previous posts. . .Portate Bien!!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fade to Black

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You would think that I wouldn't have to talk about this. . .

Is there still a pervasive, subconcious attitude that exists regarding skin complextion, hair textures, and the like? Are these projections introduced in early childhood development, and then ultimately cemented in our adolescent stages?

Have both our darker and lighter halves suffered the consequences of the skin they are in, either made to believe that one or the other is superior, subject to each's interpretation of beauty? Or even worse, have they been washed in the skin cycle of being ashamed of their lighter/darker persuasions to the point where it affect all that is around them, up to and including choosing a mate to, shall we say, even things out a bit? Are hair textures (AKA "Good Hair") still secretly envied and desired or straight lusted after?

That which might solidify our classic model of what is idenfitied as beautiful. Are there built in sterotypes that wreak havoc in our lives from day one. I remember one time a friend and I did an experiment (early nineties, y'all), and we noticed that in many of the videos, that they would show the asses of the darker girls, and the faces of the lighter ones. . .Whether or not this has changed significantly from those days, I couldn't tell you.

In this Post Imitation of Life phase of our culture, what do we expect when it comes to beauty. Certainly, during the early part of the 20th century, passing became a phenomenon that was partially survival, partial choice. Carol Channing has recently admitted her paternal black parentage. . . It is even rumored that Dinah Shore has black parentage, that which she never confirmed NOR denied. (If you haven't seen the A & E biography on her, treat yourself).

Sure, we are all aware that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what are the specific criterias associated with it, and how many people (excluding these intelligent readers, of course) use improper measurement criterias? We can't act as if it never happened, and, with that said:


Would India Arie, both artist and Musician, be as popular as Alicia Keys, be MORE popular and/or lavished with more mainstream acclaim (mainstream) if they she had 'it'?

Would Beyonce, Alicia Keys, et. al, be the toast of the town if they weren't?

But the inverse had happened with our brothers. . .Would so many of our lighter leading men (Giancarlo Esposito, Mel Jackson) had more 'urban' appeal if their skin textures were more of the Denzel, Wesley, Don Cheadle Flavor?

There are SO MANY schools of thought. There is a difference between having an authentic preference for things, versus having discriminatory tastes (whether it's for the darker or lighter persuasion).

Some examples:

There is a brother that I used to date, he was growing up during the era where light skin-ded green eyed Reggie Theus, Phillip Micheal Thomas brothers were the ones (subject to interpretation) that were bringing sexy back. He is VERY attractive, darker complexioned man; however, teenage women wouldn't give him the time of day. He, in turned, himself began to prefer the lighter persuasion as a way to prove himself 'worthy', if I may, to the less melanin enhanced population.

On the flip side, I have a friend who has the classic 'light skin, brown curly hair' who has, over the course of her entire lifetime, attempted to make up for that, by sitting in the sun as a child, choosing darker men to date (and marry), because she never enjoyed valued the skin she was in.

I also have a friend that goes ballistic when someone compliments someone from the lighter persuasion, and she goes into Drill Seargeant Mode, asking why they said that, and she always alludes to someone saying that only because that person was light. She also goes out of her way to talk about how everyone loves her complexion. (Which, I think, is TMI).

Fortunately, I was able to escape the madness of the time. I fit somewhere in the 'middle', for lack of a better word.
The picture above is of Carol Channing.

But, back to the lecture at hand. . . Are we still perpetuating these types of ideologies in early adulthood, either with melanin issues or hair? Does it matter? Do you see it? Or am I imagining it? Have we grown out of this, or have we stunted our growth, only perpetuating it in other ways?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Visions of Feathers and Jheri Curls Dancing in My Head

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One More Knight. Aptly titled, this was equally the name of our school mascot (Knights), as well as our Phil Collins inspired song, that allowed us into our first foray into the Black Tie world of a Formal - Prom Night.

My prom was equally fun, and bizarre. For starters, I had three guys ask me. The first one, I wasn't sure if he was planning on getting his Jheri curl redone for the festivities, nor did I have the heart to ask him. The second one, he wasn't tall enough (I was 5'10" at the time), and would have towered over him with my pumps. The third one, well, let's just say I wasn't sure if I would even make it to the prom. He was what we called, at least, on the West Coast, a slanging brother, someone who was too slick for his own good and me being virgin-AL personality, I declined him with a quickness.

I decided to ride solo. I have always been a relative loner; what difference did it make when it came to my prom. So, my friend Gretchen (who was going with a good friend) decided to roll together. I had also chosen an unconventional color - black.

Black, you say? Why, P, what's the problem with black?

Glad you asked. In the decade that I graduated in, what was hot on the streets was pink and peach pastels. With obsence looking fishtails, outrageous puffy sleeves, and equally disturbing hairstyles. Accompanied by airbrushed nails and satin shoes to boot, we were indeed, a sight for sore eyes. My mother kept asking me was I sure this was what I wanted; to which I said. . .YES.

Making a long story short, I showed up at the prom solo (after arriving of course, with Gretchen and her dude), and I (along with the dress) was a HIT. Let me tell you this; everyone looked FANTASTIC - I just think that people were more surprised at the COLOR more than anything. But the dress WAS nice; One sleeve, satin, slit in the back, rhinestones (sounds cheezy but wasn't at the time) Seven (count 'em) SEVEN guys came up to me telling me they wanted to ask me out, but they thought I had a college boyfriend; they indicated they would be happy to pose with me, to which I promptly declined. I took my picture before my Fashion Fair/Flori Roberts inspired makeup wore off, and my feather started to droop.

The night went smoothly; Update on the brothers who asked me:

1. Jheri curl did, indeed, get his hair done for the festivities, and looked great with his little Emerald green vest on. So did his date.

2. Napoleon Complex looked equally dazzling with his Tux. And his date had on Electric Blue with some Satin Pumps.

But the piece de resistance came from the #3 Dates - the slanger, the baller. THIS MUTHA FUCKA asked another girl at our school to go to the prom - AND BROUGHT ANOTHER GIRL FROM ANOTHER SCHOOL AND LEFT THE OTHER ONE STRANDED AT HOME. . .

Everyone was pissed - Both female AND Male (after the guys stopped drooling over the light skin long hair foolishness). His other date eventually showed up and was let in, and it was on and cracking then. Let's just say that him AND his date had to be escorted out of the prom, eventually. Me, being me, I was loving every minute of it (except for the fact that he left her stranded - that wasn't cool). I was also equally horrified over the fact that he very well could have done that TO ME!! In a later conversation, he swore he wouldn't have, but in the words of my R & B brother Ginuine, what makes ME different?

As the night started to wind down, I began looking for Gretchen and her little friend.

No dice.

Means nothing. Who really sits down at the prom? You're so busy dancing and doing everything else, one of which figuring out what's crackin tomorrow, that it was no big deal.

Gretchen. . .Gretchen. . .(by the way, YES, that was her name) 

Well, I might as well had been looking for the holy grail because Gretchen and her friend bailed out and left me stranded at Lynwood (up to no good) High School's Junior/Senior Prom at the Los Angeles Marriott.

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So, anyway, after I STOPPED feeling like that, I managed to make my way to the phone booth (pre-cell phone dayz, y'all), and called my mother, who had to come pick me up, in her sponge rollers, in her 1980's Narc Inspired Chevy Cavalier, and take me home.

Gretchen was equally clowned at school after the word was spread (wonder who did that). She claimed that she believed that she couldn't find me, one, and two, she thought I would get home with someone else. Well, one, it's not hard to find a woman, six one in heels, with a black dress on with a feathered hair style, and two, EXACTLY WHO WAS I SUPPOSED TO RIDE HOME WITH??

Yet, the prom was indeed a pleasant experience, and a good time had by all.


I didn't speak to Gretchen for the next ten years. It wasn't like a grudge, but after that incident we stopped speaking in high school, and then we graduated, and just lost contact. I saw her at a mixer later on, and we talked but not much else came from our relationship.

Remember dude who left the chick stranded at home while he took light skin-ded girl to the prom, and his other date came up there hoo-banging? Here are their own updates:

Light Skin and her REAL dude came into the clothing store that I worked in a few weeks, later. Me, being, me, kept staring at her trying to figure out where I saw her. I finally blurted out (in front of her man) that, by the way, did-ent she go to Lynwood (up to no good) prom? She looked at me, her eyes pleading for me to shut the phuck up.

Why she do that? It was on, now. Her man was looking at her like WTF? So, once again, me being the 17 year old I was, proceeded to describe her dress and all, to which her boyfriend, at that point, was furious. He led (read: pulled) her out of the store.

As for the guy who left the chick stranded AND Miss Stranded herself: They have been married for over ten years, with three kids.

So now, I turn it over to you, the readers: What WAS your prom experience like? Did you GO? Why or Why Not? Any interesting events occur before (or after?)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006