Azealia Banks’ Inaccuracies About Cultural Appropriation

Azealia is a beautiful and talented woman, musically. Obviously has skills. But…these tweets. They’re daggers in my brain and soul. And this after I just finished throwing confetti around for Solange critiquing cultural appropriation, not rewriting history to align with White supremacy, Azealia does this. Azealia keeps breaking my heart over and over. 

Anyway, the link that I tweeted her is: Whites’ Exploitation of Black Culture (Cultural Appropriation) 101, which I alluded to in a previous post and in the post on Solange (which includes MULTIPLE links explaining cultural appropriation and examples).

Her false equalization here and completely erroneous expression of history is just…dangerous. It is not an “opinion.” An opinion is whether you think burgers are better than wings. This is completely false, ahistorical, dangerous and affirms hegemonic lies about history. She is not “entitled” to an opinion that is a falsehood and misinterpretation of Black experiences and history. 

And I know the very boring response from those terrified to challenge hegemony will be “just ignore her” and “ignore” every manifestation oppression, including Black people believing lies. Um…nope. Most people who tell me to “ignore” really mean “silence you, I must protect the status quo and victim blame, not challenge oppressive thinking anywhere I see it!”  

I just…want better for Azealia. Cause…um…

My inaugural year on Grey’s Anatomy was defined by two points: my character’s boyfriend and the episode when said relationship began. For the audience, the episode is noteworthy because it features a classic spectacles-to-contacts, curly-to-straight transformation. For myself it’s noteworthy because, even after Carol’s Daughter in Sephora, I Am Not My Hair on Billboard’s Hot 100 and decades of mop-headed kids in GAP commercials, the public still goes batshit over bone-straight hair on a black woman.

After the episode aired, the praise I received from strangers, friends and even my own family was staggering. I suddenly had mass-appeal and the undertone was clear: with a single blow-dry, I had arrived.

What was intended as flattery was profoundly insulting and it hurt me deeply to realize my natural form wasn’t considered feminine or desirable.

The response ignited that same young rebellion I had all those years ago. My hair had graduated from the purview of my parents to become of direct concern to the masses and, in both cases, no one considered the effect on the person at the center.


Jerrika Hinton in Creating A Center Part

She plays Stephanie Edwards (the Black female intern) on Grey’s Anatomy. I follow her on here and twitter and remember when this episode aired, she posted something along the lines of funny how a little hair straightening changes everything (paraphrasing). I knew then that she was one of my faves…so glad she went through with writing this up.

anonymous asked:

Alright I'm gonna ask you this and be frank. I'm a black girl and I find white men more attractive than any other ethnicity. I didn't ask for it. I also like the idea of being in an interracial relationship. And I think biracial children are beautiful. Which makes me want to be a man from a different race even more. Is this racist?

You need to love yourself.. -e

Black Twitter always gets tripped up on respectability politics. The discussion of Rachel today makes me very sad. As PoC, we must mentally divest from white supremacy. Today’s discussion on Black Twitter is the reason why I love Zora Neale Hurston’s writing. Black vernacular is nothing to be ashamed of. We all can’t be ‘exceptional’ Northern negroes. Some of us are just 'regular’ and we had the 'misfortune’ of being born in the South. Can we live?

White supremacy says that PoC must be perfect–perfect meaning acceptable and presentable to whites. Good diction, proper grammar and strong command of English aren’t things that make people of colour more white, but we do judge PoC harshly when they don’t speak English or perform Blackness in a very specific way. The very stereotypes that we are placing upon Rachel are the ones that killed Trayvon Martin. Fictive kinship is killing us.

I still have to check myself when my respectability creeps up on me. Being human in the U.S. is an automatic for white people, but for others, we must audition for our citizenship and humanity. What does it say about us that we spent months hashtagging #IamTrayvonMartin but we think it is kosher to drag Rachel? What does it say about our activism? For all of you who took pics in hoodies showing your solidarity for Trayvon Martin but you’re belittling the person who spoke to him last–a 19 year-old baby who has probably had to bury other loved ones and families.

Because we’ve been socialized in a certain way, it is impossible to rid ourselves of the knee-jerk reaction to not engage in respectability politics, but when the feeling crops up honor and place to the side and press forward with doing the right thing.

The fact of the matter PoC, we will never make the cut. POTUS and FLOTUS can’t make the cut as PoC, so I know Rachel from Miami-Dade county can’t make the cut.

If it wasn’t for the white gaze, we wouldn’t be so harsh towards Rachel. Rachel isn’t just Rachel Jeantel; she now represents ALL 40 million Black folk in the U.S. So again fictive kinship says, 'if she doesn’t present well, we are all fucked.’ That is what white supremacy wants you to think.

Your social media activism ain’t real if you haven’t integrated your politics into your life, world and affairs. Praxis. I am flabbergasted by the amount of people who are considered leaders in Black Twitter pandering to white supremacy.

And this rhetoric of policing language started very early in this Trayvon Martin case; it started when we were policing Attorney Crump. Many well-meaning Black folk weren’t impressed with Attorney Crump. He wasn’t a slick talking/sounding Northern Negro.

We can’t be so busy policing others that we forget to police ourselves.

Black women who look and sound like Rachel aren’t meant to survive in this white supremacist capitalist hetero-patriarchal society. Black women are only allowed to be Jezebel, Sapphire or Mammy. Renounce that thinking. Undue burden is placed on the Black female body to represent ALL of Blackness.

I read Sister Citizen last year and it saved my life. It help me let go of fictive kinship. We all must check our fictive kinship and tell it to have a seat. No one Black person can 'bring down the race’ or set us back. Let go of that white supremacist thinking.

I hope that I have given you something to chew on. I know for many of us, the talented tenth is still a real thing for us, but again…have a long talk with your fictive kinship and then bury it.

You ain’t radical, revolutionary or love Black people if dragging Rachel J. was an acceptable sport for you today. Rise above the BS. We all must do better. We all must ask ourselves 'where in my life do I support and uphold white supremacy?’

I stand with Rachel J.




BOOM! This quote is from her tweets last night.

I was also disgusted with what I saw yesterday. I recall the people who slammed Attorney Crump last year after Angela Corey (the same one responsible for the prosecution AGAINST Marissa Alexander) announced that Zimmerman would be charged with 2nd degree murder. Many Black progressives insulted Crump’s accent (and questioned his intelligence) and the South in general. They couldn’t see how that insult connects to the same line of White supremacist thinking that makes people believe Trayvon deserved to be murdered for simply existing as a young Black teen wearing a hoodie, though hoodies aren’t required for murder while Black. Oscar Grant, Aiyana Jones and Rekia Boyd weren’t wearing hoodies.

Like she mentioned above, socialization is why the urge to jump into respectability politics framing and the fear of the White Gaze exists for Black people. We have to be vigilant in rejecting this type of thinking every time it surfaces.

I'd Like to Ban Everyone from Having Children...

“Parental favoritism of children based on phenotype, as evidenced above with Juliana can be the source of life-long, strained sibling relationships. Using the family systems paradigm, differential affective responses of a mother to racialized features can be learned by other family members and impact sibling sub-systems, as it “predicts the quality of sibling interactions, relationships and adjustment” (Volling 1997: 228; c.f. Volling & Belsky 1992; Stocker 1995; Larson and Almeida 1999). While these studies have typically related differential treatment to age and birth order, phenotypic differences may also be the basis of differential treatment.

For Regane (self-classified as morena and hesitantly as negra), a precocious 9-year old girl, hearing her mother’s dreams of having a white baby with straight hair leads to a series of behavioral changes. Regane begins to neglect her hygiene, refusing to comb or wash her hair at all. Her mother punishes her by roughly combing her hair outside on the porch while loudly exclaiming, “I hope the baby’s hair isn’t like this!” For Regane who is already teased by neighborhood kids for having nappy hair, she is deeply embarrassed.

The importance of hair-combing interactions between daughters and mothers as a source of racial socialization has been well documented (Lewis 1999). Her mother’s constant comments about the hair of the white women who appear on television makes Regane even more self-conscious about her hair and this exacerbates her negative feelings. In an act of defiance and self-affirmation, Regane ties a tattered piece of long orange cloth around her head and pretends to have long straight hair, but she must run from neighborhood kids who eventually manage to snatch it off.

Damiana chuckles as she informs me that upon seeing the newborn baby for the first time, “Regane cried all day.” This is potentially a quite natural response to the uncertainty of how a younger sister might impact family dynamics, particularly in light of studies that emphasize differential treatment based on age (Stocker 1995). However, Regane’s interview clarifies that her concerns are rooted in a specific issue:

Elizabeth: “What happened yesterday? How does it feel to have a sister? Regane: (pause, looks down) … “I ran in the house and cried all day.” Elizabeth: Why did you cry?
Regane: Because I am afraid of losing the love of my parents. (whimpers) Elizabeth: Why do you think this will happen?

Regane: (looks at me incredulously) Because of the baby! You saw her didn’t you?! She was born limpinha [clean] and with straight hair. I’m afraid they will love her more … her hair won’t give them as much trouble… Everybody is saying it. She will get everything and I’ll have nothing.” (She then covers her face with her hands and sobs)

Even as a young girl, Regane understands the value of racialized features and how readings of her skin color and hair texture may lead to differential affective treatment in her family. Her reference to the baby’s light skin as “limpinha,” or clean illustrates that she has also internalized the conflation of whiteness with cleanliness. Her fears that she will be compared to the baby are substantiated when she hears her mother agree with a family friend that, “at least the baby’s hair didn’t turn out like hers.” Regane refuses to talk and is inconsolable for days. Weeks after the birth, she resents the baby and monitors any changes in her baby’s sister skin color and hair texture based on her mother’s peculiar assurances, “Don’t worry, she’ll get darker.” But, Regane does worry and these anxieties begin to shape how she interacts with her sister. Her mother’s assurances implicitly suggest that if the baby does not become darker then there will be reason for her to worry. The echoes of several influences including her mother’s racialized desires for the new baby, her mother’s emphasis on her own beautiful straight hair, taunts by the neighborhood kids, and the images of gente bonita plastered on the streets, magazines, and television are all powerful forces against which Regane attempts to construct her sense of self. The idea that her younger sister might approximate the idealized white somatic appearance is both scary and anxiety-inducing for Regane. ”


…You are contributing to the ongoing invisibility of women who can not remove their deep brown complexions, broad noses, and kinky hair every day after work. This project is a testament to the unconscionable arrogance of white supremacy. By taking part, you’ve condoned that arrogance.
I Do Not Give A Fuck About Your Anti-Black Opinions...At All.

No. All “opinions” are not valuable. No “opinions” are neutral or accurate solely because they’re wrapped in clichés, benevolence, affirmations, platitudes or theism. 

Regardless of your own identity, if it is your “opinion” that racism and anti-Blackness “go both ways” then you are historically, structurally, statistically, and socially INACCURATE. Period. If it is your “opinion” that people simply need to believe that good things will happen and structural oppression will collapse, then you are historically, structurally, statistically, and socially INACCURATE. Period. If it is your “opinion” that anti-Blackness, racism and misogyny do not have a specific impact on Black women–misogynoir–and being transgender and dealing with transmisogyny as well does not specifically impact Black trans women–transmisogynoir–then you are historically, structurally, statistically, and socially INACCURATE. Period. If it is your “opinion” that Blackness does not impact specific experiences for Black LGBTQIA people and all Black people are heterosexual via compulsory application, then you are historically, structurally, statistically, and socially INACCURATE. Period. If it is your “opinion” that the dehumanization of Black bodies and execution of Black people are isolated incidents or is ok when conducted extrajudicially or via the State since Black people (like every other race) also have civilian intraracial crime, YOU ARE WRONG. FULL STOP.

That anyone White or non-Black–and even including some fellow Black people who are unfortunately either directly or indirectly affirming White supremacy–think their “debates” on Black humanity are valid is the epitome of anti-Blackness. Do you get it? Your “opinion” is not valuable when it stands juxtaposed to the survival of Black people. I do not have to “factor in” any “opinion” whatsoever if it stands in direct juxtaposition to the truth or obscures nuanced realities of Black life. I owe such “opinions” and people who have them literally nothing. I don’t have to have an “open mind” about whether or not my humanity exists as fact. It is not debatable in reality even as anti-Blackness means dehumanization as the price. I don’t have to have an “open mind” about whether or not I as a Black woman “benefit” from the “oppression” of Whites and whether anti-Blackness discourse should center non-Black people (or remove Blackness specificity for “people of colour” when at times that is inaccurate), because one doesn’t fucking exist and the other is wrong. Imaginary and wrong. 

I do not care about the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality people were raised with when anti-Black/bigoted/harmful and factually inaccurate things can be said but since anyone with the ability to speak can speak, all “opinions” are deemed “equally valuable.” They are not equally valuable. Lives are equally valuable (or should be; we see that Black life is not deemed valuable); “opinions” are not. Me respecting their “right” to an “opinion” is not the same as throwing confetti if their actual “opinion” creates false equalization between the oppressors and the oppressed, obscures history, denies the impact of structural oppression on Black people’s lives (and all of the self-esteem/“respectability” in the world will not protect us from extrajudicial or State violence), and involve theist platitudes. “Free speech” does not mean what people said is then automatically true and history and lived experiences can then be ignored. 

And rights to “opinions”…that’s very cute that people want to argue this when their “opinions” are harmful and I am concerned about the rights to Black people’s lives, the rights to grieve–which includes anger–and, the rights to humanity. Harmful “opinions” do not become less harmful just because people add a suit, a degree, some Bible verses, money, a media platform, fame, tons of online followers, pleas for respectability, or non-Blackness/Whiteness themselves. I don’t have to respect any “opinion” that obscures the truth about Black people or facilitates harm of Black people. I will not tolerate it regarding the extrajudicial execution of Michael Brown or literally any other topic involving Black lives. Simply because people choose to lie or happen to be ignorant does not make their “opinion” equal to those discussing the proven truths of Black life. 

I put “opinions” in quotes throughout this essay because for some reason, people seem to think “opinions” and facts exist on the same plane and their “opinion” can erase others’ lived experiences or noted histories. There is no “both sides” of an issue when one side is dehumanization–or facilities the dehumanization of Black people through the obscuring of history, the misapplication of structural power, the false equalization of oppressed and oppressor–and the other side is survival. 

anonymous asked:

my friend said that mackelmore is better artist than all the other rappers like kanye, jayz, and kendrick lamar because he talks about real issues and all they rap about is getting bitches killing and smoking weed. We got into an argument and i really want to slap the shit out of her and i cant. I'm not sure i want to befriends with her because she has a a lot of internalized racism in her and she kind of brings my spirit down but she is one of the few friends i have. I don't know what to do

Really, if she saps your spirit, I would either try to talk out your concerns or just slowly start to distance yourself from her. Even if she’s one of your few friends, if she is not a good friend, then her negative energy will (and seems to already have started) drag you down with her. Some people you can try to enlighten, but some just don’t wanna be enlightened. That’s when it’s best to back away for your own good.

Also; who said you can’t slap the shit out of her?

I’m really fucking sick of this prototype: Asian American male who only dates white women.

I’m done with your internalized shit. YA’LL have so many fucking problems going on. Don’t fucking reach out to me. Fuck you and your internalized white supremacy.

Have fun teaching “your beautiful mixed children”* the same problematic views that you already uphold.

In many ways, I do think that there is a greater stigma among African American culture than among white cultures. I live in southern California, and many white people will freely reference ‘seeing a therapist’ in normal conversation. Black people don’t do that. Seeing a therapist is generally seen as a sign of weakness or a lack of faith. There is still an active mythos of “the strong black woman,” who is supposed to be strong and present and capable for everyone in her family–and neglects her own needs. In the midst of a depressive episode, I had a friend say to me, 'We are the descendants of those who survived the Middle Passage and slavery. Whatever you’re going through cannot be that bad.’ I was so hurt and angry by that statement. No, depression isn’t human trafficking, genocide or slavery, but it is real death-threatening pain to me. And of course, there are those who did not survive those travesties. But that comment just made me feel small and selfish and far worse than before. It made me wish I had never said anything at all.

Dr. Monica A. Coleman

Quote is from Tips for Navigating Through the Mental Healthcare System: An Interview with Rev. Dr. Monica A. Coleman. It’s heartbreaking for me because I deal with mental health issues and I’m acutely aware of both the intraracial and interracial stigma. And when you get to the root of the stigma? Myths about our “strength” that are used to harm us while affirming White supremacy are the same myths that we’ve internalized and thereby at times are not supported/supportive in seeking care.

And sometimes professional mental health care is not ideal or nor accessible. So we seek support among each other. But when fellow Black people bring up “slavery was worse!” or yell out “pray about it!” as a silencing tactic because either belief in the infallible Black woman who can endure endless abuse (as created by White supremacy) or discomfort with addressing mental health head on, they ignore the fact that the impact of slavery is still felt today and mental health issues still exist today. There is no line in time where Black people were magically healed and slavery can be forgotten nor existing oppression today be silenced. 

Pop Culture, Social Justice and Race: When Black People Love Whiteness More Than Fellow Black People

I truly wonder how many Black people are going to spew vitriol at me in defense of their favorite plagiarizing, cultural appropriation-loving, exploit for dollars doing, professional ally career-having Whites? And the way it’s done? It’s like they want me to die for speaking against their White favorites and heroes. People who exploit Black people for a living matter more than fellow Black people to them.

I’ve never had anyone curse me out in defense of anyone Black, not even President Obama. Some close calls with Obamabots who reject nuance almost in the way that racist Obama haters do, but still not of the level that some Black people willingly do for: rape culture lyrics and ‘angry’ Black women are the problem not Black men” Robin Thicke, “dip in and out of Blackness whenever need be” Justin Timberlake, “Black women are nothing but a costume to exploit for profit” Miley Cyrus, “all Black people are ugly and people falsely associate racism with mental illness as if these two aren’t separate so she can be off the hook” Amanda Bynes, “long hateful misogynist rap sheet and years of online harassment of women of colour” Hugo Schwyzer, “I speak for all Blacks using the words and writing of people of colour as if I invented them” Tim Wise, “anti-intersectional, ridiculously large platform size by age 21” type of White feminists that I call Dunhamites (after Lena Dunham), and various White plagiarizers (of women of colour) who some Black people retweet and share with glee while ignoring Black women’s objection to this. Just some examples of the many.

(And do not even come here with the mental illness reports regarding Amanda Bynes and Hugo Schwyzer when Black mental illness and our pain itself are disregarded entirely. Don’t even try the “you’re ableist” argument when mental health is being used to deny their White privilege and excuse their racism and in the latter’s case, sexism, misogyny, misogynoir and bullying.)

Certainly I understand why some Black people defend them. At the base level, people like the idea of “fandom,” “teams” and “brand loyalty.” It’s an offshoot of how capitalism and brand consumerism are marketed as typical American values. Thus, most Americans can get like this about certain products, brands, experiences, celebrities or icons. But in this case, there are other factors.

First of all, there’s the myth that exploitation of Black people is how Whites show interest, appreciation or approval. Thus, when this occurs, because we live in a White supremacist society where White approval and being viewed “positively” in the White Gaze is the most important goal to reach, naturally when they exploit us for fame, platform, cash, position within Black society and power, some Black people view this as “love” for Black people. Whites like this can especially improve their “cred” by sleeping with or marrying Black people or even better, make themselves professional allies where they speak for Black people as a monolithic group where a White microphone is required. Some Whites are considered rather mediocre or irrelevant among the White masses but because of their White privilege and internalized White supremacist thought by some Black people, they become pillars among Black culture.

Secondly, there is the “White man’s ice is colder” problem. Thus, when a White person does the exact thing that a Black person has, even if with less talent, intelligence, insight or experience, some Black people view this as “superior.” Because of centuries of degradation of Black bodies, culture and lives, a White person doing something associated with Black culture is viewed as an “improvement” or “proof” of the “goodness” of Black culture–as if our culture isn’t already magnificent, nuanced, resilient, forward-thinking, and innovative. Sadly, some Black people aren’t sure about this unless someone White cosigns. The problem is that such a cosign often comes at a price where Black people celebrating our own culture and its nuances by regions, countries, ethnicity, styles and histories are shamed, reprimanded, punished, fired or literally oppressed and destroyed for what Whites are applauded for appropriating.

The third issue is the myth of reciprocity. Some Black people think that we are culturally on “equal” footing where for a example, a Black woman forced to perm her hair to avoid intraracial and interracial shame, to gain employment opportunities and because of internalized notions of inferiority after centuries of racist beauty propaganda (and not “all” who perm do/feel this, of course) is “equal” to a White woman copying Black women’s box braids and getting employed by a hair blog to brag about “urban” styles. They fail to realize White supremacy and racism are responsible for both of these situations. There is punishment and oppression associated with Black women forced to assimilate into Whiteness versus White women praised for appropriating Blackness as a costume. How this applies to these liberal/progressive White plagiarists, cultural appropriators, culture vultures, professional allies and bullies to any Blacks who won’t applaud them is that some Black people behave as if there is an “even exchange” of culture. There isn’t. The outcomes are most certainly not even. Whites are always praised and always profit from Black culture, even while Black people engaging in our own culture have to deal with the politics of respectability lectures from Whites and some middle class Blacks and justification of all sorts of oppression including rape and murder for simply embracing our own culture.

The absolute worst is when some Black men curse me out (they always do, over anything, of course) to defend White men. I expect them to do it for White women, *yawn*. I expect them to do it for other Black men. I do have to say that when they do it for White men who are culturally appropriating not me but them–appropriating other Black men–I’m stunned. And I’m rarely stunned.

Obviously Black people like this can like whomever they like and support whomever they want to support. However, the myth that “preferences” are random or superficial in a society where the question is always “how” is race involved not “if,” is a myth that cannot be ignored. Black people who will argue to the death to defend Whites involved in exploitation that they view as “appreciation” need to figure out why their liking (which often times mimic worship) of these White figures matters more than being kind to, supporting, liking, or loving other Black people. Because sadly, I already know the answer.

Of course it is possible for White people to enjoy Black culture without exploitation, but to do so, they must recognize that it is occurring in a context where they have White privilege and are in a White supremacist society. Don’t steal/plagiarize/dehumanize/fetish. Give credit where due. Embrace the specific Black culture (by region, nationality etc.) where the “inspiration” comes from. Actually communicate with Black people beyond who they’re fucking (if that person is Black) and commit to that culture without fetishizing. Do the research. Make space for Black people who want to do the creative cultural work–of our own culture–that Whites (and Black people like the ones I’m describing in this essay) are so eager to only see from Whites. Acknowledge the privilege that allows Whites to copy, perform and profit from Black culture in a way its originators cannot. Engage in consistent dialogue on this. Don’t treat the culture as a costume or aphrodisiac. I dunno…be a fucking decent human being. Also view Black people as human beings, not objects solely for consumption. And Whites can literally marry and breed with Black people and STILL not view Black people beyond their partner versus the one-dimensional monolith of the rest of Black people.

It’s just ironic that Whites who understand this are usually not the ones on the stage, the ones worshiped, or the ones that some Black people gleefully defend to the death while spitting in other Black people’s faces. It’s as if though the latter’s awareness of structural, institutional and systemic racism and how White supremacy facilitates the power to plagiarize, culturally appropriate and bully dissenters escapes their thought process, but knowing this is occurring and aligning with who they see has power doesn’t escape their thought process. This might be a part of American victim blaming culture meets popular culture that is under-explored, though psychologically, it is partially explained by identification with the aggressor as a defense mechanism. 

I am truly tired of the “untouchable” White liberal artist/social justice voice and their Black cheerleaders. And certainly not all Black people take the stance that I critique here. Not at all. But some do. I’ve been attacked by some of them. And I am sure that everything I just stated here will be disregarded by them because after all, I am not White.

(And OF COURSE Whites ALSO defend problematic White stars who exploit Black people. Tragically so. They unite over White supremacy in a plethora of ways, even over class when wealthy Whites exploit poor Whites. But this essay is not about that.)

Related Posts: I Don’t Have To Like What White Women Like: Pop Culture and Feminism

sha-sha-shalom asked:

why is your picture the confederate flag?

My original intention was to be provocative while still flying under the radar.  I wanted folks who first approached my blog to not really realize what it was.  This blog is a reaction to my younger self: southern, white, not overtly racist but completely ignorant of my internalized white supremacy and white privilege.

I could see teenage me seeing this blog description and the confederate flag and say “Yeah!  Heritage not hate!”  And then bit by bit, post by post, realize that it’s not about “hating” whiteness or even necessarily feeling guilty about it, but rather just realizing exactly how whiteness has impacted people throughout history.   I want to associate it with the truly reprehensible acts that are a part of “white heritage,” and to fight against the sanitized “heritage not hate” message that is used to defend the confederate flag.  

As a white guy from the South, this blog has been a part of my un-learning.   I started using the icon after my post on the confederate flag.  I wrote it because, even well into adulthood I tried to maintain that there didn’t have to be anything inherently problematic with the confederate flag.  Again, “Heritage Not Hate” and all that.  Now I know better and using the icon helps to remind me (and hopefully other white people) exactly what the symbol is associated with.  

I have considered changing my icon several times.  The main reason why I haven’t is because I can’t decide on something better.  The icon represents “White History” and the events on this blog rather effectively: white people don’t think about it, people of color know the terrible, ugly truth.

Black Girls and Dolls; Black Women and Pinterest

Yesterday I saw a photograph from the 1970s of a group of Black girls playing with all White dolls on fuckyeahdollsofcolor’s Tumblr blog. I liked fuckyeahdollsofcolor’s comment:

There were a few black dolls from Mattel released in the late 1960’s [Francie], [Julia] and though I’m not sure what their distribution & production quantities might have been, I feel it’s safe to assume they were not widely available, compared to the “standard” white Barbie dolls. I’m thinking of the culture that led to these children not only having limited access to dolls that look (at least a little bit) like them, while having wider access to dolls that look like white people. In the end, it reminds me a bit of the topsy turvy doll I posted recently. At risk of sounding trite or saccharine, this is why I do what I do.

I appreciate this blog. I post photographs of Black dolls too, from time to time, for this same reason (information, appreciation and affirmation) as well as posts tagged “kids” in addition to the photographs, art, and videos that I post of Black women. (I explained this in further detail in my bio and in a post that I suggest people read before subscribing/reblogging/posting comments to Gradient Lair.)

This got me thinking about Black women and Pinterest. There are some Black women that I sadly had to unfollow because they post entirely too many photographs of White women. They post more photographs of White women than the White women that I follow do.

White women’s images (mostly cisgender and thin White women) dominate ALL FORMS OF MEDIA in the United States, in regards to women. (I mention gender, since in certain areas, White men’s images dominate. For example, they still appear in films more than anyone else.) This is not an opinion. This is fact. Television commercials. Television shows. Print ads. Billboards. Films. Magazine covers. Stock photography. Business websites. Major fashion blogs. I could continue…

Just as Black parents need to be deliberate about countering the negative messages (both interracial and intraracial messages; and these are inherently connected) that Black girls receive about beauty, Black women also have be deliberate about what we consume, even what we post as “beauty” and “health” and “style” examples on Pinterest. We cannot control (though we always have to push back with critical reflection and critique, if not actively involved in adding to the content available for and about Black women) every media interpretation that is purposely meant to reinforce Eurocentric beauty and Whiteness as “universal.” However, Pinterest is…a choice; the images that we select to pin to infer various forms of goodness are choices. Media is not arbitrary, random, neutral nor apolitical. To be clear, a Black woman can post whatever she chooses on her board; I’m pointing out how these choices are not arbitrary. I just have encountered so many Black women with 10-30 Pinterest boards and not a single image of a Black woman is anywhere to be seen on them.

Certainly the images that we consume can be mixed. I went from looking at images of Black women yesterday afternoon to watching John Cusack in The Raven, which has White men on screen almost 95% of the time. (It’s one of the whitest movies that I’ve seen in a while, actually.)  However, the illusion that there is parity in choices of media representations, as if there are 10 photographs of Black women for every 10 photographs of White women is a MYTH promulgated to make it appear as if a Black person choosing to focus on imagery of Black people, for example, is being a “reverse racist” which does not exist. Rejection of White supremacy is not reverse racism, or racism, or prejudice. It’s self-affirmation. It’s necessary for healthy self-esteem.

One thing that I have done is post shoes and clothing as is, without a person in them, so that the focus is on the object (though sometimes in a white or peach-hued mannequin body) and not an endless stream of White women’s images. I already deal with over-saturation of their images and when how I look or how other Black women look is attacked daily, I don’t need to invite this type of psychic assault into my life, then write it off as “just” pictures when I know that no media is “just” anything.

There’s several Black women that I follow on Pinterest that have amazingly diverse boards or all-Black woman boards, and I like that. White women are always going to see and have images and products to reaffirm who they are. It’s not too much to want the same for Black girls and Black women.

(Oh…and I know there is a class, consumption, consumerism and capitalism argument to be made for Pinterest itself—a very legitimate one, but one that I will save for another day.)

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“I think because a lot of minority groups outside of the Black/White binary—I also include multiracial people as well—I definitely feel like they get lost in the conversation or don’t have a stake in it or they internalize White supremacy so they aspire to be White. And all this is as damaging and doesn’t resolve race relations at all. And it doesn’t foster understanding of what the real problem is. And it’s tricky because when it comes to creators of Color and what gets promoted or pushed in the media, I feel like there’s always a critical dynamic when any minority prominent media gets pushed among other minority communities because there’s a component of how much of it is a stereotype and how much of it is not. And there’s also a component of how much of it is that this media in particular is so great because it appeals to Whiteness?”

Do you feel like you have a stake in the racial discussion or that your voice may get lost?

Black or Person of Colour? Both. But Still Black.

Sometimes when I write/tweet/speak I mention “Black people" separately from other “people of colour" because what I speak of is particular to Black people. The same thing applies when I mention “Black women" separately from other “women of colour.“ (The origin of “women of colour” as a phrase is meant to empower as a “solidarity definition" as Loretta Ross has explained.) I also do this because I am Black and rarely when I write am I writing about some “abstract" “social issue" that is outside of my life or other oppressed people’s lives (despite Whites thinking that any Black person has such a luxury to “abstractly" “debate" our lives “hypothetically").

Sometimes I specifically mention “people of colour" collectively when I am speaking of other groups of people who are not White and also face racism, oppression and the hostility or indifference due to White privilege on a globe plagued by White supremacy. This is with the full knowledge that some people of colour specifically engage in anti-Blackness using the same White supremacist and racist language that Whites use. (I actually stopped socially dancing salsa in South Florida because I couldn’t deal with the colourism and anti-Blackness among Latinas with passing privilege. The environment felt very hostile and I was treated as an “evil" Black woman out to “steal" their men [while many of them dated Black men, no less] and it was dreadful. They made jokes about dark skin as well.) This is especially prevalent when other people of colour want White approval and to distinguish themselves from Black people who are consistently placed at the bottom of any racial hierarchy. This has to do with how easily members of some oppressed racial groups can assimilate into Whiteness and since Black people without passing privilege (because even light skinned privilege is rarely enough) cannot physically assimilate, this makes racism towards us distinct. As Robert Reese notes in Black/Non-Black Divide and The Anti-Blackness of Non-Black Minorities:

Will Asian-Americans and Latinos choose to confront their anti-black prejudice in an attempt to build the racial coalitions necessary to effectively combat white supremacy or will they chose the path of the Irish and decide that they are better off trying to align themselves with the other side and try to lay claim to the privilege of whiteness? Honestly, prospects don’t look too good as eugenics logic still shapes the racial classifications of interracial children. The children of black parents, regardless of the race of the other parent, are typically classified as black, while the children of whites and other non-black minorities are given the option to be white. This provides further evidence of blackness as the permanent out-group, as taint.

He reveals how anti-Blackness is distinct here but also something about Whiteness. Whiteness is not absolute and any review of the history of the Irish or light skinned Jews, for example, reveals how inclusiveness in Whiteness and White privilege can also accompany being stigmatized as “low tier" Whiteness. We see this with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev where some Whites don’t want to claim him yet he is portrayed as a rockstar on Rolling Stone (versus the notorious racist TIME cover of O.J. Simpson). However, how “White" he is or not is irrelevant when juxtaposed to Black victimhood or Black criminality. He isn’t Black and that seems to be what matters most.

The nuances of Whiteness and anti-Blackness became noticeable again after George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin. While solidarity from anyone who realized the gravity of this crime and the subsequent injustice by a “not guilty" verdict is solidarity that most Black people love and appreciate, this solidarity has to be within the context of knowing and specifically understanding anti-Blackness and anti-Black racism within White supremacy, not just blanket “anyone who isn’t White" racism. As Asam Ahmad wrote in We are NOT all Trayvon: Challenging Anti-Black Racism in POC Communities:

We are NOT all Trayvon Martin. People of color keep getting hella mad for being called out on white passing privilege, for being asked to hold themselves accountable to the ways they are not like Trayvon and more like Zimmerman. So many folks seem to be having a hard time acknowledging that this murderer was a Latino who had light-skinned privilege and played into the rules of White supremacy to get away with murder. The fact that so many white folks are identifying with him should tell you something: it is a marker of how some people of color gain access to the toxic privilege of passing for White, of choosing not to identify themselves as PoC but co-opting into the system of White supremacy instead.

For women of colour, notions of beauty and sexuality are two areas where silence about anti-Blackness is silence unacceptable. While some women of colour are willing to fight along side Black women against the manifestations of racism and sexism combined, as they aren’t always separate entities for us, others do align with White supremacy and take the “at least I am not a Black woman" approach to how they understand their beauty, their sexuality and their very freedom. Truthfully, at times, it has felt as if it is dark Black women alone, Indigenous women alone and other women of colour with passing and light skinned privilege together. It’s hurtful to see this. Often times the heterosexual male gaze, colourism and Eurocentric notions of beauty end up being the divisors, which impact notions of beauty and sexuality.

It’s okay for women of colour to speak specifically to the cultural experiences that are ours and also recognize the similarities in our experiences. We don’t have to co-opt experiences that aren’t ours in order to empathize. We don’t have to speak for each other. We can speak together. And we can also not speak and listen to each other. There can be multiple movements and collective movements. The idea of one movement/selected leaders/hiearchy is kyriarchal, not progressive.

So yeah, I am a Black person. And I am a person of colour. And I am a woman of colour. And I am also a Black woman. BLACK! Speaking to experiences that are uniquely mine, uniquely Black women’s, uniquely women of colour’s, uniquely Black people’s, uniquely anyone is not necessarily an indictment of collectivity and solidarity but simply trying to give those experiences a voice; one that is actively silenced in a White supremacist society. It really is okay for me to call myself a Black woman and also connect with other women of colour and include myself as a woman of colour.

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” - Audre Lorde

“you seem comfortable with revolution”

Uh oh. Maybe that’s not a good thing.

I have some ideas about revolution .It is not static, singular, it doesn’t just happen once and it’s done. I think revolution unfolds over time.

My understanding of the nature of revolution is that it is upheaving, and it’s work is uncontained, it is continuous, and it is dynamic; and it’s messy … and it’s not comfortable;

I think revolution has implications that overflow any boundaries we might want to put on it.

What I particularly mean is that revolution always implicates us,

I have internalized things or I constantly benefit from things … and that means I have work to do.

There is a log of anti-blackness I as a Filipino American need to work on.

There is a lot of fat-shaming, a lot of misogyny and sexism, a lot of heteronormativity, a lot of internalized white supremacy that I need to work on.


blleeergh-deactivated20131218 asked:

Your ask box is open! I also want to be one to quickly say how much I admire and appreciate you, before you need to close it. I'm asian, and when I first started reading your essays months ago, I felt my hairs raise in offense. That's when I realized I was being a serious asshole, because of white supremacy (not even white and still offended on whites behalf. What kind of shit is that?) Anyway, reading your posts quietly opened my eyes and changed me. I'll always be grateful for that.

Hi! Thank you! :)

As far as being “offended” on “behalf” of Whites, that happens when people of colour internalize White supremacist thinking. I’ve been cursed out pretty badly by some of my own people–Black people–who defend Whites harming me individually or White supremacy/racism oppressing Black people collectively. Your feelings some months ago are not rare, I promise. Everything from the politics of respectability to internalizing Eurocentric beauty myths are examples of the internalization of White supremacist thinking by people of colour. And it happens. And we have to be able to recognize it to deconstruct it to challenge it to reject it.

One thing that I always say is “How we embody the oppressor within is where all feminist work begins.” That’s where the praxis starts…with yourself. Challenging yourself. Changing yourself. Evolving. Glad to hear that I am a part of this, though ultimately you’re the one to take the credit if you actually do the work. Realize that many people read many things and change not a single damn thing, so there’s that.

Some people will suggest that just learning and changing individually is not changing the world. Then I think of something Alice Walker wrote: “If knowledge of my condition is all the freedom I get from a ‘freedom movement,’ it is better than unawareness, forgotteness, and hopelessness, the existence that is like the existence of a beast.” And Paulo Freire wrote: “Critical reflection is also action.”

Take care.

How Internalized White Supremacy Ruined a Black-Owned Small Business

A young Black woman that I know worked for a small, Black-owned restaurant. She was the general manager. The owner was an older Black man (around 50-60).

She created the business plan, pricing points, menu offerings, and general ideas for how the place would run. It’s only fitting since she has a business degree that targeted hospitality and restaurant management. She acquired the designer for the social media spaces and maintained the social media accounts. She cooked some of the food at her home, since the kitchen area was small there. She also supervised the lower level staff on the days (most of them) when the owner was not there.

However, this is where the happy, productive side of the story ends. The owner pretty much refused to hire any other Black employees. He already had a general manager that was  almost overqualified, severely skilled and amazingly creative, who he was paying a substandard wage. He refused to hire any Black men, despite the restaurant being located in an area that is almost 70% Black. He would only hire White or fair-skinned Hispanic women as employees, and rejected the general manager’s ideas for hiring. One of these White employees stole from him. One of the Hispanic employees barely spoke English, which is okay, except for his patrons were not Spanish-speaking, so that presented challenges. He often wanted the menu changed to cater to what he thought White patrons would want, despite again, being in an area that is almost 70% Black and primarily having Black women with children as his patrons.

Eventually, the Black woman that I am speaking of, his general manager, quit. The restaurant started doing poorly as he started rejecting her ideas. Shortly after her departure, the restaurant was closed. I passed by it the other day and saw it closed.

I really wonder how many Black business owners are shooting themselves in the foot trying to please White consumers who don’t shop at their businesses and refuse to hire minorities from their own communities? I think this is really sad.

Now true, Black customers can be difficult for Black businesses. I know this as a professional photographer. I’ve had many Black customers who wanted my work for free (or a “hookup” price) but gladly pay a White male photographer almost double my rate even when his work was not at the level of mine. I’ve had Black male potential customers who’ve tried to be inappropriate via emails or calls and never really wanted to hire me for photography in the first place. I’ve had Black women customers who expected me to shoot a “social justice" event for free (which would be fine, in context, but wait for the next part) yet paid all of their White vendors. Internalized White supremacy can complicate business relationships. At the same time, I’ve had many GREAT Black customers (when I did consumer photography; I’m actually changing the type of work I share/create for next year), who were wonderful. I’ve had many clients of many backgrounds who rocked, and many who sucked. It’s the nature of business.

Still though…with this particular restaurant that I started this post with, the owner CLEARLY had signs that his general manager’s ideas WORKED. He blatantly ignored them because in his mind, a White employee or a White customer is what makes a business great, not…money…from Black customers? Again, that restaurant is closed.

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