Amara La Negra and the Political Dilemma of Diasporic Blackness in the Americas

As a black woman displaced into the Americas, it was an interesting experience to listen

"VH1 Hip Hop Honors: The 90's Game Changers" Monday, September 18 At 9PM ET/PT
LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 17: Amara La Negra attends VH1 Hip Hop Honors: The 90s Game Changers at Paramount Studios on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for VH1/Viacom)

to Amara La Negra on the breakfast club with Angela Yee, Charlemagne, and DJ Envy. Their conversation illustrates the duality of denial and representation without actual reconciliation.

“I thought you were black until you opened your mouth”

The interview gets off to a provincial start, as DJ Envy, a black man, articulates his initial perception of Amara. He states that he thought she was a black woman until she started speaking, and revealed an obvious Spanish influenced dialect. His admission, while certainly crass, reveals that most perceive black and “latin” as mutually exclusive despite race and ethnicity as always occurring  at the same time.amara-la-negra-2-e1516654081398

 

 

 

This confusion is a deliberate method of colonialism, where the stolen siblings of mother Africa fail to recognize one another due to mythic categories and attributes created by our shared oppressor. Amara, a Miami-born black woman of Dominican ethnicity, like countless of other black bodies displaced throughout the diaspora, share the same African mother as the black bodies displaced the states centuries ago. But as illustrated in the dissonance birthed from Amara’s speech, there is a line of demarcation between what constitutes blackness and what functions as blackness.

“Exotic” Excapism

So while skin complexion is a large component of blackness, it is not the sole identifier. Amara’s dialect shapes how she is perceived, and though on first instinct she takes a place beside Lauryn Hill, Pam Grier, and others perceived as “black,” her dialect births an ambiguity that in a North American setting, allows Amara to fall into attempts implemented by oppressors to divide the race into ethnicities that function as central and displace race as peripheral.  Envy’s admission illustrates how exoticism functions as Afro-Latinas leave the nest and travel beyond the diaspora, as attributes that constituted subjugation their hometown, are symbols of difference, and thus a means to place others in the very base placement they assumed in their native country. Thus, though an overtly black woman who will undoubtedly face similar abjection in the American market as she did in the Latin market,  Amara’s speech, Diasporic displacement, in addition to her heavy investment in nationality namely her proclamation that she is “100% Latina,” function as a privilege or exoticism that fictively places her above those not given the option to choose their placement in America. la-negra-amara-image

Inadvertently, Envy’s initial comment and the comments Charlemagne would go on to make, illustrate America as a source of escapism. Where those displaced in countries where their are more of “us” and less of “them” their features are easily dismissed and demeaned in favor of the lighter skinned and the straighter haired. So while Amara outlines the problems she faced as a black artist in the Latin market, she speaks of the issue Diasporic Africans have, but seldom admit to having, towards blackness. This proves that despite the colonists attempts to convinced the colonized that “it’s different” other places in the diaspora, the plight is very much the same.

Colorism: A Problem of the Past? 

Despite the shared experience of systemic racism, Envy and Charlemagne insist that racism and colorism are matters of the past. Charlemagne evokes the age old argument where a mentally enslaved member of the black collective tosses out one or two examples that appear to challenge ideas of prejudice and racism. This very act, of course, illustrates racism. Naming one or two token black faces that exist in still very white spaces is not progress. Particularly, Charlemagne references Issa Rae and Sza, Issa Rae, who authors a series sullied in black female stereotypes, and SZA who is grammy nominated for what many are calling the “side-chick anthem,” exist in traditionally Angela_Yee_2013
white spaces as tokens of black inferiority—women who sacrificed their bodies to the entertain the oppositional gaze. Their discussion also erases the plight of Normani of Fifth Harmony, a clear standout from the group, that in her solo career will most likely be under-promoted, not due to a lack of talent, but what the world would deem an “overrepresentation of melanin.” Their consistent downplay of colorism and racism is ironically  undermined by the presence of co-host Angela Yee— a light complected woman of Asian and African ancestry who occupies a position largely unattainable for those not deemed exotic.

An Unintentional Activist

Screen-Shot-2018-01-08-at-10.34.33-AMDuring the interview, Amara La Negra is clear to state that she is not seeking to be an activist. Yes, she is vocalizing colorism as a conflict in the Afro-Latin community, but she clearly articulates that her intentions are to be Amara La Negra the artist and not Assata Shakur. The admission is a significant one, because it illustrates the desire of a black and seemingly Afro-centric body to separate itself from the militancy many associate with said image. Hearing Amara articulate herself as activist adjacent prompts me to ask” Why don the style then? As her comments reveal her 4c hair as an attribute of “Amara,” and not intentionally Africana, and certainly not a “black power” initiative.

#metoo, I’m Black

This query evokes the ever-present issue of action and image. One of the reasons why amara-la-negra-uai-720x480Assata Shakur was such a force was because she breathed blackness. Though some are not that transparent. Thus, a “woke” woman with a press, states a similar cognitively dissonant image as Amara, who embodies blackness but whose sole objective is to get the masses to look past it. This makes me wonder if her shift to the American market is an exploitive one. Namely, we are in a “black” moment. By “black moment” I mean that “blackness” is a fad. It is now cool to don natural hair and talk about “black” oppression and disenfranchisement, as long as your actions are to not provoke serious thought. Amara La Negra, though at the beginning of her career, is already performing a similar function. Her looks provoke a conversation that certainly needs to take place. However, her objectives are to foment the discussion as a means to capture the oppositional gaze—to center her peripheral presence, not to centralize blackness, but to be perceived as a white person would.

Do you think she is lighter than you?

Cardi-B-Amara-La-Negra-On-Being-Afro-Latina-800x445Cardi B is a predictable talking point for this conversation. There is a weird part of the interview where DJ Envy asks Amara La Negra to explain Cardi’s success, in her discussion of colorism. This part was interesting as it seems that Envy and Charlemegane saw the two women as interchangeable since both have Dominican roots. Envy stirs the pot by asking Amara if she felt that Cardi was “lighter than her.” To this Amara does not dignify with a response. Now, overtly Amara’s response suggests an obvious answer to Envy’s question. But, given Amara’s deliberate pseudo activism, it is apparent to the conscious gaze that if Amara could be Cardi B, in terms of eschewing dialogues of color and hair texture, and be a  “superstar” before she is black, she would.

Concluding Thoughts

So what does this all mean? First, please allow me to clarify my contemplation.

I like Amara la Negra. She’s easily one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. I 02-amara-la-negra-artist-visit-dec-12-2017-billboard-1548am also  indebted to her part in orchestrating this conversation of diasporic blackness. However, as an Afro-Latina seeking to succeed in the American market—her objective functions to further objectify and oppressed the black woman displaced in America. As an American artists she becomes one of the many abducted Africans marketed as a “black heroine” who checks hispanic and not black— who become an ethnicity and not a race— leaving the black female body cheering for the wrong team.

Admittedly, it is also hard to completely empathize with Amara, because she highlights amara-la-negracolorism as an aspect of racism that remains unextinguished, yet overlooks the racism that garnered her the fame she presently enjoys. Love and Hip Hop succeeds because it foments racist perceptions of black people. Her casting on the series is not due to her sophistication, but an effort to reinforce stereotypes about black people. Her presence of the series functions to market her to a specific demographic where she, like Evelyn Lozada, becomes a representative of a race despite her heavy nationalistic investment. The issue with blacks like Amara, and there are plenty of them, is that racism is individualistic and is only cited when presenting a personal burden. Racism is a collective problem, and anyone who does not see racism as a ubiquitous conflict is not an ally in its abolishment.

On one hand, Amara highlights what happens when a black body seeks to exist beyond color in the spotlight of the oppositional gaze. On the other hand, she illustrates the significance of choice. Namely, that accepting blackness as innately intersectional and all-encompassing disables the separated siblings of the black diaspora from functioning against one another. Namely, in simply declining to celebrate our “drop-offs”–or what functions as nationalism– and denouncing traits that prove reminiscent of our master or conquest, we assume a place alongside one another, and imbue the pro-black initiative necessary to extinguish white attempts to ensure their supremacy remains stagnant. In this same breath, had Amara, like the countless others who become ammo against the African diaspora, make her pro-black ideology clear, she would not be a cast-mate on Love and Hip Hop, and she would not be on the road to main stream stardom.  amara-la-negra-love-hip-hop-miami

The embedded lesson is that the black collective must remain skeptical of white media and who they designate as black heroes and allies, because white media is inherently anti-black.  Namely, in becoming mainstream in American culture, the black body becomes not an agent of African-ness but a weapon used against black people. So when Amara quotes producers instructing her to be “more Beyonce and less Macy Gray” they are demanding the black female body don an stance that “apologies” for her blackness and becomes a solider of white supremacy. Beyonce, although a black woman, does not function as black. As a public figure she has a specific purpose, and that is to implement oppression behind the veil of entertainment. Amara, as a diasporic African with varying functionality, will function to diversify the means of oppression onto the black collective. She, like the black female bodies that came before her, will function to make the black female body feel represented to distract from the “feel” of the rope around their collective necks.

Black Power ❤

 

 

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The Woman’s March, A Cinderella Tale

I woke up to the news that Fredo Santana, a rapper of the Chicago Drill scene, passed. News of his untimely death broke in the hours preceding the Woman’s March. Though trending in the early hours of Saturday morning by the time the clock struck twelve noon, news of the deceased black man had folded into oblivion replaced by the hashtags of the Women’s March taking place in various cities across the United States. The scenario,  blacks becoming invisible to ensure the centrality of whiteness, remains a recurring fate blacks experience globally. fredo-santana-hospitalized-liver-kidney-failure-01

Despite the pervasive feminist agenda that haunts the contemporary climate, Santana, a black man, is far more important to me than any Women’s March can ever be—simply because his experience is directly linked to mine and our ancestors. As a being of black female form, on any given day or moment, I have far more in common with a black man than any white or non-black “woman of color.” Though yielding their differences, the black man and black woman endure daily testimonies of displacement and systemic abuse–both subject to  a persistent undervaluing of black people in life and death.

The events of this morning prove an unintentional illustration as to why I, a black “woman,” refused to attend today’s Women’s March. To attend today’s march is to choose gender over race, and because my hue is sun-kissed— this choice is a fatal one. To march for women is similar to a march to the gallows where my collective self is fatally raised like a curtain to the headlining act of white supremacy.

Like most children during their youth, I enjoyed fairly tales. I especially enjoyed Cinderella. In the age-old tale, a poor girl becomes subject to the misfortune of an evil stepmother and wicked step-daughters after her father’s untimely death. She goes from rags to riches when she meets a wealthy prince and lives “happily ever after.” The film is overtly a “feel good” moment for the naive gaze, preparing the innocent for a lifetime of enchantment, ie material and upward mobility—attributes that do nothing to negate the affects of blackness in an anti-black climate. Therefore, Cinderella is foreshadow to those who would grow-up and be women—illustrating the various paths that affect you regardless of money, education, beauty, moral compass, or skill.

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To the black female body, the white woman is the evil stepmother, the evil step-sisters easily embodied by other non-black persons of color, that seek to convince the black female form of her inferiority to engender a pseudo superiority. These dynamic, although illustrated in a later version of the fairy tale starring singer Brandy as Cinderella and superstar Whitney Houston as her fairy godmother, fail to resonant with viewers seeking to escape reality with fictive feel good moments that mirror the very detriment of daily life.

The version of Cinderella starring Brandy and the late Whitney Houston, mirrors the current wave of feminism which appears to retell a tale of white female privilege with black faces.

The result is predictably violent—displacing black bodies in the white female work to97-cinderella-3 supremacy does virtually nothing to negate the moral of the tale. My conscious gaze views this Cinderella differently—as this attempt of assimilation—subliminally illustrates ambush. Particularly, Cinderella’s (Brandy) relationship with an Asian prince, symbolizes those “of color” as mirroring the motives of whites, namely their collaborative ambush of black communities throughout the United States, Africa and the West Indies.

The Woman’s March illustrates a similar ambush, in which the black female body— a force reduced to a bridge to which the white woman crosses to the other side of privilege—black female entry obliterated by a white-only sign perhaps even more present in its physical absence. Yes, I am asserting that in 2018 a white only sign hovers over womanhood and each and every “wave” of feminism.

8203b8aebceafde1a4311cb864bfd29d-natural-makeup-for-black-women-dark-skin-black-women-makeup.jpgAlthough ‘wave” preceded “feminism” to mark its reinvention, the only “wave” I have ever seen is the wave of a fair-weather friend.

The black woman is the fair-weather friend of feminism, called on when they a need a chair to rest on, or a cheerleader to stand in the rain and cheer while they dance in victory.

To March for woman is forget that the “women’s college” did not have the black female body in mind in their conception. To march for woman is to forget that all those that march today are not marching for Saartje Baartman, Henrietta Lacks, Ruby McCollum, Recy Taylor, Betty Jean Owens, Fanny Lou Hamer, Tawana Brawley, or any of the black female bodies across the diaspora—they are marching for the Hilary Clinton’s and Melania Trump’s, women that in their worst moment are called or perhaps even treated like b*tches, but will never endure the systemic suffocation of blackness.

To march for “woman” is to render Fredo Santana “another black rapper who died by the same thing he rapped about,” not a black man, someone’s father, son, brother, friend,  nurtured for self-destruction not self-determination. To march for women is to render “Oh, you’re mighty smart for a woman,” in the same light as “Nigger-bitch,” to deem the  Central Park jogger a victim of rape and Tawana Brawley a liar, to remember Elizabeth Smart but forget the abducted black girls in Nigeria, DC, and throughout the diaspora.

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I refuse to attend the Woman’s March because I, a being of black female form, am not Cinderella. There is no glass slipper, and no prince coming to whisk me away from evil–only the contemporary white man who wishes to whisk me into a legal slavery and contractual concubine. Cinderella, like feminism, is for little white girls or even non-black women of color who recruit the black female body as a sort of fairy godmother who makes their wishes come true. Cinderella_Brandy

I want to specify that I have no desire to be recognized as “woman,” or be “Cinderella”—as both present a reduction to the prodigious existence of the black female form. The black female form precedes the concept of woman, and thus is only erased in her fictive inclusion.

Furthermore, feminism does not fit me because my skin is black. My troubles are not because I am a woman, but because in the world’s eyes, I am not one.

But to those who gloat in my so-called exclusion I ask:

Why fight to be a “woman” when I am a Queen?

Rest in peace to Fredo Santana, and the countless other black bodies who transitioned in the first weeks of this new year. May you find comfort and inspiration in the arms of our ancestors.

Black Power ❤

OWN’s Black Love Docu-Series, A Review of Episode One

If you watch Maury, black love is dysfunctional, careless, and rooted in lust. The same can be said for many other “reality” television shows from court series to VH1 shows that anchor themselves in portraying the black man and black woman as hyper-sexual entities incapable of functioning in their shared state of incivility.tenor

The black woman is often depicted is mentally unstable, hyper-sexual, and evil— a force that emasculates the black man and prompts his desire to crawl back into the womb via sexual promiscuity. The white media consistently portrays the black woman and man as two pieces of a puzzle that just cannot fit together.

Enter producers, and black power couple, Tommy and Codie Oliver and their docu-series Black Love. This OWN documentary does not function to extinguish the stereotypes of black love, but to prove its possibility and vitality–deeming the documentary a well-executed pro-black initiative.

The documentary surfaces at an interesting time time–a time where injustice is blatant and inevitably hard to ignore—prompting many to get involved in protests, organizations and other means to confront cultural conflict. As a result, the revolution is often over-simplified as focusing on a single issue and overlooking the power of who you choose to love.

black-love-matters-sportswear-trucker-capBlack love is an understated revolutionary act dismissed in the contemporary world’s colorblind initiative guised as the antidote to contemporary conflict. This initiative not only inevitably imbues black erasure, but reflects the mental bludgeoning of the black mind that proves a platform for systemic abuse of the black body.

In merging the black body together romantically, the black collective incurs dual conflict—but in turn becomes stronger as a unit.

To say yes to black love is to don the strongest armor in confronting racism. To embark on black love is to ignore all the self-hatred embedded in society and choose to love yourself. It is to see the best in blackness when every aspect of western culture prompts blacks to see the worst in themselves. To choose black love is to refuse to enter the white man’s house through the back door—to build your own house that is large enough to walk through the front door with your head held high.  black-love

Black love is an understated revolutionary act and for this reason the Codie’s documentary is not only greatly appreciated, but a cultural necessity.

The docu-series features multiple black couples—most of which have been together for at least a decade. This fact alone is a testament to the ability of black love to function despite the racial climate of North America.

The couples that proved the most resonant to me were Cory and Tia Hardrict, Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, and Meagan Good and Devon Franklin. Here’s why:

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Viola and Julius, like Tia and Cory illustrate the non-glamorous facet of black love. Viola’s recollection of informing her soon to be husband of her bad credit was comical but also very honest. Whether its “bad” credit, a “bad” romantic past, “bad” finances,  or a “bad” familial structure— the black body commonly has a severed relationship with conventionality—so “bad” is a given. It is often this “bad” that drives a wedge between blacks—due to an inability to conceptualize how American culture is designed to deteriorate both the black individual or the black collective with concepts like “bad.”

I similarly enjoyed how Tia and Cory shared their humble beginnings. Specifically, Cory shared that he did not have a lot of money when he and Tia got married or when they began dating. The black woman out-earning the black man is a cruel truth and strategic means to implement black female success to emasculate the black male. Therefore, Tia and Cory depict the ability of black love to unit despite circumstances the exist to divide them.

mgdftmchAlthough conventionally successful at the time of their initial meeting, Meagan Good and Devon Franklin illustrate the significance of stepping outside of your comfort zone as both had sworn off attributes that defined their future spouse.

Also, Meagan Good— as a black woman extolled for her beauty—illustrates that external beauty is not necessarily a gateway to finding love. Rather, love blossoms when an individual is valued for their inner beauty.

Good’s husband, Devon Franklin delivered the docu-series most resounding line with the following:

“As a single man I was good, but as a married man I’m great.”

devonmeganwed_23271dde43c7b3b3ac894006654bd890.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000.pngHe also goes on to say that many men feel as though they must conquer the world prior to marriage, but dispels this idea by saying that men can conquer the world with the right woman. For black men this “right” woman is a black woman.

Furthermore, black love not only improves the individual, but elevates the black collective. Together we encompass the necessary strength to conquer the world.

For this reason, the black woman in an interracial relationship was the low of this docu-series, as it depicts weakness in an otherwise distinctive portrait of black strength.

Two other points of criticism, are colorism and the absence of the intersectional existence. Colorism is an obvious component in the series, in that a good portion of the couples feature a racially ambiguous woman, or a woman whose complexion is the binary opposite to her partner’s hue. This is a portrayal commonly seen on sitcoms, and films depicting black people—which embeds the ideology that lighter skin makes women more desirable. This colorism facet is perhaps most prevalent because the couples are products of Hollywood, where the paper bag test is alive and well–especially for black woman.  test-baf

Featuring Hollywood couples, or a facet of a Hollywood subgroup like producer, writer, etc functions to humanize couples that we as a collective have grown to love over the years. However, I do think the docu-series’ motif is perhaps best implemented by “every-day” couples of various professions and circumstances, as black hollywood couples, while bearing resonant and uplifting anecdotes, caricature blackness in a bubble of entertainment in a way that non-Hollywood couples do not.

It is also very important to note that while black on the outside, these Hollywood couples do not live a life common to the average black person, and may not even consider themselves black aside from going for roles designated for black people. Thus, this depiction, although surely well-intentioned, makes the docu-series depiction of actual black couples mannequin-like and less palpable.

The docu-series also omits same-sex black couples, disabled blacks, black couples crippled by poverty, and elderly couples—to name a few identity intersections absent from this portrait of black love.  Because blackness is all-encompassing, it is imperative that we include as much from our faction as possible to ensure that other subgroups do not seize those of our collective for their own selfish gain. Knowledge is also an essential component of black esteem. Cognizance of the many folds of blackness functions to enlighten the black collective to all that they are—it is said knowledge that thwarts the western idea that blacks have and are nothing.

6bfb6ac4f758512be8fb8115c9b08d22--african-american-art-african-artNevertheless, the docu-series elevates black love from obscurity to a seat at the the table of contemporary conversation, educating an eager audience to the value of black love. The series also prompts a discourse for determining what exactly black love is.

Defining black love is subject to interpretation, but it is of great significance that we as a collective understand that black love is far more than two black people in love.

Two melanated people in love merely breeds an assimilatory lifestyle in which blackness is a happenstance not a beloved marker of those destined to fulfill a higher purpose. Black love ensures that we as a collective not only physicaly survive, but mentally thrive.

Black love a beautiful struggle, a purposeful endeavor, an undervalued union.

How would you describe black love? And, do you have a black love story?

Black Power ❤

 

 

 

 

Kidnap, A Contemporary Narrative of Black Motherhood

Kidnap appears to be yet another action-adventure.suspense film starring a household name. Yet, Kidnap mirrors historical slave narrative in capturing the maternal stress of black mothers. Namely, much like Harriet Jacobs in The Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Frederick’s Douglas’ mother who traveled by foot in the dark of night to see her son, Berry (Carla in the film) proves that she will stop at nothing to save her child. Therefore, black maternity is the portrait of conditional love, as this love strives to overcome a lifetime of hells and high waters.

To be a black mother is to struggle to be a parent, a provider and protector in a world where you are not even thought of as human. To be a black mother is to bear cyclical disenfranchisement as an individual and as a mother of offspring thrust into this system the moment they emerged from the black female womb. It is the sub-story, or what the film fails to verbally articulate that makes Kidnap worthy of conversation. The film itself is utterly unoriginal, lacks development, and performs in the contemporary pattern of colorblind-casting that visibly implements blackness but fails to acknowledge race beyond superficiality. kidnap

When the credits rolled, I found myself asking:

“That’s it?”

and waiting for that moment that would allot clarity to the previous ninety minutes.

Senselessly displaying a Senseless Crime

 This moment of clarity never came. But as I contemplated the film on the ride home, it occurred to me that while unintentional, this senseless ending was exactly the point. Black child abduction is senseless. In traditional and contemporary settings, the abducted black child occurred for no real reason, other than a means to exercise power. Enslaved black children were abducted by white settlers and transformed into laborers, and breeders for the white man’s plantation. Once transported to the states, children were often abducted from their mothers and sold like dogs to families seeking domestic servants and concubines. Contemporary black children continue to go missing, and if found their bodies are often hollowed out—their organs sold to what I’m sure is the highest bidder.

Axing the White Savior Figure

 The film succeeds in deviating from the white savior halleberrykidnapfigure that dominates much of black portrayal. At the end of the film, Berry attempts to remove her child from a locked attic and a white man walks in pretending to be the neighbor. He puts on a convincing show, pretending to be surprised that his “neighbors” are child abductors. But it is his seemingly omniscient knowledge of the gender and quantity of the abducted children reveals that he is not a savior but a villain. This is probably the most suspenseful part of the film, and it functions because of the positive connotation of whiteness. Globally whites are viewed as a savior figures, despite direct and indirect evils that populate their history. In alleviating the white savior figure, the black woman emerges as her own hero— a depiction generally withheld from black female protagonists.
Accidental Hero

 What is unstated and noteworthy in Kidnap’s portrayal of a black mother searching for her child, is that Berry becomes an accidental hero for two abducted white female children. Does my assertion suggest that the two white children do not deserve to be saved? Absolutely not. My assertion does function to state that far too often when working to elevate the black collective, blacks become accidental heroes to others who benefit from our efforts. For example, many of the shows and movies authored by black women to supposedly narrate the black experience, become opportunities for white actors and actresses, producers and artists, proving once again that nothing is done for blacks that does not benefit another demographic—whether directly or indirectly.

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Solitary Mission

An image that dominates the film is Berry’s singularity. Namely, much of the film is Berry alone searching for her son. Interestingly, this solitary dynamic is also depicted when Berry does go to a police station for help. When Berry arrives, there is a single black woman answering the phones and managing the office. This depicts the black female body as habitually made to juggle with multiple responsibilities, with the systemic implication that she will drop one or two to her detriment.

Yet, a critic referenced Berry as a vehicle operating on “four flat tires,” overlooking that black motherhood is an imperfect solitary dynamic not intended to entertain the white male gaze. Separated from spouses and children as enslaved Africans, black motherhood began its tenure in this country as a complicated product of white evil. The contemporary environment is not much different, as the surging amount of black males incarcerated, dead, underemployed, or under-educated leaves many black women alone, and many black mothers inevitably single in one form or another.

Furthermore, although an imperfect film, Kindap is a perfect illustration of contemporary black motherhood as a nuanced manifestation of a historical dynamic plaguing the black collective. So despite figures like Michelle Obama, Maxine Waters, Kamala Harris, Beyonce, etc that seemingly symbolize black female potential, to the critical gaze, Kidnap illustrates the black woman as still fighting to save her children, her dignity, and her sanity from a systemized abduction orchestrated by white evil.

Black Power ❤

The Incredible Jessica James: Extracting the “black” from Black Femininity

The Incredible Jessica James debuted to an audience eagerly awaiting its next piece of seemingly antiracist media where an bothered body occupies central placement. To most The Incredible Jessica James is a coming of age narrative where a black female twenty-something finds her way past a breakup an through her struggles as a striving artist. What is most incredible about this film is that it resumes the contemporary colorblind initiative. This contemporary initiative is not to tackle the totality of the black experience, but to move past blackness by ignoring it completely. Moreover, what is most incredible about Jessica James is despite her skin color and natural hair—there is nothing black about her. The word "black" is gracefully omitted from the film—a pattern consistent with contemporary portrayals of black people.  Instead, viewers hear James reference her statuesque height quite a few times throughout the film–suggesting that it is her height not color, is her most defining attribute. jessicawilliamsap

In early portrayals of black femininity, the black female body operated in extremes—she was either unmistakably black, a "mammy-like figure" like Hattie McDaniel in Gone With the Wind, or a racially ambiguous "tragic mulatto or  jezebel" as seem in Dorothy Dandridge's 1954 performance in Carmen. The racially ambiguous woman stirred two pots in her ability to strategically provide blacks a fictive representation, without challenging European aesthetics. bell hooks notes this point in Black Looks:

When black women actresses like Lena Horne appeared in mainstream cinema most white viewers were not aware that they were looking at black females unless the film was specifically coded as being about blacks (119).

Contemporary black leading ladies perform a similar role, except not through aesthetics. Instead, the black female body functions to visibly suggest a diversity her portrayal functions to downplay.

maxresdefaultThis is important for black women to acknowledge prior to celebrating representation seemingly granted in portrayals like The Incredible Jessica James, portrayals strategically implemented to work against the black woman. By this I mean that while actress Jessica Williams is beautiful, witty, and talented, as Jessica James, Williams encourages black women to exist beyond blackness—an act of mentacide that will eventually foment black female oblivion.

Black female oblivion is the ultimate result of anti-blackness, a shared theme of past and present black female representation. The Incredible Jessica James enforces anti blackness with a common pairing to the contemporary black female body—a white man.

The white man rides in like a white night following James’ breakup from Damon, her black ex-boyfriend. 4533The film introduces viewers to protagonist Jessica James after a recent breakup from a man of whom she was with for two years— a decision that haunts her in a series of comical dreams throughout the film. Her ex-boyfriend, a young and handsome black man, appears kind and supportive in the flashbacks of the couple. His portrayal prompts viewers to question why the two parted ways— a query that James seems to serially ask herself throughout the film but answer in the giant steps towards whiteness she takes afterwards.
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Namely, these failed black romances birth two interracial romances as viewers see Damon out on a date with a non-black woman as James also meets up with a non-black date. I am intentionally focusing on the color of characters to illustrate that blackness, while never acknowledged, also does not visibly frequent the film. James, a black woman from Ohio, flees her hometown for a better life. When James does fly back for her sister's baby shower it is blatantly obvious that she does not fit in with the small town environment that nurtured her early years. Her transition from small town to big city  also symbolizes a step away from blackness as James' “better” life in Bushwick is overwhelmingly white. This running away from home, much like her breakup, illustrates black conflict as preceding or offsetting the black body’s journey to whiteness.

Deadline Hollywood Portraits at Sundance Presented by Applegate, Day 2, Park City, Utah, USA - 21 Jan 2017This journey to whiteness is heavily veiled in what the film tries to pass of as chemistry.  James' artistic chemistry with theatre leads her to the big city, and her chemistry with the concept "woman" leads her into the platonic embrace of a white female friends. The film vehemently tries to present James' relationship with Boone as oozing with rebound chemistry. James and Boone though have zero chemistry. They have a good conversation, mainly because James’ honesty will not allow for much else. They become sexually involved shortly after meeting, and their sex scene is cringeworthy and seems to exist solely to provide visible proof of their consummation. Their sexual encounter is hard to watch, hard to hear, and disappointing to the black female gaze who would probably have taken better to a love scene between two gorgeous black people rather than a middle-aged white man and a young black woman. Jessica is the bridge Boone uses to get over his personal trauma—a recent divorce from a thin, blonde woman. By the end of the film, Jessica replaces Boone’s ex-wife as the object of his affection, transforming from an escapist route to a national treasure—-objectified yet symbolic.

The romance between the two, also serves as a platform for Boone to become the film’s white savior figure. After James receives an overseas offer to teach theatre and lead a production of one of her plays, Boone funds the trip through his frequent flyer miles. This ruins what should have been the most touching moment of the play–the black girl magic between James and her black female student.

Netflix-Releases-Teaser-For-Jessica-Williams-The-Incredible-Jessica-JamesThe scenes with James and her students are touching, and function to add dimension to Jessica James the character. Nurturing the young versions of ourselves as they work to find themselves in a world designed for their destruction is something all black women should prioritize. James and her black female student connect in talent and a displaced hurt—their writing a means to iron out the wrinkles in their lives. However, with blackness lying in the film’s background, this connection between two young black females is only on the surface. The portrayal, in omitting blackness, depicts a teacher taking a “troubled” student under their wing—oversimplifying the shared experience between black women to a shared experience between women. Thus, Boone, the white savior, illustrates the white man as a prize who literally and figuratively funds those culminating their journey to an illusive whiteness.

Furthermore, the “incredible” in The Incredible Jessica James, unintentionally functions similarly to the “great” in the The Great Gatsby—providing a satirical feel to a seemingly complimentary term. What is in fact incredible about the film is its mastered technique diminished by underdeveloped critical thought. In an unpublished essay, esteemed scholar W.E.B. Dubois said the following:

Technique without character is chaos and war. Character without technique is labor and want. But when you have human being who know the world and can grasp it; who have their feelings guised by ideals, then using technique as their hands they can get rid of the four great evils of human life. The four evils are ignorance, poverty, diseases and crime. (Dubios 252).

The Incredible Jessica James  succeeds in method displayed in its writing and comedic genius, but lacks character in its anti-blackness. The characters lack the racial depth that paint them in the image of black viewers of a shared experience. Therefore, the film promotes ignorance, moral poverty, and disease in performing the greatest crime cast onto the black diaspora—racism.

Black female portrayal must begin, contain, and evolve pedagogy. We must learn the entirety of our oppression to avoid furthering our systemized state by creating images that tackle the acumen of African identity.

In closing, The Incredible Jessica James is not a bad movie—it’s just not a black movie. It is a sense of escapism for those who fantasize about a apparent utopia where where color is not discussed. This utopia eventually proves a dystopia as it operates with the same racial subtext of slavery and the Jim Crow South. The film proves that racial neutrality is inherently anti-blackness, something the contemporary world presents as evolution.

To evolve is to move past the seduction of colorlessness in a word established on color differences. To evolve is to uncaricature blackness and stand in a truth defined by a collective understanding. To evolve is to see blackness as a glory to be shouted from the mountaintops, not be subjugated to an elephant in the room, series or film. maxresdefault

As the late but great author James Baldwin once said “Nothing can be changed unless it is faced.” The Incredible Jessica James, is another example of art functioning to deflect black focus away from blackness. Any step a black person takes away from blackness is a step towards anti-blackness into the flaming pit of white supremacy.

Let us face the entirety of our blackness without fear, or shame, and create art that is not vouyeristic for whites but a means for blacks to hold a looking glass to the complexities of our existence.

Black Power ❤

Twenty-Five Years A Slave: Identity, Intersectionality, and Cultural Realization

Carol was a physically beautiful girl. She had tanned dark skin, dark eyes, and thick, curly hair. Intrigued by black culture, and even more so by black men, she sought to consummate her sexual curiosity by juxtaposing herself to black women—seemingly hoping to outshine black femininity with a presumed exoticness.

Yet, somehow her invitation to the movies seemed harmless. Admittedly, I probably would not have seen the film if not invited. But antagonized by my white classmates, I was a little more receptive to companionship than I should have been. In the height of my systemized state, I found a false unity in gender with a person of color.

Nothing could have prepared me for the lessons this experience would expose. The performances in the film were surpassed by the dramatic behavior of the audience. The whipping scene prompted a white woman seated several rows in front of me to cry violently in a manner more mawkish than meaningful. In short, her response appeared rehearsed, and an insincere attempt to separate herself from the white slave master, who easily composed the core of her bloodline.

During the scene where the slaves bathed in plain view without modesty, my “friend” whispered “they’re naked, just out like that?” I suppose this scene was educational to anyone without knowledge of slavery. But to a person whose ancestors composed the black bodies cast in the backdrop of this white savior tale—this depiction failed to encapsulate the totality of black objectivity. I recall reading a book as an eighteen-year-old college freshman that described an image more horrifying than any slave film. In the book, a slave master had his young slaves line-up nude and wait to use the restroom. He piled the male youth on top of one another to induce a state of arousal to which he watched in a pedophiliac lust. The slave master’s arousal, although then fixated on the bodies of the black youth, stemmed from his power. To be black is to maintain a similar position to that of the black youth in the novel, to be cast naked, your bodily responses induced to meet a global gaze and serve the desires of others. Seated in that movie theatre that day, I felt exposed, my reactions a means to enhance and validate the experience of a person I thought was my friend.

The rape scene prompted a similar nakedness, despite my frame being encased in a newly purchased corset jacket, probably sewn in a sweatshop by a pre-adolescent child. This scene was encased in silence from the theatre, so I could not ignore my “friend” whisper “he killed her” in a pseudo outrage.

“No,” I thought to myself.

“She will live and give birth to my foremothers and forefathers.”

To Carol, this rape was a scene in a movie included to induce a reaction to which she provided. To anyone within the black collective, this was a scene in our past. Perhaps most poignantly, this horror was a scene in our very conception.

By the end of the film I was hot with rage and ready to go back to my dorm—which I hated. Then the lights came on, and the next few moments would betray the true nature of my invite. My friend looked up at me wiping tears that I did not see. She then said the words that burnt me to my core. Words that highlighted the cultural insensitivity to which blacks are regarded with across the globe

“You don’t seem sad.”

I gave a slow blink to a face I once saw as so beautiful. She was now the most hideous thing I had ever seen. I initially found common ground in the fact that we were both pink on the inside, although now I was not so sure. She seemed hollowed by a hate she tried to pass off as love, by a vengeance she tried to pass off friendship, a sourness she tried to pass off as sweetness, and a competitiveness she tried to pass of as camaraderie. This would prove inescapably true on the way home when on the ride home, Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love” came on and she asked me what Beyonce meant by watermelon.

It then became obvious that we were not there to see a performance. I was the performance. To her, an un-enlightened “person of color,” blackness was a production started in slavery and manifested into present day. To her, and many ignorant gazes throughout the globe, blacks were never kings and queens, only concubines and field hands. Films like Twelve Years a Slave function to reduce the African legacy into American slavery.

Carol invited me out as a peek into blackness, granting her what she would eventually imitate to bait a self-hating black male.

To her, a curious and appropriative gaze, sadness was something worn, a tangible state. Missed in her shallow analysis, is that to be black and to fully understand all that lies within your melanin–the beauty, the mental and physical bludgeoning, the historic and contemporary struggle for life and liberation, is to bear an emotion much deeper than sadness.

The revelations present by the time the credits rolled were two-fold. On one hand our friendship ended. On the other hand, this exchange revealed that what we had was never a friendship to begin with. Just as many interracial relationships lack the ability of full cultural comprehension, many inter-racial or inter cultural  friendships  also exist at a superficial level which eventually exposes an impenetrable ignorance or indifference in any attempt to delve beneath the surface.

We were not as I believed sisters of a similar struggle. She had her language and the option to enter this country. Black women, do not stand beside other persons of color whom relinquish what we spend lifetimes working to obtain.  Every day is a struggle to get a little bit closer to the place from which our ancestors were torn. So as she willingly spoke English and attempted to compartmentalize my struggle, she objectified me in a way I had experienced all my life, except she pretended to be my friend.

In the film, Solomon is “recovered” by a white man and “returned” to his home. This ending surfaces to appease those who relish in one black obtaining physical freedom in the face of countless others still physically bound to a white male master. In this dynamic, Solomon is the Obama, the athlete, the businessman or mogul taken off the physical plantation and afforded another means to serve whites. He is the exception that whites and other persons of color can reference to prove that blacks don’t “have it so bad.” To Carol, I was the escaped slave who was to report the tellings of my experience. I am not to possess the presumed bitterness as my escape functions to illustrate my counterparts as lazy not systemically diseased and castrated. I am to entertain, and demand nothing more than an ear to listen. To Carol I am an individual, a compartmentalization that uproots the foundation of my collective self and erases the unspoken tales of past and present diasporic Africans. Namely, in objectifying the individual, the collective is lost. Once again blacks become the background in their own narrative, a narrative redacted to highlight “exceptions” at the expense of capturing the true black experience. Black truth then fades into the background, eventually becoming part of the earth, silenced and unseen— succumbing to the collective amnesia desired by the whites who tell our story.

In hindsight, I see that I was solicited as a means to validate someone else’s curiosity. My body was a gateway to illustrate someone else’s humanity—placing me in an identical role to my kinfolk portrayed in the film. There I was twenty-five years old, seemingly standing under an umbrella with my colored sister until I realized I was soaking wet— my body, my burden, my beauty, my beliefs too big for full coverage. Up until that point, I falsely believed in the collective concepts of “woman” and “person of color,” two concepts that did not even see me, let alone identify with my struggles as a black woman. My past experience, mirrors that of countless black women throughout the globe who believe in a sisterhood with those who fail to see the black woman as human let alone a sister.

May my experience be your lesson.

Black Power ❤

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Later in Life Pregnancy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Natural: Things That Happen on The Journey to an Elevated Consciousness

When most speak of going natural they mean freeing African hair from chemicals. This. liberating journey can be long, draining, and discouraging. The results however are unimaginable. Yes, returning your hair to its natural state is a tedious and gradual process, but even more so is freeing your mind from the chemicals of white supremacy.

Here are are 41 things that happen on the journey to a higher consciousness.

  1. You begin to question your insanity. It becomes quite unclear whether you are unwell, or if others around you are sick.  

”The hot dark blood of that forefather—born king of men—is beating at my heart and I know I am ether a genius or a fool.” WEB Dubois.

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2. It becomes very hard to purchase anything that is not a necessity, from.a white or non-black establishment
3. Things like going to the movies, or going out to eat are not the same. Notably, they do not provide the intended purpose to escape to the conscious mind
4. Individualism becomes a thing of the past. You care less about being exceptional, beautiful, smart, successful as conceptualized by the western gaze, and more into achieving a collective greatness
5. You become more alienated from people and things of whom you were once inseparable 
6. Working with whites or non-blacks becomes extremely challenging, if not impossible
7. Living through purpose is not “an” option anymore, it’s the only option

 

9672258. You’re called racist a lot.
9. Being called racist makes you laugh in its ignorance and impossibility.
10. Finding love isn’t about romance, it’s about finding that person that proves a gateway to deepening a collective black love
11. You become less judgmental but more observant and strategic
12. Down time isn’t for television or idleness, but creation and collective uplifting
13. You become very critical of celebrated blacks, and create your own heroes, most of fannywhom are obscure to most
14. Material and money are not as desirable as time and purpose
15. You see the difference between true blackness and those with just black skin.
Annoyed woman, stop it16. You regard whites with an indifference that paralyzes their need for hyper-visibility and reassurance from blacks
17. You do not have to look in the mirror to see your African beauty
18. You feel a sense of pride in supporting your own and inspiring others to do the same maxresdefault
19. You gradually start to increase water consumption and cut downs on breads, cheese, sugars and all other foods unnatural to the African body
20. You view praise for the African entertainer or athlete as an insult to black potential
21. You find yourself spending more time alone—often deemed insufferable by whites and pretentious by blacks not yet on a journey to consciousness

22. Your thirst for black culture becomes insatiable. You find yourself buying books incessantly and devouring them like water, listening to old speeches and looking at old pictures77fa1514e62d3e8a3efd85e564fa0987
23. You notice others often “put on a show” of black pride in your presence

24. You find yourself disinterested in any western holidays 

25. You become indifferent to birthdays, vacations, and other tokens of western conception used to induce vanity and distraction 9acd2e3f597297dffc77c19ac8d0a114--black-women-quotes-black-women-art

26. You no longer apologize for possessing and articulating a  black state of mind, or feel the need to dilute your blackness in “mixed” company

27. You have one melanated friend who calls/texts just to get your perspective on “black” issues

28. You regard every “death,” “murder,” or incarceration of blacks with suspicion150717-sandra-bland-01_501031590f7638412a10ec28ab8ea9ef.nbcnews-fp-360-360

29. You know that proof is a means to ease questions, so you take it at face value. Proof isn’t proof in white america, it’s hush info 

30. Your biggest fear is not unemployment or even death, but being an Uncle Tom or Aunt Thomasina, or any weak representation of blackness

31. You don’t see whites who adopt black children, or take on black adults or children as projects as generous, but self-righteous white saviors 

tumblr_inline_mngo5dsXbQ1qmqjtx32. You become more empathetic to the burdens facing black people 

33. You are turned off by the “Divine 9” and see it as weakness if not one of the many forms of contemporary slavery

34. You find yourself laughing less, and thinking more

35. You know that gay rights, the muslim ban, and feminism are all means to deflect focus from blacks and racism 

36. You laugh internally at those who use the term “woke,” because often these are the most unconscious 1*jCmq9xNkwjcDVXjv6nolEw

37. You shirk most social media—seeing it for the mental poison it is 

38. You don’t align “natural” hair, dashikis, “hotep” language as signs of blackness. Looking black is fashionable to some, but a lifestyle to the truly conscious 

39. You find it hard to trust or respect those of African ancestry who look outside the race for love or acceptance

40. You prefer overt prejudice and racism, to the smiling racist as it is often far less confusing to the masses.

41. What most call Egypt, you call Kemet- “land of the blacks”

 

kemet

 

The journey to consciousness is not easy.  It can be lonely, and extremely difficult–but it’s worth it.

See you at the mountaintop!

Black Power ❤

R. Kelly: Sexual Predator or Scapegoat?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black Power. ❤

Life Hacks for Black Women

A little “sun” on your Sunday. <3.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Modesty is a pillar of greatness 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17. View melanin as a redeeming not damning quality

18. Render white acceptance or opinion into cultural oblivion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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nd the sky–anything less is an insult. 

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

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

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

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

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

Black Power ❤