Introduction to Moist Halfrican (Comma Intended)

I don’t really care if I misspell a word in my tweet. Actually, I do. But I don’t need you to point it out with a link to purchase your book on vocabulary rules.

@ker_pow Nope. Just want it to accomodate 60 somethings in taste and class.

@palmerbennett “aCCoMModate” with 2C and 2M (link to book WAS here) ~@MomyWatch

@MomyWatch Thanks for the FREE correction! ~@palmerbennett

I can think of two friends who are loving the idea that I was corrected on my vocabulary knowledge. I am usually the corrector. My feelings were hurt. Correction my ego was.

I’ve had a logos laden week. Ellen Seidman wrote a passionate piece on removing the word ‘retard’ from your personal language on her blog LoveThatMax. My youngest child, in a class discussion on tolerance, was informed that this word is not politically correct. He is public enemy number one against it and ‘midget’ (which was excluded years ago when Little People was a big reality TV hit). Retard(ed) is one of those socially derogatory words that has become socially acceptable to use.

Ironically, almost immediately after reading Ellen’s post, I heard Tia Mowry’s character on The Game say “social retard” and the logophile in me cringed. I love words. I do not love words that ignite inferiority.

Another word that breeds discrimination is “illegal”. ColorLines’ new campaign to Drop The I-Word is attempting to erase it’s negative context from everyday language. When I was 8, an older kid at school told me I was an illegal alien because I was born in Alaska. I believed her. I hated being an illegal. At some point I came to an understanding that I was not (the alien part is still up for debate). I have used the word many times and I have to admit that hearing it immediately places images of Mexicans crossing the border into my mind.

I signed the pledge to remove illegal from my vocabulary. I’m signing a personal pledge to remove my connotation. I’ve been working a lot on embracing diversity and battling embedded stereotypes that evoke hate. It is a conscious and deliberate effort that takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it. My new image of illegal is of criminal behavior or a forged document-charge it to the recent conversation with a homeowner facing an unlawful foreclosure.

Don’t fret. My lexicon is still balanced as I have added two words to my vocabulary.

Halfrican, while not Webster-worthy, is a new way to define someone who is half black and half white. For example: “I am Halfrican American.” I was introduced to this concept by an article on Robert King and his one man show, for which I desperately want to see (shameless plug). It’s doubtful that the 2020 census will have a racial description for my new word but I like it none the less and if Beyonce’ can get bootylicious in the dictionary, anything is possible.

Then there is moist. Of course moist was already part of my jargon so this is technically a resurrection. Moist is the prodigal son I sent away many years ago, now it has returned. I’m not alone in my past despise of the word, 4,739 people like the page I Hate the Word Moist and they don’t even have a picture! I am reclaiming the word because there is no other way to describe Auntie’s red velvet cake or Patsy’s bread and I’m tired of looking for one.

 So my vocabulary is balanced, all is well in my logos and FYI @momywatch-moMMy is spelled with two M’s.

Don’t Forget to Wear Your Green

So I’m sitting in my favorite Sunday afternoon position (and no, it’s not on my left side atop two pillows, wrapped in my favorite fleece blankie in my bed-that’s my second favorite). I’m in the pedicure chair with my feet soaking in some crystallized mint-infused, bubbling, hot concoction as the motor of the vibrating chair rattles my entire upper body, just missing my neck. My eyes are sealed as I attempt to tune out the sights and sounds around me. The merlot chairs and saffron bowls make a delicious contrast but not next to the celadon walls.

Thirty seconds into the soak and I realize I have found myself the cream in a cookie. The wife, to my right is chatting up the husband, to my left about what color they should paint their toes. Yes, they.

We did blue last time, remember, it matched the color of that shirt you had on. The one with the hole in it.

The collection of dead skin on the cheese grater was evident of the wife’s disdain for shoes. The heavily worn Crocs beside her chair supported my assumption. Her thick southern accent and overalls suggested they lived in a rather rural part of North Carolina, along with her exasperation over forgetting to do something with the horses before heading into town.

I thought we did red. Didn’t I wake up in the middle of the night, yelling ‘cause my feet were bleeding?

Eyes wide open. I have heard this story before. My step-birth-father had a similar situation, before switching to black polish-and no, he doesn’t wake up thinking his feet are rotting. For the first time, I looked over at the husband and realized he very much favored my relative.

To call Adam, peculiar would be justifiable in many worlds, especially the ‘hoods I’ve lived in. He wears a half bald, half shag hair-do and a braided beard. He has ear piercings you can literally see through and others that some have only seen on episodes of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. But image aside, he is probably one of the warmest and caring men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. His type of concern and compassion for others cannot be fabricated.

Oh yes, that’s right! You ‘bout near gave Tinkerbell a heart attack. She ain’t slept with us since!*

For the first time I look at husband, their similar hairstyles (both head and face) are the only commonalities I see between him and my step-birth-father. Husband also has piercings, about five in the lobe alternating between pink ice and peridot and two gold hoops in the scapha. He has a choo-choo train tattoo wrapping around his leg with teddy bears, presents and toys in the cargo wagons.

We really should do green in honor of the Irish and all. Thataway, I won’t get pinched this year.

When husband stands, he looks to be about 6’9” and nearly 350 pounds. He walks through the salon void of shoes and sits at the nail station for part two of his spa day. All the other women are bewildered by the contradiction in his persona and how he is spending his Saturday afternoon. I am not, I have Adam. I am a bit of a paradox myself.

On my way out, I turn to the husband and say “Don’t wake up in the middle of the night thinking you’ve got gangrene.” He laughs a big, ole’, teddy bear laugh and his wife sighs, “I better put away the Samurai swords again.”

*I hope Tinkerbell is a cat or dog, I fear she could be a second wife.

The Red Thong That Went To Church

My companion and I arrived just after the call to worship. We slid into the aisle end of the third pew from the back, lucky to have found such prime real estate. Typically, all of the end seats were taken before the song leader could clear his throat. To be late and not have to step over feet that were comfortable and on time was lucky, no blessed.

As the congregation arose to join in hymn, I began removing my jacket, delaying my rise. Just as I was about to stand my eyes locked in on it. I looked around to see if anyone else noticed the debauchery that was before me. With their heads buried into hymnals, no one shared my horror. The sin threatened to expose the reason for my tardiness or my escapades the night before.

I stood slowly, locking glare with the red thong, afraid to look away but too ashamed to continue in my stare. Trimmed in black lace, the intimate apparel was personified into the image of a frowned face. The lace was fuzzy tamed eyebrows and the dents in her cheeks were squinted eyes. Where the white, un-lined slacks with no hosiery gathered in the crack of her butt, a thin crooked nose morphed into a frown.

As the deer panted for the water, the thong tauntingly peered at me. Angered at its visibility or being stuck in such an unholy (depending on how you look at it) position, it engaged me in conversation. I nudged my neighbor and he quickly wrapped his arm around me in an attempt to be chivalrous. Or so I assumed. As I leaned over to warn him of the threat before us I realized that his chivalry was out of fear of being caught in his own fixation.

Instantly, as if my eyes were washed with mud and visibility restored, I discovered that what I saw as a scowl was actually the sexy image of bedroom eyes, dimples and luscious lips enticing my mate with its promise of sensuality. The temptress taunted the beige granny panties beneath my black, wool, lined pants and nude stockings and my derriere tensed at the idea of being forced to wear such an iniquity.

We were prompted to sit and within minutes I was able to focus on the message and not the seducer crushed against the crushed red velvet of the church pew. All was well in the world when the white, un-lined slacks erected abruptly. It beckoned my attention but I buried my view into the text and silenced its sultry call by reading the words aloud, in my head. I held my breath in the moments of its absence knowing it would once again tease me upon its return.

When the white slacks emerged, I nervously laughed out of shock over its third transformation in the ninety minutes we were together. The alluring red thong was now nothing more than a pair of red, cotton briefs with black, cotton trim. The relieved expression proved they didn’t want my man any more than they wanted to harass me. They only wanted to be freed from the depths of their imprisonment.

I smiled at the panties and they smiled back and my own panties exhaled.

“Check All That Apply”

The question and answer below are between Heidi Durrow, author of The Girl Who Fell From The Sky and NPR Interviewer, Michelle Norris for All Things Considered on March 2, 2010.

Norris: One last quick question for you. Are you okay with the term biracial, or is there something else that you would like to hear as a label or a description applied to you?

Durrow: I like biracial. I say I’m mixed. I say I’m half African American and half Danish. If I have to say that I’m just black or I’m just white, then I’m not telling the whole story of myself or my experience, and I’d really like to be whole in my conversations with others. The thing I like to say these days is, I’m a story. I think that would be the very best label of all, definitely.

Ever since setting a Google alert for ‘biracial’, I have read more than enough articles from people admonishing people of mixed race to claim one race to identify with. I have lost sleep over these articles in the last few weeks. I yell at the ignorance of the authors and question their ability to make claims for a group to which they do not belong. I can no more claim one heritage over the other than I can one son over his brother. I have started four or five posts debating the issue and arguing for my right to be both black and white. Today I realized, I do not have to fight for this right, it is already mine.

Some say that claiming both is a form of self hatred for one half, typically the black half. To this I say, self hatred is in claiming one color characteristic and denying the other. I spent many years as an ardent self-hater. Because I was not reared by my white mother or with any considerable representation of her race, I learned to despise it. We tend to despise what we fear, fear what we do not understand and misunderstand what we do not know. I did not understand what it meant to be white any more than I did what it meant to not be adopted. I feared being the enemy. I feared that one day everyone in my black world would hate me as much as they did my white ancestry.

I should probably use present tense in the previous sentence.

At an early age, I learned to dismiss with a wave or a shrug whenever a black person in my presence made a derogatory comment against a white person. And it was okay because I didn’t consider myself white, just light, as I was often reminded. For many years I claimed one or another Spanish-speaking lineage based on resemblance not existence. Today I cringe at the sound of someone black disrespecting my white self with an assumption of oppression like “you know they won’t give a black man that job” or “they only treated her like that cause she’s black”. However, I do not dismiss their experience based beliefs.

I can’t recall being in the presence of a white person and hearing such a statement reversed but then again, that could be because they identify me as black too. Oh and the worse is when someone of either race says someone is acting a certain color! Now I’m all about embracing some stereotypes because it’s so much easier than becoming enraged over them and many of them are rooted in a tad bit of truth. Black people love fried chicken, as evident by the Popeyes, Bojangles, KFC, and Church’s all on New Bern Avenue in Southeast Raleigh. White guys love the uniform (= khaki pants + blue oxford shirt and on occasion a navy blue blazer). On one day during my hour lunch, while sitting outside the Wake County courthouse, I counted seventeen uniforms!

Not a day goes by without the proverbial “What you mixed with?” A few days ago a student asked if I was a mulatto. A few weeks ago, I overheard two students heatedly arguing my Latina heritage. I recall being labeled Portugese, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Italian, Native American, Mediterranean and even Turkish. I have been described as light-skinned(ed), red-bone(d), high yellow, light bright, lite-brite-damn-near-white, oreo, zebra cake, white chocolate, mocha latte, and my personal favorite-crigga.

 I have been defined as black and labeled as white but I am neither and yet I am both.

I am biracial.

The Rhythm In My Blues

Attention Listeners: there are far too many links in this post, to this I confess and acknowledge that it is in poor taste to blog in this fashion, but I’ve been known to commit a fashion faux pas or two in my day…

Sunday, I rode down I-40 with the sunroof open, enjoying the warmth of the 74 degrees. My curls wildly blew with the force of the wind at 74 miles per hour. My voice stretched and strained to meet Carrie on every note and all that mattered in those 7.4 miles was that I was an angry, country girl who knew how to swing a bat to get some revenge!

 

Before He Cheats does something to me. It changes me from being socially awkward around strangers to singing karaoke on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic. I transform from a forgiving woman to a take-no-crap vigilante. I like the Carrie Underwood inspired me, for all of 3 minutes and 20 seconds but then I digress.

My current self sings a medley of Nine to Five, To Zion and I Will Survive but in truth you gotta’ mix in a little wit and sarcasm from Lily Allen to get the total picture. Sometimes I get a small glimpse into the old me, like when I’m sitting at my desk and Biggie Smalls or Lil’ Kim circa 2000 comes on my Pandora “College Days” station. WARNING: Clicking these links could visually and/or audibly contaminate your wholesome nature, for this I hold no responsibility.

Then there’s the very old me who used to sing Greatest Love Of All and Girls Just Want To Have Fun into a hairbrush in the hall bathroom.

At other times, I feel the strong, confident, feminist me I know I am meant to be, like when I Am Woman graces the airwaves and reminds me to unite in the fight of sisterhood. But then I Need Love comes on and all that She-Ra talk is muted by images of the sexy, chivalrous, lip-licking L.L.

Saturday mornings, with mop in hand, I enjoy drowning out the sound of the washing machine with 80’s hits like Before I Let Go and I Wonder If I Take You Home. But I ain’t gonna lie cause on Saturday nights, I might just be Cleanup Woman at the local Hole In The Wall …don’t judge me, or my $3 fish plate I got on the way out.

The energy of a live performance of local band Jus Once (featuring my dear friend Ron “Kitty” White) with their gogo fusion style or Shana Tucker and her collaboration of eclectic musicians is both infectious and outrageous. Whether you succumb to their style or not, you cannot deny the blend of harmonic accompaniment and melodic voices and it’s dynamic influence on the movement of your body.

With all of these great musical memories, the rhythm that erupts in my soul and interrupts my blues is best experienced in the presence of a community of people who have the strength to sustain and the mercy to maintain, a people who pour out their soul in spiritual hymns like I Really Love The Lord, and God Is Trying To Tell Somebody.

Thank you for listening to WSPB where the blues meets the blog (in my Ted Williams voice)…