Reflections on Respectability

New York Daily News

Trigger Warning: Discussions of violence Whitepeople believed that whatever the manners, under every dark skin was a jungle. Swift unnavigable waters, swinging screaming baboons, sleeping snakes, red gums ready for their sweet white blood. In a way, he thought, they were right. The more coloredpeople spent their strength trying to convince them how gentle they were, how clever and loving, how human, the more they used themselves up to persuade whites of something Negroes believed could not be questioned, the deeper and more tangled the jungle grew inside. But it wasn’t the jungle blacks brought with them to this place …Read more »

Abolish the Box: Moving Beyond Criminality in Addressing Sexual Violence

Guest post by the Incarceration to Education Coalition We, the Incarceration to Education Coalition, are a group of activists working to eradicate barriers to higher education for currently and formerly incarcerated people. Our primary goal is to abolish the Box, the question on college applications that forces applicants to disclose their “criminal” records. Our vision is abolitionist, and our founding principle is that education is a human right.   Throughout our hundreds of conversations with fellow students, community members, and administrators, we have received support and affirmation, but also racism, fear, and institutional violence. One of the most consistent responses …Read more »

On the Glorification of the Side Chick

So, the question has been asked, is 2014 the year of the side chick?  When thinking about this there are a few things to consider.  Is this a declaration, a compliment, or a fear?  According to popular media, side chicks, or women (usually women of color) who are knowingly in a relationship with a man who is already in a relationship are on the rise.  However, side chicks existed long before reality TV, BET and tabloids.  When I was growing up it was not uncommon for a man to have a woman at home (usually the mother of his children) and …Read more »

Black Autumn: On Black Anger, Tiredness, and the Limits of Self-Care

The turning of autumn is one of my favorite times of year. Having been on an academic calendar my entire life, fall is the season of new beginnings, a time to turn up the intensity of scholarly production, teaching, meetings, school. But that intensity is also greeted with the changing of fall leaves and hopefully a cool respite to a swiftly passing hot summer. While this summer was unusually cool in terms of the weather, it was inordinately hot in terms of the toll that the machinations of summer have taken on the lives of people of color. We start …Read more »

Dear Cee Lo

Trigger Warning: Discussions of sexual violence below. Dear Cee Lo, Dude, seriously? I am so disappointed in your actions that I almost don’t even know where to begin. You have just gotten off from some charges stemming from a 2012 accusation of sexual assault. And rather than quietly going off into the night as one might expect, you have proceeded to open your mouth and stuff your entire foot into in it in your rush to defend yourself. But your “righteous indignation” sounds more like the unreasonable rants of a guilty person. First, let’s set the record straight, because your …Read more »

Say What?: On Speechlessness, Racism and Respectability in #Ferguson

“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.” (excerpt from The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action, by Audre Lorde)   As I prepare the syllabi and lesson plans for my fall classes I am dealing with uncertainty about how to teach about Ferguson and the merciless assault on black bodies and minds …Read more »

When We Are Young

When we are young, often too young to fully understand the anxiety in their voices and the fear in their eyes, many of us listen to our parents tell us how to behave when, not if, we are stopped by the police. Usually these cautions beseech us to be aware of our surroundings, comply and assert our compliance out loud, to polite and cooperative, not combative or defiant.  They tell us the things they think will protect us. They tell us not to be alone. They tell us to be vigilant. They know what we will face. They are black, …Read more »

Summer Self Care Survival Kit

  Everyday I read, watch, or discover something that makes me want to throw in the towel on humanity and crawl back into bed. I don’t really—none of us really—have that luxury though.   There are Nigerian schoolgirls still missing. Ebola outbreaks marked by fear and/or indifference. Kids dying in hotass cars. There is apartheid and genocide in Gaza. Renisha McBride, Eric Garner, Marissa Alexander and other chokeholds, death grips, suicide trips. White folks columbusing Dead trans women every week.   Sometimes talking about self care in the midst of so many forms devastating forms of institutional violence seems like …Read more »

The Blame Game: Black Women, Shame, and Victim Blaming

(Trigger Warning) I will never forget listening to the raging voice of a man I didn’t know on the other end of a phone line alongside my homegirl in Florida.  We sat in a room with the door closed while she told me what had happened the night before to preface the voice mail I was about to hear.  The man behind the voice was someone her sister had recently started dating.  He left the message on her voicemail several hours after beating and berating her in front of her child and leaving her bloody and unconscious on the concrete …Read more »

A Poem for Renisha McBride

  Hopefully, you have been following the trial of Theodore Wafer, a Michigan man, who killed 19 year old Renisha McBride last fall when she came to his door in the early morning hours after a car accident begging for help. He shot and killed her through a locked door, because he claims he felt afraid. Local residents in Detroit, marched and rallied on Renisha’s behalf and ensured her killer was brought to trial. But there has been no national outrage of the sort we saw last year with Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis. Wafer’s attorney has attempted to prove …Read more »

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