I definitely missed the memo that said that 2009 was the new 1959 racially. I can't find the words—The NY Times in 2009 publishes a gift-giving guide for people of color? So, is this like saying: "Here are some ideas for a holiday gift for your one minority friend" to white people? C'mon! I've never had to consult a special guide for giving gifts to non-black people—unless you count the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog.
This speaks to the old "us & them" theory. Why do people think that because their pigment is different then their tastes, hobbies and interests must be? Some of it is really funny to me, like the Somali-influenced designer apparel. Sure, I've rocked my share of kente cloth and animal print, but I always chuckle when I go to an African-themed show, play or event and I see more older, monied white women in African print than black women.
It's reminiscent to me of the "Ethnic Hair Products" aisle or section in most drug/beauty stores. I guess retail is still promoting segregation because it seems that products marketed toward kinky/coarse/ethnic hair (which are usually quite unhealthy for the hair type) are not permitted to sit happily on the shelf beside their marketed-for-white-people counterparts. Queen Helene and Dr. Miracle are relegated to the Negro section while Paul Mitchell and John Frieda are hitting on the Breck Girl and trying to ply her with smoothing serum and ice shine before bending her around a curling iron and then leaving her stiff and flaky after a good alcohol-based spritz!
The "Nursery Jamz" just about had me on the floor. So are we now saying that "traditional" nursery rhymes are for white children and "remixes" are for kids of color? Mmkay, yeah—makes sense to me (insert eye roll here). Even funnier to me are the books on black and Asian make-up. I promise you, these books are more for non-black and non-Asian make-up artists than they are for women of color. We've been applying our make-up for years and we are actually familiar with our skin tones so it isn't really a great mystery to us.
I'm not trying to diss any of the products suggested, I merely want people to realize that we don't need to shop for the race of a person—we shop for the person. People of color are not one dimensional and until the government scientists perfect their implant chips and the mind control drugs in the fried chicken, we're not all going to like one thing or another because it is supposedly geared toward us.
On that note, I hope you'll open your mind and go beyond the aforementioned gift guide to find gifts suited to your friends and acquaintances based on their personal tastes, rather than their ethnic backgrounds. Think about what you have in common and what drew you together as friends and go from there. On a parting note, since I can't tell you what they will definitely like, let me at least give you a few tips on what NOT to give:
- Afro/Ultra sheen
- KFC gift cards (Popeye's cards are the preferred gift of chicken in the black community)
- Grape soda/Kool Aid with extra sugar
- Woody Allen movies or the "Friends" DVD set
- Anything involving Michael Steele
- Asher Roth CD's
- Doo rags/head scarves
- Jheri juice/relaxer/pomade
Merry Christmas and happy giving!