Monthly Archives: November 2014

The Colonizer’s Holiday

Well, another Thanksgivings day is almost here. When I asked a friend what she was doing for the holiday she said,“The colonizer’s holiday? Nothing.” After the grand jury failed to bring charges against¬† Darren Wilson for shooting Mike Brown, I thought about the fact that the government sanctioned murdering of Black people continues the long American tradition of white power and domination against people of color, beginning with Indigenous/First Nations/Native people.

“the system isn’t broken it’s doing what it was set up to do…”

The sad truth is these killings will keep happening because there has never been any respect for the lives of people of color.¬† As a matter of fact, folks are now outraged over the police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.¬† Black people aren’t getting enough time to heal before we are dealing with another tragedy in our community. Imagine the magnitude of that tragedy for Indigenous/First Nations/Native communities.

There is nothing wrong with spending time with the family. We are all overworked and underpaid and need time to regroup. But there is something wrong with perpetrating the myth about Thanksgiving and not the real history/story of what the day represents.  And that truth is not something of the past but is still here in this present day for all folks of color.

This is one of my favorite talks from Indigenous/Native American activist Andrea Smith.

 

 

 

Patient.

I follow a group of amazing women of color writers. I love the group because I get introduced to their latest work.¬† “Patient.” is a new release by Bettina Judd.¬† The book of poems was the 2013 winner of Black Lawrence Press’ 2013 Hudson Book Prize. Go girl!

“A researcher lives with the ghosts of enslaved women after they visit her hospital bed. To appease them, she traces the stories of Anarcha, Betsey, and Lucy, three of the women who were subject to experiments by the father of American gynecology and finds that she is entangled in a history of medical subjection and display.” http://www.patientpoems.com/

I’m usually not a big purchaser of poetry books, but this is one I will definitely be adding to my collection.¬† ūüôā

 

Aaliyah

I will forget never when Aaliyah died. I was visiting my mom and had fallen asleep on the couch. She shook me and asked me if I had known about the singer. She had been watching television when news broke that Aaliyah died in a plane crash. I remember popping straight up and asking in an incredulous voice, “Aaliyah is dead?”

I’m sure most Black folks have similar stories. Particularly, if you were young at the time. I was in my 20’s and the event shocked me. Aaliyah was the first major star of my generation to die so tragically. It was unsettling.

When it was announced there was going to be a movie on Aaliyah’s life, folks asked why? Well, why not. Trust when Britney Spears passes on there will be a movie about her life,¬† and Black women singers like Aaliyah (and Janet) are the ones she was groomed to copy/rip off,¬† so I didn’t see anything wrong with Aaliyah getting her due. Also, it’s just sad when someone dies so young in such a horrific way.

I didn’t see the film this weekend, but I read it was a bust. Not surprising, as the “Aaliyah” movie was a flop from the start.

(1) The fact they kept trying (and eventually did) to cast (Latina looking) biracial women to play Aaliyah. This is the continuing agenda to erase Black women from mainstream roles/images. It’s like how they had a biracial woman play Harriet Tubman in “Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter.” Come on, now. (2) The producers of this film weren’t allowed to use Aaliyah’s music in the film. A movie about a singer and you can’t use their music? It defeats the purpose. We want to hear the tunes that made us like the person in the first place (imagine “What’s Love Got to Do With It” without music!). (3) I read they romanticized the relationship between Aaliyah and R. Kelly. Kelly was 13 years older when he married Aaliyah (28/15).¬† Even if she thought she was “in love,” Kelly knew better. Why they would want to make it a love story, is beyond me.

This film was just a bad move from the start. Aaliyah was a young star whose light was diminished much too soon.  Rest in Peace.

aaliyah-bw
Photo from: wblk.com

 

 

‘Skinned’

LisaRaye McCoy looks at the issue of¬† colorism in her new film ‘Skinned.’

“For her directorial debut ‚ÄúSkinned,‚ÄĚ LisaRaye McCoy is pulling out the punches tackling a controversial subject that is plaguing people of color: skin lightening. In a world where people are preaching self-love and not holding to the media‚Äôs standard of beauty, colorism is still an underlying issue in the black community. The movie is about a woman named Jolie (Jasmine Burke) who was always ruthlessly teased when she was younger for being dark-skinned. Jolie believes the only thing that will make her more beautiful is if she bleaches her skin to snag the perfect man, but years later, when she does get married, the skin bleaching comes back to haunt her.”¬† http://www.accra.io/blogs/p/129591/trailer-lisaraye-mccoy-tackles-colorism-skin-bleaching-in-new-movie-skinned

What’s interesting about colorism is how clueless white people tend to be about this issue. Yet, it is because of white supremacy/the push of whiteness as the ideal why it’s so pervasive.¬† White folks created colorism. Regarding the Black community, what’s frustrating to me is that this issue tends to be framed only as a problem with darker-skinned Black women.¬† If we would just love ourselves more rhetoric. It’s more complex than that. Also, these types of films (like¬†Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry’s “Dark Girls”), tend to gloss over the fact that Black men have been harshly affected by white supremacist thought regarding beauty. When we look at the current entertainment world, it has been Black men who have pushed light/biracial/non-black women into the spotlight. I’m sure LisaRaye herself has benefited greatly from colorstruck Black men in the industry.

I’m waiting for someone to make that film. Anyway, good for LisaRaye and her venture into directing.

 

Spotlight On Ferguson – Virtual Freedom School

A couple of nights ago, I was heading home from having dinner with friends. I needed to catch two trains to get back to my side of town. When it was time to switch to the second train, I found my self in a huge crowd.¬† A basketball game had just ended and people were everywhere, also trying to get home. I tried to cross the street when a police officer/security purposely walked in my path and used his body to push me. I turned around and cussed him. He ignored me.¬† I hurried across the street to avoid a train hitting me. Once I boarded my train,¬† I thought about what happened. He did it because (1) he was a man. I can’t see him randomly pushing another man of same bulk (2) he was wearing a uniform and (3) he was white.¬† Black women often have to deal with a particular intimidation from white male police officers.¬† I shook my head and thought “the police have learned nothing from Ferguson.”

While mainstream news has kept a peripheral view on Ferguson, don’t be fooled. Ferguson protestors are still going strong. And I, like most Black folks, stand in solidarity with them.

It’s always good to document events like this, so I encourage people to support the “Spotlight On Ferguson – Virtual Freedom School” Indiegogo campaign.

“I’ve spent the last few months traveling back and forth to Ferguson, documenting and organizing against police brutality. It’s been intense. Inspiring. Invigorating. To see so many people from so many different walks of life in the streets challenging state sanctioned violence, bangin’ on the system, so to speak.Initially, I came in response to a call from local organizers for photographers and videographers to help tell the stories of resilience, sacrifice and commitment embodied by protestors, stories the media does not share or promote.” https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/spotlight-on-ferguson-virtual-freedom-school

The raw emotion in these sistas voices made me tear up. The harassment and violence against Black people needs to be stopped.