Coffee Rhetoric: blogging while black
Showing posts with label blogging while black. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blogging while black. Show all posts

February 28, 2014

Revisiting the Film: Little Senegal

Updated review. Originally posted December, 2011


Last night while in the throes of insomnia, I decided to lull myself to sleep with a mini-movie marathon of sorts via Netflix. I watched and stopped several films before deciding on one: Little Senegal.  This film left enough of an indelible impression after I finished watching it; I was up until about 4:00 AM this morning mulling it over.
The Netflix reviews were ambivalent at best, suggesting it was dull, uninteresting, and that the acting was "wooden", however, as far as I'm concerned this reaction is par for the course from folks who don't have an emotional or vested interest in these types of films unless it's palatable and more along the lines of ‘magical negro’ fare with a white savior trope.

Little Senegal, a 2001 film directed by French-Algerian filmmaker Rachid Bouchareb, was far from uninteresting. It explored elements of the African Diasporic, immigrant experience and was somewhat reminiscent of Haile Gerima's film Sankofa, in that it charts the history and effects of the Atlantic slave trade. While the main character in Sankofa— a self-absorbed, black fashion model living in the present-day— is forced back in time to a plantation in the West Indies, to experience the horrors of slavery and learns the importance of community and advocacy; the protagonist in Little Senegal, an elderly man named Alloune, researches his heritage and those of his ancestors who were kidnapped and sold into American slavery, prompted by his own curiosity.

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.

June 05, 2012

Gwyneth Paltrow and Them "Niggas in Paris", For Real

Actress, Gwyneth Paltrow is not really known for being able to relate to the rest of us poor, working-class commoners, despite her liberal rumblings to the contrary; having been born into the aristocracy and with all of her sanctimonious diatribes about not being able to live without hand-painted de Gournay  wallpaper or Antonio Lupi Baia tubs in her bedroom and of course her “For wealthy people, duh!” musings in her Goop newsletter and all; So when Lady Gwyneth tweeted a picture of herself onstage with Kanye West and her BFF Jay-Z during a performance in France and captioned it “N**gas in Paris, for real…”  the Twitterverse experienced one of those screeching, record-scratching moments and side-eyed the pampered actress for getting too swept up in the camaraderie.  The tweet immediately went viral and Lady Gwyneth fumbled to rationalize her social-media gaffe: “Hold up. It’s the title of the song!”
Singer, Terius “The Dream” Nash also came to The Lady’s defense, initially absorbing the blame for the tweet... 


 The Dream then deferred to the “We give too much power to that word!” argument to further defend Lady Paltrow’s honor. An argument that only seems to surface when their favored non-Black friends come under fire for using the word out loud. Because I hardly ever hear rappers use that convoluted defense when "Nigger" is used with malicious intent to slight them or when they feel as if they're being discriminated against in some way.

And since The Dream, Beyonce, Jay-Z, et al have reached the pinnacle of the “Class-ceiling” and cultivated a friendship with their privileged friend in the process, it wouldn’t serve their personal interests to explain to Lady Gwyneth why it probably wasn’t a good idea to tweet the picture with that caption. And some would probably even argue that the onus should fall on Jay-Z and Kanye West for titling a song “Niggas in Paris” to begin with. Fair enough I suppose, since some rappers aren’t really known for tact and thinking of anything other than money.  And since Lady Gwyneth’s Handbook for All things Epicurious and Goopish probably didn’t come equipped with a chapter on: The politics of navigating urban lingo and etiquette, and since rappers see no monetary value or incentive in checking their White protégés and/or friends (see here and here) when they commit racially insensitive infractions, perhaps I can try to offer a bit of insight about why it wasn't entirely cool for Gwyneth to reference her "Watch the Throne" experience the way she did...
  

When Lady Gwyneth drones on and on about her privilege and wealth, she’s already illustrating how out of touch she is with the rest of the country, particularly about those navigating the trenches of the urban jungle. Paltrow definitely may not have had ill-intent with her tweet, but the fact still remains that it came from a place of unfamiliarity with a world she knows nothing about. Some of the responsibility should fall on Kanye and Jay-Z for brazenly titling the song “Niggas in Paris" while being far removed from their former lives and (maybe) expecting their newly acquired, wealthy White friends to find creative other ways to reference the song -- (although the tweet did seem to reference the actress literally being on stage with some Niggas in Paris"for real"). The Dream's shoddy excuses and rationalizations for the tweet...
 "A word means something when u react to it! ... Context is everything. Meaning it in the context as a Song which is how we Sold it to the world!!!!!! It is what it is ... And actually N---az was in Paris! LOL. Stop wasting God's time and do something with your life. Love not war."
...  make him and his rap cohorts just as complicit in its gross misuse when "Nigga" suddenly turns to "Nigger". To me, you can't have it both ways; you can't defend your White homegirl's or boy's right to use it while in the presence of Black people and then get upset if they then turn around in a moment of anger and hurl the epithet in its original, hateful context.

There is definitely no need for the type of alarm that would call for boycotting Goop (other than it’s just an annoying newsletter) and creating online petitions. Calling the actress out with a warning, since her nouveau riche Black friends won’t, suffices just fine. And if she genuinely develops an understanding about why some people found her tweet to be a bit irresponsible, fine; if she shrugs if off, then perhaps we need to examine the fact that her rich, Black friends wrote a song and titled it "Niggas in Paris" and told her to go ahead and repeat it as liberally and as often as she chooses to. Hip Hop Mogul, Russell Simmons also rushed to Gwyneth's defense, with somewhat disingenuous argument of his own ...
"It was this explosive expression that spread out of the inner cities of America into the walkmans of kids like Gwyneth Paltrow during their childhoods in 1980s and 1990s. It allowed white kids to begin to sympathize with the plight of many in black America. And these kids have overwhelmingly become progressive in their politics and their social concerns. Having any Hollywood starlet at your concert was unimaginable, and having her quote your lyrics as a badge of honor that she was hanging out with you, you never would have dreamed of that – until your poetry hit the market and changed the world.
So, for Gwyneth to tweet out her excitement about hip-hop taking over the planet is a good thing. She didn’t mean any harm, she just was trying to ball so hard, and like Jay-Z says, "motherf*ckers can’t fine" her." (Source)
Gwyneth Paltrow and people of her class and ilk often enjoy the luxuries their wealth and privilege affords them and will freely appropriate those aspects of Black urban culture they find most intriguing and entertaining… while disregarding the darker and grittier elements of that experience. On some level, is that not the fault of rap culture? I mean Gwyneth's rap friends are being especially emphatic in defending the "hood pass" privileges they've granted her, even though The Dream and Russell Simmons no longer navigate those circles and rub elbows with a more well-heeled group of people. Moreover, would Russell Simmons and The Dream feel equally as passionate about imploring folks to disregard the original impact of the word had... Ann Coulter tweeted a picture of herself at the concert and captioned she was having a great time with some "Niggas in Paris, for real"? Methinks this is just a case of rich rappers wanting to make special concessions for their wealthy White friend.  For me, this is where the conundrum lies.


In the video below, British poet and rapper Akala, explains why he stopped using the word out of context.



Also read: Dutch Magazine Labels Rihanna "De Ultimate Nigga Bitch"

May 28, 2012

These and Those: My Petition or In Which Coffee Rhetoric Vents


I’ve been blocked for the past two weeks or so and have been dying to spill open. I’ve stopped-and-started several different blog posts but couldn’t quite streamline my thoughts enough to compose them separately.  I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone and vent them all in one post via a series of mini-posts.

On Fat:  Very rarely do I feel the need to explain why I do what I do and am what I am, about me and mine, because folks who have no direct impact on me or who know nothing about me don’t deserve an explanation or to have their foolery placated however, allow me to wax poetic about the thunder in my thighs.  I’ve noticed whenever the topic of Black women’s bodies and/or images (especially when weight is the topic of discussion) come up, folks… men and women…  seem to get particularly up-in-arms about Black and their personal struggles with weight.  When Alice Randall wrote her controversial article in the New York Times’ op-ed  section, suggesting that most Black women were fat because they wanted to be so, there were a fair number of blog posts challenging her sweeping generalizations about Black women and weight (most of which she framed using her own, random experiences).  There were also the ubiquitous comments from the concern-troll chorus who opined “Black women are fat, because they eat too much and don’t exercise! You’re in denial about your fat, fatty!!” Cut-and-dry, because anybody can be a pretend licensed physician when rage-typing about fat, non?  

Full disclosure about yours truly (and this is the last time I’ll broach the topic of weight); First and foremost, I am a full-figured Black woman.  

My weight has always fluctuated and I’m prone to bloat, some of which I hold in water, apparently, and can pee right on out if I drink enough fluids or eat enough produce.  I’ve been smaller than I am and I’ve been much bigger (which I don't wish to be again). Contrary to popular anti-fat belief; I am active, I’m not diabetic, and I’ve dated actively… and no not as a “jump-off” for fat fetishists or chubby chasers.  I’m not a fucking “Mammy” or the "Sassy Black chubby friend" to anybody, so those of you who like to toss those ridiculous phrases around freely when describing women with my body type, can stop... especially when it doesn’t always apply.

Up until about four years ago, I was a vegetarian for more than a decade. I’ve walked two marathons so far, in my adult life; one for Breast Cancer, another for Obesity. I’ve also grappled with an eating disorder and put my health at risk trying to force myself thinner.  I subsisted off a diet of Saltine Crackers and Extra-strength Dexatrim.  Sometimes I’d chew my food and discretely spit it out in a napkin… never swallowing.  I put my health at risk; my nail-beds turned an odd orange color and my skin, an took on an odd grey pallor… but, but my face was so angular! And while I wasn't necessarily skinny, I was a lot thinner than I was.  Then I made (what I considered to be) the "mistake" of masticating and swallowing my food... and I gained back all of my weight and then some.  I eventually lost it having spent an entire summer exercising along with a plus-size aerobics instructor named Idrea on a VHS tape I'd found and maintaining a mostly vegetarian diet.  

Once I started eating meat again and I gained back a few pounds. Would I mind being thinner? No. Do I loathe myself because I’m not thin? Nope (and folks are apparently upset about it, because they think I should be wallowing in a sea of shame and self-loathing). Do I sit around stuffing my face with cake, pie, and ice cream? No. Sounds delectable, but no.  Do I believe that Black people need to take their health and overall well-being (both physical and mental) seriously? Yes.  While I’m not a gym rat, I am active and try my best to stay as such.  I am not diabetic, but I do have a fat rear, big thighs, and wide hips.  This doesn’t bode well for the fat police and quite frankly, I don't care.  I’m not a pro-fat advocate, but hearing the word “fat” stopped making me wince ages ago. Because while I realize there's room for improvement (as far as my body goes), I've grown comfortable in my skin. And most people will read that as me being "in denial". Fortunately I'm not here to placate most people, so feel no need to try and convince or prove anything. 

What I do endorse, is Black women maintaining their best selves.  And to people who are prone to fat-shaming or accusing Black women of being proud fatties who’re in denial, I implore you not to worry or get so incited to wrath about it, because fat isn’t contagious… it won’t rub-off on you like the plague… you can’t get fat via osmosis, so you can stop taking the struggles of someone else and their road towards body acceptance, so personally; as if it’s impacting your lives.  Those of you who don’t struggle with weight, get incited to wrath on social media forums and it makes me… well… chuckle.  If someone is grappling with weight, chances are they’ve already discussed it with their physician (and, um you’re not him or her) and are probably working towards being healthier; so keep that in mind when some of you whine, “Why can’t we be open about discussing how fat Black women are?” Having a frank discussion about the health of our community versus waging an all-out attack on a group of women, using nasty rhetoric isn’t having an “open discussion.”  And spare me the argument about semantics... "fat" vs "thick". That's a futile disagreement and it doesn't interest me.


Black women in my sphere are taking their health seriously… they’re full-figured, in-between, and/or thin and/or have lost a great deal of weight (and still fight the good fight to keep it off). None of them are in any state of denial. If someone is fat, they know it and don't need to be clubbed over the head by angry masses about it. As someone pointed out in the comments section of my Alice Randall post, there’s a distinct difference between wanting to be fat and accepting being fat... and body acceptance isn't about denial or advocating for fat, as much as it's about not wallowing in self-loathing and doing the absolute best to work with and maintain the body and health you have now... which sometimes results in lost poundage, inches, and good overall well-being.

And If it still bothers you to see fat bodies (even when fat bodies are at the gym, walking around your local track, in the produce section of your local Whole Foods, or hyuking it up enjoying herself at your favorite wine bar)… then I’m sure there’s a nice cave you can sequester yourselves in. Cheers. In the meantime, for fatties who like to stay healthy and active, For Harriet (a blog that legitimately aims to help elevate the state of Black women and our health and wellness), compiled a helpful list of online communities to aid Black women in staying healthy and fit. Additionally, fashion blogger and size-acceptance advocate, Gabi Fresh also encourages active and healthy full-figured women to head to the beach and enjoy themselves, as she did on a recent trip to Las Vegas with her boyfriend. Gabi showed off pics of herself clad in a striped bikini on her blog, titling her post, Fatkini 2012


On Having My Very Own Pinterest Troll:  I recently contended with a prolific Internet bully and Pinterest troll named Kelli Romero, who wrote “EWW YUKK!” among other obnoxious comments, when I pinned my op-ed post about Alice Randall’s article to my “Women’s Issues” board. She also wrote, “Sorry, but you look gross” mistaking a nude photo of Anansa Sims for me… and much to my delight actually… after I told her to keep her negative, trollish comments (which I likened to defacing private property) to herself and to stay off my boards.
Upon checking her activity, I discovered she made trolling various body acceptance boards and many others featuring plus-size models or bodies, a full-time job.  She also made sure to spew a bunch of racist and homophobic rhetoric in the comments section underneath other people’s boards and seemed to delight in going out of her way to look for those with pornographic material, just so she could type “Gross, I’m reporting this page!” in the comments section.  Needless to say, Kelli (who appears to be the mother of two adult women and a grandmother and therefore, too old to be a bullish, racist, homophobic internet troll) lost the battle when she was challenged head-on, by a fed up Pinterest user, who beat her at her own game, or at least shut her up. When confronted, she deleted her comments, some were flagged (since Pinterest has yet to employ a "block" option), Kelli seemingly cleaned up her hateful activity, changed her Pinterest avi (from a picture of herself) and name, and she hasn’t done any trolling since… at least for now. But like most online (or real life) bullies tend to do; she insinuated herself into the role of victim, but not before cleaning up her own filth, so her Pinterest defender(s) couldn’t see the trail that led to someone creating a Pinterest board in her dark-sided honor, emblazoned with some of her favorite troll-rhetoric. 


On Intra-racial Stereotyping:  Improving the quality of one’s life is something Black women… and anyone really… should aspire to do.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Often, Black women are relegated to the bottom of the totem pole. We’re told that we’re too fat, not attractive enough, to angry to be considered as marriage material, unattractive, too dark, too light, too awkward, too... well you get the hint. And often, a lot of those hurtful tropes are perpetuated by Black men. So imagine my disappointment upon noticing a pattern of intra-racial stereotyping on different New Media platforms, being perpetuated by a subgroup of so-called Black Women Empowerment collectives (or at least they attach themselves to the movement), targeting other Black women.  The rhetoric is a nasty and divisive way of thinking and it does absolutely nothing to “uplift” Black women, as alleged. 

So far I’ve read comments accusing darker-skinned actresses who don’t play sexpot roles described as Mammies, Black women who pursue intra-racial dating preferences labeled as “Black male identified” or as not being feminine enough, Single Black mothers brushed off as “Ghetto Queens”, a call for Black women to divest from Black communities entirely, so on and so forth.  When did we start extolling the tenets of White Supremacy to denigrate one another?   

Perhaps I’m confused or was hopeful, but how can we honestly build as Black women, when some of us seem intent on condescending to those we perceive to be lesser-than or spiteful towards those who hold opinions that are contrary to the rhetoric that's being put down?  
To say you’re building a movement to help empower Black women, while seemingly putting your foot on and mocking those who’re poor, uneducated, or already downtrodden seems counterproductive. Moreover, why can’t we accept people’s dating choices without resorting to petty name-calling? Haven’t we already realized by now, that none of us are a monolith? Shouldn't we be past that tired interracial vs intra-racial dating argument at this juncture? Who cares? We are probably the only group of women who put so much painstaking emphasis on it.
Being empowered, is being free to make choices that suit your lifestyle... without fear of being chastised for it. If a young Black woman is making destructive lifestyle choices... then let's either figure out why and offer solutions to help her as opposed to calling her a "ghetto queen"... or simply, shut up and be happy you aren't unfortunate enough to have to navigate those particular trials and tribulations.

As was pointed out to me during an email discussion with another hyper-aware Black woman I love building with online, it seems Black women are so desperate to be loved and accepted, we’ve resorted to turning on one another and breaking off into factions. And if that works for you, then fine... godspeed. We won’t always thrust our hips in accordance with the djembe beat. Perhaps Zora Neale Hurston was onto something when she opined, “All my skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.”  


On being an Angry Black Woman:  I am a Black woman. And I reserve the right to express anger when and where it’s warranted. I take issue with the term "Angry Black Woman", because it robs me of the right to be human. Often, Black women are considered to be nothing more than mules … unemotional Super Women, unfairly saddled with carrying heavy loads without the capacity or right to become exasperated. I've always wondered why I have to be an "Angry Black Woman" and guilt-tripped about expressing a very real and human emotion. I rarely hear White women described as "Angry White Women" or Asian women described as "Angry Asian Women", etc. when they express their dismay over an indignity. 

In many instances, a Black woman's displeasure about certain situations is justified. To rob me of the right to emote as any other woman does, then stereotype me by comparing me to folks on TV, who're getting a check to act over-the-top foolish (aka Nene Leakes, Tami Roman, and the rest of the Basketball Wives) is ridiculous. And I'm tired of the comparisons, especially since no Black women I interact with in actual life, act out in that way. 

Black women have the right to emote and express righteous indignation when and where it's warranted and should exercise that right without having to worry over trying to placate the self-righteousness, ego, or ignorance of someone else.

I'm over seeing us at war with one another. Just... live and relish your lives in the ways in which it works for you, and allow other people to do the same with theirs. We don't have to agree and you don't even have to like how other people go about choose to live. In fact, we don't have to build or be bothered with one another in order to live and let live. Seems simple enough. 


On Race and Oppression: If you're a non-Black person or not a person of color who doesn't believe that racism still exists or who rolls your eyes whenever you come across conversations that deconstruct White privilege and supremacy, homophobia, or patriarchy that is definitely your right however, bum-rushing online communities where people of color or marginalized groups build with one another, deconstruct racism, and do anti-racism/anti-oppression work to derail conversations to suit your own interests, is not the way. You may not want to believe or even hear that marginalized groups still experience discrimination, but it's not your place to dictate to people how you think they should navigate being discriminated against or even how to address these issues. You don't get to demand that people "just get over it", and grow defensive and try to paint yourself as a victim when you're taken to task for your ignorance. If you're truly an ally of anti-oppression work and are interested in participating in the discourse, the first rule of thumb is to listen... LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN and read carefully. 

Trivializing people's experiences and suggesting that they're exaggerating or that it's all in their head is not listening. Moreover, it's obnoxious. If you're a racist, misogynist, or bigot, then I suppose it's par for the course; in which case, perhaps you shouldn't try to participate in the discussion and steer clear of those forums, lest you just paint yourself as an internet troll. 

Unless you can morph into a person of color, a woman, a woman of color, a gay person, a gay person of color, a Transgender person, a sex worker, a person who has been sexually assaulted and/or harassed, a person who has been denied basic human and civil rights, etc... you don't have even an inkling of what it's like to navigate their world. These stories are bitter pills to swallow, because they aren't meant to soothe your ego, make you feel better about yourself, placate your privilege, or comfort your sensibilities.

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 23, 2012

Post-Racial America: The Mis-Education of Mainstream Youth...

The featured video is what happens when parents (and so-called responsible adults) fail to educate their children properly and mainstream media perpetuate tired racial tropes and stereotypes...
This is yet another inarticulate and very public rant courtesy of the sad and misinformed; this time in the form of two young high school aged women from Gainsville, Florida; who-- coincidentally enough-- opine that Black people "can't fucking talk right", yet can't discern between the words "intelligible" and "eligible".
Needless to say, these two unintelligible young women aren't eligible representatives of what evolved young minds are supposed to be. And while one of these quacking ducks has enthusiastically pointed out what a very "nice white neighborhood" she lives in, her rant is one of the reasons why platforms like the Un-fair Campaign have cropped up and are needed.

Racism, hate-speech, and class-discrimination -- (some of which comes from Conservative Republican pundits and political hopefuls) -- seem to be at an all time high (especially in the wake of the current political debates). This is why I refuse to subscribe to the post-racial, color-blind propaganda people like to trot out, whenever the issues of race and xenophobia come up.

White privilege and supremacy is still very much alive and kicking. The idea that there's a post-racial society is a farce concocted and heavily pushed by its proponents, because they want to be able to spread hate freely, marginalize people of color and falsely appropriate marginalization as an issue that solely affects them, and teach their ignorance to young people, without having to be held accountable for their actions. I'm curious to know what type of conversations these girls have with their respective families at home and how their parents will set about dealing with their daughters' racist YouTube rant and the subsequent fall-out. On a completely unrelated note, I hate World Star Hip Hop and everything that site represents... That's all.

**Additional Reading







January 23, 2012

Blogging Elsewhere: Think Like a Dummy, Date Like a Foolio- The Myth of the Great White Hope

In the wake of all of the media attention aimed at Black women, which included but wasn’t limited to; ill-advised dating advice from comedians turned quasi-relationship experts, speculation about why we’re single and unmarried, No Wedding No Womb baby-mama campaign, why we are supposedly threatened by Kim Kardashian’s elegance, grace, and beauty, and play-play scientific charts documenting why we’re unattractive, many of us were flustered by the Tragic, Angry, Single Black Woman meme and exasperated with defending ourselves. The Black woman’s sensibilities definitely took a bit of a hit in the press and in popular culture. At Ariana Proehl’s (of Know This! TV) urging, I also resolved to put the tired trope to rest.  I didn’t want to lend the insanity any more credence or energy.
That promise notwithstanding, no agenda geared toward Black women is equally as annoying as the Black Women Are Better off  With and Simply MUST Date White Men or Will melt Into a Sticky Puddle of Nothingness and Despair propaganda, pushed by certain ones of my sistren is. Of late, articles are cropping up using another angle to access and publicly analyze our dating lives and there have been videos featuring groups of giddy Black women promoting bulleted lists of reasons why dating White men is somehow essential to our survival and livelihood. And it has to absolutely be White men… and none other, or else we’re doomed!
Author Niki McElroy has been making the social media rounds, promoting her book A Black Girl’s Guide to Dating White Men and espousing the attributes that will allegedly get Black women picked by a trophy husband (let’s cut the double-standard and call it what it so obviously is). In a video clip from a show called Everyway Woman, McElroy suggests that her current dating choices are relegated to White men and she wrote the book to placate her curious girlfriends’ queries. While I have no issue with interracial dating, believe in dating with an open mind, and have done so several times for no particular reason or sans any ulterior motives other than shared interests/mutual attraction/because I just wanted to make-out with a willing partner,  I do have a problem with people who date other, purely for opportunistic and superficial reasons or to prove some myopic argument. READ THE REST...
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January 13, 2012

Blogging Elsewhere: When Sh*t Hits The Fan


It all started with the video Shit Girls Say and then spiraled (and has since disintegrated) into a barrage of Shit (insert ethnic/gender group) Say… spoof videos. Shit Girls Say morphed into Shit Black Girls Say, which prompted Shit Black Guys Say, which encouraged Shit Latinas Say. And you know the natural and relaxed haired sistren had to create a spoof of their own: Shit Naturals Hair Girls Say /Shit Relaxed Girls Say to Natural Girls… until many of us implored, Enough!
The series has definitely run its course, yet people won’t let it die a quiet death until they’ve squeezed the last vestige out of the joke… adding Shit to an already heaping pile. Amongst the wreckage of daft Shit Whoever, Everybody, & Their Mama Say videos, popular YouTube vlogger Franchesca Leigh Ramsay, better known as Chescaleigh to the rest of us, managed to stand out and prompt an interesting discourse on race relations. In her spoof video Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls; Chescaleigh dons a blond wig and an affected Valleyspeak accent, as she cleverly lampoons the ways in which some White women may try to relate to Black women (or any woman of color).
As a Black woman who went to a predominantly White liberal arts college in the Midwest and who has interacted with White women from all walks of life during college and throughout my everyday life, Chescaleigh presents circumstances that are very familiar to me and many of my friends. The: “Come on! Lemme just touch your hair this one time, really quick!” and the “Look at my tan, I’m almost as Black as you!” comments or bizarre questions I’d get from White women, initially flummoxed and then frustrated me. Once during my first year at college, questions about my otherness from a floor (and dormitory) of mostly White women, ran the gamut. “How often do you wash your hair?” and “Do Black people get the chicken pox?” were popular ones. Whenever I divulged where I was from, I’d get asked, “Oh, do you know someone named Tyrone Jones? He’s Black and from Connecticut too.” I know Connecticut’s a small state, but umm…

December 21, 2011

Blogging Elsewhere: Dutch Magazine Labels Rihanna "De Ultimate NiggaBitch"

Ever since Barack Obama was voted into office as President of The United States, liberal types have been dropping constant memos stating: Obama’s presidency is proof positive that we’re living in a post-racial society!  In fact, they’ve been virtually imploring  people of color to stop griping about racism and to get a sense of humor about the piss-poor comedic stylings showcasing their hipster racism.
Barack’s presidency is considered the ultimate triumph over White supremacy.  Once the First (Black) Family settled into the White House, Black citizens suddenly felt comfortable enough to enjoy a slice of delicious, refreshing watermelon and that piece of chicken at the company BBQ without reproach or side-eyes from their co-workers.  People of the African Diaspora the world over (especially Afro-Europeans) rejoiced and seemed compelled to action as they re-evaluated their place among European society. Despite protests to the contrary, America is still grappling with racist agitators and questionable images portrayed in the media, even as we’re right on the cusp of 2012.  And while offenders in this country are often taken to task for fanning the flames of ignorance, Europe and European media outlets continue to have a complacent, laissez faire attitude or seem to harbor a lack of education when it comes to global race relations… particularly how it functions here in the United States. For instance, Vogue Italia came under fire this past summer for referring to hoop earrings commonly worn by women of color as “slave earrings” and made sure to amend their gaffe since the backlash.
This latest and flagrant act of ignorance came courtesy of a Dutch magazine called Jackie. Applying the wit of a hipster telling a racially insensitive joke, a writer for Jackie advised its readers on how to dress like super Popstar, Rihanna, without looking like “De Niggabitch”  …   …  Yes you read correctly. Someone from a legitimate fashion publication actually wrote an article touting the attributes that make a true “niggabitch”and titled it as such. See, a post-racial society prompts media types to use precarious language and reinforce stereotypes when referencing Black women…
“She has street cred, she has a ghetto ass and she has a golden throat. Rihanna, the good girl gone bad, is the ultimate niggabitch and displays that gladly, and for her that means: what’s on can come off. If that means she’ll be on stage half naked, then so be it. But Dutch winters aren’t like Jamaican ones, so pick a clothing style in which your daughter can resist minus ten. No to the big sunglasses and the pornheels, and yes to the tiger print, pink shizzle and everything that glitters. Now let’s hope she won’t beat anybody up at daycare.”  The journalist wrote… adding insult to injury by getting the Bajan singer’s country of origin wrong.
Jackie Editor in Chief Eva Hoeke issued a half-hearted and seemingly forced apology via the magazine’s Facebook page…
Dear readers,
First: thanks for all your responses. We are of course very fed up over this and especially very shocked. However I’m glad that we’re engaging in a dialogue on this page — not everybody does that. Thanks for this. Other than that I can be brief about this: this should have never happened. Period. While the author meant no harm — the title of the article was intended as a joke — it was a bad joke, to say the least...

December 01, 2011

Down The Rabbit Hole...


The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well.  Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next.  –Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

VH-1 is widely known as a repository for "celebreality" and all the foolery that we've come to associate with that particular sub-genre of “reality” entertainment.  In fact, someone on Twitter joked that it was like the “National Geographic for sassy Black women.”

The network is undoubtedly at the top of the trash heap with its sports and Hip-Hop centered series, detailing the lives of the wives/ex-wives/girlfriends/groupies/bed-warmers/long-term fiancées of athletes and rappers who fund the lavish lifestyles of women (most of whom are women of color) who present demeanor of sexy-street toughness dipped in the finest linens and jewels.  It’s not difficult to see beyond the impeccably lacquered lips and sky-high $1,000 Christian Louboutin heels, because more often than not these women deliver the goods when it comes to the ratings game. Whether they’re screeching vulgarities at one another across a table at some posh restaurant, throwing drinks, or clawing at one another’s weaves, these women of dubious status and leisure draw in millions of viewers and become hash tagged on Twitter before the hour is even up.  The allure of these quasi-reality shows present a weird dichotomy of love and loathing… they’re guilty a pleasure viewers love to pontificate about or skewer on social networking forums (the skewering especially done by folks who like to feign as if they never watch).

Shows like Basketball Wives and Love  & Hip Hop generate an interesting discourse about the portrayal of Black women on reality shows across the blogosphere and among social media journalists. The word buffoonery gets tossed around a lot, as does the Angry Black Woman meme. 
Each week there is some sort of online poll asking viewers if the (insert reality fight here) make Black women look bad.  Somehow, whenever NeNe Leakes of Bravo TV’s Real Housewives… franchise engages in a verbal meltdown with a fellow cast mate or Tami Roman of the Basketball Wives: Miami cast punches someone in the teeth, all Black women in the United States of America are held accountable for that behavior.  We’re prodded to explore why Black women act like foolios on network TV, for a check.  However, there was little tsk-tsking after the group of mega-wealthy Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (all of whom are Caucasian) imploded during  a game-night  hosted at the home of a cast member, where sisters Kyle and Kim (who happen to be Paris Hilton’s aunts), verbally smacked down newcomer Brandi Glanville, calling her a “ho” and a “slut pig.” Daytime talks show hosts and Bloggers chuckled about it and called the finger-jabbing duo feisty… they ate it up in fact. White women in general weren’t taken to task as an entire group, for the brash televised behavior of a few. Unless obvious ethnic stereotypes are somehow thrown into the mix, as was the case with VH-1’s Mob Wives, (where the group was asked if they considered their aggressive behavior and mafia ties to be offensive to all Italians), they rarely ever are.

Needless to say, VH-1 is taking viewers to the brink of nonsense again with their new offering, Baseball Wives, which premiered this past Wednesday night.  This particular group is predominantly comprised of White women. The gravelly voiced, ex-stripper wife of one retired player said, “We are not like Basketball Wives, we are classy.”  This claim is debatable considering the legacy of VH-1’s sports wives series and that said ex-stripper wife is already mired in controversy for reportedly menacing a fellow cast member with a 12-inch dildo during a taping.

If anyone bothers to watch Baseball Wives (if only for the dildo incident), I’ll be interested to know how these women’s behavior will be received and if they’ll be accused of making the entire population of White women look bad, or whether the entire population of White women will shoulder the burden of the Baseball Wives’ behavior.   Just a reversal of thought .


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