Category Archives: Race


  “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 »

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 »

The Rage of White Folks

If you let the news tell it, Black folks are rampaging all across the United States for no reason at all. Just looting and bashing police cars and making indulgent, extravagant messes across major urban areas when they should be at home getting their children fathers or learning how to not speak Ebonics. Or something like that. Yes, many Black folk are righteously indignant about the fact that #Every28Hours a Black person is killed by some sort of law enforcement or vigilante. Every day or so a Black person gets their spine smashed while cuffed in a paddywagon, or gets …Read more »

New Series: Dalit History Month – We Are Because He Was

We at the CFC believe that our work crosses issues and borders. We believe that transnational feminist solidarity is a key element of feminist praxis for those of us who live in the US. We have much to learn from and share with feminist thinker and organizers from around the world. Over the month of April, to commemorate the first ever Dalit History Month, we will be sharing with you a series of posts to raise awareness about the history and organizing done by the Dalit community, in India and abroad. In coming weeks we will be sharing Dalit feminist …Read more »

Teachers are Not Magical Negroes

When I was in the 7th grade, I moved from Connecticut to South Florida. I was a nerdy kid that loved reading, science, and social studies and had been tracked into the gifted and talented track during my years of schooling. But when I got to Fort Lauderdale I entered a middle school where we sat in class and watched the Jerry Springer Show, where we were being babysat rather than taught. I felt pretty bummed out about that and spent a lot of time in the library teaching myself. My mom worked 12 hours a day, 6 days a …Read more »

Serial and the Power of Storytelling

Like so many others, I spent the last few months of 2014 listening – first avidly, then with trepidation and ultimately with disdain – to the hit podcast Serial. The podcast follows a single story, week by week. The story centers on Adnan Syed, a Pakistani  American high school student who was accused and convicted of murdering his girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, in 1999 when they were both students at Baltimore’s Woodlawn High School. The journalist Sarah Koenig is the investigator and narrator of each episode, unraveling clues in each episode to one end: Did Adnan really do it? This …Read more »

Color(ism) Complex(es)

When I heard a documentary called Dark Girls had been produced in 2011 to share the often silenced stories and experiences of dark-skinned women and girls, I felt a wave of emotions and had a range of reactions fluctuating from curiosity and anxiety, to excitement and anticipation.  I wrote an ode to dark (skinned) girls and kept re-watching the promotional video connecting each time to a story of trauma by remembering my own color(ism) complex issues, and feelings of insecurity, rejection, and pain because of my skin color.  I imagined that the documentary would open up old wounds but heal …Read more »

Waiting to Exhale

(For Eric Garner, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and numerous others) Wait. Over the past few days, weeks, and months there have been eloquent words spoken, passionate poems and prose written, and thoughtful commentaries and reflections offered about the righteous rage, indignant indifference, fear, sadness and ambivalence that black folk and allies have felt as we have literally fought for the dignity and recognition that black lives have significance.  Every time I hear, see or read #blacklivesmatter, I am simultaneously affirmed and disgusted.  Affirmed at the reckoning and recognition of my life as important in the midst of a system …Read more »

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