Tuesday, March 31, 2015

CHOOSING BLACK LOVE




"Because race is no more than a construction, wanting to experience love with another Black person stems not from skin color, but from a resistance to the belief that what is non-white is unworthy of love. I have always been able to find men of every race physically beautiful.

Certainly, though, I have a preference for culture

that resists White Supremacy, and by definition that is not a culture that most white people (and, admittedly, most people of color as well) know fully.


Most importantly, I envision myself in a relationship where home is as safe a space as it can be, and where a mutual love of our struggle is what keeps us safe. In a world where pro-Blackness is constantly questioned to the point of exhaustion, if not attacked outright, I know I cannot always be educating my partner about racial injustices and retain my emotional stability.

In fact, sometimes I will need him to educate me...






******************************************

Excerpt from



CHOOSING BLACK LOVE:  WHY I'M UNLIKELY
TO SPEND MY LIFE  WITH A WHITE PERSON
by Hari Ziyad 

at  BLACK GIRL DANGEROUS



Read More - http://www.blackgirldangerous.org/2015/03/choosing-black-love-why-im-unlikely-to-spend-my-life-with-a-white-person/



******************************************



This is probably the best piece I've read on the likelihood, and only the likelihood, of an individual choosing in favor of safety and understanding using race as a guide, when choosing a mate...rather than against someone based on something as simple skin-color difference.

Most of us know by now that race isn't simply skin-color or ethnicity. And we know it isn't genetics either. Race is a social construct. A lot of us know that too. But some think "social construct" is less real than other bases of difference. But the social construct of race is very, very real in that it has real impact....on the education you're likely to receive, income, poverty, affluence, and going to jail for things the dominant white culture can just laugh off.*
 
The social construct of race, in this country, includes the presence and absence of white supremacy. The lack of awareness of that white supremacy, the embracing of that supremacy as "normal," the use of it unconsciously --at least as unconscious as our lungs using oxygen minute to minute in order to keep our bodies alive-- matters to some more than others when choosing a life partner.

In other words, some people of color find it impossible to be with someone who can't see, hear, and smell the obvious because it seems so normal to that someone. I've noticed, with white women in particular, that the awareness leaps into their consciousness the second they give birth to a dark-skinned child. This tells me that when somebody you care about is at risk? You'll sit up and take notice by choice. 


All this ought to be understandable --when explained-- to anyone who decides to be identified as "anti-racist" but that's not always so. 







"In fact, sometimes I will need him to educate me..."



Ain't that the truth? Ain't that the most important truth?

As black people we hear so much about what "black people are like" from people not-black that we have to repeat to one another our own genuine stories so that we do not forget what's real. All of us may NOT need to be in a same-race or same-ethnicity space in order to hear ourselves think or feel our own feelings, un-judged. But many of us sure might as sh*t need our own spaces for education (HBCUs) and healing (within locations to be specified later) at some point in our individual lifetimes. 






Until images must like the one above seem common place to a heck of a lot more of us,  all I can say is "I feel ya" to the author of this piece. 




By The Way
That  #CrimingWhileWhite twitter rage a while back was very
illuminating...even though I've lived in white dominated neighborhoods.  Very.

And #CrimingWhileWhite should also demonstrate why white people are needed inside the anti-racism community



Monday, March 30, 2015

The War On Men Through The Degradation Of Women

FROM SINUOUS MAGAZINE, THE COMPLEX

When the press attacked her girl child or being free, Ms. Jada Pinkett Smith took some time out to tell us all how much more uplifted the men in any culture could be if they only invested in themselves by investing in their women.  

"How is man to recognize his full self, his full power through the eye’s of an incomplete woman? The woman who has been stripped of Goddess recognition and diminished to a big ass and full breast for physical comfort only.

The woman who has been silenced so she may forget her spiritual essence because her words stir too much thought outside of the pleasure space. The woman who has been diminished to covering all that rots inside of her with weaves and red bottom shoes.

I am sure the men, who restructured our societies from cultures that honored woman, had no idea of the outcome. They had no idea that eventually, even men would render themselves empty and longing for meaning, depth and connection.

There is a deep sadness when I witness a man that can’t recognize the emptiness he feels when he objectifies himself as a bank and truly believes he can buy love with things and status. It is painful to witness the betrayal when a woman takes him up on that offer. He doesn’t recognize that the [creation] of a half woman has contributed to his repressed anger and frustration of feeling he is not enough. He then may love no woman or keep many half women as his prize.

He doesn’t recognize that it’s his submersion in the imbalanced warrior culture, where violence is the means of getting respect and power, as the reason he can break the face of the woman who bore him four children.

When woman is lost, so is man. The truth is, woman is the window to a man’s heart and a man’s heart is the gateway to his soul.

Power and control will NEVER out weigh love.

May we all find our way.
J


Different but equal. This is a concept that's recognized in regards to race. And it should be just as easy to recognize in regards to gender.




~ Jada Pinkett-Smith, Sinuous Magazine http://www.sinuousmag.com/2012/12/jada-pinket-smith-war-on-men/

Sunday, March 29, 2015

RESPONSIBILITY TO YOURSELF
according to Adrienne Rich



Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you......it means that you do not treat your body as a commodity with which to purchase superficial intimacy or economic security; for our bodies to be treated as objects, our minds are in mortal danger.

It means insisting that those to whom you give your friendship and love are able to respect your mind.

It means being able to say, with Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre: "I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all the extraneous delights should be withheld or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give."

Responsibility to yourself means that you don't fall for shallow and easy solutions--predigested books and ideas...marrying early as an escape from real decisions, getting pregnant as an evasion of already existing problems.

It means that you refuse to sell your talents and aspirations short...

...and this, in turn, means resisting the forces in society which say that women should be nice, play safe, have low professional expectations, drown in love and forget about work, live through others, and stay in the places assigned to us.

It means that we insist on a life of meaningful work, insist that work be as meaningful as love and friendship in our lives. It means, therefore, the courage to be "different"...

The difference between a life lived actively, and a life of passive drifting and dispersal of energies, is an immense difference. Once we begin to feel committed to our lives, responsible to ourselves, we can never again be satisfied with the old, passive way.


~ Adrienne Rich, Poet, Author, Feminist



The Planet Wearing It's Sunday Best


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tracee Ellis Ross


Fictional Feminists:
DANA SCULLY of the X-files






Six New Episodes Of The X-Files Are Coming! In 2015 or 2016 or 2017, don't know when. But they are coming! My inner geek is overjoyed.  They BETTER be good!


Calming Down. Back to Business....


*****************

I'm not unusual in that I wasn't too sure about kill-joy Dana Scully at first. She could poo-poo absolutely anything, and sooo closed minded. But that didn't stop her from performing when the sh*t hit the fan. And fan hitting was quite frequent on the X-files.

And though the gender norms/ gender stereotypes were most definitely reversed.
He was the emotional one.  She was the stone, cold logical one. Even so, there was never, ever a doubt that she was female, even in those squared off suits of hers. She was this completely soft, empathetic person and a bad ass too.

But for me, the feminist-y-est thing about the X-files was this:

Mulder would always wind up dragging her somewhere I never would have gone in broad daylight, much less at night. Then they'd split up. Mulder would head off somewhere even darker. Then, sometimes -only sometimes -someTHING, some huge, slimy, rottening and ugly thing would claw its way up outta some hole.  And Mulder would realize that he was about to be chewed up and spit out... like literally eaten, and his reaction was to SCREAM Scully's name...over and over "like a girl" until she came to save his @$$.

"SCULLY!!!! ....SCULLY!!! .....SCULLY!!!"  (No shame in his game. He came out alive, ya know? He was completely practical, in my opinion...Actually Mulder 's character was drawn in a very feminist way as well, wasn't he?)

And Dana Scully always came running in the take-me-seriously suit with those quasi-reasonable heels clicking along, GUN OUT FRONT! And mostly? She usually got there just in time. If not there in time, and the ugly thing snatched him, she'd find him...or mourn until finally she did. And she always found him.


Scully and Mulder even fell in love in a respectable, quiet way -- and she didn't judge him for being more than a little bit of nerdy weirdo who watches porn and has severely nerdy friends (The Lone Gunman - I think I actually cried when they died)

I think I loved almost everything about the X-Files. It got muddy toward the end. No doubt. And, seriously, I could used A FEW more black folk along the way, especially earlier on in the series. But there are quite a few shows, like Sleepy Hollow - should it survive until next season, that could stand to pick up a few pointers in regards to the format.

------------
X-Files gets 4 out of 5 FEM STARS!!! (Take one star off because Mulder was nearly always right...eventually...no matter how ridiculous his theory was. lol )

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/24/the-x-files-to-return-for-six-episode-limited-series/?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&bicmp=AD&bicmlukp=WT.mc_id&bicmst=1409232722000&bicmet=1419773522000&_r=1

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Vacation Sex




We’ve been at it all summer,
from the Canadian border
to the edge of Mexico,
just barely keeping it American
but doing okay just the same,

in hotels under overpasses

or rooms next to ice machines,
friends’ fold-out couches,





in-laws’ guest quarters
—wallpaper and bedspreads festooned
with nautical rigging,
tiny life rings and coiled tow ropes—
even one night in the car, 


~
the plush backseat not plush enough,
the door handle giving me an impromptu
sacro-cranial chiropractic adjustment,
the underside of the front seat
strafing the perfect arches of his feet.
~
And one long glorious night
in a cabin tucked in the woods
where our crooning and whooping
started the coyotes singing.
~
But the best was when we got home,
our luggage cuddled in the vestibule
—really just a hallway
but because we were home
it seemed like a vestibule—
~
and we threw off our vestments,
which were really just our clothes
but they seemed like garments, like raiment,
like habits because we felt sorely religious,
dropping them one by one on the stairs:

white shirts,

black bra,

blue jeans,

red socks,

then stood naked in our own bedroom,

~

our bed with its drab spread,
our pillows that smelled like us:
a little shampoo-y,
maybe a little like myrrh,
the gooseberry candle we light sometimes
when we’re in the mood for mood,
our own music and books
and cap off the toothpaste
and cat on the window seat.

~

Our window looks over a parking lot—
a dental group
—and at night we can hear the cars whisper past the 24-hour Albertson’s
where the homeless couple buys their bag of wine
before they walk across the street
to sit on the dentist’s bench under a tree
and swap it
and guzzle it
and argue loudly
until we all fall asleep.



"Vacation Sex" by Dorianne Laux

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

At Last!
A Water Dance for Etta James





This deserves darkness and a nearly reverent quiet. It's lovely.
Seahorses of Monterey e
dited by Mikel Angel Rotger




Gratitude For The New Normal
that Feminism Wrought

                                  


Last year or the year before that someone on the news announced that Rhoda was dying of brain cancer. I hadn't thought of Rhoda (played by Valerie Harper) in years, decades maybe. I couldn't believe it when they said she was over 70 years old, well over. That brought me back to thinking about my own age.

Couldn't believe that either.

All this inability to believe started me thinking about how MANY things that I now consider "normal" simply WEREN'T when I was born. Forget the internet, GPS, and microwaves. Bump all that! I re-realized that I was born a decade BEFORE women could easily get credit in their own name!!! 

When I was a kid, I heard about this new law that made women able to get credit on their own. I can just barely remember thinking, "Well yeeeaah....of course!"  I also remember being shocked that an actual law had to be written to ensure this.  I also remember being desperately glad that I hadn't been born a few decades earlier.

It's not so surprising that I thought this way, I suppose. I grew up watching and listening to feminism in what I considered "common sense" slogans as well as slices of speeches from Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem etc.  I thought all this "common sense" already existed.  I guess I knew but I didn't REALLY know this "common sense" was...


in the process of being born,

in the process of being fought for, of being protected

...and voted on. 


I didn't know my "normal" was being created and then reinforced by Mary Tyler Moore and Sally Struthers,' Gloria,  of  'All In The Family' fame.  I simply didn't know that they were representative of a new way of life for women, a new option. 

I didn't know women making their own money, working at a career, and making decisions that a WHOLE person with equal rights tends to make, sometimes looking for another WHOLE person (a man) to walk through life with - was new.  After all, my Mom did it for a few years before she married.

But Mary Tyler Moore's job was not a pit stop before marriage. Her job was important to her. She wanted to be good at it and succeed at it.  All her energy was not focused on getting a husband. That was a very different choice to have, one that wasn't there for women of my mother's generation.   Or if it was, it was seen as failure. Career as consolation prize? 


At 11 years of age, I hadn't grasped the fact that I wasn't considered as capable as or as equal to a male child either. (Well...most of the time I didn't) But somehow, I DID know that I was considered less-than as a person because of my black skin...by the majority of people in the country. This, somehow, I knew this practically from birth. 
Sheltered as my parents tried to make me, I had eyes. Newspaper headlines shouted white supremacy at me daily too. And I couldn't walk past a television, without seeing a white cop sic a big dog with huge teeth on black people or take a fire hose to them. 

And those are the images that flashed in my head the day Show-and-Tell featured a white police officer talking about how  'a policeman is your friend'  ('oooh no-No-NO! not MY friend!!!')



Whatever. The racism-sexism knowledge gap (read: chasm) is another train wreck for another time.


But as a girl-child born in the land of the free and the equal, I thought Mary Tyler Moore and the rest of these characters were representing "normal" people with "normal" desires. And I think a lot of people came to see them that way...having laughed a little by the end of each episode.



Maybe the writing was special, like some like to believe it was. "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" made the new, more feminist(?) world seem mundane.
I can't remember and rehash something I really didn't notice to begin with.


But when I heard that Rhoda was sick? Maybe dying? That was when I remembered that women didn't always have...

  • the same ability as men to get
     
  • the same ability to keep a job.  A woman in her 20s could be fired because it was assumed she'd want to have a baby...soon or within a few years.

  • and before that - the same ability to get credit,  and before that - the same ability to own property

  • and before that - the same right to vote.





So then I considered that these changes didn't just change by magic. It wasn't  the "something special in the writing" that created these changes in society. The show only reflected what was in the process of happening. But shows like "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"  blew little more air on a fire already burning. That was important. But more important are the women  that sacrificed and died advocating 'for women's rights on the grounds of that women should have political, social, and economic equality to men'--which is THE definition of feminism.



 Did you know that some of the women who started one of the earliest, feminist-by-definition organizations in the country, the National Organization for Women or N.O.W.,  were black?



A number of black women had a meeting after the meeting that was known as "The March On Washington" Why?  Because black female civil rights leaders like Dorothy Height and Diane Nash were not allowed  on stage to speak, deliberately not allowed to speak ...by men I was taught to worship as a child.   




The story goes, having forgotten their be-seen-and-not-heard place,  Gloria Richardson, Rosa Parks and other black female civil rights leaders were sent back to the local hotel in a cab.  And they were in that cab while Martin Luther King was giving his "I Have A Dream" speech. They listened to it on the radio. (It was all Lena Horne's fault.  Earlier in the day she had spent some time trying to introduce Rosa Parks to the foreign press.) http://www.democracynow.org/2013/8/27/civil_rights_pioneer_gloria_richardson_91

 So, while too many people have let this word "feminism" be redefined by the status-quo loving / cowering-in-the-face-of-change opposition (and pro-feminist extremists too for that matter) I refuse to let anyone else redefine  "feminism" FOR ME.   I refuse to let them define it as something as silly as who should open the door for who OR something as ass-i-nine as "man-hater." 

-- in much the same way as I refuse to let some white people redefine "African American" as someone who is more loyal to Africa than America simply because the word "Africa" comes first. 

-- in much the same way as I refuse to let some blacks redefine "blackness" as being loyal to anything and anyone in black skin.

 


So I deeply believe in feminism even though:

1) I do not believe in ALL the positions that the official feminist organizations believe in (Abortion as a form of birth control method, is just one example)


2) I do not believe the words "sexual objectification" are meaningless at the very same time that I do know women need more "sexual freedom."
3) I know that white feminists have put themselves first at the same rate of speed, or faster, that black anti-racists have put black men first. And in my patriarchy-soaked brain, women are supposed to be "better than that."

4) etc



And even thought I know all this heavy feminism baggage exists, what I ALSO know is that all of us ought to be grateful for "The New Normal." And I mean ALL of us. I know I am.


And I, for one, can't WAIT to see what feminism inspires next!  Can you?




~Deborah Lynn

Monday, March 23, 2015

Love Letter To Self - Warsan Shire

“and were you being good to yourself?”

 

LOVE LETTER TO SELF

 

i don’t think so.
 but, i forgive you, girl,
who tallied stretch marks
into reasons why no one should get close.





i forgive you, silly girl, 

sweet breath, decent by default.
i forgive you for being afraid.
did everything betray you?
even the rain you love so much
made rust out of your jewellery?

i forgive you, soft spoken girl
speaking with fake brash voice,
fooling no one.
i see you, tender
even on your hardest days.

i forgive you,
waiting for him to call,

i forgive you, the diets
and the cruel friends.
especially for that one time you said
‘i f*cking give up on love,
it’s not worth it,
i’d rather be alone forever’.
you were just pretending, weren’t you?
i know you didn’t mean that.
your body, your mouth, your heart,
made specifically for loving.
sometimes the things we love,
will kill us,
but weren’t we dying anyway?

i forgive you for being
something that will eventually die.
perishable goods,
fading out slowly,
little human,
i wouldn’t want to be in a world
where you don’t exist.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

ART: "The New Age Of Slavery" by Patrick Campbell

The New Age Of Slavery - Patrick Campbell. Coming to a Smithsonian Near You


POWER - Patrick Campbell



"Bodies hanging in the red stripes of the American flag and cracked stars. Never has a piece of art gripped me so hard and made me gasp.


It was like someone punched me in the chest and let the air out of me at the same time. The New Age of Slavery is the name of the work that has gone viral on the web this week, after the announcement that Eric Garner’s killer would not be indicted. It was especially shocking because Eric was placed in an illegal chokehold by a cop, and his last words (I can’t breathe) and last moments were on tape.

Those of us (me included) who have been calling for body cameras to be placed on cops immediately realized that it would solve very little (although it was just one step). In front of everyone was the indisputable fact that Black people are being lynched by the government, but instead of hanging in trees, we’re laying in the streets. And police are receiving the message loud and clear that they can do it without consequence.

So to see the piece of art was like having a bucket of cold water dumped on my head. It laid out the truth in acrylic and watercolor and it was beautiful in its honesty of an ugly reality. It ached and the paint that dripped down the canvas was crying for the lives of Black men, women and children lost.


http://thegrio.com/2014/12/06/new-age-of-slavery-painting-patrick-campbell/ 

Racism As A Product Being Marketed Daily



Racism as a business. Racism as a product being marketed and sold successfully...for centuries. All of us are affected by these advertising campaigns. That's a pretty cool concept. And a pretty good way of thinking about your own launching point for activism.








From Everyday racism: what should we do? Akala

  by THE GUARDIAN  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZUvjAJGFkM