Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Bad Name Pt. 3

For background, see "Why I Like Asians and Latinos," Pt.1 and Pt. 2.

I'd like to request that, if you're sick of the black/white interracial dating discussion, you indulge me at least just this one time. This time, there will be a bit of a queer female perspective on black and Asian women, particularly in relation to traditional stereotypical opinions about these women.

Being in law school, I see black women all the time who are quite date-able. Unfortunately for me, they are hetero. But, potentially, fortunately for men, they are hetero...and oftentimes, available. I'm talking black women who I couldn't imagine jumping up and fighting and getting loud, as Snipes put it. I don't know about how "mean, aggravating and unkind" these black women would ever be towards a man. Most of these women are ones that pretty much every black male at our law school has spoken to way more than I have, so they should be able to answer that question better than I would. But their first and second and third opinions of them from class and organization and social interactions should be similar to mine--these are generally intelligent, decent-to-good-looking, articulate, well-behaved, well-mannered, logical, non-sensitive (i.e. feelings aren't easily hurt/aren't easily upset) black women.

Do men pay more attention to these black women than stereotypical black women? Hell, no--if anything, these black women have more of an uphill battle when it comes to finding a man than any other kind of woman, including "ghetto" black women with attitudes. Why? Well, for one thing, the problem with stereotypes is, no matter how much you claim you don't rule anyone out because of them or don't judge everyone according to them, they are likely to make you see everyone from that group of people you apply it to in the same way. In other words, stereotypes make you look right through just about everyone from that stereotyped group. I wonder how many of these black males at my school have looked around and thought, "These are a different kind of black women. When I say, 'I would date a black woman if I could find one who is like XYZ,' these are the kind of black women I was talking about!!"

That's why I don't tend to buy those kinds of qualifiers when men (and queer women) discuss their racial "preferences." Like I said, these black women are generally either just as single as the day is long...or...a white guy recognized that this was a black woman who "wasn't like those other ones" (which is still pretty offensive) and asked her to be his woman. Around here, more white guys see what none of the black men are willing to about the kinds of black women who attend prestigious white universities, particularly in graduate and professional programs. It's possible that the black women here who are dating white males were just as discriminatory towards black males as many black males tend to be towards black women (because I've seen many black women say that they "prefer" white men because black men are XYZ negative thing)...but, from many of the discussions I've heard and/or been told about involving black women here, I think most of them would still prefer a black male.

Now, Snipes says that black men don't want to come home and have a fight with someone who is supposed to help him. Well, what I've observed in heterosexual relationships is 1) many times when a black woman is "starting a fight" with a black man when he gets home, her points in the argument are so valid. The guy just doesn't want to hear it. Point taken about working hard all day and you want to relax when you get home. But the same goes for the black woman. She works, and she wants to relax. She doesn't want to have to tell a man something he should take a lot better than he does and, oftentimes, something that makes total sense and he should already know; 2) when the black woman is trying to tell a black man something, usually it is an attempt to try to help him. But he feels like she's trying to be controlling or nagging or "be the man" or act as if she knows more than he does. This is what I mean by men not taking things as well as they should.

I've got to say, a queer woman thinking about how I would approach a black female romantically, I will say that sometimes black men make some really true points. I generally don't agree with the actual relationship dynamics that black men describe with black women and the relationship dynamics they seek with "other" women. As mentioned in Pt. 2 of this discussion, I find it flat-out chauvinistic, and I think black women are generally very correct in their "fights" with black men, even if they aren't approaching the man in the best way (however, with most men, it simply doesn't matter how you approach them--they just...don' However, comments that black men have made about what it's like to approach black women, I agree with.

For those who don't know, I have never, myself, dated a black woman. I think there are far too many reasons for this to explain in depth why. Still, I want to make clear that when I see a black woman, I can usually tell relatively quickly what kind of black woman she is. So there's none of this "black women have an attitude" or "black women nag and are confrontational" stuff. If you really take the time to observe a woman and speak to her, you can figure out whether or not she's the kind of woman you might be interested in getting to know.

One of my problems--a problem that men don't have, so this is no excuse for them--is the sexual orientation issue, i.e. how to tell when a black woman is queer and is receptive to a queer woman approaching her. Then there's also the fact that I simply refuse to approach women. I won't do it. Either way, there's an extra complication with approaching black queer women than with other queer women--black women aren't as "out" as other women are, especially not feminine black women. The black women whom I've known to be queer have almost always been the ones who are not feminine and essentially advertise their queerness by the way they look and carry themselves. I like the feminine women, so this is particularly a problem when it comes to finding a black woman to date. There's also this stubborn resistance on my part to just go up to women that causes a problem.

On the flip side, I've been out with two white women and one Asian woman. I was a teenager when I met the Asian female, so that was a time period in which I really didn't understand or think that much about race. Therefore, race wasn't the appeal. Heck, at that point, I didn't really even realize I was queer. So I definitely wasn't rejecting black women. I would also say that I was in a different frame of mind racially when I dated the white women. I'd just gotten out of college, and I didn't really start thinking about race in a meaningful sense, though I started to feel more uncomfortable with whites, until maybe a year before I started law school or around the time I started applying to law schools. I also don't think that this discussion of racial preferences and why was happening when I was seeing these women, so I had just never really thought about it.

Well, I've thought about it now, and this is what I've come up with in relation to me:

-I'm scared of black women.
And it's not because of how I think they'd behave in a relationship setting. It has a lot to do with how they treated me growing up and a lot of the comments black and white men have made about what it's like to approach a black woman to even ask her out in the first place. See, I do think there's a difference between many black and "other" women here, but the following is certainly not uniformly applicable and applies to different kinds of women in, albeit maybe with a slightly different scenario, too.

I think black women are more straightforward. I like straightforwardness. But I don't particularly care for the following nightmare-like daydream that I think I share with the majority of hetero men: Picture a nightclub or bar. Tons of people. A beautiful black woman is surrounded by a group of black female friends. Dammit, why do they have to come in packs?!?! You get up your courage anyway and you approach her. You're trying to be decent with it. You're simple, just say hello, she looks nice this evening, you'd like to buy her a drink, maybe get her number. She looks you up and down, mentally (and maybe even vocally) checking out your hair, your clothes, your overall appearance--and mentally (or vocally) talking sh!t about it. Then she says loud as hell: "HEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLL NOOOOOOO!!!!!!" People burst out laughing. The WHOLE...DAMN...CLUB heard and saw that! You're embarassed as hell!

And I don't mean to sound like Bill O'Reilly here ("motherf*cker, I want some tea!" or whatever-the-hell dumb thing it was he said black people allegedly scream out in restaurants). I'm not saying black women do this; I'm saying it's the nightmare some of us envision when we think about approaching them because so many black women are so direct. And I've seen/heard stories of black and white men going through things like this with black women...some of the stories not even being in the context of a man approaching a woman (one guy wrote on a message board that a black woman told him to get his white @ss out of her way...which I thought was funny as hell--I think black women's blunt speech is hysterical--but...then I don't want a black woman saying anything like that to me).

See, I've said before that I view white women as shallow. And I think black women are, too (and, as I will discuss another time, some Americanized Asian women seem to be...there are just all kinds of shallow women). You noticed how I mentioned in that nightmare the black woman just looking at you like you're ridiculous--blatantly--because of various aspects of your physical appearance. I mean, I think that might be the difference. "Other" women seem to hold their negative assessment of you back a lot more. They might talk about it with their friends or laugh at you after you leave. But they don't have the guts that black women do, which, on some hand, I really do have to give to black women. A black woman will you're crazy as hell for approaching her. And, many times, will do so loudly/in front of people. Not all black women--probably, for sure, not the black women at my's a scary enough scenario to make me not even try my luck unless, perhaps, we have become friends. I certainly wouldn't cold-approach a black woman (or, in actuality, any woman, but especially not a black one).

Men also talk about the standards black women have, and I somewhat agree there, too. I think black women are a bit unrealistic. Many overrate themselves, physically, and/or have ridiculous ideas about what a man should be like and what he should do. I don't really know how this translates into what black queer women expect from other black queer women. But not all black women share the same standards. The weird thing I've noticed is different black women will have their different must-haves, and it's as if it's the most natural, common-knowledge must-haves in the world to them. For example, there might be a woman who, in her mind, insists that a man is supposed to pay every time, even if they're not dating. So, she's out with a guy-friend and he doesn't make any move to pay for her. Oh my word, get ready to watch her dramatically huff and puff with disbelief over how the hell could he not know that, even though they are just friends, he is supposed to be paying for her. I know some black women like this, and some of them do attend this law school. It's a really tricky, picky system, navigating black women's standards.

Now, if a black woman is insisting on someone with an education, a job, their own place, no criminal record, put family first/respect their mothers and those kinds of things...I really can understand. It's some of this other nonsense that I've had my straight black female friends spout off to me or those black women who come out with small halter tops on, big stomach hanging out, big booty bursting out some spandex pants, face to'e up from the flo' up and thinking they are drop-dead gorgeous and deserve only a black male model as their man...that kills me.

-The false-positive characteristics men associate with Asian women
When I meet cool Asian women, I don't attribute their awesomeness to their race. That just doesn't make any kind of sense to me. And what I noticed from reading white men's opinions of Asian women on those forums--smart, nice, polite, subservient, respectful, classy, graceful, physically youthful/beautiful, and so on--was that my friend Angel actually does fit a lot of these descriptions, if not all, of Asian women (and not that she's submissive, but she is a bit of a pushover, I've noticed, or at least puts other people first a little too much). Never once did I think any of these things had to do with her being part-Asian. On the other hand, I have an Asian Indian friend who is very in-your-face--that's why we're friends (the "good girls" like Angel, I don't normally like; I like strong, fiesty, outspoken women). I guess you could consider her Americanized (but, then again, so is Angel), but she's also close to her Asian culture (probably more so than Angel is). I just attributed Angel's being like she is as part of her natural, individual personality, just like my other Asian friend's personality as being just who she naturally is.

I thought all the negative points about white women were really interesting, because, clearly, black men don't agree. And I probably think more negative thoughts about white women on the whole than other races of women...but the truth is, white women are probably also the most diverse group of women when it comes to personality (for many reasons, but probably mainly because there's less pressure on white women to be a certain way because of race than there is for other women).

So, on some level, I was really shocked and just thought those men were at the ultimate height of ridiculousness to 1) say that Asian women have all these good qualities, and then 2) act as if there aren't going to be a lot of white women out there who have those, as well. I talk crap about women my age a lot, and usually when I'm disgusted with women my age that disgust is directed towards the things young white women do. But I think the uniformity is there less than I make it sound like I believe, and I believe that age results in sameness among a group of people more than, perhaps, most other identities. I know that I could meet an amazing woman my age tomorrow and be interested in her. But I don't know that these men who "prefer" X race of woman over Y could say the same thing in terms of race.

I've noticed that at universities I've attended, Asian women have been...very much not like white guys seem to think they are. My mother says a similar thing about the Asian women who attend the university at which she works. And, of course, there's diversity among Asian women, even at schools. So I've met Asian women who are nice (the female definition, not the male definition that means they just do whatever a man likes). But then there are these ones who are just really snobbish. They walk around as if they are barbie dolls, everything has to be perfect--hair, outfit, makeup, etc--they're rude/arrogant and think they're better than everyone else, except perhaps whites (and sometimes, even them). They just look and act like mechanical dolls. The materialistic stereotypes that I saw some white guys mention...well, since these kinds of Asian women act like they can't acknowledge blacks, I wouldn't know from interacting with them...but from observing these women, I'd say that's applicable to these kinds of Asian women.

Final thought--there's this stereotype of Asians caring more about family. There's this direct opposite stereotype for blacks. And, yet, I've never met anyone who is the way I am about their family. I want us all living in the same city. I would be happy to have my parents living with me as they age. I worry about being able to make enough money to take care of my parents when they stop working or if they become sick. And if my parents told me they didn't like someone I was dating, I wouldn't date them. Seriously. Most other people in my family are very family-oriented, as well. It seems like someone always cries at some point whenever one of us leaves after a visit, including (and especially, actually) my sisters' kids. My mother cries. I cry. My sister really wanted me to live with her when I was working in Chicago this summer, and when I got sick while I was there she wanted me to come to her house so that she could take care of me. I'm almost 27, people, haha. But this is what we're like.

Most other people I tell about my family thinks they're ridiculous. Angel is probably the only person who has never acted like anything I've told her about my family was crazy (and I have, at least, two other Asian friends besides her and have had others over the years), but I do know from speaking to her that her family is not as close as mine is. After all, she has a brother who has never met their other brother's 2-yr old child, which is something that could never happen in my family. My sister who lives in Chicago had her last child after moving there, and my mother and I rode the train to Chicago for his birth. Her children know us; it's not like strangers visiting when we come. They are really excited. We saw my mother's sister all the time when we were growing up, but we weren't really all that excited about it...especially since if she was coming to our house, that meant we wouldn't be sleeping in our own beds. My sister's kids, on the other hand, don't care if we take their beds. They don't get to see my other sister's kids that often, but they have stuffed toy animals named after them and like to play with them when they come south.

Anyway, I'm not finished reading the different threads, and I'm sure I saw comments on them that I wanted to point out that I have forgotten about. In particular, I realize that I need to explain more why I see the stereotypes of Asian women as false positives. So, anticipate Pt. 4 soon.

A Bad Name Pt. 2

See Pt. 1 here

So, of course, what black men think about black women and interracial dating is discussed ad nauseam. Still, I've got some more homework for you in preparation for what will hopefully be my next lecture, so to speak. Too many late nights this week with some big, boring textbooks just have me too exhausted to think about what I've been reading lately and comment on it/make points.

Now, this here is a discussion forum for blacks in which this guy includes an excerpt from an interview Wesley Snipes did in which he made rather typical comments, yet in, perhaps, one of the more cryptic ways I've ever see, about black women vs "other" women. Since his cut/paste of the excerpt didn't run all the way, I'm going to include the full discussion here below. Before I do, two points:

1) How many more times do I have to read someone butcher the spelling of the word "woman"?????? I mean, and this time in a magazine with professional editors!! Everytime I see mistakes in books, newspapers and magazines, I get pissed. Mainly because these are jobs I'd never be able to get but would certainly perform a lot better.

Okay, so that had nothing to do with the issue at hand, but still...! I just feel like, hey, we learned the difference between "woman" and "women" in the first grade, and now everyone in this country should be able to use the correct one. And don't even get me started on when I see it spelled in some really off-the-wall "wemon"...

2) The one quick observation that I don't need all my brain cells to make about all these discussions (which is good, since I currently don't have all my brain cells), other than the fact that these men are just being chauvinists, is that men seem to be consistently associating subservience, dependence and submissiveness with femininity. I find this incredibly interesting, mainly because I think that the men and women who participate in these discussions completely miss that this is something that they really are not agreeing on.

It actually really supports this idea that I once expressed on an AfterEllen discussion thread that, I think, had something to do with why black lesbians are always labelled "butch," which was that white women (and Asians and Latinas) are more feminine than black women in society by default, and not just when homosexuality enters the picture. I argued that the skin color, our body builds, the way we carry ourselves, our attitudes and perceived "attitudes," as well as the stereotypical images in society of good looks when one is dark only being associated with men ("tall, dark and handsome) vs good looks when one is light being associated with women (Snow White)...these are among some of the things that result in men immediately, without even knowing anything about a black woman, seeing her as lacking femininity or not being as feminine as "other" women. This also, I think, helps explain why we see more black men attracting women of all races vs black women's general inability to attract men of any race. In other words, black men can be hot; black women can't. Black men are dark, and that's fine...for them...but not for a woman.

A lot of discussions that happen between men and women, as I remember arguing in one of my posts this summer in relation to what men mean by "intelligent" in reference to women, consist of men defining common terms in a totally different way than women do. Here we are again, when it comes to definining what's feminine. Men define femininity the way women do and then some. To them, it's not just about looks, is the way I'm understanding it...not that it's all about looks to women, either. But men include characteristics of femininity that women today just would be unwilling to agree with. In fact, I think a lot of women would be with me in finding what many of these men on these forums seem to think of as feminine...appalling. And that's basically why I can't see why Asian women and white women don't find the way that many white and black men describe them--and, as a result, why many of these men approach them--as offensive.

Well, I wrote more than I thought I could. More coming soon, I promise. ;)

On the personal level, Snipes, a divorced father of a "precocious" 8-year-old son, Jelani, says he enjoys spending time with "spirited" women. "Either the hot-headed ones or the ones who just think they're divas," he explains. "I like them because they have spice and creativity. I like a woman who reads. I think a number of my relationships [ended] because she didn't read and we didn't have anything to talk about.... But I'm not into the ones who want to jump up and fight and get loud. That's not my flavor."
The Asian model and restaurateur he introduces as "my lady, Donna [Wong]" has been Snipes' companion for the past year and a half When asked if he dates Black women, he says: "Primarily all of my life I've dated Black women.... Oh, most definitely. Oh, my God. Mostly. But it just so happens that now I'm dating an Asian woman. It's different. Different energy, different spirit, but a nice person." He says he is not ready for marriage; nor is Donna. "She's got to learn to deal with the love scenes in the movies first," says Snipes as he chuckles. "Got to get to a place where it's very comfortable."
Wesley says he realizes that there are Black women still who get an attitude about Black men with Asian, White or Hispanic women. "I know we've all been hurt, and we're all very wounded," he says, addressing Black women. "We have to acknowledge that, both male and female, in the Black experience. We're a wounded people. And we want to possess and we want to own. We don't want to compromise. We feel like we've compromised enough. But in any relationship you have to compromise. There's no way around it. And I say to Black women also, Brothers who are very, very successful, or who have become somewhat successful, usually it's been at a great expense, unseen by the camera's eye...
"He doesn't want to come home to someone who's going to be mean and aggravating and unkind and who is going to be `please me, please me.' He doesn't want to come home to that. He doesn't want to come home to have a fight with someone who is supposed to be his helpmate. So it's very natural that he's going to turn to some place that's more compassionate....
You've worked hard and you deserve to come home to comforting. And usually a man who has that will appreciate it. Because I've never known one cat, all those cats I've hung out with and still hang out with, who found something that they really, really like and didn't go back to it. They all go back. It's very simple."

When asked for clarification, Snipes emphasizes that he is not saying that a Black woman can not be that type of woman a man wants to come home to. "Not at all," he declares. "Absolutely not. That's the point. I want to come home and I don't want to argue. I want to be pleasing, but if I ask you to get me a glass of water, you're going to say, `Them days is over.' please. Come on," Wesley says. "A man likes that. I don't know why. It's been that way forever. It makes him proud, you know, like when the guys come over and your lady comes out with a tray of food and says `I made this up for you.' And the guys are like, `Oh man, you've got a great women.' And the man says, `Yeah, I do.' A man will appreciate it when you're kind and when you're nice.
"For successful women, it's hard," he continues, obviously quite comfortable and articulate on the subject of relationships. "The competition is fierce. And if he's a man of success and power who happens to be handsome, of course you're not the only one who thinks he's handsome. But you don't have to punish him because of that once you get with him. Don't punish him because somebody else likes him."
Continuing with his openness, Snipes says he's had his heart broken more than once, and at times by Black women. "Most definitely. Most definitely," he says.

Monday, September 24, 2007

You Give White Guys A Bad Name

To continue on a bit with my prior post about my attraction to, particularly, Asians, and interest in learning more about them. I've been doing a lot of reading, especially online--in fact, I should be reading for school right now but have been on Asian message boards, which actually led me to other messages boards that contain the ignorant opinions I'm about to share with you--and if you really need proof of how out of hand racist ideals are in our society, all you need to do is get on the internet and witness the comments people make when they think they're anonymous. Here's some sick reading about white guys and their seemingly growing interest in Asian women. All I can say is if I were an (hetero) Asian woman, I just wouldn't feel that I could trust a white man to be interested in me for me.

"Why Do I See More Caucasian Men Dating Asian Women?"

"Liking Asian Girls"

In the near future (I hope), more coming up on issues beyond racial binaries, including addressing some of the opinions in these threads listed above and some of the ideas we've been discussing in my class about gays of color. This semester is just awful for me (how is it that as a third-year law student, I have more work than I ever did in my first year of law school? For those who don't know, this is supposed to be the year they "bore you to death," not "work you to death"). Meanwhile, my "friend" Nikki, who I find more and more annoying because of her racial naivete, has--and I should be more sensitive about using this word, but I will somewhat jokingly do so anyways--"stalking" me because, apparently, she has nothing to do in school and acts as if I'm not supposed to, either, and should just be taking time out to entertain her (that kind of sh!t irritates me, which is not good sense I have been irritated with her enough as it is). More and more, I rethink my boundaries when it comes to age and just find myself not wanting to have anything to do with most people my age and certainly nothing to do with anyone younger than I am, such as Nikki. I really value the two older friends I have right now.

Back to those discussion threads I listed...I mean, it's not as if we haven't all suspected something like that going through white guys' heads as far as Asian women are concerned...but when you've very nearly offended me and pissed me off with ignorant crap, especially when it doesn't directly apply to me (and because, if you're going to realize anything about me, it's that I don't really get offended about things the average person would, or about much of anything), then you've really done something. But I have felt a similar way in regards to somewhat similar ideas, particularly that of being more submissive and/or "nicer," that black men have had towards white women. I'm kind of offended for these women.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Why I Like Asians and Latinos

If you look to the right under the section with suggested reading for people just finding my blog, and you see the post about Asians and Latinos and whiteness, you'll notice if you click on it that near the end I resolve to learn more about other cultures. I am particularly interested in why so many who are not black or white feel discriminated against and/or resent whites in much the same way blacks do. Since then, I have been on that quest, not just focusing on that question, and some interesting things have come out of it, though I still can't say that I understand these people any better at this point. I am far from done, though.

For whatever reason, I have been thinking more about interracial dating outside of a black/white binary more and more lately. One thing that has always bothered me about interracial dating, especially for me, is not really knowing whether or not race is the appeal. So when trying to find out this kind of information from a perspective mate--and pretty much never being able to get a real answer--I have been irritated, not to mention suspicious. I don't think I've ever heard a real answer from people who "prefer" one race or people who claim to "date everybody" as to what the appeal is. By "real," I mean an answer that shows someone has actually sat down and thought about why they are attracted to the people they are and/or isn't just trying to pretend like race is no big deal. I think for anyone who dates interracially, race is one of the appeals because race affects what someone looks like...and physical attraction is pretty much always a factor. So this is something I acknowledge.

Being that I find it irritating when someone can't clearly answer a question such as "what do you like about black women?" I have been trying to figure out why I seem to be more attracted to Asians and Latinos than blacks and whites. And although it's not, by any means, required that I explain many people demand it in some form, and I do think it would be good for someone to articulate interracial attraction, at least from their own experience. So, here goes:

It might seem odd that I am attracted to groups of people that I don't understand or know much about. However, I've come to the conclusion that, for me, that's probably the actual reason why I'm attracted to them. Some people argue that their interracial attraction is innate, or make arguments that basically sound like that. Mine definitely isn't. I didn't really start having this attraction until mid-way through high school. For me, I meet someone and they are a trigger. So, when I was in high school, I met this guy who happened to be Asian, and we liked each other. Immediately after him, I dated other Asians. During that period of time, I was learning more about Asian culture and participating in their chatrooms, websites, etc. I would say he triggered that interest, and for a while the majority of my friends were Asian. Those experiences have stuck with me, and I know enough about Asians to surprise anybody who meets me--even other Asians--just for the simple fact that blacks aren't supposed to be interested in Asians...thus, aren't supposed to really know anything about them other than the "smart" and "submissive" stereotypes.

I met the first Asian guy, also, right after I became disenchanted with whites, and I think that makes a difference. I talked about in one of my posts last month or the month before how when I started learning more about white vs black (and, honestly, white vs everyone else in the world) history, it just changed how I felt about whites and they were no longer the race I was most attracted to. I can't be sure, but I think I might have been more attracted to whites for a while because that's who I was around most and that's always who I saw in the media, i.e. brainwashing. Being around Asians more was great to me because I was learning something new and experiencing a different kind of people. I learned in the process, though, that a lot of Asians--unlike blacks--don't really appreciate being thought of as "different," whereas I, personally, think that's a compliment and a good thing. So I didn't understand it for a long time. That's not to say blacks like being thought of as different, just that we don't fight it. The majority of us will tell you in a second that blacks aren't like anybody else, especially if you're trying to imply that we are.

With Latinos, I simply did not grow up around any. My schools were pretty much always a mix of whites, blacks and Asians.

I don't want this to seem like a "they're exotic" explanation, because I've never thought that. What it really is, I think, is the fact that every time race comes up, it's the black/white binary. I think I've been sick of that, even though I definitely participate--it's hard not to, given that black and white is really what I know about...the former because that's what I'm considered to be, and the latter because it's shoved down everyone's throats in this country. But being that I get bored easily, I am sick of "black people" and "white people," i.e. in terms of hearing about and being around them. I know "all" there is to know about them. You can't go anywhere, it seems, without white people being there, and it seems like blacks are always trying to be where white people are, if for no other reason than that it's our right. It's just boring to be bombarded with the same images and the same dynamics all the time.

So I like to think of it not so much as exoticizing Asians or Latinos as just...well, unfortunately, maybe it's "curiosity." But I don't think it's the kind of curiosity where you try it out once and then go back to your own race, with no intention of ever getting serious with someone who is of "that" background. It's just some kind of pull to those that don't get the spotlight, which has always been my nature--I have always preferred things that other people don't and get annoyed with things that other people do prefer, from songs and singers to, apparently, people. Racially, it's obvious to me that whites do prefer Asians and Latinos, but I think they prefer them as an extension of whiteness, even within the "exotic" stereotype. I mean, Asians and Latinos can look "exotic" and practice aspects of a culture whites find "exotic" all they want...but they are still somehow enough like white people for white people to be okay...that is, of course, unless they're not, i.e. they show too much racial/ethnic consciousness. You can be different in any way, just not that one. I want the conscious ones.

But I also just find Asians and Latinos physically attractive. There are people of all races who are physically attractive. But there's this theory that people tend to prefer those who "look like them." For me, that would actually be Asians (particularly the "brown" ones), Latinos and mixed or light blacks, because we have the same skin color and similar features. Lo and behold, those are the groups of people I do prefer--Asians (particularly the "brown" ones), Latinos and mixed or light blacks. I am attracted to some color, but not "too much." For some people, it's the contrast of color that plays a role in attraction. I just happen to be happy with the color I am, not to say that those who prefer a contrast don't like their color.

Usually, when I'm wondering about why someone has an interracial attraction, I'm wanting to be reassured, even if it's not my business, that what is true for me is also true for them. For me, it has nothing to do with who I think might be like me. Knowing my personality, not many people in this world are going to be like me. Usually, when I find someone who kind of is, they are actually white or "white-washed." And yet, I find a lot of "hot" white women in Hollywood to be very overrated.

It's not about black women being bitches and white women being more approachable and Asian women being submissive and Latinas being spicy. That's all crap. I find it irritating that a lot of the time when people try to talk about their interracial attraction, they want to attribute personality traits and/or life experiences to an entire group of people. And I know they think they're being complimentary. I've seen white women say, for example, that they admire black men's strength, black men go through yada yada in the US, etc. Similarly, white guys will talk about black women's strength. I just have a problem anytime your attraction to an individual is rooted in something associated with a group. Then when that individual turns out not to fit that stereotype you've placed on them, you don't understand it or you're disappointed or you think they're not being who they are or are supposed to be. That's just not what I want to be liked for, and, in turn, I don't like people for that and don't eliminate people based on that.

It's also not so much about just being open to everyone. I am, but I require a certain social consciousness level, too. And then I'm also willing to admit that certain features that politically correct people don't want to attribute to racial know, because "race is a social construct," which I actually am not exactly convinced of...are part of attractiveness, albeit individual-preference attraction and not universal attraction the way a lot of people try to make it seem.

In other words, as I said before, race has something to do with the way someone looks, so you can't entirely say you "don't see race." One of my white friends has said that one of the things she likes about black men is the skin color, which is, as I essentially just said, one of the things I like about Asians, Latinos and mixed/light blacks. To me, brown-ness is part of what makes someone attractive, as well as some of the physical features traditionally associated with the racial makeup of these people.

I also know that, for me, physical attraction isn't always the first attraction to a person, which is probably the only time I can honestly say race has nothing to do with anything--which is also probably the best scenario. To give an example, when I met my latest crush, I didn't notice her physically at all--probably because she was my boss. I mean, obviously when you meet someone, you notice how they look. But there's not always a judgment on it, or, rather, the judgment might not always relate to whether or not they're physically attractive. I think my take on Angel was she was nice, approachable, easy to talk to, laid-back--fleeting personality observations that we tend to make about people we haven't known long enough to really be doing so. This was in contrast to my other boss, who was more no-nonsense and intimidating.

Then the more I talked to Angel about topics that had nothing to do with work, the more it made me pay attention to who she was outside of being who I worked for. Then I noticed she was attractive. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought that the mix of Asian and white came together quite nicely, in her case. That's not to say that mixed Asians look better. That's to say that it's one of the things that affects how she looks, and in a good way for her--not necessarily for others, despite the stereotype that mixed people look better than everyone else. We don't always, just like not all whites look better than all minorities and so on. Anyways, with Angel, it was the fact that we got along so well and she had a great personality that made me notice her, not that she was Asian. So sometimes, there's that, too.

I hope this post kind of makes sense. I feel like discussions like these really could, at least, put a dent in some of the hostility surrounding interracial relationships, because I think one of the main issues is we just don't understand why some people do it...another issue is also that we make immediate assumptions about why someone does it or why they are attracted to someone else. It's to interracial daters' benefit to find a way to articulate what's going on in their head, even though that shouldn't be required.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Leave Britney Alone

This might seem like my strangest post ever for two main reasons: one, it's about to be about Britney Spears, and, two, I'm actually about to defend Britney Spears.

Why "waste" time on this? You have more brain cells than this, you might say.

Well, maybe you've heard by now about this gay fan of Britney's who made this famed YouTube video in which he's "crying" and begging people to leave Britney alone. Not that I wanted to do it to that extent, but I'd actually planned to ask the same thing of everyone before I saw that video.

First, yes--I love Britney. Not her. Her music. Second, I've been bothered for years now over the way Britney has been made everyone's favorite boxing bag. With everything I have to say about how badly white female 20-something celebrities look in the media, and how, in turn, badly they make young white females look all over this nation--and, yes, Britney is one of the young white female celebs contributing to this phenomenon--I still don't think she deserves the way she's treated and the way she's talked about.

Imagine being you but being Britney. That is, imagine just being who you are, doing what you do...but never getting a moment's peace. Obviously, if one makes the choice to become an entertainer, privacy is out the window. However, no one is treated quite like Britney. Christina Aguilera couldn't pay the media to give her the time of day, let alone stalk her like they do Britney (ironically, that's why she hates Britney). Hell, she was in the "lesbian" VMAs kiss with Britney and Madonna, and no one ever cared. Every step Britney makes, everything she says, is over-scrutinized. Am I defending her as a person or as a mother? Am I defending the choices she makes? Absolutely not. But I am defending her as a human being, because that's one of several things Chris Crocker and I agree on--Britney is a human being, and she should be treated like one...not like she just exists to provide endless amounts of jokes and insults. Seriously, imagine this being your life--a living joke, punching bag or waste basket. Next time you have something to say about Britney, think about what if that were you.

For me, the response to her latest VMAs performance was the last straw. I don't know what that was all about, but I do know that neither the song nor the performance were Britney-quality. Whatever you say about Britney, it really needs to be acknowledged that Britney has always been at the top of her game. Whether or not you like the game she's involved in is a separate issue. I know people hate pop music, or so they try to say. And I know Britney's not the best singer (which, honestly, how well you sing just doesn't seem to matter anymore...and if you go back to many pop records from the 80s, you might want to ask when did it ever matter with regards to pop music...oh, right...the 90s. Well, but there was still the 80s when practically no pop artist had a great voice). But, no contest, the best of that genre has always been Britney Spears (or at least since 1998). You could argue about that, but, to me, you'd be arguing for people who don't really belong in the pop genre, i.e. pretty much any black artist (so that takes people like Beyonce and Usher out) or people who really made it for themselves during Britney's downward spiral while she wasn't making music, i.e. Justin Timberlake, who seems to be some wannabe urban artist anyway.

Anyway, the her performance was bad. Are you seriously going to sit there and tell me that we don't see lackluster performances on TV on a regular basis? Really, her performance wasn't bad; it was average, like everyone else's. Anybody remember when live performances used to be way better than the CD (or, back then, tape)? Now it's the other way around, consistently. Even someone like Faith Hill, who just hits it on her CDs, sounds kind of off live oftentimes. And then there are other artists who just stand there and sing--how interesting is that? Britney's no exception. Except...when it's Britney, all hell breaks loose.

And this is the queen of performances today. She is what people like Janet, Madonna and Michael used to be, what pretty much no one nowadays is. She's the person who, when they come to the stage, you know you're about to see something awesome. So she didn't bring it this time--why should she if no one else is going to? That's just not how the industry works anymore. Everything about the entertainment industry is a disappointment. Why should we spend all our time kicking Britney in the oonie, then expect her to want to give us the best performance at every VMA showing? Like Crocker said, you're lucky the chick even bothered to show up after the way everyone has been treating her and since every little thing she does is ripped apart. For once, she could have just left us with absolutely nothing to say. Britney could have come out and done a great job, and there still would have been something. Best to just stay at home. On second thought, there would have been comments about that, too.

The girl can't win for losing anymore. And, to be fair, she was the talk of the town even before her downward spiral. It's not all just because of the dumb things she does. What I've realized over the past week is that people hate the best, the closest thing to perfection. So whenever the best screws up, it's the most talked about thing. It's the funniest thing. Whenever the best rips it, it's the most talked about thing. It's the most picked apart thing. Being a college football fan, I see this not only with Britney but with the University of Michigan's football team right now, as well. Like Britney, they have a lot of haters, as well, and they're all delighting in Michigan's downward spiral.

The Sarah Silverman jokes before Britney's performance were incredibly mean-spirited and completely unnecessary. And the response to Britney's performance is the same. I just don't understand hating someone so much or being so mean towards someone you really don't even know. So, yes, I'm defending Britney. And I'm asking, once again, regardless of whether or not you'd ever make any of the same choices Britney has, to put yourself in Britney's shoes and imagine what it'd feel like if choices you did make were so scrutinized, so criticized and you could never be left alone or do anything right. Wouldn't you want to be left alone?

Here We Go Again, Whitey

I was blown away. No kidding. I couldn't believe the media was actually reporting on this:

No Hate Crime Charge in Torture Case

Posted: 2007-09-12 18:21:09
Filed Under: Crime News

BIG CREEK, W.Va. (Sept. 12) - Authorities decided Wednesday not to pursue hate crime charges in the kidnapping and weeklong torture of a black woman, instead going after the suspects, who are white, on state charges that carry stiffer penalties.

While federal civil rights or state hate crime charges remain an option, a state kidnapping count that carries a sentence of up to life in prison will provide the best chance for successful prosecution, officials said."

As a practical matter, sentenced to life, what else can be done?" U.S. Attorney Charles T. Miller told The Associated Press.

Six people face charges, including kidnapping, sexual assault and lying to police in the torture of Megan Williams, 20, at a remote hillside home in Big Creek.

State hate crime charges, which carry a sentence of 10 years, could come later, prosecutor Brian Abraham said. State sexual assault charges carry a penalty up to 35 years in prison.

The woman's captors forced her to eat rat droppings, choked her with a cable cord and stabbed her in the leg while calling her a racial slur, according to criminal complaints. They also poured hot water over her, made her drink from a toilet, and beat and sexually assaulted her during a span of about a week, the documents say.

Williams was not a random target, prosecutor Brian Abraham said Wednesday. She had a "social relationship" with one of the suspects, he said.

The Associated Press generally does not identify suspected victims of sexual assault, but Williams and her mother, Carmen Williams, agreed to release her name. Carmen Williams said she wanted people to know what her daughter had endured.

At one point, a suspect cut the woman's ankle with a knife and used the N-word in telling her she was victimized because she is black, according to the complaints.

It wasn't until an anonymous tip led Logan County sheriff's deputies to the property on Saturday that her ordeal ended, authorities said. She limped toward the deputies, her arms outstretched as she cried, "Help me," officials said.

Williams remained hospitalized Wednesday in Charleston. The hospital declined to release any information about her condition.

The victim had a previous relationship with Bobby Brewster, one of the six in custody, Abraham said. He was charged in July with domestic battery and assault after a domestic dispute involving the same woman."

She obviously had some sort of social relationship," Abraham said. "That is based on the fact that she was present at his residence on a prior date."The suspects have arrest records going back several years, according to records from Logan County Magistrate Court, and Abraham said he had "some familiarity with all those individuals."Since 1991, police have filed 108 criminal charges against the six.

Brewster's mother, Frankie Brewster, 49, faced the most serious charges among them. She was charged in 1994 with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter and wanton endangerment. She was released from prison in 2000 after serving five years in the death of an 84-year-old woman, court records show.

In Williams' case, Frankie Brewster is charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, malicious wounding and giving false information during a felony investigation.

Bobby Brewster, 24, also of Big Creek, is charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, malicious wounding and assault during the commission of a felony.

In March, Brewster was accused in criminal complaints of attacking his mother with a machete at her home, according to court records. The outcome of those charges _ domestic assault, brandishing a deadly weapon and obstructing an officer _ was not immediately clear.

Danny J. Combs, 20, of Harts, is charged with sexual assault and malicious wounding. Karen Burton, 46, of Chapmanville, was charged with malicious wounding, battery and assault during the commission of a felony.

Burton's daughter, Alisha Burton, 23, and George A. Messer, 27, both of Chapmanville, are charged with assault during the commission of a felony and battery. She previously faced charges of assault during the commission of a felony and battery; in May, she was accused of striking Messer with a shovel and smashing the window of a woman's car. The charges are pending.

All six remained in custody Wednesday in lieu of $100,000 cash bail each. Bobby Brewster is scheduled to appear before a Logan County Circuit Court judge on Monday to be arraigned on the kidnapping charge, according to court records. A date for his mother's appearance on the kidnapping charge has not yet been set.

Public defender Dwyane Adkins, appointed to represent Bobby Brewster, and public defender Betty Gregory, appointed to represent Karen Burton, declined to comment. The other defendants' court-appointed lawyers were either in hearings or did not immediately return telephone calls Wednesday.

Here's the thing about it that kills me:

AOL normally lets you comment on stories they post. Yesterday when I was reading articles about this ordeal, naturally, I had a few choice words about it. But, hmmm...I could click on other articles--articles about Britney Spears at the VMAs, Michigan and Notre Dame's completely f*cked up football seasons, and just about anything else you could (and wouldn't want to) think of, you could comment on. Not so with the racially-charged article that depicts whites in a negative light.

Then today, once I finally see an article on AOL I could comment on relating to this incident, I see tons of other comments basically denying that what happened to that woman was a hate crime. Hmmm. Let's see if we can guess what race the majority of people who claim to feel that way are! Well, it was an entirely different story a few months ago when some blacks attacked a white couple in Knoxville, wasn't it, Whitey? Only in that case, there was pretty much nothing to suggest that race was a motivation for the attack whereas here you only have the torturers saying race was a motivation.

Oh, and wait for the kicker: the only article about this case on AOL that I found accepting comments limits comments to 500 characters. Well, since they are trying to prevent race wars over there and that's so clearly not what I'm about, here's what I'd have to say about it:

It's kind of funny how when black people do something to white people, whites want to focus on race...but when whites do something to blacks, all of a sudden race shouldn't matter. When those blacks in Knoxville raped and killed a white couple out on a date, white people were yelling that was a hate crime and why wouldn't anyone call it that when people call crimes like that against blacks hate crimes. The difference in how whites (and Asians and Latinos) and blacks view and talk about these kinds of crimes demonstrate that race matters to all of us more than some of us want to admit, and also shows the way we stick up for our own races without realizing it. To whites, it's okay for blacks to look like the bad guys based on race but not for white people to. When a white person commits a crime, the argument is, "Oh, what does the race matter? It's just horrible either way!!" Yet anytime a black person does something, their race has something to do with it.

This was obviously a racial issue. You have about 6, maybe more (information about two people possibly driving her to the place where she was held and tortured pending), whites on one black person who is being tortured and degraded, clearly because of race since they used racial slurs and basically told her they were doing this to her because she was black. The reason why you focus on race in crimes like these, whether the victim is black or white, is because sometimes people really are victimized because of their race. Therefore, you have laws to protect people for crimes based on race. If all we really cared about was a crime being a crime, then we wouldn't distinguish between murder, rape, child molestation, kidnapping and so on. There are different causes and different kinds of crimes.

Throughout our nation's history, many awful things have happened just because people are different races, and the point of calling some crimes today "hate crimes" is to acknowledge that history and the fact that people are still victimized because of race. Sorry if some of you don't want to face that whenever the people doing the victimizing are of your background, or because you simply don't want to believe severe racism still exists. Even if she knew one of the terrorists, race still was one of the factors.

To be frank, when we keep reading and hearing about stuff like this, I don't understand how anyone can think that a black person isn't justified in feeling like he or she hates white people. And I know that not all whites are racist, and certainly not all whites do anything like this to blacks. But this kind of thing is our history, yet it still happens. How could you not understand why some of us try to speak to whites as little as possible, try to be around whites as little as possible, don't trust whites or worry about our safety around whites? I think the same arguments could be made by white people for how every time you turn on the news, you hear that a black person has done this or that. The bottom line is we all can do awful things. Virginia Tech made us aware that it's not always just black or white men.

It just seems like when it's someone who looks like us who is the wrongdoer, we want to disclaim a connection. And we want to do that because we feel so bound up by race in this country, because we do identify so much with race and other people of our race, whether we realize it or want to admit it. And then when the victim looks like us, we get angry for everyone who looks like us and we make everyone who doesn't look like us the bad guys. So if we're all going to look at the news, racially identify with victims and then ask "Now do you see why people like us hate people like you?"...well, it's going to happen, no matter what, but what does that mean for America? I think that means we're missing a key similarity between blacks and whites...and maybe among all races. What would be great is if we could turn that distrust of "others" around by truly seeing we're all in the same nation and, if anything, it maybe should be us against the world. Instead, we have about four or five different countries in one, more if you want to look beyond race and ethnicity to include the poor, the gay, etc.

And if it were me--if I were a white person looking at this story--I'd feel helpless. I would recognize that there were black people out there lumping me in with those 6 whites who did that, who would look at me on the street the day of reading that article and the day after with distrust and wonder if I might physically hurt him or her. In short, I'd read that and be like, "Oh, shit!" Stories like these can't help but bring racial tensions to the forefront. And this is all to go without saying that I'd react like this mainly if I were a white person with social consciousness, who knew how to face the truth about the US.

And, honestly, I think more whites than we realize have some semblance of social consciousness, but they just bury it because some of these things are too painful to admit or face. I think those are the kind of whites who quickly say, "I don't think this is about race." Because they don't want it to be about race, because they know, deep down, that they are going to be getting even more of the cold shoulder than they normally receive from some blacks they encounter. They know they will get the black counterpart to the looks whites give blacks, particularly black males, and they know that can be painful if you're not an insensitive, jaded individual such as myself. They know they will look like the bad guys even though they, in particular, haven't necessarily done anything, and they know that they--or know someone who does--do that to blacks all the time. Trust me, they know that much. They just try not to think about it. Denying racism, or admitting racism but denying its severity, is a defense mechanism for these people.

Ultimately, I'm just sick of opening Internet Explorer and seeing crazy celebrities and the sickest "laypeople" happenings ever. The crazy celebrities were enough to make me completely lose interest in working in the entertainment industry, and the sick laypeople are just about enough to make me never want to leave my room.