Home   •   About   •   Content Use Policy   •   Comment Policy   •   Donate   •   Ask   •   Archive
September 2014
20
Rest In Peace: Angelia Magnum and Tjhisha Ball
[content note: anti-Blackness and media violence, misogynoir, violence on sex workers] Angelia Magnum (18) and Tjhisha Ball (19) are young Black women from Tampa, sex workers, who were found brutally murdered in Jacksonville. It is devastating to me that the post-mortem media violence (i.e. most of the few media outlets that reported the story are using their old mugshots; but they were murdered; they are the victims in this case) continues for yet more Black people. As I’ve stated before, Black criminals are treated like monsters. Black victims are treated like criminals. This further complicates, in addition to the dehumanization and criminalization of Black bodies, because they are Black women. Black women regularly go missing and at times are killed; our stories are underreported or shaped as “criminal” even when we are victims. We are underreported in our own communities, let alone nationally. This even further complicates because they were sex workers. People are sickeningly complacent or worse, violently accepting/proactive about the violence sex workers face. I’ve seen comments ranging from victim blaming to “well that’s what they get” kinda comments. The criminalization of sex work itself remains a problem. The violence of misogynoir, and anti-Blackness itself is sickening. It is the media as much as it is society itself.
In Black Teen Girls Killed (But Do You Care)? by Jamilah Lemieux on Ebony, she mentioned that some family didn’t like that they were in sex work and feared the violence they’d face.

It isn’t unreasonable to expect for a grieving family to wish that their dead loved one hadn’t worked in the sex industry, one where women are often subject to increased abuse and harassment at the hands of clients, employers and law enforcement alike. Thus, there should be no judgment from any of us about Ball’s lament about her daughter’s work. But what I fear will happen here is a general sentiment among media makers and the public that because these women were sex workers, that their deaths are not cause for outrage and fear.

As she alluded to, I’m not interested in shaming their families while they grieve; whatever fear and/or ignorance about sex work they had, they’re dealing with the repercussions of terrible violence right now. The socialization that makes people engage in victim blaming is ubiquitous. Doesn’t mean they’re not accountable for those views; means I’m not going to write a criticism right now of grieving Black families. However, how people think about sex work, about Black women, about Black people always needs examination and deconstruction. People need to think about why these deaths don’t matter to so many. I am hurt (and terrified really) that these two Black women could not live and thrive as Black sex workers (as strippers, or any other work they did/wanted to do), as Black women, as Black people, without intersecting oppressions and unspeakable violence. They were young Black female sex workers and this does not make their lives any less valuable nor should’ve granted them what some see as a socially acceptable death sentence. I hope the truth—however painful—comes out about what happened to them. They deserved better than to be dumped under an overpass. 

Rest In Peace: Angelia Magnum and Tjhisha Ball

[content note: anti-Blackness and media violence, misogynoir, violence on sex workers] Angelia Magnum (18) and Tjhisha Ball (19) are young Black women from Tampa, sex workers, who were found brutally murdered in Jacksonville. It is devastating to me that the post-mortem media violence (i.e. most of the few media outlets that reported the story are using their old mugshots; but they were murdered; they are the victims in this case) continues for yet more Black people. As I’ve stated before, Black criminals are treated like monsters. Black victims are treated like criminals. This further complicates, in addition to the dehumanization and criminalization of Black bodies, because they are Black women. Black women regularly go missing and at times are killed; our stories are underreported or shaped as “criminal” even when we are victims. We are underreported in our own communities, let alone nationally. This even further complicates because they were sex workers. People are sickeningly complacent or worse, violently accepting/proactive about the violence sex workers face. I’ve seen comments ranging from victim blaming to “well that’s what they get” kinda comments. The criminalization of sex work itself remains a problem. The violence of misogynoir, and anti-Blackness itself is sickening. It is the media as much as it is society itself.

In Black Teen Girls Killed (But Do You Care)? by Jamilah Lemieux on Ebony, she mentioned that some family didn’t like that they were in sex work and feared the violence they’d face.

It isn’t unreasonable to expect for a grieving family to wish that their dead loved one hadn’t worked in the sex industry, one where women are often subject to increased abuse and harassment at the hands of clients, employers and law enforcement alike. Thus, there should be no judgment from any of us about Ball’s lament about her daughter’s work. But what I fear will happen here is a general sentiment among media makers and the public that because these women were sex workers, that their deaths are not cause for outrage and fear.

As she alluded to, I’m not interested in shaming their families while they grieve; whatever fear and/or ignorance about sex work they had, they’re dealing with the repercussions of terrible violence right now. The socialization that makes people engage in victim blaming is ubiquitous. Doesn’t mean they’re not accountable for those views; means I’m not going to write a criticism right now of grieving Black families. However, how people think about sex work, about Black women, about Black people always needs examination and deconstruction. People need to think about why these deaths don’t matter to so many. I am hurt (and terrified really) that these two Black women could not live and thrive as Black sex workers (as strippers, or any other work they did/wanted to do), as Black women, as Black people, without intersecting oppressions and unspeakable violence. They were young Black female sex workers and this does not make their lives any less valuable nor should’ve granted them what some see as a socially acceptable death sentence. I hope the truth—however painful—comes out about what happened to them. They deserved better than to be dumped under an overpass. 

September 2014
20
Via   •   Source

nokiabae:

MOKO  // Your Love [x]

I really like Moko’s style. This song is good. 

September 2014
20
Via   •   Source
queerwoc:

Belinda 
19
trill-hippy.tumblr.com
IG: trilllhippy
Fashion Enthusiast

Gorgeous.❤ 

queerwoc:

Belinda 

19

trill-hippy.tumblr.com

IG: trilllhippy

Fashion Enthusiast

Gorgeous. 

September 2014
20

I Never Feared Being Single. I Feared Terrible Romantic Relationships.

You know how many people fear being single? My fear was being in a terrible relationship; I have never feared being single. Today I came across a meme that read "I just want somebody I can brag about and not look stupid." I get the basic sense of the meme; being in a (presumably romantic or romantic sexual) relationship with someone where when you speak highly of them, you don’t end up embarrassed because they don’t live up to those declarations, especially in a world where most relationships are highly visible (hi Facebook), even among the non-famous. Certainly it could’ve been worded better, using “embarrassed” instead of “stupid” in this case so it doesn’t function as ableist. Also, of course the basic notion of why is a romantic relationship something to brag about (usually to the detriment of belittling single people) anyway, versus something to enjoy, could be questioned too, though I won’t get into that here.

What got to me about this seemingly innocuous meme is I completely understand this feeling; too well. Like…too well. Though I don’t date now and have not in a long time (which I’ve mentioned before in terms of asexuality and agency), I remember when I was in my 20s one of my biggest fears regarding dating (beyond general safety, time, interest etc.) was ending up the person bragging over someone that everyone else but me could see is a loser of some sort (as in a cheater who did so in a way to insult me [I don’t mean consensual polyamory], someone cruel, or someone truly abusive; not speaking of something ignorant like them not having enough possessions or degrees etc. since I don’t classify that as a “loser”). This used to worry me in the worst way. Often I would observe (though not invade privacy; consent still matters to me) the behavior, beliefs, politics etc. of the person of interest. Get a feel for something beyond the facade that people are sadly encouraged to portray in the early stages of dating. But I always had this fear that I would end up with someone horrible and basically everyone would laugh at me. 

My sense of pride made me feel like the worst thing (other than the seriousness of being abused—whether emotional, physical, sexual and/or financial—as I had already been through hell because of an ex who assaulted me) that could happen would be to get “swindled” by some liar. And then everyone would turn their backs on me and say "well you should’ve known; aren’t you smart?" I was afraid of this particular abuse even before it happened and not even always for the most important reason of safety, but for the reason of expected social abandonment. I’m used to a certain level of abandonment, having dealt with some emotional abandonment from men in my life, amidst declarations of “love” of course. But if I felt like I would be at risk of losing the Black women in my life (friends/family) and them laughing at/abandoning me, that made me really scared in my 20s. I felt like I would break losing those relationships. (Ironically, some of the ones I feared loss of, were lost over other issues; conversely, some of the ones I feared loss of, are stronger than ever now.)

In my late 20s (35 now) I started thinking about why this fear was so intense for me back when I did bother to date. I realized that so much of this shame I expected to feel if I ended up with someone horrible was due to how everyone is socialized to victim blame, and actively unlearning this on a base level, as well as critical deconstruction of how it shapes a plethora of intersecting oppressions is required to even realize this. I mean, why would I have to fear potential shame if victims of abusive partners were not automatically shamed and harmed further? If not blamed for any type of mistreatment, abuse or violence experienced? I would have no reason to fear this otherwise.

Realizing this made me understand how dangerous victim blaming is, since the punishment ascribed to victims, beyond blaming them for the abuse, is blaming them for “allowing” it to happen. And if I feared I would “allow” it somehow, that means I engaged in victim blaming, but on myself. I never blamed any friends when their partners harmed them, but seem to be unable fully show myself the same level of care and justice back then.  I knew it was time to unlearn victim blaming particular to myself, particular to the experiences of dating/romantic relationships. Some of this is highly specific to being a Black woman and the “Strong Black Woman" archetype, presuming that I should be "wise" enough to "already" know which men (in the case of dating men; obviously not all Black women are hetero/bi/pan and ever date men; some Black women ID as queer or ace and may/may not date men; some ID as ace but are aromantic etc.) are going to harm me or not (again, victim blaming). Then if they do harm me, I magically get over it since I supposedly don’t experience pain. Or, if I express any of that pain, then clearly I am permanently “bitter" for showing emotion and/or deemed an “Angry Black Woman.” 

Thus, the anxiety (and it was anxiety, not just fear and stress, as I do deal with Anxiety as a mental health issue) involved in not wanting to be harmed, not wanting to be blamed for being harmed, and not wanting to be expected to be silent about the harm? It was heavy. Now, I didn’t date infrequently back then only because of this particular anxiety, to be clear. Some of it was chalked up to a much busier life in my 20s (for part of it I worked full-time, had a side photography business, was working on my Master’s degree full time, exercised a lot, often socially salsa danced and was getting into writing), being an introvert (I swear we date less often and have fewer partners over time; just saying so anecdotally, not empirically here), being a Black woman (which means a lot of people aren’t going to deem me a viable partner anyway; misogynoir and such…) and identifying as asexual (though at the time I still labeled as “heterosexual” because that seemed like what I was supposed to identify as [cultural norms/issues; theist upbringing though not a theist now], and then later, I knew for several years, but didn’t state it publicly until last year as I fleshed out what labels I did want/reject). Uncertainty about being able to acutely articulate my sexual politics with the knowledge, confidence, self-assurance and agency as I do now, was also a factor back then, not solely the fear of a terrible romantic relationship, though that fear was very present then.

Unlearning the ways in which I don’t have to feel accountable for someone else harming me (though this does not mean that people are going to stop victim blaming just because I think this way), knowing that my character is not shaped by someone choosing—as it is their choice—to harm me, but by who I am? I was finally able to let go of this fear controlling my thoughts about dating/romantic relationships. So now, not choosing to date often, or at all? It’s literally one of the most empowering choices I’ve made in years. It’s not running away from possible harm anymore. Conversely, it’s not forcing myself into a romantic relationship to “prove” that I don’t have that fear or to “fit in” this society. It’s actually thinking about what I do and don’t want out of that aspect of life and feeling confident about that choice. How I execute my own agency over my body, my feelings, my choices, my life. Not particularly desiring dating/romantic relationships? This is one area that is not on my list of unfilled desires or things that cross my mind when I am deeply hurting. It is not a source of pain for me.

Whenever I do speak of dating, it’s never a lament for a future partner, but more about varying oppressions and social norms that impact dating itself, creating situations of abuse that impact me, partner or not. (As in, being single isn’t going to protect me from experiencing misogynoir, as it doesn’t only occur in private space/relationships.) Sometimes it’s just old dating stories for jokes among friends. I completely understand that for some people, desiring romantic love, a relationship or even a date is their preoccupation and I don’t judge their desires. Who am I to tell anyone what to desire? But, even if I did judge them though, what would happen? Literally nothing. The status quo supports their choice, not mine. No one pressures them to be single. People pressure me and are even abusive towards me because I am single. I am okay with their desires. Are they able to accept mine?

Related Post: Men Cannot “Threaten” This Introvert With Solitude. It Only Makes Me Happy.

September 2014
19
Via   •   Source
Beautiful interior; the stunning image on the wall is by digital artist Antonio Mora and called “Cyclops grande.” 

Beautiful interior; the stunning image on the wall is by digital artist Antonio Mora and called “Cyclops grande.” 

September 2014
19
Angela Davis Is More Than A “Symbol” 
It would help (though I know they aren’t going to do it) if colourist, misogynoiristic men who fetish old images of Angela Yvonne Davis—old images, as in she’s still alive now, is an educator/activist now, doesn’t have an afro anymore, and is 70 years old, still emanating brilliance—actually read some of her work. Or knew about her life. Or know that she’s a queer Black feminist. Or know that she’s always critiqued both racism and sexism/anti-Black misogyny (in addition to the general intersectional lens she applies to her theory and praxis on classism, immigration, reproductive justice etc., especially radically so regarding dismantling Prison Industrial Complex).
She’s a person. Black women are people, not just symbols for some abusive men, particularly some Black men, to use to try to oppress other Black women, based on the politics of respectability/misogynoir etc., in an effort to silence Black women and engage in patriarchal dominance. (In this generation, they often use Janelle Monae’s image this way.)
I mean…most Black women I know have seen those violently ahistorical memes (that mostly Black men create) that juxtapose photos of Black women activists of the past to Black women who dance (usually twerking/stripping) now. As if both dancers and activists didn’t exist both then and now. As if activists don’t dance. As if dancers cannot be activists. Ignorant patriarchal binaries here.
They really need to change their avis and/or habit of plastering her image when it’s done in this manner. I…don’t think they deserve her image there until they acknowledge that she and the everyday Black women they harm are actually human. People. Complex. Like they are! They need to stop being so damn simple and so damn harmful with images of Black women.

Angela Davis Is More Than A “Symbol” 

It would help (though I know they aren’t going to do it) if colourist, misogynoiristic men who fetish old images of Angela Yvonne Davisold images, as in she’s still alive now, is an educator/activist now, doesn’t have an afro anymore, and is 70 years old, still emanating brilliance—actually read some of her work. Or knew about her life. Or know that she’s a queer Black feminist. Or know that she’s always critiqued both racism and sexism/anti-Black misogyny (in addition to the general intersectional lens she applies to her theory and praxis on classism, immigration, reproductive justice etc., especially radically so regarding dismantling Prison Industrial Complex).

She’s a person. Black women are people, not just symbols for some abusive men, particularly some Black men, to use to try to oppress other Black women, based on the politics of respectability/misogynoir etc., in an effort to silence Black women and engage in patriarchal dominance. (In this generation, they often use Janelle Monae’s image this way.)

I mean…most Black women I know have seen those violently ahistorical memes (that mostly Black men create) that juxtapose photos of Black women activists of the past to Black women who dance (usually twerking/stripping) now. As if both dancers and activists didn’t exist both then and now. As if activists don’t dance. As if dancers cannot be activists. Ignorant patriarchal binaries here.

They really need to change their avis and/or habit of plastering her image when it’s done in this manner. I…don’t think they deserve her image there until they acknowledge that she and the everyday Black women they harm are actually human. People. Complex. Like they are! They need to stop being so damn simple and so damn harmful with images of Black women.

September 2014
18

You must be unintimidated by your own thoughts because if you write with someone looking over you shoulder, you’ll never write.

 

Nikki Giovanni

Truth!

September 2014
18
Via   •   Source

rahdigital:

random shoot at the park.

mikeselsewhere & aabriakian 

Really beautiful.  

September 2014
18

Beyoncé and Whites’ Resentment of Wealthy Black Celebrities

I find it very disingenuous (as in anti-Black and hypocritical) that critiques of capitalism regularly surface as rings of fire with Black celebrities as the centers. Beyoncé and other Black celebrities are regularly the ruler by which Whites—who benefit from the fact that slavery and genocide, anti-Blackness and settler colonialism, are what capitalism itself would not exist without, no less—use to measure how oppressive this system is to them. This involves often glaring over how even in exceptionalist cases such as celebrity wealth or the upper echelons of wealth that Whites occupy, Black people are still underrepresented. Black people are underrepresented among the wealthy and even among the middle class, period. Even among the wealthiest in the world, Beyoncé still does not occupy that tens of billions plus structural power stratosphere that people want to non-intersectionally view as a raceless mass of riches. There is no raceless class analysis that would be valid one. (And I know the elevator mention in the remix to “***Flawless”—of course interpreted denotatively by Whites—is used as “proof” she’s somehow Warren Buffett. Not really.)

To be clear, I’m not going to rehash the discussion about Beyoncé and feminism itself. I previously discussed that here: Liberating The Black Female Body: Thoughts On The Voices Of bell, Janet, Shola and MarciBeyoncé’s ***Flawless Feminism: A Womanist PerspectiveBeyoncé’s New Self-Titled Album Is A Manifesto of Black Womanhood and Freedom. I’m also not going to discuss the "unless Beyoncé is thoroughly dehumanized via misogynoiristic criticism, then she wasn’t adequately critiqued" approach. I critiqued her when I talked about light skin privilege and its impact on her success, when I discussed “Drunk In Love,” and here: Beyoncé, #BanBossy and Feminist Credentialism. I don’t believe misogynoir is “valid critique” from people who aren’t Black women to critique Black women nor does it prove “truth telling” or “introspection" on a Black woman’s part, if we’re the ones critiquing. I’m also not going to re-address the misogynoir nor respectability politics involved in critiques of Beyoncé that are really meant to harm everyday Black women. I’ve done that here: What’s Really Going On With White Feminists’ Critiques of Beyoncé?Respectability Politics ≠ Womanism/Black Feminism,  A Twitter Conversation, re: “Why Talk About/Defend Beyoncé?”. I’m also not going to “defend” why I choose to write about her, as I write about many Black women (and Black womanhood in general), which is ignored by those looking for confirmation bias to devalue the totality of my words (in like 1,000+ essays on various topics, 4,000+ blog posts, 300K+ tweets) solely because they hate Beyoncé; I’ve already done that here: "Why Do You Blog About Beyoncé?" 

I am, however, thinking about how the entitlement that makes White privilege what it is, includes an entitlement to wealth, a response that amounts to “Black celebs have ‘egos’ if they are not “humble” about money that they should be thankful we allow them to have.” And I see this surface when White women, especially White feminists, shape their critiques on Beyoncé’s money as well. Besides the blatant racism of White women deeming their cultural appropriation of Black women to be “empowerment" for White women (while decrying any critique of this racism as "misogyny" from Black women), where White women who do this are then "feminist" by default, and besides deeming sexual empowerment, creativity, dancing/music, and normally privileged social markers of cishet marriage, motherhood and theism as "anti-feminist" when embodied by a Black woman, White women, though not them alone, engage in economic violence against Black women as well, using Beyoncé and as the tool by which to do it at times.

Whites use Black celebrity wealth to harm Black people in three ways (and these ways are absorbed by non-Whites as “fact”). First, it is to deny Black humanity, as Beyoncé is regularly juxtaposed to “real” women who are usually middle class and White. White women have 8,520X the wealth of Black women ($42,600 versus $5), yet this rarely factors into thoughts about “real” women or not. Black womanhood is always on trial, and clarifiers such as “real” cannot be separated from this dehumanization. Second, it is to harm poor Black people by suggesting that since financial outliers like Beyoncé exist, income inequality and wealth disparity that impacts millions of Black people (which I discussed in Black In The 99%) are “not real.” This connects to the victim blaming that American exceptionalism and bootstrap theory (as well as other popular ideologies) rely on by default. Third, it is to juxtapose the claim of Black celebrities not “giving enough” in philanthropy to fellow Black people (which many Black celebrities/Black business owners actually do, although research has shown poorer people across the board tend to give more in relation to their income) with White philanthropists who are praised for being White Saviors™. How ahistorical does someone have to be to praise the Koch brothers’ “philanthropy” and “humanitarianism” as “kindness” when the Kochs and other powerful White men (in addition to the institutions that are their footstools and playpens) benefit from the structural violence they enact through unstoppable power and resources; violence that creates the need for philanthropy in the first place? 

Wealthy/successful Black people disturb White people. This doesn’t mean that capitalism is then automatically “liberation” for us nor does it mean that purposely denying equitable wages and resources to Black people via exploitation of labor deemed justifiable because of anti-Blackness is okay either. The latter is actually still capitalism. But it does mean that financial outliers like Beyoncé are centered as “wealthiest.” Why is Oprah immediately named as a wealth reference and not the Koch brothers who have more than 50X her wealth, as well as power that she cannot buy, power that comes with old money, Whiteness, maleness and political dominance behind the scenes? It’s not just media visibility and pop culture. It’s because people are taught to ignore the implications of imperialist White supremacist capitalist cisheteropatriarchy and how generational wealth works. Oprah and Jay Z are one generation removed from poverty. One. (It’s worth noting how a lot of Black wealth is concentrated in entertainment/athletics. This is not accidental but a complicated picture of our own creative genius as resistance over time and Whites’ racist and narrow labor/lending practices, in addition to Whites/non-Black people of colour’s consumption of Black culture.)

Beyoncé’s humanity, not her “feminism” is what is really on trial in these type of critiques (especially since Black womanhood is regularly questioned and denied and since Whiteness is the only requirement for a White woman to be deemed feminist). I find wealth criticism of Beyoncé and many other Black celebrities to be short-sighted and harmful when they’re coming from these White-male owned mass media platforms with positions held by White women (and at times anti-Black non-Black women of colour; non-Black women of colour can and do engage in misogynoir against Black women because of how they’re placed above Black women, especially in terms of “beauty”) whose mastheads remain mostly or all-White.

image

What on Earth would they know about Black women’s womanist/Black feminist epistemology, experiences or lives when their own companies do not consider Black women as hires and pay many White women to engage in plagiarism and erasure of Black women? (Most music sites will employ White men, Black men and White women/non-Black women of colour before a Black woman.) How can they pretend they’re committed to economic viability for Black women when their economic criticisms of Beyonce surface superficially (i.e. after the VMAs this was a common critique from non-Black women, especially White ones; really they just didn’t like seeing some happy Black women online that night, I’m certain), yet they have no real grasp of what Black women’s unemployment being more than double White women’s means for us? Nor do they and many employers do anything to change that. White women’s media comeuppance via content trolling, plagiarism and cultural appropriation of Black women does a lot of types of harm to Black women and that includes economic violence.  Instead of singling out Beyoncé among a legion of celebrities who are wealthy, perhaps they can think about why their White feminist icons like Madonna and Miley Cyrus—both who culturally appropriate and exploit Black women, and both who earned more than Beyoncé last year—remain such icons with a “feminist praxis” that is primarily exploitation. I’m supposed to listen to their critiques of Beyoncé’s money when I’ve been to hell and back with the academe and jobs, Black women writers like me have donation buttons and crowd fund to survive, and they ignore how most Black women will never have the wages, wealth or platforms that White women do? (Not suggesting I want their specific platforms; ew no. But Black women and fully human visibility matters.)

It is woefully transparent to single out Beyoncé or other Black celebrities when an entire culture of celebrity admittedly does leave a lot to be desired and deconstructed in terms of ascribing value on a person because of money, but still deems it okay to dehumanize and blame a person like Beyoncé because of Black womanhood. The discussion that White women in terms of feminism/White people in general don’t want to have (beyond the "oh no, this is terrible, well time to continue on with our privilege!" at best, or "liar, this is not true, you’re just blaming us for your ‘failures’ at worst), is about the economic disparities that they cannot deny exist for the majority of Black women, and Black people in general, no matter how many Black celebrities they turn their noses at. The deceptive analyses that center exceptions like Black celebrities don’t make the reality of the violence of anti-Blackness, racism, White supremacy and capitalism on everyday Black life any less true.

September 2014
18

Trina recently released a new single called “Fuck Love” featuring Tony Lanez who sings the chorus as she spits these good verses. Love Trina since forever; she’s a rap staple in Florida where I live, though she has fans from all over. I played so many of her songs throughout college days 13+ years ago; memories!

This song is so cool, especially the first verse and how the song ends. She’s not really saying she’s done with romantic love per se (and if she were, that would be okay) but almost like "well, why the fuck bother, if all this passion and working on this relationship isn’t cutting it?" It’s not arbitrary frustration but just the pain that comes with memory of the mixture of good and bad times that ultimately end. I definitely like her verses more than his chorus, but the chorus is okay.

Also, the album art is really nice. Glitzy minimalism that says so much. This dazzling middle finger is like the perfect symbol for her music in general, let alone this song. Love it. 

September 2014
18
Via   •   Source
Repost this anywhere