I am an Afrodemic

Preface

I did not want to publish this piece, because I feared it centralized someone not even worthy of an honorable mention. In writing this piece, it became evident that this experience was not about either individual involved, but demonstrative of an institutionalized problem frequently experienced but seldom articulated.

I originally authored this piece in the lonliness of striving for an elevated consciousness and not having anyone willing to listen or acknowledge the detriment of what the scenario represents. I am publishing this piece in hopes of holding hands with other black body throughout the diaspora wading the tides of white supremacy in hopes of  contributing to the black collective displaced onto these stolen lands. So, I hope someone will get something from this post.

Black Power

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The Scenario

I recently met with an agent of white supremacy labeled “college professor” with regards to a final paper I was in the process of composing. The paper spoke to the inherent racism of feminism and the feminist agents of white supremacy as seeking to recruit the black female body in a violent attempt to fulfill an agenda solely vested in the interests of white women. Admittedly, my draft was a meandering prose, but one argument proved a thorn in the side of someone who must have falsely conceptualized me as a black female feminist. 

My argument was simple: black men do not oppress black women. For the record, this is a statement I stand by. Feminism, in its recruitment of black female bodies, remains central in widening the wedge between the black man and the black woman. This is perhaps best evidenced by contemporary media who has launched a nuanced war on black men. Though men from Harvey Weinstein to Matt Lauer face accusations of sexual harrassment, Bill Cosby has been the only one to stand trail. Following the Cosby guilty verdict, the black male predator image fell back onto R.Kelly. There was an even a viral hashtag #muterkelly which called for the previous accusations against the singer be taken seriously, while Harvey Weinstein amongst other white men, outed and concealed, continue to bask in white male privilege. Thus, my statement was one of fact, not opinion; yet, was vehemently attacked by an antiblack agent, who said that “statistics” easily denounce my statements in a cloud of smoke. Statistics that enable the very racism spewed at me under the veil of academic integrity.

She continued, stating: “when you say something like that, it makes it hard for people to take you seriously.”

She goes on to say that this statement is in grave contrast to the person I “appear to be in class.” A person that makes “logical arguments.” What she means here is “you have a good thing going, don’t mess it up.” It also became blatantly obvious that she wishes to provoke an apology or retraction from me, and in receiving neither she attempts to attack my image. I am to fold to her demands as a black person who challenges white supremacy in part not whole.I am to look to racist statistics for truth and bash black men to make women feel like her feel comfortable despite the discomfort my physical blackness provokes.  

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The Issue 

I want to be clear and state that  I don’t expect her to “get” my argument, let alone support it.

The issue is not the pushback to my ideas. That is anticipated and to be frank, boring. My issue is that this pushback is guided as constructive criticism and an effort to deflect the anxiety white, non black women of color, and even some black women have toward anyone who unapologetically appears “to black” in a world they desperately want to remain white. The issue is that statements like the one put forth by this antilock agent is identical to the pervasive propaganda that black people are and can be “racist,” providing equality to the true racists in such a bizarre assertion. This pro-black agenda is often misinterpreted as a war on whites, which in itself is indicative of white supremacist intention.

 The troublesome part is that my analysis is dismissed as a feeling or opinion. I am pegged as a black woman who makes claims to big for the small space I am allowed to occupy by my white masters. I am to occupy the space of a good Negro wrench and decry the black male who does all he has been taught to do—imitate whites. I am to ignore black men like Nat Turner, Malcolm X, Fr\ed Hampton, Dr. Bobby Wright, Dr. Amos Wilson amongst others who love black women. I am to curse my father, brothers, cousins, and black men who love me for being the very thing this individual has asked me not to be. Perhaps more violently, I am to pretend that these men never existed. 

Acquiescing to pressure demanding the black female demonize the black man is my issue with most black feminist thought.   It is also a not so silent demand that dominated the persecution resulting from the #metoo movement. This is illuminated in the recent accusations of rapper Nas–a cases of assault brought forth by a melanated women. These cases function to suggest to the black woman that the black man is the problem, not those who build in the black community but don’t put a dollar in. Not those who used and use the money our ancestors earned to buy and built what they passed onto their children and grandchildren. Not those who  stole our language, and marked our collective rape with a last name. To focus on the black man as the oppressor to the black female body is the essence of a systemized mind. This is not to say we don’t have problems as a people. This is to say that these problems were all engendered when that ship docked on the coast of the continent.

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The Counterclaims of the Confused

My assertions to the skeptical reflect a black Woman who is in denial. A black female complainer who blames whitey for anything. My claims are not about avoiding responsibility. I did not steal myself from Africa, rape my foremothers, and brand my last name into offspring I would never claim as anything other than chattel. I will not take responsibility for what I did not do. It is our collective responsibility to move forward, and a small but significant faction of blacks have attempted to do so. Configuring plans of advancement begins with acknowledging what has been done.

And we as a people have been done in.

In this instance I am persecuted not for what god I believe in, but because I believe in myself. The “I” as it is implemented in this post does not function in singularity, nor does the the reflective pronoun “myself.” They both speak to a collective identity of blackness elevated from melanin to cultivate a state of mind where the experience of those with African blood remain central.

To overcome white supremacy is to acknowledge it in all its forms. I can not address the white female desire for supremacy and ignore the bizarre accusations of black male sexual and physical abuse engendered in the crossfire of feminist cultural contamination. I do however, understand why a non-black person of color would desire such dissonant behavior—-it assures her that my theory won’t disrupt their comfort. It ensures her that my perspective will never be “too black,” but be inevitably one-sided and intersectional in denouncing my other half. It ensures that my theory won’t incite her to research the history of black male/female relationship—not sullied by statistics designed to produce results that will foment a mythic white supremacy. 

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Focus on being Liked, not Black 

Instead, I am to concern myself with being liked and being taken seriously, not liking myself or taking my own self seriously. I am to fixate on the superficial. I am to focus on being taken seriously in a world that does not consider me or my collective human. 

In analyzing this scenario I am forced to concern that while after being “liked,” the few who do like me—-like me for the wrong reasons. The silent praise I get for being an intellectual, is because of the belief that my actions and words are a performance. When my actions and words begin to seem beyond performativism, I am a balloon that needs to be deflated, a light that needs to be turned off, a bug that needs to be smashed. So my professor’s words, though articulating an inability to “take me seriously”, marks an effort taken to ensure that she or anyone in the department would have to take me seriously.

It reveals that up to this point I suppose I was just “cute” in my outspoken stance against anti-blackness. I suppose I came across like a black Woman who just seeks to make a path in a white supremacy at world, a black Woman who has forgotten four hundred years of bondage, exploitation, rape, murder, and mental trauma—or who at the very least does not bring up “that slavery stuff” in front of company. It is a socially accepted form of racism for blacks to take responsibility for what has been done to them, yet help our oppressors ensure the same fate does not fall onto them.

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Closing Thoughts 

I’m seeing now that to be an academic is to provide an image of intellect but to be utterly anti-intellectual in function. Now, this is of course not true of all academics like Dr. Bobby Wright, Dr Francis Cress Wesling, Dr. Amos Wilson, Derrick Bell, or some of the scholars that I have been fortunate to meet along my journey. These individuals though, sadly represent a very small minority.

I imagine ancestors Dr. Francis Cress Wesling,  Dr Bobby Wright, amongst others were well acquainted with the ways the white institution will try to put a halt on black thought. The institution of higher education is a hyper-site for anti-intellectualism and those seeking to place prestige where they should place esteem.

It was thus ineluctable that she mistook me for a black woman wanting to be white. A critical thinker in image but not in action. It was inexorable that despite my body representing the literal backs on which the university was built, she mistook me for an academic.

But make no mistake, I am an Afrodemic.

To be continued…. 

Black Power ❤

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An Ivy League Intervention

Admittedly, Mented Cosmetics, For Harriet, Meld, and TGIN hair care line, have established themselves as pillars of black commerce. For Harriet maintains its placement as a pillar in black female media, providing analysis, enlightenment, and opinions anchored in the black female perspective. Meld functions as an online dating site particularly anchored in producing black love.  TGIN occupies a prominent place in black hair care, offering a series of fragrant and functional products for the black mane. Mented Cosmetics, the newest of the bunch, offers nude lipstick to the brown beauty. However, what many of their consumers do not know is that all these businesses are commonly owned and operated by black graduates of Harvard– which is regarded as the most elite institution in the west by agents of white supremacy.

Before I continue, I want to state that as a proud patron of black businesses. I am quite proud of the presence of the black female business woman. With this said, this recurring instance of the Harvard groomed black who becomes a business owner does provide cause for contemplation.

When the Meld platform first became available, I downloaded it and created a profile. I was instantly tuned off upon signing in and see a white man–but to addd insult to injury, this white man donned a dashiki in his default image. This violent display seemed like yet another case of whites seeking to occupy every space possible. In examining the platform in its entirety, however, what appears to be a a site to foment black love, is actually a white man in a dashiki–or a white initiative veiled in a black exterior.

The Harvard graduate owner of black business issues a symbolic profit to whites, in which a white institution obtains the bragging rights to what is seemingly black excellence.

The reality that these black businesswomen were groomed at a white institution also highlights an important potential of the black business person—to become a face, a functioning component of capitalistic corruption. Thus, these efforts seem a means to create capital for white economy rather than build black commerce.

These businesses show that our efforts as a people need not be rooted in making money—-buy creating a black marketplace. Moreover, in examining these businesses it becomes imperative to distinguish between a black business and business run by people who happen to be black. Black businesses seek to aid the community, and employ the community—businesses run by those who happen to be black solely function to aid the business owner in mimicking his master’s quest for capital, and the master’s quest to propertise black bodies, reverting humans into commerce or perhaps suggesting that black bodies never emerged from economic status in the eyes of their oppressors.

Many of these businesses birthed from the Harvard Graduates emerged during the Obama era of pseudo “hope”—Obama of course being another Harvard graduate marketed as a savior for the black race. He emerged as a means to pacify black needs for symbolism while veiling continued acts of white evil behind a black face. In recalling the poison of the Obama symbolism, it is hard not to see these businesses as created in a  similar image.

Conversely, I acknowledge that feelings of displacement in an institution may offset nationalistic or even pro-black feelings with urgency. But it seems remiss to ignore the reality that the ivy league does not admit black bodies to uplift the black community. If Harvard had known Dubois or Derrick Bell would produce the contribution that they did to black people, I am sure that their entry would have been denied. Clarence Thomas, on the other hand, is a pristine example of the ideal product of the Ivy League– a black veil of white intention.

So while it is a source of pride to support these businesses, each serves as a means to remind us as a collective that we must groom our own establishments. If a business is not groomed for blacks by blacks, then the seemingly black business functions as a means to capitalize on blackness, not service black people. Therefore, what could still very well be a space for products seeking to solve issues pertinent to the black community, seems a chocolate veiled, Ivy-league intervention into black space.

Black Power ❤

 

Remembering Maya Angelou, and the Lessons She Left Us

Maya Angelou– a pedagogical poetess whose words healed many hearts and lifted many chins– is most remarkable for the moral her life tells. Maya Angelou is a testament to the fact that it’s not how you start but how you finish.

Angelou had many titles in her life, but when most had “settled down” she was just getting started– illustrating that the darker the sky the brighter the star shines.  Maya Angelou was meant to be a figure of influence, she was meant to shine, and she did. But perhaps what is most remarkable about Miss Angelou is that she used her world to help her audience of black readers shine as well.

As a writer, Miss Angelou has contributed countless words of value, but this post will focus on three of Angelou’s most powerful verbal contributions essential to molding the black psyche in general, but perhaps most specifically—the black woman.

1. People tell you who they are—listen. Maya-Angelou-quotes-9

“When someone shows you who you are, believe them the first time.”

 

2. Confidence is beauty.

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies
I’m not cute or build to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally,
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

3. Self-Actualization is the kryptonite to a world trying to beat the black body into a pedestal on which their false superiority stands.

Do you want to see me broken ?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my hautifiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard

 

4. The black collective has the innate ability to “rise” above all the smallness that attempts to consume us.

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide.
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and feat
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestor’s gave,
I am the dream and the hope of a slave
I rise
I rise
I rise.

In her transition, Miss Angelou has risen to her rightful place in the sky, her immortal contribution planting a seed of self-esteem the black body must wear as armor in a white supremacist world.

On what would have been your 90th birthday, I thank you Maya Angelou for planting a seed of confidence in the intellectual garden of our collective.

Black Power ❤

Acrimony, A Review

Torn between my indifference for Tyler Perry’s fascination of the black female narrative, and a desire to support Taraji P Henson as lead actress, my experience viewing the movie proved just as ambivalent. Acrimony tells the story of Melinda (Taraji P. Henson) who viewers meet a court hearing where she is advised to stop “harrassing these people” and ordered to attend anger management. It is in this therapist’s office that Melinda divulges the path that engendered her present distress.

The Plot  (Spoilers)
As a college students struggling to meet the white man’s standards of intelligence, Melinda meets Robert (Lyriq Bent), an upperclassman. The encounter cost Melinda her paper, but foments a bond between Robert and her that would last the rest of her life. Shortly after meeting, Melinda’s mother dies and she simultaneously falls into a house, $350,000 and a new relationship with an orphaned man with big dreams.

It is not long before Melinda becomes a full investor in Robert’s ambitions, buying him a car, paying his tuition and investing in a battery Robert believes is ground-breaking. After Melinda buys Robert a new car, he becomes hard-to-reach. Melinda laments on waiting two days for him to call her before catching Robert cheating on her with another woman—June. Distressed, Melinda destroys Robert’s trailer, interrupting his infidelity and her infertility all at once. Melinda’s act prompts an emergency hysterectomy before her twenty-first birthday, yet the two reconcile and get married.

Robert graduates from college and he and Melinda morph from starry-eyed kids to adults who have wasted away in the promise of a tomorrow that never came. The story takes a twist when. June, the woman who Robert cheated on Melinda with decades earlier takes on a prominent role at a company he has sought to parter with for two decades. She presents an opportunity for Robert at the same time he is to fulfill an obligation for Melinda to help keep her mother’s house—a house he called home for almost two decades. He reneges on his promise to Melinda and takes a meeting where he is offered $800,000 for his product—but turns it down.

Melinda, made aware of Robert and June’s reunion after her sisters find June’s wallet in Robert’s car, and left homeless by Robert’s failure to come through for her is finally convinced he is the thoughtless man her sisters warned her about decades ago and files for divorce. After working in a kitchen and staying at a homeless shelter, June gets Robert a multi-million dollar deal and the two live the life Robert promised Melinda.

Money

“If money can fix you you were never broken”

The plot, a medley of the real and imaginary, appears a deliberate attempt to humanize both the black man and black woman. Melinda both confirms and layers the angry black woman stereotype, illustrating not anger but hurt. Robert illustrates the common combination of melanin and ambition—which often becomes the deferred dream Langston Hughes speaks to his famous poem “Harlem.”

Melinda without a doubt is the air that inflates Robert’s dream— a dream that does not manifest until her departure. So while Robert gives her ten million of his seventy five million dollar fortune, and gets back the house he was not willing to sacrifice his dreams to help her save—his efforts are a decade late and millions of dollars short—as what he took from Melinda was something money can simply not buy. Robert offering money to a woman whom he met in a moment of loss, a woman who took care of him for two decades for him to chase a dream and life she never got to benefit from, illustrates his oversimplification of the black female sentiment and general insensitivity to the needs of a black women. As the exteriorized objects of white supremacy, the black body often misinterprets white commerce as a bandaid to black distress. Robert’s empty gesture proves that money heals no wounds.

This proves an interesting commentary on reparations, as in many ways Melinda symbolizes the black body who in past and present manifestations toils to make everyone’s dreams come true but their own. Melinda symbolically represents the objectified black body whose bodily fortune proved lucrative to an external source that gained despite her habitual loss.

So while a lackluster plot and mediocre writing, I will grudgingly admit that the film prompted me to consider what it is we want as black women, and a black collective as a whole?

Water

I’ll be honest and state that the ending to Acrimony proved the most disturbing ending I have seen in a while. Engulfed by rage. Melinda boards Robert and June’s ship, with the sole purpose of making them feel the pain they both have caused her, and while it seems like she’ll avenge her feelings things do not go as planned. After shooting Robert and ordering the crew to jump off the boat, Melinda is well into her plan when the chain that holds the ship’s anchor comes loose and takes Melinda to the bottom of the sea where she joins the countless African atoms that are too eternally fixed in the sea. The ending bothered me, because it mirrors a sentiment I have been battling for a while—that there is no such a thing as Karma. After suffering decades of loss, Melinda does not get retribution or even sanity—she gets death.

Frozen in a water tomb, Melinda takes a place alongside the atoms of her forgotten foremothers, who’s heart was too big for such a small world. Melinda loves hard in a loveless world, portraying the nature, or pure “soul of black folks” as sentenced to a premature death—-karma friend to their foe who opposes the black body violently in both past and present manifestations.

Water takes on many forms in black life, sweat, tears, neither functioning to garner the black body any empathy from a world that takes but does not give. Melinda has an interesting and fatal relationship with water. She meets Robert in the rain, an encounter that costs her a paper. And it is the water that takes her life in the film’s final scene.

Watching a black woman grapple for air, or “Aspire” in the manner Christina Sharpe delineates in the wake, is troubling in itself, its representation capturing the black female desire to exhale.

After living a life saturated in hurt, it seems a biting reality that her death has to hurt as well. Though, as illustrated in the continuous lynchings of black men and women, this sour depiction is painful but true.

A biting issue I have with the ending is that it possibly functions to depict the angry black woman as inducing her own demise—or black anger as a catalyst for black death. This is troublesome as the angry black woman is a caricature—she does not exist. Anger is a veil placed over the black face to avoid acknowledging that the black face is a face at all.

Blacks are not given a space to exist period—and are not given outlets to process their feelings as they are seldom acknowledged as having any. So, Melinda’s stumble into destruction is according to plan— as the black body is programmed to fall off the tightrope they were never trained to walk.

Love

Robert and Melinda illustrate black desire to be loved—-however only the black woman was willing to exteriorize her internal needs—in exteriorizing her affection Melinda loves her way to hate which eventually becomes obsession. Exteriorizing her affection not only makes it impossible for Melinda to love herself, but to see herself. She loses herself in the reflectness of unconditional love—she loses herself trying to produce the love absent from her life.

Color plays a significant role in the movie’s final scene as all the characters wear white and are aboard a white yacht. Given that Melinda drowns while Robert and June survive to live the live Robert promised Melinda—it appears that the female blackened by unconditional love can simply not be white in the way her selfish and money oriented counterparts can, Though Robert, June, and Melinda are all black, Robert and Melinda adopt a proximity to whiteness in their money has purchased their black bodies from the auction block prompting their exchange of economic poverty for moral impoverishment.

In a loveless world, it is absolutely essential that blacks love one another.

This is not to say that Robert is not worthy of unconditional love, but that the love we deserve as black people is the love we must pay forward.

Black Power ❤

Confronting Color in The Classroom: Dr. Francis Cress Wesling’s The Isis Papers as a Weapon for White Supremacy

Academia functions under the umbrella of higher learning, where the affiliated melanated bodies feel as though they have consummated success in arriving at said institution of higher education with the prerequisite of low self esteem in tow. The low self-esteem is beaten into the student turned scholar, who fights a series of figurative and literal battles designed to create a curve in their spine.

Today, after showing up on time for a course on vernacular literature, I sat at the head of the table and placed my small purse in the empty chair next to me. Before I describe the series of events that came after, I want to point out that all seminar classes are held in a conference room with about 30 seats. Most are occupied with the bodies of students, but it not uncommon for a coat, bag, or book to occupy vacant chairs—especially after class has started.

About an hour into class a plain white girl with bleached hair, pale skin, and thin lips shows up—the room reeking of cigarettes upon her entry. She walks past two full-figured black women whose belongings have taken over two chairs. She then walks behind me, and begins to sit on the side chairs before loudly stating the following:

Catherine, do you mind if I sit here?

Though presented as a query, the interrogative framing veils a demand. It is worth noting that her “question” disturbed the lesson that was taking place, but given that the commotion was a blonde white girl antagonizing a vocal black female student—everyone quickly looked away—sure not to bear witness to a pervasive white evil that violently assaulted the instructor and every black person in attendance with one blow of sheer disrespect.

Nevertheless, without making eye contact or even acknowledging this individual, I began to move my things. But I suppose my pace was not swift enough for the white woman. Before I could get my things out of the chair, she picked up my planner and moved it to the windowsill.

This racist psychopath was quite deliberate in her actions. She walked past two empty chairs. She also acted the way she did in a protected environment. Finally, she operated with the intent to provoke an outspoken black student. The issue I have here, well… there are a myriad of issues with this. I will say that the issue is not my belongings being in the seat, or my cavalier indifference to her belligerence. As articulated by Dr. Francis Cress Wesling in The Isis Papers, white antagonize blacks because of their issues in confronting their lack of color, or what Dr. Cress Wesling calls albino-ism.

So, in exercising privilege in acting callously without any repercussion, and in attempting to provoke a black body to engender a violent reaction– a racist creates a pathway to easily emerge as a victim to the angry black woman. Doing none of this grants color to the colorless, but it provides a pseudo victory in seemingly having something that the melanin bearing individual does not have. This is of course an escapist perspective—but one that engenders the systemic structures from schools to neighborhoods— designed to convince the melanin-dominant race that they are powerless.

The described scenario mirrors what blacks in past and present settings experience as they are walked off the sidewalk by white people, or basically sat on in public transportation by whites who feel “haughty” blacks are “talking up too much room.” I could write a collection of essays about the experiences encountered on the train where I face aggressive behavior from white men, because I sat comfortably in my blackness while they had to stand in the discomfort of white male privilege. White entitlement to space, is a common display of power. On a much grander scale, space with regards to community and land ownership, in general, is a power-privilege consistently withheld from blacks since their arrival in America. As demonstrated by the sit ins during the 1950s and 1960s, whites were granted an opportunity to see the power created by myths called laws and legislation– granted access to sit down and engage socially while blacks were not served at all, or restricted to a standing snack bar—functioned to grant whites esteem, simultaneously denigrating black self-worth.

What is possibly most troubling about this scenario, is the reaction of a melanated classmate, significantly older but utterly oblivious to the dimensions of racism. After the violent behavior of this racial psychopath, my classmate was noticeably more enthusiastic and receptive to this white female’s desperate attempt to make the teacher forget an entire semester of tardiness and general incompetency. This is an issue, as black unity is essential in dismantling the hold of the white power system. To my melanated classmate, the white female’s actions were individually antagonistic to an outspoken black women, a woman labeled haughty in her refusal to succumb to the invisibility expected of her as a being of black female form. What my melanated classmate is unable to understand is that she was not eliminated from this act of violence, but indirectly included. She was not targeted by this white female, because she is not perceived as having a power that needs to be seized. It is her instant denouncement as power-bearing that is an insult in ideology—but overlooked by the melanated who also bear a stance of envy and awe towards those who proudly occupy a space they vehemently eschew.

In thinking of this scenario, my mind recalls a comment I find myself well acquainted with, with regard to adversity: choose your battles. When I hear this comment, is always from those who chose a version of cowardice as their daily mode of escapism. Thus, the phrase “choose your battles,” translates to “pipe down.” These words are an invitation to be less , to appease those who oppress. No black person chooses battles—before a black body even takes their first breath—their battles are chosen for them. The global paradigm of racism chooses a series of battles that all of black descent encounter as a shared experience separated by the hollow label of white dominance. Thus, it is in sheer confusion that one advises another survivor of racism to choose their battles. It is in consciousness that one can act or advice others to choose how to fight these battles.

It is imperative to note that whites desire, above all else to be central. In fighting their adversity with physical violence, or any act of impulse—the black victim shifts to the villain caricature carved out by white intention. Acting out of impulse, also centralizes he or she, who should not be more than a passing thought, or opportunity to illustrate racism for any black person. In physically retaliating a racial terrorist, the black body not only stoops to the level of an invalid, but reduces themselves to reactionary when they could be revolutionary. Taking respect is a mental act, that once produced cannot be seized by those who have no soul, or form, unless we, the pedestal to which they stand, give it to them. Blackness is power—we as a collective just have to realize and relish in this truth.

But ’tis far easier said than done. I too feel the burning sensation to react. The tinge of anger rise in my spine, the thoughts of retaliation pouring through my mind like a photo-book. This is power that if not best used will engulf the black subject, and produce the mythic villain illuminated by white deception, a sentiment Audre Lorde captures in her poignant poem “Power:”

I have not been able to touch the destruction

within me

But unless I learn to use

the difference between poetry and rhetoric

my power too will run corrupt as poisonous mold

or lie limp and useless as an unconnected wire

and one day I will take  my teenaged plug

and connect it to the nearest socket

raping an 85 year old white woman

who is somebody’s mother

and as I best her senseless and set a torch to her bed

a greek chorus will be singing in 3/4 time

“Poor thing. She never hurt a soul. What beasts they are.”

It is the ability to distinguish between poetry and rhetoric that enables the black body to see their victory. It is an inability to distinguish between poetry and rhetoric that convinced many to believe segregation, not racism, was an evil that needed to be extinguished–an error that as King said in reflection, led blacks into a “burning house.” A statement I recall and take in, as I write with the white supremacist soot eternally embedded in my soul.

In closing, the cliche saying that “Whoever is trying to pull you down, is already below you,” is most prevalent with regards to the black collective. We constantly encounter whites and non-blacks biting at our ankles,  simply because we are the most high. So if for no other reason, choose to fight all battles in a way that ensures your crown remains firmly on your head.

Black Power ❤

Call for Submissions: Resurrecting the “Niggerati” and Wallace Thurman’s Fire

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 May 15, 2018.
First round of edits will be processed by late May, 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 May 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 ❤

Rethinking the Black Hero, and Black “His” tory Month

One recurring phrase that dominates much of the discussion surrounding the recently released Black Panther film, is it’s function to grant black children an opportunity to “see themselves as super heroes.” This assertion is cringeworthy, in part because the movie is birthed from the mind of a racist, and in the overlooked reality that the film comes from a stance that super heroes do not in fact exist.

Black Panther presents viewers with a leader who succeeds his father’s throne, rights a persistent wrong, and loves a black woman who possesses an independent commitment to justice. The true hero of the film is Erik Killmonger. Unlike T’Challa he is not given anything, but has seized all that was owed to him. Whichever side you fall on, both men are fictional. The black hero or heroine, however is not. Harriet_Tubman_by_Squyer,_NPG,_c1885.jpg

So my issue with claiming that the film shows us black superheroes, is the implication that life, or the black narrative, has not shown us such heroes. The black trajectory has graced the black collective with countless heroes. Though the tearing of Africans from the womb of Africa, has separated blacks from their pre-enslavement majesty, even the tyranny of enslavement brought us heroes like Nat Turner. Turner, as a name we know, symbolizes the countless other ancestors that were sick and tired, but whose names were too courageous for “his” story. Though nameless, their deeds remain central in a portrait of heroism. Harriet Tubman was a hero. Harriet Tubman is a hero. Ida B. Wells, E. Franklin Fraiser, W.E.B. Dubois, Fanny Lou Hamer, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Dr. Martin Luther King, Assata Shakur, Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Bobby Hutton, Elaine Brown—the countless black educators and community members who launched and maintain grass root initiatives to advance the black community, are all heroes.

No their clothes are not fancy in the conventional sense, and many of them are far too prodigious to be contained in history books. They do however have superpowers, namely the understated power of courage. They strove not to do the best with what was made available, but to create availability for their people to think outside the permitters of those who thrive in their oppression. They are heroes and sheroes because they opted to color outside the lines of white supremacy for their collective. In relishing in the white man’s adaptation of the black hero, the black child is engulfed by white fantasy. The black child is violently nurtured to align a Stan Lee creation with “black panther,” not Huey P. Newton, or Bobby Seale. For this reason, the film functions like the beauty industry to the black woman—fictively “providing” the black collective with what they have naturally in a twisted and long-running joke of white supremacy.

FBI photo file showing the different appearances of Assata Shakur.A white man’s creation has dominated black history month, as an act of terror enabled in the use of the word “his story.” Have you every wondered why the SuperBowl, the NBA-All-star game, the grammy’s, The Olympics, and President’s Day all dominate so called black history month? It is because “his” story will always centralize whiteness. Moreover, blacks are inevitably “foot notes” in “his” or the white man’s story— a fact perhaps most evident this year when a white man’s creation, made the shortest month of the year even shorter for those of the black collective.

Despite the magnitude of Malcolm X’s contribution to the black collective, and this month supposedly being “black history month” Malcolm X was not trending once on February 21st—the 53rd anniversary of his assassination. if you needed any more proof, the media is NOT our friend and has not improved… there it is.

More people have seen Marvel’s Black Panther in its first three days, than last year’s I am Not Your Negro, a documentary on the late James Baldwin his relationship to the black revolutionary movement of the 50s and 60s. James Baldwin is a hero. His pen was a weapon. His words have saved many, including myself from the ledge of loneliness festered in an anti-black society.

My mentor, a beautiful black queen who educated through scholarship and art, is a shero. She breathed life into the novice ambitions of a diffident young girl, who encouraged me to advance my studies when everyone around me urged me to succumb to mediocrity.

Our heroes are those in our individual and collective communities that do not frequent are wallpapers, or conversations about heroism— illustrating that their is still much work to do in seizing our narrative and self perception, seizing “our” story from “his” tory. Until then, both our factual and fictive portrayals are but a painting within a painting of white fantasy.

Black Power ❤

Beheading Ms. Badu: The Vulture Article and Undeserved Backlash

Revered Neo-soul singer Erykah Badu made headlines on the fourth Wednesday in 2018 for comments made during an interview with a white Jewish interviewer for Vulture magazine. As per usual, her remarks were taken out of context, Badu placed on a scaffold and be-headed in a social media paradigm that seeks to cast blacks as villains and not victims in the contemporary dialogue about race. 10-erykah-badu.w710.h473.2x

During the interview, David Marchese asks Badu a series of queries that illustrates him as unfamiliar with her catalogue as he is with the context that births her music. Badu, an obviously intelligent person and elevated creative thinker, paints herself as a seasoned optimist which allows her to “see the good in people.” Being the risqué individual that she is, Badu states that she can see the good in Hitler. The interviewer becomes overtly defensive and the following exchange took place:

I saw something good in Hitler.
Come again?


Yeah, I did. Hitler was a wonderful painter.
No, he wasn’t! And even if he was, what would his skill as a painter have to do with any “good” in him?
Okay, he was a terrible painter. Poor thing. He had a terrible childhood. That means that when I’m looking at my daughter, Mars
Badu’s daughter with enigmatic rapper Jay Electronica. She also has another daughter, Puma, with the West Coast rapper the D.O.C.
, I could imagine her being in someone else’s home and being treated so poorly, and what that could spawn. I see things like that. I guess it’s just the Pisces in me.
I’m perfectly willing to accept that you might be operating on a higher moral plane than I am, but I think going down the route of “Hitler was a child once too” is maybe turning the idea of empathy into an empty abstraction. 
Maybe so. It doesn’t test my limits — I can see this clearly. I don’t care if the whole group says something, I’m going to be honest. I know I don’t have the most popular opinion sometimes.
But don’t you think that someone as evil as Hitler, who did what he did, has forfeited the right to other people’s empathy?
Why can’t I say what I’m saying? Because he did such terrible things?
Well, yes. But it’s also disheartening to hear you say that at a time, like now, when racism and anti-Semitism are so much in the air. Why would you want to risk putting fuel on that fire?
You asked me a question. I could’ve chosen not to answer. I don’t walk around thinking about Hitler or Louis Farrakhan. But I understand what you’re saying: “Why would you want to risk fueling hateful thinking?” I have a platform, and I would never want to hurt people. I would never do that. I would never even imagine doing that. I would never even want a group of white men who believe that the Confederate flag is worth saving to feel bad. That’s not how I operate.
I appreciate that. But I really struggle with the idea of how much we’re supposed to make an effort to understand or have empathy for people who have dangerously backwards or hateful thinking. You want to take the moral high ground, but sometimes that also feels the same as ceding territory. 


Hitler, The Great Painter? 

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The most conflicting component of Badu’s interview stems from her optimistic perspective of the late dictator. Specifically, Badu states that Hitler was a great painter, a direct reference to the Hitler paintings that sold for a high price. I agree that Hitler was a great painter–although in a vastly different context. His acts of evil, functioned to paint whites as victims— to paint a portrait of remembrance whereas victims of the African Holocaust are painted in a collective amnesia that depicts them as potential Hitlers in seeking to possess the pride withheld from them for centuries.  Hitler illustrates white evil as ubiquitous and universal, some evils being ethereal–its most sadistic cruelty–cast onto the peoples of African descent–occurring for what seems like an eternity.

It is interesting though that, Marchese is not so much denouncing Hitler and his deeds as he is berating Badu for a praise she never articulated. Though violent, this exchange exposes Marchese as having an obvious chip on his shoulder in his interaction with Badu.

Those of the black collective can certainly relate to encountering a person who believes themselves to be white, who bears negative feelings towards them for no obvious reason. As a woman whose attire is always an homage to the past, and an obvious student of observation and contemplation, Badu possesses a form that threatens the veiled white supremacist. Whites are most comfortable with blacks who are happily ignorant and fearful and/or in awe of white people and white acceptance. Marchese’s exchange with Badu illustrates a white person’s desperate attempt to denounce black intelligence with a fictive bigotry. To mask his own feelings of inaquedacy by trying to paint Badu as he is, small minded, prejudice, and unworthy of his position .

How does it feel to be a problem? 

My main issue with this exchange is the white male privilege that violently belies the black 98a95e52female form as problematic and not the individualism, ethnocentricity and unprofessionalism of the white male interviewer. As beings of black form subjected to centuries of systemic abuse, physical mutilation, and scientific experimentation, many blacks have adopted a form of optimism as a means to cope. If it were not for this optimism, Badu would probably not have been able to stay afloat in the industy, or have a discussion with someone who benefits from the disenfranchisement of her past and present collective. It is also rather ironic that the interviewer berates Badu for her “empathy,” but offers none to a victim of the same system that afforded him his job. The two moments that prove most violent in the delineated exchange are:

A: But don’t you think that someone as evil as Hitler, who did what he did, has forfeited the right to other people’s empathy?

This is an issue because it’s a leading question. As a woman nearing fifty, Badu needs no help organizing her ideas and as a black woman, Badu has no obligation to mollify the emotions of a white man. Especially a white man, who instead of empathizing with what America did (and continues to do) to abducted Africans, maintains veiled role in their contemporary crucification for allegations of doing what continues to be done to those of the black collective.

B. Well, yes. But it’s also disheartening to hear you say that at a time, like now, when racism and anti-Semitism are so much in the air. Why would you want to risk putting fuel on that fire?

“At a time like now?” When has racism not been pervasive?

This statement illustrates Marchese as  bearing a privileged oblivion to which racism is erykah-badu-e1448850177478-1merely an attribute of the contemporary climate, not a lifetime component in the lives of truly abdicated people.

This is not to say that the Jewish Holocaust was not horrible. It was horrible, and as a being of black form–I know all too well the evils of whites.  But  the African Holocaust never ended and that descendants of those stripped of their name and culture continues to cripple present strides of black advancement. So yes Marchese has historically suffered, but Jewish people, like countless other “ethnic” white factions that have suffered at the hands of white supremacy, are also given an opportunity to practice this very supremacy (which most have actively participated in) onto those issued an inescapable “othering.” Thus, while some may offer sympathy for the once “othered”  despite their rise to oppressor, I decline.  And to the skeptic suggesting that I am making a comparison, I want to clarify that I am not. I am saying that there is no comparison.

I am also stating that despite the implication, and backlash that suggests the opposite, Erykah cannot be racist–as this feat is an impossible one for anyone of African descent. Prejudice is a common attribute nurtured globallyl, but racism is far beyond name calling and hurt feelings–but a label solely extended to those who possess the power to persecute.

Additionally, Marchese’s actions illustrate the following violent passive-aggressive Joe-Budden-Warrant-895x1024.jpgbehaviors:

Separating the black woman from the black man.

In the following, the interviewer references an interview Badu had with a black man and cites sexism in what he considered an insulting caricature the black male allegedly casted of the singer:

I was listening to the interview you did recently with Joe Budden, and he brought up the recurring cartoonish image of you as this sort of quasi-mystical sorceress who’s always playing mind games with rappers.
The Erykah Badu legend
.
Is it frustrating to have that kind of legend follow you around? It seems pretty clearly rooted in a kind of sexism. 
I take advantage of it. It’s a good thing if people think I’m supposed to be some mystical creature that controls people’s minds.

Here, Marcheese attempts to paint himself as some kind of ally, identifying issues plaguing “minorities,” which in his  defensiveness over what he perceived as anti-Semitism he sees himself a part of too. In this instance, he referenced Joe Budden, who, as a member of the black collective shares the same struggle as Badu, as sexist. This performance is one of racism, where the master imbues the Willie Lynch Letter’s directions to separate blacks. To experience sexism is a privilege. Beings of black female form do not get the privilege of experiences sexism, what we experience is a form of racist-sexist oppression where we are masculinized, yet expected to support whites in their persistent persecution of black men.

The efforts of division have also birthed the wrath that engulfs the backlash 141208121102-bill-cosby-super-169.jpgfollowing Badu’s comments regarding actor, comedian, humanitarian,  Bill Cosby. Particularly, when asked about Bill Cosby, Badu does not give the expected polarized response. She was expected to berate Bill Cosby and contribute to the white media’s attempt to sully the legacy of someone who has done so much for black people. Badu says,

“I love Bill Cosby, and I love what he’s done for the world.”

Badu delivers these sentiments in a humanist context, even going as far to say that bearing the same skin as a victim does not dictate her loyalty, a sentiment overlooked by the white media seeking to sacrifice a black woman in a desperate attempt to simultaneously attract more gazes to the article and sympathy for a global oppressor.

B. One black person is expected to speak for other black people.

Your situation is different, but what you were saying a minute ago about how you can’t create new music unless you feel an honest compulsion to do it is making me think about how some of the most important musicians of your generation — people like Lauryn Hill, André 3000, D’Angelo — had long periods where they went silent. Do you think they felt the same way you do?

Badu issues this inappropriate and leading question a masterful responses that portrayals them all as individuals:

I don’t want to speak for those people. I know all of them, and there are individual circumstances for why each of them were quiet in different moments.

This is something most members of the black collective can admit to experiencing. Black people are commonly regarded as a single entity, detached from the thought that black people have a whole range of emotions and perspectives. Thus, the interviewer, although interviewing Erykah Badu, approaches the endeavor as if he is interviewing the every black Neo-soul artist — male and female- suggesting an insulting interchangeability between Badu, Lauryn Hill,  D’Angelo, amongst others. This is anti-black and inevitably racist, an act that exposes the interviewer as bearing the same problematic ideology he attempts to cast onto the black female bodily canvass. Erykah Badu_Photo by Samir Hussein-Samir Hussein-WireImage_Getty 886966038

Needless to stay, although I do not adopt a philosophy of conventional optimism, I support Erykah Badu. . I admire Badu as a student of life, and for being unapologetic in her revelation of self.  I admire that she spoke lovingly of a black man who the white world tried to adorn in a disgust the black collective should reserve for the white male rapist.

This vulture interview and twitter backlash depicts even seemingly progressive movements as rooted in anti blackness—seeking not to call out injustice, but to call blacks words that should be solely cached for those who believe themselves to be white.

Thus,  Badu is most remarkable in presenting in her interview responses to a racist to “call” blacks everything but majestic, with an articulate remix of perhaps her most famous lyric: you can’t use my phone.

Badu’s approach  exposes the lesson of this interview–whites can very well  maintain their negative perception of blacks as the glue to their “esteem,” but not with black bodies as a vehicle or vessel.

Furthermore, while Badu opts to see the good in everyone, I strive to see the best in black People. And black people are incomparably the best–despite the various attempts of those believed to be white, as seen in this interview, to suggest otherwise.

Black Power<3

 

 

Remembering The Sam Cooke Sound and Legacy

There is a melody I hear in my mind. It is a soulful fusion of voice and music, where a tenor is the music and the music is the voice. This melody is none other that the value of the late Sam Cooke— a man who sang as he lived—with soul.

Sam Cooke, often credited with the invention of soul music, remains a musical icon that, in life and death, has influenced many singers. With impeccable song-writing skills, and a ethereal tenor, Sam Cooke is an unforgettable artist—however, what is perhaps most remarkable is how he pronounces certain words and phrases.

This pronunciation is as resonant as it is because it reflects someone who did not forget his origins. Most significantly, his speech represents “soul speech” or engulfing an oppressive language in the innate African-ness that runs through the veins of its long lost children.

In honor of what would have been his 87th birthday, I have highlighting some of my favorite Sam Cooke songs and the word or phrase that is most resonant in delivery.sam_cooke-also-singing

Chain Gang

This song is meaningful not just for the vocal quality, but because it humanizes those itemized in slave-like labor. Sam also gives a soulful transformation to the word “meanwhile” that trails in your mind long after the song’s last note.

Nothing Can Change This Love

This song is a beautiful melodic portrait of unconditional love. The way Cooke pronounces the word “go” is in a manner that only a black person could perform.

sam-cookeA Whole Lotta Woman

This might be my favorite Sam Cooke song, for its witty yet simply lyrics. The most resounding portion of the song is perhaps how Cooke starts the tune. Cooke begins the song with the phrase: “I’ve got a rocking chair that rocks…” a phrase that echoes in your mind years after hearing it. The lyric in delivery and content, exhibits Cooke’s talent and why he simply one of the best to ever do it!

A Change Gon’ Come

Arguably, Cooke’s more memorable and socially reproduced song, “A Change Gon’ Come” is a chilling anthem of the civil rights movement and a ballad of blacks seeking to rise despite the detriment of anti-blackness. To listen to this song, is to listen to the heart of a black man pump, to hear the blood run through his veins, to hear one’s soul glide over a melody. The song is a difficult listen as it addresses the very deeds that would end his life and attempt to stain the memory of he who not only sang, but lived. The lyric: “and just like the river I’ve been running ever since” to me illustrates both the immortality of blackness and the ever–present struggle that runs under and through the 268x0wblack diaspora. But as he sings:

Then I go to my brother

and say help me please

but he winds up knockin’ me

back down on my knees

I can’t help but see Sam Cooke prodigy Bobby Womack–a man who Cooke pulled onto the illusive mountaintop beside him– wearing in Sam Cooke’s clothes at Cooke’s funeral, and marrying Cooke’s wife Barbara three months after Cooke’s murder.  This component of Sam Cooke’s story is an important one for every member of the black collective–every skin-folk ain’t kinfolk. The selection of allies, or “friends,” for blacks seeking to overcome blackness needs to remain deliberate and monitored.  Sam did say the key to success is “observation,” and I could not agree more.

(Somebody) Ease My Troublin’ Mind

Like A “Change Gon’ Come,” “(Somebody) Ease my Troublin’ Mind” displays what late scholar W.E.B. Dubois entitled his well known book of essays “The Soul of Black Folk.” The song, in voice and melody captures how the stresses of how racism feel inside the mind of a black person. Yet, somehow the song is not depressing, but uplifting. Upon hearing this song for the first time, I felt understood. I felt as though I were not alone, and that I was holding hands with someone across mortality. This process takes place most notably as Sam sings the word “somebody,” as his delivery makes the listener, whether privileged enough to occupy the same earth as he or not, feel as though this “somebody” is them.

Honorable Mentions

Sam-Cooke-620x480Sugar Dumpling (the quicker version)

“Before I hang up the phone she’s sitting beside me with a cup of coffee in her hand. (Give me that coffee)’” and that hum at the end of the song is sheer perfection—illustrating that soul need not be ejected for pop-like tunes.

 

 

Cupid 

The word ‘bow” was never the same after Sam Cooke sang it as he did on this popular Sam-Cooke-maintune.

Sam Cooke was remarkable not only for his talent, charm, or good-looks, but for his investment in using his acquired place in music to engender black talent. A student of the industry, Cooke evolved from label employee to authoring and owning his own music.

While a heart-throb, such a label seems an insult to the magnitude of his contribution. Despite the deliberate actions of white supremacists to taint the legacy of a man who had it all, Sam Cook is a pillar in black memory.  Same Cooke, a man who embraced his natural hair before it became popular in the 1970’s used style to make a statement, rather them embody a moniker of assimilation. Furthermore, Sam Cooke’s legacy is easily timeless—his music exuding both raw talent and curated skill, thereby illustrating the height of black ability.

2cd257867125f0ab0051097a6c1d3026Sam is a treasure of the black collective because he possessed what could not be bought, and what has not and cannot be duplicated. That’s why after all these years, he’s still the best “cooke” in town.

….

Mr. Cooke,  thank you for teaching me about community and cooperative economics. Namely, that platform is only significant with purpose.

I hope that when my time is up, I will be fortunate enough to stand at the illusive gates and hear you sing. Happy Birthday King Cooke!

 May you rest in the same peace your voice gives me.

Black Power ❤

Decoding The Intent to Institutionalize

I attended a lecture at Rutger’s University about two years ago to view a presentation on the book Ebony and Ivy by Dr. Craig Steven Wilder. The lecture was as informative as it was passionate—its most resounding words being

“ I used to feel thankful to be here, but now I feel as thought I belong.”

There words were powerful, but more so was his presence.

At the time, I was someone aspiring to be within academia, and Dr. Wilder possessed a voracious intellect paired with an unapologetic confidence—attributes I had previously only seen in black professionals in black spaces. To be honest, I have yet to see that confident intellectual charisma, on any black scholar since. This dearth is not accidental but strategic, and directly connects to Dr. Wilder’s words.Author-Craig-Steven-Wilder-0333-300x200

Wilder’s sentiments of course do not denounce the obvious gratitude he has for his platform and ability to share his research with interested parties. His sentiments speak to an often unaddressed facet of institutionalism—the implementation of inadequacy. Particularly, blacks who seemingly “gain entry” into an institution because of their skill, endure consistent reminders of their displacement into traditionally white spaces like universities and other so-called professional spaces.

An Ingrained Inferiority

Reminders of this displacement come in many forms. As an instructor, I had an elderly white male supervisor who in addition to consistently treating me as too intellectually deficient to grade my own exams and too “urban” to be trusted with departmental documents, staged an in-class hearing where I was verbally assaulted by my students as he looked on. Given that we had identical credentials, it was obvious that my complexion reflected an incompetency that he would not assume if I were a young white woman. His actions, while crass and demeaning, functioned with cavalier disregard because to him I was “lucky” to be in this space to begin with.

35348-thankfulhands-hands-reaching-prayer.1200w.tnIn recent interactions with institutional gatekeepers, I am consistently nudged to be thankful with consistent reminders of how “lucky” or “protected” I am. Rather than acknowledge black achievement and potential, or simply leave blacks to fulfill their purpose in silence, whites, and others who believe themselves to be white or operate as white people, mollify their discomfort by sullying black conventional success with shame— a shame many of those believed to be white feel in the stupor of their own mediocrity.

The Institutional Insult

Like so many black bodies before and after me, I experience daily the wrath of institutionalized racism that has plagued any black daring to reach beyond altheticism and celebrity marketed as the sole escape routes for so called black destitution. I have learned that something as seemingly innocuous as a syllabus can operate as a weapon, mirroring the colonialized perception of black bodies that overtly decorated the ideologies of the centuries that precede us. I’ve obtained an invaluable amount of informal lessons pertaining to black life— inside and outside academia. But most importantly, I have learned the cost, best labeled as consequence, of black confidence and an unwavering belief in oneself. I have met extreme adversity that although tempting to render an individual experience, illustrates a collective effort to destroy the black mind that does not fear whites or the potential for their own greatness.

Despite gaining entry into a institution of higher learning, I have learned firsthand what quote-the-master-s-tools-will-never-dismantle-the-master-s-house-audre-lorde-114745black female scholar and esteemed writer Audre Lord said decades ago, that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” As a so called student at the “master’s” school, I know that I will never be handed the keys to my own liberation. I know that every book, every lecture, and every assignment functions to entangle me deeper into the labryinth of institutionalized insanity, known as submission. But, this can only happen if I perceive myself as a student of the institution. That I am not.

What I am, is a student of institutionalized racism.

I am learning first hand what ancestors and elders from Dr. Bobby Wright and Dr. Amos Wilson to Dr. Francis Cress Wesling and Dr. Neeley Fuller (amongst others) spent lifetimes working to articulate in books that function as keys to the mental chains that bind us to the various manifestations of white supremacy. As Neely Fuller famously stated: “If you don’t understand white supremacy/racism, everything that you do understand will only confuse you.” Understanding racism, makes this experience difficult , but necessary in explicating the experience for the majority of blacks displaced dr-bobby-e-wrightin white spaces.

Most blacks do not understand racism because they are conditioned not to. Most whites do not fully understand racism, because they do not have to understand racism to benefit from it, or to be racist. This is s statement I must make to myself daily, so that I do not harbor resentment or excessive disappointment in the daily attempt to navigate the institution while black.

It is very hard being black any where in the globe. But a prisoner of my ancestor’s captivity, I will say that it is very hard to be black in America. But it is even harder to be black and proud, as this pride is deemed as a threat to whites, but also blacks beaten into submission by the pseudo promise of white acceptance.

Denouncing Inclusion: The Black Female Form as a Pre-Woman Form

In my enlightenment, I see this this submission is perhaps most deeply embedded in alice-large-black-froinclusion. This inclusion is not simply wishing to obtain a seat at the table alongside whites, but inclusion into so called radical factions like “feminism”, “marxism,” etc.that seek to place seemingly de-centered factions as central. Regrettably,“womanism” performs this same deed. Womanism, although an attempt to engage the intersectionality of blackness and femininity, still implements the term “woman”— a concept established on the exclusion of black female bodies. The rape, physical bludgeoning and mental mutilation of the black female birthed the piety, domesticity, submissiveness, and chastity attributed to white womanhood. As a black female striving for consciousness, I can no longer strive for inclusion in the woman concept. I acknowledge that I am female, but the woman concept is far too small to encapsulate the totality of black female identity. Thus, my pending dissertation and future blog post now even mores than before, will function to push the black body beyond spaces established in their exclusion.

I wish to clarify that my use of the word “woman” on this blog in part and whole, does not to speak to black female inclusion, but to reference the black female body as a pre-woman concept. Thus, I do not wish to compartmentalize the black female as woman. Instead, my use of the term “womanism” functions to assert the black female form as a being far greater than “woman.”

Sylvia_Wynter_________2002_0In challenging what Sylvia Wynter called the over-representation of man, or pervasive whiteness, I find my purpose in replacing this fascination with pro-black initiatives. So the adversity of watching white professors overly praise whites and non-blacks for mediocre work, a brown professor highlighting black “insecurity” as the crux of the course, amongst other evils, I too feel as though I belong. I feel a sense of privilege in having a front row seat to the inter-workings of white supremacy. A proximity that breeds a strength that emerges from sitting so close to the fire without being burned is a strategy I hope to teach other member of the black collective in years to come.

Concluding Thoughts

I worked a really long time to occupy the illusive space I currently occupy. Upon my acceptance I was thankful that my hard word had “paid off.” My experiences have shown me that this ideology is wrong on so many levels. That way of thinking “paid” for my current frustrations, and hindered my sense of belonging. Feeling as though my hard work needed to “pay off” symbolized my desire to subconsciously “belong” to an institution.

Similarly, when I started this site I did not even realize that I sought to belong to the woman concept with the title “womanism.” Now, in my pending consciousness, I am on a journey to belong to myself, to my collective. So while black spaces are integral to the advancement of our people, the first space we must possess as a collective is the one in our mind.

So while there is an “I,” in institution, there is no “we.” That is because the “we” combats institutionalism. When “we” symbolizes a collective anchored in unity, the intent to institutionalize, an intent strategically embedded in the commonality of western conventions, becomes an obsolete agenda unable to annihilate a people anchored in their majestic past, and not the enslavement socially reproduced for centuries by who the late Dr. Francis Cress Wesling called the genetically inferior race.

Black Power ❤