Black Women's Improvement Project (BWIP)

Forget Lotus Flower. How About African Violet?

I was couple-spying a few weekends ago at South Coast Winery, because it’s a good place to take the temperature on whose hooking up with whom and which sparkling white gets me sloshed enough to get the courage and talk to some folks. I’m still salty that the winery won’t let me use my press pass to raid the joint. WELL FINE, THEN! So I had to wait in line for my wine-tasting tickets like the rest of the drunkos. First thing that caught my eye was a black woman and a white rainbeau with their heads close, he whispering something in her ear that reduced her to a fit of giggles. And as usual, I saw the knot of single black women in a cluster, no wedding rings to be seen, and absolutely no mingling with the outsiders. I saw about three groups like this, so I’m glad I brought my BB&W blog cards, and handed them out to the young, college girls.

While I wait in line to get tickets so I can join the other…I mean, wine tasters, I saw a 6’0, brown and BEAU-TI-FUL young black women with two of her friends, who happened to be white (also pretty, but it was like comparing a candle to a high-watt florescent). They weren’t even in the same solar system at this chick. I mean, have you ever met a women with such beauty, poise and graciousness that you actually have to stop everything you’re doing and tell them that?

“Excuse me, miss, I just have to tell you that you are just gorgeous!” All the time I’m thinking, did I just say that outLOUD?!! So after I blubbered and gushed on how gorgeous she was, I couldn’t help noticing the blinding engagement ring she wore. Without missing a beat, she returned a thousand-watt smile and a “Thank you!” that was humble, dignified, and oh so feminine all in .5 seconds. In the tasting room I meet her fiance, a very handsome Nigerian man who works as a pharmaceutical engineer at Abbott Laboratories, a global outfit with a base in our town.

Besides looking fantastic together, I loved that the couple had a mix of friends–white and Indian, they looked like an ad from Unite Colors of Bennetton. After a few drinks I asked Mr. Nigerian how he met and snagged the goddess. “I met her when we were in college. I saw her at a party and stopped and asked where her people were from.” I thought that was an odd question to ask this day and age–that’s some old-school Southern tradition stuff. Turns out that South Coast Winery goddess is from Panama, and apparently Mr. Nigerian, who’s dated American women across the melanin spectrum, found appealing. “American women have trouble understanding masculine and feminine roles. There is power in each, just different. My fiance knows this naturally. She also values family. There’s no such thing as a nursing home for our parents. They’ll stay with us,” he said.

So what say you? Have the gender roles in America bent and twisted into a tangle, like when when your necklaces get so knotted in your jewelry box you can’t see which links belong to which?


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