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The truest expression of a people is in its dance and in its music. Bodies never lie. ~Agnes de Mille

He leads, she follows. He controls the situation and she surrenders, totally. Through submission she feels the freedom. This is on the dance floor.

dance3She is an alpha female, fiercely independent and places no confidence nor trust in a man, any man. Anything a man can do she believes she can do better because she is his equal. In her life she finds it impossible, and stupid, to follow a man’s lead. To her, surrender and submission means a loss of control, dependence…subjection.

If there is any truth to the quote “Dance is the hidden language of the soul. ~Martha Graham”, the majority of women is living in direct contrast to our deepest, most natural desire and it is not a wonder why we are all the more miserable for it. We have fought against the very thing we yearn for most.

For all the good the feminist movement did in achieving social and political equality for women, I think it also did us a great disservice. Over the years this feminism, bra burning, girl power, Gloria Steinem, I am woman hear me roar bullshit has convinced women that we are “equal” to men and that submission/surrender equals oppression.

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I gave myself the name Chocl8t. It came out of a need to celebrate and embrace my dark brown skin and to finally accept it as a positive attribute of my physical appearance.

Tar Baby

I thought I would make it through my blogging life without writing about this. However Senator Harry Ried had to open his big fat mouth leading to everyone else weighing in on the, often times, touchy issue of  “complexion” within the Black race. Allison Samuels hits many of the salient points in her article at Newsweek. (Click HERE to read) The subject is as old as slavery itself and for me it hits uncomfortably close to home.

For longer than I care to admit I did not look at my dark skin as a good thing. In fact, I was 18 or 19 yrs old before I really “looked” at myself in the mirror. How could that be you ask? Let’s go back to New Orleans, circa 1970s.

I was growing up in a city steeped in racial prejudice – racial prejudice within the black community. The same city that had black “social” clubs and bars that you could not gain entry if you were darker than a brown paper bag. This was before my time but the attitudes remained.

I have memories of the little school boys who flocked to the lighter skinned girls in school, little girls like Tanya Graham with her cafe au-lait colored skin and baby doll like hair. The boys were mesmerized by her. It remained the same through junior and senior high….different girls but the same “look”.

It was also during these elementary school years that I was teased unmercifully by school mates and family. I was called, among other things, Little Black Sambo, Tar Baby, or lil darkie. My dad’s favorite thing to say was that I was his little “ink spot” which originated from me sleeping on the bottom bed of a squeaky bunk bed set. The “joke” was one day my parents would come in the room to find that the top bed had fallen and smashed their baby girl leaving nothing but an…”ink spot”.

Yeah…go ahead….laugh. It’s all fun and games until someone goes through childhood, adolescence, and most of adulthood thinking she’s too dark and ugly.

Little Black Sambo

Can you imagine the havoc and damage this teasing wreaks on a young black child’s self esteem? I would look at the pictures of the Little Black Sambo and Tar Baby caricatures and think “this is what I look like?” So not only am I black as tar, but I’m ugly too? No wonder the boys flocked to the “Tanya Grahams” – the high yeller, redbone, high premium, highly sought after girls.

As I got older, I lost count of how many times I was told “Oh, you’re cute for a dark-skinned girl”. See, God didn’t make attractive girls in darker hues. That back-handed compliment used to annoy me. Now, on the rare occasion I hear it, I just feel pity for the ignorant bastard who says it.

Then there was the time my sister bought my niece a black Cabbage Patch doll. My paternal grandmother, in all of her color struck glory, asked my sister “Why did you buy this black doll?”

My mother immediately chimed in, “What’s wrong with the black doll?”

Well, nothing…but couldn’t you have bought the white doll and pretended she was light-skinned?” replied my grandmother.

****CRICKETS***

When Sen Harry Reid‘s statement became public and flipped the lid off the proverbial can of woims (yes…woims), he not only gave the political pundits fodder and a call for his resignation by republicans, he also spurred journalists and bloggers to re-visit some painful history…mine included.

I gave myself the name Chocl8t to celebrate and showcase what has taken a lifetime to LOVE.

My complexion.

My Beautiful. Brown. Skin.

A recent news story about the third graders who plotted to kill their teacher got a lot of people talking. Talking specifically about discipline and how it should be administered.

If you’re not new to my spot you know where I stand on the issue. However, this post isn’t about corporal punishment. It is about one of my brief walks on the dark side and the resulting consequences and repercussions.

matches2.jpgDid I ever tell how I set my mother’s hair on fire when I was about 7 or 8 years old? I was about the same age as those third graders. Mom was sporting her Angela Davis Afro fresh from the barber shop, “The Head Hunters“. It was the middle of the afternoon and I was bored sitting on a Charles Chips can next to mom’s bed as she was napping.

Hmmm, well lookie there…matches on the nightstand.

Ssscratch…lit one. Ooooh the fire…lookie the pretty blue and orange flame. Wwwoo….blew it out. The smoke floats in the air like a soft quiet cloud.

Lets do that again!!!

Ssscrath…lit another one. Wwwoo…blew it out. That’s sooo cool!

Mama shifts in her sleep and turns her back towards me. The AfroSheen glisten of momma’s afro catches my eye. I look at the match. I look at the afro. Match. Afro.

Ssscratch…lit the third one. It starts like a teardrop rolling upwards from the middle of her afro slowly creeping up her head. I quickly realize this was not going to end well. Letting out a small yelp, I put out the fire with a single swat of my hand. Momma sprang up out of sleep and said “Chocl8t. What are you doing?” “Nothing” I said wide-eyed and nervously shifting my bottom on the can.

*Sniff-Sniff* “Is that hair I smell burning?” she asks. Feeling the back of her hair with her right hand momma asks “Child, did you burn my hair?”. “No ma’am” I said with my eyes big as half dollar coins. “Yes you did! You set my hair on fire!” she yells as she edges off the bed making her way to the bathroom with a hand mirror. My protest to the contrary falls on deaf ears as she reviews the evidence of singed hair in the mirror.

Are you trying to kill me?” she asked.

Crying now, I said “Noooo momma, nooo!”.

Yes, you are! Do you realize my whole head could have gone up in flames?! The bed could have caught fire! The curtains! The whole dayum house could have burned down!” she said while glaring at me with a look of horror. “Get my dayum belt!”

Honestly, she didn’t have to whoop me because what cut to my core was her assertion that I was trying to kill her…that I could have killed her. I don’t remember the whooping but those words have remained with me and how I felt the moment she said them.

Nah, she didn’t have to whoop me but it was probably a good thing she did.