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.


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.


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.


18 Responses to “Black Feminist Love and Amber Cole”

  1. dominantintelligence November 3, 2011 at 2:19 PM #

    Nothing makes me speechless. First of all I am a melanin male at the jaded age of 35. This has received way to much attention. Most of the comments that I have read either praise “Amber”, bash her or tell her to ask the mystery jesus for forgiveness. Ha! When I was in high school there were smuts, or loose girls for a nicer term since everyone is so damn sensitive in 2011. These loose girls had sex and gave oral sex to who they wanted to. On the other hand there were girls who would not even hold hands with anyone. This girl “Amber” had these urges already and that does not make it bad or good it just got caught on video. On another note cyberbullying is a joke. Get the children off of the gadgets and make them go outside and meet other children the old fashion way. There is always going to be a pecking order, natural selection and all. If the feds get involved with the case they will prosecute all involved and make them “sex offenders” which will be with them for the rest of their lives. (including “Amber”) I put the name “Amber” in quotes because there are so many known smuts by that name, I have to wonder if its in the name. If you cannot name two you are out of the loop.

    • aafiufjw;ioe November 3, 2011 at 5:35 PM #

      well great job dehumanizing her and completely missing the point

    • anon November 3, 2011 at 7:46 PM #

      This is what misogyny looks like.

    • Judaye November 4, 2011 at 8:43 AM #

      It seems that these words upset you, make you feel uncomfortable. You feel the need to try to defend your rigid beliefs and give other people the chance too see how you think. I appreciate that.

  2. Donnesha November 3, 2011 at 7:33 PM #

    Wow I had no idea this happened. I’m glad I joined your blog it definitely helps to keep me updated on important issues.

  3. Kismet Nuñez November 3, 2011 at 7:54 PM #


    First of all, huge disrespect using the word smuts to describe anyone. Black girl, black woman, black person, black man, black boy, black muse, black monk–let’s use appropriate identifiers and let’s respect how people identify. Haven’t we learned from the #SlutWalk debate that words have meaning, history and do violence all on their own?

    I’m also going to do something I always say not to but I’m hoping your comment was more than just trolling. *crossing my fingers*

    1. A teenager (or preteen) having sexual urges is often only a problem in mainstream society when the person is a girl. Men and boys are assumed to have “urges” and though they are judged on their age, the judgement is never at its base about urges, acts and behavior. It is about when that behavior should start. In other words, to recap Renina’s excellent and beautiful point: when will black girls be seen as full human beings?

    2. The so-called golden age when young people went outside or inside and met each other in person (as opposed to online) is false. Not because that didn’t happen once upon a time and not even because that once upon a time is likely to never happen again and we #fromthefuture just have to learn to deal with it. No–it didn’t happen because with or without Facbeook, texts or AOL chat there was still bullying, incest, rape, assault, street harassment, rumor mills meant to shame women and girls who engage in inappropriate behavior and kudos to young boys who “tap that azz.” Neither the media nor the platform is the issue. Power, coercion, violence and privilege are the issues. Again to Renina: “What I am saying is they both constitute an act of power.” And the reason that these things continue to happen, regardless of the media, is because we keep fighting mirages and not the core.

    Which returns me, at least, again to the question Renina ended with:

    What does Black Feminist Love look like in the face of digital, racialized, sexualized violence?

    R: I look forward to reflecting on your question. Ahmyn to you for asking it.

    • dominantintelligence November 6, 2011 at 11:29 PM #

      Yes! Yes! Yes! To all those who replied to me but especially to Kismet Nunez who actually thought out a response. F slutwalk and those causasians attempting to attach their “problems” to Black Women. To me, and this is just me, words have semantics and that is it. No meanings, no history and definitely no violence. If someone spoke to another person in a language they did not know, that person would not feel any kind of way because they did not understand period. If you allow someone to anger they have won. Not sure what the trolling was about but I do like to engage because so many people like to talk around the issue but never really say anything. I can only issue statements from my perspective, perception and jaded indoctrinated american upbringing. What does the timing of acts and behaviors have to do with being a human being? We (you and me) would not be here if two people of the opposite sex didn’t fuck, oh excuse me make love, coitus, fornicate. Again word semantics. Back to time and behaviors because everyone is different and to expect all people of whatever age to do the same thing would be crazy. Pardon me if my grammar suck but I just want to get the thoughts out. I said nothing about a golden age but just something real, that you could feel, taste and touch. Doing these things allowed people to learn body language which is 85% of communication. So by being “online” a person is learning about 15%, if that, about the persona that is communicating with them. Yes there still will be bullying, incest, rape, assault, street harassment and rumor mills but what is good for the goose is good for the gander. To me, and again just me, there is a big difference between entering and letting one enter. Call me bias, but I only know entering soooooo. To the late topic and I hope that I am correct. The media is just the 4th branch of the government so it definitely is an issue if not the issue. Power, coercion, violence and privilege are not tools we(melanin folks) use but tools used against the masses so learned behavior is the issue. Someone please tell me What does Black Feminist Love look like in the face of digital, racialized, sexualized violence? Or am I just another…

      • S. Mandisa Moore November 7, 2011 at 12:29 PM #

        Its not clear what you are saying, but it is clear that you are derailing the conversation, have yet to take responsibility for your dehumanizing language, and to be ahistorical.

        Please come again.

  4. msworld November 4, 2011 at 5:27 AM #

    “What does Black Feminist Love look like in the face of digital, racialized, sexualized violence?”

    I’m still trying to figure that out but I know what it doesn’t look like — and we are seeing that all over the Internet.

    I kind of stumbled onto the Amber Cole situation via facebook and blogs. I didn’t see the video — thank God. I was struck by the vitrol being thrown her way. And the fact that when young girls, especially colored ones, are caught doing anything sexual (this includes getting pregnant), they are instantly demonized, while the young men who are usually involved in the situation are simply let off the hook, as if the girls had sex by themselves.

    The treatment of Amber Cole horrifies me because it is chink in my somewhat little delusional armor that Black women are valued in our community when I know the truth is that I’m valued by my family and friends only. In a better world, I and everyone on this planet would be respected simply because we are all human beings.

    And regarding Renina’s quote from Jeannie Pepper-

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

    This view has haunted me forever and a great source of exploration in my therapy sessions. I’ve always felt being interested in sex and liking it without the respectability of marriage was a big no-no because I was striving for respectability which for Black women equals keeping your legs closed until marriage and hiding any interest in anything sexual (even if you are married).

    Renina- I follow your writings- and I can’t wait to read more on all your research about Black women’s sexuality.

    By the Way- I love you all Crunk Feminists! You are my water!

  5. Basirah Divine November 4, 2011 at 11:13 AM #

    Great source for anti-bullying information and materials:

  6. Anna Renee November 4, 2011 at 11:25 AM #

    Why must we sisters always give so much energy to a troll? Why not just ignore him? Why even engage? This is what burns me up about some of my sisters. Let us realize that some people are just not ready to join a meaningful conversation. Dont stop the conversation because of them.

    Lets realize that some dominantintelligence is powerless to “dehumanize”. If Amber was born a human, how in the hell can she be DEhumanized? Is she now a bird or fish? Words are powerful, but only to the extent that you allow them power. This is the lesson that black women MUST learn. Sticks and stones and shit, my sisters. Name yourselves and stick to your names. No one can rename you, no matter what they say.

    Anyway, I think you’re doing exactly what needs to be done – writing about it. It was media that created this situation, and it’s media that can undo the negative conditioning of our children. You, Reninaj, and other crunk sisters like you, speaking truth to power is what turns this around.
    As for Mark Anthony Neal declaring that Amber is his daughter, I think that is a legitimate method for engaging men who are socialized by patriarchy. If seeing her as “their daughter” sensitizes some men, then Mark Anthony was right on the mark. You have to plant seeds where you are. The end justify the means sometimes.

  7. Reninaj November 6, 2011 at 8:18 AM #

    @Ms World.

    “The treatment of Amber Cole horrifies me because it is chink in my somewhat little delusional armor that Black women are valued in our community when I know the truth is that I’m valued by my family and friends only. In a better world, I and everyone on this planet would be respected simply because we are all human beings. ”

    Thank you so much for saying this. The first time I realized that my body was not mine but owned to “the black community” was years ago, when I was running around Bed-Stuy with a white man and had the AUDACITY to hold his hand. I got ice grills all up and down Fulton. I asked my then partner, “Why are Black men looking at me like this”? He responded, oh, because YOU DON’T get to choose who you date. I could not believe this shit, BUT it was a huge eye opener for me.

    In many ways Black people, in cities in particular, have a possessive investment in what Black women do with their bodies and it makes my ass itch.

    @Anna Renee
    I hear you. Lord knows I have had to unlearn my own patriarchal thinking in reinvest in some brand new politics with a whole lot of thinking about what it means to be free, on a day to day basis as a Black women.
    But let me ask you this. If we were discussing race, rather than gender, would be be as willing to give a person who said some racial, rather than patriarchal a chance to “plant seeds where they are.”

    I ask because when it comes to gender, folks can seem to be less demanding, but when it comes to race they be wanting they free, NOW!

  8. Kavshia Banks November 6, 2011 at 9:38 PM #

    AMBER COLE!!!!!I Think people soul;d leave her alone it was her chooseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee and im pretty sure if she could go back and change it she would but wats done is done Im Sure Her Momma is mad upset and angry i now my mom would b but im pretty sure it wount happen agian she jut need 2 face the fact thats dat is nasty but her true friend will bee der for her nd stay with her till da end i f i now her i would b der for her even if i get made fun of ill b der for her

  9. lala November 9, 2011 at 12:06 AM #

    People are talking about Amber Cole as a victim but what about these other similar (or worse) sex tapes in the wake of her sprouting out by young sisters? Somewhere somehow somebody has dropped the ball.

  10. African November 15, 2011 at 9:07 AM #

    I don’t think the fact the boys or males who were involved with her in this disgusting activity not being vilified legitimizes this kind of stupidity. Personally, I have been calling out the society not these kids since they are just a manifestation of the rot we have tolerated at their expense. Learned Men and Women of the society are busy politicking and fighting one another on who is a victim, who is privileged, who is what, who should be what, this and that and all of that bullshit that we have forgotten that children too are part of our lives. When we are not fighting in the boardrooms, we are at home fighting infront of them. The only peace these kids know is actually watching TV. They find more peace and knowledge from the Kardashians, the soulja boys, the lil waynes and all that kind of stuff. We rarely find time to converse with our kids, give them knowledge beyond the indoctrination they are exposed to in the school system. All we do is call them out when they are caught doing stupid stuff like these. I am not sure letting this young girl off the hook by blaming patriarchy is really doing her justice, but then again that could be the new form of empowerment. And that is exactly what is wrong with humanity. We have easily embraced the victimizer/victim identities to shield us from taking responsibilities. How much sex knowledge do we give these kids before they start engaging in sexual activities? How much knowledge about drugs do we give these kids before they start using them? Yes we have no time for them and because we trust in the school system to show them what is wrong and what it right huh? we only act when they caught on the wrong side of humanity.. Seriously, if careers are more important to us than our families then we shouldn’t procreate, Let’s not fill the world with zombies who can’t define life beyond what they watch on television and read on magazines. This goes out to both Men and Women, since we all have a part to play in our kids’ lives. That will save us from wasting a lot of time talking nonsense about little kids who are just emulating our failures.
    I’m a male black man, in Africa who cares for my sisters just like I care for my brothers. I have no time to discuss gender bullshit, I teach both of them how to be meaningful people and empower them. I am very disappointed by the comments here. These kids know nothing about Feminism and Patriarchy and all that kind of gender politics bullshit y’all are using to defend or blame them. All they need is guidance so they can become better people in the society, the Steve Jobs, the Obamas, the Hilary Clintons, the Oprahs of this world. You think all these people sucked penises on camera to get where they are now? Nope.
    Just my two cents.

  11. Elle est noire November 22, 2011 at 3:55 PM #

    Typical anti-Black female hate, straight from the motherland. SMH.


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