Monday, December 08, 2008

The Wanderers

I took one of those DNA tests to determine your maternal ancestral lineage and mine mapped to a group called The Wanderers or Haplogroup X.

This particular group came from northern and eastern Africa, west Eurasia, the Middle East, Europe and a group of indiginous people of North America.

I have been spending all day trying to find information on the net to further expound on this discovery. (No real work got done today between this and stalking for DC show tickets. oh well)

Its funny because in my travels I've instinctually identified with certain groups of people. You know that feeling when you go somewhere and you think everyone looks like they're related to you? Then there were the times when people from Kenya and Tanzania asked me how long I've been in this country and if I had been back 'home' lately. Or the Eritrean parking attendant that every day told me that I should meet her Somalian friend because we looked so much alike. Then, when I participated in my Nigerian friend's wedding, I claimed her countrymen as 'my people'. LOL It seemed that everywhere I went I collected some African relatives.

Each time it felt nice to have people from these different African countries see me and recognize something about me that seemed familiar to them...and vice versa. So, today, I feel like a small piece of my puzzle has been illuminated.

I'm going to claim the northern and eastern African parts of my haplogroup, since the other Wanderers had to be descendents of them right?

Now, I've got to figure out how to get a paternal DNA sample so that it can be tested. With that done, I should be able to identify the percentages of each haplogroup that came together to create me.

I'll check back in with any updates over the next few months. This geneology stuff can be addictive.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone that reads this blog has a great and safe holiday.

I am thankful for 808s & Heartbreak right now. Love Lockdown is on repeat, and I can't help but get hyped about going out tonight and kicking it with my friends and family.

I have alot of other things to be thankful for. The big G has really been looking out for me and my family this year.

You're all in my thoughts and prayers.

Don't eat too much!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

So How Do You Feel?

At around 11pm, when I first heard the numbers, my mouth just fell open. I had been expecting a very close race, so, imagine my surprise when Obama was doing laps on McCain. I felt victorious.

Then, I was frozen. I just sat there, in silence and stared at the screen. I felt amazed.

Then, my mom called me. She was crying. 'He did it Penni' she said. 'He did it! I'm just so happy.' I felt happy too.

Then, my eyes got a little misted. I felt overwhelmed.

Then, I saw my sorors and some other college kids at the AUC in Atlanta. Purple hats were bobbing through the crowd and gold boots were electrified.
I felt excited.

Then, I saw Jesse with tears streaming down his face. I felt grateful to him. Because even though it took him a while to come around to the new way of thinking about race and politics, he did put in a lot of work for my community and I can't discount that.

Then, I saw him and his family walk out on stage. I felt so proud. I couldn't stop noticing the number of times he and Michelle touched. They touch each other alot. It's odd to notice that. I think I notice it because it's in direct contrast with every other politician I've ever seen. Even Biden didn't touch his wife as much or in the way that Michelle and Barack touched. I mean at some points it seemed like he was letting her know that he was going to give it to her POTUS style later...and she replied with a flirty smile.

Then, I felt embarrassed. Because I caught myself thinking that they probably have quality sex often. I guarantee that this point will be brought up in the coming months in the media. It's so obvious that these two people genuinely like each other and are not just having a partnership to get the job done.

Then, I was back to feeling proud. His speech was well written and delivered. He set out to manage the expectations of the electorate, which I thought was a smart move. Let folks know up front that change doesn't happen overnight and this is just the first step.

So, that's how I felt.

How did/do you feel?


Here's How We Did It

Just in case you're not on the Barak Obama for President mailing list, here's what he emailed out last night before his historic speech in Grant Park...

Penni --

I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.

We just made history.

And I don't want you to forget how we did it.

You made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change.

I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.

We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.

But I want to be very clear about one thing...

All of this happened because of you.

Thank you,




Tuesday, November 04, 2008

President Obama!

He did it...



she wishes that her mother, Parren Mitchell and Shirley Chisolm were alive now to see this historic event. (i know, what a medley of people - but that's my grandma)

i don't know what else to say, except...For the first time in my life, I can say that I am proud to be an American!

Holla Back!

333 to 156 WHAT WHAT???


So, now that I've voted, I can finally exhale.


That felt so good.

For me exhaling also means trying to figure out what I'm going to do for my birthday next week, listening to my newest music purchases, catching up on my TV programs and basically falling back into my regular life.

I've been tracking the last minute deals for a trip next weekend. The jury is still out on whether or not I'll find something appealing. Keeping my fingers crossed.

I am listening to John Legend's Evolver and I love it! I know that I have a slight John Legend bias, but aside from that, I think this CD is pretty good from start to finish. I like it more than the last one and as much as the first. I wasn't expecting much, so maybe I was easy to please.

Although the best sneak hot CD this year was Ashanti's. That playlist got me through many miles of jogging this summer. If you haven't gotten it yet, you should. This is the CD that Kelly Rowland should've put out. But hey, Kelly is the bomb in the UK. I guess you have to plant seeds in nurturing soil and the UK is definately that for her. If Ashanti had worked on her dancing and stage presence, she would've been tough to beat this year.

Now that I have DVR, my whole TV watching life has changed. I don't plant myself on the couch at predetermined times anymore. I've been recording and saving The Game. I am loving this season. Girl Melanie is acting her @ss off lately. I might've been a fan of Sister/Sister if she was that good then. I wonder what's going to happen with Malik and Robin. I love that they are showing an athlete in an atypical relationship.

The other show that I've been getting into is True Blood. I won't spoil this week's episode for anyone that hasn't seen it, but, woah! I want to rent that movie She Moves because Tara is my new TV BFF. She's so honest and loyal and damaged and vulnerable all at the same time. I wish she'd get more roles. And on HDTV you can tell that her skin is absolutely FLAWLESS unfortunately Sookie's looks like grits.

I've been disappointed with Heroes, Dexter and Entourage this season. I can't wait until Tell Me You Love Me and The Tudors comes back.

I've only taken a couple of days off of my workout regimen. So far I feel tighter and I think I'm a third of the way to my goal, pounds and inches wise. It is soo much harder to get in shape when you're a bonafide grown up. I can't wait until I cross this particular finish line.

Well, that's all for now.


I Knew We'd Get Here

This has been the longest, most stressful election campaign I can remember. I'm soo glad it's finally over. I have been consumed by all of the faux rhetoric surrounding my candidate and bowled over by the bright people I know that have fallen for it at some point during the last year and a half.

I'll admit, I do have an advantage. I have been exposed to the concealed, sometimes unaware racism that the Obama campaign has brought out in mainstream America.

I have been labeled 'inexperienced' for jobs that I could do, and have done, in my sleep.

I have been called for 3 in person interviews for one job to 'prove myself' to the hiring manager.

I have been questioned and challenged on jobs, in a way that my white friends have never experienced.

I have been 'friends' with white people and then get the side eye when something untoward goes down at work. After having lunch together every day, when something is stolen, why are they looking at me like, 'I thought she was different, but how well do I really know her?'

So, when Obama was hit with all of these same tactics. I saw that it was a diversion. I knew that the issue was his blackness or self identified blackness that was unsettling to the mainstream. He didn't fit into the easily identifable categories of black success. He wasn't a star athlete, he couldn't sing or dance and he was actually kind of nerdy. "What kind of black man is this?" they thought. So, they set out to test him. Some of you fell for the okie doke in the beginning and decided to back Hillary early on.

I remember getting into debates with people that thought she was more 'experienced' by virtue of sleeping with a two-term president. Some people actually reasoned that if she were in office, it would be like Bill having a third term. They didn't believe me when I said that she is nothing like her husband. I liked Bill, but never subscribed to that 'First Black President' bullshit. Straight insult.

Then Iowa happened, and folks were jumping on the Obama Express. I wasn't mad at them. It just takes some people longer to see what's been staring them in the face all along. LOL

Now, after almost two years of campaigning, I'm seeing articles about how biased the press is, favoring Obama at every turn. Mainstream America has an acute case of victim-itis. I don't remember a time in my life when I've seen so many prominent, affluent white people considering themselves victims. I mean really. I'm amazed. I've read more articles and seen more television personalities *cough* Hasselbeck *cough* that are crying about fairness than I ever have in my life.

I'm just glad that today is the grand finale. I just spent a total of 10 minutes casting my vote for Obama. I knew he'd get to this point and I hope he wins.

But, even if he doesn't, the way he's run his campaign has changed the landscape forever. And I'm proud of that.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

What Do You Want?

And what are you willing to give up to get it?

Those two questions have been popping up alot lately in my life and in conversations with my friends.

Intellectually, most of us get the fact that sacrifice is necessary for achievement. But, most of us don't practice it. This concept applies to every single facet of life too.

Me? I want to get more toned up and lose about 10 pounds. This desk job, stress and long hours have taken a toll on my body. Intellectually, I know that I have to schedule my workouts into my day, no matter how burned out I am.

However, on a typical work day, I'm unwilling to give up my 3 snooze bar presses each morning. I've tried to make excuses and rationalize why I 'NEED' that extra hour in the morning. But, when I had to buy new jeans in a size 6, instead of a 4, and the 6 was TIGHT, I had an epiphany.

Would I rather sleep or be tight? I hear people saying

'I can sleep when I'm dead.'

My mantra is going to be 'I can sleep all I want when I'm tight again!'

Last night I was talking to one of my girls and the questions popped in my head again.

Her boyfriend of several years is taking her for granted and she's unhappy. I don't think the guy is a bad dude. I just don't think she's told him what she wants.

I know she wants to see him regularly, meet his peeps, have a consistent and comfortable rapport with the dude. But, I also know that's she's never told him any of this, let alone voice her wants out loud to herself.

I asked her, "How can you get what you want, if you don't even express it?" And the follow up, "What are you willing to give up, to get what you want?"

I just think a guy has to know that what you want is so important to you that you will let him go if he can't meet your expectations. Guys are really good at setting their expectations, we need to take a page from their book here.

Another friend of mine owns a company that regularly hires security guards and cleaning crews for different sites. He has so many stories each week about his employees that either don't show up for work, or get there and do a crappy job. These are the same people that practically begged him for a job and pulled the 'Help a brotha out' card to get my friend to consider employing them. So, he's always astounded when they just 'fall off'. It seems like these folks want a job, but, are not willing to get there on time and make any sacrifices to keep it.

I understand the excuses and the denial we get all wrapped up in, when achieving our goal seems just a little bit more involved than we expected. But, I'm going to snap myself out of it.

I'm tired of hearing myself complain about squeezing into those tight @ss jeans and I've invested waaay too much in my winter boot collection to have the zippers not make it up over my calves. (What's the deal with the calf size being related to the shoe size anyway? Just because I wear a 6.5 my calf has to be smaller than 12 inches?) I'm just done!

And now that I've posted about it, I'll really feel accountable. I hope you ask yourself those two questions whenever you hear yourself taking a tour of Whine Country.

LMAO - Ok, I'm near Napa, I had to get in one corny wine joke.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On Travel

I'm out on the left coast this week, well not really the coast...I'm in Sacramento or Sac to those in the know. I thought it would be alot easier to find pescetarian food options out here and that has not been the case. I'm bummed and hungry!

There's nothing like a long flight to come up with some good posts. I'll try to get at least one up while I'm out here. Otherwise, see ya next week!


Monday, October 06, 2008

You Look So Familiar

So, last week, I told you about this woman in my training class that thought I looked so familiar to her. I asked her who I reminded her of. Now, I'm thinking,

"this chick knows she doesn't have any black friends, who is she kidding?"

She says maybe its an actress or someone she's seen on TV.
(Told y'all she didn't know any black people personally.)

Then, the next day, she said, "I know who it is, one of those kids from the Cosby Show!"

Immediately, I say, "Vanessa?"


I knew it HAD to be Vanessa because Denise is too light and too 'alternative' to be me and Rudy was just a little kid.

"So, I remind you of a bratty middle child?"

uneasy chuckle..."No! Maybe its your hair."

"Really? I've been wearing my hair in a bun all week. I don't remember Vanessa wearing her hair like that."

Now, she's starting to get that look on her face like, 'Damn! How do I get out of this?'

"Right." she says, "Maybe its your voice." I just chuckle and nod. "Yeah! I'm sure that's what it is. I've heard that before."

And I'm not lying. If I had a dollar for everytime some white person thought of the Cosby show when they looked at me, I'd be rich.

If you're not picking up on the association, let me break it down for you.

The Cosby show represents the rare 'special black' for white people. If you are 'articulate' and 'well dressed' you probably remind some white person of one of the Cosby kids. Especially those whites that don't know any black people personally. That show was their glimpse into the world of the 'uppity' black person. Now that I think of it, part of Barack's appeal probably comes from the fact that he could've been cast on that show, maybe as one of Theo's friends.

So, never mind the fact that I look NOTHING like Vanessa Huxtable. I am doomed to forever be compared to her. I remember when Sex and the City came out, there were these t-shirts that read, 'I'm a Carrie' or 'I'm a Charlotte'. I bet if I got a t-shirt that said, 'I'm a Vanessa' and walked through Reston Town Center, I would get at least 5 -10 white people that would get it, half of which would have the ballz to actually approach me and express agreement...that yeah, I do 'look like Vanessa' even though the shirt would not have the words, Huxtable or Cosby Show written anywhere on it.

That's just what it is...

Classic Cosby Clip


Thursday, October 02, 2008

My Latest Encounter With Becky

All week I have been in a training class for my new role at work. There are about 10 people in the class but we’re from all over the country and Mexico. Tonight the director took us to dinner at Morton’s. The food is good and the wine is flowing, then she says, “I have got a story about a time when my life was in danger.” We all turn towards her with our ears perked up.

You see we had just finished listening to Paulo tell us about the two times he had been kidnapped in Mexico. Then my boss asked if anyone else had been in such a life threatening situation. Cue Becky.

“I woke up one night with a black man in my bedroom!”
Instantly, I made eye contact with the other black person in the group.
‘Get ready for some bullshit!’ is what my eyes said to her.
She nodded back in affirmation.
I said, “So your boyfriend surprised you?”

“No!” She said with a dismissive chuckle.

The she proceeds to tell us how when she was in undergrad at some university in Akron someone, correction, ‘A Big BLACK man’ broke into the house she shared with some other little Hasselbeckites and tried to rob them.

Now, let’s break this down.

Becky was very specific about what was scary about this man. His BLACKNESS.
Now, let me describe her to you. She’s blonde and about the size of Serena Williams sans ass and with that Olga-ish square body type that some Becky’s have. The point is, this is no delicate flower. But, because she is white, she believes two things:

1. That every man wants her body.
2. That she deserves to be protected at all

The robber never touched her and when he realized that she might not be sound asleep, he left the house without stealing anything. The police showed up lickety split, comforted her and her housemates and even CAUGHT the guy shortly thereafter.

When the airbags were stolen from my car last year, while it was parked in front of my house, I was told to just call my insurance company and chalk up the costs as a hazard of living in the DC Metro area. Nobody hugged me, or commiserated with me about the thousands of dollars I’d have to spend to get a new car. But, maybe, that was because my life wasn’t in danger.

When my mom was carjacked at GUNPOINT a few years ago, the police asked my then 50-something year old mother if she could’ve known who would do that. You see, because my mom is black, surely she knows carjackers and maybe this time she just got caught out there.

‘It’s probably your own fault black lady’, is the message she received right off the bat.

Meanwhile my mom is shaking, crying and for a long time afraid of going outside at night. The only person that protected her was her husband, a black man. Nobody else really cared. And, if it wasn’t for the fact that they stayed on the detective’s ass, they probably never would’ve arrested the guys that terrorized her.

Getting back to the dinner, Becky Big Bones wrapped up her story and everyone else at the table just oohed and ahhhed over her triumph over such a ‘scary’ situation. Don’t get me wrong, I would be scared too.

But, it would’ve been different for me. I’m more scared of white people. I live in a predominantly white area and I worry about some psycho MFer kidnapping me and enslaving me in a well in a field way out in Leesburg. And the worst part of it would be that nobody but my family would realize that foul play had occurred. I’ve taken to clutching my purse when white people get on the elevator with me or when I’m walking to the parking lot at night and see one of them jogging by. That freaks them out and I must admit to a enjoying that a bit.

I remember after my mom’s carjacking, I took off some days from work to help her get her papers in order, new license, calling credit card companies, just consoling her. But, when I got back to work and told them what happened, I didn’t get the oohs and ahhhs.

I got the racist side eye.

People asked me if we knew who did it. They said things like, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve heard there are certain areas in Baltimore that you shouldn’t go to at night.’

My parents live on a quiet tree lined street in a detached single family home with a front and backyard on the northern city limits. She doesn’t live in the hood. I was just really pissed.

I guess my whole point in sharing this story is two-fold.

1. I know I’m not the only one that works in an environment where there are less than a handful of blacks/minorities. What do you do when these kinds of ‘stories’ are brought up?

2. If you don’t work around only white people, you need to know what and how they think. Do I think this Becky was a malicious racist? No, not really. But, I do think that she is blessed with white female priveledge and entitlement. Her type is scary to me because her blissful ignorance to these inherent racist ideals almost never go unchallenged.

I didn’t jump in her shit at the dinner table because, my message wouldn’t have been well received AND I would’ve been seen as the problem. Not her. Especially if she burst out in tears like the real Hasselbeck is prone to do when exposed. In addition, I’ve been jumping in her shit, in a very professional/non emotional way, all week because as you probably realize, these types of comments don't just come out at dinner.

Oh and get this, she said to me at dinner. ‘You look so familiar to me. I think there is an actress that you remind me of but I can’t think of her name and it’s been bugging me all week.’

*cough* Yeah, cuz we all look alike *cough*


Friday, September 19, 2008

Why Didn't He Speak Up Before the Spins?

* Note * A video from Livesteez of Funkmaster Flex was here but I couldn't figure out how to turn the sound off, so I got rid of it. Go to Livesteez for the footage.

Back in the day, when I first found out about 'the tape' I decided to boycott R. Kelly. I was disgusted by his behavior and offended that so many of the DJs on urban radio (Mostly Men) did not publicly speak out, not only against R., but in DEFENSE of the young black woman that was exploited. There were all kinds of excuses, 'girls these days are fast.' 'she probably went after him.' 'these young girls are after that paper, so let her get pissed on.'

Now, your boy has been exonerated, found not guilty, totally innocent of all charges. I'm not surprised. After all, it was a young black girl in the video. If she was of ANY other race, R. would've been on the inside of a jail cell years ago. I'm not surprised that the majority of the black men in the hip hop community, at least the ones with the air time and the big voices, kept trying to give R. the benefit of the doubt. But, I'm saddened by it.

Funkmaster Flex, has come out with an open letter of sorts for your boy R. In the video he admits some culpability in the whole situation. There is no excuse for the fact that over the last 6 or 7 years since the charges were first filed, that R. has been 'allowed' to run urban radio airwaves with his music. Yes, he's talented. That is not being debated here.

But, my question to black men is this...if someone comes into YOUR house and violates your wife, sister or daughter, are you going to tell your her that she should just get over it, because the dude is so talented and rich. Maybe she should feel lucky?

And if your wife, sister or daughter is being or has been violated by some perv, but he's smooth and wiley, so she doesn't realize she's being played...are you going to continue to stand by and let it happen?

I think if R. was white, black men would've been all up in arms that some 'other' was coming into THEIR house stealing one of THEIR women and then degrading her. (something new) But, when it's one of your own, you look the other way.

Stop doing that please. Even if some women don't realize it, we need you to stand up and have our backs.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

GOP She-Veep

So, all of those rumblings early last week about McCain picking the governor of Alaska as his Veep were on the money. Most people figured that he would have to do something considered 'unusual' to have a good chance at stealing some of Barack's thunder. Picking Sarah Paulin is supposed to attract the disgruntled HRCites. So, how funny was it, just a few days later to find out that the GOP VP nominee's daughter is about to become a baby mama.

Of course Obama took the high road (a road he's well familiar with) and denounced any effort to pull him into some negative BS surrounding the situation. Now, the GOP pundits are crying about how Paulin could not possibly be responsible for the choices that her daughter has made. Paulin is backing up her daughter, saying that she looks forward to becoming a grandmother and that the young woman will be getting married to the sperm donor soon.

Ok, let's get this straight.

They want me to believe that a 17 year old getting pregnant is NOT a reflection of parental influence.

That they couldn't be happier about this development?

I blame Juno, Knocked Up, Gossip Girl and Jamie Lynn Spears for the double standard that is becoming so popular amongst mainstream America. These little white girls are out there being extra fast and the conservative mainstream is eating it up with sprinkles and chocolate sauce.

It burns me up that just a few months ago, there was a hailstorm surrounding Jeremiah Wright's (JW) comments with regard to Barack, America and white people. MSA (mainstream america) argued that Barack was somehow responsible for JW's comments since he had chosen him as a spiritual advisor/leader. I don't know about you, but my mom has a whole lot more influence on my behavior and decision making process than my preacher...especially when I was 17 years old.

Have you ever had an argument with someone that had no evidentiary support for their position so, they threw out one illogical conclusion after the other...then you get so bogged down with trying to follow the faulty logic that you get frustrated, so you basically throw your hands up and say, 'Ok, you're right!'?? Well, that's what the republicans are trying to get us to do, throw up our hands and just let them win. That is soo not happening.

Barack is smart because he knows that the best way to win an unfair fight is to not engage in the first place.

I swear, these people get on my nerves with this kind of BS.

Yes we can!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's a Black Thing - You Wouldn't Understand!

Do y'all remember back in the day, when everyone was rocking shirts with that saying?

Remember when selling out meant trying to appeal to mainstream America and MC Hammer was the poster child for the term?

Remember when we weren't so eager to try to exploit ourselves and our culture to satisfy the junk food appetite of suburban teenagers?

Remember when the most popular rappers of the day dressed like college kids instead of like jailbirds?

Remember when Luke was considered risque, not a chauvinistic albeit harmless older dude?

I know there are some younger people that have only known a life of MTV and constant 'lifestyle' marketing...but occasionally I wonder, have we really 'progressed'?

On the one hand, I am happy that so many young people learned how to own their own dreams and learn how to capitalize off of their efforts. But, in the same vein, what have we given up to achieve the big bank accounts, and is it worth it?

Just a thought for now...


It's In Their DNA - The Jamaican Olympians

Why is it that whenever a group, other than caucasians, completely DOMINATE an activity, the mainstream media has to link it to some genetic predisposition???

Today, I read an article in Slate, 'explaining' why Jamaicans run so fast. (Article originally posted on 8/18/08) I looked at the title Jamaican Me Speedy with the side-eye, because I knew nothing good this way was gonna come.

Jamaica is a poor, tiny nation about half the size of New Jersey. What makes its people such champion sprinters?

Uh - could it be that they work their @sses off, eat a healthy diet of mostly non-processed foods and are dedicated to achieving their goal, or in this case their GOLD??

Nah, that couldn't be it, it must be something genetic...because we know black people don't work that hard...especially Jamaicans. They're too busy drinking rum and winding.

Then, the article goes on to talk about some study that was done in the 80s that showed a trait in West African students, that allowed them to run faster. Now, imagine if I said that there is a trait amongst American East Coasters. You would look at me like I'm crazy. In your mind, you'd think, all East Coasters aren't the same. That's ridiculous Penni.

But, for some reason, people act like Africa, the continent is one big homogenous country...except for Northern Africa which sometimes 'passes' for middle eastern. (I've got more to say about that, but I'm trying to be focused here.)

The article does NOT go on to explain why the American black people were left in the Jamaicans' dust. Aren't their ancestors from the same 'West Africa' as the Jamaicans?

Check out the article yourself and sign in to leave a comment over there. Let The Explainer know that his/her article is some racist fragglenackle!

Edited 8/20 - Nadra over at Racialicious wrote about this too. Check it out.



p.s. and while we're on the subject, am I the only one that wants a t-shirt with a thunder bolt on it in honor of Usain Bolt??? Dude is like lightening!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Italian Vogue - The Black Issue

So, the July issue of Italian Vogue has chosen this month to feature ONLY black models in its features...and it's not even February.

I've got to admit, I was excited a few months ago when I heard that this issue was going to happen. I was looking forward to seeing pretty brown faces that I hadn't seen before. And while I love the idea of bringing these models to the forefront, I've been wondering if the editors have missed the point.

The editor mentioned in this article that she was unafraid of being 'unconventional' and provocative. The whole point of hiring more black models is to make them more mainstream, more commonplace. The point is NOT to feature a black girl in some animal print, so that you, the photographer/editor can be seen as a rebel.

I'll still be purchasing the magazine because if we don't support it, the takeaway message will be, 'See, we gave you people a whole issue and it just sat on the stands. This is why we don't hire black models!' But, I can't get away from feeling like I'm also in effect praising these racist fashion editors for doing something they should be doing without expecting a pat on the back.

Is this really different than us picketing to eat at the whites only lunch counter?


ETA: Interview with Bethann regarding the issue here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

African American Water Torture

So, there's this guy that I went out with a while ago. He was really nice, helpful, smart, good job, all the stuff a woman looks for. But, homeboy didn't even get to first base.

Talking to him was like sitting outside in a torrential downpour that happened one drop at a time.

Here's how today's convo went...

'How's your day going?'
'Pretty good, no complaints. Yours?'
'Yeah, I'm good.'
5 minute pause

'You have big plans for the evening?'
'Nope, no 'big' plans.'
'Ok, how about medium? LOL'
I'm not making this up, y'all!
'Nope, I'm chillin.'
5 minute pause

'We should have lunch or dinner or something soon.'
'Great. Whenever you are up to it. *wink*'

Just ask me out already!

This is the kind of guy that would ask you if he could kiss you. (and not in that BIG kind of way.) Dayum, if you have to ask, then maybe we don't need to be kissing. Are you going to ask me if it's ok to whip it out too?

Cheese N Crackers!

Isn't there a medium? One where the guy is not a player and not slow?


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Black and White People Make Pretty Babies

That is what he said.

We were sitting on his couch, looking through his photo album. In it, I found a series of pics of a blonde haired little boy playing with his son. He told me that blondie is his nephew.

Was that pride in his voice?

"Really? Is your sister white" I said.

"No. She's married to a German guy."

He looks white doesn't he?

I picked up the pic and looked at it closer.

He actually has 'black features. The blonde hair threw me off. Not many black people have cornsilk colored wavy locks. Even his very fair complexion doesn't take him out of the 'black' category.

So, then he commented about how cute the little boy is. I agreed.

Then, he said, 'I've always thought that Black and White people make the prettiest babies.'

I burst out laughing.

He wanted to know what was soo funny.

Surely he had to be joking.

Apparently, he was not.

So, I engaged him.

'Why do you think biracial children are so cute?'

'I know what you're going to say, it's because of the hair and skin color. But, that's not it. I think the mixture of the features is really cute.'


'Yeah! But, you're 'Miss Natural', so you probably won't agree.'

Before responding, I had to replay all of our interactions through my mind's eye. When we first met, he said that he didn't like natural hair on black girls. I explained to him my philosophy about black girls learning to love what they are, without alteration. He knows I'm quite passionate about it.

Eventually, when he saw my hair in its natural state, he said that he liked it...that it wasn't like an afro. Could it be because my hair product mojo was working well that day and my curls weren't frizzy like they are right now? He's also commented many times about how beautiful he thinks I am. Could it be because my nose and lips are narrower than his, the strong reddish hue in my skin or because my eyes have a subtle epicanthal fold. To him, am I just pretty for a brown girl?

I snapped back to the moment.

I told him that he's not alone in his thinking. Mainstream America thinks that a person that is just a little bit black is attractive. That 'je ne sais quoi' is African. He denied that was the case. I reminded him about the black man's obsession with Kim K (who - while Armenian, is still considered white by my company's EEOC department), J. Lo, Vida Guerra and the bevy of other non-black 'models' that have graced the cover of black men's magazines advertising their very African assets.

I'm not hating, pretty is pretty, and I know that there are alot of black men that find black women, that look like them, attractive and desirable. I was just trying to get THIS black man to think about WHY he thought a particular set of physical attributes are more desirable.

Alas, I dropped it. I've learned to pick my battles. I certainly can't get a grown man to see the world differently all in one conversation.

Then, as if to prove he's not whitewashed, he said, 'It's not like I'm caught up on white people. I actually think Asians and Blacks make really cute babies too!'



Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Best Side

Remember back in the day, before you'd take a picture, you'd say to the photographer, 'Wait, make sure you get my best side.' and then you'd proceed to turn your face from side to side, testing out your right, then, left profile.

Now, when a woman wants to get her best side photographed properly, she turns away from the camera. Yep, you guessed it, she turns away from the camera, props her booty up and then tries to turn her head far enough toward the front so that enough of her face is in the picture to identify the proud owner of that illustrious backside.


Even girls with noassatall are doing this now. I saw a pic of Hef's girlfriend Kendra the other day online. Poor thing, had her back arched so much she darned near looked like a boomerang. I thought her little bobble head would surely pop right off after that much tension.

Imagine the kindergarten class photos that are a result of this trend: Most of the little boys are smiling (we all know boys stop smiling in photos somewhere around middle school) and all of the little girls are facing the back of the room.

I won't go on my rant about the ubiquity of misogynistic music videos, poor self esteem and similac. You all know the drill.

I'll just say STOP IT!

As my grandma would say, 'Have some pride about yourself!'

Are your assets really your best side?


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Who's Your Go-To Person?

So, I just got off the phone with TNG and he asked me to do something that required a girlfriend caucus decision (at least in my mind).

I hung up with him and then picked up the phone to dial. But, like Ghostbusters, who was I going to call? Y'all already know about my limited (or concise - glass half full) cadre of friends. The first one, if I called her, the call would go straight to voicemail and by the time she got back to me, TNG might be history. The second, she'd say, 'I don't know girl. What do you think?' Uh, that's why I'm calling you! The third, she'd probably offer good advice...eventually. Usually, during one of my long stories (do I have that many?) her other line would ring and she'd have to call me back. There's nothing that can take the wind out of your sails better than that dayum call waiting.

Sure, they mean well. I can't be mad at them. People do have their own lives to live, right?

But, what about me?

Who's going to be my go-to person? Sure, TNG is cool and all. But, he's not my best girlfriend, nor do I want him to be. And I can't always wait until our weekly SATC happy hour to vet things with the girls. Somethings demand immediate attention.

Maybe I'm slow. Maybe you're not supposed to need a go-to person after a certain age. Have mine expired like that chocolate soymilk in my fridge?

Sure, I'm self sufficient. Does needing a go-to person mean that I'm not? I don't ask for advice often. Doesn't that count for something?

Maybe I can put an ad on Craig's list for an occasional go-to person. I wonder what the rates are for that. They sell everything on eBay, has anybody seen ads for a go-to person?

In the meantime, TNG is waiting for me to call him back with a response. I've got to go. I think my mom is home from work by now.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

No Regrets?

I've been surrounded by endings and beginnings this spring. Just last week, my sister graduated with her Master's from Hopkins. It was a remarkable accomplishment considering the fact that in the last 9 months, her stairs have had 'tacks in it, and splinters, and boards torn up...'*. I've moved from one project to another, I'm driving a new-to-me car and I'm moving to another city. After the congratulations come in, one question that I've asked of others and myself is, 'If you had it to do all over again, would you change anything?'

It's funny, because, most people's first response is, 'No' followed by, 'My journey is what made me who I am today. I wouldn't be 'me' if I hadn't gone through what I did.' That seems noble, strong and resiliant...until you really dig deeper.

Ever since I saw the Devil's Advocate in the theater many years ago, the notion of 'choice' has always resonated with me. We all make choices. Some of which can make our road more or less bumpy. Can you learn life lessons without the bumps? Can you be a well rounded, grounded, aware person without having made the 'wrong' choices? For me, the answer is yes. Would you do it the same way, again? Not if I could help it.

There are experiences that changed me in ways that did NOT make me better, and it was all because of my choice. I never hear anyone say that.

There are classes that I would have taken, jobs that I would not have taken, men that I would never have called, admirers that I should have ignored and others that I should have paid more attention to.

I think the reason many people claim to have no regrets is that it is groundshaking to acknowledge that the hurt you experienced or trauma you suffered was your own fault. I wrestled with that. The natural inclination is to find someone to blame, but what if that person is staring at you from the mirror? How do you recover from that?

For me, after trying to rationalize (ration out the lies - according to my pastor), having the epiphany, being weakened by the realization, then climbing up out of the ashes, I find it to be empowering.

There are choices that I will NEVER make again. The beauty of being over 30 and then over 35 is that you really understand what your grands meant when they said, "there is nothing new under the sun." You begin to see the patterns and playbook with 20/20 clarity. At least I feel like I'm getting to that point.

The thing about growth is that it does hurt sometimes. But, I don't believe the hurt has to be at your own hands. For some people, this may be the most effective way to go about it. For me, not so much. I'm not hard headed. I'd rather learn from your mistakes, than be the one making them. Thank you very much!

So, if someone were to ask me, 'So Penni - Congratulations! Would you change anything if you had it to do all over again?'

I'd simply reply, 'Thanks and absolutely!'


*This is from Mother to Son by Langston Hughes. It's a poem that I had to memorize when I was 9 (5th grade reading class - Bmore public schools weren't always the worst. :-))

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Picking Boogers

So, I just started a new project this week and right now, I'm sitting in an orientation meeting with my new team. The program lead is sitting right next to me. It's awkward enough to have to make eye contact with someone sitting so close to me, as he discusses my role. What's worse is the fact that he has this dime sized flat white booger hanging from his left nostril.

It's staring at me!

Everytime I look up, there it is, calling my name, drawing my attention to it.

In my mind, I point at it and scream, 'ewww'.

But, what I really do is keep my head down and try to look ANYWHERE but to my right.

It looks dry, like a coconut flake. Mental note to wein myself off of coconut cake.

I guess I should be greatful that it doesn't look like guacamole.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Where Do Mature IT People Go?

I mentioned to one of my girlfriends that I happen to work with a handful of attractive men now. But, they are all a good bit younger than me. If I were to judge by their swagger alone, I'd put them in the 28/29 range. Then, I took a second look around and noticed that it's not just the cute guys that are younger. The women are younger too. In fact, if I were to guess the percentage that is over 32, I'd say it's less than 20%.

Is this just a consulting phenomenon? Or is it just IT consulting? One of my other girlfriends that is a different kind of consultant, said that she never really noticed before. I reasoned that maybe it's because she's been one of the youngest.

The last time my boss was older than me was in 2003. The last time my boss was significantly older than me was in 1999. Lately they've been from 4 to 9 years younger. I don't mind taking direction from someone younger. I think what gets to me is that these people may be making more money than me. LOL (Being a 'boss' at my company doesn't necessarily mean you are earning more.)

Where are all the over 35 IT people working? Is it just that consulting is a 'young' man's game? Am I just going to fall off the face of the earth one day and end up in some kind of other world break room, sipping red bull with a bunch of IT pro's that graduated from college (not high school or middle school) in the early 90s? In our building, we have an elevator that gets stuck. The next time I'm on there when the doors don't fully close and I can catch a glimpse between floors, I'm going to look carefully. Maybe that's where my peers are.

I'm not even sure why this matters to me. Is this just my job clock ticking?


Monday, April 21, 2008

I Dare You!

I've been contemplating the purpose of this online journal and whether or not I should keep updating it. Since the last entry, my world has changed incredibly and for the first time in a long while, writing about it wasn't going to help. So, I hibernated.

But, now, it's spring and I can't stay in my hole forever!

This weekend, me and the new guy (TNG)... (I'm not even sure it makes sense to call him the new guy, because he's not really new. But, my ace and I decided not to give a guy a position until after the marriage license is signed :-))...ok me and TNG participated in this thing called Urban Dare, this weekend. I'd been wanting to do it since I first heard about it a few years ago. Its like amazing race, only, it's confined to DC. It's part trivia, part race and part craziness.

Here's the long and short of it. You meet downtown on the ellipse, get a clue sheet and basically run all over the city taking pictures in front of the answers to the clues. For example, our clues took us from the ellipse, to foggy bottom, to dupont circle and then back down to judiciary square before heading over to pennsylvania avenue, then union station...and most of this was on foot because there were stops along the way.

Our pictures are straight comedy. At first we're all smiles, posing in our fresh t-shirts. Then, by clue #6, the heat, running and confusion causes us to look like straight fools.

I think we did pretty well...before we quit. LOL We got all the way to clue #9 (of 12) before we just couldn't take anymore. My brain was fried (I was the designated clue solver) and his feet were throbbing (New Balances are not the most comfortable shoes) and we were both starving! I wish we'd videotaped our performance, because it was straight hilarity.

You've seen amazing race and how those couples just implode from the stress?? I think each of us had those images in the back of our minds, 'is he going to act a fool?' 'is she going to flip out?'.
But, it didn't happen, we worked well together and there was no drama. In fact, there were times when I know if we weren't so tired, we would've been cracking up.

Would we do it again? I don't know, it's too soon to tell. My ankle is still sore from the 3-legged race. But, I would totally recommend trying least once.

Google urban dare for the details. It's probably coming to a town near you soon.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Talk About the Wire

I just watched episode 2 last night. Here's some discussion on episode 1 from Slate.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Wire's Back!

I caught the new episode the other day. It's on onDemand now for all of you that are like me...sweatin' the final season of the best series on television!


Updated 1/4: Check out this to be unaired final scene of The Wire...

Happy New Year!

I'm soo glad that a new year has come and I'm here to see it. I can't even begin to touch on the events that have transpired since my last post. I feel as if I've lived a year in the last few weeks. Lessons learned:

1. Don't suppress things that are bothering you. Just because you don't talk about it doesn't mean that it goes away. It ALWAYS come back in some way, shape or form and when it does, it's ALWAYS waaay worse than if you'd just talked about it when it first happened.

2. Upgrade your car alarm, especially if you drive a Honda.

3. Steal moments to rejuvenate yourself --no matter what! You can't help others if your battery is low.

Here's to a healthy, prosperous, joyful '08.