Friday, April 30, 2010

So Sexy Too Soon


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via elle, phd by elle on 4/30/10

I don't think I knew, outside the realm of those beauty pageants for little girls, that 8-year-olds wore mascara. Not only does this phenomenon exist, according to a NYT article, but
From 2007 to 2009, the percentage of girls ages 8 to 12 who regularly use mascara and eyeliner nearly doubled — to 18 percent from 10 percent for mascara, and to 15 percent from 9 percent for eyeliner. The percentage of them using lipstick also rose, to 15 percent from 10 percent.

We're* prepping them earlier and earlier, with the assistance of the beauty industry, for conforming to notions of "beauty" and "femininity," for life as the objects of the heterosexual male gaze.

From the article:
"There's relentless marketing pressure on young girls to look older," Ms. [Stacy] Malkan said. "Not just from magazines and TV ads, but from shows like '90210.' Those kids are supposed to be in 10th and 11th grade, but they look 25."

Indeed, the aisles of Sephora and CVS are lined with cosmetics aimed at Miley Cyrus fans. Fashion runways teem with heavily made-up girls of 14. Neutrogena offers a line of acne-clearing makeup featured on the "Neutrogena Teen" section of its Web site. Even Dylan's Candy Bar, the upscale candy store whose Upper East Side flagship has become a tourist attraction, has a "beauty" line that includes cupcake body lotion and strawberry licorice "lip saver." ("Lips should always be candy-luscious and sweet to kiss!" reads the Web site.)

Others have documented this ongoing sexualization of young girls. In speaking of her book, Girl Culture, Lauren Greenfield notes the "the exhibitionist nature of modern femininity." Diane Levin and Jean Kilbourne explore the role of gendered and sexualized marketing on young girls in So Sexy, So Soon. They tell a story of 7- and 8-year-old girls who feel they must be sexy so boys will like them and are upset that their parents won't buy them sexy clothes. Levin and Kilbourne describe the messages transmitted over and over to young girls
In today's cultural environment, products that channel children into narrowly focused content and activities threaten to consume every aspect of their lives. For young girls, this usually means focusing on buying fashion items, looking pretty, and acting sexy. From newfangled Barbies and sexy Bratz dolls to "old-fashioned" princess fairy tales, young girls… learn to value a certain aesthetic and a certain behavior—be pretty, be coy, and… be saved in the end by the handsome prince. [T]hese gender stereotypes and sexualized messages are everywhere. **

They are everywhere and apparently they are effective.

The author of the NYT article says that some young girls might be "sophisticated enough to make… their own beauty decisions." He points to an 11-year old who denied trying to emulate anyone by wearing makeup; "I try to make myself look like me," she said.

That immediately reminded me of a scene from Good Hair when Chris Rock tries to go into a hair supply store and sell "black" hair to the store owner who stocks primarily Indian hair. Black women, the store owner tells him, don't want "black" hair, because they want to look more "natural." You can see that scene beginning around the 2:09 second mark in the trailer below.

All of that leads me to wonder why looking "natural" is never equivalent to being "natural" (i.e. without artifice) for women. Instead, "natural" is constructed as the outcome of subjecting our bodies, head to toe, to various processes.

As girls began these processes at younger and younger ages, what will be the effect on their physical and mental well-being?
*The article says that 2/3 of the girls surveyed reported getting makeup and makeup techniques from a "family member or adult family friend."

**Diane Levin and Jean Kilbourne, So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids (New York: Ballantine Books, 2009), 30; 32-33.


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Single Black woman says, “I ain’t the Problem, Nightline, Black Men Are!”


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via Black Youth Project by Fallon on 4/30/10

So, that we are crystal clear I do not run behind black men. I do not beg them to spend time with me. I am not desperate for their attention, money, or third arm. I am so tired of Nightline, CNN, ABC, and yes the great matriarch himself, Tyler Perry, telling me that I am the problem. There is a political project afoot to make black women feel they are woefully inadequate. And to this, I say bah hum bug.

– April 24, 2010 Facebook's Status, Fallon

Just in case you're wondering, yes, I started my blog with a status update I wrote last week when Nightline aired its show, Face-Off: Why Can't a Successful Black Woman Find a Man? The Facebook status update conveys my sentiments about this latest cycle of blaming black women for the woes of the black man, the woes of the black community, and the woes of the economy. Yes, if only I would become barefoot and pregnant unemployed and desperate for Big Daddy's benevolent protection then I would be married [cue the Disney's music] and the mice with their little mice hands would make my white wedding dress . . . living happily ever after . . . yes, if only I could be that type of woman again. Yes, I use to be a version of her (i.e. wanting to marry the senator instead of being the senator syndrome) when I was searching for my voice.

But, I ain't her now and I don't know too many black women who are. If you want a more scholarly understanding of this issue I suggest you read Melissa Harris Lacewell's Nightline asks why black women can't get a man or Farai Chideya How Does It Feel to Be a Black, Female, Single Problem because my blog is going to be a rant about how I think black men are the problems. Yes, I said they are the PROBLEMS. Okay, not the pen-ultimate problem, but definitely the problem when it comes to how they use their hetero-male privilege in romantic relationships with black women in particular black women like me who are not willing to put up with their shit cow dung.

I know this makes me a bad race woman and perhaps even a bad feminist, but it's the truth. And my grandmother in her southern tone says, "Tell the truth and shame devil" and so I've decided today to shame that Devil all the da way back to hell because black men are indeed the reason why I am a happy single black hetero-woman. And my happiness has nothing to do with not being able to find one because my godmother says and it's true "men are like buses they come every 15 minutes and they will screw anything with a hole."

Of course, screwing does not lead to a lifelong commitment with the brother, but the point is that if we wanted to find one we could. So, perhaps our singleness, my singleness, is in response to not wanting to put up with hetero black male privilege. I don't believe in submission. I do not believe in making myself small so that you can feel good about your hetero-masculinity. And it has been my experience that men want black women who will cater to them, who will shut up sometimes, who will stay at home and raise the children (even though the fool will admit he would not want to stay at home), who will endure stress, abuse, violence, and sacrifice in the name of commitment. And I say once again, I ain't her.

Yep, I'm going to beat this drum . . . black men are the problems. Perhaps, someone who has a glimmer of common sense  Hill Harper, Steve Harvey, or Kevin Powell should write a how-to-book with colorful pictures teaching black men how to become unconventional/atypical black men . . . the kind of man who allows a black woman to be herself . . . the kind man who does not mentally masturbate with black feminist heterosexual women, but who wants a lifetime of memories with her (yep, that's my personal gripe). . . the kind of black man who believes "iron sharpens iron, she will make a better black man out of me" . . . the kind of man who will endure many years of psycho therapy to understand his emotions so that he can be an emotionally available father and husband . . . the kind of man who is proud to say I am the husband of such and such using her maiden name . . . the kind of man who will smile and at times grin at her witticism/arguments deeply respecting her thoughts . . . I could go on forever listing how black men can begin to challenge their male privilege, but, hey, Random House is not ain't giving me no book deal they are too busy running behind the Steve Harvey's and Tyler Perry's of the world because clearly they speak for black women [pure sarcasm].

Of course, as a good race woman, I have to say that this blog is not an indictment against black men. I know being a black man is hard [cue the homeless black man on the corner playing the violin]. I get it and from birth have gotten it. However, the intention of this blog is about black men and Nightline understanding why some black women "choose" to be single because we are not willing to acquiesce to the cow dung—black male privilege. We are not willing to settle for black men who are not emotionally available irrespective if he wears a "blue collar," a "white collar," or a "green job collar."

Honestly, I'm sick and tired of being the problem. I am tired of being the scapegoat for why we have double digit unemployment in black communities. Yes, some people believe if black women would stop working then black men could take their jobs and all the social problems in the black community will be remedied. Yeah, right. And I am tired of being berated by the news media and blamed for the demoralization of our communities when we all know capitalism, racism, sexism, class, poverty, heteronormativity, and black male privilege are all to blame for the many issues we face in our communities.

Once again, I believe there is a political project afoot to make black women to feel woefully inadequate because they lack black hetero-male romantic partnership/marriage. And I think part of the political project is to cloak the dysfunctionality of capitalism and to warn other groups of women what will happen if they stray too far from appropriate feminine behaviors and identities—you will be blamed for the toxic social issues of your community and will be subjected to public ridicule on Nightline and other mainstream news shows—so be a good little girl . . . a "well behaved" black girl.

Yes, I said and will continue to say, Black men are part of the Problem and why I "choose" to be single.


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How a Big Girl Like it, Daddy?


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via The Crunk Feminist Collective by susiemaye on 4/29/10

I was working out earlier this week when a guilty pleasure shuffled onto my iPod: LL Cool J's "Doin' It." As the fresh nineties beat spurred me around the track, I rapped along to every raunchy word. Eventually, the track got to the part where I like raise up my hands and testify.  LeShaun, the female MC on the track, asks LL, "how a big girl like it, Daddy?"  While I cringe at the whole "daddy" thing, I appreciate the big girl shout out. So often big and black gets conflated with a sort of asexual Mammy symbolism, and that mess is definitely for the birds.

I also think LeShaun held her own against the self-proclaimed G.O.A.T. on "Doin' It." Nonetheless, she did run into her own big girl drama. When it came time to shoot the video, she was pregnant and LL refused to put her in the video, choosing instead to use models/video vixens to lip synch for their lives in her place. Later, when he went on tour, a post-baby LeShaun was alledgely booted from the concert lineup and replaced yet again with a skinnier model. I always think of this when I raise my hands like a maniac to that particular beat. It's a sort of hip hop cautionary tale, where "Daddy" always has the upper hand.

Why am I giving you a close reading of a catchy, but certainly problematic, song? I'll tell you why.  As I raised my hand in solidarity with other sexy big girls, I immediately thought of the hoopla surrounding the recent Lane Bryant lingerie ad.  Long story short, Lane Bryant has cried foul because ABC and FOX had banned the clip for being too risque.  See it for yourself.

I do see some things I would call into question (my nostalgia for raunchy songs from my youth, notwithstanding) and I certainly would not call this a crunk feminist commercial. However, I don't take issue with a big girl (who is probably a size 12) wearing lingerie and planning a little afternoon delight. She's grown and if that's how she gets down with Dan (and shoot, it could be short for "Danielle," hello), I'm not gonna hate on her expressing her sexuality.

I do think it's interesting that the ad is considered any more risque that what we see on Vicky Secrets ads all the time.   (Side eye). And I do think it's more fruitful to think about the structures that these ads spring from, than to simply bash a voluptuous woman for wearing a fierce plunge bra and matching boy shorts.

Bottom line: regardless of what Lane Bryant, ABC, FOX, the Weather Channel or whoever wants to say, I appreciate complex portrayals of women's sexualities, ones that don't simply fall back into the white, stick-thin, heterosexual, or the bourgeois, and I'm pretty sure my crunk comrades do too.


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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Important Announcement about School of Our Lorde Distance Learning!!!!

(School of Our Lordeians in Chicago!)

Greetings loved ones,
You are so inspiring. Thank you for being part of the School of Our Lorde distance learning community and social network. I am so proud and thrilled to be accountable to you!!!
So this is a major announcement. Because of some very useful feedback (I love it when you speak up) I have decided to shift the distance-learning method to the web-cam webinar! Yay! We'll be using (you don't have to sign up or register for anything...I will email you all the link before the webinar :) Because I crave the sight of you and several of you crave a more sustained and tangible engagement with the School of Our Lorde process our next unit PUBLISHING will consist of 3 webinars. Please save the dates:
Mondays in May (10, 17, 24) at from 7:30-9:30 EST

and meet us at again there is no sign up required or anything. If you don't have a web cam you will still be able to see and hear me and to ask questions via live chat. If you want to gather more folks in front of your computer that is much welcomed. Everyone will be invited to donate what they can/want to via paypal. Sponsorships from other folks who will benefit from your amplified brilliance are also welcome to sponsor you and absolutely everyone who makes the commitment to participate by emailing an application with their goals and intentions is welcome.

You can find the applications for each unit here:

Can't wait to see your faces!!! Yay!

AND this summer I will re-run the Poetics, Pedagogy and Politics Unit Via Webinar (also a great chance for those who missed out in Durham to participate while I'm on the road with the MobileHomeComing Tour)...

save the dates and tell your friends same times same place...consider this the new online version of the Inspiration Station!

POETICS-Wednesdays in June broadcasting on the road with the MobileHomeComing Tour (6/2, 6/9, 6/16) 7:30-9:30 EST
PEDAGOGY- Wednesdays (6/30, 7/7, 7/14) broadcasting live from Anguilla 7:30-9:30 EST
POLITICS- Wednesdays (7/28, 8/4, 8/11) 7:30-9:30 EST

This site will continue to exist as a repository for documents and a place for School of Our Lorde participants to continue to connect and build with each other until further notice.

What do you think? Let me know!
I'm so excited.
Your love transforms me!!!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

fuckyeahblackbeauties: soulsacrifice: commondense: constantfl...


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via maia medicine on 4/28/10






"However, our society thinks that success means having a car and a lot of money and looking as white as you can or as American as you can. Or if you're white, looking as exotic as you can. We don't have any idea that it's about our hearts and our souls and how we treat the next person." 

-Erykah Badu


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Combahee Survival Revival Week: Durham NC May-22-29


In honor of Sakia Gunn and the Combahee River Collective, Combahee Survival Revival Week in Durham, NC will be a week full of trainings on how to live, eat, work and think sustainably and radically! Featuring fieldtrips, farm workdays, experiments, video making, poetic games, political discussions, writing workshops, healing demonstrations, backyard camp-outs, singing, dancing and bonding, this week will be a preview of Black Feminist Heaven…what our community looks like when we share what we know, turn towards each other and nurture and amplify our exciting interconnections!!!! This process is inspired by the brilliance and legacy of Black feminists on the universe, and everyone of every background who is inspired by that legacy is encouraged to participate!

If you’d like to support the Combahee Survival Process and you live in or near Durham here are some ways you can be part of the village! Email and let me know how you want to participate!!!

*COME! Participate in the activities, fieldtrips, discussions, backyard camp-out and shared meals. Bring the whole family!

*FOOD!!!! This is the most crucial way that most people can participate…cook a dish, donate food, donate a gift card to the grocery store or hook us up with goodies/leftovers from the restauraunt that you work for!

*Parental Support-all activities are designed for all ages to participate, but in order to model a parent supportive community we’d like to have non-parent volunteers to help support and look out for the youngest among us so that parents can fully participate in the sessions they attend.
*Rides to fieldtrips..we’ll be going to the Eno River, to Tierra Negra Farm, to the Museum of Life and Science and more. If you can help drive when we carpool that would be awesome. And you’ll get a copy of Lex’s reading Audre Lorde poems on CD to listen to in the car!
*Documentation-THIS is going to be the Best Week Ever!!!! Help us document by taking pictures or video.
*Photocopies-if you can make photocopies at your job as an official or unofficial inkind donation…let me know!

***Much needed supplies:

For out of town guests, sleepovers and the backyard campout we’ll need to borrow

air mattresses

sleeping bags


*This event is designed for Durham residents and with Durham at heart, but some members of the Durham diaspora and potential Durham recruits will be in town for the festivities. Let me know if you’d like to host someone from out of town.

We’ll also be using a lot of
*DV tape (digital video tape)
*Medium trash bags
*Toilet paper
*misc. art supplies
*big post-it paper
*pens and pencils
Email to volunteer or to find out more!!!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Keeping in Touch: A No Matter What Approach

Toni, if you’re still speaking to me after last year when I didn’t answer your long Christmas letter, if you’re still writing to me, please type. I literally couldn’t read most of your letter...

Have the greatest possible holiday season—and do write. I’m a terrible correspondent, but I love getting letters."

Octavia E. Butler in a letter to Toni Cade Bambara on December 22, 1986

Okay so I'm still guilty for those couple of weeks a few months ago when I couldn't get it together to send updates on time, and I want you to know first hand about what I mean when I say that Octavia Butler, our quirky black afro-futuristic prophet was love-filled meanie. A terrible correspondent with high standards but a love for letters regardless.

This is what I call a "no matter what approach" that quirky complexity of actually saying what we need, saying what didn't work before, naming our own shortcomings and reaching out with love to each other anyway. We want and need each other that badly. We deserve the complexity of our love.

And I know that y'all i.e. WE have a no matter what approach because 17 of you have donated to the QBG preservation fund that QBG Moya set up and in one week we've raised almost half the money to move! QBG Jillian has offered free hosting and tech skills, Krys has offered possible drupal site rebuilding and Sarah T is connecting us to her other technologically brilliant friends. We have all brilliance insight and resources that we need...right here in our quirky black girl world. I LOVE us!!!!

And because, I know that like Octavia Butler you love to hear dispatches about what other QBG's are up to so you can support and engage...

Check out QBG Iresha's awesome club flyer replacing love postcard project "Summer for the Sistas" about to kick-off in Philly and collaborate from near Philly or in your own way in your own community:

Also QBG poet/musician London Bridgez's song SHE...which you heard on the QBG Radio show is featured on Afro-Punk. Yay!!!!!!! Show her some QBG love and support and feedback! You can download the track for free here:

AND because you know you want to be like QBG Dara and enjoy the Sunday School for Black Feminist Ancestors...check out this episode of my Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind Public Access TV Show which features a sitting-down sermonette on Audre Lorde and Joseph Beam and the letters THEY wrote to each other. (Are you noticing a theme?) Check out the video here:

Also in the spirit of Octavia...keep it real with me. I'm trying to figure out whether having background music the whole time is soothing or distracting. Let a sista know!!!!

And finally because while cyberknowing you is delightful, nothing is better than hanging out with QBG's in person let us know if you are going to be in QBG Isis's hometown Detroit this June for the Allied Media Conference: or the US Social Forum.

As always, keep in touch.



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Dating Sans Patriarchy: A Black Man is not His Paycheck


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via New Model Minority by admin on 4/26/10

In the comment section of my Musing on Harry Allen post, two Black men stated that they agreed with my date, that he should  be able to walk on the outside, etc.

This kind of thinking goes to the heart of patriarchal ideals which basically says that "because I have a vagina" I should be treated a certain way, which is problematic. Full stop.

As Black people, We don't want to be patronized or treated a certain way (protected like children, dominated like women) by White folks because we have Black/Brown skin, right?

The same rationale applies here. Just because my body looks a certain way does not mean that I should be deemed "protection" or "domination" worthy.

There is a thin line between protecting someone and dominating them. Word to popo.

Patriarchy (institutionalized sexism) turns on the fact that the features of your body determine how you are treated. When in reality the fact that you are a human should. Full Stop.

Speaking of patriarchy, it is Black feminism that has helped me to articulate that a Black man is NOT his pay check.

Meaning that in our society, dominant manhood is rooted in this get a job, bring home the bacon narrative. You and I both know that employment has been and continues to be trife for Black men in this country. You remember that article in the NY Times last December about how Ivy league educated Black men are scrubbing the negroness from their resumes, because they can't get jobs. #ummhmm.

I long for the day when Black male Humanity isn't rooted in this White, get a job and a paycheck notions of BEING.

Don't get me wrong, we all need to work to surivie, eat, live and support our families.  I am talking about tying a person's sense of SELF into their paycheck here.

Both my daddy and my brother were human beings and men whether they were hustling, working, unemployed, barely getting by or getting major dough.  Full stop.

This is one of the reasons why I remained committed to writing about the troubling aspects of Beyonce's cannon of work. As many of you remembered I was very clear about "Why is a lightskinned, middle class, Black girl from the Dallas suburbs continually singing about needing a soldier or a baller?"

In many ways,  I saw that she normalizes these transactional,  a man is only worth his paycheck ideals, which is really a problem for  Black folks and our families.

bell hooks offers a great analysis of Black masculinity and patriarchy when she writes, in We Real Cool,

Patriarchal socialization says your responsible if you get a job, bring your wages home, and provide for your families material well being. Yet poverty and lack of opportunities have prevented many males from being responsible in the patriarchal sense of the term. Many Black males accept this definition of responsible manhood and spend their lives feeling like failures, feeling as though their self esteem is assaulted and assailed on all sides because they can't acquire the means to fulfill this role.

So yeah. You can walk on the outside. But unless you superman, that shit is absurd to me. Now if we in the deep east Oakland/Brownsville/Richmond/St.Louis/NorthPhilly, and you holding something..then yeah..I can see THAT kind of protection.#ummhmm. #praticalbearAintStupid.

You still believe that you should be standing on the outside?

If yes, what investment do you have in holding onto this idea?

Can your body mitigate the impact of  two ton car?

Related posts:

  1. Musing on Harry Allen, Black Nationalism and Black Feminism
  2. Racism, Sexism, Homophobia and Black Folks
  3. Patriarchy & a Tale of Two Rap Videos


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Africa’s Closet |®


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Monday, April 26, 2010

FIND YOUR LOCAL ACTION- Protest SB 1070- LegalizeAZ


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via DREAMACTIVIST by Flavia on 4/23/10

Image and video hosting by TinyPicPROTEST Arizona's SB 1070!

Comment below to add your action and/or email details to

Social Networking Tips

Use hashtag #LegalizeAZ on Twitter and change your Facebook image to the badge on the left (or something similar) to show solidarity.

Also join the Facebook group 1 million strong against SB 1070 and don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


9am Sat., 452 S. Stone Ave., in Tucson meet up with Rep Patterson, Rep Grijalva and many others to rally against SB1070.

Rep Gutierrez, Rep Grijalva and many others gathered on Sunday, April 25, 2010.

Time: 11:40am – 2:00pm
Location: State Capitol



Los Angeles

Saturday April 24 3:30, at Senator Feinstein's LA Office-

Call for national action on immigration reform in the Senate! Arizona CANNOT be our standard!

11111 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90025-3343

Orange County: A Special Evening w/ Sheriff Joe Arpaio & Bill Hunt

(Yes, let's make it ESPECIALLY UNWELCOMING!)

Friday, April 23 @ 4pm @ Pacific Club: 4110 MacArthur Bvld, Newport Beach, 92660 and

Saturday, April 24th – 9:30 am @ Sutra: 1870 Harbor Blvd, Costa Mesa, 92627


San Francisco

7 pm vigil Saturday at Senator Feinstein's Office One Post Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104



Friday night at 8:00 PM

WHERE: Marching from the Stephen P. Clark Government Center: 111 N.W. 1st Street, Miami 33128 to the National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College, at 600 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL 33132



When: Monday April 26th 7:00 – 9:00 pm, Opening vigil and stories
Tuesday April 27th, 5:30 – 8:00 am, Morning watch and closing action

Where: 1930 Beach St, Broadview, IL. 60155


Picket/Boycott: Cubs Vs. Arizona (SB1070) Thurs April 29 @ 12:00 PM at Wrigley Field in Chicago Facebook


Sunday, April 25, at 4:00PM, there will be a vigil at J.C. Nichols Parks by the Plaza.

Please call all your friends, family, churches, groups, and organizations and ask them to come out and respectfully stand in solidarity with the people of Arizona as we demand our legislators to take action on immigration reform.

Facebook Event Here


What: Vigil
When: Saturday May 24th, 5pm – 1030pm
Where: Boston Common, in the corner closest to the State House


1.  Ann Arbor, Michigan – Vigil at the Federal Building, 200 East Liberty @ 1:00pm on Saturday April 24th.!/event.php?eid=115751175112013

2.  Detroit, Michigan – Vigil at Western High School, across from Clark Park @ 1:00pm on Saturday April 24th.


A protest is planned in MN on Monday when Mike Huckabee visits.


Monday, April 26, 2010
5:00pm – 6:30pm
The Hilton Hotel
1001 Marquette Ave S
Minneapolis, MN

Facebook page here:


Vigil on Saturday in front of the Federal Courthouse, 300 Quarropas Ave, White Plains NY 10606, 7 PM. Bring family, friends, and candles.


Vigil at the Dupont, Saturday 5pm.


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Monday Morning (Mc)Nuggets


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via my best friend gayle by summer of sam on 4/26/10

So much has happened since the late time I blogged, I figure I'd write a little blurb about everything.

Just Wrong. Common and Queen Latifah are starring in a new movie.  I want to shoot myself.  It looks terrible.  I officially hate them both. So much that I want to pull a C. Delores Tucker and declare war on them.  Does anyone have a spare bulldozer?  I have some CDs to destroy.  Just Wright beats the idea of a Why Did I Get Married trilogy, I guess.  And neither Common nor Queen Latifah have starred in a Tyler Perry flick.  Let me re-think my position.  Wait a minute.  I just remembered Bringing Down the House and Common's GAP commercials.  Nevermind.

The Hangover. Last Friday, Henry Louis Gates Jr. published an op-ed piece about reparations for Negroes.  In the New York Times article--yet another addition to the "Obama is mixed-race, so he should be able to fix this shit," genre--Professor Gates argues against reparations not simply because of the practical difficulties that might arise, but also because Africans were an integral part of the slave trade.   Since our African brethren were instrumental to our bondage, then the United States and other white power(s) that benefited from the institution should no longer be blamed...and therefore should not have to pay reparations.  In other words, since the "African elite" sold a gang of our ancestors to Europeans, we should stop tripping about lynching and rape and Jim Crow and anything else that informs our current situation.

Um, okay.  Shutting up now, but real quick:

I think Wall Street and all those big banks used similar tactics.  Seems to work.  Folks are still getting their million-dollar bonuses.

Every alleged criminal who had an accessory should use this argument in court.  "Your honor, when she sold me the car I was going to rob a bank, so that means no jail for me, right?"

One more question, isn't Gates' whole DNA project, in fact, much of his career, kind of its own form of reparations?  Aren't his PBS specials, to say the least, direct beneficiaries of or indirect reparations for these crimes against humanity that couldn't have happened without the help of Brother (and Sister) Africa?  Should he give that money back?

Does KFC stand for Killer Fuckin' Chicken? Tamara mentioned KFC's latest invention, The Double Down (as in, they're going to have to "double down" on that CPR if you eat that thing) on her blog the other day.  N, a vegetarian and occasional vegan, has become obsessed with it.  She keeps telling me to buy one so that she can "scientifically" observe it.   I won't do it unless N provides a defibrillator, a pair of Sketchers Shape-Ups in exchange, and some Dairy Queen coupons.  I've been watching the NBA playoffs (#teamWITNESS), so I see the commercial for this sandwich sans bun, ostensibly aimed at men, pretty regularly.  I'll admit curiosity, but I wouldn't eat this thing, which is saying a lot because I still occasionally crave Big Macs.

These commercials are KFC's way of saying, "Hello, we'd like to kill you."  What's even more ridiculous isn't that people will and have bought the sandwich (And I know that some of us will buy the sandwich out of necessity.  You can feed two people with that thing.), but that the Double Down is so absurdly American.  We live in a world, in a country where people areliterally starving, and the Food Network is available on basic cable.  Double Down commercials will be shown between segments of Man v. Food, a show--that I'm simultaneously fascinated and repulsed by--about a man who eats his way through the United States and engages in some sort of eating contest (as in, he eats X number of sandwiches in X minutes and gets a t-shirt or his name on the wall of fame) at every stop.  Yet there are literally people who didn't eat yesterday or the day before that or the day before that--and not because they suffer from an eating disorder that masks some deeper issues, but because they cannot afford to eat.  Meanwhile, KFC works on manufacturing more heart disease.  How lovely.
Hell, I feel like I need angioplasty just from writing this thing.

Damn.  Why they wanna stick me for my paper[s]? The big news last week was Arizona's effort at immigration "reform."  Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070, a bill that encourages police officers to essentially demand papers from anyone who looks like an illegal immigrant.  And by "illegal immigrant" they mean anyone who looks Mexican.  (TBS, if George Lopez suddenly stops showing up to work, you know what happened.)  Outside of just being infuriated by the blatant racial profiling, the only think I can say is I bet the people indigenous to the Americas wish they had an immigration policy circa 1492.  By the way, Governor Brewer, Arizona used to be Mexico.  #justsayin'  More on this later.

Hearts led, baby, it's your deal. I helped write a follow-up post on Erykah Badu over at the Crunk Feminist Collective.  Check it out.


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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hearts led Baby it’s your deal…


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via The Crunk Feminist Collective by moyazb on 4/25/10

Apparently people across the country are outraged by Erykah Badu's public disrobing.  Perhaps this was a matter of timing.  Had Ms. Badu waited until this month, April, which is Confederacy History Month in southern states like Texas, it might not have been such a big deal–the War of Northern Aggression being all about a state's sovereign right to disrobe black people and buy and sell black bodies all willy-nilly and everything.  Still, no one wants to admit to viewing a black woman's body on her own terms.  That shit's embarrassing.  So much so that Dallas police had to compel one actual witness to come forward so that they could formally charge @fatbellybella with disorderly conduct.

Watch the video.

Guilty as charged. On several counts.  Giving the middle finger to the state by not securing the proper permits to film in the big D (li'l a double-l-a-s)? Guilty.  Resuscitating a beloved dead white man's violently tragic death for purely niggardly purposes?  Guilty.  Removing one's clothes for reasons other than satiating the male gaze?  Guilty.  Demanding that said gaze look at a black body in a non-sexual manner?  Guilty.  Publicly proclaiming a black woman's agency?  Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.  /sarcasm

What was just as interesting as the video was the responses to the video. There were blog posts (here, here and here), Twitter comments (I have a screen shot of Terry McMillan saying something to Erykah we can use), response videos and legal action taken against Erykah. In fact as of today April 20th, Erykah Badu has been charged with disorderly conduct and can either pay a $500 fine, or contest the charge. It will be interesting to see what she does. Which leads me to two questions:

What does it mean that this is a society where women's bodies are used to sell everything from beer to cars, yet the presence of a Black woman's body on her own terms prompts fears about children witnesses and fears of nudity? Let me be clear, a nude body and sexual body are not one in the same. But then again, folks don't have #noactright because the nude white model's at the MOMA got fondled last week by  museum visitors. This happened in an installation, which is apart of the Marina Abramović restrospective, where patrons must walk between two nude female bodies. Full stop. Jen Carlson, writing in Gothamist says,"the Yugoslavian-born performance artist wouldn't be doing her job if she didn't make her audience experience something they haven't before, no?" Two different settings, high art, nudity and folks acting like they have no home training when it comes to seeing a naked female body. One body violated in the moment and another subject to a public scrutiny that's still copping its feel.

Back to Erykah and the Dallas Police Department. The Dallas police received hundreds of calls from outside the state in complaint of Badu's actions.  Badu's pale(r) inspirations, Matt & Kim, generated no such vitriol.  No one lodged complaints out of concern for the poor children who were exposed to the pasty frostbitten (it looked cold right?) bits of a white woman and man.  Erykah's video predicts the retribution by a state that wants to keep people on the straight and narrow.  (Who shot ya?) She did apparently disrupt the order despite the fact that most people weren't even paying attention to her when she did it. Check the disinterest in the bystanders.  Wu-Tang is for the children (RIP, ODB), but according to Dallas police, Erykah ain't.  The DPD said she didn't care about the kids grazing the grassy knoll. This despite her own words on Twitter and in numerous interviews about how she worried that they might be traumatized. So she sent out a telepathic signal to let them know her intent.  Next time, Erykah, use an iPhone.

Despite Badu's best efforts to explain herself (she went on 106 & Park, for fuck's sake), despite her attempt to be intentional, folks had the unmitigated gall to say that they couldn't understand the clip as anything more than a publicity stunt.  Which is to say they'd rather not read or listen…to words.  Which explains several (pop) cultural phenomena, including Sarah Palin and blazing hip-hop and R&B, in general.  (To be sure, Sarah Palin and Erykah Badu will never be mentioned in the same blog entry again.)

What good do your words do if they can't understand you (or stop looking at your ass)?

Let's write a $500 check to the city of Dallas on behalf of Erykah.  The shit might bounce, but the sentiment won't.

Co-authored by moyazb, summer of sam, & mdot


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Shifting the Burden


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via elle, phd by elle on 4/22/10

**Trigger Warning**

So apparently, Oprah Winfrey had Mo'Nique's brother, Gerald Imes, who molested Mo'Nique beginning when she was seven, on her show Monday.

Why? I am asking seriously because I really can't think of a good reason.

And he apologized.


I know it's not my place to be dismissive, but I don't understand what the apology is supposed to do.

I am angry that Oprah gave Gerald Imes such a public, highly visible venue to make his apology. Though Mo'Nique has refused, understandably, to respond, he has created the impression that "the ball is in her court." It as if he has shifted a burden onto her because of the unspoken expectation that she do or say something. He hopes, he says, that they can "come back together as sister and brother," putting further pressure on her to negotiate some kind of relationship.

He gets to re-image himself as penitent and remorseful and as a victim in his own right. And in remaking himself, he tries to disrupt what Mo'nique said, ensuring that he has the final word if she keeps to her silence. According to his story, it's not that she's a liar... exactly. She's just wrong about the details.

From Liss, I learned that their parents were there. That they would join him in this very public forum made me angrier. Yes, I can understand that they don't want to abandon their son, or whatever.

But what does their appearance, as he was giving his apology, mean/say to their daughter? To me it says, "We have forgiven him." What it doesn't say, but seems to imply, is--"You should, too." That's how that sort of pressure works. I don't think I'm far off in my assertion; Mo'Nique's own parents seem to have a "Let's put this behind us" attitude:
The Imeses told Oprah they thought the matter had been addressed when they temporarily asked Gerald to leave the family home after Mo'Nique told them her older brother had "tried to lay on top of me" when she was 15.


Imes now regrets not revisiting the sexual assault with her daughter after banished Gerald returned to the family home - but she was hurt when Mo'Nique decided to go public with the family's secret on national TV.

She added, ..." 'As a family such as we were, this is something I felt that should have been discussed first privately within the family. Now, if you wanna tell the world, but give us a chance (sic).'


"I only hope, with doing this, this can cleanse her hurt."
I don't think Mo'Nique's hurt is the primary concern here, especially since she is the one being portrayed as betraying the family bonds.

I am viewing this through the lens of someone who has been disheartened by the way many communities rally around men who abuse--that in itself is not a racially specific thing.

But the pressure on women of color not to tell, because men of color already have a difficult time having to deal with a racist/kyriarchal system is well-documented.

As if we don't exist, and as women (!), under that same system.

There may be survivors to whom the apology means something. Mo'Nique is in a situation in which, while the abusers wasn't prosecuted, her story was believed/verified. If an abuser was denying the abuse or walking around as if zie had done nothing and people were doubting or disparaging the survivor, maybe the apology would mean something. Or maybe there are people, in circumstances like hers, to whom the apology means something. I don't know.

I really want to understand why Oprah had him on.

What is that apology supposed to mean or do? Especially, if it is true that Gerald Imes is seeking to make money off the "story."


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Google Wave gets down with Tightrope


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via Wondaland Arts Society by Jovian Zayne on 4/22/10

"…..We were as exhausted at the end of Virtual HASTAC as conference organizers ever are. We had a hilarious post-conference sigh of relief at the end when I, Jen, Fiona, and Pam Fox (one of the developers of Google Wave, and based in Australia) were joking about sharing a HASTAC cocktail we would call The Wave and Fiona posted our favorite current music video, the amazing "Tightrope" by Janelle Monae, and we all were dancing in our actual spaces, on two continents and four cities, and laughing about it, together, on line using Google Wave."

read the full article here!


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Say no to racial profiling: 5 ways to help in Arizona


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via Standing FIRM by rachelfirm on 4/22/10

Right now, a bill that would mandate racial profiling across the state of Arizona is sitting on Governor Jan Brewer's desk, waiting to be signed or vetoed. The bill, SB 1070, is the most extreme anti-immigrant measure we've seen in years and has quickly thrust Arizona into the limelight of the immigration debate.

Basically if you're brown and you live in Arizona, you'd better have proper documentation on you at all times. Left home without your wallet on accident? You might be arrested, jailed up to six months and fined.

Arizona is on the verge of becoming a police state. And this is a taste of what is to come in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform.

Governor Brewer has until midnight on Saturday to sign or veto the bill. If she chooses to not take action, SB 1070 will enshrine hate as the law of the land in Arizona.

Jeff's Memory Card 101

Today is the 3rd day of a continuous 24 hour vigil outside of Governor Jan Brewer's office. The community of Arizona is peacefully demanding justice and courageously standing up for what's right.

They need your help. Below are five things you can do to help fight the hate in Arizona and stop racial profiling in our country:

  1. Send a fax to Governor Brewer asking her to veto SB1070.
  2. Call Governor Brewer and ask her to veto SB 1070 – English:  866-996-5161 – Spanish: 866-967-6018
  3. If you're in Arizona, join the vigil outside of the Governor's office (map). If you are out of state, organize your own solidarity vigil (list of events here).
  4. Share on Facebook and Twitter – make this picture your profile picture and dedicate at least one status update to Arizona. If you're on twitter, sign this twitter petition!
  5. Spread the word: Talk to your friends, family and community about what's happening in Arizona. Ask them to take action too.

We need everybody to take a stand against this awful bill.  As Jim Wallis so eloquently stated yesterday:

Arizona's SB 1070 must be named as a social and racial sin, and should be denounced as such by people of faith and conscience across the nation. This is not just about Arizona, but about all of us, and about what kind of country we want to be.

What kind of country do we want to be?

(h/t Will Coley for the idea behind this post)

Filed under: Action


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