Dear Hotels,

Dear Hotels,

Black people want wash cloths for their hotel rooms. No not a hand towel… no…not a body towel.  A WASH CLOTH!

washclothsWashcloths are little square sized cloths about 5 inches by 5 inches.  We typically like two per person. One for our face and one for the rest of our body.

We use them in conjunction with the soap or body wash. We don’t apply the soap directly on the skin, because someone else may be sharing that same bar of soap. (And that is nasty!)  So we suds the cloth with soap and water and use the cloth to wash.

Also, the cloth acts as a light exfoliant, which is probably why you always compliment us on the smoothness of our skin.  Now you’ve been informed why #blackdontcrack.

I’ve never been to another black persons home where they did not offer me a wash cloth and a full body towel. It is just how we roll. So please do not come back with every kind of towel BUT a wash cloth the next time we ask. I know you have them in your inventory. Because Susan gave me one two days ago.  Now why the housekeeper took it and didn’t replace it with another washcloth, is a whole other post.

-Sincerely annoyed hotel guest

Continue Reading

What’s it Like to be with a Black Woman?…My First Solicitation in Frankfurt: The Serbian

So I get a call from Nicola, the Serbian here in Frankfurt. He asks if we can meet and I oblige. We meet close to downtown at a popular cafe chain.  We talk more about the car I want to purchase and he provides me some information on dealerships etc. I ordered sweet potato fries and water because I was starving and he order ginger ale.  We stay and chat for about an hour before he walks me across the street to the U-bahn station.

As we’re about to depart he confides that he wanted to be honest with me.  He asks what I thought about him, adding that he was curious to know how I felt about men seducing me.  Confused, I asked what he meant by seducing me. He stammered a bit before sharing that in this context he was referring to having sex.  He went on to say that he’s attracted to me, and that he think’s it a huge curiosity for European men to want to be with an African or African-American women, in particular, because the European women that the European men tend to date are physically much different. Black women have big butts and boobs and it’s enticing for him and other men like him to want to know what it’s like to be with a black women.

He asked me how men in America approach me or other women with the same intention. I said honestly, they’re usually not very upfront about their sexual intentions and will date a girl as long as it takes to get sex out of it.  It’s not always the case but it can be many times.  He asked me what my thoughts were on all of what he had asked and shared, hoping I wasn’t offended.

I assured him that I wasn’t offended, mainly because he was respectful, and I could understand his curiosity.  But I let him know that I wasn’t interested in being his science project or open to charity sex.  Maybe if I was 5 years younger I may have been down to test the waters. But at this point I’d rather not waste my time entertaining someone who has no intention of getting to know me or any intentions of building a real relationship.

We talked a bit more and I learned that ultimately he wanted to marry a woman like him, Serbian. I completely understood that. While I don’t know what my future holds I typically picture my husband to be a reflection of me.  In the sense that he’ll look like me and we’ll share the same understanding of what it means to be an African American.  So I understood his desire to marry a Serbian woman.  For many minorities, I think it not only is easier to date and marry someone with the same ethnic background, but it many cases is just who you happened to be most attracted to. The same goes for religious affiliation.

We ultimately agreed that we’d likely not see each other again but I was happy to have met him and understand his perspective of interracial dating, and curiosity about black women.  Luckily he was respectful about it, as I’m sure that is not always the case with other people I may meet.

Continue Reading

Dark Skin vs. Light Skin: The Color Complex

Color classification is a still a huge deal around the world and seen more prevalent in the African-American, Indian, and Asian communities. The color of one’s skin can be linked to social status in the community.

While many people of non-European decent typically think of  their own culture as being plagued by the stereotypes and negative connotations associated with darker vs. lighter skin, the truth is you can find it in almost every culture or group of people.

The Indian community has long suffered from the caste system and connections to skin color. It’s still typical to see fairer skin Indians marry each other and darker skin Indians marry each other, than to see a darker and fairer skin Indian couple marry; it’s frowned upon by the couples’ families.

Additionally, many Asians, women in particular, invest in bleaching and lightening products to make their skin fairer or whiter. If you’ve ever spent time in any Asian country you’ll notice television commercials and advertisements cast with the lightest skin women.

In the African-American community, stereotypes continue to perpetuate the idea of lighter skin being better than darker skin.  Just recently on an episode of  VH1’s Love and Hip-Hop, the rapper Consequence defended his lyrics in a song referring to the skin tone of women.

Light skin is the right skin, so you, you, you and your white friend

Maybe lighter complected skin is most attractive to him, which is fine to have a preference but to say one is right denotes that anything else is not.

One of the problems I see is that this conversation seems to evoke a feeling of black or white. Not in the sense of African-American or Caucasian but in the sense of one extreme or the other. What happens if your skin tone falls somewhere in the middle? How should you be classified? I don’t think that in the black community light skin or dark skin are sufficient adjectives to describe the many shades and hues that we bless the world with. Chocolate, latte, mocha, caramel ..we’ve relegated our color to coffee flavors. I don’t think it’s a bad thing because you actually get a better understanding of a person’s hue with those descriptors.

Color and complexion distinctions are made clear for most during childhood years. Hollywood actress Gabrielle Union depicts an all too similar experience as a ‘brown girl’ growing up  in her letter to her younger self displayed beautifully in the October 2012 issue of Ebony magazine. I read it when the issue was released and thought that it was so wonderfully and beautifully written that I cut it out, added it to my journal and was inspired to write my own letter to my younger self.

In the letter Union wrote:

Your deep Mahogany skin may not resemble that of the others in your family, but it’s just as gorgeous and you’re just as worthy….One day you’ll appreciate how much your brown skin shines in the moonlight, glistens in the sun and ages ever so slowly.

This resonating with me so strongly because I too had feelings of inferiority due to the images on television and personal experiences. As I got older I learned to accept and embrace my chocolateness. But those images that portray lighter skin as perpetually equaling beautiful still exist, so it becomes even more necessary to be confirmed in who you are, as to not compare yourself to anyone.

Through every example of skin tone revealed above and others not mentioned here, it is obvious to see that the underlying factor in the skin color debate is the lack of self-love and acceptance. No matter who you are, where you were born, how you were raised,  every person has some complex with themselves that either they don’t like, want to change or are just not comfortable with. If you find the love for yourself from within, and don’t allow other people’s opinions or judgement to dictate your beauty, stereotypes will not be an issue for you.

ETA:

Oprah’s OWN network recently aired a documentary entitled “Dark Girls” highlighting the degradation of darker skin [black] women. It depicts to a broad audience something that so many suffer from silently. I think it was pretty well done and honest. The documentary can be viewed here.

ETA:

This upcoming January 2015 Oprah’s OWN network will be airing a follow-up to the Dark Girls documentary entitled Light Girls.  I’m interested to see the juxtaposition of these two points of views.  Here is the preview:

Now that Light Girls has aired, stay tuned for my thoughts on the similarities, differences and perception.

Related articles

Continue Reading