Mango Escovitched Fish

I don’t mean to brag, but my husband has few gripes about his wife. But there is one area where I need constant improvement, and that’s the output of authentic homemade Jamaican meals. Anyone who has made a full Jamaican meal understands that it’s slow cooking, and in this fast-paced American life, staying close to a pot for 3-4 hours a day is often out of the question.

Anyway, we were entertaining one of my favorite people, a younger cousin. Years ago. She brought her husband and two young kids over, who played with our daughter. I decided to try making escovitched fish. Most of the time, it’s a medium-sized fish like porgy or snapper (any fish that’s good for deep frying) that’s fried and then pickled under a flavorful marinade of peppers, onions, spices and a malt vinegar.  

Jamaican cooking is slow cooking, so sometimes I plan whole days around my meals. I had to find a way to make a tasty escovitched fish, while adhering to a demanding work, commuting and volunteering schedule. This is in no way supposed to be a cooking-channel post. (I kept forgetting to take pictures as I went. But it came out tasty, and people liked it. Here is how I got by:

These were big snappers, pretty much what they had at the market. So I cut it into manageable pieces, dried it, seasoned it with some salt, pepper and Old Bay, then breaded and fried the pieces in two batches.

This seemed to turn out well. No complaints, so I may need to revisit it soon.


No Context of Black History Justified Snoop’s Threats

Talk about a fly in the ointment. Home Team History has always been one of my favorite YouTube channels, because its videos are solidly informative and its message is uplifting. It’s run by a Black man and is refreshingly free of the misogynistic vitriol that often comes pouring out of other channels run by Black men. Instead of leaving wondering if the brother would benefit from some therapeutic psychotherapy, we are sent away with a beautiful benediction to know ourselves, remember our ancestors and be in peace.

But I just couldn’t catch his message on his latest. Take a look.

Just … How does the longstanding history of Black men being maligned and slandered by outside oppressors connect with Snoop being allowed to attack and threaten Gayle King’s life in an Instagram video?

Black men are the only men who publicly and viciously denigrate and insult their own women. And relish it! The advent and use of the Internet to connect strangers has only amplified some deeply rooted patriarchal attitudes and juvenile, hostile behavior that just comes flooding our way. Other groups of men mistreat their women and brutalize them, for sure, but they somehow manage to keep it further away from the public gaze and they almost never praise other women’s beauty, grace and desirability over their own.

Almost from the beginning of our use of the Internet, Black men have made it a pattern to mock, jeer and publicly disrespect Black women. Whether we realize it or not, this longstanding public behavior, and Kobe Bryant’s worshipful global following made it OK for Snoop to make that Instagram video, call Gayle King out of her name, and order her to respect ‘the family’ or ‘we’ were gonna come get her. I respect why Snoop felt emotional and protective of Kobe Bryant’s legacy, and why he thought bringing up a rape allegation in an interview before the man was even buried was the wrong move. I feel that way, too. But I part ways with him when it comes to how he expressed his feelings and for whom he claimed to speak.

This here member of the family will never take up arms against Gayle King. Do Black men jump to defend our posthumous legacies, or protect us from bullies, even when they see something going down that’s wrong?

Exhibit A: Terry Crews’ shameful abandonment of Gabriel Union, essentially saying her experience of micro-aggressions and mistreatment on AGT were her problem and not his. What a way to pay it forward after Black women rushed to support him when he bravely stepped forward with his story of sexual harassment and misconduct at the hands of an industry predator. Literally. The simple fact is that Black men do not love or value us publicly like we love them. Maybe they do feel protective of and loyal to us, but I don’t see them express it whenever someone posts a video or photo of Lizzo and the trolls go in on her about her body.

Exhibit B: I could write an entire book chapter on my theories about why Vanity Fair film critic K. Austin Collins attacked a 7-year-old girl for looking like her Black father. Oh, to be a psychologist to unpack how his New Year’s Day Tweets were rife with misogyny, colorism, and self-loathing. Let’s start by just looking at his profile pic. Posing it up. Smug and unbothered. Concealing his African features against a pastel-colored sky and vilifying a little girl for carrying her Black father’s features as her legacy.

Sigh … the essay almost writes itself.

Black women need to stop breaking our necks to run to Black men’s rescue all the time, if this is the thanks we’ll get. If Black men cannot dredge up any common decency to refrain from attacking a little girl, however wealthy her parents are, said individuals are trash.

Black men suffer from an obvious case of half-love for us, but we make it easy. We compartmentalize the insults and the indifference, contextualize it in history and systemic racism, as if we are not penalized by the same things, and we remember to be loyal and turn right back around and defend them whenever we see something going wrong. Ari Lennox is a great example. A *Black male* Twitter troll called her a Rottweiler, and when she tearfully expressed her feelings about it, music industry media host Joe Budden rubbed salt in the wound and said she was being too sensitive. Yet Ari shook this off and jumped right to Snoop’s defense because she felt that what Gayle King did was wrong. Our loyalty never ceases to amaze me, and sometimes it baffles me, quite honestly.

The one good thing about this situation was that it was resolved within our own community. Yes, CBS chimed in with a comment supporting Ms. King, but it was Snoop’s mother who sat him down and had that conversation with him, leading him to apologize, and Ms. King accepted it. I don’t think anyone needs to see the apology as some kind of humiliation or bringing a Black man to heel. No white-owned corporate entity threatened to take anything away from Snoop.

The time for Black men to disagree with us publicly without tearing us down has been a long time coming. And who knows? Maybe this could lead to a further meeting of two minds I respect, or at the very least a turning point toward greater public civility between Black men and Black women. Why is that so hard to expect?

An Accomplished Young Black Lady

I love period films, but I never could fully enjoy the silk gowns and lace tucks, the country estates and houses in town, and all the high spirits and intrigues that drove excellent historical television and film. Black people were scarce on the high society scene and were often slaves otherwise, so …

RED PLANET FOR ITV SANDITON: Ep3 on ITV Pictured: Miss Lambe (CRYSTAL CLARKE). This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on Copyright: RED PLANET/ITV For further information please contact: 0207 1573044

Lucky for me, then, PBS is importing an Andrew Davies adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sanditon from ITV, and it starts on Sunday. It is about a fishing town “on that part of the Sussex coast between Hastings and Eastbourne,” as Austen describes it, trying to reinvent itself as a fashionable seaside resort community. One of the best supporting characters is the spirited (aren’t the more interesting young ladies always ‘spirited’ in these things?) Miss Georgiana Lambe, the mixed-race, orphaned, 19-year-old daughter of a plantation owner and his (former, I surely hope) slave in Antigua. Georgiana Lambe is an heiress, poised to inherit a £100,000 fortune. That makes her a sure target for fortune hunters among the baronets and other title holders whose estates could use infusions of money without actually exerting their minds with actual work.

Miss Georgiana Lambe makes her entrance. Life in Sanditon will never be the same. (ITV screen capture)

Jane Austen never got the chance to complete Sanditon. She died in July 1817, and only a fragment of a draft survived. Out of her six novels, Austen only made passing references to slavery in the West Indies and how it enriched the British aristocracy in two of them — Mansfield Park and Persuasion. In Sanditon, she gives slavery a bigger share of the conversation from the perspective of Georgiana, whose mother survived it. In Georgiana we see the clash of two cultures, her British father who profited from the enslavement of Africans, and her mother. Georgiana’s identity issues play out in particular in two somewhat painful scenes. The great lady of Sanditon hosts a luncheon in her honor, and Sanditon’s upper classes see her as an exotic import, like the centerpiece pineapple presented there. She is to be carved up by their cutting remarks and served up. In another, Georgiana tries to leave for London, and heads for the coach. The working classes laugh with scorn and incredulity at this Black girl who wants a seat on a coach to London, but cannot pay right away, because she is not accustomed to carrying money. (A Black queen we have here!) Things go worse for Georgiana when she says her banker in London will vouch for her and offer payment. The poor girl is always cornered wherever she goes.

Davies’ scripts often endow the British aristocracy with more moral enlightenment than is realistic, and the pop culture anachronisms sometimes come screaming out. How, for instance, does a mean-spirited dowager who has lived in England all her life become conversant enough in patois to understand Georgiana when she switches into that dialect for one of her put downs?

Georgiana stands up to the hostile old witch, but so much battling in a place that is supposed to be genteel does take its toll, as you can imagine. One scene finds Georgiana on a solitary walk along the bluffs, missing home and unable to find her footing in Sanditon. The setting vaguely echoed the story of Lovers Leap in Jamaica, because Georgiana’s guardian Mr. Sidney Parker removed her from London to get her away from an “unsuitable match.” I didn’t fear that Georgiana would harm herself, but her moment of sadness and loneliness opens the door for her to make friends with Charlotte Heywood, whose romance is the main one.

Davies makes my eyes roll sometimes with how much modern virtue he bestows on old British aristocrats, and he does that here. The script does deliver, however, on Austen’s musings about the economic and societal changes coming to the early 19th century, and you don’t need to see slave owners through rose glasses to do that. Not only is there a wealthy Black foreigner in Sanditon, but also an ambitious young urban planner before urban planning was a thing, and a German doctor with a strange new invention called a shower bath.

Let’s take a minute to talk about Georgiana’s guardian, Mr. Sidney Parker. The story shameless draws many parallels to Mr. Darcy. Actually, he’s an amped up Mr. Darcy, without the wealth. He is mightily good looking. He broods better than Jon Snow. He judges and chastises. At a certain point, I really wondered if he and the main female character, Charlotte Heywood, actually had the spark and chemistry to carry this off. They dislike each other initially, and often miscommunicate in the beginning, but in the first three episodes that I’ve seen, they forgot to deliver that undercurrent of attraction. Charlotte is unlike our Lizzie Bennet, who, though she was not formed for malice, never sought as many people’s good opinion as our Charlotte Heywood seems to do for a ‘spirited’ girl away from home. Their sparks were turning into a cropping of fireflies, until the producers had Charlotte happen upon Mr. Parker’s ‘casual swim’, which was on a whole different level from Colin Firth’s white clingy shirt. You see in Sanditon, the gentlemen sea bathe in the nude. Our Charlotte got the full monty, and having been visually deflowered, I guess she is our future Mrs. Sidney Parker. That’s the thing: their love story feels almost like a procedural inevitability. We never caught Mr. Parker eyeing up Charlotte and we never heard Charlotte bitching about him to Georgiana.

Sanditon is a story of New World changes beginning to lap at the shores of the Old World, and while Georgiana is not the main heroine, her strong attachment to a free Black man in London, seen in the closing scene of episode three, is sure to set off fireworks in this small town.

Quick shoutout: Mr. Otis Molineux, Georgiana’s love interest, who proves to be a type of Mr. Wickham. He turns out to be a gamester who gambles with Georgiana’s safety, but at least he has genuine remorse for how his actions affect Georgiana. It’s too bad Georgiana and Otis don’t make it. You don’t often see Black couples go the distance (or at all) in high-profile period pieces. But that’s a topic for another day.

Rich Black Women: An Unapologetic New Period Film

Black writers have always poked around in different corners of history, telling our stories from past eras. You might not know that, though, judging by how invisible we are in popular films and TV shows set in 19th century and earlier eras. Well, writers are giving it another shot with ‘The House that Will Not Stand,’ a film adaptation of a historical play by Marcus Gardley. It involves the lives of free Black women living in 1800s New Orleans. A project featuring my favorite American city, New Orleans with Black women anchoring the cast telling a story dressed in silks, and petticoats. If you know me, you can hear me squealing! (And possibly humming the ‘Game of Thrones’ theme.) Yes, yes, it’s out of context and far more brutal. But anyway!

According to entertainment news Website Shadow and Act,

The main characters are free Black Creole women who fought against racism and became millionaires through plaçage, or the practice of common-law marriages between white men and Black women, biracial women of color, or Native American women). The play, which premiered at the New York Theatre Workshop this year.

I know what some haters are going to say; these women earned their riches by laying down with white men. And? So did generations of white women. It was called marriage, and I’m sure the husbands, children and household benefited from a lady with her head who kept things stable and orderly. That’s how we came into the archetype of the ‘rich white woman,’ who inspired so many hours of play over plastic tea sets — porcelain if your parents had a fancy office job and could afford it.

Truth be told, I’ve always had mixed feelings about watching period films. Those works testify to uncomfortable eras or Black people. While I loved these sharp-witted ladies in the parlor settings, and the court intrigue of superior men, my skin folk was often rendered as second-class citizens at best — property at worst. You can understand why Black audiences prefer more modern stories.

I could never give myself over completely to the ‘rich white woman’ fantasy, even for playtime. Our mothers often didn’t sit down with us at tea, because they were working, running the home, or volunteering at church. And even if I could occupy that identity and pretend to order a servant to bring the petit fours and gossip over what Lady Shirl wore to the racing outing, in the corner of consciousness would be a familiar figure, looming. My mother and aunts were that domestic worker, and at any time they might have been lorded over by someone I was pretending to be — or pestered a handsy husband. All so that I could have the essentials, and then stacks of books, dolls, toys and the leisure of playtime. Wouldn’t that be a betrayal in some way? 

I loved Grace Abigail Mills’ heroics in modern-day Sleepy Hollow, and her rapport with her fellow witness, the man out of time, Ichabod Crane. But when Abbie was thrown back to the 1700s, in a plot parallel to what brought her partner to the modern era, I was a little terrified for her. Reader, I knew — we all knew — the trauma that awaited women like Abbie in Colonial America. 

Lately, I’ve had to turn to streaming services and pick over leftovers from past movies or defunct TV shows to get my period piece fixes. We saw a pickup in period projects where Black women bustled around in their stays and petticoats — WGN gave us “Underground,” PBS offered “Mercy Street,” and Starz had “Black Sails,” but all of these shows were canceled in under five seasons.  Oh! I forgot “Still Star-Crossed,” from ABC, set in one of storytellers favorite periods, Renaissance Europe. I haven’t forgiven Shondaland for imbuing Prince Escalus with a sharpness and cruelty that made it hard to like him as a husband for Rosaline Capulet.

That, in a nutshell, is the Black experience in period films. Even when we do get to dress up in one of those confections and float around a staggering English estate, like “Belle,” we are never the fair lady at court, and rarely unmolested. What a huge tradeoff. At least this time, the rich woman sitting down to tea will be Black, and reader, she is a playtime role model whose time is overdue. 

Would Racism Have Beat Us?

From the comfort of my home outside of New York City, with legal protections (for now) like various Civil Rights and Family Leave, it can be easy to forget how tough life was for people from different races and cultures who wanted to settle down together and marry.

When I saw this old “PBS News Hour” segment about a new book from journalist Alexis Clark, “Enemies in Love,” I had to wonder how I would react to my interracial marriage without the comforts and legal protections of modern life. Were Hubby and I to have met just after WWII, I wonder if I would be so busy surviving that I would even have the time to muse about marriages like hours. Or even if I would have the nerve to go through with it at all.

African Royals? Eh, Not So Much

Well, look who decided, after all the fanfare surrounding the wedding of “Suits” actress Rachel Meghan Markle and Prince Harry of Wales, to finally acknowledge African royalty?

Holier-than-thou, pro-Black, anti-swirling vloggers, that’s who. You might have encountered some of them, the purists who create videos fervently preaching against, among other things, the sin of identifying anyone mixed or biracial as Black. They make long-winded screeds denouncing interracial couple vlog channels. They lecture at length about the proper way to promote dark-skinned Black women. (Hint: It changes, depending on what set them off.)

Ariana Austin Married Joel Makonnen aka Prince Yoel, the great-grandson of Haile Selassie on September 9, 2017. Haile Selassie was the last emperor of Ethiopia.
Sources: The New York Times, via Instagram

Almost as soon as news of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry of Wales’ engagement broke, women’s mainstream e-zines ran silly stories proclaiming that Meghan Markle’s engagement gave Black women hope. I’m sure that it did for some Black women, especially for those yoga loving, globe-trotting, racially ambiguous types whose crisp white shirts, smooth voices, messy buns, and caligraphy skills endeared her to a crowd that would introduce her to an heir to an old European dynasty. But for those Black women who do not live in the outer reaches of what it means to be Black, for those who have medium-deep to deep-dark complexions, this was a pleasant distraction at best. (OK, for me it was more like an excuse to get up early, camp out on the couch in the TV room and watch Serena and Oprah show everyone how to wear hats and fascinators to a church wedding.)

The fawning over Meghan’s engagement had about as much intellectual nutrition substance as a box of Cheez-Its, but we liked munching anyway. In no way did the women in my circles actually believe that Meghan Markle’s experience and triumph of love was an indication that the tide of public opinion was turning in our favor. That the world was ready to see us as softer, more vulnerable, and more receptive to the care and attention of a rich, influential and handsome man. I wasn’t teaching my daughter that, and none of my friends were indulging in that fantasy for their girls, either. What we can learn from this, and previous royal weddings involving Black American women (and American women in general), is that foreigners are drawn to the openness, vibrancy and juvenescence that underpins American culture. The Black women marrying these foreign royals are accomplished professionals and have strong followings in philanthropic and social circles. They deserved more shine than the “not Meghan Markle again” treatment. 

When this spate of videos started cropping up, as a counter-balance to the so-called “we have a Black princess, y’all!” narrative, I thought: Well, great. Were they truly interested in normalizing feminine portrayals of Black women, how about giving their readers whatever scraps of updates they could find about their social engagements? Surely Princess Keisha, other African royals and even Ariana Austin have speaking engagements, attend brunches and do other things that reflect the more feminine image that these vloggers are promoting? They are, after all, Black princesses!

I think a few Web sites, who don’t know Black women very well, spun the angle of Meghan Markle winning for Black women as a way to get mileage out of the wedding. Sounds like our social critics who want to “promote dark-skinned Black women properly” were after the same thing.


Happy Valentine’s Day??

Few circumstances can mar Valentines Day festivities, at least for the man, like overpriced prix fixed menus and bouquets of flowers bought after midnight on February 12, when “last-minute husband” prices apply.

Well, late, expensive flowers and hastily assembled dinner reservations are nothing compared to the stream of expletives and one racial epithet that Robin Cross, a television investigative news producer for Florida’s WSVN-Ch. 7, hurled at a young interracial couple recently. Over a parking dispute!

Here is the rundown of the foul Valentine’s Day arrangement, from the Sun-Sentinel‘s Web page:

On the evening of February 6 Robert Fenton, an attorney and resident on Isle of Venice Drive in Fort Lauderdale, had asked Cross not to block his driveway with her car, according to his son Avery Fenton, whose girlfriend is Black.

“You don’t [F-ng] own the road,” Cross can be heard telling Fenton in a cell phone video.

“Yes, I used the word [F-ng] if you haven’t heard it before. Except for your [F-ng] son who’s dating a [F-ng] [N-word],” Cross continued.

“Finally, I said it out loud,” Cross says as she walked away.

It’s unclear why Cross invoked Avery Fenton and his girlfriend.

The staff at the Sun-Sentinel might be blind and naive, but it is obvious to any savvy adult why Cross invoked Avery Fenton and his girlfriend. From her own lips, ‘Finally, I said it out loud,’ she admitted that she had been simmering with rage about something, and that something was the idea that no white girls were attractive enough to keep the son of her neighbor, a successful attorney, from dating a Black woman.

Cross certainly didn’t expect to see any n-ggers mar her field of vision when she moved to that very upscale neighborhood, where homes like this 4,000-square-foot beauty list for $1.2 million:

69 Isle De Venice.jpg

Other homes in the area, dotted with marinas, list for $4.9 million. This woman has so much going for her; she is a well-educated, accomplished professional and shouldn’t really have anything to fear from anyone. And she didn’t think that she would have to deal with “certain people” when she moved to that beautiful area, where residents are about that yacht life.

Can anyone be surprised at Cross’ behavior? Certainly, none of Robin Cross’ close family and friends are surprised, because if they are honest with themselves they have heard her talk like that before despite “working with Black people” and maybe even lunching with one or two Black women in her whole life. This shouldn’t shock any of the participants in the private Facebook and online discussion groups where the backward bigots seek refuge from the real world and fume about how unfair life is that Black people “don’t know their place.”

The incident ended with the son, Avery, writing a letter to Cross’ employer at the station, detailing what happened, and asking that she be duly disciplined for her behavior. She was fired.

So much for #feminism! It serves as yet another cautionary tale that some white women, and other non-Black women, are basically bigots and really feel threatened and confused when they see real-life examples of love that challenge their assumptions about race, heterosexual attraction and Black women’s presumed place at the bottom of the dating and marriage hierarchy.  I still think that white women are generally the most sought after companions for eligible men, and they always will be. As Black women find themselves objects of white men’s genuine admiration, affection and devotion, not their unhealthy fixations, more bigoted white women will have to face the reality that they don’t enjoy the absolute dominance that they always thought they had in the dating field.

Black women can find a cautionary tale here, too. As they free themselves from blind devotion to all Black men, they should be prepared to face similar hostilities. Nothing enrages an adherent to #feminism like seeing her cherished assumptions about her desirability debunked!

This Is Making America Great?

I didn’t hold out the slightest bit of hope or optimism for the direction of the country since the reality TV host tossed his hat into the ring to become the nation’s 45th president of the United States.

He painted a picture of a political establishment that enriched itself on the backs of decent, hard-working Americans, rhetoric that I know to be hollow when stacked up to actual facts and unassailable evidence. Hint: It’s corporate interests and senior executives who have done very nicely at the expense of everyone else. Politicians are merely at their beck and call.

So how is the 45th going about rebalancing power in favor of the little guy? If his first full work day in office is any indication — not at all. His nominations are making their way through Senate confirmation hearings, and several of the ones in key positions are anything but outsiders. They’re the same old buzzards who have been seething on the sidelines as the country has tried to move forward and actually be a “kinder, gentler nation,” that was painted in pretty prose to prop up an earlier president. The 45th is using his influence to tighten the screws on ordinary people, not relieve their burdens. Once he is done, the establishment — both corporate and governmental — will be just fine. Peep the few executive actions he has taken so far.

  1. He suspended a pending rate cut to mortgage insurance premiums that President Barack Obama enacted just a few weeks earlier. The mortgage insurance is part of a program from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The FHA, part of the same government arm, extends loans to first-time borrowers, or those with poor to middling credit. After the housing crash, the Great Recession and the economic recovery, the Obama administration judged that the FHA’s finances were on solid ground, and they went ahead with cutting premiums for mortgage insurance. Sounds reasonable, right? And if falls in line with what Republicans are always claiming to represent: Giving taxes back to the people. Well, ya boy just decided against that.
  2. The 45th’s press secretary has suggested that development on the Dakota Access Pipeline might go ahead. You might know that the DAPL is hotly contested because the proposed development site runs through disputed territory that was promised to the Standing Rock Sioux Native Americans. Even a proposed alternate route runs perilously close to the tribe’s main drinking water supply, and opponents fear contamination if the project proceeds. If you believe the United States America wouldn’t, couldn’t possibly knowingly poison the main supply of drinking water for thousands of people, remember what happened in Flint, Mich.
  3. In the name of “small government,” another favorite Republican mantra he has ordered a hiring freeze across all federal agencies, except in national security, public safety and the military. These things usually lead to greater backlogs, not efficiencies. The IRS is already straining under its burden — which I guess works out for them, since there are fewer tax collectors and auditors looking when people of his ilk look to skip out on paying their taxes like everyone else.
  4. He reinstated a ban on U.S. funding to foreign groups that discuss, promote or provide abortion services to women. This reeks of a backlash against the Women’s March on Washington. The march a statement in support of women’s rights to attain safe abortion services, and an action to preserve access to other forms of family planning, equal pay, etc. The Washington, D.C., turnout easily eclipsed the middling attendance for the 45th’s inauguration just one day earlier. It also enjoyed an outpouring of support in American cities across the country, and in international cities around the globe — from London to Malawi.
  5. He signed an order urging his administration to fight the Affordable Care Act as much as possible. This doesn’t have as much executive teeth as much as it reaffirms the Republican party’s desire to dismantle the legislation. How dare the Obama administration give Americans a helping hand in affording health insurance, so they don’t have to mortgage their houses if they get hit with a potentially devastating diagnosis! On this point, and the DAPL, I think this country has shown the depths of moral sickness to which it will sink to preserve the wealth of a select few.

This is only the beginning of tough times for Americans. In electing the 45th, we’ve revealed ourselves to be a pernicious, vicious, beyond miserly people who will stoop to inflicting harm on others if it means that a select few enjoy an unfettered, comfortable life. What a horror, and what a waste of so much human potential. But that “establishment?” The so-called swamp that he said he would drain? Oh, I have a feeling they’ll come out of it just as well-heeled and boggish as ever.


Black Twitter: Season 3, #BlackPlotTwists

Black people are never, ever bored. That’s because we have everything: the Cradle of Mankind, the richest man in all of history, a badass female general who made Joan of Arc look like a lieutenant. One of the greatest U.S. Presidents.

What we don’t have is chill: none whatsoever. And so, from the kids (or associate editors) who brought you #ThanksgivingwithBlackFamilies and #CelebritiesOnlyBlackPeople Know, comes #BlackPlotTwists. Enjoy.

Ladies, We Need to Talk. About Graciousness

A lot is being said nowadays about “feminism.” What it is, which high-profile figure exemplifies it, and whether intersectionality is justly applied by those who claim to be feminists. Less important, it seems, are comments about chivalry. American society filled out Chivalry’s death certificate decades ago, presumably because any public behavior that put women in high regard and placed a high value on their comfort and well-being was supposed to be condescending and suspicious.

So I found this on the 4CHairChicks Instagram page while looking for hair styling inspiration.  It’s a screen capture of a post by an online personality named Jacob Michael Mason.


The comments made all kinds of assumptions: that Jacob didn’t hold the door for other people, that he was coming on to the woman, or that he was in some other way a creep, plain and simple. Listen, chivalry is appreciated on my end, particularly because I encounter so many brazen hot-headed Hoteps in daily life. And then there are the guys — who can be Asian or white — who are inconsiderate on the train, who cut you off in traffic, snag your parking space or cuss you out for getting to a parking space before they had the chance to cut you off!

Public civility is declining in America, so I have no problem at all with any man of any background opening a door for me.

If you’re familiar with Jacob Mason, you might know that he doesn’t conceal his admiration for Black women, and has caught a lot of heat because of it. Apparently, both Black men who begrudge sisters the progress they are making in living healthier lives all around and valuing themselves cannot stand the idea that they would have to compete with men of other cultures for the opportunity to take a Black woman for granted! They lurk around every corner, waiting to pounce and call it “a wrap” on Black women. And their female lieutenants think they are so enlightened and hip to the bulls**t, regularly fighting to ensure that Black women never, ever peep one word about the mistreatment and avoidable hardships they often withstand with Black men. (Their typewriters must be on fire in response to “Lemonade.”)

I’ve never subscribed to the mainly American notion that only deviant white men ever openly express an attraction to Black women. I’m well aware of the history of the North Atlantic slave trade, and even early miscegenation on the West Coast of Africa. I’m also completely over the whiny assumption that European white men often see Black women as sex workers and not much else. Yes, I know there are pervs in the world, but Jacob is not one of them. If you encounter a guy like him, thank him for his display of kindness and public civility, and go about your business.

If you happen across a creep, put him in his place and keep it moving! It’s not that hard, and ain’t you a woman?

By the way, I don’t want to leave without saying that searching hair styling tips should not be confused with not 4C “natural hair porn.” I hate the term “porn” to describe any search for the right visuals to inspire any project.

(More on the degradation of thought and language in America later.)