Archive | April, 2012

How to Lose A Friend in 10 Days

30 Apr

Day 1: Maintain a friendship with your childhood friend, despite the fact that you no longer live in the same state. Tell her you love her like family and that she is like a sister to you.

Day 2: Like friends do, share your secrets and fears. At the moment, because you are both approaching 40, talk about your frustrations about not being married and wanting to start a family. Talk about how the lack of prospects has led you both to rekindle and revisit past loves.

Day 3: Listen intently as your friend talks about her man problems. She is hopeful. There are two men she is interested in, both out of the state, one from high school, the other from college. You remember the one from high school. She seems excited about him and plans to go visit him soon.

Day 4: Listen to your friend tell you about how much she likes the high school crush and is focusing all of her energy on him. When she visited they reconnected. They laughed. They made love. They made plans to see each other again. She is hopeful.

Day 5: (Be)friend your friend’s high school-turned grown woman love interest on facebook.

Day 6: Flirt with your friend’s high school-turned grown woman love interest on facebook (Ish, it’s not like they are “together.”)

Day 7: With the support of your friend, make plans to visit your own lost love, who just so happens to live in the same city and state as hers.

Day 8: When your plans with your long-lost fall through, call your friend’s crush and invite him for drinks. Utilize information you are privy to about your homegirl (and conversations she has had with him) to convince him that she is untrustworthy. Tell him that she is also dealing with someone in another state that she knows from college. Tell him all of the things you know about their interactions together. Don’t tell your friend.

Day 9: When confronted by your friend about reaching out to someone she is interested in (he tells her before you do), don’t apologize or recognize your bad judgment, instead get defensive and say hurtful things to her to try to make her feel undesirable.

Day 10: Call your friend, tell her that the man she has recently slept with and was interested in doesn’t want to be with her, he wants to be with you! Let her know that you are planning to move to his state so that the two of you can be together. Then ask her if, after some time passes, you can (all) still be friends?

#Truestory. Not mine, but my homegirl’s.

When she told me about her friend’s betrayal I was partially speechless. I wondered if her friend knew the code, friends don’t hook up with friends’ exes… especially when they know their friend still likes them. Where they do that at?

But when I asked heterosexual black women their opinion about man-stealing, there were varying views. Most women said that it depended on the circumstances. For example, how long they had been together? How serious was the relationship? Was she in love? Some people think that if enough time has passed between one relationship and the next, then it shouldn’t matter. Still others said that if a man is interested in someone else, who happens to be your friend, and they fall in love—who are you to stand in the way? And other women think it is about age. They said it is easy to have the “I saw him first” rule when you are 16, but as we get older, and the pool of eligible and dateable black men diminishes, you have to get in where you fit in.

Luckily, for me and my friends, we are never attracted to the same (kind of) man, so it has never been a problem. And since most of my friends, and I, are so visually and fundamentally different—we don’t tend to attract the same (kind of) men or be interested in the same (kind of) men.  Still, I like to think that if there was a man that I was interested in, that my homegirl saw first, had first, etc., that her feelings would be my priority and her previous interest would be a dealbreaker for me. I like to think that I would choose my friendship (over a man or lay).

Yet, I don’t know how to judge women who approach dating like crabs in a barrel. I mean I get it. Regrettably I have been a crab in the past—judging, scratching, and clawing my way to a man on the neck of another woman. I never saw it as that but as my homegirl described her former friend’s ambitions for a man at her expense, I thought about the women I may have (knowingly and/or unknowingly) disrespected or disregarded for a chance at love. Granted, it has never been a friend of mine, but it has been a woman, who, no different from my homegirl may have saw or loved him first.

All this has me thinking…what is the new standard?  Can we reverse the misogynistic male rapper mantra of the 90s, M.O.B. (Money over Bitches) which made it sensible (common sense) for men to never choose a woman over a friend (though, of course, these were the same men who “shared” women… “ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none”) to a new millenium B.O.M. (Blackwomen over Men, by the way, not bitches over money) stance?

What do you think?

Apocalypse Now: Some Thoughts on Race at the End of the World

26 Apr



Last March, Crunktastic and I were in Atlanta for the Southeastern Women’s Studies Association conference when a man approached us and handed us pamphlets that declared the end of the world was fast approaching. In fact, the pamphlet urged us to get our affairs in order so we could be ready by May 21, 2011.

 

When the date rolled around I called up my mama and when she answered the phone I let her know I was disappointed that she hadn’t got caught up in the Rapture. We had a good laugh and chatted about these pitiful somebodies who really thought the world was going to end. All jokes aside, I did feel sorry for the (admittedly silly) folks who gave up all their worldly positions, alienated friends and family, and generally acted a fool all in hopes to depart this world for what seemed to them a much better place. And, truth be told, I myself was raised to believe that the days were being shortened for the elect’s sake and that we should live like Jesus was about to beam down on a cloud and take us out of Babylon at any moment.

 

What I mean is last year’s apocalyptic fervor is far from isolated. There have been numerous claims throughout the centuries that warn about an impending doomsday and I know I’m not the only one who experienced some version of doomdayism growing up in the Black Church. Yet, despite the perpetual fixation on the end times humankind seems to have, I’m finding this particular moment of great interest. While the majority of folks may scoff at Harold Camping’s followers from last year’s fiasco, many of those same people believe that the U.S. is headed for doom, economic collapse, and general annihilation, and often resort to using thinly-veiled references to the looming specter of black and brown bodies here and abroad as evidence of the rapid decay of society–despite the fact that this “civilization” largely exists because of the unpaid and underpaid labor of black and brown folk. How, then, are we the root of the chaos?

White evangelical Christians in particular have been pretty hardcore about looking for Jesus’ return, and while most of them would perhaps agree that humans cannot predict the day or the hour, that hasn’t stopped many folk from wildly speculating about these here end times. Their mantra goes something like: The end is near! The Antichrist (President Obama) is a socialist who is trying to create a one-world government and we won’t have our freeeeedom! Also, black and brown people are super scary so we need lots of guns to protect our property from them!

 

Damn, Mike Seaver. Not you too.

Not unlike the bestselling Left Behind series, the shows Doomsday Bunkers and Doomsday Preppers also reflect a growing anxiety about modern society. While the former spends a bit more time talking about the science of how bunkers are constructed, both series are exposés about a rising subculture of folks who are “preppers.” Preppers spend thousands of dollars squirreling away food, clothing, and weapons, while also creating hideouts and bunkers for the impending apocalypse. These preppers are almost always white (so far, to my knowledge, a handful interracial families and one Latino family has been featured on the shows) and middle class. Now, some of the show’s participants fear reasonable events like nuclear war, global pandemic, peak oil, and so on. Other participants have more, shall we say, unorthodox views—preparing for the imminent eruption of super volcanoes, cataclysmic polar shifts, the devastating emergence of Planet X, or the looming end of the Mayan calendar. In any event, a theme appears in both series: week after week, these shows profile white preppers battening down the hatches and racking up stores of food and guns to protect their families from the “gangs of roving marauders” that will inevitably appear once civilization crumbles.

I swear, whenever someone utters that phase or one like it, they begin to describe riots and looting that are usually associated with people of color, like the Rodney King riots or the mayhem during Katrina. Maybe it’s just me, but when I think of gangs of roving marauders I think of folks arriving in a place unannounced and uninvited, who then strip the land of its resources, violently engage the inhabitants, and generally act as inhumanely as possible. Oh wait, maybe I’m thinking of imperialism. Never mind.

Funny how it’s not the end of the world when young black men can get gunned down in their gated community for looking suspicious, or when trans sisters are imprisoned for fighting off their attackers. There’s no national apocalyptic fervor when young brown girls are repeatedly gang raped. Yet, some folks are so scared of a moderate Negro in the White House that they are stocking up on a year’s worth of beans to stave of the apocalypse. My Lorde. Something is very wrong here. Let’s recognize this particular moment of doomdayism for what is: desperate cries from a “post-racial” nation hellbent on preserving its hegemonic power relations by any means necessary. 

Quite frankly, this is the only apocalypse I’m interested in:

The RuPocalypse!

Share your thoughts on doomsday fever in the comments.

Making Movement Mistakes: What to do when you f@*k up

23 Apr

mistakes-homer-simpson-mistakeThat moment: when some words have escaped your lips, and you realize they were wrong/insensitive/politically incorrect/hurtful. Or the moment when you have made a decision in a coalition that has broken the “do no harm” principle of coalition work. When your actions have undermined someone’s agenda. These moments can be big or small. These moments can consist of an interpersonal slight, or they can be damaging to an entire political agenda. We all know these moments; we have witnessed them, experienced them and committed them.

I am a professional activist. I’ve done work organizing and advocating for policy change at the local, state, national and international level. And every single project I’ve ever worked on has had an element of coalition building and collaboration involved. That’s how you know you’re doing it right, in my opinion. If there are multiple stakeholders, with multiple goals involved. If we all, with our intersectional analyses and intersecting interests can find a way to move our agendas forward, together. That also poses many challenges, as you who do this work inevitably understand. Intersectional work is hard, but of course, it’s the only way.

I say all this because there are few constants in this kind of work, but if we do it right, if we work across our comfort zones and reach out to unlikely partners, and those with different goals but with a shared vision of the future, we will undoubtedly make mistakes. Here, I’m talking about mistakes made in good faith. Not malicious, calculated ones. I’m talking about the moments where we think we’re doing right, but we mess up.

Why does this happen? Why is it inevitable? We make mistakes because we do not know better. We make mistakes because we don’t understand another’s truth, another’s lived experience. Because we operate from some un-interrogated position of privilege, perhaps. We make mistakes because we don’t think before we speak, or just aren’t sensitive to someone else’s perspective. We make mistakes because we are human.

So today, I’d like to crowd-source the question of what to do when this happens. I’d like to hear from you, darling crunk feminists, about how you go about dealing with these moments both when you are the committer of the mistake, and also when it’s been committed against you. Here are some of my own strategies, things I’ve done myself, and things that others have done, that I’ve found useful (of course, all this depends on the offense, these are generalizations):

If you realize you’ve made a mistake.

  1. Apologize. Sincerely. When doing this, think carefully about the best approach. It might not be in person, or it might be. It might need to be public. It might need to be done one-on-one. This depends on the nature of the mistake. But nothing else can happen unless you acknowledge your mistake.
  2. Don’t conflate the mistake and your apology with anything else. The apology is not the time to try and fix the coalition, or your relationship. It’s not the time to make your broader political statement. It’s a time to do just one thing. Recognize your mistake and apologize for it.
  3. Ask what amends might be made, if that applies. Ask the person/team/group what might help. Ask without proscribing the answer. Wait. Listen. And then decide whether this is something you can or cannot do. Be honest about that.
  4. Realize that trust is easier to break that rebuild. Your relationship/s might not ever be the same. And of course it might get even stronger. But you can’t know that. You can’t have an endgame in your apology, you have to say it, do what you can to fix it and not expect more than that.
  5. Keep doing the work as best as you can. Learn from it, and don’t make the same mistake again.

If you’re on the receiving end of a mistake all I can say is: remember all the mistakes you’ve made. When I think of all the mistakes I’ve made, it’s easier for me to identify with someone who’s done something hurtful to me. I try not to hold it too close to my heart, and if at all possible, assume good faith. Sometimes things are fixed, sometimes they are not, but regardless I try not to carry around anger and resentment. That is, of course, easier said than done, but worth the effort.

Anyhow, your turn CFC readers. I’d love for you to share your thoughts/strategies/ideas in the comments.

 

Bodies Have Histories: Musing on Makode Linde and ‘that’ Cake

19 Apr

Image via The Graph.com

Bodies have histories.

When I first saw the images of the now infamous “Painful Cake” I had questions. Who created this? What went through their mind? Why is a Black female body being consumed both literally and symbolically by White women? What did the people in the room think? What was the climate in which this cake was created?

Apparently Makode Linde, an Afro Swedish artist created this cake in order to bring attention to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and apparently, to critique Western ideas around Blackness and the ways in which Blackness is read as deviant, and to critique the ways in which it is othered.

In many ways this is a state sanction piece of art in that it was created as a part of Sweden’s World Art Day at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. Sweden’s Minster of Culture Adelsohn Liljeroth  has both defended Makode’s “right to artistic expression”and stated the she wasn’t aware of the form of the cake prior to it’s display. Talk about the politics of social location.

Initially I did not know who created this work, I had just seen snippets of conversations on the internet. And then when I learned that the creator was an Afro Swedish man, I immediately thought about the intersection of race and gender. The question then became how do we talk about the intersection of racism, and sexism when the creator of a problematic and offensive piece of art is a Black man? Why is this “okay” for Makoda to create this but not a White woman artist? Lastly, where are the women who are apparently the “subjects” of this work?

Kelly Virella at the blog, Old Dominion of New York writes,

Linde told Al Jazeeera those who are angry and at him and the minister took the work out of its context and misunderstood his agenda as an artist. “I think a lot of people saw some images taken during the performance, saw the pictures online and took the images out of its context. And they accused me and the cultural minister to be racists,” he said. “So I think the people who have been upset about the art piece, about the images, have seen have misunderstood the intention or the agenda of me as an artist.”

So. Here are my observations and my questions.

Bodies have histories and artists make real deliberate choices. According to Virella’s post Makode claims that he has done work historically that addresses race, Blackness and and Zenophobia. Does this mean that he will not be held accountable for not only intention but impact, because that is what we are talking about here.

The people in the room are mainly White and appear to be experiencing pleasure while observing and participating in Makode’s performance. Someone who I respect greatly recently taught me that we have to be mindful of the moments when we experience pleasure because those are moments where we are learning. In other words, those moments are not neutral.

Now I have questions. Where were the women who have experiences with FGM? Were they in the room? Why or why not? If they were not in the room, is this another example of the White Savior Industrial Complex? (shout out to Teju Cole).

Quite simply, did he talk to any women who had experienced FGM, both those who see it as a cultural tradition and those who deplore it? If yes, what did they say? If no, why is he speaking for these women?

What would have been the response of a woman who has dealt with FGM to Makode’s work? I don’t know, it isn’t my place to say.  But as a Black feminist, it is certainly my place to ask.

And. If bodies have histories, how does he account for the histories of both the symbolic and in this instant, literal consumption of Black women’s bodies? These same Black bodies which have a peculiar and insidious history of being commodified and sold, globally.

Box Out: On Brittney Griner and Women Who Ball (Better Than You)

17 Apr

Guest Post by Summer McDonald Cross posted from Black Youth Project.


I have beef with Brittney Griner. It’s not because the Baylor University women’s basketball team she leads beat Notre Dame in the women’s NCAA Division 1 championship a couple of weeks ago, and I like an underdog–even if it is Notre Dame. It’s not because my beloved Tennessee Lady Volunteers were one of Baylor’s casualties on its road to a perfect, 40-0 season. It’s not because she’s tall. Although I would have appreciated a few more inches, I’ve never wanted to be 6’8; just a 5’10 or so shooting guard with an Olajuwon-esque baseline fadeaway.  I have beef with Brittney Griner  because she can dunk. And I’ve always wanted to dunk.

More than hitting a home run, more than throwing (or catching) a perfect spiral, dunking a basketball is, to me, the ultimate sports feat. Perhaps only rivaled by soccer’s beauty, the dunk is arguably the most spectacular play in all of sports. A select few–and even fewer women– have felt the satisfaction of catapulting themselves above the hardwood towards the rim, often contorting their bodies in the most artistic of ways before (powerfully) stuffing the basketball through the hoop. I’m sure the joy I felt after slamming one home on a 9-foot basket back when I was  a Y-ball referee would have multiplied exponentially had the rim actually been at the regulation height. Of course, I’ll never know, as my vertical has diminished in the years since I taught 6-year-olds what traveling, in the basketball sense, was. So even though her team’s victory ensured that UConn did not cut down nets (and all is right with the world) I cannot help but throw Brittney Griner a side-eye as she swings from the rim. I have dunk envy.

Griner’s slams are noticeably unlike the women who have dunked before her. Although Michelle Snow, Lisa Leslie, and Candace Parker have all done it, Griner dunks with such spectacular ease, that one almost minimizes the feats of her predecessors.  A Youtube phenom before she became the most imposing force in women’s basketball since Cheryl Miller, Griner’s dominance through all of last season was awe-inspiring. Her 7’4 wingspan helps her dominate the paint; she runs the floor effortlessly. Griner is so impressively athletic we forget she’s doing all of this–things most of us average-sized earthlings cannot–at a height (6’8) many associate with a laborious clumsiness.

Where I see Griner’s blessings, though, others have found an opportunity to question her gender. Perhaps the only thing more jaw-dropping than Griner’s game is the frequency with which Griner is called a man, told that she’s not a “real woman.” For some, Griner’s aforementioned height, size 17 sneakers, deep voice, and athletic dominance firmly plant her outside of the box inside which we check, shudder, female. Notre Dame coach, Muffet McGraw did not help matters when she said that Griner was like “a guy playing with women,” after the championship game. Although Griner took McGraw’s words as a compliment, comments like that do nothing but reiterate and further inflame the idea that Griner is too tall, too athletic, her voice too deep to be a woman. And if she is a woman, well, she must be a lesbian.

As admirable as one might find Griner’s own coach’s efforts to call out hecklers for the way that they disparage her star player, their actions seem to be mere surface level antics to a more deeply problematic and narrow notion of womanhood. Despite light skin and what many would regard as a rather feminine-looking face, Griner more than likely will not appear in ESPN: The Magazine’s famed Body Issue, that features women with physiques considered acceptably traditional and more likely to please the male gaze. A more probable option would be Griner’s opponent on championship night, Notre Dame point guard Skylar Diggins who, a foot shorter and hair straighter, turned many a head during last year’s tournament. Even Lil Wayne tweeted about Diggins; another rapper wrote an ode to her. Both juniors, Diggins and Griner will likely turn pro together. And Diggins’ seeming beauty will inevitably put Candace Parker’s baby hair to shame. Assuming she succeeds at the pro level, Diggins is a likely candidate to become a face of the WNBA; she could get the men to watch. And although Griner’s dominance in the WNBA almost seems inevitable, she may prove a much more complicated sell. She’s too tall, her voice too deep. And if heterosexual men don’t think they can beat you at a sport, they at least want to think they can sleep with you after the game.

The response to Griner highlights, yet again, a problem much older than Title IX. Which is to say that women (athletes), especially those who do not fall into traditional boxes of female beauty, have to contend with the way they make others, namely men, uncomfortable. My father refused to buy me black sneakers because he said they were for boys; though he signed me up and helped coach my AAU team, my stepdad required that I wear a skirt to school twice a week. As my aversion to stockings suggests, none of this was done for my comfort, but rather theirs. (And it didn’t quell my gay, anyway.) Just as athletics allow men to be affectionate with each other in ways they otherwise would not, women’s athletics and other, similar homosocial spaces, work differently and thus engender a pressure not to violate or offend male gazes.

At its most innocuous, this pressure results in what I call over-heteroing, wherein women who congregate in spaces where their femininity and/or sexuality may be questioned seem to overwork their appearance so that they appear to unequivocally desire the attention of men. I speculate that this is why some women play sports in makeup, or why women assistant coaches and graduate assistants occasionally look like they’re about the hit up the club after the game. At its worst, though, it goes beyond heckles and courtside stilettos. And women can’t just be like Brittney, brush their shoulders and wave to the haters. When such pressure is linked to power, what results are situations like what happened to Caster Semenya. And it goes beyond the unfortunate. Such acts are not simply disparaging, but go beyond the continued violation and marginalization of women to a level that endangers them.

And that’s how hecklers answer their own speculation about whether or not Brittney Griner is a woman. Of course she is. Otherwise, she would not have to withstand their continued verbal assaults. Word to Mike Tyson.

Summer McDonald is an explicitly queer Black Daria with better clothes.

Big Girls Need Love, Too: Dating While Fat (And Feminist)

16 Apr

I have recently come to the conclusion that I’m going to have to lose a significant amount of weight in order to have a viable chance at a love life.

Let me be clear: this is not a fat-hating post. When I look in the mirror, for the most part, I like what I see. I like my curves, I like ass, I like my legs, I like my boobs (which I only have in abundance, when I’m tipping the scales), and I like my face.

Photo courtesy of Laya Roullins, Bella Chadette Photography, Laya@BellaChadette.com

But the fact remains that I’m a short, dark-skinned, fat Black girl, with a natural. I’m all those things in a culture that not only hates fat, and finds it repulsive, but also in a culture where fat dark-skinned women can only find roles in movies as maids. 

Even so, one could argue that these mainstream films reflect the desires of white America, or more to the point, white men, and not Black men, which up to this point is the only group of men I’ve dated.

But with brothers I find, that they, too, have internalized a particular relationship to the body-type most associated with the mammy figure. They see girls like me as sisters, as homegirls, but not as love options, because they don’t find big girls sexy. They usually find us comforting. Strong. Stable. Huge difference.

I know there is this myth in Black America that brothers like their sisters thick, thick like a luscious milkshake, that “brings all the boys to the yard,” as it were.  But what I call thick and what the average brother calls thick is not the same thing. I’m (pre-weight-loss) Mo’Nique thick. (Sister looks fabulous, by the way.) Not quite Gabourey Sidibe thick. But thick nontheless. And when I was doing the online dating thing (I’ve tried it twice, and I’m taking a break) I saw one brother that specifically said, “I’m not into the Mo’Nique thing, ladies.” Translation: No fat girls need apply.

Even Demetria Lucas’ whose fabulous and feminist book on modern Black dating you should check out, has (reluctantly) said as much, in her dating advice column.

It’s not popular to say (and I’m sure I’ll be e-stoned for saying it anyway), but if you’re overweight and serious about expanding your dating options, it may be worthwhile to shrink your waistline. I’ve interviewed thousands of men in my career as a dating expert and journalist, and I’ve noticed that on every rundown of what it is that men are looking for in a woman, weight inevitably sneaks high on the list, usually in the form of “She works out” or “She stays fit” or “She is concerned about her weight and personal appearance” — i.e., she’s not fat.

No stones to throw over here. The girl speaks the truth. So does Britni Danielle over at Clutch.

Acknowledging these larger structural issues around the commodification of male desire and the way it affects our dating options and choices as women is difficult, because it can make us feel powerless and/or less-than-feminist.  So posts like this make folks uncomfortable, often leading to three kinds of reactionary (and unhelpful) comments. The first will be from those folks who insist that I must really have low self-esteem about my weight and that it must be coming through to the dudes I’m meeting. Um, that would be a Negative. That ain’t it. Even though we all have insecurities, self-confidence is not my major struggle.  The only way to live in my body, doing the work I do, is to be confident.

Others will come over and lecture about weight loss and health.

Before you do it, don’t. 

I know that we have huge problems with obesity in Black communities. I have thought long and hard about my relationship to food (and exercise), and I have started to make some changes in order to remain healthy. I also have both short and long term goals for doing so. I made those choices for myself, not for a man. So please save the condescending lectures (and arm-chair therapy) for someone else. This big girl (and I suspect every other big girl with access to a TV) doesn’t need it.

And a third, fundamentally more well-meaning group, will come over an give anecdotes about all the thick chicks they know who have male partners.  The number will usually total up to no more than 2 or 3 mind you. Those stories ring hollow, because they ultimately amount to a futile attempt  to amass enough  exceptions to disprove the rule. Moreover, perhaps folks aren’t considering that the partner-less fat girls simply remain invisible to you, and the thick girls with guys are visible, precisely because they are an anomaly.

What I’m getting at is something much more fundamental.  Because desire is socially constructed (no matter how much folks justify their limited dating choices based on ‘natural preference’),  the fact that we live in a fat-hating culture greatly affects who we’re attracted to, and what we find attractive.  The idea that we’re only attractive within a range of sizes is absurd. And narrow. And it is absolutely a function of patriarchy. And yet, I live daily with those realities.

Some (admittedly anecdotal) examples:

Several months ago I was in a bar/lounge type spot, with a group of 7 or 8 homegirls. We ranged in size and skin tone, from short and petite, to tall and lanky, from light-skinned to dark-skinned, from skinny to fat (me being the fat one), and everything in between. The homeboy of one of my homegirls happened to be in the club. Now in many ways, he was my type. Mid-height, stocky, dark-skinned, bald-headed. My girl gave us his vital statistics and it turns out the brother is highly intelligent and very accomplished. He was also a natural flirt. This I discovered, as I watched him at different points during the evening, strike up a conversation and flirt with every single girl in the crew—except me. My homegirl indicated to me at some point that I should make sure to meet him, because she thought we’d have similar interests.  Not one to be shy, I did at some point attempt to strike up a conversation.  He barely acknowledged me! I mean he literally didn’t look me in the eye, made no real attempt at conversation, and pretty much gave me the brush off. And starting talking to another one of my homegirls!

It was clear to me that he wasn’t really that interested in a serious thing with any of the girls at the bar that night. He was just doing the bar/lounge thing, as was I. But why the cold shoulder, from a brother I’d never met? Why the unique snub reserved for the one fat girl in the crew? I wish I could say that this experience was isolated, but it’s been more the rule rather than the exception for me. 

(Two)

I think of all that CRUNK club-hopping I did in ATL back in the early days of the CFC. Nothing can make me dance with abandon like a smoke-filled club strung out on CRUNK. And when me and my girls would go and shut the club down, routinely, I’d be the only chick that hadn’t been approached, danced with, hit on. Now I never thought I’d find my prince charming in a club. But everyone likes to be desired. So no matter how much Big Boi proclaimed back in 2003 that “Big Girls need love, too,” I don’t think the other ATLiens got the message.

(Three)

And of course there is that story of the time that Crunkadelic and I went to one of those Big Beautiful Women parties. But um, I’m not trying to date a dude with a fat fetish. No hate on fetishes, but being the object of that particular one feels…objectifying. I want to date a man that has a range of desires wide enough to see a big girl as attractive. Just like I find a range of men attractive.

Getting back to Big Boi, the reality is that Big Girls do need love. This big girl anyway.  So as much as I resent the limited range of desire that it seems (Black) men have and the ever-present male privilege that allows them to never have to interrogate their sexual and romantic investments, I hate my limited partnering prospects much more.  As un-feminist as I’m sure it is, and as much my Sagittarian self wants to say f**k the world and embrace my life of singleness in a blaze of principled feminist big girl glory, the #truestory is that I’m seriously trying to figure out how I can get my J.Hud on.  (Well, maybe not to that extreme!) In my thirties, I’m prioritizing self-care and that includes being loved on and getting my groove on. Regularly. And  I know for sure that those things are feminist. I also know being thinner won’t guarantee me a date, but I’m willing to bet it’ll improve my chances. 

Feel free to weigh in in the comments on your experiences dating as a big girl, your thoughts on the sometimes un-feminist things we do for love, or anything else you wanna say. But be nice, please. I mean it.

Get Crunk! Two Years and Counting!

10 Apr

Picture of Round Cake with Icing that says "Celebrating 1 year CFC"

 

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I’m in a reflective space after the Black Thought 2.0 Conference at Duke. I want to begin by thanking the conference organizers for inviting me to be on this panel. It felt good to be recognized as a junior scholar for my work and contribution to a growing network of black thinkers concerned with the digital. I’d also like to thank the often unnamed people of color who make campuses run, the people who maintain the buildings, who cleaned up after we left, who built this building, the indigenous and black people whose lives and land was taken for us to be at Duke last weekend. Even as we move through the settler colonial United States we can remember that’s what we are doing. Ashe.

Like the crunk music it references, the Crunk Feminist Collective has a multilayered herstory. From our archive:

In 2004 while Brittney Cooper and Susana Morris were students at Emory University, they were part of an informal group of women of color feminists who routinely convened with one another for fellowship, commiseration and strategizing about how to be successful in grad school. They began to refer to themselves affectionately as the Crunk Feminist Collective, in part influenced by the Southern musical ethos of Atlanta, but also by their absolute willingness to “get crunk” or to deploy crunkness as a form of resistance to the racist, sexist, and heterosexist assaults that they routinely experienced. Revived in 2010, the CFC aims to articulate a crunk feminist consciousness for people of color, who came of age in the Hip Hop Generation, by creating a community of scholar-activists from varied professions, who share intellectual work in online blog communities, at conferences, through activist organizations, print publications, and who share a commitment to nurturing and sustaining one another through progressive feminist visions. Crunk Feminism is the animating principle of our collective work together and derives from our commitment to feminist principles and politics, and also from our unapologetic embrace of those new cultural resources and tools, that offer the potential for resistance.

As the kids say, “we ratchet” particularly in the service of creating a more equitable world.

In just over two years, the Crunk Feminists Collective has produced more than 250 blog posts, gotten over a million hits on our webpage, and been used in classrooms across the country.  We’ve talked about many of the problems facing our communities and what tools can be used to address them. We’ve called folks out and also offered means of accountability. Like our name, we embody the both/and, the slash of people of color intersectionality.  We do all this in two blogs a week, tweets, tumbles and status updates. We are building digital networks of community with shared words and conversations. Get Crunk!

The Crunk Feminist Collective is a Labor of Love

We labor because we love. We put in extra hours because we care about who is able to read our work. We care about shifting conversations in mainstream media from what did Trayvon Martin do to why Trayvon needs to be an innocent victim for a crime to have been committed. Why do dead black men mobilize communities in ways that dead black cis and trans women do not?  And what sort of accountability do we have as a society for perpetuating the racism that ended Trayvon’s life?

We take risks. We put our sex lives on the table, lay our politics bare. And in doing so we remind ourselves, that part of the work is the self. We often do pieces on self care and though not always well received by our audience, they reflect our intention to document and share how we take care of ourselves and each other. Behind the scenes we have emergency dissertation phone calls, we prescribe rest and cake, we send each other care packages, we show up for each other. This work is the least visible but some of the most important because it’s what sustains us in the hard times.

We don’t get paid to do this work. We write pieces that many of our departments, present and future, won’t count as publications. We write as we finish dissertations, book contracts, tenure files, work full time jobs and raise the next generation of crunk feminists. We are at once lauded for what we produce but reminded that it is not rigorous enough to be real scholarship. We get recognized and linked and shouted out by journalists who do get paid.

We’ve been told that people use our work in their classes, workshops, and events regularly. This is awesome. If you have used our work in your classes, think of inviting us to speak at your campus. If our tumblr or twitter feed has brought something to your attention that you didn’t know about, let people know where it came from. If you are connected to a journal, talk to us about developing pieces for publication. Let’s continue to grow what’s possible, through spreading the word and spreading the love!

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