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

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 03, 2013

Whitewashed: White Americans Reflect on White Privilege


"...To be white in this culture means to deny the reality of racism; it means to deny the privilege that we have as whites. Most people, who are Whites, don't want to accept that they are privileged, because they are." 
"People don't want to talk about being White because they know that at a deep level, even though some of them may not have talked about it with anybody or every expressed it, they do know that they get a benefit from being White." 
"... To me, it's about privilege. A lot of people get to walk around thinking that we live in a meritocracy, and thinking that their own hard work is the only thing that's responsible for their achievements. I think that it shapes everything." 
"I was taught that you respected Black folk, but not really as human beings, but more like cats, and dogs, and cows; you wouldn't mistreat a cat or a dog in my family, and you wouldn't mistreat a black person. I don't have any trouble admitting that I'm a racist; I think it's absurd to try to fight with that. I grew up in this society I was conditioned by, I think internally in my psyche I have grounded and rooted those attitudes and I see it in me all the time... I mean, I'm always dealing with it. I don't think that make me a bad person ... I just think it means I've been well indoctrinated." 
"... Like Malcolm X said: 'Racism is like a Cadillac; there's a new model every year'. Racism is a dynamic social construction, so it's always changing and it's always mutating. So people that say, 'well there's no racism anymore', they're referring to racism as it existed in 1950 or 1920 or 1910."  
Above is a collection of quotes from Whitewashed: Unmasking the World of Whites, a 2013 documentary by Mark Patrick George. Clocking in at just under 35 minutes this interesting featurette examines white privilege and racism via footage—(collected over the course of several years)—of several white Americans offering insight on what whiteness means to them and the situations that have prompted them to realize how institutional racism works to marginalize others, and work in their favor. 

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. 

July 14, 2013

Justice or Just us? - On Reactions to the George Zimmerman Verdict

[Also read: I Know Trayvon Martin]


Six jurors in Florida have spoken and 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, walks free of any accountability for the part he played in Trayvon’s death. It’s hurtful. It’s a sharp pang that has become all too familiar for Black folk looking to the criminal justice system to work in our favor in some capacity, because far too often, the narrative seems to remain the same-- (and spare me any O.J. Simpson derails)

Despite the hope many of [us] cling to when imploring … demanding… the recognition of our humanity, there’s always this feeling of foreboding about the outcome of that expectation will be. Now that Trayvon has been added to long list of Black people-- many young -- who seem to be nothing more than disposable casualties in the grand scheme of the world at large, I’ll expend some of my righteous indignation towards the gas-lighting and condescension I've seen on my social media timelines, from folks on their proverbial high-horse who fail to grasp the overall implication of the Zimmerman verdict. People who, in the midst of their patronizing reminders about how the legal system works, how none of us were there—(at the scene of the crime the night of February 26th 2012, 
or on the jury sifting through the evidence), and who don’t understand that Zimmerman’s acquittal symbolizes the idea that Black women, men, and youth are subject to being considered inherently dangerous, and subject to racial profiling and vigilantism: even by a neighborhood watch volunteer, an (allegedly) drunk off-duty police officer, or an overzealous gun owner, all with delusions of grandeur about the privilege and power they wield. 

May 02, 2013

'Black Twitter' Takes on #BlackPrivilege

Written for and orig. published on Intersection of Madness and Reality


When racism rears its ugly head on social media, leave it to ‘Black Twitter’ to clap-back and upend rhetoric meant to denigrate black folks, and turn it into a clever and teachable moment steeped in the type of sardonic satire meant to make perpetrators of said racial insensitivity, feel stupid for having ever tried.

Last week, the #BlackPrivilege hash-tag gained momentum on Twitter, reportedly created as a response to the discovery of a (neglected?) tumblr blog and, perhaps, just being plain tired of having to ward off cries of "reverse-racism" whenever black people speak out loud about the lived experiences and daily microaggressions many of us have to navigate . “This Is Black Privilege” ... an anonymous tumblr blog comprised of a jumble of murky, awkwardly written non-facts that seem as if they were culled from the library stacks of Ignoramus University.

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.  


March 17, 2013

Why "Being White in Philly" is Problematic


Race.  The word alone prompts many to break out in a cold sweat, grit their teeth, immediately grow defensive or quickly change the subject. And while some people like to espouse the tenets of color-blindness and post-racialism (words I've personally grown to despise), I tend to steer clear of anyone who refuses to see my humanity and who brushes off the fact that black people still face inequities in this country. That some people (still) can’t even hold a productive discourse about racial politics or recognize that gender equality movements should be inter-sectional, yet will gleefully skip around singing about how wonderful and post-racial America is, stymies me. (To me) one of the key elements when having a worthwhile discussion about racial politics is listening. There always seems to be an inclination towards denying, tone policing, shaming, gas-lighting, silencing, and ‘othering’. And othering is among the ‘Race Deconstruction Don’ts’ Robert Huber employed when he penned his controversial piece about what it’s like “Being White in Philly” for Philadelphia magazine.


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!“

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 17, 2012

Etsy Profits from Golliwogs and Other Racist Nostalgia


Looking for your very own handmade Grandpa Golliwog doorstop? Or perhaps you’ve been looking for a “cute” handmade Mammy doll or Baby Girl Golly? Well according to an online petition that’s being circulated by a woman named Raquel Mack, virtual artisan marketplace, Etsy provides a whole slew of racist nostalgia for purchase on its website despite recent revisions to their policies, which were implemented in January 2011, prohibiting the sale of items that promote and glorify hate and that demeans people based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, disability, and/or sexual orientation.  
“In May of 2012 the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP attempted to reach out to Etsy only to receive this response”'[…] our members come from all walks of life, and may hold differing opinions of the legitimate collectability of certain types of historical items.’ Read the petition’s statement. 
“Perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects of this issue is that that one would be hard pressed to find racist items of any other demographic on Etsy, which begs the question, Why is it okay to sell items that dehumanize and denigrate those that fall into the category of ‘black people’; and would there be the same lack of response were these items offensive toward the LGBTQ community, or Asian community, or any demography that is “more likely” to be shopping or selling on Etsy? Etsy receives $0.20 for every item listed on their site by merchants and they collect a 3.5% fee on the sale of every item, racist or not. Since Etsy has failed to address this issue it may be safe to assume that they have no scruples about profiting from the very items they prohibit.” The petition continues. 

August 23, 2012

Secret History of the Black Pinup: Drum Magazine and James Barnor


This latest piece on the rare histories of Black pinup models [publications and photographers] led me in a different direction, so I put a story I’d been researching on a noted Black burlesque performer on the back-burner for now, to feature this one. 

My interest in the lives of vintage Black pinup models and the people curating their images has usually been relegated to the stories of people here in the United States. But Drum magazine was an essential part of African politics and growing trends, during a time when seeing a Black model in the 1960s was a rare occurrence in the U.K., just as it was here in the U.S.  Much in the same way John Moorehead had done for Jet magazine and other media platforms of the time, famed Ghanaian fashion photographer and photojournalist James Barnor also served as a pioneer in the world of fashion photography and photojournalism, within the realm of the Diaspora.

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* 

August 06, 2012

Bill Campbell's "Koontown Killing Kaper"

“Like rats to cheese, folks in Koontown are drawn to yellow police tape. It’s utterly irresistible. ESPN, BET, not even sex can break the hold that thin, plastic strip has on them.  And they come. I don’t understand it. I grew up in the suburbs. But I’d seen it all throughout my police career, and tonight is no different.”  So narrates the embattled heroine Genevieve “Jon Vee” Noir in “Chaptah Tu” of Bill Campbell’s satirical novel, Koontown Killing Kaper.
Not since Mat Johnson’s “Hunting In Harlem” has a book from this genre grabbed me from the very beginning and carried me stto the very end at such a rapid pace.

Rappers, purveyors of urban literature, and TV producers are being found murdered in gruesome fashion. Word on the streets of the besieged city of Koontown is that vampire crack babies are the perpetrators.  Former international supermodel-turned cop-turned private detective, Genevieve “Jon Vee” Noir is hired by rap impresario Hustle Beamon, to find out who’s killing off his business partners and top selling rap artists.  Together with her former Koontown Police Department partner Detective Willie O. O’Ree, Jon Vee navigates the dark, dank underbelly of Koontown; coming up against pimps, dubious record executives, secret sororities, disreputable politicians, and government conspiracies to get to the bottom of the savage murders plaguing the city, lest the crimes threaten the already fragile détente between Koontown residents and the nearby gentrified neighborhood of Toomer Way.

August 01, 2012

Victoria Foyt’s ‘Save the Pearls’, A World Bereft of White Privilege and Beauty Standards

While browsing the internet for current events, I happened upon some buzz of the “WTF?” variety regarding an independently published YA novel written by Victoria Foyt called, “Save the Pearls Part One: Revealing Eden.” A quick Google search led me to an interesting list of results; which included dismay from bloggers, Amazon stats [the book was rated poorly], and its official site. The cover art for the book features a young woman whose skin and hair color are split bilaterally, down the middle [black skin, raven colored hair on one side, flaxen haired and pale skin on the other]. An official synopsis [from the Save the Pearls site] reads…
In a post-apocalyptic world where resistance to an overheated environment defines class and beauty, Eden Newman’s white skin brands her as a member of the lowest class, a weak and ugly Pearl. The clock is ticking: if Eden doesn’t mate before her eighteenth birthday, she’ll be left outside to die.

If only a dark-skinned Coal from the ruling class would pick up her mate option, she’d be safe. But no matter how much Eden darkens her skin and hair, she’s still a Pearl, still ugly-cursed with a tragically low mate-rate of 15%.

Just maybe one Coal sees the real Eden and will save her-she has begun secretly dating her handsome co-worker Jamal. 
I haven’t read the entire book, but based on the generous excerpts I’ve been able to without having to pay and Foyt’sown misguided views on what constitutes anti-racism and racism, I’ve gleaned all that I need and then some, so more than enough to offer a critique on Foyt’s work.

May 31, 2012

Writer Nalo Hopkinson on Discussing Race

Caribbean-Canadian writer and novelist, Nalo Hopkinson discusses the mechanics and importance of having an honest and open discourse about race, with people who've decided that doing so is somehow racist.

In this clip, Hopkinson speaks on how ineffective silence is when trying to address race, and recalls a discussion between another Black writer and a woman who insisted that she "didn't see race" or make it a problem in her life; to which the other writer replied, "If you can't see something that threatens my life daily, you can't be my ally." 

Hopkinson also stresses the importance of learning to address matters of race, while still acknowledging that none of us are a monolith and won't respond the same when interacting in similar scenarios; in other words, we need to learn how to acknowledge that people are different, and learn to respect those differences without resorting to oppressive silencing. We need to learn how to discuss race, deal with the myriad of emotions those discussions will provoke, and learn how listen when someone’s sharing their lived experience, without growing defensive. 



May 30, 2012

Michelle Rodriguez Says Only 'Black and Trashy' Roles Get Oscar Nods


When thinking down the line of Hollywood actresses of color who’ve made an indelible impact on current films, Michelle Rodriguez probably doesn’t register on anybody’s radar; at least not enough so, that she’d be recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. So when Vulture caught up with the actress at an amfAR event at Cannes this past week, the actress had just come from a screening of the controversial Lee Daniels directed film, The Paperboy-- (which has been garnering unfavorable reviews by critics) -- and expressed her appreciation for the film…
“I say fuck them because they don’t get it”, the actress opined. “He’s so good at keeping me entertained. When I don’t like the dialogue, I’m amused by the visuals. And when I don’t like the visuals, I’m amused by the dialogue. It’s always switching up senses. I’m intrigued by his ability to capture me in a theater. It’s not easy to capture me in a theater — I’m ADD like that.” 
When prodded about a scene in which Nicole Kidman apparently pees on actor Zac Efron  to soothe a jellyfish sting, Michelle waxed philosophical about the politics surrounding Black actresses and actors who’ve been nominated for and/or won film awards…
"I fucking loved it. One of my friends said, 'She’s going to get nominated for an Oscar for that.' I was like, 'Nah, man. She’s not black!' I laugh, but it’s also very sad. It makes me want to cry. But I really believe. You have to be trashy and black to get nominated. You can’t just be trashy."  (Source)
It didn’t take long for Michelle’s public gaffe to start circulating those Black pockets of the social media realm.  Re-tweeted and re-posted on Twitter and Facebook, Black bloggers and pop-culture critics were not amused and immediately took offense; but doesn't Michelle Rodriguez present a very good point about the worth of Black actors and actresses (or anyone in that industry, of color)  in Hollywood? As a woman of color, navigating the landscape of the Hollywood machine, Michelle herself has been typecast since making her debut in Girlfight, whether she’d be inclined to agree with that very obvious point or not, so on some level perhaps she speaks a very honest (albeit it an unfiltered and somewhat tactless) truth.

Consider some of the voices of displeasure when Octavia Spencer nabbed an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role (playing a sassy domestic) in The Help. And most of us couldn’t even fathom Viola Davis emphatically defending having played a maid in the same movie.  Some of our sistren and brethren still harbor the bitter aftertaste Halle Berry’s 2002 Oscar win  for her turn in Monster’s Ball left in our mouths… the same evening Denzel  won for playing a corrupt and unscrupulous police officer in Training Day, to which he quipped, “Two birds in one night, huh?” during his acceptance speech.

In a sometimes tense Black social media sphere, where certain ones us hurl accusatory epithets like Mammy, Ghetto Queen,  Sapphire and thug towards entertainers who portray such roles, directors (both Black and non-Black, who help steer actors in those roles), and towards everyday people who don’t convey modes of behavior befitting the ideals and expectations of an upwardly mobile person of color; I get and understand the exasperation and desire to see better images of ourselves on the big screen and to see better behavior modeled by some folks in our community.  So in essence, isn’t Michelle Rodriguez mimicking a truth we often voice out loud about ourselves?  One commenter who actually agreed with Michelle’s assessment, wrote on Facebook...
The "black and trashy" are the most recognized and talked about which tends to silence all the valuing nominations into the backdrop or a footnote. What she speaks of are not absolutes but are of the most resonating nominations.”

Is Michelle Rodriguez’s comment about rewards for “Black and Trashy” roles a dig at Black actors or a critique of Hollywood’s perpetuation of racial stereotypes?

Also read: Barbara Jordan: Trailblazer, Leader, ... Common Asexual Mammy?  


March 23, 2012

I Know Trayvon Martin


I know Trayvon Martin…

I came-of-age watching him sit on the stoop of some tenement; baggy jeans, clean sneakers and hooded sweatshirt, shooting the shit with his friends and arguing over NBA front-runners and the best teams. When I attended Weaver High School, I watched him sit in the back of the class, swathed in the same urban uniform, tapping beats on a desk… aloof and disinterested. Sometimes, the teacher would say something that piqued his interest and he’d interject before going back to nodding his head to whatever freestyle beat he was composing on his desk.
During algebra class he’d shuffle up to the front of the room, calmly push the hood of his sweatshirt back, pick up a piece of chalk, and effortlessly solve a complex math equation, much to the teacher’s delight and mild surprise. 

I’d see him congregated in the cafeteria with a group of his friends pointing and laughing raucously as they played the dozens, roasting one another amid an eager group of like-minded spectators.  
I got to know him a bit beyond his casual, be-hooded demeanor while bouncing yearbook, prom, and fundraising ideas off each another during weekly Class of 1996 meetings. He made an exception the night of prom and opted for a black tuxedo instead… leaving his hooded sweatshirt at home for the evening. 

As an adult I listened to a hooded young teenager just like Trayvon, exchanging loud and crude stories about high school dating prospects with his friends as they sat in the back of an empty-- (save me and them) complimentary downtown shuttle bus. I sat towards the front, rolled my eyes with a smirk and shook my head as he boastfully showed off to his friends. “Be careful” the driver… a White male… warned me, as he side-eyed and nodded in the direction of the young boys. “Oh, they’re fine. They’re just being silly.” I said, annoyed by his warning. Trayvon’s hooded contemporary took a break from fronting for his friends, shuffled to the front and sheepishly asked me, “Miss, um, you wouldn’t happen to have 75 cents uhh… would you? I’m short for the bus ride home.” I shook my head, recalling how only minutes prior he’d been putting on a show for his buddies, and handed him 3 quarters… which I happened to have in my pants pocket from an earlier transaction. “Thanks Miss! I appreciate it.” He said. 

While walking to Carlos Supermarket in the Asylum Hill-Farmington Avenue section of Hartford, I watched a young, Black teenager in a hooded sweatshirt size up an older woman struggling to pull her shopping buggy along the sidewalk. He removed his earphones long enough to ask her if she needed help before realizing that he knew her as an acquaintance of his mother’s. She seemed pleased as one of those “your mother should be proud” smiles passed across her face.
See, I know Trayvon. While he isn’t a choir boy or above reproach, I grew up with the likes of him and know he is more than a “suspicious looking” perpetrator in a hooded sweatshirt who "always gets away",  skulking down a dark, rainy street. I know that sometimes he’s walking with a purpose and that purpose isn’t always to cause harm or to rob someone. 

My nephews are Trayvon Martin. They love candy and juice boxes, and will be teenagers in about 10 and 13 years respectively. According to the social construct of White supremacy and privilege, whose opinions about young Black and Latino boys (and young girls) are predicated on gross racial stereotypes and according to Geraldo Rivera, my nephews should be subject to scrutiny and possibly marked for death by trigger-happy vigilante bigots like George Zimmerman, because they have the nerve to expect their humanity to be taken into account, if they dare walk down the street while Black and dressed in a hooded sweatshirt. They deserve to be racially profiled, even amidst all the Post-Racial America propaganda... and somehow being Black is the scarlet letter they'll have to suffer for. 

March 02, 2012

Date Like A Dummy, Think Like a Foolio, REDUX

Foreword: Overcoming Interracial Dating Myopia

I realize this is the second time I've re-posted an essay but I've been a bit lazy busy working on a few other things and I've got a few topic ideas I need to mentally sift through before blogging them. Additionally, I've been reading some rather… disappointing things across the Black Blogosphere and feel that certain posts apply. Rather than blogging the same thing in some other written variation, I figured I'd offer a brief foreword as a prelude to the re-post. I've been reading some interesting articles (none of which I care to link) and some equally as interesting-- (if not downright disturbing) -- commentary from readers... many of whom are Black women. It seems as if a certain sub-group of my sistren has the dating game all twisted and are vigilant about 'White Knighting' other ill-informed forum commentators… throwing other Black women under the bus in the process.
The concept of agreeing to disagree, respectfully, seems to get lost in translation whenever the issue of interracial dating comes up.

Living and letting live, would be the ideal way for one to date however, those of my sistren (mostly) and brethren who are emphatic about dating other don't seem to be genuine in their dating intentions, as they almost seem to be political. In pushing their agenda(s); climbing on a soapbox and using their respective relationships to antagonize others for who they're attracted to-- (even going so far as to resort name-calling). In being completely frank in my assessment, much of the vitriol I read, came (and comes) from a collective of Black women who are seemingly still hurt by prior relationships and harbor feelings of resentment (despite proclamations of feeling empowered and free). I actually just learned about terms like "DBR" (Damaged Beyond Repair) - Black men and have read pointed attack-words like "stupid, weak, (fat) Black women" and my favorite, "DBR enablers".  Language like this is counterproductive and sanctimonious, as the people at the helm of the hate, demand to have the right to love who they want to love yet, can't seem to do so in earnest.

I never understood why the topic of interracial dating has us (the Black community) at such odds with one another; or why some folks are supposedly so happy with the opportunity to explore their options, yet are so pressed by who someone else is sleeping with or dating and seem bent on projecting their personal aesthetic on others… and will lash out when all their prodding is rejected.
What the hell is wrong with us? Why can't folks just genuinely like who they like, date and marry who they want to date and marry, without there needing to be a motive or agenda behind it; and leave other folks to their own dating devices? Do we really need a How-to manual written by a few self-righteous proselytizers with an axe to grind on something as superficial as "how to attract a White man", belittling other Black women for not trying "something new" and demanding that they mold themselves to fit a beauty mold, dictated by societal norms? Additionally, do we need to be subjected to rap songs ridiculing Black women for not having the right complexion or hair? People who are genuinely empowered, free, and secure with their dating choices, don’t need to indulge in extraneous foolery. Folks have got the game all twisted and need to succumb to the four G’s (Good Goddess Get a Grip!) Just... stop.

Anyway, without further ado...

February 26, 2012

Coffee Rhetoric Redux-- If You're Black, Get Back!



In the wake of the latest foolery courtesy of a St. Louis-based promotional company, involving an ill-conceived marketing idea, themed: "Battle of the Complexions" pitting dark, brown, and lighter complected Black women against one another, I'm re-posting an essay I did in August, 2011 about Shadeism or what's also known as Colorism; which is still very much an issue in the Black-- (and other minority)-- communities, despite denials to the contrary. 
In perhaps, an equally as foolish attempt at insulting the collective public's intelligence, the promotional company responsible for the event released a convoluted apology (below), chalking up the idea as a tribute to Black History Month... 
MACK TV WOULD LIKE TO CLEAR UP THE MISUNDERSTANDING OF OUR CONCEPT FOR THIS PARTY...ITS NOT TO DEGRADE WOMEN OR DIVIDE SKIN COLORS. ITS SIMPLY TO SEE WHICH COMPLEXION OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN RACE REPRESENTS THE MOST (lightskinned, caramel-brown, or darkskinned) AS A WHOLE , MALE & FEMALE! I CAN SEE THE MISUNDERSTANDING WITH OUR PROMO.....WE COULD HAVE USED A BETTER CHOICE OF WORDS....WE DID NOT MEAN TO OFFEND THE OFFENDED
ITS BLACK HISTORY MONTH , SO WE MADE A PARTY THEME DEDICATED TO OUR AFRICAN AMERICAN CROWD. THE YOUNGER GENERATION IS LOVING THIS PARTY BECAUSE HERE'S THE FIRST TIME EVER YOU CAN COME OUT & BE PROUD THAT YOU ARE BLACK!! REGARDLESS OF YOUR SKIN TONE SORRY FOR THE CONFUSION & MISLEADING INFO.
ITS BLACK HISTORY MONTH , SO LETS BE PROUD OF THE SKIN WE'RE IN!! REPRESENT YOUR COMPLEXION! ...



If You're Black, Get Back!  
Originally posted August 8th, 2011

No rap lyric has incited Black women to chorus the way the beginning of Lil Wayne’s verse in Every Girl in the World, in which he expresses his desire for “a long-haired, thick Redbone, who opens up her legs to filet mignon” has.

Hair and skin-color continue to haunt my sistren. Deeply rooted issues of Colorism are extensively blogged and written about by mostly Black female bloggers and writers, who take rappers to task for preferring racially ambiguous looking, seemingly non-Black women to frolic with on and off the sets of their videos.
Recently controversial novelist, Kola Boof sounded off at Wale via Twitter, in a long, sometimes expletive-filled tirade about his video Pretty Girls not featuring enough Black women… that eventually culminated in a feud of sorts. Kola berated Wale (whose parents are Nigerian)- accusing him of prompting young Black women in Nigeria to want to bleach their skin in order to compete: “Wale is doing more than just dig light women. He [sic] selling AFRICAN CHILDREN on skin bleaching … making them feel BLACK is ugly…”

Additionally, Actor/Singer Tyrese also felt the backlash of frustrated darker-skinned women, confused as to why his video was seemingly devoid of obviously Black women. “So I’m getting tweets … why aren’t any “Black Women” in your video.  I had a 2 days audition.[Sic]  I welcomed ALL women and went with the BEST.” he tweeted exasperatedly.

When framed within the context of entertainers and their sex lives, Colorism is undeniable. I acknowledge that it thrives within this realm and influences the aesthetic of many Black men, however, I’m a bit flummoxed as to why Black women continue to look to entertainers and athletes to validate their worth and personal brand of beauty. I understand wanting to see more honest and diverse examples of Black beauty in music videos; But when do we stop holding rappers responsible for how we essentially should view ourselves? When do we stop allowing Lil Wayne’s preference for a “long-haired, thick Redbone” to bother us and realize that when Black men (many of whom are also darker-complexioned) punctuate their preferences with disdain for dark women, it’s their deep-seated issues… and has nothing to do with us? When some Black men reach the pinnacle of financial success, they get to dictate who keeps their mattress warm and comfy… and for some, darker skin just doesn’t suffice.  As frustrating as their self-loathing is, that’s just the way it is. Quite frankly, when I look in the mirror, I’m not wondering whether heavily tattooed rappers with platinum dental work and several children by several different women, think I’m too dark to be considered attractive. Black men who look down on women for having darker complexions… have soul searching to do. Black women who agonize over and doubt themselves on account of a troubled individual’s superficiality… have soul searching to do.

This is definitely not an attempt to trivialize the impact of Colorism… My hope is that Black women with darker complexions move away from seeking acceptance in empty, cold places and hold themselves in high regard, despite the odds stacked against them.
Prolific film director Bill Duke eloquently explores the issue in this 9-minute trailer for his documentary,  
Dark Girls





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February 25, 2012

Secret History of the Black Pin-up: Dan Burley

I'm no connoisseur of vintage adult publications, but do consider the elements that went into creating them during their time, quite interesting; specifically the role Black artists, photographers, models, and distributors (if any) played in the world of vintage adult periodicals and magazine publishing, as we don't often see information charting the history and are hard pressed to find rare materials from their era, which seems to have been wiped from the annals of publishing history in some cases, and costs an arm and a leg if you do track something down on eBay or sites of the like. 

Enter the late Dan Burley; who was a Black-American polymath-- musician, poetry writer, actor, editor, and noted journalist-- who created, edited and wrote for several prominent African-American publications including: Ebony, Jet (an idea he sold to the Johnson family), New York Age, the wildly popular Harlem Handbook of Jive, and Amsterdam News. Burley, who also collaborated creatively with several famous jazz greats, wrote the forward for Elijah Muhammad's book, Message to the Black Man in America and was commissioned to edit Muhammad Speaks (now known as the Muslim Journal) for print in the Pittsburgh Courier (which was owned by Black American entrepreneur and Republican, S.B. Fuller)-- despite not being an American Muslim or member of the Nation of Islam.
Dan Burley's political connections, friendships, and work in the fields of music, journalism, and publishing is an extensive and impressive one indeed, but it is his foray into the world of adult magazines that intrigues me the most; and my interest in and fascination with the history of Black pin-up heavy periodicals and vintage ads featuring Black models is no secret as evidenced here, here, and most notably here; so it was with great interest, while visiting one of my favorite sites and resources for this type of information, that I read about Dan Burley serving on the editorial staff for Playboy-esque periodical, Duke Magazine; which filled a niche for upwardly mobile Black male readers and only produced about six issues featuring comely Black women, a Duchess of the Month centerfold, work from noted writers, as well as comics drawn by freelance artist, Bill Ward.  

According to Vintage Sleaze, Bill Ward (purveyor of Good Girl Art and creator of risqué female characters), did a series of drawings for Duke Magazine featuring Black versions of his ample-breasted female gag-comic sirens, under a pen name.The publication also presented reprinted works by Langston Hughes, Ray Bradbury and one of my favorite Black expatriate novelists, Chester Himes -- who penned the controversial book The End of a Primitive

Much like my initial search for vintage photography featuring Black female pin-up models, a Google search of Duke Magazine didn't garner too much information beyond the sparse footnotes I found on a couple of websites and of course Vintage Sleaze, which notes,
If you search Dan Burley, you'll find him identified as a sports writer. A Journalist. A Jazz Musician. A Poet. And yet he only lived 54 years. His Wiki Biography (which also omits his smut magazine) is HERE.
Researching the rare history of Black pin up models has definitely led me to uncover some compelling other information regarding publishing and the history of vintage adult periodicals featuring the Black female aesthetic, I'd never heard of. As a writer who's interested in the Black female image in media and pop-culture, it's always great to uncover any lost or rarely discussed aspect of Black History. Stay tuned... 


**Additional Reading: