Friday, June 27, 2008

If You Want to Change Society, Close Your Legs

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Yes. David Banner said it.

Talk about colored girls, homicide and patriarchy.

You would think that Capitalism, the fall of the stock market and the price
of rice were controlled by who we had sex with.

What if a white man sat on that stage and said that? R.I.O.T.

David goes on to say that "Most of these men sell dope because
they want to impress you". So wait, if we stop having sex with D-boys
then they are going to get jobs at Mc Donalds?

I think we need more labor and gender theory.

It Ain't My Fault
Whats incredible to me about this video is two things.
David Banners and to a certain extent Kweli's response is
indicative of
an unwillingness to acknowledge the ways
in which our music affects our kids.

Why is that so hard?

We don't want the rappers to have any personal responsibility
because we don't want to hold ourselves accountable.
The minute we hold them accountable we have to hold
ourselves accountable.

Its like this, if your momma is telling you not to smoke and drink,
but she smoking and drinking, you ain't gonna listen to her.

If we start talking about the rappers and their music and
the effect it has on the kids, then we have to start looking
ourselves, the fact that we buy and listen to the music
and the message that this sends to the kids.

We don't criticize the rappers because then we would
either have to stop listening to it, or think about
why we get enjoyment from listening to "It Ain't No Fun,

If the Homies Can't Have None".

Do you know how hard it was to write that listening
to Mobb Deep was nurturing the dysfunction in me?
Type difficult.

But knowing what I know about crack, Oakland,
and crack in Oakland, it would only make sense
that there would be a part of me that would find
tales of murder and crack entertaining.

We try and turn the dysfunctional 'ish entertaining as
as a way to cope. And many times it works. But we are
conflicted over it. Think of the art, music and theater
associated with The Holocaust. However, there is conflict
within the Jewish community over whether art about
whether it is appropriate for something so terrible can
serve as a basis for art, be it comedy, drama or a musical.

Listening to Mobb Deep reminds me that I am not living
in the 1989 war on drugs zone. It's a reminder
that I survived.

However the words have an impact, perhaps an unintended
impact but an impact just the same.

For example, at the Spinna party last Saturday, I was singing alone with
Snoop and I turned to Filthy and said, "If my dad repeatedly telling me over
the years that I could do anything had an impact on my self esteem,
what impact does listening to and singing Ain't No Fun have on
esteems of both men and women?"

You Wouldn't Get Far

Hip-hop in many ways traffics in the Black sexuality and the availability
of Black female bodies as tools for sex.

No one wants to admit it, talk about it or analyze it.

What would these rappers think if their daughters were vixens,
and their sons murdering and hustling?

In a culture where Karrine Steffan's is a slut, but being a pimp is revered,
where R. Kelley marries Aaliyah, is a known longtime pedophile in Chicago
and is acquitted of child porn charges, there are some serious issues with
how we view Black female bodies.

Its much easier to call Video Vixens tramps rather than analyze patriarchy.

Hip Hop's Identity Crisis

While watching this video, I also thought of Hip Hops conflict within itself.
On one hand folks say that Hip Hop is "just music" on the other hand
folks say "that hip hop is revolutionary and political".

What is it gon' be? Just music or revolutionary?

As far as I am concerned, most of it is just another
form of employment.

In fact Birkhold wrote recently about how Hip Hop
isn't the child of The Civil Rights Movement but is in fact
the child of Black youth unemployment. He writes,

I’m tired of people calling hip hop the child of the civil rights and black power movements. Everyone from hip hop artists, hip hop activists, hip hop scholars, and regular everyday listeners have called it that and all of them are wrong. I believe this error is made for two fundamental reasons, as a nation we don’t understand the civil rights or black power movements nor do we understand labor in a capitalist society.

If we did, we would understand that hip hop is the child of unemployment.


Parents Raise Kids Rappers Don't

Not only do we fail to understand how Hip Hop isn't
"revolutionary" but we also fail to understand how
rappers sound like neocon Republicans
when they say "Parents need to raise they kids".

Yesterday, I began do wonder, do these negros sit around reading

In fact, I know d-boys that take more responsibility for contributing to
the down fall of the hood many of these rappers do.

Why is it so difficult to care about children other than our own?

We know better. Pre-crack we certainly weren't raised like that.
Ms. Johnson down the street would tell your momma if she saw
you doing something out of pocket. I have written about it here before.
This extra parental intervention stopped during the crack era because
while Ms. Johnson would say something to Hakeem, now that it was '89,
he had a 9(mm) and she wanted to keep her life.

We Just Need More Money and Programs
If the solution is economic then our people should be in better shape.
Black people have more money than ever before, and their children
are STILL underemployed and in prison in record numbers,

If the solution is economic, how many people you know have
cake and still decomposing on the inside?

An after school program and a fund raiser is not going to change this.
After school programs and fund raisers are apart of the problem.
We can't party our way to social justice, reduced unemployment,
reduced drop out rates or lower AIDS rates.

Many people who work these jobs, like their work, but are scared of the hood.
Non profit jobs serve as a stepping stone for folks. Its like an urban boot camp.
If you can survive with the darkies you can work anywhere.
They are far more interested in keeping their jobs than changing
society so that the children who are in these programs can have
lives full of options, dignity, humanity and power.

There are a lot of mortgages being paid off of managing Black and/or
White poverty.

I am not dissing afterschool programs. Afterschool and summer school
was my salvation when three and four hundred cats were getting murdered
a year in Oakland 89-92. What I am saying is that it is important to keep
an after school program in perspective and to understand the extent
to which some folks care more about getting a grant, then deciding what
their organizations mission will be. This method of thinking enables them
to put their personal mission ahead of the needs of the people they are serving.

Black children in the hood know that there is a war on drugs. They know
it because they are in the middle of it. They know that we won't, can't
protect them, so they protect themselves. They also know that we care
more about our music than we do standing up for them.

Every time an emcee says "Parent's raise kids" not rappers, the kids are
reminded of this.

We don't also don't understand labor and power, and until we do we will
be on stages saying things like "If You Want to Change Society, Close your Legs".

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

For Colored Girls who Considered Homicide When Patricarchy was Enough

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These days and times are trife for Black women. You will rarely hear

me speak from the stance of victim-hood
, as i try my hardest to keep
agency on mines.

My rationale is that as long as you are reactionary, someone else
will always be setting your agenda and you will not gain any sustainable
traction.

However the
skin issues, sexual access issues have been on
my bird lately.
The sexual access issues arose at the Spinna
Party on Saturday. I was standing with Filthy near the bar
debating how
long it is going to take Spinna to play Shook Ones or Who Got
the Props.
There were two clusters of white women there. In each group
there was one women wearing a veil.
They were toasted.
Light-weight Girls Gone Wild toasted.


For the past six or seven years, New York City clubs have been making
extra cake by throwing bachelor/ette parties
earlier in the
evening from 8-11pm with the regular party running from 11-3am.
However there tends to be carry over, which is what I think happened
Saturday. My homie K-boogie confirmed this later that night as she
went to a bachelor party at the same spot last week.

So,
I am standing there, minding my own business and a woman walks
by me to order a drink. She apparently was a bachelor/ette party
attendee, stripper or
both. Either way she was lit, blond, and hootered out.

The first time she passed me she complemented
my earrings.
(My earing game is mean.)

Second time she rubbed passed.


The third time, I was leaning over talking to Filth, so his ear
was toward me, and she kissed me near my other ear. I was Frozen like a Robot.

Then she turned to me and said something inaudible.

Filthy caught on and was like awwwww sh*t. Here we go.

What went through my mind both how patriarchal that shit is and
how the club
is a space for people to try and do what they think
about doing in the streets. I was reminded of a post that I came
across when I wrote the Mobb Deep and Patriarchy piece I wrote a month ago.
The piece is titled Dance Floor Studies Feminism and Booty Base.
The comment by Benjamin Mako Hill caught my attention
because he articulated the notion of sexual access and the role that the
club plays. He writes,

Booty bass is not just playing around with the idea of the dance floor being highly sexualized. In practice, it’s about serving the sex market and all about glamorizing and making palatable, laughable, and perhaps even justifiable everything that happens in that market.

Sometimes it’s not just about making fun of, toying with, or hinting at sexual domination in a safe context like the dancefloor but about creating, quite literally, a soundtrack for the real thing.

Back to what was running in my head. That good old fight or flight.
I didn't want no war with her. The Oakland in me says put my elbow in her throat.
The Martin in me know that this will solve nothing. That I will be charged with
assault and battery. It just gets real tiring to be constantly defending your body
and your space against strangers, against both men and women, who presume
that they have access to your body.
I don't know where she as been and I
am paranoid. Herpes is the package that keeps on giving, don't touch me.
1 in 4 people in New York city has it. Don't touch me.

I asked him why did she do that? He responded simply , "Patriarchy".
She probably thinks that its cute and she enjoy's being the aggressor.

I responded saying, "if that was a dude, I wouldn't have though
twice about turning his skin purple or shoving him off of me, and
letting it do what it do". The woman played off her femininity and
the likelihood that she would get away with it, because she was
a woman and not a man. Alcohol played a role as well.

Then I thought, why should I give her a pass? Its the behavior,
not the gender that matters.

She is just as bad as the Black men on the street that treat
me like property.

Bringing bell hooks to the Spinna party is not what the streets
wanted.

Which brings me to the skin issues. Last night I listened to Phonte's
podcast
and he has a segment called the Light Bright
list. What he meant was "Light Bright and Damn Near White" as my
momma would say. The Light Bright list is a list of light skinned Black women
that he finds attractive. In the podcast he went down the line naming the
greatest light skinned Black women ever, Lena Horn, Jennifer Beals, etc.

I am yellowish-red, and more copper in the summer time. As you will see
in the video above that skin color shit is no joke for Black people. Especially
the children. The whole time I am listening to Phonte, I am thinking about
the little black girl, at 4:30sec, who said that the black doll is the ugly doll,
then when asked which doll does she look like, she hesitates, and
reluctantly choose the black one.

That shit was heart breaking.

While I haven't recovered from the "black doll is ugly" and the "light bright
list" the Michelle Obama ain't feminine shit came to my attention. Recently,
feminist were in arms over Hillary being portrayed as a "ball buster",
"masculine" and un-lady like.

It wasn't clear to me how this related to Michelle, so I asked Filthy
why. He responded saying that, Hillary was being called masculine,
and the feminists came to her defense.

So the question is where is the defense of Michelle Obama
when the same criticism are being lodged at her?


I immediately thought of Phonte's list and the video with the inference
being drawn from that dark equals ugly, and presumably
unfeminine.

Can you imagine the kind of Black Girl Fatigue this shit produces?

The skin issues, the sexual access issues are enough to make a
Black Girl Consider Homicide when Patriarchy is Enough.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Removal of White Feminists

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Earlier in June Linda Hirshman wrote a piece in the
Washington Post about
the feminist movement is fracturing
by paying too much attention to the "other", and that the movement
needs to focus. Hirshman writes,

A movement that uses intersectionality as a lens but banishes white, bourgeois, corporate older women might be a vehicle to glue what remains of feminism together, but it will struggle to achieve social change for women.
This piece resonates with me for three reasons.

First, historically, I like Hirshman's work. She wrote a book a couple
of years back titled, Get to Work about women, working,
gender and relationships. Looking back, I realize that she had
no critique of capitalism, but the book has it's merits as it is a
book about working and our ability to take care of ourselves
financially.

Second, I have been combing the internet for the last two days
for an article on Jstor about why there has never been a sustained
National Black feminist movement. I saw the article
last week, but for some reason I can't find it. However, I have
come across articles that mentioned how the Black Feminist Movement
suffered because it had a difficult time deciding what its agenda
would be and it also had to get over its own lesbianphobia to sustain
traction as a movement.

Thirdly, Hirshman's piece resonates because of a conversation
I was having as I walked to brunch with Fillthy yesterday. I mentioned
to him that I just learned about a non profit that is against the jail
that is scheduled to be re-opened in downtown Brooklyn. I had
the idea that the prison reform folks and the and anti jail folks may be
able to form like voltron.

Soon the wind would be let out of my sails when he mentioned that
he had already spoken to anti-jailers, as he had the same idea.
He concluded they were not anti-prison, they were just against
the opening of the prison in their neighborhood because of the impact
on their property values.

The anti jail folks were the classic Single Cause Activist (SGA's)

As Americans, I think we have a knee jerk aversion to
understanding and admitting how things are connected.

We would be better off as a humans if we acknowledged
and approached life from the perspective that everything is
connected or damn near so.

For example, Corn prices go up, beef goes up. Over-fish the
Salmon, salmon become extinct. Spend Trillions on a war,
less money for State infrastructure. Fewer jobs in post industrial
cities for teenage Black men, more teenage black men sell crack.
The analogies are crude, but you get the picture.

In thinking about the SCA's, I wondered how the notion
of SCA's related to Linda Hirshman's resentment of the in
"intersectionality" that she see's in some of today's feminism.


Is Hirshman advocating for Single Cause's Activism within feminism?

In response to the single cause activism in feminism,
bell hooks is clear that if feminism is a lifestyle choice, then it will not
mean shit to the masses of women and will consequently be
irrelevant to them as well. hooks critiques Barabara Bergs definition
of feminism which is " a broad movement embracing numberous
phases of womans emancipation.

In response to this definition, hooks writes,
This definition of feminism is almost a politcal in tone, yet it is the
type of definition that many liberal women find appealing.
It evokes a very romantic notion of personal freedom that is more
acceptable than a definition that emphasizes radical politcal action.
It is easy to make feminism a lifestyle as there is no commitment
to eradicating racial or sexual oppression in "a lifestyle". hooks
explains this when she writes in Feminist Theory, quoting French
feminist Antoinette Foque,
The actions proposed by the feminist groups are spectacular, provoking.
But provocation brings to light a certain number of contradictions...The feminist claim that they do not seek equality with men, but their practice proves to the contrary to be true. Feminist are a bourgeois avant guard that maintains , in a inverted form the dominant values...Since women are becoming men, in the end it will only mean a few more men. The difference between the sexes is not whether one does or doesn't have a penis, it is whether or not one is an integral part of a phallic masculine economy.
I kept the notion of a few more men in mind when I read Jill's response
to Hirshman. Jill gets it in when she discusses, with candor, the ways in
which whiteness operates within the feminist movement. She writes,
I am tired of a feminism that assumes to be built and maintained by middle-class white women. I am tired of a feminism that, when challenged, falls back on the same old excuses and knee-jerk reactions that men have long relied on when faced with feminist critiques.
But my main concern comes at the way the issues are split into authentic “feminist” issues and those “other” issues that those “other” women are trying to integrate into feminism. It’s a question of who feminism belongs to, and who is entitled to set out its goals and concerns.

And it seems to me that white middle-class feminists shouldn’t be doing the same thing that the white guys have always done: We should not be telling other women to forgo their issues for the ones we deem important. We should not be telling other women to wait their turn. We should not construct a movement that assumes “woman” to only represent one narrow construction of womanhood.

The question is whether the women in positions of greater power — women who tend to be white and middle or upper-class — are going to emulate existing power structures, or whether those women are going to recognize the diversity and richness of feminism and try to represent that by challenging the very structures that gave them power in the first place.
What appears to be operating the the crux of the conflict within
the Black Feminist
movement and at Linda's beef with
intersectonality, and Jills critique as well
is an inability to
agree on what being a feminist is.

I observed that Linda's working definition of feminism is
"social changes for women". Jill's working definition is
that "..feminism isn’t an issue —
it’s an umbrella
movement that should encompass and represent
women’s
interests". bell hooks says it best when
she that there is a difference between
saying that
you are a feminist and saying that you advocate of feminism.

Those who say that they are feminist tend to have more
leeway in terms of how the term affects their day to day lives.
Vague terms tend to have a vague impact. No Child Left Behind
anyone?

In Feminist Theory, hooks offers a working definition
stating that those who advocate feminism are committed
to the eradication of sexual and racial oppression.
This covers Black, White, Latina, Asian families across class.

Approaching the issue from this point of view means having a
more clearer goal and a clearer strategy. There is no easy, or single
solution to how this looks on the daily. What matters, I believe,
is the daily struggle with how this issue lives in our lives,
the lives people that we impact and have the potential to impact.

Other Links

Brown Femi Power
Guns, Lawyers & $

Thursday, June 19, 2008

On Vulnerability

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Vulnerability came up not once, but twice yesterday, and I had the
feeling that
it would come up again this morning.

Yesterday, one of my homies, S.bot confided some crazy shit to me.
She basically said that she recently learned that she had
an issue with
being vulnerable to the extent that she worked
diligently at not allowing
any of her friends get to know each
other, for fear that they would
put two and two together
and begin to see shit in her that she wasn't prepared to
see.

Talk about mind blowing.

This was key for me because the last two years I have
tried to give her a birthday get-together, and she was super
negatory on that idea.


Now, I have a better understanding of why.

Vulnerability came up again with Flybug Starski last night. She was talking
about being okay with being vulnerable with dudes. It wasn't a fear
that she would get hurt, but that she would hurt the dude.
She said based on some shit that recently happened, she didn't want
to walk around with that on her heart.

I commented that that was an interesting way of going about
life, and that she should call *Dave, as I was on my way out the
door to surprise Filthy with some fried fish, plantano's and steamed
broccoli.
*A dude of interest

So there was dinner, and a conversation about the weekend.
Filthy feels about his time the way most dudes feel about their money.
His time is everything. I find it challenging to figure out
how to dance with it sometimes.

For example. There is a big party taking place Saturday.
I went last year and left without a stitch of mascara or
eye shadow and the back of my hear was puffed up from having
danced so hard. Boot Camp, Nas, EPMD, The Roots. All that.
When I learned about this party in May, I was like cool, there goes
my summer, once I go to that, I'm set.

Filth and I had beef over the weekend plans.
The beef was over me "asking" for Saturday. Every since last year,
my position has been that if I tell you I am checking for you then it is
your responsibility to let me know when you are free.

It ain't working like that y'all, because he has asked me
for my availability for the last few Saturdays. I have no clear defense
for not being able to do the same. In my mind I thought there was
an understanding because I let him know that I was checking for him.

Negatory
.

While I asked him if he wanted to go on Saturday night, I didn't speak
on hanging out on Saturday itself.


This morning, both time and Saturday day plans came up and

and he mentions to me that when he has said "Yo, I really enjoyed
hanging out with you today" that I say nothing in return. In my
head, I am like, I enjoy spending time with you as well, but, I don't say
it out loud.

I was stuck and felt like an ingrate. I confided, "you know how much
I enjoy spending time with you, most the time, its hard to leave, and I do
mention that". He was like "Yeah, but that's not the same as responding
to me saying that I had a good time with you today", and he was right.

When he said that I was brought back to a moment when I was talking
to S.bot yesterday and she mentioned how we all need reassurance.

How reassurance
is the grease that keeps the relationship wheels turning.

She concluded that ultimately, needing reassurance makes us
feel uber vulnerable.

I was stuck.


It dawned that me that M.dot has a problem with being vulnerable, to the extent
that I don't like asking for the time. ***Looks in mirror, like who knew?


What I ended up saying out loud to him, in an urge to be fearless and
vulnerable was that I saw, "Every date as being precious".

His eyes lit up.

After saying that and talking to him further about a current project
where I am writing about feminism, patriarchy and hip hop,
I ask him if hip hop's inability to be vulnerable is tied to the shit that
we are collectively going through?

He just looked at me, and said you may be on to something.


I realized that I didn't want to ask for Saturday day, not just Saturday
night for the Spinna jawn, because I didn't want to feel vulnerable.

With all of this squared away, I feel relieved. I have the fly oufit
planned for Saturday, and a meal on the agenda that may impress
both my momma and Martha.

When was the last time you were vulnerable?

Why?


How did you handle it?

You regret it or are you proud?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Congress Got a Problem with Nas?

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Remember when MC hammer was considered a sell out because
he endorsed so
many products?

My how things have changed.

What this video brought up, that I never considered, was the
difficulty in buying
ads with an album titled N-gger.

Nas, oddly, appears to find comfort in the industries discomfort.

Doesn't Congress have better things to do then worry about
Nas's lyrics?


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

M.dot's Podcast Ep. 2- Other Peoples Property

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Click the above text "M.dots Podcast..." to listen.

Shout out to Gotty for recommending the podcast service.


That shit was getting me heated. I did the 'cast on Friday, but was
having uploading problems.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I really wanted to post it.

As usual, your feed back is appreciated.

TOPICS: Lil Wayne, Black Women as Property, Harlem Children's Zone,
Fist Stick Knife Gun, Filthy

Friday, June 13, 2008

Are Little Black Girls Human?

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R. Kelly got acquitted today.

He is a sick man and his not being found guilty says that
our girls
bodies are worth very little, unless they are in a music video.

Jail would have only made him a worse predator than he already is.
He needs to go into recovery.

Ask someone who is from the Chi. We know R. Kelly likes little girls,
always has and always will, until he gets help or someone puts him out
of his misery.

I wonder what will have to happen in order for someone to put him
out of his misery.

Our willingness to look past his illness and patronize him is indicative
of us being just as sick as he is.


Its odd. R. Kelly gets off and the news is focusing on how Michelle Obama
is The Right's new target. I can't help but think about what message
these events are sending our girls.

The above picture is of a bodega in downtown Brooklyn. I walked by it
last week and was struck by the repetition of scantily clad Video
Vixen bodies.

What does it mean to live in a neighborhood where the display of women,
in this manner, is acceptable?

What does it mean to live in a society where R. Kelly gets off?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Hip Hop, Homophobia and the Down Low

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Last month, when I read Weiss's post titled “Passion of the
Weiss's
Guide to the Gay Rapper" I thought about both, what
men in general and white men specifically have invested in
monitoring the Black gayness in hip hop. Weiss's post was in
response the Terrence Deans new book, Hiding in Hip Hop.

I then decided that I was going to write about the book as well.
I have written about Black men
and homophobia here before,
so it seemed like a natural extension
to discuss the book.

Initially, after reading the book, I was disappointed.
I was expecting to hear him, a gay man, provide an insiders
view of the hip hop industry from his perspective.

What I found instead was a book with gay blind items.

However, there was one thing in particular that stood out to me.
He mentioned how upon visiting the Queens Bridge projects,
that he dare not think about looking at another man.

Or risk getting beat down.

I thought to myself, how differently my own life would be
if I couldn’t flirt with the male barista at my favorite coffee shop
where I like to blog, or greet the police officer in the train station,
or wink at the afro-mohawked hipster riding his Schwinn
down Fulton Ave.

I would be essentially robbed of my ability to express
a fundamental part of both my humanity and femininity.

I knew I needed to write about Dean's book, but I also
needed more theory.

With this in mind I read Keith Boykin's book Beyond the
Down Low
.

While reading Boykin's book, I realized that this post
was morphing from one
that was initially about hip hop,
homophobia and masculinity to one about the
down low,
HIV statistics and the impact of taking sexual risks.

In Beyond the Down Low Boykin addresses the seeds
of "down low mania" by discussing a broad survey of articles,
CDC studies and statements by health professionals. Perhaps most
surprisingly he addresses the apparent lucrative
financial incentives associated with writing about the salaciousness
of a story about Black, gay and implicitly predatorial sex.

Historically the mainstream media has paid very little attention
to the
Black HIV statistics. This all changed when the CDC
published
The Young Mens Health Survey in 2001.

The problem is that the news reported that 30 percent of Black Gay
men were HIV positive.

However the study was based on 2,401 men, who have sex with
men (MSM) from
in six cities. 293 (12%), of the men tested positive
for HIV.

Here is the rub, 30% of the Black men in the study tested positive for
HIV. Keep in mind that the study did not solely consist of Black men.

Boykin clarifies what went wrong with how the story was reported
when he writes,

"Take the USA Today article for example. That paper claimed 1 in 3 young gay
black men are HIV positive. The CDC never really said that. Instead what they said was 30 percent of Black gay men in the survey of those six cities were HIV positive. Its important to understand the distinction between those six cities and the rest of the nation." Emphasis mine.

The study also didn't report the number of men in the study who were
Black. It could have been 4, 10 or 20 making a change in 1 or
2 cases
statistically significant.

Another CDC study concluded that 54% of women newly reported with AIDS
reported that they acquired the virus from heterosexual relationships.

The study suggests states that "The proportion of infected females was
highest among persons aged 13--19 years". According to the survey, the
data suggests that,

...females in this age group engage in behaviors that place them at increased risk for acquiring HIV infections; the high proportion of infected females might be associated with sexual contact with older males, who are more likely to be infected. In addition, young females might have more opportunities for HIV testing and diagnosis (e.g., routine family planning and gynecological services) than young males.

The issue may be one of testing and reporting meaning that
there may not necessarily be more young Black women with
HIV than men, it may be that they simply get tested more
frequently.

Both the media, activists and the folks involved in the HIV research
wanted
to know why so many Black women were being diagnosed
with HIV
.

This is where the down low came in as an easy explanation.

There are two prongs to his argument that the down low isn't
responsible for an increase in the number of Black women with
AIDS.

The first prong is that,

"because the number AIDS cases among black men (24,118) reported homosexual contact as a method of exposure. IN 2001 , the figure dropped 33 percent (4605)...The number and percentage of Black men expose to AIDS because of homosexual contact had declined sharply over that decade".

He goes on to say that this is important because,

"those men were the primary potential source of down low infections in 1991, there should have been fewer black women becoming infected as well. In other words the bridge should have been much wider in 1991 when there were five times as many black MSM AIDS cases than in 2001".

The second prong is that according to the CDC, The number of
Black women with HIV
dropped from 1991-2001. Boykin writes,

"The number of of Black female AIDS cases from heterosexual
contact did not rise form 1991 to 2001. It actually fell. In 1991
there were 3784 adult adolescent black female AIDS cases
from heterosexual contact. In 2001, the number had fallen
to 2,606, a reduction of 1178 cases per year."

Boykin's rationale is that, if there were fewer HIV positive men in
1991 than 2001 who reported homosexual contact, and bisexual men
were the bridge, then it follows logically that then Black female AIDS
cases should have been decreasing. And, in fact they were from 3784 to 2606.

What I will note, is that Boykin's argument presumes that the HIV positive
men reporting homosexual contact takes into consideration that there
wasn't a statistically significant number of homosexual sex as a
method of exposure, but did not report it as such. Meaning that
he presumed that the only the folks who listed homosexual sex
as a method of exposure were the only ones who had such exposure.

The third prong is that there was a series of things that needed to
be addressed and proven before before a "bisexual" bridge link
could be made. Of the issues, the three major ones where whether
the Black women infected were being infected by heterosexual sex,
not injection drug use, second, that the women were being infected
by Black men not men of other races, and third that the men
MSM who identified as heterosexual were actually having sex
with women.

The main thrust of the down low frenzy was why are young
Black women the fastest growning group of new HIV cases?

The down low became the easy answer. This is where J.L. King
came in.

J.L. KING AND THE DOWN LOW
J.L. King, author of On the Down Low: A Journey into the Lives of
Straight Black Men who Sleep with Men
cavalierly makes statements that
lend themselves to supporting the notion of their being a bisexual
bridge from Black men to Black women via hetrosexual sex.

For example In Beyond the Down Low Boykin deftly points out the
Kings unsupported theories when he quotes King speaking
about "most" down low brothers. He writes,

Most down low brothers look at themselves as being a heterosexual man- with a twist every now and then wanting to have sex with another man. To a downlow brother sex is more gratification and not orientation. Its about lets get together and do the sexual thing, then I’m outta here. Don’t ask me any questions whatsoever. That’s what makes it so dangerous."

Boykin responds to the unproven assertions in the above statement.
He writing,

“...filled with generalizations and unprovable assertions. Most down low brothers? How did King know what most down low brothers wanted to do? Had he met all the men on the down low? Had he done a survey or a poll? How could he possibly know what most of these men thought, epically if they prided themselves on maintain to their secrecy and privacy. It was a ridiculous claim but no one challenged him on it. He was the only one who as actually speaking from the perspective of the down low so reporters listen uncritically to what he said. But how did ones individuals personal experience become a basis for cultural obsession.”

DOWN LOW DETECTIVES
Boykin is clear about how we must prevent HIV from being
transmitted in our communities. Becoming down low detectives
will not reduce our HIV rates. Assuming that everyone has HIV and insisting
that your sexual partner(s) wears a condom every time
is the only way to prevent transmission of HIV. This is a much

more proactive way of dealing with the issue rather than becoming a
down low detective.

Boykin drives them message home when he writes,

“Deputizing yourself as a down low detective will not make your man heterosexual if he is not, and it will not save your relationship if it is built on mutual mistrust. You can spend the rest of your life going to down low seminars and reading the latest magazine articles on how to tell if your man is gay, the truth is that there is no way to tell. There are no real “signs” to spot a man on the down low, and there are no real “behavior types” of these men. Despite the contradictory messages in his book. King himself admits that men on the down low do not look a certain way or act a certain way".

The directness with which he writes is both productive, insightful
lightweight revolutionary. He sets forth a healthy position that
black women must take if we choose to protect ourselves. He goes
on to say,

“ If you don’t want to be infected with HIV, then you have the responsibility to protect yourself. Nobody else can do that for you. The best way to know the truth. The best way to the the truth is not to spy on your partner but to create and environment where sexuality can be discussed openly. The truth is, you cannot tell if a man is on the down low, and you should never trust anyone who says that they can.”

INCREDIBLE HUSTLE
J.L. King's hustle is quite ingenious. By appointing himself
as the spokesperson for a group of people who by their
very definition would prefer to remain unidentified and'
invisible he stands to make himself incredibly rich off
of the Fear of a Black DL Planet.

Its as if J.L. King is Bush and the Black men on the DL are
(a collective) Willie Horton.

CONDOMS
Reducing the transmission of HIV will require us to be honest
with ourselves. I was reminded of this when Boykin quoted a
small 2004 study by Lisa Bowleg, a psychology professor at
the University of Rhode Island, which found that young Black
women had a range of reasons for using and not using
condoms. He writes,

“At least one woman said she used condoms as punishment, mostly on days when she thought her man was with another woman. Some simply did not like the feeling of condoms during sex….Some stopped using condoms after they got tested for HIV, which some wanted to use condoms at the beginning of the relationship but not through out…Our approach to HIV prevention has to go beyond the stereotype that men alone reject condoms and understand that many women do not like condoms either.”

We need to acknowledge these factors and effective HIV prevention needs
to acknowledge them as well, for the purposes of enacting policies
that reflect this reality.

However, we also have to take responsibility for our sexual risks. For example,
there was a woman in Bowleg's study who took the incredibly dangerous
position the don’t ask don’t tell stance in her relationship.
Boykin writes,

“She suspected that her partner of eight years was having unprotected sex with men and women, but was willing to tolerate it- as long as he just don’t flaunt it in my face…and don’t give me no sexual diseases or anything."

Boykin goes on to state that this position is dangerous precisely
because if you wait until your man brings home a sexually
transmitted disease before you question his infidelity, you
may be putting your health at risk.

We are all adults, and we have all made indecisions that, if given the chance,
we would have made another choice. That being said, while writing this
portion of the essay I thought about some of the sexual risks that I have
taken, and some of the risks that my male and female friends have taken
as well, such not immediately stopping after the condom broke or
having sex while intoxicated.

Condoms break. It happens. It can be terrifying. However, it only requires
stopping and replacing the condom. Having sex while intoxicated is
another ball game. By doing so am I clearly put myself in
the position of making decisions about sexual risks without
having the full advantage of my mental faculties. In many ways it
amounts
to sexual Russian Roulette. Now that I am older, and have

a more astute understanding of risks and the outcomes, I deliberately
make
effort to avoid putting myself in a position where I am facing
sexual Russian
Roulette.

We are adults. At some point or another we all have done it.
Subsequently, my stance is that admitting it, moving on and deciding
to make healthy sexual choices going forward is the way to avoid
repeating these mistakes.

This kind of thinking and behavior will be what stops
the transmission of HIV in our communities. Not becoming
down low detectives.

Boykin dishes a dosage of straight talk about Black women who are
aware that their partners are sleeping with other
women. He writes,

“Lets be honest. Some women enter in relationship were they know their partner is sleeping with other women, that is a choice for women to make, but if you make that choice and also choose to have unprotected sex with your partner you are putting yourself in danger. You cannot blame your partner for a risk you knowingly accept. And you cannot and should not assume that it is safe to have protected sex with your man just because you know, or think you know that the is heterosexual. Women need to be educated, empowered and encouraged to stand up for themselves. Pointing fingers at men on the down low is an easy way to take the finger of responsibility away form ourselves, it also does not change the fact that we are individually responsible for our own health and safety.”

Some Black women are understandably enraged by bisexual Black men
who do not tell us that they are bisexual. We deserve the truth. However,
not only do we need them to be honest with us and we also have to
be honest with ourselves. The issue isn't the kind of sex being had,
its whether or not it is protected sex. The action NOT the label is what
matters. Boykin address the some of the conditions

that create a need to be on the down low when he writes,

“We may wonder where these men get off by endangering the lives of women, but we should also stop to think about the was in which we contribute to our own oppression by participating in a culture that drives these men underground. If we do not want so many men to be on the down low then we need to stop helping to push them there in the first place. We need to challenge the homophobia in our own lives, in our families, in our churches, and our social settings."
Only our actions can reduce the transmittal of HIV in our communities.
Healthy sexual choices, honesty and communication are all tools
that we can use.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

On the Margins

TwitThis



Every since my pastor told me that Black women are the
gate keepers of the
margins, I haven't been the same.

He said this, then handed me bell hooks' Feminist Theory,
and Malcolm and Martin, American Dream American Nightmare
and encouraged me to write.


I was honored.

I was also bummed out.

It felt great to be encouraged, but man, those margins get lonely.

I also haven't been the same since I realized that gentrification,
crack and prostitution all can be explained with capitalism.

Much of the sophistication of my understanding can be attributed
to Filthy. I did intellectual ground work by reading like a maniac,
but he helps it form like Voltron.

Last week I made a mental note to Google Tre Ellis. This morning
I did and I was surprised. I have always loved his novels.
They were weird as sh*t. However, the lens that I read it with years ago
didn't allow me to see how he handled gender and sexuality.
I am excited to see what I will think about it, upon revisiting it.

His work is couched within the tension between Ishmael Reed
and Alice Walker.

This also ironic to me because I have been thinking
writing doing a post about how both Alice & Ishmael
are my living literary parents. So the fact that Tre's work
is cognizant of the tension between Ishmael and Alice
further helped me put 10 on 2 regarding my excitement.

Then in the middle of reading about Tre Ellis, I remembered that I
wanted to check for Donnel Alexander. Then BLAM. There was his blog,
with a post titled Miss Rap Supreme & Gentrification.

I read it thinking "I would write a title like that".

In that moment, at that precise moment, the margins became,
a tad less isolated.

It was kind of like the feeling you get when your old best friend moves
back from out of state, to her grandmommas house down the street.

It was like when Ta-Nehisi e-mailed me saying he had written the book.

Now if we can get some ZZ Packer and Nichelle Tramble we will be cooking
with fish grease.

What are you reading now?

Been on any margins lately?

Keep the La in the Air

TwitThis



The post that got Gotty to take "notice" of me, and cross post,
was piece where I was talking about listening to The World is Yours
remix
and dancing around as I listened to it on repeat.

That post is so old that,
I think we were BOTH on Blogger then.

Well. I went out tonight. And man if the DJ ain't play that song.

My feet still hurt.

I was just lamping. Thinking about the person what I was
and the person that I have become. Just being reflective.
Content.

Then I heard the "WOUN, WOUN, WOUN Whose World
is This?"

I must have lost my NEGRO loving mind.

My only regret was that my folks Filth wasn't there to share in the irony
of hearing LA LA LA out loud in the spot.

We tried to go to the same spot on Monday, but his, ahem, shoe game
ain't hold us down. Lol's. (NYC has a crazy enforcement game on
shoe/hat rules).

Music is capable of making you feel that life is alright.
I knew that based on how The Change Band at Glide could
make tears well up. But tonight, I was certainly reminded
of the power of an amazing song.

Did I also tell yall that I hear Erykah's "I Choose Me", twice?
That was bugged.

"Had to babies different dudes/ for them both my love
was trueeeee/ This is my last interview/ Thats so me..."
It is SUCH as personal song for me. (She is so honest,
and because of it, she encouraged ME to be honest in my
writing). I felt elated and light weight violated for hearing
it OUTSIDE of my pod tonight.

However, it was really dope to see other folks react
to it in a positive way.

Black folks are call and response even when they
don't want to be.


What are you listening to? When was the last time you
were surprised to hear
a song in a particular place/setting?
Has music brought you closer to anyone lately?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

M.Dot Presents: Fly Analyticals, The Podcast

TwitThis

Click on the above text to open the podcast.

Why didn't you all tell me that I would need to find
a webhost for the podcast?


Arrrg. I just had to give myself a tutorial on
converting wav's to mp3's.

I wasn't going to publish it, then I heard Tiggalo's
and was like wait, I gotta do it.

His is all crispy, mine is all gutter and am sounding.

Yet, and still I like it. My rationale is that there is always
room for improvement in life.

Now I just need to figure out how to get my itunes ping
going and I will be cooking with fish grease.

I think in the next one, I will actually address some
of the things he mentioned in his cast.

I look forward to your feedback.
I feel vulnerable.

And thats AG.

I Been Around the Web & Aye, yai, yai

TwitThis



The first thing on the menu today is a video on the
Un-Told Story of Oakland's Music Game.

"Im from the East, the hunned black"~ Richie Rich
Richie Rich is very clear about the distinction from being
from The Bay versus from East Oakland. I shrank a little when he
said, unequivocally its all good with me "because they glorifying
that hood sh-t".

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City Parks Foundation Announces Summer Schedule.

CityParks Concerts include Hip-Hop Hall of Fame inductees, Whodini, performing in their hometown of Brooklyn, as well as KRS-1, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, Naughty By Nature, Jungle Brothers, Bahamadia and Brand Nubians performing at various locations across the city. For those who enjoy the sounds of smooth soul, CityParks Concerts includes The Chi-Lites and Delfonics performing in Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan parks. The season would not be complete without some tropical sounds to dance to, and we are proud to present salsa icon Willie Colon as well as Michael Stuart in this summer’s line-up.

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Weiss has written a rather thorough analysis of both the importance of the
cohesive mix tape and why offers why Wale may be added to the cannon
of the 50 top emcees.
From “The Opening Title Sequence,” where Wale flows over the gurgling Seinfeld bass line, to “The End Credits,” Wale’s songs burst with ideas. The guy’s got an opinion on everything from the myriad problems facing the rap world to the press to illegal downloading, to the DMV and how its possible that Eddie Murphy could get a wife, ex-wife and baby mother all in the same year. Whereas it could easily come off as sub-emo whining, Wale succeeds because of his ability to reconcile contradictions.
Despite repeatedly boasting that the tape is about “nothing,” like Seinfeld itself, Wale’s intentions are subtly subversive and filled with self-deprecating satire. Songs like the erstwhile “Nike Boots,” are now re-titled “The Cliched Lil Wayne Feature.” “Back in the Go-Go” has morphed into the “The Feature Heavy Song.” Whereas 100 Miles & Running marked the emergence of Wale, the rapper, a complex, lyrical dude who could kill a Camp Lo beat then run in place to “D.A.N.C.E;” The Mixtape About Nothing heralds the triumph of Wale, the artist, an off-kilter but cool MC with an encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture flotsam and jetsam, ranging from Seinfeld minutiae, to riffs on Narml from Garfield and the Game Genie.
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WARNING
. Some are INCREDIBLY graphic.

I came across a series of photos on "Old New York" from
the book American Pictures, by Jacob Holdt. Bankrupt,
crime riddled, graffiti beautiful New York. Not only does
Jacob have the eye of a historian, he also has the heart of a poet.
The book is no longer in print. However you can buy an

online version. Support this man.

This funeral home next to a drug rehabilitation center illustrates clearly the unremitting choice you have in Harlem - the choice between an instant death or an enslaved life under The Man. Thousands of addicts choose the door on the left.


Since the penalty for being an addict and the criminal existence it leads to - or in other words a victim - is the same as for being a murderer, they have no real choice.
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Birkhold has written has written an interesting about Father Pfleger.
Pfleger is the radical white Priest who criticized Hillary at Obama's

old church a couple of weekends ago.
Just a week ago I had never heard of Father Michael Pfleger. Today, a week after he said Hillary Clinton's televised tears were a symptom of the way white entitlement works, he's a household name. Pfleger has been a well-known activist in Chicago's black community because he's led and participated in several community struggles for better gun laws and stricter liquor advertising laws. To the rest of the country, Pfleger is the crazy white friend of Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan.

In 2007, Pfleger told The Chicago Tribune that Martin Luther King provided "the greatest and best blueprint for ministry," and that King inspired him to become a priest because he saw that religion had transformative power. While in seminary school, Pfleger lived and worked in the same West Side of Chicago parish that the Black Panther Party used for meeting space. He has butted heads with the Chicago archdiocese since his seminary days and is admired by other Chicago ministers for putting his commitment to the gospel before his career.

Like King, Pfleger is committed to taking the gospel seriously. Consequently, his statement about Clinton doesn't surprise me. Malcolm X attributed the lack of racial arrogance he found among white Muslims to their belief in Allah while W.E.B. Du Bois attributed John Brown's willingness to die for black freedom to a passion for Hebrew religion.
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Ta-Nehisi wrote recently wrote about Obama's blackness.
There is really nothing like reading a writer who has given

thoughtful consideration to issues that you think about all
the time. That is how I felt while reading T's piece. He writes,
To say that Barack Obama is our first serious black presidential candidate drastically understates the matter. When Obama greets his political allies, he does not give a simple, firm, businesslike handshake. Instead he offers the sort of dap--a little English in the wrist and a one-armed hug--that black males spend much of their adolescence perfecting.

While we're at it, forget the man himself: the clearest evidence of Obama's blackness is his utter invisibility as a black man to the thinking class. The idea that took root as soon as Obama hit the national stage was that the junior senator from Illinois was not really black because he was raised in Hawaii by a white mother and does not scream about race every five minutes......

Since its conception in the guilt-wracked minds of slave traders, blackness has repeatedly sucked the light from otherwise intelligent folks, rendering them empty, dim vessels in its presence. But pundits did not simply stop at noting Obama's lack of soul; they went on to charge that their measure was somehow universal, that their pronouncements could be trusted as the Doppler radar of electoral breezes and gusts in the black community.
I like the idea of a Black Doppler Radar. I WANT TO BE
the Black Doppler Radar.
In fact, the notion that Barack Obama would be banished because of his ancestry is the sort of unlettered theorizing that presumes black people are just a mirror image of whites. But unlike white Americans, blacks have centuries of experience dealing (sometimes not so kindly) with biracial people in their midst. For African-Americans, the blessing of the one-drop rule is blackness as a big tent. Indeed, the first Barack Obama was Frederick Douglass, a biracial slave and autodidact who throttled his slave breaker....

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www.Spotcrime.com

Oakland

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I Like Links.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

I Didn't Want the Police

TwitThis


Yesterday I was in the train station not feeling too hot.
The outfit was fly, but I just was not in the mood for the
juvenile attention
that the outfit seemed to provoke.
As if clothes provoke behavior. These young men all
have home training, whether they choose to use it is
something completely different.

As I stood on the platform, alone, as I just gotten off the
express to get the local a young buck, approximately
17 years old Black male, grazed my book and said
"Why you touch me?"

I responded. "What? You touched me". Then he walked up on me.
Typically, I would be all for the teaching moment. Or even
challenging him on some "Fall back ock."

But.

I had had a long day. Mercury is clearly in retrograde, as I
attempted to go to a meeting, but it that was actually on
Friday night, not Saturday morning. Then I went to brunch
and I realized I left my wallet home. The wallet was in another
bag and I failed to transfer it back over. I tried to put together
a little "Welcome back M.dot" get-together for Saturday night,
but I had to cancel it because of conflicts with schedules.

I was bummed out.

So yeah. I had had it and it wasn't even 2pm yet.

But the day had improved because I got a few books from the library,
one of which was.
"Shadowboxing, Black Feminist Representations"
by Joy James
, which is what I was reading when the young man
bumped into me. In fact, at the time of the incident, I was reading a
sentence where Angela Y. Davis, was speaking on the need
to eradicate the prison system as it exists today.

So back to the young man. He walked up on me, and
both
I paid it mind, but then paid it no mind. I had been
getting harassed all day. Sad to say, but I was partially
desensitized.

He mumbled something, and I did my, "Why are you enraged, whats
the problem?" Looking back at that moment, he was slightly
pacing like a lion.

There was no one else in our area of the platform.

Then it changed. He walked up on me again, and said, cocked his head,
and said "Don't touch me, I will do something to you."

My inner M.dot said, word?

Hood training stipulates that, at that moment I needed to have agency.

Run or Knuckle up.

I immediately thought I am over here, by myself, with two bags and
a four books in my hand.

No one else is on this part of the platform.

I turned and ran up the stairs, I looked back. He was following me.

I proceeded to the police station, looked back and he was
still following me.

I walked into the police station. He followed me in.

I didn't want to do it ya'll. Right now I am working on a position paper
to address the Preschool to Prison Pipeline and one of the major things
that I am advocating for is for support and intervention for young men
that doesn't involve the police as the primary method of intervention.

The idea is for the young men to interact with two or three people
before the police gets involved with the notion that once they are
involved in the courts, the dehumanization process has started
and that there is very difficult to recover from that.

So, I walked into the police station and said, this young man
is harassing me.

Get this, as soon as I said that, he started speaking over me
saying that, I was harassing him.

I kid you not.

It was like it was a game for him. Like we were both high schoolers
and going to the prinipals office to tattle.

NYPD is not a game
.

The burley white officer says, "One of you'se wait outside".
I sat down on the bench in the station.

The young man waited outside.

Popo comes over to me asks what happened.
He is all business.
Its odd because I am both emotional and rationale.
I hesitate because I can't believe I am sitting there,
as the words come out, I realize emotionally what just happened
and it f*cks me up a little bit. I am sitting on the bench
and the officer is standing over me, and another Latina
officer, in plain clothes joins him, as an observer. She is quiet.

He first asks me if I know him.
I tell him what happened. The
whole time I am thinking, I don't want to be here, I don't want
to be talking to him, I just want to go the coffee shop and
work on my blog post and short stories.

The officers asks if I want to him to be held. I am thinking,
"Man, I live over here, I might see this kid again". But then,
the young man is wild enough and presumably unstable enough
to follow me into a police station, him being held is irrelevant.
Potentially seeing him again is something I have no control over.

I tell the police, that I am just going to remove myself from the situation
and go take a bus on the street. They tell me that they are going to
hold and question him anyways, "Just so that, you know, he can tell his
side" and I think to myself, why did they asked me if thats what their
procedure was in the first place? I got up. Walked out. The young man
walked in. I proceed to the bus stop, noticed Filth called and
called him back.

Ironically, when that crane fell on Thursday, my momma called me to see
if I was okay. I was like "Momma, there is more of a chance of something
happening to me in Oakland than here" as Oakland
had been experiencing a series of BRAZEN daylight robberies
by teenagers. I now eat my words.

I am okay. I am grateful for my intuition, my god given intuition
which told me to have agency when the young man said "he would do
something to me".

*I checked Mercury's status while editing this piece.
It's comforting that I was accurate
.

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