Tag Archives: race

Nina, girl, I know

I’ve been mad since 2012 when it was announced that Zoe Saldana was playing you and I saw the pictures of ‘you’ in blackface. Oh miss Nina, I’m so sorry they did that to you.

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Those of us who know, who you taught through your life and your music are heartbroken.  I have no real opinion of Zoe Saldana, you know how there’s always gong to be someone who doesn’t know. Someone not invested in your community. Not interested in how your art and activism for Black people, who you so loved, was integral to your being. Someone who’s never been called ugly because they were Black or had any barriers placed before them because of how they looked.  It wasn’t her story to tell, she should have said no, but she’ll learn…if she’s interested. She’s in a really terrible situation and Hollywood is on some real bullshit right now. The days of reckoning you talked about are upon us.  The frequent quote about her is that she “gave her heart and soul” to the performance to which I say, so what? She should have said no. She’s not the artist for this. She hasn’t seen enough, but then again, I don’t know that girl.

But let’s deal with the thing that I love most. Context.

They took you out of context and for that I’m sorry

& they don’t know about Mississippi at all anymore.  Goddamn indeed.

 

My $.64 on that lady that needn’t be named

Today some crazy racist terrorist went into a Black church, prayed with some people then shot them. That’s real. In a state with no hate crime laws. That’s real. Will they fly their Confederate flag at half-mast? Real question. So let’s put this silly bitch to bed.  I’d written it a few days ago for this website, but today it just seems silly. & I’m so tired.  Here you go:

2992B1B200000578-3128908-Wedding_day_Dolezal_and_Moore_got_married_in_2000_but_the_couple-a-10_1434592741412Everything’s fun and games until Rachel Dolezal gives an interview on the Today show.

Look, I had as much fun as anyone last weekend playing #AskRachel. As a black lady, I needed to laugh to keep from crying about seeing a little girl with her braids pulled, face pushed in the dirt with a cop’s knee in her back cause she wanted to swim in what was obviously the wrong neighborhood. I couldn’t even watch that video (haven’t is more accurate). Then came this silly bitch.

And that’s just it. She’s not stupid, not in the least. But race shit has driven her crazy. Well, welcome to the fucking club. Race is a terrible construct created for money, power and control. It has no redeeming features at all. It’s made up. Even my black self would be a bunch of different races based on where I am in the world. But regardless, I can’t tell anyone “I identify as white”.

But here’s the difference, I wouldn’t want to. I’ve been having my own race musings since moving to England particularly and having race conversations with my brown father in law who identifies as colored.

But what is it exactly that makes me want to choke the shit out of Rachel?

The fact that she can identify as black as much as she wants, but at any moment she can “decide” to become a white lady again.

Being black is more than a whipped do and some self-tanning cream. And her doing her social justice work is excellent, I just don’t know why she couldn’t do it in the skin she’s in.

More importantly is the fact that dumb ass Matt Lauer told her she’s begun a very important conversation on race. See, she still is in full usage of her white privilege. Blacks have been having this conversation since before Plessey, but now she get’s “outed” as white and quits her job at the NAACP. If she were really in it for social justice, she wouldn’t have put that branch of that organization in peril.

And who were the people who knew she was white and went along with her foolishness? This is where we get into socially constructed race. She looks like mothers and grandmothers of my friends (which says something else since she’s not an old woman, but lies will make your black crack, apparently). She looks like women and men I knew, in my family, all around me. My mother and I still argue about my 6th grade teacher Mrs. Jones who I say was white and mom says was black. Race is made up. And made up of the skin tones of Africans + every other person on the planet. Period.

But you know who doesn’t give a fuck about Rachel and this stupid conversation? The Dominicans of Haitian decent who are getting deported back to HAITI this week. To the girl’s family in Baltimore who doesn’t get to tell anyone what she identifies as because she was raped and murdered. To that baby who was thrown to the ground like a ragdoll by an out of control cop at the behest of some white ladies who began a fight with children over a swimming pool.

This world is nauseating. Oh, and has Nestle pulled all of the water out of California yet, or that community that needs to water their golf course, how are they doin?

But Rachel, who sued our mutual alma mater Howard University, for racial discrimination against her when she was still white (oh wait, she’s been identifying as black since she was 5…her story is a narcissistic web of lies) now gets to go on The Today Show because I helped her trend on Twitter. Here comes the book, the tour, the movie and I helped, because sometimes you gotta laugh to keep from crying. I knew this would happen, and she’s gonna do it. She’s gonna Sarah Palin her way into hearts and minds.

We laughed last weekend. Now we need to pay very special attention to this conversation, because it’s going to turn really bad, really soon. We’re talking about identity and racial identity and there are few things more fragile in the world of social media.

The hatemonger next door

See on Scoop.itBlacks

From remote Montana, clean-cut Richard Spencer is trying to make white separatism respectable

 

Charity Thomas’s insight:

This is chilling.

See on salon.com

A Conversation About Race & Choice

Charity Thomas Part 2 : A Conversation About Race & Choice (by Everyday People Project)

Chapter I- Never Trust a Big Butt and a Smile: Black Manhood Part 2

In films such as Menace II Society and Baby Boy, black male sexuality is defined by and for young men through peer interactions and emulations. There are adult males present in these films but the peer-oriented nature of the male fraternization is poignant. “Women are discussed as less valuable than drugs and money, including endless references to Black women as ‘bitches,’ ‘hos,’ and “skeezers.’ Furthermore, abusive and violent language is used indiscriminately to describe all women, including those with whom the leading characters were most intimate” (Kitwana 130). These films show a cross section of class representations yet at base black male sexuality is still closely linked to a nihilistic thug mentality. The nihilism of the male characters in terms of love, which has more to do with sex than any emotional vulnerability, is representative in their relationships with women. 

In Menace II Society, the relationship between Caine and Ronnie is the only space Caine receives any loving care. Caine’s life is one of violence and a general disregard for human life. Only in his relationship with Ronnie does he find a safe harbor where he can open himself up emotionally and attempt to lovingly care for someone else. Nelson George writes, “Without sucking her teeth or flaunting a ‘ghetto’ accent, [actress Jada] Pinkett’s Ronnie shows the growth of an urban woman child from gangster moll to suddenly mature mother. As a homegirl free of clichés Pinkett gives Menace a feminine souls and offers Caine salvation, both romantically and with her dream of them building a life…” (204). While Ronnie’s love and affections offer Caine a place to explore his own vulnerabilities. (It is important to note George’s prescribed idea of black female behavior. Being without “homegirl clichés” defines her as mature.) 

Street life leaves no room for vulnerabilities and Ronnie’s love cannot erase Caine’s past. Despite all of the murder he has both borne witness to and participated in, it is his creation of life that ultimately leads to his own murder. Caine’s sexuality was not like Sweetback in that Sweetback’s “ability to perform skillfully require[d] the discipline of a soldier intent upon killing the enemy; such a performance cannot be interpreted as primitive lust nor a reflection of emotional desire” (Reid 77). Caine’s primitive existence is based only on desire. All things and people become material to satisfy his lust. When a young woman he casually had sex with calls him crying, telling him she’s pregnant; he dismisses her after questioning the paternity of the child because he has no regard for anything outside of his desires. She was a receptacle of his desire and is now the potential mother of his unborn child. 

Kitwana observes that “[a]lthough the stigma has retreated, the expressions ‘baby momma’ and ‘baby daddy’ point to the antagonism brewing between young Black men and women who make these dubious social connections” (116). The “baby mama/ daddy” situation agitates the already precarious relationship between black men and women. Unwed parenthood is not hip-hop generation specific, its lack of stigma is. For Caine, the price of this “dubious social connection” is death, as violence ultimately was the answer for an ill-fated sexual encounter. He was not afforded the opportunity to live with the consequences of his actions, unlike Jody in Baby Boy. 

Chapter I- Never Trust a Big Butt and a Smile: Black Manhood Part 1

I argue that black loving relationships are not present in most films with black male protagonists. Portrayals of black men in the context of black loving relations are dysfunctional. Black manhood is represented in its various sexually compulsive forms with an underlying sexist nihilistic thug mentality regarding women. 
Sweet Sweetback Baadassss Song contextualizes the moment black male sexuality becomes overtly visible. The film opens with a child having sex with a whore in a brothel. We learn that this child is Sweetback and that the brothel is his home. Sweetback grows up to be a sexual performance artist. He is the epitome of the sexual buck; all show and no substance. His overt sexuality is the physical manifestation of the sexualized racist mythology that got black men lynched in the early 20th century. In the restricted environment of his home (a brothel) his sexuality is controllable; but director Melvin Van Peebles allows Sweetback’s sexual identity to explode onto the street to become a revolutionary stance against oppression. 

Sweetback uses his sexuality as an expression of his control over himself and his situation. Instead of just saying “Fuck You!” he actually does it by performing in sexual shows. Sweetback as an erotic figure, is the “ paradoxical, distinctively masculine potential of the phallus…threatening to penetrate others…” so that he can thusly “absorb the whole world into himself” (Katz 113). The only control Sweetback has over his life is through sex, like the men in the other films discussed in this chapter. They are all playing out the sexualized roles prescribed to them from the dominant cultural milieu. 

Sweetback was programmed, in his abusively sexualized childhood environment, that his survival and self worth were defined by his sexual performance. Even when not in that environment, he continues to use sexual performance as a method of survival. Facing capture by the police, he feigned sexual intercourse with a black woman who concealed Sweetback’s face. He projected his sexual pathology onto her, and it became intertwined with her protection. It was not just the community’s refusal to “rat him out”, but black women protecting a black man who they believe is working to make them free.

When cut while running, he makes a salve of urine and semen that helps harden his wound, thus saving his life. His sexuality, again, saved him. The primitivism of his survival techniques is similar to that discussed by bell hooks, “….black male bodies were not coming to the new world obsessed with sexuality; they were coming from worlds where collective survival was more important than the acting out of sexual desire, and they were coming into a world where survival was more important than sexual desire” (Cool 69). The marriage of sexual “desire” and survival all but eliminates the physical and emotional connections between desire and sexuality. It reduces sex to the performance of an individualistic physical act. 

The performance aspect of Sweetback’s sexuality signals an emptiness that mirrors that of the world. Sweetback, like many of his black male counterparts who do have a voice, has no interiority. He wields his sexuality like a badge of honor because he has created his identity based singularly on his sexuality. The choice to make him the type of silent hero unlike his filmic antithesis the intellectualized integrated characters Sidney Poitier played made him a new figure in black visual life. Yet this silence provides no insight into the character of a man whose sexually abusive childhood has debased him into a sexual puppet. Sweetback is all show. There is no emotion behind his actions, and he personifies the stoic silences of abused men who continue the cycle of abuse. This sexist dismissal of black women as props for black men was the legacy of the Black Nationalist and Civil Rights movements. Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song was required viewing for the Black Panthers, reaffirming the idea that racial political goals could not incorporate the discussion of the objectification black female body. 

Sweetback’s character provided the prototype for the black male stud of Blaxploitation era films as well as most of the hero/ antiheros for the black male driven film vehicles of the 1990’s. Films such as Superfly, The Mack, Shaft, and numerous others depict black men as superstud with no regard for their sexual partners outside of any relation to themselves. Relationships with women were there to prove their own masculinity. While fulfilling racial revenge fantasies, black male film heroes also imitated their white male counterparts enacting their own version of phallocentric manhood. 

These were the films older hip-hop generationers were exposed to during the 1970’s and then rediscovered during the early 1990’s. Blaxploitation employed pseudo-politically driven themes, initially, in that they were generally about racial revenge and pretended to demolish the servile stereotypical roles blacks had previously been relegated to in the dominant cultural and social arenas. Yet many of the films politics served more commercial vehicles supporting the white supremacist status quo than as anything that had black liberation or love in mind. 
Black intraracial sexuality took a key revolutionary role in these films because of it had been historically ignored. In white America the justification for the separation of the races was to eliminate the risk of black men having sex with white women. In black community institutions, the upper and middle classes that are traditionally in leadership positions are also sexually conservative to the point of silence. West states: 

But these grand yet flawed black institutions refused to engage one fundamental issue: black sexuality. Instead they ran from it like the plague…..In short, struggling black institutions made a Faustian pact with white America: avoid any substantive engagement wit black sexuality and your survival on the margins of American society is, at least, possible (124). 

Gentrification Blues #3

This weekend was hot. It was the official beginning of summer. I barely left my house. When I did I was again confronted with the changes in my neighborhood. It’s like the rats on a ship or roaches in the dark metaphor. Into the blinding sunlight and mildly scorching heat came the ghostly bodies of my new neighbors. Mouthdryinglypale and still without manners. It’s going to be a fun summer. I love sitting on the stairs of the library, now known as my office, and having to stare down the ParkSloperwith the baby crying because it’s hot and mommy can’t take it in the library SCREAMING like that to cool it off or leave because she’s got a great spot to get some sun on her legs.

So here I am sitting alone listening to myiPodscribbling furiously on the stupid story I’ve been hacking away at, I mean writing, for like 2 years now…. “Sorry, what? No, no one’s sitting there.” What could I say? No one was sitting there. I wasn’t prepared to act crazy and have imaginary friends. So down she sits and my table’s perfectly placed for two ways to get sun and put the baby under the umbrella. The screaming baby. The baby screaming so loud that my ErikSatiemakes my head hurt and hands shake cause it’s too loud and grating. I stare at the mother who apologizes profusely, but what am I supposed to say? “I accept your apology, but it would be better if you took your SCREAMING MONKEY home.”

She started doing all the things mothers do to make their children shut up, to no avail. I start shifting. I’m already hot and uncomfortable and writing outside and feel weird. How do I describe how I felt with the future sitting there raising hell and a mother who kinda didn’t give a shit. (Now, let me say that I have friends with kids and I know it’s a tough job and adults don’t want to be cooped up with kids all day. But I also know that that’s why I don’t have kids and really resent being subjected to other peoples problems.)

I guess it’s just that I’m seeing something more and more that disturbs me about this neighborhood I love so much. Too many babies. When I’m dictator, I’m putting amoratoriumon procreating in Prospect Heights. Go to Queens to fuck up your kids.