DaMaya

No Need to Be Dramatic

blog post 2I’ve never thought of myself to be dramatic. I play around a great deal and I am very theatrical but when it comes to real life issues, I think I always handle them pretty well. And I think I can say the same for this situation.

I always took pride in the fact that both of my parents were in my life. That they both lived under the same roof and that they both were involved in every aspect of my life. I took pride in that because where I come from it is truly rare to see.

It made me smile when other people asked me if my parents were still together and I could almost jump for joy after I answered and watched their facial expression and reactions. I loved that my house was the kick it spot on the block and that all my friends loved my parents and my family. It was just a really good feeling. It made me feel like that was the one blessing I had that many other African American children didn’t. It made me fit one less stereotype. To the next person that may not matter to them but to me, oh it definitely mattered.

I use to watch movies and shows that featured divorce. I even heard about it often within classmates and I always felt it was so dramatic. Most of my friends have experienced it with their parents and when they cried, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes (don’t think I’m a horrible friend). Of course I felt it was sad when younger children were involved, but when it came to older kids (14 and up) I just felt it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Well now I’m the child experiencing it and I’m still very nonchalant about it in a way. I don’t know how to explain it but it’s as if it just doesn’t matter to me. I feel like I’m too old to cry or whine about it and be dramatic. My mom is a great mom and my dad is a great dad, and together they did a great job. Although the role of parenting is never complete, I feel as if I’m past the age where if my parents were to separate it would cause much harm to my life. I honestly don’t know how to explain it but I just think making it a big deal or about me would be selfish.

I chose the word selfish because although I am their daughter, I am also a young woman now. I am a young woman that has experienced many things and that includes love. It includes arguing with my partner, feeling unhappy and most importantly, wanting to end a relationship but being afraid to. If I was afraid to end a relationship at the age of seventeen I can only imagine what my parents feel. To split an entire home up is a lot to think about and I just feel it would be selfish to make it about me. I want to be mad. I want to be self-centered and tell them to stay together so that when I come home I can have just one place to call home. So that I can have only one house to go to on the holidays, and so that I can sit in the middle of their bed and tell them both stories instead of repeating each event in my life twice.

But I also can’t help but to think how wrong that is; How wrong it is to expect my parents to stay together just for me. They deserve to be happy too, right? They deserve to be loved and cherished, not just tolerated, right? I think so. I would love to see them happy, maybe just not with anyone else.

Believe me I know this makes no sense.

I know I am just rambling on and on, but this is just me actually processing it and thinking about it for the first time.

I haven’t really given myself any time to think about it, and now that I am thinking about it, I do not want to anymore.

It is what it is.

No need to be dramatic.

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by DAMAYA WALLACE

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The 88th Annual Academy Awards

I’ve stopped watching awards for a few years now. I don’t really know what made me stop watching them, it just kind of happened. As if I woke up one day and no longer cared about who won which award or who was best dressed. It all just became irrelevant to me.

This year made the 88th annual Academy Awards, and Chris Rock was the host. As I said before, I wasn’t interested in watching. I wasn’t interested because as I mentioned before, I’m now uninterested in almost all of the Awards, but for this particular Awards I had even more reasons to not want to tune in. There wasn’t one Black actor that was nominated for an Oscar. That fact alone caused an uproar which lead to Will Smith, his Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 11.22.01 AMwife Jada Pinkett Smith, and others boycotting the Oscars.
For some reason, and believe me I do not know why, Stacey Dash was asked her opinion on it, and boy oh boy, did her response go viral and reck even more havoc. To sum it all up, she made a mockery of Black people. Dash responded with her thoughts of Black History Month, BET, BET Awards, Centric and more, as saying, “We have to make up our minds. Either we want segregation or integration.” She went on by explaining that Black people would be angered if there were an awards where only White people were awarded, as well as saying there is no White History Month, therefore there shouldn’t be a Black History Month. There’s a lot I could say about that but I think the media covered it all.
Now back to the Awards last night, Chris Rock had his opening monologue where he explained that Black people only wanted the same opportunities that White people had. The crowd applauded as celebrities tweeted about how great the monologue was and how funny Chris Rock was. He mentioned the fact that no Black actors were nominated and how his friends and family told him he should “quit” as his role of the host for the Awards. Rock even then went on to make a joke stating that it’s always the unemployed people telling you to quit your job. Lol, I’ll get back to this.
Lastly, before I throw all my opinions out, he made a “joke” about diversity outreach where Stacey Dash came out on stage giggling and said, “I cannot wait to help my people out. Happy Black History Month.”
I like to believe I have a great sense of humor. But none of that was funny to me. From the Black unemployment jokes to Stacey Dash giggling about helping her people out. None of it was funny. If anything, it was degrading. It was a mockery and it was embarrassing to oth
er Black people. Embarrassing to see Chris Rock make light of the fact that’s it’s 2016 and the only time Black actors can truly be appreciated and recognized are at our own awards that Stacey Dash feels are unnecessary. It was embarrassing to hear a crowd full of privileged white people laugh at jokes about unemployment in the Black community. And far more embarrassing to hear the uncomfortable light giggling when Stacey Dash came out and made a fool of herself and her race. If even the white celebrities grew uncomfortable from hearing that and took to Twitter to share theScreen Shot 2016-02-29 at 11.22.11 AMir opinions of Stacey Dash; imagine how the Black community themselves felt to hear and see one of our own smile with a face of pale foundation on while making a joke of Black History Month.
Growing up my parents have always told me, “Do not put on a show for White people.” In the times of slavery, Black people were literally white people’s amusement. We actually got on stages at their parties and get togethers and acted as clowns to amuse the white people. When I watched the clips that went viral of Stacey Dash and Chris Rock I couldn’t help but shake my head and think of that line my parents embedded in me. They were truly putting on a show in a crowd full of white people, and only one term can be used to describe how I felt towards them both: sell outs.
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by DaMAYA WALLACE

What Comes Now?

Sometimes I worry if am I strong enough. They say the amount of work you put in determines how badly you want something, and so sometimes I wonder: How much do I really want it? How much do I really want to be successful?

I’ve hit this hard place in this semester where I’m just tired. I’m tired of trying so hard and fighting to make it through and I wonder: Does that make me weak? I want to give up and just say this isn’t for me but I feel as if everything in my life is going to be just as hard. And once again it makes me wonder: Does that make me weak or does that mean I just don’t want it badly enough? Either way I don’t know; all I know is that I am tired.

I look at certain people and think to myself, “They’re gonna make it” and I want to be someone like that. I use to be someone like that. But now it’s as if everything is falling apart.

I’ve never been a very religious person. I believe in God, I know He’s there and I definitely call on Him when things get rough, but I do not have a close personal relationship with Him. I think this has a lot to do with why I’m so weak at this moment. This has been the hardest period I’ve dealt with in a long time and the first hard period where I’ve dealt with it alone. I’m in San Jose by myself and I feel as if I have no support system here with me.

I wanted to get away from home so badly that I didn’t really notice that I lacked the necessary foundation to be successful away from home. I lacked the connection with God, the acceptance that it’s okay to mess up at times, and the confidence to survive and be okay even when I’m messing up.

I set the bar for myself so high that it’s impossible to reach, and I believed that was the way to keep myself going and keep striving for the top, but in reality setting the bar that high has only made me feel as if I’m failing in every area of my life. I battle with myself all the time about whether I’m putting too much pressure on myself or if this isn’t too much at all and I’m just not as strong as I need to be, that I’m just weak.

These are just the constant battles I have within myself and just the way I’m feeling at this moment. I like to live by the scripture “this too shall pass”, so that is what has been getting me through this semester.

 

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by DAMAYA WALLACE

I am Bitter

I am bitter.

It has taken me a lot to actually come to grips and be able to admit it, but I am. Not speaking of taste or smell but that I am angry, hurt and resentful.

I am bitter that I am the only black person in three out of four of my classes here at San Jose State.

I am bitter that when I walk around campus I am able to smile, recognize, and name just about every other Black student I see, simply because I don’t see many of us on this campus.

I am bitter that out of the fifteen college courses I have taken I’ve only had one African American professor which, might I add, was a part time Professor.

I am bitter that he and I were able to form the best bond I’ve ever had with a teacher, not because I was the best student in his class but because he recognized my struggle in himself when he was in school, the struggle of a young African American trying to better herselv when everything in this world is telling and tempting her not to.

I am bitter that I am even still going through this pain that he had to endure decades ago.

I am bitter that no matter how much I try, I can’t seem to fall out of love with the way I look when my hair is bone straight.

I am bitter that I am absolutely scared to the death as well as insecure to even try and give my natural hair a chance.

I am bitter that Madam CJ Walker ever invented a hot comb to begin with because that comb was able to take away a huge portion of who Black woman are.

I am bitter that I have to sit in classes and hear teachers talk about “BlackLivesMatter” while smiling or frowning—depending on which teacher—as if they should receive a Nobel Peace Prize for even taking time out of their busy syllabi to mention the topic.

I am bitter that when they do take the time to mention it they can’t stop their eyes from falling on me every few seconds just to see what my reaction is.

I am bitter that they look at me with pity in their eyes; I would rather a blank stare than pity.

I am bitter that after they speak on equality, justice for all, and change needed in the African American community, they are able to feel like they’ve done their good deed for the day, but yet still leave and go live their privileged white lives.

I am bitter that my life is able to be a lecture in classrooms.

I am bitter that when everyone else closes their notebooks and stops taking notes, this topic is over for them.

I am bitter that this topic is never over for me.

I am bitter that I do not need to take notes and listen whole heartedly to the lectures because how can a White woman learning all her facts on the news and Wikipedia tell me about the life I actually live every day.

I am bitter because in the midst of educating myself on my own race and my own culture I found that I now cannot even enjoy everyday life.

I am bitter that when I watch TV I don’t just see “funny” commercials of kids having conversations and being silly, I see the young black boy with the uncut hair and the ADHD behavior while the other white kids are looking at him as if he’s an experiment.

I am bitter when I watch shows like My Wife and Kids and I see the dark skin, medium length hair young actress replaced by a mixed, light skinned, curly haired girl, and even more bitter that the producers act as if the viewers aren’t going to notice.

I am bitter than now when I watch Scandal I no longer fully enjoy the story plot but find myself cringing when Olivia and Fitz’s lips attack each other’s’.

I am bitter that as I sat in the movie theatre watching Straight out of Compton I couldn’t help but think, “I wonder if one of the lead producers getting rich off of this are White”, then following it with “Of course they are DaMaya, white people market off of everything we do. Duh.”

I am bitter that though that movie was a success story, my black men are looked down upon for those same reasons.

I am bitter that most of my Black male peers here at San Jose State are literally praying and wishing ever night to get drafted into the NBA or NFL because other than that, they have no future or plan.

I am bitter that they couldn’t care less about a degree.

I am bitter that as I look around for a mate (if I actually want to date an African American man, which I do) my choices are getting slimmer and slimmer.

I am bitter that most of the men that actually make my heart flutter or cheeks hurt from smiling so much are the same men that I cannot take home to my parents and actually get approval.

I am bitter that they are the men that have records, tattoos, gang history and so much more.

I am bitter even more so that they were made into these ‘disapproving thugs’ by the society we live in.

I am bitter that my Black Kings are being taught to hate their own Black Queens and are too dumb to even notice it.

I am bitter that the thought and product of pure Blackness is no longer seen as beautiful in this society by both Whites and Blacks.

I am bitter that North West is seen as more beautiful than Blue Ivy simply because she has features of a mixed baby, and coarse hair as well as a wide nose that no longer fits the description of beauty.

I am bitter that as I look at the majority of successful black men in the industry, actors and athletes, their wives, girlfriends, and babymama’s are rarely black.

I am bitter that as a Black Queen I can proudly say “I love my Black Kings”, but Black Queens are not being loved or even wanted by our own “kings”.

I am bitter that I have no true culture: America and the White man decided to throw watermelon and fried chicken our way and act as if it’s ours.

I am bitter that when I do feel angry and feel as if I hate White people, immediately I start to feel bad and racist.

I am bitter that I have that innate respect in me for White people even when on the other hand it’s so easy for them to hate me.

I am bitter that we have women like Rachel Dolezal in this world.

I am bitter that she was able to take something that is so dehumanizing and such a hurdle in everyday life to manage for black people, and make it something that actually helped her progress further in life.

I am bitter that in her interviews when she speaks of her two black sons that she adopted, she speaks of them as if they are a keychain or a new Louis Vuitton purse added to her collection.

I am bitter that she’s tokenizing these black boys not even knowing all that they will undergo in this harsh world.

I am bitter that a white woman can go adopt black children and be seen as a hero when in reality she is crippling that child even more because she can’t even begin to fathom what that child will endure, let alone prepare them to face it.

I am bitter that I am a black woman and the thought of having a son petrifies me and yet white people have once again found a way to market off of our downfalls.

I am bitter that although I love the skin I’m in, if I could choose—if only I could truly choose—it would not be black.

I am bitter that I am forced to love this skin because no matter what I do I will always be black.

I am bitter that if it were life or death for Rachel, she would be able to save herself by simply wiping her blackness off.

I am bitter that it is a war for me every day and there is no wiping off my blackness.

I am bitter that everyone wants to be black but no one wants to live blackness.

I am bitter that woman all around the world pay to look like Black Queens; be it through lip enhancements, butt implants, hip implants, tanning salons, and so on.

I am bitter that Kylie Kardashian can wear cornrows and be praised as if she invented them, yet Zendaya gets bashed for reaching back into her history and wearing faux locks.

I am bitter that fashion icons like Marc Jacobs can take bantu knots, a hair style that Black woman have been wearing—and might I add have been scrutinized for wearing for centuries—and place it on the head of white woman and try to name it ‘Mini Buns’.

I am bitter that somehow the exact same hairstyle is seen as more beautiful on white woman than black.

I am bitter that, once again, everyone wants to be black but no one wants to be black.

I am bitter that writing this was literally the easiest thing I’ve ever written because these thoughts are in my head every day, all day.

I am bitter that I feel as if I have to dedicate my life to being everything the system has set out for me not to be.

I am bitter that I even began to educate myself on all of this because had I not, maybe I would have a chance at having one normal day without feeling like the world is sitting on my shoulders.

I am bitter that though I have reached page three there is still so much that I have failed to mention.

And I am tired of being bitter.

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by DAMAYA WALLACE

#BRINGBACKOURGIRLS

Can you name your price? The price of money it will take you to throw away your self-respect? To throw away your self-dignity, your self-worth, your self-love? Could there be any price high enough for you?

I ask myself this every Sunday night when the infamous Basketball Wives new episode airs. For any of you that are not familiar with this show, allow me to give you a quick summary. Basketball Wives is literally what the name of the show is: wives of professional basketball players.  It was initially supposed to be a show where all the cast members were wives of current or past basketball players, and was supposed to highlight the life of being married to a basketball player. I will assume for good reason that the intentions of the show are not what is being reflected, but even myself cannot believe that. Executive Producer, Shaunie O’Neal, ex-wife of Shaquille O’Neal, has often times been quoted saying that the primary purpose of this show is to give basketball wives a voice in broadcasting their own life.

So now, let me give you my opinion on this show. For starters, the first season and premier of Basketball Wives was being taped in Miami. It didn’t take long before people began to disagree with the content and image that the women on the show held. Every weekScreen Shot 2015-10-12 at 11.47.00 AM there was a new argument between the women, as well as throwing alcohol, food, shoes, fists, and whatever else they could get their hands on. People began having a negative attitude towards the way our women, our Black women, were being perceived. Basketball Wives Miami was soon booted off the air, leaving Basketball Wives LA. The season airing now is currently the fifth season. In my opinion, Shaunie O’Neal has become very desperate when choosing the cast members. This season there are eight cast members and of those eight only two are actually married to basketball players, three are divorced, two are “baby mothers”, and one is
an ex-girlfriend. With the reputation the show itself has made, I could only imagine how hard it would be to actually convince basketball wives to join in and make a mockery of themselves, as well as their husband and family.

I began this blog by asking, What’s your price? But now let me take it a little deeper: What’s the price you would take in order to mislead, misguide and misrepresent your own race as a whole? It’s no longer just about self-love, self-worth, and self-respect, when generations of young black females are tuning in to watch these women make a parody of who we are every single week.

Young Black girls are not watching these episodes and thinking, “Oh my gosh, they look horrible!” like some young adult females and older women are. They are looking and paying attention to everything but the behavior. The long Indian hair attached and hanging from their heads is capturing their attention, as well as their beautifully made up faces, and their sparkling, blinding jewelry, and the hundreds of dollars spent on six inch heels and skin tight dresses showing every curve that “They mama gave them”. These young Black girls are beginning to idolize reality TV stars such as these women being featured in this particular show.

So once again, how much? How much would it take to demean and belittle yourself? As well as teach thousands of young girls that it’s okay? That acting behaving in such a degrading manner is okay?

Now as I sat back and thought about all the popular shows on TV that have a leading role played by an African American woman, I noticed that we are being sold short in literally every aspect. Take Scandal for example, Olivia Pope played by Kerry Washington, is a living super woman. She is described and perceived as a woman that holds so much power and as a woman that could get anything accomplished. It would be so empowering to show young Black girls a series wher
e the actress is not only Black, but a high power attorney. Right? I thought so also, until I took into account that the entire show itself revolves around Olivia Pope having an affair with the President of the United States.

Or we can take a look at the new popular series Empire. Cookie Lyon, played by Taraji P. Henson, is the co-founder of a multi-million dollar music company. She is also portrayed as a sassy, smart mouthed woman who could get any job accomplished. Perfect, right? Nothing wrong with this one? Oh wait, I forgot a detail—the company was started with thousands of dollars in drug money from when Cookie was a drug dealer. And one more detail: the show begins with the life of Cookie Lyon’s after being released from prison for twenty years.

Let’s look at the series Being Mary Jane. Mary Jane, played by Gabrielle Union, is a successful television news anchor. While juggling her demanding occupation, we also get a look at her living the single life, and might I add her bedroom is a very popular hot spot.

I am not asking you to make a decision because even I can’t. I understand the roles of being an actress and working to make an income, but I am asking you to think about this. I am asking you to acknowledge the imbalance and the message being taught to Black girls around the globe. The message that we Black women have nothing more to offer than our appearance and our bodies. That our brains and minds are not enough, even if we are attorneys, in the case of Olivia Pope or music producers, in the case of Cookie Lyon.

I named this blog #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS to relation to the 270+ girls that were kidnapped on April 14th in 2014 in Nigeria (approximately 230 are still missing). I decided to name this after such a serious and gruesome situation because I see this to be one in the same. Our young girls are our future, and as of now our young girls are becoming more and more lost in their purpose on this earth. And believe me when I say, it is definitely not to be seen throwing glasses on VH1 every Sunday night. The great Tupac Shakur once said, “You say there ain’t no hope for the youth, well the truth is, it ain’t no hope for the future.”

#BRINGBACKOURGIRLS

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by DAMAYA WALLACE

“You’re So Pretty to Be Dark Skinned”

“Mommy why don’t you ever straighten my hair? Or give me one ponytail? Why does it always have to be like this?” I asked while pulling the kinky, curly tips dripping with water.  I remember having this debate with my mother every Sunday night. You see, my mommy did my hair once a week, not every morning like some girls. My hair was too “thick” and “full”, I had a “head full of hair.” Or so that’s what Mommy said. Every morning before getting on the school bus, Mommy made sure to change the color of my barrettes to match my outfit for the day and spray my hair with oil and water.

She thought I looked “adorable” that way and maybe she was right. Leaving the house I could have looked great, but she wasn’t there when I got to school and began playing and running, and when the sun came out and dried my hair into an Afro. She wasn’t there when all my light skinned friends with straight hair asked me why my hair looked so “crazy”. She wasn’t there to hear my classmates take the terms I was use to my hair being like “full” and “thick” and turn them into “nappy” and “ugly”. And she definitely was not there every day when I took my routine trip to the bathroom to dump my head under the faucet to ease some of the “ugly” away.

My mother only knew of the unconditional love she had for me that made me beautiful in her eyes no matter how my hair was. But she was oblivious to the hate I had for myself every moment I walked outside. I wished and prayed to whoever I was taught was the “man upstairs” to make me lighter, to give me straight hair, to make me beautiful.

In my young eyes beautiful was light skin, colored eyes, with long straight hair. It was the complete opposite of what I happened to be.

The Clark experiment captured this entirely. In the 1940s Doctors Kenneth and Mamie Clark conducted an experiment that was meant to test the psychological effect that segregation had on African American children. The experiment included two dolls, one that was white and the other black. In the Clark’s experiment, the dolls would be lying down on a table and the young African American child would be sitting in front of them. The first question asked is to point out the white doll from the black, just to insure that the children knew the difference. Followed are questions such as; “which doll is nice vs which is bad” and “which is ugly vs whmosaic blogich is pretty.” This experiment that is still being tested today has added some new questions and new shades of dolls while still testing the same original question: How has segregation affected not only African American children but children of all races. It is now five dolls that range from white being the lightest and black being the darkest with shades of tan and brown in the middle. It is also now being experimented on all races along with new questions being added such as; “which one do you trust/distrust,” “which do adults like/dislike,” “which one is smart/dumb,” and much more. Majority of the kids answer the negative questions with pointing to the African American doll or darker shades, while using the White doll or lightest shade to answer the positive questions. When asked “Why is that one ugly?” or “Why do adults not like that one?” many of the children answered “because he/she is black”. The last question of the experiment is “Which one do you look the most like”. The White children have no hesitation as they point to the White doll that just received all the positivity with a smile, almost a sense of pride that reflects all that positivity. The Hispanic children ponder a little depending on how dark their skin actually is, majority choose the White doll while very little choose the Black one. But for the African American children it’s a different story. They tend to hesitate while reflecting on everything they just said. They don’t have an outlet or an option in between choosing either doll, knowing inside that they look more similar to the Black one. Initially the children were literally just answering questions with answers they thought to be true. But when the last question is brought into play, that little Black doll that was ugly, mean, dumb, distrustful, and disliked by adults is now a mirror. It’s no longer just an experiment; it becomes the reality of how African American children see themselves. And what I’m trying to dig deep to find is how? How an experiment that was conducted decades ago, right after segregation is banned illegal, the same fate and reality of 2015? How is it that six year old African American children who don’t even understand why, already hate who they are?

I believe it’s all in the system of oppression; institutionalized oppression along with micro-aggressions. Actions that may seem “harmless” for some people, such as a woman clutching her purse when she walks by a Black man or a  worker following a group of Black kids around a store to make sure they aren’t stealing becomes detrimental to the mindset after experiencing so many times.  Statements–or should I say intended compliments–like “Oh My God, you’re so pretty! Are you mixed? You can’t be fully Black! You have to be mixed!” are never forgotten. They become a constant reminder, along with every action encountered that being black is a downfall. That being black is something that someone shouldn’t be prideful about. Imagine feeling the need to prove yourself to every person you meet, that you’re not that stereotype. Imagine smiling at every person you pass, not because you’re having a great day and are full of joy, but because you don’t want to appear as the “angry black person.” Imagine sitting in the front row of every class and raising your hand to every question, not because you actually want to, but because you don’t want to appear as the black kid that doesn’t care about education. Just imagine living a life where you’re onsistently walking on egg shells and giving your all to be the exact opposite of what you feel the entire world thinks of you.

I can’t speak on every Black person’s experience in life but I can share with you mine. And for me, that is my reality. I was raised in a home that showered me with consistent love. I was always reminded of how beautiful and smart I am but somehow self-hate and low self-esteem still creeped its way into my life. The society we live in today is full of micro-aggressions. Whether it’s through media, music, or general everyday life, they are around constantly and they are a major role in why the Clark Experiment is still relevant today.

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by DEMAYA WALLACE