The Plight for Pro-Blackness in an Anti-Black World Part I

I recently read an article regarding the most recent example of white terrorism cast onto black bodies– the vicious car-ramming in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Before beginning my analysis, I want to take a moment and grieve any member of the black collective, or anyone standing for a black cause, who was injured by the calculated efforts of an individual who represents a collective sullied by centuries of evil.

Commander in chief Donald Trump also had a few words in response to the attack:

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides,”

The statement surfaced because clearly as the leader of the free world, Trump had to say something. But the ambiguity of his statement prompts the casual gaze to inquire whether Trump is referencing the protestors or the twenty-year old murderer. To most, blacks are complainers who play the “race card” inciting contention throughout the masses. These are the same individuals who not only defend slavery, but consider it necessary to the advancement of “this great nation.”

The word “display” is also rather significant, as visibility appears to be the condemned behavior—with regards to whites of course.

Trump’s words proved lucrative to many journalists who used his statement as yet another means to paint the Commander in Chief as a scapegoat of white evil. To many, both black and white, Trump has awaken a new fervor, or hate. To the conscious gaze, Trump is merely exposing an already gaping and infected wound to a familiar virus. Trump is not any different than the white men referenced in late black journalist Ida B Well’s Southern Horrors who torched, stabbed, mutilated, shot, and bludgeoned black men, women and children for fictive crimes. In aligning Trump with past evil, it is essential to note that whites in general are also contemporary manifestations of the monsters who created southern, northern, western, and midwestern horrors.

As Kwame Ture says in Black Power:

This is not to say that every single white American consciously oppresses black people. He does not need to. Institutional racism has been maintained deliberately by the power structure and through indifference, inertia and lack of courage on the part of white masses as well as petty officials. (p. 22)

He continues:

“One way or another, most whites participates in economic colonialism.”

Every white person, or person who believes him or herself to be white, performs a similar act to the white man who drove his car into black bodies this weekend, or the whites who have heinously murdered blacks centuries ago. Whether it is in gentrifying a neighborhood, or enjoying the bountiful privileges afforded by the blood, sweat, and tears of abducted Africans—whites remain economic colonialists.

An elevated black, or free African if you may, stated a powerful phrase over the weekend that I must repeat. He eloquently stated that whites are “collectively irredeemable.” While a masterful use of language, this phrase brilliantly transcends the individual, a common act that allows each act of white malice to function in solitude. In viewing these acts as individuals, the white collective remains unscathed by the burdens of their deeds. Also, this collective amnesia enables whites to eventually emerge as white saviors, “rescuing” blacks from the tyranny of Trump right back into our historically disenfranchised place, somehow veiled as something new.

It is seeing white evil as something new and not as a historical pattern that results in the misplaced efforts of black people. While I can appreciate the acts of anyone who feels strongly enough about something to get up, go out and do something about it, I must say that anti-white demonstrations are misguided and a misuse of valuable energy and thought. We live in an anti-black world, so anti white demonstrations whether explicit or implicit should be anticipated. Countering these acts is not about showing up and showing out. All this betrays is a need for white acceptance, a need for white validation.

The remedy for anti-blackness is pro-blackness. Blackness has never existed in a manner similar to whiteness. I mean that blacks have never needed to destroy to thrive, to create inferiority to construct a false superiority. Blackness is a pillar, whereas whiteness needs a pedestal. With this said, rather than crashing white supremacist events, why not create pro- black events that unite blacks?

Blacks taking part in anti-white actions simply provide a means for whites to inflict evil onto black bodies. It also suggests that whiteness is essential to blackness, a fact that is utterly untrue. It is whiteness that relies on the fictive deficiency of blackness to exist. Blacks do not need whites. We did not need whites to build the sphinx or the pyramids. We didn’t need whites to come up with our own language, currency or method of embalming. We are the beginning, middle, and end—whiteness is simply an overextended interlude preying on the causalities of a war they initiated.

As a community we must prioritize celebrating our ancestors, and raising our children to run towards blackness not away from it. There is no much pro-blackness work that needs to be done, that anti-white behavior should not even be a fleeting thought.

However, it is imperative to note that even in acts of collective appreciation the black collective must anticipate deadly acts from our oppressors. It is essential that participants are not only willing to live with the consequences of combating white supremacy, but be willing to die for what they believe in. I know this sounds morbid to many who see death as an unnecessary compromise, but as a collective we put too much emphasis on living a meaningless or oppressed life, and not enough on fighting for justice by any means necessary.

To be pro-black is to love yourself by any means necessary. Whiteness is not the center of the black universe. To believe any such thing is to possess the mind of the oppressed. In this same chord, it is imperative to note that the tragic death of a white female demonstrator will not function to deflect from blacks as victims. This illustrates that any form of intentional anti-white behavior will inevitably be anti-black. I say this to say that a pro-black demonstration would have attracted a vastly different crowd. Identifying overtly bad behavior is not a challenge for most, but acknowledging their own role a corrupt system or country is beyond the scope of most within the white collective.

So while the death of this young woman is certainly sad, it is perhaps even more sad that the issues of blackness are once again usurped by another attempt to paint feminism or white women as the antidote to racism.

Blacks fading to the background for an act that has plagued their mothers, fathers, grandparents, children and loved ones is another act of racial terrorism.

Some may read this and consider my analysis cold hearted. To this I ask what how they would compartmentalize the killer? The killer, a man who will probably pay for his actions solely because his actions qualify as a crime solely because he inflicted harm onto a white, rather than a black body.

As part of the pro-black initiative that anchors this post, my assertions are about how this young lady’s death will function and has functioned to discount black disenfranchisement. Soon, many will place her along sacrificial lambs like Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Lennon Lacy, Reneisha McBride, Sandra Bland, and the countless black bodies murdered in the coldness of the anti-black climate of North America. So just as many black communities have underwent gentrification, our sacrificial lambs are undergoing a similar process, as will our heroes in due time.

May the events in Virginia over the weekend, and the racist media coverage and commentary inspire the blacks to fight the battle without our collective as a means to combat external forces.

Cheers to the phrase “black is power” eventually emerging from a hollow phrase to a collective realization.

Advertisements

A People Divided: The Diasporic Dissonance of the Dark Race

A Recurring Query

 

“Catherine Saunders”

 

stated my soon-to-be seventeen-year-old student in a desperate attempting to portray a conspicuously scripted conversation as natural.

I felt a familiar feeling that foreshadowed where this conversation would go. So, I silently exhaled and tried to relax my muscles from an anticipated tension.

“Are you mixed with Indian or anything?” she asked in a fictive coyness that made my blood boil.

There it was. The dreaded query that appeared far too many times throughout my adulthood.

“No, girl I’m African” I said trying to hide my disappointment.

 

“Oh, so you’re just black?”

 

I’ll be honest. I am not sure if I asked or if she volunteered the information that I am about to share. But either way, I was hopeful that her follow-up would yield a hidden Pan-Africanism.

It didn’t.

 

“I’m Guyanese, well South American, Jamaican, Bajan, and English. I say all four because I’m not just one”

 

This “just one” phrase would prove a recurring phrase in the conversations surrounding black identity that would dominate my week.

Seeking another perspective, I requested the input of a colleague who I falsely compartmentalized as a “free African,” or an someone well on their way to a collective identity.

I asked my colleague how she thought Caribbean displacement affects black identity. The response, while elaborate and beautifully articulated, mirrored my student’s, but proved even more disappointing.

In summary, the “clarity” offered by my colleague, validated my student’s logic with a series of short-sighted remarks that revealed an ideology polluted with the subtle teachings of white supremacy.

Achieving Exotic Status, and The Singularity of Blackness

My colleague reiterated the “just one” phrase implemented by my student stating that it is white supremacy that coerces the black “American” to choose “one thing.” She then went on to say that Caribbean identity embraces the “totality” of their being, ie what my student in mentioning “Barbados,” “Guyana” and “England.” She also was sure to reference what she called the diversity of Caribbean aesthetics, a claim I’ve heard countless times in the boastful stupor of the oppressed.

.The variants of aesthetics is one of the many gifts of blackness, and is not limited to just one sub-group. Moreover, this comment is upsetting for many reasons, but mostly in exposing the true nature of the ideology from which it derived. Fractioned identity, is not pride, but an anti-black act guised as nationalism. This nationalism, seduces the decedents of Caribbean (or any other diasporic ethnicity) slaves to view their “drop-off” as “home” and to see their ability to have a “home” and “language” as superior to that of the non-migrant black in the states–who migrants seek to appropriate in their consensual journey over the same seas that carried their brethren who would be lynched, burned alive, castrated, raped, dismembered and systemically disenfranchised for centuries prior to the influx of Caribbean immigrants who would reap the benefits of their pain. I find it imperative to make this assertion, as diasporic Africans often highlight the struggle in their pseudo homelands as singular, discounting “struggle” as an experience shared by all blacks. Struggle, tragedy, and cyclical systemization is an integral component to black identity, but despite being a uniting factor, white oppressors implement black struggle as a weapon to circumvent black concord.

This concord is a worthy compromise for those seeking an ex-factor through a fictive multi-ethnic identity. To be fair, this is not solely limited to melanated migrants, but millions of blacks across the diaspora bamboozled into believing that black is everything but beautiful. The melanated migrant though bears a poisonous and often under-discussed desire to become the abducted African displaced in America in record numbers. While there are some non-migrant blacks who have moved to the continent or the West Indies, these numbers pale in comparison to the amount of blacks from the continent, the West Indies, the Caribbean, and South and Central America who inundate the black population in places like New York City.

Also inundating the flourishing population of the migrant black in places like the big apple is a systemized envy of non- migrant black aesthetics. Namely, those bearing the unsullied blood of the motherland, or its  envy a demographic who embodies the remnants of wombs legally violated by a system who conceptualized the black body as property. For example, I recall a young black male college student recall  his peers from the continent commenting, in a state of awe, on how different his hair was in comparison to theirs–citing his”looser coil” as a divisive factor.

On the reverse, I have seen and experienced the tokenizing of non-migrant black beauty by the melanated migrant. I would like to clarify that although using the term “beauty” I do not mean that the referenced individual is beautiful (we as a collective are beautiful), but that an oppressed gaze would perceive a diluted bloodline as beautiful in a self-hatred stupor. As a college student , for the most part, students from the Caribbean and the continent did not engage with the general population of those who were presumed to be “just black.” At the dating auctions that schools clubs held to make money, the melanated migrant would show up in large groups and “purchase” the non-mirgant black women who they refused to acknowledge on campus. Similarly,  I have had instances where I was inappropriately touched by migrant males who seemed to perceive my body with the same entitlement and disregard as white men. I have also witnessed migrant women engage sexually with migrant men who refused to acknowledge them in public when alongside those they perceived to be kin. These scenarios, mirror a similar ideology to that of my student and colleague, illustrating the various hurtful consequences imbued by a divisive ideology. Moreover, the intoxication of the abducted African displaced in the states seemingly offsets both an internalized envy and objectification in its divisive function–sometimes both symptoms occurring simultaneously.

There is also an envy of access. By access I mean access to whiteness. Although systemically disenfranchised by whites who own million dollar resorts miles away from children without clothes, and families without shoes or food, few migrant blacks seem to associate their lifestyle, or what prompts their move to the states, as a direct result of white supremacy. It seems their predominately black environment allows many melanated migrants to attribute their disenfranchised state to this dynamic and not the seemingly invisible whites who sit unbothered at the height of every hierarchy throughout the black diaspora. Thus, the abducted Africans displaced into the states, appear to be at an advantage in what must appear to be a closer access to white people and an illusive whiteness seemingly consummated through job titles and material goods.

Identity: Claiming Constructs

It is whiteness, and the journey towards it in material, aesthetics, and accolades, that thwarts black unity. My colleague plots curing white control of blackness by celebrating what I reference as the “drop off.” She finds solstice in Haiti, and suggests that non-migrant blacks do the same for America. The conversation as a whole was a hard pill to swallow, but this statement was the most problematic and most hurtful. To possess a sense of nationalism for a drop-off is to claim a land that has never claimed you but enslaved you and grown crops and trust funds in the blood of your ancestors.

It is the failure to look past the “drop off” that incites the disappointment in my student, colleague, and others that take pride in their oppressive placement. For a black to claim America, or a West Indian to claim a West Indian or Caribbean Country, or black displaced in Brazil to claim Brazil, or the countless blacks displaced in Latin America to claim their respective drop off, is to inadvertently thank the white settlers for ripping you from the womb of your mother continent and casting you in a systemized role necessary to manifest their destiny. To claim a drop-off is to make Willie Lynch and every white man who taught and practiced the science of oppression proud in the longevity of their cruel creation of system that destroys the the kryptonite to white global domination–black unity and a collective pride. Acknowledging a collective identity does not function to denounce anything. Rather, it is a proclamation of collective pride. In acknowledging a collective identity it is imperative to note that although I may check “African American” on applications, I understand that I am not an American.

In contemplating the words of my student and colleague, my mind reverts back  to a moment from my past when an exchange student from the West Indies, on a Pan-Africanist panel, spoke about his desire to acknowledge his Scottish and Asian origins. His response was an obvious attempt to escape what he perceived as the singularity of blackness. But he, in a systemized ethnic state, saw his assertion as acknowledging all parts of self. I remember the guest speaker walking out in a disappointment that festered into disgust. The young man who made this statement sat bewildered in a bubble of ignorance he saw as a window to a complete identity. This example illustrates the height of a systemized mind, so systemized that like my student and colleague, he saw his comments as innocuous and not for the portrait of self-hatred that it was.

Asians, Latinos, Indians and whites do not claim blacks. They may dig up some black blood to obtain a scholarship or some other benefit, but other groups do not fraction their identity in the same way as blacks because overall they do not suffer from a lack of nationalism in the way we do. An Asian person may be Korean and may not even like his Chinese or Thai counterparts, but this does not stop him from functioning as an Asian. Not that blacks should emulate other groups, but to embrace our idiosyncrasies and still function as one, posits a crucial step towards a collective advancement .

The black collective can not afford to have anyone who sees him or herself as equally black and white or black and Indian, or anything else, because of an articulated inability to fully devote themselves to the interests of the black collective. If you won’t even say black, it’s highly unlikely that you will act or think in the best interest of the black collective  in a moment of conflict.

I also admit that while asserting that those who claim a drop-off are claiming those that do not claim them, I am doing the same thing in my wish for diasporic Africans to claim a black identity. In claiming South America, Barbados, and England, this young lady is not claiming black— a fact that becomes obvious in her compartmentalizing blackness as singular.

Although I do hope that one day all blacks will see the beauty of a black identity, I accept that that day is not today. I understand that it is easier to accept the drop-off, so that your mind remains comforted with what you’ve been nurtured to perceive as an upper hand and a one-way ticket to an exotic identity. For the melanated migrant, who wishes to appropriate the non-migrant black’s oppression, claiming the drop-off is their ticket to consummate whiteness. To those whose mentality is a systemic masterpiece of global colonialism, a fictive plurality works as a means to layer what is perceived as a singularity of blackness.

Ethnicity: A Cancer Construct

Before AIDS and various cancers from stomach to brain consumed the lives of so many Africans throughout the diaspora, the cancer of ethnicity and “difference” gradually expunged onto the black diaspora. This cancer repeatedly split the black identity so that members of the collective, with the same Kemtian blood running through their veins would fail to claim their own people, due to speaking different languages or socially identifying with an ethnic group that stood away from blackness.

To those set on exotifying their existence with the cancerous sub- identities created by our oppressors, “unity” seems stifling. To those seeking “difference” this “unity” appears an effort to erase what is unique about what they falsely perceive as their culture. Black identity is the exact opposite. Blackness is never and could never be just one thing. To be black is to bear a rich and endless legacy of everything black—to bear the multi-layered identity of a shared experience.

To be completely honest, I fail to see anything wrong with being one thing, if that one thing is black.

As Broken as The Sphinx’s Nose: A Systemized Suffocation

The Sphinx’s nose, seemingly one thing, symbolizes the power in a singular entity essential to identity. Namely, the Sphinx’s broken nose functions to “fix” the black collective into a state of constant confusion. The broken nose symbolizes the severed African diaspora. As a symbol of Kemetian brilliance and African majesty, it’s destruction at the hands of whites illustrates the power of destroying a single entity has on a collective. The African nose represents blackness, that in its distorted state, suffocates the collective into an induced oppression that simultaneously murders black unity.  The Sphinx now functions to substantiate the white supremacist act of removing Kemet from Africa and displacing it into the fictive “Middle East” to denounce that the original inhabitants were indeed black. Without this nose, the diaspora endures a systemic smothering into an ambiguity that furthers white mental and physical domination.

It is because of this pervasive domination of whiteness that I do not support black migration. I am not against blacks being greater in number and in increased proximity between diasporic Africans, but in North America particularly, migrant entry and access functions to fester the necessary ethnic division to retain anti-blackness.

Migrant entry and access throws salt in the wound of an already divided and mentally enslaved people. White supremacists have used the diaspora of displaced and divided Africans to fatally infect the gaping wound of white supremacy. The placement of our misguided brethren alongside systemized kinfolk of a similarly distorted mindset only increases our plight to navigate our way through the global labyrinth of racism.

Moreover, I am against how migrant entry of access impedes black advancement. Thus, while I have never seen the physical void of the Sphinx’s nose, I felt the lack of air in conversation with both my student and colleague. I feel the lack of air when I hear any person of African ancestry dismember their identity into fractions. I feel the lack of air when I observe diasporic Africans see themselves in those from the same drop-off but not from the same mother.

The migrant black, like the black student who can “graduate” school without knowing how to read, like the black who works hard for a check that goes right back to their oppressors through bills, rent and careless splurges, illustrates the perils of racism and how racism makes all that could be good tragic for black people throughout the diaspora. Black migration could function under a Pan-African initiative in which blacks pursue blackness and shed pseudo nationalism for a black nationalism.

Yes we’ve been fortunate enough to have the incomparable contributions of Kwame Ture, Harry Belefonte, Claude McKay, and countless others who represent the potential for black unity. Their Pan-Africanist initiatives encompass the hope and dream of those who understand the strategic methods that seek to destroy the black collective.

Divided we suffocate.

Together we figuratively reassemble the mutilated nose of Sphinx.

Together we reassemble a black identity mangled in the fiction of ethnicity.

Together we  breathe as a single identity of a shared origin and shared experience.

 

I Am EVERY Black 

It is for this reason that I embrace all folds, experiences, and identities of blackness.

My identity has little to do with my individual experience and everything to do with a collective understanding. I didn’t have to be physically alongside Michael Griffith when he was chased by young white men from Howard Beach in the late 1980s. Blackness is a shared experience, so just as I am Michael Griffith as he ran for his life, I am also Tommie Smith and John Carlos as they sprinted towards black nationalism in the 1968 Olympics.

I am the black body that feels the breeze of the Nile river in the early morning and early evening. I am the Kenyan, the Jamaican, the Brazilian, the Honduran. I am the domestic worker that traveled north for a “better” life but found that the north not only bears colder air but the cold wrath of covert oppression. I am Harriet Tubman in my moments of fearlessness, I am Fanny Lou Hamer—hollowed by white evil but full of African valor, I am Assata Shakur, Angela Davis, Katherine Dunham, Fredi Washington, Winnie Mandela, Edwidge Danticat and every other black Woman across the diaspora who has tried to make something out of the nothing handed to us by our white oppressors.

It is the journey to consciousness, or the mental pilgrimage to an indigenous state that prompts an ability to confront the oppression of division.

Furthermore, I do not separate myself from any black regardless of circumstance or their placement throughout the diaspora. I stand beside them.

“I” is of course not me the individual but a collective identity that intertwines the past, present, and future of the black collective.

I also want to emphasize that the word “black” is not a phrase that I use lightly. To be black is not about having black skin, but identifying as black. To be conscious is to resist the urge to claim those who refuse to claim your collective. I accept their denial, and do not compartmentalize them as black-but continue to see their melanin as redeeming and hope for a change of heart. This is how I will make peace with the diasporic demons that steer my kinfolk into a divisive lunacy that functions solely to benefit whites and other groups that seek to exploit what Neely Fuller labeled “the shattered consciousness and fractured identity” of black people.

So to answer the query that inspired this post, No, I’m not “mixed with Indian or anything like that.” I am a diasporic black woman that embrace all forms of herself from Brazil to Africa to Latin America to the Caribbean.

I am everything the world works to ensure I am not: Black and proud.

I am Every Black person and every black experience and every black person and every black experience is me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this family!

Black Power ❤

Detroit: A Systemized Suffocation of the Black Narrative

In recent months, I have written extensively about Dr. Christina Sharpe and the wake work initiative ignited by her book In the Wake: Blackness and Being. The book epitomizes Afro-demia, where blackness is placed in the forefront of formal discourse. Although difficult to point to a single moment in the text as more significant than the rest, Sharpe’s discussion of black aspiration, or the black struggle to aspire, proved quite significant. Sharpe uses the term “aspire” in the most elementary sense–which simply means to breathe. To illustrate the concept, Sharpe references the physical and systemic suffacation of Eric Garner preceded by eleven exclamations of the clause that would become his last words– “I can’t breathe.” maxresdefault

Garner is the epitome of the figurative chokehold that encapsulates black life. Not all blacks will personally experience a physically fatal embrace. All blacks are however born into a system designed for their suffocation. One of the most persistent manifestations of a cholkhold is appropriation, namely, the metamorphosis of the black struggle into a white narrative.

In 2011, the world rejoiced in Katherine Stockett’s novel The Help’s film adaptation.help3face   Despite elevating black actresses Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer from obscurity to center-stage—the film is an ode to white female supremacy—casting the white female outcast as the saving grace for black female oppression. To some, the film proved ground-breaking in featuring a white female gaze that scrutinized her own kind. The conscious gaze, on the other hand, sees the one-dimensional black female characters as the backs to which the black female castmates stand in their three-dimensional portrayals. This book and film, like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, function to humanize white evil at the expense of dehumanized images of blacks in moments of heightened oppression. The black female potential stifled in the domestic demands of the segregated 1940’s and 1950’s, forced many black women away from their own homes into the homes of whites to resume the mammy role established in slavery. As a domestic worker, the black women encountered unfair wages, emotional and sexual abuse and long hours. Similarly, Henrietta Lacks, a physically ill woman, would die while two of her children were still in diapers. Most problematically, Lacks would be robbed of the  pearl-like cells that took her life, but in their abduction would save countless others. Telling these stories from a white gaze, compromises the integrity of the black narrative.  These white productions function as an antiracist effort to some, but in execution perform the very racism they seemingly denounce. These abducted narratives, and others like them, suffocate the black narrative, resurrecting incidents essential to black advancement as appropriated stories of our oppressors.

Kathryn Bigelow’s upcoming film Detroit, is no different.

Detroit-5-www.nothirdsolution.com_

The upcoming film has garnered abundant press from black and white media for its coverage of the the Twelfth street riots and the cold-blooded murders of teens Aubrey Pollard, Carl Cooper, and Fred Temple at the Algiers Motel in the summer of 1967. Lost in the media coverage of this upcoming film is the actual story. Instead, director Kathryn Bigelow basks in a media glory for her Oscar-nominated culturally appropriative film. The film does not function to provide context to contemporary murders that mirror a tragedy that seized the lives of these young men. Nor, does the film discount the contemporary murders of black youth as isolated incidents.  No, this film exists to permeate American culture with yet another white savior image.

White abduction of black stories poses a conflict to the black narrative for many reasons—the most prevalent being that this appropriation epitomizes racism. In Black Power Kwame Ture states the following:

Racism is both overt and covert. It takes two, closely related forms: Individual whites acting against individual blacks, and acts by the total white community against the black community. We call these individual racism and institutional racism (Ture 4).

Bigelow’s Detroit, like Katherine Stockett’s The Help, Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and every other adducted page of the collective black narrative, illustrates institutionalized racism. A system existing solely to attack black esteem and control black action.

Institutional racism relies on the active and pervasive operation of antilock attitudes and practices. A sense of superior group position prevails: whites are ‘better” than blacks; therefore blacks should be subordinated to whites. (Ture 5)

Abducted black narratives appropriated by whites desperate to consummate their own journey to conventional success is an act of anti-blackness in its promotion of racist ideologies. This abduction and appropriation of black narratives suggests that because whites are “better” than blacks, only they are capable of accurately and appropriately rendering the black narrative.

Instances like these often prompt the query as to whether it would better if these books, and films were never made–the stories destined to obscurity. In response, I fail to see the difference between a black narrative appropriated by whites and an untold black story as both fail to reach the demographic to which this narrative is essential. “Untold” simply conceptualizes the relationship to mainstream media, or white access. A black narrative is essential to black consciousness. Thus, our stories need not be mainstream, but made available to those spiritually and physically elevated in acquiring knowledge of a shared experience.

The black experience is a compilation of stories shared by those across time and circumstance. Black stories are like air to a black people, providing a means and context to physically aspire. Moreover, the abducted black narrative is not only appropriative –it impedes black aspiration.

To see this film is to smother black aspiration, to toss dirt on top of the black body buried alive by a veiled anti blackness, better known as white supremacy.

As W.E.B. Dubois once said:

Through history, the powers of single black men flash here and there like falling stars, and die sometimes before the world has rightly gauged their brightness.

Detroit is yet another means for the white female body to illuminate in the glow of white supremacy. It is yet another means for the white female body to aspire, and indulge white supremacy in the same manner as her male counterparts.  In contrast, the light cast onto the black body has often blown out too quickly, if illuminated at all.

Rather than provide yet another platform for whites to shine in our glory, let us support our own art, written, produced, and brought to life by us. Let us breathe life into our collective identity. Let us aspire the only way we can, as Africans.

Black Power ❤

 

 

The Whines of Whitewomaning: An Encore to Black Art

The Root writer Michael Harriet wrote an article yesterday that provided extensive context on the term whitewomaning. The article defined the term as follows:

Whitewomaning: a term used when a woman of Caucasian descent complains after learning her white privelege key does not open every lock in the universe.

The article implements the term “whitewomaning”  to compartmentalize the outrage following a Diddy tweet extended solely to black women. What did the tweet read you ask:

Shout out to black women just because…

The Tweet itself, proved far less significant than the retaliation. The general response exposed a white need for hyper visibility . Despite continually excluding blacks from nearly everything, including the word woman, any attempt to display black pride or unity never ceases to foment white outrage—an outrage oppressive in both nature and execution.

But before Diddy and his campaign for pseudo black excellence, was the Black Arts movement which followed the assassination of Black Nationalist leader and icon Malcolm X in 1965. The Black Arts period captured a unique period in black culture, in the brazen blackness it demanded. Perhaps the movement is best articulated by the late Amiri Baraka in his poem” Black Art.” In “Black Art” Baraka demanded blacks reset their ideology in order to implement the necessary changes to black life. The poem is vulgar– its word choice contentious and unapolegtically so. The poem acts as a weapon enabled by the confidence, and the nerve blacks need in order to rise from their subordinated place in America.

My instructor read this poem in an African American Lit class at small “women’s” college in Oakland, California. By women I mean “white women,” who put on quite the show during and after the reciting of this poem. What the common gaze would label outrage was actually entitlement, an entitlement prompted by an inability to process an inclusive gaze critical of whites.  Instead these white women were faced with the height of black pride written by black man who rejected his white wife for the black woman and the revolution.  The line that seemed to get under everyone’s white skin, happened to be my favorite. It reads:

Black poems to smear on girdlemama mulatto bitches
whose brains are red jelly stuck
between ‘lizabeth Taylor’s toes. Stinking
whores!

This line is my favorite because it casts aside the beauty standards of white America. It also functions to satiate the need for white visibility simultaneously acknowledging the ever-present white body in the lives of black people. The images however are yanked from their societal placement. Instead of residing above blacks, the poem caricatures whites to reflect the ugly nature of their deeds, symbolism, and motives. This particular image of Elizabeth Taylor, stains the height of European beauty by desecrating her porcelain white skin with the scattered brains of those who aspire to walk in the shoes of a “beautiful” white woman, but instead stick between her toes.

The poem succeeds because it is black art. Black art should upset those who have upset our story for centuries—those who continue to interrupt and abduct our narrative making it about their concerns and fictive oppression. Diddy’s tweet, although brief and unassuming is therefore a piece of black art.

I may not support Diddy’s assertion of materialism as black excellence. Yet, his simple tweet acknowledging the darker and often overlooked body cast along the shores of womanhood, personifies black art. Black art should speak to black people, and black people solely. Black art should not concern itself with who or what grows indignant in our collective glow.  We have been careful for far too long. We have apologized far too frequently. Baraka writes:

Let Black People understand
that they are the lovers and the sons
of warriors Are poems & poets &
All the loveliness here in the world

We want a black poem. And a
Black World.
Let the world be a Black Poem
And Let All Black People Speak This Poem
Silently
Or LOUD

Perhaps a paramount step towards self-determination and a collective esteem is deeming our words, thoughts, behavior, dance, movies, films, books, poetry just because they are ours. So they are in English–but black art will lead us back to our indigenous origins by way of our coerced  language. Never granted our forty acres, a mule, or a space to call our own, we must create a black world with what we have, and what we have is our melanin and each other.

May whitewomaning be the inadvertent encore to black art, signaling not what we have done wrong, but what we have done right.

Moral:  Black Art: It’s not for everyone and it shouldn’t be.

Black Power ❤

Why Beyonce Had to Have Twins: Black Female Hyper-Sexuality, Hyper-Fertility, and Sexual Objectification

Black female hyper sexuality, a product of global racial conception, remains at the forefront of black female identity.

From the welfare mother whose sexuality births what the world labels bastards– babies derived from the hyper sexual loins of black male and female lust, to the black pop star oozing with a hyper sexuality that drips dollars for her white oppressors, sexuality follows the presumed “black magic” of the black female body believed to induce the detriment that befalls her.

Fertility remains one of the most central means to illustrate black female sexuality—although seldom articulated as problematic. The black female celebrity who functions to represent a portrait or symbol of black female sexuality, illustrates black female hyper- fertility in later-in-life pregnancies and multiple births.

The Diva, Othering, and Multiple Births  3D8B59CE00000578-4272442-What_we_re_used_to_Normally_the_47_year_old_has_sunkissed_gams_H-m-28_1488393568728

Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, and now Beyonce– three of the world’s top-selling and most esteemed pop stars– share long prominent careers, lightened tresses, African ancestry, and multiple births. These births aid the contemporary diva in maintaining relevance, but also to consummate a hyper- sexuality that anchors their careers.

mariah-carey-600x600Admittedly, Lopez and Carey are hardly black women, but both have distant African origins as descendants from the slaves harbored in Puerto Rico and Venezuela. So while they are not black women, Carey and Lopez still fall under the “other” labeling, a labeling reflected in their sexualized images. Namely, Carey and Lopez mirror their hyper sexualized ancestors sampled by European men on slave voyages, and thus join Beyonce in assembling an essential portrait of “othered” sexuality  to a global racist gaze.

Collaboratively, the three women assemble this portrait through birthing fraternal twins, as a testament to the racist caricature of black female sexuality.

Unlike Beyonce, Carey and Lopez, have been affiliated with numerous men in a series of high profile relationships over the years. The many men of Lopez and Carey fuel the hyper sexual image portrayed in their revealing and form-fitting clothing. Thus their multiple births function to consummate their labeling at “other,” despite seemingly achieving their woman label in worldwide exposure and monumental wealth. mariah-carey-2000

A pillar of black female identity, Beyonce Knowles possesses an ethereal image of the intersectional woman emerged in the glamour of wealth and a feminine beauty– attributes typically separated from black female identity. Beyonce’s full lips, full hips, honey blonde locks, and round backside, usurped Lopez as the blonde-haired, round booty “other,” and has yet to relinquish the throne. Despite bearing the gift of singing, dancing, and stage presence, Beyonce’s career is rooted in her carefully constructed sexuality. Beyonce’s voluptuous figure, suggestive dance moves, revealing costumes, long full mane, and soulful sound culminates her sexuality, painting her as possessing unearthly talent, conventional beauty, while exuding the assumed sexuality of an African woman. Beyonce, like the late Saartje Baartman, is a black female body granted visibility to entertain the white gaze with a portrait of other. Esteemed scholar bell hooks discusses this “otherness” with the following: Venus Hottentot

She is there to entertain guests with the naked image of Otherness. They are not to look at her as a whole human being. They are to notice only certain parts. Objectified in a manner similar to that of black female slaves who stood on auction blocks while owners and overseers describe their important, salable parts, the black women whose naked bodies were displayed for whites at social functions had no presence. They were reduced to mere spectacle. Little is known of their lives or motivations. Their body parts were offered as evidence to support racist notions that black people were more akin to animals. (page 62)

Baartman is the historical equivalent of the contemporary black female pop icon— objectified and dismembered by an intrusive gaze. Baartman’s sexuality, substantiated her systemic objectification and ultimate death, just as the primal connotation of black female sexuality validates perceiving and treating black women like animals. Not given the chance to breed in a life cut short, Baartman reproduced in the physical organs and limbs that remained above ground long after her death to prove her inhumane status. The hyper-fertility of the black female celebrity functions similarly, seemingly providing evidence for her presumed inferiority during and after her life. In other words, hyper- fertility functions to depict the black female as possessing a sexuality that causes her to breed in multiples like animals.

Beyonce: Barren or “Black Magic”  article-2031269-0D9D13CF00000578-79_468x683

The news of Beyonce’s first pregnancy—despite the announcement occurring in a dramatic and news-making way, caused many to speculate Knowles’ ability to carry a child. Many felt as if her stomach was prosthetic and that the she and husband— rapper, and entrepreneur, Jay- Z hired a surrogate to have their child. I suppose the time between Knowles’ marriage and conception was far too long for most. While these speculations may seem menial, rumors of infertility stain the hyper sexual image of the black female body. The hyper sexual body, caricatured by the white gaze,  must breed in order to solidify the value of her stock. Thus, whispers of Beyonce’s infertility threatened the western ideology of the black woman, essential in composing the binary opposite of white womanhood.

In verbalizing her fertility struggles, Knowles surfaces as an everywoman. In her emergence from these struggles, however, Beyonce surfaces as hyper fertile– a superwoman bearing the fertility wish of countless women throughout the globe—twins.

151831-beyonce-knowlesFertility troubles aligned Knowles with the seasoned white women ever-present on adoption sites and adoption lists around the globe, seeking to obtain what they are unable to attain naturally— a child. This is not to say that black women do not struggle with fertility, but that the maintain myths of black female hyper-sexuality this page is one torn out of a fictive black female narrative. Thus, Beyonce’s emergence from these struggles resumes the narrative of the hyper-sexual black female and places her in line with the presumed “black magic” hyper-sexuality of her indigenous origins.

The same black magic that catapulted Beyonce into the global superstardom, is the same black magic white men and women historically labeled lethal to their conjugal sanctity. It is this same hyper sexual imaging that functions to depict the hyper sexual woman of African ancestry as a sexual beast who breeds like an animal. Yes there are famous white actresses such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Angelina Jolie, who have twins. Their births however have been linked to, or following surrogacy. Parker had twins via surrogate, and Jolie gave birth to twins after adopting three children and therefore serving as their surrogate mother. Also, much of Jolie’s allure comes from her full lips, which historically bore correspondence to the fullness of the African woman and her able womb, encased in a fertility exaggerated in a global racist gaze. Thus, Jolie’s proximity to blackness via physical attributes works to substantiate an innate and animalistic black female hyper- sexuality depicted through hyper-fertility.

While  a testament to their remarkability, the hyper fertile woman of African ancestry does not exist to bolster positive imaging to blacks, but to further the “othering” of the dark race in a subversive manner. bell hooks argues,

“Certainly from the standpoint of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy the hope is that desires for the “primitive” or fantasies about the Other can be continually exploited, and that such exploitation will occur in a manner that rein scribes and maintains the status quo.” (22)

The narrative of the black woman as hyper sexual is a direct reflection of her enslaved role, where black female worth was rooted in her ability to reproduce. Similarly, a central component to the sexualized popular stone cast along the Hollywood plantation is the black woman’s ability to prove the black magic fictively aligned with her African genitals.

The Later in Life Pregnancy

The hyper-sexual black female image is also festered in the later-in-life pregnancies of Janet Jackson and F:PHOTOMediaFactory ActionsRequests DropBox46495#sunshine sachsDSC_5366v2-2.jpgHalle Berry. Jackson, a global icon and the youngest Jackson child, is a testament to black female hyper fertility as the tenth (ninth living) child of a black woman. As one of the top-selling and most revered black female artists of all time with a career spanning three decades—Jackson’s hyper-sexuality is not typically displayed in her dance moves, which are more orchestrated than sensual, but in her lyrics and explicit performances. Namely, Jackson is known for strapping a male concert goer to a moving board where she sexually teases him for the entire three minutes of a song. She’s racy, unapologetically sexy, and possesses a soft feminine voice even well into her middle aged years—but up until last year, Ms. Jackson was not a mother.

Although there are rumors that Jackson abandoned her daughter with her ex husband James DeBarge, this was never confirmed, so to the world Jackson, the object of global admiration for years was childless. Beginning motherhood when the average woman has  sent her children off to college, and begins to prepare for retirement, portrays the black woman as a hyper-fertile and capable of fertility magic. Actress and beauty icon Halle Berry depicted a similar image when she became pregnant Halle Berry takes daughter Nahla for her passport photo in Beverly Hills, CAwith her son Maceo at the age of forty-seven.

The hyper- fertile black woman, while bearing the gift of reproduction also corresponds to profit garnered in her objectification. The fertile black female body  meant more field hands and concubines, which meant more babies and ultimately more money and power for white consumption. Similarly, the extensive media afforded to later- in-life pregnancies or multiple births of celebrities bearing black blood, garnered increased funds for white media outlets.

The black female, who is collectively objectified through the black, or black “ish” celebrity, is often an eager participant in the veiled objectification and dismemberment of black female identity. Most don’t see that to objectify the genitals of celebrity equivalents is to objectify their collective selves.

This disconnect is rooted in the failure of most to view pregnancy as a form of objectification. Yet, considering the  awphistorical trajectory that accompanies the black female body, cognizance of systemized objectification in all its forms is prevalent not only for advancement, but collective survival. Celebrating the multiple or later-in-life pregnancies of already sexualized figures is yet another means to reduce black women to their genitals—a systemic objectification that strips the black female body of mortal status and instead casts her as an object, a body, solely for global depletion.

Beyonce at the height of her fame, is no longer a person to the global gaze. Instead she is an entity placed in the panopticon of popular culture to be placed, prodded, and exploited as deemed necessary by her oppressors. So in celebrating her latest performance– birthing twins, the masses cast another stone in stripping the collective black female demographic of their humanness.

A subjugated and  inhumane entity, violence cast against the black female body is corroborated and deemed self defense from her primal sexuality. This violence, be it systemic like poverty, or direct like murder or rape, occurs harmoniously with the pervasiveness of black female hyper sexuality.

In summary, Beyonce, as a figure of black femininity to the global gaze, had to have twins. Bearing twins was not only a means for the Knowles-Carter dynasty to expand, but for the world to portray the fictive hyper-sexuality of the  black female body as fact.

Black female objectification is as American as apple pie, and as globally overlooked and ignored as slavery, so it is without wonder that the black female celebrity bare the height of exploited black female identity veiled by riches and fame. While the masses are slowly acknowledging the pattern of hyper-sexuality in its overt display on social media, scripted sitcoms, and reality television, it is essential that this portrayal is exposed as ubiquitous—so that the black female—through her systemic subjugation is not an accidental participant in her own defilement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cultural Appropriation 101: White Men and The Man Weave

While female weaves have been popular for nearly a decade, the man weave is a fairly new phenomena. The assemblage of this fairly new hair option is nothing short of amazing. In the process—a false hairline is drawn and weave is glued (or sewn in some instances) to the scalp then shaved and styled accordingly. This process transforms the negative connotation of hair loss to a positive.

Before-and-After-Man-weave

The man weave, offered mostly by black barbers for black clientele, alleviates the black man from appearing bald, negating the burden of visible hair loss. It is fascinating that spirituality, a practice that still dominates much of the black community seldom cures the need to cover up attributes that deviate from conventionality. A prevalent component of consciousness is belief in oneself— a belief nurtured in acknowledging a collective identity. The conscious black adopts black nationalism as his or her religion, and thereby garners individual esteem from a collective appreciation of his or her indigenous culture. Thus, to the conscious black, hair loss is a form of vanity—placing the individual before the collective—a divisive and detrimental act. Furthermore, soliciting an inauthentic mane as a male or female, reflects a deficient collective understanding and failed attempt to assemble what Dr. Wade Noble referenced as a “shattered consciousness.”

Beauty as transformation is generally problematic, as it festers inferiority to bolster capitalism. To the black body, transformation poses multiple problems. Namely, to further oppress an oppressed people is a crucial step closer to the edge. Dr. Christina Sharpe discusses the trans identity through a fresh lens in her masterpiece In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. In her book, Dr. Sharpe asserts the trans identity as an identity handed to the black body in their coerced voyage over the transatlantic. This journey would transition some black bodies to shark food, some to enslaved Africans, and others to coerced mothers of children forcibly deposited in their wombs. The journey would transition beloved husbands into castrated field hands severed from their family in a forced abandonment. It would transition the beauty of African people to the ugly and incompetent binary opposite to their white oppressors.

screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-4-11-21-pm-e1487193274607Moreover, the trans identity is a prime attribute of past and present blackness. An attribute exploited by the western gaze.

Similarly, the trans identity remains paramount to whiteness. Namely, while the voyage over the trans Atlantic transitioned majestic blacks to inferior beings, this trip did the opposite for whites. Somewhere over the transatlantic, whites transitioned from inferior genetics and physical strength to the top of a global hierarchy.

The man weave serves as a contemporary “trans” opportunity for the white collective.  This became quite apparent when I came across photos of white boys and men opting for man weaves that transformed their straight locs into an African texture.  Donning an ethnic hairdo is a means for a white person to season their whiteness with an “urban” flavor without relinquishing their white privilege.
side-viewMan weaves, offer the white man an opportunity to don the beauty of black hair without the ridicule or systemic disenfranchisement it affords those born with these very attributes. Whether bearing a receding hairline or one in full effect, a black person remains systemically disenfranchised; whereas, the man weave presents an opportunity for the white man to transition from conventional to exotic in a manner of minutes.

A white man donning an “Ethnic” hairdo consisting of coarse curls and the infamous part, locs, or braids, may also fill an ethnic slot in lieu of their racial ambiguity. Namely, companies or any opportunity seeking a “diverse” look, may solicit the racial ambiguity of fair skin, small features, and ethnic hair to exclusively hire their own but overtly appear to value those with unconventional attributes.  A black man on the other hand, whether donning straighter hair, braids, or a close caesar, is solely allotted access to the few and far between opportunities available solely for those of his demographic. Black_hair_9s

Others may argue that blacks appropriate white culture with straightened tresses, chemical treatments or inauthentic hair pieces. Blacks who adopt European aesthetics be it a Malaysian weave or chemical treatment, due so to appease the standards of whiteness imposed upon them as abducted Africans centuries ago. The conk, a means to process texturized hair to resemble that of a white person, like the pressing comb popularized by entrepreneur Madam CJ Walker,   aided blacks in consummating what they are nurtured to pursue as Africans in America–whiteness. Assimilation, while certainly a choice to the conscious gaze, is a way of life for those not yet on a journey to consciousness, who assimilate as easily as they breathe. The abducted African, in a coerced separation from his or her mother continent, does not know Africa as home. Thus, assimilation is not assimilation to the abducted African, it is simply a way of life.

Alternatively, for whites, taking is a way of life. But taking is not conceptualized as thievery or chicanery, but veiled by entitlement.  Whites who don aesthetics common of Africans, do so to capitalize on the beauty of African people without the systemic encumberance. These actions are immeasurably different and catastrophic to a collective who continues to be exploited.

Accusing a black person of cultural appropriation is a lethal ignorance essential to foment racism in America.  A black president, a few black billionaires, or some black bodies in traditionally white spaces, does not negate the epidemic of global racism. To this many blacks and non-blacks will point to the dictionary and their definition of racism which reads as follows:

  • a belief or doctrine that inherit differences among various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement

  • A policy, system of government, etc based upon fostering such a doctrine, discrimination

  • hatred or intolerance of another race or other races

Racism is not limited to a single belief, policy, or hatred. Yes its bad to call someone a “n*gger,” but racism is the system that created the n*gger. It’s the feeling in the air, the reason whites, hispanics, and nearly every other faction can murder and systemically disenfranchise blacks to no penalty. The same dictionary who defines blackness as a “stain” cannot be trusted in compartmentalizing racism. In order to truly be racist, one must employ other beings as their power, to be a victim of racism, your body is the power one uses to assert their dominance. Furthermore, blacks cannot be cultural appropriators because they are not racists and lack a position of power. In contrast, whites are inherently racists, and thereby predisposed to  cultural appropriation.  Cultural appropriation is facet of racism enabled by a global racial hierarchy.

Although cultural appropriation is a term frequently used throughout the diaspora, those with a distorted perception of racism misconstrue the term as applicable to anyone on western soil. It is these same individuals who label blacks the same as they do their racist oppressors in moments of prejudice. These mishaps are not minute, but monumental in perpetuating the racist supremacy that consumes our past and present.

Whites opting to don a man weave do so as a means of exercising their power. Donning an ethnic hairdo is a means for a white person to season whiteness with an “urban” flavor without relinquishing their white privilege . Whether bearing a receding hair line or one in full effect, a black person remains systemically disenfranchised. Furthermore, any white man who dons a man weave to “change up” and don the hair texture of a black man, is a cultural appropriator. This also goes for white men who don locks, or cornrows.

Cultural appropriation is not about hurt feelings—it is about the sheer insult of waving c3d44f72898896834058f59de912214d--dreadlocks-men-thin-dreadsprivilege in the face of systemic  disenfranchisement. Accusing the black collective, a demographic who has been exploited as appropriators, is not an oversight but yet another example of societal deflection. This deflection functions as an act of racial terrorism, burying the anxieties of racism in a fictive equity that does not exist for blacks anywhere globally.

In closing, while the man weave may appear innocuous or even flattering to some, cultural appropriation isn’t harmless or flattering– it’s assault. Cultural appropriation, employs fashion as weaponry, assaulting black esteem and identity. Fashion, although commonly regarded frivolously,  proves a gateway to racist assertions that intensify black subjugation through an implication that black beauty is only truly beautiful and noteworthy when paired with whites.

To be black is to have textured hair, fuller features, a possibly fuller figure, and deep skin tone. To be black is to also face adversity for these features. Cultural appropriation does not change the appeal of African features, but allows whites another path to beauty, highlighting the ongoing struggle for blacks to have anything, even their own beauty, unsullied by white greed.

 

Things I Would Tell My Eighteen-Year-Old Self 

At eighteen years old, I felt well-prepared for the life I thought awaited me. I loved high school and excelled at it. High school presented a platform to emerge from the insecurities conjured up by elementary school “friends,” in a fully bloomed flower. I then arrived at the university in a state where I knew no one, and after a series of revelations, I feel as if I no longer knew myself anymore either.

I suddenly did not have access to my childhood hair stylist and had to do my own hair. My friendly salutations that were once returned with a warm responses were now ignored or issued a look of disgust or confusion. My liking for high heels and shirt skirts were now a means of isolation and ridicule by those who deemed my fashion choices pretentious. My intellectual ability, once celebrated was now relentlessly critiqued. The world as I knew it had changed in a way I had not anticipated.

I’d spend a good portion of the next few years doing what seemed like tripping, but in actuality was me stepping into my destiny. Eleven years later, I only wish I knew then what I know now.

Here are a few things I’d tell my 18-year-old self. a2737e72d2d7589b14538bf3dd1e83ef--tumblr-drawings-of-girls-sketches-drawings-of-black-girls-art

  • Don’t worry about being liked: You can’t expect those who don’t like themselves to like you.
  • Don’t shrink to fit through any doorway
  • Don’t flat iron your hair every day! In an age where folk are buying what you have naturally, appreciate what you have.
  • Spend wisely but save wiser: Looking nice is good, but having something to show for your hard work is way nicer.
  • Don’t chase boys let them chase you: You are the prize!
  • Don’t do business with those you feel disrespect you. If it feels disrespectful, it is.
  • Braid your hair every summer. 
  • Get lost in your work.
  • Speak up!
  • It’s not mean to be real, its cruel to be fake.
  • There isn’t anything wrong with you because you are not interested in alcohol.
  • The coursework is supposed be challenging, embrace it, and don’t be discouraged. May the challenges ignite a fire in your bones.
  • Cool out on the cupcakes, and eat more fruit
  • Stop wasting your money eating out all the time. Call your grandma for recipes and cook!!!
  • It’s not conceited to alienate friends or potential who points out our flaws but will never comment on how amazing you are. Find those who see the best in you, even when you can’t.
  • Write.Write. Write. Whether things are going well or not, write to transcend earthly limitations.
  • Be kind to those you knew in high school, but expect them to change– you will as well. Change is good!
  • 987ce1e19c8345fb1e42058aa2c5f6bc--natural-hair-braids-natural-hair-artBe kind to you parents when you discover they’re real, flawed people.
  • Coloring your hair is not cool or fashionable, its detrimental to your hair health and esteem as a young black woman.
  • Those who “show off” are often the most insecure. Be patient. 
  • It’s often the ones closest to you, that are bringing you down. It’s not cold to distance yourself from toxic people–it’s survival.  
  • Still speak to people even if they look at you like you’re crazy.
  • Never feel guilty for standing up for yourself.
  • Just because someone likes you does not mean they do not envy you. 
  • Don’t succumb to the vanity others hold you to. Your beauty is just that, yours.
  • Be careful who you go to for advice. 
  • Knowing your worth means not letting anyone tell you what you can or cannot do.
  • Get your eyes checked. 
  • Have the courage to be your most authentic self.
  • Realize that folks will talk regardless.
  • To know your history is to know yourself. Make the most of being at a black school and discover your culture.    
  • Follow your gut and don’t second guess yourself.
  • Quit your job and focus on school. Money comes when you do what you love.
    stock-vector-wow-comic-face-sexy-surprised-young-african-woman-with-open-mouth-and-afro-hairstyle-in-glasses-530999668
  • Things rarely turn out how you envision them, but with hard work it can be better than you ever imagined.
  • Never stop dreaming. One day, you’ll wake up and be that person you dreamed about becoming.   

 

What would you tell your eighteen-year-old self? 

 

Black Power. ❤

What O J Teaches The Black Collective

Richard Wright’s Native Son is a haunting narrative that although technically fiction, renders a factual discourse regarding the black male body and criminality. Born into the crime of poverty, the novel’s protagonist Bigger is eventually tried and sentenced for the death of heiress Mary Dalton— a woman he accidentally murdered in a paralyzing fear. This fear would not translate into a feasible testimony before a justice system implemented to criminalize blacks. This fear did however lead to a sense of freedom his life pre murder had never known. It was a freedom in which he’d have to die. His death would be a two fold, a physical death through electrocution and a slow pre-death of systemic bludgeoning.Canada-Lee-Native-Son-1941

The media would criminalize him through its inhuman portrayal. In the eyes of his oppressor, Bigger was not a young man, a son, or brother but an ape, a black beast worthy of systemic muzzling. Black men as apes or brown beasts remains pervasive throughout traditional and contemporary media. Native Son author Richard Wright states in Native Son’s Afterword “How Bigger Was Born,” that the novel’s protagonist Bigger was not created from any one person. Rather he is a medley of black men who violate a system established for their destruction. Their fate? Wright writes:

Eventually, the whites who restricted their lives made them pay a terrible price. They were shot, hanged, maimed, lynched, and generally hounded until they were either dead or their spirit’s broken.

OJ Simpson is Bigger Thomas. But he did not obtain freedom in murdering a white woman, but from possessing what he believed to be the spoils of a life typically reserved solely for whites. Simpson’s status as a “magical negro” moved him from the projects to a mansion and he never looked back, his blackness seemingly lost in the pseudo transition. My mind thought of Bigger Thomas when I saw the photos of OJ Simpson throughout the cybersphere.

la-et-mn-sundance-oj-made-in-america-espn-20160122Once glorified as an athlete and attractive man, Simpson is not only withered with age
but physically blacker. Surely the media could have implemented the many filters that O.J. Simpson arrives for his parole hearing at Lovelock Correctional Centre in Lovelockdominate the contemporary era to give Simpson the golden tone he bore when he was America’s trophy. But, no. The tanned Simpson functions to stain “the juice” with the blackness of global criminality. It is also worth mentioning that Simpson’s tan  intertwined with his grimacing facial expressions, depict Simpson as he always appeared to the western gaze–arrogant and unlikeable.  His age may have garnered sympathy from some and convince others that he is of no threat to the world, but his physical blacknessfunctions to counter what the first trial and jury found oj-simpson-parole-hearing-07-abc-jc-170720_4x3_992him—not guilty.

 

Moments after the OJ Simpson verdict was released, Dr. Greg Carr, one of the most esteemed professors at Howard University, made the following comment on Twitter:

 

 

Forget him. Understand what this case underscores about race in America.

So what exactly does this case say about race in America?

Let us look to the elders and ancestors for assistance engaging contemporary conflict.

  • “When you control a man’s thinking, you do not have to worry about his actions.”—Carter B. Woodson

Praised for superior athleticism and allotted more riches than most see in a lifetime, Simpson is what many aspire to be—handsome, fit, famous, and wealthy. However these attributes, namely the wealth and visibility allotted to Simpson proved a means to control his thinking. To the conscious black, material items are meaningless. To a black individual outside of a collective consciousness, these riches function to grant a fictive freedom. White supremacists, of course know that this pseudo freedom will lead the black individual who sees him or herself as exceptional will eventually lead themselves to the gallows—where they will be not-so-kindly reminded of their subjugated place in society.

  • “We know the road to freedom has always been stalked by death.”—Angela Davis

To pursue freedom is to run alongside death— to feel her wrathful whisper in your sleep and to see her calm cruelty every time you close your eyes. In this same spirit, it is imperative to note that the road to live as a black person has always been stalked by a pseudo freedom.

The individual seeks freedom in tangible objects through the false belief that black bodies function similarly to white bodies who have these tokens of wealth. It is not riches that affords freedom to the white body—it is the system. The individual of course cannot see this, but a deeply ingrained insecurity prompts the individual to desire a visible consummation of their rise from blackness to an illusive whiteness.

  • OJ The Individual: Is this a Laughing Matter?

Despite the correspondence of OJ’s fate to the general black narrative, many have taken the news lightly. Within twenty minutes of the Simpson verdict, Twitter was flooded with images of a pseudo “jail release party” for Simpson hosted at R. Kelly’s house with a performance by Usher. The promo poked fun at the systemic lynchings afforded to Simpson, Kelly and Usher, talented black men assaulted by allegations that substantiate a caricatured black bestiality.  How any member of the black collective feels personally about any of these men is entirely up to them, but their representations are essential to explicate as sisters and brother of the same struggle.

To the conscious gaze OJ is an individual. To the world, he is a a black man. So, to ridicule his systemized fate is to provide a similar atmosphere for our most revered revolutionaries in their discretion.  Moreover, the troubles that befall members of our collective is not a laughing matter, nor a cause for celebration.

  • OJ, the Criminal: An American Creation

Simpson represents the global criminal conjured by a global white supremacy. Black Poet Cornelius Eady captures the essence of the conjured criminal is his poem “How I Got Born.”

Eady writes:

When called, I come.
My job is to get things done.
I am piecemeal.
I make my living by taking things.

The body stained by blackness is the inevitable scapegoat for Western crime. Simpson illustrates the lengths the western world will go to punish its fictive black demon— a fact substantiated by the fact that The Goldman family was interviewed following Simpson’s parole hearing yesterday afternoon. Nine years ago, Simpson was not convicted for robbery. The western world still needed a criminal for the Goldman and Brown murders, and Simpson was their guy. As Easy states, “when called, I come.” An individual enslaved by exceptionalism, the white gaze knew Simpson would come when called. He’d become the criminal they needed in the pseudo believe that he was beyond consequence. Simpson’s acquittal paints him as as every black man is perceived by a global gaze— as if he has gotten away with murder— as if his freedom was and is a mistake. He illustrates that to be black in America is to be on borrowed time.

This makes me think of Floyd from August Wilson’s Seven Guitars— a man desperate to ease the blow of black male intersectionality with money. Once he obtains his tangible token of power, it is not long before he is dead. As slaves we were deprived of an ability to read and bear our own funds—until whites realized that these tools can be used to lynch, incarcerate, and otherwise incriminate the black body. The fictional black male of black literature, functions similarly to the black celebrity, who also composes a fictional image of blackness where “happily every after” is always thwarted by tragedy or scandal—portraying the black male as birthed into his status as a global criminal.

I can only wish that prison transformed Simpson as it did Malcolm X and George Jackson. But perhaps an even greater wish is for the black community to learn from the systemic show enacted through celebrity–to learn that power is not embedded within the tangibility of money and visibility, but beyond it.

May OJ Simpson, the symbol be ingrained into the psyche of the black collective, reminding us that there is no such thing as a rich black—just a negro whose will literally and figuratively pay for his systemic lynching.

Black Power ❤

The Beyoncé Wax Figure: White-Washing and the Blind Gaze

A wax figure of global star Beyoncé made headlines this week for its supposed white– washing of the talented star. The figure– fair-skinned with a pinkish undertones, small features and the star’s famous long blonde locks, offended many who believed the stature resembled an unknown white woman and not the beloved pop star. The outrage resulting from what many deem a “white-washed” image of the talented star unveils the greater portion of the black collective as blissfully oblivious to the acts of racial terrorism cast onto our community in past and present popular culture.

beyonce-wax-figure
The now infamous wax figure.

Simply put, the outrage regarding Beyonce’s wax figure is a delayed reaction. The image does not resemble Beyonce simply because the black collective has been nurtured to see her as black, whereas her cross over appeal lies in her ability to not be too much of anything. In short, this wax figure depicts how Beyonce functions in a world that makes her visible to enslave not inspire the black woman.

large
Beyonce wax figure at Hard Rock Cafe

Let me state that I am a Beyonce fan. I’ve been to many of her shows and enjoyed each one. She is beautiful, talented, and humble. She is also a tool used to lure black women towards whiteness.

Yes, Beyonce is obviously a black woman. Her “blackness” however, is easily deemed beautiful because her image–a skin complexion, which has grown lighter and lighter over the years, in addition to her always blonde locks, acquiesce to standards of conventional beauty. Also, in a world where a size two is plus size, Beyonce is “voluptuous.” But compared to the average woman, Beyonce is noticeably smaller. She functions as an image of perfection for black women—bearing what contemporary media tells us is the best of both worlds: fine symmetrical features, long hair, longer legs, with big hips, a curvy derriere and full lips.

Beyonce demonstrates the danger of beauty to the black collective. Systemically compartmentalized as ugly for centuries, the black female collective desperately seeks to grasp conventional beauty —to possess it in a manner deemed impossible by western ideology. Beyonce is a means for many black women to encompass this beauty, to prove to us that beauty is compatible with the intersectionality of blackness and femininity.

Prior to a few years ago, there was no black princess. This is likely due to the fact that Walt Disney was indeed a racist, a fact obvious to anyone who has revisited Disney as an adult and witnessed the racial undertones overlooked as children. Beyonce is this black princess and the queen as adoringly referred to as “Queen Bey” by fans. Queen Bey functions symbolically,  seducing the black female psyche into believing that they are a leading lady in a western fairy tale.

The magic black women associate with Beyonce is what many black women fail to see in themselves. She is the Jesus-like figure to those seeking someone, anyone, to believe in but themselves. The wax figure shows the black woman who she has been singing along too and secretly wishing she was all these years. This wax figure does not resemble the mothers, aunts, grandmothers and cousins of the Beyonce fanbase, but neither does Beyonce. The wax figure, in the horror it prompts from fans provokes an outrage the black collective should have had when the white media handed us a fair-skinned, blonde haired “black” woman and not only labeled her beautiful but as the apex of black female beyonce-glitter-dress-21k-billboard-1548beauty and achievement.

But Beyonce, despite her talent and southern charm is far from an ally to black women. In fact, Beyonce for all intensive purposes is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Namely, she functions to promote white aesthetics through a black body.

Beyonce is also an integral tool in bolstering the image of the hyper sexual black female, illustrating that despite beauty and talent, the black woman must shake her derrière in barely-there costumes to achieve conventional success. gallery-1483030564-elle-beyonce-index

To the conscious gaze, perhaps what is most off-putting about the wax figure is how masculinized a tokenized figure of femininity becomes under an uncensored white gaze. This illustrates that while the masses argue over whether the wax figure is black enough, the true query remains whether or not the black female body is human enough to be woman. This androgynous representation, illustrates the black woman as obtaining a proximity to whiteness in hair and figure but issued the genderless state of her ancestors  with a face that suggests a thwarted transition to “womanhood” negated by her African ancestry.

So, the issue is not the statue itself, or Beyonce as an individual. Beyonce is a gorgeous and talented woman. Her functionality however, is noxious to black female identity.  The issue is that it took a grotesque representation of the starlet, to see what Beyonce’s been all along. Beyonce is popular because she is what so many black women wish they were, fair-skinned with long light hair, light eyes, slender but slightly curvy and unbelievably wealthy. She is the ambition, the aspiration and the dream of the unconscious black woman who sleepwalks her way right into arms of white supremacy to the beat of a Beyonce song.

I personally hope the wax figure left unmodified,  as this is seemingly what it takes to awake the unconscious.

R. Kelly: Sexual Predator or Scapegoat?

I anticipate that this post will be unpopular. I acknowledge the contention that my assertions will certainly prompt and welcome the scathing comments in the section below. With that being said, I still very must feel that my perspective is worthy of articulation and exposure to those that care to listen.

Singer and R&B legend R.Kelly made headlines this week for allegedly assembling a sex cult consisting of underaged girls. These allegations bear a disturbing connection to R. Kelly’s previous trouble with the law, portraying Kelly as a an OJ-like figure–a haughty  recidivist who finagled through the loopholes of the American legal system.

I feel obliged to state that I have no respect for R. Kelly as a man. I do however, respect his talent. I perceive the ‘Pied Piper’ as an enslaved black who used America’s need to hyper sexualize the black man as a means to foment his career. While Kelly defiantly made family friendly songs like “Step in The Name of Love” and inspirational songs like “I Believe I Can Fly” and “The World’s Greatest” most of Kelly’s hits are sexualized slow jams to which I’m sure proved background music to the conception of many post millennials. His sexualized image fueled a career spanning over two decades with a plethora of adoring black female fans. parents-claim-r-kelly-cult-leader-read-2017-1be55b97-e8ac-483b-9dbd-720458c69aec

These fans remained loyal to Kelly even after a video surfaced of the singer issuing a golden shower to a then-fifteen year old girl. The charges were eventually dropped and buried in the past of a musician who was still able to maintain his mogul stature despite dramatic changes in the music industry.

While my argument is not to pardon R. Kelly from blame, it is that he is not the primary cause of the hyper-sexualized black female body that faces violation without consequence. R. Kelly was relieved of any legal responsibility in previous allegations of sexually violating a black female teen simply because the black female body bears no significance to the Western world outside of monetary gain. Consider how quickly the western world kills and incarcerates the black body.  The reason why Kelly was not susceptible to these consequences is not because of his riches, but because his “crimes” served an integral purpose in maintaining white supremacy. Moreover, the world was and is more interested in portraying Kelly and his victim as sexual beasts than to upholding the integrity of those they do not see as a human let alone bearing the presumed innocence of femininity or childhood.

To the western gaze, the hyper sexuality of the young black female body violently seduces Kelly. To this same gaze, Kelly is a sexualized being unable to resist the callings of his bestial urges. Together, these caricatured images of black sexuality function assemble the historical narrative of blacks as primitive and underdeveloped beings worthy of the death and incarceration that befalls them.

rkellyKelly, a melanated individual who believes his conventional success consummates his transition to whiteness, feels as entitled to young bodies as the white man did and does to young black females. Kelly, is a symbol of what happens when a morally impoverished black youth offsets a journey to acquire physical wealth and not a collective consciousness. As members of an oppressed collective, it is essential that we proceed with consciousness. To proceed without it, is to inevitably mirror our oppressors in thought and action.

There is also a large possibility that this ordeal is entirely fictional, and yet another means to lynch a black man by the rope of hyper sexuality. But the verity of these accusations does little to supersede its societal function. The scenario depicts how the black man and women are commonly pitted against one another and how the black male is villanized for implementing what he was nurtured to idolize—white male ideology.

The teachings of white supremacy are second nature to anyone not possessing a conscious gaze. I read The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, a few years back and was mortified at what Pecola’s father does to her on the kitchen floor. I resented Morrison for years, holding her in contempt for depicting the black man as indifferently robbing his child of her innocence.

It took me several strides into consciousness to realize that the father was a man systemized and nurtured to become an animal, a subjugate human who performs the dirty work of his master in his oppressed state. This is not an excuse, as his actions are detestable and hard to read, yet even more difficult to process as a factual fate rendered to so many blacks throughout the diaspora silent in the shame of their systemic violation.

rkelly-2016-thatgrapejuice

Kelly symbolically stands in the same image of this fictional black man who encompasses the factual narrative of so many other black males castrated by earthly demons who program the black body to inflict white evil onto their own people.

Kelly’s actions function to lure black women from blackness into the arms of feminism–yet example of society's dedication to turning racist issues into sexist issues to further the cyclical disenfranchisement of blacks by hurling our struggle into oblivion. A second offense by a black praised for his prodigious talent, serves another blow to our collective identity alongside similar allegations afforded to other black greats like the late Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Kobe Bryant, amongst others. These allegations function to fuel white esteem and denigrate black collective worth in staining the black psyche with portraits of themselves that seemingly lack a moral compass.

So, to those quick to compartmentalize a black man as a sexual villain— I would like to redirect your attention to the words of the late and great Malcolm X:

“If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

To what contempt will you hold a system that upholds the systemic soiling of black female bodies?

To reiterate I am in no way excusing Kelly, but evoking a sense of nationalism to assert that we as a collective have been wronged by a system that lures us to incessantly blame ourselves but seldom confront the the true villain and sole benefactor of global racism.

Chess_piece_-_Black_queen

In closing, the power of blackness lies largely in realizing if and when we are being played. So while we may not be playing chess, our systemized state as blacks bears a close resemblance to a king being used to seize the most powerful piece of the game–his queen.

Black Power. ❤