Thursday, January 22, 2015

I Guess That Makes Me Michael Bivins.

Two posts in one week? Shocking! Someone call the tabloids!

But I have something that needed to be written out, because y'all know that's how I solve things best, and I'm trying to depend less on The Facebook (even though engagement is BETTER there than here).

So I've been in a writing group since about October, and there were five of us. For the past few months we've taken turns submitting stories for feedback and giving feedback on others' work, combined with weekly meetings to discuss said feedback. Easy-peasy.

Well last night, sort of out of nowhere (and I'll explain the sort of later), the guy who organized the group, let's call him Ralph (Tresvant), told one of the other members, we'll call him Bobby (Brown), that he had to go. The actual equivalent of "You can't sit with us!" except among a bunch of nerdy, writing grown-ups. Before he handed down his edict, Ralph had started building his case against Bobby, asking him accusatory questions about the revision he had submitted, questioning his commitment and seriousness and work ethic. From what I gathered, Ralph implied that Bobby wasn't pulling his weight, and was mostly half-assing his writing and editing efforts, and Ralph feels it's a waste of the group's time.

You could have cut the tension with a knife last night.

And listen, those are legitimate concerns to have whenever you're in a group like this. If you feel one member is a weak link, address it before the whole group suffers. I get that. Where this went left is that, right before my eyes, Ralph channeled Rafael LeĆ³nidas Trujillo Molina, made an executive decision, and told Bobby to step. Another member, we'll call him Ricky (Bell), tried to intercept and asked Ralph, "Are we going to discuss this?" but Ralph was all "Nah. Bobby gotta go. And y'all can stay or go, but Bobby GOT TO GO." And I'm sitting there, locking eyes with the other member, Ronnie (DeVoe), who happens to be Ralph's partner, wondering if suddenly I had to prove I could properly pronounce perejil or risk getting chucked into Massacre River.

Y'all. I don't need this stress. I just want a safe space to share my work and get honest feedback so that I can get my work published. DASSIT. How did my life become fodder for a "Behind the Music Writing" episode?

And regarding the sort of, Ralph and Bobby have been clashing since Day 1, and I could see that their personalities didn't match up. And frankly, a lot of times Bobby needs to be wrangled and reigned in, and yes, if the personalities don't mesh in a group then YES, changes need to be made.

However, the way Ralph pulled rank and refused to discuss his decision, and basically implied that Ricky and I don't have a say--the equivalent of "If you don't like it, you can leave, too!"--did not, DOES NOT, sit well with me. Yes, he organized the group, but we're a group. Why can't we discuss this? Why can't you approach Bobby on your own with your concerns? Why the blow up at the table in front of god and everyone at the coffee shop? Child. I mean, is it me, or does that speak to an issue with Ralph's personality, as well as coping and leadership skills?

I've already discussed this with 2/3 of the Jaded Advisory Board, so now I guess I'll see what y'all think; I'm about 82.7% sure of my next move, which starts with contacting both Ralph and Bobby, and letting them know I won't be participating in a tug-o-war. Le sigh.

And quietly, I'm starting to feel more like Tamar Braxton, in that scene of "Braxton Family Values" when her sister Towanda yelled, "Every group you've ever been in has failed!" Every writing group I've been in fizzled. Is it me? IS IT ME?

What say you, lovelies?

*smooches...wondering if I should just create in a bubble*
I like collaborating, but these hos ain't loyal... and sorry about the mixed analogies, by the way

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I Watched "Light Girls"

I'm paying for this URL, I might as well use it!

So I watched this documentary that aired on OWN, "Light Girls," that was the sequel, I think, to the "Dark Girls" documentary that discussed the pains and perils of being #TeamLightSkin and #TeamDarkSkin (or so I gathered. Y'all know I only half pay attention).

(To my Caucasian friends: yes, those hashtags are REAL things that exist. Go on The Twitter, The Tumblr, The Facebook, or The Instagram and you'll see this foolishness firsthand.)

A lot of the people I follow on The Twitter who were live-tweeting the show (yes, that's also a thing. Keep up!) were not here for it. There were many jokes of course and the usual NOT ALL [fill in the common noun], so I thought FINE. Let me see what all the fuss is about. I want to laugh and give in to my righteous indignation, too!

However, the documentary was...well, I'm still not sure what the main idea of the documentary was, but when I figure it out I will be able to tell you that it didn't stir anything in me. Only one woman, who explained that her grandmother preferred her descendants to have light skin because it meant they'd have a better chance of SURVIVING in the Jim Crow south, made me feel anything. Most everyone else was just there to talk about their hurt fee-fees.

And also, I thought I'd maybe see myself in the experiences of these women, but I didn't. My family is welcome to chime in, but I don't recall a time when I was favored for having lighter skin. More than anything, I was praised for being obedient and bringing home good grades; that's what mattered the most in my Roman Catholic, Latino home. Respect your elders, do your homework. Don't embarrass us in the street.

And I can't recall being picked on or being liked more in school because or despite of my skin color. Again, teachers liked me because I was a kiss-ass who earned good grades and never acted up. And my classmates liked me because, well, I'm not sure, but I like to think that it was my irresistible charm and sparkling personality. STOP LAUGHING. I CAN SEE YOU.

Honestly, I didn't hear any skin-tone specific talk until I got much older and started spending more time around my mother's paternal relatives. But that's a story for another day that I'll never tell you, because despite their lofty airs, I love them and won't speak ill of them (too much) on here.

Do I think I've succeeded or received any advantages in life because of my skin color? HONEY, if being nearly $100K in debt, barely earning enough to pay down that debt, raising kids on my own and being the captain of #TeamForeverAlone means I've succeeded in life, then I need to buy a new dictionary. Clearly I'm living this Light-Skinned life all wrong. ALL WRONG. I've had no advantages with this skin. Not an ounce. *gives useless skin the side eye*

I'm trudging through this shit like everyone else- by the grace of your judeo-christian god.

In conclusion, the only things I really took away from the documentary were a) the origins and definition of the term QUADROON (which is still the funniest word to me ever), b) I had never had the discussion with N that she's (racially, for lack of a better term) Black and (culturally/ethnically) Dominican, and c) Byron Nelson should call me. Soon. Watch the documentary to see for yourself why.

Yes, I still think primarily with my loins. What was your point?

* all of my light-skinnded glory*
I mean, it's the only skin I have. #minuswell be happy in it.