Saturday, February 28, 2009

Medicine for Melancholy


San Francisco has ten Black people.

Okay, it has more than ten Black people, but the scarcity
of Negro's in the city of St. Francis was ever present
throughout the film, Medicine for Melancholy.

When I lived in Oakland last year, there were a few times that I
felt like the only Black girl on Mission street. I made due by hanging
out in Revolution Cafe and blogging.

Medicine for Melancholy is about what happens when two
Black people, a man and a woman,
have a one night stand in San Francisco,
and stumble through spending the rest of the weekend
together. Talk about attack of the borderless relationships.

But it is also about gentrification, class identity, interracial
relationships, infidelity, work and Blackness.

The sound track is awesome, I spotted a Madlib joint,
and the credits confirmed it.

In fact, I don't think I have seen Black people in a city, in a Black
and white theatrical release, since Spike's She's Gotta Have It.

I won't give the end away, but I will say that I am happy that
the woman had agency. Awesome.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Marinate with


Hoods to Woods trailer #2 from Brian Paupaw on Vimeo.

My homie Deka has a new film coming about
being a snow boarder from Bed Stuy, titled from Hoods
to Woods
. My favorite part of
the trailer was the young buck
backflips off the fence and Dekka
says, "If I put them sho'ties
on some snow boards, they 'prolly tear it up."
Tear it up and leave it new at the same time.

Last night, I was reading a book about creating Boundaries
in relationships
and was blown away by two statements. The first was,
"People with shaky
limits are often compliant on the outside,
but rebellious and resentful
on the inside." Amen. The other is
that, "As you develop better boundaries,
you have less of a need
for anger. This is because in many cases, anger
was the only
boundary you had." Church.

Please vote for my friend Marquette's film, "Hero's Wanted."
It is in a competition
on Channel 13. It takes 45 seconds.
We are Not Quitters. (Can we trademark that shit?)

Did you know that the Blackend part of fish is created by putting
chili pepper on it?

I have found that Gotty's Google feed is better than most
blogs I read. Weird, no?

I have come to the conclusion that I cannot be a victim
if I say no and move.

Here are some interesting things I have found around the web.
Donwills, McDay job is so simple. I knew it, when I clicked on it
that it had personality and that I would like it. Barry Michael
Cooper is over at Open Salon doing his thing. You know
I love Oakland Goodness (Thank you Ms. Around Harlem.)

Did you know that Salon has started, Open Salon? I will be cross
linking there very soon!

My hands are faster than my mind. And my mind is pretty 'effin fast.

I saw Medicine for Melancholy
. Thinking about a post for it.

My, Black Women, Property Twice, gets a lot of love at Blogher.

What are you marinating on right now?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tyler Perry and Chris Brown: A Teachable Moment


Earlier this week I was sitting in on a class about the Myth of
the Black Mammy.

Tyler Perry and the fact that his films are popular with
crowds and Black crowds alike came up. I mentioned
that Black comedians have a history of dressing up like
Black women begining with Red Fox and Flip Wilson.
I went on to say that in some ways it is a rights of
for Black male comedians to dress like older Black women,
ridicule them.
I pointed out that these are the very women
who have held down both Black and White families
throughout history.

The professor mentioned that one of the reasons why
Tyler Perry's films are funny is because Madea says things
out loud that Black women have been saying to themselves
since forever.

The professor went on to mention how her mother told her that
if a man ever put his hands on her, that you wait until he went to sleep
and you poured boiling hot water on him. She then went on
to mention the regional differences. In New York, it was lye,
in the west it was grease, in the midwest it was hot grits,
in the south it was just using a hot iron skillet.

A white student raised her hand and mentioned that her
never told her anything about what to do if a man
put his hands on her
and that in watching Madea was the
first time she heard a woman speak that way. There were
several murmurs in the class from other white women about
how they are beat, and that their mothers hadn't given them
a language, pep talk or pre-conditioning to understand, anticipate
or deal with it.

This was remarkable for me. In some ways I came to appreciate
the survival skills that all of our momma's have given us over

Which brings me to Rihanna. I wonder if she followed her intuition.
I wonder what her mother taught her. I wonder what her dad taught her.

There is nothing like being beat. There is nothing like being beat by
a loved one.

Here is where the teachable moment comes in . Here is an opportunity
for us to get involved in the lives of young people.

We often joke about Ike beating Tina, however this photo, if it is
true, it shows us just how dehumanizing violence is.

We can't fix what happened between them, in fact we don't know
what happened between them. However, given the attention
that the issue is receiving what we can do is take care of ourselves
and be an example to our peers and to the young people that watch
how we move

If you want to get involved there are a few organizations that do work
around gender and violence. The UNFPA does workshops. Women
Against Domestice Violence lists workshops and shelters
. The Audre
Lorde Projects does workshops and trainings around gender violence

What did you feel when you saw the Rihanna photo?

Have you thought about how Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence,
Tyler Perry, Flip Wilson and Red Fox have all dressed up like
older Black women?

For the women, did you momma's tell you anything in terms of
what to do if a many ever hit you?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pimps, Ho's and Chris Brown


It happened on Sunday. The news first broke.
I was on Twitter,
reading messages about The Grammys,
with the TV turned off, when someone wrote a tweet saying,

"Looks Like Chris Brown put his Pimp hand Down on a Ho."

I unfollowed the person that made this statement.
And continued
about my business. Then I thought.
That's odd, why is Chris Brown beating on a woman,
and isn't he dating Rihanna?

Then I learned, via Twitter, that Rihanna canceled her
Grammy performance,
and of course, unless you have
been under a rock for the last few days
you are aware
of the news, rumors, speculation, surrounding

what happened to them during the early hours of
February 9th.

The details of what happened between them are
not as interesting
to me as what our response to
him allegedly beating her says about us.

Clarence Thomas.
Bill Clinton.
Elliott Spitzer
The Duke Rape Case.
R Kelly.
Mike Tyson.

Now this.

When race, sexuality, violence, power and gender combine with
pop culture
it has a tendency to force us to choose sides and
our thoughts about the aforementioned
issues are laid out
for the world to see.

I grew up in a house where The Mack
and Sparkle were dubbed onto the same
VHS cassette
tape. I grew up in a house where adult family members
The Mack and pointed out streets and family
friends who played extra's in the

That being said, I have been exposed to the world of
pimping as an every
day, largely uncritizied, acceptable
from a young age.

There is something frightening about the ways in which
some folks have uncritically accepted and tried to explain
away what he has allegedly done. "He is young, he is a good
." But then again, we have done the same thing with pimping.

What does our unwillingness to criticize both Chris
and Hip Hop/ R & B say about us? Is R & B and Hip Hop our Daddy?

The tendency to explain away Chris Browns alleged
behavior reminds me of the habit within the hip hop generation to explain
away hip hops misogyny, with out fear sounding incredibly hypocritical.

The things that we listen to shape our world

In the same way that many people, both Black men and women
felt that Chris allegedly beating her is an acceptable response
to finding out that she allegedly gave him herpes.

Many of us were raised getting spanked or whuppins by our
parents. Our parents loved us, but they were also beat
us as a form of discipline. Consequently there are many of us
who walk around scared and violent
because our parents beat us.
Some of also think that it is normal for a person who loves us, to beat us.
There are many of us who cannot connect intimately because
of our fear of being hurt. This is the legacy of violence.

Many of us conflate being hit with being loved. They are not one
and the same. Being hit constitutes abuse and violence.
Period. End of Story.

Which brings me back to The Bay and pimping.
The Bay Area is notorious
for its reverence for pimp
culture and it shows in our music.

I am a firm believer that we use language to organize
how we relate to
one another in the world. I was
reminded of the danger of normalizing pimping when
I read
the following passage in Taking Back God American
Women for Religious
Equallity by Laura Tannenbaum. She writes,

...inclusive language is needed because words and the images
they evoke, have the power
to shape our attitudes: male dominant language creates and reinforces a hierarchical order in which women are regarded as subordinate; words indicate our basic belief and assumptions about ourselves, about others and about God.
The pervasive use of the term pimping serves to normalize
the expression of hatred towards women.

Pimp my ride.

Pimp Juice.

Pimp my myspace profile.


Big pimping tells me a lot about what I need to know
how women in general and Black women
are perceived in our culture.
There are some of us in the Black community that feel that
some women deserve to get beat for their behavior. This is exemplified
by the tendency in Tyler Perry Films for a woman to be slapped or
, and for the violence to go unaddressed in the film.

Which leads me to ask a few questions. How can a culture have
such pervasive reverence for pimps and Black women in the same

Have you seen a pimp beating a woman? Have you encountered
a young
woman who thought her pimp loved her? I have, and
it is a heartbreaking
sight. Where is the humanity in this treatment?
Furthermore, not only is it heartbreaking, but I found nothing
entertaining about her life
. In fact it made me feel powerless.
The documentary film, Very Young Girls, by
David Schisgall about
13 year old prostitutes, illustrates the vulnerability of young women.

I was not surprised when a friend told me yesterday, (a friend
said he was being a feminist because he felt that under
no circumstances should a woman be beat) that he was
surprised that women
defended Chris Brown's alleged
right to hit Rhianna, if she did in fact have an STD.

I stay away from the "Men shouldn't hit women" logic because
if you believe that then what stops you from saying that men
can do things to woman
"Because she is a woman." That
logic goes both ways

I responded to him saying why should you be surprised,
why should women
be any less patriarchal then men? He
mentioned a previous conversation where we concluded that
misogynistic parents raise misogynistic children. That being
said, there are some women who think that violence is a
reasonable response to certain situations.
My reasoning is that
we only know
what we are taught and when we know better we
(presumably) do better.
I contended that both Oscar Grant and Rhianna
are human beings, and thus deserve to be treated as such.

To get into "women are more fragile, men are more strong,
some women
are stronger than some men" is some part to
whole reasoning, that only serves to mystify and obscure
the issue at hand, which is that every person is a human
being and deserves to be treated as such. Violence is not the
way to go, be it the male or the female as the initiator.
Period. End of sentence.

Let's be clear. I am not writing from the inside out.
I come from a place that stipulates that you shoot first and
ask questions
later. If you think I am lying see the Oscar
Grant Riots five weeks ago.
I am talking about myself. I have
the strong urge to stick people with hot thangs when I feel
that they have wrong me. I also know that rage is destructive.

The issue of how to articulate responsibility between men
and women
fighting in public is a hairy one. I have written
about that here as well. In fact, it was almost exactly a year
ago to the day that I wrote, "Domestic Violence, What Would
You Do?" where I mentioned a discussion with
my brother about how he decides whether to get involved if
he sees a woman being assaulted in the street.
Powerful stuff.
My general stance is that oppression is oppression
and the no one
should be beating on anyone else.
. End of sentence.

It seems that many of us are trying to make a connection between
Chris Brown's alleged beating of Rhianna and our personal lives.

I read a post today by Jozen Cumming about Miles Davis and
Chris Brown.
I was reminded of my Patriarchy and Mobb Deep essay
Jozen, tries to reconcile what it means to listen to
and enjoy Miles' music
knowing full well that he unapologetically
beat Cicely Tyson.
Jozen, splits hairs and ultimatly concludes
that the
man is not his music. He writes,
What I learned with Miles Davis is that my loyalty is not to
the man but to what the man created. As a matter of fact, I
don't even know who he really was except for what he told
me in his autobiography. So why would I write off the very
thing he's made for me (his music) to enjoy simply because
outside of his job he was (from what I read) a complete jerk
who gave the world the middle finger?
For me. The music isn't just about the the artist or my enjoyment,
but about what
our young people are learning about what is
acceptable behavior in

For me, fucked-up teenagers make miserable, and many times
addicted adults.

This awful incident gives us an opportunity to think about how
violence against women is normalize thorough our casual use
of the
term pimping to describe everything from actual pimping
to the act of making a car very attractive.

I hope that we can see the ways in which our response
to Rihanna's alleged assault shows us who and what we value,
and the role that tolerated violence plays in our relationships.

Your thoughts?
I'm sure you have one or two. Big {Teef} Smile.

Monday, February 09, 2009

I Need a Beat


We Need a Beat.

Raquel Wilson and I are working on a podcast series
about Gender and Hip Hop.
We need your help with an
intro song. If you make beats and want to make a contribution, get at me.

The elements that I envision are: 1. An intro like this DJ Juice
Cut, or something similarly creative.

2. The song used in the body can be Isis's Ask a Woman or
something substantially similar.

3. One to Two minutes long should be enough.

We need a something to make it pop off from the get go. We envision
something boom bappie and feminine fresh

Make a contribution to something that is about to BLOW in
m.dotwrites AT g mail.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

My Hair is Good, It Ain't Never Hurt Nobody #1


I have been nappy since 1993. While there are some people
that contend
that Black women with natural hair love
more so than women who don't. I don't subscribe to
that notion.
There are some women with natural hair that
like themselves,
others who hate themselves, the same
goes for women with perms.

The last time I straightened my hair, I had an interview at
Spike DDBO for an administrative assistant job. For
reason I thought that I having straight hair
would increase my
getting a job. It was Spike Lee's ad
agency, if I was going to be able to have a job as a nappy,
it should have been at his agency.
I was 22 and looking
for a job, I didn't know any better.

My boyfriend at the time flipped out. When my hair is
pressed, I have big James Brown-esque curls. This
, Black Bill Clinton, irritated me about my
newly straightened hair so much,
that I ran my hair
under the shower to show him that it was
a temporary.
He learned really quick that the water will
turn back the
. I was livid and tired. Latoya Peterson,at
Racialicious wrote recently about
the politics of
telling your partner about going nappy.

She recounts sharing her decision with one of her friends,

“What did your boyfriend say?” she asked carefully.
I was kind of shocked that this was the first comment from my pro-natural, all organic food eating, anti-make up, womanist, vegan friend. However, she was simply expressing a sentiment from her own experience - sometimes, something simple like transitioning your hair can end your relationship. KJ still felt the sting from prior relationships that were seemingly full of love, trust, and shared personal politics - except when it came to the issue of her hair. In that case, she was encouraged to conform to a beauty standard she did not believe in to please her boyfriend with a long sheet of silky hair - after all, she’d been growing it out for years, so it should be really long by now, right?
In many ways it reminded of the ways in which,
Black women's bodies and their hair
have been seen as family and or
community property.
Latoya speaks to this notion when
she writes,

Of all the stories I heard from the women I spoke to, it is the incident at the wedding that stands out to me most. Two women expressed the desire to have natural hair and yet would not do it because of the perceived social cost. And that saddened me, because two women subverted what they wanted to do to please others.
Latoya also mentioned how older Black women can
sometimes feel like a thick head of natural
hair is
"a waste" and that it should straightened
to see how long it is.
I remember how in the eyes of my mother I went from a
person with a "whole lot of hair sticking up on my head"
to someone with a thick head full of hair and that "I should
let her press it out." Long hair is capital in our society, in the
same way, lighter and or white skin is
. In the book
Tenderheaded Mariame Kaba explains one of the
reasons why Black women straighten their hair. She
Kathy Russel, co author of Color Complex: Politics
of Skin Color Among African Americans. Black women
"take the heat" to achieve access to the economic and social
resources within American society. (Of course there are
other powerful incentives for straightening ones hair, which
have more to do with gaining social acceptance from family,
friends and men). And the usual results from pressures within
the community, but that isn't my focus here.
She goes on to say that,
While these notions have some validity I find them lacking.
My research suggests that if they are also practicing a white
standard of beauty then it is a means to an ends. Anita, a 32 year old
housing specialist, offers this insight, " I wear my hair straight so
that I can fit in. My mother said that if I didn't have good hair,
I would
have no hope of getting a job, a husband, or any
real respect
in society.
When I was in middle school, and admiring the b-girls

at Skyline high school who were natural and the women
with twists that I would see in Berkeley, a woman
who lived in my building told me "My hair is good,
it ain't never hurt nobody." I love that because it speaks
to how our hair is just hair, but also loaded and full of historical
meaning as well.

I went to a predominantly white prep school high
school in San Francisco. It was at this high school that
I broadened my idea of what African American
beauty was. Ironic, no? In some ways, my white peers were
more receptive to my natural hair then the people
in my family. They thought it was "cool." My brother always thought
I was weird. My dad thought that I was completing my transformation
into a vegetarian hippie,and my mother thought it was just a phase.
My sister thought it was awful and offered to send me to "the shop."

Everyone had an opinion about my naps.

I was also reminded of this when I read about the
Chris Rocks new film, Good Hair, which was inspired by
his daughter
asking him "whether or not she had good hair?"

Any conversations about napps lately?

How much do you spend on your hair per month?

For men/women, who date women, do you have
a nappy/straight preference? If so, why or why not?

2 Train Wisdom


Last Tuesday, I ran into a homie, Simone, on the 2 train.
She is in BK now,
but she is from Oakland, and we both know
common people.

We are cool, but not tight. This is important to note because
of the significance of what she went on to say to me.

I know Simone to be real down to earth and honest.
We were chatting,
catching up on school and babies, then
we turned to relationships. When
I last
saw her in August, she said ", if you want a baby and
a partner,
pray for both, because I prayed for a baby, and I love
my child but I
didn't pray for and I don't have a partner to help
me raise her."
I then gave her my relationship rundown.

Simone: You asked for God to take him out your life
and bring him back when he was ready.
Me: Yes.
Simone: Then you got what you asked for.
Me: What about what happened in the meantime?
Simone: It's none of your business.
Me: I also asked God to take him out my life and fill in the
Simone: Did God do that?
Me: Actually yes. I was able to get things done, I had company,
I was able to shift my recovery into high gear. But, I ain't feeling this.
He lied.All I have is my word, and when you have very little money, your
word is all you have with people. I didn't treat him like that.
Simone: He is not you. That is great that YOU are like that but
other people come to you the way that they are. Besides people
have to be given the space to tell the truth.
Me: Your right. I can be an idealist who expects people to deal
with things the way that I do. (Her statement about people being
given the space to tell the truth resonated with me because of my
gender politics and how I feel that many Black men who are gay, and choose
not to share that they are, do so because they are not given the space
to be honest with their lovers or families.)

I then mentioned that Filthy [Birk] had been coasting early our
relationship. He was checking for me, but not treating me like the
one that he "he won't let get away."
She stopped me.

"If he was coasting, then it was on
you to mind your
If that means dealing with other people or
being exclusive, that
was and is YOUR choice." Part of
me wanted to squinch up my face
and stomp and scream.
But she was right. It was my choice
to be involved, be half
involved or simply to walk away.

She left me no room to be a victim. While I didn't like the fact
that she was saying it to me at the time, I will forever love
for it. Remember the victimhood post? Yes, well,
acknowledging how
my choices brought me to my
current situation has helped
me remained focused on
what God has for me, and not reacting
to what another
person says or does.

Between this conversation, and thinking and reflecting on
what the healthiest choice for me was, I had decided to
leave the door cracked for
Filthy to demonstrate how
is an action, how love is work, courage or both.

I don't take this decision lightly. I was once engaged and I
came to conclusion after that relationship ended that it
mattered less to me how much baggage a person had,
and that it mattered more whether the person had the willingness
to do the work to deal with the past and recover from it. I
realized that this was a great theory
to have, now was the
opportunity to practice it
. (Sometimes, yo odio when theory
meets practice.)

Then I received an e-mail yesterday from the woman
that he
had a borderless relationship with. When I checked
my inbox and saw the e-mail, I just looked up like, okay God,
you have messages for me today, I see. She called me and we had a

and I realize that in some ways I was in a borderless
relationship as well. I learned that they hooked up in June and August.
I was tight. However, the past is that past and there ain't shit that I
can do about that today.

I wasn't sure what her intentions were in calling me.
The stated reason was to "share some things" that
she might have thought that I wanted to know.

I was lightweight suspect because I called her in Aug '08, in
response to an event invitation she sent. She was throwing an event
for Filthy and I wanted to surprise him with red velvet cupcakes.
I called her identifying myself as his girlfriend, stating that I wanted
to bring cupcakes and the shit
hit the fan. Apparently I was the only
one that got the girlfriend memo. Ouch.
Rather than call me back
she called him. (After this, Filthy and I went on to have a
conversation about relationship titles, etc.)
That being said, who
knows what questions could have been asked and answered
then, but that wasn't Gods plan, right? Right.

This is important to me because sometimes we don't make
phone calls or ask questions because the answer may
that we have to change our path and walk away,
or stop our behavior
all together.

For instance, I have a homie, Hot Momma Leo, and a few years ago,
I introduced her to a guy I was interested in. The three of us were having
drinks at a bar. A few days later she told me they mashed. I was
like WHEN? I just introduced you to him, and I told you I was
checking for him. She claimed that she didn't know, which
was ridiculous to me at the time. Assuming that she didn't
know, why didn't she ask? When he went to the bathroom,
all she had to say was, "Aye, is that you?" Done. Simple. Easy.
What eventually came out, is that if she asked, she
might hear no. So rather than hear no, she didn't ask, so that
she could continue doing she wanted to do

I still maintain my commitment to leaving the door cracked. Armed
with more information, I have my eyes wide open, and I have a strong
faith that if there is anything else that needs to be revealed to me, it will be.
Having parents with addictive behavior has forced me to understand
both the power of forgiveness and the importance of understanding
that I cannot control others. I can only decide to be in a situation
or remove myself from it.

For now, I remain open to what young Filthy has to say.

For a long time, my father disappointed me, and it took him
15 years to get his shit together, deal with his addiction, recovery
and become a consistent presence in my life again. This doesn't
mean that because my dad struggled I make myself some dudes
doormat, but it does mean that we all need to be given space and
forgiveness if we are to address the past harms we have done to
others in life.

I have a tendency to beat myself up when I make a mistake.
It is a perfectionist tendency and a natural consequence of my
childhood. This of course is really problematic
because as humans we all make mistakes. Our mistakes remind us
that we are human. I see this as an opportunity to practice both
aknowledging my humanity and someone elses as well.

Filthy says he is a changed man. The future will confirm whether that
is the truth. I sit back, not reacting, letting life unfold. Can I tell you
how amazing that feels?

It also helps that I just learned that I am a finalist for one
of the graduate school programs I applied to. (So far, 1 Rejection,
1 Finalist.) Now I just need a writing gig that will let me afford
a membership at the Country Club Gym. Big {TEEF} Smile.

You forgiven anyone lately or decide enough is enough?

What stops you from asking questions that you know you need
the answers to?

Why is it so much easier to hold on to being angry than it is
to look for a solution?

Addicted to Being A Victim


I love Yellow Tulips

In the midst of all of the bumpiness of January '09, I learned
that I was addicted to being a victim.
Well, I knew it, but I
actually said it out loud to people,
each of whom laughed, because
I think I shocked them with my willingness to admit it.
The first time
I said it, Tracey Rose was at my house two Saturdays ago, I was
preparing to move. In the middle
of sorting through big
shoe box number one, and big shoe box number two
I said: TR, I think I am addicted to being a victim.
TR: Shit, YOU actually know you are? Yes, of course. Wait you did too?
TR: Yes, I was trying to figure out how to tell you. You can't "tell" nobody no shit like that. That's like telling me I am a junkie. What? You were doing to have a victim intervention. [We laughed]. I know it, and it is time that I do something about it.
TR: That's what Recovery is about. Every situation we find ourselves
in we are accountable for it. Everyone one. We made these situations. That's the realest shit I heard today.
Then I had a conversation with Birkhold. Yo, I think I am addicted to being a victim.
B: Wait, you know? [Lets out a loud assed noise]. Of course I know, I just don't like going around saying it.
B: Ain't that something. I didn't know you knew. Why is everyone surprised that I know? [Winces.]
Then finally I had one with my dad. Hi Daddy, I learned something about myself this week.
Daddy: What is that? I am addicted to being a victim.
Daddy: Laughter. Why do people laugh when I say that? Big {Teef} Smile.
Ironically, this all came about sitting watching the inauguration
with Birkhold. He made is commitment feelings, along with other
, known and as I was sorting through it watching Michelle
and President Obama dance and
I called Jonezy. As I told her what
was going on, she listened then said, "You
noticed you are focusing
on the negative, right?" I had never thought
about that. And I realized
that was my second
victim/negative thinking flag.

The Saturday before the inauguration, I had spoken in front of a
and I mentioned how because of my parents battles with addiction,
historically I have had a chip on my shoulder. That chip helped me
in some ways because it reminded me of where I came from, what
I had achieved, and what I was striving for. On the other hand, as I have
gotten older, that chip on my shoulder has prevented me from asking
for help when I needed it.

Upon hearing speak about 'The Chip", Birkhold made a connection
between my difficulty
with asking for what I need and identifying as
a victim
He went on to say that you can't be a victim if you are walking
away. Which is crazy true. In order TO BE a victim
you have to sit
somewhere for someone to abuse you
This floored me, because
it was true.

It goes like this, if I don't ask for what I need, then I WILL NOT
it, and if I don't receive it I can stay mad at the world.
convenient, eh?

I was further reminded of this when my friend Honest Love who
invited me
to his wedding responded to one sentence in an
that I written
about needing to recover from some
childhood things. He did
not know about my victimhood revelation
but this is that he said to
Please know that you are not your wounds and they are not you. Many victims are overwhelmed by their wounds to the point that they embrace their victimhood as their identity and there usually is a time of re-gathering when this needed. I see the choice person that Deanna [his fiance] is, even as she is healing from her broken emotional limbs and emerges from her emotional coma. I hope you can see the difference between you and your wounds. I sense the beauty of who you are; I pray that you can.

Our minds and hearts have amazing interim devices they use to remove us from our hurts until we're ready to heal from them. This is both normal and common. When questioning one's responses, especially when challenged to "just get past it," ask would not a person be abnormal who didn't go to these defenses until healing advanced?

I was stunned at receiving this because he zeroed right in
on what I was dealing with at the time.

In some ways I felt like, historically, I had a right to have a chip on my shoulder.
My rationale was, I did what I was told to do,
I went to school, now
where is the life that I was told I would have.
that being able to go to school, amazing
schools, student
centered schools, was a miracle in and of it self.

I now understand that my job is to make a contribution and
posts like these are apart of that job.
At the end of the day victimhood is the easy way out. Victims don't
have to act, they can simply
whine about things that others
have done to them.

Many of us know people in our lives like this.
parents, siblings, the list goes on and on.

On this blog I have written extensively about agency,
and about how victims can be perpetrators.

In some
ways I was trying to work out how we can get in
our own
way in life.
Why do you all think I ride so hard for
every person
being and Agent, and Actor, not an (inanimate)
that is acted upon.

That being said, here is to eliminating victim thinking in our lives
in 2009!

Any victim thinking in your life?
Know anyone who stays complaining about what their boss,
their mother, their whatever did to them?

How do you deal with it?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Ms. Black Feminist Goes to the Country Club


I have a bad left knee. I moved earlier this week, and I didn't want
my knee to look like a cauliflower, so I decided to use a
gym pass that
I had been saving for a rainy day.

I figured that a little yoga and a little steam room would help
old lefty feel better.

The gym facility was beautiful. A summer camp for adults in the
form of a gym.

This morning I was in the locker room, with affluent, older white
women to my left
and to my right and I don't remember the last time
I felt so conscious of how Black I was. The browness of my skin.

The non blondess of my hair.

I couldn't help but catch glances of other women's bodies,
thighs, muscles, amazing six packs and I began to think
of my own self consciousness around
being about 7 or 8 pounds
lighter than my normal weight.
When I get stressed out, I stop eating.

The last two months things have
been stressful, but they are
getting back to normal, thank God.
I noticed several things on
my country club field trip. The first thing
is that initially I felt
uncomfortable. I received slow glances from some
of the staff.
Then the longer I was there, and moved about the
, I felt less like their glances mattered and I felt more like a member.

I also noticed the presence of entire families. During the week
in downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan it is common to see Spanish,
Caribbean and African American women with white children, on the train, on
the street in the parks. Today, it was such a sight to see so many white
men playing an active caregiving role with their
children. It dawned
on me that affluent white folks take their children to the gym with them.
I began to think about the message that it sends to young people.
I also thought about African American women, and our unwillingness
to exercise because we do not want water ANYWHERE near our
hair and the impact that this has on our health.

Finally, I was refreshed. Mascara check. Blush Check. Hat titled to the side
30 degrees, check. I prepared to leave. As I started walking out of the
facility I noticed a group of Black men in the lobby. There was a hum
in the room. My thought was "Oh there are some Cauuuties, ok, girls
look alive." Then I thought to myself, hmm, why is there a high school
basketball team practicing here and dismissed it. Then, as I walked further and
gazed at a 6 ft 7 tall drink of water, he gazed back at me, and then
I saw the purple and gold warm up suits. I realized that it
was The Lakers.

A wave of adrenaline rushed through me.

I immediately and inconspicuously started looking for Kobe,
who I noticed was on the low, wearing a hood. I walked to
the coat check lady and said "Nikki, do you see who just walked in?"

So many things rushed through my head. I thought of the power
dynamic between athletes and the women they are attracted to.
I thought about what it must feel like to be a woman who receives
attention from a person who is catered to and revered by so many
. As the player walked past me, me with my duffel bag, lap top
bag and Shiny Black Girl handbag, it was electric. I was myself and
still getting the eye.

I felt simultaneously like a groupie, feminist, sociologist and a writer.
I thought of Kobe's rape case and the emotional terrain
involved with hanging out and having sex with a professional
athlete. In our society, women are raised to think that "landing"
someone with Hollywood credentials is the ultimate success.
I thought about what it feels like to be a powerful man in a culture
that simultaneously resents you for your wealth and respects you
for your athletic ability. No one talks about the power dynamics
involved in dating such a person
. I thought of how historically
women who have been (allegedly) being raped by athletes and
famous men in general are typically blamed for the (alleged) rape
in the court of popular opinion.

Mike Tyson. R.Kelly. Kobe Bryant. Mystikal. 2Pac.

It is one thing to run into Hollywood folks out in the street, and something
completly different to encounter an entire basketball team comprised
mostly of Black men in a gym. Especially if it makes both me and the
team members the only Black non staff folk in the room.

Ms. Black feminist goes to the country club, gets a lesson, in class,
race, affluence and power.

Oh, and my knee feels better.

Have you felt your ethnicity, hard, recently?

Athletes, women and power, any thoughts?

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