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April 2014

Read This Week

This is my 83rd Read This Week feature where each week I share the best articles, essays and/or journal articles/papers that I read in the previous week, which you may be interested in based on your interest in Gradient Lair.

Eldercare: The Forgotten Feminist Issue by @thewayoftheid on Hood Feminism is an important read. It was hard for me because my mother died at 48 as I’ve mentioned before. Never made it to old age. Even so, I know how important this issue should be to womanists and Black feminists since women tend to outlive men and since familial elder care is a critical part of Black culture. She mentions why it doesn’t get mainstream feminist attention as well. Must read.

Attacking The Stream by @blackamazon on Dissent is so good. Exquisite writing. A very important topic on oppressed people using social media, especially Twitter, and those with power trying to silence. She notes: "And that’s what it comes down to: survival. We can analyze it to death but ultimately we are using tech to survive, just as the government is using it to kill people. No matter what tools and platforms we are given, we will be ourselves, and we’ll keep fighting—to defend our block, our family, our identity."

On Colbert and White Racial Satire: We Don’t Need It by @BlackGirlDanger on Black Girl Dangerous perfectly explains my own opinions that I tweeted for days on this ridiculous myth that the regurgitation of racist stereotypes, and from a position of White privilege and power, in order to “critique” other racism is not only “satire” but is somehow helpful to people of colour. White liberals, especially, have convinced themselves that consumption of this “satire” (and I simply do not care if Whites think this is or is not satire) that mocks White conservatives, as if they don’t all share the same White privilege, is proof of allyship and anti-racism praxis. Perfect essay on this.

Diversity Is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing by @djolder on BuzzFeed is a great read. To be clear, I despise BuzzFeed. This isn’t new to my readers or Twitter followers. However, I adore @djolder as a writer and Twitter buddy and this piece is very important. He notes: "Ultimately, editors and agents hold exactly the same amount of responsibility that writers do in making literature more diverse. The difference is, editors and agents have inordinately more power and access in the industry than writers do." Critical look at structural power and publishing. A MUST READ for all writers, methinks.

An Ask Box response by thingsthatmakeyouacey on Tumblr addresses being a person of colour here (or non-White person abroad) and being asexual and how racism has to be deconstructed from asexuality as a sexual orientation. It has excerpts from some aces of colour (including mine, but the post excerpted is a really personal one that’s 7 months old where I was working through some painful thoughts around self-identification; maybe instead see my more recent writing on asexuality) that puts perspective to how yet again Whiteness is centered even in the margins. As with everything. As with every single marginalized group that exists. 

If God Is Watching by @Karnythia on The Revelator is fiction short story and incredibly written. I mean the first sentence is just…damn!!!!!! It reads: I killed a man when I was 13. Not on pur­pose or noth­ing. But he still died.” On that alone I had to continue reading. I was in tears by the end. I need this to be a novel. Desperately. I knew she had skills with social commentary but on fiction she is straight stuntin’ on so many writers. Amazing talent and skill. 

Stay tuned for next week’s suggestions!

April 2014

Read This Week

I’ve been on a blogging break for several weeks so it’s been a while since I’ve posted a Read This Week post. This is my 82nd one where each week I share the best articles, essays and/or journal articles/papers that I read in the previous week, which you may be interested in based on your interest in Gradient Lair.

Suicide Is Not Selfish by @FeministaJones on BlogHer is a very important read; obviously trigger warning for frank discussion of suicide. Here she discusses the burden on Black people, Black women in particular when suicide is written off as selfish and how experiences unique to Black women and the stereotypes that impact our identities impact our mental health. Karyn Washington is also mentioned, the lovely and talented young Black woman of For Brown Girls and Dark Skin Red Lips who recently passed away from suicide. She cites some of my past work on the topic and unfortunately there was an epic troll in the comments section, to whom I replied to with an extended comment.

Depression and the Black Superwoman Syndrome by @jonubian on Ebony is another good read that deals with Black women, mental health and suicide ideation through sharing her personal story. Very important. She mentions how important self-care, sharing the load and seeking professional help can be for Black women. She also mentions Karyn. This essay and the aforementioned are so so important. 

My Black Atheist FAQ by @RaiElise is so incredibly important to me as an agnostic atheist. Wow. This post. Honestly, feeling “wedged” between Black theists with whom I share so much culture with but not religion and White atheists with whom I usually share nothing with beyond atheism (and with whom I regularly deal with racism and misogynoir from, despite us both being atheists), this post gets to the heart of the matter for Black atheists committed to justice and through an intersectional lens. It’s just…everything. 

The #TwitterEthics Manifesto by @dorothyk98 and @clepsydras on Model View Culture is EVERYTHING. This is so important right now. These two women of colour discuss the vitriolic bullying of, media exploitation of and plagiarism of women of colour via social media and how through the same hegemonic models of knowledge production and control as well as standard oppression via racist misogyny are these actions regularly justified by Whites/mainstream. They then propose a powerful alternative. This is so important. I cannot stress it enough. They also cited one of my past essays where I discussed how this mainstream lack of ethics impacts me and my work personally.

What’s Missing from Journalists’ Tactic of Snagging Stories from Twitter? Respect. via @TheTinaVasquez on Bitch Media is another good read on ethics and social media via a woman of colour. Here she alludes to the terrible situation of White women at BuzzFeed/Poynter exploiting a conversation of women of colour, primarily Black ones, who are survivors and how individuals and institutions supported and defended that exploitation. Her critical insights here really brought me to tears. The dehumanization through co-opt and exploitation defended because these people can “see” our content so therefore it is “theirs” is disgusting and a facet of oppression.

Stay tuned for next week’s suggestions!

March 2014

Read This Week

This is my 81st Read This Week feature where each week I share the best articles, essays and/or journal articles/papers that I read in the previous week, which you may be interested in based on your interest in Gradient Lair.

I Am @Steenfox And I Wrote The Original Tweet “What Were You Wearing by @Steenfox (Christine Fox) herself on XOJane is important. [trigger warning: sexual assault] Here she explains the point of last Wednesday’s powerful conversation on Twitter among Black and other women about what we had on when we were sexually assaulted, connecting through experience, cathartic though difficult and dispelling the myth about “sexy clothes” and assault. (As if such clothes grants permission for assault anyway.) She also discussed how the media, especially a writer at Poynter exploited this. There’s a petition as well calling for a retraction and apology. Sign here

Lupita: Black Beauty’s Intimate Revolution by @EstherArmah in The Huffington Post is a great piece that interrogates the genuine praise and the possibility of praise shaped by White and Male Gazes. Only part I didn’t fully get was about Black men praising Lupita might not be authentic; um…most Black men I’ve seen have been adamant about people not believing Lupita is beautiful. So that’s the angle I’ve seen, not one where they praise her but their praise is suspect. Interesting piece altogether about Eurocentric beauty standards, colourism and Black women’s beauty politics as well as what she calls emotional justice; definitely read up on the latter.

Tyler Perry And The Faux Empowerment of Black Women by @PrestonMitchum on Role Reboot is a great, exquisitely written, timely read. I…have truly had enough. I’m fully aware that Tyler Perry employs Black people and that Black actors have few choices for work. I am tired of his CONTENT, however, as I myself have said before. Sick of it. And here Preston explains why Perry being a keynote at a women’s empowerment event is nonsensical. His work does not empower Black women. It may humor some, anger others, but empowers nobody unless we’re saying harmful stereotypes that reinforce the status quo are powerful.

Michelle Alexander: White Men Get Rich from Legal Pot, Black Men Stay in Prison by @AprilMShort on AlterNet is an important read about what is irritatingly blatant racism in drug policy. Legalization brings about careers for White men and revenue for States while Black men and Black communities are punished. It makes me fucking sick, actually. (In case you don’t know, Michelle Alexander is the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

Tilane Jones: Making Her Mark in Hollywood by @NikosMightyDad on The Root is great. Tilane is Ava DuVernay’s “right hand” so it was nice to learn about her budding career and perspectives. She’s responsible for the releases of great Black films such as Better Mus’ Come and I Will Follow.

Stay tuned for next week’s suggestions!

March 2014

Read This Week

This is my 80th Read This Week feature where each week I share the best articles, essays and/or journal articles/papers that I read in the previous week, which you may be interested in based on your interest in Gradient Lair.

The Radical Performance of the Carefree Black Girl by Patricia Ekpo on Bluestockings Magazine is a great post, just great. It discusses the notion of happy Black women, in motion, living, thriving, even enjoying youthful joy and how these images exist in direct contrast to controlling images meant to degrade Black women. And these type of images are of Black women for Black women, not existing for White approval. This post and carefree Black girl images and ways of living makes me so happy.

African-American Women and Abortion by Loretta Loss on Trust Black Women is a long read. It is important and I feel a must read for Black women, whether you ID as womanist/Black feminist or not. We need the accurate history of reproductive justice for Black women to be known and outside of a Black patriarchal theist lens or a racist White eugenicist lens. Critical read. Put some time aside to do this. Please.

Chronic Pain, and the Denial of Care for Black Women by Alex Moffett Bateau on RH Reality Check is a honest article about her personal experiences with her health and symptoms being ignored or under-recognized because of her experiences as a Black woman and how misogynoiristic stereotypes impacts this. Difficult read but the reality of what Black women face when seeking healthcare.

Standing by Her Story: Anita Hill Is Celebrated in the Documentary ‘Anita’ by Sheryl Gay Stoleberg in The New York Times is on the documentary film about Anita Hill. As Black women, we cannot ever forget that White Patriarchy sided with an abusive conservative Black man over a Black woman because he evoked their fear of their history of violence against Black men (i.e. “high tech lynching”), clearly ignoring what both White and Black men do to Black women. And many liberal Black people supported Clarence Thomas as loyalty to Black men, even abusive ones, is prioritized in Blackness. What have we Black people received in return for this support? Yeah, exactly. Anita was right. 

Study: Police See Black Children As Less Innocent and Less Young Than White Children by Katie McDonough on Salon for people like me does read like "also, water is wet" but sometimes the research that quantifies how this is happening matters. Innocence is directly attached to the construction of beauty. And since beauty is constructed against Blackness, then being able to see Black children as beautiful and thereby innocent evades Whiteness. This also connects to what I wrote about sociopathy in White supremacy NOT being an ableist concept, but a social reality. White cops overestimate Black children’s ages by at least 4 years. That 14 year old being viewed as an 18 year old is life or death…

Stay tuned for next week’s suggestions!

March 2014

Read This Week

This is my 79th Read This Week feature where each week I share the best articles, essays, Storify and/or journal articles/papers that I read in the previous week, which you may be interested in based on your interest in Gradient Lair.

Lupita Nyong’o and the Evolving Paradox of Black Femininity by @habeshafemme on Youngist is a remarkable essay. Exquisite. She writes about Lupita’s femininity breaking down the misogynoiristic, cissexist and colourist stereotypes of Black women but also notes how privilege impacts Lupita’s reception, something I myself have discussed a few times on Twitter. She also mentioned envisioning Black women’s womanhood even outside of the public/celeb gaze. Just powerful writing here. 

12 Years A Slave: Black Women Suffered Uniquely During The Slave Trade by @tokenbg on Writers of Colour is a great review written beautifully and really underscores the unique and shared experiences of enslaved Black women and all enslaved Black people. I like how he discusses the film contextually and aesthetically. As I’ve mentioned several times, I only chat the film offline; while I don’t chat the film online—I’ve not been in a responsible enough space to do so—I do read reviews and this is one of the good ones. Unlike him though, I do think the film is great, not just good.

10 Trans Actors Who Could Have Played Jared Leto’s Role in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ by @mhknott on IndieWire is really important. Jared did not even thank trans women for his win in a role that a cis man really shouldn’t have played. This article points out alternatives as there ARE trans women who act and the text before the list is important: "The concept of ‘passing’ betrays a corrosive misunderstanding that being transgender is in some sense a performance as opposed to a reality. By casting a well-known cis actor in a trans role, it makes it all about the performance." 

Does That Make Me Crazy? Living With Bipolar II by @Basseyworld on XOJane is a great essay and important read, at least for me; I am truly sick and tired of the mental health needs and experiences of Black people being ignored as disabilities and MH issues are painted as “White” and as Whites regularly attempt to dominate all discourse on it. Here a Black woman describes her experiences with eloquence and passion and it’s honest and difficult.

Whitewashing Reproductive Rights: How Black Activists Get Erased by @RBraceySherman on Salon is great. It unravels the myths of Black people being inherently anti-choice and provides historical perspective on pro-choice politics in the context of Black bodies in White supremacy. Important read. 

100 LGBTQ Black Women You Should Know: The Epic Black History Month Megapost by @Autostraddle is definitely something to permanently bookmark. So many legends and important Black women that you’ll know and maybe some you don’t. Must read and save!

Stay tuned for next week’s suggestions!

February 2014

Read This Week

This is my 78th Read This Week feature where each week I share the best articles, essays, Storify and/or journal articles/papers that I read in the previous week, which you may be interested in based on your interest in Gradient Lair.

Black Feminist! Are You Black First? Or A Woman First? by Danielle at 1 Black Girl. Many Words. is a great post that addresses this ridiculous notion that Black women should be choosing between race and gender versus embracing the intersections of our identities and mostly to appease Black men or White women (entirely too often). I’ve written about this myself in the past as Black men regularly demand Black women ignore specific experiences because of these intersections and solely be Black. Not possible. Not acceptable.

Welcome To Intersectionality. Sometimes It’s Hard. by @thewayoftheid on Hood Feminism is a good short essay about the repeatedly failed attempts of White feminists who address intersectionality as “difficult.” And yeah, I see their failures as purposed attacks myself. You don’t keep making the same “mistake” in national media for years on end. It’s a choice.

We Black Trans People Need To Know Our Black Trans History by @TransGriot crossposted at The TransAdvocate is an older essay that is really good and about speaking of specifically Black trans history as so much LGBTQ history and transgender history has a White lens while Black history can often have a cis lens. This post names names and important events and is a good place for cis Black people like myself to use as a springboard to learn more about Black trans history and experiences.

It’s Time to End the Long History of Feminism Failing Transgender Women by @TinaVasquez on Bitch Media is an important read but TRIGGER WARNING for description of transphobia and transmisogyny. It reflects the serious reality of the abuse created by primarily cis White feminists who are trans exclusionary radical feminists and they are feminists; other feminists cannot try to exclude them as to not have to acknowledge how feminism can be complicit with the State and oppression. She writes: "Trans women have been saddled with the responsibility of taking on trans-exclusionary feminists for far too long—but it’s not their issue to deal with alone. Cisgender feminists, such as myself, have to make it clear that our feminism loves and supports trans women and that we will fight against transphobia." 

We All Have Opinions. Here’s Why I Don’t Care About Yours. by @jaythenerdkid​ is a good read about White supremacy and paternalism peddled as “advice” and “recommendations” for women of colour. I myself wrote about this problem recently. It is a disgusting trend where Whiteness itself is deemed a source of knowledge and expertise and the realities of the experiences of people of colour are ignored and not deemed worthy enough to actual have knowledge on. 

Stay tuned for next week’s suggestions!

February 2014

Read This Week

This is my 77th Read This Week feature where each week I share the best articles, essays, Storify and/or journal articles/papers that I read in the previous week, which you may be interested in based on your interest in Gradient Lair.

The PTSD Crisis That’s Plaguing America’s Poorest Neighborhoods by @JamilahKing on Colorlines is an important read that touches me closely because I deal with PTSD and grew up in one of the communities like the one the ProPublica article that she references mentions. They mostly discuss gun violence and trauma causing the PTSD but it’s important to note that PTSD is not only caused by physical trauma.

Black Women in Prison in the 19th Century… by @PrisonCulture is an important read and one she shared this past weekend during our Twitter discussion on the criminalization of women. One thing of note is how the prison population expanded post-Civil War. This is not surprising. White planters and businessmen still needed cheap labor post-slavery and were able to get that via inmates. 

Two great posts from strugglingtobeheard on Tumblr: one on "the friend zone" and race/class. Important read that examines how the same White supremacist and Eurocentric beauty myths that make White men place White women on a pedestal is the same pedestal that they resent when White women exhibit choice in partners and contrasts this to what Black women experience. (I truly LOATHE the entitlement, misogyny, misogynoir and male privilege involved in the conception of the “friend zone.”) The second good post is about White feminists and using “intersectional” as a label when their praxis doesn’t reflect this. Good reads; great writer.

23 Prominent Black LGBT Icons by @JamesNichols on HuffPo is a nice list that has legends such as Audre Lorde, Langston Hughes and Bayard Rustin, living legends such as Alice Walker (who says she identifies as curious and alive over hetero or lesbian; her relationships vary and are fluid) and younger modern activists such as Laverne Cox and Janet Mock. Great list.

Blame It On The Internet by @SarahKendzior on Al Jazeera is that FIRE. That JUICE! In this exquisite essay, she parallels how authoritative regimes try to silence social media for the masses fighting for their humanity while proclaiming social media harms them, in the same way that mainstream feminists with privilege, power and social capital claim that women of colour with none of that are “toxic feminists" and "bullying" the privileged. The essay flows like ocean waves over brittle sand where the footprints of justice were left. Epic shit.

Stay tuned for next week’s suggestions!

February 2014

Read This Week

This is my 76th Read This Week feature where each week I share the best articles, essays, Storify and/or journal articles/papers that I read in the previous week, which you may be interested in based on your interest in Gradient Lair.

My Experiences as a Young Trans Woman Engaged in Survival Sex Work by @JanetMock is an important piece about her past experiences with sex work as a young trans woman of colour—teen years. She does not present the essay as a “confession” because she states that she doesn’t view it as a confessional matter. She writes: “I do not believe using your body—often marginalized people’s only asset, especially in poor, low-income, communities of color—to care after yourself is shameful. What I find shameful is a culture that exiles, stigmatizes and criminalizes those engaged in underground economies like sex work as a means to move past struggle to survival.” 

4 Ways to Push Back Against Your Privilege by @BlackGirlDanger is a good read for people who think about privilege and oppression because our identities encompasses this overlap. Obviously listening is there (which many people claim they do but really do not) but she also mentions taking a stand when privilege allows access that the oppressed cannot access. Good read. 

Airbrushing Race out of Income Inequality by @sikivuhutch speaks to something that liberals are notorious for doing, purposely, as they press about income inequality. For the 1,343,754 time, class and race are not mutually exclusive concepts. They are tied together in a world built on racism via slavery and colonialism and shaped via imperialism. Without slavery, capitalism would not exist in America. She presents information on how this hurts some educational programs as well.

I read a great essay by maarnayeri on Tumblr that starts "Stop saying that feminism is about equality" and really gets into the issue of framing feminism (and honestly other anti-oppression politics can apply too) as solely seeking equality with the most powerful men where reproducing the things they do is viewed as a victory for women, when that stuff harms and can’t dismantle patriarchy. 

I read a great Ask Box reply by rapeculturerealities on Tumblr that addresses yet another gender binary-obsessed blockhead who has forcefully decided people’s gender is solely about genitals. This reply goes point by point on the topic, stepping outside of and beyond the standard “it’s science!” rebuttal used to justify transphobia.

I read a great Ask Box reply by disneyforprincesses on Tumblr that uses a good example to distinguish cultural sharing/appreciation from cultural appropriation. It’s not ambiguous. So when people who appropriate cultures—especially White people—pretend as if this is impossible to understand, their problem is privilege, not comprehension.

Stay tuned for next week’s suggestions!

January 2014

Read This Week

This is my 75th Read This Week feature where each week I share the best articles, essays, Storify and/or journal articles/papers that I read in the previous week, which you may be interested in based on your interest in Gradient Lair.

Bye, White People, It’s Been Real by @JamilahLemieux on Ebony is a great read. It speaks to the sheer exhaustion of dealing with racism day in and day out in a plethora of ways. It speaks of racist excuses and the apologists of racists. There’s an exhaustion there that I acutely relate to.

This Is What I Mean When I Say “White Feminism” by @BattyMamzelle is really interesting and includes a chart she made to articulate the differences between White Feminism as a space of power and domination in mainstream feminism, because of White supremacy, and White women who may or may not be feminists. Good read.

Black/Asian “Solidarity” on MLK Day by @so_treu is a Storify that is really important and provided some context and pushback to Scot Nakagawa’s essay “My Debt To Dr. King” that was on Colorlines. We cannot pretend that we have the same experiences because it always results in anti-Blackness and erasure. Every single tweet in this Storify should be read. While I liked a lot of his essay, in her Storify she points out how incredibly dangerous his "different branches on a tree with shared roots" line is.

Examining What People Mean by “Asian Privilege” by @PhuzzieSlippers on Still Furious and Still Brave is a good read as the conversation on “Black Power Yellow Peril” continues. Very nuanced and very good. He mentions "what people end up labeling ‘Asian privilege’ seems to sit at the intersection of skin tone privilege and economic privilege, especially relative to blacks" as well as  "So to charge ‘Asian Privilege’ may be a misnomer if only because not all Asian groups benefit uniformly. But the idea that East Asians, particularly, Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans, are privileged in the United States must be taken seriously if Black-Asian unification is the goal." MUST READ.

The Difference Between Feminism and Humanism by @MsAfropolitan is very interesting and addresses a common question from people who view feminism as simply reversing patriarchy, which it is not. She also points out that even “humanism” is a loaded term (and thereby not automatically superior to “feminism”) with it is not free of tension itself considering its roots are in the quintessential European bourgeois.”

Stay tuned for next week’s suggestions!

January 2014

Read This Week

This is my 74th Read This Week feature! If you’re new to Gradient Lair, (just about) each week I post essays, articles and/or journal articles and papers of interest to me that I think will be of interest to you, based on your interest in my blog. 

I Am a Mommy: CaShawn Thompson on Mothering as Divine Responsibility. by @thepbg on Beyond Baby Mamas is so exquisite. It is an amazing portrait of a single Black mother, the portrait that I know to be common and excluded from the media. It had me in tears. Her reflections on her joy of mothering two wonderful children, now 15 and 19, is something I’m really thankful that I read. I am not a mom but reading it made me think of the greatness of my late mother.

The Golden Globes’ Race Problem: Why Awards Shows Matter by @slb79 on Salon is an important read. I know that many Black people disregard what these awards mean to Black actors and Black people in the film industry but it cannot be done anymore. Just as we want recognition of our work at our jobs, so do they. Further, it impacts their career trajectory and income. And she conveys why. Also the image used in the essay is terrifying, honestly. White supremacy isn’t a myth, in any industry, and definitely not in media.

Woody’s Women: Bodies of Color, White Feminism, and the Golden Globes by @habeshafemme on The Youngist is a good read to follow up on The Golden Globes. She writes: "In Poehler’s and Fey’s white feminist world, people (specifically women) of color exist as the props for jokes, the blank landscape onto which their self-actualization can be drawn and redrawn as needed." Must read. I seriously tire of White women’s humor and “empowerment” coming at the price of women of colour. And Woody? I cannot muthafuckin’ discuss that being. Look at the Farrows’ timeline from that night…

Huffington Post’s Exploited Voices by @Suey_Park on The Youngist is an important read. HuffPo has a history of being exploitive towards writers as Arianna and her favored few gain wealth. However, this is especially heinous when this type of exploitation targets women of colour as we face labor exploitation unmatched by few, especially in the knowledge and justice related genres. (You’ve read my many many gripes about this.) They wanted her to build an Asian audience yet magically have no money to pay her. This piece gets to the heart of the issue. 

What’s Like the Craziest Shit You’ve Ever Seen by @djolder on Gawker is one of the most beautifully written portraits of humanity that I have ever read. Like…he makes me want to be a better writer. I want to be this good. It is exquisite. It is a long read and worth every moment. He explores what being a paramedic has taught him about death and humanity.

(Note: I understand that “craziest” even in the context he uses the word can offend. However, if you’re able to move past that word in the title, I promise the essay is worth every second. I’ve had MH issues myself and it was something I was able to do and read it. Of course to each its own.)

Free Marissa for Reproductive Justice! by @freemarissanow is an important read that points out how Marissa Alexander’s experience matters in terms of incarcerated mothers, abuse during pregnancy and more. Critical quick read that truly frames the complexities and intersectional issues of her experiences.

Stay tuned for next week’s suggestions!

January 2014

Read This Week

This is my 73rd Read This Week feature! If you’re new to Gradient Lair, (just about) each week I post essays, articles and/or journal articles and papers of interest to me that I think will be of interest to you, based on your interest in my blog. 

Oh To Be A Woman by @FeministaJones is an older essay of hers that takes an intricate look at submission and feminism. By this she is not referring to the shallow, patriarchal notion of emotional abuse and service that this word has come to mean, courtesy of many cishet men. Instead, she differentiates between the lack of choice and rights and the desire for a nuanced relationship (and she mentions BDSM) where she can choose when to have control and when not to. This piece is actually a part 2 to a longer post she wrote on being a Black Feminist Sub, which clears up the concept of submission in BDSM lifestyle. Really important nuance and I am glad I read these posts. I am learning a lot from her writing on this topic.

Alloromantics vs. Aromantics: The Great Divide by queenieofaces on The Asexual Agenda is really good. If you don’t understand asexuality, this will be fairly complicated for you, so see these posts first: [X] [X] [X] [X]. In this essay she explains some of the confusion regarding people thinking of aromantic asexuals as a “default,” how attraction types aren’t always helpful to explain every asexual’s perspectives and how a particular attraction type does not necessarily dictate the type of relationships asexual people will form. ♠

I’m A Trans Woman, But Please Stop Asking About My Genitalia by @JanetMock in ELLE is an important read. She references the incident between Carmen Carrera, Laverne Cox and Katie Couric where the latter was invasive and expected the interview to be about their genitals because they are trans women. Janet discusses their responses to Katie (and also see blackfoxx’s response to their responses) and also speaks of the invasive way that cis people approach trans bodies. Important read.

10 Transgender Wins of 2013 You Should Know About by @MaraKeisling on The Huffington Post is a listing of some important legislative accomplishments and cultural shifts that help trans people. Of course there is so much more to be done, so much, but the post is pointing out a few highlights.

15 Things That We Re-Learned About the Prison Industrial Complex in 2013 by @PrisonCulture is so important. Prison population growth, sterilization, abuse of the incarcerated, high corporate profits and more are continuing problems. The post is devastating to read, but critical.

You Might Not Get Here With Us by @JamilahLemieux on her 30 Before 30 blog is a difficult essay about Black men who are not about justice. It’s a topic hard for a lot of Black women to discuss but we sure do often on Twitter. Her essay speaks of the fact that no, we are not all going to get there together, though some will. We can’t “unify” under notions of patriarchal oppression and expect to survive.

On Violence on The Colored Fountain is a powerful read about occupying the space where having to be threatening to be safe as a Black woman is juxtaposed to knowing fear of White people and violence inflicted upon a Black female body is unlikely to be cared about. Important read.

Stay tuned for next week’s suggestions!

January 2014

Read This Week

This is my 72nd Read This Week feature! If you’re new to Gradient Lair, (just about) each week I post essays, articles and/or journal articles and papers of interest to me that I think will be of interest to you, based on your interest in my blog. 

Check these out:

The Politics of Black Superwomanly Otherness by @Pundit_AcadEMIC is good. She writes: “Black superwomanly otherness is a performance of strength, and a costly one for that matter.  We bottle everything up as we struggle silently like we are told and eventually the pain, hurt, frustration, and anger that is bottled up is consumed by us and leading to more pain.” 

great piece by @redlightvoices summarizes how some White feminists are trying to destroy the word intersectionality because they refuse to learn the concept and want to devalue Black epistemology, as it does not center Whiteness. Through this devaluation, they harm Black women/women of colour and proliferate White supremacy. And she has the receipts in this post! Their tweets, quotes and all.  

Eve Didn’t Exist. Can We Move On? by @FeministaJones is an older essay from 2012 and an incredible read. I’m not a Christian or even a theist but I didn’t read this as a bible bashing piece. It’s not. It’s simply brilliant, highly critical literary analysis of many of the metaphors in “the garden of eden” story that are taken for granted and on a superficial level and used to proliferate misogyny today. It’s impeccably written. 

Recent Plantation History and the Modern Plantation Economy by @PhuzzieSlippers of Still Furious and Still Brave is really good. He wrote about his own family history of sharecropping and how its connection to enslavement is not some ancient thing. In fact, he’s of the first generation of his family not to sharecrop in Mississippi and he’s only in his 20s. This analysis matters greatly in light of Ani DiFranco’s plantation stunt. He also wrote about how profit is still made off of the remnants of slavery.

Stay tuned for next week’s suggestions! 

December 2013

Read This Week - The Beyoncé Edition

This is my 71st Read This Week feature and it is ALL Beyoncé. It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Read This Week feature since I was on hiatus for a little while. For those new to Gradient Lair, just about every week (I’ve missed some) I post articles, essays, and/or journal articles/papers that I’ve read and think you will benefit from reading based on your interest in Gradient LairThese are my favorite essays so far on Beyoncé’s new visual album/music BEYONCÉ, her evolving feminist politics, her Black womanhood, sexuality, marriage, motherhood and humanity as well as interpretations of Black womanhood and Black feminist politics, in general. 

Great reads by other writers:

Est-Ce Que Tu Aimes Le Sexe?: Yoncé Brings Feminism To Its Knees by @BattyMamzelle is an amazing read on the sexual politics and empowerment in this album, specifically relating to the song “Partition.” I quoted this essay on my blog earlier this week because it’s so good. It specifically speaks to some aspects of Black womanhood that matter.

Beyoncé’s New Album Should Silence Her Feminist Critics by @Karnythia on The Guardian discusses how Beyoncé’s feminism is not anti-man in order to be pro-woman and how the complexity of her womanhood, not “only” a sexual being, but also as one, matters. This essay makes me think of Bey as a womanist, actually, something I mentioned in my own essay at the bottom of this post.

Beyoncé’s Been a Bad, Bad, Bad Girl…and It Is Oh-So-Good by @FeministaJones on BlogHer is a good read about the healthy, consensual, adventurous sexual themes within the album and how it comes together in the brilliant way that Beyoncé made this a visual album; completely. Beyoncé clearly views herself as a complete person, and as a sexual person (not all people are sexual), she doesn’t see this as inherently conflicting with being a mother or a feminist or a sister or a daughter or a friend or a businesswoman/employer or an artist.

Beyonce: Y’all Gon’ Learn Today by @RacismSchool is a great read that takes a look at the song “Flawless” and adds dimension and texture to the simplistic analyses that dominate the discourse on this song. Since so many people think that the politics of respectability is feminism (nope), they have a difficult time with Chimamanda and Beyoncé on anything together.

I Repeatedly Fought Back Tears While Jamming To Beyoncé’s Album Because Free Black Girls Are Not As Much Of A Thing As We Should Be by Whitney Teal on XOJane is really good. She makes her critique specific to the Southern Christian Black woman experience and how this liberation that Beyoncé posits escapes the experience of so many. It’s brilliant and takes a really specific lens to this album, one relevant to Beyoncé’s complex identity and many Black women’s.

Beyoncé’s Boundaries by Emili J. Lordi on NewBlackMan is good and involves criticisms and compliments. One thing that I like pointed out is Bey’s sense of humor. This is often overlooked because racism rarely allows Black women to be interpreted as funny unless we are being laughed at. It also points out recognizing her complexity—which is conveyed in this album—and not solely her sexuality matters, but recognizing that sexuality as healthy.

Yoncé On Her Knees by @dreamhampton is a good short piece on both Beyoncé’s relationship with marriage/sexuality and the one with the fans. How she’s altered both in a radical way. I really enjoyed this piece.

Safe by @Shakestweetz is really good and important because she speaks of how Beyoncé’s display of sexuality reveals trust in her partner and for her (the author) as a survivor, it’s something she’s had to work towards. Safety truly matters. So when people convey this album as Beyoncé only being an object, they are trying to strip her of the power to be sexual in a safe and consensual relationship and expressive as an artist.

My essay that I posted hours after the album release:

Beyoncé’s New Self-Titled Album Is A Manifesto of Black Womanhood and Freedom - Here I compliment and critique the new visual album BEYONCÉ. I discussed how racism and misogynoir impacts people’s perception of her evolving feminist politics. I discussed the beauty of the art itself and how it may be (I said may at the time, now I say is) her best work. I really love it.

Naturally, writing this essay made some haters decide to devalue my entire blog and all of my work, for which I had a response. I also have two Storify posts related to conversation on her album and race/gender/sexual politics: Cishet. Monogamous. Married. Good? But Black? Shamed. and They Cheer For R. Kelly’s Abuse. They Shame Beyoncé’s Sexual Freedom.

I’m aware that many hateful “think pieces” exist (which people on Twitter mocked very well) that seek to dehumanize anyone not a feminist and thereby make sure to “measure" Beyoncé’s feminism as not feminist. I’m aware that many okay pieces exist by non-fans as well. Because I’m also aware that Gradient Lair is my blog and I post what I want, I posted neither of these types of pieces. Further, I do not need them added to my post. Please keep your content in your own space.

Stay tuned for next week’s suggestions! I’ll return to my traditional Read This Week. Clicking the Read This Week link connects you to all of them. By now it’s hundreds of articles accumulated. Enjoy!

December 2013

Read This Week

70th Read This Week feature! Just about every week (I’ve missed some) I post articles, essays, and/or journal articles/papers that I’ve read and think you will benefit from reading based on your interest in Gradient Lair.

The MHP Black Feminism Syllabus is by Melissa Harris-Perry and includes a nice book list of resources on Black feminism. This was sparked by the disgusting anti-intersectional post in Politico that targeted Michelle Obama. The video for this though…heh. There’s a “Miss Ann” line that is EPIC. I love MHP! 

The Nine Types of People You Meet When You Come Out As Asexual by Anagnori on Tumblr is so good. It’s even better than the Asexual Bingo chart. The categories included are the unbeliever, the unwanted sympathizer, the intrusive questioner, the asshole questioner, the unnecessary therapist, the angry uninformed progressive, the angry uninformed conservative, the creep and the decent person. Very informative post!

Dating White vs. Dating Light by guest writer Danielle Small on Racialicious is a good read on being a dark skinned Black woman who dated a White man, then a Black man with light skinned privilege, and experiencing similar responses from people. There’s many factors involved; racism, sexism, misogynoir, colourism, White supremacy and rigid notions of masculinity/femininity as based on dark/light. Interesting piece. 

Secularism and Social Justice is an interview of Black feminist, atheist and secular humanist activist Sikivu Hutchinson by David Niose on Psychology Today. It is so illuminating, providing a nuanced portrait of secular humanism where intersectionality and social justice are relevant. Not the restrictions of theism, not the White supremacy of mainstream atheism. Further, she provides great context for The Black Church in political terms; something that evades most White atheists’ thinking since they rarely explore Black history beyond blaming Black people for being theists as if White supremacy is nowhere involved there. Very nuanced interview. Good stuff.

The Privilege of Expecting Community by Robert Reese of Still Furious and Still Brave is a good read about how White privilege produces community in spaces where Black people are alienated; major example used is graduate schools where White women leave for lack of professorial support and affirmation of their research yet most Black students can never expect that in the first place. Good read on a facet of education/employment often overlooked.

"But I Don’t Benefit From Racism! And Who Does In The Modern Age?" by skyliting on Tumblr is an amazing post that touches on the tip of the iceberg on how Whites benefit from racism TODAY; RIGHT NOW. Multiple areas are discussed including names, employment, shopping, social situations, education and more. MUST READ.

This short post (in response to an Ask Box question) by racismschool on Tumblr is great. It is about how non-Black people, which would be Whites AND non-Black people of colour CANNOT use the N word. Being a person of colour who isn’t Black is not a doorway into that term. 

Stay tuned for next week’s suggestions!

November 2013

Read This Week

This is my 69th Read This Week feature! If you’re new to Gradient Lair, each week I post essays, articles and/or journal articles and papers of interest to me that I think will be of interest to you, based on your interest in my blog. Check these out:

The Myth of “Fast Black Girls” by Michonne Micheaux (@LexiScorsese) is excellent and came right after a conversation several Black women had on Twitter about how Black girls are pathologized and sexualized and how the adult Black men who do this and even their own families (including Black women) enable abusers through this stereotype. Conversation stemmed from discussing R. Kelly being an ABUSER for decades and Black women actually targeted by him in Chicago during their teens mentioned so. Critical conversation.

Quiet Reflections: Why I Chose SIlence on Trans Day of Remembrance by Janet Mock (@JanetMock) is a difficult and beautiful essay that she posted after TDOR on November 20th and implores us to celebrate the lives of trans women and not solely in memory, and to challenge the things that threaten and take their lives, while still celebrating living trans women.

The Radical Politics of #selfies by Lutze (@FeministGriote) is a great read that I mentioned earlier this week when I shared my selfies. She gets to the heart of the matter of positive and affirming images and what that means for Black women and other people regularly marginalized for appearance and regularly excluded from media images that are readily accessible. 

This awesome response by textualtidepool on Tumblr to Dan Savage’s ignorance and bigotry against asexual people is everything.  Savage is notorious for not giving a shit about anyone not cis and White while queer. He also came for asexuals and this post addresses a direct quote from him, an awful one, and explains why asexual people deal with bigotry from both heterosexual and queer people, even as the former oppresses the latter.

How My Social Justice Failed My Family by Robert Reese on Still Furious and Still Brave is a really beautiful, really painful read about how a major loss in his family—his childhood home—made him reflect on the educational/career path he took, what he knows, and how the system is currently structured to only reward certain degrees. And instead of people saying "well, just major in ___" maybe we need to think about why some subjects are rewarded. Hint: it ain’t the “neutral” “free market.”

‘But You Look So Good!’ and 7 Other Things NOT to Say to a Person With a Non-Visible Disability on DiversityInc is a quick and important read for having conversations about disabilities. It really comes down to not victim blaming. And since that is at the core of absolutely everything American, that’s literally the core of what has to be challenged here. It also takes some understanding in terms of the nuances of disabilities as well.

Stay tuned for next week’s suggestions!