Up until now, I’ve been kicking it with a prepaid slider cellphone. I prided myself on rebelling against the smartphone apocalypse.
However, after four years of going strong, my phone started acting wonky. It was constantly freezing up and just doing its on thang.
I cried as I skimmed new phones because I knew I was going to breakdown and buy a smartphone.
And I did.
Who could resist the glossy style of the phone. The apps I could download. The fact I wouldn’t have to run to my laptop every time I needed to Google something. It all appealed to me. The information would be right at my fingertips.
I’ve been hesitant to get a smartphone because I didn’t want the hypnotic gaze I see so many folks with these days. Eyes glued to a glowing screen. Fingers mindlessly swiping. Oblivious to the world around them because their ears are stuffed with cute little white plugs pumping jams into their ears.
I didn’t want to be one of those people. But now I am.
I do feel a little guilty about it. My motto is “minimalism.”
However, there are some empowering aspects of the smartphone. The fact that you do have so much information right in your hand. It’s an opportunity to build your knowledge. That’s why I have little patience when people ask me a dumb questions about black folks/culture/history. Google on your phone, fool.
I avoided this film for the longest time on Netflix. The poster made me think it was going to be some bad 1970’s blaxploitation film, complete with ugly corduroy bell bottoms.
I finally decided to read the synopsis and realized the film came out last year. I don’t know how I missed it. The movie turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
“It’s a story of two childhood friends, a parole officer named Bernice and a recovering drug addict named Fontayne , who team up to solve the mysterious disappearance of Bernice’s troubled son Rodney, a suspect in a killing. The film’s title is explained in a throwaway bit of dialogue early on: as kids, the women were so close and so compatible that other people thought they could “go for sisters,” or be related.” http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/go-for-sisters-2013
It was surprising because it was about two everyday black women. And they acted like everyday folks. It’s rare to see black women characters like that. In most contemporary movies, black characters are ridiculously wealthy or over the top. This film at least tried to humanize the women.
I was happy to see Yolanda Ross (Fontayne) play a different role. The movies I have seen her in she has been typecast as “crazy” black mamas. Ross is beautiful to me, so it was nice to see her dolled up for a change.
LisaGay Hamilton was also great as Bernice. It took me a while to place her. She’s one of those actors you see all the time but never catch their name. Hamilton has starred in numerous movies including “Beloved” with Oprah and Kimberly Elise.
The film was similar to Quentin Tarantino(who gets on my nerves) movies, where nothing really happens, but a lot of stuff happens. The film moves at a slow place, but it’s worth checking out.
“Sister, you’ve been on my mind Sister, we’re two of a kind So, sister, I’m keepin’ my eye on you.”–Miss Celie’s Blues
I was shocked recently when a black girlfriend told me she has never watched “The Color Purple” in its entirety.
Now how has that happened?
I’ve seen practically every Tyler Perry film and I loathe Tyler Perry films, but my black female friends make sure I watch them. I’m surprised she has been able to get away without being made to watch it at the beauty shop or something :)
I thought “The Color Purple” (book/movie) was simply trying to show that black women are not only black, but also women and how the intersectionality of these identities contribute to the oppression (and violence) we tend to face in our daily lives.
The fact that many people feel overly comfortable being abusive towards us outside and in the black community.
The book/film is also about hope, and more importantly black sisterhood. Celie survives because of her own perseverance, but also because her friends Shug and Sophia had her back. This helped her to overcome the violence in her life.
When the first horrifying video of Janay Rice being hit was released, initially people faulted her for the incident. Since the video was not shown in its entirety it was assumed Rice had attacked first and thus “deserve what she got.”
The rhetoric tends to be if you step to a man then expect to be treated like one.
Many domestic survivors have talked about “walking on eggshells” when they were with their abuser. Yet, in the end, it didn’t matter what they did or didn’t do. Abusers abuse because they want to.
Over time, domestic violence victims take on a “flight or fight” response. Living in constant violence, intimidation, and fear takes a toll on these women. Some victims flee to protect themselves, while others notice the red flags when the abuser is about to “go off,” and prepare to try to fight back.
That was the case of Rice and for Marissa Alexander. Alexander fired a warning shot when she felt threatened by her husband.
“She claimed that he broke through a bathroom door that she had locked and grabbed her by the neck. She said she tried to push past him but he shoved her into the door, sparking a struggle that felt like an “eternity.” Afterwards, she claimed that she ran to the garage and tried to leave but was unable to open the garage door, so she retrieved a gun, which she legally owned. Once inside, she claimed, her husband saw the gun and charged at her “in a rage” saying, “Bitch, I’ll kill you.” She said she raised the gun and fired a warning shot into the air because it was the “lesser of two evils.” http://www.blackmediascoop.com/court-overturns-marissa-alexanders-20-year-sentence/
Alexander was sentenced to over 20 years in prison for firing this shot in the air. The incident took place in Florida, the same place where a defenseless black teenager was shot and killed. The killer was let off because he used the “Stand Your Ground” defense.
This same strategy didn’t work for Alexander, despite the fact she didn’t even kill anyone. The killer was non black, Alexander is black.
The harsh sentence spoke to the over criminalization of black people. This outraged people and there has been a campaign to free Alexander. The sentence has been overturned, for now. Alexander’s retrial is later this December. If found guilty, she could face a mandatory 60 years in prison.
There is a huge connection between domestic violence and the Prison Industrial Complex. The majority of black women serving ridiculously long sentences, is due to defending themselves against abusers.
“When women, particularly women of color, defend themselves, they often find themselves assaulted twice – first by their attacker, then by the legal system. The zealous prosecution, as well as the lack of charges against their attackers, reflects the pervasive and socially sanctioned violence against women, particularly women of color and the prevailing notion that women should not fight back.” http://truth-out.org/news/item/11196-no-justice-when-women-fight-back
The rates of black women in prison has skyrocketed. “In 2010, black women were incarcerated at nearly three times the rate of white women” (Violence Policy Center, 2011; The Sentencing Project, 2012).
When looking at the issue of domestic violence we need to understand the reasons why women fight back, that they have a right to fight back, and they should not be locked up for the rest of their lives for doing so.
When I got together with fellow black women feminists, we talked about the ways people tend to think about domestic violence (DV). As one attendee stated, “Obviously if someone came at you with a bat on the first date, you would know right away they are someone to avoid.” The reality is, abusers are manipulative people. They tend to take their time (sometimes years) grooming their victims before they ever physically assault them. If it even goes that far.
The idea that all abuse is extreme, is what I call the “Lifetime Movie” syndrome. You know how in lifetime movies they tend to over dramatize everything. Not to say that it isn’t true for many women, but a lot of abuse tends to be more subtle/calculated. Because of the “Lifetime Movie” syndrome, many people have bought into the idea that domestic violence is only “real” if a woman has visible scars.
When you look at the range of abusive tactics, the majority of women have been in some type of controlling relationship. Even if the incident happened one time. There is the belief that domestic violence is a daily occurrence. If a woman has been harmed just one time, that is domestic violence.
Malone made this point with K. Michelle, a singer who has talked about abuse she has suffered. “Recently Michelle took to her Instagram account to explain that although Memphitz did not directly punch her that she too is a survivor of domestic violence… Michelle states “I was not punched in the isolated assault and never claimed to be. But what I was, was drug across the room and smothered with a towel, loosing conscience to the point of a black out[…]and having to fight my way out the room screaming for help. I almost lost my life.” http://mommynoire.com/270415/domestic-violence-just-physical/
Michelle’s story is similar to many women who may not have been hit, but terrorized in other ways. Often times, it’s hard for women to talk about this type of abuse because people don’t take it seriously. Michelle has been openly criticized about the incident.
“Here’s the thing. Just like blacks spend so much time proving we are not racist that we make it easier for the racist to be racist, women spend a lot of time unconsciously proving they are not equal (with the wrong rhetoric) that it makes it easier for the chauvinists to be chauvinists. But I get it. In this country of “who has less are automatic victims” it also holds true in the world of domestic violence; who loses the battle is the victim, forgetting that we are in the middle of a bigger war of mankind.”
“Compared to a black male, a black female is far more likely to be killed by her spouse, an intimate acquaintance, or a family member than by a stranger. Where the relationship could be determined, 94 percent of black females killed by males in single victim/single offender incidents knew their killers (415 out of 443). Nearly 15 times as many black females were murdered by a male they knew (415 victims) than were killed by male strangers (28 victims) in single victim/single offender incidents in 2011. Of black victims who knew their offenders, 52 percent (216 out of 415) were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders. Ninety-three percent (459 out of 492) of the homicides of black females were intra-racial.” When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2011 Homicide Data
We also discussed the stereotypes about black women and the limited lens people tend to view us through. This also becomes a justification to be abusive towards us. If black women weren’t “loud,” combative,” “smart-mouthed,” we wouldn’t find ourselves in these situations. Even if a black woman does have those traits, it is most likely due to having to navigate an Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy. Majority of black women have caught on that they live in a society that doesn’t give a damn about them. They know they only have themselves to rely on.
Domestic violence is a heinous act that needs to be eliminated in the black community. While it’s good that we march for black men murdered by police, we also need to march for black women murdered in their own homes.
Whoa! bell hooks has been KILLING it these last couple of days, as she does another week-long residency at The New School. She’s had some great discussions with white feminist icon Gloria Steinman and fellow black intellectual, Cornel West (the two of them had me rolling). My favorite conversation was the one between her and Laverne Cox.
Cox stars on the television show “Orange is the New Black.” I have not watched the show. It hasn’t really interested me (and in their talk) hooks articulated some of my concerns about the show. However, it’s been great to see Cox get mainstream shine. It’s rare you see contemporary black celebrities knowledgeable about politics/social injustices. Particularly, the work Cox does around transgender rights.
Enjoy their fun and thoughtful discussion by clicking the link :)