Archive by Author

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.

Reconciling the Non-Profit “Post Industrial” Complex with Black Girls in Mind

5 Apr

Who is Anna Julia Cooper? Click here to learn more. Awesome FIRST wave Black Feminist.

On Monday, I went to visit the Score Small business mentoring office to learn about the benefits and limits of a 501 (c) (3) versus an LLC or a conventional corp. #planning. #wingsup.

I was REALLY surprised to learn that a 501 (c) (3) is seen as being owned by the public because of the tax exemptions that it receives.

I was really surprised to learn that there was an entire series of tax exempt classifications.

I also learned that,

To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.

This has huge implications for Black girls, in that I know that 501 (c) (3)’s are relatively recent institutional creations charity wise. This also makes me I wonder what was the unstated rational for preventing 501 (c) (3)’s from being allowed to be involved in electoral politics.

Here is the exact language,

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity.

Were 501 (c) (3)’s created, in part, to absorbed the progressive energies of women while also giving them a wage?

#blackgirlpolitics.

What happens to Black girls employed in 501 (c) (3)’s when the executive directors don’t know that they are magic, and attempt to relegate their duties to to administrative realm ?

Don’t get me wrong, I have been an admin before, and I enjoyed the work, because not only was I good at it, but I was also recognized as being a extremely good at it.  I can run your office. Trust. Without an awesome admin, you don’t have an office.

However, if you are a Black woman who is a policy expert, health expert or finance expert and you have to keep struggling to not have your position turned into one that is increasingly administrative and marginalized, and less focused on your expertise, it feels both racialized and gendered. Our mothers and fathers did not sacrifice and fight tooth and nail for us to go to school, only to be treated like administrative mammies in the workplace. #DamnthatwasaTangent. #HadsomeShittoSay.

Which leads me to the question of how does this rule impact the lives of women in general, women of color in particular?

How does the creation of 527’s impact the lives of women of color?

How different would community organizing look of 501(c)(3)’s could participate in electoral politics?

Black Girl 501 (c) (3) thoughts? I wonder what Latoya thinks…

Some Thoughts on Jay-Z and Those “Occupy All Streets” T-Shirts

28 Nov

Sometimes, for the life of me, I cannot figure out why we expect rappers to be invested in social justice. Rapping is a job.

This is not to say that they can’t be. I only ask why we expect them to be.

When Kanye showed up at OWS NYC, I thought this is interesting.

The US has an interesting history of Black celebrities using their voice to advance causes on the behalf of those who have less social power than they do.

Think Muhammed Ali.

Think Sidney Poitier y Harry Belafonte.

Think Lena Horne.

There are countless others.

There were also several other folks as well who are not necessarily Black. John Lennon and Yoko Ono come to mind.

The process by which a person becomes politicized, and by that I mean becomes willing to read, think and take action to change some janky shit (on an individual or a systemic level) varies from person to person.

It may come from participating in an event at your school and realizing that if you become organized you can change things.

It may come from registering folks to vote in your neighborhood and realizing that if you become organized you can change things.

It may come from working with a youth advocacy organization and learning that if you work together you can prevent the city from implementing a 17 and under 10pm weekday curfew and building a half a million dollar youth detainment center for those who were caught outside past curfew. That would be mine. We did this in ‘Frisco.

I do understand that given the history of rap music that there has always been a variety of voices, some progressive (PE, early mid career Ice Cube), some partying and misogyny (Too Short) some fun (LONS, Digital Underground) some darkness (Geto Boys). The point is that not only was their variety in content, but because it was largely marginalized music, remember MTV had to be convinced to play Rap videos, it existed on some pop stations and largely on college radio and mom and pop outlets.

My point is that I don’t romanticize rap music as some glorious do-right genre.

However, I do think that there is something particularly important about the fact that these t-shirts even exist (or existed).

When I saw the shirts, I thought of the contradiction.

With Jay-Z, here is a man, who embodies a rags to riches story, in possibly the most American sense possible. One of the richest Black men in this country. Low income kid from the hood who did good. We are similar in that way. Why is one of the richest Black men in the country making money off of a movement based on people taking action because many of them are not eating. The hood is not eating. Apparently neither are the suburbs.

For examples of people missing meals see:

This.

This.

or

This.

In some ways those Occupy All Street T-Shirts reminds me of how capitalism, in its very DNA, will try and squeeze profit out of everything it comes into contact with, even if it is blood from a rock.

You know how Ross has Maybach Music? When I saw those t-shirts, I thought of Watch the Throne (Jay Z’s and Kanye’s new album) as 1% music. How could it not be?

All of these thoughts leave me with a few questions.

What do we stand to gain if we stop looking at rappers as “activists”?

Why do we even do that in the first place?

Black Feminist Love and Amber Cole

3 Nov

The last time I was speechless after seeing images of a young Black woman on the internet was June 2009 when John at The Smoking Section ( a rap blog) posted what were then believed to be nude images of Rihanna Fenty. I contacted him and asked him why he did it, we had a conversation, and he then refused to give me permission to blog about the conversation. To this day, I still find it problematic that he published what is believed to be images of singer Rihanna Fenty. I always ask permission to write about conversations. Consent. Get it?

I was also speechless nearly two weeks ago when I saw the images of Amber Cole. I knew that I was going to write something, but I wanted to sort out my thoughts first because sometimes being quick to speak doesn’t do anyone any good. I also took my time to read what other people had written.

In these last week weeks Latoya Peterson has written about how the boys participation in this assault has been framed, and on how boys are taught that treating a woman or girl like a piece of shit, like an object to be used is perfectly legitimate. I would add that part of the reasoning behind this is that this behavior is legitimate and acceptable because implicitly, women are put here to be protected and dominated. There is a thin line between protection and domination.

Mark Anthony Neal has written about how Amber Cole is “his daughter” and the importance of Black communities examining “the politics of respectability that go hand-in-hand with Black collective shame, that often keeps us from having honest discussions about sex and sexuality in our communities—often to the detriment of our children.  “

Lastly, Bianca Laureano has written about the politics of naming Amber’s name, the history of sexting, and the importance of consent. Consent, get it?

Side bar: Ms. Laureano was very deliberate in not using Amber Coles name in her post because she did not want to add to the plethora of searchable posts and I understand that. I am deliberate about using Ms. Cole’s name because I aggressively track and archive how “black feminism” is searched on the internet. By adding “black feminism” to the title I am inserting our Black feminist voices into “The Google” and it’s searchable archive.

Now, having read the others work, I want to address three things which are Black women’s sexuality, the internet as a gendered and racialized space and the role of patriarchy in the Amber Cole conversations.

Black Women’s Sexuality

In doing research on Black women’s sexuality I have come across an incredible quote by Mierelle Miller-Young’s in her dissertation “A Taste for Brown Sugar: The History of Black Women in American Pornography”. Miller-Young quotes a veteran Black woman pornography worker who states,

“You are not suppose to talk about liking sex, because you are already assumed to be a whore.”~Jeannie Pepper

This is the quote that came to my mind when I saw the images of Amber Cole on social media sites and the comments left on social media sites, which lectured Cole, admonished Cole and talked about the “general nastiness” of young women.

Gendered, Racial and Sexual Images

The posting of those images of her are racial, sexual and gendered violence. It is also cyberbullying. Because Black women are assumed to already be whores the images of this fourteen year old girl takes on special connotations.

Historically, in the US Black women were raped and Black men were lynched, publicly, as an act of power. I reason that the videotaping of Amber Cole and the posting of images from the video was an act of power as well. I am not saying that these acts are the same. What I am saying is they both constitute an act of power.

Patriarchy

While I can appreciate the sentiment of “Amber Cole is all of our daughters” there is something profoundly patriarchal about this idea. What I am getting at here is, for me the issue is not whether or not Amber Cole is my sister or my daughter, the issue is when will black girls be seen as full human beings?

By being seen as a human being, and not an automatic whore, there is a basic intrinsic level of respect and love that is shown.

#Blackgirlsarefromthefuture.

To say that a person, a girl, is entitled to care because she is related to me creates a system where some women are worth being cared after, and the others….oh well.

If we are only interested in protecting “our daughters” and “our sisters” then does that mean that the women and girls who we don’t classify as being “belonging” to us or are “related to us” are shit out of luck?

Black Feminist Love and Amber Cole

What does Black Feminist Love look like in the face of digital, racialized, sexualized violence? I honestly don’t know. What I do know is preparing to write this entailed me sittting, listening, think and reading on what I felt. It also meant  trying to write something that was meaningful.

I am not sure what can be done in the future if this occurs again. We can involve the state by contacting the FBI regarding child pornography charges? But, how does that shift our culture?

We can decide to teach young people, consistently about cyberbulling.

I am thinking about writing a short weekend curriculum on cyberbullying that addresses race, sex and violence.

There are also a couple of organizations doing work on consent such as The Line Campaign.

Any other thoughts on what we can do, and what Black feminist Love looks like within this context would be appreciated.

Author Martha Southgate on Why the Film “The Help” is a Symptom of a Larger Issue: My Thoughts.

17 Aug

Author note: Post written last week.

In Entertainment Weekly, one of my favorite authors, Martha Southgate (@mesouthgate) discusses the film “The Help” stating that,

There have been thousands of words written about Stockett’s skills, her portrayal of the black women versus the white women, her right to tell this story at all. I won’t rehash those arguments, except to say that I found the novel fast-paced but highly problematic. Even more troubling, though, is how the structure of narratives like The Help underscores the failure of pop culture to acknowledge a central truth: Within the civil rights movement, white people were the help.

I would say that she certainly has a point there. And, given the fact that I am swimming in readings about women in the civil rights movement, at this VERY moment, I am particularly sensitive to claims about women during the civil rights movement.

White people did play a substantial role in the civil rights movement.  However there were incredible tensions in the civil rights movement because “women” were seen as “the help.” Looking at how gender played out in the civil rights movement in fact may poke more holes in Sockett’s narrative. For example,

  • Many White feminist wanted to organize under the auspices of women united for solidarity but did not want to acknowledge the differences between women. See Benita Roth’s “Separate Roads to Feminism.”
  • Stokley Carmicheal, of the Black Panther Party alleged that the best position for a woman in the BPP was “prone.”
  • There were some White feminist lesbians who felt that engaging with men was apart of the problem so becoming separatists and living amongst and supporting women was the solution. See Radical Sisters: Second Wave Feminism and Black Liberation in DC by Anne Valk.
  • Here is a link to Courtney Desiree Morris analyzing Assata, Angela Davis and Elaine Brown  and how sexism impacted their work with the Black Panther Party.
  • Black women played a prominent role in organizing the March on Washington but they were not allowed to SPEAK at it.

I by no means intend to conflate the Black Power movement with the Civil Rights movement. They are overlapping yet distinct in tone and intent.

However, I wanted to bring the issue of “Women” to bear on Southgate’s article on the film and book, The Help.

Here is her excellent closing paragraph, which actually upended me from my reading ABOUT women in the second wave and compelled me to write this blog post. She writes,

This isn’t the first time the civil rights movement has been framed this way fictionally, especially on film. Most Hollywood civil rights movies feature white characters in central, sometimes nearly solo, roles. My favorite (not!) is Alan Parker’s Mississippi Burning, which gives us two white FBI agents as heroes of the movement. FBI agents! Given that J. Edgar Hoover did everything short of shoot Martin Luther King Jr. himself in order to damage or discredit the movement, that goes from troubling to appalling.

Why is it ever thus? Suffice it to say that these stories are more likely to get the green light and to have more popular appeal (and often acclaim) if they have white characters up front. That’s a shame. The continued impulse to reduce the black women and men of the civil rights movement to bit players in the most extraordinary step toward justice that this nation has ever known is infuriating, to say the least. Minny and Aibileen are heroines, but they didn’t need Skeeter to guide them to the light. They fought their way out of the darkness on their own — and they brought the nation with them.

Southgate’s fourth novel, The Taste of Salt, will be published in September.

By centering White women as actors in the civil rights movement, we mask, hide and erase the work of Black men and women, and we negate the ways in which WOMEN were treated in many instances like “The Help” in Black and White organizing circles. 

*The terms Black and White are capitalized because I see them as racial classifications AND political identities. #ummhmm.

“And You Even Licked My Balls: A Black Feminist Note on Nate Dogg”

20 Jun

***Note: This piece is from the blog vault of CF ReninaJ, who maintains her own spot at newmodelminority.com. As the 24 hr news cycle goes, it’s easy to miss great commentary on popular culture. Occasionally, then, we’ll share with you pieces that we think you should read, which you might’ve missed. We hope you enjoy the reflection below on Nate Dogg’s life and music for those feminist, Hip Hop enthusiasts among us.***

So I have been thinking of Nate Dogg in general but rap music in particular and the difference between how I as a Black woman and how White men relate to rap music.

While I understand that sexism and patriarchy is systemic, that we LEARN and are taught how to be “men” and “women,” how to be racist, how to be sexist as well as  how to Love, how to forgive.

What I am getting at is, to be crude, we don’t pop out of our mommas knowing how to be men and women, we are taught from infancy on through blue and pink clothing,  girls being told to sit a certain way that is lady like, boys being told crying is weak, and not manly etc.

I also know that there are several structural things impacting the lives of Black men and women such as archaic drug laws, mandatory minimums, three strikes, the underdevelopment of public education, gentrification, police who shot and kill Black people with impunity, and the lack of good grocery stores in working class and low income neighborhoods. All this matters.

Culture matters as well. Culture meaning,  music, books, websites and films.

Culture is hegemony’s goon.

Which brings me to Nate Dogg. The recent coverage of his death clarified for me why some issues that I have thought of about rap music but didn’t have the language to articulate.

I am a little troubled over how White mens investment in Black mens misogyny in rap music isn’t interrogated. And how this impacts me and the women who look like me.

Society is organized by and for men.

And our lives in the US are hyper segregated racially.

By and large Black people don’t live around White folks, so most White men can experience the pleasure of singing “and you even licked my balls” in the comfort of their cars, homes and apartments, whereas a young Black man said to me nearly two years ago on 125th street that he wanted to “stick his dick in my butt.”

On the street, in broad daylight.

This was so absurd I thought HE was singing a rap song initially. No, he was talkingto me.

Consequently, largely, White men are  not subjected to the kinds of violence and sexism that is sung about in the songs that Nate sang the hook on. As a Black woman, I am.

As a woman, as a Black women who Walks like she has a right to be in the street, this means my behind is toast.

For example, there is an officer in my neighborhood that harasses me so fucking much that I am now on a first name basis, Peace to Officer Anderson. Typically he stops me because there is apparently a 11pm curfew in DC for children under 18 on week nights. He normally asks me from his car, “Hey, how old are you.”  Dead ass, the second time he did it, I responded saying I was grown. o.O

After the third time, I was like “Mr. Officer whats your name because this is either the second or third time you have asked me that, and seeing as we are going to keep running into each other, I thought we could just on speaking terms.” He smiled. Doesn’t MPD carry 9mm’s too? Sassing officers of the state who carry legal weapons?  Ummhmm. And, he told me his name.

My clarity on this issue came about after I read a excerpt of a post on NPR about Nate Dogg by Jozen Cummings. He writes,

“There’s also “Ain’t No Fun (If The Homies Can’t Get None),” a song that was never chosen as a single from Snoop Dogg’s debut album, Doggystyle but has become a favorite for many DJs trying to work a room. The song is a tour-de-force of misogynistic lyrics, but only Nate Dogg can make a verse about dismissing a one-night stand sound so sensitive and endearing.”

“Remembering Nate Dogg, Hip-Hop’s Hook Man”

by Jozen Cummings, NPR.org,  March 16th, 2011

(via beatsrhimesandlife)

Then I reblogged and responded on tumblr saying:

In some ways, Cummings comments re Nate Dogg remind me of why I think The Chronic and Doggy style are the Devil, in terms of rap music. Men in general and White men in particular have a different relationship to the kinds of violence that I am subjected to as a Black woman who WALKS like she has a right to be in the street. Shit…two weeks ago I told two dudes to kill me or leave me alone. Dead ass. This ain’t for play. This is our lives.

Have you ever thought about White men’s investment in rap lyrics by Black men that are hella outta pocket?

I went to look for Cummings racial identity and I learned that he is African American, Japanese and Puerto Rican, so I am not saying that he is White. What I am saying is that his writing about Nate Dogg’s misogyny reminds me of how when the misogyny bomb is dropped, people who look like me tend to get hit with hella sharpnel. Whereas White men get to live out their thug fantasies singing along with Nate “And you even licked my balls.”

The Chronic and Doggystyle are sonically genius, however, did they up the ante on allowing White men and even some Black ones live out their Black sex fantasies?

Do you see the connection between Black women and White men that I am trying to make, why or why not?

Originally posted at New Model Minority.com.

Arielle Loren Asks “Is Beyonce the Face of Contemporary Feminism?” My Response

14 Jun

We need to be clear about who we are trying to be equal to.

In her blog post Arielle Loren asserts that most women do not identify as being feminists even if they share its core ideologies, that there has been a shift in the contemporary agenda for women’s equality and that women are tired of rhetoric of hardcore oppression and patriarchy. She goes on to say that “frankly, all of the traditional feminist criticism of her “Who Runs The World (Girls)” video is just another example of the disconnect between intellectual theory and real life.” Beyonce is the face of contemporary feminism because women feel empowered listening to Beyonce’s music, so consequently, they take this “power” with them as they go on about their day to day lives.

Interesting.

Let me lay out my assumptions.

Feminism is not about being equal to men. All men are not equal. A black man  from 135th street with a Harvard MBA does not have the same social capital as a Black man from 135th street who just got out of Rikers. Full stop.

Next.

We need to be clear about who we want to be equal to. In fact, we need to ask do we want to be equal or do we want to be free?

Second assumption.

Black feminists are rooted in Love.

Black Feminists are interested in creating spaces for men to feel because men who don’t feel do not know how to Love. Black feminists are interested in holding themselves, and others accountable when they say racist, homopobic ‘ish, because thats how we roll. Black feminists will get up in that behind when a rapper tries to make jokes and bets about non consensual choking of women during sex. Peace to Jay Electronica. The Black feminist I know are rooted in Love. Being rooted in Love means that you understand that you will not be able to have meaningful emotionally invested relationships with another adult until you have forgiven you one OR both of your parents for abandoning you. Peace to all my homies who are in therapy. We grown.

Black Feminist Love is hella grown.

We are so grown that we understand like Arielle Loren does, the importance of Black women being able to be sexual, complicated, whole human beings. We understand that is is particularly important for Black women who are rendered 50 million ho’s on the regular in pop culture. The mission statement for the Black Feminist blog  Betta Come Correct states that:

BECAUSE BLACK FEMINIST SEX IS THE BEST SEX EVER…THIS IS ALSO A WAKE UP CALL TO ANYONE WHO INSISTS ON INTIMACY WITHOUT ACCOUNTABILITY, CONDONES VIOLENCE AGAINST BLACK WOMEN, OR REFUSES TO BE TRANSFORMED BY THE ECSTATIC MIRACLE THAT BLACK WOMEN EXIST. YOU ARE SERIOUSLY MISSING OUT.

So Black women having space to be multidimensional and whole is a part of the contemporary Black feminist agenda.

Back to Beyonce.

As you many of you know I have done a lot of writing about Beyonce, because I am concerned about how the messages that she conveys shapes expectations within Black heterosexual relationships. Given the fact that she made 80 million dollars in 2007-2008 and that earning that kind of money is extremely rare for people in general Black women in particular, Beyonce’s messages influence society and they shape how Black women look at themselves and their partners. Black women are not allowed to earn nearly 100 million dollars unless they are beautiful, talented, non-threatening to White men and they convey historical stereotypes about Black men and women. Dave Chappelle walked away for a reason ya’ll.

Because I care about Black women, I pay close attention to what Beyonce says.

It is dangerous to make open statements that women run the world, because there is so much evidence women get the shit end of the stick in the world.

Black, Latina and Asian women are sex trafficked in the Bronx, East Oakland and Las Vegas.

Eastern European women are sex trafficked globally.

An estimated nearly 100 Million female fetuses and girl children have been aborted or neglected in China and India over the last thirty years.

Women are 50.7% of the US Population. Yet, women are only 16.4% of Congress. They are 17 of the 100 members of the Senate. They are 73 of the 435 member of the House of Representatives.

Women are routinely paid less for the same jobs that men do and this is broken down byrace.In fact when I told my students two weeks ago that they could graduate from college and be offered less money, just because of what was between their legs, they looked depressed.

They couldn’t believe how profoundly unfair it was. When I said that “Women are cheap labor” they looked mortified. I explained to them that shutting down was not going to create a more just and equitable world. That they cannot change a system if they do not understand it. And now that they do know that women are offered less money to do the work that men can do, they are expected to go out into the world and change it. Peace to the Equal Pay Act.

Poverty is feminized in this country, meaning that a main predictor of poverty is having a baby because children are expensive (childcare, healthcare, food, clothes, shelter) and there is very little support such as state/federal child care, paid federal family medical leave, support for families who work full time as parents.

We need to be honest about who we are tying to be equal to.

Women do not run the world. The world shits on women. Ask Ester Baxter. Ask SusanGiffords. Ask the woman who claims that she was assaulted and raped by the former President of the IMF. Ask Shaniya Davis’s family.  Ask Ayianna Jones’s family. AskSakia Gunn’s family. Ask. Ask. Ask.

Now if we want to celebrate the catchiness of a Beyonce song, or honor her athletic ability, her fierceness as a dancer, that is perfectly legititmate. But to call her the face of modern day feminism is ahistorical and a slap in the face to Black, White, Latino, Asian, Muslim, Native American women and men who have been working to change our world so that being born with a vagina does not automatically mean being raised to be someones wife, street harassment material, nanny, slave or prostitute, but a fully developed human being.

For more readings on the history of Black Women and Feminism read:
Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement and the Black Baptist Church 1880-1920by Evelyn Brooks Higgenbotham
Living for the Revolution by Kimberly Springer
Radical Sisters: Second Wave Feminism and Black Liberation in Washington in DC by Ann Valk.

For more readings on Black, White and Chicana Feminisms:
Separate Roads to Feminism by Benita Roth

For more readings on Third Wave Feminism
To Be Real, Ed by, Rebecca Walker
“Under Construction: Identifying Foundations of Hip Hop Feminism…” by Whitney Peoples
On Being Feminism’s Ms. Nigga by Latoya Peterson <<<And I still have issues with the title.
Feminism for Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism, Ed. Jessica Yee.

My post on R. Kelly and Julian Assange mentions some good books on feminism as well.

Thoughts. I know you have them.

Is positing Beyonce as “contemporary feminism” a move to come up?

What is your definition of feminism?

Music as feminist empowerment?

Originally posted on New Model Minority.com.

Musing on Black Women Writing

23 Jun

My post Black Women x The Streets x Harassment has 114 comments on Racialicious.

I don’t think I have ever written something that has received such a massive response.

The comments are illuminating because they demonstrate the ways in which people may or may not see how racial sexism is at play when Black men harass Black women, White women, and other women of color in the streets.

As a writer, as a Black woman, and as a feminist I am incredibly grateful to have spaces to have my work read and responded to in real time. To that end, I appreciate the opportunity to write this post here as well.

I wrote it as a intervention on violence against Black women and street harassment.

I also really appreciate the ways in which article connects Black women’s ability to be in the street to our ability to participate in democracy.

Having blogged for almost 5 years, (where did the time go?), I know that writing is work.
Full stop.

However, what is interesting about this piece is that it has allowed me to take relatively sophisticated legal, racial and gender theory and apply it to our every day lives. When I do this, I feel successful. Making theory relate to our everyday lives is an important skill and my blog is a place where I work hard on it.

What do you think about online spaces for Black women?

What would happen if we tried to make some of the theory that we learn accessible
to wider audiences?

Why is it so hard for folks to acknowledge that racial sexism is REAL on the streets?

Renina is a thinker and blogger at New Model Minority.com.

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