Notes on black male delusion…

If like me you are a computer bound office drone you’ll no doubt have suffered the lows of excruciating small talk, the awkward silences that fall in between the excruciating small talk and the gnawing anxiety that comes from wondering when the torturous deed will end.

And then there are the moments when you realize the company you are suffering is self-inflicted and the misery you are experiencing self-induced. Why I thought it was high time I  got to know everyone who works in my department is surely beyond me.

In fairness most of my encounters were a strait one on the awkwardness richter scale.  Characterised by overly long and tuneless talk about  how long colleagues had worked at the company.

But nothing could have prepared me for the horror show that was to be my run in with, let me think of a suitable pseudonym, ‘Barry’.

Barry, as you might well have guessed from the title of this article was black, delusional and male- a triple wammy if ever there was one.

This being the case I had decided long ago that my approach to him should be a cautionary one.

Black women the world over can attest, that trying to be friendly towards our black, delusional, male counterparts – (hereinafter referred to as BDMs) can be a perilous endeavour for the following reasons:

Make conversation with a BDM – he think’s you’re attracted to him
Make eye contact with a BDM – he think’s you’re asking him out on a date

Offer a BDM a biscuit- he thinks your wedding dress is waiting in the car

I hope reader, you can see the difficulty of my situation, one wrong word to Barry and he would think I had already picked out matching his and hers bathrobes.

After bottling the encounter approximately a million times, I took my chance to break the proverbial ice- catching Barry on route to the kitchen.

My memory tells me I began our chit chat with a gabbled comment that resembled ‘I always see you around, but I’ve never known your name.’

Barry introduced himself, as well, Barry.  And after hearing his surname I asked what part of the world it was from.

I learned the name hailed from an exotic West African state, and Barry asked me the origins of my own surname.

As any black person, with lineage in the new world knows, our surnames are the remnants of a painful and difficult legacy.  They are not really a subject for light conversation.

Barry didn’t seem to pick up on the fact I wasn’t necessarily in the mood to open the can of worms that is the transatlantic slave trade.

And so I was forced to spell out how I came to be given the name of Elliott- in black and white terms if you will.

Armed with the knowledge my heritage lay in the sun soaked island of Barbados, Barry proceeded to tell me that he had traveled all over the Caribbean.

At last, I thought to myself, we were finally on the hallowed turf of common ground!  I suggested Baz visit Barbados.  He said he already had, and couldn’t understand why Rihanna was so keen on it.

Yes, I did have to tell him Rihanna was from Barbados- and yes,he did seem genuinely shocked.

But worst of all he proceeded to tell me that as far as Caribbean islands went- Barbados was a pretty dull offering.

I believe this was Baza attempting to make sure I called off the wedding he assumed was taking place in my head immediately.

I saw the fear in Barry’s eyes.  He had been seen by his colleagues talking to me, a black woman for full two minutes.

 Poor B seemed to be wracked with terror- after all casual conversation is very much akin to introducing a serious love interest to close family and friends.

And then it happened, the beta male stood before me put in a call for back up.  It was a strange act, a primal scream, perhaps.

 An unknown white male, lets call him ‘Jim’ walked past us and Barry shouted towards him ‘have you met Jim?’  Poor old Jimbo was thrown for a Saturn sized loop but heeded Barry’s plea for help.

So there we stood the three of us in a situation more uncomfortable than a headful of day one cornrow.  What we talked about, and how long the ordeal lasted I can not say for certain.

But when I did finally manage to slink away, I started to get angrier and angrier.  I couldn’t understand how  my ‘getting to know you’ exercise had gone completely askew.

It seemed ridiculous to me that what was meant to be a friendly conversation had been taken as a full blown declaration of love.

Not to mention the fact that B wouldn’t even hit a seven on the looksometer.  Barry was in a catargory of his own just below zero called, troll.

And he’s not the only BDM I’ve met recently kids.  Apparently a smile is the ultimate come on, as  I literally saw the coffee-making-fool at my local Proteinhaus  grappling with the idea of returning the gesture.  Obviously women are just lining up to settle down with barristas.

Don’t even get me started on the worn-out, bus-waiting-for idiot I see each morning, who thought I was following him because I too was walking the well worn path to the train station.

Yes, you’re right, I want to take care of you and your three children!

So there you have it, another fine mess I’ve got myself into.  Now I have to hide behind the photocopier every time I pass a Barry shaped object.

Though there is the option of completely screwing with him; perhaps I should sign off my next email to him with a PS expressing a desire to get in touch with my African heritage…

Young East African Gurl…

I watched the strangest and saddest little YouTube video the other night; entitled ‘I’m African, He’s Jamaican’.  A more apt name for the disconcerting post would have been ‘Random crap on your feed, which you can’t unsee, but wish you could’.  (Although I don’t suppose that has much of a ring to it.)  Having seen close to a billion of this type before; ‘I’m black, He’s Jewish’, ‘I’m Muslim, He’s Hindu’, ‘I’m a Martian, She’s TransDimentional’ (you get the drill), I waited for the anthem of the love-sick and the deluded:   ‘I got mushy with someone across the border.  Let’s throw Racism a leaving party.’ What eventually transpired though, would turn out to be something of a far more dark and troubling nature…


Beating King Kanye, in order to be crowned ‘The World’s Most Psychologically Disturbed Black Man’ is a great feat indeed, close contenders Gilbert Arenas and Kodak Black fought an admirable battle, but I believe this year’s victor to be YouTuber Shakeel Romero.  Throwing his audience a curve ball, Romero’s video was not in fact an informal chit chat about the slings and arrows of cross cultural relationships, as his title suggested; but more an impromptu and unsolicited rendition of the Beyonce hit ‘Why don’t you love me’ (sort of). Viewers quickly learned that the beautiful Somalian woman sitting beside Mr Romero, had so far resisted the ‘charms’ and clutches of the Muslim convert, much to his chagrin.


Any avid connoisseur of YouTube dross knows that you try your absolute damnedest not to make snap judgments in the opening moments of an upload; and Reader I tried, I really did.  But, the mere act of witnessing  Romero’s laboured interactions with Somali Muslim, Somaha, (don’t know if I spelled that right) was something akin to the sound of frayed fingernails dragged across a school room blackboard. Somaha, having spotted a band of rogue hairs deciding  to make a break for it, noted the ‘frizzy’ appearance of her tresses on screen.  Dim witted Shakeel’s antidote was one of enlightenment. On the off chance that Somaha had been absent from any small part of her existence, or never met her own parents, Romero reminded her that she was after all ‘East African’.  And thus the riddle of the frizzy hair was solved.   Embarrassingly for the YouTuber he had mistaken the word ‘frizzy’ as a synonym for the word ‘curly’ (It’s hard for some people).   Romero unwittingly revealed himself to be hair brained, but like literally hair brained. His confusion was an example of the Freudian Slip if ever there was one.   Somaha to him was not a woman, but a headful of loose curls upon which to hang his distorted and disturbed projections of beauty.


Readers will be happy to know that there was to be more horrifying hairbrainery; Shakky in all his wisdom thought it necessary to let the lovely Somaha know that Somalian women were of the kind, that men wanted to date because (and I quote) ‘ you have long beautiful hair, your skin is dark, but it’s still smooth’.  Yes, I nearly dropped dead on the floor too.  You’ll be alarmed to know that this is not the worst of it; Romero’s desire to visit the country (though it is a region to those of us who possess brain cells) named ‘East Africa’, was tempered by his fear that his hair, being of a courser texture, would make him stand out in the newly formed Republic.  So much so that  in his own words he tried to get ‘waves going’.  Feel free to breath when ready.  The crescendo of the monomaniac’s hair raising performance saw Romero dreaming of a future starring himself, Somaha and some ‘crinkly haired kids.’ A plate of hand rolled dysfunction to table seven please.



I wish I could say that dear old Shakeey improved on further watching,  but like a prospective boyfriend who shows up late on a first date; he didn’t. In fact he began to err on the side of desperate, and dare I say it; creepy.  With the uncomfortable spectacle taking on all the appearance of a silent and prolonged tango. Somaha attempted to explain the fundamentals of Somali parental expectations.  Romero wanted to know why their expectations couldn’t be reconfigured to encompass a Jamaican shaped son-in-law. Somaha attempted to explain the intricate nature of Somali familial ties.  Romero like a child of six, asked why said ties could not be loosened.  Somaha explained that for Somalis being Muslim alone was not necessarily the only qualification needed to get the green light for a marriage to a beloved daughter.  To which Romero replied ‘why won’t you accept us Revert Muslims?’.


And there it was!  The apex of this excruciating dance.  Romero could not bring himself to ask Somaha to reverse the curse of his West African heritage.  Nor did he have the courage to admit his need for the love and validation of women opposite to his own image.  He, like so many black men, desired a Beauty; in order to erase the stain of the Beast.  I feel for my sisters descended from Africa’s Horn, admired and despised in equal measure for their perceived proximity to the European aesthetic.  No woman wants to be fetishised and worse reduced to nothing more than a hair type.  The ‘hair type’ that opens old wounds and rifts within African communities.


Of course Romero ended on a finale of deprecation, referring to long suffering Somaha as ‘Little East African girl’.  Let us all hope that when he finally does take a trip to the small non-existent country of ‘East Africa’, a good pilot might be kindly employed to lose his way.  If not; ladies you have been warned…

I’m sorry Mr Jackson…

Did anyone else hear the distant rumbles of disquiet emanating from the world of the perennial fake smile, also known as Acting?  If not, have your cups ready, because I’m about to serve, not Lovely’s piping hot tea, but a witch’s brew.  So apparently someone has like finally decided to say something about America’s involvement in the mass importation of foreign born Black Africans Actors; more specifically those from Britain.  That someone was Samuel L. Jackson, and I believe him to be…how shall I put it?  Displeased.  His gripe is, that much like America’s car industry, many of Black Hollywood’s meatiest roles are now being outsourced to cheaper foreign counterparts…or something like that.   With the the ‘facts’ out of the way (sort of), let me get right to the serious and sticky business of my thoughts on the matter…

While the stormy and difficult plight of the overprivileged nearly always rates highly on my personal barometer of concern.  The sympathy box, which I store right behind the last can of My heart bleeds soup; seems to be running curiously low.

For the record, as a Black Brit, the success of my peers across the pond, made me feel nothing but pride and excitement.  Until 12 Years a Slave…  That, is when I believe, I first thought that those in film were beginning to make bizarre and ultimately jarring choices behind the scenes.  Here we had two Brits one of Nigerian and the other of West Indian descent and a Kenyan born Mexican taking centre stage in telling the story of the African American experience.  While it is clear to me that (sadly) the common threads of Colonial Rule, Subjugation and the struggle for Autonomy run through the entirety of the African Diaspora.  The scars that have been etched on to our souls all differ slightly.  In truth, when I saw that Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta, would be played by British actors, I was deeply disturbed.  Europe seemed an awfully long way to go, in search of actors capable and willing to tell the stories of individuals, so deeply woven in to the fabric of Black America.

The question is; was Samuel L. Jackson right to call this out?  I’m going to say no and here is why.  Jackson has fixed his ire at Jordan Peele’s casting of Daniel Kaluuya in the masterpiece that is Get Out.  However the Hollywood fetish for exotic negroes, did not begin in Black film, and here I think Uncle Sam is guilty of being disingenuous.  Jackson knows very well that he, like many others who frequent the highest echelons of Black Hollywood, made a fatal mistake.  It is the same mistake made by every house negro that ever there was; believing that the preferential treatment he  received stemmed from a place of genuine regard.  That is the real problem here; the elites like no one, and foolish is the Black Actor who fails to realise that the exchange of African Americans for Black Brits is nothing more than a game of power.  Hollywood’s key players are much like slave owners who thought that an auction would be the best way to deal with a slave who got too big for his boots.  Their continental casting choices should serve as a reminder to Black Thespians everywhere, that Hollywood is not in fact ‘our’ house, but ‘theirs’.  It is all very well for John Boyega to brush aside Jackson’s comments, but my hope (though it is a vain one) is that he will come to the conclusion that if America can turn on its own, it will surely not spare the rod when it comes to outsiders.

There is another reason why Jackson’s comments trouble me.  They are a clear indication of the unhealthy dependency Black’s have on the elite.  Jackson is essentially saying that Massa is doing him wrong.  Hello, Massa has been doing the same thing for 400 years, and it pains me to hear a grown man whining.  Mr Jackson I put this to you, instead of relying on the very people who have shown nothing but contempt and disregard for you; start a revolution, start a production company, start a studio, start a film school.  Yes, I hear you, it won’t start out as big or as shiny as what they have over there.  But I can tell you one thing Mr Jackson; it will be ours…

The Beautiful Black Man and the Beast


Without giving too much away, I’m now at the age where the group of friends (call it a pool if you will) I once had in my twenties, has now been whittled down to a puddle subjected to a Sub-Saharan summer’s day.  With the majority of my girlfriends having succumbed to the casualties of marriage and babies, I feel as though I have been left as the proverbial last (wo)man standing.  While I wish my friends nothing but the best, I can’t help but crave to have my own ample slice of the pie we call happiness.

Growing up in a quiet mostly White Middle Class suburb, I, along with my friends, hit life’s key markers.   University, travel, decent(ish) job, but as the token only Black girl in our group I seem to have taken home the coveted prize of also-ran in the game of love Monopoly.

The dearth of ‘Good Black Men’ and its effects on ‘Good Black Women’ is oft spoken about, and has (almost) become part of African Folklore.  Edging out ancient African proverbs espousing the wisdom of ‘de lion’ come new sayings speaking of the pain of ‘de single Black woman’!  Okay, I’m erring on the side of silly but you catch my drift.   To put it plainly; I simply cannot kiss anymore frogs.  The road to becoming someone’s better half has been pathed with rogues and vagabonds.  One experience in particular with a rogue (or was he vagabond?) disturbed me so deeply, I feel that I must share it.

I am certainly not in the habit of man bashing, but in the last few years I have developed a growing awareness of a mutant strain of men.  Their emergence seems directly linked to the popularity of one A$AP Rocky.  The men in question are defined by their aesthetic charms, the fitness of their bodies, the acquisition of stylised designer clothes, the delicate form of their features and to all this they add a generous sprinkling of self-absorption.  Even Narcissus would have to fight to get hold of a mirror in their presence!  Sound familiar at all?  Yes, my date had all the symptoms of one suffering from what I like to call Beautiful Black Man Syndrome.  Disclaimer:  my date, (let’s call him John) artfully concealed his true nature, in our earliest encounters.

I should have known that a romantic liaison with John would have been a miss- step of gargantuan proportions after our first (almost) date. A text sent kindly requesting he meet me at a location closer to my home town (I have no car) and a little further from his, was met with this response verbatim:  ‘I could but, I think it would be cheaper to have drinks here.’  I know right, hardly the stuff fairy tales are made of.  Make no mistake, I made sure that he felt my ire and for obvious reasons I declined his enticing cut price offer.

A later chance meeting in the office kitchen, meant that the wonderful John was able to explain away the many (many) faults of his text.  Inwardly I thought how many single, childless black men, holding a BA and a Masters with their own flat (and own hair) are there left in the world?  Of Course I caved, and I stood in line, like a dummy, for a second helping.

At his suggestion, I agreed, though unwillingly to meet at his local pub.  The pub was part of a chain, nation renowned for their cheap prices and sterile atmospheres.  In short it was the McDonalds of the beverage world. (Oh Coran, Coran, Coran).  A promise was made, that our next date would be of the extravagant/salubrious kind and since I didn’t have a car, John would foot the bill for my taxi home. His offer had all the appearance of what they call a ‘win, win situation’, or so I thought.

The evening began with an explosive and emotional foray into my date’s disappointment at a recent, but unsuccessful job interview.  With scenes rivalling that of a Greek Tragedy, arms flailed about the table as he repeatedly asked me ‘Do you know who they picked?  Do you know who they picked?’  Later he looked me dead in the eyes and uttered the following words: ‘I’m very fragile you know’.  Who doesn’t want a partner who leads with the masculine trait of fragility?  But don’t worry it gets better.  Apparently a great believer in the virtues of self-promotion, John felt no hesitation in telling me of his conviction that he was in fact the ‘total package’ and that though I had seen pictures of his six-pack on Instagram, it was ‘even better’ in real life.  Other high points included him calling me ‘not very bright’ asking me ‘what makes me moist?’ ‘Did I remind him of Jean-Michel Basquiat?’ and the question that every woman wants to hear on a first date ‘do you want to make a baby?’  I won’t even bother mentioning his mid date declaration of: ‘I really want to go and smoke weed’.  Of course I was invited back to his flat to partake of the illegal activity, but I took this final insult as my cue to exit.  My carriage awaited me, or so I thought.  John in the highest (or lowest) form of flakery now asked that since I had gotten paid on that day, and he didn’t get paid until the next month, could I now pay for my taxi home, and he would refund me the cost at a later date. There really are no words.  No like really, there are no words.

I’ve never been one to shy away from a little self-deprecation and though many laughs were had owing to the overwhelmingly bizarre nature of the date, as I settled the fare for my taxi ride home I could not help but feel an intense wave of sadness sweep over me.  Ignoring his obligatory ‘I had such a good time’ evening text it dawned on me that this man, beautiful as he thought he was, felt so comfortable and confident in offering me, this woman, absolutely nothing.  He wanted me to play the role of a sponge, soaked and stained in his own misery, frustration and delusion.  His declaration of fragility, obscured and overshadowed my femininity.  If he as the man in our union had committed himself to weakness, then by default I would have to draw on a strength that would sustain the both of us.  With strength bestowed unwillingly upon me, his natural conclusion was that I of course could fend for myself, hence the self -funded drive home.  My date had decided that he would play the part of one to be objectified, admired and fawned upon.  This would be his sole and meagre contribution to the evening; and in that moment I realised that the roles of Black men and Black women had been cruelly inverted.  He would not provide, nor would he mark himself as a pillar of dependency.  His frailty would be my burden to carry and protect, with his aesthetic raised above on a pedestal for my worship. In short he would take up the woman’s helm and I the man’s.

It was the bitterest of pills to swallow, but I suppose these are the inevitable results of a generation of men parented by MTV.  Clearly they have not yet received the memo that ‘cool’, as far as I’m aware, is a non-tangible asset.  As for me the search goes on…and on…and on.  There will always be a line around the block of frogs waiting to be kissed.  Only next time I’ll be sure they have my cab fare ready.