Gentle Brown and Barely Black

“Why does everything have to be about race?”

That’s what my husband asked me jokingly just now after I asked him why the names of the pantyhose I put in our online cart are so…pc.  I mean, for real, “Barely Black”?  How can I not think about race, especially when the only two pairs that will look good on me are that pair and “Gentle Brown”?  Why can’t I buy a pair of plain brown stockings?  How about coffee brown or maybe even chocolate brown?  Why do they have to come with attitude adjusters?  And why can’t I buy a pair of just black stockings?  Why do they have to be baaarely black or jet?

At least “jet” didn’t come with a subtle behavior suggestion like Sweet Jet or Non-Rebel Jet.

I can’t help how my mind discerns things sometimes.  When I see a shade like Gentle Brown, I think of a docile Indian, Hispanic, or Native American woman, trying her best to not display the joyfulness or outspokenness that her people are known for.  When I see Barely Black, images from my junior year African-Americans in Film class fill my head and I think about the actors and actresses that were successful because they were either barely Black or pretended to be barely Black.  (“Can’t make the White folks uncomfortable, now.”)

And how much Black crosses the line from Barely to Middle-of-the-Road to Full On?  In my dating days, Black men would often accuse me of not acting Black.  But I am Black so however I do act is acting Black.

Maybe I deserve a pair of Barely Black pantyhose….

set of sexy legs isolated on white background

And let me just point out that most of the other shade choices are seemingly non-racist: white, nude, natural, classic navy, Café Au Lait, soft taupe.  No, there are no adjectives to describe the white person that will choose those stockings.  It’s just natural – just another shade.

Nude is a lie, by the way.  It’s not nude at all but, instead, this unflattering yellowish-whitish color.  I made the mistake of buying nude stockings once as a teenager…real eye-opener.  Only people who have a one-sided view of the world will label a product that could be for everyone in a manner that discriminates against the minority.  Of course, Yellowish-Whitish doesn’t have the same ring to is as Nude.

Nude pantyhose will never be nude on me.  This company’s Natural will never be my natural.  Are they expecting me to feel bad about that?  Are they thinking that by calling me Gentle Brown, I will be more at ease with a pair of white “natural” pantyhose?  Or are they afraid that their majority customers will get angry if they had to wear a pair of Full On Black pantyhose?

Or do they just really suck at creativity and naming conventions?

I think I will start my own line of pantyhose and have shades like Angry Black, Loud Brown, and Rose Glasses White.  People might be offended, but at least they would know exactly what shade they would be getting.


PS.  I realize that this post might come off as an angry rant, but I’m actually quite amused this time.  🙂  Perceived racism and all, I still bought the dang stockings.

Alone in your Alone-ness

Thursday, my small family joined forces with a few other small families to form a large and diverse Thanksgiving dinner party.  The food was wonderful, and, after warming up to our friends and the host family’s lovely home, Baby N was comfortable enough to navigate the family room, the kitchen, and the dining room without our help.  Being physically separated from family can make the holidays either a trying time or an expensive time of travel, but thank God for friends nearby.

This was our first year having Thanksgiving with my husband’s coworkers, and they are an interesting bunch.  I made a new friend (who has the sweetest, most loving 7 month old son), and I am really looking forward to a play date.

But that’s not why I’m journaling tonight….

You can call me "Queenie".

You can call me “Queenie”.

During dinner, a conversation arose concerning one of the dishes: kabocha squash and quinoa.  The dish was out of the ordinary for traditional Thanksgiving fare, but quite tasty (N loved it!).  Even though I had never prepared kabocha squash, we often eat quinoa and other gourds in our house so it wasn’t a strange dish for us, but hearing people talk about it was amusing.  The funniest part of the conversation was hearing all the pronunciation attempts of the word “quinoa”.  Someone said they thought it was pronounced “queen-oh-ah” or “queenie-ow-ah”.  Another person laughed and said it looks like “key-noah”, suggesting that it takes after the Spanish “Quixote”.  The funniest attempt to me was, “Qua-ee-no-A”.  I still laugh when I say that out loud.  😀  Naturally, the conversation progressed to where quinoa, and the naming of it, originated, hoping that would shed some light on why it is spelled and pronounced the way it is.  I was in and out of the conversation mostly because I was trying to hold and feed N (who had her own agenda of trying to escape and engage in free range dining [now I know why high chairs have straps]).  But then I heard this,

“Well, even though it’s with the kabocha, it definitely isn’t a Japanese word.”

“Why are you looking at me?”

“Okay, you aren’t Japanese, but we’re still going to look at you.”

“Why?  Wait, am I the only Asian person here?!”

Quick, seemingly non-obvious glances around the room by everyone that everyone could see…

…laughter, real laughter (thank goodness).

Me (the only Black person there): “Hey, it’s okay, you’re not alone in your alone-ness.  You’re not the only one who’s just one of something.  Just saying.”

Laughter, still real, not nervous or awkward (still thankful).

My new friend (the only Latina there):  “Yeah, you’re not alone.  No one else here is from the Caribbean, either.  Way to go Bob.  Way to make everyone feel alone on Thanksgiving.”

*Bob is the white guy who started this part of the conversation, and that is definitely not his real name.  (I actually don’t know his name lol – husband’s coworker, remember?)

This little exchange really tickled me because it’s easy for me to notice when I’m the only Black person in a place, but I often forget to notice that I might not be the only minority just because there are no other Blacks there.  How many times have I been somewhere and not even noticed that there was also only one Brazilian or just one Indian* or the other only one minority present is actually white?  Where my husband and I live now, we’re both in the minority, which is actually kind of funny to me.  I know statistically he is a minority here, but, in general, I still don’t see him as being in the minority with me.  You would think that my perspective would shift with my surroundings, and it does sometimes, but not overall.  I didn’t notice at dinner that I was not the only minority until it was pointed out, but sometimes I do notice that I’m not alone in my alone-ness.  Maybe I notice when the other person has a more brown complexion?  Or maybe I notice when the other person is female?  I don’t know, but now that I’m more aware, it will be interesting to see what pops out for me in the future.

*Indian = person from India, not a Native American

Baby’s 1st Birthday

I can’t believe it’s been TWO months since I’ve posted.  Shame on me!  My excuse, you ask?  3 words – Baby’s 1st Birthday.  And man, was it a blast!  She was actually zoned out for most of the celebration because the party took place doing her normal mid-morning nap time.  ::sigh::  It’s soooo tough being a baby.  Fortunately, her guests had a good time without her.  Also, fortunately, we had a rockin’ photographer who still managed to get some great pictures of the sleepy birthday girl.  Hooray!

I keep going back and forth on whether or not to put pictures of my family on my blog, but I think it’s inevitable, especially since I keep going on and on and on and race and perspectives and such.  With many of the stories I’m anxious to tell you, it will definitely help if you had visuals of my family.  So, here we go, a picture of me and Baby N on her actual birthday (the day before the party).





And now that it’s after 1 am, time for bed.