It doesn't matter to me how dark or light His skin was, He died, rose again and brought me into a relationship with God. Really, polka dotted with stripes and I'd still follow. 

He has risen and is mighty to save.

These segments of the blog will be called 'black or white'.

It is my goal to determine whether the trends that I stumble upon originate more from black culture or white culture. I already know that I will ultimately be stereotyping some things into one culture over another and then will feel somewhat guilty about doing so, and then even on top of that will argue or defend my blackness as some may or may not agree with what I'm posting as it relates to the color of my skin, but I'm going to write the posts anyway.

This "latest" trend with nail polish and manicures is where the ring finger is painted with a polish of a complimentary color to the color chosen for the majority of the other fingers. It is called a "mixed mani" - how appropriate!?! I've seen my principal do this on her nails since the fall and have liked it but thought I shouldn't try it or like it for myself because it seemed like something only white people were doing and ahem - younger women. Yes, I hear myself - it sounds wrong to say it out loud, but it's what I was thinking.

So, today after enjoying some time at a friends' baby shower, I needed to opt out for some "me" time and chose to go and get my nails done. Indecisive as I was, I sent the Asian woman back to the well organized shelf of colors three separate times. Just an aside, am I the only one who gets overwhelmed by those fake nails and the hundred colors they ask you to pick from in less than one minute? Watching an Indian girl sit under the hand/foot dryers, she had to be in her early twenties with the lovely sky blue on her fingers (and the color that seems so "in") and I thought I would try it on all ten fingers. It looked good on her dark skin so it would stand to reason that it would be great on mine too. 

40-year-olds don't need to be so bright and flashy and loud and, did I say bright? So, me and Amy (my new manicurist) decided that a great compromise would be black and then the blue on two fingers. Amy thinks I wasn't paying attention when she switched my request for Black Onyx to a deep hue of brown, but this is what we came up with and I like it.

Aware that my influence was my 26-year-old, white co-worker, I was at peace with imitating her in this regard. And when I was sure that I was imitating white culture, I looked across the nail stations at a black woman with a wave of weave and some very non-conservative clothing options and saw that she had the same mani but with red polishes. She had glitter and stickers on her ring finger but at the core, it was the same trend. It blew my original theory (that this was a white trend) out of the water. 

Conflicted, I left the nail salon constantly looking at my fingernails trying to determine whether this was "me". Crystal Gibbons wrote a post about the trend and I could absolutely relate to her and everything she shared in regards to the emotions around the manicure. Aware that this trend is fairly old in the fashion world (see this post) I am glad that it is one that has made it to my hands and that I've been courageous enough to try. 

Black or White? Neither, it's just plain fun!
Still cracking up...

So, I let the kids out of the car to run into the building for midweek. They run ahead to greet their friends and I stay behind to pull a hair out of my eye. I finally get it and hop out of the car and see a favorite person throwing her purse over her shoulder. She halts and yells out, "Lemme stop since I see another brown person."

Before I continue, let me just tell you that this woman can get away with saying things like this. She means no harm and delivers it with a smile. In fact, I realize that the way she said it made me glad that I was the brown person that she was talking to. I strolled quickly (it's still March in Wisconsin) toward her and we rushed inside together instantly connecting around upcoming events and the details that come with it.

Oddly endearing, being brown makes more sense. I mean, my skin really isn't actually black. No more than "white people" are actually white.

Another name for the same club I suppose, but I really did tilt my head to the side. It made me start asking all kinds of "what if" questions. Wondering what would be different about black history if it were in fact brown history. Curious as to whether it would have developed a more positive history - less discrimination and separation - if we were a brown people rather than a black one. I know that's ridiculous, I mean South Americans don't have a easy, breezy history.

Also, just an observation but "brown" isn't really an IT color. Not in fashion, not in decor and not in impact. (Black is so DRAMATIC!) So while I appreciated my temporary membership in this club and the person who initiated me into it. I really enjoy being around this woman, but when my feet touched the ground again, I knew that the club would only exist as I mentioned it between her and some other brown girls and this blog post.

Though technically brown, I'm still black as I wanna be.
I was going to do a lot of research to better understand this holiday. It's a holiday, right? Then I got busy doing a lot of other things and wanted to still post and well, this is what I know about St. Patrick's Day.
  • People wear green. A lot of it. Beads, t-shirts, socks, even fake tattoos on their cheeks.
  • Leprechauns are unofficially attached to this holiday.
  • It has something to do with the Irish culture.
  • There is green beer or just beer and a lot of drinking.

And that's it. That's what I know. And then there are news "stories" like this one.

It doesn't look good for anyone. Black folks. Irish folks. News reporters. No one comes out a winner.

I have to admit that I've watched this video at least 25 times. I have laughed, shaken my head, re-enacted parts of it (anybody see a leprechaun say 'yeah') and have even duplicated the amateur sketch and passed it along in my workplace to help us not take ourselves too seriously. - it works! Lately, I'm feeling a little bit bad about it. I mean, this teaches nothing good. Certainly there are so many more positive things that Blacks and the Irish could come together to do and share and give.

Of course, I must look at myself. Since laughter was the thing that most came from me in watching and re-watching this, I was wondering why that was. Half of me wonders if this is a hoax and the other half hopes it is. Why? Quite honestly, because these people are black and I'm black and this reflects poorly on them and me. The laughter is an attempt to separate myself because surely I would never go on television and show my "great, great, great grandfather's Irish flute" used to summon leprechauns. I mean, I should never say never. If I had the flute, I wouldn't share it with many because then I'd have to share the pot of gold. I mean...duh...

Seriously though, it's sad. I mean hilarious if a hoax and a community's practical joke. Anything else though, I ask - do you hear yourself?!?

Difficult not to watch something like this and not have it perpetuate or create stereotypes in our minds. Perhaps you may find it reckless for me to even post this as it gives the ridiculous more exposure, but I post it partially to challenge our thinking as to why something like this can even be developed, presented as news and then why it becomes so fascinating that we'd watch it over and over and then share it with our friends. And then quote it too.

I know it's not just black people that this happens with, we all do things that we can look back at and laugh at or at least that we ought to laugh at - we can be such a ridiculous people, can't we? In an age where everyone can so easily record and upload and share, I am still shocked that people so freely share such intimate things about themselves. That's not something that I'm super comfortable with and its really halted my viewing of 'reality television'.

So, to those of you have very proud Irish heritage, traditions and culture for which you have positive memories and experiences with, I apologize to you for my limited knowledge of it. This is what I know. Leprechauns are pretty important and are no longer just for you and yours. Consider yourself warned...

And then laugh.

It's been rough around here. I am feeling and causing pain, like everyone. E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. - even you precious...

And it got me to thinking...what is the color of pain?

Today is International Badge Day and I will admit, I've not quite celebrated it before and didn't really celebrate it today but decided to blog about it. Sorry if that's cheating...

In February of 2012, I celebrated 20 years of being a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. I'd like to say that I was a super cool and super popular member, but there have been many days that I've wondered how I got in. 

It was not my intention to join a sorority when I went off to college as a 17 year old. I don't even know what was on my mind other than freedom from my parents (sorry mom, you know it's true) and seeing a bigger world. Let me be honest, I was in a girl's dormitory (nicknamed the "Virgin Vault") and my college, though a great university, was less than 20 minutes, yes MINUTES from my parent's home. It was a step.

My freshman year was about being out there and making the school with 40,000 plus undergraduate students smaller. I got out there and was a fool and needed to be tied to something bigger than me. Fortunately, one of the girls across the hall watched "All My Children" a daytime soap opera, you know what, if I have to explain this to you then you're either wasting your time on reality tv or thought that "Days of Our Lives" was the best daytime soap. In either case, I will not permit comments that support the latter. I digress...

My friend across the hall had gone through rush (now recruitment) and was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, her roomie went Chi Omega. Even still, it did not tickle my fancy. Even though they were kind to me and we shared some similar interests, joining didn't cross my mind until a year later.

I moved into an apartment with some girls my sophomore year - still don't know how we got my dad to say yes to that - and one of my roommates was a Theta. She brought me to an informal recruitment night and I saw some girls from my high school that hardly spoke to me. I know of voting and it was kind of cut throat back then, laborious almost; that process with some of the women who'd be initiated as freshman that I'd gone to high school but did not know and me getting in, I was surprised. I think that I was comparing it to the big fall rush which was something else. And after having been on the 'inside' the fall after my initiation (going into my junior year), I was sure that I would not have made it and that the system would not have accepted me. Really, to be honest, I don't think that I was built at that time to go through such an intense matching process.

I was also bringing some baggage to the experience. As a junior or senior in high school, I think, I went to visit a cousin, his wife and their new baby during my spring break down in Texas. They were still in college and I got to tag along. She, his then wife, was in the middle of her own pledging experience. To be clear, she had already gone through the selection process of rush, chosen the sorority for her and they matched and chose her for them and then...they hazed her. Read this article, even if someone participated in one of these types of events to pledge membership (while also paying for this ridiculousness) you weren't going to find me there. I mean, she was out late at night, they could hit (as in punch, slap or whip) her for non-compliance or just because they wanted to and cursed at and humiliated her, in front of me holding her baby and in front of her other peers while on campus. Look, I have been known as a people pleaser, but this sounded a lot like the whuppings I earned as a child. Why would I pay someone for all of that? Seriously, I could've gone home and pulled a switch off a tree. It left a horrible taste in my mouth and I will admit, I stereotyped all black sororities as wild and ridiculous and vowed inwardly that I would never be a part of such nonsense. And can proudly say, I never have.

So, when I went to Kappa Alpha Theta - Theta for short - and found the women talking respectfully to one another, hanging out in this beautiful lakefront house, eating pizza and laughing about things that I had interest in, I thought...I can do this. Yet, another thing I am still astonished that Willie Collins - my dad - was willing to say yes to and pay for my dues. Yes, it was another environment on an predominantly white campus where I was the only one or one of few. 

I quickly became a part of the social scene within the sorority and held the position of Social Chair as a senior in college. I was not very good at it. Once, I tried to develop a new relationship with some of the not so cool fraternity boys waaaayyyy off fraternity/sorority row and let's just say, my role in the position was questioned. For a good laugh, I even tried to make the event with them mandatory. It is a memory. Awkward...

Anyway, today is International Badge Day and I knew it was and I did not wear mine. I'm in the midst of a personal storm and could not make time to put on makeup and my outfit was so ridiculous that I spent the majority of the day with my cream sweater wrapped across my chest covering the lint that shed onto the black long-sleeved shirt; it looked like I wore my cat to work and we don't have a cat. 

But, I thought..I can answer the questions that I read from this link up about this special day. 

1. What does being Greek mean to you?
This is difficult for me to answer sometimes because of all of the negative associations that often come from being Greek or associated with it. I've actually heard some refer to it as a cult and watch them frown upon y membership with heavy brows (even the ladies) as to why I might spend my time and money on something like this. Having recently had a challenging volunteer experience with my sorority, I am probably also bringing some baggage to answering this question. Ultimately though, there is something that keeps me coming back and I think that single, solid thing is the women. Not all of them, but those special ones. You know what I mean. The women that you probably wouldn't have met but when you do connect it's like you were separated at birth, but less painful. I appreciate a system that at its core still brings people together to help them with their individual growth while providing opportunities for collective growth/change and the potential for building life long relationships. 

2. What did you learn from your sorority?
I have learned and continue to learn that the learning never stops. Yes, the bulk of growth and development that has occurred for me in relationship to Theta has been as a volunteer in my alumnae experience. Working with college students over the last 15 plus years while growing older and further away from their thinking and experience has taught me a lot about clinging to the ritual and its meaning and developing ways to bring that into all I do - within the sorority and outside of it too. My personal growth is important, prioritize it, I have learned that.

3. What's your favorite memory about being in a sorority?
For me there are a few. One was initiation. And all I can say is that it was beautiful and touching and I wanted to cry and smile all over myself throughout. Another memory was living in the house. Coming to this beautiful lakefront chapter house solidified my surprise (remember, it was different than what I'd seen) membership and my sisterhood, my connection to something bigger. Three is a memory I have from last night, Facebook messaging a sister that I've only known for the past four years - ish and cracking one another up over "people ridiculousness". She gets it and makes me feel like I do too. Fourth is a Theta weekend in the works, the first of its kind for me. Though it hasn't happened and is not yet a memory, with the caliber of these women, I am trusting that it's going to be a great memory.

4. How has your sorority continued to impact you after graduation?
I think of this in terms of what have I done to give back to the sorority. Impact sounds like something passive, something that has happened TO me, rather than something that has shaped or helped develop me. So, I write about it in terms of the opportunities I've had to serve and lessons learned. I have held many positions for Theta, certainly not as many of some women, but I'm proud of the service I've been able to provide. 
  • Advisory Board Chair, 2 times a decade apart, both times for the local chapter that I was initiated into
  • Administrative District Director, remote volunteer experience
  • College District Director, remote volunteer experience - I lasted for about a hot minute (4 months)
  • Special Assistance Mentor (SAM) to a chapter in Michigan - remote experience 
  • Leadership Development Committee Chair - remote volunteer experience - still wishing for a happier ending
  • Attended three Grand Conventions in service to the Fraternity (if you read our webpage, you'd understand)
  • Dues paying member of my area Alumnae Chapter
  • Life Loyal Member - I'm in it!
All of these service opportunities have impacted me by helping me to speak my truth, though not always great at it, similar situations kept coming up over and over growing me in this area. I have learned to have challenging conversations - let's just say, I pray that I will not be the type of parent that calls their daughter's volunteer organization and it's volunteers to challenge disciplinary actions brought against my daughter for immature and irresponsible decisions that she has made - (whew, rant over) and to challenge the thinking of the status quo. 

It is still kind of weird to wear my letters as an alumnae, hard to explain why, it just seems so 'college', but I have a couple of t-shirts with them on it. I should order a sweatshirt. Don't know where I'd wear it exactly, but still think I should own it.

I guess that's why I should have worn my badge over my heart today. This is not my badge, mine is not this fancy, but isn't it purty?!? The meaning behind the symbols and jewels on the badge is even more beautiful. You must be in "badge attire" to give the badge its due respect and most importantly ought to be embodying the expectations that our founders put into developing the fraternity and this symbol. In college, I proudly wore my letters and more now as an alumna, I wear my badge - except today. Generally, I really am a rule follower.

Anyway, no matter the negative press, sororities and fraternities are doing great things. Service, Philanthropy, Fundraising, excelling at Scholarship, Leadership training, Something of Value and the list can and does go on and on, especially if you're looking. If you are Greek and looking for an entertaining read, read this review about 'Total Frat Move' by Kimberly @ The Simplicity of Being Curious . Doesn't sound like a starter for those with hesitations and reservations about this foreign group, but this sorority sister's blog is pretty creative.

Am I glad I did it? Joined a predominantly white sorority? Certainly there were black sororities on campus when I was there. There was a Black Student Union which I never stepped foot inside (seriously can't even tell you where it may have been located). It was a largely good experience for me though I wish I'd been more attuned with black culture and had been more courageous about bringing forward other suggestions of foods for the chef (yes, chef) to make other options for television programming to watch or when people starting flashing gang signs in party pictures to ask them what was wrong with their fingers (none of us knew about gangs, I mean come on Madison, Wisconsin) and to challenge the status quo. Maybe I was pushing too much to fit in or maybe I was just where I belonged. Either way and with the many bumps along the way, I am proud to be a Theta and think that many of the experiences helped shape me into the woman I am today.

Maybe tomorrow, I'll wear my badge.

One of my favorite things to do is to put my feet up, grab a glass of red wine and read my favorite blogs that I follow on bloglovin'. It'd be great if I could remember how I found them, but I seem to find exactly what I need to be looking for. Tonight was no different when I found this post

I'm going through some thangs in my personal life, the life many, many feet behind the blog posts you read and began to second guess my writing or at least writing about this topic of blackness. Tempted to vomit all over this outlet, I had to take a couple of days to remember that this is an opportunity to share from the heart but within certain bounds, that this is not intended to be or provide therapy.

So, tonight I share with you that my heart is happy to have a place to write. A place to tell you that no matter what the color of my skin, my heart still feels and and life still happens.