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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
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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
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Repost this anywhere
September 2014
17
Via   •   Source

navigatethestream:

Mz 007- Important 

I’ve listened to this at least 10 times since reading about it on For Harriet yesterday. I’m so here for a fat black woman declaring herself important, exuding self confidence, and owning her truth. Here for this movement!  

LOVE THIS.  

September 2014
17

Privilege and Using Individual Compliments/Insults To Derail Conversations About Oppression

When I discuss how oppression functions structurally, often times among the replies that I receive are compliments or insults. See, for some reason (usually lack of understanding of structural power, oppression, privilege and intersectionality, coupled with that person’s personal “like” or “dislike” of me) people think replying with a compliment or insult is somehow contributing to that topic. As if it validates or invalidates complex issues. As if their personal feelings about me makes oppression any more or less true. Racism isn’t “true” because someone White likes me or “false” because someone White hates me. Sexism isn’t “true” because men like me or “false” because men hate me. That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works. And to be clear, I am not agreeing with the ignorance that accompanies lack of lived experience where the privileged will suggest that the reality of oppression in our lives can be discussed “objectively.” (The oppressor and the oppressed are invested and affected. How I feel about this matters, not just how I think about it; this isn’t divergent.) I am suggesting that compliments and insults are regularly used to assuage guilt, derail or harm, in this context.

A topic that I find both helpful at times (if discussed mostly with Black women) and triggering many times (if discussed with people who degrade Black women) is beauty politics. Obviously this complicates for Black women because of how sexism, misogyny, misogynoir, colourism, fat shaming/ableism/classism (for some), racism, and anti-Blackness itself impact perceptions of Black women’s appearance and thereby humanity; as they’re connected. This impact is not solely about “insults” without repercussions. It’s about oppression. “Ugliness” ascribed to Blackness directly correlates to how Black women are harmed, degraded and deemed “deserving” of violence. Beauty has never been “just about looks,” but ascribing value/non-value on humanity itself, and excluding Black women (especially salient for Black trans women) and Black people in general from “humanity.”

Thus, when I discuss Black women and beauty politics, the very last things I am interested in are insincere compliments from White women. I…never said I thought that I am ugly. I…don’t think that. They do. They’re socialized to think that. (In fact, everyone is and unlearning this is important for Black women. Not because we “need” to be “pretty” in an aesthetic sense, but because perception of “ugliness” places our humanity itself as non-existent because of anti-Blackness/misogynoir.) Thus, out of guilt about how White supremacy and Eurocentric beauty standards centers their appearance (and even in the margins; i.e. who is the face of fat positivity and plus size web sites, for example, White women; White privilege still exists in the margins) they feel the need to force a compliment in to assuage their discomfort with their guilt over this itself and over whatever conversation I might be having.

image

Conversely, when I discuss beauty politics and oppression, some White women (and at times non-Black women of colour) immediately decide that I am “jealous” of them. (In White Women’s Aggression Against Black Women In Public Space, I mentioned how beauty stores are often very hostile spaces for me because of White women’s aggression.) Jealousy? Because I discuss how colourism attributes to State violence on Black women and longer prison sentences for darker Black women? Or because I discuss how White women force themselves into Black women’s natural hair spaces lying about “shared experiences/oppression” yet Black women are still facing discrimination for natural hair in the workplace? Or because I discuss the sheer violence involved in the cishet Black male gaze when it perpetuates the notion that I better think that Lupita Nyong’o is “ugly” but Amber Rose is “beautiful?”

The lazy responses of compliments and insults never actually address the structural nature of oppression. And this compliment/insult nonsense doesn’t only happen when I discuss beauty, though for obvious reasons it occurs most frequently then. It happens when I discuss Black women’s epistemology and people’s exploitation of my work; Whites rush in to tell me that I am “smart” (because they think sheer consumption plus compliment equals “allyship”) or call me “stupid” based on me using language that they don’t understand. It happens when I discuss street harassment in Black communities (and this is not an assertion that it happens nowhere else nor have I ever asserted that); some Black men rush in to advise how they "aren’t like that" and would be "nice" to a "beautiful Black woman" like me and how they'love' Black women,” while others rush to engage in misogynoiristic insults or assert that I “hate” Black men. And…Black men using the "you hate Black men" line basically functions as "you wish you were White." It is violent, meant to harm and carries a weight with a long history, especially since Black women are expected to serve and support Black men but are deemed “divisive” or “hateful” for expecting anything in return. 

What people approach me with as an “opinion” about oppression is usually unfounded, anti-Black, misogynoiristic, and includes expecting my humanity to be a “debatable” topic. There is no “both sides” of an issue when one side is dehumanization and the other side is survival. My humanity is not debatable. These are the insults. The compliments usually come from someone privileged (usually Whites/men) in terms of whatever facet of oppression I am speaking of as again, a way to control/derail the conversation and assuage their guilt. I’m not here for coddling White guilt or men’s need to center themselves and be told "not all men." I do not care.

Another way this compliment/insult tactic operates is to silence my dissent about exploitation of my work and my words. People rave about how they were “inspired” by my writing so felt the need to regurgitate my words without citation, or violate my content use policy altogether, if academics (and the abuse by academics [and journalists] is daily and unrelenting). I don’t care about their “inspirations.” I care about the fact that people think exploiting Black women’s lives and labor is “allyship” and justice, and how the compliments about “inspiration” quickly turn to insults and violence if I demand consent and accountability from them. Compliments and insults function in the same way when they come from people who do not value my humanity or Black women’s humanity, in general. Even what some White people think is “kindness" is actually violence. Being applauded as someone to exploit as a Fact Portal is not a compliment.

In terms of dealing with racism and White supremacy, one of the reasons why Whites insist insulting White people is “racism” isn’t just because they cling to pathetically simplistic, structurally incorrect dictionary definitions of racism in order to false equalize structural power Whiteness has to Black people reacting in self-defense from anti-Blackness that dehumanizes us. It’s because again, they cling to the idea that an insult is an adequate response, a valid interrogatory and critique of oppression. Thus, if they elevate compliments and insults to that which can remove or critique oppression, they engage in epistemic violence. In other words, the notion that Whites’ definitions of their violence and power are the only valid ones and that replies meant either assuage their own discomfort or inflict personal harm in any way addresses actual oppression, is how they seek to control language/concepts and use it as a form of violence.  

Because of this epistemic violence, they try to equalize actual slurs used against Black women/Black people/people of colour that are/facilitate oppression as structural with insults Black people make of Whites. This is why some still engage in the epistemic violence of suggesting “mayo” and “cracker” are slurs (they are not) with the gravity and weight of “nigger.” This is why they use the word "racist" as "nigger" as well, calling Black people “racist nigger” as a slur; when we suggest their words/behaviors are racist, we’re stating a fact not calling them a name. I mean, they even try to suggest “not loving Whites” “oppresses” Whites, when it does not. The oppressor demands the language, the labor, the time, the space, the bodies and even the love of the oppressed. All violence. White supremacist thinking can only support external individualism. It doesn’t support introspection. It doesn’t support examining institutional racism and all of its tentacles into every space. (Everything is an “isolated incident” to them.)

I’m not interested in anyone “liking” or “disliking” me because they think doing so is some sort of anti-oppression praxis or proof that oppression is not what it is. I’m not interested in anyone so guilt-ridden or intellectually dishonest to think that compliments and insults can address structural oppression and how it impacts both individuals and institutions. And since people cannot divest of misogynoir to be able to think about how compliments about what good fact portals and doormats Black women make for them, I’m not interested in their compliments meant to mask their dehumanizing gaze, their theft of my work and words. And I’ll never view their interpersonal abuse as valid criticism of structural oppression.

Related Posts: 10 Ways That White Feminist and White Anti-Racism Allies Are Abusive To Me In Social MediaOn People Who Respond To My Stress With Unfunny, Never Clever “Jokes”