Detroit Goddamn

From Occupy.com

Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I mistakenly thought that environmentalism was something simply to do with saving the rainforest and the ozone layer. “Environment” was a fancy word for places far away from the working class former factory town where I lived. Certainly, “saving the environment” was important for all of us, but it was hard to think about forests and the ozone while living next to a crack house and being battered by Reaganomics. I did not learn until I was much older and formally learning about Black feminism in a classroom that environmental justice was inextricably …Read more »

My Brother’s Keeper & the Co-Optation of Intersectionality

  Yesterday, while we lamented the SCOTUS decision to exempt Hobby Lobby and other Corporations-cum-People from paying for birth control because it violates their religious freedom, I learned that 30 Black women released a signed letter offering their support for the President’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative.  This letter from women like former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin and Rev. Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., comes on the heels of two major letters from the African American Policy Forum, one from a group of 200 Black men asking for the inclusion of women and girls in My Brother’s Keeper …Read more »

Dear Octavia

  Dear Octavia, Yesterday, it was your birthday. Happy birthday, dear! I’ve been missing you a lot and thinking about you a lot lately, especially since there’s a newly discovered crop of your short stories. I feel like that was a gift for all of us. Your work has continually been a gift to me and, though you have transitioned to being an ancestor, I want share my appreciation for you life and your work. I’ve been a fan of science fiction and fantasy since I could read. Reading about lords and ladies, outer space, and other fantastical things were …Read more »

Time for the Supremes: Hobby Lobby and Your Boss in Your Bedroom

Sometime between now and July 4th, the Supreme Court is set to rule on two cases that will affect our access to birth control, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius. In both these cases for-profit companies are using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to challenge the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) guarantee that health insurance plans include coverage of contraceptives. Since the ACA policy went into effect, 24 million more prescriptions for oral contraceptives were filled with no co-pay in 2013 than in 2012 and has saved women $483 million in out-of-pocket costs for …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 »

Jesus Wasn’t A Slut-Shamer or How Conservative Theology Harms Black Women

I’m a feminist who believes in God. Raised Christian, I still attend church.  But what I am not is a person who will willingly check her brain, political convictions, or academic training at the door in order to enter the house of God or to participate in a community of faith. Express homophobic views, tell me that God requires me to let a man rule my house because I have a vagina, or spout a prosperity theology premised on the idea that poor folks are poor because they lack faith, and you are likely to see me get up and …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 »

On Jill Abramson, Race, and the Politics of Recognition

Jill Abramson’s firing from the New York Times did not surprise me. The surprise was that I couldn’t manage to care. At least not in the way I saw the feminist blogosphere erupt with anguish and rage. Righteous rage, I concur. But I couldn’t manage the energy for that kind of rage. Perhaps I remained relatively unmoved, having become cynical and hard-hearted in the face of ubiquitous sexism. Perhaps I didn’t expect Jill Abramson to be treated fairly. Perhaps because I never bought the beautifully packaged and relentlessly marketed Lean In brand of feminism as a salve for structural sexism. …Read more »

On bell, Beyonce’, and Bullshit

Out of respect for elders, I haven’t been pressed to weigh in on why the venerable bell hooks might find it reasonable to refer to Beyoncé as a terrorist. Yet, I felt compelled to respond this morning, after reading this piece from Rev. Osagyefo Sekou at Truth-Out.org, that indicts an entire generation of Black intellectuals for apparently “believ[ing] that the system is a good system that only needs to provide greater access to the historically othered.” Who exactly are these people who believe this liberal claptrap?  Because of this alleged belief in the “goodness” of our current racist, capitalist, patriarchal …Read more »

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