black socialite

Inktober Day 11!

Today I semi-remembered a story I read once in a Ripley’s Believe It or Not Book. It was about some socialite lady who used to wear a fucking lion around her shoulders to social events. I don’t really remember the details other than that, but I think the newly discovered use for lions was most likely the most important part anyhow…

Growing up in the 1950s, Margo Jefferson was part of Chicago’s black upper class. The daughter of the head of pediatrics at the nation’s oldest black hospital and his socialite wife, Jefferson inhabited a world of ambition, education and sophistication — a place she calls “Negroland.”

Negroland afforded many opportunities, the Pulitzer-Prize winning cultural critic says. But life was also undercut by the fear that her errors and failures would reflect poorly on her family and, subsequently, her race. She tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross about the beauty standards that she felt she had to hold herself up to as a child:

“I’m measuring my shade of brown. I’m measuring the width of my nose. I’m measuring the size of my lips. I’m doing the usual things that girls do — what shape are my eyes, are they big, are my features well-proportioned … and I have an exact series of grades for hair as well as shades of skin. And [these standards] extended beyond my world — they really hovered over and imposed themselves on all Negros, black people, African-Americans. It was ruthless, it was mean-spirited, it was bigoted. We were brain-washed into one standard, not just beauty, but acceptability. There is a terrible kind of anthropological “othering” and disdain in those kinds of judgments.”

Privilege And Pressure: A Memoir Of Growing Up Black And Elite In ‘Negroland’

Cedrella was always the odd one. Always asking questions when she should have listened to mummy and daddy.  It’s no surprise she married that blood-traitor Weasley. Pity about it, but she shouldn’t come begging on our doorsteps. One can’t have one’s cake and eat it too, after all.

Callidora was an ugly hag. She could have been pretty if she tried, but she tried much too hard. Too many glamours does tend to ruin one’s complexion and merlin knows her spellcasting was terrible – they’d wear off in bits and pieces through the night and she’d go from presentable to utterly ghastly. I don’t know why mummy never bothered with her, but then mummy did seem to spend all her time at the dos in the pocket of that Malfoy. Absolutely dreadful business. You’d think she’d have had better sense, being a Yaxley (usually synonymous with stoic Teutonic good sense; dreadfully boring at parties but very reliable husbands), than to flaunt her affairs in public, but goodness knows the prettiest ones never have sense in their heads.

One only has to look at Cedrella, now in the poorhouse to realize this.

Really, it’s a miracle that Callidora even managed to make a match of it with the Longbottom boy. Not the heir, oh no, and how that bothered daddy. A Black not good enough for an heir. Shame on us. Well I suppose she was always destined for a life of happy, bovine domesticity, pottering around the gardens with that silly-faced Longbottom, discussing herbs and magical plants to their heart’s content all day long.

Absolutely revolting.

Of course, I was rather lucky. I married the Crouch boy, the heir and mama and papa never saw it coming. Then again, I always was the smart one.  I daresay out of the three of us, I’m the only one they’ll remember and write sentimental obituaries about. Charis Crouch, nee Black, socialite, was tragically stolen from us yesterday. Too beautiful for this world she has passed on to the next where she will undoubtedly spread sweetness and light wherever she treads. Though we are devastated to no longer have her among us, we wish her the very best in the afterlife.

 Cedrella, of course, will be forgotten immediately and really, if she had sense she’d leave that Weasel fellow alone and come home and beg forgiveness from papa. Callidora – well the poor dear, people will be very sympathetic and murmur about her sweet disposition but they’ll forget about her quite quickly. Such a shame.

Really, if they’d had any sense they’d have married where papa had told them to marry, instead of looking for their silly, addle-pated notions of love. Well, my daughters won’t be raised to even dream of such harebrained ideas and my boy, oh my sweet little boy, you’ll follow your father won’t you? Become head of the DMLE and it’ll all be thanks to your smart mama.

I’d like to see their children do even half as well as my little Bartemius.

(For the anon who wanted to hear about Callidora, Cedrella and Charis Black.)