Shots Fired

SHOTS FIRED!!!!: Beysus vs. Jesus; King Bey vs. Mammy

Because the critique can’t come harder than this, Crunktastic of the Crunk Feminist Collective, giving it their all:

“I am really tired of the American Church conflating its age-old anxieties with the bodies of Black women, anxieties born out of sexist and racist presuppositions, with calls for conservative morality. The African American Church, in particular, has come to think that the respectability politics around proper public moral self-presentation that we created as a strategy for negotiating a violent post-Emancipation world is synonymous with a theology for living. The White Church needs to grapple with its sexualized racism and racialized sexism. Lorde help them.”

In other news, and I posted this on Twitter earlier today, someone please bless me with the name of the scholar who discussed Beyonce’s penis at the Queerness of Hip Hop conference at Harvard earlier this academic year. I need do a praise dance in their name while flipping my Yaki their way because my life will never be the same again. Amen. Amen. Amen.

BeastsoftheSouthernWild

On Fantasy and Feeling (Regarding #Beasts of the Southern Wild)

[Edit:  Warning – Spoilers abound]

If ever there was a film that maximized sensation without devolving into spectacle, Beasts of the Southern Wild was it.  Barely.  It rides the line between poverty porn and social critique, but somehow never manages to lose balance and fall on one side or the other.  It takes children seriously.  Quvenzhane Wallis, the girl who plays Hushpuppy, deserves every one of the accolades she has received.  She made this movie.  Give that child an Oscar TODAY.

Beasts is effervescent with feeling.  Hushpuppy, Wink, and the people of the Bathtub feel everything and the film’s execution of that pleasure is surreal.  Their world is carnal and crimson.  Dirt, sweat, rain, sun, shelled shrimp, alcohol–everything is tactile.  One of the first scenes with the entire community is filled with sparklers, simulating the magic of fête and festival.  Miss Bathsheba teaches social studies using a tattoo of an Auroch on her thigh, a moment so viscreal for Hush Puppy that the beasts become symbolic of the chaos of the storm and her father’s impending death.  Even the crawfish are wet and lush, mouth watering.

Continue reading

Empathy (The #Rihanna Post)

Rihanna – You Da One Video Screenshot (:13)

I’m going to make this short and quick. And angry.

Every time you tell someone Rihanna deserves what she gets because [insert misogynistic and ignorant reason here], you are wrong.

Every time you tell someone, Rihanna is “publicly accepting her abuser–nothing more, nothing less” or “it’s so black and white,” you are wrong.

Every time you tell someone Rihanna should or should not have done whatever, whenever, wherever, and how dare she and (my favorite) how COULD she–Congratulations.

You’ve just silenced someone around you who is being abused.

And I’m not talking about Rihanna. This post isn’t about Rihanna.

This post is about the woman in the office next to you who says grace over her food. This post is about your personal trainer and his fantastic thighs. This post is about your best friend from college who you are meeting for drinks later. This post is about your professor. Or your student. Or the kid you babysit for.

This post is about your play cousin and your godchild and your niece.

This post is about your sister and your mother and the pastor’s wife.

Every time you decide to pass some abstract and sanctimonious judgement on Rihanna and her relationship with Chris Brown–man she loved, a man who beat her, a man who she is now collaborating with again–

Every time you do ANYTHING LESS THAN WALK WITH EMPATHY AND UNDERSTANDING WITH HER, you’ve just let someone in your life know that everything that happens to them–abuse, rape, psychological warfare–it is all their fault. If they go back, they are to blame. If s/he hits them next time, they are to blame. If s/he kills them when they leave, they are to blame.

You’ve let them know that there is no reason for them to come to YOU for help, should they decide that this time is too much and it is time to go. Worse, you’ve let them know that even if they are leaving, they can’t come to you because you are no longer–if you ever were–a safe space. A space where they don’t have to deal with the recriminations, the guilt, the pressure and fear and anger that is swimming around them because the society we live in is COMPLETELY UNFORGIVING of survivors of abuse and is especially unforgiving of “sassy,” “spicy,” “ratchet” women of color (I mean, don’t we all deserve what we get?).

Because you’ve let your judgement, your agenda, your own internalized misogyny erase safety from the picture, you’ve let someone you love know that they will not be able to rely on you in THEIR time of need.

Everytime you decide that it is fun or funny or provocative to recirculate pictures of Rihanna’s beaten face, you’ve just closed yourself off as a resource to someone who needs you. Not because you aren’t willing to help. I’m sure you are. But your actions have now shown someone around you, SOMEONE YOU LOVE, that asking you for help is also asking for ridicule. And in a situation that is already frightening and dangerous, you’ve confirmed what they already feared was true–that no one will believe them, that they are crazy, that it is all their fault and their problem, and that there is no support out there for someone like them.

Every time you decide to judge Rihanna in the Saturday Morning sitcom binary of leave/success or stay/fail, you are LETTING SOMEONE IN YOUR LIFE KNOW THAT YOUR LOVE HAS CONDITIONS, THAT YOUR AID COMES WITH STIPULATIONS AND CRITERIA THEY NEED TO MEET BEFORE THEY CAN BE DEEMED WORTHY

If not Rihanna, who is worthy? Sad faced white women? Puppies? Chris Brown who “apologized?”

The funniest part of this? Three years ago, half of y’all couldn’t even be bothered. She deserved it then too, so I guess I should be surprised that she deserves it now.

But I am.

Because, again, this isn’t about Rihanna.

But someone in your life who thought they could rely on you is hearing you. And they just unpacked their bags. Because you just closed the door in their face.

Shame on you.

(This post is dedicated to my boo, @dopegirlfresh)

The Universe is Speaking

The universe has been throwing a lot at me the last few weeks.  Personal, professional, economic–you name it.  My stamina is running low.  My batteries have no time to recharge.  I’ve had moments that made me question my worth as a scholar, global citizen, net-izen, and friend.  At this point, all I can do is show up–and only because I hear someone’s voice telling me I’d damn well better.

Days like today, I wonder if the #gawds are even listening.

Lo and behold, the universe is speaking.

Happy Birthday Alice Walker!

Kima posting homage on Twitter reminded me that I was about to miss the birthday of the visionary whose words head this blog, who is the namesake of one half of my politico alter-ego, and who has helped me through more hard times than I can count.

Just seeing her presence everywhere reminded me I am more than I am.  I’ve been inspired, calmed, and pummeled by Alice Walker’s words, and by the example she sets as a writer, pacifist, and social justice conjurer.  Gawd bless her.  A world with Alice Walker in it can never be damned.  It’s just a world waiting to be saved.

Speaking of saving, today the always loving Alexis Pauline Gumbs reminded me that I also need to be saving myself.  Introducing Brilliance Remastered:

Calling all community accountable scholars and visionary under-represented grad students!

Continue reading

Scrying Nicki Minaj, Stupid Hoe, and #Afrofutures

If a video drops in a forest of things that seem to matter a lot–like  fingers waving in presidential faces and self-deportation–does it make a sound?

Nicki Minaj dropped “Stupid Hoe” last week.

Maybe I’m too old to have my thumb on the relevant spaces in the interwebs, but it seems like the video barely caused a buzz.  Responses from Jezebel, Clutch, and Vibe were mainly negative, complaining about Minaj’s use of animalistic imagery, neon colors and her less than creative wordplay.  Black feminists offered mainly negative critique for obvious and perfectly legitimate reasons.  Minaj’s challenge to “stupid hoes” included a reference to “nappy-headed hoes” and images of a pale, plastic, Venus Hottentot Barbie.

Me?  Minaj hurts my head.  She perplexes me.  I think of her as Trickster, two-faced in her betrayal of global black feminist possibility and powerful in her contradictory elucidation of black woman’s power within the realms of celebrity and hip hop.  Reading her as Ellegua, that frightful guardian of the crossroads and the in-between and the everything-that-is-not-yet seems to fit an artist who switches alter egos as easily as she switches clothes.  Conjuring the ritual and physicality of possession seems to fit a celebrity who changes clothes as she changes personality, putting on her and taking off her tropes as each personality comes down.  The sometimes garish, sometimes delightful carnival of color, glitter and expression–even the repetitive dancehall/house music refrain–also fit a woman whose aesthetic choices continually find their footing in her Trinidadian roots.

In other words, I think of Nicki Minaj as diasporic black, as radical, and as speculative.

Continue reading

Winter Has Come #CapricornSeason

Norma Wood. 17mm, f16, 20 ", ISO 200 Image Credit: Akos Kiss

To some, December means the end of the year, the end of the warmth and the return of caramel macchiato and pumpkin spice latte addictions.

For me, December means the end of stress, other people’s labor and the beginning of beautiful snowy landscapes, family gatherings and time I can call my own.  I have time to dive into ideas I dreamed up during the summer months and tackle fall’s loose ends.  I’ve always done my best writing and thinking over winter breaks.  Something about the cool air just clears my brain of all the clutter.

Winter is here.  Capricorn season is upon us.

And so is 2012.  Sooooooo much happened….

Continue reading

Honor & Human Rights to Halmeoni (Grandmothers) x 1000

If I was a middle-class white man with too much time on his hands

Never mind.  News about black folks (read: African-American)  is capital these days.  Especially news that appears to cross conversations occurring within the community with the megaphone of an unsympathetic outsider.  I’m not a Google spider, but I can only imagine a certain host website exploded its monthly click and traffic quota this month.  And I won’t help since there are so many amazing critiques floating about.*

What did not get much burn this week was this:

South Korean women forced into wartime sexual slavery held their 1,000th weekly protest outside Japan’s embassy yesterday, demanding compensation and an apology from Tokyo as they have since 1992.

Continue reading

The (Confederate) Flag and the (Black) Student

Um, this happened:

Byron Thomas is 19, black, a freshman at the University of South Carolina Beaufort and a proud Southerner. He hung a Confederate flag in his dorm room window until the university asked him to take it down because several people had complained about it. (The university later stepped back from the request, saying all students have the right to free speech.)

“I know it’s kinda weird because I’m black,” Thomas said in an iReport he submitted. “When I look at this flag, I just don’t see racism. I see pride, respect. Southern pride, that’s what I see.”

“Ignorance gave that flag a bad name, ignorant people like the KKK,” he told CNN’s Don Lemon.

And this happened:

Continue reading