A Day in the Life: Upwardly Mobile Black Male Masculinity + Upwardly Mobile Black Female Professionals = ?

Why Don't You Confront Your Privilege???

Let’s keep this short and simple.

Kismet’s doppleganger is a black female professional. She has a conference in European City X. She decides to invite her lover along. Her lover is a black man. Her lover is a professional in his own right. He is excited about the prospect.

She knows other frequent flying professional types. He knows other frequent flying professional types. He decides to check in with said frequent flying professional types to see if they know any like minds in European City X who might be willing to spare a room or a couch and share a few meals. He gets a hit–Frequent Flyer Homeboy Number One is down for the cause and happy to help.

Her: “Great! In fact, whether or not you’re able to go, I could use HN1’s help with my next trip. Pass along the information when you have a chance.”

Him: “So you can stay with some dude when you’re in City X? Hell nah. I’ll check with HN1 and let you know what I find out.”

Her: “You’re kidding, right?”

Him: “Nope. You don’t need his information because I have it.”

Her: “Excuse me?”

Him: “Yeah. I’ll be your agent. Besides, you could end up with some rapist.”

Her: “You mean my manager? Yeah, no. I’ve traveled before, dear. So far I’ve done it sola and I’ve been fine. And I think it is more professional if I speak with him about what I need myself.”

Him: “Sorry.” [pause] “I’m a man. And I’m not changing my mind.”

Her: ………………………………………………………


So Kismet is watching this and wondering:

A. Why do upwardly mobile, professional minded, frequent flying black men say they want….

when they really want….

B. Why in the world would any black professional man think it is okay to screen industry contacts for his quite capable and likewise professional female partner?

C. Trust? Faith? Respect?

D. Sir, have we met?

E. Am I the only who sees the black male privilege and latent, I-Grew-Up-Drinking-the-Koolaid capital-M Misogyny dripping all over this entire exchange?

F. I’m a beast on the Google machine. If I want this HN1’s information, I will find it and make that shit look classy.

G. This is why you never piss off a black feminist with a pen. Or a blog.

H. Addendum to F & G: Sir, have we met?

I. Since when is “Sorry, I’m a man” ever led anywhere except the living room couch?

J. I say again: Sir, have we met. Never mind.

GIF courtesy of….

For the Sable FanGyrls & FanBoys Out There

Yo Nola, Selena wants her bandana back.


The Glyph nominees are out.  H/T courtesty of the good folks over at Racialicious:

The nominees for Rich Watson’s annual Glyph Awards (created to recognize the best in comics made by, for, and about people of color, which will be presented in May at the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (ECBACC) in Philadelphia) are out and our own Chad Nevett was part of the nomination committee. I felt that last year’s committee (of which I was a part of, along with David Brothers) did a great job, so I was eagerly awaiting what Chad and his group decided on, and they, too, did a very nice job!

Read on for the nominees!

Click above for the rest.

I don’t read comic books but I wish I did.  Comic books always felt too male, too hyper-sexualized-women’s-bodies, too visual, too campy and nerdy to get into (I know, I know–social constructions of gender anyone?).  I won’t say too white, because I grew up watching the X-Men cartoon on Saturday mornings and, at least in the Marvel Universe, there was a range of blackness and whiteness (Delta drawlin’ Gambit ranks as one of my top ten cartoon crushes, along with Robin from the New Batman Series and Goliath from Gargoyles).

But fierce female characters are my gateway drug.  Storm (X-Men animated series) was the only one I got wind of and they may as well have written Asexual Strong Black Woman in large font across her white spandex chest.  It would have been less obvious.  Black female stereotypes in fiction = huge turn off.  If the writers can so easily get away with creating a “token” or “magical every(black)woman” character, what else are they doing wrong?

But the Glyph awards are geared towards comics by and for people of color.  Win.  And while this year’s Glyph nominees are almost all male artists and writers, there is a category for “Best Female Character” (click Nola Thomas above for a review of Issue #1 of the series).   Plus there’s this:

“For the first time, the GCA Committee announces the creation of the Chairman’s Award, a new award given in special recognition of a work in any media outside of comics, including but not limited to books, television, film, or the Internet, that illuminates the black comics experience in an exceptional manner, and also broadens and deepens the growing body of knowledge about black comics worldwide.

This year, the GCA Committee bestows the award to the book Black Comix: African American Independent Comics Art and Culture, by Damian Duffy & John Jennings, a reference book spotlighting over fifty different independent black comics creators from the past quarter century. The release of this book was accompanied by a gallery exhibition in New York containing artwork from some of the book’s featured artists.”

*logs off* *walks over to Amazon to find a copy*


Getting Back to Basics: Re-Reading NYT’s “Race Remixed”

A few weeks ago, @TrickAmaka sent me a New York Times piece by Susan Saulny on the high numbers of adults who identify as mixed-race as of the 2010 census.  In what was apparently the first in a series titled “Race Remixed,” the article focuses on a group of students at the University of Maryland as part of “the crop of students moving through college right now” who make up “the largest group of mixed-race people ever to come of age in the United States.”  Apparently, inquiring minds expect to latest census to reflect the changing dynamics of race in America:

One in seven new marriages is between spouses of different races or ethnicities, according to data from 2008 and 2009 that was analyzed by the Pew Research Center. Multiracial and multiethnic Americans (usually grouped together as “mixed race”) are one of the country’s fastest-growing demographic groups. And experts expect the racial results of the 2010 census, which will start to be released next month, to show the trend continuing or accelerating.

I’m glad I waited until after V-Day to even click the link.  Turns out the second article basically redacted the first (it is, *gasp* a “complex” matter, quantifying and analyzing the mixed-race population), and the third (well, what do you, our ever so intelligent and enraged readers, think?) threw the topic to the wolves of the blogosphere for further discussion.

*sigh* Mainstream media in the era of the interwebs.

In general, I’m inclined to agree with Nadra Kareem Little at Bitch Magazine.  The piece is mostly NYT playing Columbus and re-discovering race (mixture) in this country.  Again.  After all, what do you with bleached out phrases like these:

“Some proportion of the country’s population has been mixed-race since the first white settlers had children with Native Americans.”

A bit of rape with your legacy of colonialism?  A dollop of indentured servitude and forced labor on the side?  How Disney of you:

Pocahontas is SO right.

But it didn’t take me long to stop being (so) annoyed at the New York Times and realize the heart of the article is the way students these days are grappling with questions of mixed-race and bi-cultural identity.

Laura Wood, President of the Multiracial and Biracial Student Association at UMCP, who happens to be mixed black and white:

“I think it’s really important to acknowledge who you are and everything that makes you that,” said Ms. Wood, the 19-year-old vice president of the group. “If someone tries to call me black I say, ‘yes — and white.’ People have the right not to acknowledge everything, but don’t do it because society tells you that you can’t.”

And Michelle López-Mullins (mixed with Latino, Asian, Cherokee, Shawnee, and white) on checking the race box:

“It depends on the day, and it depends on the options.”

My alarm bells are going off as I read.  Later in the piece:

“I don’t want a color-blind society at all,” Ms. Wood said. “I just want both my races to be acknowledged.”

To which Ms. López-Mullins countered, “I want mine not to matter.”


Continue reading

#SnOwGasm2011 = Cabin Fever

Red Dragon Winter

In case you live under a rock (or in Egypt #RealIssues) a #SNOWmageddon hit the U.S. North this week.  Two feet in New England, thundersnow (huhhh?) in Chicago, freezing rain and snow in St. Louis…my poor little Caribbean-Southern soul is shivering just thinking about it.

School wasn’t cancelled but most classes were and while I made my poor students stomp out of their cozy dorms for their lab day, I found myself with a lot of idle time on my hands.

So I went ahead and did what Boricuas do best:

I busted out five complete, edited chapters of my dissertation for my advisor

I cooked a vat of rice.

I didn’t have all of the materials.  No tosino.  No green or red peppers.  I added broccoli mainly because it was about to go bad.  And I decided to marinate the chicken separately (red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin).  But boy, oh, boy, did I make a delicious ten pound caldero of rice.


I wasn’t the only one.  Thank God for Twitter and Facebook because at least then a body can pretend other people are in the room with  you.  Primo (@lcm1986) made chicken wings.  Tea made some kind of delicious sounding chili.  #Runtelldat it was apparently on and poppin in kitchens across the country.

I was not mad.  Which prompted this tweet:

In hindsight, I might have preferred to get some real writing and research done some Super Mario Bros.  Oh well.

Black History Month 2011 Begins Today *throws glitter*


Today marks the beginning of Black History Month 2011.

This year’s theme is African-Americans and the Civil War:

“This year’s theme “African Americans and the Civil War” honors the efforts of people of African descent to destroy slavery and inaugurate universal freedom in the United States. The theme, chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History urges all Americans to study and reflect on the value of their contribution to the nation.”

The theme is a little bit perfect, considering last December’s foolishness in South Carolina.

I spent most of the afternoon working up material on the history of the month.  There is nothing here that a saavy internet researcher couldn’t find on his or her own (as such, many thanks to the Library of Congress and ProQuest Historical Newspapers for the help and guidance).  Here are some of the drafty tidbits:

Established in 1926, it was originally called “Negro History Week,” and was meant to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (Feb 12) and Frederick Douglass (in theory Feb 14).   The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History—which Woodson was then founder and director of—issued a pamphlet where Woodson noted:

“If a race has no history, if it has no worth-while tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. The case of the negro may be stated concretely. Prejudices against him are the logical result of tradition, the inevitable outcome of thorough instruction to the effect that the negro has never contributed anything to the progress of mankind. The doctrine has been thoroughly drilled into the whites, and the negroes have learned the lesson well themselves. “While many of them look upon other races as superior and accept the status of recognized inferiority, the fact is that one race sets forth its virtues while disparaging those of the other, so that the history taught to the youth of today is ascribed to one particular stock.”

That first year, Negro History Week celebrations occurred at Randall High School in Washington D.C. and included Dr. Leo Hansberry of Howard University, Dr. Woodson himself, and Mrs. Gabrielle Pelham, a community center secretary and honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.  Recitals and debating forums were held, sermons were preached, and curriculum related to African-American history were circulated to teachers for use that week.  By the 1930s and 1940s, newspapers like the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor, were taking note of celebrations in New York City, Boston, Birmingham, AL, in Atlanta, GA, and Tuskegee, Alabama, to name a few.

Celebrations differed.  Many highlighted famous figures like Phillis Wheatley or Benjamin Banneker.  But some highlighted the accomplishments of those with “ordinary jobs—miners, carpenters, cooks, maids, chauffeurs” (“Negores Honor Ordinary Jobs.” Christian Science Monitor, 14 February 1939, 1).  Libraries created special exhibits and displays in honor of the week.  Some schools devoted the time to studying black arts and letters.  Others to African history.  And still others to the period of slavery in the U.S.

Until the 1950s, Negro History Week remained the purview of schools and institutions in the U.S. South.  And while it drew on professors from historically black colleges and universities, with the exception of Howard University, many of these institutions did not make a special point to celebrate it.  Until his death in 1950, Woodson complained  about black universities refusing to take pride in their own history.

Woodson originally emphasized the creation of a week that would highlight black achievement and scientific accomplishment without making a direct comment on the contemporary plight of blacks in the sharecropping and segregated South.  Woodson, a Harvard Ph.D. along with his contemporary, W. E. B. DuBois, was attempting to give credence to black history in the same climate where historians could state quite calmly that slavery was a benign institution (U. B. Philips).

Over the latter-half of the twentieth century, the purpose and motivation behind the week continued to evolve.  By the 1960s, the issue of commemoration became a painful and sensitive one.  The anniversaries of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael’s exposition of Black Power, and even the use of the word “Negro” became contentious debates inside and outside the black community.  And those historically black colleges and universities who once upon a time shunned black history week, became caught in the political events of the 1960s.  Alongside parents, teachers, and organizers, these students protested.

In the 1960s and 1970s, schools across the urban North—Detroit, New York, Chicago—encouraged in part by professors, activists and teachers who grew up with Negro History Week, marched in protest against school boards who did not make a concerted effort to celebrate the week itself or African American history in general.

Despite, presidential procalmation in 1976, that not only added support for the week but expanded it to a month, and presidential statements every year since, some school districts did not celebrate it at all.  In South Carolina, according to Michael Prince, in the 1980s and 1990s, racial violence flared up most during the months of February.  On the other hand, also in the 1990s, black educators in Atlanta questioned the need for Black History Month at all—instead encouraging schools to emphasize African American history in all of their courses and over the course of the entire year.  They felt a week or a month of commemoration “ghettoized” black history…

Just gonna leave all that up there.

Besides the fact that I have no business sticking my academic nose in centuries where I don’t belong, how are we feeling about black history month 2011?