Category Archives: Women of Color

New Year’s Giving #2

Sorry about that y’all. I’ve been a bit neglectful keeping the blog updated. Thank goodness the holidays are over. That was such a stressful time. HAPPY NEW YEAR!! (I hope you got your spoonful of black-eyed peas 🙂 Unfortunately, we are starting 2017 with the inauguration of a President who has made it clear he is anti-people of color/women (don’t be fooled by the celebrities of color who are kissing azz for their own benefit). I encompass both, so Trump will be no ally to me.

It’s more important than ever to support marginalize voices/communities, as these groups will not be able to look to the new administration to align with those who aren’t  white, male, and wealthy.

As someone who is a big lover of DIY (Do It Yourself) culture…I urge folks to financially/promote alternative forms of media/activism, as we will need these resources to keep ourselves safe and heard these next four years.

Here are a FEW to connect with:

Black Girl Dangerous: “Amplifying The Voices of Queer & Trans People of Color.”

Black Women’s Blue Print: “Black Women’s Blueprint envisions a world where women and girls of African descent are fully empowered and where gender, race and other disparities are erased.”

Feminist Wire: “The mission of The Feminist Wire is to provide socio-political and cultural critique of anti-feminist, racist, and imperialist politics pervasive in all forms and spaces of private and public lives of individuals globally.”

Brown Recluse Zine Distro:“Zine culture is not white culture. D.I.Y. culture is not white culture. Punk is not inherently white culture. So in the spirit of resistance, in the spirit of visibility and in the spirit of celebrating our cultures and intersectionality: Brown Recluse Zine Distro.”

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Black Women and the PIC

While I was banished to the land of sickness,  I was still able to see Kendrick Lamar’s interesting Grammy Performance. The 28-year-old rapper made a heartfelt statement about black men and the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC).

It was a bold stand at an event that has become too pop/boring/white washed.  I know I personally haven’t paid attention to the Grammy Awards show in years.

I read an article critiquing the lack of space given to black women prisoners in his performance. I’m willing to give Lamar a slight pass for this. As a young man, he’s probably had more experience with his male friends/relatives/young folks he mentors having contact with police/the prison system.

With that said, despite black women being incarcerated at an alarming rate as much/if not more so than black men, the focus still tends to be on black men in prison.

Years ago, I took a class on women and the PIC. Our class read “Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women,” by Victoria Law. Law, an anarchist writer and prison abolitionist, detailed her experiences working with women prisoners. A zinester/DIY artist, she helped the women create a zine showcasing their words/art on prison life. The majority of women she came into contact with had children.This brings me to why it’s urgent we also focus on black women in prison.

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The truth is, women tend to be the primary caretakers of their families. It doesn’t matter if there is a male partner in the home or not. This is particularly true in black communities, were we rely heavily on our extended female relatives.

A disturbing trend I noticed in our class readings, is that whole black communities are being wiped out due to the PIC. It’s leaving significant amounts of black children without parents or guardians. Because not only are the mothers being overly incarcerated for minor/non violent offenses, but so are grandmothers/aunties/cousins etc. I remember reading about a grandmother and her daughter and the daughter’s daughter all locked up   in the same prison (drug addictions). The young daughter’s children were in foster care. There was no one to take care of them.

These mothers are losing custody of their children left and right. Obviously, they are in prison. They can’t just walk down to the local courthouse to attend court dates etc .

The PIC is destroying black motherhood/families. This issue really needs to be addressed in folks anti-PIC activism. Good job to Lamar for highlighting the problem of black men in prison, but we need to expand the conversation.

Dark Black Beauty

Last week, my baby and I came down with serious colds. Then I found myself mixing various concoctions trying to deal with a mysterious bump that popped out on my neck.  Life is rough, y’all. But I’m back and in full effect. The little one is better too 🙂

One of the things I had planned to write about, was the video floating around of the Brazilian beauty queen who was stripped of her title for being “too dark.” I was reminded of her plight after reading about a dark skinned model whose luscious lips were subjected to racist attacks on MAC Cosmetic’s Instagram page.

Despite the increase of folks of color in America, the beauty standard hasn’t evolved all that much. Let your eyes gaze magazine covers while standing in the check-out line. It’s still mostly white women who are featured. Occasionally, a woman of color will be tossed on the front page for the “diversity” issue. And that’s only if they fit the white standard somehow (light, skinny,  narrow nose, etc.).

As a darker black woman in her 40’s, I have had to fight “all my life” to love my skin tone/fuller lips. I find it fascinating that folks think it’s perfectly okay to treat darker people with such disdain. Anti-darkness is a sickness that needs to be treated in this country. We need to call out folks who engage in this behavior. All day, everyday. We don’t want a color caste system like Brazil. Brazil is a great example of what happens when white supremacy/internalized racism regarding beauty/social status is allowed to run amok.

It’s important we provide younger black folks with positives images of darker skin/”ethnic” looks. And be willing to challenge ourselves if/when black beauty standards also become stagnant.

Photo from:  jezebel.com

Black Future Month #2

When I first learned I was going to become a mother, I wondered how it would impact my work as an activist. The reality is, mothers tend to sacrifice the most of ourselves/time even if we have supportive allies in our lives. Then I came across the article “Claudia De la Cruz: Motherhood As a Part of Her Revolutionary Process.” Cruz, who identifies as Black Dominican or Afro-Caribbean, wrote about how motherhood influenced her role as a community activist. Motherhood doesn’t have to hamper one’s political goals. If anything, it can be used as a valuable tool.

It’s easy to forget the power of mothering. We live in a society that gives lip service to honoring mothers,  but only on the surface. Particularly, when it comes to mothers of color.  The Revolutionary Mothering Book Tour seeks to give space to marginalized mothers. The co-editors (Mai’a Williams, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, and China Martens) have created a gofund account to support their work.

“Our goal is to raise $10,000 to create a series of events, through a national tour,  that will truly embody the legacy of radical Black feminists and move their visions forward, because marginalized mothers are at the center of a world in need of transformation. We are now so excited to bring this vital work to your communities with readings, and a national tour, where we will do not only revolutionary readings, but also motherful community events, presentations, conference panels, and interactive workshops” https://www.gofundme.com/8qqthgbc

How we raise our children. What we teach them. And the wisdom/legacies we leave for our children is an integral part of the future of communities of color. The Revolutionary Mother Book Tour aims to remind us of that.

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Revolutionary reading with my little one (“A is for activist” and “Counting on Community” By Innosanto Nagara).

 

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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Women of Color and Motherhood

“So, how do you like being a mother?” somebody/anybody asks me. I pause slightly and look up to the sky. I’m trying to formulate my words. The somebody/anybody eyes start to glaze over and they begin fidgeting.  I am not answering fast enough for them.  I am suppose to be happily extolling the virtues of motherhood, not pondering it deeply. Finally, I say it’s “interesting.”

I love my baby, I do. But like many new mothers I got the baby blues after he was born. There have been many late nights I have wrapped myself with my arms, rocked back and forth and muttered “what have I done?”

Becoming a parent means sacrificing your time, money,  goals, etc. It’s not that you will never have these things again, but it will be harder.  And when you become an older parent like I have (over 40), you really wonder if you will make it. While other folks will be done with raising a child, you will be dealing with a moody teen in your 50’s/60’s. Oh joy.

For mothers of color, there tends to be the typical parent concerns, plus cultural/community expectations. In the article “An Honest Conversation With Women of Color About Postpartum Mood Disorders,” mothers of color talk about their struggles  with motherhood. There are not a lot of opportunities for women of color to share these kind of stories. For many it’s the fear of not living up to stereotypes of being a Model Minority” or a “Strong Black Woman.”

The article was a moving read and made me realize how important it is for mothers of color to build a supportive network. Having a child can be a wonderful thing, but it should never be at the expense of our mental or emotional health. It’s okay to tell folks that being a mother is “interesting.”  We shouldn’t have to fake the funk to keep other folks fantasies of motherhood alive.

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My new love.

 

Barbershop 3/Giving Thanks

Okay, the first barbershop was decent enough. The second one I don’t even remember. Now a third one with no Michael Ealy? Blah. I guess the movies try to be positive, although Ice Cube got on my nerves this past summer with his “Straight out of Compton” anti-woman antics. The film comes out spring of next year.

This is the time of year folks post on Facebook “thanks-giving” lists sharing all the things they are grateful for in their lives. I usually find these lists annoying, but after this bizarre year of the rise of Donald Trump, the continued violence against black folks/folks of color, push back against reproductive rights, etc.,  I find myself also reflecting on the more positive aspects in my life/the world. You have to to stay sane in these increasingly cold-hearted times…

  • Thanks for my new little one. He brings me love, happiness, and no sleep all at the same time  🙂
  • Thanks for my recent birthday celebration. I usually bemoan another candle on the cake, but hell I could be dead.
  • Thanks to friends who supported me when I needed help with housing/relocation this year.
  • Thanks to the the three women who started #blacklivesmatter igniting a new wave of social justice/civil rights/student activism across the country.
  • Thanks to President Obama for telling folks to stop “popping off” at the mouth. I have my issues with him, but he does have a way of bringing flavor to boring American politics.
  • And last but not least love to the Native/Indigenous folks as we get ready to celebrate the colonizer’s holiday. Special shout out to Mrs. Universe Ashley Callingbull who refuses to let folks shut down her work for Native/Indigenous women. Go girl.

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India’s Daughter

A few years ago, I got the opportunity to travel to Southern India. It was a community service course offered via my graduate program. We traveled from Chennai to Madurai. The cities were beautiful as well as the Tamil people.

The purpose of the trip was to learn about the roles/lives of Indian women. We attended lectures at a women’s college and engaged with the students around/off campus.  One of the more interesting lectures we attended was on dating/love relationships. Basically, those things just didn’t happen in India culture. Arranged marriages are still dominate in India and a young woman has a lot to lose if it’s even suspected she likes a boy, let alone actually talking or going out in public with one.

Of course, as a feminist I was annoyed by this but many of the young women saw nothing wrong with it. This is the world they have been raised and conditioned in.  Even if they didn’t like it, why risk being rejected from your family/society. The consequences were too great.  However, there are Indian feminists/activists who are resisting the oppression faced by women in India.

You see that activism in the PBS documentary “India’s Daughter.” The film chronicles the horrifying gang rape/murder of 23-year-old medical student Jyoti Singh. The film interviews one of the rapists and defense attorneys. Their rationale for the young woman’s assault is disturbing. Basically, she had no right to be out with a boy late at night. The boy was actually just a classmate and “late at night” was only around 7-8pm. One of the attorneys even stated he would light his daughter on fire if she ever did such a thing.

It was a hard film to watch, especially as it brought back memories of my time in India. I meet so many dynamic young women, who because of the reinforced rape/anti-woman culture, will have a hard time living lives free from abuse.

Yet, one can’t get too smug about “those” people being uneducated, etc. The fact of the matter is male violence against women is a worldwide problem. This is illustrated in the ending credits highlighting the staggering statistics of sexual assault against women in different countries.

I mean we just had a Canadian judge tell a young teen to close her legs when being sexually assaulted.  Or the Georgia police chief who said women can’t get raped they’re just stupid. Or the U.S. representative who said a real rape victim’s body knows how to shut down a pregnancy. Ignorance knows no cultural bonds.

“India’s Daughter” will be available online until February 13, 2016.

Rest in peace Jyoti.

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