When Shopping is Deep….

May 25th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

So Amber,

On Saturday, I went shopping and came close to buying this shirt. It looked great on me (if I do say so myself) and was a great color. But I couldn’t buy it. Even shopping becomes a problematic venture when my brain explodes…

Was this appropriation? Was it too much – a straight-up imitation of caftans? Does it matter if it’s just one shirt, not an entire wardrobe (an attempt to be “bohemian”)? It’s not my usual style, but I do like this specific shirt and color.

I wasn’t sure, but I had enough questions to resist buying the shirt. And now I see their description online, “Give your summer style a breezy, exotic touch.” Errrr….So I pose it to you and our readers – when does fashion cross the line? Am I thinking too much?

*** this picture is take from the NY and Company website.

“T-t-t-tip on the Tightrope”

May 19th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Liz,

Janelle Monae is my new favorite artist on the scene right now. She is gorgeous, so talented, positive, and just a breath of fresh air. *deep inhale*

Her album “The ArchAndroid” dropped yesterday, May 18th and, I must say, it is absolutely DOPE.

She performed her newest single, “Tightrope,” on Letterman yesterday, and KILLED IT.

Here is her music video for “Tightrope”:

This sista is doing big things for the music game right now and is slowly renewing my faith in the industry. I think I LOVE her. Check out the album. You will not be disappointed.

“Whether you’re high or low, you gotta tip on the tightrope.”

It’s History, Stupid: The Arizona Ethnic Studies Ban

May 17th, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink

Ok Amber,

So hope gets me moving, but so does anger. And anger has me writing again. Cuz I am pissed.

I’ve been following this Arizona Ethnic Studies ban, from its introduction as a bill to its now becoming law (Arizona, you got serious issues). And I found this video between Arizona’s State School Superintendent Tom Horne, Anderson Cooper and Michael Eric Dyson.

I may end up rehashing a lot of what Dyson says, but I’ll push ahead anyway. So Tom Horne throws a lot out there in his attempt to justify this ban: don’t divide kids by race; don’t be “race-obsessed;” Martin Luther King Jr has inspired us; teach kids that this is a land of opportunity. My favorite is calling it “ethnic chauvinism.”

Horne’s version of America is a country without oppression (despite Arizona’s racial profiling), a land of perfect opportunity and perfect access (despite the overwhelming inequalities in education, resources and representation), and a place with one narrative, the “American dream.”

I am still sometimes amazed at the level of ignorance in these types of arguments. To study American history is to study oppression. Its foundation began with genocide; its economy was built on slavery; its fears were prioritized at its citizens’ expense (I’m thinking McCarthy and Japanese internment camps). So, yeah, oppression is a “downer.” History is a “downer.” But it already profoundly affects the lives of students. Classes give students the tools to understand and talk about it. Of course, it matters how we talk about this oppression (there can be a damaging strain), but reality is not a fairy tale so we shouldn’t try to make it seem so. Equally important to learning about oppression is learning about the struggle against oppression. And frankly, it’s Mr. Horne’s privilege as a white male that enables him to avoid these “downers” anyway.

Besides, studying Latino, African American, Asian American history does not just mean studying it in relation to white people. It’s deeper and richer than that.

Finally, white students benefit from these classes too. They have a hell of a lot to learn from them. Why see these classes as divisive? Whites learn a lot about themselves when they shut up and listen. (This could also be a whole other post…white students and ethnic studies. Complicated.)

The history of the United States has been to exclude; these classes attempt to correct that. This mask of “color-blindness” is just another way to use power and resist change. One memorized line from MLK does not indicate understanding of a struggle. Instead, denying the full narrative of American history and the place for focused study is to participate in the continuation of oppression. So, Mr. Horne, you’re the best example for why we need these classes.

Got Hope? Act on it.

May 13th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

Amber,

So I’ve been struggling with what next to post on our blog, then you bust this out and the struggle is over! I watched this Boondocks episode and definitely had some actual lol moments. And some uncomfortable ones. But I pondered the underlying message: did we think the day after Obama’s inauguration we’d awaken to life without war, without economic trouble, without angry opponents or bitter feuds? Is hope irrational?

I suggest that hope without action is irrational. Obama has taken several stances that have annoyed or downright angered me. Most recently, his wobbling on miranda rights to citizens who are terror suspects. Going down that road scares me. But I’m reminded that he was elected as President, not as revolutionary. Some presidents have made bold choices and courageous actions, but rarely as lone figures or without movements to back them up. He could be an ally, but he’s not a saint. He’s not the leader of a movement; he’s the leader of a country. If we want him to take a strong stance against this Arizona law (and for immigration reform), I think we’ve got to shout and protest and march. The tea party is small in number, but you’d think they were 3/4 of the population just cuz they make so much damn noise (and the media provides a megaphone).

I was definitely one of those standing in the cold cheering as he became president. I felt exhilarated. And yes, that feeling starts to wear off. But then I work with kids/teens and I marvel that a black president is a part of their young reality. And I listen to him address some issues with such thought and understanding that I hope all over again. He’s still a breath of fresh air. We’ve definitely got something real to work with! (For instance, I read today that he’s shifting from the “war on drugs” and moving to addressing it as a public health issue. I like.)

I believe for any change to happen, we must have hope coupled with action. Without action, we lose hope, and without hope, there’s only crippling despair that nothing will change. And then it won’t.

So, I love hope. Hope gets me moving.

That’s my piece.

(Plus, hope doesn’t mean ignoring that it’s deep. Obama’s presidency? Complicated.)

“Hope is Irrational”: The Boondocks Takes on Our Black President

May 12th, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink


Liz,

The Boondocks recently came off of its two year long hiatus and has aired the first two episodes of its third season. I haven’t yet caught the second episode, but I watched the first this past weekend. Unsurprisingly, it woke up all of the mixed feelings I’ve had about the series from the beginning. Though I must admit, that it is hard to miss the social commentary (especially in the most recent episode), you are still afraid that someone, somewhere will miss the point, causing you to both laugh and cringe at the clever caricatures and the racial profanity (especially since it’s aired on Cartoon Network—Adult Swim or not, you can’t deny that the chil’ren are most likely watching).

In the first episode, the portrayal of the Obama campaign, the historic 2008 election, and so much of the aftermath that has ensued in Obama’s first year and half as President, really caught my attention. After a series of recent conversations with friends who expressed their disappointment in Obama’s inaction and reticence regarding the S.B. 1070 Law in Arizona and its consequences, his decision to allow off-shore drilling (although we all just got a huge wake-up call), and his overall administrative agenda which is revealing itself to be quite politically strategic, I found myself letting out a huge sigh as I reflected on many of the political and social realities highlighted in McGruder’s cartoon.

I think Audre (the)Lorde said it best, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Many of us were hoping for radical (maybe on the way to revolutionary) change. Obama came at a time when so many of us were tired and disillusioned. I know I was, and in the 2004 election I wasn’t even old enough to vote. Real Talk.

I remember when studying abroad in Ghana in early 2008, that Obama fever gripped the country. My home-stay family was more excited than I was about the prospect of a Black man in the highest office of the Unites States of America. I seriously didn’t believe it could happen. It wasn’t until the Summer of 2008 (when back in the US) that I became captivated by this man—“a modern-day visionary,” who somehow seemed to work and reach far across color, gender, class, and cultural lines in this country. I tried to keep reminding myself to not give in completely to the hype.

I cried when he won. I skipped the first day of classes in the second semester of my senior year in undergrad to make my way to Washington, D.C. to see my President sworn in and to celebrate with millions of others on Inauguration Day. Again, I tried to remind myself to not give in completely to the hype.

Approximately 1.5 years later, it does seem as if Obama made many promises that he is now struggling to keep and I do often find myself wishing that he’d make a little more noise.

*SIGH*

After all things considered, I am still Team Obama. The man has a lot on his plate. He entered into the presidency at one of the most unstable periods in American history, and has had to clean up a whole lot of mess on top of dealing with those who are determined to maintain the status quo—something his physicality coupled with his position of power, has dramatically threatened. He has been making baby steps toward progress, and I must admit, that when I see him and the first lady addressing a crowd, I still get goosebumps.

Huey says “Hope is irrational.” I feel you, Huey, but if we can’t hope, we’ve really got nothing left.

Where am I?

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