The Fragility of White Women’s Allyship

About a month ago, there was controversy surrounding the release of “Beguiled.” Side eyes were given when director Sofia Coppola casually erased two Black women from her film. These characters were featured in the book and original 1971 film of the same name. Eyebrows were raised when Coppola tried to justify  why she left these women on the cutting room floor. To paraphrase Coppola she stated her film was “about gender dynamics, not race.”

In the article “The Beguiled’ Sanitizes Racism by Masking It with the Pretty Faces of Nicole Kidman and Elle Fanning,” author Kendra James deconstructs the film and Coppola’s stance.

Of course, this left Black women to ask “but aren’t Black women, uh women?” Coppola’s dismissal of Black women, highlights the problem of so-called white feminists. These women keep reminding Black women/women of color, they aren’t really too worried about us.

A few weeks before Coppola showed us who she was, another white woman, Ann Thompson (editor at Indiewire), decided to kick Black women in the teeth. After another white woman, actress Elizabeth Banks bemoaned the lack of opportunities for women in Hollywood, particularly zeroing in on Steven Spielberg. While Black folks on social media agreed Spielberg could do better,they pointed out he did produce/direct one of the biggest female lead film in the ’80s…The Color Purple.

This is when Thompson decided to jump in and declare The Color Purple a flop. Well, Black folks got their laugh on that day.

This disparaging remark made by Thompson showed that white women know nothing about Black women’s lives, don’t care to know about Black women’s lives. Because if Thompson really cared about Black women as “women,” she would know The Color Purple is beloved by Black women. Black women know every line in the film. Black women know every song sang in the film. Black women know when they have been done wrong by someone, to stick a finger (or knife) in the offender’s face and say with confidence “until you do right by me, everything you think about is going to crumble!”

Sojourner Truth: “Ain’t I a Woman?”

Also, Thompson would be aware that The Color Purple earned over 11 Academy Award Nominations and ranked in over $100 million dollars. The film resulted in a popular play on Broadway and of course it all started with the best-selling book by Black feminist writer, Alice Walker. I mean really…

I wanted to revisit these “flops” of white women like Coppola, Banks, and Thompson because it speaks to the bigger issue of the fragility of white women’s allyship. Despite these women often calling on women to come together for “x,y, z…” they generally are not thinking of Black women/women of color. The truth is, majority of white women feel absolutely no connection to Black women. It’s why even motherhood, which one would think women could build community, makes no difference to white women.

Since becoming a mom, I’ve noticed white mothers tend to be indifferent to me if not worse. When I attend family events (library, park, etc.)  white mothers will chat it up with each other, while ignoring me.  Or they give me and my child exasperated looks. I remember once my sweet little guy, smiling and saying hi to a white woman at the store. The white woman gave him a dirty look. I made sure she saw my middle finger. White women can be hateful to Black children. They tend to teach their children not to play/engage with Black kids. I don’t know how many times I’ve witness white mothers whisk their kids away from the playground area when Black children/children of color show up.

I think this has to do with stereotypes around Black motherhood and that many white mothers think Black moms are incompetent. Never mind the fact we took care of their children for hundreds of years while they sat on their azz and ate bon bons.

These increasing incidents of white women crapping on the lives/voices of Black women, is why a lot of Black women feminists have given up. They have grown weary of white women’s “allyship.” It seems to create more headache than needed when you think about all the other nonsense Black women have to deal with in the world.

The Strange, Sad Case of Laci Green

Yes, yes there are some “decent” white women allies. But what’s the point of the “decent” ones if they are not calling out the obnoxious ones? Until this happens (on a consistent basis) feminists of color distrust of white women will continue to grow.

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Chi-Raq

Spike Lee so crazy.

I am a huge Lee fan. I give him props for renewing interest in black cinema almost 30 years ago with his debut film “She’s Gotta Have It.” I think Lee brings a unique style and pro-black stance to the film industry. He represented Black Lives Matter before black lives mattered. You always know when you are watching a Lee production even when it’s not a “black” film (“Inside Man”). Sometimes he goes too far (I’m still trying to figure out what the hell “Red Hook Summer” was about) and he tends to be hit or miss with his black female characters. Mostly miss.

So, I’m curious to see how he handles all the dynamic black women featured in the trailer for his new film “Chi-Raq.”

“Chi-Raq, Spike Lee’s latest joint, is an update of Aristophanes’ anti-war comedy Lysistrata, otherwise known as the play where all the women of Athens stop having sex with their husbands in an effort to bring the devastating Peloponnesian War to an end. Set in the modern day south Chicago Urban war zone nicknamed Chi-Raq (as in “Iraq”) the story sees a group of women organize against the on-going violence after the murder of a child by a stray bullet, by withholding sexual access to the point that even strippers refuse to work. What follows challenges the nature of sex, race and violence in America and the world.” http://deadline.com/2015/11/chi-raq-trailer-greek-comedy-in-chiacgos-south-side-1201605210/

Uh, oh. Black women and sexuality isn’t Lee’s strong point as was shown in the ill-fated “Girl 6.”  There’s also the controversial sexual assault of the lead character in “She’s…” Lee has said to be ashamed of that scene.  As he should be.

Well, we shall see how “Chi-Raq” turns out. What I enjoy about Lee’s films is that there tends to be messages for the black community, white racism, and ourselves. He better not be coming out with some nonsense.

Black Children Matter

The world is a big and scary place. Once you have a little one, it becomes even bigger and scarier. You realize with alarm there is really only so much you can do to protect them.  It’s even more nerve-racking when one is a Black parent. In a society built on anti-blackness/hatred of black folks, you know your children are more vulnerable to violence/oppression by the dominate culture.

By now, folks have heard about the black teen girl who was brutalized by a white police officer in the classroom.

When I first saw the video clip, I immediately thought it would be on and popping if that had been my kid. Or maybe not. I most likely would just get arrested myself. Any excuse to lock us all up. As is the case of the victim’s classmate who was brave enough to record the attack and verbally let her anger be known about the incident. She is being charged with…who knows what. I guess daring to stand up to a white male authority figure? This is what folks mean when people talk about the school-to-prison pipeline.

STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF A SECRET

On Facebook, I am in a group of dynamic Black writers/poets/dancers/visual artists. I have no idea how I got invited into the group, as I possess none of these skills, but I love the group as I am privy to exciting new work by other members.

Rosalind Bell is a writer and urban farmer. She has started an Indiegogo campaign to help fund a research project examining her family history/legacy.

“I ask for your financial help and support in my endeavor to discover, research and tell the stories of my ancestors and in so doing, tell the story of Louisiana before and after the Civil War, and unravel the secret of me.  How, in one of the most inhospitable to black life places in the whole wide world could both my progenitors have purchased the land? My first mother’s grandparents bought over 700 acres starting in 1881. And how were they able to secure it in the face of documented racist treachery. STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF A SECRET is as much a research project as it is a writing project. I must scour microfilm, parish and state records, attics, books and people to get what I am looking for. I am seeking $29,000 to cover this expedition.” https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-fund-standing-in-the-middle-of-a-secret#/story

Sounds interesting, eh.  And check out the perks! Goodness, a Louisiana Meat Lovers Delivery, Gumbo Fest, and more!

Support and/or share with your networks if you can!

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Rosalind Bell an urban farmer.

Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl

Happy Friday!!

Y’all know I love a good Do It Yourself (DIY) project. Check out this fascinating Indiegogo campaign…

“Citizen of the world, Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor changed the way we talk about women, race and food. VERTAMAE is a self-described, “6-foot-tall Geechee girl with dark skin, a flat nose, and full lips.” She is the author of four books, including the groundbreaking 1970 autobiographical cookbook, Vibration Cooking or the Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl, which inspired the emerging critical studies movement of Food as Cultural Memory.” https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/travel-notes-of-a-geechee-girl–2

The project is being led by director/writer Julie Dash. I’m sure folks remember Dash for her groundbreaking movie “DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST.” I actually got to see Dash a few years ago when she visited my campus to talk about her work on “Daughters…” and the ongoing struggle of Black women filmmakers. Especially those who want to go outside the box of romantic comedies/Tyler Perry type films.

Support or share with your networks 🙂

20150330051621-kali_mystery

Black Woman Heal Day 2015

Last week, I attended the first national Black Woman Heal Day with an event held in my city.

Lilada Gee founded the day as a way for Black women to address sexual violence/other issues that have impacted our lives. In a society that is very hostile to Black women…how can we stay emotionally/mentally/physically healthy. Gee was inspired by her own life experiences.

“Lilada Gee was 6 years old the first time an adult family member sexually abused her. Throughout the ensuing years, she struggled with issues related to the abuse; including clinical depression, post-traumatic stress and low self-esteem. Now, as an adult, she is committed to helping girls and women who are victims of child sexual abuse, heal. Lilada’s Livingroom began in the living room of Lilada’s home, after she publicly shared her tumultuous journey of healing from childhood sexual abuse. Girls and women who were in the audience started showing up at her home, in her living room to find a safe place to heal. Since that time, Lilada has traveled from coast-to-coast and abroad, creating safe places for women and girls to rid themselves of the shame, secrets and stigmatism of abuse.”

http://lilada.org/

The organizers at my event provided a creative space so that attendees could express themselves any way they needed to. Whether it was making cute African dolls (with just fabric/wire!!) or painting our hopes/dreams…it was a cathartic event. And of course there was lots of food. You always have to have food 😉 Gee Skyped in. She was lovely, of course. I could tell she was moved by our participation.

Inspirational African dolls made by attendees.
Inspirational dolls made by attendees.
I was eating everythang :)
I was eating everythang  😉
I tried to get my paint on!
I tried to get my paint on!

Hopefully, this national event will continue on. It’s important work that needs to be sustained. Check out this great interview with Gee. You will get tears in your eyes. Rock on Black women!!

Angela’s Sacred Heart

Ack! I hate it when I find out about good DIY campaigns just as the deadline is closing in… 😦

“Ashley Williams is an accomplished local actor in Portland, Oregon. She is in the last weeks of an Indiegogo campaign with her mom, G.G. Williams. They are raising funds to film and produce a film about sexual assault.  They are seeking to raise $10,000 by April 9th.”  —http://theblackportlanders.com/

If you don’t know (but should) April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Black women often have to deal with issues of sexual violence/harassment/stalking on their own. There tends to be racist/sexist stereotypes around Black women’s sexuality. A lot of it has to do with our culture needing to justify sanctioned/historical abuse of Black women’s bodies in this country.

“The U.S. is one of the few places in the world where mass rapes have occurred systematically against an entire race of people (African-American women) and there has been no outcry from human rights communities, no processes for justice, no acknowledgement or recognition of such violations and its impact on the culture of violence against Black women today.” http://www.blackwomensblueprint.org/sexual-violence/

Angela’s Sacred Heart seeks to tell one Black woman’s experience with sexual assault and the larger issue of empowering  young women in a pervasive rape culture.  

Angela’s Sacred Heart – IndieGoGo Campaign Video from Serenity Studios on Vimeo.

A Litany For Survival: the Life and Work of Audre Lorde

March is Women’s History Month.

“Women’s History Month is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. It is celebrated during March in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, corresponding with International Women’s Day on March 8, and during October in Canada, corresponding with the celebration of Persons Day on October 18.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women’s_History_Month

While we tend to be a bit more open talking about racism in this country, we fail to discuss the hatred of women that permeates in our society. It’s not hard to pick up on the loathing via mainstream media.

As a Black woman, I often have to navigate high levels of anti-blackness/femaleness in my daily encounters with white folks/men.

Black feminist scholar Moya Bailey coined the term “Misogynoir” to speak to the unique form of hostility that is geared towards Black women simply for being Black and women (Yes, Madonna and Patricia Arquette you can be both).

While I haven’t been able to do too much for Women’s History Month, I was able to attend a film showing of “A Litany For Survival: the Life and Work of Audre Lorde.”

Audre Lorde tends to be revered in feminists communities. After watching the documentary it became clear why the self-proclaimed “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” is loved. Lorde was a great creative spirit/orator/intellectual.

It was hard to watch the latter years of her life, as she battled cancer. There was one scene (I can’t remember if she was with her daughter or a friend) but even as she could barely speak/was weak from cancer, she was brainstorming how to put an activist conference together. Her daughter/friend told her “No, I wanted us to talk about you doing something fun.” Lorde titled her head slightly and let out a soft sigh.  She had a small smile on her face. She was a thinker/organizer until the end.

I highly recommend the film. The documentary made me realize that Black women intellectuals don’t get enough shine in or out the Black community. Pop stars, actresses, fashinonistas do…but not our Black women intellectuals. Black women pretty much still have to be oversexualized or playing Mammy to get some love.

If you do nothing else this Women’s History Month, at least check out this documentary 🙂

#solidarityisforwhitewomen

I don’t know how I missed this controversy. The hashtag  #solidarityisforwhitewomen was started by Karnythia, a black woman blogger. It grew out of her frustrations of white women feminists and their continued marginalization of women of color. Despite the rhetoric of inclusion, diversity, and “intersectionality” the feminist movement tends to still be dominated/controlled by white feminists. They haven’t been that eager to share their power.

Honestly, when a white woman tells me they’re a feminist (as a way to connect with me) I already know I will be dealing with some nonsense later on. Or white women tears.  White women tears is the not so inside joke of feminists of color. Basically, its white women who resort to crying when they realize a person of color won’t let them off the hook for their white privilege/racism.  These tears tend to be especially used against women of color, as many white women have bought into they are the “real” women and we are the fake ones.

In the words of bell hooks:

“All white women in this nation know that their status is different from that of black women/women of color. They know this from the time they are little girls watching television and seeing only their images. They know that the only reason nonwhites are absent/invisible is because they are not white. All white women in this nation know that whiteness is a privileged category. The fact that white females may choose to repress or deny this knowledge does not mean they are ignorant: it means that they are in denial.” From http://stfu-moffat.tumblr.com/post/45677527617/all-white-women-in-this-nation-know-that-their

Most women of color have had to deal with white women tears. Especially black women. While all women of color are made into second class (sometimes third class) citizens to that of white women, black women are more likely to be used as the antithesis of white womanhood:

Photo from:http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/scarlett-ohara/images/27870938/title/scarlett-ohara-photo
Photo from:http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/scarlett-ohara/images/27870938/title/scarlett-ohara-photo

A lot of it has to do with slavery. In order to justify the labor exploitation/rapes of black women, we had to be “othered.” Historically, white women have benefited off the backs of black women. I bet the majority of black women have experienced white women trying to make them their personal Mammy. Hell, it happened to me just the other day.

I was trying to get my Starbucks on. One of the white women workers eased up beside me, as I was stirring my tea. She stared at my hair. “So, what hair products do you use?” She asked. Now, anyone that knows me, know I don’t answer non-black folks hair questions. I just don’t. So, I suggested to her, like I suggest to other folks, she should Google about black hair products.  She didn’t get the hint. She started carrying on about her daughter’s hair. I think she was trying to let me know her daughter was biracial. But that’s still not my problem. If you have a biracial child, it’s your responsibility to read books/Google about black hair culture. When the woman realized I wasn’t going to answer her question, she huffed and walked away. But, I didn’t give a damn. I was not put on this earth to be the educator of blackness to white folks. If Angela Jolie and Brad Pitt can learn how to do their adopted black daughter’s hair (or at the very least pay someone to do it), so can other non-black folks.

Am I hardcore?

Yes, but you have to remember I get put into these situations on a daily basis.  White women coming up to me out of the blue wanting me answer their questions, explain things to them, or help them with things.  I am not a freelance Mammy.  These situations are probably magnified, as I am a dark black woman, and the image of Mammy has typically been that of darker skinned women.

If white women don’t get angry (if you refuse to play the role), usually it’s tears.  And frankly, a lot it tends to be from so-called white feminists. The fact of the matter is feminism has failed women of color.  It will continue to suck until white women feminist get real with some of their issues (and do better outreach to teaching everyday white women to stop being oppressive towards non-white women ). Do I hate all white feminists? Nope. I have met some cool ones that are genuinely trying to be allies/check themselves. But, they are  just a handful. Most white feminists cling to their white privilege.

Any who, I went on this rant because Salon.com is starting a column for feminist of color. It’s the continuation of the   #solidarityisforwhitewomen  movement. If you identify as a feminist of color (regardless of gender), submit something!   I put the contact information under the “Call for Submissions” tab.

Good luck!

“Crazy.Sexy.Life”

I always thought Oprah’s OWN would’ve started off with a bang, if she had appealed to women of color/black women.  Instead, she continued to pander to her white female audience, kicking women of color/black women to the curb. Not surprisingly,  her white female audience failed her. Now, she is turning to the group she should have reached out to from the beginning (IMO). The women in the new series “Crazy. Sexy. Life” seem like cliché reality folks. But, I think it’s good to show diversity of black life, even if it doesn’t necessarily resonate with me. It’s amazing that two of the women have survived breast cancer:

The show will be featured on OWN Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 10 p.m, but doesn’t officially air until 2014.