Coffee Rhetoric

January 03, 2017

Miss Ann’s Seduction: Black Men & The Problematic White Women They Champion

Gisele Bündchen, photographed by Sølve Sundsbø
Black men…
There never seems to be a shortage of them burdening Black women with their ideas of how they think Black woman should act, feel, dress, and exist. 

And since they’ve positioned themselves as the nucleus for all things Black—Black thought, Black cool, Black activism, and Black opinions—mainstream media (read: white folks) are more inclined to listen to them. Especially when it suits the narrative and agenda of whiteness and/or white right-wing conservatism; which often loves to pathologize Blackness and Black activism.

White women…
If history, and lived experience, has taught us anything it’s that, when racist violence isn’t being committed on their behalf, white women can be just as truculent, racist, paternalistic and xenophobic as their male counterparts notwithstanding their place in the social hierarchy (as women); whether it be through their words, actions, or complicit inaction. And if, for whatever reason, it wasn’t obvious before, Donald Trump’s campaign and implausible rise from unethical real estate mogul to become the 2017 President-Elect cements how racist, violent and cunning white women can be considering 53% of them turned up to their polling stations to vote for a misogynist and racist demagogue who appealed to their prejudices.

And since most Black women aren’t malleable and don't shy away from asking the hard questions or for accountability, we’re often dismissed as loud, incorrigible, and divisive. Even when our voices are peppered with undeniable truths that are diminished, because they come from an experience and embodiment that's often erased. And so, it becomes easy to disparage our work and give undue credit to shrill, erroneous and hateful points of views; especially if the genesis of that hate is wrapped in a conventionally pretty
 (by mainstream standards), blond and young white package. 

November 02, 2016

Lifestyles of the Rich & Nignorant: Fame, Money & Cognitive Dissonance

In case you missed it, a video clip of rapper, Lil Wayne, doing a very recent Nightline interview with ABC News correspondent, Linsey Davis, has been making the rounds. The lead-in to the segment lists Wayne’s musical accomplishment as one of the most successful rappers of all time; even eclipsing Elvis Presley for more appearances on the Billboard 100 Chart. With that kind of cultural impact and platform in mind, Davis decided to pick what’s left of Lil Wayne’s brain, and ask him about social justice issues and his proximity to them. Specifically, Nightline wanted to know his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement. Furrowing his face in confusion, a seemingly disjointed Lil Wayne asked “What is it? What—what do you mean?” 

When Linsey Davis (bless her heart) attempted to explain the movement and its reason for existing— (Oh, hi white supremacy, state violence, and systemic racism), Lil Wayne said he found the mere concept of Black lives mattering “weird.”
“It’s not a name or it’s not whatever, whatever. It’s somebody got shot by a policeman for a f*cked up reason.”
That statement isn’t even the most misguided part of Lil Wayne’s statement and seeming state of confusion. He further mumbled, 
“I am a young, Black rich motherf*cker. If that don’t let you know that America understand Black mother f*ckers matter these days, I don’t know what it is,” He said, throwing up his hands. 
“That [cameraman] white; he filmin’ me. I’m a nigga. I don’t know what you mean, man. Don’t come at me with that dumb [indecipherable bleeped expletive], ma’am,” continued; highly agitated.
“My life matter. Especially to my bitches.”

February 11, 2016

Getting In Formation: Representation, Race & White Tears



Unless you’ve been unplugged and living in the woods as a hermit, you’ve probably seen Beyonce’s surprise video for her new single Formation—quietly coyly released just a day ahead of her scheduled Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show appearance, and in preparation for her upcoming Formation World Tour—have already viewed said SB50 performance this past Sunday, have read the numerous think-pieces (either questioning her political motives and song lyrics or praising her efforts), and have heard the angry call to arms by white conservatives, insisting that folks boycott Beyoncé, 'cause she's suddenly enemy #1 and a threat to 'Murica's values. You've probably also seen the ire from white feminists who are hellbent on reminding us that #solidarityisforwhitewomen.  
Most commonly recognized as the quintessential crossover darling and purveyor of catchy pop-music and dance routines, this year Beyoncé decided to extol the wonders of her Blackness by releasing a song and video, and performing a SB50 set, that’s undeniably Black without the burden of respectability, Single Lady-friendly hand gestures, or Flawless soundbites preferred by the mainstream; the better for them to thrust and sing to, or co-opt as part of their YouTube reenactments or cabaret acts. I mean, this go-round, Beyonce went balls to the wall, and described herself as a Texas bama who loves to hoard hot sauce in her handbag, and white folks are like, 'Quoi? What does any of this even mean?'
I don’t want to make this solely about Formation—(more than enough essays have been cranked through the pipeline already)—as much as I mean for this to be about the push-back against Black self-love and representation, but the video and song are decidedly political (for Beyoncé); and much of the Melina Matsoukas-directed offering seems to be a love letter of sorts to New Orleans and the Black southern aesthetic often derided by the mainstream (when they aren't pilfering style and music trends from it), featuring clips of New Orleans bounce culture; Beyoncé and her dancers (all Black women) strolling; the pop star singing about the love she has for her baby’s afro and Negro noses with ‘Jackson 5 nostrils’; voice-overs by New Orleans-born comic and rap artist Messy Mya (who was shot and killed in 2010) and ‘Queen of Bounce’ Big Freedia; Beyoncé draped atop a New Orleans police car submerging herself underwater over voice clips about Hurricane Katrina; graffiti that reads “Stop Shooting Us”; and a Black little boy in a hoodie, dancing in front of a white police squad while they stand with their hands up. 

December 03, 2015

The Wiz Live! or Racists Ruin Everything

In case you don’t know, NBC’s The Wiz Live! makes its nationally televised debut tonight at 8:00 pm, much to my (and loads of other people’s) delight. If you’re a fan of the 1978 film version directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Lena Horne, Nipsey Russell, Mabel King and a host of other Black entertainment notables, then this a big deal. Furthermore, if you’re a fan Stephanie Mills’s soul-stirring version of Home from the 1975 Broadway version of The Wiz, and saw the clip of her rehearsing with newcomer Shanice Williams (the new Dorothy), then you’re really stoked for tonight, no doubt.

This is all cause for an exciting night at home, snacks and wine on deck, right? Right? Well, not according to Whiteness… which works to piss on the proverbial parade of any person, place, or thing that poses a threat to its power and/or privilege; and anti-Black sentiment extends to the world of entertainment and theater—whether racists are having a collective hissy-fit over actress Amandla Stenberg being cast as Rue in the first installment of The Hunger Games, lobbing ugly racial hate at singer FKA Twigs for being engaged to Twilight actor Robert Pattinson, or threatening to boycott the new Star Wars movie for its inclusion of a Black Storm Trooper—anti-Blackness isn’t exclusively perpetrated by old-timers from the American South, the GOP, and Donald Trump supporters; liberals, millennials, and Gen Xers alike are just as hateful… despite some of these same offenders liberally vulturizing Black culture and vernacular, but I digress.

A Twitter-search of ‘The Wiz Live’ will expose a host of clueless white folks who’ve never even
heard of the 1975 Broadway production of The Wiz or watched the 1978 film adaptation, but who felt equipped enough to complain about what they perceive to be ‘reverse-racism’ because, Yemaya forbid, if everything isn’t centered on Whiteness. Notwithstanding the fact that the 1939 musical-film fantasy The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, was an all-white affair.