Category Archives: Race

The Forgotten Ones (For Those Who Survive Black Death)

The past three days have felt like the end times.  The sting and stench of death hanging heavily in the humidity of the third summer in a row that will be remembered for murder.  Like others, I have been restless, sleepless, and hopeless—speechless.  First, because of the unnecessary death of Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge police officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake, caught on tape from multiple angles, reminiscent of Eric Garner’s body being wrestled to the ground, held down until breathless.  The gun shots startled me, coming from nowhere and for no reason, even after I watched the video …Read more »

Facing “White Rage”

At the end of Jewelle Gomez’s seminal feminist novel, The Gilda Stories, Gilda and her crew of badass queer vampires (because, of course) are faced with a dying planet Earth. Centuries of white supremacy and unbridled capitalism have wreaked havoc on human society. The wealthy have escaped off planet to colonize other worlds (because, of course) and Gilda’s squad, along those who are too poor to escape, are left behind to pick up the wreckage. Sound familiar? Maybe it’s just me, but the times we are living in make me want to scramble and, as my granny would say, “get …Read more »

On Becky, M.I.A.,and the Problem of that “Good Hair”

It’s a ‘do you remember where you were when…?” kind of event. Years from now, I’ll say, “I was at a friends birthday party where some of us gathered around the TV, shushing the others, to watch Lemonade premiere.” It was a warm, April evening in Houston and I got to the party with about 4 minutes to spare. We had a hard time hearing, but we leaned in to hear. We gulped the visuals down with wide eyes, like we’d never seen any music video before. There was hollering, cheering, praising, waving, conferring, and more than a few times, …Read more »

Lemonade, Sweet Tea, and Dirty Laundry on the Clothesline

Homemade lemonade was relief from the humid heat of North Carolina summers.  Sweet and sour lemon water always tasted better after it had been sitting for a few days, bathed in the sun so the sugar syrup could fully absorb the lemon pieces floating at the top of a see through pitcher, like a see through picture.  Similarly, I’ve been sitting with Beyoncé’s visual album since Saturday night, absorbing the pieces of myself and my life sticky sweet on the edges of the glass, transparent and raw.  You can see right through me. i’ve always been misrecognized by every man …Read more »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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