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July 2014
26

A New Chapter. Maybe.

[content warning: suicide ideation, sexual assault, emotional abuse, street harassment, online abuse]

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know a bit about me and the things I face dealing with a great deal of violence online (some in response to this blog existing; some in response to me existing), from anti-Blackness/racism/sexism etc. and misogynoiristic trolling to the rape threats, death threats, doxxing threats and now even libel. However, what you may not know is this violence is mirrored offline as well, and not solely via microaggressive harassment in public space or the gendered/sexual violence that is street harassment—which I’ve experienced for 23 years as of this month—but in terms of violence because of where I live.

I live in the city I grew up in again, and it is difficult to live in; a place about 25K below average family income in the U.S. But it’s also difficult because I don’t live alone (when I used to pre-recession; alone is the only way I can live, from what I’ve experienced) and I don’t feel safe because of dealing with a great deal of emotional abuse, from having doors purposely left open and me waking up in a panic as a survivor of sexual assault, to people in the home while I am asleep and waking up in a panic again. I wake up in panic perhaps 6 out of 7 days a week and I already have Anxiety and PTSD. And my depression is back. 

I do not get good sleep ever unless physically somewhere else, whether a recent pleasant staycation that I wrote about, to an even more recent emergency survivalcation that I took because that day (this past Wednesday) it was either run or suicide. It was. I deal with invasion of space, lack of privacy and no sense of safety whatsoever. There is no peace. Ever. I then leave this place daily to be street harassed from being demanded to smile despite carrying around all of this emotional weight on my back to being verbally or even physically assaulted and threatened during street harassment. Then I return to this place for more emotional abuse. Or I turn on social media mostly to be abused online (though a few kind people I interact with online as well).

There’s other factors that are too painful to discuss, but basically it’s like domestic violence (though it’s not “intimate partner violence,” it can still be emotional abuse in a non-romantic domestic situation) and I’m at the point where I thought I could wait to save and move but I’m not sure I’ll be alive long enough to do so. Further, because I am not the “rock” right now among some people who know me offline, they are further abusing me because how dare I not be a “mammy” to feel their pain and solve all their problems (which mirrors much of my online experience). I am only entitled to their  ”love” as long as I coddle them and the moment I am not healthy enough to do so, I am immediately and vociferously betrayed. (Please believe that violence as emotional abuse exists outside of romantic or sexual romantic relationships.)

I know safety is mostly an illusion, especially as a Black woman, believe me. But even so, space, privacy, a security system and a slightly better neighborhood would go a long way. I’m not necessarily trying to buy “happiness” (as I wrote about in detail before) but I am trying to move by the time I return from out of state on August 8th. (Another escape trip because I have to try to be somewhere safe and happy for as many days as possible.) I’m not sure I can manage to remain on Earth much past that date in the current residential/city situation that I am in, on top of dealing with online abuse and public harassment including street harassment. I need at least one space to just “be” and a small safer place with alarm would help. A new space, enough $ for mental health care and extended break from social media after the first two happen would help me live.

I was gonna make GoFundMe but as I wrote about before, I don’t want to risk the attention (if you know me, you know I find hypervisibility to be very violent most of the time) and then deal with the threats I dealt with 8 months ago when I raised money for my brother after he was violently attacked. I know so many people think Black people and Black women in particular deserve violence and harm, (I mean, everyone is socialized to think so; it’s something we unlearn) so it doesn’t make sense to make an official fundraiser so that people see an amount collected and then decide I’m not “worth” that amount and then harm me or harm anyone who chooses to donate.

Instead, I will use my PayPal button on my blog and if you’re interested in helping me move, it’s greatly appreciated. Obviously I’ll have to raise a few thousand to add to what I have to move because as a freelancer who isn’t at an abusive but deemed “stable” corporate job anymore, as I was pre-recession before I was laid off, I have to put more money up front and there’s no “lease specials” and such for someone in my situation. I need enough to pay several months up front and some super inexpensive and simple furniture. Hopefully this problem, which yes, is solvable by money (not that all problems are; this one is; safer place to live and new mental health care require money), will be resolved by the date I need it to be.

*DONATE to support my move to safety and health*

I just want to be able to sleep at night. And be away from some abusive people. And have this happen sooner than later. That’s all. Trying to stay alive I guess; last straw I guess. Other than this I feel very…done. I don’t know.

If you are able to help, thank you. Means a lot. It’s really life or death. If it wasn’t, I would not have written this. In fact, I’m always very open on my blog but I still hid most of this particular situation away.

(And if you don’t want to help, don’t believe me, don’t care, or think I deserve harm, that’s fine—it doesn’t surprise me—but please keep that to yourself or keep that on your own blog; thanks. Just asking that any dissent or violence be kept away from this one post.)

July 2014
23
Via   •   Source

When one speaks about photography, one also speaks about identity and representation; the power that pictures have over the social sphere; and the ways that race, gender, and class influence how and what people see in the world. These truths apply to the person who stands behind the camera as much as they do to who stands in front of the lens. Since the inception of photography, African Americans have worked in the medium in order to wrest control of their images from those who have used the art form to objectify them. This is particularly true in the case of Black women, whose sociopolitical position has been and remains in jeopardy due to their bodies being an intersection of beliefs about race, gender, class, and sexuality. As the most hypervisible of under-recognized people, Black women are most often discussed in terms of their physical attributes (such as the size of their buttocks, the texture of their hair, and the depth of their skin tones) and their sexuality and temperament. To put it simply, ‘the Black woman’s body is always public, always exposed’, while Black female subjectivities–their experiences, beliefs, and perspectives–are always out of sight and out of order.

 

Crystal Am Nelson

Quote is from African American Women and Photography. This is really important as it speaks to the unique experiences of Black women and oppression and how photography can be used subjectively by us, to tell our truths and fight against minimizing or binary images meant to oppress or facilitate oppression. Black women as photographers and as photography subjects, not objects, are revolutionary.

July 2014
23

Photographs from vigils and rallies held in remembrance of Eric Garner, the 43 year old Black man, father of six, who was murdered by the police, on camera. 

July 2014
22
I follow @KristyT on Twitter and she let me know about a project that she created with @tiffani (#DetroitWater) to help Detroit residents with their water costs. Their website is detroitwaterproject.org and there you can confidentially donate to cover a person’s bill. 
Detroit has the highest percentage of Black residents compared to any other major U.S. city, and as I wrote about in Black In The 99%, race is most certainly forever intertwined with class and poverty; these cannot be extracted from each other, especially in a country where its very financial system and imperialistic power would not exist without enslavement and genocide. There is no way to extract the economic violence being committed upon Detroit residents from racial histories. 
According to RH Reality Check, "in Detroit, the cost of water is nearly twice the national average, and approximately half of the city’s customers owe outstanding balances on their water bills. But let’s situate this against a broader historical and sociopolitical backdrop. By 2011, half of Detroit’s working-age population was unemployed, and only 27 percent had full-time work. Nearly one in five Detroit residents were below the poverty line. Approximately three in five children were living in households headed by single mothers (see Rose Brewer’s article on the prison industrial complex). Moreover, these statistics are significantly worse for the city’s Black and Latino residents.” 
People simply cannot go without water and while this entire situation is larger than just “unpaid bills” but are acts of violence against these residents amidst larger economic and racial disenfranchisement, with the recent 15 day suspension on the human-made drought, hopefully no other excuses can be used to harm these people if they’re able to pay the bills. This isn’t about lack of “personal responsibility” creating negligence over a “luxury” but about systemic poverty, capitalism, privatization and WATER. 
Again, if you want to support Detroit residents through a confidential donation via this fundraiser created by two thoughtful Black women, visit: detroitwaterproject.org.

I follow @KristyT on Twitter and she let me know about a project that she created with @tiffani (#DetroitWater) to help Detroit residents with their water costs. Their website is detroitwaterproject.org and there you can confidentially donate to cover a person’s bill. 

Detroit has the highest percentage of Black residents compared to any other major U.S. city, and as I wrote about in Black In The 99%, race is most certainly forever intertwined with class and poverty; these cannot be extracted from each other, especially in a country where its very financial system and imperialistic power would not exist without enslavement and genocide. There is no way to extract the economic violence being committed upon Detroit residents from racial histories. 

According to RH Reality Check, "in Detroit, the cost of water is nearly twice the national average, and approximately half of the city’s customers owe outstanding balances on their water bills. But let’s situate this against a broader historical and sociopolitical backdrop. By 2011, half of Detroit’s working-age population was unemployed, and only 27 percent had full-time work. Nearly one in five Detroit residents were below the poverty line. Approximately three in five children were living in households headed by single mothers (see Rose Brewer’s article on the prison industrial complex). Moreover, these statistics are significantly worse for the city’s Black and Latino residents.” 

People simply cannot go without water and while this entire situation is larger than just “unpaid bills” but are acts of violence against these residents amidst larger economic and racial disenfranchisement, with the recent 15 day suspension on the human-made drought, hopefully no other excuses can be used to harm these people if they’re able to pay the bills. This isn’t about lack of “personal responsibility” creating negligence over a “luxury” but about systemic poverty, capitalism, privatization and WATER. 

Again, if you want to support Detroit residents through a confidential donation via this fundraiser created by two thoughtful Black women, visit: detroitwaterproject.org.

July 2014
22

ragzaphice asked/commented:

You're so gorgeous! ❤️

Thank you :)

July 2014
22

doodledinmypants asked/commented:

Glad you had a good staycation! Love the selfies! Also, that new hair style you've got going on is AMAZING and GORGEOUS! You also do makeup in ways that make me hella jealous, even though I almost never wear makeup myself. Good job taking care of you! It's great to see you posting again! <3

Thank you! :)

July 2014
21

Staycation and Self-Care

Several months ago—originally in March—I mentioned how badly I needed a staycation. I define this as “local” travel (“local” means in the same state for me) for the purpose of rest, eating junk food that I don’t eat at home (been mostly eating steamed fish and vegetables lately), going on cool photowalks (happy go lucky long time photographer here), enjoying my own company and just being the best INTJ that I can be. Well, it took a while because of money, health (didn’t want to travel while ill) and other stressors. However, in June I finally did take that staycation while on break from blogging here. I thought about it and it’s really the first time in my life that I ever traveled alone. Now, I have taken trains, buses and planes alone but I always met someone at the destination. This time it was a train and the destination was glorious solitude.

I loved the resort that I stayed at and I used Orbitz (no biz affiliation with them) and got a fucking amazing deal on a 4 star fairly nice place. I really enjoyed the pool view (I don’t swim though) and just relaxing to silence. I slept a lot and very well for those short but full four days. I had great thinking time and just snuggled in bed. 

I did a lot of photography (I posted some personal photos and videos to Instagram and posted the professional work to my photography blog). The photowalks were nice though Miami is so goddamn hot that it’s easy to get sick if you get dehydrated and I almost did once. I also did that corny annoyingly touristy double decker bus ride but trust me, as a photographer, the vantage point you get from the top deck is wonderful and you simply cannot mirror that photographing on foot. 

The main event of my staycation was the On The Run concert with Beyoncé and Jay Z. It was gloriously stunning. I went alone because a friend could not make it. But I really was not “alone.” There I was surrounded by tens of thousands of cheering #BeyHive members and J fans and people who just love good music, stunning vocals and rapping, great choreography and costuming (i.e. Jay Z was dressed like Run DMC for part of the show so it wasn’t just Beyoncé with the great costuming as usual) and amazing lights. People cried, laughed, sang along, rapped along, sat, stood, waved their arms, clapped, waved their bright smartphones as if they were lighters and were thrilled. Though I am a hardcore introvert, the positive energy of that space was nice for that short time (though going to a concert means I need like 3 weeks to recoup energy haha). 

I truly lost my shit during the concert and was beyond excited at this larger than life performance and just seeing talented Black artists do their thing. I’ve not been to many concerts in my lifetime but all of the ones I’ve been to have been amazing and this one is the best. I enthusiastically live tweeted the whole concert. In August I am going to see a San Francisco On The Run show with one of my sisters who lives out that way as next week I am going to spend some time with her; she’s wonderful. I can’t wait to see the elation on her face and how it will mirror my first time seeing the concert as well. This time I will just kick back and enjoy versus flooding my Twitter followers’ timelines with my elation. 

I got two souvenir t-shirts and I wore my “Black Girls Are Magic” t-shirt there. One thing I learned? Get over the idea of “dressing up” for a concert in a stadium and treat it like a sporting event. I dressed comfortably, sweated to death and didn’t care. My flat shoes helped when it took over an hour to get a cab after the show ended. I saw women in heels who looked like they wanted to die after the show. And I used to love heels too as they are glorious, but I am so glad I didn’t go that route because…whew. I mean talk about your dogs barking.

The best thing about my staycation was simply resting and being away from pain and abuse both online and offline. Though nowhere is “safe” and especially nowhere is “safe” for a Black woman, I felt somehow protected by my distance and comfort with my own solitude. I was really happy. I am glad that I had a chance to go. It was the most revitalizing self-care that I have had all year. ❤ 

July 2014
21
Via   •   Source
navigatethestream:

Spent my morning tweeting into some good convos while letting my nails dry. For once my attempt at a two-tone manicure didn’t immediately go to pot

Nail crush! ❤ 

navigatethestream:

Spent my morning tweeting into some good convos while letting my nails dry. For once my attempt at a two-tone manicure didn’t immediately go to pot

Nail crush!  

July 2014
21

Like all mythology, that of the criminally bad Black mother spread through storytelling—lurid tales told with bitter resentment. Haven’t you heard the one about the jaywalking mother whose son was hit by a drunk driver? Surely you know all about the homeless mother who left her two children in the car during a job interview. And now there’s the McDonald’s mother who abandoned her daughter at the playground.

But what do these stories leave out? Our welfare system is designed to put everyone to work regardless of circumstance. Unfortunately, the low-wage jobs attainable for most mothers lead to a parental quagmire. Between low paychecks and inflexible work schedules, how is one to arrange for adequate child care? With no apparent options, the answer is often that they simply cannot.

Such women, it’s been repeated to you, are bad mothers who deserve to be punished, and increasingly we’re doing just that. Indeed, the mythology of bad Black mothers was never just a part of our cultural folklore—it’s entrenched in our legal system.

Over the last three decades, the population of incarcerated women has grown by over 800%, and women of color have been locked up at disproportionately high rates. African American women are three times more likely than White women to be thrown in jail or prison.

The justice system doles out particularly harsh punishments for infractions that relate to motherhood. Although pregnant Black and White women take drugs at similar rates, expecting Black mothers are 10 times more likely to be reported to child welfare for drug use, according to the Drug Policy Alliance.

Mandatory minimum sentencing has slowly eliminated judicial discretion and exacerbated the racial disparities. In addition, most child maltreatment laws and definitions of neglect are very vague, leaving room for prejudice based on race, class and gender to creep in. One in nine Black children have an incarcerated parent. Who stands to gain from this?

 

Noah Remnick

Quote is from Debra Harrell and The Mythology of Bad Black Mothers in The Los Angeles Times. Though she is out of jail now, she was subsequently fired from her job and her daughter remains in state custody. @prisonculture shared a link for a fundraiser for her at You Caring.

I am fascinated (as in repulsed) by the people pretending to care about the well-being of her daughter—by ignoring all of the structural inequalities and lack of options for Debra—suggesting that she could’ve been kidnapped playing at the busy child park. If they care then they must care about the structural problems that lead to lack of options. And if they care, then they have a funny way of showing it since when Black girls and even adult Black women go missing, there is less concern, less media coverage and often they are marked off as “runaways.” So now Black girls are capable of being taken? I know Harrell was in a bind that poverty creates and even those all about bootstraps magically have no answer for the fact that McDonald’s fired her because they don’t pay her enough to afford childcare. And she worked

Take a look at Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment by Patricia Hill Collins; she goes further than this article did as to how the mythology of the “inherently” bad Black mother came about and how it unironically co-exists with the “thoughtful mammy” who raises any children (especially White ones) “well,” except her own. Critical read. 

July 2014
21

elementsofchill asked/commented:

Thank you for your writing, especially concerning Renisha Mcbride, it is so needed. <3

You’re welcome. 

July 2014
21
Via   •   Source
janetmock:

Three years ago, I first told my story in Marie Claire. Today, I am proud to announce that I am joining the magazine’s editorial team as a Contributing Editor. In my role, I will write for the print and online versions of the magazine, act as a brand ambassador and contribute insight and ideas about culture and beauty, politics and pop culture.

Congrats. ❤ 

janetmock:

Three years ago, I first told my story in Marie Claire. Today, I am proud to announce that I am joining the magazine’s editorial team as a Contributing Editor. In my role, I will write for the print and online versions of the magazine, act as a brand ambassador and contribute insight and ideas about culture and beauty, politics and pop culture.

Congrats.