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.

A Quiet Corner….

Sometimes what you need is a quiet corner to sit and think in.

I’m not talking about writing. Writing is a 5K run you do every morning because the afterglow tastes sweet and clean.

We need “more writing, less blogging,” Summer says. I agree. Much more. We need more words and we need more love.

But I’m all out of words and writing and grammar these days. I’m exhausted because I’m still having the same conversations about guns and rape and prison I was having ten years ago. Meanwhile Hadiya Pendleton died. And I didn’t know her and I didn’t know the forty-three other people shot and killed in January (as logged by Red Eye) but I love her with the love an oldest sister holds for her siblings. And Chief Keef was sentenced to sixty days in a youth detention center for holding a gun (at a gun range, in a video interview) and I have no love for him, really I don’t, but he is a child so the love I have for him is the love a future mother has for her sons.

That’s just Chicago. One little city on the coast of one little lake. Then there’s Delhi, Santa Maria, Cairo. I want to re-read Joy James and Arundhati Roy and Alice Walker, put a pillow over my head and sleep the rest of the winter.

Sitting in my room, black girl colored indigo, I imagine how it must feel to feel safe. To see an outrage instead of an everyday. To trust, if blindly, that when you scream someone, any fucking one, will come running.

What a silly, small, meaningless thing. Safety. A simple, impossible desire.

But I want it. I want to walk outside and feel control and be an ecstasy of black heritage. I want it this month. I want it every month. I want to lick and roll the ratchet around in my mouth and lock arms with my own futurity. I want to be assumed to be the one left standing at the end of the war. Instead of the slave following the caravan. Or one of the faceless dead.

I’m so foolish. I thought I was here for writing and done with blogging. What the hell are words for if they can’t do basic shit like heal a wound, stop a bullet, or wipe a tear?

But I’m at a bottleneck. And what else is blogging for?

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.]

 

Happy Black History Month from the Lati-Negr@s Project

Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, Mexico

From In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience:

“From early on, racial classifications of Latin America and the Caribbean were complex. The criteria included skin shade, hair texture, and social background. The definition accepted in the United States-the only country with such a categorization-is the so-called one-drop rule, which makes anyone with any known African ancestry a black person.

In eighteenth-century Mexico, as in the rest of Latin America, racial mixture was classified in great detail.”

X-Posted at the LatiNegr@s Project.

Follow us on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook for the Afro-Latino perspective as we celebrate Black History Month.  Honor your ancestors 365 familia.

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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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.

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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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A Day in the Life, or “When You See It, You See It Everywhere”


Emergency personnel transport Ricky Ray Rector to an ambulance after an apparent suicide attempt. Rector shot himself in the head after shooting police officer Robert Martin in Conway in 1981. Rector was later put to death for the murder (via ConwayPedia, click)

An older man enters, maybe 50 or younger. Unshaven. Black man, skinny. Not visibly dirtier than anyone else in here (read: granola) but the faint smell of body soil sits in the air where he passes. He enters and yells something unintelligible. Loud. Everyone pauses. No one looks. Except me. And I look away quickly.  It is clear that there is something not quite centered about him.

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