Coffee Rhetoric: Woman's Work
Showing posts with label Woman's Work. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Woman's Work. Show all posts

February 01, 2013

Black History Month, Hate, & bell hooks

Today is February 1st, which officially marks the beginning of Black History Month. Depending on whom or how you are, this month evokes the myriad of feelings. It will either present a slew of little known but teachable moments in American history that you’ll appreciate; will prompt you to arrogantly refute factual information and espouse the ahistoricism taught to you by your high school history teacher; or it’ll serve as an excuse for you to assuage whatever feelings of white guilt you may (or may not) harbor, emboldening you to employ a series of silencing tactics when Black people share their lived experiences and the historically significant strides of those before them.

Black History Month is one of those commemorative moments that never ceases to heighten whatever feelings of resentment some white people still harbor towards Black people, inducing them to tap into the darkest recesses of ignorance roiling in the pit of their stomach, so they can spew bile across various social media platforms.

If you’re former Saturday Night Live comedienne cum social media jester Victoria Jackson or a prolifically racist Twitter troll, anti-Black sentiment is year-round, and especially vitriolic during BHM. Rage-typing ensues and results in myopic questions such as: “How come there’s no White History Month? It’s not like ‘The Blacks’ had it that bad!“

June 15, 2012

In Which Coffee Rhetoric Explores Dates From Hell

ID Discovery has found yet another re-enactment driven reality series to put the fear in folks. A new show called Dates From Hell, set to air sometime within the month or next, will feature stories (from mostly women, I presume) recounting harrowing and life threatening experiences while out on dates with folks, who undoubtedly appeared charming at first. On the Coffee Rhetoric page, I asked people to share their most nightmarish or embarrassing dating stories.

Jessica wrote... 
I met a guy from Eharmony for coffee once. In the interest of full disclosure he informed me that he had just gotten out of prison for burning down a local restaurant. He claimed he "did not like his pancakes." Needless to say, that was our one and only encounter. I shudder to think what he'd do to me if I cooked him a meal he did not enjoy!
In a story that would definitely make for an interesting episode on "Dates From Hell", ShayandLarry Strickland shared... 
On my fourth date with an IT tech who was on call and had to stay home near his computer and asked if we could do dinner and a rented movie at his place. I was like okay, so we went to Blockbuster. He asked me to pick a movie from a genre I like and so I did (can't remember which movie but it was a horror movie). He said he would pick a Horror movie too and picked up a Tom Hanks movie to which I laughed and said, "That is what you think a horror movie is?" He abruptly threw the movie to the ground, grabbed my hand and hurried me out of the place. In his car he turned to me and said in a thundering, screamy voice, "How dare you disrespect me!" I was like, "Hunh?" Then he went on a tirade about how women should never contradict their husbands in public and he was two seconds from choking me. I promptly got out of the car went back into the store and called someone to pick me up. Needless to say I stop contacting him. He IM'd me once to say, "I hope you've learned your lesson and we can pick up where we left off since I have calmed down." 

Reading people's anecdotes brought me back to a hellish night I experienced one cold November evening in 2005 that involved some wine wrangling, a prosthetic foot, and bad-touching. I was so awe-struck, I had to split it up in five chapters, in a post called...

Curiosity Killed The Cat: A Long Discourse in Five Chapters... 


Wednesday afternoon found me antsy and anxious to leave work early, to run what I imagined would be, some quick errands, as my best friend Cat was coming to visit through to Sunday evening. A lovely, hearty time was had. No complaints about her visit. What transpired later on in the evening, following her safe arrival, however was a whole other matter. Let me walk you through it. P.S. I pondered not sharing this story because I am trying desperately to block it from my mind. Yes. It's safe to say I was traumatized. Cat surmised that it was just too funny (albeit it a little freaky) not to share. 

Chapter I

About a week and 1/2 ago, I put a profile up on a popular social-networking site, in hopes of maintaining contact with those friends spread-out around the country. It seemed innocent enough. I was not looking for dates; but was open to gaining new contacts and networking, in addition to staying in touch with friends. I filled in my profile stats and uploaded some “artsy” looking pictures of myself. Messages started trickling into my inbox, most of which were from local men varying from ages 20 to 38 and some of whom wrote the following... 

"Yo, you like white guys? If you do, then I'm da one, holla".
Or …

"Yo, your name coffey fits you, because you're dark and delicious, no disrespect". 

And my personal fave…

"Yo' coffey, you caffeinated enough to keep me up all night?" 

Another was a lengthy request from a man from Ghana who said that if I wasn't interested in being his pen pal, he would appreciate it if I'd pass his information on to someone else who would be. Delete. I chuckled at the messages (to mask my dismay) and immediately trashed them in the cyber-bin. Some inboxes were innocent enough; requesting to be put on my friends list, so I obliged. I even sent a friend request to poet and actor, Saul Williams, to which he promptly accepted and reciprocated, I was stoked. Needless to say, I started exchanging messages with a man, 29 years old. We in-boxed back and forth and he seemed normal enough. We seemed to share similar interests, he lived close-by, he was respectful and very articulate; I made sure to compliment him for acting respectful in his initial query to be virtual friends. Weeks later, he offered his phone number and asked me to call him at my leisure. A week after receiving the number, I’d finally mustered up the courage to use it. In my defense, it had also been an extremely hectic month for me, so I simply just didn't have the time to call a stranger. He was patient, seeming to understand. 

So on a Tuesday at around 9pm, I finally decided to call him. I got his voice-mail (sigh of relief). He sounded pleasant on his voice greeting. I left a message, which included my phone number. I told him I'd be busy the next couple of days, because my best friend was visiting from out of town, but that I'd try to call back, perhaps from work. I supplemented my voice-mail message with an email, asking for a reprieve, because I didn't want him to think I was a wishy-washy jerk, because I kept telling him I'd call, and didn't. He e-mailed me back and assured me that he understood and mentioned he was out having dinner with friends anyway, and didn’t think I was being a flake at all. 


What are some of YOUR hellish dating stories?
Share in the comments section or join the discussion on the Coffee Rhetoric Facebook page.

July 06, 2011

Shea Butter Exploitation

I write about the myriad of topics as I see fit on Coffee Rhetoric. Many of those posts may feature local people, places, and things I'm stoked about introducing readers to, issues having to do with race and gender, my lackluster dating life, and vanity. Basically hot-topic issues that are important to the Committee of Me, Myself, and I. That being said, I've written a few posts about my obsession with relatively old-school DIY beauty regimens and moisturizing with oils and butters... especially raw Shea Butter. 
Today, I read an interesting article on The Atlanta Post's site, detailing how Shea Butter production is a multi-million dollar industry that virtually never trickles down to the women who harvest the Shea nut, subsequently making it into the butter many of us swear by and that many cosmetic and hair care companies use in their products. 
Despite so called Fair Trade methods of exporting Shea Butter, the women of sub-Saharan Africa still live in poverty... virtually never seeing a dime for their labor. Fortunately ethical  cooperatives and businesses such as Shea Yeleen and Shea Butter Cottage (based in Sonning, Reading UK) help African countries such as Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Mali to empower women and teach them the actual value of their hard work.  
I'm an avid user of unrefined Shea Butter, that I usually get from a distributor or vendor. The fact that many so-called Fair Trade NGO's aren't doing the ethical work to help women in Africa earn a fair wage for their work is disheartening and definitely will prompt me to be more mindful of how I acquire the product. I think folks should also do a little research (beyond "old wives tales" as stated in the article) before using Shea - (if they've never used the product save for the filtered, unscented version sold for a grip at L'occitane En Provence) - especially unrefined Shea Butter, to ensure they aren't getting swindled and being sold a rancid product. I think it's also beneficial to know the difference (although they work similarly) between actual, unrefined Shea Butter and Kpangnan (also called African) butter--> which is the yellow butter most commonly sold and marketed in the U.S. as being from the Karite tree. And is best explained in this video, in case anyone is as intrigued and obsessed with the production of African and Shea butters as I am...  In any event, I'm a firm believer in women in sub-Saharan Africa being fairly compensated for their hard work and not being exploited by greedy exporters. 

Read the Atlanta Post article HERE

September 21, 2005


I have a staring problem of epic proportions. This is one of the primary reasons why I wear over-sized, dark shades. I feel they give me license to stare until my heart's content. Generally speaking, I guess it would be referred to as 'people watching'… whatever. 

In my head, I critique people's fashion do's and don’ts or I try to read their faces to determine what type of day they've had. I'll use what I see in my literary art if it's interesting enough. No man, woman, or child is exempt from my vigilant (yet shrouded) gaze. On occasion I may rubber neck (within reason) at attractive men, in appreciation of a woman's well put-together ensemble, or at a horrible fashion doozy. Needless to say, this past Tuesday late- afternoon while I was en-route to my mother's house after work, I was waiting at one of the designated stops, to transfer to another bus.
While waiting, I indulged my staring problem for the 10 or 15 minutes it took for my connecting bus to arrive. I watched people stomping up and down the street, looking relieved that their workday was finally over and done with. I spied various types of women (and men) taking long awaited drags off of their cigs. I saw women of all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages... some chic in their workday threads... some looking like they got dressed in the dark confines of their closets. I spied muffin-tops bubbling over the waists of ill-fitting trousers, protruding through equally ill-fitted knit tops. I also saw men wearing too large shirts, crammed into wrinkled khakis creating an unflattering blouson… like deflated parachutes. Regardless of fashion sense, lack thereof, size, race, etc. I noted one problem in particular… 

Too many women wearing horribly fitted bras. I'm about to share a nasty, nasty figure... 80% of women wear the wrong bra (and panty) size. This petite young woman of ample chest (very ample) who trounced by me illustrated this alarming fact. She had on a stretchy white cotton cap-sleeved fitted tee and I could clearly see through the fabric of her shirt. She had a bad, bad case of what I call the four-boob syndrome. Her cup size, seemingly, began just below the nipplage mark. The whole top half of her rack spilled over the cups of the bra. (Unless you're wearing the proper-size balconet or a demi bra, this should not be the case)- She was pushing Double-D turf. Her DD puppies looked like they were crammed into a C-cup... she was killing me... and not softly. I shook my head, irritated... wishing I'd had a tape measure and the moxie to intercept her path, measure her rack, and to tell her to immediately go and buy whatever cup size she actually was

Teenaged girls and women within my age bracket tend to be the primary offenders of this horrible trend. They see a cute bra and they buy it anyway, notwithstanding the fact that it doesn't fit. Some women have gouges in their skin, because their bras are just way too tight... prompting their back-bacon (regardless of body type) to spill out from the sides. Undergarments are supposed to feel comfortable. If fitted properly, they make or break an entire outfit or the appearance of one's rack. During my college years, I was walking around wearing the wrong bra size, and hadn't even realized it, until someone waged an intervention. I was walking around wearing a DD (which was actually too large). Ofttimes, I found myself tugging the back of my bra relentlessly and my tops just didn't seem to fit properly... but still, I was ignorant to the fact that my bra wasn't the proper size. One summer, several years ago, while shopping in a popular store at the mall, my intervention played out. This store had bras on sale. I decided to buy a couple. Upon walking up to the feisty, petite, Latina cashier to pay for my wares, I got schooled in Brassiere 101. Feisty happened to note the bra size I was about to purchase right before she rang it up. She took one look at my bust (which is ample and full, but not huge) and turned up the corners of her mouth in disapproval; as one would do to an insolent child.
"Honey, this is not the right size." she said. "But I've been wearing this size for a long time" I argued, so sure I was correct. She looked at my rack, one more time, before driving her point home... "Trust me, you are not a DD. I know what I'm talking about. I am used to women coming in here buying the wrong bra size." I started to protest once more, but Feisty shushed me, draped a tape measure around her neck, and stepped from behind the counter. "Come here" she ordered. I obliged, lifting up my arms, to let her wrap the tape around my back and just under my bust. "40D" she said with an 'I told you so' smirk on her face. 

Silent, I returned the bras I was about to purchase back to sale rack, and got their replicas in a 40D. That was about 4 or 5 years ago, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. My tops fit a lot better, my boobs aren't squished uncomfortably in their cups, and the bra tugging is at a minimum. Wearing the proper-size in bra compliment my rack if I do say so myself. Most department and fine lingerie stores offer bra fittings for free, yet women don't take advantage, because they don't feel comfortable getting their sweater puppets sized up. I advise all women, young, middle-aged, and old, to suck it up and do it! It makes a huge difference as to how you fit into your clothes. Knowing your proper undergarment size also makes it easier to shop for bras sans the guessing games.... and failing miserably. Bra fittings should take place at least once a year, as a gynecological or dental exam does; and if you’re still not comfortable asking a salesgirl to measure your tats, then I implore you to give your best friend (paramour or husband) a tape measure and ask her (or him) to do it. Your breasts will be so grateful, that they'll breathe a sigh of relief.