No (dis)Grace: Cam Newton and the Emotional Labor of Blackness

The Panthers lost the Super Bowl.  Peyton Manning won his second ring on the backs of a Denver Defense that ain’t nothing nice.  Cam Newton didn’t shine, didn’t get to dab, didn’t ever seem to fall into the rhythm fans have become accustomed to this season.  He wasn’t playing with the joy and jubilant energy we were used to seeing.  He didn’t bless us with that all-star smile from the sidelines.  Instead he was all business from the start, serious, undoubtedly putting the responsibility of saving the season for his team on his shoulders.  But like only one other time …Read more »

Newtonism: Notes on Cool Masculinity and the Fear of Black Genius

“I do not expect the white media to create positive black male images.” –Huey Newton   It is the Friday before the Super Bowl and for the last two weeks there has been much ado about the anticipated performance of frontrunner for the league MVP, and star quarterback of the Carolina Panthers, Cam Newton.  And by performance I don’t only mean whether or not he will rely on his arm or his feet to put points on the board, or whether or not it will be a stat staggering game like many others this season, or whether or not he …Read more »

(Y)our N-Word

Nobody called me a nigga to my face But behind backs and closed doors I am sure I have been called every kind of n-word Especially when I excelled in systems designed for me to fail nigga Or called out bigotry and privilege in classrooms nigga Or won awards white folk swore were theirs and I musta stole over some affirmative action shit nigga Or Spoken (back) at me because I have the audacity To listen to and memorize hip hop histories where nigga Was somewhat of an anthem Like, Jig-ga My Nig-ga Or 2pac’s 4 My Niggas Or DMX …Read more »

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

  “What do you think I want, respect or compliance?” This was the question I posed my class this week, after I asked them to define the terms. For compliance they yelled out things like “following orders” and “obedience.” They defined “respect” as “valuing the thoughts of others” “being loyal,” and so on. I asked them to define respect versus compliance for a few reasons. Last Friday, my class of mostly white college sophomores, juniors, and seniors was feeling particularly antsy. For many, my 11 o’clock class is their last one before their weekend begins and by the time I …Read more »

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 »

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