Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Several weeks ago, I was asked if my kids could participate in a photo shoot for Krispy Kreme donuts.  I of course said yes, because my kids are cute.  The pay was also good, we received 8 coupons for a free dozen donuts.  That’s a lot of donuts!  As we were preparing for the shoot, the photographer informed me that I needed to be there by a certain time.  She insinuated that “I” needed to be there.  Of course I needed to be there, I can’t just leave my minors alone with photographers.  No, meaning that I was going to be in the pictures as well.  Well, that just seemed crazy to me.  My kids are cute, me, not so much, at least not national photo shoot cute.  It turns out the shoot was meant for Father’s Day, hence the request for my presence.  I just assumed they had fake dads for that, but I digress.  I don’t know if Krispy Kreme will actually use the photos taken, but if they do, I will provide a link.

(I began this blog long ago, but never finished it. Since that time, I have discovered that Krispy Kreme did post a pix from that shoot. It was for Father’s Day. They did not post a pix with my daughter, which is ridiculous, as she is the cutest of us.)

Well, if I am going to have my picture taken, and those photos may end up nationally available, I needed to get my head right.  I needed a hair cut, more importantly, I needed a barber shop (roll credits), specifically, a black barber shop.

Now, you may or not be aware, but black folks have different type of hair compared to other races.  Of course, there are races with similar hair challenges, but if we just stick with the ever popular black/white dichotomy, black folks have different hair from white folks.

One day while driving to the grocery store, I thought I saw a black person leave a barber shop.  I thought, cool, a barber near my house.  So, before the photo shoot I stepped into the shop.  It was a very hot day and the blinds of the barber shop were closed.  I could not see into the place, even though I tried really hard.  The last thing I wanted was to enter into an unknown situation and embarrass myself.  (Can you guess what happens next?)

I took a deep breath, open the door and walked in.  A wave of cold air hits my face, both literally and metaphorically.  The white barber and the white customers stopped what they were doing and stared at me for what seemed like an eternity.  This type of event has happened to me before.  I always envision the old Wild West and band players playing their Wild West tunes.  A stranger walks into the bar, and the music stops and everyone in the tavern looks at the incoming man, as if to say, telepathically, in unison, “You don’t belong here.”  The closest I have ever come to this in real life, was at a pizza parlor in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  A bunch of bikers were eating and drinking and I felt so out of place, I ended up leaving.  A friend who was their and stayed, later told me that the group of bikers ended up ordering sodas and laughing a lot.  Never judge a book …

So, the white barber asks me, “Can I help you?”  Luckily for me, I think very quickly.  “Um, I thought you guys would be black.  My bad.”  This story would probably be funnier if I actually said that, but I was having a clever day.  What I actually said was, “I’m sorry.  I think I am in the wrong place.  A friend of mine said he was going to meet me at the barber shop, but I think I have the wrong one.  Because he’s obviously not here.”  The barber than asked a very appropriate question, “What’s the name of the barber shop?” I replied, “That is a very good question.”  No, not really, I said, “I can’t remember.”  The barber preceded to give me directions to a barber just down the road.  And said maybe I’d find my friend there.

I turned on my heels as quickly as I could and headed to the next barber shop.  I don’t THINK I turn red when I blush, but if I do, I was a strawberry in that place.  Once again, the inside of the next barber shop could not be seen, so I took a deep breath and entered.  The cool black breeze wafted over me like Lando Calrissian (come on! that’s funny).  I had found my barber shop.

Now, here is the real punch line to this blog.  White folks were getting their hair cut there.  What!?!  When did this happen?  I remember going to the barber as a kid.  It was like a secret society.  A place where black folks could let their hair down (insert rimshot).  Music in the background.  Barbers asking after your family.  People being loud.  Someone telling a story that someone else thinks is hilarious.  And always the one barber that had nothing to do, because everyone knew he was going to mess your fade up!

Is the opposite true?  Outside of Super Cuts, or Sport Clips (and no matter what they tell you, they do not know how to cut a black person’s hair) are black people going to white barbers?  I think not!  The stealing of black culture stops here!  White folks, you don’t need to be going to black barbers.  You just don’t need it!  You know what?  I blame Trump for this.  That’s right, I said it.

Maybe this is good, maybe it’s not, but it was one of the last places of segregation that I thought everyone was still amazingly OK with, but I guess I was wrong.  Yeah, I know, this blog has taken a weird turn, but it just surprised me is all.  Maybe next time I need a hair cut, I’ll head to that first white barber.  And once again, he’ll ask, “Can I help you?” And I’ll say, “Yeah you can help me.  I got next! ¡Viva la Revolución!”

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

So, I have come to a very simple conclusion:  White people don’t use wash cloths.  Or if you are the sophisticated type, face cloth.  Is this true?  How can using a wash cloth have any cultural bias whatsoever?  I mean seriously, it’s a wash cloth.  Or for all of my homies, a wash rag.  That’s right, I just used the word, homies.  But based on all the homes I have stayed in and showered in, I have to conclude that white people don’t use wash cloths.  At least not in the shower.  Maybe nowhere, I just don’t know.

If I stay at someone’s house and they are of the Caucasian persuasion, and they are a well-prepared host, they will have linens ready to go.  However, 9 times out of 10, I will have to request a wash cloth.  And 9 times out of 10 they will look at me strangely, as if I just requested shower shoes.  And for some of you out there, shower shoes would not be a strange request.  You know who you are.  Clean it up!

What is even more interesting, I have had people ask me if I wanted a wash cloth, but they made the request in a weird way, as if to say, “I normally don’t use one of these things, but I think I read somewhere that your people do, so I’m going to see if you want one.”  Now it makes me wonder, if I get offered a face cloth, does that make them racist?

Seriously, I want to know.  If you are white, do you use a wash/face cloth in the shower?  If not, why the heck not?  Every black person I know uses wash cloths.  How can this possibly be a race thing?  I am sorry, but wash cloths just make sense.  I need to know.

PS – Dry off before you get out of the shower.  Yeah you got a shower mat, but stepping on a soaking wet shower rug is just gross.  I don’t think this is a race thing, but it’s my thing.

——————————————————————————————————–

According to one of my classes, students have made it very clear that shower shoes are a requirement for college.  Is this true everywhere?  I feel like with all the issues and challenges college has to offer, getting foot rot should not be one of them.  I’m just sayin’ …

Read Full Post »

So, I am going to attempt to convince you of something that you are most likely going to disagree.  Now, if you didn’t know me, you might think that being right is one of the most important things in my life.  This could not be farther from the truth.  The reality is that I only defend positions that I have given a great deal of consideration and believe with all of my heart are correct positions.  As a matter of fact, I believe in most cases, the few issues that I believe to be correct are so well-supported that most intelligent people would agree with me on those particular issues … until now.

Most people reading this blog are going to disagree with its main point.  But make no mistake when I say this:  I am right.

Pooping in public should be unacceptable.  I have discussed this before in a previous blog, but this time, I have a mission:  Convince the reader to be like me.

Required reading for EVERYONE.

I just completed a month’s stint in the mountains and stayed in a cabin that did not have a bathroom.  I had no choice but to use the common bathhouse for my business.  However, with some luck and careful planning, I almost always had the entire bathroom to myself, except one fateful moment.  After scouting the bathroom and surrounding cabins, I determined that there was a high probability that I would have at least five minutes before any male entered the bathroom.  It also helped that the field station was female biased.  After going through my checklist, I determined it was safe to use the facilities.  After my cleaning the toilet routine, I sat down feeling secure that operation ‘Private Moment” was a go.  And then the unthinkable happened.  Someone entered the bathroom and opened the stall next to mine.  WHAT?!?!  SERIOUSLY? Are you freakin kidding me?  Are you really that comfortable with this that you can do it right next to me?  How is this acceptable?  I may never go to the bathroom again.

In the next few paragraphs I am going to attempt to explain to you with unfailing logic to why our current system of public restrooms should be radically changed.  Specifically, I will address why pooping in public restrooms, as they are currently designed, should not be tolerated.  I know you think I am crazy, but please continue reading with as open of a mind as possible.  The problem is everyone poops.  I get that, but not everyone poops in the same way.  For example, most people fall into one of the following categories:

  • Morning #2 – You take care of business first thing in the morning.  As a matter fact, your day does not even begin until this happens.
  • The Three SHs – Basically it is a package deal with a shave, shower and sh#!.
  • Java People – nothing gets moving until after your morning coffee
  • Afternoon Sitters – You are weird people, because unless you work at home, you are pooping at work on a regular basis.  Stop it!
    Change your schedule.  This is simply unnecessary.
  • Nighttime Sitters – You are a more uncommon breed than Afternoon Sitters as you like to go before bed time.  Not as weird as Afternoon Sitters, but still a little out there.  Especially if your bathroom is near your bedroom, which means you are going to sleep in that
    climate, which is just gross.
  • Big Meal Pressure (BMP) – I would also call you the ‘baby’ poopers, because you seem to need to go as a result of eating, especially big
    meals.  The problem with this group is you never ever want to invite them over your house for a meal.  If you do, have the candles lit and burning.
  • Poop As Needed (PAN) – You are the rarest of breeds.  I could also call you random poopers, but the bottom line is, unlike most people, your number 2 is NOT on a schedule.  And quite frankly, it is because of your kind that public bathrooms exist.

Other than emergencies, most people are on a schedule; which  means why use a public bathroom when you shouldn’t have to?  Think about it.  Why is it OK to do your business next to  someone else with only an inch thick of hollow metal and space both above and  below your stall divider?  I know what  you are thinking:  Brett, you are  crazy!  Everyone poops.  It’s natural.  It is OK.  Really?  Let me paint the following picture of a very  natural thing that many people do: sex.

In order to remove all possible moral issues, imagine the  following:  Two married couples with the  intention of making a baby decide to share in the baby making experience  together.  They rent a hotel with two  queen beds.  They ask the front desk for  an extra sheet.  They take the sheet and  hang it from the ceiling in between the two queen beds so that each couple has “privacy”.   Then, beginning at 10pm both married couples have sex in their prospective beds in an attempt to make a child.

This is not a moral issue, this is a cultural one.  Neither couple is doing anything wrong,  however, in common (emphasis on the word ‘common’) circles this would be  unacceptable behavior.  What is more  natural than a married couple trying to have a baby?  And yet, this type of lascivious behavior is  happening in thousands of bathrooms across the United States every day.  It’s a cultural thing, and it needs to  stop.  We are not the worse country when it comes to cultural norms around this subject.   For example, in Paris, there are many restaurants that have bathrooms with a hole in the ground.  Not a dirt  hole, but a porcelain, specially designed hole in the floor with places where  your feet go.  So, I realize it could be  worse, but I feel I must at least try with my readers to begin the revolution  of changing our potty culture.

At a Rockies/Brewers game recently, I was at a bus station  waiting for the bus to get us back to Boulder.   I went to pee and noticed the bathroom stalls did NOT have doors … and  someone was using one of them!!!  Am I  REALLY the only one against this?

Here is what needs to happen.  Unless you are younger than 10 years old, you  do not need a public potty.  If potties  are to exist, they need to be private.   If a bathroom must have multiple stalls, they need to be isolated from  each other by both sound and ventilation.   Toilets need to be cleaned by staff every 30 minutes.  Each stall will have a button that will turn  a signal light on giving everyone in the bathroom a warning that someone is about  to exit the stall.  This light will  remain lit for 30 seconds before door is opened.  Talking and eye contact in bathrooms is prohibited.

Believe it or not, I would love to hear your opinion on this  subject.  Do you disagree?  Of course you do, but I am still right.  At the very least, don’t leave the stall until I leave the bathroom.  I do not  want to put a face with what just happened in there.

—————————————————————————————-

TWO FOR THE ROAD (pun intended)

My son, Isaac is four years old.  My wife, Leah can bring him into the women’s bathroom with no repercussions.  I find it fascinating that when my daughter Violet turns four, bringing her in to the male bathroom would be unacceptable.  I’m just sayin …

Brett and I saw the last Harry Potter movie.  We loved it.  As a matter of fact it was my favorite Potter movie and may go see it
again.  But one thing happened that supports my conspiracy theory of movies killing off black people.  Draco Malfoy has two best friends in the
books, Gregory Goyle and Vincent Crabbe (In the movies, both are white).  However, in the last movie, Draco is seen with Goyle and a black kid (I don’t recall if he was given a name).

<<<<SPOILER ALERT>>>>

Black kid dies in a fire.
Really?  What happened to Crabbe?  Why does Malfoy’s one black friend got to die?  It’s Jurassic Park all over again.  I’m just sayin …

Read Full Post »

So, if you want to piss me off, tell me what I can’t do.   I may not even want to do it, but if you tell me that I can’t, I will have no choice but to not only do it, but do it well.  This characteristic is both a blessing and a curse. 

I not only think I can, but I know I can.

On one hand, it has inspired me to excel in a number of things, especially academics.  For example, although I did not grow up in the civil rights era, I still had to contend with teachers that automatically assumed that I could not possibly be as smart as my white or Asian counterparts.

In middle school, we had a special day with our teachers to discuss future classes in high school.   I had a teacher tell me that I shouldn’t take AP (advanced placement) classes because it would be too difficult for me.  I took AP history and calculus in high school, and did well in both.  As a matter of fact, I was given a C in AP history, despite the fact that according to my records I should have had an A.  I talked to the teacher about it, showed him my records, showed him his grade policy and made it clear to him that my grade should not be a C, but an A.  The teacher changed the grade.  After he changed the grade, it pissed me off.  How could a teacher make an error in judgment that allows him to change a grade from a C to an A?  I have been a teacher now for approximately 15 years, and I have NEVER made an error that big.  As you can tell, this event that happened to me almost 25 years ago still bothers me.  It was clear that I was treated differently than my other classmates.  Another example occurred in high school, when for one semester, I was demoted to remedial English.  Granted, English was not my strongest subject, but remedial?  Even the teacher of the remedial English class did not understand why I was enrolled in her class.

I could easily turn this blog into a social commentary on how racism is alive and well and has held many students back simply based on the color of their skin.  I graduated from high school with a 3.9, I am in my high school’s hall of fame for track & field, and I graduated from UC Berkeley, and I still have multiple stories of people telling me that I was not smart enough to do things.  What about the black students that were B students, or C students, or even D students?  If as an A student I still faced obstacles, I can’t imagine what other students faced.  But this is not a blog about race, or not just about race, but about the obsession people have with what can’t be done.

Don’t tell me what I can’t do.  I can do anything, and just because you have chosen to limit yourself, don’t dare put that small thinking on me.  But, why are so many people concerned with other people’s opinions on what they can and can’t do?  And why am I not?  The easiest answer would be my parents, as I believe strongly that they instilled in me my “don’t give up” and the “don’t you dare tell me what to do” attitude.  But I want to go a little bit deeper.  In many ways it reminds me of ‘cultural legacy’ as described by Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Outliers: The Story of Success’.  I actually blogged about this book in My First Book Review.  In other words, do I have this attitude because of my culture?

In his book, ‘Outliers’ Gladwell describes a famous psychological experiment by Nisbett and Cohen.  They monitored reactions of people to being insulted.  Students were asked to answer a number of questions and then walk down a long, narrow hallway where unbeknownst to them, another person who was also part of the experiment would whisper the word “asshole” as they walked passed.  The researchers found that it did not matter if you were black, or white, rich or poor, a nerd or a jock, you responded to the insult the same, except for one surprising variable.  If you were from the South, regardless of your background, you reacted strongly to the comment, but students from the North actively calmed themselves when they heard the comment.  The author suggested that the “Culture of Honor” was passed down through generations of Southerners irrespective of almost any other environmental or genetic factor.

I think about the history of African-Americans in this country and wonder if I am the recipient of a “Culture of Rebellion”.  I think about the long list adversities that black people have suffered in this country, but yet have been inspired to create music, poetry, innovation, and various forms of success in spite of the obstacles placed in the way.  Although I would never compare my obstacles to slavery, lynch mobs, nor laws of discrimination, but the fact remains, I have a strong visceral response to people trying to prevent me from doing things.  Can culture be inherited?  If you have a cultural history in which the ‘sky was the limit’ or your ancestors had many options, maybe limitations would not be such a bad thing.  But if your ancestors were oppressed and limited by the dominant culture, self-imposed limitations would be counter-intuitive and very maladaptive to an oppressive environment.  As a matter of fact, under oppressive conditions, a spirit of rebellion would be necessary for upward mobility.  Quite frankly, if you examine history, some of the greatest innovations and social movements have come out of great adversity.   Maybe it is from my parents, maybe it is genetic, or maybe I have inherited a “Culture of Rebellion”, but I am glad I have it and I hope my kids will have it too, because no one should limit their potential by telling them what they can and cannot do.

————————————————–

A couple of months ago Taco Bell was sued.  The lawsuit claimed that Taco Bell was wrong for calling their beef burritos, well, beef burritos because the burritos only contained 35% beef.  Taco Bell responded to the lawsuit by stating that their beef burritos contained 88% beef.  Soon after the news of the lawsuit became public and Taco Bell’s response, Taco Bell put their burritos on sale for 88 cents.  Don’t think this new price was lost on me, what about you?  Nonetheless, I have accepted the fact that their burritos are 88% beef.  It also makes me better appreciate McDonald’s for stating that their burgers are 100% beef.  Especially since I used to think that this was as stupid advertisement.  I often thought why would they tell me that their burgers were 100% beef? 

Remember this commercial?

What else would it be?  Turns out there are other options.  But here is my problem:  I actually don’t mind that Taco Bell beef burritos are not 100% beef.  But why won’t Taco Bell tell us what is in the remaining 12%? I haven’t eaten there since.  I’m just sayin …

Read Full Post »

So, I normally don’t do parenting blogs so close together, but the situation warrants it.  Oh, and for those that are keeping track, I still owe you a near-death-experience blog.  Don’t worry, I will get to it, and once you read it, you will wonder why you cared.

On a daily basis, I ask my son how is day went.  If you have kids, and more specifically, if you have sons, you know what the answer is 99 times out of 100.  He always responds, “Fine.”  Even when I attempt to follow-up with more specific questions, the gist of his responses are generally somewhere within the “Fine” category.  So, a couple of days ago, after trying my usual follow-up questions, such as, “Did anything exciting happen today?” or “What was your favorite part of class?” or, my favorite, “Who did you play with/talk to at recess?”, but after getting the same old recycled answers, I tried something different.  I asked him, “Did anything bad happen today?”

You might be thinking to yourself, “Well, that is an odd question to ask an 11 year-old boy.”  Especially when there is no reason to think that anything bad would happen to a kid in 5th grade.  But, you don’t know my son.  My son is the king of “Everything is all right.”  I think this is a great trait to have in most situations, except for when things are not all right.  I blame myself for this, as I am not one to complain.  I hate complaining as a matter of fact, and hate it more when other people complain.  The problem with this is that everyone, even me, needs opportunities to share the negative aspects of their life with someone.  As a matter of fact, if you have no one to share these parts of your life with, you will have major emotional problems.  In other words, you can’t bottle shit up.  It’s just not healthy.  Now, I know what you are saying, what about my issues with emotional people?  The truth is, it’s not emotions I have a problem with, it is the reactions/choices people make in response to their emotions that I question.   It is OK to be angry, it is not OK to take a crowbar to someone’s car window because they cut you off a mile back.  It should be OK, but it is not. 

Well, what about my son?  It turns out, the question, “Did anything bad happen today?” elicits a rather thought out, lengthy response.  The first time I asked him this question was two days after he wore his fedora to school.  Apparently some boys asked to wear it, and they had to be compelled by teachers to give it back.  My son’s version of this was quite positive.  He contended that they were going to give it back, and it was not a big deal.  But, it doesn’t take much to read between the lines.  Afterwards, I asked him, if he liked wearing the hat.  He said, “Yes.”

“Then don’t worry about what other people think or do.  And you need to know that it is OK to protect yourself.  Besides, you look great in that hat.”  I said.

We continued to talk about how he did not have to let others wear his hat if he didn’t want to, and it was OK for him to demand for his stuff back when the situation warranted.  It was a good conversation.

I also asked this question of him today, hence the inspiration for this blog.  It turns out that while playing volleyball in gym, there was a kid that was yelling at other kids for not hitting the ball correctly.  He apparently was yelling, “Watch the ball!” 

Brett did not like this.  I asked Brett if the kid yelled at him, and he said “Not so much.” 

“What did you do?” I asked. 

“I told him to be quiet.  He didn’t need to say so much.” Brett said.  

I said, “Good for you.”

The last couple of days have got me thinking about questions, and the role of the speaker and the listener.  I remember reading a book, “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell as he discuss how Korean culture was the likely culprit for a series of airplane crashes.  You see, Gladwell made the argument that in the Korean culture, subordinates are not to challenge or speak up assertively to their superiors.  So, as he argued, when Korean co-pilots had information vital to the security of the plane, they were not willing to correct or assertively argue for a decision that may contradict their superiors, even if it meant preventing a plane crash.  Many pilots now under go training on proper communication between officers, placing the safety of the plane first over cultural norms. 

I thought of this because I believe this is the relationship my son and I have developed.  I am his clear superior, and he actively seeks not to give me negative information.  He believes this so much, that even though I might ask about his day, he will censor out the bad stuff, unless I specifically ask for that information.  It makes me think that if the knowledge of culture can serve to avoid plane crashes, maybe the knowledge of family culture can be just as effective in avoiding future family “crashes”.  I don’t know if the current form of question will always work, but I think I have at least a glimmer of hope in better understanding our relationship.  I will make it very clear to him, that not only is keeping the bad stuff hidden unhealthy for him, but it is unhealthy for us.  One thing is very clear, it is not that my son is uncommunicative, it is just that I haven’t asked the right question.

————————————————–

I would be remiss if I did not say Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!  Go get your drink on, but be safe.  Keep in mind that if you end up looking like this:

Isaac is excited to find out he is part Irish

 and are NOT 3 years old, you might have a problem.  I’m just sayin …

Read Full Post »