1) Ava DuVernay becoming the first Black woman to win The U.S. Directing Award: Dramatic (like Best Director) at the Sundance Film Festival. She won for her exquisite film Middle of Nowhere.
2) The Melissa Harris Perry Show on MSNBC. While I don’t “love” every segment, some have truly inspired and I LOVE the platform. Her powerful statement on rape, the segments on natural hair, her daughter’s interview of Gabrielle Douglas, her interview of Maya Angelou, and when she went the hell off and started snatching wigs about bigotry and poverty are among my favorites.
3) Scandal (with Kerry Washington being the first Black woman to lead a network drama in almost 40 years). My favorite show.
6) Gabrielle Douglas winning two gold medals in the Summer Olympics. This gets its own entry, separate from #7, because this means something especially wonderful to me.
7) Black women doing the damn thing at the Olympics. U.S. women’s track and field team and individual gold (and other) medals, U.S. women’s basketball’s gold medal, more Black women competing in Olympic swimming, including American Lia Neal winning a bronze medal. Serena just obliterating even the notion of having ANY competition.
8) Issa Rae and Shonda Rhimes’ announcement that they’ll be working together.
9) Rochelle Ballantyne taking the chess world by storm.
10) Michelle Obama’s DNC speech; the most watched speech of both conventions. I love her.
And, while these moments were wonderful, not all in 2012 was wonderful for Black women. We lost Whitney Houston, Etta James and Donna Summer. (I’m still trying to process Whitney being gone…my denial is deep.)
Still though, the aforementioned are pretty awesome.
I love when White people try to turn achieving or interesting minorities into exotic clowns or mascots, those same minorities turn around and snatch wigs by being WHO THEY ARE and recognizing their race instead of ignoring it to please Whites, so that they can be labeled as “transcending race.”
Exhibit A - Psy. Whites love Gangham Style and Psy being their “exotic clown” but they are not here for him winning awards or critiquing American imperialism. Ha. Tough.
Exhibit B - Gabrielle Douglas. Even though they never fully embraced her (and were always shoving Jordyn or Aly in our faces over Gabby’s achievements) they still embraced her more before the story surfaced of the racism that she experienced, her mass media coverage and she herself speaking about the racism she experienced. No, she was just supposed to vault and swing and never speak of her life. Oh and I am sure that they are loving that she just appeared on Al Sharpton’s show PoliticsNation a few days ago. (Oh and before boringly predictable Whites try to speak about how “ALL” Blacks bashed Gabby for her hair, read this and this.)
At a certain point, many Whites will have to accept that people of colour do not exist solely to keep them amused. Some celebrities (unfortunately, not all) of colour WILL speak out.
Below are links to videos of two who did in their time…videos that give me LIFE!
Related Post: Artists and Activists
When the mainstream media tries to portray something as “the Black opinion” and is sourcing social media as the source, let’s demand AT LEAST TEN tweets on the topic. Ten sounds few? Of course it does. It literally is TOO FEW. (I am not even addressing how ridiculous it is to have look for a ”Black opinion.”)
But, when they pass off TWO tweets (literally) as “the Black opinion” on something and source the 1000+ tweets refuting those two tweets as “a part of” said opinion (despite the latter being diametrically opposed to the opinion), there’s a problem Houston.
The refuting tweets then help to expand the story, the blogosphere picks it up and then the mainstream media (news sites, news sites’ blogs and even television media/newspapers) pick it up. It becomes a spiral of mess. And, it is always those negative two tweets that are the source. No one ever asks to see a BODY of tweets to prove something. (There ARE times when a single tweet conveys a larger sentiment. But in those times, MORE tweets are easily found that connect to that one. An example would be the consistent, unrelenting bashing of Black women on Twitter and amidst the trending topics. Watching Twitter for one month easily reveals this. Easily. But stories with actual evidence are not of interest, apparently.)
If a YouTube video can get 15,000 comments where 80% of the comments reveal a similar sentiment, why is it SO HARD for the news media to actually require even 100 tweets conveying an opinion? Ah, because if the opinion is to the detriment of people of colour, especially Black people, there is no reason to actually do the sourcing, the work, the research, and look for nuanced views. White privilege means only Whiteness is permitted nuance.
Even the negative backlash to ”Rue” in the Hunger Games had sites that produced more than 20 tweets in response. I have yet to see 20 negative tweets in response to Gabby Douglas’ hair. (With my own eyes, I saw five.) I did see thousands of tweets refuting the “idea” of her hair being a problem. The reason why this works is because of the known complicated history of Black hair provides the fuel to claim that “everyone” was bashing her hair, despite in her specific case, that not being the case. It was not “everyone.” Most were cheering over her win and some were wondering why the media wanted the entire thing to be about Jordyn Weiber, not Gabby, and later, why they were so “thankful” that Aly Raisman could be their new non-Black focus. Most were against the idea of people bashing her hair, but many of these people (including me) should have stopped and demanded to SEE the tweets and comments insulting her hair. Because, they were beyond few.
When 68% of Black Internet users use social media sites and about 25% of Twitter users’ are Black, there has to be a higher standard of proof. Two tweets? Five? Come on.
Gabby Douglas entranced the world with her powerful, graceful and beautiful gymnastics, and brought two gold medals home. Most cheered. Some did not. Of those who didn’t, people making insults about her hair were included. Of those making insults about her hair, most were also Black people. And, in response, some Whites were quick to write articles, wag their proverbial fingers and place their proverbial hands on their proverbial hips in disappointment and dismay.
The negative comments made about her hair were rude. Especially disrespectful because they were from adult to teen, who most still view as a “kid” in a way. Willow receives the same kind of slander. Thus, I am not suggesting that Whites who found the comments rude are “wrong.” I am suggesting that White people have to stop behaving as if colourism and Black hair politics doesn’t include them…as if it did not start with them.
Colourism. Hair texture politics. How they connect to White supremacy, Eurocentric beauty myths and institutionalized racism. These are not arbitrary subjects for Which all Black people arbitrarily hate other Black people. Words such as quadroon, octaroon, the one drop rule and even race itself most certainly encapsulates a White experience as much as it does a Black one.
When primarily White judges are sentencing Black women who are light-skinned to shorter sentences than dark-skinned ones, colourism most certainly intersects with Whiteness. When Whites shake their fingers at Black people with internalized White supremacy issues, the ones that make them bash Gabby’s hair, yet turn around and deny job applicants with “ethnic” names, “ethnic” zip codes, or braids or locks, hair texture and Black culture most certainly intersects with Whiteness. What is colourism but hierarchical arrangement and beauty notions (and thereby goodness and intelligence notions) based on how close someone Black resembles someone White? The more White blood, the better? The longer the hair and the looser the curl or the straighter the hair, the better? Again, colourism and Black hair politics are not Black people being “arbitrarily” mean to other Blacks.
This doesn’t mean that Black people are not accountable for the cruel things that we say to each other, how we put each other down, or why we put each other down. It means White people need to think before admonishing and accept their role in the perpetuation of ideologies that support colourism and Black hair politics and the historical role of their existences in the first place. It means Black people have to evaluate why it was “funny” to bash a teenager (who is so excellent, one of the greatest among us, a name that will never be forgotten) in the first place. This legacy and reality of pain is forever tied between Whites and Blacks, and Whites do not have the room to shake a finger without thinking about why what disappoints them exists in the first place.
Michelle Obama and Gabby Douglas were fabulous last night on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Leno made a joke about Michelle Obama’s childhood swing set having no swings and Michelle replied “in the hood…sometimes you don’t get a swing.” I laughed. So true. But…she mentioned how she made due with what she had and had fun anyway. That’s the way it works. I didn’t have much as a kid, but I had a crazy powerful imagination (and 7 siblings), so I was never bored.
She also mentioned Serena’s powerful gold medal match in the Olympics, one of my 14 favorite Olympic moments.
Gabby was absolutely adorable. She wore the most fabulous mini skirt, gold metallic. I was like…werk!!!! And, to see her in heels made me think of that bridge of time where you aren’t a girl, but not quite yet an adult woman. Being a teen. She was utterly charming. I am still hyped about Oprah’s upcoming interview with her.
To see the video clips, click the links below.