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If you know, then you know.  If you don’t, then you’ll catch up.

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“I can’t ask anybody else to do something that I don’t do first myself. I have to know what it means to be naked and exposed first, and then I can ask you, perhaps, to participate with me.” 

-Carrie Mae Weems

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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.

Abortion, Reality TV & Women of Color

This is a guest post by Bianca of Latino Sexuality and of The LatiNegr@s Project. I’ll be cross-posting and blogging! Read a bit more about me when we introduced The LatiNegr@s Project team.

originally posted at my RH Reality Check colum

I’m still surprised I’ve grown up with cable (now I can’t afford it so I watch some shows online) and that Vh1 is one of the main sources where communities of Color, especially women of Color are represented. Vh1 has really changed their image; back in my youth, the channel represented the almost exclusively racially white “soft rock” genre and limited R&B songs by the people to whom I listened. Today, Vh1 represents me, which is a huge shift from what I remember. Not only do they represent me as a woman of Color, but as a LatiNegra. They have more LatiNegras on their shows than any other channel I can think of (i.e. La La’s Full Court LifeBasketball Wives).

This post isn’t about how problematic or limiting these shows are today. That’s been written about by some of my favorite LatiNegra writers and media makers. Although I must share that I really appreciated when Tami and Evelyn went to get mammograms together at their doctor and wished I wrote about that and the importance of this scene at the time. Instead, I want to focus on a new theme I’m seeing emerge on the new show Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta. This series is the first time the show has been aired outside of New York. The last several seasons have focused on women of Color who are in the Hip Hop community in some form and residing in NYC.

This new series is in Atlanta. There’s been a lot going on and in just the second episode there is an unplanned pregnancy. One of the women, an up and coming performer named Joseline, who is Latina (not sure if she identifies as a LatiNegra), takes a pregnancy test and it is positive. At the end of episode two she shares that she is pregnant with the baby of her manager/producer/lover who also is in a relationship with another woman and has a child who Joseline knows about and still chose to be “the other woman.”

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Abortions In The Future? Not In The Film “Prometheus”

This is a guest post by Bianca of Latino Sexuality and of The LatiNegr@s Project. I’ll be cross-posting and blogging! Read a bit more about me when we introduced The LatiNegr@s Project team.

Cross posted from my Media Justice column

This is not so much an article about the future of abortion, but rather how abortions are presented to us today in films that are set in “the future.” As someone who remembers very well a time when there were no cell phones or internet, for me, I am already living in “the future.” However, I just saw the film Prometheus and there was a scene about pregnancy and abortion (spoilers ahead!).

I’m not going to give a long synopsis of the film Prometheus, I saw it for the old school sci-fi films reference and the cast (ok really just for Idris Elba). As a result I knew there would be a ton of things about the film I would not enjoy, or that would be predictable (which I also don’t enjoy much about films). Briefly, the film takes place in 2093, a group of scientists, engineers, wealthy folks are following/looking for “our creators” as in the folks who came before us in another part of the universe. They are frozen for two years, traveling through other galaxies, and have all this super advanced type of technology.

Alas, the two folks who think they are leading the “exploration” are partners. Since sex does exist in the future, after being awakened as they are approaching their destination, they want and choose to engage in consensual sex. Now, we are told that the woman in the film is infertile and this is something that makes her sad, after all the irony of it: they are looking for their makers but she cannot procreate. Long story short, her partner gets infected with some foreign stuff and because it’s super-alien-fast-growing-magic-stuff, he impregnates his partner. He then dies because of this infection.

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Media Justice Mash-Up

This is a guest post by Bianca of Latino Sexuality and of The LatiNegr@s Project. I’ll be cross-posting and blogging! Read a bit more about me when we introduced The LatiNegr@s Project team.

Cross posted from my Media Justice column

There’s been a lot going on over the past week to start off Pride month. Here are a few exciting and interesting stories. Please consider this trigger warning as these stories will be discussing transmisogyny, violence,

CeCe McDonald and Support
If you have yet to hear about CeCe McDonald, I don’t know what to say but get on it! In short, CeCe is a young Black trans woman who is a survivor of racist and transphobic and transmisogynistic comments in her home state of Minnesota which lead to violence. She was attacked by 4 people and fought back for her life. One of her attackers died and she has been incarcerated at a men’s prison for the past year. CeCe pled guilt to manslaughter for a reduced sentence and and was sentenced this week to 41 months in prison with some time served toward her sentence and to pay over $6000 in restitution.

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Remember Sarah Baartman

This is a guest post by Bianca of Latino Sexuality and of The LatiNegr@s Project. I’ll be cross-posting and blogging! Read a bit more about me when we introduced The LatiNegr@s Project team.

Cross posted from my Media Justice column

This is the tenth anniversary of Sarah Baartman (also known as Saartjie Baartman)  being returned to her home in South Africa. Sarah is an important woman to me because she reminds me of how bodies of Color, bodies that are feminine, and the sexuality of Black and African women remain devalued in the world we live in today. If you do not know Sarah’s legacy I’ll share a bit of it with you here.

Sarah Baartman was a Khoisian woman from South Africa. Born in the late 1780s (yes, you read that correctly), Sarah was a member of the Khoikhoi community. In 1810 an English doctor on a ship, William Dunlop, met her and convinced her to travel to Europe with him. She agreed and Dunlop took her with him to Europe where she was put on display for others to view and given the name “The Hottentot Venus.” Her body shape and size was seen as oddly disfigured by Europeans and Dunlop. The reality was that her body shape and size were very much characteristics of her being a member of her community and thus not that odd.

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Notes from the Green Festival

This is a guest post by Bianca of Latino Sexuality and of The LatiNegr@s Project. I’ll be cross-posting and blogging! Read a bit more about me when we introduced The LatiNegr@s Project team.

cross posted from my Media Justice column

I was asked to be on a panel at the Green Festival held in NY last weekend. The panel was titled “The F-Word: Perspectives In Contemporary Feminism” and on the panel were: Misha Clive of Green America, Marianne Schnall of Feminist.com, Aiesha Turman of the Black Girl Project and myself. Our session was described in the festival program as:

“At a time when feminism equates to political, social and economi rights for women, why is it considered the F-word? While women leaders like Michelle Obama and HIlary Clinton are prominent figures in forming public policy, widespread access to healthcare remains controversial and domestic violence a common occurrence. Join this panel of empowered women for a lively discussion on how feminism informs our politics and our lives.”

We had a conference call a week before to discuss the panel. Still, I had not really figured out what to expect as I’d never been to the Green Festival. I was invited on the panel by my friend Tanya Fields of The BLK ProjeK  who was helping to find folks interested in joining. I responded to the request indicating that I could participate on the panel, but that I had to be honest in that I don’t identify as a feminist but as a radical woman of Color and that often when I speak about this, and has been the case recently, women of a certain age and racial group (i.e. white women over 45) usually disagree with me, stand up and leave to show their disapproval. In response to this I was told that these are the types of conversations that were desired on the panel.

One of the main reasons I decided to join wasn’t to just discuss my identity as a radical woman of Color, something that is not new, or different as the people who worked to produce the book: This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women of Color, have led the way for me. I was also interested in seeing what the Green Festival had to offer and being able to offer free tickets to folks in my community.

I admit that when I think of the Green Festival I imagine a bunch of folks handing out granola bars and talking about riding bikes or living “green.” These often exclude me: someone who makes significantly less than 25k a year, because to me “living green” means having the status, money, and access to live in a way that one can eat organically, limit exposure to toxins, using “natural” cleansers, or other things along those lines. Yes, these are some stereotypes. Yet, some of these are true.

Arriving at the Jacob Javits Center North with Aiesha Turman and her daughter was probably the best thing I could have done. We arrived two hours before our panel so we could enjoy the festival. The first booth we encountered: granola bars. We tasted some and took full size samples with us. And that happened throughout the festival. We also saw organic clothing, cleansers, energy efficient light bulbs, “green” vehicles, and a children’s area where we rested for a bit.

When it was time for our panel we introduced one another. Our moderator Misha then asked folks present (about 40 people in total as all of the seats were filled) what were some of their motivations for attending the session. Two folks shared and one indicated they wanted to hear more about eco-feminism and the other shared they would like to hear about international connections and feminisms. Then Misha asked each of us to discuss what feminism means to us.

I shared how some may think I officially came to US feminism in college, but others may think I was raised in a feminist home, with a father who was present during the day and when we came home from school and a mother who worked longer hours. In college I shared how I rarely found a space that felt comfortable for me in US feminisms. It was from this discomfort and recognizing how many US feminists and feminisms all too often exclude folks from my background and experiences. It was then that I started to identify as the women of Color who came before me: Audre Lorde, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Nellie Wong.

Nobody really stood up to leave as I spoke. But folks did leave throughout, perhaps more so because we were not discussing the topics they wished to hear. However, we did discuss eco-feminisms. This was a topic I thought folks may have wanted to discuss and shared that on the conference call we had, but we didn’t spend too much time exploring that possibility. So when this person mentioned eco-feminism I was sort of ready. My participation to this topic was connected to environmental racism. Aiesha spoke about food deserts (i.e. not having quality or any foods available for consumption) in her Brooklyn neighborhood and how she has witnessed community members responding in specific ways to end food deserts.

When discussing environmental racism I made connections specifically to my upbringing by parents who were in support of our homeland of Puerto Rico being a sovereign nation, free of US intervention and presence. This is where my understanding of environmental racism emerges: who owns their land and who can work and claim and reap the benefits that it can offer. I connected this to the experiences of indigenous communities in the US. How they have been forcibly removed from their homelands, their sacred burial grounds uprooted and built upon. We see similar things occurring to farmers of Color in the US. Where is our self-determination as colonies of the US, spaces controlled by

I connected these ideas of environmental racism to reproductive justice as well. Since the crowd was over 35 years old I used the term “overpopulation” as that’s a term that was common a few years ago. This term I used to connect to our ideas of “choice” and what “choice” means to people who do not have a “choice” or who practice “agency within constraints” regarding our reproductive health and rights. It is rare when folks really care or listen to how poor communities, people with disabilities, and communities of Color are impacted by “birth control trials.”

This discussion lead me to share how our history haunts us. There is a haunting that I experience when folks discuss the oral birth control pill. A haunting that is connected to the cultural transmission I received from the women in my family. A haunting that is established each time a person questions my purpose in reminding folks that many people, especially poor Puerto Rican women on the island were used without their full consent in oral birth control pill trials. I shared how when discussing that haunting, many “feminists” have attacked me. Have questions about the usefulness of remembering such issues and if that’s reason enough to dismiss the positive outcomes of the oral birth control pill. These responses to my testimonio of this haunting have been very public.

It is these instances when I realize that “feminism” really isn’t about me, my community, my health, or my choices. It is about being “right” in these situations and that’s not what I’m interested in. I shared how these responses from “feminists” have essentially been them telling me to “shut up” about the historical legacy that I carry with me in this world. Now whose voice is being silenced? And speaking of that silence: these discussions on reproductive justice rarely include transgender people or their needs and care. So what bodies are really seen as justifiable, redeemable, and worth of protection? Misha talked more about the needs of trans* communities and reproductive justice.

Aiesha discussed how her experiences are ones that have come with the reminder that as Black women, our bodies have never been our own in the US. They were always used for profit of others versus for our own pleasure and satisfaction.

We ended the panel with Misha asking us what we have always wanted to share on a “feminist” panel but never got the chance to. I wasn’t expecting this question but what I did state was that it’s important to realize we do a lot of important and hard work quietly. Reading, thinking, assessing don’t all need to be done vocally and that is alright. To stand in solidarity with communities that are oppressed will take time, building trust, and sometimes just not even be physically present, because recognizing that maintaining a space that is sacred and healing for many may mean removing oneself from that space, especially if they are an ally or outsider.

Media Justice: Why Citations Matter

This is a guest post by Bianca of Latino Sexuality and of The LatiNegr@s Project. I’ll be cross-posting and blogging! Read a bit more about me when we introduced The LatiNegr@s Project team.

cross posted from my Media Justice column
by Bianca Laureano

You may want to bookmark this post for future reference. For many of you in school (high school, college, a vocational school) you are most likely going to be expected to write something. Each semester I have students write at least two papers, which is something that we are encouraged to do in an effort to support and expect students to be able to express themselves through writing. With all of the advances in technology, many folks are writing online. When you write, citations are important.

Citations are not just for the reader, but they are also for you, the writer and the folks whose work you find useful. These citations are so important; they shows you have done your research, are open to other perspectives, and can offer ways for the reader to go back and read those citations and make their own opinions. They are also important because naming the people whose thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and work makes them visible. Often youth, working class people, folks with disabilities, who are trans* or people of Color rarely get the attention, support, and simple naming of their work that other folks receive. Our names are powerful and choosing not to name someone, or ignoring their name is a form of erasure. This happens too often, even within and among marginalized groups.

As someone who requires a paper using media literacy skills and examining different forms of media, citations are one area where my students struggle. With the advancements of the Internet, various websites, and social media networks where students find their information, they rarely know how to properly cite them in a paper. This article is for those of you who are trying to figure out how to cite these new forms of information collection! Some of these may change (such as citing Facebook Fan Pages and the like) as new forms of online communication and virtual spaces evolve. So this page will definitely be outdated one day.

I tell my students I don’t care if they use MLA, APA or Chicago Style, as long as they are consistent. An amazing resource online is the Purdue Online Writing Lab.  I encourage you to visit the site and spend some time becoming familiar with what is shared and how it will impact your choice in citations. Below are some examples on how to cite certain forms of print, non-print, and web-based media.

How to Cite a Film
Films need to be cited using the title (in italics), name of the director, studio/distributor, release date and if necessary a list of the cast/performers. A great place to find information about a film or television show is the Internet Movie Database. Let’s use the film Pariah as an example in MLA format:

Pariah. Dir. Dee Rees. Performers Adepero Oduye, Kim Wayans and Aasha Davis. Focus Features. 2011. Film.

(You can use the same format for MLA citations of a VHS or DVD just change the “Film” part to the format that the film is in).

Here’s how to cite in a paper:

There are not many films that center the experiences of young Black lesbian women living in Brooklyn in major theaters and the few that do exist rarely are limited release (i.e. Pariah, 2011).

How to Cite a TV Episode
For television series you have to know the name of the episode (this is where IMDb is useful too), title of the show/series, network, original air date, and city and state of the studio or distributor. Depending on the format you may also need to list the writer and director. Here’s an example using the TV series Pretty Little Liars (which my students seem to enjoy watching).

King, I. Marlene (Writer), Shepard, Sara (Writer) & Friedlander, Liz (Director). 2010. The Jenna Thing [Pretty Little Liars]. ABC Family. J. Bank (Producer) & L. Cochran-Nielan (Producer). Burbank, CA: Warner Horizon Television.

Here’s how to cite this in a paper:

In this episode, the clothing of the cast caught my attention and this is where we are introduced to the different styles of each character and how it connects to their personality (Pretty Little Liars, 2010).

How to Cite a Song
Citing a song is often done first by the name of the artist or performers. Included in the citation is the name of artist/performer, title of album (italicized), name of the song (in quotes if used), date of publication, recording manufactures information (i.e. record label), and the format (i.e. CD, MP3, Digital File, etc.). Let’s use Big Freedia’s Hits Album, where she has self-distributed her own album. Here’s MLA examples below:

Big Freedia. Big Freedia Hitz Vol. 1, 1999-2010. Big Freedia, 2010. MP3.

Another example of a group I’ve written about who are on a major label and focusing on a specific song includes:

Dead Prez. “Mind Sex.” Let’s Get Free. LOUD Records, 2000. CD.

When you cite this in the paper you do so like this:

When Dead Prez talk about getting to know one another before engaging in sexual activity, they are sending a message that supports abstinence (2000).

How to Cite a Website (Wikipedia is always popular!)
I encourage you to ask your instructor first before citing Wikipedia. Some folks are not in favor of using Wikipedia as a source because as a collective form of documentation, some information can change or not be factual. There are often citations at the bottom of the Wikipedia page and if you can go to the original source you should use those first as citations. Wikipedia has also offered a useful guide to citing their site. 

Let’s use the Wikipedia entry for Advocates For Youth in APA format. The same format that you use to cite a book or printed publication is what you use for online sites. The additional information needed is the year and date of publishing (or just the date of publication), and full web address and date retrieved (make sure you put the location, i.e. Wikipedia, in italics). Here’s an example:

Advocates For Youth. In Wikipedia. Retrieved May 2, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advocates_for_youth

To cite in the paper and text, a simple form is often ok; however sometimes when you paraphrase or quote from a particular paragraph on the site you’ll need the title of the heading (i.e. “Programs”) or the number of the paragraph you are citing (“Programs” para. 2). Wikipedia offers a more in-depth discussion of citing specific paragraphs and headings at their site.  For a more general in-text citation do the following:

Advocates For Youth is based in Washington, DC and have US and international programs (“Advocates For Youth,” 2012).

How to Cite a Tweet
Let’s use this Amplify Tweet as an example.

What you need for all forms of citations include: The original tweet, name on/of the account, date the tweet was sent, and the link to the tweet. Below is an example in APA format:

Advocates For Youth. (2012, May 12). Tell the Obama Administration: Stop Endorsing Homophobic and Sexist Program in Our Schools ow.ly/aF8l2. [Twitter Post]. Retrieved from: https://twitter.com/#!/AmplifyTweets/status/197793985740288000

When you want to use this as a reference in your paper you will cite it as name on/of the account followed by the date. Here’s an example:

Advocates For Youth has been vocal about challenging the Obama Administrations endorsements programs in the US schools that they state are homophobic and sexist (Advocates For Youth, 2012).

How to Cite an Personal Interview or Email
For a personal interview or email communication you’ll need the specific date (including day, month and year), the person’s name and the format. Here’s an example if you received an email from me telling you how excited I am to share the link to this post with you and you wish to cite it in MLA format:
Laureano, Bianca. Personal Email. 2 May 2012.

To cite this in text you would do so in the following way:

My first opportunity to hear about a post featuring ways to properly cite virtual spaces and forms of media was when I received a email from the author (Laureano, 2012).

When Language Changes: Using the @ Symbol

This is a guest post by Bianca of Latino Sexuality and of The LatiNegr@s Project. I’ll be cross-posting and blogging! Read a bit more about me when we introduced The LatiNegr@s Project team.

cross posted from my Media Justice column

“So if you want to really hurt me, talk badly about my language. Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity—I am my language. Until I can take pride in my language, I cannot take pride in myself.”

Gloria Anzaldúa, “How To Tame The Wild Tongue” in Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. 2007. pg. 59.

Earlier this week I created a post on The LatiNegr@s Project about our use of the @ symbol. It stemmed from a question about if this was an appropriate term and form to use in a academic paper by a student in college. I was humbled and thankful to be asked this question and responded by providing this statement so the student could have a citation to support their use of the @ symbol.

Since writing that post many folks have had something to say and shared an opinion. For those of you uncertain about how Tumblr works, you can look to the bottom of the page and see who has responded and in what way, sometimes clicking on a person who has “reblogged” the statement can also show more input. I’ll get into some of their suggestions and thoughts in a moment. Before that I want to make a few things clear: The post I wrote was specific to LatiNegr@s. It discussed the code-switching that occurs, as a first language for some of us, in our daily lives and among LatiNegr@s. As a result, many comments and suggestions asked about other ethnic and racial groups using the @ symbol. I think this is fantastic!

The terms “Latino” and the use of the @ symbol in identifiers such as Chican@, Xican@, Mestiz@, etc. are fairly new terms. This is something that occurs when we speak for ourselves, from the spaces we occupy, and when we claim new and more appropriate and representative self-identifiers. I believe this is not something we need to be scared of or find anger in. I think these are opportunities to be challenged (much like challenging our use of ableist language), be more inclusive, and reflexive of how we use language to include, exclude, and create messages.

Language is at the core of media justice.

Language changes and that is something we may celebrate, especially when it is changing in a way that recognizes and includes people who are experiencing multiple oppressions. The @ symbol does just that by challenging a gender binary and dichotomy that has been implemented to privilege men, masculinity, and maleness especially in romance languages such as Spanish. It is also inclusive of our transgender and gender queer community who are often excluded and omitted on a regular basis.

When someone challenges and questions the use of the @ symbol, claims this is a part of “rewriting language” and who do we think we are to do that, those folks are not yet at a space to understand how language was created and in that creation it can be changed (regardless of how long ago it was created). In addition, these folks are also continuing to erase and isolate people in our community that are the most in need of our support. Finally, they are upholding the misogyny that is present in language, especially in the Spanish language. The process of unlearning can be a struggle for many and one that several may resist.

I ended my above post by stating: “The questions still exist of how to actually speak the @ sign and this has yet to really be resolved. How have others negotiated this?” This is where the most responses were shared and presented. I really loved reading how so many folks considered pronouncing and speaking the @ symbol. People shared some really thoughtful and personal testimonios of using the @ sign and how to speak it when in use.

There’s a lot of food for thought about this particular topic, and I hope it continues. I’d love to hear how others are approaching the use of language, code-switching and speaking new terms such as the @ symbol. How have you negotiated these terms?