“Bougie” and Never Being Black Enough

Recently, my job started serving Pepsi products instead of Coke products, which none of us were too happy about. I only drink diet pops, and I prefer diet Coke. We still have diet Cokes for our guests, but only in cans, not from the fountains. One morning, our barista brought me diet coke in one of our to-go cups. The next day, I asked my coworker if we still had diet Coke in the fountains, and she told me we didn’t. “Oh, I thought we did because [barista] brought it to me in a cup yesterday.”

“He probably did because you’re bougie like that.”

“I didn’t ask for it in a cup. I wanted the can.”

This isn’t the first time she’s referred to me as bougie, and honestly, I’m not even sure she knows what it means, nor where it comes from. I have another coworker that calls me bougie for everything I like or dislike. I’ve only been in Dallas for a year and a half, and since my parents lived in the Uptown area, that’s the only area I know. Uptown is affluent, so if I talk about going anywhere, bougie is the name I’m given. If I say I don’t like something, it’s perceived as me being too good for it. “You wouldn’t go there, that’s in the ‘hood.” Or “you’re too good to leave Uptown?” I always feel disconnected with my own people for no apparent reason.

I speak differently than most of my friends and family. It isn’t on purpose, and I wouldn’t want to change it. But I’m surrounded by people that have a problem with it. I went through school with classmates telling me I talk like a white girl. I’ve even worked with people, in professional settings, that told me I didn’t act black. I’ve always viewed it as racism, coming from white people. I’m not surprised when some of them are surprised with how I speak and act. However, how am I supposed to view it coming from black people?

There are now rumors circulating that Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is viewed as not black enough by his teammates, and the question I have is, what does that mean? What is black enough? There are jokes about his hair, his ex wife, and his barber commercial. Maybe he doesn’t talk the way he’s supposed to, or maybe he doesn’t carry himself a certain way, but who is saying he isn’t black enough?

Of course, we’ll never know which player feels that way, or if the rumors are even true, but as someone that has been called not black enough, I would like an explanation. We complain when the media and the news portray us a certain way. They view us as animals and a threat, like the protestors in Ferguson, for example, and we all have a problem with it. However, we have our own people telling us we aren’t enough. We’re too dark for one side, and we aren’t black enough for the other.

Where the hell do we belong?

More Than a Game: How Basketball Helped Save My Life

I woke up this morning completely drained, irritated, and sad for no reason.  I asked to work a morning shift after working the night before, so I assumed it was exhaustion. It was a beautiful day outside, and I had no desire to enjoy it.  I had plans for the night and canceled them because I didn’t feel like it.  Time was moving slowly and each second made me feel worse.  I went from not knowing why I was sad to thinking of everything that has ever made me feel that way.  Worthlessness began to crawl into my brain, reminding me that I’m still not where I want to be.  Memories of friends and relationships that ended badly danced in my head, telling me I wasn’t and never would be good enough.  I began panicking about moving into my new apartment and thinking I won’t be able to afford anything.  I became anxious and overwhelmed in a short period of time.  Angry at nothing. Frustrated at everything. Bitter and pessimistic about life after being somewhat okay a few hours before. Next thing to come was the headache.  Then, I felt sick, and I just wanted to go home, get in the bed, and sleep away a perfect day.

This is what it’s like to have depression.

I’ve had depression since I was ten (a different story for a different day), when I didn’t quite understand what it was and decided to ignore it for nearly 15 years.  When I would have those days like today I found a solution in the worst possible way: I would either choose to eat away my feelings, just to find comfort in something. Or, I would avoid taking my insulin, because the pain from high blood sugar was better than the mental pain and the voice in my head telling me I shouldn’t be here.  I was slowly killing myself and I didn’t care.  I would fall asleep at night and hope I wouldn’t wake up in the morning just so “feeling” isn’t something I’d have to do anymore.  I gave up on life.  If it weren’t for my mom (and the fact that she had to take me to school “that’ morning), I probably would have ended it.

After deciding I couldn’t do it anymore, I sat in class with a stoic look on my face and just waited for the day to be over.  During our reading hour, I asked my teacher why she was a Kentucky fan since most college basketball fans I knew were Tennessee fans.  Her favorite player was Tayshaun Prince.  After a brief conversation about her love of his play and his high school years, I asked to use the computer to researched everything I could about him.  He, of course, was later drafted by the Pistons, so I found a new joy with the team I grew up watching struggle.  I went from being an observer to an investigator about every player on the team, learning more than just their names and the positions played.  I moved from just the Pistons to every other team because there were other players in the league besides Kobe and Shaq.  I had high hopes for Detroit and kept predicting they’d win it all (and they did, 2 years later, so I wasn’t wrong). I eventually found another outlet.  One where I could scream and stress about something that I could forget about the next day: basketball. Sports have always been part of my life, but always an observer, I used to be able to pass over a game here or there. From my parents, I already had a team and was able to go to my dad about the players, the schedule, and what games he felt were more important.  I found a spark that pushed the idea of suicide out of my mind.  An odd spark, but it was there and it was good.   I transformed from a casual fan to a consumed one and it was saving me.

Back in January, an event that seems so minor now triggered my depression two weeks before my birthday, and I felt like giving up.  I spent 3 days in bed and honestly felt as if nothing matter.  I did, however, get out of bed for the Pistons/Mavs game.  In the first half, Dallas shot nearly 85% from the field, Detroit forgot how to play defense, and in a crowd of cackling Mavericks fans, I watched my team get embarrassed.  And I felt better.  My sadness didn’t disappear, as I burst into tears while walking back to my car, but I had no desire to just crawl into bed and stare at the ceiling.  I allowed myself to cry because I needed to, but I also told myself to get up.  I wrote (but didn’t post) my feelings towards the Pistons game and how they played and felt weight lift from my shoulders.  It did take a week for me to stop being sad, but from past experiences, I know it could have taken longer and there was a chance I would have fallen and never gotten up.

People always ask about my love of sports, especially since I’m a woman, and most don’t understand my “obsession” as they call it.  I’ve had people tell me “it’s not that serious.” I’ve even had a friend tell me he didn’t understand why people love sports so much and referred to it as sacrilegious. When my shadow days, as I like to call them, come up I go to YouTube to watch games I’ve seen and older games that occurred before my team.  I watch highlights from my favorite plays and I read every basketball blog I can find.  Between SLAM and SB Nation, I have enough to keep me going for hours while hopelessness knocks at my door. For me, it’s a way to feel alive.  It sound ridiculous, but it gives me something to look forward to.  I love close, stressful games and watching players give their all in “meaningless” games.  I love buzzer beaters, overtime, and buzzer beaters that lead to overtime.  The squeaky sound the shoes make is comforting for me and I have no explanation for it.  I count down the days until opening night, and I do the same for the playoffs (it helps that NBA.com has a clock on the site) and league pass has kept me from crying myself to sleep.  My depression isn’t gone and it is mountain I’m still climbing, but I have basketball to thank for helping lead me there.  Had I not given it all of my time and energy, I probably wouldn’t still be here.

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 10.34.09 PM and now you know.

Exhaustion

A British Literature professor assigned John Stuart Mill’s The Subjection of Women to her 9:00am class, and during her discussion wanted to know how they felt about his comparison of women in the Victorian era to slavery.

One student felt it was okay because he could see how the women were treated like slaves.  They weren’t given the proper education, they were abused, etc.

Another pointed out that it was accurate because mentally, women were unaware of a different life (as most slaves only knew life as slaves).  Subjection is still subjection whether it’s women or black people.

A third disagreed with the comparison.  He stated that they were two different social issues on two separate platforms, and they shouldn’t be compared.  He felt that Mill was only speaking for white women because there were no specifics.  He’s comparing this to slavery, but was he fighting for the black woman’s right to equality?

The professor and a few other students jumped to Mill’s defense.  He was a big advocate for the abolition of slavery and he did feel that everyone should be equal.  The only people he felt shouldn’t vote were those labeled “crazy.”  He was for everyone! Don’t take that away from him!

The professor asked another question: Where in the text does he make it seem as if the subjection of women is somewhat worse than slavery? The examples given were that “a slave woman could tell her master no, whereas a wife couldn’t tell her husband no,” and that even after slaves were beaten, their souls were still “intact.”  In the end, they still knew slavery was wrong and eventually tried to rebel.  However, women just believed this was how it should be.

No one pointed out that slave women could not tell their masters no.  They were property.  They had no right to say no.  If she said no, she’d be forced, so many said yes because they had no other option.  Although many slaves knew slavery was inhumane and escaped/attempted to escape, many of them were loyal to their masters.  It was all they knew.  Many of them didn’t live with their souls intact.  Many were so beaten that they just gave up, mentally, and accepted their fate for what it was.  No student pointed this out.  None defended it.  But they defended the hell out of the idea that Mill was only focused on white women and the idea of their equality.

 

The two black students in the class didn’t offer an opinion on the subject.  They were too tired. 

Angry Black Woman

I recently became a fan of The Walking Dead, and while watching Sunday’s episode, I realized that we still have not moved past the Angry Black Woman syndrome of TV show characters (and black women in general).

Maggie was distraught and trying to find the bus Glenn was in, and Sasha was angry that her focus wasn’t on getting to safety.  “We should be looking for food!” was a statement she angrily uttered to Bob, the third member of their tiny group.  Sasha’s brother, Tyreese, is also missing.  However, the character isn’t written to show any fear or hope that he may be alive or dead.  She does make statements towards the group being separated after the incident in the prison, but afterwards her only focus is her.

The first black woman of the series, Jacqui, didn’t make it past the first season.  She was one of the members of the first camp, that held Rick’s wife and son, and she had no family with her.  She wasn’t necessarily “angry” but she also wasn’t important.  When she and Andrea decided to die within the CDC, no one tried to save her.  T-Dog did react to her saying she preferred to die that way, but he put up no fight.  Dale fought with Andrea, and even threatened to stay with her to get her to leave.  Jacqui was disposable.

The 2nd (and most famous) black woman of the series is Michonne.  She arrives at the end of the 2nd season, and befriends Andrea.  She has a harsh and cold demeanor.  In the beginning she doesn’t talk much.  She’s stronger than most of the female characters of the show, and she hardly ever smiles.  We did see a different side of her in After, but it was quick (and also a dream).

These three black women, like most black women in movies and television series, are given an independent “I don’t need anyone” nature.  Although this can be viewed as a good thing, it does gives us a negative light.  Why are we never portrayed as loving, unless we are playing an elderly mother/grandmother? And even then, she has a harsh demeanor.Our characters are hardly complex, and there is a never a variety.  In a TV show with so many dynamic characters (Carol, the former wife of an abuse victim, has been shown as loving, hectic, violent, and many other ways) and different story lines, why have there only been three black women?  And why do they share the same personality?

Even Grey’s Anatomy, a show praised for it’s mixed cast, uses the Angry Black Woman.  Bailey, one of my favorites, was nicknamed The Nazi at the show’s start.  She was angry and every surgeon, including her superiors, feared her.  The Chief of Surgery’s wife (played by Loretta Divine, who is wonderful), was an angry woman.  Mind you, her husband had had an affair with a coworker, and stayed with him through that and his alcohol addiction.  But, she was still shown to be a harsh woman on many occasions.

The idea of Angry Black Women is a stereotype given to real live black women, too.  Comedians often tell jokes about not wanting to go to a black woman in customer service.  As someone that works in customer service, I can see the looks on people’s faces when they realize I’m the only person available to help them. There are bad customer service representatives of every race, but why is that stereotype solely given to us?

We never get to foolishly fall in love.  Our romantic comedies revolve around a man calming down a mean and fiercely independent woman.  We never get to cry after a lover (such as Maggie cried over Glenn), but we struggle as single mothers that may have an addiction.   We aren’t viewed as soft beings. We’re cold, we’re irritated, and the idea of someone speaking to us causes eye rolls.  Yes, this does happen, but after awhile, one gets tired of being viewed this way.  Instead of Pretty Woman, we get Deliver Us from Eva, and instead of trying to search for our last remaining family member or mourning his (possible) death, we bitch and whine about the other girl searching for her fiance.

 

 

25 Facts About Me

I turned 25 8 days ago, so here are 25 facts about me:

  1. My name is pronounced Kuh-tee-suh (or Kuh-tee-zuh).  I don’t know the meaning, but I do know it’s in a book somewhere and I’m not the only one.
  2. I learned to read at 3.  Books are my soul mates.  <3
  3. I try to find the good in everyone.
  4. I walk really fast and slow walkers irk me.
  5. I am always early, at least by 20 minutes.  If I’m late, something is wrong.
  6. I’ve had diabetes for 14.5 years, I’ve been abused, and I suffer from depression and anxiety.  I’m at the point of fixing myself on my own right now.
  7. I don’t drink.  I never have, and don’t plan to.
  8. Caffeine is my vice (coffee and diet dr. pepper)
  9. I prefer to stay at home.
  10. I don’t like or understand unappreciative people.
  11. If you want to know my personality, my tumblr is the best place to look.
  12. I have 8 piercings.
  13. I like big hooped earrings and big purses.
  14. I wish I were taller.
  15. If gas wasn’t so expensive (or if I had money to spare), I’d drive around for hours.
  16. It’s difficult for me to approach people.  If I had to depend on myself to make friends, I wouldn’t have any.
  17. I love to make everyone else happy.
  18. I prefer for people to not buy me gifts.  No one listens.
  19. I’m extremely close to my parents and younger sister.
  20. I have a fear of disappointing people.
  21. I always put myself last.
  22. I realize that sometimes, for my benefit, I may need to be a bit selfish, but it’s not in my nature.
  23. 70 degrees + cloudy (but no chance of rain) = my favorite kind of day.
  24. Coloring helps me relax.
  25. My life revolves around sports.  Watching it has helped me get through many tough points of my life, including right now.