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(Un)Clutching My Mother’s Pearls, or Ratchetness and the Residue of Respectability

31 Dec

shawty-lo-photos-extralarge_1209751862690

The recent news that ATL rapper Shawty Lo (of Laffy Taffy fame) may be the potential star of a new reality show featuring him, his 11 children, and his 10 baby mamas had this feminist searching for somebody’s pearls to clutch,  seeing as how even the First Lady’s love of pearls has not inspired me to cop a strand of my own.

I watched the trailer for this latest train wreck out of Atlanta in mild disgust and mega internal conflict. On the one hand, I felt compelled to embrace this potential portrayal of what one friend called an “alternate family.” I mean, my family, composed of my single mom, my only-child self, my cousins who were stand-ins for big brothers, and more recently my step-family is certainly “alternate.” At least I felt that way as a kid when I was asked to fill out those old-school ditto sheets with the members of my family, which curiously left absent slots for cousins and aunties and grandparents. 

And when I see the “rabid” nature of respectability politics that makes grown-ass women feel justified in referring to other sisters hustling trying to make it as “brood mares” I am reminded that I don’t ever wanna be down with the myopia and pathology of the respectability racket either! It is so absolutely clear that this respectability shit IS.NOT. working, no matter how much we remix it. The refusal to see that requires what I like to call indignant ignorance, and frankly ain’t nobody got time for that!

sweet-brown_o_GIFSoup.com

On the other hand: this Shawty-Lo biznass is utterly ratchet! And ratchetness gives me pause, every single time! It’s meant to. Ratchet acts are meant to be so over-the-top and outrageous that they catch your attention and exceed the bounds of acceptable saying.

This is the manner and mode of ratchetness that Bey seems to be invoking (successfully or not, you be the judge) in this pic which had the internets all ablaze over the weekend. 

Let's Get Ratchet! Let'sGetRatchet!

Let’s Get Ratchet! Let’sGetRatchet!

Bey’s ratchetness is about flamboyance, about doing the most, and “Bey-ing the most.”

Shawty-Lo’s brand is “ghetto” “hood” ish on steroids.

In this regard,his show is certainly poised to succeed. (And it ain’t even aired yet.)

 So my initial thought to my friend on FB was: “When there’s a show about a woman and her ten baby daddies then we can have a discussion about alternate families. Until then, this just sounds like women with few options capitulating to Black male patriarchy.”

By-and-large, I believe this is true. But it is also true that I find something fundamentally off-putting about a brother with 11 kids by 10 different women, even though it appears that he supports them all, claims them all, and works to have some level of relationship with their moms. I’m tired of brothers not having to be emotionally accountable for their relational choices. I’m tired of the way patriarchy’s love affair with capitalism sets men up to think that manhood and fatherhood are tied to one’s bank account.

 Patriarchy exempts men from having to emotionally grow the fuck up.

 I mean, it’s great that Shawty Lo knows and claims all his children.  But um, WHEN did that become the standard?!

Men don’t want superficial relationships, but they have little motivation to cultivate the habits of character—emotional generosity and maturity, selflessness, self-confidence (not EGO) – that are necessary for good relationships. Intuitively most men reject women who want them only for what they have, and rightfully so. But these same men are rarely challenged to cultivate the kind of emotional consideration that they seek in others.  They want these things from women, benefit from the time we spend cultivating these attributes in our friendships with other women, but are so ill-equipped to provide them themselves.

 Even still, in the crevices of my wrinkled forehead are the residues of my own respectability politics, my ambivalence about the limits of our alter(n)ations, and our excessive celebrations of alterity.  Even as our generation works hard to stop clutching the pearls and with it the respectability that we think is held in tact by the thin tie that binds, we are confronted with the challenges that led our foremothers to embrace respectability in the first place. We might not be striving for big R-type Respectability, but we are all over little-R respectability. 

Why?

Well, “ask me what I do and who I do it for.” For the future kids, for my mama, my grandmama, my aunties, all those people, for whom I am the embodiment of hope.

When I was growing up, watching way too many girls become mothers before they had the resources to make sustainable lives for themselves and watching my mother hustling to make ends meet, I caught the cautionary tale real quickly. Whatever you do, don’t do this. 

Not justifying. More like confessing. And inviting us–respectable, supereducated brown girls, the ones who “did it the right way,” whatever the hell that is– to tell the truth about our continued investments in respectability, and about all the ways that our love for all things ratchet is as much about getting free as it is about reminding ourselves of all the reasons why we made the choices we made. So we wouldn’t end up like that. Like them.

I mean it could be good ole fashioned “Chickenhead Envy” on my part.  Cuz damn. It definitely feels like “Hoes be winning.”

But are they really? Are any of us of winning in a scenario where respectable and ratchet are the only two options? 

Yes, the alternate family that Shawty Lo and the Baby Moms have built may be subversive, transgressive, and even admirable in its insistence on creating meaningful kinship bonds despite the dictates of respectability. Alternate families are incredibly difficult to create and structurally discouraged at every turn. And in some ways our affective lives (our emotional selves) have not caught up to the space, time, and resource demands of this neoliberal moment.

Ratchetness emerges under these conditions as a kind of habitus through which (some) working-class folks and folks with working class roots interact with every aspect of their lives from entertainment to family to government.

(Hurricane Chris performs “Halle Berry”–one of the first songs to popularize the term “ratchet” in front of the Louisiana Legislature, watch around the 6min mark.)

 More and more though, I am coming to understand that subversive and transgressive politics do not a revolution make.  I mean how exactly does the subversion and transgression represented here undercut patriarchy?

Just because it’s alternate and non-normative–and thus even potentially queer– should I as a feminist embrace it?

From what I see, this radical reimagining of family works primarily to balance the public portrayals of Black men as oversexed deadbeats against the reality that “as long as he takes care of his kids,” we can’t really have anything to say, because ultimately “he ain’t that bad.”

 What do we do with a man that sleeps around unprotected with all these women given the alarming rates of HIV infection in ATL? (And how many people will come to this post and remind me that the women also chose to have unprotected sex with him?!)

As I watch the mothers of Shawty Lo’s children form strategic alliances all in the name of parenting their children and getting what they need from this ONE man, I think about the continued imbalance of power that Black men have over Black women despite all the ways white capitalist supremacist patriarchy conspires to keep Black men locked into a form of subordinate masculinity.

 I know that should this show become a full fledged series, everyone will focus on the Mamas, on how stupid they all were to take up with dude, who has a reputation for foolishness. Their maturity and the wisdom of their choices will surely be discussed. 

His? Not so much.

As I’ve said before, reality (television) frequently makes Black women the victims of persistent acts of disrespectability.

So even as I unhand my (mother’s) pearls, I think this show among others can invite us to think about Black women’s deployment of ratchetness as part of a kind of disrespectability politics.

Or in Bey’s case, as a kind of joy and celebration, that the rush to respectability simply doesn’t allow.

Elsewhere I have written about ratchet feminism, primarily as a kind of female friendship forged in the midst of complicated relationships among men, their mothers, and their many women.  I think this show will place this concept on the table again, as it demands we think about all of the creative ways women negotiate patriarchy.

At the same time, we have to think about how the embrace of ratchetness is simultaneously a dismissal of respectability, a kind of intuitive understanding of all the ways that respectability as a political project has failed Black women and continues to disallow the access that we have been taught to think it will give. #AskSusanRice

We must ask what ratchetness itself makes possible, even as the gratuitous and exploitative display of it attempts to foreclose possibility. What does ratchetness do for the ratchet and non-ratchet (and sometimes ratchet) alike?

Are Black women not always already perceived as “ratchet” anyway? As over-the-top, excessive, doing the most and achieving the least, unable to be contained, except through wholly insufficient discourses, like ghetto, and hood, and ratchet. AND respectable. 

Are Black men “ratchet”? Can white women be ratchet? Is  this ratchet? 

Kanye and Baby Mom (to be) Kim Kardashian

Kanye and Baby Mom (to be) Kim Kardashian

I don’t have the answers. And I’m not knocking these moms. The best I can do here is own my contradictions and then let go of these damn pearls, because despite my desire to hold on, this ain’t our mothers’ feminism. 

How Do You Get Crunk?

10 Dec

Somehow I doubt this is what she had in mind.

 

For us, Crunk Feminism has always been about showcasing the possibilities of existing productively with our contradictions, about embracing our tensions,  about avoiding easy answers, about not preaching to the choir, about struggling and making-meaning in community, and about having side-spliting fun, whenever possible. In short, we believe in getting CRUNK, in all the expansive ways we can imagine that term,  whether that has meant telling it like it is to whomever needs to hear it, rolling hard for the crew, giving the forceful side eye (and a few well-chosen words) to rappers who’ve gotten out of pocket, or conversely  shaking our asses with a little drank in hand on occasion…

But mostly it has meant reveling in the joy that is a part of a life lived in the most intentionally feminist of ways.

And you, Dear Readers, are a part of that joy. This work  has not been possible without you, who keep challenging us to grow, to stay true, to not compromise, to keep it CRUNK.

I’m not much on Apocalypse talk — too much ish to do (and as Crunkadelic would say, too few f*cks left to give) — but there is the sense as we come to the close of 2012 that we are fast approaching the end of the world as we know it. Heck, we may already be there.  And the best way to respond to rupture is with connection. Dance. Laughter. Creativity.

So come hangout with us!!!! 

The Google Hangout that we are hosting TOMORROW, December 11th is in honor of you! Join us live on our own YouTube channel, where we will be talking about all the ways we have been getting, are getting, and will be getting CRUNK (past, present, and future).  You don’t need a Google Account to participate.

So in the words of this song just “bring yourself.”

The Hangout starts at 8pm and will run about 20mins, so take a study break, all y’all hard working academics and activists, and come join us.

And if there’s anything you’ve been dying to ask a CF, here’s your chance; there is still time to submit questions to us in the comments section, via Facebook, or on twitter @crunkfeminists. 

So come let us know how YOU get CRUNK!

 

 

What: Google Hangout

When: Tuesday, December 11th, 8pm EST

Where: Crunk Feminist YouTube Channel

Topic: How Do You Get Crunk?

 

CFC Plans for 2013: We Need Your Support!

20 Nov

Dear Family:

As we near the end of a stellar year at the CFC, we want to thank you for your steadfast support. This year we achieved many milestones. Because of your support, we have received over 1.7 million views to our blog.  In early August we reached over 10,000 Facebook fans, and to date now have nearly 12,000 likes on our Facebook page!  Three of our CFs were featured in Essence Magazine’s profile of 35 Young, Black, and Amazing Women under age 35.

You can see two of them post-photo shoot here.

We also have a committed group of followers on Tumblr and Twitter. And we are excited about the future!

We are now in planning mode for our 2013 blog cycle, and we need your support. Each year we plan our content and initiatives during a 3 day retreat in the North Georgia Mountains. This is also normally the one time of year that the majority of us are in the same room together, so it is also a time of reconnection, rejuvenation, revival, and re-visioning. This year, we’d like to spend some dedicated time reflecting on our mission, particularly the way our own privileges may show up in cyberspace. We take seriously the critiques from some of our readership and would like to think through ways of growing our critical edges even amongst ourselves.

Usually, we pool together our own personal resources to rent the cabin, pay for food, transportation (including airfare) and materials. However, after 2.5 years and nearly 2000 hours spent blogging three times per week on average, doing speaking engagements, conference calls, conferences, leading online activist campaigns and doing community work, sustainability and self-care have become key words for us.

If our labor of love has blessed you, inspired you, or uplifted you, please consider financially supporting us as we fund our 2013 CFC Planning Retreat and upcoming initiatives.  We would like to raise $3000 to fund at least 10 CFC Members to attend our retreat. That money covers the rental of a modest cabin, food for us to cook our own meals, transportation (including airfare and ground travel), and planning supplies. 

Here are just a few of the initiatives and goals we would like to accomplish next year:

  1. 2013 Crunk Feminist Collective Planning Retreat
  2. Launching a new CFC website with dedicated space for digital activism, digital pedagogies, and digital humanities projects
  3. Feminism 101 for Girls Saturday School
  4. Compiling and editing a CFC volume
  5. More Video Blogs
  6. A Speakers Tour to Cities, Universities, Feminist Bookstores and Community Spaces Near You

If every Facebook fan donates $1 we will be able to cover the expenses for all of our CFC initiatives! We know not everyone has even $1 to spare but if you can’t give, please signal boost, by spreading this post and asking friends to donate.

Thanks for your support!
 
The CFC

Black Women Rock the Vote. Black Men Mock the Vote?: An Election Day Story

5 Nov

The first presidential election in which I was old enough to vote was the 2000 Gore-Bush contest. On Election Day, my mother called me and said simply, “I wanted to make sure you voted today. Your great-grandmother (born in rural North Louisiana in 1903) took great pride in voting. You do the same.”

  My great-grandmother Daisy, made sure that one of her granddaughters came during every Presidential election to take her to vote. Even though she didn’t walk well, because of a physical disability from her youth. Even though she signed her signature with an X.

 When I got to the polls adjacent to Howard U’s campus as I headed in to vote, I ran into an older man named Lawrence Guyot. He was gentle and called us eager young voters up to him one by one to explain that he was running for election to the City Council (I think) on the Green Party ticket. I obliged him politely, albeit probably a bit impatiently.

 And then I went in and cast my vote for Al Gore. I may even have voted for Mr. Guyot. I can’t remember now.

We all know how the story ended. The Supreme Court disregarded the will of the people in Florida and stole the presidency for George W. Bush.

And today, we find ourselves still reeling from the economic and geo-political results of that decision.

 

It would be years later, when I was in graduate school, before I came to know who Lawrence Guyot was. As director of Freedom Summer in Mississippi in 1964 and as chairman of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, he had literally been beaten and arrested for my right to vote. We know the MFDP because it put Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer on a national stage, as the MFDP moved to unseat the state Democratic Party at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.

 

When I walked in and cast my vote that day, there was literally someone there who had fought for me to be able to be there. And he brought along the presence of the ancestors, my great-grandmother, Fannie Lou Hamer, and so many others who understood the value of the vote.

The thing that staggers my mind today is how easily history had moved to forget Mr. Guyot. I think about how I didn’t even know his name until I was privileged enough to go to grad school, something most Americans will not do.

 I think about how easily the battles and struggles to get here are forgotten.

 We have re-learned this lesson this year as the GOP has waged a veritable war on Women’s Rights. And voting rights, too.

 

Despite these lessons, this history, I have seen a profusion of young radical brothers and old school radical cats declaring brazenly that they will not vote.

Over and over again, I saw in my FB feed, them reposting an excerpt from a 1956 W.E.B. Du Bois speech in which Dr. Du Bois declared:

 

“The present Administration is carrying on the greatest preparation for war in the history of mankind. Stevenson promises to maintain or increase this effort. The weight of our taxation is unbearable and rests mainly and deliberately on the poor. This Administration is dominated and directed by wealth and for the accumulation of wealth. It runs smoothly like a well-organized industry and should do so because industry runs it for the benefit of industry. Corporate wealth profits as never before in history. We turn over the national resources to private profit and have few funds left for education, health or housing. … It costs three times his salary to elect a Senator and many millions to elect a President. This money comes from the very corporations which today are the government. This in a real democracy would be enough to turn the party responsible out of power. Yet this we cannot do.” — W.E.B. Du Bois, 1956 

 

He could just as easily have been talking about 2012 as 1956. And yet, it was after he said this that Martin Luther King marched, that Fannie Lou Hamer got beaten, that Malcolm X demanded “the ballot or the bullet.”

 How do we reconcile our history of Civil Rights, our deep belief and investment as a people in the franchise with today’s legitmate disillusionments?

I know that many of us who tend toward the radical left in our politics cannot help but see the problems with the kind of imperialist, capitalist, deeply racist and patriarchal politics that continue to structure American society. We do not want to keep co-signing the madness for the sake of “tradition.”

And certainly, it goes without saying that President Obama governs just slightly to the left of center on his best days. On his worse days, he could be an actual Republican.

And yet, statistics show that in 2008, Black women were the single largest voter demographic of any group. Is it that Black women are politically naïve, that Black men are more politically visionary? Does Black women’s support for President Obama suggest a reckless disregard for life of people of color everywhere else?

Of course not.

It was Black women like Jessie Fauset and Anna H. Jones, who organized the Pan African Conferences that Du Bois is so famous for. It was Black women who started the International Council of Women of the Darker Races in 1922. It was Black women who started the Third World Women’s Alliance in the early 1970s. We have always had a global perspective.

 And unlike, Du Bois, (and James Baldwin and Richard Wright), we didn’t quit the country.  Sisters as wide-ranging as Mary Church Terrell, Ida B. Wells, Pauli Murray, and Angela Davis, have journeyed abroad, found racial conditions much more livable there, and still chosen to come back home and fight for the lives of Black folks in the U.S.

Black women have never had the luxury of disillusionment. While brothers have gathered in elite organizations and institutions to hash out Black people’s political future, to engage in a lot of intellectual dick politicking and pissing contests, sisters have done the community organizing and voting that has held the racial body politic together. We have voted for the candidates that would make sure we could have a job, put our kids in safe schools, and put food on the table.  

We have clawed and struggled for every meager gain we have gotten in this democracy. And sisters have the broken nails and bloodied knees to prove it.

Far from being short-sighted, we have what Stanlie James and Abena Busia call visionary pragmatism.

 

I know it is not only Black men who have problems with President Obama. I know plenty of radical left sisters who are fed up with the utter ineffectiveness of a two-party system.  Black women, in fact, have a long history of defying the two-party system. Charlotta Bass ran for Vice President on the Progressive Party Ticket in 1952. In 2008, Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente ran on the Green Party ticket. And in this election a young sister named Peta Lindsay is running on the Socialist Party ticket.

And while I will be voting for President Obama, despite my varied disappointments, I can understand voting for a 3rd party candidate. But not voting is unconscionable.

Brothers can tell themselves that not voting is fine, because they by-and-large don’t have to worry about the cost of birth control. Good condoms cost what? $7 a pack. Birth control pills? $25 a pack with good insurance! Brothers by-and-large don’t do the care work in our communities. The care of the elderly is deeply gendered work.  So they can tell themselves that withholding their votes serves a greater good even though the choice to do so might make life a hell of a lot harder for the elderly folks they hold so dear, not to mention continuing to place an undue economic burden on women.

 

In many cases, I do believe in drawing lines in the sand. I do think we have to take a stand for what’s right, that sometimes doing what is convenient in the short run will short-circuit our ability to change things for the better in the long run. But as a Black feminist, a Hip Hop Generation feminist, I also fancy myself a both/and kinda girl.

 Can I hold in tension the fact that my vote simultaneously eases tax burdens and healthcare costs on the poor and the middleclass in the U.S. while also going to fund wars I don’t believe in and capitalist trade practices I don’t support? Can I hold in tension the fact that President Obama has arrested and deported more Brown folks than the Bush Administration, greatly expanding the operation and reach of the Prison Industrial Complex, while also being reminded that his is the first administration to reduce the crack vs. cocaine sentencing disparity that had disproportionate effects on communities of color?

 Can I hold in tension the fact that every single brother I know who says he’s withholding his vote in pursuit of a revolutionary future is an academic at a fairly elite institution?

Consider this recent editorial in the NYT as one such example of Black male academic disillusionment.

Though Professor Frederick C. Harris does go so far as to reject voting, he writes among other things: “Whether it ends in 2013 or 2017, the Obama presidency has already marked the decline, rather than the pinnacle, of a political vision centered on challenging racial inequality. The tragedy is that black elites — from intellectuals and civil rights leaders to politicians and clergy members — have acquiesced to this decline, seeing it as the necessary price for the pride and satisfaction of having a black family in the White House.”

Professor Harris also decries the decline not only of a political vision centered on challenging racial inequality, but also a decline in the Black prophetic tradition, particularly that, which grew out of the Black Church. While I agree with his critique of the ways that Black religious cultures have become depoliticized in the wake of the rise of the prosperity gospel, I continue to be totally disappointed by all these Black male academics who construct their notions of the best of Black political visions around a procession of Great Race Men.

 Of the paltry number of Black women mentioned, only Ida B. Wells is celebrated. Like many of his contemporary Blackademic male colleagues, Harris dismisses Melissa Harris-Perry as “all but an apologist for President Obama.” 

 Moreover, since it is Black women by-and-large who voted for President Obama, he reduces our political decision making to a desire solely to see a Black family in the White House. This assumes that we don’t see beautiful, functional Black families in our lives every day. Moreover, it shows a real myopic understanding of the political pressure put on Black women to maintain the Black family as a viable political and cultural institution, particularly while academic elites like Harris proclaim the decline of Black political leadership a la Harold Cruse. Even if it were true that Black women voted for President Obama solely out of a sense of loyalty to Black male race leaders –and there’s no denying that this is a part of our thinking, but not the whole of it—to dismiss that as a kind of fantastical naivete is to engage in a kind of willful ignorance about the ways in which racial patriarchy compels Black women’s loyalty to Black men, particularly when they are as impressive as President Obama.

 What I’m really trying to get at is this sort of Black male political and intellectual arrogance, this smugness with which Black men levy these political critiques and the ways in which Black women either disappear from the histories that undergird their perspectives or become  dismissed as unthoughtful apologists for a broken system.

But if your prophetic and political tradition starts with Maria Stewart and Sojourner Truth, moves through Ida B. Wells, Anna Julia Cooper, and Mary Church Terrell, takes a gander through Claudia Jones and Flo Kennedy, stops by the house of  Fannie Lou Hamer,  Shirley Chisolm, Barbara Jordan and Fran Beale and doesn’t forget Angela Davis, Elaine Brown, bell hooks, Patricia Williams, Donna Brazile and all the nameless faces of sisters that can’t be named because they were never doing it for the spotlight, then it would be harder to see Black prophetic traditions as being in decline. It would be easier to see that what’s really in decline is a Great charismatic Race Man model of leadership. (You should check out Erica Edwards fabulous new book Charisma and the Fictions of Black Leadership for more on this point.)  And even though Black men know all the limitations of that model, in many ways the world of Black politics feels safer with Strong Men running it. We are in a world deeply in need not only of new political models but also new leadership models. And based on Black women’s long history of staying connected to the pulse of Black communities, I’d say that the places where Black women put their political energies are a good bet for all of us.

As for tomorrow, I’m sticking with the President. I hope you will, too.

 

 

Below feel free to share your thoughts on voting or not voting, how you do or don’t reconcile a radical politic with a choice to participate in tomorrow’s elections, or your general thoughts on Black leadership.

 

 

She’s Not Heavy, She’s Our Sister: Love Notes for Sharmeka

24 Oct
Dear Sharmeka,

I’m so sorry for what happened to you. I am sending you love. What happened to you has been a wake up call about the traumas of being multiply marginalized in this world. I hope you get exactly what you need.

So much love,

Moya


Dear Sharmeka,

Hey sis. I just wanted to reach out and let you know that I am thinking about you and sending you love and best wishes for a speedy recovery. What’s been going on with you, girl? Maybe you felt invisible, maybe you felt like you deserved this particular type of pain? I just don’t know. I do know that you are probably on the receiving end of a lot of anger and frustration, some of which has to do with your situation and some of which is connected to you simply because you’ve become a symbol of our decidedly not post-racial society. I hope you can find support, healing, and empathy as you move forward. And I hope that the rest of us can see your story as an opportunity to move forward in the world with a spirit of support, healing, and empathy.

Yours truly,
Susana

Sharmeka,

I feel like I know you.  You represent any number of blackgirls I see every day carrying pain that the world can’t see.  I wish the hopelessness you felt in a moment of self-demise could be retracted…that I could help heal what was broken…that you could see in yourself the beauty and majesty that was there all along.

Blackgirl to Blackgirl, I wish that self-hate crimes didn’t exist, that blackgirls didn’t feel the need to be so strong, and that the raced histories and legacies that frame the scenario you initially told were not so prevalent.  Truth is, I feel speechless around how to approach my disappointment and confusion in the staging of the incident.  Racial politics are complicated and our public dialogue needs to be shrouded in honesty.  The untruth you told jeopardizes the credibility of other blackgirls’ stories, myself included. I’m struggling with knowing how to hold you accountable and hold you UP at the same time.   But one thing I feel full voiced about is my unwavering support of YOUR WELL BEING.  I know how it feels to be overwhelmed with hopelessness and pain.  I know how it feels to be pushed in on all sides (multiple discriminations happening at once).  I know how it feels to hurt so bad that you want to hurt yourself.

My hope for you, moving forward, is that you get the support and help you need to be hopeful, whole, and at peace.

In solidarity & love,

Robin

Dear Sharmeka,

I wish everything about this story wasn’t true. I wish you were not lying in a hospital bed with scars that you will have to live with for your entire life.  I wish we didn’t live in a world that makes Black girls feel invisible. I wish the terror you felt on the inside didn’t feel like the terror of being ambushed while you walked in a park alone, a terror that so many Black women have felt and do feel everyday. I wish we could tell the truth about racism, so that we would be clear that your singular lie against the KKK in no way equates to the systematic reign of terror that they have perpetrated on Black women. I wish that broken and bruised black bodies weren’t the only credible forms of evidence in our fight against racism, since even the broken bodies frequently aren’t believed. I wish that sexism did not create a world in which Black girls’ bodies are collateral damage in the war on racism. I wish we knew better how to stay well in a world hell-bent on making us unwell.  I wish I could say that I didn’t feel anger and embarrassment when I found out that some parts of your story are apparently untrue. But then I wish we lived in a world where you could have told us your truths, your pain, and your struggle, and been believed.

I hope you are surrounded in love and support. I hope that healing is forthcoming. I hope you see someday the outpouring of care you received from all races of people. I hope that care is not so swiftly retracted. And I hope that anybody who would wish you harm, any opportunist who would equate your misguided act with a reverse ism of any sort, would think again and then take a seat.

You are not heavy. You are our sister. And we have your back.

Much love,

Brittney

My Sister Sharmeka,
I have spoken your name with my students at Spelman and in private send you love and affirmations. We recognized that your body was experiencing pain but now it seems there was much more pain than we could have recognized. I will continue to speak your name in love and to encourage others to try to understand and listen in hopes that no other black girl feels so silenced and invisible and alone that she experiences such pains.  I wish you peace and recovery but mostly I want you to be surrounded by many experiences of black girl love that crowd out the noise of black girl hate. You have sisters and brothers who are sending you fierce love but wanting you to know that you must be accountable for your choices. In these difficult times please remember to ask for what you need.

With so much love,
Sheri


Dear Sharmeka,

What can I say but I am sorry. I am sorry that you, your life and your story are being reduced to catchy headlines and two minute news clips.  I am sorry that, for many, you will become a symbol and cease to be a real person with needs and concerns.  Most of all, I am sorry that you are in pain, in any and every sense.  I am sending you love, healing energy and recognition.

With Love,

Whitney

Sharmeka,

Wellness is my wish for you: healing for the wounds that festered before the fire and the ones opened by the flame.

love,
jalylah

Resources:

When the Hoodies Are White: Justice4SharmekaMoffitt

23 Oct

Sharmeka Moffitt

On Sunday evening, Sharmeka Moffitt went to a local park in Winnsboro, Louisiana to “walk a mile and run a mile.” Sometime later, she was approached by three men in “white t-shirt hoodies” who doused her with flammable liquid and set her on fire. For good measure, they scrawled “KKK” and “nigger” on her car. Sharmeka was able to get to a spigot of water, put out the flames, and then call 911 for help. She is now in critical condition with burns to over 60% of her body at the Louisiana State University Medical Center in Shreveport, LA.

As of late Monday evening, the local Louisiana authorities were still vacillating over whether or not to call this a hate crime. Part of their hesitancy stems from the fact that Sharmeka could not definitively identify the race of her attackers. 

The fact that the race of her attackers is being used as a gauge for this hate crime demonstrates the limitations of how we think about race and racism in this country. This Black woman was targeted and subjected to severe and life-threatening bodily injury for sport. Her perpetrators then thought they should punctuate their crime by scrawling hateful racially incendiary messages on her car. What isn’t hateful about that?

And what is with all the shock and bewilderment? Winnsboro, Louisiana is just about 60 miles from Jena, Louisiana, the site of the 2007 Jena 6 incident. I grew up in Ruston, Louisiana, about 75 miles from Winnsboro. As late as the late 1990s, the KKK marched in downtown Ruston, and my classmates bragged during class trips about having relatives who were high ranking officials in the terrorist organization.  Racially incendiary acts are commonplace in this part of the world. (Every damn part of the U.S. world) Like critical race theorists tell us, racism is not an aberration. It is part of the everyday, commonplace fabric of our lives. Before folks start decrying this act as an individual aberration of 3 sick individuals, perhaps we would do well to remember that their acts are symptomatic of the continued persistence of racism in this country.

Racism is like an autoimmune disorder. It attacks the body politic from the inside out, warring against itself, but frequently on the surface, things seem normal and healthy. We are only attuned to the problem when a flare up happens. But to continue to act as though the flare up is the disease is to engage in the most unhealthy and self-defeating form of denial there is. 

Then again, maybe it’s the hoodies. Selective historical amnesia being what it is, perhaps folks have come to believe that only Black men roam in public space under hooded covers threatening to do harm to other citizens.  Our rush into a postracial fantasy makes us too soon forget that white men, particularly rural Southern white men, are experts in terrorizing and policing racial minorities’ access to public space.

Even if it turns out that Sharmeka’s attackers are not white men, we should ask ourselves why her attackers would choose such a powerfully interpretive  historical narrative in which to play out their need to do harm to a Black girl’s body and personhood. Racism has a basic grammar, a set of rules, which we all learn to speak, having been immersed in it our entire lives. In a racist grammar, the subjects know that power is predicated on the ability to exercise violence (of various types) against a direct object, namely an innocent victim who bears the marks of the wrong skin color in the wrong time and place. 

And for all the folks who think Black women don’t use public parks for exercise because we want to maintain our hair styles, let this be an object lesson. Maybe Black women with modest resources who can’t afford to go to the gym  don’t use public parks because those spaces are unsafe. 

As of this point, the coverage of Moffitt’s attack has been minimal. I knew about it only because folks back home were posting info from local news sources. I guess it is left up to social media to convince the world yet again that violence against Black women matters. And I hope Black folks remember, too, that Sharmeka’s life deserves the same energy that we gave to the Jena 6 and to Trayvon Martin. 

Sharmeka, you are not invisible to us. We stand with you in your fight.

You can see updates on her story here.

Unleash Your Inner Wench

9 Oct

One of the things I love about the Hip Hop Generation is our ingenuity, our willingness to reinvent ourselves, and to think anew about the traditions we’ve been handed.

When you mix that ingenuity with the kind of conscientious political critique that comes from Black and Brown feminisms, something remarkable happens.

With appropriate intention, mundane, everyday acts become hella political.

Oiling your legs can be political. In fact, as I think about the many summer days that my grandmother made me rub olive oil into my dark ashy knees, so I would look like I belonged to someone who loved me, I realize that skin care for Black women is never un-political.

Even my great grandmother was prone in her twilight years to insist that my mom and aunties buy her some cold cream! I think she fancied Ponds. Wrinkles be damned.

Perhaps because I come from a line of Mary-Kay wearing, knee oiling, wrinkle shunning women, I chose to keep it simple. Unlike many sisters I know, I am, in fact, not a product junkie. Ivory Soap and some lotion are usually good enough for me.

***

Over the summer, I got word that Joan Morgan had debuted Emily Jayne, a new line of body butters and fragance oils.

At her lovely sampling party, I was slightly skeptical, because in 30+ years of encounters with lots of body products, I’ve reverted over and over again to my simple Ivory Soap ways.

But go on ahead and call me a convert.

Perhaps it happened as I sat around the room and spooned small dollops of butters like Antilles Market, with its hints of dark chocolate, or Antilles Cimarron, that smells of cedar and frankincense.

Perhaps it was the fact, that after just a few minutes, my skin felt incredibly soft.

Perhaps it was the Wench.

#Wench

As the tiny bottle with the prototype moved around the room, sisters inhaled ylang ylang, and exhaled naughtiness, hitching up just a corner of their lips, and meeting other sisters with looks of deep knowing. Of… the ish that would pop off with the lovers in our lives, should they get even a whiff …Scandalous.

I brought home Antilles Cimarron and Vetiver Neroli. The Cimarron, with its shea butter base, smells spicy and almost citrusy on my skin. I wear it as my day time go-getter fragrance.

The Neroli is my night time (and sexy time) fragrance. It smells balsamic but is toned down and sweetened with just a hint of orange.

 The fragrances are unisex. One of my guy friends purchased some Driftwood 1838 fragrance oil. It is both light and strong, when you smell it on a man’s skin. My friend raves about it.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m telling you to cop you some Emily Jayne posthaste.

After a couple of months of using the products, I’ve already been back for more. And the thing is, you don’t need multiple products. I’ve used the butters on every part of my body from ‘fro to toe (sans face). My dry, cracked heels love this product. It doesn’t take much, and the scent lingers for hours. 

***

Joan started this business in part to encourage Black women to do something so basic. Touch ourselves. 

I’ve written here about the complicated facets of Black women’s relationship with touch.

Touching oneself is what Joan would call a pleasure principle, and it is a basic tenet of hip hop feminism’s move toward a new politics of pleasure. These pleasure principles are rooted in a reinvention of truths handed down to us long before we got here.

Emily Jayne is named after Joan’s two grandmothers. Perhaps our grandmothers knew about the power of touch, in ways that our virtual realities have allowed to escape us.

I’ve learned over these last few months that touching ourselves is essential. Essential for pleasure. Essential for health. To oil and massage one’s own skin is to affirm the beauty of the “skin we’re in” in a world that doesn’t love it. To touch one’s clitoris is to affirm that we are worthy agents and recipients of our own pleasure. To touch one’s breasts is to affirm that we are experts on our own bodies and advocates for the healthy life-saving information they often give us.

So oil yourself up, rub yourself down, and bring out your inner wench.

You deserve it.

 

 

For more info and to purchase products, check out the Emily Jayne Website.

Like Emily Jayne on Facebook

To see what others are saying about the products, follow @EmilyJayne1838 on twitter.

At the Risk of Sounding Angry: On Melissa Harris-Perry’s Eloquent Rage

3 Sep

The internets were all abuzz over the weekend sharing clips of our collective Black feminist shero Melissa Harris-Perry’s Saturday morning show. During the show, she lost her cool with panelist Monica Mehta, a conservative financial expert, who represented every unthoughtful mythic thing that I’ve come to believe a person has to believe in order to be a member of today’s racist Republican Party.

After I posted the clip to my FB page, a former student of mine, simply commented that this was an example of “eloquent rage.” She knew I would get the reference, because the first time she ever used it was in reference to me, and my impassioned style of teaching students about the politics of race, class, and gender. My first reaction to being characterized in this way was denial. “I’m not angry,” I told her. “I’m passionate.” And then she looked at me with a tell-tale knowing honesty and said simply, “You know you’re angry, Brittney.” (Sometimes in some places, I let my students call me by name.)

It was one of the most transformative moments in my teaching because I realized a.) that it was anger, and not merely passion b.) that I was bringing it with me into the classroom c.) that I had a right to be angry about the injustices that I teach about  and live daily and d.) I could resist and deny my anger or use it to make me better at what I do. I chose the latter.

When I watched Melissa lose it, oh so beautifully, passionately, eloquently, and truthfully, for the brief moment that she did I experienced deep and profound knowing, the knowing that comes from the frustration of having to listen to people talk sideways to you, about shit that is merely theoretical for them, all the while you know that the attitudes they hold are especially detrimental to people who look like you.

It is even more infuriating when people of color espouse such bullshit. I know that all Black and Brown folk don’t think alike. I also know that when folk of color align themselves with the Republican Party, that alignment is often deeply tied to a deep disdain and disavowal for what they perceive to be a narrative of Black victimhood that makes one beholden to social entitlements (welfare). I know Black and other non-white folks who’ve made their life paths about distancing themselves from such a narrative. There is also a liberal version, and that version is a Toure’ style “post-Blackness” “post-race” blah. But to believe in any of it is to remain in deep denial about the way that white supremacy structures our society. 

This denial allows people to see MHP’s expression of anger as over the top and out of order, and miss the fact that Clint Eastwood’s “performance” at the RNC last week was nothing if not a classic white male racial temper tantrum.

It also allowed Monica Mehta’s persistent use of racial microaggressions towards Black people to come off as earnest commentary, while Melissa’s emotional reaction was perceived as disproportionate to the slight. There is also a racialized gender dynamic at play as well in which white women and non-Black women who are frequently exoticized  can use the hyperfemininity ascribed to their bodies as a shield behind which they get to say the most racially problematic shit, and have it remain unrecognized as aggressive and offensive. 

I applaud MHP for her show of eloquent rage. It was honest, and it is so necessary in this moment of massive political dishonesty. Moreover, in light of the destruction caused by Hurricane Isaac and the personal impact that it had on MHP’s family, her stress was completely understandable.

MHP’s house destroyed in Hurricane Isaac

Even when she apologized for losing it, I’m glad that she took off the strong Black woman mask, and said in effect, I’m stressed, my family just lived through another Hurricane on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and even though I have this fancy job and resources at my disposal, all is not well. In other words, she wasn’t just showing anger. She was showing pain. The kind of pain that Black women are frequently not allowed to publicly  acknowledge is actually happening in our own lives.

One of the ways White supremacy and sexism works is through a putative disavowal of emotion as a legitimate form for expressing thought. Women and Black people are overly emotional, so the conventional wisdom goes. We have been taught to overcompensate for this stereotype by being overly composed, even when anger is warranted. And we are wholly unprepared when our emotions start to split the seams of our tightly put on public selves. Perhaps it’s time to change clothes, and intentionally put on something that gives us room to breathe.

For me, that has meant embracing my own crunkness. Why go off when I can GET CRUNK? And by that I mean I can make an  intentional choice to use my legitimate and righteous anger in an honest and compassionate way that is potentially transformative. 

I, for one, am thankful for MHP’s voice and her courage, and yep, you guessed it– her CRUNKNESS.

Throwback Thursday: Back-to-School Beatitudes–10 Academic Survival Tips

30 Aug

Update, August 2012

Next week,  my full time grind starts again, after a year of being on fellowship, which allowed me the time to think, read and begin the process of writing my first book. I’m grateful for the time. It has been a year of re-learning old lessons, numbers 1, 2, 4,  and 5 below to be exact. This year, I have worked through a terrible case of imposter syndrome, learned over and over again to be patient with my own ideas, recognizing that good ones take time to develop, come to understand that gentleness with myself is the prerequisite for  and not an impediment to productivity, and finally, when I landed in the hospital, began to prioritize self-care. I try to remind myself  regularly to trust the process, to trust myself, and to trust God.  (On good days, I can do all three.)
 
In the meanwhile,  I started riding bikes again for the first time since childhood, took frequent trips to the beach, spent some extra time kicking it with the CFs this summer, and started juicing. They are all small ways that I have affirmed my own value with intention and deliberateness. I hope if you haven’t already, that you will do the same. It’s never too late to begin.

Original Post

Graduate school was nothing short of an emotional and physical rollercoaster. I spent the first semester depressed and homesick, years 2-4 battling a stress-induced stomach condition that caused me to lose not only 75 pounds but also a whole semester of work. I healed just in time to begin my dissertation, wherein I gained back most of the weight I lost, and experienced a nasty case of stress-induced shingles just as I was rounding third. I love my work, and I’m glad I made it, but as we all head into a new academic year, here are a few things I wish I’d known…

  • Be confident in your abilities.
    • If you feel like a fraud, you very likely are suffering from impostor syndrome, a chronic feeling of intellectual or personal inadequacy born of grandiose expectations about what it means to be competent. Women in particular suffer with this issue, but I argue that it is worse for women-of-color (particularly Blacks and Latinas) who labor under stereotypes of both racial and gender incompetence. The academy itself also creates grandiose expectations, given the general perception of academicians as hypercompetent people. Secret: Everybody that’s actin like they know, doesn’t really know. So ask your question. It’s probably not as stupid as you think. Now say this with me: “I’m smart enough, my work is important, and damn it, I’m gonna make it.”
  • Be patient with yourself.
    • Be patient with your own process of intellectual growth. You will get there and it will all come together. You aren’t supposed to know everything at the beginning. And you still won’t know everything at the end (of coursework, exams, the dissertation, life…).
    • Getting the actual degree isn’t about intellect. It is about sheer strength of will and dogged determination. “Damn it, I’m gonna walk out of here with that piece of paper if it’s the last cottonpickin’ thing I do.” That kind of thinking helps you to keep going after you’ve just been asked to revise a chapter for the third time, your committee member has failed to submit a letter of rec on time, and you feel like blowing something or someone up.
  • Be your own best advocate. Prioritize your own professional needs/goals.
    • You have not because you ask not.  You have to be willing to ask for what you need. You deserve transparency about the rules and procedures of your program, cordial treatment from faculty, staff and students, and a program that prepares you not only for the rigors of grad school but also for the job market (should you desire a career in academia).  But folks won’t hand it to you on a silver platter. You have to build relationships, ask questions, and make demands.
    • Figure out your writing process (the place [home, coffee shop, library], time [morning, afternoon, night], and conditions [background noise, total silence, cooler or warmer] under which you work best and try to create those conditions as frequently as possible during finals, qualifying exams, and dissertation.
    • Your self-advocacy will often be misperceived as aggression and anger, entitlement or selfishness. Don’t apologize. 
  • Be kind to yourself.
    • Reward yourself frequently.  Most of us need positive affirmation of a job well done, but for long stretches, especially during exams, dissertation, and the job market, the rewards elude us; and often given the time crunch, once we conquer the mountain, there is little time to enjoy the view before it’s time to trudge back down and start climbing the next one. All that hard work  in high stakes conditions for anti-climactic ends can take a toll on your psyche. So be kind to yourself. Figure out the things you really like and make sure to enjoy them as much as is possible and healthy.
  • Be proactive about self-care.
    • Figure out your non-negotiables. For me, sleep is non-negotiable. I must have it. I don’t do all nighters. I also generally don’t do weekends, so I adjust my schedule accordingly. What are your non-negotiables?
    • Take advantage of on-campus therapy services. My last two institutions have had women-of-color thesis and dissertation support groups. Consider joining.
    • Cultivate a spirit-affirming practice. Grad school/the academy is a mind-body-spirit endeavor. So meditate, pray, exercise, do yoga, go to church, cook a good healthy meal. Do whatever you need to do to keep your mind, body, and spirit in balance.
  • Be a friend/comrade to others and let them do the same for you.
    • Build community with colleagues inside or outside your department.
    • Build community with non-students/non-academics. You need folks who live life outside the dungeon. They will affirm you and help you keep things in perspective.
  • Be willing to get CRUNK!
    • If the environment is hostile, it is most probably characterized by microaggressions of various sorts.  Racial microaggressions –“brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color– are quite common for women of color, but microaggressions can be used in sexist, heterosexist, or ableist ways as well.  A microaggressive environment demands resistance of various sorts. So do you and be you. Unapologetically.  Keep a copy of Sister Audre near by so you can make sure you’re channeling your legitimate anger productively, and then, get crunk if necessary.
  • Be better not bitter.
    • Fail forward. Being the overachievers that we are, we tend not to deal with failure well. It tends to become an indicator to us of our intelligence, worth, and competence. (See #1). But failure is a part of the process. Unless you are incredibly, exceptionally lucky, you will hit a snag in a course, while writing the proposal, on the dissertation, submitting a journal article or submitting a book. Two tips: take the time to process, particularly for big issues like proposals, dissertation chapters or books. Cry, scream (not at your committee or editor), go to a kickboxing class. And then dust yourself off and try again. Look at the suggestions offered; determine their validity. Heed them or disregard them depending on your best judgment, and then proceed to the next step.  And one more thing…don’t let the resentment fester. It may be well-justified but it simply isn’t productive. Just think of it as hazing, and for your own sake, let it go.
    • A lot of anger comes from bitterness at mentors who have not met our expectations. But all mentors are not created equal. Some will build your confidence, some will give you hell,  some will go above and beyond, but a mentor is there to illumine the process and give you tools to be successful, not to be your friend. So have multiple mentors; know the difference in function; and adjust your expectations accordingly.
  • Be tight. Bring your A-game.
  • Be a light. As you make your way, show the sisters and brothers behind you how it’s done, so maybe they won’t have as many dark days as you’ve had.

A little musical inspiration for the journey...

Alright, fam. Please share your survival tips for grad school newbies and veterans and junior faculty as well.

Ratchet Feminism

14 Aug

Down in the A, as all things Love and Hip Hop go, ish is moving from CRUNK to straight up RATCHET very quickly.

One of the things that brought the CFC together besides our love of and immersion in Atlanta’s Hip Hop culture is a desire to have less high brow conversations about the range of ways feminism can look in the everyday lives of women of color.

Despite all the ratchetness that goes on on LHHATL, I actually find it refreshing on a couple of levels. The myriad friendships between women seem genuine, especially between Erica, Rasheeda and K-Michelle. 

When I look at the way they have each other’s back, it reminds me of the community of sisters I’ve been blessed to have both within and beyond the CFC, who hold me down in every necessary way.

Friendships are never uncomplicated though. In last night’s episode, I was really disappointed when Rasheeda questioned the truthfulness of K-Michelle’s testimony about being a survivor of domestic violence. Who will believe us if we can’t believe each other?

Kudos to K-Michelle for owning, naming, and standing by her own truths and using her story to empower other young women.

On Twitter, one of my guy friends called her “crazy” and suggested that she shouldn’t be believed. “Crazy” in what way I asked?  Loud? Boisterous? Outspoken? Over-the-Top? Ratchet? K-Michelle is certainly gregarious. She’s the kind of friend I’d wanna take to a party with me for sure. But none of her quote-unquote RATCHET qualities justify anyone putting his hands on her.

Rasheeda’s disbelief grows out of the same logic; if a woman is not a perfect sweetheart, her credibility is shot. But there is another way to think about it, one that doesn’t scrutinize victims so much as it does perpetrators.

Abusers can reinvent themselves on the daily, being perfect gentleman to the women they are currently with, while being abusive assholes to their exes. #beentheredonethat So rather than questioning K-Michelle, if I were Rasheeda, I’d be concerned about whether Toya is good.

But hell, Rasheeda’s got an emotionally manipulative man of her own. I swear when I watched that whole scene where she fell on her sword, retained him as her manager, and confessed that she had been too focused on her grind, I wondered if the producers took a page from the play book of Tyler Perry.

The kind of emotional acrobatics Rasheeda had to do to appease Kurt’s ego would make Gabby Douglas proud. All the while he sits smugly with an unstated emotional ultimatum: “if you love me, you’ll retain me as your manager.”

My question to Kurt is: and if you love her, then what are you willing to do for her?

I continue to be amazed by the fundamental selfishness of some brothers and their lack of willingness to own their ish.

Take Scrappy. A woman has to cry from the pain you caused before you recognize that she loves you? Seriously? I’m confused. Are we in emotional Kindergarten? I can appreciate Scrappy’s attempt to grapple with the impoverished conceptions of emotionality that his own mother Mama Dee has handed down to him, but I’m more concerned about the baby mama(Erica), bestfriend/homie (Shay), and daughter Emani that are casualties of his attempt to emotionally grow the fuck up.

I also appreciate that for all the pathology and “bad black mothering” Mama Dee represents, we find Erica providing an alternative narrative of motherhood, that is conscientious, healthy, and committed. Rarely are the portrayals of Black women and mothering on TV complicated and multi-layered enough to contest the implications of Moynihan.

Despite my impatience with these brothers and the men in my own life around emotional (im)maturity, my conversations with the fabulous Esther Armah around the importance of #emotional justice have reminded me that we “diaspora folk” are usually working with a surplus of “untreated trauma” and a deficit in terms of our emotional tools. So we must be patient with one another. Patient, but not unwise, or unduly self-sacrificing. Translation: don’t keep putting up with bullshit, if there is no real move to change.

 And that is why the award for “Ratchet Feminist of the Week” goes to Karlie Redd!!!!

 

 (I know, I know. I was shocked, too!) When Benzino started to give her static about being so career driven, she said to him, “you just want me somewhere barefoot and pregnant.” Yes, Karlie, call out that sexism! He’d prefer “barefoot and butt naked,” but the principle is the same. As he said, “relationships are a two-way street and her career is taking up both lanes.” Stay in her lane= Know Your Place 2.0: #theremix

Sure career chicks should make sure that our careers aren’t all we have going for us, but when it’s truly male ego at play, we should not let that shit slide.

 Karlie stood her ground and affirmed her right to be career driven, held Benzino accountable for his anger and his unchecked ego, and demanded that they both give practical solutions to the problem. Yay for healthy conflict resolution!

LHHATL may be long on all things Ratchet. The antics of Steebie and Joseline confirm that for sure. But the show also clues us in to some of the cultural and social roots of our collective ratchetness and emotional wretchedness. Left untreated, our traumas can cause us to heap pain and violence on each other, physical and emotional.   For me, the show reminds me of the continued importance of the feminist work we do. Not just in analyzing representations, but also in providing language that helps women call out sexism and domestic violence, even if they don’t do it in academic terms.  It doesn’t matter if the sisters are loud, uncouth,  “ghetto,” “hood rich” or struggling; if they call out sexism and challenge its operation in their lives, then they’re down for the cause. To me, this is the kind of feminism that matters most. Our ad nauseum academic stunting can’t save us when shit gets real. Feminism that works is the only feminism I believe in. And as long as Hip-Hop culture perpetuates Black male emotional immaturity, the women in the culture can and must coopt and appropriate its terms in ways that facilitate survival.  So #letsgetratchet! 

So share your reactions to this week’s episode or the show in general.

Is it time for some new ways to think about and understand feminism?

What are your strategies for pursuing emotional justice and health in your relationships?

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