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Monday Musings: I won’t smile…

25 Nov

So don’t ask me.

Last week was a long week for me. I had a bunch of meetings, a bunch of deadlines and drama with my car. You can imagine I was a little bit stressed out. I was walking into my office thinking about my to-do list, my plan of attack for the day and what I was going to do about my vehicle, obviously with total disregard for the appearance of my face, when I noticed a young man walking towards me. No big deal, its a street people walk towards you all the time.

He looked at me and I looked at him preparing myself to give a polite smile as I always do, when suddenly he says, “Smile. Put a smile on that face.”

I was already in mid-polite smile when he said it so he followed it up with “Pretty!”

I wish that I hadn’t smiled.

I wish that I was not driven by some foolhardy need to be polite when people pass me on the street. I do genuinely try to give a polite smile or a courteous head nod when I pass people especially if we’ve made some sort of eye contact but I can not abide being told to smile and I am totally disappointed that this guy was walking around the rest of the day thinking that he got me to smile. Why? Why did this put me in a funky mood for the morning replaying all the things I would have/could have done in this situation?

  1. I am not a dog. You should not command me to do things on the street just because you can and think you have the right to.
  2. My role in life is not to please you. However you may be feeling as you walk down the street, elated, depressed or whatever, it is not my job to serve in improving your mood. While me smiling might make you happy, you don’t have the right to request it from me especially in such a drive-by fashion.
  3. When was the last time a random woman on the street told you to do anything? Never? And yet you find it completely appropriate to tell a random woman on the street to do something. Awesome. No really that’s not sarcasm I think its great that you’ve deigned to exert your masculine power over me. It was a great experience, lets do it again some time.

It’s not the first time strange men have yelled things on the street to me. You would be surprised what a fresh hair cut does to the men of San Francisco. I doubt very much it will be the last time someone yells something at me but I hope that if you are a man who is reading this that the next time you think “I should tell that woman ….” that you keep it to yourself.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Tears of a Hard A**: Celebrity Apprentice

21 Mar

The other day I watched an episode of the New All-star Celebrity apprentice.  All the old favorites are back: Dennis Rodman, LaToya Jackson, Marilu Henner and Omarosa. You may know Omarosa as one of the biggest “reality” TV villains of all-time. Every show that she is on promises drama to the nth degree. So you can understand why the Donald wants her back again and again.

Omarosa’s reputation precedes her and that reputation is as hard ass dictator. Her teammate and friend Claudia Jordan even describes her as “nasty, tough and smart” at the Donald’s suggestion. So it’s no surprise that when she cries after her team wins the challenge her cast mates are confused. What is problematic to me, however, is that rather than accepting that this may be an emotional moment for Omarosa, whose charity is dedicated to her deceased fiance, the perceptions is that strong black women who refuse to take crap from anyone are incapable of true feelings. Even LaToya Jackson doesn’t believe that Omarosa’s feelings are legit.

What’s so wrong with thinking that Omarosa is just playing the game? First let me caveat with the fact that Omarosa’s track record isn’t great. She has been known to use any means necessary to get where she needs to be. The problem is that Omarosa represents a particular stereotype when we see her on TV. She is the “overachiever black woman who will do anything to get ahead”. By taking her emotional moment and undercutting it with Dennis Rodman’s statement that she deserves an Oscar for her performance or with her entire team toasting to the fact that they know Omarosa is playing them it says that strong black women are not allowed to feel. It says that a woman who would work hard and not allow herself to be played by other people cannot ALSO have strong emotions which might over power her.

By allowing Omarosa’s emotions to be “merely” a ploy to keep her in the Donald’s good graces it also allows any woman but more specifically black woman who is a task master to be devoid of emotion and devoid of humanity.  Thats a problem. It perpetuates a stereotype that does not allow women to move forward because they are constantly having to second guess themselves and change their behavior to be a perfect balance of sweet and kind and dominant and in charge. The age old story of a woman in the boardroom crying being weak but the one who fights for herself is a bitch.

Did you watch the episode? What did you think?