Wednesday, December 31, 2008
-Rosana Cruz, Board Member of New Orleans Women's Health Clinic and
Co-Director of Safe Streets, Strong Communities
Dear Friends and Supporters,
With 2009 rapidly approaching, the New Orleans Women's Health Clinic (NOWHC) and the New Orleans Women's Health & Justice Initiative (WHJI) would like to wish you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season, and thank you for all of your support this past year. Thank you.
As NOWHC and WHJI continue to work together to equip marginalized and underserved women with the means to control and care for their own bodies, sexuality, reproduction, and health, while developing community-based strategies to improve the social and economic health and well-being of women of color and low-income women, we ask you to support the ongoing efforts of our organizations by making a donation this holiday season. This appeal presents accomplishments of both of our organizations for your giving consideration.
New Orleans Women's Health Clinic
The women we serve at NOWHC are the women we stand with, the women we are – women of color and low-income women most affected by disasters (natural and economic), women whose bodies are blamed and used as decoys for systemic injustices. We recognize that the New Orleans Women's Health Clinic cannot simply end at addressing immediate needs through services delivery. NOWHC works to integrate reproductive justice organizing and health education advocacy into our clinic to address root causes of health disparities and sexual and reproductive oppression. Our programming acknowledges intersectionality and addresses the social and economic determinants of health disparities, while challenging punitive policies around social welfare, housing, and reproductive health.
With the support of hundreds of donors like you, in just 19 months, NOWHC provided safe and affordable comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care services and information to 3,040 women from throughout the Greater New Orleans Metropolitan area as follows:
* 618 unduplicated women accessed direct medical services, 432 of which had repeat visits
* 820 additional women accessed health information and counseling services.
* Approximately 1600 referrals for service were provided over the last 5 months.
* Subsidized the cost of direct medical services for hundreds of women through the Women's Health Access Fund
* Partnered with the B.W. Cooper Housing Development Resident Management Corporation, enabling NOWHC to advocate and organize directly in the communities where many of our constituents live.
* Launched a Sexual Health Youth Advocacy program, focusing on comprehensive sex education, sexual violence prevention, sexuality and gender identity, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) education including HIV prevention justice advocacy
The women accessing and utilizing services at the clinic and the need for safe and holistic sexual and reproductive health services and resources, paint a portrait of the unique vulnerabilities that women of color, low income, and uninsured women face in accessing health care. Take for example, the demographics of our clinic patients:
* 65% of our patients who access care at the Clinic lacked health insurance. Without our support, most of these women would have gone months or even years without receiving safe, affordable, and unbiased care.
* 72% reported annual incomes of less than $24,999 –nearly 40% earned less than $10,000 a year
* 60% identifies as Black/African-American, and nearly 20% identifies as Latina/Hispanic – many of whom are undocumented. The Clinic provides a safe space to alleviate this fear of deportation for many undocumented women.
* 70% identified their housing status as 'renting' and
* 84% were between the ages of 18 to 40 years of age
With your continual support, NOWHC can expand our integrated approach by improving the sexual and reproductive health of low-income and underserved women and their families.
Women's Health & Justice Initiative
Much of the work of the clinic is done in concert with our sister collective, WHJI. WHJI impacts the reproductive and sexual health lives of women of color and low-income women, by mobilizing our communities to engage in racial, gender, and reproductive justice activism that challenges the legislation and criminalization of women of color and poor women's bodies, sexuality, fertility, and motherhood. As a predominately all volunteer collective, WHJI has:
* Launched organizing efforts to establish a Women of Color Resource & Organizing Center, to serve as a resource and organizing hub to nurture grassroots organizing and activism to end violence against women of color, linking struggles against the violence of poverty, incarceration, environmental racism, housing discrimination, economic exploitation, medical experimentation, and forced sterilization. The Center will house a Radical Women of Color Lending Library, a cluster of computers for community access, meeting space, and a host of movement building and leadership development programs and resources.
* Sponsored a series of Organizing Institutes, focused on examining and challenging gender and sexuality-based violence against women of color and queer and trans people of color. The Organizing Institutes have both facilitated community building conversations between grassroots social justice organizers and health practitioners, and created a space for developing grassroots strategies to equip those most disenfranchised by the medical industry in exercising their agency to take control of the their bodies, reproduction, and sexuality, while organizing for racial, gender, and reproductive justice.
NOWHC and WHJI COLLABORATIVE WORK
* Led a coordinated effort to respond to the particular vulnerabilities of women of color, low income women, and women headed households (including women with disabilities, seniors, undocumented immigrant women, and incarcerated women.) We made over 700 calls, assisting our constituency and their families develop and implement evacuation and safety plans as communities across the Gulf Coast region prepared for Hurricane Gustav. Ironically, this occurred on the eve of the 3 year anniversary of the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and subsequent government negligence.
* Immediately following Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, WHJI and NOWHC took the lead in responding to the eugenic and racist legislative plans of Representative John LaBruzzo (R) of Louisiana to pay poor women $1,000 to get sterilized under the cloak of reducing the number of people on welfare and those utilizing public housing subsidies. Our organizational responses to Representative LaBruzzo's eugenic agenda, and the outcry of social justice organizations and community members around the country, resulted in LaBruzzo being removed from his position as vice chairman of the House Health & Welfare Committee.
Please help WHJI and NOWHC to continue prioritizing the needs, experiences, and leadership of women of color and low-income women in the region. We ask for a donation that will:
* Expand the Clinic's ability to continue to support and subsidize the cost of care and medication for uninsured women who access services at our Clinic through our Women's Health Access Fund.
* Build the Clinic's Sexual Health Youth Advocacy Institute – focusing on comprehensive sex education, sexual violence prevention, sexuality, and STI education, and HIV prevention justice advocacy
* Open the WHJI Women of Color Resource & Organizing Center to serve as a resource and organizing hub to end violence against of women of color and gender variant members of our community
* Develop our joint Action Kits and Toolkits, including informational pamphlets, posters, and fact sheets on safe forms of birth control, STIs, breast health, fibroids, environmental toxicants & reproductive health, gender violence prevention, alternative health and healing remedies
We are asking you to further our work this holiday season by giving a gift of justice.
A Gift of $50
* Subsidizes a well-woman annual exam, including a pap smear, to an uninsured low-income woman
* Funds the expansion of the WHJI Women of Color Lending Library
A Gift of $100
* Subsidizes the lab cost of uninsured patients at the Clinic, and
* Develops WHJI sexual and reproductive justice organizing tools and materials
A Gift of $250
* Supports the involvement of youth in the Clinic's Sexual Health Youth Advocacy Institute
* Contributes to the planning, coordination, and convening of WHJI Organizing Institutes
A Gift of $500
* Bolsters the Clinic's Women's Health Access Fund
* Supports the opening of the Initiative's Women of Color Resource & Organizing Center
A Gift of $1000
* Supports the salary of a full-time paid executive director and medical staff for NOWHC
* Strengthens the long-term sustainability of the Clinic's ability to provide safe, affordable, non-coercive holistic sexual and reproductive health services and information
Financial contributions should be made out to our fiscal sponsor: Women With A Vision, with NOWHC and WHJI listed in the memo line. All contributions will be split evenly between NOWHC and WHJI, so your donation will support the work of both organizations. Checks should be mailed to the:
New Orleans Women's Health Clinic
1406 Esplanade Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70116
Your gift is tax-deductible and you will receive an acknowledgement letter with the Women With A Vision Nonprofit EIN#.
The New Orleans Women's Health Clinic and the Women's Health & Justice Initiative warmly thank our network of donors and volunteers for your continued generous support. Please support this essential work with the most generous donation you can give. Our ability to provide needed services, maintain autonomy and organize to build power and a healthy community is made possible through the support of individuals and organizations in our community and nationwide.
New Orleans Women's Health Clinic Board of Directors
Women's Health & Justice Initiative Collective
INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence
PO Box 226
Redmond, WA 98073
INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence is a national activist organization of radical feminists of color advancing a movement to end violence against women of color and their communities through direct action, critical dialogue and grassroots organizing.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Due to the huge and affirming response to BrokenBeautiful Press's Summer of Our Lorde we are THRILLED to present the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind, a portable progressive series based in Durham North Carolina in partnership with SpiritHouse, Southerners on New Ground, UBUNTU, the Land and Sustainability Working Group, Kindred Healing Justice Collective and more.
In 1977 the Combahee River Collective wrote a key black feminist manifesta groundbreaking in it’s assertion that the “major systems of oppression are interlocking. You are invited to the first session on the groundbreaking black feminist document The Combahee River Collective Statement. Download it at www.blackfeministmind.wordpress.com
and check out some radical exercises at www.combaheesurvival.wordpress.com
In Durham we'll be discussing it on January 7th. Email email@example.com for details and feel free to read along wherever you are and comment here!
See you (t)here!!!!!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
A Ugandan judge has awarded two women $7,000 (£4,700), saying their rights were infringed when they were arrested on suspicion of being lesbians in 2005.
One of them was undressed by police to prove she was a woman and assaulted.
"The verdict is welcomed with excitement by the gay community," activist Kasha Jacqueline told the BBC.
"It is a Christmas surprise for us," she said, adding that the judge had stressed such treatment was wrong. Homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda.
The case is believed to be the first time homosexuals have taken the police to court in Uganda, where they face much discrimination.
Activists say the gay community numbers about 500,000, from a population of some 31 million.
Ms Jacqueline heads Freedom and Roam Uganda (Farug), an organisation for lesbians and bisexuals.
We are proud to be Ugandan and that justice prevailed
Farug's Kasha Jacqueline
She said the two lesbians who brought the case against the government - Yvonne Oyoo and Victor Juliet Mukasa - were not in court to hear about their victory.
The verdict had been expected in mid-2007 and in the intervening 17 months the gay community had lost hope of getting a ruling, she said.
"It's been a long wait... but we are proud to be Ugandan and that justice prevailed," Ms Jacqueline told the BBC News website.
According to Ms Jacqueline, Justice Stella Arach-Amoko awarded $5,000 to Ms Oyoo, who had been a guest in Ms Mukasa's house when it was raided by police.
The payout was for "arbitrary torture", as Ms Oyoo had been man-handled and sexually assaulted, Ms Jacqueline said.
About $2,000 was awarded to Ms Mukasa, a leading Ugandan human rights activist, for damage to her house during the raid.
In an interview with the New Internationalist in 2007, Ms Mukasa said she decided to sue the government because she was tired of the harassment.
"It will be the first case of its kind in Uganda where LGBTs [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people] are the ones suing the government," she said.
"I am suing because of the constant human rights violations that are committed against LGBT people by the government and the public of Uganda without anyone raising a hand."
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Xstrata had planned to divert a river to allow for the expansion of a zinc mine in the Northern Territory.
A Federal Court decided that the government did not follow the proper process in allowing the mine's expansion to go ahead in 2006.
Some Aboriginal leaders cried with happiness when the ruling was handed down by the Federal Court in Sydney.
They had fought a long battle to overturn the government's decision to allow the diversion of the McArthur River in order to expand the mine.
The company had wanted to divert the river to extend the life of the mine by turning it from an underground to an open cast operation.
Along with environmentalists, indigenous groups had argued that there was a risk during the rainy season that the McArthur River would be contaminated by seepage from mining.
They also argued that the government had not followed the proper process in granting approval for the scheme and that there was a lack of consultation. The federal court ruled in their favour, citing a lack of due process.
Over 5km (3 miles) of the river has already been diverted, and the traditional owners are now demanding that it be returned to its original course.
"We want the river put back," said one Aboriginal leader.
Xstrata has expressed disappointment at the ruling, and had indicated beforehand that it might be forced to close the mine.
An industry group, the Northern Territory Resources Council, described the ruling as a huge blow for Australia's mining industry.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Inspired by the video I thought QBG Krys made, please see the following.
Here ye! Here ye! By order of decree by the ladies of Quirkydom, the first ever QBG challenge has been issued! QBG's are asked to create videos of themselves singing or lip-syncing their favorite song. The winner will be determined by vote of QBG's on the site. The video with the most comments from unique users and with the highest rating will win (the right to brag that they won)!
All entries must be submitted by the stroke of midnight MLK day!
Passion and props are strongly encouraged!
"I AM always sorry to hear that such and such a person is going to school to be educated. This is a great mistake. If the person is to get the benefit of what we call education, he must educate himself, under the direction of the teacher.'
"Never let the word "dumb" be used in your class, or anything said disrespectful of parents or guardians who may have helped the child...."
"Many a child called dull, would advance rapidly under a patient, wise, and skillful teacher, and the teacher should be as conscientious in the endeavor to improve himself as he is to improve the child...."
"The ventilation of the school room may be responsible for what we call stupidity on the part of the child. Let a stream of oxygen pass through the room and what a waking-up there will be! Sometimes if a child is naughty it will do him good to run out in the yard a minute. Remember all the time you are dealing with a human being, whose needs are like your own."
---Frances Coppin (all quotes)
It’s late and I am about to get ready to rest up for my fifth graders this week. The more that I teach the more that I am moving closer to a career in Education and not a life of academia in Women Studies that I had initially planned on (still looking to get that Ph.d BUT maybe not in that particular field).
I am constantly involved and impassioned about the education of Black children in this wilderness called North America. One of the facets that concern me is the instruction and teaching of children, primarily how the lesson is being taught and whether it has any valuable meaning to the child that is being "educated".
Over the last year I was introduced to an area of education called Womanist Pedagogy. Using Alice Walker’s inclusive term of Womanist and Black Female practitioners who have incorporated a Womanist Pedagogy inside their classroom where they integrate Critical Pedagogy and a concern towards their Black students from their essential bodhichitta teaching as a Black Woman.
Although the term Womanist Pedagogy is relatively new, Black Women as Educators is not. Recently, I picked up this book called "Black Women in White America" written by Gerda Lerner. In one section she highlights the communal achievements of various Black Women Educators, and their contributions to education. One Woman that is mentioned is Fannie Jackson-Coppin and her progressive work on Methods & Instruction. As I was reading Coppins and the other work(s) of Black Women, I realized that nothing that we are doing in the ivory towers is completely new. Although we would love to think for a confidence fluffier that we have found the “gap” in the literature”, our fore mothers probably did it and it just wasn’t documented.
So here’s to you Ms. Coppin and your home girls that started it all.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Southeastern Women's Studies Association Conference
at Appalachian State University, Boone, NC
Thursday - Saturday, April 2-4, 2009
WOMEN AND ENVIRONMENTS:
The Ecology of Feminism and the Feminism of Ecology
INFO & LINKS:
* Keynote speakers:
* Call for papers (doc)
* Lodging and transportation
* Registration info--registration is online only and requires a credit card
* Film series
* Food menus--gourmet all-natural lunches included for conference registrants
* Goat and cheese farm tour
$15/person to the first 25 people who sign up!
* Student scholarships
Topics might include:
The Slow Food Movement
Women in pollution and waste management
The environment and women's health
Women's environmental activism
Gender and food history
The politics of space and place
Women in environmental history
The female in nature
Women and animals
Ecofeminist literary criticism
Feminist literary ecology
Women naturalists and conservationists
Science, technology, and the environment
Feminist vegetarianism and feminist hunting
Is feminism green?
Are women green?
PROPOSAL DEADLINE EXTENDED TO JAN. 15, 2009!: Send to firstname.lastname@example.org with all contact information.
Feb. 1, 2009: All those with accepted proposals will be notified by this date.
Feb 15, 2009: Deadline for "earlybird" registration.
March 12, 2009: Deadline to reserve a hotel room for the SEWSA block discount rate.
Although the 2009 conference will center on this theme, submissions of non-thematic papers are also encouraged.
Click here to go to the SEWSA organizational website.
Click here to go back to the Appalachian Women's Studies Program homepage.
E-mail email@example.com with questions.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Mujeres de Maiz
Calling all creative women of color! In honor of Women, let us publish your expressions in our annual community arts and poetry maga-ZINE!
Submissions should be centered around the following theme:
(That Which is Sacred)
*** spaces are limited **
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 13th, 2009
All languages welcome.
Although we will have an editing committee to oversee this project, please make sure all written entries are well edited including grammar, spell check, etc.
EMAIL SUBMISSION PROCEEDURES:
Each artist may email up to 2 submissions from
POETRY, PROSE, ESSAY
Submission(s) should be related to this year's theme:
La Sagrada (That Which is Sacred).
Poetry, essay, or prose in 300 words or less.
All languages welcome.
1. Fill out POETRY SubForm Completely
(see attached form)
2. Save form JPEG FILE NAME:
ARTISTS FULL NAME
3. Send completed form as email attachment to Mujeresdemaiz@prodigy.net
ZINE 2008 POETRY: ARTISTS LAST NAME
Submission(s) should be related to this year's theme:
La Sagrada (That Which is Sacred).
Image(s) of original artwork only. Image(s) may be (color or black & white) photo, drawing, painting, etc.
1. Fill out VISUAL ART SubForm Completely
2. IMAGES: Submit up to TWO high-res, RGB images at 300 dpi, sized at approx 5 x 7 inches.
3. Save Image(s) as JPEG FILE NAME:
ARTISTS LAST NAME + TITLE
4. Send completed form with image(s) as attachments to Mujeresdemaiz@prodigy.net
Email Subject: ZINE 2008 ART: ARTISTS FULL NAME
for questions, concerns or any who wish to help sponsor this project, please contact:
For more information about MdM's commitment to 12 years of creative volunteer community service and past projects:
Monday, November 17, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
By Ruth Nicole Brown
This book passionately illustrates why the celebration of Black girlhood is essential. Based on the principles and practices of a Black girl-centered program, it examines how performances of everyday Black girlhood are mediated by popular culture, personal truths, and lived experiences, and how the discussion and critique of these factors can be a great asset in the celebration of Black girls. Drawing on scholarship from women'/s studies, African American studies, and education, the book skillfully joins poetry, autobiographical vignettes, and keen observations into a wholehearted, participatory celebration of Black girls in a context of hip-hop feminism and critical pedagogy. Through humor, honesty, and disciplined research it argues that hip-hop is not only music, but also an effective way of working with Black girls. Black Girlhood Celebration recognizes the everyday work many young women of color are doing, outside of mainstream categories, to create social change by painting an unconventional picture of how complex and necessary the goal of Black girl celebration can be.
About the Author
Ruth Nicole Brown is Assistant Professor of Gender and Womens Studies and Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Click here to purchase BLACK GIRLHOOD CELEBRATION
Monday, November 3, 2008
Over the last couple of years I have moved through two different worlds---my Black Nationalist self and my Black Feminist self. Somehow, I cannot get them to connect; maybe I am a Black Nationalist Feminist? Does that even exist?
I recently had one of my Black Nationalist female friends state that Black Women need to procreate for the race at a higher speed than the speed that they were doing now….when I questioned her on the implications of child birth and the issues that we have with some Black men taking care of their children, she simply shrugged and said that it was not as important as out numbering White folks!?
Seeing where this was going, I simply left it as it was, but I wrestled with this for awhile….what makes folks think that if we outnumbered whites that economic mobility will come to us? But even more so, what does this mean for Black Women who are usually the sole bearers of these Black babies? Also, why should our contributions to the race be through our reproduction?
Two of the mostly widely read articles from Black women who rejected this charge to bear more children are Toni Cade and Frances Beale. In her anthology on Black women published in 1970, Toni Cade took up the issue “The Pill: Genocide or Liberation?” She states “I’ve been made aware of the national call to Sisters to abandon-referral groups and to raise revolutionaries. “What plans do you have for the care of me and the child?” Cade rejects both the sexist implication that women’s only role in the struggle is to bear children and the naïve faith that simply producing more children will improve conditions for Black Americans. She does not believe that the pill alone can liberate anyone, but asserts that it gives women critical control over a major part of their lives. Included in the essay, Cade recalls a political meeting in which “a tall brother stood up and castigated the Sisters to throw away the pill and hop to the mattresses and breed revolutionaries and mess up the man’s (white man) genocidal program.” Although the brother’s concern arose from real history of reproductive abuse, the brother still failed to understand the pill’s importance to the Black women’s self-determination.
In 1966, Frances Beale, a member of SNCC, which was a nonviolent student organization that was founded in 1960 for the purpose of coordinating the sit-in movement in an attempt to integrate bus stations, lunch counters, created a segment of SNCC called the Black Women’s Liberation Committee. Frances Beale wrote that Black women had the right and the responsibility to determine when it is in the interest of the struggle to have children or not to have them and this right must not be relinquished to any other than the Black woman to determine when it is in her own best interests to have children.” She makes this clear in her famous article “Double Jeopardy: To Be Female and Black”:
We are not saying that Black women should not practice birth control. It is her right and responsibility to determine when it is in her own best interests to have children, how many she will have and how far apart. The lack of the availability of safe birth control methods, the forced sterilization practices, and the inability to obtain legal abortions are all symptoms of a decadent society that jeopardizes the health of Black women (and thereby the entire Black race) in its attempts to control the very life process of human beings
Her position on creating safe birth control methods for Black women was echoed by other women during that time. Maxine Williams and Pamela Newman, two Black women members of the Young Socialist Alliance, also took up this issue. In 1970, Williams and Newman wrote in their pamphlet “Black Women’s Liberation” about pilot experimental birth control projects in which used Black Women as subjects. They concluded that the central issue was the right of Women to control their own bodies. “Women and not males ought to determine for themselves whether to have children or not”. This assured that there were many Black women who understood that the motivation for the establishment of free clinics in poor black neighborhoods may have been based in part on racism, but they still perceived the free services to be in their best interests.
A statement by the Black Women’s Liberation Group (BWLG) took a different approach and claimed that women took the pill “because of poor black men” who refused to “support their families” and would not “stick by their women.” The BWLG realized that “a lot of black brothers” were asking women not to practice contraception because it was “a form of Whitey’s committing genocide on black people.” As one member stated, “For women, the pill symbolized “the freedom to fight genocide of black women and children. . . . Having too many babies stops us from supporting our children . . . and from fighting black men who still want to use and exploit us.” It should be noted, that when the BWLG wrote this, one fourth of Black families were headed by Black women, double that of Whites.
Fast forward thirty years later and I am still confused why Sistahs and Brothers are still calling for freedom through procreation---this is dangerous. I think the chief danger in this charge is the notion of hyper-sexualizing the Black women’s reproduction. Proposals to solve Black social problems by reproduction make racial inequality appear to be the product of something that can be fixed by nature rather than by power. Also, by identifying procreation as the cause of Black people’s condition, Black people are diverting attention away from the political, social, and economic forces that maintain racial order. This harms the entire group, both Black men and women and thus the Black children that are born.
Beale, Frances. “Double Jeopardy: To Be Female and Black.” In Words of Fire: An Anthology of Black Feminist Thought, ed. Beverly Guy-Sheftall. 294-302 New York: New Press, 1995.
Cade, Toni. The Black Woman. New York and Ontario: Penguin, 1970.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Hear ye, Hear ye:
A message to all members of Quirky Black Girls
Just a quick note to let everyone know that the fabulous long-distance sci-fi reading group at Quirky Black Girls will be reading Octavia Butler's Wildseed and discussing it in a forum right here on qbg!
So go get the book from your public library or independent bookseller or half.com or whatever and look for details on the main site.
Also If you haven't copped the new Muhsinah or The Foreign Exchange you are missing out! To check out her sound, see qbg Jah's video post of "construction" in the videos section.
Also shouts out to our growing international qbg contingent!
Visit Quirky Black Girls at: http://quirkyblackgirls.ning.com
I'm a fan. (Can you tell?)
As an outgrowth of the collaborative online community transformation venture Queer Renaissance (www.queerrenaissance.com), and a compelling poetic filmic vision, Julia Wallace is creating Until, a poem crystallized into a short experimental narrative film about friendship, love, secrecy, shame and the possibility of freedom. And I want you to know about it. Because I love you.
After hearing the poem and reading the screenplay for Until I already have a crush on the main character. Pro, a quiet loving earnest college student wants the best for her best friend Hailey. And she's thrilled and gratified when after facing rejection from some guy on campus, Hailey wants her. As always though, it gets complicated when the lights turn on. What will it take for each woman to be true to herself in private and in public?
Y'all, reading this screenplay makes me want to be a better braver person. It scrapes up those moments when we choose our fears over each other, and when we choose each other out of fear...it makes me want to build altars and monuments to those public hand holdings and private yeses that risk everything except our integrity. And to those moments when we almost get there.
There should be a billion films like this, but there aren't, and Julia and the crew are shooting November 14-16 in Atlanta so go here to find out more about Until and how you can support that necessary process of making our love, our questions, our hope and our process visible and tangible.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Anyone who knew me a couple of years ago, or even a year and a half ago, knew that I was good for ‘rocking’ a head wrap. I mean the ones that shot straight up [think of E. Badu’s “on and on”] and pointed to Allah, saying “yes, I am a refined Queen”. But I transitioned out of head wraps over the last couple of years because I started to feel confined to a piece of cloth.
I started with the art of head wrapping when I became a citizen of the Nation of Gods and Earth [Five Percenters] at seventeen—dutifully wearing my 3/4ths (rockin three-fourths of cloth never showin' your stuff off, boo—Method Man) of clothing and keeping myself refined and fly. Moving from occasionally wrapping my hair to rocking 3/4ths and sporting head wraps as an everyday part of my clothing was something that transpired during my sophomoric and junior years of college.
An African Woman from Ghana first showed me how to master the wrapping of my head, but it was an elder in the Nation of Gods and Earths that help me put meaning to what I was doing. Black Women she told me, who were Earths” in the Nation of Gods and Earth were to cover every "curve on their bodies" including your hair, so your body could not be seen. So for most of us, if any part of the body was exposed---you wrapped your hair. If legs were exposed---wrapped, if your arms and/or legs were exposed--wrapped, if skirts were floor length and arms not exposed, you could wear your hair out. It was the “Queenly” thing to do…. because dressed in 3/4ths signified the beauty of an Black woman valuing herself and setting herself an apart from other Black Women by being an illustration of a Queen, an Earth.
In my senior year of college, I stopped building with the Nation of Gods and Earths, but kept the head wraps…also around that time, I picked up a Black feminist agenda and became a Women Studies major in college. But my head wraps started to become something very fetish-like to the White girls in my class, as one White girl said to me one day “I wait everyday to see what color head wrap you have on your head”. I eventually stopped wearing my head wraps and just let my naps be exposed to the world.
A couple of days ago, I found a bag at the bottom of my closet, with my colorful head wraps and I started to question why I had even stopped wearing them in the first place. Had I transitioned from Queen Mother Earth in undergrad to Black feminist academic Sistah in graduate school, where I NEED to actually show my naps on my head, because I was now in a place where acculturation looked good to even the most confident person? *maybe* Or, was I tired of the stigma attached to them (external representation of Afrocentricity—which I do not ascribe to)? *shrugs* Or, was it because of the rampant Kemars and Muslim Women in Philly that I wanted to distance myself from? *Nodding*
Although those questions may have had some bearing on my decision, I think the real reason I stopped wearing head wraps, was due to way that I got caught up with attaching “Queen” to a piece of cloth…it became gimmicky. Between the ages of 17 and 22, I kept hearing that real Queens never exposed themselves….real Queens wore their hair covered for their righteous Black man, (even though he never had a dress code)….real Queens never let their bodies be exposed to the White man’s eye…blah, blah, blah….it was like my crown or something…my cape… and if I didn’t have it on, my super Black Woman powers were juiced out….so the head wraps had to go, because if my self-worth was tied to a head wrap, then I was in big trouble.
But I say to the Sistahs that rock head wraps, keep rocking on (I may rock one tomorrow), but know that ¾ths nor a head wrap starts with a mental elucidation, nor does a mental understanding starts and then a head wrap follows…with or without the head wrap, we still can shine as beautiful Black women.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Real stories by Radical Women of Color and Allies
Key points to consider:
• What does being a Radical Women of Color mean to you? (i.e. community, race, gender, motherhood, activism, silencing, diversity/intersectionality, movement building, etc.)
• What does it mean to be an ally?
• How would you devise new strategies for cross-cultural dialogue, theorizing, and alliance-building?
• Global perspectives are welcome
• Topic suggestions are welcome
Deadline: Sunday, November 9, 2008
Format: There is no format; the piece can be in the form of a short story, a personal experience, an essay, a poem, a collection of thoughts, photography, art, or a collaborative work. 4000 words maximum.
Since we are now in the process looking for a publisher, we still don't have an exact rate of payment for contributors. Although, we will be negotiating a payment of $25-$125 per piece.
A handwritten hard copy of the project agreement must be mailed before submission of final work (email address below to be sent project agreement). Once we make our final decisions, we will fill in our portion of the project agreement and send them back to contributors for their records. Contributors will be contacted with complete details once the publishing agreement is reached.
Please feel free to e-mail us with further questions or need for clarification. We look forward to hearing from you.
The 'zine is finally here! Thanks to all who submitted!
Do to technical difficulties, we weren't able to work the picture submissions this issue so everyone who submitted pictures, we got you next issue.
So enjoy all and spread the quirky!
Quirky Black Girl
Thursday, October 9, 2008
(from 18. september. 2008)
Apparently, yesterday was dagger night out in downtown Oak Park, IL, a wonderful western suburb of Chicago, known as Ernest Hemingway’s hometown and for its Frank Lloyd Wright homes. I wasn’t there, however, to trace literary ancestors or look at architecture; I was there for ice cream. And nothing screams suburban more than a nice little overpriced ice cream chain. Yes, Coldstone Creamery.
I’ll admit, I’m a Dairy Queen kind of girl. Nothing assuages my ice cream jones better than some soft serv from the 'Q. My order of a chocolate chip cookie dough blizzard sans chocolate syrup hasn’t changed in years. Since there was no Dairy Queen within decent driving distance, I had to settle. Besides, the company I keep doesn’t share the same enthusiasm I have for DQ. Plus, since I can be sort of demanding when it comes to my palate’s desires, I decided to employ a rule or two I learned back in kindergarten and let someone else choose.
Technically, this was my third time to Coldstone Creamery, but my first time actually attempting to figure out what all the fuss was about. On my prior two visits, I’d settled for the most basic milkshake on the menu. This time, I chose a flavor and a topping.
First, like a fellow yelper I read the other day, I resent when places compel you to order in sizes other than small, medium, and large. I don’t think it’s cute; I find it obnoxious and stupid. Further, I don’t appreciate it when employees attempt to “correct” me. (“Listen, asshole, I know what the board says. I can read. I want a SMALL iced chai. And for the record, calling something a ‘chai tea’ is redundant. Now shut that ‘tall’ shit down and give me my over-priced beverage.”) I will confess that upon sampling the cake batter flavor, I agreed that CC had in fact found a way to replicate cake batter taste in ice cream form. Despite being impressed, I just settled for a SMALL sweet cream with oreos.
Second, I am skeptical about the consistency of the product here. Frankly, I don’t appreciate folk I don’t know—official-uniform or no—fondling my ice cream. I don’t care if one can logically explain how the employees can perform this feat without turning helado into a milky, dairy mess. I do not like it one bit. Just plop my scoop on a cone and keep it moving.
Third, I can’t believe I paid this much for what I just witnessed. Given the way the thing tasted, surely the extra coinage was merely for the show. Four dollars to watch someone scoop ice cream onto a counter and beat an Oreo into submission? I stood there, arms crossed, unimpressed and could only think of random Barack Obama and integration jokes suitable—but having different meanings, mind you—for Value Voters and cynical, satirical Negroes such as myself. Satire in the wrong hands isn't satire. But I digress.
I am not a fan of Coldstone Creamery. As far as ice cream goes, I suppose a lil DQ soft serv will suffice for an Indiana black girl like me. Now that little spot in the Paris Hotel? The ice cream there is worth a plane ticket to Vegas alone. Trust me. I’ve had lots of ice cream. That makes me an expert.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
We were never meant to survive. None of us. We were never meant to find each other, love each other, remember the warriors that came before. We were never meant to know these histories. We were never meant to turn our trauma into a map for transformation. We were never meant to survive. But we do it anyway.
Break it down. Sur viv al. Life underneath waiting to embrace all of us. Survival is a poem written in a corner, found waiting in a basement, forgotten. Survival is when the timeliness of your word is more important than the longevity of one body. Survival is spirit connected through and past physical containers. Survival is running for your life and then running for Albany city council without consenting to the State. Survival is shaping change while change shapes you. Survival means refusing to believe the obvious. Survival means remembering the illegal insights censored in the mouths of our mothers. Survival is quilt patterns, garden beds. Survival means growing, learning, working it out. Survival is a formerly enslaved black woman planning and leading a battle that freed 750 slaves from inside an institution called the United States Military. Survival is out black lesbians creating a publishing movement despite an interlocking system of silences. Survival is a group of black women recording their own voices, remembering a river, a battle, a warrior and creating a statement to unlock the world. Survival is like that.
We were never meant to survive. And we can do even more. This booklet moves survival to revival, like grounded growth, where seeds seek sun remembering how the people could fly. We are invoking the Combahee River Collective Statement and asking how it lives in our movement now. And the our and the we are key to this as individual gains mean nothing if others suffer.
We were never meant to survive but we will thrive. We want roundness and wholeness, where everyone eats and has time to be creative has time to just be, What tools does it give that are necessary to our survival? What gaps does it leave us to lean into? Black feminism lives, but the last of the originally organized black feminist organizations in the United States were defunct by 1981.
Here we offer and practice a model of survival that is spiritual and impossible and miraculous and everywhere, sometimes pronounced revival. Like it says on the yellow button that came included in the Kitchen Table Press pamphlet version of The Combahee River Collective Statement in 1986 "Black Feminism LIVES!" And therefore all those who were never meant to survive blaze open into a badass future anyway. Meaning something unpredictable and whole.
We were. Never meant. To Survive. And here we are.
And beyond survival, what of that? In 1977 the Combahee River Collective wrote "As Black women we see Black Feminism as the logical political movement to combat the manifold and simultaneuos oppressions that all women of color face." They also said "The inclusiveness of our politics makes us concerned with any situation that impinges on the lives of women, Third World and working people." And they concluded: "If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression."
Today we, a sisterhood of young black feminists, mentored in words and deeds by ancestors, elders, peers and babies, assert that by meditating on the survival and transformation of black feminism we can produce insight, strategy and vision for a holistic movement that includes ALL of us. So while this is a project instigated by self-proclaimed (and reclaimed) black feminists, our intention is that it can be shared and changed by everyone who is interested in freedom.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Dear ally of Kanaka Maoli Scholars Against Desecration:
Thank you for asking us about our open letter against desecration from
September 13, 2008. We have an update and an URGENT ACTION REQUEST.
Kanaka Maoli Scholars Against Desecration ask that you take time to speak
out and send letters to select Hawai`i state representatives by Wednesday,
October 1 at 5pm HST (11am EDT) before the KNIBC meets on Thursday 9am HST
to review the case again, as per Judge Watanabe’s order.
It is CRUCIAL that letters reach these people by the deadline, especially
from allies outside of Hawai`i so that those trying to circumvent their
own state laws know "the whole world is watching."
On September 15th, 5th circuit Judge Watanabe delivered her oral ruling on
the case opining that the Hawai`i State Historic Preservation Division
(SHPD) failed to follow state law after the Kaua`i-Ni`ihau Island Burial
Council (KNIBC) voted in April to preserve the burials in place. Instead,
state archaeologist Nancy MacMahon (Deputy Officer of the SHPD) improperly
approved a Burial Treatment Plan (BTP) for property owned by California
developer Joseph Brescia, without the consultation of the council.
Still, the judge refused to grant a temporary injunction to haul
construction at the site.
Desecration continues at the site today in violation of HI state law.
Nonetheless, the agency must now consult with the KNIBC, any lineal
descendants of the remains, interested Hawaiian organizations, and the
landowner about a revised BTP. The BTP is now in its third version and
was prepared by contract archaeologists on behalf of the developer Joseph
Brescia. We reject the BTP because "Burial treatment" = desecration.
Desecration is desecration, and it’s against the US federal and HI state
laws. See details on the Hawai`i revised statute 711-1107 in original
Besides encouraging you to draw from our original letter (included
further) below as you daft one of your own, here are our suggested key
points to assert in your letter (since these items are on the agenda for
Thursday’s Burial Council meeting re: this case):
* Naue is an ancient Hawaiian cemetery (SHPD doesn't even recognize
that it is a cemetery);
* "Preserve in place" means no building on top of the cemetery at Naue;
* Vertical buffers and concrete jackets around each of the seven burials
within the footprint of the planned residence does NOT constitute
"preserve in place" for those burials as well as the entire cemetery; this
is desecration. No house should be built there;
* It is unacceptable to have no access rights delineated in the most
recent proposal since anyone who might be later recognized as a lineal or
cultural descendant would be cut out of the right to conduct their
tradition religious and customary practices at the site.
Please send all letters to:
Nancy McMahon Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer
AND BE SURE TO CC: the following: (as well as me at firstname.lastname@example.org):
Laura H. Thielen, Chairperson of Department of Land and Natural Resources
Pua Aiu, SHPD Administrator
Hawai`i Gov. Linda Lingle
Kaua`i County Council members
Kaipo Asing, Mayor of Kaua`i
Kaua'i & Ni'ihau Office of Hawaiian Affairs
IF YOU WOULD PREFER A BOILER PLATE LETTER YOU CAN SIMPLY SIGN AND SEND
FROM YOUR END, PLEASE LET ME KNOW ASAP. OTHERWISE, JUST CULL FROM THIS
LETTER BELOW AND INCLUDE POINTS FROM ABOVE. PLEASE BE SURE TO INCLUDE ALL
OF YOUR PROFESSIONAL TITLES AND LOCATION.
Mahalo, with thanks, Kehaulani
J. Kehaulani Kauanui
September 13, 2008
Open Letter from Kanaka Maoli Scholars Against Desecration
As Kanaka Maoli professors and scholars we write to publicly condemn the
state-sponsored desecration of a Native Hawaiian burial site at Wainiha,
Kaua`i resulting from the construction of a new home at Naue Point by
California businessman Joseph Brescia. For years Brescia has been trying
to build a home on top of our ancestral graves despite a litany of
environmental, legal and community challenges to his construction. In
2007 Brescia unearthed and then covered over the bones of our ancestors
when he began clearing the area. The illegal and immoral disturbance and
desecration of our ancestors’ remains must stop now.
The Hawai`i revised statute 711-1107 on Desecration specifically states
that no one may commit the offense of desecrating "a place of worship or
burial," and the statute defines "desecrate" as "defacing, damaging,
polluting, or otherwise physically mistreating in a way that the defendant
knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or
discover the defendant's action." In complete contradiction to their own
law, the State Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Land
and Natural Resources approved a "burial treatment plan" for Brescia that
undermines both the very concept of historic preservation and the reason
for the founding of the Hawai`i Burials Council: to protect burials, not
"treat" them. This "burial treatment plan" enabled Brescia to secure
permits to build as long as the graves remain "in place," which in this
case means the burials have been capped with concrete already poured for
the footings of his house.
To date, 5th Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe has denied requests for a
temporary restraining order and has even refused to grant a temporary
injunction to stop further construction until the full civil suit is
adjudicated by the state court. State Historic Preservation Division
archaeologist and Kaua`i County Council candidate Nancy McMahon testified
that the dozens of previously identified burials do not constitute a
cemetery, but should be thought of instead as individual grave sites—a
distinction that is meaningless in the laws against the desecration of
burial sites. An archaeologist hired by Brescia, Mike Dega, told the court
that he would not define the site as a cemetery because for "pre-contact"
burials, he has no standards by which he can say a burial ground is a
cemetery. In other words, in his view there is no such thing as a
"pre-contact" (by which he means pre-European or pre-Christian) Native
Hawaiian "cemetery." According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a
cemetery is defined simply as "a burial ground"; within this standard
definition there are no additional historical or cultural qualifications
that need to be met. Dega’s assessments and the court's acceptance of them
shamelessly evade the entire moral and ethical purpose of the legislation
enacted to protect gravesites by playing a deceptive game of words. Let us
be clear: a burial is a cemetery and a cemetery is a burial. No matter
how they describe the grave sites, they cannot erase the existence of the
burials; they cannot turn these graves into a "non-cemetery," and they
cannot erase the reality of the ongoing desecration caused by this
Adding further insult to his desecration of Hawaiian graves, Brescia
recently lodged a lawsuit against six people—all of whom are Kanaka
Maoli—implicated in protecting the burial site from his construction work.
He has charged them with trespassing, unspecified damages, and even
"terroristic acts." Brescia subsequently filed a motion to identify nearly
a dozen more "Doe defendants" and add them to his original lawsuit in an
attempt to include cultural and religious practitioners from neighbor
islands that came to bear witness to and defend against the crimes at
Naue. We strongly condemn this Orwellian view of who should be defined as
trespassing and causing damage.
We call out to all people of conscience to join in our condemnation of the
desecration of the ancestral remains; to support an end to the illegal
construction supported by the state, and to protest any prosecution of
those who have laid their bodies down to prevent the further degradation
of the bones of our kūpuna.
Hokulani Aikau, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Political Science, University
of Hawai`i at Mānoa
Carlos Andrade, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Kamakakūokalani Center for
Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa
J. Leilani Basham, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Humanities, University of
Hawai`i at West O`ahu
Maenette Benham, Ed.D., Dean, Hawai`inuiakea School of Hawaiian Knowledge,
University of Hawai`i at Mānoa
J. Noelani Goodyear- Ka`ōpua, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Political
Science, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa
Lisa Kahaleole Hall, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies, Wells
Kū Kahakalau, Ph.D., founder and director of Kanu o ka ‘Āina New Century
Public Charter School
Lilikalā Kame`eleihiwa, Ph.D., Professor, Kamakakūokalani Center for
Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa
Val Kalei Kanuha, Ph.D., M.S.W., Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Hawai`i at Mānoa
J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Anthropology and
American Studies, Wesleyan University
Manulani Meyer, Ed.D., Associate Professor, Education, University of
Hawai`i at Hilo
Jon Kamakawiwo`ole Osorio, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Kamakakūokalani
Center for Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa
Noenoe K. Silva, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Political Science, University
of Hawai`i at Mānoa
Ty Kawika Tengan, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Anthropology and Ethnic
Studies, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa
Haunani-Kay Trask,Ph.D. Professor, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian
Studies, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa
Erin K. Wright, Ph.D., Director of Native Hawaiian Student Services
Hawai'inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge
Monday, September 22, 2008
Only thing that could have made this collection look better than it already does is if some astute researcher came upon more of Octavia Butler's unpublished works and added a few to the mix. I just finished Bloodchild and Other Stories (2005) and my heart is still pounding. The woman was genius incarnate. Her stories are timeless.
If for nothing else but in her honor, indulge yourself in some delicious, fantastic, fabulous and (damn right) woman-centered Afrofuturism. To be released December 2008.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I'm enlisting your support to reach out to Martina Correia, a sister in the struggle, who is fighting to save her brother's life. Troy Davis, who is likely an innocent man on Georgia's death row, is scheduled to be executed in less than six days on September 23. Despite her own personal battle with breast cancer, Martina has been fighting tirelessly, fiercely and relentlessly for justice.
I received this message from Martina the other day:
"I want everyone to know that we are still fighting for Troy, you have not heard from me in two days because I have been trying to answer so many calls and get rest in between. I went to see Troy yesterday and he is in good spirits, prayerful and saying we can never give up they can take my physical form but nothing else. But this is not the time to think he will be executed we have to fight them and we have to fight hard."
I'm asking you to e-mail me statements of support -- they can be brief, a few words of encouragement, a quick note -- that I will collect and send to Martina along with a beautiful bouquet of flowers from Ella's Daughters as an expression of our love and solidarity (another great idea by our very own Barbara Ransby to send sisters in the struggle flowers from Ella's Daughters -- this could be a new tradition!)
Please send me your statements of support by Friday. I know this is a quick turn around, but unfortunately, we don't have much time. And please, please see the links below to learn more about the case and what you can do to try to stop this execution. One easy thing is to text the parole board from your cell phone. Go to send message, type the name TROY, then send to 90999.
Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty website -- for updates and actions you can take
Troy Davis to Die Next Week: Will Georgia Execute an Innocent Man?
Martina Correia on Democracy Now! (on 9/12/08)
Activist in Action: Martina Correia
Interview with Martina Correia: The Fight for My Brother Troy
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Aunt Chloe is a journal for people who have reclaimed the spaces denied them by cultural and historical tyranny. She belongs to any of us who have been pushed out of the spotlight, yet through art, literature, and dialogue have re-chosen where we belong.
Aunt Chloe welcomes submissions for its 2009 issue. We accept poetry, fiction, nonfiction (essays, articles, reviews, memoir), interviews and conversations, and visual art. We like work that tackles issues of the political, personal, mundane and earth-shattering in artful and candid ways, with the intent of illuminating the overlooked and the disregarded.
Our reading period is September 15-February 1. All submissions must be received by the deadline.
Poetry: 3-5 poems
Fiction: max. 2000 words
Essays, Articles, Reviews: max. 1000 words
Personal essay/memoir: max. 1500 words
Interview/conversation: Before embarking on any type of interview or conversation, please query.
Art: Please give us details about the format of the artwork before sending it.
For submissions by mail, you should include a brief cover letter with your name, mailing address, email address, phone number and the titles of works submitted, as well as an SASE and a brief biographical note.
All submissions should be addressed to:
350 Spelman Lane, SW
Campus Box 323
Atlanta, GA 30314
You will be notified by email upon receipt of your submission.
For email submissions, include the same personal information indicated above in the body of the email. All files should be in Microsoft Word .doc format only. Submit multiple poems as one file. Give the file an appropriate title excluding your name, but including the genre (e.g., “3 Love Poems”). The same applies for all other genres: file names should contain submission title and genre.
Send all submissions to email@example.com
Simultaneous submissions are fine, but we must be notified immediately upon acceptance elsewhere.
Please expect a decision within five months.
Payment for publication is in the form of two copies per contributor. Authors retain all rights to their work.
Any questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, August 22, 2008
weaning my daughter, re-viewing and re-formulating life is happening in conjunction with my first saturn return. when the old and unnecessary structures of my life fall away and i determine what is useful to who i am. it is a bit scary.
i have been thinking about the rebecca/alice walker sadness. it paralyzes me. i have loved both of their writings. and i am an unconventional black mom raising a biracial kid. her father's family have so much more resources than i do. and i struggle for time to write to read to think. i would love to drive a 100 miles away for a few days and write. *sigh* i also struggled with a mother who seemed to put her work and her reputation before my best interests. i would have loved to have a mother who could be involved in my life without making it 'about her'.
i wonder what my daughter will say about me? will she rail against the way i raised her? ahhh...i can hear her now: you took me to dangerous war zones, locked yourself away so you could 'create', never let me develop traditional bonds with my extended family, wrote openly about how you resented being a mother, referred to me as a 'parasite' when i was still in utero, refused to take me to a medical doctor even when i had a high fever for 2 days, fed me unhealthy food, never had a stable home and bribed me with a lollipop so that you could write an insignificant blogpost (that was 10 minutes ago). all of that before she was 2 years old...
so part of these changes i have decided to make are more writing time, healthier eating, studying more, more long walks, more bodywork, being a practicing member of an online spiritual practice community (still looking), and a more concerted effort to get my work 'out there'...which in another sense means i am committed to being an even worse mom.
right now my daughter has abandoned the lollipop and is throwing books into a box. no, now she is trying to crawl into the box. the lollipop is stuck to my leg.
i hope that when she is older she will not feel that i abandoned her to travel and write and love. but i am sure that she will...sometimes...because i refuse to be a martyr for my child. if i were then she would learn to be a martyr and i owe her more than that...
right now she is standing on the box, yelling no over and over again. when i smile at her she stops for a moment and then starts proclaiming no again.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
This post is partially inspired by readings completed for Session II: Mothering Ourselves of Summer of Our Lorde.
The third myth of black women's self-perfection according to Audre Lorde:
"That perfection is possible, a correct expectation from ourselves and each other, and the only terms of acceptance, humanness. (Not how very useful that makes us to the external institutions!) If you are like me, then you will have to be a lot better than I am in order to even be good enough. And you can't be because no matter how good you are you're still a Black woman, just like me. (Who does she think she is?) So any act or idea that I could accept or at least examine from anyone else is not even tolerable if it comes from you, my mirror image. If you are not THEIR image of perfection, and you can't ever be because you are a Black woman, then you are a reflection upon me. We are never good enough for each other. All your faults become magnified reflections of my own threatening inadequacies. I must attack you first before our enemies confuse us with each other. But they will anyway."I am processing being yelled at by a young black woman on the bus today because her nephew was hitting the back of my seat, because her nephew was hitting my back, because I looked up from my book and back at him with a pointed glance meant to condemn her maternal misbehavior, because who-did-I-think-I-was to look at her nephew any kind of way, because "she act like somebody wanna touch her anyway!"
Who was wrong?
Me? For the quiet glance I sent backwards that was meant to let her know I did not appreciate having my personal space violated any more than it already was on a crowded metro bus? Was I vibrating my class/color privilege from what I thought was a neutral posture of preoccupied scholarship?
Her? For giving a five year old boy liberties with my body and distancing herself from me in the same breath as someone too good, who thinks she's too good, who thinks someone wants to touch her, who thinks that book, or that backpack, or that aloof stance is going to protect her from the reality of black poverty in the air around me?
"I must attack you first before our enemies confuse us."But if "they will anyway" why this anger? Why this vitrolic self-hatred that spirals outwards from her to me and back again?
Why did I look down my nose so easily at her nephew, before I knew he was her nephew, when I thought he was her son, when I thought she was just another young, black mother with an out of control child?
"One Black woman sits and silently judges another, how she looks, how she acts, how she impresses others. The first woman's scales are weighted against herself."Black Girl with a Nephew, I am writing this to you. We both made mistakes earlier today. And I hold you accountable for your anger. But I don't hold you responsible for it. How can I? I love you as I love myself. Which may not be saying much--not yet. But perhaps we can work on this together.
"How often have I demanded from another Black woman what I have not dared to give myself--acceptance, faith, enough space to consider change? How often have I asked her to leap across differences, suspicion, distrust, old pain? How many times have I expected her to jump the hideous gaps of our learned despisals alone, like an animal trained through blindness to ignore the precipice? How many times have I forgotten to ask this question?"After all, I can't heal as a woman of color until I begin to see my image more fully in the image of you, my sister. At the end of the day, I'm more in love with womankind than I am with my own individual self.
"I am hungry for Black women who will not turn from me in anger and contempt even before they know me or hear what I have to say. I am hungry for Black women who will not turn away from me even if they do not agree with what I say. We are, after all, talking about different combination of the same borrowed sounds."I am starving for it, actually. Wasting away to my bones for a taste of it. Lusting in every cell of my body with desire for it.
That includes you, Black Girl with a Nephew. Like it or not. Disdain it or not. Reject it or not. Love is love. And I am a jealous, brazen, warrior lover, and I won't be taking no for an answer. My love doesn't need your permission or acknowledgment. It just is. As my anger just is. As I just am. As the feminine Spirit just is.
And, meanwhile, I "reach, advancing with the best of what I have to offer held out at arms length before me--myself."
I hope we grapple again in person, Black Girl with a Nephew. But I will grapple with you in spirit for the rest of my life.
Have a blessed day,
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Magazine article submissions are now being accepted for the new QBG (Quirky Black Girls) Magazine. Created "for Black Girls who refuse boxes," QBG Magazine aims to provide a forum in which progressive Black women can share their perspectives on politics, culture, and visions of a perfect world. For a more detailed description of the magazine's mission check out the QBG Manifesta!
We are accepting submissions for and by "Black Girls who refuse boxes." Features will range from 1,000 to 4,000 words, and consist of critiques, essays, news articles, reviews, activist profiles, and personal narratives. We will also except poetry and artwork.
As QBG Magazine is a new ezine, we are unable to provide honoraria for submissions. There is currently no limit on the number of articles submitted .
September issue deadline: August 29, 2008.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
earlier this week i was riding on the bus through harlem, sitting next to these two beautiful children and their grandmother. the girl reminded me a lot of myself when i was about four or five: wide-eyed, talkative, and extremely inquisitive. she asked questions about everything from why certain people wore certain kinds of hats to whether or not she'd be able to eat her favorite food for dinner. i smiled and couldn't help but watch her in action. her brother was equally active and loud, but (slightly) less talkative. the grandmother seemed agitated... and, though it took me a minute to recognize why, i felt that something about the dynamic was problematic. the grandmother kept fussing at the brother and sister, but most of her frustration seemed to be directed toward the little girl. she kept telling her not to be so loud, yet the little boy was talking at the exact same level. then she told the little girl, "you're a girl. you shouldn't talk so loud." and, of course, the little girl ignored her, yet i couldn't help but wonder how such words will shape her as she becomes a teen and grows into a woman.
i want to propose that patriarchy be considered a form of abuse... that conditioning little girls to behave in a way different from their male counterparts and against their instincts is a conscious way of teaching both boys and girls that girls are inferior, and that their only hope for "positive" social recognition is to distort themselves.... becoming a person who often feels insincere, unrecognizable, incomplete, and/or lost. it is the process through which we come to sacrifice our dreams, urges, and desires to accommodate other people. even more amazing - it is the process through which we learn come to see this unhealthy state of thinking and being as normal, and then police other people who challenge our ascribed roles.
patriarchal abuse is cyclical, passed down with each generation. it is why similar types of unhealthy relationships reappear over and over again. it is done to us by our family and friends, and we do it to each other.
patriarchal abuse is why black men who don't fit the ascribed model of masculinity walk around in pain because they are often unable to feel comfortable around men who seem more adept. why men who seem to fit the model feel it appropriate to become violent with their energy, words, thoughts, and even hands when made uncomfortable by men who don't.
patriarchal abuse teaches boys and girls to measure their social value by the number of people they have slept with, allowing men to achieve their "manhood" through sexual conquests while women are made to feel guilty for each partner. it permits a healthy dialogue around sex, female empowerment/entitlement, and sexual health. it demands one model for relationships: monogamous, heterosexual unions leading to marriage.
patriarchal abuse occurs not just when a girl is physically violated and verbally accosted, but also every time that a girl is told to be quiet, keep her legs closed, not speak her mind, be friendly, change her appearance to be more acceptable, etc., etc.
patriarchal abuse it stifles our creative potential for imagining and creating an alternative world, one that promotes true self love and love of others. one that would liberate us from materialism (i'm far from making the break).
i want to find a way to raise my children differently, but i'm not sure that it's possible...
Monday, August 4, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
j/k j/k! but no really. I mean seriously, what was up with Black in America?
I have to start even before the show with the months of hype, the screenings at movie theaters, the word poetry magnets with choice words like “struggle,” “pride,” and “Comcast,” the t-shirts, and then the countdown clock to airtime! CNN, don’t you think that’s all a bit absurd? So how many viewers did you get from this “unprecedented” event? How many more folks ended up watching this “CNNannigan” than would have without your hype men dispatched to the four corners of the earth?
When you begin with a black male spoken word artist to talk about “black women and the family” you are saying something about how you see “Black America.” Sunni Patterson, Staceyann Chin, Sarah Jones are all black women poets who could have offered something about black women, oh excuse me, “black women and the family” because apparently black women don’t warrant their own two hour special.
In a special called “black women and the family” I expected to see and hear from more black women. Soledad’s omniracial ass notwithstanding, the black women of “black women and the family” were in the last part of the segment. There was only one black woman was presented as an expert and that was Julianne Malveaux, who awkwardly tried to say that it’s not all bad for black women but there was no footage that was used to support her claim. What we saw, were black women failing to keep their kids motivated or in school, failing to keep a roof over their heads, failing to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS, failing to find and stay with black male husbands (because apparently there are no queer black women in America), failing at life in general.
My brilliant friend Alexis who coined the term “CNNannigan,” also watched and had this to say:
“Since this first segment seems to me to be all about the danger of the black deviant mother (from the slaveowner's mistress to the absent mother of the soon to be homeless kids, to the struggling mother (also being evicted) whose life difficulties are explained by her unfulfilled craving for a strong male figure, to the regretful woman in the interracial marriage to the woman who's nails are highlighted while her paralyzed son's words are subtitled as if they aren't English) and how to insert a patriarchal figure
(from the obnoxious Harvard guy playing test-score sugar daddy, to f*cking "marry your baby daddy day", to the generous doctor who swoops in to save young men from the mothers who have failed them) reinforced by the highlighted black male preacheresque figures stating how if you are raised by a woman you're going to have bad sex and kill everyone and die of salt saturation or whatever...”
I don’t pretend to know your intentions CNN but I’m wondering if you thought that someone (or groups of black women) would see this in the segment. Furthermore, do you care?
I’m at a loss as to how you can talk about black women and not talk about the sexism and misogyny that black women endure on a day to day basis. You’ve done stories on Sakia Gunn, not the Jersey Four but Megan Williams, not the attacks in Dunbar Village or the woman gang raped in her Philadelphia apartment, but covered the woman who died on the floor of an NYC ER while hospital staff looked on. Yet, these assaults on the humanity of black women are not part of the segment.
The systems that collude to demonize black womanhood remain obscured. Welfare reform, no living wage, the lack of affordable housing, gentrification, environmental racism (an important term you could of introduced when highlighting that a black woman can’t get a tomato in Harlem), inefficient public transportation, could all have been brought to the fore as opposed to the conclusion that black folks bring their hardships on themselves.
After watching this segment, I’m sure that this letter from a radical, single (and happy), queer, black woman may not be intelligible to you, as it was pretty clear from the segment that I don’t exist. But I’d like to send it anyway just so I know that I responded to my erasure by saying I’m (We are) still here.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
“having long ago realized they were neither white nor male…they went about creating something else to be.”
In this amazing course piece lex talks about Sula's role in the genesis of Black Feminist Literary Theory.
The above quote struck me hard.
I have read Sula about four times, and that quote didn't jump until I read that post by lex.
The idea of two colored girls creating something new to be, because the choices were white or female.
Which made me think heavily because historically , neither of those concepts were created without the body somewhere of a "colored girl".
If we talk about Feminism , we MUST talk about Seneca Falls which As BFP points out was based on the freedoms white women experienced and relayed back in NATIVE COMMUNITIES.
IF we talk about Victorian sexuality, hell Hottentot Venus, Arabian Odalesque, Slave girl, and mystic Asian woman.
While white women chaffe at these roles, or use them as ways to emphasize the need for their ascension into power structures etc etc
WE HAD TO TAKE THEM ON PAIN OF DEATH OR SEVERE CONSEQUENCES.
But Fuck it this is about me and Sylvia and I'm guessing most of you.
We get to be girls together.
One of the many numerous things that happens while I'm upset is I call my wife.
When I first got body rocked by this I called her.
She says when I'm sad I sound all of five years old.
I never was a little girl for long.
That's what happens when your brown, and grow boobs early , even if you don't have hips or your real ass until your 23
You see as little girls of color we don't get to be girls .
Yesterday was the first day of 16 days against sexual violence.
And while i am not physically assaulted , I know what's it's like to be grabbed , smacked , followed stalked
I knew that by 10.
Not a little girl
Sula ( and until a certain point Nel) do something amazing in the novel.
They will themselves into an entirely new existence.
While the phrase it as not being white or male , their is also this tacit unsaid rejection of we also will not be the things people expect of us for NOT being that.
To me it harkens back to Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. " A black woman is da mule oh da world"
They choose and Sula continues to choose not to be that.
Not to be the women in their community afraid of moist , to be the woman who fucks who she wants, who assumes her right to be what she wants
Sylvia and the rest of you but mostly Sylvia .
We get to be girls together.
I thik why i got real full out mad , and I claim it by the time Samhita got to Sylvia's old blog I was about to call everybody and they kinfolk some things that still curdle my OWN ears
was me and SYlvia
are a lot a like .
We're black girls, and yes I am NOW 23 so if you can do math when i was getting my ass rocked I was 22 and Sylvia was 21.
How many black girls you know graduate at 20 and write her prose, how many black girls you know get the world the way she does, lives the life she does , deals with her shit, writes amazing legal theory
You know what it's like to be a black girl genius?
You know what it's like to be a black girl in a hard family?
And on our blogs we created we got to be girls together.
And we were getting DONE IN
for daring to create a space where we could speak and be as black girls.
Something little white girls rarely think TWICE about.
We don't get books telling us t hat our foibles and mishaps won't lead to devastating consequences, we get the " SHUT YOUR DAMN LEGS".
We don't get the your life is worthy even as every single confessional in a women's studies class is honored. We get pitted against each other to prove somebody else's point with our blood.
We don't get to say I am woman hear me roar" . We say I am woman , dear god I Hope you find my sister today"
This exploration this imagination that is assured white girls DOESN'T happen for us.
But we were making it in with our fingers , our words, we had carved out little spaces to be girls.
to like boys, to wonder, to make our words matter
and now ( and agin it's being tried) people tried to RIP that from us so that we could assure someone else's girl(s) that if it was okay to them
We'd be sacrificed again and it wouldn't ride their conscious.
Not for my Sylvia.
We get to be girls together.
We get it if we have to make it.
And for those of you who don't understand.
Take two twenty year olds, pushed by police violence,sexual violence, make them smart, unbelievably so, make them honest and caring, make them beautiful.
Make them willing to try .
Make them care about the world
Make them willing to show you their growth.
What do you give them, how od show them the world , how do you help them grow?
What words do you give them.
How do you handle them showing preternatural intelligence.
What color were they?
DO they get to be girls?
SO DO WE.