intelligent black woman

Horizon Zero Dawn and Cultural appropriation: A very different view.

For the first time EVER, I’m sitting on the other side of a discussion about appropriating native culture.  Why?  Well, let me lay the framework.

First off, I’m not a guy who “knows a Native American” or has a “Native friend”  I am a 100% Anishinabe (Ojibway) dude who lives on reserve and has fought racism, stereotypes, pan-Indianism, and cultural appropriation fiercely for as long as I can remember. I’ve been the victim of horrendous racial violence as a child, adolescent, and adult, and I’m also a gamer.

I am the first to point out anything that smacks of any of the above and after I saw the Dia Lacina essay on “Horizon: Zero Dawn” being culturally insensitive and appropriating Native culture, I felt for the first time in a situation like this that I had to say something in rebuttal.

Lacina takes issue with the use of the words Tribal, Primitive, Braves, and Savage being used in the game (fyi they’re used to describe predominantly white people in game and they’re White words we didn’t use to describe ourselves thus I claim no ownership of, nor want to, anymore than I want to be a redskin, Indian or Wahoo)  

It seems (IMO) that most of her beef comes from an apparent belief that numerous aspects of generic tribal culture that appear in the game (making clothing from skins, hunting with spears and bows, living in a Matriarchal society, etc) are the sole domain of the Native American and just to be safe and cleverly keep her POV less subject to scrutiny, she applies it even more broadly to indigenous people world wide (I will just refer to us in particular as NA cuz I’m lazy and I also don’t refer to myself as a Native American) and basically that anything that is remotely “tribal” shouldn’t be used in gaming without our or someone else’s permission.

 In fairness, I don’t know if she’s actually played the game but as someone who is currently in the midst of doing exactly that, I can tell you that I have a pretty good idea of what stuff triggered her being upset and why, and while I absolutely respect her right to get offended by whatever she likes, and she makes excellent points about some other games, I am going to point out that there are flaws with this logic.

First of all, the basics: HZD is set in a post-post-apocalyptic future where people are living in tribal groups in a very destroyed world.  Machines exist but as hybrid animal/dinosaur type creatures and technology is pretty much non-existent in day to day human life.  

The heroine of the story is a red haired, white girl named Aloy who lives as an outcast with her adopted father, Rost.  Without giving a lot away, they are fiercely shunned by the local tribe for something Rost did and also the fact that Aloy is motherless.  

Impressively and rightly, though somewhat dismissively remarked upon by Lacina, is the way women and especially women of color are portrayed so positively in-game as this particular tribe is a total Matriarchy run by elders of various ethnicity.  African, Asian, White, and a variety of undefined people of color are common everywhere in the game.  (The leader of one band of warriors is a very fierce, commanding, intelligently portrayed black woman with a powerful presence.)  It reflects a fairly global society from a “skin color” perspective without any horrible accents or broken speech.

They worship an “All-Mother” goddess and their culture is (at least how I saw a lot of it) fairly heavy on European i.e. Celtic, Germanic, Scandinavian, etc type symbolism and the rest is filled in with mostly generic tribal-ish stuff that you could find in countless cultures around the world.

 I really didn’t get a “Native American” vibe off the game.  Of course, I don’t automatically presume to claim sole ownership of things like tribal life, hunting with bows and spears, and worshiping spirits of various elements solely for my own.  Random fact: Because there are over 500 distinct First Nations in N. America, we, believe it or not, didn’t all ride horses, live in tipis, use bows and arrows, tobacco and sage, and worship Eagles and Wolves.  Why? Well…use your brain.  Tobacco and Sage don’t grow EVERYWHERE, horses came over with the Europeans (and if you saw where I live you couldn’t have and cant for the most part get a horse through the bush if you tried) Eagles and Wolves don’t live EVERYWHERE….get the point?  Anyways….

If you examine Rost, he like most of the men has a braided beard and other seemingly Viking/Middle Ages inspired features, is white, speaks clear, unbroken English, and is a loving, protective and very positive role model for the girl.   Aloy for her part, is also fairly Viking-esque (to the point of looking incredibly like Lagaertha from the show Vikings but with red hair) also Egrit from GoT, and is no damsel in distress who needs men to save her. NOWHERE in the game have I encountered any Tipis, wigwams, Sweatlodges, or Non-White people speaking in stereotypical “Me smoke-um peace pipe, He go dat-a way” fashion.

The  opening cinematic is very touching (and long) as we see the orphaned Aloy as a baby in Rost’s care being carried around in a bundle on his back (which pretty much every culture did in one form or another at some point in time) and him ultimately taking her to the spot where a child of the tribe receives it’s name.

I really liked this idea as it isn’t often portrayed in a lot of mediums outside of stereotypical “Dances With Wolves” bullshit. Also, naming ceremonies are not the sole domain of NA people and what occurs bears zero resemblance to any NA ceremony I know of.  (It was actually a little Lion King at one point lol) But it’s a powerful moment in the beginning with much more that occurs during it but I won’t spoil that either.

Aloy herself is a pretty complex character.  She’s extremely independent, defiant, and questions pretty much everything about why things are the way they are and wants to do something about it.  You actually begin playing her as a 6 year old which is pretty unique and even then she’s tough and fearless and determined to explore her world.  

She is in no way hyper-sexualized (I’m looking your way Overwatch) Her clothing and everyone else’s, is utilitarian and appropriate for the environments she lives in, and so far, I have not encountered anything with her or any other character that made me go “WTF?”and trust me, my radar for that shit is HIGHLY SENSITIVE.  This isn’t Avatar, people.  It’s not John Smith. It’s not The Great Wall or Pocahontas.  This isn’t white dude shows up and saves the helpless non-white people while helpless native woman falls in love with him stuff.  It’s a fictitious future where we maniacs blew it up, damn us all to hell!

But here’s the more annoying thing for me as an actual Anishinabe.  I don’t need people speaking for me or getting offended on my behalf.  I am very capable of doing that myself. I am also in no way writing this claiming to be speaking for any other NA people or persons. It’s based on my observations from actually playing HZD and examining the various fictional “cultural” elements in the game.

If you see a skin tied inside a hoop and automatically assume it’s a dreamcatcher” ripping off “our culture” (FYI Dreamcatchers are a 20th century thing whose popularity was a result of pan-Indianism that exploded in the 70s.) or if you see feathers on a spear or as part of a costume (nowhere is anyone wearing a single eagle feather in the back of a beaded headband or a Dakota looking headdress either) and automatically presume it to be ripping off NA culture, you’re REEEEEEEEEEALY reaching.  If you think caring for the environment, obeying matriarchs, worshipping elemental spirits, or making your own clothes is solely the property of NA culture, see previous statement.

By all means get offended.  Get offended by Chief Wahoo.  Get offended by the Washington Redskins.  Get offended that thousands of Native women have been murdered or gone missing and nothing’s been done about it.  Get offended by Johnny Depp or Robert Beltran playing Native people instead of actual Native people getting those roles.  Get offended by shit like Adam Sandler’s “Ridiculous 6” where a native woman is called a “hot piece of red prairie meat” or Depp’s “Lone Ranger” movie.

Get offended that my family was destroyed by the Residential Schools and that the 60s scoop took babies away from their families and people, that forced sterilizations took place and mass graves of dead Native children exist at former Residential School sites.

Don’t just jump on the I’m offended bandwagon because you saw some feathers or skins or spears or bows in a game and immediately grew indignant and wanted to claim them as OUR culture.  They’re not.  They’re almost globally universal in numerous cultures at various points in time.  Get offended, as she rightly mentioned, when the game Overwatch sexualizes the shit out of almost every female character and takes West Coast tribal art and makes a costume out of it.  

THAT is appropriation.  White people holding powwows in Europe (powwows are also pretty much not traditional and are extremely pan-Indian, not to mention full of us appropriating each other’s Native cultures ie. Dakotas wearing Jingle Dresses, Ojibway wearing Dakota regalia, etc) is appropriation.

This game……I’m just not seeing it the same way.  And I’m nobody.  I have no ties to Guerilla or anybody other than myself and my community.

Your skin color is what makes you beautiful and intelligent? I’d have no problem if you said you were a beautiful and intelligent black woman, but you’re telling me you’re those things simply because of your blackness? Why… I’d almost call someone who attributes their positive qualities to their skin color a supremacist.

Racist Reactions To My Language On Twitter (And What It Really Means...)
  • Me: *speaks Jamaican Patwah/Patois*
  • Racist: "This is America, speak English! No other languages are ever spoken here, and this country founded on genocide/settler colonialism and anti-Blackness/slavery should only involve the languages that I choose to hear, though I encroached your personal space and interrupted your conversation in a dialect that you were not speaking to me in."
  • Me: *speaks African American Vernacular English*
  • Racist: "This is America and I don't care if AAVE is actually a language with a structure, discussed by linguists everywhere, and if it is one we will later be appropriative for marketing purposes while continuing to profit from economic violence on Black people. I don't like how AAVE sounds right now and I don't want to hear it, even though I encroached your personal space and interrupted your conversation in a language that you were not speaking to me in."
  • Me: *speaks Standard American English*
  • Racist: "What, so you think you're smarter than me, why are you trying to be White? Gonna take my job? Well, you misspelled a word on Twitter, so I am still smarter. Why did you use some big words? They're stupid. I am going to ignore the context and topic of your conversation and mask my insecurity--over never realizing that the lies I was fed about my automatic intellectual superiority are in fact lies--by making jokes about word length versus leaving you alone/not invading your space or actually addressing the topic the words were about."
  • Me: *uses terms attributable to womanist/Black feminist scholarship, critical race theory or other anti-oppression theories/praxes*
  • Racist: "I haven't approved use of these words, so I will call them stupid. It...well...doesn't matter to me that a key facet of White supremacy--with a very long history and reality no less--is degrading the intelligence of a Black woman, or committing epistemic violence, by purposely altering/attacking the language used to describe oppression in order to engage in an ahistorical analysis that supports oppression. I don't like that you can describe my violence with acute accuracy, so I will use violence to critique that perspective. You're a pseudo-intellectual if I don't understand what you are saying, don't want my privilege or violence critiqued with an accuracy that Black thinkers have had for centuries nor want to acknowledge that I am purposely kept ignorant of Black radical scholarship because of White supremacy."

bellthekat  asked:

My main character is a Black woman with Cri du Chat syndrome. I am trying to portray her the way I see her: with positivity and nuance. Neurotypical Black characters are portrayed elsewhere in the novel and in different roles. I worry, however, that people are going to read about this character's distinctive facial features, speech problems, or other aspects of disability, and read it as "Black women are ugly/stupid/whatever." How can I best avoid giving that impression?

Avoiding Stereotypical Portrayals of Black Characters: When Disability and Race Intersect

I think you’ve made a nice start with having more black characters, although they don’t have to all be neurotypical, as neurodivergent people are a large and greatly varying group of people. It’s important to let these characters be different, in their personality as well as their looks, etc. Stay away from stereotypes.

Make sure you know what you’re writing about. Research Cri du Chat syndrome, read about people’s experiences (the people themselves more so than their families, etc.), and read about the ableism they might face. Do your research for writing a Black woman, about the racism and misogynoir Black women face and how life as a Black disabled woman.

There’s a lot of ableism to unpack here on top of misogynoir, because it could slip into the way you describe your character. 

To be honest, you’ll have to think about intelligence and what it really means, especially when disability comes into play. What is “intelligence” and how is it defined? Why? Think about how the idea of intelligence is praised, while the lack of it is seen as a reason for ridicule, hate and genocide (think of forced sterilization, accepted torture and murder, etc). Think how all of this affects someone’s life when they have an intellectual disability/learning disability. And think how this goes hand in hand with Black people being seen as less intelligent to begin with. Plus: intellectual disability =/= lacking intelligence.

Suggestions of what might help to avoid stereotypical portrayals here:

You don’t have to shy away from their disability, from any learning difficulties they might have, etc. They can still have things they know a lot about or skills they are really good in. This is NOT to compensate for any supposed lack of intelligence, but to show them as a well-rounded developed person. I’m not saying that they need to be an expert or even good at anything, nor do I mean for them to have some kind of skill or attribute to compensate for their disability. Let your disabled character be disabled! 

Your character has distinctive facial features because of their syndrome. It’s okay to let your readers know that. While you describe them though, be neutral in your word choice. They look different, meaning there will be people who think they are ugly, but there will also be people who don’t see her like that. HOWEVER, since society and beauty standards are biased as hell, there will be lots of people who will be negative about her appearance. This could be shown through microaggressions, her reaction to them. You could give her space in your writing to share her thoughts and feelings concerning her looks and beauty in general. 

Black women are often written off as undesirable. You could combat this by allowing people in her life who care about her, who love her. It doesn’t have to be a big part of the plot to show a window into her love life. Then, disabled people are seen as undesirable too. As not interested in sex. Don’t infantilize your character, for her disability either. 

Have black women in your story who are smart, who are beautiful, have some be educated, etc. (I mean aside from other traits. Don’t make them ~*perfect*~) Have your black women be diverse. Same goes for disabled and neurodivergent (black) people in your novel.

Something different, but still important:

Don’t use words such as st*pid, d*mb or r***** in your novel. I know there’s a lot of talk about stripping your vocabulary of ableist language and not everyone supports it, but since you’re writing a neurodivergent MC, possibly with a learning disability it would be wise to leave such language out so you won’t alienate a big part of your audience. 

Don’t use a lack of “intelligence” as a negative trait. 

Have appropriate beta-readers.

Be clear on your representation: don’t make people guess about her syndrome.

Once again, because this is important: Allow your disabled character be disabled! Their disability will influence a big part, if not all of her life. We have a lot of issues with representation for disabled people, where writers make their characters be disabled only in name.

And just a cautionary note: don’t make inspiration porn out of your character.

~ Mod Alice

Wow I’m so sorry if this is ridiculous long and really randomly put together….. like I hope it makes sense. 😂😂😂

I’ve been following this blog for quit sometime and other black women on Tumblr who I support whole heartedly. But like I get this weird feeling that I don’t belong here??
I’m mixed. My mother is German and my father African American. Typical story. My dad met my mom in germany while he was stationed there. They fell in love, had me and my brother… and eventually we all moved to America since my dad’s duties were finished.

So in Germany I never felt different. Well what exactly do I mean different… I’m a person. That’s all I felt, I never thought color was a thing?? My German family is used to interracial babies.. my eldest aunt has a mixed child and they weren’t surprised about me or my brother. All accepted and loved. We were a city full of mixed ethnicities so I had no idea that I was different.

Till I came to America. It’s the first time I heard “what are you? ” hahaha.

“I’m a person?” I’d say confused.

“NO like.. what are you? Where are you from? Like what language are you speaking? Why is your mother white? Your brother so light?? What? your dad’s black??”

As a 10 year old I had no idea what to think. The black side of my family in North Carolina treated my brother and I differently than the other kids in our family. My mother had to smile through all the mean comments. My dad had to endure that he brought in white to the family.

Our family reunion? Holy fuck. What a nightmare. I was 11. I think I mostly block it all out because I just remember the stares. Which makes me think of the time I didn’t realize my grandma was taking me to a hair salon to give me a perm. They cut my hair (grandma used it for weave no joke.) And before the process started my mother rushed in, grabbed me, cursed my grandmother out and drove my back to my grandparents house crying.. she apparently couldn’t bare the thought that my gma wanted my curls gone.

Let’s fast forwarder a few years. No contact to the family. My dad’s retired. We move from base and end up on the bad side of town. I end up in a magnet school. 75% black. 10% Hispanic and the rest random mix (whites and Asians. ) I grew up in a open country.. and I’m glad. I accepted all for who they were so I ended up having a mix of friend. Some who didn’t come clear with each other because of the side of the town we were on. Gang activities. (Clear backpacks. Security checks. Metal detector..) all that fun stuff. But… I was still looked at weird. I was told often “I wouldn’t understand.” “Why are you even tiring? Don’t worry about it.” I felt secluded. “Why are you speaking so white? Just because you’re of some color remember you’re still white. ”

Couple years later we moved. Starting over again. Typical life of an army brat right… who needs friends as a kid. Anyway. Alabama. This school? The opposite. 70% white 20% black and the rest a mix. Annnnd it starts again..

“ Where are you from. German. Yeah right. But you’re black. Your mom’s white? How’d that happen. Well you definitely sound white (I am now 24 years old and still don’t get what the fuck that means)…”

And now the best part. I had to fill out my ethnicity on a school poll.. what stands there. Black. White. Hispanic. Asian/pacific islander.

No mixed. No interracial. No other origins????

I asked my teacher what I should do.

I kid you not. He says to me “cross what you feel closer to.”

Cross. What you. Feel closer to.

People. This statement. This statement will never leave me.

What I feel closer to. That’s saying I am not one person. I am two. Do you feel white or do you feel black? Are you closer to one than the Other?????

Thissss. I was so pissed. I was in the 9th grade. I made my own goddamn box and wrote “german American”

This led to a call to the counselors office. I remember it well. Mrs.anderson. a beautiful intelligent black woman, the only black woman in facility. She took me in. Told me needed to cross an actual option.

I said I can’t. “ I’ll cross two. But I can’t cross one. I am not one or the other. I am black and I am white. I am German and African American. I am not one or the other.” I stood my ground..

She smiled at me. Told me she understood.. but said that even in this time and age, biracial people aren’t normal. She made me rewrite a new one. Leaving the race blank. I told her to mark what she wanted because I couldn’t imagine lying to myself even if it was just a county poll to figure out the ethnicity rate in our schools.

Until I graduated high school I had my ups and downs with being mixed. Never feeling like I belonged some where.. put aside the few good friends I acquired throughout the years who didn’t care about it but liked me for me. But I still never felt right????

College I met other biracial and many black women. We became a great group of friends. The campus called us the United nations haha since we were just a group of different mixed nationalities and colors.

The point of this confession is.. I never truly felt I belonged. Anywhere. Till about college. It was there I accepted the reality that I might not be accepted for who I am in some places. That I “talk too white” or “have the black girl attitude.” Still to this day I don’t really understand it and I find it pretty rude to say to anyone..

I am black. I am white. I am me. I’ve read many confessions and posts on Tumblr and it makes me ashamed to see what biracial (mostly black/white) say and do.

I swear to you not all are like that. I seriously love all… the skin tone of a man doesn’t make me decide if I want him. I find all black men, mixed men, light skin, white, Asian attractive… fuck where the love falls why does it matter.

Black women aren’t “crazy. Hard headed. With just attitudes. ” NO. Damn. They are Strong.. amazing and inspiring.. I follow so many of you and feel that.

I grew up loving people for who they are not how they look. And I will continue to do so even if most don’t do it for me.

I’m happy this blog exists. You guys are inspirational and amazing.. don’t let any one tell you, you aren’t. This German afro American is behind you 100%. ♡ #onelove.

Im a beautiful carefree bright and smiling optimistic intelligent black woman. I love my skin. I love all kinds of music but my favorite is indie. I love reading and writing. I love to travel. I love astronomy n going to art museums. I love philosophy and learning languages. I love my natural hair. I love extensions, wigs, and weave. I love to dance and it dont matter if its silly either and its even more fun in the rain. I love to play piano. Chopins my favorite composer. So listen here, I am a black woman and Im proud and theres nothing any of you anti black/ anti black women fools could tell me that would make me less proud or steal my joy.

anonymous asked:

Oh I understand your point I dont like throwing it seems forced on everything either but I jst thought that their moment near the end seemed rushed I guess like it didn't feel like allura had enough time to figure out how she felt abt the glara thing

Okay. So. *deep breath* Listen. This is not going to come across nicely. But. Well.

Fuck that noise. I haven’t watched season 2 but a quick tour through the kallura tag finds…a lot of people calling Allura a bitch, a racist, claiming her character is ruined by forced hetero-ness, forced this, forced that, how dare, annnd the cries of Kl//nc shippers. I’m not impressed.

I’ve been around in many a fandom for like 15 years now and I’ve seen and heard it all. This is just a rehash of something that had happened time and time again, where a female character/her ships are torn down because they get in the way. I’ll be damned if when my black ass finally gets a lively, strong, intelligent black woman character to enjoy and then that character gets a cute love interest, I’m gonna tolerate any of the bullshit fandoms like to heap on women/hetero ships.

Everyone always has a reason that it’s wrong or out of character or Forced, like relationships don’t take many forms and emotions are tricky things that can lead to seemingly illogical actiom, as if we all live in tidy boxes where A leads to B and never ever jumps to fucking H. We trust the writers in other areas but when it comes to ships we don’t like suddenly we can’t get behind what they’re doing? But when Shiro and Keith are hugging or Keith and Lance are playing space bumper cars the writers are great? K. Sure.

So. Long story short, I like Kallura. I liked it before season 2. If other people don’t like it, cool beans, but I’m going to be strongly inclined to think it’s a matter of ‘My Gay Ships uwu’ more than an actual flaw in the ship and…well. fuck that noise.

Fuck 12

Last year, I had my first encounter with police harassment and racial profiling. While walking around my neighborhood I was randomly stopped and questioned by the police. My life seemed to be in harm’s way and realizing the reality due to recent events that if something was to happen to me, I could be seen as a thug or ignorant teen who got what he deserved, frightened me. I began to comprehend that this was the true reaction of the average African American when confronted by police. Feeling that I am not safe and not protected leaves me to depend on myself in order to simply survive in this world. Excelling is a fantasy! This awful experience led me to the feeling of hatred toward police. I quickly became a member of what was perceived by a dominating supremacy as the “rebellious youth,” when in fact honesty has always been misconstrued in order to prevent revolution. I will never forget this situation and will forever express my hatred toward police until justice is applicable for all human beings.
I was walking back home after shopping at a clothing store when I saw a cop car drive by extremely curious about me. I of course was oblivious to what they had found so interesting, but I didn’t allow it to bother me. After walking about another block or so, I saw them again but this time they had pulled next to me. The officers told me to stand still as one approached me with the question “what are doing here?” I remained calm answering back respectfully that I had just return from shopping. Then the same officer went on to question why I chose to shop all the way in the area I was in, clearly implying he either assumed I was not from the area or I did not belong within it. I was taken back by this and replied with the instinctual response, “Excuse me?” Both cops seemed threatened and immediately got closer to me asking me to repeat my statement. I interpreted my statement by saying, “ nothing wrong has been done, you’re simply stopping me based off my appearance which is not only racial profiling but at this point police harassment.” An officer told me to shut up and sit on the curb and I once again repeated “I ain’t do anything!” The officer then used force to sit me on the curb. Sitting there felt like hours! Fearful for my safety, I began to tear up but quickly held it back in avoidance to show the two officers me in any disturbance. I tried to remain strong, and unintimidated but I was honestly terrified. They got all of my information then after about ten minutes, they let me go. On my walk home I viciously cried in anger and fear, hating the part of reality I had confronted. I wish I would’ve said more, but I know now that I refuse to surrender my morals for anything. I’m stronger from that day!
That situation showed me my true color. Then, it showed me that my skin color can be seen as a threat at any time, as well as my intelligence. The black man and woman have always been forced to mask their true emotion in order to avoid being labeled angry or threatening, or worse being physically disciplined for “unruly conduct.” Today I know that as a black male yet to be stripped of my vulnerability and courage, silence never works for me! My conduct will be determined suitable for the situation by me FAIRLY, but by me only. I refuse to cooperate until I’m treated fairly.


On this first day of Black History Month 2014, I present to you all: Assata Olugbala Shakur.

She was born JoAnne Deborah Byron in Jamaica, Queens, NYC on July 16, 1947. For a certain period during her childhood, she ran away from home and lived with strangers until she was taken in by her aunt, Evelyn Williams, who later became her lawyer. Shakur was a high school drop-out, but later earned her GED with the help of her aunt. She attended Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and then the City College of New York (CCNY) in the mid-1960s, where she became heavily active politically and was involved in many protest, sit-ins and other activities.

Shakur was arrested for the first time in 1967 with 100 other BMCC students, on charges of trespassing. The students had chained and locked the entrance to a college building to protest the fact that the curriculum was deficient in black studies and that there was a lack of black faculty. She married Louis Chesimard, a fellow student-activist at CCNY, in April 1967, divorcing him in December 1970.

After graduation from CCNY at 23, Shakur became involved in the Black Panther Party (BPP), eventually becoming a leading member of the party’s Harlem branch.One of Shakur’s main activities with the Panthers was coordinating a school breakfast program. However, she soon left the BPP due to her claim of macho behavior of males within the organization. Shakur’s main criticism of the Black Panther Party was its alleged lack of focus on black history. Her commentary on this stance is below:

“The basic problem stemmed from the fact that the BPP had no systematic approach to political education. They were reading the Red Book but didn’t know who Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey, and Nat Turner were. They talked about intercommunalism but still really believed that the Civil War was fought to free the slaves. A whole lot of them barely understood any kind of history, Black, African or otherwise. […] That was the main reason many Party members, in my opinion, underestimated the need to unite with other Black organizations and to struggle around various community issues.”

That same year she changed her name to Assata Shakurand joined the Black Liberation Army (BLA), which was labeled in the United States as: “a radical and violent organization of black activists…whose primary objective (was) to fight for the independence and self-determination of Afrikan people in the United States.“ In 1971, she joined the Republic of New Afrika, which was an organization formed to create an independent black-majority nation composed of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

On May 2, 2013 the FBI and the New Jersey State Police announced that Shakur had become the first woman to be added to the agency’s list of Most Wanted Terrorists. Why? Because in 1977, Shakur, along with Zayd Malik Shakur (born James F. Costan) and Sundiata Acoli (born Clark Squire), was convicted of a slew of criminal charges, including the first degree murder of State Trooper Werner Forester, after a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike. (Previously, she had been unsuccessfully prosecuted in six other criminal cases, including bank robbery.) The Turnpike incident began when Forester and State Trooper James Harper pulled the car over for driving with a broken tail light. It is here that the details of how the shootout began diverge however this was the ultimate information: Trooper Harper admitted (while under cross-examination) to having lied in the reports he made and in his Grand Jury testimony about Trooper Forester yelling and showing him an ammunition magazine, about seeing Shakur holding a pocketbook or a gun inside the vehicle, and about Shakur shooting at him from the car. Harper retracted his previous statements and said that he had never seen Shakur with a gun and that she did not shoot him.

Despite all of this, Shakur was convicted for Forester’s murder, after which she was sentenced to life in prison. But on Nov. 2, 1979, she escaped, then turned up five years later in Cuba, where she has political asylum. The FBI’s listed reward for Shakur’s apprehension has very recently increased to $2 million.

Shakur has two published works: Assata: An Autobiography (written in 1987 in Cuba) and Still Black, Still Strong (1993). They are worth checking out. Educate yourselves. Shakur is no terrorist. I admire this example of a strong, intelligent, and brave black woman who stood her ground in the face of false accusations time and time again.