During this week’s episode of RHOA, new Housewife Claudia Jordan opened up about what it was like to grow up biracial. Jordan says she’s not looking for sympathy, but discusses some of the challenges she faced in this new interview with Bravo.
Bravotv.com: Was Kenya helpful in putting the shelves together?
Claudia Jordan: Hmm…was Kenya helpful putting the shelves together? Let’s just say I returned those shelves to the store and gave up on all hope of putting those things together after we fussed with them for about an hour. I do think, however, the wine in the red cups had something to do with our lack of focus and, ultimately, our lack of success! But I will say Kenya was a good sport about it, because it was a total set up and she had no idea I had chores for us to do when she came to visit, and she at least triedâ€¦ sundress, Louboutins, and all! I can’t get mad at anyone who will at least try!
Bravotv.com: How do you stay in shape?
CJ: Well when I AM in shape (which I so am not right now), I like to go on three-mile jogs at least three times a week, as well as hit the track for a couple sprint workouts for the week. But honestly, I have not been putting in much work in the past year, and I am really not feeling my soft body right about now. I grew up running track and in college was an All-American sprinter, so I’ve always been somewhat active. But as life would have it, I have been noticing changes in my body the past few years, and I can’t just get away with eating all the carbs I take in and not being consistent in the gym. And also the older you get, the more important it becomes to do some resistance training as in weights, push-ups, squats, lunges, etc.
Every day I mean to go to the gym, but then my couch calls me. And that thing is so damn comfortable! But seriously, it’s the first two weeks back that are the most difficult. My old trainer Eric Nall used to tell us that it takes doing something for 21 days for it to become a habit. And it’s those first 2 weeks that are the most difficult mentally and physically. I think I slack off sometimes, too, because I know for a fact that my body responds really quickly to working out. So I KNOW if I really wanted to get back, all it would take would be a few weeks to a month and that sometimes is my excuse to put it off. I figure, “Hey I can start tomorrow, and I’ll be fine.” But then my 41-year-old body reminds me that it’s not 23 anymore, and it doesn’t cooperate.
The funny thing is not too long ago I was modeling and on covers of fitness magazines. I’m a long way from that, but sometimes I look at these photos to get myself motivated. I promise you guys, though, I will be snatched and in shape and hopefully my booty will be two inches higher by the reunion…if I can only get off this couch! I will say that gym scene with Kenya made me realize just how far I have fallen off! My booty done dropped two inches at least, my abs are on hiatus, and my arms look like Olive Oil’s! Plus, I just feel weak. Matter of fact, this is making me angry. Let me get off this blog and take my behind downstairs to the gym right now!
Bravotv.com: What are the biggest challenges of being biracial?
CJ: Well I want to make this very clear: When I talk about my struggles, I in no way am crying for sympathy. I do know that I have also been the beneficiary of some preferential treatment, as well, because of my biracial-ness. I am well aware that colorism is alive and well in our society and more often than not, those at the darker end of the color spectrum continue to receive unequal treatment, as well as cruel prejudice. And this infuriates me! I in no way want to belittle or compare my struggles to others that–an argument can be made–had it much worse than me.
OK, with that said, I will speak on MY experiences. Growing up biracial, I honestly never even cared or thought about what color I was. I knew Mommy was light and Daddy was dark. And I couldn’t care less! It wasn’t until others started telling me what I was and started treating me in a cruel manner, including calling me horrific names, that I even knew there was a difference! My first negative memory having to do with color came when I was about five years old. We were the only black family in our neighborhood when we lived in Taunton, Massachusetts, and my brother and I had our jack-o-lanterns out on the front steps of our house. Well the neighborhood bullies came around and picked them up and threatened to smash them. We begged them not to and not only did they not listen to us but they called us the “N”-word as they laughed and destroyed our pumpkins. I remember feeling like the wind was knocked out of me. I know it wasn’t a matter of life or death, but when you are little kid and you experience such mean treatment, it kind of blows your mind!
When I got a little older, I remember looking at a magazine cover (I think it was Ebony), and there was a beautiful chocolate bride on the cover. I was admiring her beauty when my color-struck aunt looked over my shoulder and snickered and said, “Hmmph maybe you’ll get cute one day when you finally get some color!” I was only 10 years old! From that moment on, I thought something was wrong with me and that I was funny looking just from that moment alone. It’s amazing how much of an impact the words of an adult will have on a child. Now there are just two incidents but there are many, many more. Assaults, fights, etc…all of this peppered my upbringing. Did it make me think one side was better or worse than the other? No, it did not. And although I am biracial, I identify myself as a black woman. A black woman that has an Italian side. I have never, nor will I ever, downplay my black side. I think that is the side that the most injustice has been done to, and I’ve always been very vocal about the work we need to do in this country to make things equal. No, we still are not there. But I can’t make this blog a novel, so I will have to cut this conversation off here, because I could speak on this all day!
Bravotv.com: Do you speak Italian?
CJ: I understand the language far better than I speak it. I wish my mother had spoken it more around the house as I was a child, so I wouldn’t be so rusty now! But when she moved to this country, she was trying to learn English, so I totally understand. When I got to visit my family in Italy, there is a bit of a language barrier at first, but after a few days, I’m back in the swing of things speaking my broken Italian. It gets frustrating though at times, because I wish I was more fluent. My brother Larry speaks it much better than I do, because he took a year and went to Italy and really learned the language. I should have went with him!”
Photo Credit: Bravo