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I am watching Maldeamores again in order to review it. One of the first things that strikes me is the difference in appearance between Luis Guzman and the actor who plays his son. I immediately want to say, “Yeah, right. Come on, couldn’t they pick a child who looks like he could be Luis Guzman’s son?”.

It took me about an hour or so to stop myself and say, “Look at YOUR little one and her father.” They don’t share the same “racial phenotype”. It took me another day to say,”Nor do your older daughter and her father”, and yet another day to say, “Come to think of it, you don’t quite match your mother.AND now that you mention it, remember how upset you were when people told each of your husbands that those couldn’t be their kids because they were white? Hoe very offended. How hurt you were when one’s FAMILY refused to believe she was his child. And look at you doing the same thing!!!!!”

I asked a friend last night to name someone famous who appeared to him to have a similar complexion to me. I told him I was serious. I see myself every day, mostly my hands. (I wonder what humans thought of themselves before mirrors, how long does it take people to realize that they look as others do. Really, my view of myself is of my nose, my hands and my legs. Do dogs know what their own faces look like? ANYWAY….)

It interests me because my self perception and my idea of what I look like to other people seems to be quite different from how I appear to them. I once saw a friends wife and her mother and wondered what it was like for the daughter, who appeared nearly “white” to have a “black” mother. I supposed that it must feel exactly like it feels for my sister, like nothing. And perhaps like it feels to me, my mother is my mother. I see nothing at all odd about our appearances, I don’t think it is unusual or startling. When I was younger I always wanted to look like her, neither my sister nor I have gotten past our melanin envy. Yet, I see other families who look like mine and it simply doesnt register. It does not occur to me that we look to others as they look to me.

I grew up with a mother of Halle Berry’s complexion and a sister of Angelina Jolie’s complexion. In my mind I am in between, so therefore Medium. My mother is DARK and my sister is LIGHT. People dont understand that I truly see Beyonce and Halle Berry as “brown” and not “light” and I see myself as rather tawny and average.And no, I never thought it was weird or unusual for my mothers daughters to look as they did. My sister to me is my sister, I have never once looked at her and my mother together and thought anything but “there are my mother and my sister”. Luis Guzman and that kid? Yeah, I wondered. My mom and her blonde baby? No.

My 5 year old is in bed with one of her baby dolls, an irritating one that mewls and cries. It is a rather pink/peach colored doll. Her father continues to buy them and I have, after 17 years of parenthood, decided I have other things to worry about. That pink doll is NOT a major concern.

One would think that I would be the one pushing for the pale doll and her father for the brown ones. But as I tell people- look at whom each of us chose to parent their child. He picked me, and I him. Perhaps it seems counterintuitive, but it makes sense to me that he would prefer pale dolls and I dark ones. It is a reflection of our what we would like our children to look like.

I gave up the fight years ago. I even have bought some “white dolls”, I just try to always buy ones with brown hair and eyes. It was HARD for me to do and I still do so while looking over my shoulder for the Race Police. One part of me wants to fight the whole lighter is better ideology.It just makes children of color feel bad, children should have dolls that represent them and look like them. They should have dolls that resemble them that they can aspire to look like. In my case that means picking the lighter doll over the darker one and that bothers me.

I suppose it is because I have to clarify in my own mind what the goal is. Is it to fight the whole idea of pale skinned light haired beauty or is it to make sure my children dolls that look like them? In this case, the personal has won out over the political. I looked over my shoulder a few times, paced around in the toy store and snatched up a pale fat little doll that looked JUST like my 13 year old did when she was an infant. I ignored the little white girl on the box and declared that the baby wasnt white, it was light skinned. Fortunately nobody has commented on the dolls and my daughters have never said anything. And why would they? If I have to sneak and buy a doll that matches my daughter, if I feel shame about it, what message am I sending them about my feelings toward them?

My younger child was watching the beginning of Maldeamores, she simply commented on Luis Guzman and asked about her father. She also thinks all brunettes are me, regardless of “race”. If a woman has long dark hair, beige skin and brown eyes its me. So she saw the movie and didnt blink- its Luis Guzman his wife and kid, whats the big deal. Childhood is bliss.

My daughters and I match, that doesnt happen much in my family. So it will be interesting to me to see how their perceptions of themselves form. Will they have a more accurate view of themselves because they see me every day, as opposed to me who still imagines herself to look like her mother.

In seeing me with other people and how I fit in or stand out, will they grow up with a better perspective and ability to see how others perceive them? And can I also step outside and see myself as I see others and realize that even I, someone who should know better, can gawk and point and secretly wonder, “Is that REALLY his kid?” and scoff. If I do it, if even I find it surprising sometimes, how can I be angry at people to whom this is a strange new phenomenon when they do it to me?

(photo is of me in my old man black socks, with my hand on my leg.even though my arms are the same color as the 2 white chicks i work with and i can tell you this, i still BELIEVE myself to appear significantly darker than them.I believe myself to be the same complexion as Dwayne The Rock Johnson.Realistically? Persia White)

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A friend posted this today on his blog, I thought I would share it.

Thanks Eddie, another good one!

Uncommon Sense

Gata Salvaje

Gata Salvaje

The Warrioress Creed

Mirtha Vega

A warrioress…
is honorable;
has strength, determination, and perseverance;
is magical and optimistic;
is wise and powerful;
revels in silence;
can appreciate both inner and outer beauty;
is dedicated to the sacredness in her life;
loves to live fully;
is unwavering in her quest for the infinite;
is respectful;
can commit to those she deems worthy;
can let go of what is no longer useful, or necessary;
is compassionate;
possesses the will to walk away from illusion;
is willing to trust and surrender when appropriate;
has extraordinary vision and clarity;
faces her fears head on;
believes.
mirtha vega

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I am now reading The Accidental Santera and for some reason, it made me remember that I have yet to review Dirty Girls on Top by Alica Valdes- Rodriguez.

I shall do so and attempt to be quick about it.

First , let me say that I don’t think most reviews are worth a damn these days. It seems like no one wants to be negative, that we must PRAISE the novels regardless of issues of, well you know- QUALITY.

First, there are so damned many of them that I could NOT keep them straight. The only characters that jumped out at me were Usnavys and the one who used to be named Amber, oh and the lesbian negra colombiana.I cannot remember their names or really keep their stories apart, the characters werent fleshed out well enough for me.

There were some good points from MY POV.

Usnavys- black. The one who couldn’t have baby (Sara)- married to a saintly negro from Europe. The saintly colombiana- negra.Even the hottie Amaury- black.

Ok, here are their names- Lauren, Usnavys, Sara, Elizabeth, Cuicatl and Rebecca.

Ok. Lauren was the one who was a journalist screwing a hot no good Dominicano. Usnavys is the fat sista who cheats. Sara the lesbian with the adopted baby and evil horrid partner. Elizabeth, is she the one who cant have a baby? Cuicatl/Amber, the rocker. Rebecca, I think the jewish Cubana and I think she was blonde like Cristina. (Thats kinda how I remember her).

NOPE! Sara was the Cristina one and Elizabeth…oh hell, whatever.

Now, for the fun part- what I didnt like.

Usnavys sounded a helluva lot to me like Lula from the Stephanie Plum novels, which I suppose is fitting since they are from the ghettos of the same part of the country. Still, she was irritating and unpleasant and the inclusion of a big fat black woman was marred by the fact that said BBW was portrayed as Lula is, a big fat woman who dresses like she’s a supermodel and thinks shes fine, but is really a laughingstock. HOWEVER, Usnavys did learn not to be a whore like her (black) Dominican father and she left the fine brutha man she was trying to cheat with, because he suddenly morphed into an asshole who made fun of her Latina ways. She took up monogamy and became a good wife and mother and learned to accept that her husband, who was a Good Man, wasnt a pussy because he did housework and helped with the child.

Lauren? She was fuckin a Dominican hottie who dogged her out and was jealous of her student, who it turns out was also fuckin said Dominican hottie.

Cuicatl has issues with success and her music but ultimately finds love with her older manager.

Elizabeth finds that her partner is just a mean gringa bitch with no maternal instincts and they break up. Fortunately she hooks up with a lovely Latina who is a good mother and they seem to be on the way to forming a new family.

Rebecca? Hmm, which was she? Cooking show woman with the abusive husband gets her groove back with a lil cougarism and a new man who loves her AND playing video games with her kids.

The one who cant have a baby, has a black husband who is just absolutely amazing and a refuge from her evil racist parents.

Most of the women were struggling with motherhood. UsN trying to be a good mother and wondering what her role was. Cuicatl had some babies as a surrogate. Elizabeth left her mean wife and found a woman to be agood mother to her lil boy. THe one with the murderous husband found a new son/lover,lol. The one with the perfect life and husband couldnt havea damn kid.

In the end, ppl had their babies and got their partners and despite it all, it was quite traditional.

Boring.

Niggas aint shit. Amaury? Fuckin dog ass nigga. Usnavys dad? Dog ass nigga. Usnavys lover? Dog ass nigga in disguise. The AfroLatin and AfroAmerican men were all FUCKING DOGS. DOGS.Nothing good came from messing with one of them. EVERYONE who laid down with one ended up paying for it.

I’m just sayin’.

There was a good black man, he was a Brit I believe.

Im getting old, because this all bores me. Im glad one chick got her older man and one got her younger man. Im glad they all settled down and were happy, except Amaury’s lover, perhaps because she didnt repent and still had to pay for her sins.

Men are great. I love em. But does the world have to revolve around them? Does a woman have to learn to behave, become monogomous, give up freedom, and promiscuity in order to be happy. Maybe these women who damn near ALL seemed to have had either abusive parents or mates, should have just taken some time to fuckin CHILL and be alone.

UGH, USNAVYS turning over a new leaf and becoming Mrs Monogamy, that bothered me. It was like, heavyhanded.

I did laugh once, when someone said something looked good, how good. Gael Garcia Bernal face up in your bed good. I’m feeling her on that.

The rest? Blah. It was a decent piece of fluff, but too many characters and Im not one to praise minority works simply for existing.I appreciate the effort but it wasnt enough.

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Story of A Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer

I read this last week. I was unable to put it down. I wont tell you  much about it, as revealing too muh would ruin the story.NOT that plot twists and secrets are what makes the story good, but I wouldnt want to deny you the pleasure of watching the narrative unfold.

And usually, I love spoiling books!

The plot “twists”, were not completely surprising to me. Certain things- the pantyhose, the name, some conversations clued me in. But it was perhaps coded, so I would get it while others wouldn’t.

The last 10 or so pages were so beautiful to me, that I found myself reading them a second time just to re-experience the emotions they invoked.

Definitely, check this one out!

LA TImes

Excerpt from NPR

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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

I loved this book. Junot Diaz explores what it means to be a Dominicano in the US of A. Oscar is a fat, nerdy social misfit. He is so nerdy his nerd friends are embarrassed by him. He struggles to fit in, to find love all while remaining Oscar “Wao”.

How does one remain true to one’s self when that self is the antithesis of all that you are expected to be? When your speech, your appearance, your hobbies and interests make you somehow inauthentic? If an authentic Dominican cannot be authentically Dominican by being himself, what does that mean?

We learn about his mother and his sister, who too have their struggles. The mothers tale is the most fascinating of all, I’ve known many like her. She is a woman who has been through so much that all that is left of her is her will to survive. The daughter, struggles against her mothers vision of who she should be and her need to become herself.

The narrator had a knack for being both hilarious and insightful and I found myself laughing out loud more times than I could count. I like the “realness” of it, his knack for finding just the right word or right analogy to bring a concept to life. The shit about Trujillo was wet-your-pants funny.

In the end,I found I could relate to each of the main characters, I felt I understood them. And Oscar? I’ve been Oscar Wao.
My highest praise is for the author himself, he seems like someone I’d enjoy sitting down and talking ying with.

An Interview with Junot Diaz

I have 10 pages of dreck for every page I write thats worth reading. Yet I continue to write the dreck in order to get to the good part. Unfortunately for you, i share the dreck! 🙂 I like this quotation-

Díaz: I’ve never had the good fortune of getting a clear idea in my head and then writing the damn thing down in one go. The only success I’ve had as a writer is by screwing up over and over and over. I’ll write a story or a chapter 20 times before I start approaching what I think the story should be. And it is in that process of writing what I’m not supposed to be writing that I find my way to what I am supposed to be writing.

A few reviews-
The Ghetto Nerd
From Salon

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