Category Archives: Race

UNHAND ME

‘Don’t touch me’: CNN panel goes off the rails when Kayleigh McEnanay accuses Charles Blow of ‘sinister motivations’

dont touch meDuring my freshman year in high school, there was a substitute teacher for one of my classes. She went off topic from the lesson plan and started discussing her university experiences. She told the class studies showed Black children don’t like to be touched. Yep, she actually said that as her eyes rested on me. She then walked over to me and put her hand on my shoulder while looking around at the other students so they could observe my actions. Of course I gave her the look of death and snatched away from her. She smiled knowingly as if her “let’s look at the modern Negro in her natural habitat” theories were proven but what her whiteness wouldn’t allow her to understand was my disinterest in her touching me had nothing to do with my blackness and everything to do with her anti-blackness, arrogance, attempt to humiliate me, and her disrespect.

UNCLE CHARLESI have seen a few videos and articles claiming Charles Blow “lost his mind” and behaved “terribly” when Kayleigh McEnany touched him while simultaneously insulting him during a panel discussion on CNN. The fact he is being described as the monster in this scenario is what is typical about whiteness and its persistence in attempting to force us to perform White-approved blackness. Blow’s demand for McEnany to stop touching him took her aback. I mean, here she is a blonde-haired White woman, so what Black man wouldn’t want her to touch him, right? He’s just a prop placed there to pet, not a person present to pontificate on the subject matter so how dare he decline her touch? In that moment, she heard nothing but her white indignation shouting over his demand she respectfully keep her hands to herself. I guess sometimes privilege is deafening.

Instead of respecting Blow’s words, this woman actually argued and tried to shame him for not being interested in her disrespect and dehumanizing slights. I watched and immediately knew what I was seeing – the attempts to dehumanize us then blame us for those attempts. She took him demanding respect and tried to turn it into him being Un-American, disagreeable, and difficult instead of taking it as an opportunity to consider her own misdeeds steeped in privilege. The unmitigated gall.

Today, I salute Charles Blow for his refusal to be treated like a pet. If nobody else feels you, Charles, I feel you. ©

 

WE ARE FAMILY?

‘They friends of yours?’: Trump asks black reporter to set up meeting with Black Caucus

As a child, whenever I was out with my grandmother and would see another kid around DEARWHITEPEOPLEmy age, she would ask, “Is he/she in your class at school?” Despite living in a city with countless schools, I think in her mind, all children knew each other and attended just one school. And so it is with #45. If you’re Black, you live in an inner city, whatever that means. If you’re Black, you automatically know every other Black person in the country and can therefore set up a meeting with your special Black Get Together app. I mean, you are all cousins, right?

Aside from the fact he didn’t answer her question in any way, aside from the fact he previously suggested stop and frisk type policies and the National Guard are valid suggestions for “fixing” impoverished predominately Black populated areas, and aside from the fact he assumed April Ryan’s question would be one he didn’t like because blackness, he continues to stereotype anyone who isn’t White as poor, living in squalor, and barely educated or employed.

Contrary to the message #45 wants to perpetuate, the fact I am a literate, employed, negrofrownscollege educated Black woman doesn’t make me an anomaly. I am not quite sure what an inner city is when he mentions them, though I certainly enjoy listening when Marvin Gaye sings about the blues one gets there. I live in a diverse neighborhood with a mix of folks from all different socioeconomic backgrounds, races, and ethnicities and I have never had the pleasure of meeting every other Black person in this country. But this is how folks vote when there is a disconnect from those who aren’t like them. We are losing “bigly”. ©

 

Trayvon, We Love You

I’m not going to post an article. I’m not going to speak his name. I just know I woke up about 3:30 this morning and saw a tweet about the auctioning of a murder weapon used to kill a child the killer was stalking and words about being exonerated and not “cowering.”

I’m not going to go into the depths of my fury. I’m not going to expound on the rage that results from the increasing difficulties in my life because of this brown skin and the triggers that cause it to bubble to the top. I just know when I read that tweet, the kindness and decency instilled in me via my upbringing dissipated – broken down by the status quo of my Blackness.

I’m not going to pontificate on the far reach of racism. I’m not going to talk about the tears I’ve cried because my people are being used for life’s target practice. I just know I’ve BEEN tired, I know others like me suffer the same fatigue, and my full expectation is for all of us to be unyielding in our actions.

I’m not going to talk about praying for peace and understanding in this matter. I’m not going to acquiesce and say all the words we’ve been taught to say about forgiveness and healing. I just know there must be action and that action is about three years past due. What is the hold up?

I’M TIRED, BOSS

I’ve spent the last week or so trying to process my anger and channel it into some sort of creative avenue to keep from cussing random folks out or slapping strangers, but so far, it hasn’t really subsided. Black Rage is real and at certain times recently, mine has given out to Black Exhaustion. I don’t really know if that’s a thing, but if it wasn’t before a sentence ago, it is now. I see Black Exhaustion as that level that kicks in after one is reminded for the umpteenth time about the world she lives in, sees an atrocity acted out against folks who look like her, rails about said atrocity via all the ways she can think of, then sits quietly seething but too tired to say much else. That last part? That’s the exhaustion. That’s when I’ve fussed, cussed, pondered, pontificated, and ended up pooped because it’s all just too damn much to process or work toward fixing in the moment.

Black-woman-sleep-at-workThese days, my anger is multi-layered. I’m angry at institutionalized racism and all its offshoots like police brutality against black and brown folks that too often ends with us on cold slabs in coroner drawers. I’m pissed off at a white racist with beliefs in extremist ideals who walked into a church and killed a group of folks who just wanted to spend an evening praying in what I imagine was the safest place they thought they could be outside their own homes. I’m annoyed about a white woman spending several years pretending to be a black woman like me, complete with my same struggles, my same obstacles, my same knowledge base, my same reality – sans the inconvenient disadvantages being a black woman REALLY has. I’m incensed by folks trying to tell me I should live some sort of color blind/post-racial reality where my people, my culture, my beliefs, our struggle, our pain, our history is erased all in the interest of making everyone more comfortable by not having to have the “race conversation.” I’m disgusted with black folks who cry “construct” regarding race but don’t do the same regarding “black on black crime” when they go into their rants about how black folks shouldn’t be mad about the Charleston church murders because black people kill black people every single day and nobody cares. I probably hate those people the most. All this anger leads to me wanting to just run away and rest, but how does one rest from a reality that will be there just as foreboding as it was before I buried my head in the sand?

black-woman-stressedI often scroll through news sites, the preview guide on my television, and my social media newsfeeds reading headlines and quietly saying, “Nope,” as I scroll on by high level f*ckery with which I am not prepared to deal. It isn’t an aversion to the truth for me. It’s just that exhaustion creeping in. That exhaustion I get from all the gibberish, the backlash, the innate duty I think I have to clue in the clueless, the mandate to fight against the ultimate disrespect to my people, the drive to trail blaze as a black person, a woman, and one who believes in decency among humanity. And in all this I wonder – is there a no doze for Black Exhaustion? Is there some sort of vitamin, energy drink, or exercise regimen for those of us who fuss and fight all in the name of the advancement and equal treatment of our folks? If there is, can I PLEASE get a prescription?pills

Much like I do when it is time to get up and go to work, I’ll keep driving. I will keep running my mouth, challenging untruths, tackling tomfoolery, and raging against all manner of balderdash, hoodwinkery, and poppycock passed off as righteousness. I just have to make sure I catch a few cat naps in between to stay fresh for that fight. ©

 

 

WHO DOES A SISTA HAVE TO SCREW AROUND HERE TO MATTER?

The-Black-Mans-StruggleI love black men, God knows I do (I absolutely said that in my Oprah as Sophia in The Color Purple voice) – but part of my frustration has to do with the fact I had to start off acknowledging my love for them as a disclaimer for what I really want to say. Since I have been old enough to understand the very basic parts of racism against black folks in this country, I have been indoctrinated with the “black man’s struggle.” I think most black folks; girls and women in particular, have heard it since childhood:

  1. The life playing field isn’t level for a black man.
  2. It’s harder for a black man to get a job.
  3. It’s harder for a black man to get a promotion when he does have a job.
  4. It’s harder for a black man to get respect everywhere.
  5. It’s harder for a black man to be acknowledged in the academic world.
  6. You know, you really have to be supportive of black men and boys because after all, it’s harder for them.
    blackwomenmatter

I’m sure plenty of folks reading this know this unfortunately true rhetoric. Most of my life, I assumed  “white men” were the implied group of privileged folks who had it easier than black men and what I thought totally made sense because the concept of white privilege is real. But these days, I’m not so sure the “white man” is the only one implied to have the lion’s share of privileges. In all this talk of how hard it is to be a black man (or boy), the black majority has forgotten an equally important conversation – the fact black girls and women have it just as hard, if not harder. The playing field isn’t really level for black women either. It’s challenging to be taken seriously in the professional world, despite one’s educational background and body of work that should speak for itself. Promotions are definitely not growing on trees specifically planted and grown for black women. It’s difficult for black girls and women to find respect in the white world, let alone in the black one. Black women graduate from college more often than black men, but we’re often discouraged by professors, administrators, lovers, and family members during our educational pursuits. And we have to rail against sexism outside of, but more importantly, within our race, and shit – it’s just hard being a black woman in this society. And folks thought it was hard out here for a pimp. He should try being a ho and see how that works.

Black girls and women are beaten, raped, and murdered by law enforcement officers just like our beloved black boys and men. We are denied opportunities we earn, just like our beloved black boys and men. We struggle with finding our footing in a society that MUGSHOT2constantly reminds us it doesn’t love us, just like our beloved black men. And from childhood we fight against being told we aren’t worthy, smart, beautiful, relevant, creative, innovative, or worthwhile, just like our beloved black men. But we forge our way anyway. We plot, plan, protest, politic, and prance up and down streets on behalf of our boys and men reminding this world the lives of our counterparts matter.

But who exactly marches for and with us? Who lets folks know when we say, “Black Lives Matter,” Black includes girls and women? Who campaigns for us with photo shoots shown in caps and gowns, posing mug shot style, with a sign in our hands stating our major in which we earned a degree? Who tells our story about how hard it is to be us and about how we really just need support during our struggle? Who surrounds us with love? Who RIDES for us? Who lets the world know we aren’t petty or unaware of the way our gender counterparts suffer just because we point out the fact we suffer too? Unfortunately, the answer to that is usually – US.

thumbI love black men, God knows I do, but I don’t love them or respect their struggle any more than I love and respect that of black girls and women. To succeed, to progress, to exact change in any way, we must support each other. The struggles of black girls and women must be acknowledged and seen as inextricable to the black struggle. I can be about that ride or die life, but I don’t always want to be in the car alone. ©

 

TALK THAT TALK

I weigh too much.  My body fat percentage is higher than it should be, I need to make some

Picture1serious improvements to my ab workout, and my devotion to procrastination sometimes interferes with my ability to tackle the first three issues. All these things about me are true, but they are far from a full definition of who I am, what I work to accomplish, or what I believe I represent as a person. Recently, I was talking to a friend who reminded me about the importance of avoiding negative self-talk in my fitness journey. Not long after, I considered how that relates to the way Black folks often discuss themselves and their “plight”.

As I peruse my various social networking sites, I come across the usual rhetoric – “If Black folks would spend half as much time investing our money as we do buying Jordans, we’d be better off,” or “I see this video of this baby dancing on Facebook, but I bet he doesn’t even know his alphabet yet. Black folks always focused on the wrong thing, that’s why our children are failing” or “That’s the problem with Black relationships, the women aren’t supportive and the men don’t know how to treat a queen.” The list goes on to a seemingly 11024692_10153042575565310_3668182119721558509_nendless location in space and time, and at a certain point, it appears all Black folks are is a bunch of people riddled with problems they can’t ever seem to solve because all they do is waste money on frivolities, make more babies who dance but can’t read, and embark on a series of unhealthy romantic relationships.

Of course, some of these behaviors apply to some Black folks. Just like I weigh too much and tend to procrastinate, some Black folks spend too much money on Jordans without investing in their educational or professional goals, but just as there is far more to me than what I weigh, Black folks far exceed the generalizations we spew about ourselves and I think a lot of what keeps many of us in a life holding pattern is the way we speak about ourselves and the way we absorb and believe the things others say about us. Black folks are brilliant, resilient, resourceful, creative, artistic, and advanced in all areas of professional life. We are inventors, investors, and innovators. We set trends folks chomp at the bit to follow and everything about us, down to the features with which we were born, is emulated. Sure, some of us definitely need to work on our parenting skills and ideas for our long term financial futures, but those shortcomings do not make us any less amazing and are but a small part of the truth of who we are. no-negative-self-talkI think if we started focusing on where we excel more than where we fail, we’d be in a better, more progressive place in general. If all I see in my mirror is a woman who weighs too much and procrastinates, I lose. When I look and see a woman who is smart, witty, hardworking, healthy, active, funny, and progressive, the shortcomings are much easier to master because I’ve acknowledged I have every last tool I need to overcome them. Maybe black folks should try this same thing. If we start talking ourselves up instead of down, we win. We discover ways to overcome the negativity that plagues us and we are more likely to find our brilliance – right under all that negative self-talk. ©

A Smattering of Mattering

Unarmed People of Color Killed by Police, 1999-2014
blacklivesmatterAfter far too many deaths of unarmed black men AND women at the hands of law enforcement, the motto of the movement to fight against this enduring injustice  is “BLACK LIVES MATTER.” Folks have seen this phrase on protest signs, t-shirts, hats, Facebook cover photos, as twitter hashtags, etc… Usually, there is some brown person iterating the phrase and trying to convince this disjointed society the sentiment is indeed true, despite all the bloody evidence showing too many folks in positions of authority do not believe it. Though I am saddened by the thought there is even a need for black folks to advise the world of their worthiness to live, I support the campaign wholeheartedly and often repeat the phrase for my benefit and the benefit of those with whom I come in contact. Despite the absolute truthiness in this phrase, there is now an effort to minimize the poignancy of the phrase by simply saying, “ALL LIVES MATTER.”

Look, the value of life has been touted by the majority since the beginning of time. Respect for human, animal, and plant life is always discussed through popular media, activism, and other information avenues. There are sit ins, shut ins, and die ins all focused Riceon informing the public and protesting against “the establishment” in the interest of protecting what matters. People are assaulted, arrested, and vilified in their efforts to protect the sanctity of that which is relevant for the greater good. In all this protest and activism, there is finally a phrase that embodies the sentiments of black and brown folks everywhere – that our lives have meaning, that we are people, not animals, that we live, breathe, and bleed, and that we, like every person, every plant, and every animal- MATTER. Now, there is an effort to detract from that movement by simply reminding the world that ALL lives matter.

First of all, of course they do. One would be hard pressed to find someone within the BLACK LIVES MATTER camp sans respect for life in general, but that isn’t the issue here. The problem is those opting to gloss over the terrorist-like actions of certain law enforcement entities snuffing out the lives of black folks because they do not believe BLACK LIVES MATTER. Those who murder us when our hands are up, when we are on our knees, when we sit in our cars, or when we dare to simply be existing on the street do not believe our lives matter. They look at black folks and see problems instead of people and therefore, it is imperative we remind them the black lives they so cavalierly take MATTER.

Secondly, the world already knows white lives matter. Let’s face it, when folks change BLACK to ALL, it’s really a whitewashing of the belief BLACK LIVES MATTER. It is a reminder of what anyone in this country was raised knowing – white life matters unequivocally. From TV shows to school history books, we all know white is relevant. What isn’t apparent is the equally relevant value of black life. A hundreds of years old history ofhawkins being treated as less than has a way of convincing others black life really isn’t that valuable. BLACK LIVES MATTER exists to chip away at that flawed thinking. Just as we’ve all been told repeatedly how much white life matters, we must ingrain that same thinking in the world when it comes to black lives.

Lastly, black folks do not have to explain why their lives matter. The fact we are humans is reason enough to know we matter. The fact our lives are often disregarded is evident when we are questioned about why we insist on reminding the world we matter. The very fact we need a campaign to spread this very basic and innate fact is evidence our Crawfordexistence is devalued regularly. If going out into the world and launching a campaign to let all people know what they should have always known is required, so be it. I will continue to write, text, tweet, and status update my way through to promote the relevance of black lives and I will do so without apology.

The harassment, assault, and murder of unarmed black folks, the lack of indictments for those murders, and the ensuing claims that we are thugs, criminals, and intimidating figures and therefore deserve to be murdered, armed or not, is indicative of the need to spread the message that BLACK LIVES MATTER and folks should shout this fact until their voices are hoarse and fingertips bloody from typing. No apologies and no take backs. ©

Over-Activism

For three or four days, I was heavily engaged in conversations about the ridiculous Donald Donald SterlingSterling debacle. I engaged in verbal conversations and argued, advocated, and admonished via Facebook about various aspects of racism, racial discrimination, being recorded unwittingly, “chick on the side” status, lawsuits, bans, and fines. I was pretty tuckered out after a few days, so I had to bow out of any further discussions to assure my head wouldn’t explode prematurely (yes, it will probably happen one day anyway).

While the exchange of ideas about Sterling was going on, I was tapped on the shoulder by other tweets and Facebook status updates and reminded that I should stop talking about the racist NBA franchise owner and instead turn my attention to the over 250 girls who were the victims of a mass kidnapping in Nigeria. So, I took a break from racism in America and took time to talk about these babies, the danger they are facing, the cruelty of selling bringbackthem for about $12 apiece to a bunch of creepy grown men, the lack of respect for girls and women, and the seeming inaction of various entities in facilitating the search and rescue necessary to bring them home. I was at the height of my tirade when I was reminded that I’m still supposed to be indignant over the disappearance of a whole plane full of whole people, irate over the lack of equal pay for women for equal work, furious with the Supreme Court for the way it seems to be chipping away at Affirmative Action, sad over the loss of life from the South Korean ferry that sunk, vigilant about conserving water for the drought here in Northern California though a lot of that would be solved if we weren’t still routing so much of our water to Southern planeCalifornia, worried about the plight of black youth in America while daily crying over Trayvon Martin, and a whole bunch of other tomfoolery that plagues my life and the lives of those around me. All I am really trying to do is figure out when I’m supposed to sleep, eat, or work if I’m expected to spend my every waking moment fighting causes, signing petitions, weeping openly, and going into verbal tirades based in righteous indignation. The truth is – I’m tired.

Most of the time, I feel like I’m being pursued, arrested, charged, tried, and imprisoned by the Care Police; those folks in social media, in one’s family, and sometimes, right in one’s home, who are constantly telling everyone where there concerns should lie. If too much focus is in one area, members of the Care Police force will swoop right in to tell others they shouldn’t be talking about reality show stars’ adult film forays but should instead be worried about global warming and all the hungry children in some third world county. They will remind folks they aren’t really as black or as conscious or as down as they could or should be because they are wondering if the missing white girl of the day has been found instead of worrying and wringing their hands over the missing girls in Nigeria. It doesn’t matter that one is capable of being concerned about ALL the girls, the new social networking requirement indicates one must comply and show verbally and/or written forms of their concern for the cause du jour, according to the Care Police official agenda. With all these spoken and unspoken expectations, it’s is amazing if one can complete any task from start to finish when her care rations are so thinly spread.

To maintain my sanity and to feel like my level of concern is relevant and my resulting actions effective, I’ve learned to break away from the self-righteous grasp of the Care Police and develop my own ideas about how to deal with the craziness of the day. Social helpactivism starts in the home. One doesn’t need petitions, picket signs, and scathing emails to get that started. Take up the cause of being aware before obsessing over everything else. Ask the question, “Am I meaningfully connected to those close to me? Do I help my friends and family?” Starting there and THEN working one’s way outward to the more far reaching issues of the world is the most reasonable plan of action. It makes no sense to first worry about what happened abroad or in the next state over if one’s best friend is suffering. Though ALL these issues matter, starting where one can do the most to help is the best way to influence people and circumstances.

My toddler niece was scheduled for a surgical procedure today and another young relative of mine is in a hospital now getting a picc line that will hopefully be the cure for what ails him. My friends and family are concerned, anxious, and worried. How can I overlook that and spend the majority of my time with my mind on Nigeria, South Korea, racist rhetoric, and everything else crazy happening right now when the people I love the most are close enough for me to help RIGHT NOW?

Make no mistakes about it; I absolutely care about kidnapped girls, disappearing planes, ferries sinking, and wealthy racists with influence over the well-being and progress of black and brown people. I will always rage against the tomfoolery of the day, be it local or international. However, I realize what I do to counteract those things means absolutely nothing if I step over my sister laying in the street to get to my flight to go fight trouble outside my home. Who am I if not the keeper of those I proclaim to love?

It is no easy feat to get past the pressure of those ever-diligent Care Police officers, but once one is aware of her purpose and the place where her care can be placed most effectively, it is simpler to drown out the self-righteous rantings and get in where one fits in. My best fit is right in my own home first. ©

 

Lupita For the Win…Or Something.

PeopleSo, I was scrolling through Instagram the other day and saw actress, Lupita Nyong’o, made the cover of People Magazine’s Most Beautiful People edition. I glanced at the picture, smiled because I think it definitely bodes well for her, and kept scrolling. The next day, a Facebook acquaintance posted People’s article about Nyong’o with a caption that said, “Black Women FTW (For The Win).” Though I certainly think pulling the cover of People’s famous issue is a wonderful move for her career, I am unable to concede Lupita’s present popularity trickles down to the average black woman like me and I don’t believe I need it.

When Halle Berry “won” the Academy Award for best actress, I sat in my living room clapping confusedly and wondering how and why it happened. She graciously accepted the award, spoke of how honored she was, and called the names of the black women who paved the acting road before her. It was a really historical moment, but the next day at work, nobody cared about Halle’s win. My boss didn’t treat me differently, my coworkers didn’t throw down any rose petals to cover my path, and I still had to do the same work I’d been doing for years. What it boiled down to was  that award was really only a benefit to Halle. It didn’t really work for me despite my black woman status. The same thing applies to Lupita.

A wonderful reminder and living example of black women’s beauty, Lupita’s presence has been a welcome change from the status quo of celebrity black beauty. With her dark skin, short natural hair, and slight frame, she is showing mainstream America a display of beauty black folks have always known existed. I see Lupita every day. In the grocery store, at the hair salon, in my workplace – everywhere there are beautiful black women who live outside the small parameters of the definition of beauty we never created and by which we  should not have to adhere. All heights, body types, skin tones, hair textures and colors,  clothing styles, etc…are represented whenever I leave the house and every last one of these women possesses that same type of unfettered beauty Nyong’o exudes on each red carpet she graces.

So, since I’ve touted the goodness of Lupita and her People Magazine cover, it probably sounds like I think she is helping to expose the mainstream world to the beauty of black women thereby making all our little black lives better, but I don’t think that’s the case and even if it were, I wouldn’t care. Though I believe her presence has sparked some previously uncommon conversations among some, I do not believe her success is a win for black women overall. For me, to concede that would mean black women have just been sitting around for  years waiting for mainstream America (white folks) to think we’re pretty, to value our beauty, and to recognize it in the media and on the runway and I just don’t think that’s true.

Beauty among black women is not new or rare. It is a staple of our makeup. We were beautiful as rulers of nations, as slaves oppressed by the indecent and hateful, as maids and nannies caring for white children while sending our own to babysitters, as teachers, attorneys, lawmakers, cooks, and any other profession. That beauty did not need, and still doesn’t need to be validated by white folks. It is real and always will be. So, to me, Lupita’s popularity and visibility on the red carpet and runway isn’t a win for black women, though I love seeing here there. It is a win for everyone else who refused to see our beauty and is now faced with its reality. Now they know what we always did.  You’re welcome. ©