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

July 21, 2017

Black People, Let’s Be More Cognizant of How We Engage Each Other

Black folks… We are resilient. We are resourceful. We ain’t never afraid. We exude self-confidence and love. And, as the children say, we are lit. In a word, we are everything and then some. And above everything else, we can be passionate with our beliefs and strong in our convictions. But sometimes, when it comes to how we consume information and how we debate with one another, that passion is often used to cudgel others into boxes they don’t want to be in, because of the way Black folks have been socialized. Whether we’re weighing in about rape culture, gender issues, the way to raise families, how masculinity should be performed, or something as mundane as how to make sweet potato pie, the way some of us provoke and critique arguments and each other can cause harm and does nothing to propel us towards social awareness, consciousness, or logical thinking.

Critical thinking isn’t a panacea to all the systematic and social ills or intra-racial concerns, but the way we unpack social issues, pop-culture, or any other human endeavor, says a lot about where we are cognitively and whether we’re good listeners who have the capacity to engage in civil disagreement and come away from the conversation accepting and respecting that not everyone lives the same way and share the same beliefs, or if we are just waiting for the opportunity to shout over someone in an attempt be right. When we engage opposing viewpoints, we must understand that it’s okay that the ways we’ve been socialized to think by our parents, grandparents and, even, the Black church are challenged. While Black folks—no matter where we’re from, how we’re raised, or our respective cultural traditions—share collective experiences, we aren’t a monolith and we don’t all share the same social mores and thought processes, and that’s also okay.


January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Dream Deferred

The Importance of Looking Beyond the Words: "I Have A Dream" 

Once a year, during Martin Luther King, Jr.'s day of commemoration and/or during the anniversary of his famous 1963 "I Have A Dream" speech, people are prompted to do one (or all) of a few things: fist pump about having an extended weekend before rolling over to sleep-in, hit up all of the MLK shopping deals at the mall, cull a cursory menu of food items that include fried chicken, collard greens, and other edibles ascribed to Black-Americans, or reduce Martin Luther King to nothing but the opening line, “I Have A Dream…”, gleaning the parts that best suit myopic platitudes to peddle post-racial propaganda and silence or they'll co-opt his words and misuse them to condescend to black people, in hopes that black folks will stop talking about racism and the daily microaggressions we have to navigate.

February 16, 2012

In Which I Share in Earnest: The Uprising

 My writing prowess isn't just relegated to essays, blog posts, and articles. For years-- well before I delved further into the world of print journalism, blogging, and freelance writing; I was a prolific short-story writer. Short-story fiction is my first love and I haven't done nearly enough of it lately. 

I dabbled in poetry, participating in half-hearted public readings at open mics (I'm not a performance artist by any means), but I've always had an affinity for writing prose. Every now and again I dust off an old piece of work and put it through a series of revisions with the intent to self-publish. The Uprising, perhaps my favorite Pièce de résistance, is no exception. It's a story I've always aspired to have published as a novella since conceiving and writing it while at college. 

I rarely share anything I've written within the realm of short-story fiction via the Blogosphere and have an inkling to do so now. 

In observance of Black History Month, I've decided to release the prologue to The Uprising.
Perhaps if the mood strikes me, I'll share more.   


**Also, check out Dolen Perkins-Valdez's compelling book, Wench. I recommended this before however, I'm currently re-reading it for the third time and it's what prompted me to share an excerpt of my own work.


Read The Uprising...
 

November 28, 2011

This Land Was Made For You And Me...

Post-racial Society: Post-racial Society is a theoretical environment where the United States or other first-world countries in the west, is void of racial preference, discrimination, and prejudice. In the U.S. some Americans believed that the election of Barack Obama as President and wider acceptance of inter-racial marriages signified that the nation had entered this state, while others believe that groups such as the Tea Party movement prove it has not. In January 2010 the Pew Research Center conduced a poll in conjunction with National Public Radio that indicated that 39% of persons of African-American descent felt they were in a better position than they had been five years ago, an increase of 19% from the previous poll taken in 2008. Actor and director Mario Van Peebles made a television documentary titled Fair Game that challenged the idea that the United States had become a post-racial society. --Wikipedia





May 17, 2011

Voted Least Likely To Matter

This morning while scanning my Twitter timeline, I noticed folks getting up-in-arms about something relevant I hadn't figured out yet so I scrolled down further, attempting to piece events together myself... and now I wish I hadn't. I promised myself I wouldn't wax philosophical about any articles or studies undermining my right to co-exist with everyone else on earth, but the most recent quasi-scientific study published by Psychology Today's and penned by evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa, whose shtick seems to be to promote racial and gender stereotypes - (the article has since been removed due to the furor and utter ridiculousness of the evidence presented, I presume)- got my mind working and my fingers itching to get it over with and type this entry... perhaps in an attempt to speculate why this man (an obvious misogynist and bigot), continues to get money to conduct such drivel.
I'm no expert on evolutionary psychology, but I assume if conducted critically sans: bias, motive, a mostly Euro-centric view of how the world should function, or an antiquated belief system; it's helpful with studying human behavior and allowing us to acquire a better understanding of the myriad of cultures. Most people seem to agree that Kanazawa is incompetent at conducting research effectively sans bias and of understanding and objectively reporting on race and gender matters. In 2006, The London School of Economics found itself under fire after Kanazawa wrote a paper reporting that Africa's ills were due to low IQ rather than disease and poverty... that Africans were less intelligent than people in wealthier countries, which explains without a shadow of a doubt, why many suffer. Satoshi Kanazawa seems to be trying to resurrect the racist pseudoscience of Eugenics, so his attacks on anything female and non-European seem par for the course. This time the man sought to prove why Black women are less attractive than women who are White, Asian, and Native American women via Psychology Today. This one set the interwebs on fire... bloggers, Tweeters, forums, discussion boards, other psychologists and Toure X on MSNBC (why'd they defer to him?) sounded off. Satoshi used little charts and graphs to surmise the following (among other things):
 "It is very interesting to note that, even though black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women, black women (and men) subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others."  
"... For example, because they have existed much longer in human evolutionary history, Africans have more mutations in their genomes than other races.  And the mutation loads significantly decrease physical attractiveness (because physical attractiveness is a measure of genetic and developmental health).  But since both black women and black men have higher mutation loads, it cannot explain why only blackwomen are less physically attractive, while black men are, if anything, more attractive."  
So forth and so on it goes. Apparently we're unattractive, mannish about the face, and are in denial about it, because we're somehow deluding ourselves into thinking we're anything but ugly.
Initially I was agitated and weighed in on Twitter and Facebook (the link on my wall generated some interesting comments, all varying degrees of outrage (funny, awe-struck, and angry). But realizing Kanazawa's propensity towards racist and partial research, my irritation subsided. I became more annoyed at Psychology Today for removing the article without explanation. As if they never made the decision to post it for all to read and get hyper over, to begin with (many people on comment boards questioned whether the article even existed). And while many well-intentioned men (mostly our brethren) suggested that there was an overreaction amongst the Black female masses, regaled us with compliments to placate our ire, then patronizingly (in just a few instances) advised Black women to "just ignore" the study for its obvious nonsensical findings, I think it's important to get to the root of why Black women continue to take a beating in the media as of late. Most of us are not seeking to have our looks validated ... I don't believe that is what incited many of us to sing a chorus of jeers, but rather, we're looking to be taken seriously and not marginalized as if we aren't relevant in the grand scheme of the landscape. Just like Black men are justified in feeling the same way about infractions against them, their livelihood, and very being. 
One commenter on a blog post regarding Psychology Today-gate said it best when she opined: "Its like black women have caught a case of the “leasts” ... Least likely to be married... Least likely to be taken seriously... Least likely to to NOT have AIDS …and now least likely to be even remotely cute..."
Even Black run blogs have gotten in on the action penning foolish articles about why we're supposedly losing to why we should covet or even care about Kate Middleton's induction via marriage, into The British Monarchy 
The dead horse has been exhumed and kicked repeatedly, making it an old and boring topic.. yes... but it's still annoying. If there's an issue or national crisis, Black women and people of color as a whole are always worked into random, negative equations whether we like it, did nothing to warrant negative press, or not. When does it eventually stop?
Read the Google Cached "study" here

January 04, 2011

Hair Raising Tale: The Beauty Supply Store


Warning: Gratuitous use of personal pics showing the versatility of my natural hair. Deal.
Anyone who reads Coffee Rhetoric or who knows me personally, understands that I am vigorously passionate about issues having to do with women of the African diaspora; Especially how we're portrayed, exploited, "fetishized", oppressed, suppressed, trivialized, marginalized, and perceived. Image, body types, and of course hair. The struggle will never get old with me. I won't ever stop negating the stereotypes and foolery continuously projected onto Black women. Whether media pundits sans a clue (with Steve Harvey's help) continuously resurrect a dead corpse, struggling to analyze the reasons why they think we're ALL hopelessly single to being told our brand of beauty doesn't suffice unless a bunch of prerequisites come before it, or it be someone staring at us with their mouth agape when they realize our features are in fact diverse and not as homogeneous as they think... And so this story goes... 
About a month 1/2 ago, my best friend The Notorious C.A.T. came for a long overdue visit. Of course lots of fun and foolishness ensued. Anything less wouldn't make sense. I introduced her to haunts new to her since her last foray into Hartford... we visited some old, familiar ones. Per usual, Cat insisted on making her annual pilgrimage to a certain beauty supply store downtown to stock up on the must-haves lacking in her adopted northern New York town of Plattsburgh. 
As the Korean woman behind the counter rang her purchases, I noticed her animatedly speaking in Korean to her daughter, who was also behind the counter reading. The conversation seemed to be directed toward Cat, whose unrelaxed, curly hair was pulled back at the nape of her neck, in a puffy ponytail. We both looked at the woman and her daughter quizzically. 
"Oh, we were just talking about your hair." The daughter said to Cat. "It looks really nice. Is is real?" She asked. 
While I struggled to not express a serious case of WTF-face, Cat, in an amused voice, answered, "Oh! Yes. It's real!" 
"Oh wow! Okay." The girl answered incredulously as she and her mother nodded their shocked approval. 
Cat and I exchanged looks, smirked, and thanked the inquisitive Korean woman for ringing our purchases and went back out into the cold... laughing that all-knowing laugh. We reflected for a brief moment outside the store... 
I told Cat what'd just transpired reminded me of the scene from Chris Rock's eponymous documentary 'Good Hair,' where he visits several Korean-owned beauty supply stores, afro-textured wigs in-tow in a humorous attempt to sell it to them and measure its worth against the more popular and preferred 100% Indian Remy brand, beloved by Black women who get their hair weaved. "They don't wanna look... Africa... like this! They wanna look the style!" one heavily accented Korean store owner exclaimed, stretching his hands out on each side of his head for emphasis. "Nobody walks around with nappy hair nomore!" his Black employee sneered. Other beauty supply stores had similar reactions. Alas, Chris Rock concluded that our afro-textured hair wasn't worth a damn, apparently. 
I presume to think that Korean-owned beauty supply owners are probably so accustomed to seeing Black women walk in, with their need-to-be-done hair wrapped up in scarves, to purchase Indian Remy- (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that)- that the mere idea that one or two would walk in with derring-do, their natural, neatly styled kinky/curly hair on display on a mission to buy Cholesterol conditioner to lovingly maintain and care for it, came as a complete shock to them. 
Perhaps the store owner (and many other shocked and awed of the like) couldn't ever fathom soft, healthy, thick hair sprouting from the scalp of a Black woman scalp or grasp the fact that many of us would rather wear it instead of what's sprung from an Indian woman's... or that, quite possibly, a head of healthy hair lay protected underneath the weaved heads of many Black women, who're merely giving their own hair a breather from styling and maintenance. 
On a few occasions, I've been asked if my own pulled back, 70's inspired natural hair was a textured ponytail piece or bun pinned atop my head. 
While I maintain that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a Black woman experimenting with her hair and wearing it however she sees fit, our hair and bodies along with our dating and sex lives seem to pique the curiosity of many and becomes a topic of debate amongst those not in the know or who think they do. However, I'm left to wonder if the minority of us who aren't merely just trying a different look and who do truly despise our features and resent the texture and depth of our hair, don't shoulder some of the responsibility for the reactions of those outside our community.
The hair issue is a perpetually complicated one.. and there are a number of beleaguered Black women who are downright indignant about the texture of their hair, as illustrated by the beauty supply clerk in the 'Good Hair' clip, who co-signed her employer's disdain for "Africa hair."  I'd be remiss if I also didn't call out so-called natural hair wearers who follow rigid, multi-layered hair regimens and live by that blasted hair typing chart popularized by Oprah Winfrey's long-time hairdresser, Andre Walker, in an attempt to monitor and alter the texture of their natural hair... perhaps to mimic a Bi/Multi-racial woman's hair type
Black women undoubtedly seem to be under a constant microscope. Other people outside our community pick up on the conflict that rages within the minority of my sistren who dislike themselves, and they run long-distance marathons with it... formulating these grandiose ideas about our appearance, particularly that somehow we all want to mimic a uniform look based on a euro centric aesthetic
I'm often quite dumbfounded and somewhat disgusted when other Black women, who aren't attuned to the actual texture of their own hair, express the same type of surprise at the versatility of my natural hair. As if they, themselves came out of the womb relaxed or be-weaved. It's akin to a clear case of mental conditioning (read: brainwashing).  
Listen, there is absolutely nothing wrong with experimenting with hair as a personal form of expression, but once Black women become that far removed from themselves that it extends beyond a personal aesthetic and simple vanity in a way that causes them to disconnect from what and who they really are, then it's damaging and it perpetuates the growing list of ignorant rhetoric about us. 
Be mindful. Why on earth would you co-sign someone else's virtual (read: distorted) sketch of your image and allow them to wage a totalitarian ideology of how they think you should look? 
That is all. 

March 10, 2010

Fat and Greasy

Bastion of all things lewd, crude, sexist, and sophomoric, Howard Stern- (with the approval of his trusty dick wart, Robin Quivers)- has managed to make his ramblings relevant again by attacking up-and-coming actor and recent Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe for her appearance. Gabourey, who was up for an academy award for her debut performance in the film 'Precious' -(adapted from the book 'Push'  by author and performance poet, Sapphire)- is witty, college educated, articulate, comfortable in her skin, and did a hell of a job interpreting the title character in her very first film role. I read the book twice and saw the film an equal number of times. The film and book offer a bitter, gut wrenching pill to swallow and is glaring with the delivery. It could not have been an easy role for an actor just getting her feet wet in the industry, to perform, and so Gabourey was lauded for the strength of her debut by Oprah Winfrey, with a heartfelt tribute... but none of that matters... 
According to Howard Stern- (whose own physical appearance is a few notches under average at best, which makes his career in radio that much more fitting)- and Robin Quivers, Oprah is a "filthy liar," for Gabourey will never work in the industry again due to how she looks...  overweight, darker complected, and apparently offending to Howard's personal aesthetic and views on what he considers to be attractive and worthy. I won't bother linking to the offending diatribe available on YouTube, but I will relay some of the more notable quotes:
"There's the most enormous, fat Black chick I've ever seen. Everyone's pretending she's a part of show business,  and she's never going to be in another movie," he opined.  
"She should have gotten the Best Actress award because she's never going to have another shot. What movie is she gonna be in?" Stern continued to quip. 
He and Robin- (who has struggled with her own weight via questionable diet methods)- also said Gabby would die in about three years and should basically just shrink away into the abyss because she didn't resemble any of the other Oscar nominees. They suggested that she may have a shot starring in a sequel to 'The Blind Side,' though. There you have it. It's just that simple, despite the fact that Gabourey actually has several projects lined up beyond her role in 'Precious.'
Some Black people, in fact, refused to support 'Precious' while it was in theaters, simply because they were turned off by the fact that Gabourey didn't fit some hegemonic beauty standard. I can't even begin to count the reasons relayed to me, why people weren't interested in it... not even knowing the movie's premise. Someone complained to me, "Why do they have that big, fat, DARK-skinned girl in the movie??? She's a bad representative for Black people! I'm not going to see that mess!" Needless to say, I blinked at her incredulously. I've also read the hateful jokes on Black entertainment blogs... hyucking over Sidibe's complexion and weight.
Once again, a Black woman's body and overall look has been codified and reduced to a thing of repulsion... othered... her personality and creative gifts gently placed down her throat for her to swallow and perhaps spit back up, so that she'll pare down her substantial size to a body that's more palatable. Much of the unofficial jury seem to agree that Howard's biting remarks has some merit, because Gabourey just looks so... so, unhealthy. Suddenly folks are speculating and ticking off a list of issues she could potentially, but may not even suffer from! I am in awe that merely looking at a person automatically determines their vitals. Since it's that easy, to hell with Sidibe's doctor, because anybody not skinny automatically has health problems and live sedentary lives steeped in deep-fried Twinkies, while every skinny person is automatically healthy and fit sans any issues to speak of. It's official... everyone's an expert... medical licenses for all!  *insert side-eye here.* 
Dictating who's healthy and who isn't... who's beautiful enough to be on film and who's not, undermines what is essentially wrong with how this cult of personalty rate and judge people ... and it's also indicative of how often we don't mind our own business. Essentially, we all have room for self-improvement... Howard Stern especially.
In the grand scheme of things, who cares if Gabourey does have health problems? Those are between she and her doctor. So what if in addition to being overweight, she has the unmitigated gall to be darker-skinned than most people are comfortable with seeing on their American screens? The contempt that people like Howard Stern display when body-snarking and in determining whether Sidibe's race and figure will guarantee her continued fame and success, is indicative of their own self-loathing. Gabourey's health is no more at risk than actors' who smoke, binge and purge, get excessive amounts of plastic surgery, or snort coke.
I'm still enraptured by her spirit, the outstanding performance she gave in 'Precious,' and how infectious her personality is during interviews. Sidibe seems to be above the nonsense, as she  stated that suddenly one day, she woke up and determined for herself, that she was beautiful.

That is all.









February 12, 2010

Hathor Take The Wheel

I did not want to bat an eyelash over John Mayer’s recent FAIL interview with Playboy Magazine, but the more in-depth I read it- (in its entirety, because I did not want to comment based solely on the excerpts that got everyone in an uproar)- the harder I blinked and the more perplexed I became. I will not comment on the obvious homophobia or misogyny and ageism he displayed whilst commenting on his former girlfriends (‘right made the acid in my stomach gurgle with displeasure), nor on the lack of confidence he has in his manhood for he spoke at length about his sexual prowess and technique as well as his need to prove himself and be better than the former flames of his conquests. 
What I will rant and rave about however, is John’s proclamations that he has a “hood/nigger” pass, suggesting that having one somehow justifies his never ending, assholish behavior, asinine public comments and Twitter rants. He said he was "Very" just like Black folks. "V.E.R.Y." and so it absolved him of stupid behavior. Man, I guess (not).  John also name dropped Kanye West, a fellow partner in lame grappling with his own P.R. issues and who in 1996 (publicly creamed his trousers over the splendor of biracial women or “mutts” as he affectionately called them, Jay-Z, and other rappers, who, shall I add, seem color-struck and enamored with all things lighter-skinned and/or non-Black themselves, and will never miss an opportunity to bash dark-skinned Black women or to drape themselves with the finest of racially ambiguous vixens. But I digress... 
John Mayer… who always manages to fellate his foot hungrily, deep-throating it with gusto whenever he has the media’s attention… felt his scrotum swelling with douche water after waving his “nigger pass” in the air... going on to gloat, after being asked if Black women threw themselves at him  (a stupid question in and of itself), that while he has a Benetton heart he just couldn’t open himself up to the possibility of entertaining Black women, due to his having a David Duke cock.”
insert record screeching to an abrupt stop right here
Correct me if I’m wrong, or perhaps I’m out of the loop, but I had no idea Black women were drowning John in a river of crème de la coochie. I was completely unaware that this rather uninteresting and bland musician was the stuff that makes Black women swoon with unbridled desire. John also went on to make vulgar remarks about noted Black actress Kerry Washington’s hotness and how she might possibly suck a dick and say, “Yeah, I did it, so what?” for she’d undoubtedly break a Caucasian cad’s heart because she's "crazy like a white girl," or some such nonsense to that effect, his love of porn, and how every White dude bulged out of their boxers for sitcom character Hilary Banks from the The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Additionally, while John Mayer is entitled to his preferences, why do it at the expense of Black women by suggesting that we are somehow not worthy or significant enough for someone as inane as he is? Listen, at the end of the day, I don't need John's racist penis to validate me as a Black woman or any other White man with a "nigger pass" or otherwise for that matter, so I'll sleep well this evening, but imagine the shock and furor had Halle Berry stated she had the heart of Coretta Scott King but the vagina of Minister Louis Farrakhan ... Mmm hmmm... Think, think, think... famous people. THINK before you spew. 
To the assholes who gave Mayer a “nigger pass,” Therein lies the problem, jerks. You make it OK for dumb-asses to engage in hipster racism because you’re giving them the go-ahead to do so…ofttimes at a Black woman's expense.  And then you’re the same jack-asses who want to mollywhop your White buddy, because he said,  “Nigger please!” Um. No sir. You can't have it both ways. Good for the goose but not for the gander??
John Mayer or any other wanna-be down chav gets no “hood pass” from me EVER. I don’t care how many BLACK friends you collect, I don't care how many close White friends I happen to connect with, and I don’t care how many of your BLACK FRIENDS said it was OK to make stupid statements steeped in bigotry. It is never OK to wallow in ignorance because you think it's the hip thing that will get you an *in.* Real talk. I don't hand those types of passes out. Null and VOID. 
Mayer, choked up and regretful (because his publicist told him to be ), issued a tearful apology onstage in the middle of a performance in addition to taking to his Twitter page yet again to partake in some major damage control. I refuse to stroke his ego by saying, “Awww, he made a mistake.” A mistake is something that’s unintentional and not predicated on arrogance and one’s privilege. He's sorry, because folks got pissed and his statements were not well received, because just like many White people who share Mayer's sentiment(s) about being "down", it's always cool to smile proudly and proclaim how much Black people love you, as a way to justify making ignorant (regardless of one's intention) statements out loud. And to co-opt the cool parts of being a racial minority, while rejecting the difficulties of being one. 
In the grand scheme of his stupidity, self-loathing, and narcissism however, I do not believe that Mayer is a racist. And I don't care if his David Duke cock wants to burn a cross at my window, because I am personally not, nor have I ever been rubbing myself raw over John Mayer. He is a bigot who hates women, however... and is a sad a victim of his own delusions of grandeur, arrogance, and sexual inadequacy. And to those Black folks who think it’s cute for some "others" to trash-talk your mothers, aunts, dads, brothers, uncles, and sisters (yes, those of you issuing out the free "nigger passes" to your White buddies)… stop perpetuating the disrespectful behavior. Enough is enough.  
Perhaps Mayer's attempt to fumble towards ecstasy and understanding will help us mull over the topics of race and gender a little more closely, and think before we open our gobs... trying to be clever. And a simple, "No, Black women don't throw themselves at me. Not at all." would've sufficed, John.

Read more about Mayer-gate 2010---

November 12, 2007

Just 'Cause

My favorite clips from La Haine and Do the Right Thing. There's no way you can miss the social commentary on the state of race relations, the ways in which young urbanites get through their day and their disenchantment with law enforcement, or the fact that these matters still apply today, unfortunately. I'm sure Dog the Bounty Hunter would agree that the dialogue needs to remain open.