Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Children of Alcoholics Either Marry One or Become One


Me and Dig Dug in August '05. I had no idea at the time,
but my whole world was about to shake.

I woke up this morning with this thought, the title of the post,
in my head,
probably because it ties into so many other things
that I have
been thinking about, as usual.

Thinking. Thinking about Michael Jackson, about stolen
childhoods, about adult onset addiction and what it means
to live in a culture that doesn't have a language to grieve.

Thinking and observing the ways in which we are dealing
with Micheal Jackson's death. Thinking that if we do not
deal with our history as a people,as Americans,
as Black
people, as the children of abusive people, we will be

trapped in it and triggered into our childhood fears
any new loss occurs.

A dear friend of mine has been recently doing work on dealing
with his
childhood. It's painful to watch, yet awesome because
I suspect it
will make him a more human human. Often times,
I don't know
what to say when he tells me about making a
connection between something janky from his childhood
that carried over into his adult life, so I just sit there speechless
and attentive, trying
to be a good friend.

My father has both struggled with an addiction for twenty years
and he also works incredibly hard everyday to maintain his
Four years ago, in July of 2005, he came back east to visit me
and to reconnect with his momma and forgive
her for giving
him up for adoption. It was incredible. In watching
him do this,
instead of telling me who a man, a human was, he showed me.

He showed
me the power of forgiveness.The importance of humility.
He showed me the gift of not harboring resentments.
He showed
me that if he could forgive her, then I should forgive him, if I
hadn't. He showed me that adult Black men, that men,
in fact do the necessary
emotional work to get their family
lives and emotional lives in order.
Despite what CNN's Black in
America, the Black intellectual or
Black Politician du jour
were saying.

This visit is material because my grandmother died in March of
2007, just two
years after that visit.

You and I know that there is nothing quite like a person dying
before you can
tell them, I am sorry or I forgive you.

He showed me that a man, a man who has dedicated his life to
his own wounds from 20, 30, 40, or 50 years ago must
make it a priority
to deal with the events from childhood that
never have been addressed, or else he will be trapped by them.

It was on this trip that my father noticed that I was "angry." Of
I was. Anger is often times the only emotion that we
are permitted
to have publicly. Yet, there is a caveat for Black
women, as we are
presumed to have attitudes and be angry
often times before we even open our
mouths. This
of course is rooted in myth of Black women that go back to
slavery. Damn near everybody in East Oakland is angry and
with good reason. East Oakland houses the bodies that
capitalism no longer needs, (to a greater or lesser extent.)

But trip, I wasn't in East Oakland.
I was in downtown Brooklyn,
bourgie as all get out, about to get married and
go to law school.
What did I have to be angry about?

Well, in the ensuing months, the angry ripped through some
more relationships and played a huge role in my ability to adjust
to law school. It also played an active role in killing two relationships,
and in killing credit score (which was perfect when I started) by
shopping instead of dealing with the grind that is law school by
developing new tools to cope. Instead I tried to assimilate into the
existing culture of play hard and work hard and I became a little
bit to comfortable with cappuccino's in the morning and Black label
at night and trying to read four hundred pages in between.

Some days I failed miserably, on others, I knocked it out the box.

However, the above three tendencies were bad for the wallet,
bad for the kidneys, bad for my eye sight.
After Dee Dee got
stolen in Prospect Park, and I moved back to the Bay, it was
clearly a sign that I had enough and I started to deal with
how I reacted
to the anger triggers head on
. That was fun.

Anger is a drug, anger is also a secondary emotion that is usually
a cover for how we really feel. When I accepted that, I became willing
to be the person that I was put here to be, not the person
reacting to twenty years ago, and certainly not the person
that my friends or family thought I should be.

Every since I learned of Michael's death, I have been thinking about
childhoods and the way we grieve or don't grieve in our society.

I have been thinking about how he provided the soundtrack to
our childhoods, yet he was denied one.

This post is for the kids who had no childhoods. For the Michael
Jackson's of
the world who for one reason or another got robbed
of theirs. To be fair to
my parents, I had an awesome childhood, until
Crack came
, that is. It
was awesome and irreplaceable. Both pre and
post Crack, I couldn't or wouldn't change it, it made me who I am.

I only
hope that for anyone reading this who may see a little
Michael Jackson getting robbed of his or her childhood,
steps in to do something.

No one stepped in for him.

Further Reading
The Road Less Traveled
All About Love

No questions for this post.
A little too deep, feel me?


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Douch Bags, Wife Beaters and Vagina Music


I was reading the Bitch Blog this morning when, I came
across a post on Vagina Music by Andi Zeisler.

I instantly suspected that Vagina music was derisive term
because vagina's are used in popular
language to describe
things that we hate, because we are socialized
to hate women.

Our use of language reflects our reality.
As I read it, my suspicion was confirmed. Andi Zeisler writes,

But it wasn’t until I heard an acquaintance refer to Coldplay as “vagina music” that I began to rethink my own casual use of the phrase as a catchall descriptor for the descendants of Cris Williamson and Tracy Chapman. Because , while I am no fan of Coldplay... it’s clear that describing them as vagina music was not this person’s way of saying that their latest album reminded him of the oeuvre of Paula Cole.

So from this, we can infer that vagina music is not only music that others feel subjected to/wish to avoid, or music that sounds generically female, it’s music for pussies. And pussies are pussies because they’re…like women.

Masculinity, in mainstream American culture is largely
defined by
trying to be oppressive or violent towards
other men, and to most certainly be
oppressive towards
woman. This is why homophobia
is rooted in our hatred
of women.

Which leads me to the question, without dominating women, what
would American masculinity look like

We use language to organize how we relate to one another
in the world.
I was reminded of how our word choices can
normalize the hatred of women 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.
Again. Words indicate our basic belief and assumptions about
ourselves about others and about God.

Calling a group of men a "girls" is an insult because in a
where men are dominant and women are
dominated, the last
thing the world you want to be is a
woman or gay

I do not refer to mixed gendered groups of people as
"guys." I call them folks or if they are my friends "party people."

I use this because I try and use language that reflects an
understanding of how gender and power is obtained and
maintained in pop culture, in mainstream media and day to day life.

Our language and our laws reflect a tendency to classify humans
as men by default.

Being a man is not the default status of humanity.
Being a girl is not an insult.

If I believed that hype, I might hate myself.

The Pervasiveness of the Douche Bag
If a douche bag is a feminine hygiene product, why is it used to describe
people in general and men specifically who are inconsiderate
and self centered?

What exactly is idiot like, inconsiderate, self centered or moron like
about a feminine hygiene product?

The passive acceptance of the usage of the term is indicative of our
acceptance of the public dislike of vagina's.
The loose usage of the
term indicates passive acceptance of the public hatred of femininity
and women.

Which brings me to wifebeaters.
I don't call white tank tops
wife beaters
I call them white tanks. If I am in a real snarky
mood I call them wife killers
which completly throws people off.

Why wife killers?

The majority of women killed in this country are murdered by
an intimate partner.

I would imagine that the term is derived from the stereotype of
a white beer drinking man in rural America who beats his wife.

I will concede that this steroetype may be based in fact. However,
describing a t-shirt as a wife beater when most women murdered
are killed by their intimate partners is careless and perpetuates the
notion that hitting women (and people) expected and for that matter
is accepted.

From Vagina music, to douche bags and wife beaters, the
ways in which
our day to language reflects our tendency to
normalized hatred towards women.

Have you given any thought to how the language that we use
reinforces stereotypes
and gender hierarchies?

You ever thought about what a douche bag is and why
it is an insult
? Am I wrong?

Or does language in fact reflect
the way we see women?

**This post was informed by Douche Bags and Wife Beaters

Friday, June 26, 2009

The End of Journalism, the Beginning of the Future


A couple of weeks ago on Twitter, Toure went back and forth with
people, one of which was Aliya S. King, on the future or
the end
of journalism.

Given the dismissiveness of Toure's tone, I was reminded
of calling
Derrick Bell a couple of years ago, as I was fighting
being dismissed from law school
. Yes, I picked up the phone
and called him, told him my situation and requested some
My aunt was on me to advocate for myself, to not be
a victim
and to show me how to be empowered. It is an
important lesson
that I carry with me every day.

While Professor Bell, was kind and encouraging, he is also a
lawyer, and as such he asked me period point blank "Are you
you are meant to be an attorney?" My feelings were hurt
and I blinked back the tears. It felt like he was assessing my
without knowing me very well. In reality, he was explaining
to me how I would possibly be perceived and, hence forced
me to think about what was the best option for me, not simply
what I wanted to do.

He also understood and explained to me the pedagogy of law
school and the ways in which it isn't beneficial to Black folks,
or so called "at risk" populations.

He changed my life that day.
Professor Bell is a man who
resigned from Harvard's Law School in
the mid nineties
over its unwillingness to tenure "a" Black woman

professor. I respect him. He put his money where his
mouth was,
which influenced my willingness to call him and be
vulnerable. At that time, I
was still considering going back to
law school. His point was that
people, implicitly white
people, from my school with excellent
grades can have
a challenging time finding work, so he urged me to really
think about my whether being an attorney was meant for

Well. I told my
then partner, *David, about our conversation,
and his response was, "You are a child of God, it is not for
nor anyone to say what are you are to do with your
or your life." I instantly perked up and felt protected
and little less sad.

I thought of this child of God moment when I read King's
piece on on her exchange with Toure.

I was also reminded of an editorial that I came across recently in
Art Voices Magazine. In April, Terrence Sanders, the publisher
wrote an eloquent, powerful and vulnerable editorial letter
last month, that in many ways captured the sentiment of the
you are a child of God moment. He writes,

I was told by my mother that when I was three months old, my biological father attempted to suffocate me while she was out shopping. She left him and relocated to NYC, where she re-married a Marine who had just completed a tour of duty in Vietnam. I was raised in tenements and housing projects on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, I was exposed to asbestos and lead poisoning. I was categorized as a “have not,” I attended Head Start, I hated school, I was sent to schools that taught me just enough. My neighbors were Chinese, Jews, Italians, Hispanics; I was physically abused by my stepfather until I was 16 years old, when ran away from home. I slept in 24 hour movie theaters on 42nd street, park benches on the FDR drive, rooftops of housing projects, and trains. I was exposed to petty criminal elements during my informative years. I was lost, I had no skills to survive in a capitalist regime; my role models were actors, athletes and Jesus....
...In retrospect, I never gave up on myself, I didn’t want to be a slave or live in fear, I didn’t want to walk amongst the walking dead. I’m an Artist, my son’s an Artist in his 2nd year at Cooper Union. Art and Art alone saved my life; it completes me. It is my therapy, my weapon of choice; it helps me to cope with the day-to-day struggles of being a human being. My contribution to humanity will be my art, my voice, and in that and that alone I am alive.

Never let anyone tell you what you what you can and cannot do, let my life be an example. Listen to that inner voice, and not power-hungry elitists with hidden agendas. While they are the fraud, Artists are the truth. We are in the game, and they are on the sidelines. So, I stand before you stripped naked and not afraid to bare my soul. I created my own jobs, my own opportunities, and now I’m living the dream.

Best Regards,

Terrence Sanders, Editor & Publisher more here.

Yes. Terrence gets it. In many ways he is like Camus
in his understanding of how art and humanity functions.

Yet, that doesn't take care of the messiness of figuring out how
to make a living as an artist.

Don't get it twisted. I understand that the news, journalism and
advertising landscape will never look the way that it has in the past.
Three reasons come to mind, based on ideas from people who
are experts in their respective areas.

Kevin Kelly says that data linking is the future.

David Simon says that corporations screwed newspapers
by treating copy with contempt, worshiping advertisements,
and passing along corporate profits to shareholders instead
of investing in journalist who could and arguably would
create copy that people would WANT to pay for online.

Chris Anderson says that there will be two versions of
everything available on the internet. He was
quoted last week saying that, "Everything that becomes

digital will become free. There will be a free version,
either you
will be competing with free or giving it
away for free and selling
something else. If it is
not zero today, it will be zero tomorrow

And lastly, The Washington Post just fired one of the most
analytical, largely bipartisan and accessible cats covering the
White House, Dan Froomkin.

The ground is in fact moving beneath us. But I was raised
with earthquakes, so we know what it is.

At the end of the day, If one wants to write, write. If you want
to write, and can't, don't do it. It will work its way out. For true,
if writing has gotten a hold of you
it will not turn you a loose.

Trust me, I learned this the hard way.
For example, last March,
I wrote about Honey Magazine, Kierna Mayo and my personal
of accepting the fact that I am a writer.

Last fall, I used some of my blog posts on hip hop, feminism
and labor
and other personal experiences as fodder for my
grad school applications.
This is material because, if I am
passionate enough to spend my time blogging about it, then
studying the same issues in a classroom setting arguably
is for more enticing than say, civil procedure. I am happy to
say that I will be a graduate student in the fall.

I mention this because I had to accept that I was a writer.

No one could do this for me.

When I accepted this, I set out on a course to act like one,
to choose
my goals and take the necessary steps to
try and achieve them.

I hope that this helps you accept the writer, the artist in you.

Related Post's

Is Blogging Journalism?
Cognitive Surplus: Did TV Kill the Book?
The Curse of Being a Black Artist

Thought about being an artist lately?

How do you shut out the critics, but take their advice

about being cautious seriously?

PSK, what does it all mean? <<<>

How has '09 been?

*Not his real name

Girls and Math


Last month I spent 30 minutes of a 50 minute tutoring session
trying to teach a 12 year old year the common denominator.

Often times, as a tutor, it is hard to teach a young person
you take for granted for knowing, almost intuitively.

But somewhere in the distant past, someone hung in there
me, so show me the common denominator.

When I noticed that she just started guessing answers I said,
"I know that you can do this work, you just have
to take you
time and follow the rules. Math is a language, and it
is linear,
you cannot guess at the correct answer.
Learn the steps,
and follow them every time
and you will get the correct answer.
I know that you know how to do this."

A week later, I was tutoring another young lady, 12, with a
math capacity, but get this, she was still visibly
doing the work.

I mentioned this to another tutor and her response
"Yeah, the girls think that math is for boys."

The more I paid attentive the more I noticed, that the girls,

regardless of capacity to do the work, looked really uncomfortable
doing the work.

So I started paying attention to the boys. Some of them, ranging in

ages from 9-12, were better than others, many were on grade level

and many where by behind.
But, what stuck out to me was
their tendency and will to sit there
through the tedium of doing 12
triple digit multiplication problems, 15 fraction conversation
problems, and 10 long division problems.

Page after tedious page, some grumble, some were right at home.

I realized that doing math problems is a kind of meditation.
When I told Birkhold about the distinction he said that math is
masculine gender performance and that there have been
of studies on math, girls and gender performance.

He also said that girls being scared of math is part and parcel to
the maintenance of women being oppressed and maintaining
I just looked at him like whhhhutuuuuuuuut?

He responded saying that the two engines of capitalism are
and scientific and techonological advances.
You need math in order
to do all of these successfully. So, by
making it the domain of men,
we undermine the future
prosperity of girls.

Who knew?

Math and Girls any thoughts?

Teach any young people math lately?

What was the outcome?

What are three material changes that
we can make to change math education for
children in general and girls specifically?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chris Brown x Rihanna Fenty x Perez Hilton


A couple days ago, Chris Brown pleaded guilty for
beating Rihanna Fenty last February. He looks like
OJ in
that picture.
By pleading guilty to felony assault if he so much as
sneezes the wrong way, he is going straight to jail.

This was a strategic move

In the court of popular opinion, it silences those
who think that he didn't do it, or at least he shows
that he was willing to plead guilty to something.

But then again if you don't want to believe, you won't.
It also raises the stakes
legally, if and when he
beats someone else.

It prevented a trail, that neither of their careers arguably

never would have recovered from, that is to say, if their
careers recover.

Many of us in the Black community think that it is okay
for Black men to beat on us. It isn't. Nor is it okay for the
police to
beat on Black men. I use the police example to
show how
we are socialized tolerate one kind of violence
yet be enraged
by another.

With regard to Chris Browns corporate appeal, he became
another violent Black
man, hence untouchable at least for the
moment, but fans and capitalism have tendency to only
have short term
memories. The Perez Hilton assault case
proved to be an interesting hypothetical
for three reasons.

The first is that not only was he assaulted,
but he was assaulted after having called a famous Black man in
public, Wil.i.Am. a "faggot". The second is that Hilton is gossip blogger
who traffics in bringing discomfort, angst and judgement to the
people that he writes about for the purpose of earning
cash. Third, he gets money by making fun of people. This is material.

Remember when cats used to get threatened and beat up at The Source
for writing reviews that emcees and labels didn't like. I say this
not to rationalize it, but to give it some context.

I had to struggle a bit with my rule regarding zero tolerance for violence
because he traffics in pain. When you walk in the dark, the darkness is
your friend, and will be a material part of your life. I know this because
I have done it and seen it in the lives of others around me. Simple as that.

But, the counter arguement to that is that he is just spewing
words, he hasn't laid a hand on anyone.

I then had to ask myself, is the rule, no violence, or no violence
for people only for people he don't traffic in pain?

I don't know Hilton's work. I checked the site yesterday and there were
fairly innocuous photos of Britney Spears and other A list and
B list celebs being made fun of. Because it is true that he has in
fact ridiculed others, and gotten paid for it, there is the
inclination to say that he has earned what he has coming to him.

I figured out the answer to my rule question.
Ultimately, no one, no angry rapper, or angry rap manger, lol, has a
right to lay hands on a writer based on an epitet or a bad album review.

Just another day of reckoning with violence.

Did you compare Rihanna to Perez?

Why or why not?

Why is it so hard for us to consider the ways in which
actions teach the young bucks?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Reverse Racism, Slavery Apologies and Identity Politics: Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My!


On May 29th Rush Limbaugh called President Obama
and Sonia Sotomayor a "reverse racist."

On June 18th the Senate Passed a resolution offering
an apology for slavery.

What do all of these things have in common? Race, power
and the possessive investment in whiteness.

The way in which the online and mainstream media lamented
and analyzed "the appearance" of identity politics, in many
ways, could have led a reasonable person to believe
that identity politics constituted a minor annoyance and not
material issue rooted in U.S. history.

Race has been and arguably always will be political.

When a country changes it laws classify children
born to enslaved parents to be legally classified
as slaves at birth, race will be political.

In the book, The Possessive Investment in Whiteness,
George Lipsitz provides an analytical framework that
is helpful in analyzing identity
politics as it pertains to
whiteness. He writes,

Yet, once we remember that whiteness is also an identity one
a long political history, contemporary attacks on "identity"
politics come into clear relief as a defense of the traditional
privileges and priorities of whiteness in the face of critical and
political projects that successfully disclose who actually hold
power in this society and what has been done with it.

Whiteness is everywhere in U.S. culture, but very hard to see.
As Richard Dyer suggests, "White Power secures its dominance
by not seeming to be anything in particular. " As the unmarked
category against which differnce is constructed, whiteness
never has to speak its name, never has to acknowledge its
role as an organizing principal in social and cultural relations.
George Lipsitz goes on to define the investment when he writes,
I use the term possessive to stress the relationship between and asset accumulation in our society, to connect attitudes to interest, to demonstrate that white supremacy is less a matter of direct, referential, and snarling contempt than a system for protecting the privileges of whites by denying communities of color opportunities for asset accumulation and upward mobility. Whiteness is invested in like property, but it also a means of accumulating property and keeping it from others...
Talking about race can be challenging because, well,
it is a sensitive topic. Talking about race as a social construct
that is rooted in history is a whole other ball game,
largely because we move from pointing fingers to analyzing systems.
This can be difficult but it gives us a framework for analysis.

If I talk about Black men in hip hop, some people may think
that I am talking about all Black men.

If I talk about white folks and White supremacy some may think
that I am talking about all white folks.

My goal is to look at the system in which we all live,
attend school, vote, pay rent, lose mortgages (lol).

Yes, this may mean looking at individuals, but we will
fall short if we don't look at the system and how power is
distributed as well.

With this in mind, I was glad when I came across the
following passage in Lipsitz's book,

Opposing whiteness is not the same as opposing white people. White supremacy is an equal opportunity employer: nonwhite people can become active agents of white supremacy as well as passive participants in hierarchies and rewards. One way of becoming an insider is by participating in the exclusion of other outsiders. An individual might even secure a seat on the supreme court on this basis.....On the other hand, if not every white supremacist is white, it follows that not all white people have to become com licit with white supremacy, that there is an element f choice in all of this.
In thinking about the ways of becoming an insider I am reminded
of having conversations with Black immigrants from the Caribbean
and Africa and being amazed at their overt and subliminal
ways in which they have expressed a belief that African
Americans are lazy.

My first inclination was to say that we are this countries
oldest residents, along with white immigrants and Native
Americans, yet we are its most recent citizens.

Lazy people didn't build the United States. Enslaved people
and indentured servants did

After slavery, our labor has been supplemented with the labor
of cheap immigrant labor via Chinese folks, Japanese folks
and currently Mexican folks.

In my discussion about the white consumption of Black death
in Hip Hop last month, I was reminded of the role that enlightened
white folks could play as social justice advocates.

It makes sense that there comes a time where a White person
who is interested in social justice asks what can I do? Again, Lipsitz
addresses this question when he writes,

White people always have the option of becoming anti racist,
although not enough have done so. We do not choose our
color, but we do choose our commitments. We do not
parents by we choose our politics. We do not make
decisions in a vacuum; they occur within a social
that gives value to whiteness and offers rewards
for racism.
Critics attack minority artists and intellectuals
as guilt mongering
whiners demanding special privileges
and seeking to elevate
inferior works in order to elevate
their own self esteem, while
on a broader front, politicians
demagogically, dismantle the anti
discrimination mechanisms
established as a result of the civil rights
movement, mislabeling
antiracist remedies as instruments of
reverse racism....
While browsing my Google reader feed I came across Ta-Nehisi
post on
The Civil War and slavery, which is informed by
David Blights lecture
on the topic. Coates quotes Blight when
he writes,
By 1860 there were approximately four million slaves in the united states, the second largest slave society/slave population in the world. The only one larger was Russian serfdom...But in 1860, American slaves a s a financial asset were worth approximately 3.5 billion dollars...in today's dollars that would be approximately 75 billion dollars. In 1860 slaves as an asset were worth more than all of American manufacturing, all of the railroads all of the productive capacity of the United States, put together. slaves were the single largest, by far, financial asset in the American economy.
3.5 Billion could buy a whole lot of acres and mules,
which brings me to the apology that the Senate issued for
chattel slavery last week.

Pay me or ignore me, but don't insult me with an apology.

Jewish folks received reparations from the Swiss and Germans
for the role
that they played in The Holocaust.

Japanese folks received and apology and reparations
and for being placed
in internment camps following
bombing of Pearl Harbor.

In fact, an apology followed by an action would indicate
how committed Congress is to apologizing.
In fact, an appropriate action would be ending the war on
but something tells me that they will be issuing an
for that in 2309.

Empty apologies about slavery remind me of awkward
interracial or intraracial conversations about slavery, where there
is always no conversation about which families and institutions
benefited from the slavocracy. Lipsitz addresses this
phenomena when he writes,
The claim that ones own family did not own slaves is frequently
voiced in our culture. Its almost never followed with a statement
to the effect that of course some peoples families did own slaves
and we will not rest until we track them down and make them pay
reparations. This view never acknowledges how the existence of
slavery and the exploitation of black labor after emancipation
created opportunistic from which immigrants and others benefited,
even if they didn't personally own slaves. Rather it seems to hold
that. Because not all white people owned slaves, no white people
can be held accountable or inconvenienced by the legacy of
slavery. More important than having dispensed of slavery, they
feel no need to address the histories of Jim Crow segregation,
racialised social policies, urban renewed or the revived racism
of contemporary neoconvervatism.
What would happen to race relations, power relations,
and institutional racism if there was a serious multiracial coalition
dedicated to analyzing and holding accountable the families
and institutions who have benefited from slavery?

That, my dear, is the post Obama America that would speak
truth to power.

What does an apology for slavery mean to you?

Have you thought about Japanese folks, Jewish folks
and reparations?

Have you heard of George Lipsitz? What do you think
of his obsessive investment in whiteness theory?

Quirky Black Girl Manifesta


Clockwise: Zora Neal Hurston, Betty Davis, ZZ Packer, Alice Walker

Many online spaces traffic in trashing Black women,

so I was excited when I came across Quirky Black Girls.

The sites purpose and intent made all the more sense,
when I learned that it was created by
Moya B., the Spelmanite
who, along with others, criticized Nelly's request
to have
bone marrow drive on the Spelman campus while refusing to
have a
conversation about the images of Black women in his
videos, namely, Tip Drill.

The site reflects a Black Feminist Politic. Given this, often
when you go to a website, and the topic is race or
you can feel you blood pressure rising.

QBG is different because while the members of the sites
offer critiques that
may be reactionary, the members focus
most of their
time on talking about ways of being, ways of living,
and loving the fact that we Black and quirky. Here is the manifesta:
Because Audre Lorde looks different in every picture ever taken of her. Because Octavia Butler didn't care. Because Erykah Badu is a patternmaster. Because Macy Gray pimped it and Janelle Monáe was ready.

Resolved. Quirky black girls wake up ready to wear a tattered society new on our bodies, to hold fragments of art, culture and trend in our hands like weapons against conformity, to walk on cracks instead of breaking our backs to fit in the mold.

We're here, We're Quirky, Get used to it!

.... Quirky Black girls don't march to the beat of our own drum; we hop, skip, dance, and move to rhythms that are all our own. We make our own drums out of empty lunchboxes, full imaginations and number 3 pencils.

Quirky Black girls are not quirky because they like white shit; rather they understand that because they like it, it is not the sole province of whiteness.

Quirky black girls are the answer to the promise that black means everything, birthing and burning a new world every time.

Sound it out. Quirky, like queer and key, different and priceless, turning and open. Black, not be lack but black one word shot off the tongue like blap, bam, black. Girl, like the curl in a hand turning towards itself to snap, write, hold or emphasize. Quirky. Black. Girl. You see us. Act like you know.

We demand that our audiences say "yes-sir-eee" if they agree and we answer our own question "What good do your words do, if they don't understand you?" by speaking anyway, even if our words are "bruised and misunderstood."

Quirky black girls are hot!
Whether you're ready to see it or not.

Quirky means rejecting a particular type of "value," a certain unreadiness for consumption and subsumption in an economy of black heterocapital. This means that Quirky Black Girls act independently of dominant social norms or standards of beauty. So fierce that others may not be able to appreciate us just yet.

No matter what age we are, we hold onto that girlhood drive for adventure, love for friends, independent spirit, wacky sense of humor, and hope for the future.

Quirky Black Girls resist boxes in favor of over lapping circles with permeable membranes that allow them to ebb and flow through their multiple identities.

Quirky Black Girls- Embrace the quirky!

In a word. Awesome.

What do you think of the Manifesta?

Seen anything quirky lately?

I'm cross posting this to Brooklyn Magic.

Monday, June 15, 2009

We Are The Leaders We Need: 100 Visionaries [UPDATE]


For my long time readers, you know that Court Bear and I
have been working on a non profit, 100
Visionaries, that came out
of the "Who Raises the Kids,
the Momma's or the Rappers" discussion on this blog

A couple of days ago, I was tired and frustrated. Sore throat,
no health care,
and my knee hurt.

I have started slanging burgers and margarita's to pay
for fall school expenses.

I have worked retail and cafe's before. But the corporate
food industry is
a whole other animal. Two things have
become clear to me:

>How do parents with children manage to be there
for their children when they work wage labor job's

>How can the masses meaningfully participate in a
when their weeks are made up of two or three
double shifts

I would imagine it's lightweight impossible.

As a worker, you have no control over your schedule and
if you wait tables, the wage is below the state minimum because
the expectation is that you will make more than the
difference in tips.

I use to think that I had an understanding of class and
mobility because my family was working middle
class before
the crack epidemic and then on public
assistance during the
crack epidemic.

While it is true that I had an understanding of class, it is far more
nuanced now.

Experiencing what I have now termed, adult onset poverty,
has forced me to think about the ways in which 100 Visionaries
would both educate and advocate on the behalf of families.

If I have learned anything, it is one thing to call myself a
it is another one to serve food and wash dishes
to pay my rent
while having a theoretical understanding
of labor, wages, race and the law

I am a zombie when I get home. I don't want to eat, or talk.
I just want to sit and for my knee to stop hurting.

This is material because I really like to cook and I like to eat even more.

In some ways, I needed to have this experience in order to think:
>How different would our labor laws be if every Senator
had to
work and pay rent with fast food minimum
wages for a few month
s every year?

>Our system produces far too many graduates

for the number of jobs available and a just, sustainable
Democracy requires this issue
to be addressed head on.
Saturday morning I woke up with the Senate subcommittees
on my mind.
While I have a cursory idea of how bills are passed,
I wasn't sure of the nuts and bolts.

On Friday, I was reading Baldwin, and I am sure
that influenced me.
One of the things that Baldwin said was
that Black people don't want to be
white, they want what white
people have, power.

Late last week read that the health care reform will be difficult, for
many reasons, one of which is that many
senators and
senators family members have financial ties to the
health care
. With all this floating in my mind, I guess I woke up thinking
about power. I wanted to know who
the different committees
were, who the members were, and the nuances
of getting a
bill passed.

When I found the senate committee site, it became clear
to me
that we are the leaders that we need.

Joseph Stiglitz won the Pulitzer prize for something
called the asymmetry
of information, which deals with
the study of decisions
in transactions where one
party has more or better
information than the other.

We have the information. We have the people. We just
need the will and a mission.
The asymmetry of information
and arguably power can no longer stop us.
API's and
the internet have changed or at least had a huge impact on all this.

100 Visionaries Ideas On the Table

>Political Education for Children and Adults
>Issues- Crime, Poverty, Education, Labor, Eco Justice,
>Eco Justice - Sustainable Local Green Economies
>Labor - Living Wage Advocacy
>Poverty- Reclassification of teen prostitution from
a criminal issue to a public health issue

>Education - Equitable distribution of funds within
urban school districts

>Crime - Re-establishing Pell Grants for prison inmates
>Entertainment - Media Literacy and Race, Gender
Sexual Awareness in Pop Culture
Ann (programmer extraordinaire) and I are working on the
relaunch of Model Minority and my homie site for her production
company, Hot Comb Pics. We just finished up Brooklyn Magic.

There are three more sites in the pipeline, which are the
100V site, a site on Black women and another on Black book clubs.

This post feels like the beginning of a new year.

What are you working on?

Doesn't it feel good to think, We are the leaders we need.

Why do site relaunches take so much work?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

6.14.09 Iranian Revolution, Coup or Protest? Time Will Reveal


via Andrew Sullivan

Something about the Iran has captured my attention.
People protest around the world all of the time, but there
is something about this that is moving.

Perhaps its the young people in the street going for
what they know.
*The charisma and passion is inspiring,
yet I need to know more about the dynamics and contours
of the conflict.

The police beating on them reminds me of East Oakland.

I have also been reading Chomsky, so the mainstream media's
blackout clear, intentional and noticeable.

Background - The Iranian Revolution 1979
Here is a little background on the Iranian Revolution in 1979.
According to Wikipedia

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 (mostly known as the Islamic Revolution, Persian: انقلاب اسلامی, Enghelābe Eslāmi) refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the revolution. It has been called an event that "made Islamic fundamentalism a political force ... from Morocco to Malaysia."

The revolution was populist, nationalist and later Shi'a Islamic. It was in part a conservative backlash against the Westernizing and secularizing efforts of the Western-backed Shah,and not-so-conservative reaction to social injustice and other shortcomings of the ancien regime. The Shah was perceived by many as beholden to — if not a puppet of — a non-Muslim Western power, (the United States), whose culture was contaminating that of Iran's. The Shah's regime was also seen as oppressive, brutal, corrupt, and extravagant.The regime also suffered from basic functional failures — an overly-ambitious economic program that brought economic bottlenecks, shortages and inflation.Security forces were unable to deal with protest and demonstrations; Iran was an overly centralized royal power structure. The extraordinarily large size of the anti-shah movement meant that there "were literally too many protesters to arrest", and that the security forces were overwhelmed.
Context for Today's Protests
Henry Newman from the Guardian writes,
There seems little doubt now that something resembling a coup d'état has been attempted in Tehran. The next few days will reveal if it is to succeed. In scenes not witnessed since the mass protests that brought about a revolution that deposed the Shah in 1979, violent demonstrations have broken out in multiple Iranian cities. Crowds chant anti-Ahmedinejad slogans such as "Death to the Dictator". Hundreds of thousands of supporters of the candidate heavily defeated in Friday's presidential election, Mir Hossein Mousavi, have rejected his defeat – claiming foul play....

This crisis in Iran has two broad possible outcomes: either the regime will back down and arrange for a recount or the security forces will act to preserve control by using ever more violent means to quash the demonstrations. Unfortunately, the latter scenario seems more probable.

At this point, it is pertinent to ask who is running the show: is Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader and official head of state, really holding the levers of power, or has control been seized by re-elected President Ahmedinejad? What about ex-President Hashemi Rafsanjani, head of the Expediency Council, who was humiliated by the Supreme Leader yesterday and portrayed as corrupt and traitorous. Some suggest that he has travelled to Qom, Iran's holiest city, to try to persuade senior clerics to back him and Mousavi. Ever since the revolution, power in Iran has been fragmented and divided; now it seems more so than ever. At this stage and with such insufficient evidence it is extremely hard to tell what forces are really at play.

What are the global implications of this?

Bush said that Iran was apart of the axis of evil, yet President
Obama has said that we wants to have talks with Iran. It was
subsequently reported in conservative mainstream media,
during the recent presidential election that he wanted to hold
hands with terrorists.

What to make of this? I don't know. I am going to take Juan
Cole's advice and read everything, yet, not believe it
until more comes out.

Time will tell.

Other links that I have found:
Protest Video Page on Youtube - [Ahriman46]
The Daily Dish - [Andrew Sullivan]
Hot Air - [Michelle Malkin]
Informed Comment [Juan Cole]
Real Clear World [Kevin Sullivan]
Flickr Photo Stream of Khordad Protests [Mousavi1388]

Is it me or is it something about seeing all those folks in the street?

Sort of reminds me of the night the Obama won, where instead of hope
and happiness folks are protesting, enraged, suppressed and beaten?

Makes me think of what Nov 4th would have looked like if McCain or
some other third party won. But then again, I don't know if we
have it in us to take it to the streets.

*If you have any info this story, tweet, em, or post in comments and I
will amend.

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