Coffee Rhetoric: Black Women
Showing posts with label Black Women. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Black Women. 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. 

January 08, 2015

#LessClassicallyBeautiful: Viola Davis Sticks it to New York Times & Mass Media

Photo credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
This past September, New York Times writer Alessandra Stanley wrote a passive-aggressive feature on actress Viola Davis and her role in the titillating new series favorite, How to Get Away With Murder. Stanley not only ascribed the ‘Angry Black Woman’ trope to Davis’s character Annalise Keating (and acclaimed TV producer and screenwriter Shonda Rhimes) in the opening paragraph, but she also suggested that the actress inhabited an unlikely position as a leading a woman on Primetime TV, because she isn't as “classically beautiful” as actresses like Halle Berry (who is biracial) and Kerry Washington (whose aesthetic, style and stature are considered 'safe' enough to placate, and even inspire, mainstream TV and film viewers).

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.

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.

October 29, 2013

Examining American Horror Story: Coven

FX's Exercise in Witchcraft, Sex, Gender, and Race


Prior to season three’s Coven, I’d never watched the American Horror Story series. I had a brief dalliance with the first season’s Murder House installment, but my interest waned, and I gave up after the first three episodes. I didn't bother with season two and, fortunately, American Horror Story unfolds like an anthology, and features a new story each season, so there’s no sense of urgency for late-pass stragglers like myself, to play catch up via weekend Netflix marathons.

When I learned that Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, Jessica Lange (a series regular), and Gabourey Sidibe were among the cast for AHS: Coven and saw the gothic trailers and dark cinematic look of season three, I was giddy, primed, and ready to watch, especially after seeing Angela Bassett in one promo, languorously draped on a throne, all  flawless skin and Senegalese twists, menacingly warning, “She done messed with the wrong witch.” Season Three takes place in New Orleans, at a boarding school for young witches learning how to channel their powers, evade attention from the public, and protect themselves.

June 18, 2013

The Secret Lives of Black Sugar Babies

When conjuring up an image of what the quintessential companion of a wealthy Sugar Daddy looks like, as dictated by popular culture, perhaps visions of a young, thin but buxom blond woman dance in your head. Or maybe an 'exotic,' racially ambiguous variation with an aesthetic that still passes muster when it comes to rigid beauty standards. Do you think of the late Anna Nicole-Smith, the most noted poster child for the May-December romance (for finance)? Do you recall how the, then struggling 26-year-old, blond bombshell and single mother made folks clutch their pearls when she married billionaire oil tycoon, J. Howard Marshall, a man who was 62 years her senior? If you're about that Black pop-culture life and don't think in absolutes, perhaps Marlo Hampton of Real Housewives of Atlanta fame, comes to mind. Atlanta is, reportedly, the Sugar Daddy Capital of America, after all.

The allure of these pampered women, otherwise known as sugar babies (or kept woman, if you're fancy), never ceases to pique people’s curiosity or, depending on your personal moral fiber, raise eyebrows. Over the past few years, articles about young women using sugaring as the ultimate way to pay their way through college, acquire luxury items, travel, pay down debt, supplement their paltry 'day job' income, get real estate, and/or to start businesses, have become popular. Mutually beneficial arrangements with well-heeled older men, often present a way out of the economic doldrums for them; and in turn, older men enjoy the luxury of squiring an attractive young woman around and, eventually, great sex, an ear to bend, and emotional availability, which can be taxing for some women if they’re dealing with a mercurial and demanding benefactor.|

While I've generally dated men significantly older than myself (for no reason other than personal preference) and have had funny exchanges with friends who often lamented the need for a sugar daddy to help ease their financial burden, I've never had the patience to entertain such an agreement, myself. The lifestyle has always intrigued me though. Specifically, I've always wondered about the number of millennial Black women using this route to gain accelerated social mobility and how successful they are at snagging and cultivating a lavish lifestyle with a wealthy and powerful sponsor. I’d find my answers in spades via online communities, sometimes referred to as the ‘sugar bowl.' The sugar bowl offers a (sometimes) safe space for young women to anonymously detail their lives as companions to wealthy older men and exchange useful information and personal narratives with one another. Within the sugar bowl is a subculture of nubile Black women who offer one another support, advice, and encouragement; because like most other social hierarchies, the world of sugaring is not immune to racial paradigms.

At 22+ (and as young as 18), some of these women have already positioned themselves to be, what can only be described as, modern-day Azealia Banks quoting, Lana Del Rey admiring, lower-to mid-tier modern courtesans. In my mind, they've probably used Leidra Lawson's Sugar Daddy 101: What You Need to Know If You Want to be A Sugar Baby or Baje Fletcher's A Go(a)l/d Diggers Guide, as blueprints to transform themselves into well-manicured and coiffed vixens. They've taught themselves the basic art of gentle coaxing and negotiating, speak the lingo of the sugar bowl, and have figured out how to stand out in a dating pool where Black women aren't always chosen.
Some have learned (after extended periods of trial and error) how to get the money and perks they want without ‘getting got’ by their older paramours; many of whom are mercurial and prone to quickly becoming cold and  detached as easily as they become enamored of their sugar babies- (without warning or explanation), and have outlined a painstaking list of rules to help sustain their lifestyles for as long as they can – most of which revolve around careful grooming habits and affecting certain social graces.

Veteran babies are emphatic about novice sugar babies adhering to the advice they offer in the bowl, for safety reasons and to maintain the reputation of the sugar subculture. And the golden rule of thumb seems to be: to never sell themselves short or entertain the advances of what’s known as a Salt Daddy or Spenda Daddy– men who don’t have the resources, charm, or influence to spoil the objects of their affection, but will play their hand anyway to no avail; because a well-versed sugar baby has learned how to spot a Salt or Spenda Daddy a mile away.

Marlo Hampton and friend
Most interesting, is that some of these women get their financial rewards without ever having to meet their POT (potential) sugar daddies in-person or sleep with them. Many of these men are happy to oblige and welcome the opportunity to simply interact with an attractive young woman and see her flourish in her chosen endeavors or college. Perhaps a large part of that must do with ego; the self-satisfaction of knowing they helped a young woman finish her degree or start a business. In addition to financial tributes, these sugar daddies purportedly serve as mentors and offer guidance, money management, career, and business advice, affording them the opportunity to lord over a young woman's life, like a silent investor of sorts.

One popular young Black baby in the sugar bowl wrote of how one of her sugar daddies hipped her to proper corporate protocol and helped her brush up on her relational skills: “[Name redacted] has been helping me correct my southern language and perfecting my conversational skills. He is always quick to correct my speech. It does get annoying at times. And when we’re talking, he makes sure I give him eye contact. We go over how to properly shake a hand a few times too.”

While these women plaster snapshots of their bounty on their anonymous blogs as proof of their shopping sprees and cash allowances, some espouse certain tenets of third-wave feminism, a bit precariously at times, when it suits their agenda. One constant, however, is the emphasis on the importance of consent and maintaining full autonomy over their bodies, to wit: making the ultimate decision as to whether sex transpires between them and their benefactors and not being coerced into relations; although holding out for too long could result in a sugar daddy losing interest and moving on to someone more willing to accommodate his needs.

As intriguing as these contrived relationships seem, I must note how a few of the young women seem to find validation solely in being desired by much older, connected white men; and sometimes conflate, or will flat-out lie about their racial identity to endear themselves to white POTs, and, at times, don't always appear to live up to the confident posturing they convey in their online personas, despite claims to the contrary. But I suppose I should chalk that up to the politics of sugaring and the emotional toll some have admitted it takes on them, particularly when they're competing with other women to be the most spoiled.

Actress Tika Sumpter in a scene from The Haves and the Have Nots
Being looked after by a wealthy man isn't as simple as erroneously labeling a woman a ho', sugaring does straddle the line between sponsorship and being the spoiled young paramour of an older, wealthy man and escorting; and can, in some ways, technically be considered sex work, so some sugar babies will supplement their sugaring income with becoming a cam-girl, or will make the transition to becoming a full-fledged escort – as many find the cut-and-dried transaction of escorting minus the stress of needing to cultivate trust and jump through proverbial hoops with a sugar daddy for a monthly allowance, much easier. And still, being an escort or cam-girl certainly doesn't negate the experiences of those black sex workers navigating the intersections of race, gender, trust, financial smarts, and safety.

Reading the personal narratives shared by these young Black women have revealed the sugaring lifestyle to be a bit more … involved and exasperating than I initially believed it to be. At the risk of being outed and targeted on popular online forums, especially if they gain an online following, Black sugar babies chart the trials and tribulations of finding wealthy and willing older benefactors in this ever-evolving tech and social networking age; wading their way through profiles on sites like Seeking Arrangement, Sugar Daddy for Me, WhatsYourPrice, and even Craigslist; some of the more confident seekers freestyle offline. They also grapple with having to decide whether to divulge information about their relationship(s) to close friends and family, who may take a morally superior stance against their lifestyles.

And what of the generous Sugar Daddy who’ll gladly fork over cash, but will make racist jokes and say racially insensitive things in the company of his young Black paramour? One sugar baby expressed disdain for a man, who, right off the cuff, solicited her for sex via an inbox message (on one of the sites), without any discussion of an arrangement. Then proceeded to assail her with racial epithets when she rebuffed him: “I wish I had the patience to post half of the dumb ass messages I get on [SA]. One guy called me a nigger yesterday after I called him out on wanting a just sex arrangement," she lamented on her blog.

As glamorous and lucrative as the sugaring lifestyle appears to be (I think many of the women in the sugar bowl distort their lifestyles and personal success stories), these are the sorts of issues black sugar babies contend with and it presents somewhat of a conundrum for young black women, who would rather brush off the indignity of being disrespected and abused and go along, to get along, just to maintain their newly acquired standard of living. Admittedly, I find that kind of denial, naiveté and willingness to let racism and abuse slide, disturbing and disappointing.
For some, getting chose finding a sponsor at all can prove to be an exercise in futility because of racial barriers. Sometimes being Black doesn't fall under the list of preferences for some potential sugar daddies, and for many young women looking for a leg-up, a Black benefactor won’t suffice, as there seems to be a stigma attached to Black sugar daddies. Some of the reasons I read were: Black men are too cheap and turn out to be Salt or Splenda daddies, they remind some of the women of their fathers or male relatives, affluent Black men usually only want young white or Latina women as arm-candy, or Black POTs over-inflate their income. But let’s be real; when Black women and non-black women (or even men) of color think of gaining access to money, institutional power, influence, connections, and respect, the default key to navigating those spaces always tends to be via a white man. So, it's safe to surmise that those attributes play a role in making rich, white men the likeliest choice for young women looking for sugar daddies.

Despite the racial hurdles, sexism, and excess foolery, seasoned Black sugar babies will downplay the anti-black sentiments they navigate and remain steadfast about stressing the importance of being undaunted by rejection; which seems easier said than done for novice players who're struggling to find 'sugar' in small towns that aren't as metropolitan and open as New York, Boston, or Atlanta; and who find zero luck with the sugar daddy hustle because they're constantly expected to overextend themselves and debunk erroneous tropes about black women, in order to endear themselves to rich white men who may just be looking for a free one-off with a black, female body.

Being a sugar baby isn’t for everyone, and there are people who find the lifestyle cringe-worthy… most of the ire is usually (unfairly) directed solely at the women as opposed to much older men who peruse sites for women not even a third of their age.

It’s a complicated and carefully orchestrated Adagio dance many of us won’t fully understand unless we're immersed in the culture ourselves. And quite honestly, the social mores of those of us observing from the outside, don’t trump what two consenting adults choose to do with their social and sex lives. Granted, this is a different era complete with 21st-century tricks, this concept of well-established men looking after younger women isn't new a one.

As for my exploration outside the perimeter of the sugar bowl, I observe judgment-free, as a curious onlooker who’s always wondered how the Black women who ride this wave, fare. But I imagine, for many, being a sugar baby or a kept girlfriend won't always be a sustainable lifestyle, and will eventually wear thin. My hope is that, however long they choose to use this as a way to stay afloat, they stay safe, don’t sacrifice who or what they are to pacify abuse – (the price of riches at someone else's expense can be too high), and when it's all said and done they've invested and saved wisely and have something substantive to show for it besides feelings of dejection, Christian Louboutin heels, and Céline handbags.

*This post has been updated with a more recent video. 

April 27, 2013

Documentary, "Reflections Unheard: Black Women in Civil Rights"



This past spring, I had the pleasure of attending a screening of the feature-length documentary Reflections Unheard: Black Women in Civil Rights, directed by up-and-coming filmmaker Nev Nnaji at Smith College. 

Via interviews and compelling archival footage, the film chronicles the marginalization of Black women within the Black Nationalist and predominantly white middle-class feminist movements during the 60s, 70s, and present-day,
Where both movements fail(ed) to acknowledge the intersection of gender oppression and race, the documentary explores the ways in which Black women galvanized to raise awareness about and seek solutions for those issues that often left us out of the overall framework: reproductive rights, dependable daycare for working mothers, government resources, employment and fair wages. That mobilization essentially inspired other women of color to project their voices about the same issues, which were also framed around immigration policies.  


April 18, 2013

Redux- The Diary Years: Scrubbing Through the Pain


I have been revisiting some of my earlier posts (I was such a novice). They were narrative and far more personal. I spilled-open quite a bit and offered more insight into who I was [becoming] as a young adult woman. 

I've decided re-post a few of them here. Scrubbing Off the Pain is from September, 2005. I was trying to muddle through a particularly rough and mentally trying few weeks. I think it's really important for [us] black women to look after ourselves and to find productive ways to cope during particularly stressful times; whether that be via therapy or taking a hot bath.


Scrubbing Through the Pain, 

orig. published September 8th, 2005


I have been in a very dark mood as of late. I haven't been this down in years... not since I returned home from college and faced unemployment for nearly a year. I worked a series of thankless temp jobs and hustled however I could… eyebrow grooming was one way I made extra cash. Needless to say, I felt like a failure, because I was living in my mother's house at the tender age of about 23 years old, and wasn't yet, gainfully employed. I beat myself up pretty bad, in fact.

The perils of the world and ’this situation I shall not name’, have plagued me for several months now, and have had me in the grip of a nasty, nasty funk. I've even darkened my hair-- jet black with multifaceted, burgundy highlights. Today, on my day off, I woke up at 8:30AM, gulped copious cups of ink-black coffee, and fell back into bed, where I threw the covers over my face, and sniveled. By 11:30 AM, I'd had enough.

I was ashamed of myself for letting 'this thing' make me feel down. I told myself that I needed to get over it, but also welcome the human right to feel so I can expunge it from my system. I have never really been one to wallow and I generally don't like to be ensconced in negativity, so I cursed myself and lumbered out of bed, remembering how cathartic taking a bath could be.

March 22, 2013

Developer Evangelist Adria Richards, Fired for Speaking-out About Tech Community Sexism



In today’s cult of personality and with the way technology and information has evolved, public dramas play out across social media platforms as quickly and as messily as anything viewed on reality TV, and this week most of us learned that the tech community is no exception when it comes to rules of engaging in public histrionics, stunts, and shows.

Tech consultant and developer evangelist Adria Richards, found herself treading water in a sea of hateful, misogynist, and downright racist backlash from a mostly male (and white) tech crowd, because she dared to call-out inappropriate sexual jokes made by two male developers, sitting within earshot of her during a keynote speech at a PyCon event.

March 13, 2013

Viola Davis as Barbara Jordan: Trailblazer, Leader, More Than a "Common Asexual Mammy"

This post was originally published on Coffee Rhetoric March 28, 2012 and has been updated with current information and re-posted in commemoration of Women's History Month ... 


I am passionate about a number of social issues, paticularly those pertaining to the well-being of Black women. And while I may project my voice and stand in solidarity with others, about certain things, I am leery and strategic about whose and what rhetoric I co-sign.  I’m solitary in my work  and don’t belong to or align myself with any new movements because, from my' vantage points, they often implode and it stops being about the issue(s).

That aside, I've found the language and writings of a certain subset of Black women to be very problematic. They attribute their work to Black Women Empowerment (BWE) and consider themselves the voices of reason for the elevation of Black womanhood. There are undoubtedly some women who have managed to successfully carve out a niche and use Black feminist and BWE platforms to inform and provide legitimate, insightful, and thought provoking content about the importance of recognizing race within feminism and feminist theory. They’ve been tireless about advocating for Black women and young girls, in a society where we're often invisible, ridiculed, and further marginalized. 



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 15, 2013

Madness & Reality Radio: Angry Black Women, Hoodrats, & 'Othering'

This past Wednesday night, I was invited to weigh-in on Madness & Reality Radio’s hot-button topic: ‘The Voyeuristic Fetish of Angry Black Women’in hopes of contributing to a nuanced conversation about the 'Angry Black Woman' trope; but alas, as most conversations about Black women do, the discourse veered a bit off course. Additionally, due to technical difficulties, I wasn't able to be patched through successfully, so I could offer my two-cents, as planned. I sat on the sidelines clenching my mug of hot apple cider, racked with a wicked case of the WTFs; caused by guest commentary from a popular pod-caster at the helm of a movement called, “Die Hoodrat Die”, who calls himself HaterArazzi. Most of the more incendiary comments came from male-callers (undoubtedly loyal fans of Generation X forumsTommy Sotomayor HaterAzzi's podcast)- who were able to get patched through and make some incendiary comments about “those” Black women who act ‘ratchet’.

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!“

November 27, 2012

It's Their Party: Suzanne Venker Coddles the Misogynists of the MRM



According to author and FoxNews.com contributor Suzanne Venker, the war on women’s rights is a thing of insignificance, because a subculture of men she’s come across have apparently been pissing and moaning about the evils of the Feminist Movement and how it's prompting them to harbor feelings of inadequacy and resentment.  Venker’s piece does little else than invoke nostalgia for the antiquated social mores that kept women 'in line' and it  propagates heteropatriachal propaganda. In fact, it reads like a pro-MRM manifesto that places blame for male ills and their unwillingness to evolve, on women who've dared to make a decent quality of life for themselves by seeking gender and reproductive rights …
“Women aren’t women anymore. To say gender relations have changed dramatically is an understatement. Ever since the sexual revolution, there has been a profound overhaul in the way men and women interact. Men haven’t changed much – they had no revolution that demanded it – but women have changed dramatically. In a nutshell, women are angry. They’re also defensive, though often unknowingly.” She writes.

November 16, 2012

Secret History of The Black Pinup: Lottie "The Body" Graves


“They called her The Body. She was built like a double order of pancakes — sweet and stacked. The only light in the room bathed her as she emerged from a thick velvet curtain, incandescent, platinum hair piled high on her head. As the band struck up a slow, seductive wail, her intricately beaded gown glimmered with each step. By the end of the tune, the dress was gone, and she wore little more than heels, a few strategically placed rhinestones, and a smile.”  
That’s how burlesque performer Sarah Klein (aka Sparkly Devil) described Detroit’s burlesque powerhouse Lottie “The Body” Graves, in a 2005 Metro Times article about the legendary dancer. There’s been a resurgence of women of color taking up the art of burlesque, and this prompted me to wonder about Black Burlesque performers of yore, who literally shook things up and enthralled the masses... So enters Lottie “The Body” Graves; who has been hailed as Detroit’s own Gypsy Rose Lee. While burlesque isn’t for everyone, the art, pomp and circumstance of the striptease has always fascinated me and Lottie definitely mastered it in spades, as the quintessential ecdysiast -- (a term coined by writer and literary critic H.L. Mencken and coincidentally, despised by Gypsy Rose Lee, by the way). 

October 27, 2012

Don't Speak: Women Don't Have to Smile or Say 'Hi' on Command



Pic from: stoptellingwomentosmile.com
Recently on Tumblr, I shared an experience I had while out-and-about, that left me feeling a bit taken aback, because it ceases to amaze me how men go about exerting dominance and upholding patriarchy in shared spaces, towards women they don't know. And in doing so, will say the most crude things and make the most dictatorial demands, as if it’s their due. 

October 22, 2012

Pictures of Zoe Saldana As Nina Simone Hit the Internet


There isn't anything more I can think to say (yes there is) about the casting of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone in Cynthia Mort's fantastical interpretation of the singer's (later) life, that I haven't already stressed.

After Zoe slyly re-tweeted a fan's erroneous sentiment that backlash against her portrayal of Nina Simone was a case of "reverse-racism"-- (not sure how petitioning to see a genuine depiction of someone’s image and life qualifies as “reverse-racism”, particularly since the actress chosen to play her identifies as black) -- it pretty much justified what this film really is: a farce-in-the-making. 

Needless to say pictures of Zoe Saldana, reportedly on the set of the biopic in question, have surfaced across social media platforms and I’m not quite sure what to make of the visuals. Aside from feeling dissatisfied with the mediocre wig, what looks like dark(er) makeup (aka Blackface), and possibly prosthetic teeth and/or nose, I’m still even more unconvinced.'


September 25, 2012

Black Hurricane Isaac Worker Spit on and Assaulted by Racist



2010 and 2011 were years that saw Black women being put under intense scrutiny. Studies and shoddily collected data that seemed based on biases and tropes about Black female pathology, outlined why a high percentage of us are single, why we’re scientifically uglier than non-Black women,  how disgusting or unappealing our bodies and attitudes supposedly are compared to our White counterparts, how horrible it is to be a Black unwed mother, and how we’re somehow the key to ending military suicides.  And while 2012 didn’t really take the magnifying glass off Black women, it definitely seemed to mark a growing level of [oft-times inadequately reported] violence and infractions against us.

September 16, 2012

Yet More Thoughts About My Nina Simone Post


Since weighing in about the controversial casting of Zoe Saldana, in the upcoming Nina Simone biopic, several blogs and media platforms have picked up on my blog piece regarding the matter and especially since my comments in Tanzina Vega's New York Times piece. There've been a couple of misconceptions, so I feel as if I need to offer some clarity as well as reiterate my stance on the matter...

First and most important, I actually was not the first person to broach this topic, as was suggested on one popular celebrity gossip blog. The Black independent film website, Shadow and Act was the first to present the information about the movie. The site's creator, Tambay A. Obenson initially made mention of the project in April, and he's been keeping tabs on the Nina Simone biopic since then, announcing and confirming in August that Zoe, was indeed, slated to play the title role. With that confirmation intact, I merely contributed my two cents, via a blog post, about the matter. I also did not circulate or start the petition to get Zoe Saldana removed from the project. In fact, a thorough read of my initial blog post, touches on the reasons why Zoe being cast as Nina Simone, are problematic. I never wrote that she wasn’t “Black enough”, I never mentioned her complexion, nor did I question her race. I said she didn’t share Nina’s phenotype. Nina Simone was a vigilant, unapologetic, mercurial, and amazing force, presented in a package that often isn’t preferred in the entertainment industry. 

August 19, 2012

Taking A Tumbl: Regarding My Nina Simone/Zoe Saldana Post

A couple of days ago, I linked my post: (Mis)Casting Call: The Erasure of Nina Simone's Image to my tumblr page, and it was re-blogged by several people; a couple of whom took issue with the picture I used to accompany the post. To them, the image took precedence over the very valid issues I raised in the blog post. One tumblr-er noted...
"feeling some type of way about that particular picture of Zoe Saldanath that picture is rubbing me the wrong way its like [they] are trying to erase the fact that zoe is black zoe is a black women [sic] nothing is going to change that definitely not an over edited picture and im not feeling this oversexualized picture of zoe being paired with that picture of nina"
*sigh*