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September 2014

Read This Week

Though my original plan when I started this blog over two years ago was to share a Read This Week feature *every* week, some weeks I missed and others I was on break for self-care and rest. About every week I share recently read articles, essays, journal articles and/or papers that I find important/interesting and think you may be interested in based on you reading Gradient Lair. 89th one!

Great writing from other writers that I recently read…

The Subtlety of Sugar and Goodbyes by @Blackamazon on her personal blog is amazingly beautiful. She’s really a gifted writer. Here she discusses her interpretations of Kara Walker’s exhibit from the perspective of a diasporic experience acutely impacted by the history of sugar industry, and mentions loss of Black women important to her and who she has become. Like…it’s Zora and Alice n’em kinda good. I cried. I hope I am this good of a writer one day.

Carefree Black Girl: The Life and Death of Karyn Washington by @anitabadejo on BuzzFeed is really beautiful, although, be careful as it can be pretty triggering for those of us who dealt with suicide of someone close or deal with suicide ideation. So beautifully written though. Here is a complex portrait of a beautiful Black woman and is really one of the best I’ve ever read. I like that she nuanced the discussion around the idea that Karyn “faked” self-esteem or didn’t seek help because of “Strong Black Woman” archetype. Neither are accurate nor was her life linear. 

How The Fashion Media Erases Black Women by @slb79 on The Washington Post addresses the purposeful, antagonistic, even trolling bullshit these magazines (ie. Vogue and “booty”; Cosmopolitian and “basic bitch”) do to purposely erase Black women via cultural appropriation and willfully ahistorical analyses. She also ties in how net neutrality matters since Black women who “create our own” in response to this violent erasure, are at risk for not being able to share it.

Tupac: A Divided Soul by @dreamhampton on Medium is just another example of her exquisite decades of writing on music that’s only a small facet of her amazing artistic and activist work. I especially think deeply about the part she mentioned where Tupac alluded to not romanticizing the movement and thought about what the State did to his mother Afeni and other members of the Panthers and Black Revolutionary Army. Also, she mentions her argument with Tupac over his account of the men who assaulted a woman in his hotel suite.

Why Black Women Struggle More With Domestic Violence by @FeministaJones on Time is very important. She alluded complex intersectional experiences of Black women as to why we experience a higher domestic violence rate. Important statistics as well. Good piece to bookmark. 

Black men’s Excuses For Ray Rice Sound A Lot Like The Ones Darren Wilson’s Supporters Used by @magnet4awesome on The Washington Post is a Black man addressing Black men’s defense of violence on Black women. They ARE using the same excuses Darren Wilson supporters are. There are Black men with “justice for Ray” shirts that mirror “justice for Wilson” shirts. And though Janay Rice lived, many Black women do not. So the parallel needs no qualifier about how Michael Brown didn’t live or about how this is interpersonal violence versus State violence, since many Black men ignore State violence on Black women unless as a ploy to derail the topic of intimate partner violence.

Stay tuned for my next Read This Week!

August 2014

Read This Week

Though my original plan when I started this blog over two years ago was to share a Read This Week feature *every* week, some weeks I missed and others I was on break for self-care and rest. So while this should be maybe the 116th or so one, it is the 88th one.

About every week I share recently read articles, essays, journal articles and/or papers that I find important/interesting and think you may be interested in based on you reading Gradient Lair.

Great writing from other writers that I recently read…

Itemizing Atrocity by @prisonculture and @tamaranopper on Jacobin is utterly brilliant and beyond timely. I was in tears upon reading this. The subheading? "For blacks, the ‘war on terror’ hasn’t come home. It’s always been here." I have felt so much stress to my core from the anti-Blackness of extrajudicial execution and State violence themselves AND the willful erasure of the reality of Black oppression, experience, history and pain through people’s willful disconnection of Ferguson from the history of violence on Black people in the U.S., using Michael Brown’s death as a trope to recenter non-Black bodies or through false equalizations. MUST READ THIS. Was so glad for this truth.

Why Learning Not to Hate Myself was Better than Loving Myself by @Blackamazon on her personal blog is just exquisite. Beautifully expressive and really questions thinking about self-love and self-hate as linearly connected. When she spoke of them co-existing, especially in the personal and political space she occupies as a Black woman, I was just enamored by the truth of this complexity and humanity for Black women. This is one of the most important self-care (and beyond the concept of self-care as individualized consumption only) pieces I’ve read in a long time. So thankful for her words and her voice.

Of Activists, Feminism, & Mammy Issues by @Karnythia on The Angry Black Woman is several years old but still relevant like it was published last night. She addresses the fact that Black women’s labor, even in “progressive” space, is taken for granted and exploited with unreasonable demands placed on Black women. (Even in the midst of Black women’s multi-pronged activism regarding Ferguson, I noticed unreasonable demands placed on Black women while this activism is simultaneously erased as non-existent.) 

Why We Cannot Have Reproductive Justice Without Fighting Police Brutality by @ethiopiennesays on The Frisky is really critical. Police brutality IS a reproductive justice issue. She writes: "Is it not an assault on Black people’s reproductive rights to brutally and systematically deny us the opportunity to raise children who will grow to adulthood, who can experience the world with childlike wonder? Is it not an assault on Black people’s reproductive rights to tell us we give birth to future criminals and not innocent children, to murder one of us every 28 hours and leave a family in mourning?” Painful…beyond. Important.

Why You Should Read Assata Shakur In Times Of Ferguson by @MsAfropolitan on her personal blog is a good short read that creates parallels between State violence on Black people decades ago and now, both here in the U.S. Without erasure of the impact of State violence on Black women either. Assata’s experience, witnessing extrajudicial execution and State violence on Black men and experience with State violence herself that she barely escaped helps to provide perspective for current events. Good post (and definitely read Assata’s autobiography, by the way).

Stay tuned for future reading suggestions!

July 2014

Read This Week

This is my 87th Read This Week feature where about every week (except for when on blogging breaks) I share recently read articles, essays, journal articles and/or papers that I find important or interesting and think you may be interested in based on you reading Gradient Lair

The Erasure of Black Womanhood: Why Anthony Cumia’s Twitter Rant is About More Than Race by @FeministaJones on BlogHer is a critical examination of intersecting oppressions, mainly misogynoir as experienced by Black women. Why? Because many of those who discussed Cumia’s violent diatribe and entitlement accept that it is racism but refuse to consider the victim’s gender and intersectional experience. Much of what he said is *specific* to the victim’s Black womanhood. Very important read.

Black Girls Hunger for Heroes, Too: A Black Feminist Conversation on Fantasy Fiction for Teens by @zettaelliot on Bitch Media reveals a conversation between her and Ibi Zoboi and it is really good! They discuss the exclusion of Black girls from popular literature, if/how Black girls interact with modern heroine stories that exclude them and publishing diversity gaps. They also have a lot of talk on The Hunger Games. Good read.

The ‘Hobby Lobby’ Decision and Black Women’s Health by @lindagoler on RH Reality Check is a good read that examines race/gender/class and the specific impact on Black women that these birth control restrictions will have. Certainly not all who need reproductive care are “women” or ID as such; this article focuses on Black women and alludes to the history of government interference in Black women’s health and bodies.

64,000 Missing Women in America All Have One Important Thing in Common by @zakcheneyrice on Identities.Mic discusses the lack of media coverage, lack of compassion and lack of proper identification of case type for Black women who disproportionally go missing in the United States. Important read.

A Plague On One House: “Both Sides” Aren’t To Blame In The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Israel Is. by @GregShupak on Jacobin deconstructs the epistemic violence of using the phrase “both sides” for Israel and Palestine and points out the violence by Israel (the State; this is not a blanket indictment of anyone who ascribes to Judaism). Honestly, the deconstruction of the phrase “both sides” here speaks to #AbuserDynamics, where self-defense and survival are marketed as “equally” violent. This can be seen in any form of resistance to colonial and/or interpersonal violence. 

If There Is One Thing Radicals/Progressives/Liberals Have Failed To Get Right In The New Age, part by navigatethestream, part by bankuei on Tumblr is a good read, dissecting White privilege, classism and boycott politics, with the context truly needed for this topic. Blanket boycotts are not an immediate answer without history, context and strategy.

Stay tuned for next week’s suggestions!

July 2014

Read This Week

I’ve been on a lot of self-care blogging breaks between April and June, so I have not created many Read This Week posts within that time span. Since I’ve been back for a couple of days this week and have read some GREAT articles in between that time, I thought that I would share a few in this 86th post (though Gradient Lair has existed for a little over 2 years). 

Good reads to check out:

“Raving Amazons”: Antiblackness and Misogynoir in Social Media on Model View Culture by @so_treu is filled with brilliance. Here she comments on the long history of anti-Blackness and misogynoir and their impact on social movement and the humanity of Black women. She draws historical parallels over a century as well as contemporary horizontal parallels between extreme racist groups targeting Black women online and mainstream media/mainstream feminism who are in inherent collusion via anti-Blackness with rhetoric and tactics that mirror each other. Exquisite analysis written beautifully.

More Than The Message: Media, Safety and Attribution in Online Activism on Model View Culture by @Blackamazon examines journalism in the age of social media, responsibility, social movements and unequal outcomes. She notes: "But all too often, these “stories” comes from a blatant disrespect and almost targeted critique of the very people they claim to represent… all while insisting that those people are too naive to critique them." Beautifully written important read, that had me thinking a lot about the culture of exploitation of people of colour, especially of Black women online in the name of “journalism.”

“Internet Famous”: Visibility As Violence On Social Media on Model View Culture by @Shanley (who owns Model View Media and Model View Culture; I love this publication) is really important and speaks my life a great deal. She’s a White woman who challenges tech culture, and not just for the inclusion of cishet White women while excluding everyone else. Here she discusses how visibility is used as a weapon against those who aren’t White men where for White men its a resume builder. For me, hypervisibility online has been an extreme burden, even to the point of dealing with everything from rape/death threats to libel. Here she describes with a vivid honesty her experiences of assault, harassment and threats because of the nature and importance of her work.

Atheism Has A Big Race Problem That No One’s Talking About in The Washington Post by Sikivu Hutchinson (@sikivuhutch) is so important. This Black woman and feminist atheist always brings a critical intersectional lens to atheism that is easily eclipsed by how White supremacy and patriarchy are centered in atheism as political space, in the same way that they are in many theisms, unironically. Here she discusses strategic ways that atheists about justice can work towards that justice or otherwise are little more than empty paternalism and theistic disdain, if not racism and White supremacy.

Sexiest Black Female Scientists by Kyla McMullen, Ph.D. (@Dr_Kyla) is a list of 73 brilliant Black women in STEM (and lists their schools, Ph.D. subjects and areas of work/research) with gorgeous photos of them as well. Now, the anti-intersectional view would be to wonder why can’t we focus on their brains alone. That comes from the idea that beauty should be rejected but that idea is hoisted by White women who have the luxury to say so since “beauty” is Eurocentric and their images dominate the media. Thus, I like this post a whole hell of a lot. I can imagine how amazing it must be for a young Black girl interested in STEM to see Black female face after face with those credentials next to them. (Also author mentions the post is in response to “The Sexiest Scientists Alive” article that did not include any Black women.)

“Enjoy Your Houseful of Cats”: On Being an Asexual Woman on The Toast by Julie Decker is really really good. One of the best essays that I have ever read on asexuality. She interrogates the sexism and misogyny that shapes the objectification and harassment that asexual women receive from acephobes and also mentions how acephobia impacts men and other people (with some gender, sexual orientation and cultural mentions as well). The difference is because of the misogynistic notion that women exist for the sexual service of men and that sex is the only means of “liberation,” women who are aces face some objectification that differs from men. Just a great essay. Bookmarked forever.

Meet The Keepers of Black Women’s History on The Root lists 20 brilliant history scholars that are Black women who center Black history inclusive of Black women in their research and work, including Blair Kelley who is AMAZING and I follow her on Twitter. Bookmark this list!

Enjoy! Stay tuned for the next Read This Week!

May 2014

Read This Week

This is my 85th Read This Week feature where (just about) each week (when not on a hiatus) 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.

This Is Coming Out by @FireinFreetown on Black Girl Dangerous is a difficult and exquisitely written essay about the experience of this wonderful queer Black woman that I talk to regularly on Twitter. Her words speak volumes and reveal intersecting oppressions for queer Black women (and other Black people in the LGBTQ community, as she mentions) while people are busy arguing over the “merit” of the concept of intersectionality and ignoring writing like this. A must read. 

#WhatIsPretty: A Response by @jonubian on Ebony is a good read that addresses not just Beyoncé’s #WhatIsPretty campaign or her great song “Pretty Hurts” but the complicated space of Black girls and Black women’s experiences with beauty, where affirmation is critical in an anti-Black misogynoiristic world, but can’t be at the expensive of affirming us as entire persons with other traits. Lovely essay. I usually enjoy her writing.

The Truth About Girls Lives In Nigeria by @MsAfropolitan on her blog Ms. Afropolitan is a good read. I saw and RT Teju Cole mentioning gender isn’t the leading factor concerning Boko Haram’s choice and that boys are kidnapped and killed as well. Here in this essay, she speaks to how gender is relevant and not in a way to minimize what Nigerian boys experience but to provide context that nuances the experiences of Nigerian girls. 

Decolonizing the Anti-Violence Movement: An Overview by Save Wiyabi Project is a brilliant collection of writing from a variety of thinkers and on how anti-violence as it currently stands is incredibly carceral, colonialist and anti-Black. This post is a gathering of great writing and you definitely want to read some of these pieces over time.

Stay tuned for next week’s suggestions!

May 2014

Recent Storify Posts On Race, Gender and Media

Below are some of my recent Storify posts that I have not shared here as either they were created while I was on a recent blogging hiatus or they’re new and were not incorporated into any essays. 

Nobody Wants Your *Apology* For White Male Privilege. Not The Point. is a Storify with my tweets from today in response to an incredibly ignorant and inherently violent article in TIME called “Why I’ll Never Apologize for My White Male Privilege.” This White male Princeton student does not understand privilege, at all. Several terrible points are raised in the article which I deconstructed in my Storify. 

Street Harassment Is Not The Pathway To “Sexual Liberation” is a Storify in response to yet more White male violence, but this time refers to an article in The Guardian where this man had the audacity to juxtapose acceptance of unwanted advances with “proof” that women are actually feminists and sexually liberated. My Storify includes my tweets examining this violence being juxtaposed to “sex positivity.” 

Lupita Nyong’o Is A Radiant Brown Goddess. You Mad? is a Storify that I made of @sassycrass' tweets, with her permission, regarding the self-hatred (which is not arbitrary but exists because of anti-Blackness) involved in colourism and the harsh backlash that some Black men have had to Lupita. So these are not my tweets in particular. However, I did write an essay on the various types of backlash to Lupita and about her own stellar beauty politics beyond appearance though inclusive of appearance in: Lupita Nyong’o Is People Magazine’s Most Beautiful and Has Great Perspectives On Beauty Politics.

20 Feet From Stardom (Film) is a Storify of my live tweets about the STELLAR documentary 20 Feet From Stardom about Black women as back up singers and how without Black women’s voices, some key ones too, American music would not be what it is. It’s a beautiful film about sisterhood and creativity and a difficult film about injustice and theft of Black cultural production as well. (I previously blogged the trailer; the film is on Netflix now.) 

I try to use Do Not Link for articles that are violent and exist to reify White supremacy, patriarchy, misogynoir or other oppressions. Not interested in raising their search engine ranks or ad revenue. 

If you’re new to understanding Storify, you basically can use it to gather your tweets into a post if you share a complicated and/or long multi-tweet point on Twitter. Another tip that I’ve shared with thousands of people on Twitter is to “connect” your tweets. You do this by writing the first tweet then hit reply (yep, reply to yourself, but remove your handle name in the subsequent tweets) then write the next tweet and publish. The tweets will be connected in certain Twitter apps and via Twitter web (no longer on the home page if you have the new profile design) once you click on a particular tweet in a series.

(It’s best to actually view the points in each Storify before responding to this post, or actually leaving a comment on each respective Storify then. Please do not use this post to promote your own essays on the same topic via making assumptions on what each Storify is about. Thanks.)

You can follow me on Twitter at @thetrudz and @GradientLair and see all of my Storify posts at storify.com/thetrudz#stories.

April 2014

Read This Week

This is my 84th 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.

Black Gurls and Suicide: Loving Each Other to Stay Alive by Samantha Taylor on @BlackGirlDanger/Black Girl Dangerous is beautiful and difficult and real. "You need to know that I don’t care what you have to say while crying over my greying body and limp hair when I’m gone. Say all of those things NOW. Push against the tired old narrative that tells us black gurls don’t deserve more than to be raped and beaten, to wash clothes and floors, to tend to babies."

Standing Our Ground: Reproductive Justice for Marissa Alexander by Monica Simpson of @SisterSong_WOC on RH Reality Check discusses the over-criminalization of Black mothers, how Marissa had recently given birth when she was violently attacked by her partner, her being away from her children when arrested and how Black women who do experience violence are likely to be mothers. Critical issues here.

Laugh It Up Folks, Abused Black Women Are The Joke Of The Day by @KWestSavali on Clutch Magazine is really difficult to read. Trigger warning, please. Look, I know Black men like D.L. Hughley have made MILLIONS of dollars selling America’s favorite hatred, misogynoir, as a consumable good. But this violence he spewed, insulting and degrading Columbus Short’s wife after Columbus Short (“Harrison” on Scandal, recently let go from the show) abused her at knife point and threatened his own suicide? Terrifying. (Then he later defended this violence on Twitter using false statistics and hyperbole.) Hughley clearly hates Black women and has for a long time. And being a spouse and father doesn’t erase that. However, he doesn’t seem to have concern for Short either. Short threatened his own suicide. He needs help, not defense through anti-Black misogyny against his wife. Her essay gets to the heart of the matter with the truth about Black women who face domestic violence.

The Sterling Shuffle: Unpacking White Jewish Racism by @sikivuhutch on Black Fem Lens is really important. It’s really rare for me to find a criticism of this type of anti-Blackness because it is regularly one Black people are told to accept, look past, or are accused of being “anti-Semitic” for not wanting to suffer it. Clearly there is a way to critique anti-Blackness from White Jews without anti-Semitism. However, anti-Blackness is why that is ignored, unironically. Sikivu analyzes Don Sterling’s racism and provides a backdrop for the last century of the move to Whiteness for White Jews. [EDIT AFTER THE FACT: I was made aware that some comments on the original article contain anti-Semitism; trigger warning. Or please see article and don’t scroll down to the comments, if still interested in actual article. Unfortunately Black women writers regularly have violence placed in the comments section.]

Clippers Controversy and Black Blaming, Again by @JamilahLemieux on Ebony is a good read that takes a look at two important things in the institutional racism that supports men like Don Sterling because despite what White supremacy suggests, this is not an “isolated incident.” She examines how Black people have been blamed for this racism, as usual, and how some have engaged in anti-Black misogyny against V. Stiviano (as I knew would occur, actually). Good read.

Nigeria’s Stolen Girls by @alexis_ok in The New Yorker tells the experience of some of the the girls who were able to escape Boko Haram and the work/response in their local community. Difficult piece as people were glad for their escape but hurt for the others until they are safe. 

Everyone Is An Expert On Nigeria Now by atane on Tumblr is really important right now. Severely. This writer points out the Western gaze on Nigeria, how false bigoted narratives (i.e. shaped by Islamaphobia and misunderstanding Nigeria’s size and subcultures) impacts Nigerians, how there is in fact reporting on the 234 primarily Black Muslim girls missing (by Nigerians themselves) and so much more about how the West is not listening to the people on the ground etc. It is the most important post to read on this for some seriously needed perspective. 

“She Said ‘No,’ Man:” How Male Friends Can Stop Rape by @PhuzzieSlippers on Still Furious and Brave is about his personal experience telling a male friend that a woman said NO to his advances, and having that friend leave with him. What seems like a small action is major. He explains how more men can do this. He notes: "Yes, the duty of these interventions rests on the shoulders of men, but no one is asking for heroes. Leave the capes at home, discard the excessive self-adulation, and, for the love of God, don’t ask for her phone number afterwards. Women don’t need heroes. They simply need the support of responsible male citizens who understand the power of a simple ‘She said no, man. Let’s go.’" He directly challenged patriarchal culture without dehumanizing or controlling the woman involved. Womanism in praxis!

Stay tuned for next week’s suggestions!

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!