We watched, discussed and analyzed music videos. It's completely mind blowing to put myself in Ophelia's shoes and remember that she came into the world almost seventy years ago. She said that she remembers buggies used as modes of transportation and that she didn't start off with televisions, dvds, vcrs, computers and youtube.
I told her that I remember watching her as she watched The Matrix. This is not the world that she was born into and yet she engages fascinated with techy media culture.
We talked about the plasticized Barbadian popster...watched two of her videos. We talked about caribbean divas who weren't soulless pawns:
Ophelia said she thought the Barbadian popster should get out of music and go into modelling. We both agreed that as a fleshy coathanger for the imaginings of stylists and make-up people, she's a great success. Papi mentioned that he'd read, that it was all over the place that she's lamenting being snubbed by her Barbadian high school friends. She's literally a teenager, insecure, hurt by not being seen as popular by those who matter, even though her music is listened to by millions. We looked at one of her videos:
sent me searching for another black woman located north of the 49th:
the video images were so close you know the amerikkkans could have definitely used the Barbadian to bite off something/someone they figured wouldn't survive and make money, consuming it and transforming it until it seemed like theirs.
We talked about Black wimmin in music. The ones who don't fit the soul, r&b music originality strangling mold. We agreed that folks don't know what to do with Black cultural anomalies preferring to deal with the familiar reprocessed repositioned regurgitated time and time again. sad.
At Stinkapee's request we looked at Dilana, who the whole family likes because she's got a big woman voice not a squeaky little girl's voice.
We're not sure if she's a light skinned Black woman...we think she is...hmmm, whenever you find yourself wondering...you know that there's something more complex there than whiteness...or blackness, for that matter. Please (don't) forgive the idiot host's introductions which is so offensive in tone, ignorance and familiarity... and try to ignore the really irritating, uninteresting and unimportant male critiques attempting to superimpose their lack of power over her presence at the very end. Blech.
Nonetheless, Ophelia seemed visibly happy at Dilana's show of power and voice and viewing her performance led to a conversation about Black people's inability to deal even culturally with creative expressions that fall outside boundaries that are set for us...which we uphold...ofttimes out of fear of...punishment should we choose to explore what lies beyond...
We finished off the youtube visit by watching this video (...Stinkapee had fallen asleep by this time, so this morning as I type and collect images, she's looking over my shoulder fascinated. Her playdate just arrived. She ushers the little black boy in and they both watch. I ask him, this child raised mostly on hip-hop and r&b generated images of black wimmin, if he's ever seen a Black woman who looks like this woman before singing music that sounds like this, he says no...)
Which elicited more conversation about acceptable roles, aesthetics and creative outlets for Black wimmin.
Later on that night we talked about the possibilities for exploring who we are given the history of Black people, given our respective family histories and upbringings...we talked about trying to understand how our souls learned to resist and what role brains capable of processing multiple strands of data simultaneously without balking or shutting down, have in our ability to actively and mindfully resist our own historical, familial, emotional, psychological domination.
I said that I think that reading the books and being aware of collective histories and herstories of oppression and resistance is only part of the battle and that for someone to have the courage and the strength to move beyond simply understanding and mouthing or writing the political right on into living it out takes a whole other set of critical skills and aptitudes that are (mis)educated out of the vast majority of people in any given population purposefully by those who work behind the scenes to keep the herd quiet, amused and acquiescent.
So, yes Ophelia is a historian, I remembered and said to her that some things about resistance aren't actually to be found in the past, but can be located in the flesh, in the synapses firing off differently for some than for others, allowing some to "get it", to actively, powerfully and joyfully engage with information not taught to them as children by their parental units and other family members, while others, even those spending years in universities, remain pitifully, woefully, hopelessly, malevolently lost...stunted.
I'm thinking about Ophelia's words about "the hand each person is dealt". The tools each person is offered by their families that help or hinder them as they make their way into the world, try to form relationships, attempt to create families. We both agreed that it was for the best that I wasn't raised up in a Barbadian family. I would have become a very different kind of woman, I suspect...unh, I'm so sure.
I spoke to Ophelia about my parenting of Stinkapee as something that causes joy and pain...about how I understand it as a mixture of success and failure in that there are some aspects of parenting I had hoped to have been able to do better, while there are other areas where I'm so far understanding myself to still be in the "game". For instance...
Earlier that evening...
We looked at Stinkapee's drawings. Ophelia liked Stinkapee's drawings. She's so obviously drawing people with kinky hair, sometimes with dark brown skin, sometimes with piercings and tattoos...
Once Stinkapee started going to school about two years ago, with mostly limp haired children of different cultures, she started drawing these weird family picures where we all had bangs and hair that hung down.
I watched for a bit and then we sat down for a convo about it. She said everyone drew their people that way. She wanted to know why some people had limp hair. I said it was because they come from people who have limp hair, their ancestors have limp hair. I said that our ancestors had hair that stands up proudly at attention and so, we have hair that is wonderful and kinky and wiggly. She said she didn't know how to draw kinky hair. Mama shared some possible approaches to the visual replication of Black naps.
Stinkapee does bumps and locks and afro styles. But she's also got this colour and pattern thing happening. ...which makes sense since she lives in a visually vibrant, decorative house where there's a lot of texture, colour and pattern mixed together to form home.
Her drawings are becoming layered and complicated in ways that we're all really excited about. She does Black folks with sometimes with noses...she's still working at nostrils, always smiling, sometime with fat lips, noses you can see, tattoos and fascinating clothing.
Her drawings are displayed all over the house with the adult decorations and images...though, I giggled to Ophelia saying, I hope that when Stinkapee is in her twenties she doesn't demand the right to display these as evidence of early "brilliance" and attempt to inflict her childhood drawings on any room mates as something they should welcome on the walls of common spaces and love as much as her parents did/do...don't ask, it's a "joke" only the wimmin I lived with in my last house will truly understand and appreciate. :)
What was I saying?
Of course Stinkapee uses my drawing markers to achieve her masterpieces...while leaving the caps off periodically when she gets distracted.
I've just learned to breathe...exhale....and let go...