Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ask A ____ : Advice From Nate Hamilton, Someone Who Knows

Ever needed the answer to a question, but couldn't find the right person to ask? Well now you'll finally have top notch advice from the experts. Emo kids, what color of eye shadow really brings out angst? Militant blacks, where's the best place to find marker that won't smudge during rainy
protests? Astrology buffs, what sign are you? Find all of that out and more in our bi-weekly advice column!

Next Up: Nate Hamilton


Do you have problems?

Well of course you do!

Well, Nate Hamilton is here to help. Now, full disclosure, Nate Hamilton is
a white guy (although pretty fly he has to admit), but don't let that
put you off. Haven't you always wanted an honest insight into the heads of white people? Sure you can ask your white friends (if you have any), but can you really trust them not to try to spare your feelings? Nate Hamilton is dedicated to helping you, black person, to get the full skinny on how decent, liberal, understanding white folk think about you.

Nate Hamilton can help you out with all the problems you face every second of the day as a black person. He beleives that black people, having to walk around 24/7 as a black person are often too close to their own problems to have a balanced, fully informed vista of their situation. As a white person, and therefore having no investment in any race issues, can provide that
perspective. Additionally Nate Hamilton can bring forth his full experience as a Sociology and Anthropology major, as well as his interest in black culture to bear on the situation. Nate Hamilton knows that black folks often don't or can't read, and therefore can't appreciate the full insight that reading authors like Maya Angelou and Terry Mcmillan, as well as listening to socially conscious rap can provide them as a black person.

Send Nate Hamilton your questions now without delay! Can you really function
as a black person without his insight for much longer?


Q: I've noticed lately that socially my boss treats me differently than the other employees.
Not necessarily during business hours, but during social interactions like office parties and company picnics. He'll say hello to everyone else, but when he sees me he goes "WHASSSSSUPPP GIRL!" and then gives me "dap". Everytime there's karaoke he
insists that I sing, and I can't carry a note in a bucket! When I invited him to my house for dinner to discuss a promotion he came dressed in a short set and brought a basketball for my daughter to play with. He kept reciting very inappropriate rap lyrics and was nearly incredulous when we insisted we didn't know what he was talking about. Who is Young
Jeezy? Why do you suppose he's behaving this way?

What's a shizzle?,

Jan Stokes

A. Dear Jan,

I'm going to assume here that you're black and your boss is white right? It might surprise you to learn that at no point in this letter do you make this clear. When really if you consider that simple fact you'll get one step closer to the answer to this "problem".

Lets deal with your boss first. Sure he sounds kind of overbearing and a little loud (I'm guessing you're the shy type right?) but he's not treating you differently because you're black Jan. He's treating you differently because he's in love with you. Awkwardly trying to strike up
conversations at social gatherings? Trying to get you to sing duets with him at karaoke? Buying presents for your daughter? These are all signs of amour my friend! That he's trying to engage with you on a cultural level only confirms this. Sure, you already have a daughter, but even if you are married, black relationships are statistically more shaky than white relationships, so it's not unreasonable that he might think he's in with a chance.

The "black" talk is only him trying to engage with you on a deeper level. Look at it this way Jan. If there were a hot French girl in the office, then you might try to impress ehr by coming up to her and talking to her in French. Sure your accent and grammar might be a little bit off, but
you'd be making the effort. It's the same when a white person approaches a black person for the first time. He's only trying to connect with you on a cultural level.

Which is where I think the real issue is - your lack of connection with your own culture. You seem to be in constant denial of your blackness. You don't sing? Singing has been an integral part of black culture since slaves invented jazz in the 1930s. You don't play basketball or listen to rap? Those are respectively the sport and music of choice for Black America. You invite this guy over for dinner to discuss a promotion? Well get you Betty Crocker!

It's obvious that you find it embarrassing that this guy understands your own culture better than you do. But instead of responding to this perceived challenge in a positive way - by taking it as a sign that you need to embrace your roots, you choose to respond in a negative way, by
blaming this guy for making you feel socially awkward.

Now obviously I'm being blunt here to get my point across. But the solution here doesn't lie within your boss, it lies within you. Sit down with some black friends and discuss with them what it means to share a skin colour. Buy a Jay-Z cd (I would personally suggest The Blueprint or The Black Album), and listen to the music. Kick back and watch some B-ball on the tv. Buy some Adidas. Do whatever you need to do so that you're comfortable with and understand your culture.

Understand that you don't have to act like a white person to succeed Jan. You're black and beautiful just the way you are.


PS : Let me know if you get together with your boss. I'm always happy when my advice results in a love connection!


Q. I am African American and I love doing new things with my hair. Sometimes I'll go to work in braids, sometimes a wig, sometimes weave, and sometimes (but rarely) my natural hair! Now everyone at the office is usually so complimentary, but when I go from having short hair one day to hair down my back the next, they've got to know why, right? I mean, they don't really have to ask about it do they? And why are they always so eager to touch it?

Specially Maned,

Lashondra Jackson

A. Dear Lashondra,

Ah Black Woman's hair. It's both a blessing and a curse isn't it?

On the one hand all you can really do with it in its "natural" state is push it up into an afro, and really that's so 70s isn't it? No 21st century Black Woman wants to walk around looking like Coffy do they?

On the other hand there are a whole range of gels, mousses, weaves, wigs and so on that mean it's really easy as a Black Woman to experiment with your look hair-wise. Every shp n the high street has a whole range of products dedicated to helping you get over the natural disability of having Black Woman hair. What do white girls get? Hair dye.

Now despite walking past these products every day, a lot of white people remain ignoraqnt about the special circumstances surrounding Black Woman hair. Not everyone is as educated in the ways of black culture as I am. So naturally, being women, and therefore interested in haircare and cosmetic appearance (statistically speaking of course, I'm not peddling stereotypes
here - just likelihoods based on the facts) a lot of people around the office will be intrigued by how you're able to perform such magic with your do.

So I say let them touch and investigate and ask questions. It's the only way they'll learn. Who knows, maybe they'll pick up some tips that they can use on their own hair? White people down the ages have forever learnt from the creativity of black people. Just look at Eminem!

In return you'll have an instant source of rapport with your white colleagues. Black Women and white women may be from different social spheres, but all women can bond and form friendships over the things they have in common - having to get gussied up in style for the


PS - Maybe you could pop round and help me out with my hair some time?
I'm growing it out for Summer but can't do a thing with it!


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