I’m a black woman. If you turn your gaze toward the top of my head you’ll find a lot of thick, tightly curled hair. I don’t know if this is the reason why people make some of the creepiest, most racially charged comments in my presence, but I’ve also been told that I have “one of those faces.” Since the person making that statement didn’t elaborate I can only take that to mean that my face attracts creepy racists. Great, so I guess that’s my life now. The following is not original and I’m pretty sure I’m not the first person to do this—and I damn sure won’t be the last—but here’s a running list of some of the strangest things people have said to me in response to my being black, female, and minding my own business.
1. “Can I touch your hair?”
2. “You should totally date him. You guys would make the cutest mixed babies!”
3. “You look like a black version of this girl I used to date.”
4. “Is that your real hair?”
5. “The black Barbie just looks like a white Barbie but covered in chocolate.”
6. “So, is Nikki Minaj’s butt an implant or just a genetic mutation?”
7. “If a black person and a white person have a baby together does that mean the baby is gray?”
8. “Hey is it true what they say? You know…about black guys?”
9. “Damn girl, you got some good hair!”
10. “My aunt is from Sudan and you look just like her. Do you want a ride?”
11. “Does eating chocolate make your skin darker? ‘Cause I hear that’s totally true for carrots.”
12. “Is the hair on top of your head as curly as the hair down below?”
13. “Do you know how to do the Harlem Shake…like the real Harlem Shake?”
14. “I know that going in blackface for Halloween is totally racist, but have you ever thought about going in whiteface?”
15. “Hey girl, be my Nubian queen!”
16. “Are you sure that’s not a weave?”
17. “Do you have Indian in your family?”
18. “My vagina’s pink on the inside, does that mean yours is brown?”
19. “I would totally fuck you if you were just a little less black.”
20. “Whatever happened to Bell Biv DeVoe?”
Fred’s wife. Mrs. Cratchit has good reason for being crabby about Scrooge: he’s abusing her husband and starving her family. Fred’s wife, though, just sits around dissing on Scrooge for no reason other than his refusal to come play her stupid parlor games. In high school, she was totally a mean girl.
Fezziwig. He’s a “cool boss,” but just because Fezziwig’s fat himself, that doesn’t make it okay for him to constantly be making cracks about his wife’s tendency to overeat. She puts on a good face and giggles for her husband’s employees, but she probably cries herself to sleep in a separate bedroom while her husband tries to sleep off his bender, loudly struggling with undiagnosed sleep apnea.
Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Doesn’t talk, doesn’t show his face, doesn’t do jack squat except look creepy and point. In fairness, though, Scrooge is remarkably dense about the fact that his bedclothes are being sold, and those are his friends talking shit about him, and…what?! That couldn’t be…the name on that tombstone…whoa, whoa, whoa! So I guess it’s understandable that the ghost is a little bitchy about his appointed task.
Tiny Tim. Everyone thinks he’s a total saint basically just because he’s cute and alive. Who’s Daddy’s favorite? Tim! Who’s going to lead us in prayer? How about…Tim?! After dinner, who’s going to take a big solo before anyone else is allowed to sing carols? Shut up, everyone, it’s Tim time! Sure, the family’s youngest could stand to have better health care, but that awkward older brother is going to need decades of therapy.
Topper. The life of the party, that Topper! Never mind that he cheats at the blindfold game so he can grope all the ladies and generally acts like a total lech…can’t have a party without Topper! [shudder]
Peppermint Patty tells Charlie Brown to “just save me a drumstick and the neck.” No wonder she wants to keep “these intimate details” between the two of them.
Snoopy has a boxing match with the lawn chair. The only possible explanation for this is that one of Charles Schulz’s girlfriends thought it would be funny, and told him so during one of their ice-rink hand-holding sessions.
A dozen toasters appear out of nowhere. Between their overabundance of kitchen appliances and their overstuffed garage, the Browns clearly have a hoarding issue.
Charlie Brown fails to recognize Snoopy in his pilgrim costume. “What? Oh hi, Snoopy” is the original “Oh hi, doggie.”
Franklin and Charlie Brown clasp hands and have a low-five. Why are we shown this little greeting, but not Peppermint Patty slapping Chuck on the ass?
Franklin sits alone at dinner. A screencap of the one black kid being made to sit all by himself is widely circulated every November on Tumblr, usually accompanied by GIFs that unsubtly allege racism. That’s a little unfair—Charles Schulz went out of his way to include an African-American character, when it would have been very easy to keep the Peanuts gang white and avoid ruffling any feathers at a time when school integration was still a widely contentious issue in many communities that were filling Schulz’s pockets by running his strip—but you do have to wonder whether any animator looked at that seating arrangement and said, “You know…”
Linus tries to relive his Christmas-pageant moment of glory. Linus’s little speech before Thanksgiving dinner was clearly meant to evoke the same atmosphere of hushed reverence as his famous Bible story in A Charlie Brown Christmas, but that was never going to work even if he hadn’t ignored that whole genocide situation.
Linus can’t stop talking about Captain Myles Standish. The massacres overseen by Standish set the brutal tone of European settlement for the next 300 years, but Linus seems to have pinups of the colonial leader hanging in his locker.
The gang sings totally out of sync. It looks like all the kids are sitting together in the back seat singing “Over the River and Through the Woods,” but their mismatched voices make clear that the young actors were recorded in totally separate singing sessions and patched together as best the audio engineers could manage—which wasn’t very well.
Woodstock eats another bird. After the kids leave for Grandma’s, Snoopy busts out with the turkey he’s been holding out on and carves it up for himself and his avian friend. Woodstock chows down with relish.
Several weeks ago, my roommate moved out of our tiny but charming apartment, and I was suddenly overcome by what I can only describe as a twee anomie. In retrospect, of course, I understand that my near-obsession with the obnoxiously intimate friendship we shared was merely a convenient distraction from my failure to challenge myself to achieve personal and professional self-actualization—but at the time, I was confused and frightened. Fortunately, I had a few amusingly eccentric self-destructive tricks up my sleeve.
First, I moved in with two women. Though both were charming, sexy, financially stable, and ostentatiously available—and at least one was probably my soulmate—we didn’t sleep together because that would just have been too obvious. I crashed on the couch and stayed up late eating Chinese food while joking with one of the hotties about being “undateable” as the other hottie banged a series of vapid studs. I paid less than my share of rent while I continued to wait for the promotion that my boss was signaling, with decreasing ambiguity, that I was not going to get.
Surprisingly, this arrangement didn’t prove sustainable, so I flew to Paris for a two-night stay in a temporarily apartment I’d been invited to use by an acquaintance who obviously didn’t want or expect me to take her up on the offer. I thought she deserved the punishment, though, for being (a) rich and (b) insufficiently sensitive to my self-induced financial woes. Of course, putting two thousand dollars on a credit card for a trip that I mostly ended up sleeping through (via jet lag) just exacerbated those woes, but as I walked along the Seine, I imagined myself as the adorable star of grainy black-and-white independent film footage, and it was all worth it.
At some point I flew to another state to visit my parents, played by my actual parents. The visit went by in a warm montage of me eating all their food and hogging the bathroom.
Finally, I decided to go back to the last time and place where everything had been right and good in my life: college. I took a job as an R.A. in a summer dance program, where I falsely assumed I’d be able to participate in classes with the gifted 15-year-old students despite the fact that I’m a 38-year-old who’s just been told that I need to abandon my dreams of ever being a professional dancer. I also worked as a server on the events staff, a job that I correctly guessed would occasion some amusing incidents involving my possibly-on-the-spectrum inability to follow social cues. My old roomie even showed up for one more platonic cuddle, and the bastard broke my heart yet again.
That was some sort of epiphany, I guess, because I suddenly decided to completely, very publicly get my shit together. Just in case that wasn’t clear from the montage featuring everyone I’d pissed off on my picaresque personal journey, I started dressing like an adult. I also spontaneously abbreviated my name. I don’t act “cute” any more, because I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. I know I’m cute—and so does my mailman.