Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Single Ladies, Nasty Bitches and Interracial Hoes


The sexual contradiction in American culture is both pervasive
and powerful.

While doing research on Latina teen pregnancy last week, I came
across a narrative
where a young woman said, "I heard that, If my
boyfriend smoked weed before
we had sex, then I wouldn't get pregnant."

I thought, wow, she is really serious. We have very little healthy, teen based
sex ed, yet our pop culture land is dominated by songs about sex.

I Wanna Fuck Every Girl in the World
Birthday Sex
Lol Smiley Face

The contradiction is interesting and dangerous.

It's dangerous because, the combination of little teen sex ed,
pervasive pop songs about sex, and abstinence ONLY funded
sex ed in the schools systems leaves our young men and women
with limited information. Limited informed people make awful choices.
(<<<-- I sound like a sex ed expert, no?)

Which brings me to my Black Sexual Politics class. On Monday some students
did a presentation on Pat Hill Collins' book of the same title.

For the class we also read Audre Lorde's The Uses of the Erotic.

The student presenters also played a Lil Kim video for the song
How Many Licks.

In the video, Kim is pussy, dick, female orgasms etc.

My professor pointed out that in comparison to little Kim's
video, Beyonce's Single Ladies video looks tame. So I checked
out her VMA performance,
and it was confirmed.

3 women, dancing in a leotard, not that risque. The most provocative aspect
of her performance is the costume. Tight and sprayed on. It looks like
she is doing Black Broadway Showgirls routine, which I imagine is
what she intended.

Historically, Black women were not allowed to BE Ladies. Jezebels,
Mammies, Men, Welfare Queens, yes, but ladies. No. So given

that this is a part of the title of the song isn't lost on me.

Lets take the Ciara video posted above. This video moved me largley
because of the element of female desire that is present.

The whole time I was watching it I thought, what is this woman
going to do next?

Ciara licks Justin's ear, 30 seconds in. When was the last time you
saw a Black woman do something
sexual TO someone else in a music video?

We don't.

Audre Lorde says that,

"Pornography is a direct denial of the power of the erotic,for
it represents the suppression of true feeling. Pornography emphasizes
sensation without feeling."
Online Black folks had a fit about the Ciara video. The fact that Justin was white,
bothered them. They thought she was being a hoe. The chain also bothered them
and in some ways took them back to slavery.

Folks over at Soul Bounce had an interesting roundtable discussion
about the video. They initially wrote a post titled, "How Can Justin Timberlake
Continue to Get Away with Fetishizing Black Women?" Implicit in this
line of thought is that it is permissible for Black artist who work for White
corporations to do this, but not a White artist.

My response to this line of thought is a few questions:

1. Where is Ciara's agency in this line of thought?
2. What happens when we stop seeing Ciara as a victim?

3. Where is the critique of rappers and they "50 million hoe's" in music

Then they came back and did a roundtable with had a more
nuanced discussion.

Peep the comments section.

Its interesting to see people struggle with race, sex and capitalism.

In some ways, what wasn't explicitly stated is that the video is powerful
because we see a Black woman being sexual, and because this is so rare
we don't know what to do with the feelings that arise when we see it.

Black heterosexual sex is everywhere and nowhere in pop culture.

According to the dominant Black narrative, it is okay for us to
walk around asking for *patriarchal fulfillment, (putting a ring on it)
but for us to express sexual desire, or even the erotic, we are automatic

Sounds familiar? It is. The difference today is that WE are making a connections
and pushing back.

*No, all marriages do not constitute patriarchal fulfillment, however
her body of work is about getting men to do shit for her, pay bills, be a solider
etc. We all know that, in that this notion of Black male masculinity is
patriarchal and limiting. A man, a person, is more than their paycheck.

Katie Blancita, this one is for you Little boo.

Black Sex?

Single Ladies?

Sex Culture with no Sex Ed? Thoughts?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Futility or Perhaps the Profoundness of Whiteness


I searched for a Black and White image. I found Bobby K.
You know I LOVE Bobby.

Blackness can only be understood in terms of Whiteness.

I came to this conclusion after reading Elsa Barkley Brown's

She writes,

We are likely to acknowledge that white middle class women
had a different experience from African American, Latina,
Asian American,
and native American women; but the relation, the fact that
these histories
exist simultaneously, in dialogue with each other, is
seldom apparent in
the studies we do, not even in those studies that perceive
as dealing with the diverse experiences of women. The
tendency now, it appears to me, is to acknowledge then ignore the differences
among women.

Barkley Browns general argument is that we can only
understand Black women's history if we look at White women's
history because the two require each other to work.

Whiteness ONLY works in relationship to Blackness.

This kinda shook me up.

Because I believe this to be true, I am struggling with
the Sociology readings that I have. Shit, its even hard for me
to read news paper articles or even to have conversations

with people about race.

Because a conversation about Blackness without mentioning Whiteness can
only be half right.

In the same way that a conversation about Hip Hop without mentioning capitalism
can only be half right.

Much of the discourse around race treats Male Heterosexual Whiteness
as the norm and everything else deviates from that.

Part of my ideas around the futility of Whiteness stems from reading work
by Black people, about race, that either implicitly or explicitly ask's
for White folks to see our humanity, to include us.

I arrived as an intact human in East Oakland over 30 years ago.

Whether or not a group of people SEE or validate my humanity is none
of my business.

I haven't always been this way. Growing up in East Oakland, it was difficult
to remain an intact human being, especially after the crack epidemic.

Having just started graduate school, it has become clear to me the
ways in which my education has played a role in my ability to remain
intact because many of us don't make it and we simply charge it to the game.

Its difficult for any one who isn't a White Heterosexual Male (WHM) to remain intact,
because both our laws and our mainstream culture presume that WHM is
the norm.

This norm in our society is reflected by the need to have a Civil Rights Movement,
a Women's Rights Movement, a Gay Rights Movement, an Equal Opportunities
Council Commission
, a Civil Rights Bill and Health Care Reform.

All of this brings me to a conversation I had on Twitter Friday with, @BlackNerds
about saving hip hop.

Normally I don't respond to these statements, because most likely
they prove to be futile. But I engaged and I am glad I did because I made a
connection that I hadn't seen before.

I asked him:
Saving hip hop from what?
Why is there such an investment in it?
What does it mean to "save hip hop" when most artist want
Black kids respect and white kids money?

As a result of our conversation, I then tweeted and this the important
connection that I made. The tweet said, "In some ways, I
think our
desire to like hip hop is
connected to our need to have White folks
recognize our humanity."

I am still working this out. What I do see today, is that both instances
involve looking
for validation in places that have clearly stated they it
has not, and will not
be offered. It can be struggled for, but it will
not be handed over. To struggle for it, would mean a new society.

You see the connection between Blackness and Whiteness?

Why is it so hard to accept that Rap music is now a tool to sell


Why do we want to save it so badly?

It feels good to be back. Thank you for reading.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I Miss Y'all


Things have been busy.

Even if I don't write as much, I still think about
you all,
about writing, about the essays, the conversations.

Being in school has reminded me just how special it is to
have a
community to discuss ideas with. To talk about them,
even in their infancy.

In some ways the blog is an incubator.

Right now I am working on a Van Jones/Jeff Chang/Glen Beck
post. I know go figure. I have been encouraged, from my colleagues
about Beyonce and
R & B rather than Lil Kim.

I still may post the Kim post here.
I am trying to figure out how
to talk about Tyler Perry and
how an artist CANNOT buy
their way onto varsity.
Oh. And Chris Hedges.

If you do not read anything that I have
recommended this year,
or shit, for that matter EVER on this
blog. Read the new
Chris Hedges. He writes with a ferocity
that I can only
aspire to. He calls out names, he stops short of talking about
peoples mommas. My only critique
of his book is that it is
heavy on the critique and light on solutions.
the ways in which he talks about reality TV,
Pornography, the
Military industrial complex and the Ivy League
and Wall Street
is really quite remarkable.


I will be back.

I promise.


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Graduate School vs. Law School


I have started school.

There are three material things that I see as being different
from grad school than law school.

In law school, I had to read material that was abstract
and philosophical, and rarely dealt with race, class or gender.

Now I get to read material that is abstract, philosophical,
and that deals with race, class and gender.

I wake up reading. I go to sleep reading. In law school, it took me
a year to engage with the material this way. This is a problem,
seeing that your first year grades in law school play a huge
role in your employment options after you graduate.

The second thing is that I have started school with the
understanding that it is my job to build community. To that
extent I have met with folks, to get institutional history so
that I can understand the lay of the land, who to stay away
from, who I must be in contact with, where the axis of power lies, etc.

The third material difference is being around men and women
who do not automatically presume that others are heterosexual.

I was kind of taken by surprise when talking to a colleague, who was
giving me the lowdown on a professor whom she suspects is homophobic
who said, "I don't know if you are LGBTQ identified but, this professor..."

I thought to myself, wow, that was cool and really progressive of her
to not only think but to say that.

I read all the time. In fact, had I not taken a train to see Birkhold
I never would have realized that I needed to (re)learn how to read
anywhere at anytime.

Last week, I had been telling myself, if I sit down to read, I need at least two
or three hours. FAGET THAT! Give me 1 hour and I am knocking out
at least one twenty page article with reading notes. ALL TIME IS VALUABLE.

Right now, I have estimated that I have 22 hours a week of reading.

Yup. 22. No joke, eh.

The school work isn't the hardest part of this. It's hard
but it's manageable. So long as you eat,
sleep, don't party and
not have some tragic 'ish happen in an intimate

Oh, and a willingness to sit down and engage with the material. No
internet. No phone. No tv. Just you and the paper.

The most challenging part is engaging with humans, managing relationships,
keeping track of deadlines and simply just showing up on time.

Have you started school?

How is it going?

Any questions for me?

Monday, September 07, 2009

20 Questions Monday


1. What would have happened if, instead of resigning Van Jones
the White House to fire him?

2. Have you seen this 2009 Van Jones/Willie Hortonesque video
put out by Meg Whitmans opponent?

2. Will I be able to write a blog post
in two weeks? Hopefully yes.

3. Why has my research interest shifted?

4. Did ya'll see the Law and Order marathon on last night, good clean fun?

5. Would you volunteer, 8 hours a months at a year around farmers market
in your neighborhood?

6. Would you like to read a little bit about the origins of Labor Day?

7. What were you doing this time last year?

8. Did you know that I have a special connection to the song, Here Comes
the Hammer?

9. Are you going to one of the Erykah Badu concerts?

10. Do you even care about "journalism" anymore?

11. Doesn't hurt when you go to another city/state and the groceries
are twenty to thirty percent cheaper?

12. Did you know that Black, Women's and Chicano studies exist on
college campuses because folks took over campuses, sometimes with guns,
and demanded to be included?

13. [Statement] I have come to the conclusion that everything that we
have as a benefit, has been fought for. Everything. And if we are to achieve
anything else. We will have to fight for that too.

14. What is the last movie you saw?

15. Why is it so hard to look at my part in disagreements, rather
then just tell other people they are wrong? [Lols]

16. Where is the album that will narrate my fall?

17. Would you be interested in helping me choose the blog posts that
I published
in book form?

18. Cook anything good lately? [Send me a recipe and a photo and I will
put it on Brooklyn Magic].

19. Did you know that much of my work on gender is rooted in the desire
to make a better world for my sweet, sweet, nephew, Baby Chris?

20. Why people more interested in analyzing racial oppression than gender

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