Archive | October, 2010

NUNU Pt. 2: We Mad Now!

6 Oct

Uncle Pastor said that he has spent his lifetime helping the uncle-less. He considers himself a victim of spiritual warfare and has collected five stones in his fur pockets.

Well, church. My pastor spoke a prophetic word when he said, “As long as you great, haters gon’ hate.” Just as the NUNU: No Uncles, No Uterus movement got off the ground, a huge scandal broke out in a southern megachurch. A group of parents recently accused Pastor John Jenkins(who goes by Uncle Pastor) of intent to manipulate their teenage sons and daughters. Uncle Pastor recently started two ministries, Pastor’s Adopted Nephews Teen School (PANTS) and Pastor’s Adopted Nieces Teen and Youth School (PANTYS), for the at-risk, uncle-less children of the church. Former members say that he often preached to the men about getting involved in the PANTS and PANTYS of the church. He told them it was their duty to misguided youth who would never have a chance in this life without surrogate uncles. The members say they never caught on to the sexual innuendos imbedded in the sermons or titles of the schools. They began to get suspicious when Uncle Pastor gave their children wine at evening services, pointing to passages in scripture when Jesus turned water into wine for the children of his brother, James. The schools were officially closed before Uncle Pastor could do further harm. The travesty of this situation is that feminists are blaming movements like NUNU for creating a “narrative of need.” One church mother said, “My family was fine until Uncle Pastor convinced them otherwise. He didn’t have to break out into “Sometimes I Feel Like an Uncle-less Child” every Sunday! This story about uncle-less-ness is just that- a story.”  The devil is a lie!

If uncle-lack is little more than a story, how does one explain the alarming statistic that young women without uncles are more likely to have sex before the age of 25? Although there was no control group in this study, the numbers show that many of the sexually active young women were products of mothers without brothers- a group that grows at an alarming rate. If uncle-lack is little more than a story, how does one explain gang activity on the uncle-less streets of cities like Compton? It’s a vicious cycle; as more uncles are murdered or jailed, new generations of uncle-less men rise up in anger. If uncle-lack is little more than a story, how does one explain the popularity of Uncle Luke in strip club culture? Do you think those women would answer to “Where dem hoes at?” if they had loving uncles at home who asked better questions? Do you think the women below would have degraded themselves at Uncle Luke’s birthday party if their biological uncles had thrown them their own parties?

Feminists and so-called cultural analysts are alike in that they judge practical movements from the comfort of their ivory towers. Sure, your educated readings of statistics may read differently than ours, but things tend to look a little different on the ground. To the ivory towers we shout, “Quit talkin’ bout narrative; remember the imperative” [The author would like to note that the use of off-rhyme and assonance is a literary tool to garner the attention of the masses and is not to be taken literally. She does sympathize with narrative lovers because she used to be one]. The imperative is uncle-less-ness in our communities. There is no reason to have wars over semantics when we’re trying to find uncles for our future generations.

These women say that our communities don't need more uncles; they need equal access to healthcare, employment and education. Question: What does this have to do with stable families- with daughters who aren't fast and sons who aren't gangsta?

The writers of NUNU and those who are likeminded did not place Uncle Pastor in the pulpit. The uncle-less did. The writers of NUNU did not buy Uncle Pastor’s Honda Civic. The uncle-less did. The writers of NUNU did not help Uncle Pastor manipulate PANTS and PANTYS. The uncle-less did. It wasn’t the story that gave him the glory [author again notes use of literary device]. It was the need that fed his greed [and another one]. If there were active uncles in the congregation, Uncle Pastor would never have been able to manipulate the youth.

Uncle-lack is real and here to stay. Pondering over whether the narrative creates this lack is like trying to answer the age old question about the chicken and the egg. Does the answer matter when folks at the picnic are waiting for the missing fried chicken? Readers, our communities are pounding the picnic tables for missing uncles.  Won’t you just bring them out?

P.S. You don’t agree with us? We invite you to join us instead of setting up your own divisive camps. I know this may seem absurd to you (or if you’re ableist, insane, nuts, or cuckoo for cocoa puffs), but we know best. We have the numbers; over 100 bloggers support NUNU, so we must be telling the only truth. If you can’t beat us, join us. In the meantime, hide yo’ uterus, hide yo’ ovaries, and get you a brother to help raise your kids!  

P.S.S. The brother from whom the last line is quoted was trying to save his NIECE.

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NUNU: No Uncles, No Uterus

5 Oct

Obviously, any two people can make a pretty baby. But where are the uncles to help raise this pretty girl?

Gentle reader, I write this post with a heavy heart. To address the current crisis of my people, I must revisit the great depravity of my own childhood in order to highlight the disaster that is the contemporary American family: I, like countless contemporary children, grew up without an uncle in my life. I know, I know. My story is not a popular one in this day and age, when women are hell-bent on raising their children independently, without the help of their brothers. In fact, “brother” is a word that has faded from all but the most devoted nationalists. But let me tell you how the absence of a mother’s brother affected my childhood and the lives of countless children today.  

I am a third generation uncle-less child. I had no uncles, my mother had no uncles, and my maternal grandmother had no uncles. If my great-grandmother had uncles, she never told my grandmother. We are a sorry line of uncle-less women. Though I want to blame my brotherless mother for my hasty conception, I can’t totally place the weight on her shoulders. Whose pattern was she to follow with no uncles in sight?    

Let me show you what an uncle-less childhood looks like. There was no handsome man to call me “Miss Thang” or “Pretty Girl” [side note: my devoted father called me “Princess,” “Sunshine,” and “Water Head” but this critique is about lack, not abundance]. Without this uncle figure, I looked in all the wrong places for these nicknames. Without a model for non-fatherly/ non-sinister love, I was unable to recognize the grown men predators who meant me harm. Uncles (especially single ones) show girl children the ropes of relationships in ways that fathers and mothers simply can’t. An uncle will take you to the side and show you the difference between a player and a square, a lady and a tramp. Because my mother had no brothers, I had to negotiate these false binaries all by myself.  

If more of us had real uncles, perhaps this uncle wouldn't be so appealing in times of war.

There were other milestones I missed because of my mother’s brotherlessness. No trusted man gave me my first sip of alcohol in the safety of my own backyard barbecue. I remember despondently listening to the stories of my friends who were introduced to such drinks by their beloved uncles. What did I do on the summer holidays of my adolescence? I blew bubbles! Let me tell you, blowing bubbles does not prepare you for freshman year in college. Because I grew up without an uncle, my first alcoholic drink came from an upperclassman who told me I was drinking “Pal Punch.” Had my mother had a brother, I would not have been mocked for yelling, “This don’t taste like Kool-Aid!”  

The totality of my depravity can’t be covered in anecdotes. If my uncle-longings were nickels, I’d have at least $907.35. But they’re not. They are my private pain, and I have decided to make this pain public in order to address the foolishness of my generation’s women. Feminism is the major culprit in today’s epidemic of uncle-less-ness. With all this talk of sisterhood, women are forgetting the importance of our brothers in raising children. Our ancestors said it takes a village to raise a child, and surely that village included uncles. Hell, uncles were critically important even when we reached these shores. According to Wikipedia, Uncle Tom was a Christlike figure who was martyred for his refusal to reveal the whereabouts of two escaped female slaves. If there were more active uncles to show us the way, don’t you think we would be able to cure this pandemic of snitching in our communities? Have you watched First 48 lately?  

This guy definitely had an uncle.

   

Women, my pain does not have to be shared by our future generations. Save our communities! Guard your uterus until you have established brotherly relationships with men who are devoted to helping you raise your children. You can not do it alone! You can not even do it with the help of the child’s biological father. If you have daughters, please keep trying until you have at least one son. Our future generations need uncles. Statistics show that crime rates are rising in areas that already have high rates of imprisonment. Don’t be fooled by the “socially conscious”—this has nothing to do with heavy policing and inhumane living conditions. No, these statistics show that when uncles go to jail, whole families fail! Don’t be selfish; wait  until your brothers return home to conceive. It’s the least you can do for our future generations. It’s the least you can do for the girl child in my broken heart, who blows bubbles and hopes someone will call her “Miss Thang.” May God bless and keep you, and send you a brother for your uncle-less child.  

P.S. The writer of this post is qualified to berate mothers because she is blessed to have three brothers who will play active parts in her daughter’s life. Because this is my family structure, it should also be yours. P.S.S. I am looking for 100 other bloggers to join this movement, which is not to be confused with the following: NCNC: No Condoms, No Cutty; NPNP: No Proposal, No Poontang; NVNV: No Vasectomy, No Vagina; NFCNFC: No Fundamentalist Christianity, No Family Circle, etc.

Sticks, Stones & Microphones

4 Oct

I can still hear a whisper (song). Arms oval. Neck curled. Hips sway to the familiar southern bass from a black (male) speaker rapping to me the dance floor.  Before I could face the voice coaxing me to move, he drops his hook—a line about a violent sexual fantasy, a common come-on echoed in hip hop club culture.  Still.  Arms raised, I am arrested by his lyrics likening sex to a beating. He wants to “blow my back out.” His lines are in step with other rap courters recounting sexual conquests by the penetrative acts of cutting, bussing, stabbing, screwing, hitting, pounding, smashing, thrashing, tapping, or slicing my body (into parts).  The hearty bass thump with the choreographed slow motion flutter from the strobe light stages a sensual seduction, or what he describes as “making love” in the club. But, love in this space is an illusion. It is a manufactured special effect similar to the one simulated by the strobe light.  It is this conversation between the flashing light and darkness, between bodies and sound, where I am swayed by a melody of misogyny.

Over the years, I have developed coping strategies to “manage misogyny.” In the past, I defiantly put an “X” in the air

Wayne and Drake perform at BET Awards

while walking off the dance floor, persuaded the deejay to play more woman-friendly songs, or created other words to replace the ones I could not bear to hear. Each year, I emotionally prepare myself to watch the BET or MTV awards. As a new crop of crooners emerged, I began listening to more R&B than rap to no avail.  The love songs don’t even love me. These days, I find myself storming out of clothing stores and restaurants, feeling accosted by the background sound taking over the physical and psychic space. I cannot turn off or tune out all of the car stereos, metro ads, or highway billboards where these images and words have become commonplace. Just how much hate can one woman tolerate?

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and I want to take time to reconsider the matter of words.  I want to think about the weight they carry in the everyday lives of black women.  More than a discussion about our love-hate relationship with popular culture, I want to take seriously the way misogyny impacts our relationships with menfolk and ourselves.  “Managing misogyny” has become an unwanted, collective group experience for women and girls of color from the hip hop generation(s). Language that humiliates, demonizes, objectifies and threatens is a form of violence.  It is verbal and emotional abuse accelerated and intensified by mass media technologies that make it so pervasive and systematic it is virtually inescapable. We know how language impacts our lives. We are witnessing how the state deploys labels such as terrorists, insurgents or enemy combatants to dehumanize (and kill without accountability). What about the words echoed by the black (male) speaker and transmitted by state-regulated media to dehumanize black women and girls? How does the language of hip hop sustain an environment conducive to our continued sexual and gender exploitation? Rap misogyny is verbal abuse.  Let’s name it. Let’s call it what it is because we’ve spent too many years feeling silenced by it.

Words hurt.

~ Aisha

This month, consider the language of popular hip hop music within the context of violence:

From the U.S. Department of Justice website: Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.

Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.

  • Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair-pulling, biting, etc. Physical abuse also includes denying a partner medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use.
  • Sexual Abuse: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent. Sexual abuse includes, but is certainly not limited to marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner.
  • Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, name-calling, or damaging one’s relationship with his or her children.
  • Economic Abuse: Making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one’s access to money, or forbidding one’s attendance at school or employment.
  • Psychological Abuse: Causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner’s family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work.
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