Blog Archives

Unbreakable or The Problem with Praising Blackgirl Strength

It has been almost three years since we learned the name Amber Cole, a fourteen year old blackgirl who was secretly recorded while performing fellatio on a former boyfriend.  Images and taunts spread quickly as the video went viral and commentary about Amber’s agency, privacy and sexuality sparked controversy across the interwebs.  There was slut-shaming, blaming, and judgment of Amber and her family (especially her mother) with little mention of the three boys involved (the boy receiving oral sex, the boy recording it on his phone, and a third who watched in the background).  In my gender class we discussed …Read more »

Higher Learning: Black Men, Basketball, and the Politics of Education

I grew up in a small town in North Carolina where my sister had a basketball goal connected to a tree and learned how to strategically run around the stumps to avoid falling.  She also learned to perfect her jump shot through a conspicuous tree limb and branches that blocked her view like the outstretched arm of an opponent.  She got pretty good and in middle school when there weren’t enough girls to form a girls’ basketball team, she was one of two girls who played on the boys’ team (as a starter).  She got that from our mother.  Her …Read more »

“A Rainbow In Somebody’s Cloud”: A Tribute for Dr. Maya Angelou

“If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat.  It is an unnecessary insult.”   -Maya Angelou, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings If you were ever blessed to be in the same room with her, you knew she was magic.  And when she spoke the room stood still, held breath, knees touching knees, eyes begging for silence to keep from missing even a whisper of her words, beckoning attitude, calm, wisdom and brilliance all at once. Her words were generous gifts she shared …Read more »

What Does Black Masculinity Look Like?

Over the past few weeks, in the midst of teaching a pre-summer class on black masculinity in which we have discussed, debated and dreamed about the possibility for fluidity in raced gender performance, I have listened to a black man weep and express his love for his teammates and his appreciation for the sacrifices of his mother (see Kevin Durant’s NBA MVP acceptance speech); watched a black man kiss a man, full lips, on live television in celebration of an unprecedented accomplishment (see Michael Sam draft coverage on ESPN); and relished in the Pepto-Bismol-pink-colored-Cadillac a black man gave to his …Read more »

Dark-Skinned Blackgirl Visibility: On Gabby and Lupita

As a black feminist I am always here for the celebration of blackgirls, black women, and black wommanness in general (shout out to Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown, arbiter of Solhot, a promise to young blackgirls and women—and others who are doing the work past visibility and towards self-esteem and community accountability).  And as a dark-skinned blackgirl who has struggled through self-esteem issues ranging from the “you ain’t the right kind of black” in the 80’s , to the “you gotta be light-skinnededet to be right” tan-black of the 90’s, to the “you ain’t the in style” brown-black of the 00’s, …Read more »

Blackgirls Matter

  but we don’t see her enough. to know she’s not stronger than steel that super-human shit is made for TV but made for real life blackgirls break we matter but we don’t hear ourselves enough. screams are muted by stereotypes and assumptions that swallow and misunderstand our words when they are not softly-spoken or standardized making us feel foreign in our own damn land we belong here because we belong everywhere   we matter but we are not present enough. forced, always, to think ahead and defend ourselves to think back and protect ourselves blackgirls lives are fleeting taken …Read more »

Pleasure Principles: 5 Lessons About Sex From Beyoncé

I was a little late to the game when Beyoncé’s self-titled album first dropped.  I am not an Apple user so I had to wait a week before I had access to the visual album “seen” around the world.   Except for Flawless, which has since become somewhat of a personal feminist “girl, get your life, you got this” anthem and the two songs released on YouTube in the interim (Drunk in Love and XO, and the controversies surrounding them), I was limited to the album summation of friends which varied from, “Girllllllllll….” to “I prefer the ‘Get Me Bodied’ Beyoncé …Read more »

Self Love Is the Best Love

  After a long while she spoke very softly.  “Is it true that I can have a baby now?” “Sure,” said Frieda drowsily.  “Sure you can.” “But . . . how?” Her voice was hollow with wonder. “Oh,” said Frieda, “somebody has to love you.” “Oh.” There was a long pause in which Pecola and I thought this over.  It would involve, I supposed, “my man,” who before leaving me, would love me.  But there weren’t any babies in the songs my mother sang.  Maybe that’s why the women were sad: the men left before they could make a baby. …Read more »

The Viability of Visibility: Love Letters for ShaMichael

You may have heard about the viral video popularized on World Star Hip Hop and commonly known as the “Sharkeisha video.”  The video is a disturbing depiction of a young blackgirl being ambushed and brutally beaten by another blackgirl, identified as Sharkeisha, while a third accomplice videotaped the incident on her phone (it was later uploaded to Instagram and later World Star Hip Hop).  What you may not know, and/or have heard, is the name of the victim in the video, ShaMichael Manuel. It is disturbing that a violent video clip depicting the ambush of a young blackgirl was being …Read more »

Being Single: On Mary Jane, Gabrielle Union & Those of Us Who Are Imperfect

  Last year, Gabrielle Union received the Fierce and Fearless Award at Essence magazine’s sixth annual Black Women in Hollywood pre-Oscars luncheon and gave a dope speech about her journey in Hollywood and learning to love herself and other black women.  She opened up and shared the truth of her experience, her pain, her insecurity, and her power (this was the same speech that inspired an episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter that featured Viola Davis, Alfre Woodard, Phylicia Rashad and Gabrielle Union talking candidly about being black actresses).  I watched Oprah’s Next Chapter (and Union’s speech later) in awe, once …Read more »

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