Adventures from a cross cultural relationship Part 1: Family over Pets but my pets are my family…..

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My boyfriend is Nigerian and I am African American.  The funny thing is we never talk about until we don’t want to claim each other’s people, which usually happens when we see people who are actually being stereotypes. We don’t look for differences but sometimes they are stark and unavoidable.  One of these has to do with indoor dogs and his complete and utter confusion about this.

Until recently I had 2 dogs, a 3 year old Poodle and a 13 year old Pomeranian.  My boyfriend has never really been here for my fur babies, he tolerates them.  He is not willing to keep them on the weekend but he will pay for the boarding, lol.  I let my cousin, whom I had recently reconnected with after 10 years stay with me until she got on her feet. During her stay at my place my dog got hit by a car under her supervision.  Unfortunately my dog did not survive the trauma and after a million apologies I put my cousin out of my apartment. My boyfriend immediately encouraged me to reconsider, it was an accident and she was staying with me after having nowhere else to go.

The thing about family is that blood doesn’t make you sincere.  While I don’t think she meant for anything to happen, she did not take the necessary precautions to prevent it.  She also did not call after she left from my house, not even a text message which really made me feel as if she wasn’t as sorry as she claimed. My boyfriend doesn’t understand my attachment to my dogs he tries really hard but he doesn’t get it.  He likes dogs but he is not fond of them being in the house and dogs as small as mine really serve no purpose according to him, I can’t rally argue with that. He felt as if my cousins needs should have taken precedence over my grief.  He would have never put out a person because of a dog.

I showed up on his doorstep at 3 a.m. balling and drunk “He was a dog you can get another one” my boyfriend said. I had also gotten a memorial tattoo in my dogs memory and he liked the tattoo but really didn’t understand my pain. He held me while I cried, supplied me with 2 aspirin, a bottled water and of course a trashcan.   I was clearly too drunk and inconsolable for sex so he made me go to sleep. He didn’t understand but he was there for me nonetheless.

The next morning I tried to explain that when you nurture something for years you can’t replace it and no other dog would be my dog it would be a totally different dog with different quirks.  In our conversation we had to face that I take my dogs very seriously. I get very attached and grew up with dogs, I even took my Pomeranian to college.  A cousin who comes into your life after not seeing you for over 10 years then ends up on you couch doesn’t get that consideration.  We did not disagree but we did not exactly agree.  He has never had a dog so I didn’t expect him to understand, after all there are Americans who aren’t that serious about dogs but they understand the attachment.

Our disagreement was rooted in the treatment of family.  I am a firm believer in the nuclear and immediate families being close.  He runs errand for his mother’s friend’s cousin whim he calls aunty mostly because it’s respectful, but also because if everyone is aunty you don’t have to remember names.  He was raised to be there for his family immediate, extended and otherwise.  I admire that but I don’t adhere to that. My parents raised us to be close as siblings but we aren’t really obligated to extended family.

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NOT Being Mary Jane… Another show that makes being crazy, desperate and unreasonable OK.

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So I finally marathon watched Being Mary Jane with Gabrielle Union on BET.  I watched it this way because I wasn’t that interested and so I needed to do it over the course of 2 days and I am not a Gabby Union fan.  This show highlighted a lot of stereotypes that apparently are a lot women’s realities because after the show some woman comes on through web cam and professes that she is Mary Jane as if it were an AA meeting. I am all for women’s empowerment and solidarity but I don’t think I have become desperate or crazy enough to identify with this character.  I feel the same way about Olivia Pope but Scandal is good for other reasons and Kerry Washington is freaking flawless in that show. I digress…

I am not Mary Jane and here is why… But I am still trying to figure out why anyone would admit that they are.

Mary Jane seems to not realize consequences of her actions until she is knee deep in a pile of her own shit that she created.  The bad things that happened were a direct result of her actions.  Don’t get me wrong I am not a saint and my foresight is not always that great but at the end of the day it doesn’t take tons of drama for me to acknowledge that I fucked up; including but not limited to wrecking a marriage and the suicide of a “friend”.

Mary Jane is ambitious with no goals.  Her life choices outside of her career are counter productive to what she says she wants.  Mary Jane sleeps with a married man, lets him move in with her after he leaves his wife and then dumps him for being married.  She is confused and self destructive.  She then stalks her ex, who has moved on and tells him that she wants him back.  But he then points out that she dumped him during his come up because it wasn’t happening fast enough for her.  So pretty much Mary Jane left him during his struggle and wants to reap the benefits of it. If your goal is to be married and have a family you have to take the necessary steps to make that happen.  I know that every man I get with is not going to be where I am or where I want him to be but if he is worth the trouble I think sticking around is how true Love works.  You don’t bail on the people you Love because they aren’t progressing at your pace.  The grind can be a long slow process. Most of all you can’t wait for an ex to become a millionaire and want him back,  that’s not fair or cool.

She has crazy ass female friends.  Honestly I have been known to say that I would go to jail for a night for my friends.  One night is my limit but I am a ride or die friend.  Your friends have to call you out on your crazy but that should not be pillars of crazy holding you up as the queen of crazy.  The show started with her friend trying to commit suicide, then that very same friend tells a guy that Mary Jane stole his sperm.  (*record scratches*…Yes Mary Jane stole a man’s sperm).  Then after it was all said and done the suicidal snitch friend, who is a gynecologist by the way, agrees to help her inseminate herself with this mans stolen sperm on the kitchen floor with a turkey baster.  Mary Jane’s other friend talks her in to going to the wife of the the man she had an affair with to apologize for her behavior.  I guess there was supposed to be nobility in this but in and earlier episode Mary Jane is speaking at a luncheon and throws and enormous amount of shade at this women during her speech.  I just don’t see how this is going to end well, and as a person who has been cheated on the mistresses apology was neither here nor there because she did not take responsibility for my feeling by being in a relationship with me. I guess I am lucky to have friends that would tell me to have a thousand fucking seats before they assisted me in any of the aforementioned bullshit.

So in No way do I feel I am Mary Jane and maybe my level of career success has not surpassed my level of personal happiness enough just yet.

What’s your flavor Chocolate, Vanilla, or Caramel?

What is your physical type? Many people have them.  I don’t think I have a type, I think that I am attracted to different people for different reasons.   It kills me when people look for a very specific type.  For example my brothers seems to like the same woman over and over again; but they are all different women who look very similar.  What does a persons features actually say about that person….. don’t worry I’ll wait….. It doesn’t say anything about them, actually what you are attracted to says more about you.

I don’t think I have a physical type.  I am attracted to a certain type of man but the physical features vary greatly.  You can miss out on something special if you only like people based on their physical characteristics.  Now I am not saying that you can’t be attracted to certain features, because we all are attracted to certain features in a person.  For example instinctually we notice symmetry in a people’s faces.  Asymmetry signifies that something could have went wrong genetically or gestationally.  It is just one of the fail safes nature has put out there for us to breed more successfully.  Yes I said breed lol. I am not talking about the small things we don’t realize that we notice, I am speaking specifically about type.  I hate to hear people say I don’t date girls with short hair, or I want my man to be dark chocolate. Well that’s ignorant… to me at least.   This past weekend I was told I wasn’t his type lol, not that I was looking but when I asked “wWhy?” he  said “I’ve been told that light-skinned woman are evil”. As I stared blankly and blinked,  I was thrown off little, didn’t you approach me?  Here you are a seemingly educated man and you think light-skinned women are evil,  and while that may or may not be true, I guess evil dark-skinned women don’t exist.   Now I realize this may have been a joke but I wasn’t the least bit ammused.

To wrap this up don’t get caught up in physical type the best thing that ever happened to me didn’t look like anyone I had ever dated or looked twice at.  Base the decision on some more concrete attributes;  physical traits won’t matter in the lon run.  I do think you have to physically attracted but I don’t think nature predisposes us to skin tone, race, hair length, or any other abstract attribute. So try to keep an open mind out there people, you may be surprised.

Nappy or straight, still the only black woman in the room.

Unfortunately I do not understand the Natural Hair movement. As far as I knew some people had relaxers, some didn’t.  There was no statement to be made in either.  For God Sakes It’s Just Hair.  I know someone is reading this and thinking I am ignorant and in denial about the ramifications that are attached to Ethnic hair and to you I give a blank stare and copy of the essay I wrote on this subject in undergrad. I am well versed in the plight of black women, being that I am one, probably more so than others.

For so many people natural hair is statement about blackness.  Well I would like for you too wake up; my hair being relaxed, natural, dyed, permed, shaved, straight, curly, weaved or anything else for that matter makes me no less black and no less in touch with my blackness.  I don’t think that how I choose to  process my hair defines anything about my personhood, it may define how I feel during that time but nothing more.  I am disheartened by the fact that we judge each other based on how someone wants to wear their hair. I have been natural and relaxed, short and long, weaved and un weaved, as matter of fact, you can tell how my life is going by how my hair was during that time.  My younger sister is natural and my best friend only relaxes once a year, I don’t think that this makes either more in touch with their racial identity.  In my opinion it is just another thing that we are using to divide ourselves.

Having been in heated, let’s say discussions, with natural people it is apparent that some of them take it very serious, while I, on the other hand, am not really bothered by my hair; or anyone else’s, one way or another. I can deal with it under any condition at this point.  If your natural hair is about health, more power to you, but I ‘ve seen many people go natural and end up with the same damaged hair they were trying to avoid.

My hair being one way or another does not negate the fact that I am a black woman.  My hair for me is, a display of emotions and a part of me that I can change at the drop of a hat, not worrying about the consequences because if all else fails I will cut it off. At the end of the day I am  still the only black woman in most rooms.

Forbidden Love: Interracial Relationships

*************This post will contain all kinds of contradictions **************

I can not believe that in 2012 this is still a relevant topic but sadly it is.  I honestly don’t know how I feel about interracial couples.  On the one hand I would like to say that as a black woman it doesn’t sting a little when you see a black man happy with a woman of a different race; but it does.  But the flip side of that is, that little sting doesn’t trump the fact that people should and can fall for whomever they want. I don’t think that I, or anyone else, have the right to impose anti miscegenation on anyone.  This does not take away from the fact that it does sting, and at times it even feels like a gut punch. I know this sounds crazy to some of you but I feel as though being a black woman trying to a find a man we have the slimmest pickings imaginable.  Our options outside of our race are limited at best and it does not help that our biggest critics are black men.  There are various reasons societally why this has happened and I believe that it’s not going to change anytime soon.

Why does it sting? It stings because there are times when my fly, semi successful, black self, looks around realizes that no one is checking for me.  Not the guy in blue tie or the red tie.  Not the white guy or the black guy.  It truly makes you question your worth; I am attractive, educated and very well spoken, yet I get no looks.  Not even one.  It’s kind of like being the last on picked for a team in middle school but you don’t get picked. It stings because you have to wonder what is wrong with you, or what is wrong with the world.  At the end of the day a lot of the successful black men are taken by women who don’t like me.  And while we like to believe that, people date in their social circles; these negroes don’t have any white friends, and wouldn’t give a black women the time of day.

So if it stings so badly why do I feel like its ok.  A close friend of mine who chooses not to date out side of his race said that he chooses not to because not one can understand his plight like a black women.  While fundamentally this may be true.  I feel as though he discounts the power of Love and while a person of another race may not firsthand understand what it is that we go through; they can learn and become more aware of the challenges we face.  I think that Love is blind and you can’t help who you Love, and if a white man came along and can Love me for all that I am I would give it shot. There is so much embedded in a racial identity that we all have to fight some of the things that we have been taught and the things that we believe about ourselves and others.  Interracial relationships bring out a lot of these beliefs.

There is much more that I can say about this but the bottom line is the stings don’t trump the fact that Love is blind and we should embrace that.