Diddy. and the Expropriation of Black Excellence

For over twenty years, Sean Combs, “Diddy,” or “Puff Daddy” has been a paramount figure of black celebrity. He is debonair and articulate but still bears a familiarity to members of the collective in the barbershops and on the train. To many, he is the epitome of what it means to possess power as a black man in America. This perception, while fomenting much of Diddy’s prolonged relevancy, could not be more inaccurate.  bediddy

Diddy recently posted a picture of himself with other black figures of influence to which he captioned “black excellence.” The picture incited such a stir after it was revealed that Diddy had cropped out cultural appropiators Kendall and Kylie Jenner. To many, this gesture betrayed a black pride absent from much of mainstream culture, To the conscious gaze, an always fashion- forward Diddy was making yet another fashion statement vital to preserving his image in the wake of pseudo “wokeness.”  For instance, while NFL player Colin Kaepernick took a stand against the racial injustice that has plagues the black community for centuries, Diddy took a seat at the 2017 Met Gala to admire his racially ambiguous arm candy.  Diddy displays a dedication to self-marketing, focusing solely on ways to help himself gain popularity and allure by appearing “cool.” It is now cool to be black, and Diddy, as the king of cool has assumed a predictably stance in seemingly nuancing society’s latest trend with the term “black excellence.”

puffdaddy-1493696362-640x427Diddy strives to paint a portrait of contemporary black excellence in short film Black Excellence co-starring rapper and entrepeneaur Jay Z and the Apple Music exclusive documentary Can’t Stop Won’t Stop. Here’s what Diddy got wrong:

 

 

  1. Black minded is not the same as being black consciousness.

If nothing else is clear about Diddy, it is that he is occassionally black-minded. His business -savvy mindset granted artists that may not have gotten a chance to shine global exposure. The music mogul falls short of consciousness in his projected belief that white wealth equates to success.

For this reason, Diddy is like the field negro turned house negro, the southern black turned northerner, or the western black turned European. Racism is an inescapable global virus that affects the world. Belief that relocation or increased funds cures racism merely reflects an inability of the individual to conceptualize the disease of racism that consumes their lives. A rich black is not any more free than a house slave-he or she merely bears a closer proximity to your oppressors.

2. To Diddy, blackness is only a skin color

In the now famous “black excellence” photo,  Diddy poses with Migos, Travis Scott, Wiz Khalifa, and Jaden Smith. All men function to validate the caricatured narrative of black masculinity, making them melanated, or black physically but not possessing the consciousness to depict them as anything more that individuals seeking to eventually culminate a “trans” whiteness.

3. He thinks his success means something for blacks as a whole

While Diddy’s wealth has afforded him costly material goods, visibility, and legendary status, Diddy is an individual. Diddy is not an Ali- like figure who has risked what he worked for his entire life, to uplift his people. He isn’t a Fredi Washington like figure who used her celebrity to fuel activism His wealth and celebrity presence, while at times entertaining, has done nothing to upraise blacks from the veiled pits of contemporary enslavement. Rather, Diddy is a glamorized representation of our shortcomings.

At most, Diddy is a point of reference for any enslaved black seeking white validation. Having a wealthy black man, bears the same significance of first black President— a pseudo symbol of “what could be” but an accurate reflection of the colonialized mindset that consumes our collective.

4. While seemingly complimentary, “black excellence” actually upholds the teachings of white supremacy.

In truth, “black excellence” functions similarly to the term “white trash.” White trash implies that white is not inherently trashy. The phrase upholds the positive connotations the white gaze has always afforded whiteness,

Conversely, the term black excellence also sustains traditional ideologies of the term blackness. The Oxford English Dictionary affords the following definitions for the word “black:”

  • Of the very darkest colour owing to the absence of or complete absorption of light; the opposite of white.
  • Deeply stained with dirt.

  • Relating to black people.

  • Belonging to or denoting any human group having dark-coloured skin, especially of African or Australian Aboriginal ancestry.

  • Characterized by tragic or disastrous events; causing despair or pessimism.

  • (of a person’s state of mind) full of gloom or misery; very depressed.

  • Full of anger or hatred.

  • archaic Very evil or wicked.

The term “black excellence” upholds the negative connotation of blackness substantiated by the definitions listed in the Oxford English Dictionary. It implies that black is not inherently excellent and thus in need of a modifying term to reflect this aberration.

Diddy is of course not an anomaly, nor is Jay Z ,or anyone “gifted” the label of this hollow term. While Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise speaks of being “the hope and dream of a slave” in her confidence and self-awareness, Diddy reflects the hopes and dreams of the slave master, whose blood runs though the current music executives and Hollywood big-wigs– despite being long perished into the stolen soil. Diddy is the freed slave who came home to work for his master, dressed in his master’s clothes and riches torn from his mother continent.

Diddy proves that money, or access is not strong enough to undo the detriment of an institution birthed centuries ago. Like the black soldiers of war, given access to heavy artillery and murdering their oppressor’s enemy and not their oppressor, Diddy in his wealth and influence reflects white success or white excellence. He is not black excellence, but black foolery and debauchery. Diddy is not a leader but a follower, a precarious figure to those of the black collective, not so much for his actions themselves, but in the oblivion in which he projects his behaviors.

In short, the phrase black excellence, while pleasing to the ear, evokes the same shallowness as Jay Z’s “The Story of OJ,” so it seems only fitting that the two co star in an almost comical display of what black excellence is not. So to answer the gauche query that anchors the film:

What is better than one black billionaire?

Two black men to which money is a just a piece of paper.

Black power. ❤

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Life Hacks for Black Women

A little “sun” on your Sunday. <3.

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1. Black Soap is the holy grail for black skin. It cures dark spots and gives black skin a natural glow.  Go unprocessed if possible.   

2. Water is Your Friend. Drink it morning, noon, and night!

3. Working out is like studying: You may pass without it, but you probably won’t ace

Try “Tiffany Rothe Workouts” on Youtube. She’s a beautiful black woman dedicated to fitness.

tiffany rothe
4. Embrace adversity, for this is often an opportunity to deepen faith in yourself

5. Every smiling face is not a friend, and every sister ain’t a sister

6. Never apologize or feel the need to dumb down your greatness

7. Put downs, or any emphasis of error, whether direct or covert, just means you are standing too tall for someone’s self esteem. This behavior is toxic, deal with it as bfyou please, but do not forget. 

8. To avoid envy, work hard to become the person you’d be envious of
9. Money is not anything more than what you make it

10. Modesty is a pillar of greatness 

11. Know that your physical beauty, while remarkable, only the scratches the surface of your allure as a black woman. 

12. Read. Read. Read. Reading enables individuals to stand in the past and present simultaneously. Don’t cheat yourself out of a full life experience. Reading is the gateway to mental elevation. 

Ida B. Wells’ Southern Horrors, Gertrude Dorsey Brown’s “Measure for Measure” and “Scrambled Eggs,” Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Octavia Butler’s Kindred, and The Autobiography of Assata Shakur are a just few must reads for black women (post on this
in progress :-)).

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13. Anticipate white evil and refuse to let white hate ruin your beauty 

14. Beware of those who bring up past grievances, often it is them that needs you to be who you once were

15. Those who pretend to know it all, often know the least

16. If done right, education reveals how much you don’t know, not how much you do.

17. View melanin as a redeeming not damning quality

18. Render white acceptance or opinion into cultural oblivion.

19. Seek a black significant other or spouse— someone whose blackness not only runs through their veins, but oozes out of pores

20. Understand that weaves, false eyelashes, and makeup does not enhance your beauty, it veils your perfection as an African Queen. 

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21. If you find your self verbally or physically assaulted by white women and women of your collective, treat as a compliment and testament to your greatness. Be patient with your sisters though, and aid them in seeing the beauty in themselves. We are all queens.  mp

22. Make a vow to challenge yourself to be a little blacker every day. Whether its skipping out on Starbucks and choosing at black establishment, or dumping your Dominican stylists and choosing a sista’—make a vow to elevate your commitment to the collective. The ancestors will thank you.

23. Believe in yourself. When you are low look to the ancestors and anecdotes from our past to show you that not only can you make it, but you will!

cct24. Deep condition.  Treat your hair like the crown it is! I like Coconut Water Deep Penetrating Treatment and Algae Renewal treatment by Camille Rose Naturals! Solicit black made products for your black mane.

25. Never give up on your own people. This is not to say that you will not be disappointed or even crossed by your own—it just means that you should be bigger than any smallness thrown your way.

26. Live your life at your own pace. You are one of kind. Comparing yourself to others only distracts from the magic that is you.

pope27. Regard every public representation of black womanhood, whether in politics or prime-time television with a grain of salt.

Media does not exist to entertain but to enslave the black mind.

28. Call/Visit your grandparents, and family elders.   Your connections to your elders is essential to a collective understanding of the world before your arrival. Gift them small tokens of appreciation, like take them a snack, take the out to eat, revel in their beauty etc 

29. If you possess an attribute of conventionality, look past it.

Whether it’s long hair, lighter skin, a slender frame, money, an education—find beauty in what the western world would finds “ugly” or “bad” instead.

30. Know your worth: The biggest mistake black women make is to value themselves far lower than they’re actually worth. You’re worth the sun, moon,  a

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nd the sky–anything less is an insult. 

31. Acknowledge a collective identity to truly acquire esteem. Our history did not begin with slavery, knowing this fact and the countless others that line the rich history of Africans is the closest to freedom we can hope to come as the abducted children of the globe’s richest continent.

32. If anyone says that Native Americas “had it worse than blacks” redirect their attention to your last name and the fact that you’re speaking English. Our struggle as black people is real, and no one has the right to demean our ancestors. As queens, we must mind our thrones. 

33. Never be scared to stand alone. To be conscious is to bear a lonely existence. Just know you’re never alone–the ancestors are with you always!

34. End every day by asking yourself: “What have I done for my people today?”

We must live through purpose in order to advance and achieve cultural nationalism. Whether you tutor, garden, volunteer at the library, or perform any other kind of civic duty, we all have something to offer. Don’t rob your community of your greatness, and most importantly, don’t rob yourself of culminating the full extent of your excellence.

Black Power ❤

Decrypting The Sociopathy of the Oppressed

Hollywood
Whitney Elizabeth Houston was once a shining light of American culture. She was beautiful and unbelievably talented. Her voice possessed an unearthly perfection that serenaded the entire world. With songs like “How Will I know,” and “ I Want to Dance with somebody,” Houston was pop culture royalty. But her reign would eventually turn sour and function to depict Houston as a self-destructive black female brought down by fame and fortune.

A world that once found hope in her bright smile and high notes, now turned their backs on a star dimmed by personal tragedy. A community that once crowned Houston their queen, now regarded her as a drug-addicted peasant, undeserving of riches that seemed the answer to all quotidian problems.

White supremacy racial psychopath seduced many within the black community to turn against Houston, and dismiss her demise and death as suicidal. This racial psychopathy incited many blacks to believe that Houston was not only responsible for her own death, but for the death of her child. This act may seem innocuous but in actuality ignores a cruel truth, Houston and her sole beneficiary were disposable once deemed more valuable dead than alive. Many would disregard Houston as systemized, regarding Houston as they do others members of our community that are seen to be acting out of self interest not a product of a system designed for their failure. Houston marks the height of an oppressed mindset, where a nurtured black oblivion allows whites to literally get away with murder. Law would deem actions causation at best and conspiracy at worst, the black conscious gaze simply labels said cruelty white supremacy.

This nurtured black oblivion is a facet of oppressed sociopathy, a mental illness that seduces the oppressed mindset to implement western truth as their own and in turn endure a lethal dose of western fiction.

A Chicago Boy

Decades ago, a young, charismatic, handsome black male committed what the western world labeled a petty crime. Although only supposedly “stealing” seventy dollars, the young man would die in prison, denied an opportunity to implement his self-imposed rehabilitation. This young man was none other than George Jackson. Despite defeating every opportunity designed to destroy him, the white media and penitentiary system will paint him as a vicious “thug” or “criminal” the world was safer without. Sources would say nothing about the crime of poverty which landed a systemically disenfranchised Jackson beside numerous others black males like himself in jail, or the racial sociopathy that prompted his own relative to turn him over to the police, doing what systemic disenfranchisement conditioned the oppressed to believe was “the right thing.” But what is so right about turning a teenaged black boy into a white institution, an institution funded by the same means that fostered black poverty and severed black unity?

As members of an oppressed race, every thought, speech and action reflects the influence of our oppressors. As Dr. Bobby Wright articulates in his essay “The Racial Psychopath” the black body lacks free will, as their once enslaved bodies prove a gateway to an enslaved ideology. This mental enslavement produces an oppressive sociopathy, where the oppressed emulates the behavior of their oppressor but cannot rise to their level of empathetic dissonance.

The racial psychopath and oppressed sociopath develop their conditions as a means to survive. To an extent, both conditions are reactionary—however, oppressed sociopathy is birthed from racial psychopathy as a necessity to persecute black persons in America.

This post will implement Dr. Frances Cress Wesling’s definition of racism outlined in the following excerpt from The Isis Papers:

The Color Confrontation theory recognizes racism as one of the dominating forces determining character development, personality and formation type. Therefore, a functional definition of racism (white supremacy), is the behavioral syndrome of individual and collective color inferiority and numerical inadequacy that includes patterns of thought, speech and action, as seen in members of the white organization (race).

Science categorizes sociopathy by “antisocial behavior,” or an individual who performs actions deemed detrimental to themselves or society at large. The oppressed sociopath is a member of the black collective whose inability or unwillingness to acknowledge and accept racism proves harmful to the individual and the black collective, thwarting the essential unity needed for our advancement as a people.  The oppressed sociopath is a central member of a chain gang that holds hands across centuries of mental enslavement. Their behavior often proves a gateway If not the direct cause for consequences displaced onto the black body such as death, incarceration, miseducation or misallocated resources.

The following are a list of the oppressed sociopaths that populate the black collective.

  1. The Alternate Reality Seekers

One of the crucial components of an oppressed sociopath is creating an alternative reality. This reality is often bizarre yet favorable. The oppressed mind creates an idealistic version of themselves in which they have no intention on working to achieve in anywhere other than their minds.

Examples: A clearly plus-sized person may speak convincingly about being a size 2 or 4
A cowardly person may refer to themselves as courageous.
Individuals may reference books they’ve never read and people they’ve barely met or spoken too as close friends or colleagues.

This act is an attempt to glue together what Dr. Wade Noble refers to as a “fractured identity.” In this created identity, the black sociopath attempts to appease western standards they deem unattainable or challenging.

2. Addicted to Any Means of Escapism

Alcohol/Drug Abuse, The Emotional Shopper, etc

This black sociopath is driven mad by white supremacy and seeks self-medication in the drugs made more easily accessible than any other conventional opportunity like education, wealth, or business ownership.

3. Worshipping any form of a White Jesus

Blacks who quote or find inspiration in white figures like Joel Osteen, or white people in general.

Another example are the black women who found hope in Hilary Clinton despite all she’s done to disenfranchise the black community over the last twenty-five years.

This is a common form of escapism in which the black sociopath, unwilling to accept the evilness of white people, instead deems themselves deficient sans the influence of whites.

4. The Interracial Enthusiasts

Youtubers like My name is Josephine have what appears to be a successful Youtube channel, where she articulates a fatal misunderstanding of racism. Racial Psychopaths are sure to make room for this kind of oppressed sociopath. So while those who speak truth are often banned (or killed) when their platform gets too large, confused black bodies like My Name Is Josephine gain an opportunity to make a living and make a fool of herself as caricatured black clown clad with a wig and makeup.

5. Those who damn their own and do not seek a bigger picture
This is perhaps the most common. The oppressed sociopath limits the struggles of blacks in the black community to blacks. These melanated bodies blame blacks for the death of black people citing the mythic “black on black crime,” and reference black incivility for underdeveloped black areas. Perhaps the biggest problem with these melanated individuals is that they invest heavily in individualism and mentally disassociate from the collective. Rather than conceptualizing blackness a shared experience, when these individuals reference “blacks” in seemingly self-deprecating phrases or actions, they reference a demographic they see as beneath themselves, taking a self-proclaimed position beneath whites but above blacks.

6. The “optimists”

This individual believes that “good” will come from ignoring color and upholding humanistic ideology, despite the immense evilness that runs through white veins to no consequence. The optimists believes that there is a line that whites will not pass to ensure their survival. A central component in understanding white supremacy is to accept what my late grandfather always said “nothing is too low.” Whites are able to get away with all they’ve done and continue to do, mainly because most blacks cannot fully conceptualize the extent of white evil. There is nothing whites won’t do, say or believe to “win.” If you a black person think a white person did something to you—do not second guess this feeling. You’re right— even if you can not prove it. If you a black person face unsettling feelings about an action or believe something said to you did not quite feel right—its because it was not. NOTHING is impossible for these racial psychopaths. Be aware and stay ready. The “optimist” is not really optimistic but oblivious to white evil or unwilling to acknowledge it.

7. The Individual

This person believes because they achieved some conventionality, be it monetary or professional, others who are unable to do the same are lazy and uninspired.

For example, let’s say there are two brothers. One may make a good living and the other may rely on government assistance. The brother who makes his own money may compartmentalize his sibling as “lazy” with the the reason that if he can do it, everyone can. Individual consummation of conventional success does not reverse collective disenfranchisement. We as a collective must realize that a moment or lifetime in the gleam of material or intangible accolades does not erase the darkness that hovers over blackness throughout the diaspora. It is this same kind of thinking that seduced many to believe that things were so much better because Barack Obama was president. The appointment of a melanated man to the commanding office did not erased the black men killed in the street, the black women raped to no consequence, the black children miseducated, and the black bodies tortured in institutions from mental asylums to jails.


In writing this piece, I want to clearly state that I am not aiming to judge any member of the black collective. To do so would be an attempt to maintain a position above other blacks and paints me in the same blurred image of my oppressors. As stated in the studies and teachings of black psychologists like Dr. Bobby Wright, Dr. Amos Wilson, and Dr. Francis Cress Wesling, failing to understand the complexity of white supremacy, constitutes mental illness. Dr. Cress-Wesling wrote:

The process of decoding a power system and its culture is a necessary first step to achieve behavioral mastery over that system/culture. The attainment of such mastery is an essential step in the process of total liberation for the victims who wish to end that oppression and regain their self-respect and mental health. Without this process of decoding, the oppressed fail to fully understand what they are dealing with; they have minimal levels of consciousness and self/group-respect, and they are, functionally speaking, mentally ill.

It is this mental illness that breeds a culture of confusion. This confusion deters progress replacing reality with fiction. The extent of racial psychopathy will never be taught in Psychology 101, because white supremacists have nothing to gain by teaching the oppressed of their oppression. In fact, formal education, television, books, music, art, comics, etc all function to lure blacks into a state of mental illness veiled as intellect or culture. Jails just exists to further control those outside of the jail, falsely suggesting that prison is an actual place and not a state of mind. To be a victim of racism is to be imprisoned everywhere, every moment of your life. To be free is to exist beyond the tangible. To see through the brick wall of white supremacy to the other side. To see white supremacists for the heartless beings they are, and to not only know your truth but to stand in it.

This oppressed  sociopathy implements a western truth and thereby functions as normal. As a result, many will read this post and declare the assertions sheer ludicracy—becoming defensively sensitive to an analysis that mirrors themselves and those that they know. It is the reluctance of the oppressed sociopath to accept his or her condition that allows cyclical disenfranchisement to function surreptitiously.

It is through the teachings and guidance of our black doctors, black elders, and ancestors like Dr. Bobby Wright, Dr. Amos Wilson and Dr. Francis Cress Wesling. that permit the black collective to saw off the chains of white supremacy and break the cycle of mental enslavement. But as with any illness, healing begins with disclosure.

Can you think of another kind of oppressed sociopathy?

I Am Not Your Negro, A Review

James Baldwin’s “I am Not Your Negro” succeeds in bridging past and present racial truths earning them a much deserved place in contemporary conversation. One of the most troubling ideologies of contemporary culture is the belief that the turmoil afforded to black life, is isolated, or new. The films succeeds in drawing the necessary connection between current culture and a not so distant past of lynchings, beatings, poverty and murders.

The film takes the reader through time, engaging multiple perspectives and images that will surely engrave themselves into the viewer’s memory indefinitely. Although I have seen pictures of a dying Malcolm X on the stretcher countless times, something about seeing this photo last night caused a hot tear to run down my cheek. We all know that Malcolm is dead, the reminder somehow just seems as cruel as it is necessary. The film issues similar views of Dr. King, and Medgar Evans in their caskets, frozen in time– their words as poignant as their faces. The film also juxtaposes lynched young bodies alongside boys in handcuffs. Both images prove painful to the eye as their subtle juxtaposition illustrated an unfortunate fate issued to far too many black males.

In addition to powerful images like these, the film stays true to Baldwin’s genius. Namely, the film issues a number of resounding phrases from Baldwin that make it hard to believe that three decades have past since his last breath. Baldwin’s words prove eerily insightful if not clairvoyant. His words cause the reader to question whether  America is in fact predictable. Or, have we, as a collective, been too seduced by the idea of change to actually demand it.

Baldwin contemplates these questions, in addition to a number of historical occurrences and dynamics in the following cluster of quotes extracted from the documentary.

“Malcolm was one of those who he saw at the Mountaintop”

A central theme of the documentary is love, a sentiment Baldwin extends to black revolutionaries Medgar Evans, Malcom X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Slightly older that all three men, Baldwin revisits knowing and losing men he both admired and cherished. History showed us what happens to blacks who uplift their collective. However, Baldwin takes us into the affect these losses yielded to those who loved them in life and were gutted by their murders.

The love Baldwin had for Evers, X and King mirrored the affections they all had for one another. While adapting various approaches, all men possessed a genuine love for their people, and a pride in their culture. All men depicted a kind of valor that seemingly died with them. This valor issued them a form of fearlessness that prompted them to fear oppressive stagnancy more than death. Baldwin referenced King’s final speech in a manner that spoke to this unity. Baldwin wrote “Malcolm was one of those who he saw at the Mountaintop,” seemingly referencing the mountaintop as a destination consummated in the predictable and untimely murders of black revolutionaries.

Watching the film, I could not help but wonder that as I sat in the Lincoln Center theatre listening to his words, if Baldwin listened too from this mountaintop. It seemed that Evers, King and X afforded him alternative perspectives to America, perspectives that transformed him from a figure of comfort to a force to be reckoned with. He mentions being older than Evers, King and X, yet outliving them all– a fact he conveys with a tone of regret, suggesting to viewers that each year granted to him and not to them, murdered the part of him that believed in America in a way that he no longer could.

“One of us should have been there with her.”

Baldwin issues this line in reference to Dorothy Counts’ integrative act. The film showed images of Dorothy Counts-a stunning beauty– walking proudly. Although it seemed that she was just walking to school, she literally and figuratively crossed the segregated line. An act that earned her jeers and threats from white onlookers. Her beauty dominates the picture, but one’s peripheral is bound to capture he contemptuous looks that encompass the background. Baldwin’s sentiments mirror the guilt and responsibility some of the black collective felt after hearing about the murders of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and Kalief Browder (yes, from my perspective the system murdered Kalief).

“A Meaningless Moral Gesture”

Baldwin recounts a meeting that he and Lorraine Hansberry had with Bobby Kennedy. During this meeting, they requested that he escort a little girl integrating a school, an act he deemed a “meaningless moral gesture.” This was a sonorous moment of this film, as it provided the necessary truth to suggest that the separatist strategy is not one of hate but one of necessity. Whites are not allies to blacks, simply because the very acts that hurt us helps them—therefore they cannot be trusted to cut off their arm to help us barter our freedom.

“Weakening the ability to deal with the world as it is.”

Perhaps one of the most resonant portion of the film was Baldwin’s engagement with western depictions of blackness on the big and small screen. From Sidney Portier in his”Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” role where Baldwin states blacks deemed him as a  working against black interest, to degrading images like Steppin’ Fechit that rendered no truth to what he saw or knew—Baldwin confronts television as an oppressive tool. He resonantly states that television presents “What we’d like to be versus what we actually are.” On television the white man is a celebrated hero, and the blacks and native Americans are savages and simple fools in need of western civility. These images project the internal contents of western imagination yet function as fact. Baldwin referenced a “grotesque innocence” with regard to popular white images, a combative interpretation of images aggressively placed at the forefront of western culture to imply white superiority. These images operate in sheer contrast to American truth. For whites to depict themselves as embodying innocence when they robbed an entire continent of human being s they appropriated for western gain, is nothing short of bizarre.

“Never had to look at me but I had to look at you.”

The film showed audiences pictures of men and women handing limply from trees, as Baldwin commented on how these horrific acts affected the oppressor. Baldwin states “You Never had to look at me but I had to look at you” to reference the oppressive dynamic. The oppressor never has to admit to the severity of their deeds. There are no moments of remorse, regret, or reflection. Just moments of gloating in a stolen superiority. Baldwin then addresses how white supremacy affects the white supremacist with the following: “ You cannot lynch me and put me in the ghetto without becoming monstrous.” Despite working overtime to imply their superiority, all that whites have done to dehumanize blacks has not actually made blacks inferior but it has made whiteness a monstrous entity. Furthermore, it is not black bodies that have become dehumanized, but the white conscious, or lack theirof, that epitomizes the very humanity they tried to cast onto blacks.

“Nothing can be changed unless it is faced”

Much of Baldwins writing focuses on a journey back from Europe to the United States. The distance between himself and the black collective that birthed him presents him with a since of nostalgia This nostalgia does not discount the oppression that he knows awaits him on the other side of the ocean. But it does cause him to miss the beauty of blackness often overshadowed by white ugliness. He references black style, black cooking and just being near those who birthed and nurtured him as a void unfilled elsewhere. Facing the perils that still face the black in America, is like looking into a mirror that grants instant access to your past and present self. There simply is no escaping the past, or present as an African in America as your African blood not only runs through your fails but in the soil and concrete that dominates the North America.

Through the words he writes, it seems that Baldwin views his journey to Europe as a form of escapism. A form of escapism that proves counter productive as the African in American experience, once encountered is not subject to erasure.

“Bad Nigger”

I particular enjoyed Baldwin’s rhetoric on hue and heroism. Notably that black heroes correspond to an undeserved demonization, whereas their white counterparts correspond to an underserved celebration. A particularly resonant moment in the film is when he speaks of John Wayne. He speaks of John Wayne being a white hero both black and white audiences cheered on, but this cheering halted upon realizing that Wayne murdered Indians, and as an oppressed groups Blacks were the Indians. Furthermore, the western world designs a world where blacks root for their own oppression and whites are praised for their oppressive action. However, when revolutionaries like Malcom X, Medgar Evans and Dr. King work to raise their people from the perils of white supremacy they are treated like national terrors. Namely, their murders symbolize how black bodies that the bear the audacity of pride and self-awareness become examples that must be publicly and brutally eliminated.

“The Story of the Negro in America, is the story of America.”

The displaced African body is not an African in America, they are America. From stripping Africans of their language and culture, to beatings, lynchings, mutilations and murders, the African body is the American land, stolen, raped and reasserted. America is the home of white supremacy, a land that speaks of a freedom created on the backs of the abducted African.

Furthermore, the most poignant point of the film is Baldwin’s assertion of the “nigger” as an American creation. The African, abducted to compose the European settler’s binary opposite, personifies the American error. Thus, he and we are not the American negro, simply because the negro never truly existed.

We are not the figment of American imagination afforded to us as a form of pseudo identity. We are African, and we are human. We are a cluster of attributes, but we are not and never were your negro.

Thank you James Baldwin for your brilliance. I would say that I wish I could have met you, but I feel as though I already have.

May you rest in the peace you afford us all through your writing.

 

Does BET Series “The Quad” hit the four corners needed to advance contemporary black portrayal?

Tonight BET debuts new series “The Quad.” The series airs on the first day of black history month—a fact that corresponds well to the premise of placing value on our own institutions. The series, authored by Soul Food creators and writers Felicia D. Henderson and Charles Holland, engages the HBCU dynamic from multiple angles.

I attended a pre-screening event for the series on Monday evening in lower Manhattan.  For me, the series proved nostalgic. As an HBCU grad,  and former resident of freshman dorm “The Quad”– my  HBCU experience was bittersweet. Yet, it is the experiences encountered on Howard’s hilltop that taught me much of what I carry today.

While watching the series, I wondered if The Quad would prove would prove as resonant as 2002’s Drumline (Nick Cannon, Orlando Jones). Namely, could this series be the necessary push to redirect blacks back into schools that render their collective interests central?

I. Where the show succeeds…

1. Variety

One of the pinnacles of my HBCU experience was encountering individuals from various walks of black life. The series does a great job incorporating the diversity within blackness. This is especially important, given how hard the media works to suggest that we are all the same. From the privileged black girl who identifies more with whites than blacks, to the Diddy/J.Cole medley–a black male college student who is also an aspiring rapper, to the cute quirky girl who is an instrumentalist, to the jock who tries to excel in sports, academics and love—the series depicts a mirage of experiences that accompany the HBCU experience.

2. Drama that does does demonize black culture

The characters incur a degree of drama that while entertaining accompanies the necessary layers to avoid demonizing black culture. For example, though working steadfastly towards a music career, the series depicts its aspiring artist as having a loving Auntie and Mom-deflecting from the stereotypes that black men are unloved “thugs” who take but do not give. The series also layers the “wannabe” white girl, who also happens to be the president’s daughter. In a conversation with her white counterpart, the wannabe states that her mom “knows everything.” The tone that accompanies said statement suggests intimidation. Namely,  the admission suggests that the “wannabe” actually wants to be like her mom, but deems doing so impossible. Thus, she chooses the easy way out and opts to oppose blackness in its entirety, becoming a girl who just happens to be black.  This layered depictions functions well, as it prompts the reader to think, not judge.
3. The struggle of the Black female professional
Perhaps the biggest win of the series is depicting a black female as the fictive HBCU’s presiding president, Dr. Eva Fletcher (Anika None Rose). The series does a great job depicting the conflict afforded to black female bodies who evoke change in presence and practice.  The series reveals the plan two black male collegues construct to compromise both the reputation and position of their black female president. While unfortunate, this is a battle many black women endure in their role to challenge a system that while harmful, proves fruitful for some.

The Quad issues a brilliant protrayal of a black female professional who is both educated and enlightened and who mains an elevated position without looking down on others. These truths are undoubtedly guised by her Ivy League education and mansion residence—but the conveyed dichotomy is both accurate and refreshing. The conveyed dynamic also substantiates why womanism, not feminism should encapsulate the words (and whispers) of black females.

4. Everything’s a Haze

Perhaps one of the most accurate depictions of the series is illustrating the numerous factions that populate HBCU campuses. These faction foment a “journey to belong” that often lasts long after college.  At HBCU’s everything comes with a price. This price is hazing.

Whether you join the choir, fraternity or society— every faction corresponds to a hazing process. During freshman year, a roommate joined the church choir. As part of her initiation she was blindfolded, led to an unknown location, and left to find her way home. Another friend sought to join a society within his dorm. During an event, candidates were led into a dark room where members threw cups of urine onto prospects. The series depicts band members reveling in their accomplishments, to the upset of upperclassmen. The upperclassmen deemed said behavior haughty and landed one member in the hospital due to extreme reprimanding measures.

While HBCU’s exist to foster black advancement, many facets of these institutions implement the “break you down to build you back up” process which acquiesce the very systems these institutions supposedly challenge. Furthermore, I commend the series for bringing these issues from the corners of black universities in to the avant-garde of contemporary contemplation.

II. Causes for Question…

  1. I honestly would love to oppose the white cast members, but as a HBCU grad I can attest to this depiction as valid. Interestingly, the white football player cast on the series reminds me of a white male on the football team during my time as an HBCU student. I would have liked to see these roles also be afforded to up and coming black actors (like the rest of the cast), but think that white presence at HBCU’s is a worthy topic of discussion. Furthermore, I commend the series for its bravery in depicting the truths of the HBCU.

2. My next area for criticism is a persistent problem in black portrayal, hyper sexuality and the black female body. Although successful and enlightened, Dr. Eva Fletcher lost her previous job due to a sexual relationship she had with a graduate student. This student, objectively called “Six-Pack,” follows to her new position. His presence in her new location provides viewers with a steamy, “black lust,” love scene, but raises a question that accompanies all contemporary portrayals of black females.

Why is the downfall of the beautiful, educated, and conventionally successful black female always sex?

All in all I applaud the series for unveiling prevalent topics within the black collective. I also applaud the series for perpetuating drama, but doing so in a way that promotes analysis not ignorance. So to the title’s query: Does  BET Series “The Quad” hit the four corners needed to advance contemporary black portrayal? My answer is Yes.

Whether seeking some HBCU nostalgia, curious about the experience, or just looking to wind down from black life, I encourage everyone to give the show a chance. Personally, The Quad— a black authored portrayal of black people, makes me both happy and proud to tune in.

Three Issues with the Keke Palmer and Trey Songz Feud

During my college years I was huge fan of R &B crooner Trey Songz. I have shamelessly sang along to his lyrics in Atlantic City, Roseland and Madison Square Garden. My perception of actress Keke Palmer is also favorable. Palmer earned a place in my heart after embodying a positive portrayal of black girls as Akeelah in  Akeelah and The Bee. My sentiments towards Palmer have always been sisterly and I admire her ability to convey confidence and objectivity where many women wear their envy.

Before I start this piece, let me say that I know my perspective will be an unpopular one. I know that because Keke Palmer stands at the intersectionality of race and gender like myself, I am expected to “side” with her. However, as said on numerous posts, I am black first. It is from a position of blackness that I compose my perspective.

A little background…

Early this week, actress Keke Palmer outed singer Trey Songz for placing her in a video without her permission. Palmer’s accusations hit the internet via  video, in which she accused Songz of “taking advantage of her” while under the influence and implementing sexual coercion to harbor her participation in a video for song “Pick Up the Phone.” Although not stated directly, Keke implies that what she experienced was a form of rape, equating this scenario to the coercion many young women face on college campuses. Palmer also criticizes Songz’s request to deal with the situation in private. I agree that this situation should have been handled in private for the following reasons:

I. The presented scenario paints both Palmer and Songz in an unflattering light.

The scene portrayed in Palmer’s footage from the party she willingly attended mirrors the ambiance portrayed in the video for song “Pick Up the Phone”—scantily clad women, marijuana, alcohol and suggestive behavior. Having gone away to college, I am VERY familiar with this kind of atmosphere and the expectations that accompany said ambiance. In fact, my friends and I exited our first college party after the environment proved too suggestive for our liking. This statement does not suggest that women do not reserve the right to drink or attend parties. I do however think that western parties operate under a pretense of male superiority, thus should be regarded with reservation.  Men often treat women who attend these events in a manner vastly different that if encountered at a Panera or a campus library.At parties, male partygoers often blatantly ask disinterested female partygoers “why you are here?” if she proves offended by their sexually aggressive advances. These comments appear genuine in referencing the mindset expected given the environment. Women attend events like these for a mirage of reasons, however female presence in said environment assumes an interest in suggestive behavior and male attention.Furthermore, by attending the party, drinking and socializing, Palmer seems at most compliant and at least unbothered by said ambiance as this environment would unlikely suit a non-drinker or a wallflower.

While this article does not function to critique how anyone has their fun, you probably would not be a library if you did not know how to read, nor would you be in a butcher shop if you did not eat meat.  Location harbors expectations that may or may not be true, but exist nonetheless.

Although the “smoke, drink and party” lifestyle accompanies many celebrities or people in general, this dynamic functions differently for those of African descent. Blacks who drink, smoke and act suggestively as part of their fun, perform in the caricatured imaging that hovers over blackness in our implied hyper sexuality, ignorance and laziness. As a result, black women face virtually no protection in said environments as the protection afforded to their white female counterparts is seldom. Case in reference is the recent Brock Turner case where a young white woman attended a fraternity party and was sexually assaulted. The attack was caught on video, but only earned the assailant three months. Although the judge stated that Brock incurred the sentence because he did not “pose a threat to anyone,” the slap on the wrist unveils the dismissive attitude that accompanies the inebriated female partygoer. As seen in the Vanderbilt case, only if the assailant is black does sexual assault on white female partygoers become a punishable act.

II. There are a number of things that should have bothered Keke and an unapproved cameo is not one of them.

In her video, Keke references being in song “Pick Up the Phone” without batting an eyelash. The lyric that references Keke reads as follows:

“I palm her p*ssy like Keke, like Keke, like Keke.”

This lyric is vulgar play on the singer’s last name “Palmer,” yet its failure to warrant a complaint or even a comment from Keke raises an eyebrow. The sexual coercion Palmer references in her reaction video seems anticipatory given this sexually charged lyric. To not see this comment as problematic makes me wonder why the reported behavior is a problem but this lyric is not. It also seems that inviting Palmer to a party for a video where she is referenced warrants a cameo. The more I look into the facts surrounding these accusations, the more this “feud” seems a staged effort to drive the video views from its current 200,000+ views closer to the million mark. Or, that Palmer’s management deemed her friendships with Songz and other R&B singers like August Alsina as detrimental to her image, and her accusations are just damage control.

3. This fuels the ever-persistent image of the black man as a sexual predator.

In accusing Trey Songz of implementing sexual coercion in her inebriated state, Palmer paints Songz as a stereotypical sexual predator or rapist. Angela Davis speaks to the black male rapist in Women, Race and Class with the following:

The myth of the Black rapist has been methodically conjured up whoever recurrent waves of violence and terror against the Black community have required convincing justifications Davis 173).

In lieu of the violence that murders blacks in both traditional and contemporary settings, painting the black man as a predator justifies any violent act taken to his body. To white America, Trey Songz operates interchangeably with slain teens Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown. Thus, painting Songs as a sexual predator validates Martin and Brown’s murders, suggesting eliminating the black male body is essential to maintain safety. Furthermore, in striving to exist under the protection afforded  to white female sexuality, Palmer’s accusations work to foment the traditional cause for rape laws.  Davis outlines the traditional cause for rape laws with the following:

In The United States and other capitalistic countries, rape laws as a rule were framed originally for the protection of men of the upper classes, who daughters might be assaulted.

Davis goes on to say what the media accurately relays to us, “… the rape charge has been indiscriminately  aimed at Black men, the guilty and innocent alike ” (Davis 172). So, Palmer’s accusations paint black males as a figure that the western world needs protection from. Perhaps more problematic, the Palmer/ Songz dynamic demonstrates blacks as commonly placed against one another fueling a lack of unity that ultimately strengthens white supremacy. As long as we deflect enemy status onto one another, the perils of white supremacy remain buried in the subconscious of black understanding.

What Palmer and Songs both seem to overlook is that they, as visible black bodies, take on a role much bigger than themselves. Their actions reflect the black collective, and function to either challenge or acquiesce to images afforded to us by western society. This incident seems a testament to the underserving power of the black celebrity, or those who garner fame and fortune for personfying white perception simultaneously twisting the knife of oppressive imaging onto their respective collective.

Ten Ways to Protest Without a Picket Sign

Amidst a world where fatalities in our community are a daily occurrence and cultural appropriation is at an all time high, black culture is under attack. While the number of protests that have taken place over the past year raised awareness for the conflicts that consistently surround us, this post will show that there is more than one way to protest. In fact, this list will outline 10 ways to combat racial conflict.

I. Take control of the conversation: Disallow whites to take ownership over our stories 

It’s our history, so we can’t depend on white schools to teach it to us. It’s our worth, so we can’t expect those who robbed us of this to gift it back unscathed.

Thus any rendering of black history-contemporary or traditional should be issued by a black person (preferably a conscious black person). Contemporary history comes in the form of the news, an area where blackness is continually exploited to maintain stereotypes and obtain ratings.

White journalists in particular, often capitalize on the glamorizing of black stories when told by white people. This done in whites taking credit for bringing countless black injustices to the forefront. Two examples that hold hands across time are Henrietta Lacks and the contemporary tragedy of Kalief Browder.

Both stories proved commercially fruitful, in bringing both tragedy and injustice to the forefront. However, bringing this issue to the forefront failed to negate the seemingly inevitable unhappily ever after. Thus, it suggests that the white savior is only truly capable of saving him or her self, and we must tell out own stories so that the stories are not only told but heard.

II. Support our own businesses 

Most of us work extremely hard for our money. However, much of this hard-earned money circles right back into white establishments. What if this money stayed in the black community?

If you take a look at any black community, you will notice that the majority of area businesses are not operated by black people. These vendors never dwell where they make their dollar. In fact, they take their black dollars back to their own communities to spend.

Now, if we as a people solely supported those who look like us, those who merely exploit the black community for profit would go bankrupt. We must acknowledge the power in our purse and begin to act in our  best interest.

While I run the risk of coming off judgmental, I want to address the weave epidemic that plagues the black community. While the look works to qualify the natural beauty of black women, it is yet another business that exploits the black community.

You wouldn’t cover a golden crown with a bed sheet- so we as a group should refrain from covering our crowns of glory with hair from other ethnicities.

The hair you were born with was gifted to you for a reason. Please think twice about overtly praising the aesthetics of other ethnicities over your own at the expense of making non blacks rich in the process.
III. Think like a producer not a consumer 

While minimizing supporting businesses operated by non-blacks is an accessible revolutionary act, we as a people must take this a step further. Specifically, we must begin thinking more like producers and less like consumers. So, it should never be where can I get a (insert item or product here), it should be one of 2 things:

How can I create/produce my desired item?
What black owned producer can I support?

While freedom starts in the mind, a large portion of freedom is in the ability to produce all that we consume. Thus, if we as black people use it, we must make it!

IV. Do not glamorize interracial relationship or biracial children

Despite casual romantic encounters becoming the contemporary face of relationships, who you marry and reproduce  with is a huge decision. Contemporary culture glorifies interracial relationships, making them the face of a post- racial society. The off spring of interracial couples are becoming the contemporary face of blackness as believed to be the more beautiful, more intelligent medley of the formerly oppositional races.

I am here to say that black love is revolutionary. To choose a black partner and produce black children is to truly place black at the center. Choosing a non black partner while we as a race are under attack, weakens our stance. The gesture of going outside the race to marry and reproduce places the most central parts of your life as detached from blackness. Simply, black love is powerful in that it silently screams to the world that we are enough- that blackness is the beginning, middle and end for us as black people.

V. Use all acquired skills to uplift the black community 

Education, although a hefty investment of both time and money, is made worthwhile if used for communal rather than personal gain. What our most cherished pioneers have in common (Harriet Tubman, Paul Robeson, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., George Jackson and Angela Davis) is that they used their acquired skill set for the greater good of their people. I mean, what good is any knowledge bottled all in one head?

VI. Don’t concern ourselves with white comfort

Too many times I encounter blacks overly concerned with maintaining the comfort of whites around them. For example, some blacks will tip toe around issues central to the black experience or merely bite their tongue to avoid revealing too much passion towards cultural issues.

The comfort of blacks, on the other hand, is a seldomly considered component of both traditional and contemporary society. Thus, blacks should never be less black to ensure the complacency of non others. Be black. Be unapologetic. Be unapologetically black.*

VII. Make a daily commitment to uplift the race 

It can be as simple as complimenting a black woman on her appearance, or commending any black male or female for doing something well.  We as a community are amazing, so why be shy in informing someone that we know how excellent they are?

VIII. Stop using the n word but don’t lose patience with those who haven’t caught on 

The n-word is a term that traditionally dehumanized our ancestors. It was a term implemented to label the basest form of existence- an existence believed to be more in line with an animal than a human.

For these reasons, it is not revolutionary to be able to hear this word and not flinch, nor is colloquially tossing this word around lessening to its effect. The sole way to evolve from the term is to stop using it entirely.

Blacks largely underestimate their power in making things possible. Nothing is cool until a black person gets their hands on it. If we don’t use this term, it suddenly has an expiration date- if we do, the expiration date never comes.
IX. Patronize and popularize blacks who positively represent the culture

Bottom line: if black celebrities are not working to advance the race, they should not be supported. We as a culture cannot afford to be selfish, so if a member of our community is afforded the platform of celebrity and does not use this to positively uplift his or her people, they should not be regarded as allies solely on the basis of skin color.

For example, rapper Jay Z conveniently uses his blackness whenever he feels he is done wrong. These instances are not suggest that Jay Z aligns himself with the black experience, but to evoke passion from his fan base. This is an example of a black celebrity who exploits his own culture for personal gain. As a result, he should be categorized with most non-blacks and should not be trusted under any circumstances.
X. Place black at the center of all things

You may be a woman/man, a student, a parent, sibling, fortune 500 employee, etc but you must be black first. As faces of the revolution we must carry our blackness with pride. Despite the construct of blackness being initially cast upon us as something negative, blackness as a color and culture is something that we as black people must place at out communal center as our most cherished attribute.

Whether you decide to implement one of these suggestions, or all ten remember that black is beautiful. Also, be mindful that the revolution starts inward and works its way out. Thus, merely by  reading this post you have taken a step down revolutionary road…

One love.

* The phrase “unapologetically black” is taken from a colleague at work and thus is not a SB original phrase.

Things My Mother Taught Me

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, it is perhaps seems the perfect time to celebrate the contributions of my mother. As a young black woman, I’ve been force fed the influence of countless black superstars ranging from pop superstars to reality stars. However, it was my mother who bore this original slot of influence. Her almond eyes are reminiscent of the timeless Phylicia Rashad, her smile enchanting enough to make Janet Jackson scream.

But beyond her beauty, my mother gifted me the fundaments of being a black woman in America. So I proudly bring you “lessons from my mother.”       

Take pride in your appearance

As a child I recall waking up to the scent of my mother’s perfume. Her dresser could give the counter at Macy’s a run for their money with the assortment of perfume at her manicured fingertips. Each day was an opportunity to glide through the world with style and leave a trail of perfume behind. In addition to her scent, my mother was and is primped to perfection from her eyebrows down to her toenails. Now, my mother was never vain. Rather, she demonstrated courage to love her beauty in a society that conditions her shame.

This bring me to the next lesson learned from my mother: Courage.

Have Courage

Whether it was of merely issuing an opinion, my mom was never shy to speak her mind. While this seemed like second nature to her, her actions taught me that I was worth standing up for and worthy of having my voice heard.

The topic of worthiness is the perfect Segway to my next lesson. In my mother’s determination to teach me my worth, she made sure I would not be the means of my own destruction. One of the most resounding attempts, was in lessons my mom gave me on the importance of taking care of my hair.

Take care of your hair

Consistently praised for my academic endeavors, I was not confident in my appearance as a child. So while I see the beauty in my hair today, as a child it was a source of pain.

Though I begged for the perm that would transform my locks from curly to straight, my hair went from wavy to braided. From corn rolls to box braids, I must have adorned at least fifty different braided styles throughout my youth.

proudtobemeIt took me years, but I was grateful for my mom’s treatment of my hair. Perms offered temporary fulfillment to those who welcomed them into their scalp early, as it significantly compromised their locks as a result.

So I appreciate my mother not only because she maintained the integrity of my hair, but for teaching me that my hair is a source of envy, not a source of shame.

Being weird is a good thing

The word “weird” is one that’s followed me throughout my adult life. The conversations with my mother that followed my labeling as “weird” resulted in an enlightenment that I’ve carried with me ever since. In response to my frustrations she responded with the following: “To me being weird is a compliment. I mean who wants to be just like everyone else?”

The simplicity of her response washed over me like a cool rain amidst the summer heat. It was in that moment that I felt the joy of my difference. I wasn’t like everyone else, and that was a good thing.

Husbands only, No baby’s fathers

The older I get, the more I am able to see that we lead best in what we do, not what we say. With that said, my mother’s performance within the bounds of matrimony were a great lesson to me. She only bore the children of men who asked for her hand in marriage, and taught me that I too am worthy of such commitment.

Education is not an option

From sitting on the wooden floor in our apartment doing Hooked on Phonics, to practicing my penmanship before beginning nursery school, my mother made the value of education the foundation of my childhood. This value for education nurtured my love for reading and writing and made me excited to begin my collegiate career.

I credit my mother for my academic pursuits and my lifetime commitment to education as a means of mental liberation.

In Closing…

Mothers are instantly their child’s first teachers, holding their hand as they learn to walk and eventually as they learn to cross the street.

While it has been over two decades since I learned to walk, the lessons of my mother continue to guide me as her hands once did. Her voice- whispers in my mind as I stroll through life and even as I articulate my ideas on this blog. Furthermore, I am forever indebted to my mother as my mom, but also as a remarkable woman. Performing in the majesty of her legacy as a black woman, my mom’s influence is as big as the continent that hovers over the black diaspora like a halo.

I love you mom, but more so I appreciate you-not just on Mother’s Day, but every day.

Thank you.

The Black Female Faces of My Childhood…

In honor of Women’s History Month I compiled a list to commemorating the brown faces that that shaped my childhood as a budding black woman. 

How many of these do you remember? 

 
Tia and Tamara Mowry from Sister Sister  ss

Who didn’t want to be the Mowry twins growing up? From their beautiful hair to their cute twin rhetoric, down to “Go home roger” they were sweet, classy and entertaining.

Brandy as Moesha  

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Brandy, as the first black Cinderella and the queen of the silver screen, Brandy was the queen of the 90s. Growing up I would hear Brandy on the radio, turn on the television and she would be there too! She showed the versatility of black femininity while only a child herself! 

 
Angela from Boy Meets World  Boy-Meets-World---Trina-McGree-then-jpg

This show was intoxicating, and it was pretty cool that Angela tamed bad boy Shawn Hunter. 

 
Kellie Shanygne Williams, as Laura Winslow on Family Matters  

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Laura stole simultaneously stole the hearts of Steve Urkel and America  as the girl next door. 

 
Lark Voorhies, as Lisa Turtle on Saved By the Bell  

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Stylish, assertive and cute: Lisa paved the way for many of the young black actress that would arise in the 90s. 

 
Stacy Dash as Dionne from Clueless  

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 Even though Cher was pegged the beauty,Dionne’s brown skin and thick locks stole every scene. It was also admirable that although Dionne looked like a model, she wanted to be a doctor.  

 
Patti Mayonaise from Doug

 Even though it was later revealed that Patty was just tan, as a child I admired Patti for her brown skin and raspy voice.  Patti 

 
Tatyana Ali as Ashley from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air

With her sepia skin, lush dark locks and the pipes to tackle Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” Tatyana was the girl we all wanted to be!   tatyana-ali-getty-2 

 
Reagan Gomez Preston as Zaria from the Parenthood
Zaria had the silkiest press in the nineties! Reagan-Gomez-Preston1

Meagan Good as Nina from Cousin Skeeter  

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Although a supporting character, this was the beginning go several roles Good would launch in the early and mid 2000s 

 
Andrea Lewis as Hazel on Degrassi 

 
Lewis brought my shade to the forefront of my favorite series!  hazel2

Sarah Barrable Tishauer as Liberty from Degrassi  boring-liberty
As the cliche overachiever, I admired Liberty’s ambition, curly locks and assertive confidence!

Gabrielle Union as Keesha Hamilton from 7th Heaven 

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I was only eight years old when I watched the first episode of 7th Heaven. Seeing a young Gabrielle Union on my favorite show contributed to my confidence as a budding black woman. 

 
Susie from The Rugrats

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Donning a hair style close to the hearts of many black women all the way down to the berets at the end -Susie literally mirrored black female childhood.  As a natural leader, Susie depicts black girls as beginning their reign as queens in their sandbox days. 

 Collaboratively these images capture the beauty, resilience, and intelligence of black womanhood. As an adult I can conceptualize just how meaningful these images were in crafting my confidence as a black woman. Cheers to these actresses for showcasing the many sides of black femininity.

Happy Women’s History Month!

Black Woman, You Are Loved…

” I am overwhelmed by the grace and persistence of my people.” Maya Angelou

To continue celebrating Women History’s Month, I compiled some quotes that colorfully respond to the question:

What is it that you love or appreciate about black women? 

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To me no other race comes close to the black woman, you have every color, body type and personality. The black woman is so bad she takes first and second place…” JS

I love my versatility!” CJ

We age well!” JAS

Their defiance, their courage, royalty, their curvaceous bodies, their pride.” MJ

I love the assertiveness and drive. I think black women not only have to deal with issues of race but also deal with getting 2nd class treatment from society and even black men. And even through all of that black women are the most educated demographic in the country.

I also love how protective they are of their loved ones and community. “ MCB

black-women-afro

I appreciate the strength they provide for their families and the loyalty they have for their  friends.” LJ

“The thing that I love most about black women is their ability to embody and balance strength and tenderness like no other race. To me when I look at the women who nurtured me growing up- my mother, aunts, and grandma I can always remember going to them not just for comfort but during those times typically associated as “the mans job” in the family. As I’ve moved through life this strength has echoed with many of black female role model figures in my life from my teachers to my professional peers.” RCG

” I appreciate our shared experience. I love black woman because I love myself. I empathized with their  strengths, weaknesses, flaws and perfections.” OB

“I hate it when they portray images of black women as being lazy, diff baby daddies, using the govt and angry. I saw a lot of black single mothers who worked very hard growing up but rarely witnessed those stereotypes.” CJ

While I wish I had more, I hope these quotations whisper in the minds of black women inspiring them to hold their heads just a little higher. After all, we must be sure not to drop our crowns :-)***