Superficial Paradise

I've watched 2.5 seasons of Flavor of Love and as much as I hate to admit it, it's a guilty pleasure. I laugh to the point of near-tears at the antics of Flav and the females vying for his affection. A good portion of my friends call me purely ignorant for enjoying such foolery. "Don't you see what this is doing to the race?" they ask.

I don't. Or better, I didn't.

I live in Black world. I work with mostly Black women and a few non-Black people who relate to us just fine. I live in a Black neighborhood. I party with Black people when I get off work and I date Black men. I encounter non-Black people in exchanges that involve money. My debit card always goes through so those interactions are limited to telling me my total and wishing me a nice day. Sometimes I say excuse me on the train or its said to me. Occasionally, there's a non-Black guy at the security desk at my building or I order a drink or a meal from a server who is non-Black. There. That is the near-complete summary of my semi-regular interactions with non-Black people.

I point all that out, not as a matter of skewed racial pride, but to say that I live in a bubble. And in that bubble, I forget sometimes how the rest of the world works, how "they" (many, not all) see Black people. I don't always realize the cultural impact that shows like Flavor of Love have on non-Black people, who like me, live in their own same-colored world too.

In Black world, I'm perceived as a bourgeoisie chick. Maybe its the purses or clothes, maybe it's the strut, maybe it's the hair or just simply the way I carry myself. I dunno. But I'd never and I've never been mistaken by a Black person for a hood chick or anything near the variety that populates Flavor Flav's harem. Whatever small distinctions that Black people pick up on from one another to determine who's what on the social and classy spectrum, I always fall on the ladylike side of the equation, which I'm totally okay with. Perhaps I take that for granted.

The magazine I work for won an award tonight-- magazine of the year within a media conglomerate with several publcations. It's a big deal. A really big deal. We had an impromptu celebration after the awards at a nearby restaurant. The undercurrent of the shindig was who knew that our little engine really, really could? We're in friendly competition with titles whose numbers and budget far exceed ours. But with dedication and ingenuity and late hours and unlimited talent, we've managed to not just chug along, but be recognized as outstanding among our peers. See? A really big deal.

I sat at that dinner in awe of the ladies in that room. Occasionally, the shine of my job wears off with late nights and pending deadlines. But in certain moments, the sparkle returns and I am reminded of my co-workers' beautiful Blackness, their brilliance and I am humbled to be listed on the masthead among such amazing women (and men) who accomplish so much. I take so much pride in what I do, where I work, who I work among, and the product we produce each month.

Post- dinner, we were leaving the restaurant en masse. A drunk white guy blocked our path to tell us he'd never seen so many beautiful Black women at once. He looked genuinely moved at the sight of such beauty. It was kind of flattering moment-- until his drinking buddy began to yell "Flavor Flav!!!" It was the way Fav does at the end of each episode, shortly after he pours half a bottle of champagne on his own damn floor. This dude looked at us-- educated, sophisticated, respectable women-- and he thought he saw the line-up to Flav's bad-weave wearing, half-dressed, barely educated, hood-ified harem? What?! Is that what every pack of Black women looks like?

It shouldn't have, but his comment took a little of the shine off the celebration. Brought me out of Black world and back to reality. But instead of being just insulted, I got motivated. His comment reminded me why I have to work so hard at my job, why I have give it 110%, and why sometimes I have to work 11 hour days without complaint. Black women don't have very many places where they are celebrated and respected at all times. I am happy that I can be a part of a place that provides one of them.

Flavor of Love, now in its third season, does more damage than I ever thought. I gotta stop watching that shit.