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.

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This Erotic Life

“As a Black lesbian feminist, I have a particular feeling, knowledge, and understanding for those sisters with whom I have danced hard, played, or even fought. This deep participation has often been the forerunner for joint concerted actions not possible before.”

Another historic eve.  Another election.

Go out, go vote.  I am.

But I’m also sitting in the lab, folded around my work, reminding myself and reminded that community is created through love making on the daily.

 

 

[Full Text: Audre Lorde, “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” in Sister Outsider: Essays & Speeches By Audre Lorde (1984; repr., Berkley, CA: Crossing Press, 2007), 53-59.]

 

Interlude: The #SableFanGyrl Dances to the Noisettes

Remember when we were talking black lady silhouettes and other sundries not too long ago?  Aker over at Futuristically Ancient posted the Noisettes video for their new single “Winner.”  Screenshot gallery below:

I love how Shingai Shoniwa is front and center against dancers who, in black from head to toe, aren’t identifiable as either male or female, black, white or green.  And I love her repeated fist pumping, probably because it brings to (my) mind a Black Power salute.

The lyrics themselves are pop-happy, Katy Perry-approved empowerment.  Peep the first verse below:

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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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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)

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.

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#SayItLoud…and Dirty?, Or How Rodney McMillian’s Carpet is My Mama/Daddy/Abuela’s Carpet

Rodney McMillian Untitled, 2005 Carpet 139 x 178 x 114 in. (353 x 452 x 289.6 cm)

Today I stopped and stared at a carpet.

I was at the @CorcoranDC’s 30 Americans exhibit.  I’d just passed through a gallery featuring works by Carrie Mae Weems, Glenn Ligon and William Pope.L.  But now a carpet dominated the entire length of one wall, with a single strip of tattered and stained material extending into the path of patrons, guarded by black, rubber bumpers:  Rodney McMillian’s, Untitled (2005).

I’d originally passed it by.  How does an old, ugly carpet compare to Carrie Mae Weem’s portraits?  Or Glen Ligon’s Mirror (2002)?  Or Nina Chanel Abney’s caricatures?   Granted, Abney’s twisting lines and bright circus carnival colors assaulted me if I focused too closely.  And the topics were strange.  Ghosts emerged from dress ties and the tails of animals.  Jagged teeth gaped and spread into red, wet smiles.  Disturbing.  But interesting.

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Hero Work: Leslie Brown (+ Piri Thomas + Clyde Woods) #iRemember

Leslie Brown

Thinking a lot of academy thoughts this week.  Reading Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower.  

Dr. Brown just articulated better than I ever could what it is like being a College Educated Negress:

Where can students of color get intellectual validation that does not require them to so fully assimilate that they lose the best of themselves, their families,and their cultures? It occurred to me that through grade school and high school we had learned to compete, to keep up, but not to surpass; to stand alongside but not in front; to fit in but not to reshape.*

Standing alongside you begin to know the discomfort of ghosts.

And that pressure to assimilate, to choose between where your family is and where you are…well.

Piri Thomas

That feels a lot like the dissonance of being raised under the determined, near frantic optimism of a colorblind, post-Movement, Puerto Rican mother and an African-American father seething with internalized racism in cocaine80s Chicago.

And that feels a lot like wanting things and not having them and striving for things and not getting them, and dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s and still watching the goal move further away again and again and again, and picking up Piri Thomas for help and picking up Cherríe Moraga for help and picking up, good gawd, and picking up and holding close and hugging Gwendolyn Brooks for help and good heavens almighty, it feels like picking up Octavia and picking her brain and reading every word and holding her hand when things were too much….

And it feels a lot like frustration and tastes bitter as blood.  Because Piri is dead now. And it took over 24 hours for an obituary to post.  And I never had a chance to tell him what his work meant to me.  And Gwendolyn is dead.  And she lived in Chicago.  And I, knuckle-head high schooler I was, missed the chance to tell her what she meant to me.  And Octavia is dead.  And she lived half a country away and I was never gonna get to tell her what she meant to me but damn if only I could have.

And….

And it feels like the cold that sweeps across the back of your neck when you realize a mentor you loved like a father…his facebook page is still active.  Active. Alive. Living.  And you want to post something but you can’t.  Because how do you tell someone that you are also active.alive.living now but only because they lived?  How do you tell someone that you have survived this far in part because of what they were and that you are remembering them all the time and regretting every phone call you didn’t make and even that doesn’t make you feel better because you know they knew that they knew that you knew you were loved anyway.  That nothing you could do could lose their love for you.

And it feels like ……..

But is also full of promise.

After all, here I am.  Writing stuff.  Grateful for things like Facebook profiles and black Latinidad Twitter communities and emails from mentors that affirm that “yes, I check it too” and voices who check in with me from across social media to say, “Hey there.  Hey.  Hear my voice.”

I am still here.  Writing stuff.  Thinking thoughts.  I haven’t disappeared yet.

#Lawd

*Leslie Brown, “How a Hundred Years of History Tracked Me Down,” Telling Histories: Black Women Historians and the Ivory Tower, 262

On Alter Egos and Infinite Literacies, Part I

Fleshy Professional Avatar spent the weekend in Richmond, Virginia with colleagues and friends at the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History.  I tagged along for the ride, made a minor appearance in time to introduce myself to amazing and dynamic public intellectuals like @NewBlackMan and @DrJamesPeterson.  Then I dove right back in to life and work here in the DMV with the arrival of the Mobile Homecoming Project (@alexispauline and @juliawallace) for their week-long university residency.  This was another event Fleshy Professional Avatar was signed up to do but I hung out in the wings, dipping in when Alexis and Julia referenced their trip to AMC 2011 and the Shawty Got Skillz workshop, taking a breath of peace when I saw @Mdotwrites and as I was introduced to another professor-cum-insurgent.  And when I looked up, I turned around to find we’d formed a circle of womyn of color who do intense intellectual work and activism around saving our own lives in spaces that are almost universally hostile to everything we are and represent.  And yet…there we were.  Queering the space with our very own light energy, turning the room on its side and moving the group as a whole along a new wavelength of ultraviolet visibility.

For a moment, just long enough to breath in and out twice, I was able to be Kismet and Flesh at the same time.  The two bodies overlapped and co-existed in time and space together.

But it was only a moment.

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We Were More than Slaves (A #TroyDavis Flow)

Negro literacy class at the Parish Prison, New Orleans. Interior, 2 Feb 1937 (WPA Photographs/New Orleans Public Library)

Diving deep into notes I made while sitting in an overseas reading room two years ago, I’m still surprised by how many roles people of African descent played during the period of the slave trade.  We (although this is the time period before we were We) were slave traders and grain producers, pounders of millet, sailors, soldiers, wives, householders, and shipowners.  And most of us were slaves.

That we were slaves did not mean that we couldn’t still occupy one of these other roles.  We were still skilled in what we were skilled in and we were apprentices in what we weren’t.  We were still mothers of the children we gave birth to and some we did not and godmothers to children we sponsored at the baptismal font.  We still loved our lovers and we still participated in the merchant economy generated by slave trading and plantation slavery.  Like bondage, bodies-as-commerce was not a way of life we could escape.

Even those of us who were free or freed–free African men and women, free people of color, freedmen and freedwomen–found our lives constrained by the political economy of Atlantic slaving, a capricious megalith too dangerous to ignore.  Raced terminology marked our freedom as “of color” and somehow different from the freedom whites enjoyed and were assumed to enjoy.

Regardless, we were more than just slaves.

And we are more than criminals.

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