Black Face, Black Pete, and Traditions

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Black face in any day is just not a good look.

As a Black American I, of course am sensitive to black face, its history is based on humiliation and dehumanization of black people during and after slavery. It is based on white people buffooning black people. It is racist. This week I learned the Netherlands, Amsterdam, and Luxembourg have their own black face issue masked in Christmas tradition. Black Pete (Zwarte Piet) is the companion of St. Nicolas and is always interpreted by white men in black makeup, afro wig, and of course red lips. Black Pete is the idiot sidekick of St. Nicolas and throws out sweets to the children. In 1850, school teacher Jan Schenman published the book Sint Nikolaas en zijn Knecht(Saint Nicholas and his Servant). The servant is a dark skin male servant associated with the Black Moors of Spain. The book has St. Nicolas and the Black Petes arriving from Spain to bring presents and sweets to the children. It is a Christmas tradition from the 19th century. Blacks in this region feel it is a tradition that long needs to be ended or amended.

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I am a Black American born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. I travel, yet I am not a world traveler, but I consider myself worldly. I am curious about other countries, traditions, and ethos with the full knowledge that the American way is not the way of the world. I understand other cultures will do things I find shocking, inappropriate, and sometimes inhumane but its 2014 and by now the whole world should know the origins of black face and there is nothing pleasant about it. The Black people had a protest about their discomfort with Black Pete and what it is means to them. The protest in Amsterdam led to ninety arrests.

I have a huge problem with the area that brought Apartheid to South Africa telling the residents of these countries that this black face Black Pete has nothing to do with racism but tradition. Even if you do not find it racist can you not admit it is offensive to the population it is primarily depicting? It made me angry that people could be so insensitive and so unwillingly to understand that this caricature comes from a place of dehumanizing a group of people. I felt justifiably angry and then I read some Facebook responses and really felt angry.

Bonnie  I’m a Afro American woman.. I have 2 kids and we Life in Holland.. Do I feel like Black peter discriminate us? NO it’s just a tradition and all childrens love Black Peter.. 
Are you really BLACK? NO, you’re just Darkbrown.. Nobody is black like BlackPeter.. So why In the need of Jesus is it Racism? Only the parents can teach they children to be racist.. In a meanwhile at the age around 6 years every child understand why he is Black.. Im not supporting the Colours Peter.. Im Happy and proud as a AfroAmerican to say: We are from a Black Community who lifes in Holland and we LOVE BLACK PETER

I tried really hard to understand Bonnie’s point of view on this because she is actually living in Holland. She says she is Afro American but how does she accept this caricature of a black servant as festive and worthy of celebration without understanding the insult to black people if she knows black history in America? 

Gerrie  Americans think they know everything i say look at yourself!! we love black pete he is a friend not a slave read the story first !! i I LOVE BLACK PETER!!!!!!!!

Chayenne  It is not racism! You make it rasicm, do you think little kids think that zwarte piet are slaves?! No, they are not black from skin colour but from the chimney!!! So stop with the racism because its not!!!

So I read about Black Peter and the story behind it. The black skin is supposed to represent ash from going down a chimney and because Black Pete is a Moor of Spain, of course (Insert snicker here), he has to have the afro wig but why the red lips? If it truly is a representation of St. Nick’s servant getting dirty from ashes, then why not just put ash on the skin, why cover it in black face? He’s a servant of St. Nick and unless St. Nicolas is paying his servants a livable wage he is a slave. This FB reply, again, coming from the people who brought the world apartheid is not encouraging. I think their point of view on this matter and their history cancels their opinion on sensitivity for blacks but I’ll keep an open mind.

Milton  its Racism! i live in Holland and im black but i dont wanna be associated with black pete…and when it happends i can understand the children because the dont know better but when i come home i feel sick because when people see me for Black Pete what does that makes me it makes me that silly White man who climds into the chimney and came out a negro…..What a stupid tradition its time to change it…….

It is 2014 and I still don’t understand why people think it is okay to insult a group of people like this. Why just not have St. Nick and the Petes…not Black Pete or White Pete, just many ‘helpers’ from all groups of people sans afro, red lips, and facial paint? Traditions created to make fool of a group is a tradition worth dropping. The children will survive they just want treats it matters little who is giving it to them but to the little black child who has to watch a man in black face shuffle around acting a fool may not enjoy those sweets as much as his white counterparts.

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What New Englanders Get About Coffee

It must have light cream. Not Half&Half but light cream! Not milk but LIGHT CREAM. Starbucks doesn’t get it which is why Duncan Donuts rules New England. Oddly enough McDonald’s does get it. They brew a tasty cup of coffee  with light cream for only a $1. Any size!

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Ahhhh, the first cup :)

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My City Providence: The Vault Collective

 

 

 

I don’t post enough about the goodies in my state. I’m originally from Boston and commute there everyday for work but live in Rhode Island.  For a small state there are so many interesting and cool things going  here. Every year I vow to get to know Lil Rhody a little better but with a work schedule that keeps me in Boston ten hours a day and tack on a two-hour commute I must admit my quality of life has fallen. I wake up at dawn, take a 6:30am train to work, work till 6, get home at 7-7:30, by 8:30 I’m just prepping for the next day and in bed by 10. I haven’t had a much of a social life or had a whole heap of time to enjoy the things I love, like vintage shopping/browsing.

I read about the Vault Collective on Rhode Island Monthly’s twitter on Thursday and I was there on Saturday. The Vault is a collective of different vintage vendors and this pop shop is open till February.

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If you ever get the opportunity to buy a vintage coat do it. The weight and the timeless elegance of one is something you will never get from the coats made today. I have a wool vintage Bonwit Teller coat with a fur collar. It has to weigh at least three pounds. It is heavy, yes, but it has a swing to it that makes me feel like I’m about to go have drinks with Lana Turner. Most vintage coats I see are definitely worth the price for the craftsmanship alone. My coat cost me about $100 and most of them are in that range. Worth every cent and more. The Vault had a great selection and I’m kicking myself a bit because there was a red tweed that I should have gotten. KICKING MYSELFimage

Ha! A Ouija board. I don’t believe in evil spirits. Have a hard time accepting that if someone is an evil SOB in real life that God would let them continue to inflict evil after their death. That’s just really fucked up so I choose not to  believe evil spirits are allowed to keep roaming when we have to deal with evil in the flesh of living human beings.

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I’ve been reading a lot about pop up shops around the country. Very cool idea. This one was my first and I hope a lot more come to the downtown area of Providence. I think they are probably great for start-up businesses and small businesses looking for more exposure. Have you been to pop-up shops in your city?

Kim Kardashian

I don’t want to be a basher. I’m not here to judge nor am I the morality police but I am more than a little tired of this Kardashian, first name Kim.

I’m sure by now most of you have seen the PAPER cover Kim posed for. I thought about posting the pictures here but I honestly can’t stomach to look at them. I guess I shouldn’t be shocked anymore. I guess she really defines attention whore. It really isn’t the picture that bothers me so much as it is her tweet about it.

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I guess I shouldn’t be mad at her quote after all she is getting paid millions to just show her ass while I’m typing this for free.

But is this all Kim? Is this all you aspire to be…just some chick who can balance a champagne glass on your ass? I guess I could be mad at Beyonce for her Partition video where she showed some ass as well but, and I may be prejudiced here, at least Beyonce works. She has always worked. From a little kid, her father had a plan and disciplined her well. Say what you want to say about Bey but she is not all about ass nor does she reflect that in her personal life. Kim,imo is about ass all day everyday. That is who she is and what she aspires to be. You’d think she would want to leave more behind when all is said and done. I guess the future North can look at these pics of her mom and think…I don’t know what the hell she would think. The way that family is I wouldn’t be surprised if there is an ass shot of North in a few more years. They just don’t seem to carry any self respect. Maybe

Dining Room Table: I Have Two Old Doors

A few months ago I donated my dining room table to a woman with three children and moving into a new apartment. I thought it would be easier for me to get a new dining room table and I just wanted something different. That was in August and we’re still eating at the kitchen island.

Thing is, the sets I see within my price range I don’t like. They don’t have that certain oomph and the sets that do are outrageously priced. I want to sit down and eat at a table not drive it.

So today I was watching Flea Market Flip on Netflix, I watched all season one and two-total binge, and had a great idea. Repurpose! Flea Market Flip has two opposing teams buying pieces at a flea market on the cheap, refurbish it, and sell  it for a profit. I’ve seen some really crappy items get turned into some beautiful and unique pieces of furniture.I can do something like that. I think.

As I’m watching the show I remember another design show where they made a dining room table from a door. A DOOR! I have one of those, no wait I have TWO of those.

Surfing the net I look for basic instructions and it seems soooooooooooooooo easy. Add four legs to an old door and a custom glass top. It would be the right amount of uniqueness I want without costing me thousands of dollars.

Here are a few table ideas I found on the Internets:

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I think they are pretty good ideas. I’m not saying I’m totally married to the idea yet but I did bring the doors downstairs and they are leaning up against my dining room wall while I mull over things…I’m thinking.

nice deskI like the idea of a desk too. Very cool

On Looking For a Bargain: Online Glasses

I do not do a lot of online shopping because I’m usually disappointed. I have gotten too many items that looked great in a picture only to get the clothing and the material is cheap- I’m looking at you GAP -or the shoes don’t fit comfortably. So I rather go into the store to touch and try on everything, same for my eyeglasses.

Every year in the spring I get my eyes examined, get my new prescription that always slightly change, and check out my doctor’s office for new frames. This year I slightly rebelled. I looked through all my old eyeglasses, most of them still good and realized that basically I’m getting screwed every year. All the lenses in their expensive frames were basically the same. I just don’t understand why plastic frames with D&G on the side should cost $300 only to be replaced again with a slightly difference lens. Slightly different . Then a friend suggested ordering my prescription glasses online.

Are you kidding me? Ordering my glasses online, that just sounds all kinds of wrong?

Why?

Because…

Because what?

I honestly can’t think of a reason. I’m giving an online vendor my prescription as my doctor writes it but what about the measurement thing to make sure the fit is perfect?  She reminds me that before my prescription days I used to buy expensive and cheap sunglasses from different stores and didn’t get a measurement.

Look at the site. See if you like anything.

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I did and found a pair I loved. The lens and frame totaled $89. I have never spent so little on a pair of glasses that were not covered under my insurance. Two weeks it took for the delivery and it felt like Eid when I saw the box sitting in my livingroom after work.

I love them and I see perfectly.

Have any of you ordered glasses online?

I’ve attached a few pics. I hate taking pictures but I’m trying hard to get over my fear of looking at myself LOL

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My Saddest Moment

Last month I had the pleasure to witness the birth of my first grandchild. My son and his beautiful other half Deja invited her mother and myself into the birthing room. Watching my granddaughter being pushed into the world will forever be one of my happiest moments. Watching my son hold his little Autumn for the first time and then carefully laying her in her mothers arms wrapped the two of them in his arms made my eyes swell with tears. I was very happy for them and I was especially happy for Deja.

I gave birth three times and unfortunately not one of the births was filled with the amount of love shared in that birthing room a month ago. My ex-husband and I married young. Our first child, was born exactly nine months after our January wedding. I called my son my honeymoon baby. I was twenty and I had fantasies of how my marriage should be. I was immature, too immature to know real love, well at least till my son was born.

I was in labor for thirty-two hours at Beth Israel Hospital. My husband was at my side the entire time. He held my hand, fed me ice chips, and whispered words of encouragement. He did all the right things but only when someone was in the room with us. That was our entire life together. I always thought I was too needy. I thought I expected a love like my parents or like an episode of the Cosby Show. I don’t know why I didn’t think I deserved all that. I spent my entire marriage desperately hoping he would look at me like I was the love of his life. He never did.

I don’t blame my husband for not looking at me like my son looked at the mother of his daughter, his soul mate, his better half. I’m very sure my ex can think of many moments that I didn’t look at him the way Deja looks at my son, like he is the most wonderful person on earth. I giggle to my cousin how goo-goo eyed they both are. It’s funny because they have known each other since the fourth grade and have been friends the entire time. My ex husband and I were classmates in high school but were never truly friends. My marriage has been a series of sad and lonely moments and the birth of my children were the saddest. I’m way past the age where I will ever experience childbirth with someone who loves me to the end of time but I am glad I actually had the opportunity to witness it.

Love is friendship that has caught fire.

It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving.

It is loyalty through good and bad times.

It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.

I made it for NaBloPoMo before midnight :)