Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Black Women, Property Twice

TwitThis



(Video of an Altercation between Black Israelites
and some Black women passerbyers.)

About a month ago I was sitting in a Professors office explaining my
research interests (labor, sex, Black women), how I was working
on a theory of how Black Women are Property Twice. He listened,
became agitated then finally
said, "I really don't like when people
try and connect slavery
to things going on now, there is no data."

In the conversation, I was trying to connect the Video Vixens to
Venus Hottentott (word to Dallas Pen) and he was like, NO.

Property once, property again.

The Professor agreed that hip hop was global, but felt that
the Vixens
constituted a minute part of the hip hop equation.
Really. All I could think was, have you seen BET lately?
Uh, okay.


I looked at him and continued talking to him and thanked him
for sharing what I would imagine would be a critique of my work.

I was reminded of this experience when I stopped in Barnes and Nobles
on Saturday and read that Charles Johnson has been critiquing
Toni Morrison, saying in so many words that "she needs to stop writing
about slavery."

Funny, I don't think Johnson could fix his lips to critique Holocaust
scholars, and say that they need to stop writing about.

Again. The message was, "no slavery talk, people."

Later Saturday Night
I went out Saturday Night and my experience made it clear to me
that I, and arguably many black women, and perhaps women in general
have been trained to
tolerate being touched in non consensual ways.

A friend of mine who is a DJ had invited me to three things in the
last month. He sent me a text regarding an event that was by my house,
so I decided to go.
I have been under a rock for the last 6 weeks.
So this was special.

We both LOVE boom bap, and I knew he would be surprised to see
me, as I saw him last June of 2007, so I figured it would be a nice
break in my routine.

So I am there, rapping along to Black Moon, or Ghost or CL
and this dude grabs my wrist and I unfurl his fingers from around it.
A little bit later, and he does it again and I almost flipped out on him.

I remember that historially, I would take my thumb finger and stick
it into a dudes hand if he ain't get the picture. In many ways,
it was a small act of resistance.

The more I thought about it, I realized that him touching me was
typical dancefloor behavior that many of us
have been subjected to since we first started going out.

The second time he grabbed my wrist I was reminded of going
to a party in the Bay over Christmas break, after my first semester
of school in New York. I wasn't even 21 yet.


The party was in Hayward, and was typical California in the
cut hood ish. I remember dancing with this guy, and he kept rubbing
on my booty. I don't remember how I stopped him, but I remember
him saying, "If I can't get my feel goods, then I ain't dancing with
you", and he walked away.

When the dude on Saturday kept grabbing my wrist, I flashed back
to that night in Hayward. I also began to think about Cynthia Grant
Bowman's essay on street
harassment and how it affects women.
She discusses how it impacts our ability to be ourselves, our ability
to function and just have serenity in our day to day lives on the street,
and the ability to move from point a to b in the street without the threat
of violence or 8 million cat calls, hey shorties, what up boo, hey miss, etc.

I am thinking about Toni, and Charles telling her "no mo slavery talk."
I am thinking about the Professor telling me that connecting
slavery to now is out of pocket.
I am thinking about how I am complicit in contributing to an environment
that normalizes or is neutral on violence against women. My wrist was
grabbed, yet thirty minutes later
I still sang along with snoop, "I got freaks
in the living room getting
it on and they ain't leaving to till six in the mo'ning."
I am thinking about what it means to finally realize, after all these years
that I, and arguably we, have been trained to tolerate being touched,
and how all hell breaks loose when we say stop.


Make any connections lately?
Anyone tell you to stop?
Thoughts on street harassment?
Thoughts on the video?

23 comments:

Adebisi said...

Crazy what black women go through in life sometimes. I'm not perfect by any means, but I try to do my part in being a gentlemen towards the sisters. I guess it's just the white male dominated societal foodchain that makes the world like this. We as men and a culture should all take an indepth look at masculinity in our culture, re-think it and focus on some gender sensitivity.

jermain said...

The bystanders in the video were mostly men,but they were like the young disciples takin lessons or were they really just bystanders?

I almost burst because the men didnt try to stand up for the dreadlock lady.
It was them 3 women only that said Fuck U and yall Black Isrealite teachings.Everbody else was on MUTE.Typical of how we as humans be acting.
Straight up cowardice.

"I really don't like when people
try and connect slavery to things going on now, there is no data."

That professor need to go to Africa or come to the Caribbean and he'll see what SLAVERY is doing right now..

M.Dot. said...

That professor need to go to Africa or come to the Caribbean and he'll see what SLAVERY is doing right now..
=======
Funny you say that. He was riding super hard for the nuclear family for Negros now and during slavery. I was like, what about extended families and multigenerational fam's? He cited short life spans and the compound lifestyle in parts of Western Africa.

Then I was like what about Multi generational families in the Caribbean. He was like "uh, I don't look at the Caribbean."

Effin FAIL.

YIKES.

toni said...

So glad the Black Israelites haven't migrated to the Atl.
I wonder what Charles Johnson would have Toni Morrison write about.
Being a female hip-hop fan sometimes puts you in the position of being complicit without you realizing it.
In my younger, club-going days I was cursed out many a time for responding to the socially acceptable manhandling that happens.

M.Dot. said...

I wonder what Charles Johnson would have Toni Morrison write about
====

him.

Courtney said...

its all connected. word life.

him saying the events of slavery do not impact the current state of world wide blackness is like saying i don't have a momma.

white people have decided that they are done feeling guilt about the implications of slavery. meanwhile it is still reverberating in the hood. they need to understand that there is a difference between accepting the guilt and acknowledging the struggle.

Vee (Scratch) said...

No data? No connection? Stop writing about slavery? No comment. Sigh. I'm shaking my head.

Club etiquette. Be forewarned, it doesn't exist. The rules (common sense) or mores that apply to you, do not apply to others. Some men (young or old, educated or uneducated) are aware of their actions and do it anyway and others just don't know the impact of their behavior.
It really doesn't matter if you dress like Lil Kim or Condeleeza Rice. I thought how you present yourself matters, but I was wrong. And don't think the location matters either, something can go down during a symposium at Columbia University.

Anyone ever tell me to stop? No. I really can't say or don't recall disrespecting someone, but I've been told what's not cool. Probably on more than one occasion, who knows. I'm not going to incriminate myself. :-)

I really do think young boys need to be taught early what NOT to do. Likewise, I really young girls should be told what NOT to accept. Vice-versa on both points.


YOu may (or not) enjoy this post.
------------------
http://scritchandscratch.com/blog/?p=1153

roxy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
roxy said...

has your prof missed out on bell hooks last 20 years of scholarship? the womanist movement? when chickenheads come home to roost? the canon is failing your professor...

Also, black folk need to shut up about the economic, healthcare, educational disparities which are a legacy of slavery and discrimination, but I can't point to any black diaspora populations are doing fantastic because they got over slavery in a few generations (black Brazillians, black Hatians, etc.)

We're having a ball inheriting wealth from investments in ever increasing property values in our [legally]non-segregated neighborhoods.

Our dismal record of educating black and economically disenfranchised people has no link to original laws against educating slaves. Our system overcame those institutional inequalities right away.

We're all rich and wealthy, benefiting from our 150 years of legacy admittance to Ivy league schools, fresh from being prepped at the finest non-segregated schools, where teachers have to pay for school supplies out of their own pocket.

nothing to see here, not at all, move it along.

brownstocking said...

@ Toni, they were there when I was in college, had a church on Abernathy. Maybe they've gone suburban, but trust, one man came and spoke a Spelman when he was running for office, and did the whole "Black women need to just have babies for the cause" spiel. And that was over a decade ago. They may be lowkey, compared to Chicago, or NYC, but they're there.

M.Dot. said...

@ Courtney
white people have decided that they are done feeling guilt about the implications of slavery
======
The prof wasn't white. Lol.

@ Roxy
has your prof missed out on bell hooks last 20 years of scholarship? the womanist movement? when chickenheads come home to roost? the canon is failing your professor.
=====
He is an empiricist. If their ain't no data it don't exist.
I LIVE in intersectionality, whether it is "measureable" or not.

@Brownstockings
and did the whole "Black women need to just have babies for the cause" spiel.
======
Meh thinks I am going to write a post called "Having a Baby for the Cause."
Thank you.

@ Scratch
======
Dude in the Drawing looks like the cat from Pharcyde.

BP said...

"I am thinking about how I am complicit in contributing to an environment
that normalizes or is neutral on violence against women. My wrist was
grabbed, yet thirty minutes later I still sang along with snoop, "I got freaks
in the living room getting it on and they ain't leaving to till six in the mo'ning.""
___________________________________
That is a powerful point!! It is a process to recognize how these tools perpetuate inhumane ways of relating to people. And I'm glad you recognized how while you resist them you also perpetuate them. But that doesn't mean you can't continue to be critical. I just think some folks will try to discredit you for being critical and then acting complicit. WE just gotta continue to critique and then work to make change.

M.Dot. said...

And I'm glad you recognized how while you resist them you also perpetuate them.
======
Amen. Because Victims CAN BE perpetrators.

Lols.

The posts are all RELATED! Yikes.

Courtney said...

Yo. The bugged out thing is I figured the prof. was black. New black. Black that agrees with white rationalization.

M.Dot. said...

Peep Louis R. Gordon on the idea of Black Anti Black Racism. He might even be on Wiki.

Perfect Storm said...

These weak, sorry, wanna-be men have the NERVE to be berating, disrespect, verbally, and practically PHYSICALLY assaulting these women!

These dudes give real brothas such a bad name.

They say that we should submit and stay in our lane, but a real man is not threatened at all by a real woman, or feels the need to suppress her mind. In fact, they celebrate it.

This is so sad. I co-sign with Jermain with the fact that no man in that place defended thse women. No one felt the need to say anything about them continually being called "black b-tches".

I feel like with other races, the men are quicker to defend their own women, but often with us, we are expected to fend for ourselves. That's why we do!

It's out of necessity most times, not out of control.

brownstocking said...

@M. Dot: I look forward to the post. I always throw up a lil in my boca when I hear that.

PUH-leeze.

LOL

ActsofFaithBlog said...

Hey M.Dot,

You might want to check out http://blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com/
We've had some great dialog about her posts on Misplaced Loyalties and Banishing the Hoochie

It's interesting that this guy thought it was okay to invade your space and touch you without so much as an introduction beforehand! Hasn't anyone taught him how inappropriate that is - and why haven't other women said something? And there's a definite tie between those oversexualized images in videos today with the historical exploitation of Black women. The willful ignorance of your Professor would have me writing the school asking for a faculty review. This guy is a FT Tenured Academic? That is just inexcusable.

the prisoner's wife said...

wow...crazy. i'm mad at how he basically called her a slut & proceeded to cuss her out and all "black bitches" then read the Bible. like, for real?

i can't stand them Jedi Knights. it's all fake & hypocritical to me. i mean, please...they're on Forty Deuce, what are they REALLY trying to do?

Model Minority said...

@Acts of Faith

Thank you for sharing. Its good to see you around these parts.

The willful ignorance of your Professor would have me writing the school asking for a faculty review. This guy is a FT Tenured Academic?
=====
Some people believe that if there is NOT data then it cannot be supported.
Which of course makes it challenging if you are looking at black people because for so long we were NEVER studied, and if it all, we were Animals, soooooo....Yeah. Es beuno....Because we still have, Pat Hill Collins. Barbara Christian. Anna Julia Cooper. Toni Cade Bambara. Paula Giddings. Evelyn Hammonds. Evelyn Higginbotham. Terri Williams. Hortense Spillers and Charlotte Pierce Baker are ALL Making the connections.

So yeah. We good.

Model Minority said...

i can't stand them Jedi Knights.
=====

You.
Crazy.

BT said...

Well, that's jacked up but I will tell you my "experience" with West Coast Black women, Oakland and San Francisco to be exact.

Now, I'm almost 40 year's old and I have a profession and a MBA. I am dumbfounded by the comments black women make to me as I walk down the street or when I'm on my motorcycle.

The funny things is: If I was white or anybody but a black man, they wouldn't say S#$T! At this point, I'm too old to be bothered by what people think of me, but I think it's "Downright Laughable!" Confident women don't go around disrespecting various men that they don't even know. I don't know what this is about, but it makes me really not want anything to do with Black Women, at least in the Bay Area.

Now, I have Black Women as friends and they are cool. But, even as my friends, they have a lot of issues with men, in general. I think, at least in California, women have a very slanted view of what they want in a man. And it's unrealistic. I'm trying to get the hell out of here. And I have been very mean towards women in general because they are so mean towards me. And I'm minding my own business.

Any feedback, in how to handle this would be appreciated. I don't hate anybody...but I don't want to go to jail for knock'n the crap out of some dumb, insecure, woman that's obviously "threatened" by my presence.

Badian37

funkyinthemiddle said...

I'm in college, and when walking around campus, the common mode of greeting between the males and females in my social circle is to hug one another. It is almost always the male who initiates contact, holding his arms open as if summoning the female into his embrace. And the female almost always responds by allowing herself to be summoned. I hate it, and I'm sure there are others who do too.

But instead of saying something along the lines of "no, thank you," I either make my body language say that I don't want a hug (which they may or may not respond to), or I hug them anyway. The reason I allow myself not to object is because--to many of the males I am acquaintances and friends with--hugging a female is the equivalent of dapping up another male (dap = standard hand clasp greeting often associated with black males). I go along with it because the behavior has become so normalized, that I would get the sideways-look of all sideways-looks if I were to object.

But I know differently. I know that it is not the same as dapping up a male friend. In reality, it is males' position of dominance which makes me feel compelled to give him a hug even though I have no desire to; even though I may barely know him.

But it's funny you posted on this topic today.

Earlier, I found myself upset about letting yet another male stand in front of me with his arms out, waiting for a hug. Not wanting to seem disagreeable or angry, I acquiesced and gave him what he wanted, even though I'd rather him not touch me at all. After dwelling on my anger for a bit, I made the decision to sacrifice my good standing in many of my acquaintances' book of heteronormative complicity, and make an effort to see that I don't allow myself to feel that sense of violation again (if I can help it).

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