Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Girl, you know black folks don't...

You know, over the years as I've explored ways of living naturally I've had my "blackness" questioned many times by my own people. When I became a vegetarian, I got comments like, "Girl, as much poke (pork) as black folks eat? You gonna want some fried chicken in a minute!" Some people genuinely didn't believe me and would encourage me to just "eat the sausage" anyway. When I stopped chemically straightening my hair, people would say, "You'll never get a job like that. You know [white] folks won't take you seariously if your hair is nappy." Not surprisingly, when I got pregnant and started to embrace more natural parenting methods like low-tech birth and cloth diapering, I got comments like, "You're gonna get sick of them cloth diapers," or "Most women have an epidural. Your mama had an epidural. You'll be hollaring for that epidural, watch!"

I've learned it's not my "blackness" that they question. It's the appearance that I think I'm too good to do what my people had been doing for years. Why isn't the way we've always done things good enough for you?

Thankfully, I find that most people I know who are of my generation support natural, eco-friendly living and many practice it themselves. It seems I mostly get the sideways comments from my elders, sadly. I was speaking with a lady in my church who saw me feeding my daughter some Happy Baby Organic Apple Puffs.


She told me she would tell her daughter-in-law about them because she's so "picky" about what her child eats. I could hear the condescension in her voice when she said, "picky." It made me laugh, because I'm that "picky daughter-in-law" who feeds her baby organic food, breastfed exclusively for 5.5 months, wears her regularly instead of using a stroller, only uses cloth diapers, and prefers not to let her have table food or certain snacks until she's a year old. I smiled, looked her in the eye, and said, "She should be picky."

The funny thing is that when you set out to do things naturally and are successful, the elders are often amazed. When we visited family in Ohio the other weekend, I swear I brought Layla's entire diaper stash with us. My aunts and uncles marveled at how far cloth diapers have come and how easy it was to work with them. They were sure we would have given up on that by now. But seeing how we raise her naturally, and seeing how healthy, happy, and well-adjusted our daughter is, they understand it now. My aunt even told me she was proud of me.

Eventually, the elders accepted my diet and have seen how heartily I can eat with no meat on my plate. They got used to my hair and even begged me never to cut it. And now when they see how we raise our little tree-hugger, they seem to get it. Maybe these new-fangled black folks with their new-fangled ideas and practices might have something here.

9 comments:

Aisha said...

You have and always will ignore the "haters" for lack of a better term. I take that back - they are not haters - they just don't know yet it all. Anyway - continue to ignore, press forward and set the example to show naysayers that indeed it can be done THIS way too.

Cee said...

Someone is ALWAYS going to have something to say. Continue to live GREEN and let them see that you are continuing SUCCESSFULLY. Watch them jump on it too!.

Whitney said...

I can identify with so much in this post as I have also drastically altered my diet (pescetarian), don't perm my hair, and plan on giving my daughter food as closed to its natural state as possible. I am somewhat dreading my trip in a few weeks casue even though I love where I'm from, people in the deep south can be so closeminded. But I believe in "doing" you...and you're doing just that! You are a GREAT mommy and don't let anyone's side comments take that away from you!

Shirelle Allen said...

Denise!!!

Your post is touching on many things...

My personal opinion (humbly) is that "folks" use that "you know black folks don't" as a pure cop out..When I say cop out, I mean that it's a reactive comment to something they know little or nothing about...And instead of asking for more information so they can increase their knowledge on "xyz", they take the easy way out with a blantant generic comment...

Elder folks can find themselves caught in the cycle (as I see it) cause typically, folks don't like change..Not because they've actually given it a chance..But just because it's not the "norm" way they've been doing things for x amount of years that they can do with their eyes closed and hands tied behind their back...But I think this argument holds true to anyone who has a persistent adversion to "change" or something different....


While discouraging in the short term, I have the dreamers view that it will work to someone's good in the future...This appears to somewhat be the case when you talked about changes in attitude once folks realized their views were not going to sway your commitments nor attitude of leading by example versus trying to shove something down someone's throat....

At any rate, I agree with what others have posted...Everyone knows there will be haters...Everyone knows there will be those to just disagree for the sake of controversy...You are making the best choices for you and your family and that's really all you can do...When and if folk decide to change certain things in their lives where they feel you could help them with your thoughts - no doubt those same adverse folks will be knocking on your door, emailing, calling, etc.


I've been in the same situation when I personally made the decision to change the way I eat and then hubby jumped on board full time once he got notice from his doctor on some things...I had family members scrunch up their face when I was at my mom's house discussing organic foods like there was no taste...Yet when later in the year they came to visit our house, the food I cooked had organic fruits and veggies...Those same folks scarfed down their food, went for seconds and thirds...Then we told them afterwards that it was organic...We could've been real wrong like - remember all that smack you were talking...But we wasn't trying to go there...Now we let folks know from the jump that in our house you will get organic food...So if you think you gonna have a problem - stop for your own food and feel free to bring it to the house for your consumption, hahahaha.


Side bar - thanks for this blog though cause I'm learning a whole bunch that I'm sure would've taken longer to know had I not been on CB...

Kirsten said...

Labor does hurt... but living green is a blessing for the planet. Ignore the haters... and live the life God inspires you to live. I admire what your doing. I've found that it's those folks who aren't comfortable with their own lives that feel the need to criticize. I use disposable diapers, don't always recycle, and this morning I left the water running while I brushed my teeth, and I still think you're fabulous!!!!(Maybe I shouldn't have admitted that on a green blog) But anyway, I think you're doing an awesome job. Keep up the GREAT work!!!!

kelaine_2 said...

Each generation does something different, better and more adventurous than the last. Do you babygirl and remember who you are. We're always with you!!!!

Hilary said...

People fear what they don't understand, but thankfully more and more people are learning and seeking clarity before making judgments. Folks in our grandparents generation may not make that move, but as pervasive as going green is, it will certainly give them something to think about. . .during the commercials of "Wheel", of course!

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine what life your Grandkids will live because of your choices? Amazing!!

Eclectic Soul said...

Did you see/hear the State of the Black Union when Van Jones ("Environment Guy")? He said that Africans were "green" from the beginning, but the so-called civilized people claimed that they were backwards and doing things primitively. Modern black people adopted that same attitude as the Europeans, and now see the "green movement" as something only for white people when we actually originated it.