I’ve been following the comments on my link to the Dark Girls documentary over the last few days, and it has been an education for me. Excerpts from a few comments that I thought deserved more attention.
“…When I came to college, I was able to learn more about the history of Africa and learn about where my family comes from. I didn’t meet black guys who were interested in me which I thought came from me not being involved in a black sorority or in the Black Student Union. When I started to interact with other black students through work and volunteering, I still felt very separated from the “traditionally black” groups. Save for black girls with real (meaning really close) roots in Africa or the Caribbean (a girl whose parents are from Senegal and another whose roots are Native American and Haitian have been two friends I’ve made in the past four years) I’m dismissed by other black girls, too.
I feel guilty saying that it’s because of my dark skin color, because that discounts the fact that maybe I’m an awful person (and maybe I am!) or maybe our personalities don’t sync up. But, I’ve seen girls and boys who have ignored me in African American and African Studies classes excitedly interact with groups of friends I have who run the gambit in personalities but who represent the whitest end of the color spectrum. So, in four years, I’ve learned to draw conclusions.
It’s complicated and it’s a big deal, as evidenced by the little girl in the video who sees race as an indicator of intelligence and beauty, so it’s really hard for me to draw conclusions outside of the ones that I’ve made for myself.
It sounds so trite and Dove campaign-y but I love my skin. In my skin I see my grandmother, a woman I’ve only known in pictures; I see the skin of my ancestors, whom I’ve never seen but who I know looked like me. I see history and I am so lucky to be able to carry that around with me.” -Beatrice
“[On my camera,] I use the ‘lighter skin tone’ setting and flash, sickened by my preference for a lighter me…
The girl I babysit, a sweet, Caucasian girl of age seven, asked the other day, “Do you like having brown skin?”
I stuttered and said something along the lines of, “I guess,” ashamed that I was ashamed of something so natural and uncontrollable as the color of my skin, hating myself for hating myself.” From “Let us be colorful, darling” a post by Lamisa
“…I am Indian. My mother was light/fair skinned and my father was dark skinned. I inherited my father’s darker tones. My mother would scold me constantly for being in the sun and hated when I looked dark. She had stupid creams on me when I was little that would blister and burn my skin.” -Calypso
“You know what’s crazy? That a lot of white girls spend a ton of time and money trying to make their skin darker… Understand: I am in no way trying to say that it’s the same thing as the experience of dark-skinned women… But it just struck me, why are we all programmed to want to be different from how we are?” -Amy
“Wow…unfortunately, this brings back sad memories for me. As a dark skinned African American woman I too heard these comments throughout my life. My saving grace was my beloved grandfather who told me every day that I was beautiful and special and a gift from God. Because of his counter attack on all the negative comments, I grew to love my brown skin. Just goes to show that love can wipe away a multitude of sins.” -Dar
The best parts of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life:
“You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backwards.” -James Thurber
There is a door we all want to walk through, and writing can help you find it and open it. Writing can give you what having a baby can give you: it can get you to start paying attention, can help you soften, can wake you up.
E. L. Doctorow once said that “writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard.
The first time you read through your galleys is heaven. The second time through, all you see are the typos no one caught. It looks like the typesetter typed it with frostbitten feet, drunk. And the typos are important ones. They make you look ignorant; they make you look like an ignorant racist.
Try looking at your mind as a wayward puppy that you are trying to paper train. You don’t drop-kick a puppy into the neighbor’s yard every time it piddles on the floor. You just keep bringing it back to the newspaper. So I keep trying gently to bring my mind back to what is really there to be seen, maybe to be seen and noted with a kind of reverence. Because if I don’t learn to do this, I think I’ll keep getting things wrong.
Annie Dillard has said that day by day you have to give the work before you all the best stuff you have, not saving up for later projects.
The best parts of Model Home, by Eric Puchner:
“They had lost this feeling, the way you might lose a favorite gift you were no longer attached to. It had not seemed an important loss at the time: Dustin was born, and if anything a deeper,more devout-seeming love took its place. Once, while they were bathing Dustin together in the sink of their apartment, washing his scabbed-up bellybutton and tiny, heartbreaking penis, Camille had turned to Warren with a look of such stunning affection that he had actually lost his breath. I will never be happier than I am now, Warren had thought. Seventeen years later, he realized how sadly prescient that was.”
“[The guy in the top hat] sprayed some PAM into a plastic bag and then stuffed it up to his face. He blinked his eyes wide when he was finished, like something hatching from an egg.”
“The place gave Lyle a sludgy, unreal feeling, as though she were watching soap operas on a beautiful day.”
“He looked like one of those football players whose popularity hinged on their willingness to eat strange things.”
“The fact that you could know someone almost intimately and then a year later not know him at all seemed to be at the heart of everything sad and fucked up in the world.”
Do you have anything that smells more like despair?
You have 15,000 photos on your hard drive and nothing on your walls. Here are a few clever ways to display snapshots quickly and change them out often. Go ahead and hit print.