In this digital age, there are certain things that I miss at times like the importance of a landline phone, or a good paperback book and talk radio shows with music and hilarious discussion topics. I’ve jumped on the podcast bandwagon. I love them. I laugh with them and shake my head in agreement with their commentary. There are five in particular that I look forward to every week to get me through my 8 minute ab workout or help me get through the digital pile of deadlines that find their way onto my desktop.

The Friendzone 

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I’ve been a HeyFranHey fan since my earlier Tumblr days in 2009 and she serves as the right amount of balance between Assante and Dustin with their hilarious antics and commentary. Listen along every Wednesday as Dustin Ross, HeyFranHey & Assante explore mental hygiene, because who in the hell wants a musty brain? 

Girlboss Radio

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In case you’re ever in need of some morning inspiration #Girlboss legend Sophia Amoruso finds some of the most brilliant women entrepreneurs and gets all the inside scoop on their building process, career gems and strategies. It’s also girl chat as well.

Black Girls Talking

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It’s like dialing up for girls on a conference call. Black Girls Talking is a podcast wherein 4 black women discuss pop culture, Beyonce, & the pursuit of the perfect body oil.

Another Round

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Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton cover everything from race, gender and pop culture to squirrels, mangoes, and bad jokes, all in one boozy show.

2 Dope Queens

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Join the 2 Dope Queens, Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams, along with their favorite comedians, for stories about sex, romance, race, hair journeys, living in New York, and Billy Joel. Plus a whole bunch of other s**t.

Produced by WNYC Studios.

So you know, while you’re brushing your teeth or while you’re getting dressed or frying you an egg or simply making a smoothie, give one of them a listen and get ready for some morning laughter.

 

 

I’m walking through a busy train station and a man stops me to tell me that he thinks I’m beautiful. Now I’m not one of those women who don’t know how to take a compliment, so I smiled and said “Thank you,” but before I can continue walking he asks me, “what are you?” I’m a bit confused by this question so I’m looking at him like what do you mean? He responses “are you mixed with something?” Tired of these types of questions I said, “I’m just black.” Meaning that I am Black American. 

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Nothing to see here….just being black. Whatever that means.

If I had a buck for every time a man asked me “What are you?” as if I’m some foreign creature after giving me a compliment…I’d probably be able to pay off my student loans and believe me, that’s a lot of money. But every single time a man…mainly a black man gives me a compliment on my hair, my skin, my eyes, or my figure…it’s immediately followed by “what are you?” My response is always “I’m just black.” They never believe me for some reason so they start throwing out nationalities as if my answer of being “just black” is going to change. “You Jamaican?” “No.” “You Haitian?” “No.” “You African?” “No…I’m just black.” It’s as if I have to be something other than just black…meaning Black American in order for their compliments to be validated. Why can’t all the things that make me beautiful be okay on a just black woman? What does “just black” look like anyway for it to be unbelievable that I am? It’s bad enough that black women have to put up with European beauty standards as is, but why do I get a disappointed “oh” when they finally accept that I’m just black. It made me realize that the beauty standards in the black community, amongst the black community, within the black community are just as bad as European expectations and it’s usually rooted in biases that comes with one’s nationality.

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Perplexed by this and curious, I brought the topic up to a male friend and he was confused at first because his idea of “just black” was the same as mine. I’m not mixed with anything nor am I a first generation of any other cultural background therefore, I identify as “black,” but when I told him the scenario, the multiple scenarios of me being asked “what are you,” he had some sort of an “ah ha” moment because as a Jamaican man he realized what I meant by being a “just black” woman. According to him, as a West Indian man, there is a stereotype or a stigma attached to women who are just black. For whatever reason, he claimed that most men of other cultural backgrounds usually prefer to date within their culture because there is a negative view when it comes to the upbringing and the mannerisms of “just black” women. He painted the picture of a just black woman as a LL Cool J type of ghetto around the way girl as if she’s loud, unappealing and difficult….clearly I’m far from all of that so I was a bit bewildered, but I can’t say that I’m surprised. African American women have been at the bottom of the totem pole for as long as we’ve existed despite all of our accomplishments and magic. Within our own culture, we are often victims of shadism, we deal with backlash because of our nationalities, etc. In conclusion, he said that maybe I looked approachable, unlike most black women.

This brought me to my next question. I looked “approachable unlike most black women,” what do most black women look like and how do you make a clear distinction of someone’s nationality just by looking at them? I wondered how am I supposed to look? The point is, as a unit…as people of color…as the essence of blackness, we have to do better. We have to do better in-house and change the way we view each other because we are a powerful people and it doesn’t matter if you are Jamaican, Haitian, African or just black. The standards of your blackness doesn’t change just because your nationality is different and of course because black is beautiful.

The video above is one of Tiffany “New York” Pollard expressing her issues with colorism after being offended by a remark made by someone on the same show as her. She said something that’s stood out to be since seeing this clip months ago. She said:

If you are going to stand in it [blackness], stand in it in ALL shades.

That statement alone summed up exactly how I feel when a “BLACK” person, regardless of nationality fixes their lips to speak down on another black sub-nationality. Yes, take pride in being African, take pride in being West Indian, but you are also black so take pride in standing in that as well.

Often times, I see and hear that black men need to be more supportive and loving of the black woman and often times, I agree, but I thought why does it have to be such a difficult task? Why is it so hard for us to just support one another and I realized it’s mainly because we simply don’t know how. Let’s be honest, there isn’t much positive representations of black love and support on a romantic level and a platonic level and when there is, it’s usually boring as hell. So it’s no wonder people get hyped up off drama. There’s the idea that yeah, we’ll support our sistahs, but with exceptions. Meaning they’ll support a certain type. So I decided to make it easier for the fellas who are making a conscious effort…and for those who aren’t…DO BETTER!

Appreciate our NATURAL beauty

It’s cool if she rocks long weaves or crochet braids with a “beat” face, tight dresses and stilettos, but it’s also cool if she doesn’t. It’s cool if she doesn’t take hours to contour and highlight her face and prefers a simple lipstick. It’s cool if she doesn’t touch her eyebrows. It’s cool if she’s the wash and go queen and only needs an afro pick to start her day. Fellas, it’s cool. It’s cool for you to have a preference, but it’s not cool for you to bomb on and bash other women because they aren’t your “cup of tea.” Appreciate the things that make her who she is, physically. That means cut the crap on the dark skin slander, quit it with the nappy jokes, and stop making us feel like anything less than the amazing women we are because we don’t look a certain way.

STFU and Listen Bruh

One of the most important things a black man can do for his black woman is listen. Seriously, we’re not asking you to be Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent and fix our issues all the time, we just want you to listen. Don’t be so quick to label a black woman as angry and bitter because she’s upset about something you did. Don’t rush to the defensive side so quick. If you love us and sincerely want to support us, you’ll hear us out. She ain’t angry or bitter, she’s just tired and it might not necessarily be with you. It could be work frustrations, the perils of motherhood, her interactions with others, the list goes on and she could just use a fresh pair of ears. Otis said it best in try a little tenderness. So stop flapping your yaps and open up them ears and LISTEN.

Show the Hell Up

Black women…we show up, for everything! We show up for everyone, but when we need our men to show up for us all we hear are crickets unless you’re the son, father, husband of the woman that dragged you to the event. Recognize us! Acknowledge us and quit leaving us hanging! So what if we’re hosting a panel discussion for women or a writing workshop for kids, show up and make yourself useful.

You Ain’t Got the Green Light

The one thing I hate when it comes to respecting the black woman, is there’s always an exception. There should be no exception to giving someone respect! There’s the idea that if she doesn’t respect herself, then no one else will. NO. You show her respect still and help her see the value in her worth. That doesn’t give you the green light to join in on the hate train. If you see something, say something! If you see a woman being bashed on social media or in public, don’t share it for shits and giggles, or be a silent spectator, say something! Be accountable for your brotha that’s bashing your sistah. Stop it with the respectability politics. You can’t say you love black women, but then pick and choose which black women you’re going to respect based off your standards, usually physical ones.

Our Lives, Our Choices

Seriously, can we live? Live without society policing our every choice? Can we at least get that freedom to choose from our men without judgement? Let us be great. Let us be great and single. Let us be great and taken. Let us be great and natural. Let us be great weaved out. Let us be great twerking on a Friday night at the Hookah lounge. Let us be great in Sunday morning worship. Let us be great in a tight bodycon dress. Let us be great in a hijab. Just let us be great and respect that our choices are our choices and unless it’s causing you any harm and danger then you shouldn’t be speaking except to edify.

Check ya Ego

She don’t want you bruh and you know what, that’s okay! Life goes on and it will literally be about five minutes before you’re cat calling the next woman who walks by, so you don’t need to call her a bitch, slut, fat or ugly because she didn’t want you. Check ya ego and squash it. Also before you open up your mouth to speak to her, ask yourself, what can I do for her life? Why should she stop for me? Am I being respectable in my approach?

Now, before anyone starts with the “same goes for women,” or “…and vice versa,” let me just say I’m not addressing women right now, I am addressing men. I’m talking to you brothas. I applaud and send kudos to black men holding it down for black women. The black men who know that the only way black people will progress is if we start loving each other unconditionally. The black men who knows that black women are the future.