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Monday, January 25, 2010

Money Saving Tip #1

Hair. Hair. Hair. I guess you can say Chris Rock brought more attention to Black women’s hair than Madam CJ Walker. I’m not about to join the debate surrounding good and bad hair. Can I put in a quick plug though? (Me joining the debate…I can’t help myself!) There’s no such thing as “good hair.” The hair on your head is better than having no hair at all. So, it’s good hair!

Any who, saving money in college is probably one of the hardest things to do – especially if your parents don’t have very much. So, how can you help them, and yourself? Try learning how to do your own hair! It’s just silly to spend hundreds of dollars on a weave or sit up under a dryer for 4 hours each week. There are cases of females not buying books, skipping class, and wearing scarves to class, all in the name of hair! Nonsense. Nonsense. Nonsense. Getting your hair done is a luxury. Yes, a luxury! And, it’s flat out silly. Let me see, you bought a sew-in instead of books? You skipped class to get a roller wrap? You wore a scarf to class to hide it because you’re worried how it looks, but you don’t worry about how it looks when you wear a scarf? Hmm. Where are your priorities? Period. There’s just no argument that can be posed against it. You call yourself an independent woman? Try washing your hair on your own once. Now, I’m not saying jump into putting in a relaxer and all, but washing your hair on your own can save hundreds. You’d be amazed how easy it really is (depending by length and thickness.)

The moral of this story is, put off the luxuries you think you deserve now, so that you can put yourself in a place to have them in the future. When you put school first and manage your finances, you set yourself up for long-term success and stability. Go forth, taking control of your mane, playing India Arie’s “I Am Not My Hair.” Hums along....

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is "Sounding White" A Bad Thing?

Trust me, at some point of your collegiate career someone is going to tell you that you “sound white.” When – not if – but, when someone tells you that you sound white, it may very well be a compliment that means, “You’re a very bright, intelligent person;” OR, it may be a shot at you that means “You’re a sell out, and you’ve forgotten where you came from.” Either way, both meanings, along with the notion that one can “sound white,” comes from a place of ignorance and your response should be… “Since when has speaking properly been the sole responsibility and privilege of white people? Intelligence has no color and thus, I’m exercising my right to express my own intelligence.” Point. Blank. PERIOD. Regardless if someone says you sound white out of love or hate(r), laugh at them…then pray for them, because for some reason, they’ve been convinced that having a bit of brainpower, coupled with an appreciation for making some friggin’ sense when you speak and an affinity for not sounding like a fool adds up to “sounding white.” Whew, I could go on for days, but I’ll move on for your sake and mine.

At the end of the day, there are individuals who seek to “sound white” in order to get a pass because they believe that is the only way you can “make it” in this world. Pray for them as well and move on. Hopefully, one day they’ll learn. One day, they’ll have that rude awakening and they’ll look back to realize that they lost themselves somewhere along the way. You don’t have to be that person though. No, there aren’t as many people of color in powerful positions for us to look up to with regard to how we communicate. There are enough, though, and they certainly aren’t trying to pass. You can stay in your comfort zone, be true to yourself, and find success without “sounding white.” All I can ask you to do is please speak with some sense. Now, you don’t have to put on your best Becky voice to sound like you have sense or in order to be taken seriously, but there are a few things that are absolutely necessary. Please don’t replace “th” with “f.” It’s not “wif,” it’s “with.” It’s not “nuffin,’” it’s “nothing.” Don’t add extra “eds” at the end of words that already them. “Neededed” should be “needed.” Also, some words simply don’t exist. “Conversate” does not exist in any language; it’s “converse.” “Irregardless” is a double negative. It’s not “irregardless what you think, I’s smart.” It’s “regardless what you think, I’m smart.” Other than that, stay in your comfort zone. You don’t have to use twelve letter words to make your point. Trust me. A Professor once told me “KISS” – “Keep It Simple Stupid.” Yes, I was offended, but his words stick with me. You don’t have to say “a two-legged, feathered egg creating animal made a conscious, cognitive decision to alter its current physical location in order to relocate to an ideal, more suitable locality.” Just say, “the chicken crossed the road to get to the other side.” Point taken. Simple. There’s nothing worse than someone who thinks they’re sounding intelligent and yet, their showing their ignorance. So, the moral of this story: Keep It Simple Stupid. Know what you’re talking about and stay true to yourself. You are intelligent and you don't have to try to prove that to others by "sounding white.” Go forth and speak with confidence, assurance, and in your own voice. Peace.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Outsider Within (Cue dramatic music)

The first few posts have been, well, watered down – to say the least. The plan was to ease you in to college life by giving you the basics. Now that you’re prepped and ready, it’s time to get real. Really, really, real!

Being a woman of color at a PWI (predominately white institution) is like…well, it’s like being an outsider within. It’s like being the elephant in the room. It’s like being the red-headed step child. I remember my first day of undergrad. Here I was, away from home, excited about learning, and most of all, ready to meet new people. So, after I unpacked, I thought I’d venture off, out into this new world and do just that – meet some new people. Once I got outside, I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore Toto. No one looked like me. When I say no one, I mean NO ONE. Here were all of these new people whom I wanted to meet, but I couldn’t. They were being dropped off in BMWs, Mercedes, and minivans. They were being dropped off by mom and dad and they were nothing like me. I thought to myself, “How are we supposed to relate?” “How could I spark up a convo?” BLANK STARE. Then, I decided to just wait on my roommate, because we’d have to talk. Well, when she finally moved in, she went on an on about how here mom was pissed because she maxed out her credit card for the month. After all, is $2,500 that big of a deal? Come on! THOUGHT BUBBLE: Give me a break, you spoiled rich brat! It didn’t stop there though. On the first day of classes, I remember getting to class super early. I was ‘xcited! Here I was, sitting in a classroom that could hold 500 people. What will happen? Who will I meet? What will I learn? I can’t wait! Then…as my fellow classmates began to file in, I realized that the two seats on either side of me were empty. There were literally people sitting on the stairs, but there were free seats sitting next to me. When I scanned the room, I saw similar things happening with other students of color. WTF? This is when I had my “ah ha” moment. Over the next four years of undergrad and two years of grad school, I noticed time and time again, people wouldn’t sit next to me. They’d lap up before taking a seat next to me. (Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it sure did seem like they’d rather hang from the ceilings than sit next to me). When I’d answer questions, instructors would act like my answer was wrong or incomplete. Then, another – lighter – student would say something that made no sense on any planet, and that answer would be…yep, you guessed it – correct. WTF? Then, once the instructor realized I knew what the heck I was talking about, he or she would just stop calling on me.

This longwinded story isn’t meant to scare you off. My goal is to prepare you for some alienation, some loneliness, and some flat out bull. Let’s be completely Frank, Francine, and honest with each other. We are an anomaly. We are not supposed to make it to college. However, in some people’s minds, because of Affirmative Action, a few of us are allowed to slip in to fill a certain, small quota (I’m throwing up in my mouth as I type this – but it is our reality). However, even if you are allowed in to a college classroom, you are expected to be seen and not heard. You sure as heck are not supposed to come in, participate, smile, nod, take notes, stay attentive, and above all else, KNOW WHAT THE HECK YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT! When you do these things, they don’t know what to do with themselves. All that they’ve heard, watched, read, believed, learned, and created in their minds about students of color is thrown out the window when you answer a question correctly, when you challenge the bologna that comes out of the ethnocentric instructor’s mouth, when you prove that you deserve to be there (probably more than the very people who give you dirty looks). HA! When people look at you crazy because you’re on top of your game, well, smile, nod and keep doing what you’re doing, because regardless how out of place you may look (and sometimes feel) you deserve to be there, you deserve to learn, and you deserve to succeed!

Oh, and one last thing…that feeling of being an outsider on the inside, yeah, that won’t stop once you graduate. Unless you go into business for yourself, you will probably be one of the only, if not THE only, person of color in your respective organization as you climb the proverbial ladder to success. Yeah, so, you’ll be proving yourself for a very long time. People will continue to be surprised that you “speak properly,” that “you’re so bright,” and that you “have a degree from (insert college or graduate program here).” Hey, I don’t write the rules, I just share ‘em with you. Peace.