The Most Beautiful Children in the World: No Country For Alyan Kurdi

We can almost hear his wail. Abdullah Kurdi is photographed after he leaves a morgue in Mugla, Turkey on September 3rd.  “My kids were the most beautiful children in the world… They are all gone now,” said Mr. Kurdi. His devastation is so palpable that we begin to feel our throats tighten. Alyan, his five year old brother Gailp, and their mother, Rehan all died after their small rubber boat capsized on its voyage between Turkey and Greece.A photo of Alyan’s body washed up on the shore has garnered much attention. The Kurdi family was fleeing violence in their home …Read more »

Love, Hip Hop, and Ratchet Respectability (Something Like A Review)

  In a recently published book chapter called, “Brains, Booty, and All Bizness”:  Identity Politics, Ratchet Respectability, and The Real Housewives of Atlanta, I define ratchet respectability as “a hybrid characterization of hegemonic, racist, sexist, and classist notions of black womanhood,” which allows black women to combine ratchet behaviors (generally linked to race) to the politics of respectability (generally linked to class).  I suggest that black women (particularly those represented on reality TV) are uniquely positioned to enact ratchet respectability through their negotiation of supposed authentic race and class behaviors. Because class based performances (from bourgeois to basic) do not …Read more »

Misogyny and Infamy: On the Erasure of Dark Skinned Black Women As Love Interests in Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton is clearly doing the damn thing at the box office.  Since its debut about a month ago, the film has become the highest grossing music biopic in history.  And no shade, but shade…given the music biopics of late…that Whitney biopic that should have been called the Whitney and Bobby Show, that Aaliyah biopic that was a hot damn mess, and that TLC biopic that was ehhhhhhh, folk have clearly been checking for some 90’s nostalgia.  And while some may believe it is unfair to compare made for TV movies with a heavily anticipated film with a $28 …Read more »

The Sisters are Indeed Alright

  Every day we seem to get more bad news about Black women. We’re ugly and can’t get a date. We’re fat, sick, loud, and bitchy. We’re lazy, materialistic bad mothers. We don’t support our communities’ dreams cause we’re like crabs in a barrel. Does that cover it all? Even if you’re not being inundated with that nonsense, there are daily reminders that Black women, cis and trans, are literally in danger. Whether it is Sandra Bland suspiciously dying after a traffic stop, Renisha McBride getting murdered after seeking help after a car crash, or the murders of Elisha Walker, …Read more »

Say No to Noteps and Straight Black Pride

This evening, at the National Black Theatre in Harlem, a group of fools who have convened themselves as the Straight Black Pride Movement will be hosting a press conference to shame and antagonize Black queer people under the guise of defending the Black community.   Several weeks ago they enlisted the NBT to host a Straight Black Pride Rally, but the the NBT declined to host the event after a call from the community not to do so. They are to be saluted for taking that stance. Since that time the Hotep Homophobes who have convened this foolishness have harassed …Read more »

#WeSeeYou: With CRUNK Love and Support for Prof. Zandria F. Robinson

We write today as group of over 100 black writers, readers, artists, thinkers committed to justice and intellectual inquiry. We have taken time away from our scholarship, research, teaching, activism, and other life-affirming practices to assist in smothering the fire that threatens to engulf the entire academic industry. We are wholly aware that the American surveillance and discipline of black bodies and expression extends to cyber space. This recognition has been reinforced by recent circumstances involving our colleague, Zandria F. Robinson. We write to thank Zandria for stating firmly and thoughtfully positing that blackness is a critical creative politico-cultural formation, …Read more »

On the Pole for Freedom: Bree Newsome’s Politics, Theory, and Theology of Resistance

  Bree Newsome is my shero. And my new favorite theorist and theologian of resistance. On Saturday, she scaled a flagpole in Columbia, South Carolina to take down the Confederate Flag, which has felt acutely offensive in the less than 14 days since a vile, misguided, millennial neoconfederate walked into Black sacred space and murdered nine of our people. I woke to the news of the massacre of nine faithful souls at Mother Emanuel AME Church on a trip abroad for work and play. Startled and devastated, I lay in bed wondering whether to wake my homegirl sleeping next to …Read more »

On Faith, Forgiveness and Flags

I grew up in rural North Carolina, lived in Florida for six years, and have spent the last six years residing in sweet home Alabama.  My relationship to the south, particularly the deep south (though North Carolina would be considered upper south), as a blackgirl is complicated.  Despite my penchant for visits to large cities, cultural enclaves and urban landscapes, I have a thing for backyards, cookouts, porches under shade trees and sweet tea (real sweet tea).  While I could do without the heavy humid heat, mosquito bites in summer, and those damn carpenter bees, the made from scratch biscuits, …Read more »

Bad Nerves

you have found yourself in each broken body each elation   your mother’s scar hers and hers and you.   Bettina Judd, “How To Measure Pain II”   As a kid I often wondered at the full meaning of the phrase “my nerves are bad.” Sure, I’d heard, “You’re getting on my nerves” or “You on my last nerve” more than once—my mother was always talking about her nerves in relation to how quickly I washed dishes or put away my clothes. I was perhaps even “tap dancing on her nerves,” but I digress. Having “bad nerves” was more puzzling …Read more »

What If We Were Free?: Riley Curry and Blackgirl Freedom

Unlike many of my homegirls, my love with basketball goes far beyond the 2000 film featuring Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps. While I have never been able to play worth a damn (I’m an artist, not an athlete), my mama and older sister were basketball stars in our small town (my sister famously played on the boy’s team when we were in middle school, and gave them all they could handle). Work, life, bills and responsibilities (and the fact that I have not been fully wed to a professional team since the 90’s Bulls), I am generally disconnected from the …Read more »

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