Black Future Month #1

The beautiful thing about black folks is despite the hostile attacks we face in this country, we still have hope. Perhaps that’s why there tends to be such a particular disdain for black folks. We thrive when we are meant to die.

As the U.S. increasingly becomes dominated by folks of color, black folks are envisioning the future.  It’s why Afrofuturism has grown in popularity in recent years. What will black identity/thought/activism look like in 2030? How will racism/sexism/other isms impact or not impact our lives?

February is Black History Month. While there is still the tradition of giving honor to black heroes who paved the way, there has also been a call to to think about the future of black history. We are at a crossroads in this country.  The current atmosphere is taking us back to a time of intolerance and outright violence to curb dissent. Black folks have been there done that and don’t want to go back.  We are ready to move forward. We are ready to create communities that are built on love, respect, and equality.

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Image by EI Jane

Truth and Power

“Truth and Power” is a new series that “tells the stories of ordinary people going to extraordinary lengths to uncover breaches of public trust by governments and private institutions.” http://www.pivot.tv/

The first episode focused on the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. The activists shared stories of how they’ve been tracked by the government. One talked about being at a protest rally and a police officer calling her out by her twitter handle. Scary. But the truth is anyone who has written/played a part of the BLM movement is probably on a list somewhere.

I’m a conspiracy theorist at heart, so this show was right up my alley. The BLM movement is unique in that it was founded by three queer black women and has been mostly sustained by the activism of young black women. They are not the cliche older black male clergy leaders who usually dominate and are more willing to compromise with “the man.” BLM activism is unconventional. These young black women’s persistent resistance is definitely a threat to the status quo.

Street Harassment 2016

It’s happened again. A young woman minding her own business was murdered because she refused to “talk” to a guy.  Janese Talton-Jackson is the latest victim of street harassment.  The senseless killing of Jackson is reminiscent of Mary Spears, a mother I wrote about who was shot for not giving a guy her phone number. When I hear these kind of stories it’s alarming how some men feel they are entitled to women’s everything.  Why can’t they just go away when women express disinterest in them? It doesn’t matter if you try to be nice about it. If you don’t act how they think you should act you quickly become a bitch, ugly, etc. 

Reading about the death of Jackson made me think about an incident that happened when I was 18 years old.  I was fresh from the beauty salon sporting jumbo box braids I had seen Janet Jackson wear in “Poetic Justice.” I was waiting at the bus stop happy about my new ‘do.  Two adult black males walked past me. One of them catcalled me.  I tried to be polite gave (the head nod) and went back to staring off into space like a typical teenager. For some reason, my response pissed the guy off.  Suddenly, this grown ass man became belligerent with me. I was shocked and scared. Luckily, the other man with him grabbed him and pulled him away. “Hey man,” I heard him say,  “She’s just a kid.” The man went on a rant about “bitches” being rude.  The friend continued to push the guy away as I looked on in confusion. The bus pulled up and I hopped on relieved.

Why Black Men Must Take Responsibility for Ending Street Harassment

When I think back on that day I get goosebumps. What would have been the outcome if the friend HADN’T been there? Would I be another victim of gender violence? Would my name even made the evening news. This was back in the early 90’s before folks really talked about street harassment, especially how it affected black women/girls. We are only more aware of this issue because of social media. BLACK WOMEN/GIRLS have made it their mission to say enough is enough. We can’t continue the kinship of “brotha/”sistah”if one half of the duo isn’t truly being a “brotha” to us.

OF COURSE, black men aren’t the only ones guilty of street harassment. But intra-racial violence is more common than not. That’s why it’s ridiculous when people talk about “black on black” crime.

And for the men saying they are the “good ones” it’s more than respecting the women in your life. You have to stand up like the guy did that day when I was all alone and stop your friend if you seeing him getting out of hand. Don’t laugh or encourage it. You may prevent an unnecessary loss of life.

Rest in Peace

 

 

 

The Oscars

Initially, I wasn’t going to write about the hoopla surrounding the Oscars. I agree there needs to be more diversity/embracing of characters/stories of color. And while it’s fun to see your favorite actor/actress of color win the coveted statue, in the end it’s another self-congratulatory award show for overpaid celebrities. When you have poor folks becoming sick from contaminated water due to heartless city officials, in the grand scheme of things the Oscar boycott was meh to me. Particularly, since there has been criticism of how the Oscars are racist since forever.

But then some white actors/actresses started running their mouths. The one good thing that tends to come from controversies like the Oscar white out, is that folks show you who they really are. Folks who you thought were “liberal” and “colorblind” turn out to be clueless racists. The common complaint from these white actors/actresses is that maybe black folks just weren’t good enough to be nominated. This tends to be a typical response by many white folks when called out on the lack of diversity in work environments, etc.  Of course, they had to be mediocre, because white folks performances are always top notch *eye roll.*

Another amusing comment was made by actor Michael Cain. He said black folks just needed to be “patient.” What is this…1916 and not 2016? Has the whole Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) been invisible to him? Black folks are refusing to wait. This was recently illustrated by a BLM protestor who interrupted a news conference holding up the sign #LaquanMcDonald‬People aren’t playing anymore.

The most offensive comment was made by actress Julie Delpy.

“It’s funny — women can’t talk. I sometimes wish I were African American because people don’t bash them afterward.”

Huh? She really would prefer to be black, eh? Anyway, isn’t Jada Pinkett-Smith a woman. She has been heavily criticized by folks, including this Delpy woman. Or does her womanhood don’t count because she’s an “African-American.” White feminists already failing in the new year. It’s interesting when speaking about women they are obviously only thinking about white women. From Patricia Arquette to Madonna they have framed their pro-woman rhetoric that exclude/insult black women/women of color. They don’t see us on the same level. Hmm…

In any case, it will be interesting to see how the Oscars turn out this year. It’s usually a snore fest so folks not showing up would at least give black folks a good chuckle when reviewing the YouTube clips.

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Photo from: en.wikipedia.org

 

 

 

Lila & Eve

I found “Lila & Eve” on Google Play. Interestingly,  I heard never heard of the film before. After doing a bit of research, I learned the movie came out early last year. I guess it just didn’t get enough promotion. A shame because it’s rare to see a film featuring two women of color in lead roles. “Lila & Eve” is pretty predictable. I wasn’t surprised to see that it was produced by Lifetime. If you’ve seen one Lifetime film, you already know the deal :) However, Viola Davis (as Lila) and Jennifer Lopez (as Eve) both give good performances. I wasn’t too surprised by Davis, but was impressed with Lopez. She’s usually hit or miss to me. The film follows Lila as a mother coping with the loss of her son to violence. She meets Eve at a gathering for grieving mothers. They form a bond and before you know it, exacting revenge on those who killed their loved ones. There is a twist (of course). It’s kind of obvious, because we have seen it a hundred times at this point. But the film is still decent. Something to watch on a lazy Saturday evening.

 

Randomness: “no one remembered…”

As folks know, I’m about that zine/self-publishing life. I was pleasantly surprised when a good friend shared she was venturing into DIY (Do It Yourself) work. I know she has always wanted to establish herself with a major publishing company. She said it was I that made her fall in love with small press (yes!) I met Olivia Olivia a few years ago when I organized my city’s first women of color zine symposium. Olivia Olivia was a young woman who let you know she was in the room. We quickly became buddies as we were both foodies at heart. Olivia Olivia writes about her experiences as a Salvadoran author/activist.  In her new chapbook “no one remembered your name but i wrote it down” chronicles her time living in Berlin, growing up as an undocumented youth, and the death of a beloved sister.

A great addition to anyone’s zine/small press collection :)

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#blackgirlmagic

Since black folks have been brought to this oppressive country, black women/girls have tried to find ways to create self-affirming spaces for themselves. The fascinating thing with a lot of white folks is they are never happy with what black folks do. When we try to be part of their groups/neighborhoods they go out of their way to be racist/make it uncomfortable for us. When we say “screw it” and do our own thing they get mad and start hollering “reverse racism.” This has been the case with the current controversy over #blackgirlmagic.

What’s “Black Girl Magic?” Check out this video to learn more.

I don’t engage too much in the #blackgirlmagic hash tagging. I tend to see it as a positive movement for mostly younger black feminists. Hell, good for them for taking back their image/voice from a society that only wants to represent them in stereotypical ways.

Why #BlackGirlMagic Makes Me Proud to Be a Black Woman in 2016

There has been criticism that “black girl magic” borders the strong black woman trope.  I can understand this to a certain extent as #blackgirlmagic celebrates highly accomplished black women/girls. This could possibly be overwhelming to those who feel it’s one more thing they have to live up to. However, I really don’t think that’s the intent. I think “black girl magic” has just been a fun way for younger black feminists to show love to black women/girls they think are fly. I see nothing wrong with that.

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My #blackgirlmagic inspiration–MJB!