The Walking Dead 7.9: “Rock in the Road” Review

After a dismal first half, the midseason premiere of The Walking Dead was pretty near awesome for me. I gave it a 9 out of 10. Not a 10 because there were parts that felt a little uneven to me. The direction? The cinematography? Rosita’s attitude and Carol’s bitchiness? I’m not sure, still musing on that.

Just to clear the air, I am a huge Richonne fan. Anything that happens regarding Rick and Michonne will get full, unrestrained, and possibly embarrassing, attention. Embarrassing to others, not me, you understand. You’ve been warned.

Team Family Back At It

Our 7B starts out strong with Team Family together and making plans to take Negan down and I am here for it. They ask Gregory for help with Negan (he says no, hilariously; however his people say, “Yes, teach us to fight”), connect with King Ezekiel (who, much more respectfully, also says no), meet back up with Morgan (who updates them on Carol) and have the audacity to steal explosives from Negan and take out a zombie herd by clotheslining them with a metal wire attached to two cars. Like, what? That was a glorious action sequence.

It was gratifying to see everyone on point like this, given The First Half of a Season That Shall Not Be Named, where our heroes and sheroes were scattered and traumatized and we didn’t see some characters for weeks. I completely understand that we needed to get familiar with and introduced to new groups. But it was still an unpleasant viewing experience. Judging by what executive producers and show runner Scott Gimple have said in various interviews, this was on purpose. Fine, fine. Moving on.

Carol and Rosita

I am exhausted with Queen Carol. How many times are we going to watch people be concerned about her, and she, in turn, treats them like the dirt beneath her feet? Since Daryl was left at The Kingdom, I assume he’ll run into or try to find Carol, tell her about Glenn and Abraham’s deaths (and Spencer’s and Olivia’s), that’ll snap her out of her emo-ration, so we can move her story along here. In my Ming the Merciless voice, “I’M BORED.”

I thought Rosita put on her Big Girl Underwear and had a truce with Sasha, but obviously not. I suspect she is angry about her part…wait. It was her entire fault. Right. She is angry about her 100 percent involvement in the event leading to Olivia’s death. You know, her half-baked attempt to take Negan out. I get it. But why be pissy at Sasha? I guess this drama will lead to something, so I’ve got popcorn.

Richonne Highlights

The hand hold that I barely registered the first time I watched, but it’s there. Their teamwork taking down the zombie herd. Michonne comforting/encouraging Rick after their close call getting back into the car (in which I agree with Rosita, it was too close). Their collective eye-rolls when Morgan suggested “just capturing Negan or whatever”. Perfection.

Another group? And they have guns!

Looking forward to seeing who this new group is that was mean-mugging Team Family really, really hard and invading their personal space. Rick grinned. He has a plan.

Black moms with biracial kids

I recently read an older blog post from Heidi Durrow, author of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky. She brought up the issue of how black moms encourage their biracial (or multiracial) children to embrace their identity. What are their perspectives? As a side note, she published that post when I was pregnant with my first son, :). Now, with two mixed-race sons, I have some experience  in this realm.

It seems, she says, that the multiracial agenda is largely set by white moms of biracial children. I think there is definitely some truth to that. In my experience, some black women who have mixed-race children are not particularly invested in their children embracing a mixed identity beyond acknowledging the biological fact that one parent is non-black. They are very adamant about their children largely claiming their “blackness” and other cultural heritages, while not invisible, are secondary; in fact, I’d say the black community at large generally carries this mindset. The fear is that if one doesn’t claim their blackness, then that means something is wrong with being black.

As a society, we’ve definitely internalized the one-drop rule, which, it should be said, has zero scientific evidence to back it up. But even though this social construct is not based on biological facts, the idea of “race” is still a powerful force in our culture. And that is why some black moms of biracial children feel the way I described above. I, however, don’t share that opinion.

As a secular humanist, I despise tribalism or nationalism of any kind. At the end of the day, we have to all get along and someone’s family or country of origin should be a point of respectful interest, not division. I am not invested in how my children racially identify. I do want them to be compassionate, empathic human beings, so they do not have to be considered part of a group before they feel moved to support or fight injustice against that group. That might be another fear some black people have: if you don’t consider yourself black, you won’t be invested in our cause.

These discussions are interesting and definitely needed as more and more people identify as mixed-race.

 

ITYC podcast interview

Michelle McCrary, from Is That Your Child Radio, interviewed me a few weeks ago and it was posted on July 6. I loved it! I had so much fun talking with Michelle about raising mixed kids, interracial relationships, natural hair and being a brown nerd. You can listen to the interview here.

Time was limited, so we didn’t get to talk about nerd stuff as much as I wanted to. As an African-American woman, I don’t fit the usual mold in a lot of areas; for instance I am not religious (I am, in fact, an atheist and secular humanist). And I have always loved science-fiction in any form (books/television/movies) and comics. I can’t think of one girlfriend during my childhood/teen years that shared my interest in any of these things.

Speaking of sci-fi, now that my religious/philosophical leanings have evolved, I’ve come to appreciate even more the creative genius of Gene Roddenberry and the future he imagined in Star Trek. I’m thinking that will be the subject of a future post!

Loving documentary premiers on HBO

Sadly, I do not have HBO. *sobs*

No, it will be ok. The movie will be on DVD before we know it. But for those of you that do have it, check it out. The Lovings were an interracial couple whose legal battle to live their lives as a married couple made it all the way to the Supreme Court and resulted in the legalization of marriage between the races in 1967. Yay, right?

I’m obviously very thankful for their part in the civil rights struggle and really hope that sometime in my children’s lifetime, this “race” thing will be a distant memory.

 

On colorblindness, part 1

I’ve read many accounts of parents of mixed race children talk about how their child had questions about why mommy and daddy look different at ages as young as two or three years old.

Never really gave this phenomenon a second thought because obviously we live in a very race/color focused society. Not having had children, I didn’t have any experience in this realm.

Until I had my #1 kid and he approached the same age range. Then I noticed something.

He has yet to ask us anything about skin color. He has met various relatives from both sides of our families. His playgroup friends are diverse both in race and religion. But still, no skin color or race questions.

Am I doing something wrong? Should I be talking to him more about race? But then I thought, why should I bring it up if he isn’t asking any questions?

This is what I am wondering: do some parents of mixed-race children unconsciously project their racial viewpoints onto their kids? And do social interactions at school and other places introduce non-authentic internal racial conflict for kids that is further reinforced by well-meaning parents?

Many minorities bristle at the idea of colorblindness. It is equated with downplaying or ignoring someone’s culture. But I don’t think so. I think colorblindness is something to strive for and I define it as being able to see beyond race or culture to connect with and accept the individual.

And do I need to say this is a good thing? Well, it is.

But you have to go through a process to get that point. More about that in part two.

Oregon: The interracial couple capital of the nation

I went to a meetup this past weekend of an African-American literature book club I am a part of. I joined last year, but being pregnant and then having a new baby prevented me from going to my first meetup. I love meeting all kinds of people, but it is nice to meet other black women that live in Oregon because there aren’t that many of us here.

The ladies in this group are very friendly and I enjoyed it. What’s interesting is that of all the blacks I meet, there is about a 75-80 percent chance they will be in an interracial relationship or IR. And, true to form, almost half of us in the group have non-black partners.

I love hearing about the experiences of other IR couples. One woman and her white husband had major problems with family on both sides either not speaking to them ever again or being actively (or passively) hostile. They even had a scary run-in at a roadside diner some years ago that involved waiting over an hour for a meal and then having to pay for the nonexistent meal to avoid further trouble. Yikes, right? And of course the nasty looks from people who view you as a race traitor. Fun!

Then there is the reaction to mixed-race babies. Grandparents being upset or puzzled because baby is not dark/light enough or hospital staff not believing it’s your kid because they look white (this really happened to one of the ladies in the group in CA).

The story of my DH and I seems fairly boring in comparison; our families have given us zero trouble with our pairing and if anyone has a problem, they have kept it to themselves. We had one experience of this older white lady, while we were living in Philadelphia, clutching her purse frantically when we were standing near her in a department store. The jury is still out on whether it was a race thing or if she was just a generally nervous person that clutched her purse when any human was too close for her comfort.

One thing we all have the same experience on is noticing the total lack of care for who dates/marries who here in Oregon. There are a ton of IR couples here. DH and I never had anyone give us the side-eye while out as a couple or with our children.

It’s also refreshing to meet other black women like myself that have non-black spouses, which flies in the face of the myth that there are not that many black women in IR relationships. Or another tired one is that we are forever lamenting over the dearth of available black men.

But there are a lot of us that are open to whoever we connect best with, regardless of race. And that was me. But even before I married DH, I never felt resentful when I saw a black man with a white woman, you know, Jill Scott style, having my “spirit wince.” I think Whoopi Goldberg brought up a great point in this clip from The View last year that discussed Jill’s remarks: Whoopi said that for herself, she has always gone with whoever showed an interest in her.

Whoopi went on to state (and I am summing up, these are not her exact words) a sad, but real truth: a lot of black women were made fun of and looked down on (particularly during the horrid teen years) in our community for being too dark-skinned, having hair that is too nappy, a nose that is too wide, lips that are too big…the list goes on…basically being too black.

But the funny thing is that there are a lot of non-black men that think these physical attributes are beautiful. Some black men? Not so much (and if you are not one of these men, I am not talking about you). Like Whoopi said, you go with who shows as much interest in you as you do in them…sounds rather reasonable to me.

 

 

Awkward Black Girl finale

Episode 12 ends the first (and hopefully not last) season of the Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. A love triangle developed between the title character J, her co-worker Fred and White Jay. In “The Decision”, she decides to pursue a romantic relationship White Jay, which I am pleased about.

And not just because I am biased towards interracial couples.

Despite her serious crushing on Fred, J didn’t really have a connection with him. If you’ve watched the series from the beginning (and if you have not, DO IT) for a while there, she really hated her job and maybe Fred being so nice to her (and being a cutie of course) led to her developing feelings for him.

So for whatever reason, when she meets White Jay, and connects better with him. The writing illustrated that, so I am glad they stayed consistent.

Not only do they connect, but there is so much comedic material with their relationship because both are hilariously awkward (a scene during their third date in this episode will have you feeling extremely uncomfortable and then subsequently rolling on the floor with laughter). Plus, you’ve got a unique romantic pairing that is pretty much non-existent on any show, network or web.

I’m really thankful to Issa Rae for creating this series. If you want to donate to help with the second season, click here.

The Broken Bridge

Another worn library copy

I love discovering new books. A recent one is The Broken Bridge by Phillip Pullman. It’s about a mixed race teenager living in Wales with her white father. It is a book for young adults, but since I am a bookaholic, I do not discriminate by reading level. I enjoyed it.

Bridge, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky (by Heidi Durrow) and Nella Larsen short stories are the few pieces of literature that I have sought out lately about the mixed experience. Obviously being black, I never gave much thought to the mixed experience until I had mixed children. Now, I am very aware of it and seek out books of all kinds that I’d like to expose my children to.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl

A few months ago, I came upon this web series, “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” that has me absolutely in stitches every episode.

The series chronicles the life of “J”, a black woman who has to navigate countless awkward situations in both her personal and work lives, minus the stereotypical neck-snapping and “urban” attitude. Some of her favorite pastimes includes secretly writing violent rap lyrics to help her cope and pining over Fred, a co-worker on whom she has a serious crush, but who may or may not like her back. A plus for me, is that J is natural. Yay! Watch the very first episode and see how her then boyfriend responds to her big chop.

During the latest episode, “The Stapler”, she runs into “White Boy J”, a guy she met at Fred’s birthday party. White Boy J clearly thinks she is cute, but she was so caught up in getting Fred to notice her, it kind of goes over her head. Or maybe she noticed and didn’t want to go there. In either case, at the end of this episode she ends up considering a date with White Boy J.

The two J’s have a few things in common; 1) they have the same name, 2) liking Single Ladies and 3), probably the most important, being awkward. It’s fun when  J connects with fellow awkwardites (her co-worker Cece is one) so it should be interesting to see how their relationship unfolds.

However, even after this episode Fred’s feelings for J are still a bit of a mystery to me; perhaps he will realize he likes her after finding out she is seeing White Boy J.

Jan and Quiana Pietrzak

During the brief time frame that my 22 month old is able to amuse himself after breakfast, I spend that time reading the news and looking for blog topics for the week. I came across a horrific crime that took place in October 2008. Marine Sgt. Jan Pietrzak and his wife, Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak, were brutally tortured and murdered in their California home by, allegedly, four of Pietrzak’s fellow marines. See story here.

What makes this story stand out is that Jan and Quiana were an interracial couple; Jan was Polish and Quiana was African-American. The perpetrators were all African-American men, who claim they were looking for an easy score (burglary).

Two things about this story.

1. The media totally ignored this story. And not just national, I mean most media. I learned of the story from several random blogs. Now, granted it occurred just a few weeks before the presidential election, so everyone was wrapped up in covering the campaign. But how many times have there been 24/7 coverage of some lost/missing/murdered idealized American-as-Apple-Pie (i.e. white) couple and/or person, no matter what else is going on in the news?

2. In my opinion, this is a hate crime. The four perpetrators claim they were looking for an easy score, but I think this is BS. If they really wanted to simply burglarize them, they would have done so and left. But they did not. The couple was tortured and Quiana was sexually assaulted. You may kill someone in the heat of the moment, but you just don’t decide midway to torture someone. That takes time, planning and malice.

Of those media outlets that actually reported the story, no one suggested the possibility of a hate crime. Why? Because the perpetrators don’t fit the profile, as if black people can’t commit hate crimes. And to top things off, these sick individuals spray painted “nigger lover” on the walls, a´la Susan Smith, in order to make investigators think some random band of white people did it.

The most frustrating aspect of this story is that it is nearly impossible to find any current information about the case. The marines have been charged, but beyond that, nothing. I assume, as is the case with most legal matters, things are moving along at a snail’s pace. I will follow the story and update when new information becomes available.

Here is a You Tube video posted in memory of this lovely couple:

In Memory of Marine SGT Jan Pawel Pietrzak and his wife Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak