Coffee Rhetoric

June 03, 2017

Tuxedos, Prom Gowns, & Guns

Dads, stop pointing guns at your daughters’ prom dates 


Remember preparing for prom? Taking an entire afternoon to sit in a nail or hair salon or fuss over last minute alterations and pick up coordinating corsages and boutonnieres, before putting your look together and posing for customary photos in the front yard, seemed to be the wave back in some of our heyday.

These days, with the help of supportive family and willing friends, teenagers are pulling out all the stops for the prom. From staging elaborate entrances to creating customized gowns that make fashion-forward or political statements, prom has become a wonderfully garish display of creativity, stunts, and shows fit for social media virality.

There’s one trend, however, that has been cropping up of late that adds an air of gloom to the fun grandstanding we’ve come to enjoy seeing on social media during prom season: teenage girls posing in prom pictures with their shotgun-wielding fathers pointing their weapons at apprehensive-looking dates. Because apparently, when the patriarchy isn’t fastening purity rings to their daughters’ fingers via eerie formal ceremonies, they call themselves sending an intimidating message to potential male suitors in a mendacious attempt to protect their teenage daughters’ chastity; a stance that comes across as little more than chauvinist posturing considering many of them upheld (and still partake in, when not within eye-shot of their precocious daughters) the very lecherous, predatory, and toxic masculinity they’re trying to shield their daughters from before being slapped with the pangs of fathering girls.

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.