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Category Archives: Black people need to read more

How My Audition for the Twerk Team Went!

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I am probably the most militant (maybe second after Chad) person on the thread, so it really hurt me to think of this post… but it had to happen. I’ve lived in LA for about 9 and a half months now. It’s been an interesting adventure. There have been a lot of ups and downs during this journey as I’m in a very interesting situation. Right now, I am my boss’s only employee, so it’s been kind of hard meeting peers. And after the week I had, I decided to write this blog.

While trying to meet new people, I have realized that black women are the unfriendliest women (at least in LA). As I’ve had many encounters here, I’ve been surprised how various women have responded to me. I have a friend from college that I’ve been hanging out with. She’s friendly. She’s spunky. She’s accepting, and she’s white… So we go to a lot of bars and have wine nights watching Pitch Perfect. But being who I am, I can say I do crave [doing hoodrat things] with my friends, so I did go on a search to find some black friends. What did I decide to do? I joined the LA Urban League Young Professionals.

I went to my first event this past week. I was excited. I have a magnetic personality. I’m funny. I have to meet one friend, right? As I lightly campaigned about just moving here and made small talk, every single female ended up giving me the “we already have our friends leave us alone” stank face. I would join conversations, and these females would literally turn their lip up at me. Really? It wasn’t even about bourgie black people perceiving that I was less than because I clearly just paid dues. So why look at me like this? My jokes were funny. I even had the comedian laughing, so I questioned why I left the event feeling awkward, bruised, and empty handed.

The next night… I go out with my spunky, LA best friend, and a couple of her ex co-workers (one Caucasian, one Asian-American). We hit a nice, dance infused, spot. Mostly black people. I got to shake my lovely lady lump. The downside of this place? It was the upstairs of a restaurant and only had one, unisex bathroom. If you know me, you know that I am the bathroom queen and probably will go 3 or 4 times during the night. (It’s probably because I drink so fast… don’t judge me!) While in this abyss of a restroom line, a Latina taps me and tells me how pretty I look in my shirt. We then strike up a conversation. She recognizes my accent, and I tell her that I haven’t lived here for long. She then invites me out to a comedy night. We exchange numbers. (She was in line with her boyfriends, so she wasn’t hitting on me). A simple bathroom trip, and I gain an associate. Interesting.

I wish I had some profound logic as to why black women are the way we are, but I don’t. We get in our groups, and we treat encounters like they are twerk team auditions. I’m not being a pot calling the kettle black, but I am now aware of what we as black women do. And if we do it to women, many of us wonder why no men approached us at the club. We’re missing God’s blessing by being so unfriendly, so I’m challenging myself to smile at everyone and not give someone a stank face when they try to have a conversation with me. Let’s see what will happen! #BlackPower

-Warnecessary

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Vote Suppression in America


Viviette Applewhite and Voter ID

Here is why I have little patience for conspiracy theories without the weight of some proof behind them. People are working everyday to institute policies and ideas that disproportionately harm our community without any secrecy whatsoever. The efforts to discourage people who are likely to vote Democratic in elections from being able to vote at all. None of this is secret. They claim to be trying to protect against voter fraud but this doesn’t pass the laugh test among anyone with political savvy who is speaking earnestly. There has been a national push to restrict voting with voter id laws that count hunting licenses as valid but student id’s as invalid in addition to aggressively pushing college students off the rolls, taking away the right to vote from convicts, telling people they could be arrested if they show up from the polls, telling people the wrong date for elections, etc. none of these things are in any way secret. They’ve been bold in their actions to the point that awards have been given to people who can keep the most voters away from the booth. This has all been reported, editorialized, and absorbed by the public with no shock or outrage whatsoever. This sad fact speaks to the cynicism that has gripped the body politic that none of this was given a cursory attempt to be shielded from view. So no I don’t buy into conspiracies because today bold efforts to stop people from exercising their right to vote is taken nakedly without shame and no push back. While we’re out charging towards windmills our feet are being cut from us by an adversary who is too happy to shout while they do it.

cross-posted @ theybc

 

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Obama’s “Real” Father and Lazy Thinking

Real Father
http://anomaly.realgravity.com/flash/player.swf

Conspiracy Theories in America

This supercut comes from “Dreams from My Real Father” a movie being pushed that purports to tell the “real” story of Barack Obama and his background. It’s easy to point out the extreme stretches of logic it would take to believe that Obama’s real father is Frank Marshall whose parentage was covered up by his grandfather who was secretly in the CIA. Why his CIA pops could cover up his birth but not prevent his daughter from having a child with a communist is an obvious question but I digress. We could spend all day debunking the “logic” on display here. What people tend to have a tougher time with is seeing through similar jumps in logic about conspiracy theories that are beneficial to their worldview. The odds that there are secret meetings by the world’s most powerful people collude to keep everyone else down are similar to the odds that there are secret meetings between black and Jewish people to overthrow white people. Conspiracy theories provide an easy out for the question of why things are the way they are. Acting as a deus ex machina for the thousands of little decisions and interactions that seemingly govern our world.

– C.S.

x-posted @ TheYBC

 

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Bayard Rustin, Barack Obama, and Homophobia in the Black Community

Bayard Rustin, Barack Obama, and Homophobia in the Black Community

After President Obama’s announcement yesterday I’ve been thinking about the LGBT community, the black community and how they intersect in doing so I’m reminded of Bayard Rustin. As someone who started the Freedom Rides, was an early practitioner and Martin Luther King Jr.‘s teacher of non-violent resistance Bayard Rustin holds an enormous place in the history of black folk here in the United States. Rustin like many black folks was also gay. This didn’t stop him from helping to found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference although it did lead to him being forced from it’s leadership in 1960. Repeatedly Rustin was ostracized for his sexuality among those of his race even while joining them in fighting for the equal rights and respect as a man that they’d deny him. It seems the advocates of inequality have chosen to replicate this choice on a national level among religious African Americans and LGBT people. In far too many cases religion has won out over ethics and have led us to choose to impose our beliefs on fellow citizens in violation of the rights that should be shared equally among every person. This is one of the reasons that I don’t subscribe to the belief that black people in America are in some way more noble, enlightened or fair than the rest of Americans we are people with biases and motives just the same as the rest. While our place in society and history are unique our hearts and minds operate according to the same principles that have reigned since time immemorial. Yesterday President Obama became the first American President to support same-sex marriage. While I highly doubt this will cost him any votes among African Americans as it has been suggested I’m hopeful it will push forward the conversation about Black LGBT folk and homophobia in our community.

cross-posted @ TheYBC

 

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I Wish A N*gga Would (Tell Me Black Studies Isn’t Good Enough)

We do it for the culture…

“What we do, how well we do it… does it even matter?”

From the very moment I heard that question presented to Cuba Gooding Jr.’s character in the Red Tails movie preview released so many months ago, it resonated with me. Clearly, perseverance through struggle and critical perception and assessment of that “perseverance” are nothing new for African-Americans. To echo the sentiment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the concept of “second-class citizenship,” of being good but not quite good enough in America, isn’t new for Blacks, either. African-Americans continue to work hard and apply themselves to being the best they possibly can be in spite of the circumstances.

But that “good but not quite good enough” specter is ever looming over Black Americans in the form of “privilege” – the concept that minimizes and plays upon the downplay of one group to more highly elevate another. It is this idea of privilege that serves as the immediate counterargument to the “post-racial America” that many people legitimately – if a little foolishly – believe was instituted once Barack Hussein Obama was elected president back in November 2008. Most recently, we find privilege emerging in the field of academia.

It was only by way of a chance “retweet” on twitter, that I stumbled onto Tressie McMillan Cottom’s guest article for racialicious, “The Inferiority of Blackness as a Subject.” In 1,420 words, McMillan Cottom calls out esteemed academic journal The Chronicle for Higher Education and, more specifically, a blog entry from Naomi Schaefer-Riley in The Chronicle entitled “The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations.” In much the same way that Schaefer-Riley’s blog critiqued and dismissed the dissertations she saw cited by Black doctoral studies, so does McMillan Cottom respectfully respond to and dismiss Schaefer Riley’s assertions, primarily because Schaefer-Riley critiques the dissertations based upon their titles and not the subject matter that makes up each dissertation. As McMillan Cottom so eloquently states, these Black doctoral students are “deliberately assaulted… for not being invisible.”

It’s intriguing that Naomi Schaefer Riley would contribute the newest chapter to the argument surrounding Black studies and its “place” in the academic arena, in the process driving the point home as to what REALLY lies at the center of this argument – privilege. Tressie McMillan Cottom touches upon this when she writes that Schaefer Riley is all but condescending to “three young scholars who have the audacity to treat the black subject as a human subject worthy of interrogation.” As a lowly undergraduate student myself, perhaps I am unqualified to speak upon this matter. But I do have many friends, colleagues, and associates who are Black students in doctoral programs, many of whom have embarked upon dissertations that touch upon or directly engage issues that affect African-Americans. And I am certain they, too, would treat Schaefer Riley’s criticism as, to put it plainly, “hating.”

I’m not talking about “hate” as in rooted in racism; but rather, “hate” as a completely subjective assessment of something with no sound basis other than dismissing something just to say it’s worthy of dismissal. McMillan Cottom sees this, as well, effectively highlighting that Schaefer Riley “does not even afford [the three doctoral students] the respect of critiquing their actual scholarship. That is beneath her. She attacks the very veracity of their right to choose what scholarship they will do.”

But let’s delve a little deeper here. Why DOESN’T Schaefer Riley “critique their actual scholarship?” The answer is simple – because Naomi Schaefer Riley doesn’t believe Black studies is scholarship worthy of critique. It would be easy to play “what if” and to imagine if the tone and approach of Schaefer Riley’s blog might be different had these three Black students been putting forth dissertations for their, say, Executive Doctorates in Higher Education. It is easy to assume that, perhaps then, Schaefer Riley would have given these students a fair assessment of their work and, additionally, an appropriate acknowledgment of their progress and pioneering achievement thus far (which was what the original article that stemmed this debate, was about in the first place).

Rather than wonder about what could have been, it is important to remain focused on and challenge the actual facts. The actual facts are that doctoral programs are not easy to get into, and by far, all but a challenge to remain and excel in; that, since doctoral programs operate by a process of acceptance to a prestigious program and adoption of a rigorous academic commitment and platform, that one must be amongst the best or working towards becoming the best to be a doctoral student; and that, while in the process of being a doctoral student, one can expect to be critiqued and vetted, it is not an unfair expectation to assume that you are still worthy of respect and dignity as a student throughout the entire process.

Apparently, none of these facts apply when it comes to the field of Black studies. It may be true that doctoral students in Black studies will still have the same “Ph.D.” initials listed after their name upon graduation. And it is likely true that students in doctoral programs for Black studies devote just as much time, blood, sweat, and tears as their peers in other areas of the academic arena, to assembling adequate research worthy of a dissertation that can be effectively defended. But privilege demands that Black studies be regarded at a lower level than all other academic fields, simply because issues that affect African-Americans can’t possibly affect people from other backgrounds, nor can non-Blacks possibly relate to those same issues. Privilege demands that those in positions of power can tell students in Black studies that their work is “left-wing victimization claptrap” and that “This may matter to you, but it doesn’t matter to me, therefore it doesn’t matter at all.”

It is easy to diminish the hard work, the scholastic potential, and the diligence that Black graduate students must adopt to succeed in academia on some scholarly journal’s webpage. But I wonder if Naomi Schaefer Riley would be as quick to tell Black doctoral students in person, what she really meant: that being a Black Ph. D student is good, but not good enough.

Somewhere in California, Dr. Nathan Hare, the founder of Black studies, is no doubt sitting in his rocking chair thinking, “I wish a nigga would.”

 

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How Race Interacts with Justice

How Race Interacts with Justice

Salon has an excellent interview with American law scholar Kenneth Mack on the way race and the law intersect and define each other. Here’s a quote on civil rights lawyers and their personal experience in the black community at the time.

“What did you learn about the relationship between race and the law by writing it?

By looking at the civil rights struggle through the lives of black civil rights lawyers we learn about the contested nature of racial identity, even in an era where segregation was supposed to make race into something fixed, not fluid.”

I think this speaks to how we think of race as an unchanging dynamic today even though it’s been in fluctuation since the concept was created. Also it works to disabuse people of the notion that there was an overwhelming consensus in the Civil Rights Era as it’s been properly defined when our heroes of yesteryear had many of the intra-community pressures and differences that people still hold today. The interview is great and I’d recommend folks to go read the whole thing.

The color-blind scales of justice?

x-posted @ theybc

– C.S.

 

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Study: All-White Jury Pools More Likely To Convict Black Defendants

Study: All-White Jury Pools More Likely To Convict Black Defendants

Duke University released a study on Tuesday that showed that juries are significantly more likely to convict a black man if they are all-white. While this news doesn’t constitute as shocking the good news is that the presence of one black person mitigates the affect in a significant fashion as well. The news comes as no surprise historically or psychologically we line in a nation that trusts law enforcement and the criminal justice system without question. Many people seem to believe that if someone is arrested then they are probably guilty. People feel as if innocent people just aren’t harassed or falsely accused by the law. Combine this with a group of people all judging someone that they feel is “other” than them and the high rate of convictions seems to be an obvious consequence. The presence of one black juror mitigating the effects is encouraging but when you have prosecutors who push for all white jury pools then the hope from this news is muted.

cross-posted @ theybc

 

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