Rape is NOT Inclusive: The Black Female Body, the forgotten victim of Sexual Violence

Aziz_Ansari_2012_Shankbone.JPGFor a current summer course, were were assigned an article from The Atlantic entitled “The Humiliation of Aziz Ansari.” The article, authored by Caitlin Flanagan, speaks to the danger of white female supremacy. Flanagan’s piece is in response to  an article by Katie Way titled, “I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life.” In the original article, a woman renamed Grace speaks to a date she had with Ansari which she describes as a degrading instance of sexual assault. The details are plentiful and depict Ansari as overzealous and sexually aggressive. Flanagan notes that “ The clinical detail in which this story is told is intended not to alienate her account as much as it is to hurt and humiliate Ansari.”  She concludes, “They’re angry and temporarily powerful, and last night they destroyed a man who didn’t deserve it.” 

I could not agree more. As illustrated in what quickly became a war on black men, the white woman is a dangerous figure. This danger is at very least, partially vested in white women simultaneously occupying victim and villain spaces. In reading the article that prompted Flanagan’s response, the details seemed unnecessary yet essential in painting the subject as a “victim,” and not a privileged white woman embittered because she did not get what she wanted out of the deal. This is similar to how I feel about the Harvey Weinstein “scandal.” The women who now claim victim status, used sexual acts to obtain high-profile roles and accolades—exposing their actions as realizing that their current feats are only a small fraction of what could be.

Rape: A violation of Woman?

The claims contingent with Weinstein and Bill Cosby are not those of rape. As the products of collective and continental rape, issues of consent are as personal as they are political to the black collective. The #metoo movement upholds traditional connotations of the word “woman.” This point substantiated in the reality that most of the victims are white woman. If this were not true, neither man would be under fire. These “victims” were also put in a position were they could consent. A situation very different from the circumstances that birthed the black collective. For these reasons, I say that there is a word for what happened to these white women. This word may be “Sexual assault” or “forced ravishing,” but this word is not rape.    sandra-bland-be-my-voice

Racism is a system to which no black person benefits. Despite the tax bracket, education level, or country of residence, every black person is still subject to the consequence of their race in the paradigm of white supremacy. Because racism is a system of oppression, not hurt feelings or name-calling, no black can be racist. 

Because white women do benefit from both their race and gender in a way that black women do not, it is unfair to align black and white bodies with the all-encompassing label of rape. So, just as a black person cannot be racist, a white woman cannot be raped by a system she has ability to rape with the power vested in her hue and gender.

The “victims” of Harvey Weinstein were not victims at all. They were merely co-conspirators in a rape of the system. They used their bodies as a conduit to a piece of a supremacy they now pursue in totality through the #metoo movement. They had a choice. They made a choice. True victims do not  have choices. The choices are made for them—the consequences to be faced with a cruel accountability.

 In making this statement, I acknowledge that black women are seldom acknowledged as rape victims at all. So “rape” like “woman” is almost always referent of the white female body or in “diverse” incidents, non-black bodies in third-world countries, by default, Even in the case of Joan Little—assaulted by a white jailer decades her senior found with his pants around his ankle and semen on his leg—is seldom aligned brawleywith the word “rape,” like so many black women before and after her.

Trisha Meili, also known as the central park jogger, like Recy Taylor, Betsy Owens, and Tawana Brawley amongst countless others, was the victim of a gruesome sexual crime. While not discounting the trauma that follows such an experience, Meili, a white woman, was and still very much is regarded as a victim. She received national attention and even wrote a book—a validated victimhood that no black woman has ever been granted.  Conversely, the black female body experiences multiple rapes and robberies at once. Namely, the physical rape of her African remains  consistently socially reproduced on the canvasses of her children,  the being of black female form consistently robbed of the space and place to assume her rightful status as survivor.

What the black female body has experienced in the centuries since her initial captivity is a variant of rape, and physical and mental robbery. This is antithetical to the white female experience. Thus, to compartmentalize antithetical experiences by a common term is an oversimplification— an assault on a sexuality distorted, exploited, and mangled by necessity. 

The Black Rapist: The Legend and the Lie

This is true also to the black male victim of sexual assault, who is held in a chokehold of Rkellytrappedinthecloset2007trying to be the man society desperately tries to ensure he never becomes, and eschewing the effeminization that often follows publicly articulating stories of assault

For this reason, I will also say that the black man can not be a rapist. As argued by scholars like Hortense Spillers, blackness is largely genderless. Thus,  masculinity is not given the chance to develop in the black community. This is not to say that there is no masculinity in the black community, but that instances of masculinity unadulterated by western influence are roses that grow from concrete. 

To deflect from their systemic mistreatment, black men are consistently regarded and treated as sexual deviants that are prone to sexually attack at any moment. In “The Myth of The Black Rapist,” Angela Davis speaks to the fictive functionality of the black male rapist. Davis asserts: “The myth of the black rapist continues to carry out the insidious work of racist ideology” (Davis 199). The black male rapist is essential in depicting white female chastity and white male redemption. In considering the dichotomy of white femininity and rape culture, Davis deems the black rapist a myth.

Davis expands her argument in articulating a congruence between sexual violence and capitalism:

The crisis dimensions of sexual violence constitute one of the facets of a deep or ongoing crisis of capitalism. As the violent face of sexism, the treat of rape will continue to exist as long as the overall oppression of women remans an essential crutch for capitalism (Davis 201). 

The black female body functions as capital, whereas the white female body functions as commerce. This is why Kim Kardashian was able to climb to the heights of popular culture, despite entering the popular gaze on her back. Her body was transactional, proving a bridge to a new way of life. This transition would have never happened if Kardashian was black, simply because the black woman is this bridge. 

The purpose of my claims are not to romanticize the actions of black men, or to idolize the relations between black men and black women. The assertions present in this post, function to distinguish between those who deposited their evil into the wombs of our foremothers as a violent mark of conquest and branding, from those whose actions are  imitative of the horror that birthed them. It is an injustice to the black collective to perceive the oppressed in the same light as oppressors. This distorted perception ultimately obscures the ability of the black collective to see themselves and the totality of their systemic asphyxiation and legal bludgeoning. 

Concluding Thoughts

As the bridge and the water that flows beneath it, the black body remains a means to the other side. Cultivating a thorough understanding  to engender a proper  compartmentalizing of the black experience remains of the highest significance in producing our mental freedom. To understanding the violence of our displacement is to  resist a deflective alignment with our oppressors. An alignment that affords our oppressors a stagnancy at the expense of a black consciousness needed to overcome their normalized malvolence.

I will close with a reiteration of this article’s most resonant point. Rape, though in its contemporary use speaks to sexual assault, its ancient origins speak to a robbery.  No woman, be it a white woman or “person of color,” has been robbed more violently and with such cavalier disregard as a black woman.  

As a being of black female form, birthed from womb robbed both literally and figuratively, “rape” is a theme of my collective narrative.  Therefore,  I have no problems looking my oppressors in the face and saying that “rape” is not what happens to you, it’s what you do to others. 

***To Recy Talor, Betsy Owens, Joan Little, Tawana Brawley, Sherrice Iverson, and all the mothers, sisters, and daughters of the diaspora. 

Black Power ❤

Advertisements

There Ain’t No “I” in “We,” Our Story is Not About You: On Alice Johnson and White Intervention

Reality stars Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian engaged in a highly publicized hearing in which black woman Alice Marie Johnson’s fate was determined. The outcome was Johnson’s physical freedom, affording the white savior image to anti-black agents Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump. The coverage of Johnson’s release mirrors the reality of her foremothers and forefathers, whose validity was also determined by the consignment of white people. Though supposedly a story of triumph, Johnson’s narrative is not her own, seized by a media who is for whites, by whites— all of the time. Johnson’s “freedom” marks another victory for whites and exposes the continued enslavement of blacks via white media. While there are a number of details that make this case as disturbing as it is, I will focus on four points:

  1. Johnson has already served a life sentence

Johnson was arrested twenty-one years ago for involvement in drug-trafficking. She’s served over two decades, which equate to a lifetime. She served two decades in a formal prison for seeking to sever limbs caught between white supremacy and black disenfranchisement. She was not given choices, rather choices were made for her. Choices in which she was made to pay.  Her life, laced with tragedy and hardship from losing a job to losing her youngest child, is reflective of the high-levels of stress that accompany the black experience. With the previous statement, I am not suggesting that tragedy (in the conventional sense) does not extend itself to non-blacks. I am however asserting that blacks are not given the space to recover from said tragedy, as our tragedy is what the late Dr. Amos Wilson labeled a social necessity.

Johnson’s sentencing reflects a formalizing of the informal experiences that have shaped her collective life. Her sentencing reflects the societal desire to place the black body in a cage, this cage appearing in multiple manifestations through the global evil of white supremacy.

  1. This Pardon does not address the issue at hand

Perhaps the largest issue with the representation of the Alice Johnson case, is that the conversation it engenders does not address the true subject, or the issue at hand. Particularly, the media shaping of this case ignores the most central query:

Why was Johnson given a life-sentence in the first place?

So yes, it is “nice” that Johnson the individual was released, but this does virtually nothing for those symbolically represented by Johnson. Her release illustrates a societal willingness to grant low-stake victories, to deflect from what is necessary to issue real progress. As long as the general public elates in these empty performative gestures, the pervasive anti-black climate that suffocates the black collective, will continue to erode our emotional and physical well-being.  

  1. Her transition 

Johnson’s release, while to an extent a personal feat, precedes a difficult “transition” into a world, that like the prison that held her for over two decades, feeds off Johnson’s collective denigration. Realistically, opportunities are generally few and far between for those not born with the heuristic hue of whiteness. Once incarcerated, slim pickings become gaunt. Again, until discussions of change become actualized and freed from the imaginary, blacks will continue to harbor base  treatment, as this treatment is necessary for the stagnancy of anti-blackness. 

  1. The underscoring of “non-violence” 

One of the most problematic terms used in supporting Ms. Johnson’s freedom is the term “non-violent.” The media emphasizes that Ms. Johnson should be free because her crimes were non-violent. Ms. Johnson, presented as the good “criminal,”  implies that she is an anomaly. This deflects from the fact that her very existence actualizes the violence of a country who gloated in the blood spilled in their chicanery in symbolizing this smearing blood in their flag. Ms. Johnson, and every other black person yanked from the womb of their mother continent are the eternal victims of criminals who conveniently define what they call the social justice system. Violence is what imprisoned and will continue to imprison Ms. Johnson, the violence of white supremacy. If the “justice” system were just, the 1% would be in prison for stolen wealth. Instead they exist on a pedestal held up by the bodies buried in their climb to the fictive top. 

Closing Thoughts

In discussing Alice Johnson, it is imperative to note that what she was granted was not freedom. Johnson was granted the same thing black ancestors were granted in their discovery of the Emancipation Proclamation– the image of freedom. The preoccupation with the image of freedom, makes actual freedom obsolete. To actually free Ms. Johnson, Trump and Kardashian would have to relinquish their privileges, surrender wealth accumulated in the incarceration of people like Ms. Johnson, the death of black youth like Trayvon Martin, and systemic asphyxiation of Tawana Brawley and Sandra Bland.

Neither Kim Kardashian or Donald Trump did a good thing for Ms. Johnson. What they did was a good thing for themselves and their brands. What they did was “free” a black woman from one prison and sent her into another one where a white woman is praised for a purchased version of the African heirlooms in which black women are shamed. What they did yet again is make “our” story about them. 

In freeing ourselves from the enslavement of white supremacy, it essential to acknowledge that freedom is something that will never make the news, and something that will never garner the public praise of white supremacists. Freedom is something that starts internally, and until we turn a blind our to external representations of a freedom that is merely another manifestation of white supremacy, our collective remains in chains.

Black Power ❤

The Convenience Claim 

Intro

On Saturday, as Meghan Markle settled into her role as contractual concubine to the British throne, Twitter was flooded with images and a brief biography of a late “Princess” Sophie Charlotte. Sophie Charlotte, grandmother to the late “Queen” Victoria, was believed to have African ancestry. An ancestry veiled by portraits that implement what filters and photoshop do presently—visually alter blackness. The exposition of this information

is of course deliberate. Though the British “royal” family has maintained central placement in American media for centuries, this information was never readily available, nor has it proven viral in the age of media, until now. It’s availability is to coat desire with inclusion, a “fact” that suggests that said inclusion is old news. Specifically, Sophie Charlotte as Victoria’s grandmother makes it so that blackness is not just present in Markle, but an attribute of the royal bloodline. 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

I’m black too…

My queries to this are:

How is this different than any of the other white people suckled at the breasts of those connected to them by a buried lineage?

How is this different than any of the legally white people who too stem form the black black woman of our nation’s past?

The answer is of course that there is no difference. The black woman is the mother of humanity. The being whose womb can literally produce any and every color. The being whose children, ripped from her womb, have been psychologically disfigured to not acknowledge her until it becomes convenient to do so.

So while many celebrate blackness as an heirloom to the British throne, they overlooked that this information surfaced to bamboozle the black body to rejoice in an action that will ultimately  substantiate their exclusion. Just as whites are the main beneficiaries of welfare, and affirmative action—though these programs are aligned with their “aid” to the descendants of Africans, reaching for that black black mother will become another way the white word seeks to capitalize on a black identity they created. 

With this statement, I of course do not mean that whites created black people—because they of course did not. This statement articulates a caricatured blackness as specifically invented to fulfill a distinct purpose. This purpose was and is solely to enable to mythical superiority of whites. 

Similarly, gifting the white collective access to a convenience claim, where they can both enjoy white privilege and the “ups” of blackness. This is similar to capitalistic holidays like Christmas, or social conception of birthdays where an individual receives gifts seen to monetize their value, but a white supremacist society is the sole recipients of “holidays” they created for the sole purpose of accruing capital. Nevertheless, these deliberate actions limit black mobility in the global paradigm of white supremacy, diversifying white victory. 

A Hollywood Hoax 

Hollywood illustrated something similar a few years back with claims that actress Shailene Woodley was a descendant of a black ancestor. This news made those lacking self and esteem rejoice in the pseudo belief that Woodley was “like them” despite making a career off her white female privelage. In reality, this news actualized Woodley as eligible to fulfill a future role of black woman, at the expense of those excited by said revelation. 

____________________________________________________________________________________________Defining Blackness

In contemplating the convenience claim, it is imperative to contemplate blackness. Though defining blackness as African ancestry is the most tried and tested way to compartmentalize blackness and people believed to be black, this news of Princess Charlotte illustrates the enormous hole in said behavior. Due to centuries of sexual violence and mental bludgeoning, African ancestry is more common than we as a people have been conditioned to believe. This ancestry however, does not make you black. 

While all black people have melanin, not all melenated people are black.

Malcolm X was black. Winnie Mandela was black. Assata Shakur is black. 

Clarence Thomas, Henry Louis Gates, Tom, sorry I mean Don, Lemon are not. Meghan Markle nor her mother are black, and neither was “Princess” Charlotte.

Though linked to royals of Portugal, it is beyond interesting that there is little to no information regarding how she came to be affiliated with British royals. To those of you tempted to link me to one of several articles written on Princess Sophie Charlotte, I point to her distorted photos, that in image personify what white “his”tory does to the black body.  This omission is not surprising, and anyone who knows anything about the treatment of the black female body knows exactly why this information is omitted. History tells a similar story of Dido Belle of Scotland. 

Nevertheless, despite her African origins, it is imperative to note that her involvement and procreation with those within the British dynasty cast her as a core component in the oppression of her kinfolk. Thus, the same blood running through her veins, was the same blood shed to maintain her lifestyle. 

Markle fulfills a similar function with her espousal to a man who has an overt interest in Africa, pegged as culturalism, but most likely actualizes the starry eyes of evil intentions. Let us not forget that the not so United States used the body of an African descended president to shed the very blood that runs through his veins, for “the good of the republic.” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Counter Color Narrative

I would  be remiss if I did not acknowledge the elephant in the room. A part of me believes that Princess Sophie Charlotte’s blackness was something needed by those lacking self and esteem, and those determined to paint the racist British empire as anti-racist. It is also feasible that for many to conceptualize blacks as royals, an affiliation to a white empire is mandatory.  This is best illustrated by the placement of the adjective “black” in front of the word royal, illustrating that the general conception of the word “royal” is seen as incongruent to black bodies.

We have years and years of African royalty omitted from textbooks, and popular culture including but not limited too:

Queen Aminatu

Queen Nefertiti

Makeda, Queen of Sheba

Queen Ranavalona the First of Madagascar

Queen Cleopatra of Egypt

Queen Nandi of the Zulu Kingdom

Thus, a black queen should be anything but surprising, but the fact that it is illustrates the ingrained inferiority the black female body and her offspring are held too by default.

I say to this say Princess Sophie Charlotte as an undocumented queen of a predominantly black country or continent, born on the day of the British nuptials would not prove viral, as princesses, princes, kings, and queens seem only interesting and newsworthy when they are white.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Conclusion

If it sounds like I am upset about this, I am. 

It is upsetting that despite the method, sexual, social or what have you, the black female body remains a conduit, a middle passage for white supremacist actions. The blood has yet to dry on our collective backs, and our wombs have yet to heal from centuries of abduction. 

Thus, with every repost, every celebratory comment, or any other performance of collective amnesia, white and non black persons of colors are gifted a convenience that will ultimately yield casualty to the black collective, who remain on commerce in the global white quest for capital.

Black Power ❤

***The author uses air quotes to dispute the ingrained belief that royalty is inherently white.

Remembering Malcolm X

I have spent the bulk of today, reading Malcolm X quotes, and listening to his speeches. His smooth, precise, passionate speech personifies the poetic prose of black power personified. He is “our shining prince” as they say, in both life and death. He shines because his internal freedom bleeds outward. Yet, this year, perhaps more so that previous years, illustrates the necessity for this light to dim.

I received in my inbox a number of invites and notifications for events to take place on what would have been Malcolm X’s 93rd birthday. These events however, were not anchored in Malcolm X. No, El Hajj Malik Shabazz was a co-star on his own day. Though our “shining prince” he is juxtaposed to those who contributions pale to his own. To this I draw the comparison on the pig and chicken to a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. The pig made a sacrifice, the chicken made a contribution—this sandwich is an American staple, because this alignment is central to American deflection. 

This is deliberate. Most evident in the “competing” showcase of today, which I refuse to mention. Malcolm X engenders “self” and  belief in a collective self. His legacy inspires the black mind to see the best in him or herself, to question as he did “who told you to hate yourself? From the bottom of your feet to the top of your head?” Questions, antithetical to the submissiveness demanded by the lethally pervasive white supremacist culture. Burying Malcom X’s legacy, or shooting it with holes, ensures that the black collective remains distracted. That we continue to believe in everything but ourselves, and continue to relish in knowledge that also buries the totality of contributions and global oppression. 

Malcolm X is a black success story, because he did not rise to conventional standards of success. He was not wealthy. He didn’t have fancy degrees from institutions built on the backs of his ancestors. What he had was an education given to him by a black man, a black organization that while flawed had an ideology functional in freeing the black mind from colonization. 

What Malcolm X had was esteem. He culminated a pilgrimage to self, a journey so many of us never take, because we are conditioned to, as Malcolm once said, “suffer peacefully.” 

I thought of this pilgrimage as I made my way to Ferncliff Cemetery, the earthly resting place of Malcom X and Betty Shabazz. The journey is one I took with full acknowledgement that it was symbolic, but necessary. 

I appreciated the ceremony. I reveled in the ability to see what the media would never cover or admit, that there is beauty and unity within blackness. However, though beautiful,  this pilgrimage is not what makes or breaks blackness. The journeys that we take are not physical. 

We see this with our kinfolk who were not physically abducted, but subject to the mental torture in their own homeland. They too were culturally raped by the white man, their culture stolen from them as they slept in the land of our ancestors.

The journeys that we take, like all that was taken from us, must be mental. That is the lesson that I have extracted from Malcolm X’s legacy. 

Malcolm X epitomizes mental freedom.  He embodied the state of “free African”,  he or she who is willing to die as they lived—in power. 

Malcolm X, not validated by the limitations of American society or global white supremacy, imbued a freedom that enabled him to live without fear. 

They took his last name, and his language. He divorced himself from that last name and used the language of his colonizers as a weapon. Then then took what they thought was his home, but his home was in his heart and and in his blood. So they strove to take what they thought they could, his life.

The ceremony today, however, attended by hundreds of people in the violent rain and unseasonable cold, fifty-three years after his assasination—proves that his oppressors could not even take his life. 

Despite everything that’s happened to us, we—the African people are still the bearers of life. We have made it so that the candle of Malcolm X still burns, a flame significant because as the late Ossie Davis said at Malcolm X’s funeral:

Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood! This was his meaning to his people. And, in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves.

Malcolm X, was and is our blackness.

Father. Teacher. King. 

“Rest” seems alien next to the pillar that is Malcolm X. But I will say King Malcolm, that I hope you rest in me. 

Black Power ❤ 

The Donald Glover Cover

 

FX’s Atlanta presents what is largely missing from black portrayal—an unadulterated portrayal of black life.  The series does not feature picturesque characters  of the cookie cutter  sort. Though the series lead Earn (OG) is a Princeton graduate  and in real-life Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry) is a Yale graduate—the series captures a narrative that up to this point, was deemed not marketable to prime-time audiences. The series confronts race, mild fame, family, stereotypes and economics. The most resounding episode to date being Juneteenth where Van attends a networking event that provokes conversations of class and race that are both hilarious and familiar. Teddy Perkins illustrates what folk tolerate when something is free and illustrates that unsolved conflicts don’t fade to black, but multiply. 

However, though revered for its nuanced approach to blackness and racism, this series flourishes because of racism. Though Glover’s work from  to his recent video This is America make waves in a white supremacist media for issuing a black perspective, this perspective and experience is one-dimensional to Glover. 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Part-Time Brother

Though a black man navigating through the Western Hemisphere—Glover has followed a systemic pattern of b lack men who date/marry  and reproduce with non-black woman despite taking an authoritative presence in the black narrative. In accessing his authorative presence in the white supremacist media, it is imperative to note that Glover assumes said authority because of whom he has chosen as his partner. 

Glover’s actions are the ones of a melanated man desiring to take advantage of a black moment.  It is the essence of America to designate a time and space where it is “okay” to be black. Yet this allowance is a short leash extended to those who wish to maintain its superficial understanding with one or two times or episode that strike a nerve but are not enough to elevate thoughts let alone provoke any meaningful conversation. 

Glover is congruent to the contemporary #metoo movement as his efforts though overtly doused in blackness—service the needs of white women. Given that he has selected a non-black woman as a spouse and pro-created with said woman his money and legacy becomes intertwined with the African adjacent. More poignantly, his every day and future is inherently anti-black, making his affiliation with blackness null and void. His behavior reflects what I will reference as “the Glover Cover.” 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Glover Cover

The Glover cover is a sort of contemporary blackface. Now in using this term, I know that I speak to a very painful and violent display of mockery engendered by whites in actions of black burlesque. While this burlesque still takes place on college campuses throughout the world for Halloween, it has taken on a new form in the contemporary climate. Contemporary blackface implements the use of melanated bodies to carry out  white supremacists motifs. Contemporary blackface features a physically black person capitalizing on the fad of blackness, and addressing blackness superficially. They may issue a few good lines, or even a good episode—but their goal to to “win” in a capitalistic society, not to provoke any real difference. Their superficial engagement with blackness proves lucrative in opening the door for future endeavors that will have nothing to do with blackness at all. 

Though I have named this behavior the Donald Glover cover, it is imperative to note that this behavior is not limited to him. Rather it is exuded in Shonda Rhimes, Justin Simien amongst others. Their behavior is one of survival, speaking specifically to a desire to “survive” enslavement by being the “good” slave though appearing, to the heuristically hypnotized, to be free. 

Those wearing the Donald Glover cover attempt to reach the heights of whites while black, placing a white mask over their black exterior. Their is no pride or purpose involved in said pursuits, what is involved is passing. The assailants of contemporary blackface pass as black conscious or woke, depicting socially acceptable radicalism as veiled white supremacy. Specifically, Glover confirms white supremacy in the same breath that he issues his pseudo challenge, he is radical and conservative—depicting contemporary blackface as a socially accepted radicalism where the black body in pursuit of the white mask takes one step forward and two steps backwards. The white light shines on their faces and nothing else matters. They gloat as trailblazers and representatives of free thought though their minds are in chains—-internalizing the belief that beating racism is as good as abolishing it. 

No thought can be free if the mind is in chains. Yet it seems that because the contemporary is on the other side of the empty gesture called the emancipation proclamation, many take freedom as fact despite the overt limitations said freedom imposes on black life and black thought. Blackness remains what so many aim to shed, or try to make incidental—although the contemporary climate omits the need to articulate said feelings. 

Instead, the masses are encouraged to find inspiration and support those who believe more in the white light of a star, than the blackness of the sky that makes this illumination possible.

Black Power ❤

Extended Deadline: Call For Submissions

wt

Call for Papers
Fire: The Second Edition (Title in progress pending copyright) 
Catherine C. Saunders: Editor

In honor of the 92nd year since the first and only issue of Fire: Devoted to the Younger Negro Artist, this upcoming project seeks to pay homage to writer and editor Wallace Thurman and the black creative in producing a second edition to this publication.

This call for papers requests short pieces—plays (one act preferred, three acts maximum), short stories, poems, cultural critiques, essays,

Short Stories: 1000-1500 words
Plays: (one acts plays preferred) from 1000-3500 words
Poems: No more than 500 words
Reviews/Essays:1000 words
Artists: Two to Three illustrations with one sentence (maximum) caption.

Possible themes include, but are not limited to: Colorism, Black Love, Classism/ Black “Hierarchy,” inequity, African folklore, black literacy, black uprising/revolutionary, assimilation, beauty, education, gender, non-romantic black relationships etc

We ask that the contributions be your own work, and offer some insight into black life.

Though this publication will accept essays, a preference will be shown for illustrations, short stories, plays, and poems.

The editor seeks thinkers/writers enthusiastic about engaging the many dimensions of black culture and serious about extinguishing anti-blackness.

The deadline for submissions is June 15, 2018.
First round of edits will be processed immediately, with revisions due June 30th.
Final Edits will be due August 1st

In the spirit of the original publication, this project is funded entirely by the editor and is not aligned with any institution. The final publication will be in both print and online and will not be for sale.

Please include in your submission and a 150 word profile/bio, and a quote that summarizes your relationship/perception of blackness to whispersofawomanist@gmail.com on or before June 15, 2018.

I look forward to casting a collective contribution toward uplifting the black community.

Please share with any and all interested parties!

Black Power ❤

Remembering Activist Darren Seals

Introduction

George Washington. Thomas Jefferson. Christopher Columbus.

These are just a few of the white men history remembers favorably–despite their unfavorable actions.

Washington was a slave owner.

Jefferson was a rapist.

Columbus was a thief.

Yet,  the date of their earthly arrival remains a national celebration. Those of us subject to the contemporary enslavement enabled by their past endeavors, are relieved of our civic duties and subjected to remember a history that has omitted the collective contributions of black people. 

Darren Seals is a name that will not make the history books. Nope. He will not even qualify for a footnote. “His” story, is and always will be about “him,” not us.

Darren Seals,  like so many other buried narratives, fulfilled a collective purpose despite his inevitable assassination. Seals holds hands with ancestors also gone too soon in fighting for what our counterparts are granted without request.

Celebrating his life, amongst others who won’t make the news or any other mainstream publication is an imperative step in telling and celebrating our story.

Darren Seals is our story. 

___________________________________________________________________________________________

A Rose From Concrete

As articulated by white media outlets Seals was “anti” police violence and “anti” gun violence. These labels are deliberately inaccurate and an oversimplification of the leadership Seals embodied. Black leadership is resonant for what it stands for, not what it stands against. Seals stood for a pro-blackness, which is why he is physically absent today. 

His disposition reminiscent of the late Malcolm X, and the late George Jackson, reflects an unapologetic masculinity that has seen the worst our white supremacist society has to offer, but instead of curling over in defeat, places courage where he could have placed fear. A courage that afforded him a confidence to strive for the best for his people.

Racial in justice was not just what he spoke about but a catalyst for his actions.  Seals understood that being tied to the bottom of the ship (ie, selling drugs and doing jail time), though unconventional, reveals the makings of a man, or as seen in instances like Angela Davis, Assata Shakur and Joan Little, the makings of a woman as well. Like Malcolm X, and George Jackson, he is remarkable because he took what was designed to emasculate him and used it to cultivate a leadership that would transcend mortality. 

___________________________________________________________________________________________

A Man of the Cause

Seals’ leadership came to a national head upon the murder of black teen Michael Brown. Seals was one of the first activists on the scene after Micheal Brown was murdered by Darren Wilson in 2014. His brother’s keeper, Seals remained dedicated to exposing the anti blackness that turned the what should be the men of tomorrow into young men of yesterday. He knew that the same system that murdered the black man refusing to bow down to white insecurity was the same system that appointed the weak and effeminate to represent our collective. The most consistent depiction of anti-black violence of  is the demand for our collective diffidence in the face of destruction. We are to smile as the breathe leaves our body. We are to forget the bleeding wounds of our brothers, our sisters, and ourselves to make peace in a land that has never granted us such a liberty. 

Instead we are coerced to become preoccupied with false realities.  To be overly concerned with money. Described as a “material reality” by the systemized, money is seen as essential in overcoming white supremacy. You can not however, overcome by playing within the parameters of a system. The pseudo leadership of our contemporary climate, though oftentimes inconspicuous, remains controlled by money. Money composes the strings that orchestrate the actions of those that seem immersed in black liberation. 

Seals saw through all of this. He could not be bought. His fearlessness was deliberate and conspicuous—frightening those who needed his fear like air to breathe. 

They feared his fearlessness would inspire others. That his ability to unify was too much like that of his physically deceased ancestors. 

A white supremacist society needs the black man to subscribe to its supremacy, whether through money, mind power, or motive. Seals had no alignment to any of these demands, so his elimination was inevitable. His elimination, in its gruesome ambiguity, occurred as it did to scare those left behind into a paralyzing submission. 

The masses were to extract that he who strikes the match goes up in flames. Yet the consciousness that Seals cultivated, enables the black collective to see that death is seen more in the conventionally living than the ancestors who have transitioned. The well-paid black puppet is more dead than Malcom X has ever been in the fifty three years since his departure. Seals and his forefathers and foremothers, illustrate that the evolution of the revolution is thwarted in belief that an act of anti-blackness can kill what it did not, and could never create.

Darren Seals, like the countless courageous figures that come before him, illustrate that the revolutionary never dies, simply because he or she cannot.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Thug Radical, A Myth Dispelled 

In a world where discussion of free thought is more frequent that actual free thought, Seals’ activism and assassination, teaches the world that there is nothing free about free thought. Though epitomizing what a free thinker is and should be, Seals and others like him, are almost always excluded from such labeling. Instead, they are disregarded as a sort of “thug radical” that is not to be taken seriously. 

Darren Seals and the pro-black male prototype are depicted as what is wrong with America— displaced as what a liberal agenda seeks to “fix.” They are the young boys with “too much energy,” ‘too much pride” but not enough education and white male mimicry to deem them  predictable and powerless enough for recognition.  

Darren Seals and the pro-black male prototype are what our oppressors perceive as those who need to be chopped down, their growth stunted so that they only grow to be two feet tall psychologically. This is why males like Kanye West and Donald Glover are revered symbols of free thought.  They are representative of those bought by the white man and sold to a collective who finds reparations in what appears to be an acquired visibility of their own reflection.

The pseudo consummation of black success in a white world, breeds compliance to a poisonous system. In short, their “free” though provides “free” labor to a pattern of white ideology. Darren Seals actualizes free thought, illustrating free thought is a cost solely paid with what so few are willing to give up, despite never truly experiencing—life. 

___________________________________________________________________________________________

To Die for the Dark Race

So few are willing to live for blackness, even fewer are willing to die for blackness and black people. Darren Seals, like Micah Johnson and Gavin Long, are contemporary manifestations of a rare black identity that has sustained our collective for centuries.  These young men lived how they transitioned—for black people.

Their contribution to our story is in the spirit of ancestors who are also largely nameless, but resonant beyond recognition.

Their spirits are flames that while temperate like life, burn eternally in the hearts and minds they inflame in impact.

Darren Seals, may you rest in power.

May you revel in the peace you gave your collective simply by existing.

Black Power ❤ 

 

Breaking In, A Review

To be honest, Breaking In did not even bear much of a promise in its promos. By this, I speak specifically to the banality of the promotional images, not the talent of the featured melanated actors.

Nevertheless, the allure of a black leading lady was enough to fill theatre seats with black women and black families over the mother’s day weekend. What the film offers is a reinforcement of what our racist society continually presents as representations of black bodies. 

Shaun Russell’s (Gabrielle Union)  estranged father recently passed. In preparation to sell the estate, Shaun visits his Wisconsin home with her two children and encounters four white men seeking to rob her late father of his millions. In just under two hours, viewers endure the tried and tested storyline of No Good Deed (2014) and Obsessed (2009) where a black woman is placed in the face of danger to save her children. A product of a white female screen writer and white male director, Breaking In is seemingly representative of “color blind casting,” a displacement of black bodies into white names and a story line that is insultingly superficial in its refusal to acknowledge race.

Though nearly two hours long, the film does nothing with the black bodies placed before viewers on the big screen except use them for pure entertainment. Though not dancing or singing, these actors and actresses are employed for a similar purpose that lacks substance. What is both obvious and obscured–depending on the level of viewer engagement–is how the catalyst for the robbery and familial visit to the Wisconsin home, fades into a background. Though we see an elderly man prepare and proceed to jog in a picturesque setting, the story of the black man is not developed. The word “criminal” is placed in a sentence that references his estrangement from his daughter, but he is insultingly underdeveloped. Like the protagonists in Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man, and James Baldwin’s Sonny’s Blues, Shaun’s father is nameless. He is only ever referenced as “the old man.” In fact, his value becomes limited to the four million dollars he has stored in a safe. He becomes a catalyst for an attack launched on the black female body and her offspring, a depiction that symbolically represents what white supremacy has yielded the black collective— a family “broken” by a system that needs the physical or psychological absence of the black male to ensure that what blossoms from a tree is the product of tangled roots.

Thus, the film does not rob a black man of his money, but robs a black family of security in excommunicating the black man. So when the white robber says to Shaun that she “is an impressive woman” to which she responds “No, I am a just a mom.” They both have it wrong. Shaun is neither “woman” or “mom.” She is collateral caught in a crossfire. A crossfire resulting from the white man attempts to itemize the black body in a commerce needed to actualize his fictive world dominance. 

Though issuing emasculated men in contrast, the film does succeed in representing the black female body as integral to the survival of the black family. This is an image the film personifies through mother Shaun and daughter Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus). This one-sided portrayal, illustrates the often unstated expectation of black bodies granted visibility or attention. Blacks granted visibility or attention, are expected to exhibit one or all of the following:

  1. Individualism: Investment is singular, without regard for the collective, except for marketing purposes.
  2. Intersectional: Blackness is incidental and not central. The black body is present and obvious, but the featured black body is solely vested in an intersectional label
  3. Oppositional: In action or image, the black body is opposed to its counterparts. For example, a black person seemingly vested in black issues and black people with a white/non-black spouse, or one who has married within blackness (physically) and is vocal about black issues, but is a pseudo elitist who polarizes and demeans their collective either directly or indirectly (Ben Carson, Henry Louis Gates, Franchesca Ramsey)

This film exploits in opposition. In depriving the black male of a strength embodied by the black woman, black portrayal embodies that of a seesaw where the two sides are unable to elevate simultaneously. This depiction is of course untrue, but a ubiquitous psychological assault on the black collective, implement to cripple strides towards black advancement.

Verdict? Support Gabrielle Union’s producing feat, but approach with little to no expectations due to the white “forces” that surround her.  

Black Power ❤

A Note To The Unconventional Mother

She wasn’t there on birthdays, or Christmas. In fact, I am not sure once they reached adolescence if they even remembered her face. Though I hope they did. I hope that when they reached deep inside themselves for memories the institution told them to forget, they saw her-her full Afro. That in deafening silence they remembered the sound of her heartbeat from the inside. That during the cold spells of life they remembered the warmth of her body as they sat on her thighs as children. I hope they recognized their features as hers when they shifted from baby to toddler, from toddler to kid, from kid to adult long removed from the embrace of the womb that birthed them.

To the system she was just another young girl who fell victim to the streets, but it was not the streets that consumed her. The same system consumed her foremothers centuries prior, whose children would also become strangers. They too would forget her face, long for her touch, and go through life unable to identify the woman who gave them life. She would endure centuries of caring for other people’s children, but unable to even touch her own. The process would blind a family to their kin, but cripple a collective from a culture that was stripped and ripped away generation after generation.

The contemporary world bullies the unconventional mother.  The nuanced narrative demonizes the black female body for falling prey to the same systemic pressures that severed the black family centuries ago–foreshadowing contemporary catastrophes that keep us in conflict. The black woman remains expected to rise above what she is conditioned  to ignore. She is a murderer for sparing her child the hurt from a world she is not yet prepared to shield them from. She is a crook for using what white Women use religiously without label or consequence. She is pegged as “doing what she is supposed to do” if she’s given an opportunity to mother like her foremothers were not. Good mothering, with regard to the black female body is normalized, but the black female is not. By this, I mean that the conventional “goodness” of black female mothering is deemed “normal” behavior, but abnormal when aligned with the vernacular perception of the black female body.  There is however, nothing normal about black women who are able to weather the storm and steer their familial ship safely to shore. There isn’t enough appreciation for the black mother for the sheer feat of seeking to produce in a  world that nurtures the black body to a lifetime of  consumerism.

An always solicited supporter for every faction in conflict, the black female collective bleeds love, yet are only able to salvage a small about of love to live on. The black female does not just  merely live on this love, she creates life in love. She is the womb and the woman. The mother and child of the Diaspora. The keeper of culture. She is the girl in the garden, and the girl of the garden watered in tears of joy and sorrow amidst what should have been a devastating drought. She, and I use this pronoun to reference a collective, not only grew but gave.

The black female form is a mother everyday and not just to those she pushed from her womb. The black female form is a mother to those who were cut from the womb of mother continent Africa, and to those who did the cutting. Her breasts sucked women of all colors.Thus, the greatest gift we can give the black mother of past and present, is to embrace her unconventionality.  To acknowledge those excluded from the intentions of this capitalistic opportunity called a holiday—to realize that appreciation should not be because the white world said to do so on this day, but a daily praxis of purpose for those seeking to acknowledge she who is not woman or mother in the eyes of a racist country, but who embodies the roots to a tree cut down in our failure to remember our foremothers. 

She like the space where they would meet for brief encounters for a short period of time, is physically gone and even forgotten to some. The bond with her offspring however,  remains impenetrable and intangible. They cannot tarnish what they cannot touch–this is one benefit of her coerced absented-presence. Whether she lives in the projects, a mansion, check-to check, or in the sky, she lives in us. Our mothers as individuals embody that from which we came, that which runs through our veins.

To the mothers tossed overboard into the sea. To those thrown into a hole in a ground with no label. To those with empty wombs and empty hearts for children they won’t meet again in life—we love you and we are ever-grateful for your sacrifice. 

Black Power ❤

Race, Space, and Articulated Anguish

Allow me to set the scene….

It was a spring day in Oakland, California and a black mother, diligently working on her degree was summoned to campus to tend to some collegiate business. She brought her son along with her, who was on a state-designated break at the time. She positioned him with lunch, a drink, and snack at the campus restaurant while she journeyed to her professor’s office for counseling.

The whispers were loud in the dining establishment– the women of the women’s college were visibly uncomfortable with the offspring of a black female skewering their coveted space with his presence. It is not important who or what summoned the school safety guards who came to investigate the scenario. While not physically arresting the young boy, these guards fiercely protected this white “space”  and arrested this young black body with their foreboding gazes. Gazez that robbed him of childhood naivety—-acquainting him with the reality that his body is a burden to those who eat the crops watered with his ancestral sacrifice.

He will grow up to be like the black men arrested in Starbucks, who mirror a veiled reality of what it means to be black in America. Whether at Starbucks, a book store, or an airport, the black body is simply not welcome by those who find peace in not having to look the products of their sins in the face. In reality, blacks should be unwilling or cautious of being in the presence of whites in simply recalling why exactly they are in the West in the first place. White People and non black persons of color who often act as whites in the presence of blacks, simply enjoy the pseudo exclusivity of space, with a cavalier disregard for the reasons why that space is even available. They enjoy basking in their privilege to call the police and have the law comply to their foolishness guised as reason, simply because they can.

____________________________________________________________________________________

What’s the issue? 

But I’ll be honest with you—the previously articulated points are not what is most troubling about these recurring scenarios.

What is most disturbing is the recurring comment: Well what did they do?

The query displaces criminality onto a collective of unacknowledged victimhood. The assumption that a black person did something to deserve their mistreatment is the ideology that warms Willie Lynch in his grave.

It is also troubling to hear so many people say “well did they buy anything?”

The unpaid labor of black blood running through the veins of these black men has paid for the Starbucks franchise and then some, but even if you wish to ignore this point, those of us who have been to any white establishment at any point in our lives, can attest to the number of whites and non-black persons of colors who frequent these franchises without ever buying anything. I used to frequent Panera to write, and this middle-aged Jewish man who was there every weekend never bought anything. In fact, he always asked for a complimentary cup and drank beverages the establishment sold for three dollars, for free. He also preyed on young black women religiously, but was never arrested or even confronted because he bore the hue of hegemony. The “you must buy something rule” is a smoke screen. It is merely rhetoric that can be used as ammo to shoot down charges of discrimination. Policy or not, these doctrines, like laws, are only selectively enforced.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Articulated Racism

These signs are consistent in establishments that have become staples in the colonized contemporary. The frequency of said signs hardly counter its violence. Signs like:

Restrooms for customers only

No shoes, no shirt, no service

We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone 

Provide an identical function to bulletproof glasses and receipt-checkers, actions solely reserved for the black community. These signs exist to be reinforced only in the event of a black customer. These signs function as insurance for the anti-black agent—an articulation that functions to excuse the premeditated harassment, assault, and death that awaits. 

Because these signs have become somewhat normalized, to the average gaze they appear antiracist. They violently ingrain appeasement into the mind of the targeted, leading many to believe that these rules function to protect and not persecute them. These signs in action and image, enable responses like the ones articulated by Starbucks victim “it is not just a race thing, its a people thing.”

The seemingly inanimate “thing” referenced, is inherently racist. This statement, an epitome of what it means to be racialized. But to take things a step further, so is patronizing these racist establishments. To patronize any of these business that articulate their racism behind the semantics of the colonized language is to sign a what Charles Mills called “the racial contract.” Charles outlines the foundation of said contract  a norming a racialized space. These signs, normalized as “reason”  by a society founded on unreasonable acts, are harbingers for a space racialized to the detriment of the black body. 

This also connects to the Chikesia Clemons case in Alabama, where a black woman was assaulted for asking a question in the Waffle house. The released footage was especially hard to watch, as it features two white men batter a young black woman–inches away from her bare breasts exposed in an arrest that should have never occurred in the first place. To those who wish to defend police action due to what the white media has depicted as belligerence on Clemons’ part, I point to the number of instances where white men have murdered multiple people. During these arrests, these murderers are never treated in the manner that this young lady was. It is pure racism that a white murderer is treated with more respect than a black person asking a question.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Whites Only! Comply or Die

This case, like the black boy waiting for his mother in an environment inundated by white female bodies, to the young black men arrested in Starbucks, illustrate black spaces as a necessity. These are not black men or women arrested, harassed, or murdered for the articulated accusations,  but black bodies criminalized for “invading” white space. The action is inevitable as this country in itself is an apocryphal white space.

Nevertheless, while I in no way support what happened to the young man eating in a hegemonic university setting, the young men in Starbucks or Miss Clemons at The Waffle House, as long as we as a collective continue to seek sanctuary, sustenance, and entry into white space, we are their objects.

Let us not wait for the emotions that follows a blatant display of disrespect to withdraw our support or call for a boycott. Let us fight the urge to empty our pockets in these establishments that replace our faces with the white men on the dollars we give them–until our demand for respect proves incongruent to a supremacy that in America only comes in white.

May we be angry or disturbed enough not to just withdraw our support from white businesses, but angry and disturbed enough to patronize a black business–and not just on special occasions. Better yet, may we be angry or disturbed enough to work towards emerging from object to subject in establishing a black space.

Black Power ❤