Coffee Rhetoric: Ain't I A Woman
Showing posts with label Ain't I A Woman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ain't I A Woman. Show all posts

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. 

June 16, 2015

Notes on a Scandal: Rachel Dolezal and the ‘Trans-Black’ Con

By now, you’ve probably heard the sordid and bewildering story of world class Decepticon, Rachel Dolezal, explode across your social media timelines. Each day since her cover was blown Rachel's alternate reality shatters in a million little pieces, as more information is revealed about her real identity. In the event you’ve been luxuriating on a remote island, off the coast of I’ve Got Fancier Shit to Worry About, here’s the gist of the situation: Rachel Dolezal—a White woman, and (now former) president of Spokane Washington’s NAACP chapter—has been living a good chunk of her adult life masquerading (with the help of slightly darker makeup, box braid extensions and Afro-textured wigs) as a biracial woman with a Black father, and reaping the benefits of colorism’s complexion hierarchy.

In an elaborate 21st century minstrel tale that probably makes Vijay Chokalingam envious, Rachel was able to craft a highly derivative life, as if she’d taken her cues from the scripted pages of a psychological thriller.

February 24, 2015

Eau de Patchouli & Weed: Giuliana Rancic's Media Blunder & No Love for Black Girl Realness

I
Zendaya Coleman at the 2015 Oscars
n 2013, Black women across the social media-sphere galvanized in support of 7-year-old Tiana Parker when administrators at the Deborah Brown Community School in Tulsa, Oklahoma chastised, then sent her home for wearing her natural hair in dreadlocks, because they believed her hairstyle 
wasn't “presentable.”

That same year, 12-year-old Vanessa VanDyke was threatened with expulsion when Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, FL told her to cut her Afro (a natural hairstyle she’d worn her entire life), after her mother complained to school officials that her daughter was being bullied and mocked about her hair.

Additionally, last year the U.S. military faced criticism after rolling out hairstyle restrictions that seemed to target Black women, before deciding to allow natural hairstyles like two-strand twists and removing words like “matted” and “unkempt” from their style and grooming guidelines.

Needless to say, I can probably outline an entire list of incidents that illustrate the politicization of natural hair as worn by Black women and girls and the myriad ways we are disparaged for styles and attributes most commonly ascribed to us, while white women and young girls are lauded as trendsetters for appropriating those very same styles. But, alas, perhaps rapper Nicki Minaj was onto something when, during a 2013 appearance on the Ellen Degeneres Show, she said, 
“…It’s the ‘white girl’ thing. …If a white girl does something that seems to be, like, Black, then Black people think, ‘Oh, she’s embracing our culture,’ so they kind of ride with it; then white people think, ‘oh, she must be cool because she’s doing something Black.’ …It’s weird. But if a Black person do a Black thing, it ain’t that poppin,” when asked about Miley Cyrus being credited for Twerking.
And that seems to be the general sentiment of most mainstream media personalities and journalists who cover pop-culture, style and entertainment.

February 18, 2015

#BanBossy: Why Critics Need to ‘Lean Out’ of Jessica Williams’ Business

In case you haven’t been following along, The Daily Show host and political satirist Jon Stewart recently announced that he’s leaving his chair later this year, after 16 years of acerbically skewering the donkeyish behavior of the conservative media, politicians and pop-culture, much to the dismay of viewers. Comedy Central said the network plans to continue on without Stewart, prompting many fans to speculate on who’d replace him.
Many names have been jockeyed about (Samantha Bee, John Oliver—who already has a pretty cushy gig on HBO—and even Aisha Tyler), but the one that landed at the top of the heap was that of 25-year-old actress and comedienne Jessica Williams, who has been knocking it out of the ballpark for the past year or so as a correspondent; unabashedly tackling hot-button issues like street harassmentsexual assaultraceracial profilingthe politics of Black hair and inter-political relationships.

November 10, 2014

Comedy Fail: Artie Lange, Rape & Misogynoir as Cheap Humor

Here we are again...

As the world turns, it continues to be open season on black women’s person-hood and the racially charged or sexist invective comes from all directions, to the tune of crickets, save for the droves of other black women (and a smattering of allies) denouncing the abuse. This time the offender is another shitty male comic who opted for the lazy use of shock humor in the form of rape, slavery and racio-misogyny, for cheap guffaws and fist bumps.


June 25, 2014

Lupita Nyong'o and Mass Media's Conditional Terms for Black Beauty

Note: another version of this post is published on All Digitogracy.



Amid chatter about the time limit imposed on her fame following an Oscar win for 12 Years a Slave, and whether or not her allure amounts to nothing more than fetishistic curiosity for an enthralled white media machine, actress Lupita Nyong’o has proved that she’s here to stay and that she’s more than just an impeccably dressed red carpet darling and non-normative 'It girl.' When the buzz surrounding Lupita’s award-winning breakout role waned a bit, skeptical culture pundits wondered whether or not Lupita had the chops to offshoot with a varied film career, following her memorable portrayal of a slave named Patsey.

May 07, 2014

Saturday Night Jive: Leslie Jones’ Story Matters Too

I’m a black woman... and racio-misogynist trespasses and general anti-blackness are constant and relentless at times. And since social media has made the gnarled reach of racism and sexism easier and more visible, it comes from all directions and the volume of discontent against black women seems to have been dialed up. Whether it’s from white men constantly finding reasons to further pathologize us; from black men utilizing every opportune moment to publicly belittle us and blame us for the ills of the world; or from white feminists seeming to find solace in disparaging black female audacity and womanhood (when they aren't vulturizing aspects of it to much acclaim and dissecting or using our bodies as rhetorical devices to prop up white womanhood); it's a Möbius strip of bullshit and flailing against constant assaults against black female person-hood is exasperating.  And make no mistake about it, our anger is warranted, but the origin and continued perpetuation of what causes the anger is burdensome.

March 19, 2014

There's Something About Lupita

Why is it controversial to see a dark-skinned black actress achieve stardom? 



Lupita Nyong’o… the Mexican-born, Kenyan-raised, Yale educated actress and filmmaker took Hollywood and popular culture by storm, after her breakout role as Patsey in the film adaptation of the memoir and slave narrative, 12 Years A Slave. Making the red carpet rounds at various press junkets, social events, and awards shows, Lupita’s gracious demeanor and impeccable sense of style has taken people’s breath away. The media seems hooked and denizens of social media drool whenever images of her swathed in colorful couture, looking radiant, hit the internet.
Lupita is poised to become a bona fide Hollywood A-lister, and her growing popularity symbolizes the type of universality not often afforded to women and girls —especially working actresses — who exist in skin like hers and whose brand of black isn't 'exotic other'
And while most people, particularly black women, are finally glad to see the likes of Lupita Nyong’o take center stage to much fanfare, others in the black community expressed a myriad of dissenting opinions ranging from confusion and indifference, to flat-out unimpressed and insulting.

January 31, 2014

Psst, Jen Polachek Sees 'Heavyset' Black Women in Her Yoga Class

“A few weeks ago, as I settled into an exceptionally crowded midday class, a young, fairly heavy black woman put her mat down directly behind mine. It appeared she had never set foot in a yoga studio—she was glancing around anxiously, adjusting her clothes, looking wide-eyed and nervous. Within the first few minutes of gentle warm-up stretches, I saw the fear in her eyes snowball, turning into panic and then despair.  … Because I was directly in front of her, I had no choice but to look straight at her every time my head was upside down (roughly once a minute).  …  Even when I wasn’t positioned to stare directly at her, I knew she was still staring directly at me. 
Over the course of the next hour, I watched as her despair turned into resentment and then contempt. I felt it all directed toward me and my body.I was completely unable to focus on my practice, instead feeling hyper-aware of my high-waisted bike shorts, my tastefully tacky sports bra, my well-versedness in these poses that I have been in hundreds of times. My skinny white girl body. Surely this woman was noticing all of these things and judging me for them, stereotyping me, resenting me…”

Image found on: blackyogis.tumblr.com 
While the above passage may read like a contrived scenario devised by Andy Cohen and Bravo producers, it’s an excerpt from one of the most self-aggrandizing, presumptuous, anti-Black woman, quasi-think pieces drenched in white women’s tears, I've read this year; and it comes courtesy of XOJane

Written by a woman, who promptly changed her byline following the collective outcry of ‘Girl, bye!’ in the comments section, Jen Caron Polachek recounted the shock and dismay she felt at having her fair, thin, white womanhood subjected to the presence of a ‘heavyset Black woman’ in the predominantly white, donation based yoga studio she attends— populated by artists and hipsters. And while I suspect Jen may have over-exaggerated the unidentified woman’s body type, since many people tend to think all Black women are fat and lumbering, when juxtaposed against the European female aesthetic, that’s just the tip of the iceberg in a myriad of reasons why her essay was problematic, and it serves as a glaring example of why discussions like the #solidarityisforwhitewomen Twitter hashtag initiated by Mikki Kendall, take place across social media platforms.

November 09, 2013

Melissa Harris-Perry & Bell Hooks: Black Female Voices Take Center Stage

Friday at The New School in New York City, as part of their Black Female Voices series, Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry sat down with famed feminist and writer bell hooks, and hosted one of the most crucial and brilliant public dialogues about the well-being of black women and the myriad of other pertinent topics. 

Candid and with a few welcome straight no chaser moments, Dr. Harris-Perry deviated a bit from her MSNBC persona, and offered up some worthwhile fodder of her own, for folks to chew on. 
There were so many profound sound bites and ‘Yaass!’ moments, I’ll just highlight those that stood out the most to me and I've noted…

July 24, 2013

Women and Race

'The Way Home' Explores Women's Stories of Racism in America


When the topic of race is broached, we hear and read so much source material from the lens of black men and non-black men of color. Whenever discourse surrounds social justice issues, it’s often laden with ways to save black and brown men and boys from the structural inequalities that impact their lives. And while I don’t doubt that people care (sometimes I do though), conversations about the protection of the lives of young black and indigenous women and girls don't seem to prompt the same sense of urgency.

In the past, I've felt embattled about being a woman writer who's been more open about sharing my lived experience as a black woman and who's chosen to write my opinions about race, intra-racial discrimination, gender and even the arts, through my lens; as well as sharing what I've learned about the experiences of others navigating similar intersections. On occasion, my inner dialogue asks, “Why do you even bother? People don’t want to read what black women have to say. They don’t want to pay you to contribute your voice either." And I  often wonder if I'm in over my head; because it's one thing to live through certain experiences, but spilling open about them can be equally as exasperating. 

April 05, 2013

My Petition: My Black Feminism is Here to Stay

My womanhood and rights are not up for debate

I've been reading some highly-charged,  racio-misogyny and anti-Black woman rants about how feminism (or Womanism) is supposedly ruining society and the black community, and is to blame for the contentious relationship between black men and women. Some folks seem to think that if (black) women would just shut up and stop speaking out against issues like reproductive rights, sexism, sexual harassment, street harassment, abuse and sexual assault we would all get along swimmingly, because women are meant to be seen and not heard, am I right? 

Contrary to popular (and misinformed) belief, feminists don’t operate as a monolith. The majority of us don't live to emasculate or browbeat men, nor are we opposed to feminine sensibilities, sex, marriage, family, or whatever we supposedly abhor in the linear and limited thinking and misunderstanding about gender equality.

Some people seem to harbor the convoluted, and cartoonish, idea that feminists are fervent misandrists who hate everything and everybody… perhaps because they themselves are averse to evolving beyond the status quo of patriarchy. Believing the “Feminazis are evil, man-hating feminazis!” narrative makes it easy for anti-feminists to continue espousing patriarchal propaganda, and to believe they shouldn’t be held accountable for how they (mis)treat and marginalize women and young girls; so they can have reasons to keep their foot firmly rooted on my neck, enact epistemic violence, and rationalize dangerous arguments in support of “legitimate rape”; so they can continue to uphold gender inequities and maintain a stronghold on women’s vaginas. And while some women are well within their right to not be labeled as a feminist (or Womanist), and will gladly uphold patriarchy as a way to score brownie points, ‘other’ themselves, or seek favor with  misogynists, they conveniently forget that they reap the benefits that feminists fight to secure. Good luck with pandering though, ladies.


March 02, 2013

'Dreams of a Life'- The Complex Story of Joyce Carol Vincent


A while back I came across a “semi-documentary”, written and directed by English filmmaker Carol Morley, called Dreams of a Life.  The haunting and speculative 2011 film attempts to piece together the life of 38-year old Londoner, Joyce Carol Vincent. A beautiful aspiring singer and seemingly gregarious woman of Indo-Caribbean and Afro-Caribbean extraction, Vincent’s decomposed body was found in her North London bedsit flat; having apparently died in late 2003, her remains went undiscovered for three years despite neighbors noticing the smell of decomposition emanating from her apartment. 

I recall reading about Joyce some years ago and feeling somewhat bothered by the few fleeting details reported by the media about her; never able to recall reading anything else substantive about her personal life, how she died, or even a picture of her. Her story, or lack thereof, more-or-less dwindled and disappeared from the media. Before watching Dreams of a Life, I thought Joyce’s story was cut-and-dry, and that there was nothing more to be told, beyond that of the sad life of a friendless woman with no family, who died alone and unaccounted for. I never imagined, after all of this time, this posthumous follow-up of Joyce's life would present a story far more compelling than I could have ever imagined.

February 01, 2013

Black History Month, Hate, & bell hooks

Today is February 1st, which officially marks the beginning of Black History Month. Depending on whom or how you are, this month evokes the myriad of feelings. It will either present a slew of little known but teachable moments in American history that you’ll appreciate; will prompt you to arrogantly refute factual information and espouse the ahistoricism taught to you by your high school history teacher; or it’ll serve as an excuse for you to assuage whatever feelings of white guilt you may (or may not) harbor, emboldening you to employ a series of silencing tactics when Black people share their lived experiences and the historically significant strides of those before them.

Black History Month is one of those commemorative moments that never ceases to heighten whatever feelings of resentment some white people still harbor towards Black people, inducing them to tap into the darkest recesses of ignorance roiling in the pit of their stomach, so they can spew bile across various social media platforms.

If you’re former Saturday Night Live comedienne cum social media jester Victoria Jackson or a prolifically racist Twitter troll, anti-Black sentiment is year-round, and especially vitriolic during BHM. Rage-typing ensues and results in myopic questions such as: “How come there’s no White History Month? It’s not like ‘The Blacks’ had it that bad!“

August 17, 2012

(Mis)Casting Call: The Erasure of Nina Simone's Image

Nina Simone: pioneer, influential, volatile, classical music genius, revolutionary, regal and every bit the High Priestess of Soul.

If anybody is worthy of having her story brought to the big screen for posterity, it would, and should, most assuredly be Nina. Despite having to overcome racism and colorism, Nina left a legacy of music and activism that continues to resonate with her fans, lifelong and new.  

When it was announced in 2010 that a Nina Simone biopic—based on a script by TV writer, Cynthia Mort—was in development and that singer, Mary J. Blige was slated to play her, the public's interest was piqued, though some (including myself) were a bit skeptical about whether Mary had the range and right look to portray such a dynamic and complex figure.  And while Mary J. Blige emotes a similar feeling of consciousness about love and heartbreak in her own music, she doesn't necessarily harness the same sense of social awareness Nina did.  Nonetheless, some of us stayed abreast of the project, which was slated to start filming last year. Alas, it was stalled by a series of setbacks that delayed production and Mary J. Blige dropped out of the film, reportedly, due to funding. 

Folks were left to ponder who would play Nina, and bloggers and fans campaigned for the Black actresses they thought were better suited for the role – including Viola Davis, Lauryn Hill, India Arie and Adepero Oduye, who starred in the Dee Rees film, Pariah – so many were left with feelings of confusion and dismay when Afro-Latina actress Zoe Saldana was announced as Mary J. Blige’s replacement. With Saldana on-board to play Nina, suddenly the film’s financial setbacks were resolved and filming picked up momentum.