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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#ASA2012

Who Want War?

 

Headed to Puerto Rico tomorrow to attend the American Studies Association’s annual conference.  The #AntiJemimas will be present and we are discussing social justice, radical womyn of color blogging, and alter ego identity.  Me and my co-panelists, Treva Lindsey and Uri McMillan, are going to set it OFF.

I couldn’t make the paper format work for the media I wanted to present so I created a Tumblr instead.  The better to share with the people back at home.  Check it out here:  Alter Egos and Infinite Literacies II.

Still, this is going to be a strange trip.  Puerto Rico is a homeland and a colonized space where (a fraction of the) residents voted to join the United States as the 51st state.  Contradictions upon contradictions and complications abound.  And while this is a conference I generally enjoy, the event is bound to host some really inappropriate and problematic behavior.  You know I’ll keep you posted.

If you are in PR, whether at home or visiting for #ASA2012, give me a shout.  My Twitter is open for business: @KismetNunez.

Preparing…

Looking for the author of this image..

I’m compiling material for a panel at the American Studies Association conference, happening in Puerto Rico next week.  The title?

On Alter Egos and Infinite Literacies, Part 2 (An #AntiJemimas Imperative)

Read Part I here.

I’m presenting with Fleshy Prof but I’ll basically be playing myself (yeah, wrap your minds around that).  And the entire family is invited:  Zora Walker, the Sable Fan Gyrl, the WOC Survival Kit–even Pretty Magnolia’s fine ass.

This little intellectual endeavor comes at a difficult time.  Personally and professionally, I am heavy, struggling to find my voice and stake my claim.  Balancing, consolidating, and exposing the alters will be like walking into a cold classroom filled with hostile, condescending adults and stripping down to a bright red thong.  It will be sexy, nerve-wracking, and vaguely reminiscent of slavery.

While pulling the material for the presentation together, I’m realizing  I’m more of a practitioner than I ever thought.  The #AntiJemimas are more than a project.  They are a lifestyle (note the new blog title) and a survival imperative.  So what does presentating a practice look like…in practice?  How does it roll into the audience?  Does it wave goodbye when attendees come and go?  Does it LOL?  Does it (O_o)?

There is touching to be done in Puerto Rico.  Touching and laughing and mindstroking and healing are waiting for me.  And I can’t wait.

But damn.  I’m not really that much of a voyeur to be so exposed.

 

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).

Useful Media for National Women and Girls HIV AIDS Awareness Day

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

Cross posted from my Media Justice column

The National Women and Girls HIV AIDS Awareness Day is March 10th. I’ve written a lot about HIV for this column, however I have yet to really write anything specific for this coming day and with a focus on gender. I’d like to highlight some of the forms of media available that discusses and represents people who identify as women and how HIV and AIDS impacts our lives. Below are two main forms of media: Public Service Announcements that range from 45 seconds to 5 minutes long and music videos.

The PSAs may be useful to begin a conversation about HIV and AIDS education and prevention. They may also be encouraging to folks who decide to become media makers and create their own PSAs. The music videos fall into a few categories: quality videos and music and not so quality videos and music. The quality pieces focus primarily on HIV versus only having HIV as part of a larger storyline in the song. Some of the songs also blame the women in the songs for becoming infected with HIV versus individual responsibility.

Public Service Announcements

The Black Girl Project director and filmmaker Aiesha Turman  created an HIV and AIDS PSA a few years ago. Her PSA “Prevent, Don’t Manage HIV” can be seen below.

Rosa’s Story from the Ventura AIDS Partnership http://www.vcaidspartnership.org discusses a Latina’s story of HIV infection and how it impacted her family.

Helena Bushong is a 60 year old transgender Black woman living positive and shares her story in the video “Against All Odds: Transgender, African, and HIV Positive” by Josh Lederman. See the video below:

Merle “Conscious” Soden is living positive and identifies as a Black lesbian woman. She has created a one-woman performance of her life story called “I Got Unstuck”  and you may see videos of her story here.

Music Videos

Unfortunately, there are not too many songs that focus exclusively on HIV without there being some kind of problem with the media. For example, TLC “Waterfalls” discusses various challenges and HIV is one of them. Here’s the video and below that are the lyrics connected to one segment on HIV.

Little precious has a natural obsession
For temptation but he just can’t see
She gives him loving that his body can’t handle
But all he can say is baby it’s good to me
One day he goes and takes a glimpse
In the mirror
But he doesn’t recognize his own face
His health is fading and he doesn’t know why
3 letters took him to his final resting place

Now, I like this song for this message. However, it does focus on a heterosexual relationship and it is the woman who encourages her partner not to use a condom when he is prepared to use one. It places blame on the woman as the person who infected him. This may be true in some cases, and the reality remains that for many people whose sex assigned at birth was female their bodies are constructed with more mucus membranes which can tear than those on the bodies of people whose sex assigned at birth was male. This narrative in certain genres is not new.

For example, MC Lyte’s “Lola From The Copa”  focuses on a young woman who she calls a “freak” for having multiple partners and not thinking before drinking and sleeping with her partners. The song ends with Lola being dead. Also, rapper Lil B released a song “I Got AIDS” last year to much critique.

Here he discusses the multiple women partners he was with and how “she gave me AIDS.” Again, we do not hear the perspective of the woman who is living positive. Listen to the song below and this song has profanity so it may not be safe to listen to in certain spaces.

However, not all genres have the same message. I’ve shared some songs that I really enjoy for using in discussions on HIV and other STIs.  For example, The Conscious Daughters, a hip-hop duo from California created “All Caught Up” which discusses HIV and AIDS prevention and education. The song in a user made video is below. The song does have some profanity so it may not be safe to listen to in some places. Thanks to my homeboy Jerome for reminding me of this song.

Choice, another woman rapper, also had a song called “HIV Positive” which was more of a prevention message than a judgement or third person storytelling. Her song can be heard below:

Wu-Tang Clan’s song “AIDS” on the “America is Slowly Dying” album hook is “AIDS kills word up, America is dying slowly.” Although not specific to women or young women, this video of them performing the song live is an important piece of media. I have yet to really see a concert where the songs are all about HIV and the crowd is dancing, feeling the song, paying attention, and getting informed at the same time! Check out the video below:

Reba Mcentire’s: “She Thinks His Name Was John” is a country song that tells the story of a woman who is living positive. The story is that the woman met a man at a party, drank too much, and went home with him and she can’t remember much about him except that he was the person that transmitted HIV to her.

A few of the articles that I’ve written which may be of interest and use in preparing for March 10th include:

Media Maker’s Salon interview with Miss Kings County 2011 Carmen B. Mendoza.
Here I interview Carmen in her role as Miss Kings County (in Brooklyn, NY) and her platform is focused on eliminating the stigma associated with HIV testing. Carmen discusses her choice in choosing this platform issue, challenges and successes with this topic as part of her work in pageantry, and challenging stereotypes about women, pageantry, HIV, and Latinidad.

Myths and Messages about HIV
I wrote last year and discusses the myths and questions I’m often asked when doing HIV and AIDS education and prevention work. I share how some of these questions are connected to myths about HIV and our bodies and how I respond to them.

Conspiracy Theories and HIV 
I focus on what I say and how I discuss HIV when folks present question and believe that HIV is part of a larger conspiracy to get rid of people of Color, queer people, and immigrants.

What are some of the forms of media that you would like to use for National Women and Girls HIV AIDS Awareness Day?

Flashback to Revolutionary TV: A Different World

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

This article is cross-posted from my Media Justice column.

The first time I started this series I focused on The Golden Girls.  Today I focus on another TV show that continues to impact my life: A Different World.  Many may know this show to be a spin-off of The Cosby Show. This is true, but it was also its own solid show that began with Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet) going to college.

Centered at a fictional HBCU (Historically Black College and University) named Hillman, we follow several students (beginning with Denise from The Cosby Show) as they interact with the struggles that come with being college students of Color: time management, interracial dating, HIV, consent, roommate challenges, managing work and school, class differences, dating, friendships, joining sororities and fraternities, being an activist, gender differences, apartheid in South Africa, and shadism.

The first season of A Different World we follow Denise as she rooms with two women, Jalessa (Dawnn Lewis) and Maggie (Marisa Tomei) and makes new friends with women in her dorm such as Whitley (Jasmine Guy) and Freddie (Cree Summer). Of course meeting men was also part of the storyline and they included Dwayne (Kadeem Hardison), Ron (Darryl M. Bell) and Shazza (Gary Dourdan).

This series began when I was just completing my first year in high school. It was one of the first series where I saw people of Color as college students, as intellectuals, creating supportive environments for each other, and investing in a form of delayed gratification (obtaining a degree). At this time it was rare for a young person of Color to see themselves validated on a public TV station and represented beyond the one-dimensional stereotypes of youth of Color (which still continue today.

The opening song for the series is a perfect example of how the show was centered on normalizing the humanity of youth of Color. Performed by Aretha Franklin check out the opening credits and song below:

The lyrics include:
I know my parents love me,
Stand behind me come what may.
I know now that I’m ready,
Because I finally heard them say
It’s a different world form where you come from.

Here’s a chance to make it,
If we focus on our goals.
If you dish it we can take it,
Just remember you’ve been told
It’s a different world form where you come from.
It’s a different world form where you come from.

The lyrics read as a mantra, an affirmation, something one puts on their mirror or writes down to hold and be reminded. To this day I can sing along to the song whenever I hear it. It’s part of my socialization into young adulthood that I’m very privileged and proud to have had. It also makes me sad that the young people I work with today have nothing close to A Different World. There are no shows or narratives that speak to these topics in such an important and entertaining way.

Sure, many may recognize additional members to the cast such as Jada Pinkett (before she became Pinkett Smith) playing Lena, Sinbad as Coach Walter Oaks, or the guest appearances of folks such as rapper Tupac, Tisha Cambpell-Martin, Gladys Knight, Billy Dee Williams, Jesse Jackson, Heavy D, En Vogue, Halle Berry, and Diahann Carroll who performed as Whitley’s mother and Patti LaBelle who performed as Dwayne’s mother. For the past decade, and maybe even the past two decades, there has been no show that has brought so many people of Color, especially Black celebrities and talent on a television show. I can’t think of one right at this moment.

One of Jada Pinkett’s performances was uncovering and sharing with Whitley (a wealthy light-skin legacy), who is the dorm director, that her great great grandfather bought and owned slaves. In “Mammy Dearest”  Whitley’s background becomes important because she plans her dorm’s official dedication ceremony and chooses to include images of “mammies” (black nursemaids, often forced into that position during slavery) to remember women’s roles in history. Kim disagrees as do some other students and the topic of shadism and how the mammy image continues to impact Black women. The outcome is that at the dedication several women, including Kim, create and perform a piece on the evolution of Black women. This message is so important, especially after still witnessing Blackface performed at the Oscars.

Another episode titled “If I Should Die Before I Wake” discussed how HIV and AIDS impacts the Black community, especially the impact on Black women. Tisha Campbell-Martin is Josie, who shares her eulogy, a requirement for the class they are taking, and comes out as a young Black women living positive. Her professor is Whoopi Goldberg. Watch the clip starting at the 3 minute mark. The class does an amazing job of being honest, showing fear and ignorance, and of discussing how HIV is transmitted. “I am a voice in this world” is the motto of this episode and to this day I adore this message.

During the episode titled “Ms. Understanding”  Shazza publishes a book about the relations between men and women that starts controversy all over campus. The women plan a boycott and the men choose to do the same. The interracial relationship that Kim is in at the time also becomes a focus for other students. Gender differences, roles, and expectations along with misogyny is the focus of this episode, and these are always important reminders.

The episode “No Means No” focuses on sexual assault and rape on colleges campuses. Freddie is courted by a Garth (performed by Taimak) who is a popular athlete. This episode the young men athletes question what rape and sexual assault include and how it is defined. They confide in Coach Walter Oaks who holds Garth accountable while Dwayne does the same. The men are educated and taught what their responsibilities are and the men hold one another accountable. Check out the way Dwayne supports Freddie and how her community comes to support her as well. Unfortunately, these are not the ways that many young women of Color on college campuses are supported.

These are just a few of the episodes that stand out to me. They are formative and important pieces of US media. I have a presentation coming up discussing media and sexuality and I’m going to use these representations as examples of media justice. I encourage folks who have not seen the show to take some time out and watch it! There were six seasons in total and they are still quality episodes for each season.

Sadly, as the theme song shares, it is a different world from where you come from. It was a different world when the show was on, and today without the series being accessible, that world has yet to value difference in the ways we know we can. Instead we experience isolation, limitations, and oppression because of our differences. The memories I have of watching A Different World are fantastic! It was something we did with our families, it was what we talked about at school on Friday afternoons. I remember the collective screaming in anticipation and surprise at some of the endings of the episodes (especially during the relationship of Dwayne and Whitley). If there ever was a TV show that needs syndication because those images and narratives still need to be shared, I’d argue that A Different World must be at the top, if not the first item, on that list.

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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Random Musings On Magic and Technology

Naomi Campbell Photographed by Seb Janiak in “Lighted Darkness” for Glamour Boys Inc

Magic is a funny thing.

At a brunch meeting with Allied Media Conference folks, one of the attendees commented on making IT more accessible: “because everyone starts from zero.”  When we began sharing stories about bad experiences with tech support, Macforums and Genius Bars, someone else remarked:  “It’s like magic.  They wave their hands and its fixed.  But you don’t know how they got there.”

Genius Bars are on par with the DMV on my list of Least Empowering Places To Go.

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The WOC Survival Kit is Desperately Seeking GIFs!

Never submitted to the WOC Survival Kit?  Now is your chance.  The WOC Survival Kit needs more GIFs!!!!

What’s a GIF, you ask?  Well, since a GIF is worth a thousand words…..

Except if you’ve ever tried to search for the perfect, pro-womyn of color GIF, then you already know.  Not so easy.  Not easy at all.

Help us make the WOC Survival Kit one of the go-to places for poignant, political, ratchet, funny, sexy, silly and honest radical womyn of color GIFs on the web.  

Go forth!  Make those images of womyn of African, Asian, Latina & Native American descent move, shake, flash, beep, bling, snark, cuss, fart, and frakk.  Submit them to the ‘Kit here.  Or toss them up on your Tumblr, Twitter or blog and send us a message so we can reblog.  Or shoot them to us in an email (iwannaliv@gmail.com).  But send them our way!  Because the WOC Survival Kit is here for and accountable to YOU.

Happy searching,

The #AntiJemimas of the WOC Survival Kit

An iwannalive production