Diary Of A Sad Black Woman II

At some point in a black woman’s life she will be faced with the realisation of her complexion. She will come to understand on what spectrum of the lightness scale she stands and how this will affect her in one way or the other.

The case of the yellow-bone

For many years since I was a child, it has been made apparent to me that the lighter you are, the more beautiful you are deemed. I was raised in a family with cousins of varying skin-tones. From the near-translucent to the ebony. In my immediate family, I am the darker of two girls – it didn’t help that I was also the chubbier of us two either. Greater attention was given to those fairer in complexion. The lighter you were, the more beautiful you were deemed. This, I began to take note of when I was in my pre-teens and it has continued to adulthood.

At first, it seemed to be an unsaid but commonly understood phenomenon. The lighter girls were prettier and they got all the boys. The lighter girls had the boys vying for their attention. Those of us who were endowed with a greater dose of melanin often watched in amazement at this.

Currently, there is a phenomenon with ‘yellow-bones’ in the black community. The attention given to lighter skinned girls has always been there, but now we have a term coined for it. Guys are not ashamed to express they want yellow bones. In the hierarchy of desirability, yellow bones are the crème-de-la-crème and dark skinned girls are… well, not. Let’s just say for guys, you’ve ‘made it’ if you’re dating a yellow bone. A lot of young Zimbabwean men cannot contain themselves when they go and study abroad. You see, Zimbabwean women don’t quite match the yellow-bone-ness of a Xhosa or a mixed-race American girl, and Zimbabwean guys being the charmers that they are, become instantly popular with foreign women. A win-win situation for the foreign light-skinned girls & Zimbabwean men. For the darker sisters however, kulate.

Sad to say, there is an unwritten but commonly known hierarchy of preference when it comes to women according to their skin tone. The lighter you are, the better. Since I have been living in South Africa for a while now, I will express it based on my experience here. Right at the top you’ve got your Caucasians followed by your Indians (they are a huge hit at the moment); Coloureds then your yellow-bone Black sisters; and lastly the Dark-skinned Black ladies. This is not only an African phenomenon. It is international. Women desire so much to be desired as a yellow-bone that skin bleaching has become more and more common. I blame you MJ.

The root of the matter

The root of this is more than just to do with the men in our society and their preference in women. I believe it is rooted in colonialism where the white man was seen as superior. It has been engrained in us for so long that the fairer you are, the more beautiful you are. Thank you magazines and Hollywood for reinforcing this warped ideal. Now we have to unlearn all this and shift our thinking. As Steve Biko said “The most potent weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” and boy what a weapon it is. This thinking has been reinforced time and time again for centuries in the minds of the oppressed that I believe we have barely scratched the surface in overcoming this inferiority complex.

The exception

In any case such as this, there is always the exception against the rule. I am sure a lot of men out there do not base their relationships on the skin tones of their partners. There are also many women out there who are dark skinned and proud, beautiful and confident in their skin no matter what society says. I salute you all.

I guess I was fortunate growing up that my mother constantly affirmed me and my beauty. I grew up being told that ‘black is beautiful’ and I will forever be grateful to her for that. I thus went on to observe this light skinned phenomenon with perplexity. I watch in fascination how things play out in the black community. It’s not to say that I have not experienced ‘discrimination’ because I am a darker skinned lady. I am just able to shrug it off at the end of the day knowing that my external appearance is only a part of who I am, not the whole.

I just think it’s important for us as people to question certain societal and cultural ‘norms’. Asking why they are that way and unpacking these things for ourselves. Only then can we truly liberate ourselves from the clutches of some of this detrimental thinking and come into our own.

Young & Beautiful

“Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?”

Lana Del Rey poses this rhetorical question to her love in this incredible song that formed the perfect backdrop for ‘The Great Gatsby’. It is such a treat these days to watch a great movie with an equally great soundtrack that you can tell was clearly thought out and perfectly matched.

In light of my last post on youth and how we often seek to preserve it for as long as possible, this song speaks so well to that notion. Here we see Lana reminiscing on her ‘younger days’ and all the fun that was had. She’s “seen the world, done it all, had (her) cake” but when all is said and done, she just wants to be loved. She goes on to ask her love if he will still love her when the beauty has faded and the youthfulness is no more, knowing that their love runs deeper than what’s on the outside and is not on the same watch as the limited days of youth. She is confident in his love.

It underpins what I mentioned before – in this life, we need to embrace each day of our lives and all the precious moments we have for one day we too will be walking down memory lane remembering all the good times. At the end of it all, one surely wants to be surrounded by those who love them unconditionally. Those to whom you can confidently respond to the question above – “I know you will.”

Forever Young

We’ve heard the song. We’ve seen the ads for the anti-aging creams. We’ve seen the effects of lipo and plastic surgery. Youth is a gift and a curse. A gift for those who have it. A curse for those who chase it. What a drug!

Reaching the quarter-century milestone recently had me thinking about the whole notion of ‘youth’. Why is it we crave to be young and fear growing older? They say that with age comes wisdom. Does this mean we want to remain in our naïve/immature state of being if we don’t like the prospect of growing older?

I guess what it really boils down to is the fact that youth cannot be preserved and at some point we look back and wonder where all the years went. There is this race that everyone seems to be on – there are milestones you should have reached and goals you should have achieved at a certain point in time in your life and when you realise that you haven’t quite attained that, it puts a great deal of pressure on you. So you hang on as long as you can to this notion of being young till you feel like you’ve somewhat made something of yourself and have accomplished what is recognisable to society.

The irony of it all is that the young kids can’t wait to grow older and older folk look back at their days of youth with longing. I guess the grass always looks greener on the other side.

Truth is, we’re all just trying to figure this life thing out. What is important is making the most of the journey as we head to our final destinations – whatever that may be. And we need to embrace ourselves every step of the way, because at the end of the day what will count is what you’re left with when the make-up can no longer conceal the lines; someone younger and more beautiful than you comes along; and when lipo can’t quite give you that teenage bod you used to have. Hopefully, you’ll have surrounded yourself with people who appreciate you for you by that point and most importantly, hopefully you will love you for you – flaws and all.

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” – Proverbs 31: 30

Dinner Party – A Thai Affair

A while ago, we went to 2Thai4 with a group of ladies at church. I was a part of our church’s Young Adventist Women’s Ministries and we organised what turned out to be a beautiful affair. The food was absolutely divine. My friend and I decided to host a dinner party in which we recreated this amazing Thai meal.

We spent a great deal of time in the kitchen cooking and getting ready for this. There was A LOT of frying going on – I wouldn’t recommend this if you are trying to make this a slim and trim affair. It is definitely for the more indulgent! When all was cooked and done, we got the table ready for the party to begin!

Thai Dinner Place Setting

Thai Dinner Place Setting

The Start

For starters, we had chicken dim sum (not quite Thai, but hey) and some potatoe fritters. Another great addition we made to the starter menu was having cashew nuts, lemon zest and chilli drizzled with some honey wrapped in a Swiss chard leaf. Simple but absolutely deevine!!

Oriental Cuisine Starters of Dim Sum, Potato Fritters and a Spinach Surprise

Oriental Cuisine Starters of Dim Sum, Potato Fritters and a Spinach Surprise

Nuts, lemon zest, fresh chilli with a drizzle of honey wrapped in a Swiss chard leaf

Nuts, lemon zest, fresh chilli with a drizzle of honey wrapped in a Swiss Chard leaf.

The Middle

The main course was another grand affair. It comprised of a Thai crispy beef which was absolutely decadent; a Thai green curry; fried chicken strips; a vegetable noodle stir-fry as well as steamed basmati rice. We served it with a peanut sauce (for the chicken strips), soy sauce as well as some chilli sauce.

Thai Crispy Beef, Green Curry, Fried Chicken Strips, Vegetable Stir Fry, Peanut Sauce, Soy Sauce, Chilli Sauce

Thai Crispy Beef, Green Curry, Fried Chicken Strips, Vegetable Stir Fry, Peanut Sauce, Soy Sauce, Chilli Sauce

The Finale

My favourite dish of the night (and I loved all the other courses)! The dessert had been the main inspiration behind us putting this dinner party together. We made banana fritters and served it with vanilla ice-cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce – we melted a bar of chocolate for this. It is my go-to indulgent dessert whenever I go to a Thai restaurant. Amazing!

Banana fritters, vanilla ice-cream and chocolate sauce.

Banana fritters, vanilla ice-cream and chocolate sauce.

We were exhausted at the end of it, but it was well worth it. An awesome idea to get friends together whilst recreating an amazing meal.

Asian Persuasion

Asian Persuasion

Kids – Wynter Gordon

‘I don’t know, who you are

Anymore, you’re a mystery now.

An unfamiliar face.’

The opening lines of this song immediately tell you she’s going to a sad, dark place. ‘Kids’ is the fourth track on Wynter Gordon’s ‘Human Condition: Doleo‘ EP, the predecessor to the more cheerfully optimistic ‘Human Condition: Sanguine‘. Human Condition is a four-part series of EPs Wynter released independently last year.

‘Doleo’ means ‘to suffer pain; to be pained; grieve’ in Latin and this song does just that. Wynter grieves over a childhood friend who she used to know so well but has become strange to her  – the result of her friend drowning in reality, losing all hope and innocence.

I think in some way or another, we can relate. As children, many of us grow up with dreams, aspirations, self-love and faith in self; and then somewhere along the line, lose a bit of that. The danger begins when we dwell on failure and how life knocked us down. The reality of growing up is our childhood dreams are often made to seem improbable and unrealistic. The key is not to give in, not to lose that innocence so as not to drown in a sea of sorrow and regret.

I love how Wynter was able to tell this story – one that is not often told – so well and with such great emotion. My favourite off  ‘Doleo’, and there are a great deal of gems on Human Condition.

Poignant. Beautiful.

Diary Of A Sad Black Zimbabwean

They say home is where the heart is. For a lot of us Zimbabweans, this is in the literal sense.

Though Zimbabwe holds our hearts, it is not always possible for us to be there. In a quest for a better life for ourselves and our families, Zimbabweans find themselves in the many different corners of the world. From to Geneva to Melbourne, Houston to Kuala Lumpur. All in search of a better life.

A lot of Zimbabwean natives have made the trek back home to rebuild a life for themselves and there is a lot of respect for those that are able to. We admire our brothers and sisters who have taken the leap of faith to do this and are thriving in their new mission. Those in the diaspora, however, are often caught between a rock and a hard place and there is sometimes a stigma associated with not being home. On the one hand, you are seen as being unpatriotic or cowardly for not sticking it out at home. On the other hand, you are seen as thinking of yourself as better than others by living in a first world country or any country with a more stable economy than Zimbabwe. I will say there are those who believe themselves better than other Zimbabweans because of the international labels they can afford to wear, their new-found accents and how some renounce their roots. This is where the stigma stems from and understandably so. But this is not the case for everyone.

Truth is, we are all trying to make things work. Zimbabweans are known for being resilient, hard working hustlers – always making a plan no matter the circumstances. I completely agree with this and have a lot of respect for my people and what they are doing for themselves in spite of the uncertainties of our home country.

It is never easy living in a foreign country. You are either pitied for not being able to live at home or resented for your ability to be in a foreign place and successfully make a life for yourself. You work hard at school to get a degree; work twice as hard as the average college graduate in order to get a job; and thrice as hard to keep a job given your foreign status. Nothing comes easy in your life. Not only are you trying to survive but most Zimbabweans in the diaspora support their families back home. So many families have been dispersed as a result – mother’s working several jobs in the US or UK to send their kids back home to school and take care of their parents, siblings, nieces and nephews; being separated from their husbands and children in order to make ends meet. I look at families here in South Africa where many families live in close proximity to one another and family gatherings are a weekly or monthly affair – I can’t help but be envious. It has become a privilege for me to see members of my family twice in a year so much so that it is unreal to me that families are able to see each other on a weekly basis.

In spite of all of this, we as Zimbabweans understand that we cannot live life dwelling on our misfortunes and brooding over how unfair life can be. We know we ought to be grateful that we are alive and get to see the world. We are grateful that our families can survive and that we can keep in constant touch with them thanks to WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook and all other technology. We are grateful for the incredible education system we were raised on that has made us the most literate nation in Africa. We are grateful that no matter the circumstances, we are able to make a plan and make things happen.

To our brothers and sisters back home, we salute and admire your tenacity and work ethic. We hope that one day we can all come together and build up our Zimbabwe to be the great nation that it is going to be. Understand that our hearts ache and long for home and (most of us) are really patriotic. We respect your hustle and just ask that you respect ours too.

As Blitz the Ambassador put it…

10 ‘Throwback to MTV Select’ Tracks

Growing up during the late nineties/early two thousands, my taste in music was greatly influenced by MTV. I’m talking about the MTV that actually played music – not the reality-show-money-making-obsessed MTV. One of the shows my siblings and I loved was ‘MTV Select’ which was a live in-studio television show. We were avid fans and dedicated to watching it every day that we possibly could. I decided to take a walk down memory lane and recall some of the songs that will forever remind me of this era.

1. You Get What You Give – New Radicals

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL7-CKirWZE

Made you wanna take over a mall and go buck. Loved the free-spiritedness of this band and Gregg’s signature hat.

2. Fill Me In – Craig David

This track launched Craig’s career as he gave rappers a run for their money whilst making us fans feel good when we could keep up with him. ‘Born To Do It’ is his best work to date. And the best Craig ever looked (stay away from them roids my man).

3. Kiss Me – Sixpence None The Richer

This song made you want to fall in love under the stars. Their name’s super cool too.

4. Maria – Blondie

That awesome moment when a band from your parent’s era comes back and does so with a bang! Loved listening to this song with the motherizzle and sis, singing at the top of my lungs.

5. Sandstorm – Darude

Pre-David Guetta and Calvin Harris. This is one of the songs that made me fall in love with electro-dance music. The build is incredible and the journey it takes you on without a single word. Incredible.

6. One More Time – Daft Punk

This dynamic duo has made an incredible return to the dance scene with their album ‘Random Access Memories’ but this song is the one that made me fall in love with them. I love the simplicity of this song and how it calls for a unified celebration. Still gets me going to this day.

7. Dancing In The Moonlight – Toploader

Summer, where art thou? An awesome jam perfect for hanging out on a warm summer’s eve with some mates.

8. Music Sounds Better With You – Stardust

Music forges some of the most incredible bonds. To be able to share it with someone who understands it like you do is such a treat. This song speaks to that. Gorgeous.

9. It Feels So Good – Sonique

YES! This song was all kinds of fiyaaah!! Sonique brought it and brought it HARD! Loves it!

10. It’s My Life – Bon Jovi

Rock legend, Bon Jovi, came back with a bang on this track.They gave us an anthem to live life to the max!!

Thank you MTV for the memories created. Now, please bring back the music.