In making my way on a grand shopping trip this holiday weekend I ran into two Black women who's presence drew upon me in dramatically different ways.
(OK - now that I think about it - I have to remove all references to the hundreds of Black women that I saw [and lusted over a few of them] at the Atlanta Caribbean Carnival. They are beyond the scope of this post.)
Y'all Need To Learn How To Dress In Public
As I walked into a department store I saw a Black woman walking out with tattoos all over her arms, chest and neck. None on her legs for some strange reason. The first thing that I thought of was the time in the future when she will be as old as my grandmother, having to explain away her youthful indiscretions as she tries to establish a moral reference for their actions. (NO I am not saying that tattoos are 'immoral'. Without question though - they attempt to project a message about the person's individuality. Unfortunately - as it gets over done - it becomes a uniform, showing one's compliance.
Sadly - but increasingly the young woman without a tattoo is the one who is showing her own uniqueness - a resistance to going with the flow.
The two points of conflict that ran through my mind was:
- How do I approach her and tell her that she is producing a show for the people behind her (I ruled out pulling out a dollar and sticking it in her low rider jeans - as this was a store and not a strip joint)
- How do I take a picture of this for presentation on my blog - without being seen as a pervert or voyeuristic.
The most difficult task of my "brother undercover" surveillance is the challenge of taking someone's picture yet not having them see you take their picture. I see many Street Pirates during my travels. The one thing I am not going to do is to provoke one by taking a picture of his antics - (85% of them being the act of the "peacock stroll" in which his boxer shorts are prominently displayed - hoping to attract a female who believes that this foolish display looks attractive.
I decided to pull out my phone - as if I was reading the screen and snap a picture from a distance.
NO people - that is not a "thong" running down the middle. That is 100% butt crack in the flesh.
As I made my way around the display with the intent to tell her to "You are showing a bit too much for people behind you" - she and her girl friend stood up, thus cancelling the "booty show".
This Sista Is More Than Her Dress
My son and I placed an order for pick up at a local restaurant. I took our seats near the front door as we waited.
This time a middle-aged Black woman came into view (see picture).
She told the cashier that she was here to pick up 300 wings. The cook came out from the back and said "No. You told us 5:30. Its only 5 now. They are not ready yet".
The Black lady was disappointed in herself. She recalled that indeed she told them 5:30. She told them that "the doors open to the graduation at 6 and that she needed to get dressed and into the auditorium before it gets crowded. She needed the wings beforehand to set up at 'the church'.
I saw her think about a strategy to work out the conflict. She asked the cashier if she could pay now and then come back after the graduation to pick up the wings. They said "sure".
Then she thought up a better plan - Her neighbor would come right now and pick up the wings and take them to the church - freeing her up to go to the graduation.
As she waited for the restaurant to run her payment card I said to the woman "You have a pleasant disposition about you. What church do you go to up the street?". It was true. Not a hint of anger or frustration did she show in response to the challenge. I could tell that she was calculating a solution in response to the time constraints. She told me the church's name but then told me the location and I said to her - "Oh the church with the large parking lot in the back." . "Yes" she said.
"My son is graduating from ___________________ High School. He is the valedictorian and we are very proud of him".
You go girl!! (No I did not say that to her).
I told her "Congratulations. I know you are very proud of your son. I can tell that he had a strong mother guiding him along the way.".
I asked her what her son planned to do now. "He plans to go to Georgia Tech to study electrical engineering".
My son then said "Georgia Tech!!?? That's where I want to go."
Then she made his day.
"You will love it there. It is a very good school. I can imagine seeing you graduate from there one day. My daughter wants to go to University Of Georgia".
"My sister wants to go to UGA too", he said.
Of course when we got home - my son repeated the story to his sister - with great excitement.
Notice how the more accomplished "Black woman" with a greater set of references about herself will win no awards for cosmopolitan dress.
Within an hour's time, however, she would be feeling like "Cinderella" as she is in the audience as her son, who she invested so much of herself into, is the sole speaker in front of a microphone, charged to articulate a vision for his classmates as they matriculate through to the next phase of their lives.