"When Black Ain’t Beautiful: Hair, Skin Color, and the Politics of Beauty"Chicago State UniversityWednesday, April 23, 20146:00pm


"When Black Ain’t Beautiful: Hair, Skin Color, and the Politics of Beauty"
Chicago State University
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My entire community suffered from a lack of trust: we didn’t trust society to provide the basics of a good education, safety, access to good jobs, fairness in the justice system. And even as we distrusted the society around us, the culture that cornered us and told us we’re perpetually less, we distrusted each other. We did not trust our fathers to raise us, to provide for us. Because we trusted nothing, we endeavored to protect ourselves, boys becoming misogynistic and violent, girls turning duplicitous, all of us hopeless. Some of us turned sour from the pressure, let it erode our sense of self until we hated what we saw, without and within.

Jesmyn Ward from Men We Reaped

Sometimes Being Black in America is Enough Part II (early, very ugly sections of a partial rough draft)

Again, the disclaimer…

The paragraphs after the break may be particularly triggering for some.  Please read the tags before clicking the read more.


There used to be three bedrooms in my childhood home.  Now there are only two.

In my youth, each of those bedrooms were occupied:  the master for Mommy, one for me, and one for my grandmother.  Helen. 

(I called her “Mama” because too many of her children didn’t call her at all.)

I was born two days after her 52nd birthday.  She was a stern disciplinarian to her own children, very rarely showing the affection one expects a mother to show.  She was too busy scrubbing the floors, making the meals, and loving the children of the descendants of slavers.  And home was no refuge.  Home meant more work, responsibility, and domestic abuse.

But when she retired, with my grandfather too old and drunk to continue his abusive habits, and her children grown and gone, she reclaim part of that humanity.  On those days where she could see her soul through the valley of her fog, she loved her grandchildren, me in particular. 

My mother raised her children when she could not, so she loved me for it. 

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