No matter how restrictive the prison, some prisoners find ways to resist. Often within plain sight of their guards, people who are imprisoned devise ingenious ways to reject prison policies. Nelson Mandela recounts the numerous ways that he and his fellow prisoners outwitted, undermined, tricked, and, upon occasion, confronted their captors during the twenty-seven years that he spent as a political prisoner in South African prisons. Craving news of the political struggle outside, prisoners communicated by writing in milk on blank paper, letting it dry to invisibility and, once the note was passed on, making the words reappear with the disinfectant used to clean their cells. They smuggled messages to one another in plastic wrapped packages hidden in food drums. In the case of solitary confinement where an inmate could be locked up for twenty-three hours a day in a dark cell, just surviving constituted an act of resistance. As Mandela observes, ‘Prison is designed to break one’s spirit and destroy one’s resolve. To do this, the authorities attempt to exploit every weakness, demolish every initiative, negate all signs of individuality—all with the idea of stamping out that spark that makes each of us human and each of us who we are.’ Mandela and his fellow prisoners recognized the function of actual prisons under racial apartheid and of apartheid policies as an extension of prison.
Patricia Hill Collins
Love this quote, an excerpt from Black Sexual Politics. RESISTANCE.
Notice that she mentions the parallel between the policies that put Nelson Mandela in prison and the policies themselves being an extension of prison. They are intrinsically connected. There is no absolute delineation between “prison” and then “free society” when Black people cannot experience freedom from racism. Slavery and Jim Crow (and its Northern and Western de facto segregation companions) here, colonialism and apartheid there. Political prisoners here. Political prisoners there. Prison Industrial Complex here, unjust imprisonment as a tool of the State there. Racism here. Racism there. White supremacy here. White supremacy there.
Though I recognize the complex, unique and specific issues particular to South Africa and Nelson Mandela’s life and experiences, I see the role of White supremacy globally and the shared burden that Black people experience, even with nuanced and differing privileges and oppressions for other facets of identity. Like he said “We are not anti-White. We are against White supremacy.”
Dear revisionists, Mandela will never, ever be your minstrel. Over the next few days you will try so, so hard to make him something he was not, and you will fail. You will try to smooth him, to sandblast him, to take away his Malcolm X. You will try to hide his anger from view. Right now, you are anxiously pacing the corridors of your condos and country estates, looking for the right words, the right tributes, the right-wing tributes. You will say that Mandela was not about race. You will say that Mandela was not about politics. You will say that Mandela was about nothing but one love, you will try to reduce him to a lilting reggae tune. ‘Let’s get together, and feel alright.’ Yes, you will do that. You will make out that apartheid was just some sort of evil mystical space disease that suddenly fell from the heavens and settled on all of us, had us all, black or white, in its thrall, until Mandela appeared from the ether to redeem us. You will try to make Mandela a Magic Negro and you will fail. You will say that Mandela stood above all for forgiveness whilst scuttling swiftly over the details of the perversity that he had the grace to forgive.
Nelson Mandela was not a god, floating elegantly above us and saving us. He was utterly, thoroughly human, and he did all he did in spite of people like you. There is no need to name you because you know who you are, we know who you are, and you know we know that too. You didn’t break him in life, and you won’t shape him in death.
Excerpts from his brilliant essay Mandela Will Never, Ever Be Your Minstrel. I love that he included Bob Marley’s lyrics, because he too like so many very much so human yet very much so remarkable people have been turned into memes and reframed to serve White supremacy and make the status quo and the State comfortable, literally what these people were fighting or singing or marching or writing or speaking etc. against.
When sentiment doesn’t allow for complexity and seeks to serve White supremacy, it cannot respect Mandela’s legacy. It cannot respect Black lives. It cannot be truthful in relation to justice—the justice still needed today for the racism and oppression that still thrives today.
Nelson Mandela was a human being and a complex one who fought with people, not alone, for a justice that cannot be separated from both the desire for peace and the necessity of self-defense from the State, both unity and the reality of racism so virulent and so pungent that we still smell and experience that stench today. His enemies—people who wanted him imprisoned or dead—are the same ones (literally, by name, in some cases) who are desperate and thirsty to reframe his life and legacy in a way where “peaceful” means “sought White approval; didn’t believe in self-defense.” Let’s remember him for who he actually was and what he did, with all of its complicated, difficult, radical and glorious complexity.
His body isn’t even cold yet and the New York Times has already put out a shameful article declaring Nelson Mandela to be an ‘icon of peaceful resistance.” News outlets around the Western world are hurrying to publish obituaries that celebrate his electoral victory while erasing the protracted and fierce guerrilla struggle that he and his party were forced to fight in order to make that victory possible. Don’t let racist, imperialist liberalism co-opt the legacy of another radical. Nelson Mandela used peaceful means when he could, and violent means when he couldn’t. For this, during his life they called him a terrorist, and after his death they’ll call him a pacifist—all to neutralize the revolutionary potential of his legacy, and the lessons to be drawn from it.
Don’t fucking let them.
BOOM! And we knew this was coming. It’s everywhere. Media outlets. Individual conversations with Whites. Even some people of colour have bought into the lies because we are not taught the truth in schools because the media, U.S. Gov and education industrial complex work together to sanitize, erase, be ahistorical and manipulate through revisionism. NO!
'Q.U.E.E.N.’ definitely is an acronym,' Monae explains during an interview at Fuse HQ. 'It’s for those who are marginalized.' She says the 'Q' represents the queer community, the 'U' for the untouchables, the 'E' for emigrants, the second 'E' for the excommunicated and the “N” for those labeled as negroid.
'It’s for everyone who’s felt ostracized,' she adds. 'I wanted to create something for people who feel like they want to give up because they’re not accepted by society.'
Jeff Benjamin, on Janelle Monae
Quote is from the post: Janelle Monae Says “Q.U.E.E.N.” Is For The “Ostracized & Marginalized” on Fuse TV. I cannot express enough how much I adore this song and her!
(Source: purposefulthoughts, via fatbodypolitics)
Feminism is supposed to be about equality and women being able to make their own choices. Yet, when famous Black women make choices that are best for their lives, there’s never any shortage of concern-trolling from people who don’t have to live with those choices. We talk a lot about patriarchy and paternalism, but we rarely speak of the way many feminists feel entitled to tell Black women what they should be doing. The maternalistic tone taken by many white feminists and even other feminists of color toward Black women is rarely seen as problematic. When we talk about solidarity inside the feminist movement, we have to talk about differences not just in oppression, but also in goals. For Black women, our struggle is not necessarily about access to the workplace; Black women have always had to work in America. Our struggle is to be recognized as human beings. To have our choices be treated with the same respect offered to anyone else. Whether we’re talking about Michelle Obama, Beyonce, or just the average woman on the street, the reality is that some feminists have children, and their decisions aren’t any less feminist because they are done in the best interests of those children. In fact, as feminism has never mastered being all things to all people, the reality is that no one is in a position to decide for another woman what kind of work she should do, how she should engage with her family, or even which of her choices represent the ‘right’ kind of feminism.
Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia)
A quote from her incredible article on RH Reality Check, For Black Women, Everything Is a Feminist Issue. Part of it is a response to the Politico article that called Michelle Obama a “feminist nightmare.” Yeesh. The racism in feminism remains and she deconstructed it well in this article. Motherhood for Black women MATTERS and if Black women are going to be praised when raising White children (you know, what happened for centuries and still does; many White feminists have women of colour as their nannies as they admonish Michelle Obama for mothering her own children) and shamed when raising their own, then we’re talking about White supremacy, not any movement that can empower Black women. Read this whole article!
The worst part about being strong is that no one ever asks if you’re okay.
Such is life…and even if you aren’t “strong,” you’re demanded to be if you’re a Black woman. I’m tired, actually. Very.
(Source: emptieds, via navigatethestream)
Correct me if I’m wrong but no other rapper aside from Macklemore has ever paid tribute to Trayvon Martin. Aside from Plies, Wyclef Jean, Young Jeezy, Rick Ross, Game, Ace Hood, Lil Scrappy, Papoose and numerous other rappers. Let’s not forget Jamie Foxx and Ebony Magazine who were applauded as ‘wise’ and ‘educated’ for speaking out against racism. Oops, wait.
Boom! From the moment I saw that Hurricane Katrina photo side by side with coded racism in how hurricane survivors acquired resources to more recently Nicki/Miley media narratives and now Jamie/Macklemore, I keep remembering how White people and White supremacist media are not even trying. They are blatantly going to applaud the beneficiaries of oppression for saying something about what they will never experience while further oppressing the oppressed who speak out. And then they call this process of sheer White supremacy and racism being an “ally.” Both comical and disgusting.
I hypothesize that if you were to take a sample you could statistically prove, using stringent methods designed to limit bias, that recognized WOC actors are more academically/thoroughly trained than their white counterparts. I further hypothesize that if you were to isolate only those female actors who have degrees (regardless of race), you would find that the WOC attended schools of higher regard for the field. I do think my second hypothesis is a bit weaker than the first, however.
Yep. I think the same 2x as good for 1/2 as much applies in acting/theatre as well. Now, I did not statistically prove this in the way she proposed, but for a few days last year I started compiling a list of well-known Black women who are actors and celebrities and their education and that list was looking quite nice. (I never finished it or posted it because I really didn’t want to deal with the backlash that comes whenever I discuss Black women and education; didn’t have the energy.) I…couldn’t find the same (in terms of school rank, level of degree or it being as common as for Black women who are actors) for comparable White women who are actors. Even the category “recognized actors” makes me wonder how to determine this since women of colour are regularly ignored and regularly tokenized. Thus, I wonder if the few that we see are already so overqualified just to get noticed that such a study would never really compare equally recognizable actors between Black women and other women of colour versus White women.
Very intriguing though. I would love to see the results of this.
Feminism is not a rulebook, but a discussion, a conversation, a process.
Tavi Gevinson (via feministquotes)
Feminism is also not a country club, doesn’t require credentials, doesn’t require White supremacist approval and should not have a separate set of standards for Black women/women of colour versus White women, where a pulse and White skin is all they need but I have to be bell hooks.
Seriously tho. Why *should* she be asked to smile?
Asking a woman to smile is to make her more approachable. It’s to make you feel more comfortable - not her. I, personally, have zero fucks to give about being approachable to strange men on the street. Women are not here to entertain and please random folks.
Asking me to smile is akin to asking me to jump. Um. For what?There’s this weird responsibility placed on women to be happy and lady-like and pleasant all of the time. It rids us of being able to express our own range of human emotions.
No one is asking for men and women to not interact with each other. That’s silly. This project is asking for women to be interacted with as if they have agency over their own bodies.
Creator of the Stop Telling Women To Smile project responded to a person who thinks women not smiling on demand is proof of the end of the world and division among men and women. (Seriously? WTF.)
Funny…I told my best friend about that person’s comment and she said it is the end of the world and division…for that person. A world shaped by the status quo is a world being shaken by the resistance to this status quo. The amount of hatred and bile I’ve faced since I started speaking out about street harassment has been interesting in that some men genuinely process harming women as necessary to their masculinity and thereby their identity. They think critique and rejection of street harassment is an attack on their identity, which is frightening…
"Asking me to smile is akin to asking me to jump. Um. For what?"
Oprah is no longer a person with her own (carefully crafted) public image. She’s no longer a person whose humanity we have to recognize, let alone respect. In Noland’s rendering, Oprah is merely a ‘placeholder’ – a blank canvas that other women can project their issues onto. These dresses and shirts literally use black women’s bodies – each one styled as Oprah’s ‘body’ – as masks or shields for the wearer’s own body. Noland invites women (and men) to camouflage their own weight/body image issues by donning an “Oprah” suit. Presumably, wearing these imagined renderings of Oprah’s nude body allows a woman to draw attention away from her own body and its flaws. People can project all of their insecurities onto naked Oprah, and thus feel better about themselves. It’s all eerily reminiscent of the character Buffalo Bill in ‘The Silence of the Lambs,’ who was driven to fashion himself a ‘girl suit’ out of women’s skin. It boggles the mind that anyone could possibly think using someone else’s image in this manner is not only acceptable, but ‘art.’
This is a quote from her essay Naked Screaming Oprah Dress Treats Black Women’s Bodies As Placeholders on Salon. Worth a read in entirety. I am fucking disgusted by yet another loathsome White woman using Black women’s bodies to garner attention and controversy and as way to distract from her own utter mediocrity and irrelevance. The lack of compassion that White women have for Black women is palpable. The hatred is visible. Well…it always has been.
All of these “Mistress Epps.” All of these…
Beyond the obvious history of Black women’s bodies and lives being exploited for White women’s amusement, profit and Schadenfreude is the current issue of the way that White women cannot think up a thing unless it harms Black women. They cannot feel empowered unless we are harmed.
Also, let’s review a few things. Oprah was sexually abused as a child. Oprah has had body issues that has caused her a great deal of pain in her life and pain that contrary to popular belief cannot be erased just because she is wealthy. So her specifically being chosen for this dress is beyond White supremacy, racism, misogynoir and hatred. It is abuse specifically for Oprah.
I am fucking disgusted by this artist, anyone like her and White supremacy itself. Instead of these White women perpetuating misogynoir and then asking "why are you offended," why not ask "why do I have daily stunts and attacks against Black women just to make my utter uselessness as a human being relevant?"
And no “unique” White woman; as I mentioned on the ignorant ass Lily Allen video, I don’t give a fuck if you are “different.” You STILL benefit from White supremacy and the repercussions for being held accountable for it and being considered “all like that” is NOTHING compared to what Black people face when being considered “all like that.”
(Source: thisisnotindia, via navigatethestream)
A bedrock truth is that anything good that happens in American politics, the cornerstone for that good thing happening, the electoral cornerstone are Black women. Black women are the bedrock cornerstone electorate constituency upon which all progressive politics are built. Because the margins they provide at the polls for progressive candidates, not just Democrats, for progressive candidates. When they talk to pollsters they are the most progressive in terms of their views, their world views, and they turn out.
Chris Hayes [X]
And we know this! I’m not a Democrat or Republican, but I know when fellow Black women put in WORK. Meanwhile the narrative of “women” voters remains White. Even when the polls during smaller elections reflect a greater percentage of White women vote conservative than liberal, White women are given the praise for liberal candidates being elected and it’s always framed as being about pro-choice, as if Black women have the luxury of being single issue voters, or as if reproductive justice for Black women is solely about abortion. Check those stats for voter turnout in 2008 and 2012 for national elections. By race/gender demographic, Black women turned out like nobody else (this is partially because Prison Industrial Complex disenfranchises many Black male potential voters, but also speaks to Black women’s long history of political work at the grassroots level).
I’m mean I’m mad, but I’m mad about something. I’m not mad as an inherent aspect of my Blackness or my womanhood, but mad about something.
This quote comes from her brilliant discussion with bell hooks on how people tried to shape her response to poor shaming that occurred on her show as her being irrationally angry and as some personality facet, when it was simply a legitimate response to a very disgusting problem of classism and racism in America. And this uniquely happens to Black women based on long held stereotypes and controlling images about Black womanhood, shaped by misogynoir.
Only thing more frustrating that blatantly anti-Black misogynist Black men are those who ‘love us’ so much they ignore our lived experience. ‘I love Black women with all my heart and so do my friends, so you must be exaggerating, immersed in the brainwashed exception.’ Fuck that dude. Your love is worthless if you can’t respect Black women enough to care that so many are regularly attacked/bullied/trolled by YOUR PEERS. ‘I love y’all! I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ Perhaps you don’t because you’re too busy singing your own praises to find out. ‘My mom/daughter/partner are everything. God is a Black woman.’ Then concern yourself with men who delight in degrading us. Don’t fact check me.
It must be nice to exist in an alternate universe devoid of anti-Black misogyny. But most women with Black features are here in the real world. I don’t need to be your Queen or Sistah. I don’t care if you worship a God with nappy hair and nose wide like mine if my lived experience < your opinion.
It’s not enjoyable to recount/recall the fact that men, who have little girls that look like me, think I’m dirt on the bottom of their shoe. The last thing I want or need to do with my free time is fabricate verbal abuse from Black men AND all other groups. It happens. End of story.
She spoke a WORD here. A WORD! I seriously stand in a tug of war position between these two types of Black men. One directly attacks me and harms me in almost unspeakable ways. The other runs in but not to defend me, call the former one out or even to talk about how Black men’s misogynoir oppresses Black women. Nope. He arrives right on time to say "not ‘all’ Black men harm" even as one is actively harming me. He also arrives to gaslight me, claim I don’t support Black men and claim he loves Black women despite our “betrayal.” Basically, my lived experiences are ignored.
So yes, she spoke a word!