No, We Didn’t Wake Up Like This: Why The J Crew Ad is a Mirror of White Supremacy

As a female member of the black collective, I admit that hair matters far more than it should. In making this assertion, it is also imperative to note that this prominence is far from a self-inflicted wound—but a gash produced by those who drink black blood like Popeye1Popeye drank spinach, morphing into a “stronger” “white supremacist version of self.

Hair has been used to produce capital for those who oppress blacks, from perms, to wigs and weaves. So while many inside and outside the black collective will argue that black hair insecurity reflects black issues with esteem, this distorted self-image is the product of western creation. The western world has largely succeeded in creating black insecurity for exploitation and consumption by whites. This exploitation and consumption continues even with the natural hair movement, which suggests an “acceptance” of natural black aesthetics by industries that perceive blacks as subaltern humans— an acceptance that merely veils the exploitation consistent with a global practice of anti-blackness. This anti-blackness surfaced last week when J Crew released g9671_ms1404_d1_720an advertisement that featured a black model with natural hair. The style, as seen alongside this text, does not feature an afro, wash and go, or braid-out, but an unkept, disheveled, ponytail. The image caused an outrage to which the model responded with the following:

“We all want more but still complain.”

The comment reveals that J Crew selected the right person to inflict this symbolic violence onto the black collective— a collective her career most likely convinced her she is no longer a part of . Her comment reveals that her priority is inclusion and what she perceives as visibility. This is of course a pseudo visibility, as the model exists as a master’s tool, functioning to display not herself but how whites view black bodies.

Fotolia_61917235_Subscription_Monthly_XXL.jpgThis picture is insulting, not just because it is unflattering, but because it is untrue. As mentioned earlier, hair is a source of pride in the black community. In past and present black communities, even the most conventionally impoverished black family will find a way to ensure their children are clean and if there is a daughter—her hair will be done. There are of course exceptions, but the “messy bun” and “tossled pony tails” that often occupy spaces atop the heads of white women and girls, are simply not a part of black hair care. Most black women sleep in silk scarves and satin bonnets, meaning that even before we’ve dressed, our hair is laid. So, we do not wake up like this picture would lead many to believe.

We do however wake up in a world of white supremacy. A world that desperately needs black inferiority. Anti-Blackness is never an accident but an intentional facet of a world that needs black inferiority like the human body needs water. Thus, it is not a complaint to call out anti-black images like these. But it is counterproductive for and human of a global subaltern status hose who still shop at this store, or any other company that caters to a white demographic whose esteem heightens upon seeing images like these alongside a fictive version of themselves in the company’s ad. Realistically, the advertisement reflects the kind of melanated individual who would I fact shop at J Crew with their “white friends” seeking to buy clothing they only like because of its proximity to whiteness. The hairstyle reflects the lengths some melanated folks will go to ensure that their white counterparts feel unthreatened by their presence.

Moreover, while the image is certainly problematic, even more so are the subtleties. Namely, the outrage prompted by this advertisement unveils that their are many blacks and non-blacks waiting for whites to showcase black beauty. It is imperative to mention that this anticipation causes many blacks and non blacks to celebrate blacks featured in mainstream global culture who possess a conventional beauty. This act should foment challenge not celebration, as whites should not determine what or if the black body is  “pretty” or “ugly.” This depiction of a black woman as unkept and unpolished resumes the same narrative that has consistently portrayed black people as uncivilized, dirty, dangerous, and overall inferior. So why is this news? Why is their outage?

The answer is that the subjugation handed to the black collective by way of white supremacy makes it so that blacks depend on white dictation to determine their own self-worth. As a collective, we must learn to acknowledge white perception of black bodies and expect nothing less. It is also imperative that we avoid looking into the white supremacist mirrors, be it television, advertisements, or any form of white media, for beauty. Seeking conformation of black beauty in white supremacist mirrors like white media provide a lethal validation to those who cannot see the beauty in blackness unless projected by whites. We as a collective should not even look into a conventional mirror to find beauty,, but to the beauty of the legacy  to which we were born.

With this said, I’m happy that J Crew posted this advertisement and unveiled their perception of blacks. Should we be so lucky with all white establishments from clothing to technology, who want black money but couldn’t care less about black people.

Black Power.

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Well Don’t Read it Then!: An Accidental Lesson in Communal Ethics

 

Last week, I was assigned the task of editing a manuscript of a now popular piece of literature or poetry. The assignment failed to satiate my desire to be consumed in blackness by offering no black authored texts for edit. Although certainly not in the same position as my privileged peers, the assignment awoke within me the pertinent role of the editor. I was never particularly fond of white people editing black thoughts, but this assignment would make me far more devoted to the task of vetting black works.

While heavily invested in the black experience on a personal level, my assertions speak to what I will reference as communal ethics. By communal ethics I speak specifically to ethical behavior towards a community, or collective of people, not an individual. This assertion is prominent as it protects the black narrative from those seeking individual fulfillment. By ethics, I do not speak to its conventional use conjured by those of the majority who unethically succeed due to the detriment of the darker hued. Communal ethics with regard to publishing the works of marginalized authors, requires that all prospective editors bear a shared experience to the author, or in other words belong to the same community as the author.  For example, if I were to  write a novel or book prior to my death, communal ethics would require that anyone who can publish my work would be a pro-black individual like myself to ensure the integrity of my work.  wt

I shared these comments in class after the instructor, a middle aged white man, referenced a vulgar detail about late author Wallace Thurman with regard to his short story, “Cordelia the Crude.” I will purposely omit the comment from this piece to eschew granting the white conscious a subtle victory in reproducing a negative image of the black body.

The comment cast the late Thurman who lived just over thirty years, as the product of an oppositional gaze, imprisoned by a hyper-sexuality. The comment, made to a classroom full of budding scholars to whom Thurman was an enigma— know nothing of this contribution to black literacy but can cite him as another example of black male sexual degeneracy. To this. I articulated a statement regarding what I now reference as communal ethics to which the instructor responded with a story about Ralph Ellison’s posthumous novel Juneteenth. For those who do not know, Ralph_Ellison_photo_portrait_seatedJuneteenth was assembled by a white man after Ellison’s death.

Glorifying a white editor’s “masterpiece” in assembling Ellison’s work, in addition to the Thurman comment set a searing rage through my body. The rage was not a personal rage, but one erupted from the injustice rendered by yet another white person seeking to justify whites tampering with black literacy. Isn’t it enough that the most prominent authors of the black collective are severed from their native language and bear a white man’s last nam?. No, whites must assume ownership over everything, wearing the elusive cape of a white savior who seek to “save” blacks from everything but whiteness.

To his proud assertions of white assemblage of Ralph Ellison’s novel Juneteenth, I responded by asking if white editor John F. Callahan was in the in fact the invisible 9780679732761man? And if not, his involvement with the project was an abomination to Ellison’s writing and legacy.

The professor grew indignant and yelled:

“Well don’t read it then. Go about your merry life without reading it.”

I do not paraphrase or mince words. This is what was to said to me in a class of ten or so of my classmates. The tone and words were indeed problematic, but mores the suggestion to just not read it.

The comment simultaneously denounces and performs the reality of white male privilege. For its not intrusive of a white man who assumes his visibility from the invisibility of Ralph Ellison and every black man throughout history to author the black narrative. It is however intrusive for me to denounce his actions. I am simply not to read it, but this white man is not deterred from assuming authority over the black narrative.

ralph_ellison-01
It is imperative that figures of black literacy— black writers, thinkers, and creative minds remain figments of the black memory and not casualties of the oppositional gaze. It is imperative that the black collective come together and form a community to which we collectively find purpose.  This oppositional gaze not only worked to sully Wallace Thurman’s legacy, which include notable works like The Blacker the Berry, but also his founding of the Niggerati– a group consisting of prominent black authors Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and other brilliant black minds dedicated to black literacy, with an incriminating rumor. This admission was not accidental, but reflective of how the white gaze remains committed to ensuring that black excellence is demeaned by a caricatured blackness. As a black female, I was to be grateful for my professor’s inclusion of Thurman and Ellison in our class dialogue. I was to be even more grateful for the white man’s handling of he black narrative— ridding Ellison’s writing from the inferior idiosyncrasies of blackness such as bad grammar, lack of punctuation, and perfection of their master’s language.

51ZRBw79R7L._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_This scenario was undoubtedly one of the worst classroom experiences I have had as a instructor or student. But it’s trouble stems from not the individualism of this incident, but in representing a larger portrait of the abducted narrative and silenced advocate shamed for possessing something the white world tries to strip from the black body—dignity. My professor tried to strip Wallace of his dignity in painting him a sexual deviant in a time where every day a new white man is outsed for sexual perversion. His attempt is a strategic attempt to redirect the current conversation of white male sexuality to the sullied sexuality of a prominent author, who wrote from a perspective no white man could emulate.

Furthermore, this scenario is most infuriating in representing a larger battle blacks have in demanding communal ethics from the unethical praxis of institutionalization.

Ellison and Thurman, may you rest in a peace denied to you in life and this unfortunate classroom dialogue .

Black Power.

The Apple or The Tree? A Black Female Perspective on the White Male Predator Image

With regard to the Harvey Weinstein “scandal”my perspective deviates from the narrative produced by said exposure. The narrative that encouraged many to come forward with hashtags like #metoo, twists the horror of white male supremacy into a platform for feminism. This was almost as predictable as when Harvey Weinstein became Kevin Spacey, who will eventually give way for another white male predator angelina-jolie-gwyneth-paltrow-harvey-weinstein-272e75c4-578a-4d27-8e86-6275c5b1dfa0before eventually finding its way out of the news and out of the minds of many. One of the many perks of whiteness, is selective amnesia, an amnesia that displaces the white male predator as a temperate figment of popular culture, rather than consistent figure of a global nightmare.

Similar to the countless crime shows that document the white men accused of unthinkable crimes, the general perception of the white man remains virtually unscathed, white masculinity remaining a portrait of superiority and power to most. So, despite the countless women that have come forth, the white male as a sexual deviant and innate criminal remains protected from consequence by laws that veil his evil with virtue, rendering these instances of the white male predator as isolated incidents in which a white patriarchal society can claim equity in this exposure. Thus, these images function to strengthen white male supremacy although conspicuously seeming to challenge it.

lupita-nyongo-harvey-weinsteinThis truth surfaced vaguely when Weinstein was confronted with allegations of sexual misconduct from Academy Award winner Lupito Nyong’o—a beautiful black woman of Kenyan origin. Her entire career, from her role as a slave to a fetishized other of popular culture, illustrates racism as ubiquitous despite contemporary cultures ’s desperate attempts to counter such claims. While virtually unresponsive to countless white women who came forward with similar disturbing stories of sexual misconduct, Weinstein vehemently denied Nyong’o’s allegations.

But what exactly does it mean that a sexual predator deems raping with a black woman beneath him?

It illustrates, that while an irretrievable act of control, rape also functions as a cruel 5499934cd8ef3_-_hbz-beauty-secrets-lupiita-promo-lgncompliment.

Specifically, rape encompasses the forced penetration of non-male whites, whose pale skin functions as a symbol of virtue. Rape reflects a “forced” sexual act that desecrates white female chastity. Not afforded the modesty allotted to white women, the black female body became a canvas for everything the elusive “woman” was not. Black female scholars like bell hooks to Patricia Hill Collins emphasize black female exclusion from the woman concept— a core component to their scholarly ambitions as black feminists. While appreciative of the contributions yielded by black feminist scholarship, the cavalier displacement of Lupita Nyong’o’s black female body from the sexual abuse narrative, exposes the term black feminist as an oxymoron. Moreover, it is only time that separates the contemporary black female body from the mistreatment of her ancestors and elders who also faced exclusion from the privilege of womanhood.

Malcolm-X-QuoteIt is this exclusion from the woman concept and feminist cause that makes it so that white female victims remain able to ignite witchhunts on those who privilege and supremacy they wish to emulate—white males. White female rape bears the significance it does because of black female devaluement. In short, white women lives matter because in a global context, the black female body does not.

The crux of this argument became rather clear to me in a recent encounters with a white male who performed subtle inappropriate act. In disclosing this scenario, I purposely omit mentioning whether these men were one of power and position, as white men need solely to be in a position of masculinity and whiteness to assume their heirloom of supremacy. The gesture was disgusting to me  in the act itself and its symbolism. No one would believe me should I disclose this misconduct, for the same reasons Nyong’o’s testimony functions not to illustrate that white male lust knows no prejudice (because white male lust is inherently prejudiced), but to debunk the white male predator image. Her narrative of Weinstein’s sexual misconduct now functions to make all allegations seem fabricated, because although much of the current population of blacks throughout the diaspora are a product of white male rape of black women, to most this reality is merely a fantasy, a truth so mangled by the oppositional gaze it functions with incredulity.

The recurring image of the white male predator birthed from the vulgar comments madeCuMq7rHWEAAU08e by Donald Trump shortly before the  2016 election, maintains a drastically shorter leash circumscribed in our contemporary setting, but also illustrates a sensationalism which significantly reduces the impact to a numbness–reflecting the essence of white privilege.

In reality, Weinstein, Harvey and all other white men exposed for their behavior are not actually rebuked for their deeds, but for abusing their privilege. Thus, the implication is an acquiesce to white male supremacy implying thats its okay to have this privilege but not okay to abuse it. This ideology is of course a contradiction as to possess white male privilege is to abuse it.

Whether implicitly or explicitly,  so many wish to appropriate white male supremacy under a different title. Thus, very little commentary surrounding these allegations function to challenge the actuality of white male privilege. For this reason, Spacey, Weinstein and all the other white men exposed as sexual deviants function as “bad apples.” The black body—be it male or female, past or present,  illustrates that it is not the apples that are bad, but the tree.

White Delinquency and the Black Scapegoat

I write from a place of extreme frustration. I will eschew implementing the term anger as my term of choice, because “angry” has become synonymous with black emotion. Particularly, “anger” has become banal in compartmentalizing justified black emotion/action, and white extremism in “response” to what conventionally functions as anger.  I  write this piece as an effort to ease my mind, and to eschew individualizing a collective black experience.

Without granting too much energy to an undeserving source, I will provide you with the crux of the dilemma at hand. To summarize a long and tedious experience, I was assigned to work alongside a white male on a departmental task to which his contributions were delinquent, a delinquency he casually displaced onto me. His actions, while both insulting and enraging, are also quite predictable.

His behavior mirrors that of the whites who created the construct of blackness to project their shortcomings and deficiencies onto black bodies. The white delinquent performs a masterful act of deflection in which whites speak a language internalized and understood by all white people—something is wrong, so a black person must have caused this error.

A quick skim through Ida B Well’s Southern Horrors, or any short-lived black publication throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century, illustrate the countless black fatalities and conventional misfortune that resulted from said scapegoating. Thus, what makes this experience so troubling is not its racist stench, but that it reflects the same white cowardice that transformed too many black bodies into corpses.

In the provided example, the initiative and legwork were executed solely by a black body. Yet it is a fictive black error that deterred his contribution. In his world of white male supremacy, white delinquency is non-existent. In its place is a black body, or as seen through the oppositional gaze— a blank canvass to be painted with the sin of white men (an women). His actions are identical to the countless white men who blamed their crimes on innocent black people who they eventually murdered, and the countless white women who also perpetuated these myths of black criminality and inferiority destroying or ending the lives of many–case in point Emmett Till. White deception through deflection is a functional facet of insanity to which the white body eschews the reality of their delinquency.

In The United Independent Compensatory Code/System/Concept A Compensatory Counter-Racist Code, Neely Fuller outlines what he calls the  “three basic goals sought out by most people in the known universe” as follows:

  1. To survive by any means necessary
  2. To dominate others through deceit and or direct violence including the threat of direct violence
  3. To establish “peace.”

It may seems as though only the second point is applicable to the provided situation, whereas all three bullets issue insight into the thinking of a white supremacist. Deflecting white deficiency onto a black body, is not a casual act. As Fuller articulates, numerous times throughout his anti-white supremacy workbook,  whites are malicious,  hostile, powerful, and smart/sophisticated. I do want to note that white supremacist smart/sophistication and power does not function in actuality, but in function. White  manipulation of a system created for white manipulation functions as sophistication, intelligence and power-but is none of the above. With regard to white hostility, as a member of the black collective it is imperative to note that this hostility is not always conspicuous. The most hostile behavior of white supremacists comes with a smile that to  blacks seeking acceptance masks the most evil and cruel intentions. In this particular case, the white coward masks his delinquency and abrasviseness in a strategic ingenuity designed to provoke the black mind that craves justice in a habitually unjust world.

To engage the scenario at surface level is to say that had the tables been turned, I would endure a painful misrepresentation. To engage the scenario in a scalding reality is to note that the oppositional gaze instantly compartmentalized my black body as incompetent and reason as to why things would inevitably be derailed.  The white male racist knew this. His familiarity with the oppositional gaze, fomented his delinquency, and provided a veil for his his shortcomings.

His actions and seemingly pleasant demeanor also veil a purposeful negligence strategically implemented to induce failure. Yes, his name may be on the project, but his face will not be face of pending failure and/or inaptitude.

So as a black female on thirty’s eve contemplating how to navigate these white spaces in endeavors where the black body must interact with those who gloat in our abjection, the only solution I can come up with is striving to exist in a space where these encounters are vitally non-existent and reflective of choice not necessity. Furthermore,  black spaces for and by black people are not only a social convenience, but necessary for survival, self-possession, and inner peace.

In closing, it is also imperative to note that the most sickening component of this scenario is not the events in themselves, but that the delinquent white male incurs benefit, praise and security that even the most capable black will never experience. White male (and female) cavalier treatment of  professional endeavors exposes the dismal disparity that remains between the black and white experience, despite fallacies of equality in our contemporary setting. Most importantly, this scenario when juxtaposed to its identical predecessors reveals it is not white achievement or “excellence” that warrants societal esteem, but whiteness in itself.

 

“We all Know This,” OJ’s release and Superficial Black Thought

The day has come.

NFL legend and possibly the most popular defendant of all time—OJ Simpson was finally freed  from prison yesterday following a nine year sentence. While the charges may read “armed robbery,” Simpson served time for the murders of Ron Goldman and ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson— a statement I made to a relative who responded “we all know that.” 170720152327-26-oj-simpson-parole-hearing-0720-super-169

This comment is not only dismissive, but a fatal oversimplification of an assertion that even if common is worth articulating. The idea that everyone knows anything is vastly untrue and should be assumed by no black person. To use OJ Simpson as an example, most people, whether black or white, believe that OJ is guilty of something. Namely, most believe Simpson, if not the actual murder, was involved in some capacity. This conclusion has nothing to do with the so-called facts, which were heavily manipulated by the white media, but everything to do with the connotation of blackness. This connotation aligns Simpson with crime instantly and irretrievably —with an oppositional gaze that blinds those most affected by racism to its baseless evil.

To believe in OJ’s innocence is not about OJ at all. To believe in OJ’s innocence is to believe in the good of black people— something most whites and blacks can articulate but seldom perform.

Thus, to state that “we,” whoever this pronoun is intended to represent, all know that Simpson’s fate reflects the need to place black bodies to “unsolved crimes,” suggests that there is a general understanding of racism— to which their is not.

zimmerman-casey-anthonyI suppose we also know that Florida, land of the George Zimmerman’s and Casey Anthony’s, a state that acts as a hanging tree for black bodies—antagonizes Simpson’s proposed residence not because of race or crime, but because each one of these attributes serves an individual purpose in Florida. The black body with a petty crime under his or her belt functions to validate his or her incarceration, as blacks in poverty prove feasibly shooting targets for police that can easily be murdered and discarded to no consequence and temperate media coverage. OJ complicates the evil intentions of a poisonous state, yet these truths are seemingly only fleetingly evident given the large amount of black people who retire and vacation in a state only separate from Texas and Mississippi in name.

Moreover, to say that “we all know that” not only implies that the black collective fully nbsunderstands racism, but that OJ himself did. For if OJ truly understood racism, he would not have married a white woman. He would have understood that money and a trophy white wife does not undo blackness. So while many feel they understand why Simpson went to jail, the reasons stem further back than Nicole Brown Simpson’s murder. Simpson agitated white supremacists by making an insurmountable amount of money, having a larger than life persona and allegedly physically abusing his white wife. These domestic abuse charges in addition to eliminating key information about the late Simpson’s lifestyle, painted OJ Simpson as responsible for Nicole’s murder.

1977 Movie PremiereIt is worth mentioning that had his black ex-wife turned up missing, America would not have batted an eyelash.

Nevertheless, Simpson’s desire to live in Florida illustrates a similar disconnect and inability to properly conceptualize racism. It is this disconnect that permits OJ to believe that the juice hanging from a Florida tree references their esteemed oranges, and not foreshadowing his lifeless corpse, or the corpse of another black man, woman, or child. This is not to suggest that places like New Jersey, New York, or California are just as racist, but that Florida continues to occupy a fantasy like image despite its record of devaluing blacks.

It is counterproductive to look past Simpson’s continuous and elaborate efforts to be and act as if he was white. It is imperative that members of the black collective make note that despite these efforts, Simpson illustrates that regardless of what the Black body thinks, blackness is a fact. Just as it took an arrest to remind “scholar” Henry Louis Gates gates__1249401847_1626
Jr. that he was black, not an Ivy League instructor and canonical theorist, a murder trial reminded the world that Simpson was not a  “celebrity” but a black man.  Simpson dispels the myths of celebrity, illustrating that any beloved singer, athlete, or black public figure is just seconds away from murder charges, the penitentiary, and a soiled legacy.

Simpson also functions to expose the glamour of celebrity as veiled bondage. As a NFL player Simpson was a contractually bound slave, and after his imprisonment he will be the same way–bound to a parole officer who must approve his every action. Despite his wealth, Simpson embodies the cyclical disenfranchisement that follows the black body– depicting this cycle as indifferent to the  societal hierarchy  that prompts many blacks to desire lucrative careers in sports, music, or television.  But, as Simpson teaches the black collective, there is no escaping racism. Seen as far back as Saartje Baartman or as recent as Whitney Houston— even after death the connotations of blackness will haunt the black legacy with lies.

But… I suppose “we all know this” as well…

May the ancestors guide Mr. Simpson.

Seizing the Black Narrative

Much emphasis has been placed on overt appropriators like Rachel Dolezal and Miley Cyrus—white women who have overtly appropriated attributes of black femininity to their own advantage. Yet, the more subtle means of appropiation are too often unnoticed and even supported by members of the oppressed faction.rd

Case in point:  Appropriation of the black narrative, in its entirety does not receive enough attention or protest.

This post will examine two examples of whites attempting to control the black narrative in an academic setting.

I. The “Interested” Oppressor

I enrolled in a course on literacy this semester, in an effort to examine how composition courses disenfranchise black students.The instructor, a non- white male who confronts white supremacy in his lectures, organizes the course with a student presentations on each text. In preparation he sent around a sign-up sheet, and by the time the sheet reached me, two white students had already signed up to present the sole black text on the sheet.

The black woman I was sitting behind, seized the last slot in this presentation—meaning the sole text authored by a black female would only be presented by one black female, and two whites. This made my blood boil, because in a doctoral class—I, a black female student was gentrified out of telling my own narrative. What perhaps made this most upsetting was that the first seat was taken by a white male—who most likely solicited this seat to prove his pseudo liberalism.

A white male taking a spot from a black woman in rendering the black narrative—reflects the white male appropriation of the black female body—an act started in slavery, and resurrected in contemporary culture and academia.

pete-nowalk-how-to-get-away-with-murder
Peter Norwalk, Creator of ABC’s How To Get Away with Murder

Shows like How to Get Away Murder and Greenleaf, black narratives told from the perspectives of white men to a black audience, dominate twitter feeds and the prime-time gaze. Similarly, flamboyant white gay males also adopt a caricature of black femininity in their fashion choices, dialect, and candid attitudes. Yet, whether cisgender or gay, the “black female caricature,” when appropriated, does not function negatively when attached to a white body.

So what most would deem angry or aggressive when aligned with black femininity, now becomes artful and strategic. The appropriated gaze tokenizes the black female narrative, issuing a unique objectification. The objectification occurs in suggesting an ability to understand the black female collective in presenting an oversimplified caricature of an identity too cumbersome to be properly conceptualized by an oppressive gaze.

As a collective it is imperative that we make note of the grave efforts implemented to angry-woman3maintain control over what is currently being used to control us. By controlling a narrative, one maintains control over the gaze. Scholar bell hooks notes “there is power in looking,” and there is, but there is also power in controlling what a particular gaze sees.

In selecting the sole text authored by a black woman, my white classmates made a play to control the conversation in the same manner that the white creators and producers of prime time series strive to control conversations of the black narrative induced by oversimplified images.

II. The Covert Conversationalist

In a similar act of white supremacy, a middle-aged white man took it upon himself to state that discussions of blackness must remain anchored in a historical context. By this he meant that whiteness must be understood as it was centuries ago—not all inclusive.

At the risk of sounding prejudice, I will say this is a very white way to redirect the narrative of global racism. In a predictable paradox, this act functions to make oppression “inclusive.” Or, to say that this is not “just” blacks who suffer.

Admittedly, the whites who migrated to the states had their “struggles” if we must use this word, but they were not oppressed. Migrant whites had the budding state of western whiteness—a state that fomented their travels, would blossom over time, and make their American dream a reality. In summary, these white migrants may not have grown up wealthy—but they did not grow up black.

dc9ee1bdea7a60bff02495e52ccb3f4f--california-history-the-farmSelective migration is also a sensitive area for blacks here by way of abduction not choice. It was the labor and sacrifice of these abducted Africans that made America what it is today. It was black labor and sacrifice that birthed the opportunities migrants enjoy in their stride towards whiteness.

What happened in this conference room is the same thing happening in contemporary media— a consistent deflection from the black plight. In the past, discussions of migrant whites functioned how discussions of the LGBT and feminist plight function in a contemporary context.

 

This deflection is most commonly implemented in the following ways:

1. Comparison
2. Control

Aligning the black struggle with factions whose struggle pales in comparison to those of African descent functions as a pseudo effort to compose a “we.” This suggests that “we” suffer as Americans due to the act of white supremacy. This “we” is a pseudo act of inclusion as suffering may have befallen other factions, but no other faction has endured the cyclical disenfranchisement of the black collective.

But as a white or non-black who either implicitly or explicitly exploits the black collective, denying the extremity of black suffering and systemic mistreatment is a central component of fomenting white and non-black advancement.

Let us also address the veiled initial injustice of my colleagues’ remarks.

White people 1833-Free-Clipart-Of-A-Controlling-Puppet-Master.jpgshould not dictate the context in which any racial discussion occurs. Yet, this is the pervasive climate of our contemporary world. In academia, popular culture, and other subcultures within the American terrain, white people remain the decision- makers, determining what blackness is, how it is taught, what is taught, and in what context. This truth exposes so-called black history as white history with blackness as a footnote in most scenarios and a header of a sub-section in others.

It is also imperative to note that these actions are not accidental, but intentional. The white male in my literacy seminar, signed up with complete intention of depriving the three black women in the course an opportunity to tell their own stories, just as the white man in the second example made his comment to a group of black women and other people of color in their discussion of blackness. The acts were guised as participation, but function to illustrate white need to include themselves by way of control. This control enables whites to deflect and otherwise thwart black ability to reflect on white supremacy.

The societal act of deflection functions as yet another effort for those who disenfranchise the black community to avoid looking at blacks, and look through them instead. To look at blackness, is to see the truth of this country and all those who have benefitted from her imbalance. To truly look at blackness, is to reveal your self- worth as sullied by an evil guised as excellence.

I share this scenario with hopes that this will enlighten someone to the subtle injustices, veiled as intellectual commentary in their own lives. Unveiling said behavior exposes contemporary colonialism and yet another means for whites to take the reigns on a black narrative and cast themselves as victims in the saga of white supremacy.

Black Power ❤

The Miseducation of Pro-Blackness Part 2

As Dr. King wrote in A Stride Toward Freedom:

“Our concern would not be to put the bus company out of business, but to put justice in business.”

Being pro-black it is not about destroying white people, but ensuring that the black collective is not fatally weathered by the wrath of white supremacy.

This ideal is commonly lost to non-blacks whose hierarchical placement has always been contingent on the subjugation of another faction. This proves that far too often individuals see the world as they are, and not for what it is.   powerblk

So when a conscious person says black power, and acts or speaks in allegiance with others of the black collective through supporting black businesses, attending or promoting the black university, or in an endless devotion to the principles of black nationalism, this is not running away from whites or other groups nor is it working to put them down. Rather these actions exist to run towards blackness and lift the black collective from the subjugation that has followed us for centuries. Due to the intense subjugation that has fomented the dominance and capital of other groups seeking to consummate whiteness, it is understandable that the same evil be expected of blacks. This expectation also reveals that these groups, although benefitting from racism, and appropriating racism to advance their collectives, fail to properly conceptualize the term.

blkpwrNon-black factions also fail to see the good in black pride. Instead the confident or proud black person is commonly labeled “racist,” “hateful,” or evil. Conscious blacks are made to feel guilty for being prideful, for remembering all that the global gaze begs them to forget.

On the flip side, blacks often find praise for forgetting their past and rejecting nationalism for a humanistic initiative by those who fail to see blacks as human. Consider how the “new black” term which surfaced a few years ago by producer/artist/entrepreneur Pharrell Williams and writer/actress Issa Rae, proved lucrative and even viral to blacks looking to covertly appease whites as a means to seemingly “get ahead.”

Yet to articulate a phrase like “black power” is to secure placement on a black list, where once again the term “black” is given a negative connotation. To the black nationalist, given their collective understanding of our racism environment, understand that placement on this list is a reflective of a positive action deemed negative by a collective threatened by black pride.

So when I say black power, I speak solely to conscious blacks and blacks on their journey to consciousness. Those who do not see Africa as a place.

I was told recently that my strive towards “Africa” was not in unison with the black diaspora but in rejection of whiteness. That Africa to me, a so-called “black American,” Africa is not unique to a country, tribe, or dish, but a metaphorical place that represents an escape from whiteness.      Depositphotos_3780361_s

I fail to see alleviating the physicality of Africa as a bad thing. Yes, the food, and the little things that those abducted from the continent would not know, are important components to Africa. But Africa is not a place, its a state of mind. There are plenty of indigenous Africans saving up at this moment, or applying to western schools to escape the embrace of the continent, due to misconstruing this embrace as a choke hold binding them to a disenfranchisement fictively believed to dissolve once their feet touch the western soil. The pro-black gaze understands that this soil is quicksand, not a step stool for upward mobility.

My blog has evoked a similar upset, as many have complained that my analysis on black male portrayal, notably the function of the black gay male in mainstream western culture is somehow an attack on sexual orientation as a whole. Sexual orientation has never really been a prime area of focus for those on a stride towards consciousness, as sexual orientation, like gender and socio-economic castes function to distract the black mind from blackness. To be pro-black is to eschew the art of deflection, mastered by white supremacists who benefit from the deterred gaze.  To be pro-black to is become immersed in functionality, not individuality.  Specifically, to be pro-black to devote your life to explicating how whites are yet again employing black bodies as agents against one another. In short, to be pro-black is to be inclusive. It is encompass sexual orientation, gender, socio-economic status, and education under the umbrella of blackness.

blkpowerMental liberation enables the conscious to see past the divisive attributes created by whites to foment black confusion. Blackness then becomes exposed as a construct to which the conscious can mold as they please.Many pro-blacks  see themselves as an empty canvass to be painted by their own brushes.  In reworking a black identity, the conscious black removes their collective self from their binary oppositional placement alongside white people. Their existence and ideology has nothing to do with whiteness, and everything to do with assembling the displaced pieces of the African diasporic puzzle.

Pro-blackness blackness does not crush everything  in its path to advance. True greatness, and blacks are the epitome of such greatness, does not need to strategically obliterate competition, simply because there is none.

All of Africa’s children will not find their way back to their mother, a mother who while still beautiful, is incessantly raped, bludgeoned, infiltrated, and colonialized just like her children. But physically being in Africa means nothing if your mind is sullied by a European mindset.

Africa in the metaphorical sense, is what the continent was in the centuries preceding the 15th century. It is with those who built the pyramids, the kings and queens of our past, our oral history encoded the whispers of the winds. Africa is in the sphinx, in David Walker’s Appeal, in the unpublished and unwritten slave narratives, in James Baldwin’s essays, in Toni Morrison novels, in conscious fashion, indie films, in Malcolm X, Dr. King and Fred Hampton speeches.

4eecfb549e19a3992b8cd4e771dbb4efI may never set my oversized feet on the continent, but that is neither here nor there. Africa to me is a place in my heart that pumps what W.E.B. Dubois referenced as “the hot dark blood of my ancestors.” Africa is a state of mind that allows me see melanin as not only redeeming but unifying.

Africa is not one place. Rather, Africa has a place within all her children scattered throughout the diaspora.

Black Power ❤

A Reddit Read: The Woes of Whitewomaning Part 2

I admit that I am not particularly sensitive to the woes of white femininity. Nevertheless, I do acknowledge that said woes do exist. I understand the woes of white femininity with the following analogy: a heist took place centuries ago, a heist that included white women. White women received a portion of the profit, a profit that was both unequal and inequitable to their white male counterparts, but a portion nevertheless. This blog exists in conversation with those not handed a systemic advantage, or portion of the racial heist that encompasses America.full_full_14062960741

Apparently this purpose did not resonate clearly in an article I wrote last month entitled “The Whines of Whitewomaning: An Encore to Black Art.” The post was reposted on Reddit and received an example of white-womaning in the following response which has been edited to avoid staining this site with expletives:

You know what? I’ll “whitewoman” and say it: this is bullsh*t. It’s not a challenge to the “privilege” of white women to call them ugly and undesirable. You know why? Because we didn’t f*cking create those standards of beauty. And white women who fell short didn’t do very fucking well, unless they were fortunate to come from secure material conditions.
“Black poems to smear on girdlemama mulatto bitches whose brains are red jelly stuck between ‘lizabeth Taylor’s toes. Stinking whores!”
Ah, imagery of violence against women (tied to their failure to be sufficiently pleasing), topped with sex-based insults. What a compelling challenge to the power structure.

This comment not only illustrates the predictable white rage that accompanies black confidence, but an inability to circumvent or conceal racist thinking. It does not matter who created western beauty standards—what matters is that the system functions and it functions to the benefit of white women.

The comment distorts the perspective conveyed in the post as a result of white narcissism, or an inability to see past one’s whiteness to acknowledge or understand the plights of others. It is also blatantly ironic that this comment, much like the Diddy tweet that inspired the article, is a desperate attempt of inclusion from a faction omitted in a subtle celebration of blackness.

The comment appears the product often unconventional white beauty—annoyed at what seems like an attack on a privilege that she perceives as not working to her benefit.

The counter is two-fold:

  • That white women did not make standards
  • That this systtem does not benefit the unconventional white beauty

Forgive me if the cries of a white woman deemed “ugly” by standards that benefit her regardless fall on deaf ears darkened by the same melanin that deems black features irrelevant in a climate that is designed to favor whites. Ugliness on white women does not negate their privilege or their ability to succeed, acquire wealth, or imbue appreciation. The Queen of England, Hilary Clinton, even actress Sarah Jessica Parker are examples of white women who do not meet white standards of beauty, but whose whiteness breeds an appreciation that translates to exploitation when intertwined with blackness.

The issue is not whether white women are responsible for the implementation of said standards. The issue is that white women benefit from said standards—whether they are beautiful or not.

The individual status of white female aesthetics is far less significant that the reality that they are white. In short, being an “ugly” white woman is notably more beneficial than being a beautiful black woman. beautiful-black-woman

While this particular claim reflects the thoughts of an individual, the issue of white narcissism is a systemic act of deflection consistently performed by members of the white collective to distract from issues surrounding blacks and racism. Namely, white-womaning functions to place white female oppression at the forefront of contemporary societal conflict.

There are many issues in the world, but white female oppression is not one of them. White female supremacy, on the other hand, is a pressing issue.

This commenter displays a form of white female supremacy vastly different from those who wish to appropriate the black struggle as a means to appear a hero, or those who recruit blacks as soldiers in their war. Instead this type of white womanining paints blacks in the same image referenced by W.E.B. Dubois in The Souls of Blacks Folks— a problem.

Namely, this comment depicts white women as the victim of violent poetry and severe misunderstanding. Amiri Baraka’s poem is of course not violent, but his words are used by disgruntled white women to substantiate falsified claims of black “aggression.” This attempt at victimhood is of course racist and layered in ignorance veiled as an opinion.

The image provided by poet Amiri Baraka in “Black Art” which references the brains of self-hating blacks as jam between famed actress Elizabeth Taylor’s toes,

BHM_Amiriverbally sullies the white skin of Taylor-who symbolizes the white female collective. The com

menter either misinterprets the”brains” referenced in Baraka’s poem as those of the white women, in rendering a familiar invisibility to black female bodies or attributes the darkening or sullying of white skin as “violent” or “aggressive.” Furthermore, “blackness” exists negatively to the commenter, who either erases the black  body in her interpretation of or attributes sullied, or “blackened” white skin as negative–reflecting a deep seeded prejudice towards blackness.  This inadvertent admission proves that evenan “ugly” white woman still thinks she is superior to black women.

In closing, this comment while not articulate or insightful, proved a catalyst for explicating how deeply embedded racism is in those who seem to speak out against it.  May we all turn negative racist commentary into moments of enlightenment for ourselves and our collective.

Black Power ❤

How Natural are Natural Disasters?

I apologize if my silence on the Texas disaster strikes anyone as indifference. My thoughts are always with black people as we collectively experience disaster daily—be it financial, educational, familial, or otherwise. My silence reflects my intellectual meditation on a so-called natural disaster that is not unlike anything we as a collective have seen or experienced in the past.

History_Speeches_6009_Hurricane_Katrina_Destruction_still_624x352I was seventeen when Katrina hit. Despite the disturbing pictures on the news, the disaster did not appear real to me until I visited New Orleans my freshman year of college as a community outreach volunteer. The images of houses uprooted from plots of land are seared into my brain, as are the signs of those who returned home still seeking beloved pets and loved ones swept away or drowned by what the media referred to as Katrina. I also remember cleaning out a severely damaged convenience store when the owner asked us to leave in an outpour of emotions that brought him to tears. To the news, Katrina was a breaking story used to culminate the careers of countless white journalists. To blacks, Katrina was heartbreaking–the joys of their lives turned into memories. KATRINA-FLOODWATERS_1

What was perhaps most interesting about this trip, is seeing that despite black tragedy, whites thrived. While the lower ninth ward, a predominately black district, received extensive damage, the French Quarter was virtually unscathed due to the high levees and brick houses.

Whites were also in charge of the relief services. Thus, what I though was involvement with my university’s community service initiative, was actually whites seeking to consummate their journey to liberalism. Despite their liberal performance, the white leaders scolded my HBCU cohort, for not fulfilling what they deemed proper engagement. Yes, a service seemingly dedicated to helping blacks in need, was overly burdened by the presence of blacks on a journey to education, and seemed to find pride in reprimanding a group of black students in front of a predominately white constituency.

Similar behavior proves quite common in after school initiatives and non-profit organization started by whites supposedly in existence to aid black youth or black people. The blacks involved in these initiatives often misconstrue the interests of  white founders and leaders. In doing so, blacks are often castigated by said whites in an understated attribute of the white liberal—seeming more involved or more dedicated to black disenfranchisement than actual black people. Thus, these portrayals illustrate that these natural disasters that prove detrimental to blacks provoke an unnatural response from white responders who use black disenfranchisement or tragedy to emerge as a white savior. how to help hurricane harvey

The same can be said of Hurricane Harvey whose devastation has proved a platform for a multitude of white saviors. Every day, the news is inundated with images of whites “saving.” Even the heat placed on Paster Joel Osteen for initially declining to open his doors for those in need, proved a gateway for his emergence as a white savior. Furthermore, the figurative knocks on Osteen’s church proved a mess for the pastor to emerge as a Jesus- like figure—despite his initial reservation ap17241401948911in granting civilian access to the prodigious property their tithes paid for.

The Osteen scenario proved quite resonant, in that it exposed an unstated conflict with the white savior figure. The white “savior” is an illusion which appears to “rescue” blacks from a systemic heist to which they benefit. This notation, brings me to the query that anchors this post:

How natural are natural disasters?

For whites to win in times of loss—be it a hurricane or any of the other injustices that burden the black community, suggests that white gain is as natural as a hurricane—a conceptualization that substantiates white evil while simultaneously oppressing the colonialized.

These natural disasters also conveniently displace blacks. Natural community disasters like education displace blacks into charter schools as Katrina displaced many blacks  to New York–which experienced Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and Houston–the location of the latest natural disaster. Coincidence or Convinience?

To some, these disasters merely expose how systemically disenfranchised blacks are in comparison to their thoroughly protected counterparts. But do these natural disasters expose systemic disenfranchisement, or are they a product of white supremacist conjuring induced to ensure cyclical disenfranchisement continues to plague the black collective?

Regardless of how one may interpret these occurrences, the natural disaster as it effects blacks  reveals “nature’ as reflecting the nature of whites—making it cruel, destructive, yet predictable.   23354_S_Violent-wind-storm-Kashmir

As a collective, we many not be able to predict when the wrath of white supremacy will strike—but we know for sure that it will.

So while natural disasters may reflect the nature of our oppressors—it also reflects our nature as Africans to adapt and overcome.

Thus, it it is imperative that we as a collective, to the best of our ability, maintain a stance ready for combat. So whether it is having a passport, being physically fit, eating healthy, reading and writing more, policing our neighborhoods, learning to swim, or farm—there are a plethora of attributes we can cultivate as a collective to increase our survival rate, and denounce the white savior by saving ourselves.

Black Power ❤

 

Kordale and Kaleb: A Portrait of the Modern Black Family?

Black couple Kordale and Kaleb made headlines a few years back when images of them combing their daughter’s hair went viral. The image seemingly resonated most profoundly with black women proving nostalgic in mirroring a shared experience—having our hair combed and braided by a loved one. Thus, most black women probably viewed the images as positive and cosigned what appeared to be a portrait of black love. However, these images were not one of black love—but a white supremacist initiative that merely uses black bodies as a vessel to spew a racist message to an unassuming gaze.24B9515100000578-0-image-a-13_1421335334861

It is impossible to render an analysis on this image without acknowledging the elephant in the room. The couple garners its traction and popularity because of the stigma surrounding black men. Despite the countless men who have abandoned their children of various races and ethnicities outside of blackness, black men remain irretrievably attached to child abandonment. So Kordale and Kaleb exists as an aberration to black male identity, suggesting that same sex unions forge a “straighter” path for the black man.

Acne Studios features Kordale, Kaleb and their four children as models for their fall 2017 campaign—making the couple the first black LGBT couple featured on a fashion campaign. acne-press-images-2

Acne Studios is of course white owned.

Had Kordale and Kaleb been featured in a spread celebrating a motley of black couples, by a black publication, their feature would appear inclusive and not incisive. However, a white publishing company deeming a black same sex couple the face of the modern family, is obviously trying to appear diverse by featuring the intersectionality of those othered by race and sexuality. However, this strive for white liberalism is not without compromise.

Namely, Kordale and Kaleb’s popularized image functions to  issues an invisibility to the black woman—an essential figure in the survival of the black collective. While I do believe and support the many variations of of black love, it is not only a preference but a collective necessity that the black and woman co exist. For without the heterosexual union between a black man and a black woman, there would be no Kordale, Kaleb, or any of their four children. A severed union between the black female womb and black seed of the black male negates blackness in its entirety—making this image poison to the black collective in its appointment by a collective solely interested in their own survival.

Thus, the couple, despite containing two black people, functions against the black community– a collective it was never supposed to uplift in the first place. hqdefault

What is perhaps most interesting about Kordale and Kaleb the brand is that it solicits the approval and embrace of the black woman, casting the black female body as driving force in her own erasure.

I want to emphasize that the issue at hand is not a Kordale and Kaleb as a couple. As a pro black person, I can support all facets of black love. What I cannot support is whites designating who is what is signifiant to black people. Namely, Kordale and Kaleb’s placement functions to paint them as a modern family. A placement that is not without ill intent, as this glorification is not allotted to same sex white couples in a mainstream setting.

Notable, the majority faction fails to glorify same sex unions with the same enthusiasm that same sex black couples are celebrated and even exploited throughout the media. It is also imperative to note that the gay black man, not the gay black woman, is a figure that frequents much of contemporary portrayals of black men. Therefore, the fascination with the gay black male dismisses both the cisgender black woman and the black lesbian— a faction barely given any shine in mainstream culture. Consider The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s breakout star Titus Burgess– a black gay male.  When has a black female ever garnered so much celebration and traction for her orientation and flamboyance? The black gay male is also seen on OWN’s Greenleaf in the character “Kevin,” and in the hairstylists on both Being Mary Jane (BET) and Daytime Divas (VH1)–just to name a few. While ABC’s Scandal had one episode that features black female senior citizens who were also lesbians, this feature is seldom featured or celebrated in mainstream culture. This pattern is anything but coincidental. Rather, it exposes a fascination and obsession the white world has with mfblack male hyper sexuality, namely the black male phallus.

While we do see a same-sex white couple on the hit ABC series Modern Family, the couple is not paired with a white child, but an asian child. In depicting the modern white family, same sex couples are never glamorized and certainly are not deemed an informal emblem of white love. For example, same sex couples frequent the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, but the series is one focused on degeneracy, making its feature of same-sex couples an indirect critique. Thus, while the series does have lead white males and females in same sex unions, they harbor a perception sullied in what is depicted as one  many poor decisions made by those in or of the system. Alex-Piper-orange-is-the-new-black-35506832-1272-711

Moreover, same- sex white couples raising children s never granted a feature quite like the one earned by Kordale and Kaleb. There is a reason for this.

While the black community is constantly issued images of black men in dresses, wigs, or lusting for other men, from movies like The Nutty Professor where comedian Eddie Murphy dresses up as a woman, to primetime series where gay black men play roles seemingly existing to spice up below average writing,whites project oppositional images of themselves to their collective. For example, Perez Hilton, an infamous Hollywood gossiper, imbues attention for his work not his sexual orientation. Same sex white couples rarely make headlines and are not featured on major campaigns. This is because white normalcy functions to ensure the survival of the white race–a survival only granted through reproduction. Please note that the word “normal” is implemented here to reflect western conventionality. I only wish to distinguish between what the world suggests is normal to blacks, versus what the world implements as normal to the white collective. Furthermore, it is not an accident that perception of the black family is nuanced by two figures who cannot populate the collective. 635887508249282570-1830776241_Silence!

The black gay male attains extensive traction in the Oscar award-winning film Moonlight, and prime time series like Greenleaf where a beloved character faces rejection from the black community due to his intersectional identity. The issue with this portrayal is of course its demonizing of the black collective, but also in undermining similar, yet vastly underrepresented sentiments existing in the white collective. Blacks have been impossibly demonized, labeled as homophobic by a homophobic world who silently disapproves of said activity within their own faction. The glorification of same sex unions has been especially displaced onto the black male collective, as a means to emasculate the most potent portrait of masculinity—the black man.

Thus, an image that seemingly extinguished stereotypes surrounding black men and paternity perpetuated on television shows like Maury and Divorce Court, fulfills the same purpose as the black celebrity— to induce black erasure.

To Kordale and Kaleb–you’ve been had.

Black Power ❤