Nightline Airs Foolishness: “Why Can’t a Successful Black Woman Find a Man?”

April 28th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink


Do remember my first post about relationships? Well, fast-forward two months and Nightline comes out with this bs—“Why Can’t a Successful Black Woman Find a Man?”


You can find the rest of the program (about 8 parts long) on youtube. Honestly, I didn’t watch it all. I got through the first 15 minutes and couldn’t stomach the rest of it (I really don’t know why I did it to myself in the first place. Smdh.) Black women just can’t catch a break. Society and the media are just always so ready to “tell us about ourselves” (today’s topic of choice, character flaws…really?). I am also just sick of this never-ending conversation. I need a break.

Melissa Harris-Lacewell recently wrote a response on The Nation to this foolishness and I have to echo Jill Tubman on, in saying that she is my hero. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I have pasted one of my favorite quotations below:

“…even if we accepted the simplistic framing of an extant marriage crisis offered by the program, Nightline was stunningly simplistic (even for mainstream media) in its response to the issue. The solution offered most frequently in Wednesday’s conversation was familiar: professional black women need to scale back expectations. Black female success is an impediment to finding and cultivating black love. Hinging heavily on humor and black female desperation, like so many other conversations, articles, and news programs before it, this conversation missed the opportunity to offer a thoughtful analysis of structural, sociological, historical and political realities that serve as an impediment to fruitful partnerships between black men and women….Ultimately this panel did little more than shame, blame and stereotype black women. It offered few original insights and called into question that continued relevance of Nightline as a source of meaningful social and political information.”


Stay strong, sistas and keep (Naomi Campbell) walking it out.

Communal Living: Speaking Truth to Power

April 27th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink


I’ve been reading a lot of bell hooks lately. It was actually inspired by your post on embracing the self and others. A lot of what you said reminded me of hooks’ writings on multiple topics, especially ending racism through building community. She has a piece in one of her books, appropriately titled Killing Rage: Ending Racism, that focuses on building a “beloved community—where loving ties of care and knowing bind us together in our differences.” Here are few quotations that I really like:

“…beloved community is formed not by the eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world.”

“To form beloved community we do not surrender ties to precious origins. We deepen those bondings by connecting them with an anti-racist struggle which is at heart always a movement to disrupt that clinging to cultural legacies that demands investment in notions of racial purity, authenticity, nationalist fundamentalism. The notion that differences of skin color, class background, and cultural heritage must be erased for justice and equality to prevail is a brand of popular false consciousness that helps keep racist thinking and action intact.”

“In a beloved community solidarity and trust are grounded in profound commitment to a shared vision…where borders can be crossed and cultural hybridity celebrated.”

With your most recent post on the effect of S.B. 1070 on the lives of so many individuals in Arizona, imagining a beloved community does seems like wishful thinking. *Sigh.* But it is in times likes these that we need visionaries, like hooks, to remind us to keep fighting AND that there is something worth fighting for. We must continue to “Speak Truth to Power.”

Those videos both angered and inspired me. S.B. 1070 is institutional racism at its best. (If you didn’t believe in it before, they just signed it into law, snitches…again. *blank stare*) Clearly so many in this country are terrified of change and are trying their darndest to hold on to their entitlement and institutional power in the forms of racial, social, cultural, sexual, economic, (and the list goes on) privilege. It is sickening and I am…tired. SMDH.

But these videos and the passion and determination of these individuals who are fighting for things that others in this country take for granted everyday, have given me so much hope. A 21st Century Civil Rights Movement sounds damn good to me. Maybe this time we’ll get it right.

Arizona’s New Law: Awakening of the 21st Century Civil Rights Movement?

April 26th, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink


Have you been following this new Arizona law? It’s ridiculous. And makes me angry. Below are some videos I thought you and our readers might be interested in….comment ya’ll!

Protests against SB 1070

Dr. Warren H. Stewart Speaks at Phoenix’s First Institutional Baptist Church

Embracing Self, Embracing Others

April 20th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink


First off, this post inspired me to put Badu on repeat for a day.  Best decision. Some artists just put you in a good state of mind, and she’s one of them.

To me, these questions of the individual versus the group emphasize our interconnectedness. Even as we strive to be individuals, we connect with others every day. And we find ourselves struggling to speak with a unique voice, sometimes in opposition to a louder collective voice (the group). Erykah Badu is challenging us to act as individuals, to be ourselves, even if doing so draws criticism and rancor from other people. To do otherwise is a form of dishonesty.

However, we do categorize ourselves in groups, and within every group, there are more categories. We see ourselves as individuals, even while we identify with some people more than others. Even when we’re trying to be “countercultural” we’re creating a culture (goths, hipsters, etc). We live and we connect. The no man (or woman) is an island kinda thing.

And so you’re point is valid, and I’d like to add to it: how do we embrace ourselves as individuals while accepting others as individuals as well? 

Individuality becomes a problem when we confuse our thoughts, actions and experiences (and those whom we most identify with) as the sole “truth.”  Instead, we must acknowledge that our experiences and our “self” can contribute to social solidarity only as we acknowledge the truth that others bring from their experience and “self.”

But, it gets difficult. How do I respond to someone, as an individual, who will not respond to me as such? For example, if I want to “speak truth to power,” how do I do so while recognizing those in power as individuals, even as their power may not recognize my, or others, individuality (or personhood)? And what do I do when I’m the power truth is being told to?

But, hey, that’s the real problem: execution. Being an individual that will work alongside other individuals for the benefit of ourselves and others. In the end, we’ll always be battling for a holistic movement that appreciates difference – and mostly, the battle will be fought within ourselves.

Side note: This didn’t fit anywhere but I can’t help mentioning it – the other danger is using “individuality” as a cover. Because, honestly, how many times have you heard someone say, “I just had to do me,” and you rolled your eyes? Often that line comes as a justification for destructive behavior. Often we don’t actually know who we are or what we’re doing. But I guess that’s why we have friends.

Groupthink vs. Social Solidarity: A Perspective Inspired by the “Window Seat” Video Controversy

April 11th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink


So, you know I am a HUGE Erykah Badu fan, right? I have been too hype about her new album: New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Anhk. I was doing the mental countdown for several weeks before it dropped and it was the first album in a looooong time that I actually purchased, hardcopy, as a CD. That’s kind of a big deal…just saying.

I watched the “Window Seat” video as soon as she made it available on her website—before the media got wind of it and rewrote it as controversial, before talk of disorderly conduct and indecent exposure charges, before people actually started to consider her message of killing “groupthink.”

I’ve read just about all of the seventeen hundred thousand articles and blog posts that are out there about the situation (this one, this one, and this one in particular, I recommend) and it seems as if Ms. Badu is achieving what she set out to do—spur public reaction and conversation.

And there is quite a bit to discuss—Black woman stripping in broad daylight, no permits, no permission, no fear (seemingly), the Kennedy connection, urging people to think outside of the box. Yes, all very scary. **rolls eyes**

The irony is though, almost anyway you try to deconstruct or analyze the video or her actions, it brilliantly reinforces her message of “groupthink” (you are oh so tricky there, Ms. Badu, yes you are). For days she has been asking her followers on twitter to define the term in their own words. I’ve contributed twice, but still have not gotten the coveted ReTweet by @fatbellybella (#backtothedrawingboard).

But, it is this concept of “groupthink” and celebrating individuality that I really want to talk about, as it seems to be laden with contradictions that I am trying to wrap my head around. On the one hand, I do believe that Badu’s inspiration for the video is a belief in the power of self-expression—that one should not have to subscribe to societal constraints, rules, or limitations and can dare to be different. This is a very important message that she got across in a simple, yet poignant manner—Black female nudity (hugely symbolic, personal, and fraught with social implications).

On the other hand, in many ways “the modern West,” is based on a concept of individualism (and the Protestant Ethic), which led to the development of capitalism and contributed to the very foundation of society as we know and experience it today—“The American Dream,” pulling yourself up by the bootstraps and moving up the social ladder, with little to no consideration of all those that you step on (oppress) on your way to success: wealth, status, and power.

I understand that part of Erykah’s message is to urge people to challenge the status quo and step outside of what they have been taught is right or appropriate or “normal.” But, I don’t think that the “group” is necessarily the problem. I guess my question is: is there a way to be both an “individual” and contribute to a collective good? At what point can “individuals” work together in order to achieve social solidarity? Rejecting the status quo is an important step on the way to making real change, but how do we, as individuals, work together to make it tangible and lasting?

We have many examples of social movements. We have their successes and failures to learn from and throughout history it always seems that someone’s struggle is left out or put to the side to be dealt with “later.” How can we have a holistic movement that appreciates difference in all of its many forms, identities, and experiences?

At what point, can a focus on “individuality” become the problem?

**shrugs** What do you think?

The “Privileged” Poor

April 5th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Geeze Liz,

You’re right. This is deeeep and extremely layered.

When I first read this article and your post, the first questions that came to mind are: “What is really the problem here? Why is it considered controversial in the first place?”

Obviously, there is no simple answer to those questions, but I think that they are pretty good starting points when attempting to think through these issues.

One of the first things I reacted to when I initially read the article (on hipsters using food stamps at local farmers markets and organic stores), was that it was almost completely lacking in seriousness. Which to be honest, was extremely off-putting. The purpose seemed to be to highlight the irony of being young, college-educated, unemployed, BUT (….wait for it) still privileged—continuing to hold a wealth of cultural and social capital, while learning to maintain it on a budget. You are right. We are not given much background information for the individuals profiled in the article, but I think it is safe to say that they are used to certain lifestyles, which would not normally include financial assistance from the government; hence, the irony. At the same time, however, the article brought up several interesting points about the ways we think of the poor in this country.

There is a general “expectation” or assumption about those who are on government assistance. We don’t assume that one would use food stamps at a farmers market or an organic store (first of all, I really didn’t even know that you could until I read the article). We assume that if you are on food stamps, you can’t afford organic foods. We assume that if you can’t afford organic foods, you can’t afford to live in areas with organic grocery stores and locally grown fresh produce (which is a reality for many).

So there it is—privilege, stigma, and access.

How do stories of “hipsters” (and other individuals who do not “fit into our framework”) on food stamps change the way we think about the “poor?” What is the relationship here between cultural, social, and economic capital? How does this complicate our understanding of being “poor”…and “privileged?”

I agree with you—the stigma isn’t decreasing. “Hipsters” and other “middle-class” individuals on food stamps get a pass. If you’re young, college-educated, unemployed, and struggling—blame it on the recession (which is legit). BUT, if you’re uneducated, unemployed, and have always been poor—you have nobody to blame but yourself. (Hmmm…really though?)

Personally, I am pro-food stamps for those who need it. To be completely honest, after reading the articles, and reflecting on my own situation—living in a studio apartment with two other people in order to front all that I can of my meager salary toward bills, student loans, and sending funds home to help out my own family who have been hit hard by the recession in the past year—I checked to see if I was eligible. As it turns out, I’m not….but…I checked. And that’s real talk.

***shrugs*** Just sayin. :-|

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