I Don’t Know WTF To Write.

But, damn, do I miss it. I miss mind dumping and writing essays and asking questions and cracking jokes. I miss dissecting bullshit arguments and linking to the people I find rather brilliant.

I miss blogging.

And I’m slowly coming back to it.

sexual predators don’t have career paths.

and other points from my twitter rant about the lawsuits (four lawsuits as of today’s date) against eddie long.

it started with my response to a series of tweets i saw from other folks, with all kinds of victim blaming & automatic denials along the lines of “i bet they just want money.” i got angry. then i decided it was a good idea to just tweet until i felt like stopping. that’s what twitter’s about, isn’t it? here goes:

sexual predators don’t have a physical type or career path. the same way there’s no job for people who’d “never do that.”

victimization is not gender-specific.

victims cannot be blamed for what happens to them — the violator is responsible for what they do. always.

instantly doubting the accuser maintains a culture of silence, which serves the abuser more than it maintains honesty for any accusers, false or not.

i’m not going to go into deep detail here — i wanna see how this whole thing pans out. but, for an awesome analysis of both this situation and “no wedding, no womb,” go hit up this post by moya at crunk feminist collective.

zomg i’m single!

so the fuck what?

this is all the discussion y’all are getting out of me. thanks to this piece from the crunk feminist collective, i don’t have to go too deep.  i’m including links from a twitter rant i went on regarding this very subject, for good measure.

first, i wanted to know if anyone had introduced to this larger conversation the idea that monogamy is not the default setting for our lives, but a choice.   as in, we choose to be monogamous, or we don’t.  & if you don’t realize that you choose monogamy, this is where you should find another blog post of mine to read (like the one about tina knowles).   we do not have to couple.  some of us are polyamorous, some of us never partner — even when we decide that we wish to parent.

nobody that i know of, with the exception of the ladies at crunk feminist collective, has mentioned that queer (by queer i mean lesbians, bisexual, pan/ omnisexual, trans, intersex)  self-identified black women aren’t considered in this conversation. again: we are not a monolith. you can’t have this conversation without considering the fact that the women being discussed are hetero, cisgender (not trans women — trans ppl are invisible in virtually every conversation about marriage, and just about everything else), & at the very least hold bachelor’s degrees. because ppl who don’t finish college don’t matter in this conversation, no matter what they’re doing w/ themselves, unless it’s to count them as undesirables.  further, who’s to say that marriage is everyone’s goal or ideal? it could be argued that “we aren’t talking about those people,” but if that’s the case then it must be stated so from the onset of each conversation regarding unmarried black women of certain income levels and sexual orientations.  period. know your audience.

if the root of the “problem” of unmarried black hetero cis women is that there aren’t enough desirable black men to go around & we’re looking at that strictly in terms of education, then who’s to blame? parents? schools? both? neither? high school dropout rates are nothing to sneeze at. the prison industrial complex, fueled by some rather draconian laws, also removes men who might otherwise be “good catches” from the dating pool.  does this mean that some of those “lost ones” were never marriageable to begin with, as their parents/ support systems failed them long before they got outta high school? okay. i’ll take that. but that isn’t the case w/ everyone. i feel like too much of this conversation is based on simplistic ideas of what a “good black man” is, and what a “good black woman” needs.  also: folks get married later in general, because they’re doing more than their parents’ generations did w/ their lives. the need for a college education has increased — even to get administrative assistant gigs. so if we have to take more time between high school and college to fill up these lives of ours (with greater expectancies, even for black men & women), maybe it’s not even as deep as the media panic suggests. ::gasp:: maybe we’re doing so much that holding ourselves to standards based on folks who lived life differently (slower, w/ less autonomy as children/ young adults, w/ different or less education) is a waste of fucking time! i’m just sayin.

& really, if marrying someone is about loving them until your last breath exits your body, can we consider one thing: the purported crisis of unmarried black women suggests that there is not enough love for us. that we are not lovable. that there is scarcity in the black community, so we must either take what we can get from black men or marry white men if we want to be married at all. this is wrong. love is infinite. there is no reason to think, for one minute, that any one of us is not lovable. that we are not desirable — to anyone, whether they be white, asian, latino, man, woman, gender non-conforming, cisgender, transgender, disabled, blue collar, white collar, no collar, or anything fucking else. if we marry because we want to spend the rest of our lives surrounded by the love, care, and support of another person then why on earth would we let fear run us off our paths? no, i’m not saying that there aren’t rough patches. heaven knows that i’ve lived through my shit and may continue to go through things before i find a good lover (i don’t necessarily seek to marry). but under no circumstances is being single a detriment. it’s never wrong. it’s not a bad thing. we’re not born partnered. we choose to partner — some of us because of conditioning, some of us because we find that wonderful person to be with. & it’s all good. it’s about intent, y’all. if your intent for seeking a mate is because that shit is on your checklist of successful shit to do w/ your life, you might be setting yourself up for what we call the okey-doke.   ultimately, the lens through which our romantic situations are being examined is flawed, to say the least.   & to say the most: it’s fucked up, limited, & doesn’t actually apply to as many folks as these “experts” (like finesse “my best jokes are about my teen mother” mitchell, jimi izrael & steve harvey) would have you believe.

this rant’s over. i’m dropping the mic like randy watson. but if you wanna read more juicy commentary:

visit the sugar shack

read this op-ed via the philadelphia inquirer

& another dope post from the crunk feminist collective

this piece from the nation, featuring the words of the fabulous melissa harris-lacewell & courtney young is made of pure unadulterated win.

i’m off to go be single and cook for myself, feed myself, bathe myself, & sing my face off at karaoke. cuz that’s what manless almost-30-year-olds do, apparently.

train wreck!

soooo i was on twitter mindin my own beeswax, being the benevolent servant of the god/dess that i am. & i tweeted that i wasn’t even finna read jill scott’s essence column on interracial dating & why it hurts her feelings.  (because they are her feelings. & what’s my reading gonna do?) shortly thereafter, i was @ replied by @Interracial_Mag with a link to a blog post about their (i’m guessing the guy in the profile picture, who IDs as the primary writer of the blog, a white hetero cisgender man) view on jill’s essence column.  now, i was gonna sit down and do a well-thought-out comment on this man’s blog. but i realized after some back-and-forth w/ him on twitter that it may be better for me to go paragraph-by-paragraph and really express what it is i think/ feel about this. and maybe i’ll put all my little comments into a neat package and send them to the writer of the interracial love magazine blog… or not. either way, i had to say something. cuz i’m a bigmouth.  my notes are in italics and bracketed. i call this the lazy blogging method.

Jill Scott, Interracial Dating, and Interracial Love Magazine!

“Not a day goes by that the question of “What do you think of interracial dating?” is not asked somewhere in social media land. It continues to be one of the hottest, highly debated, and most controversial topics of our time.” – Interracial Love Magazine, 2010

Due to the response of Jill Scott’s recent celebrity contribution to Essence Magazine, we decided to write our response.

But first, an introduction is on order. We are Interracial Love Magazine. We blog on topics that primarily support interracial love, sex, and dating between white men and black women. Unlike many blogs within our niche/category, Interracial Love Magazine is written primarily by a white male. [my first question: why is it called interracial love magazine, instead of black women dating white men magazine? race isn’t just about black & white folks, is it?]

As the site has grown, as well as the topic of interracial dating, we have felt the need to expand our content to discuss issues of white and black culture, race, and even celebrity news.

In Jill Scott’s case, you get all of the above!

We used to think that any attention to the subject of interracial dating was a good thing. But, Jill Scott dispelled that theory with one fell swoop.

For black women, there are internal mechanisms within themselves and their culture that prevent them from pursuing interracial relationships. Part of our work here on Interracial Love Magazine is to overcome these barriers. [what are the internal mechanisms within black women? name them specifically. can’t it be argued that those mechanisms are directly related to larger societal conditions/ norms that impact all ppl within US society, not just mechanisms within the culture of US black women only? if the primary writer of this blog is a white man and the writer of this post is that same white man, why is it his job to overcome barriers that aren’t his, unless those barriers serve specifically to keep him from dating black women? this implies that black women need saving from themselves. no good.]

In our view, nothing defies the social stigma of racism, prejudice, discrimination, oppression, and hate than interracial union. Jill Scott’s impulse to “wince” when she discovers her friend has a white wife defies this principle. [how so? maybe racism, prejudice, discrimination, oppression and hate are present in her life as a black woman in this world. this suggests a “sweep it under the rug” stance.  or, “it’s not a problem for me (white cis man in the US), so why/ how is it a problem for you?” not okay. how is this helping anyone, again, except the writer?]

In her article from Essence Magazine, she goes on to give a graphic account on the treatment of black people and how the white woman was revered and regarded in American society. She also mentions how black men and women stood together and shared a common struggle. This is true. And it’s important that we remember this part of American history. It should never be forgotten. [forgotten? possibly. depends on whose history you’re telling/ reading. often ignored & dismissed as an antiquated stance that has not evolved to conceal itself or withstood a shift in larger social consciousness? absolutely.]

“If a Black man even looked at a White woman, he would have been lynched, beaten, jailed or shot to death” – Jill Scott

Fortunately, since the days of slavery, and the beginning of what would be the Jim Crow era, things have changed in this country.

We are surrounded with many examples of interracial relationships connected to iconic beauty within white culture like Kim Kardashian and Reggie Bush… and Heidi Klum and Seal… just to point out a couple of the more recognized celebrities. [now, look. things have changed. but i don’t know how much they’ve changed w/ the very obvious lynching threats of the jena 6, and the noose found in the library (among other assorted madness) at UCSD this past february.  with these things — and what i imagine to be more incidents of racist fuckery, subtle as well as obvious — meeting black folks all over on the regular i can’t say that things have changed so much. i really can’t.]

Neither Seal nor Reggie Bush look fearful of retribution for their involvement with their white partners, do they? Do you think they look over their shoulder and wonder if a lyching [sic] rope (innit called a noose? shouldn’t you just call it that?) has been tied around the closest tree for them? …Please…  [reggie bush and seal, first off, have the luxury of being able to hire people to protect them from threats for being involved w/ non-black women. they have the luxury of having people read their mail for them, so they may never see any threats against them or their partners.  furthermore, reggie and kim k have breakup rumors swirling around them like flies around shit. why use them as an example at all? oh. wait.  nothing in your statement of intent says that your blog supports healthy relationships btwn black women and white men. never fucking mind.  (the argument that the person behind the twitter account said the kim & reggie example was used ‘for familiarity.’ plausible, but unwise in my opinion.  celebrities are usually not more familiar to us than people we actually engage with on the regular. are they? i mean, wait, does that mean i’m BFFs with erykah badu cuz i play her music a whole lot?)  also: that “…Please…” implies that jill’s calling to mind the jim crow era is exaggerated, or otherwise wrong. if that’s where her mind goes when she thinks of black men and white women, so be it. don’t be so dismissive.]

Also, Ms. Scott says: “Most of us end up doing this important work alone, with no fathers or like representatives, limited financial support (often court-enforced) and, on top of everything else, an empty bed. It’s frustrating and it hurts!”

I’m not quite sure what the message is here, do you? [aside from the grammatical error in this question: ask jill. or ask the essence editors. i’m sure someone will get back to you.  essence magazine has a great track record of engaging ppl in all kinds of discussion. for real.  also: this quote speaks to something that a white hetero man could never understand, because he’s never experienced it. the treatment of black folk as a monolith has fucked up repercussions. & i’ll leave it at that. but don’t start popping shit about something you’ve never experienced.  you don’t know what the message is because it really, really, really isn’t for you.  this is what privilege does: it lets you think everything is for or about you, even if/ when someone says ‘this isn’t for or about you.’]

If you read the statement, it implies that black men are shirking their paternal and financial responsibilities to their offspring and will only comply based on a judge’s order. Is that the case?  [in the context of the piece, it could definitely be suggested that she feels this way. again: ask. & ask some black men you know.]

If we said that here, every African-American reader would be leaving sharp biting comments to the effect we were “generalizing” or “miscategorizing” or “marketing negative stereotypes.” [you have no way of knowing what all of your black readership would say/ do.  but it’s quite possible that someone would take you to task for suggesting this. absolutely. the messenger, for some folks, has a lot to do w/ how the message is received.]

Yet, Jill Scott is free to slander black men at will. Is anyone offended here? Is she…”entitled?” [funny that entitlement would be mentioned here.  cuz you’re talking about something that wasn’t even pointed at you in the first place. i’m just saying, remember that you’re likely coming at this from a place of relative privilege. white privilege. male privilege. hetero privilege. cisgender privilege. mind your manners.]

It also suggests that the black woman feels abandoned and should be worthy of our concern and sympathy. [any human being is worthy of concern and sympathy, if you roll like that. i most certainly do.  and maybe some black women do feel abandoned! it’s valid if they’ve been abandoned, or told something along the lines of ‘you aren’t worthy of love’?  don’t you think? also, if you think that jill scott’s words paint black women as a group in need of rescue then kindly remove that fucked up and condescending tone from your line about the “internal mechanisms” of black women and our culture. again, mind your manners.]

We all are saddened by the plight and struggle of single mothers. [i don’t look at single parenthood as a pitiable plight. the writer of this blog post should speak for themselves. and i feel a “but…” coming on!]

But, that’s not Jill Scott’s agenda. Her goal is to “strike a nerve” among black men. [THERE’S THE “BUT”! where did she say that? if the writer of this post and i are reading the same piece, i sure as shit don’t see that. she said there’s a sting that has yet to stop burning.  & it’s true. because it ties into the idea that black women are not worthy of love. because emancipation was legal only, and did not make it so we received love and care. it did not stop the rapes, the mistreatment, the brutality, the distorted images.]

The reality is that black men have chosen to date outside their race for quite a while now. Black women could learn something from their male counterparts in this aspect. [shut the fuck up. black women could also benefit from an analysis of our situations as individual. especially when jill’s talking about us. to us. about black men. everyone isn’t dating the person they’re dating for the same reason. because we’re not a monolith. jill’s speaking from personal experience and possibly from conversations w/ other black women. you, if you are indeed the white man who’s primary writer of this blog, are speaking from what exactly? oh. your own personal experience? like i thought. back that train on up and remember that black women don’t owe an opening of their hearts to white men. the social stigma alone, which still exists ON ALL SIDES is a motherfucker.  nobody can undo years of conditioning by reading a blog post, or even through intense dialogue. leave individuals to their individual choices.]

Look, the bottom line is that black men do not owe anyone an explanation. Even Jill Scott. They are free to date anyone and any race of their choice. The same tactic is used on black women every day in blogs and social media to target them for “hating on their own race” or “emasculating their black men.” [that’s another generalization on the writer’s part. and what does “even jill scott” mean? did she say she wanted an explanation? does this writer know something that i don’t? what does an explanation have to do with the targeting of black women for emasculating black men? especially on twitter or facebook? this is not clear to me as a reader. honestly.]

Why is it that writers / bloggers are so selective and precise in their descriptions? [because they wanna be? creative license?]

Listen to how she delivers her “anonymous friend” to you in her piece: “handsome, African-American, intelligent and seemingly wealthy…”

Could you assume that if the gentleman that Jill Scott referred to in her article was some hardened thug, this article would have never been written?[it could be assumed. but if she was asked to write about interracial dating — black men w/ white women in particular — and the anonymous friend wasn’t part of a particular class standing, would the piece mean any less to certain folks? maybe. maybe not. we don’t know, cuz that isn’t what was published.]

In Summary

With Jill Scott’s influence and celebrity status in the black community, she could have set an enormous example by electing to throw her support behind equality, mutual respect and hope between black and white people in this country. [the path to mutual respect and equality begin and end w/ individuals. and i’m sorry, but why put that on her? and why this treatment of black women as a monolith who’ll listen to one person or go to one place for enlightenment? did jill say she hates white ppl? did she say any of that? i really don’t think that’s what was published… ]

Instead she added more confusion and dissention to an already complex issue. [dissent. not dissention. also: dissent implies that everyone was of one accord to begin with. probably not true. no group of people is a monolith.]

This is a blog. The advantage of a blog over a static website is that you have the opportunity to make a permanent impact with others simply by commenting on the articles here on Interracial Love Magazine. This is an important article. Leave your comments below.

Interracial Love Magazine is a monster on Twitter. We are very active and just as controversial. Follow us on Twitter here @Interracial_Mag.

Think about it. Want to be a leader? Follow Interracial Love Magazine.

**

my summary: jill scott isn’t the key to unlocking the imaginary ‘coloreds only’ chastity belts being worn by hetero black women in the states.  don’t put any of this on her. also: privilege is a motherfucker. i am choosing not to go into further discussion of this site, especially not its questionable (to me) sponsorship or overall tone of racial fetishizing, which slapped me in the face from the first time i clicked the link from twitter.

blips of knowledge, the way i see it.

(because twitter has more or less ruined my ability to write full paragraphs unless i’m absolutely livid, i write in blips now. lord help.)

– broken ppl make broken homes. not divorces. not single parenting, or non-cohabitative coparenting.  broken ppl.

– maybe you can’t stop cheating on your partner cuz you never wanted to be monogamous to begin with.  & maybe you’re afraid to speak up. that’s nobody’s issue but yours.

– if you have babies w/ someone & don’t wanna fuck w/ them anymore, make sure your breakup is from them & not the kids. (raise your hand if you’ve had or presently suffer from the absentee parent blues & love that absentee parent but can’t fuck w/ em.)

– the reason i’m not laughing is because that shit isn’t the fuck funny. do better.

– to my fellas: if you’re that worried about kids being used as a ploy to get your money, put on a condom or get a reversible vasectomy. go half on her IUD, pills, or patch. shut your bitch ass the fuck up. (this one is a paraphrasing of something that fiqah said to me today.)

– to my ladies: motherhood is not the default. neither is monogamy. if you aren’t sure, make sure you wrap that shit up, b. please. cuz the fallout is not worth your sanity. the default breakup setting as of late seems to involve (exclusively) the leaving of mama holding the bag. not okay. not okay for you, for the kid(s).

– sometimes, the asshole is the person you like better. just watch yourself. don’t be surprised if/ when they do some asshole shit.

– grief is a motherfucker. when guilt rides its back, you’re in trouble.

– issues of race don’t ever boil down specifically to black versus white. they don’t. because black and white aren’t the only races. next!

– motherfuckers get really scared when you take your power, reclaim your space, and clean house. let them.

food for thought: a stream of consciousness & general rantiness

nuggets of  truth & hilarity from my marathon talkfests with fiqah, of possum stew.

– racism doesn’t need hate in order to function. no form of oppression does. in fact, ignorance is quite the consummate fuckery fuel. think about how many times you have been confronted with information to the contrary of your (racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or otherwise oppressive-to-a-group-of-people) opinion or belief & found that information was all you needed to set your lil brain in the right direction? that doesn’t, of course, mean that hate isn’t fuel for oppression.  it means that even without hate, these things exist & still manage to fuck people over.

– love can move mountains. it can also be used to justify the ugliest things humans do/ say.  love doesn’t erase fucked up shit. it can and does exist alongside this fucked up shit. don’t excuse the fucked up shit.

– when talking to a child, imagine that what you’re saying is the last thing you will ever say to that child. especially if that child is your own. what do you want their last thought of you to be? don’t assume shit. (i personally believe that this should be extended to everyone.  you can tell someone about themselves without destroying them or dragging them into a fight.  don’t be that asshole who tries to climb in the fucking casket at your girl’s funeral cuz you weren’t doing right by her before she passed away.)

– either you play the victim role or act as a survivor. you can’t throw up the shield of “i’ve been hurt” and then use that as a reason to treat people like shit. to generalize. to lump folks into the same group because it’s convenient to do so.  this includes jumping to conclusions based on something that’s triggered you instead of simply keeping yourself aware that something triggering just happened. also: if your responses to triggers of all sizes are rarely or never proportionate to said triggers, you’re fucking up. big time. & there may be a lot more healing left undone by you.

– never eat the pickles from a bodega. the pickle jars are older than that bottle of fucking steak sauce in the back of your mama’s fridge. no, really.  eww.

– most folks who feel they have alter egos may be just afraid of being their whole contradictory selves. there’s nothing wrong w/ admitting that, and eventually working that shit out.

– people who insult you in snide ways are often so intimidated that they really don’t know how to engage with you without saying some fucked up shit. cuz they are SCARED. shit. don’t feel bad. (not that i didn’t know that. but fiqah reminded me.)

– it is not absurd to love someone deeply as a person, think they’re a great lay, & then find them as a mate to be worthy of a kick across the face. the same is true of people who’d be awesome co-parents, but terrible long-term or lifetime partners.

– just because you’re louder than i am, doesn’t mean you win. allowing yourself to be dragged into a fight is feeding the bullshit.

more fiqah wisdom as it comes. i love that woman.

presenting: the absurdity of tina knowles.

now, y’all know i love clothes. i live for sparkly, brightly colored shit that some may shy away from. but one day about two years ago i had the misfortune of discovering that tina knowles (mother of beyonce, solange, & play mama to kelendria) had unleashed on the unsuspecting & undeserving masses released, in addition to dereon, a line of clothing via the home shopping network’s website and live broadcasts.  be still, my heart! more profound fashion fuckery? i tuned into HSN to learn just what awaited me.  i wasn’t ready. not at all. & i know you aren’t, either.  let’s take a stroll down the hallowed halls of miss tina’s fashions. shall we?

first up:  the caged beast leather hobo handbag.  this thing is what nightmares are made of, i’m sure.

it originally sold for $250. WHAT? note that the bag not only has interchangeable inserts, but that they are all in an ambiguous “animal print”, sort of furry fabric! hence the name caged beast, i presume. cleva! i am still amazed that when i perused the hsn website around this time last year, there was an alarming note proclaiming that only three bags remained.  i have yet to see one of these bags in person — i pray that i never do. (& i do NOT believe for one second that the woman doing this video believes anything she’s saying. dig the clowning that begins at about 1:47.)

next: from the ‘heritage’ section of misstina.com, a bit of background (my notes in italics):

The visionary behind the Miss Tina Collection blessed with her mother’s talent and creative ability, Tina Knowles rose to fame as the gifted designer and world renowned stylist for her daughters, Beyoncé and Solange Knowles and Kelly Rowland and the Grammy award winning group, Destiny’s Child.  (oh, so she’s the one to blame for the piss-poor clothes in such fabrics as bright orange camoflage & “what is that, velvet?” worn by destiny’s child? don’t act like y’all don’t remember that shit from the soul train awards!)  This accomplished interior designer, celebrated author and talented chef, serves as the creative force for the collection. (what the fuck has cooking got to do w/ this? and she’s a celebrated author? for realzies? i can’t.)

Tina’s unique vision; a combination of high style, attention detail sprinkled with a taste of couture, enables her to create a distinctive blend fo signature and luxe for the Miss Tina Collection. (the comma splices and extreme misuse of a semicolon have made reading this so much more absurd for me. ugh. let me guess: miss tina herself wrote the shit, & nobody dared correct her on mechanics.)

further, the names miss tina gives to her creations are not indicative of any level of fashion knowledge. sorry to say. there’s no way she couldn’t have finessed “Quilted Entice Handbag with Pyramid Studs” into something else?  the same goes for the “Miss Tina Tall Boot with Studs“, “Miss Tina Logo-Print Studded Tapestry Peep-Toe Boots“, and “Cotton Shirt with Cuff“, which implies that the creole (don’t act like she doesn’t mention that shit at random) creative juices just were not flowing after a certain point. 

the fabric, y’all. the fucking fabric! the charmeuse, the not-even-modal jersey, the stretch denim (some of that shit is more than 3 percent lycra, which is nonsensical), & the crazy looking materials employed to make shoes all make me wonder what in the tangerine fuck is even going on here. i had the misfortune of coming across a miss tina dress in a local store. it was a mess. the cut was terrible (it even looked wack on the hanger), the fabric felt like the cheapest of cheap polyesters, & i think that for some reason the arms were inordinately huge. it was a hot pink tragedy w/ ruching (miss tina loves her some ruching!).  i felt bad for whomever paid full price for the damn thing a year ago. cuz it was most certainly hanging on the super duper last ditch effort clearance rack for $12. 

miss tina gives makeovers.

in conclusion, i’ll just say this: if you don’t understand what my big gripe is with tina knowles’ proliferation of bamma style, then simply do a google image search for ‘miss tina fashions’ & see what you come up with. i promise, you won’t be disappointed.  or, maybe you will? depends on what you’re expecting.

a colored girl’s love letter.

(i was gonna write a letter to tyler perry, but i’ve decided against it.  for now, anyway.)

so i’ve been thinking about tyler perry being at the helm of this major motion picture adaptation of for colored girls. and i’ve been reading the choreopoem itself over and over again.  and something i’ve come to realize as a result of this development is that when there’s an adaptation of an original work, lots of things get changed and moved around. i think the “pass” he gets is that he’s going to adapt the choreopoem. which means to me that we’re likely to get the storylines of the women, but with some serious redux. since TP’s subject matter almost exclusively involves heavily dysfunctional black women & men, we’re gonna get the essence of crystal and beau willie brown. we’re going to get the concept of the latent rapist bravado piece, but maybe never the idea that it is never the victim’s fault.
it would pain me incessantly to see this choreopoem turned into an episode of jerry springer with a dash of church music thrown in at the end.  it seems that lots of women i know feel the same way — it would be so tragic to see something we love so deeply turned into yet another reason to hear oleta adams’ “many rivers to cross” or mariah carey’s “fly like a bird” in the context of something that really reduces the black woman’s experience to its lowest common denominator.

so i’ve been thinking about that, too. what is this film adaptation going to look like? is it going to follow the same basic archetype as his other films/ plays (emotionally damaged black woman/ women finding redemption after much pain and strife… with a heavy dose of jesus h. christ for upliftment)? according to the ‘dream cast’ article from broadway.com (linked above), the narratives of the ladies will be incorporated into perry’s own script that leads them to ‘the colored girls center’. i, personally, see lots of his tried-and-true storytelling methods. i feel like that’s a really bad idea, given that most of the impact that for colored girls has (in my experience) comes from the very fact that it is a CHOREOPOEM. not a scripted play with a set and huge cast. not a scripted film with a plot. because linear storytelling, though it can be impactful, is not in tune with how most of us reach our epiphanized selves. at the end of the piece, is there not the mantra of “i found god in myself/ and i loved her/ i loved her fiercely”?  what about that? knowing that most of tyler perry’s viewership identifies as christian, are we going to discuss the divine feminine in this movie? i doubt it. so, i’m pissed.  i think it’s apparent from this piece written by stacia on postbourgie that the concern of colored girls fans is very real, and definitely not imagined or overblown.

an idea i’ve wanted to do ever since playing “lady in green” back in my freshman year of college is to do a series of colored girls readings.  it could be really simple. dinner, cocktails, the reading, then a discussion with notes and feedback forms and stuff.

i will do this. in philly, in nyc, in dc . . . where ever.

interested? email me. sechitatgmaildotcom with colored girls dinner party in the subject header.

thanks.

peace.

more on food stuff.

i read the comment left by ‘the vegan’ yesterday. and i read it again and again. i was going to respond directly to the comment but felt another blog post brewing. it’s ranty. it’s emotionally charged, because this is my life — and the very real lives of other folks — that i’m talking about here. so, here goes.

i don’t know if i wasn’t clear enough in this post to begin with, but, thanks to lovinginthewaryears’ comment i’m reminded that i never said once in this entry that i am as anti cruelty as i possibly can be. i’ve been ruminating on anti-imperialist action in my life. as a woman of color, my body is considered territory more often than not (ppl trying to decide how/ when/ where i ought to reproduce, for instance). i see similarities btwn the colonization of brown bodies and the functions of industrial farms — not just on the reproductive tip. i don’t agree with unnecessary brutalization of any being. however, if an animal has to die because its flesh feeds me — and anyone else — i can’t say it’s not necessary. i believe that less torturous methods can and should be used in farms, but because agribusinesses are running things, it’s not as likely to happen in the states. it’s just not. the work needs to be done by ALL people who are concerned to change he face of farming here. the same ppl who approve and encourage these practices — for they can hardly be called animal husbandry — are likely the folks who approve & encourage GMO plant life being part of the foods we eat. given that corn, soy, and wheat are the most used grains — and also have the highest percentages of GMO specimens — wouldn’t it be safe to say that we can’t eat the grains either? what about the farms that spray their tomatoes w/ salmon cells to protect the tomatoes from cold temps, so that they’ll grow when said tomatoes are not even in season? maybe i’m rambling. but, i feel that the whole system functions the same way. the prison system, these jobs, the government — it’s all the same shit to me. same cycle. so, to that end, i suppose we’re all working on whichever facet vexes us the most. that still doesn’t give anyone the space to condemn anyone else for surviving the best way they can. and that has nothing to do with knowledge of what’s ‘better.’ if they can’t do it, does it matter? i’d like for someone to trade me my food allergies for their diet CHOICES — dripping in privilege as much as racism/ sexism/ classism/ ableism — and tell me i’m wrong for eating chicken. go to the ER with your mom at 3 in the morning because you don’t know why she has hives and can’t keep water down, and then find out that it’s because of soybeans, which are virtually everywhere, and tell me she’s wrong for eating what doesn’t make her seriously ill.  i cannot and will not be sorry for being  a meat eater. i cannot and will not limit my diet to impossibly expensive gluten- and soy-free flour choices so that i can make my own bread.  i will not subsist on beans and rice forever just because it’s a vegan dish. for WHAT? when people who look like me are dying just as immediately or as slowly from drug addiction, abuse, police brutality, and violence against one another? no. sorry. not gonna happen. the quality of life for underprivileged (or poor or lower class or whatever words we use to dehumanize the situation) people has as much to do with the food choices they make as the availability of quality food. at the end of the day, the suburbanites have just as shitty food choices when you really think about it.

at the end of the day i refuse to be sick for anyone. i don’t care how wrong it is or isn’t. i’m surviving the best way i can.

the hierarchy of food.

i used to be a vegetarian. or, i should say, a pescetarian. i didn’t eat birds, cows, lambs, sheep, deer, or pigs. i ate lots of vegetables, lots of meat substitutes, etc. i drank lots of water. i thought i was healthier than meat eaters to some extent, but i was largely a veggie because i was disgusted by the idea of consuming flesh. it wasn’t that big of a deal to me. i went back to meat, cuz i love chick-fil-a.
i never really thought much about it, until sometime in 2006 when i became a vegetarian more or less by default. i couldn’t afford meat. and i didn’t like to cook it, then eat it. so, i very rarely prepared meat at home — i’d have pre-cooked, or somewhat processed (lots of stuff from trader joe’s, maybe a cheesesteak from a local spot) meat items. but one day, i started getting really sick. i was diagnosed with IBS and though there’s no real treatment for it, i did what i could to lessen its symptoms and impact. less stress, etc. but it got worse, especially when i finally returned to ‘regular’ food.

about 6 months after my first visits to the GI doctor, it really started to click: i ate a handful of pretzels. i was sick for two days and had hives on my arms. the pretzels contained wheat and soy. i assumed it was wheat, though i’d long ago suspected that soy was giving me lots of womb issues. so, bit by bit i had to eliminate things in my house. no more faux-meats (except for quorn products, which are often gluten free and soy free but not always vegan), no more bread, pasta, etc. i had to stop eating a lot of different prepared foods, as they almost always contained soy. soy lecithin, soybean oil, vegetable oil . . . the list goes on and on. i had to change how i ate. when i was broke, the cheapest things to eat were always pasta and baked tofu & veggies with some discounted tomatoes made into a sauce. i had to change that. i had to eat rice noodles. i had to use mushrooms, squash & zucchini when i prepared my ‘broke bitch’ food. i was cool with that. less food prep was involved, etc.  but the more i thought about it, the more frazzled i became.  why? because the things i could eat were very limited.  if i were hungry and on the go, i had to pray that i’d find something that didn’t involve eggs, soy, wheat, or dairy. because, of course, when you eat one fucked up thing there’s always another two or three or ten lurking behind. i am allergic to fish. i don’t eat eggs, because they make my stomach hurt (but i’ll eat something with egg as an ingredient, i.e. a gluten- and soy-free cake that has egg in it).  and so on.  i had to describe myself at one point as a vegan meat eater — that is, when i felt comfortable with my food restrictions enough to eat what i could, instead of what was available.  sometimes, the foods that i am most allergic to are the least expensive (see: ramen noodles — not that i ever ate them regularly — and lunchmeat & bread), depending on where i am (i live within walking distance of two supermarkets where i’m able to get what i need).  i wondered how this impacts folks who don’t have the same resources i do.  what if i come to a place in life where i no longer have those resources? and what’s caused these reactions? am i “lesser” for not choosing to be a locavore, vegetarian or vegan?

i don’t argue w/ the veggies/ vegans anymore on the animal cruelty tip. my reasoning is very simple. being who you are, in this country, in this place, in those clothes, etc. means you are dominating someone else on this planet. whether it’s a fellow citizen or a sweatshop worker, a child laborer, a kidnapped female sex worker, or war prisoner, you dominate with everything you do. if you desire to advocate for the lives of farm animals instead of human beings, i can’t stop you. but understand that it’s all connected. industrial farms are no different than puppy mills, no different than the factories that employ the people who make the nikes, et cetera. yes. i know this. but if you’ve never been allergic to fish, soy, eggs, milk, and wheat (possibly all gluten, including oatmeal), i don’t think you have room to talk shit about how someone chooses to get their protein. my sister, for instance, is allergic to mushrooms, tomatoes, soy, fish, eggs, dairy and onions, but can eat wheat.  tell her she needs to be a veggie, and she’ll laugh in your face. it’s her choice (as well as it is mine, and my mom’s, and anyone else’s) to get her protein from lean meats from locally raised animals, if from local farms at all. shit.   usually, people take care of themselves, the best way they know how and are able to.  we have to be equipped to do these things, right? 

** sort-of sidebar: animal cruelty is reflective of larger and deeply-rooted societal issues, in my opinion. how many ‘famous’ murderers first practiced on animals? how many people who are ill equipped to adequately deal with their own emotional shit pick on defenseless, smaller, or supposedly subordinate beings?  isn’t destructiveness of what can be broken down usually the result of a feeling of disenfranchisement elsewhere in one’s existence? wouldn’t that help to explain why dog fighting is so popular in working class communites and communities of color? **

so i’m saying, it’s taken me close to 12 hours to write this blog post.  and i don’t feel any closer to a conclusion.  i feel like choosing to be a vegetarian or vegan or locavore as a means of protesting big business farms/ food distro is a great idea. it is impactful when part of a bigger organizing.  i feel that by itself,  it falls short in some ways. no method is perfect. i also feel that it is classist, or at the very least excludes persons whose resources are severely limited. it is no secret that, in this country, the ‘healthier’ food options available to us are often more costly than the ‘regular’ food options. what do you do when you make “too much” for food stamps? what do you do when that $8 worth of antibiotic-free, free range, hormone-free, vegetarian-fed chicken is not enough for you alone to eat for more than two meals? i don’t know. i suppose it’s the same thing as understanding and implementing environmental justice instead of simply ‘going green’ in the hood.  you kinda have to see the bigger picture in order to even come close to knowing what your work is going to do.

and on another note, you can’t tell people how to live the best life for themselves without knowing intimately what their situation is. i’ll never forget the sideways look i got from someone for talking about how good bacon is. at one time, i didn’t eat pork or red meat because i was so thirsty for an identity i thought that super bohemian afro queen of the universe might suit me — and what better place to begin than with my food choices?  it failed. because i wasn’t coming from a place of my own understanding, but instead doing something that i thought would ally me with other folks.  i’m older, wiser, more traveled, and a lot more mellow.  i come back to the same thing i’ve said repeatedly to folks about my life: what’s right for you is not always — and sometimes never — right for another person.  we do not have the space to judge. we have the space to be ourselves, and live our best lives. and if we are truly concerned with that, picking on someone for eating meat (or not eating meat, or being homosexual, or being trans, or being a person with a disability, or WHATEVER) isn’t going to fucking matter.

erzulie.

(cross posted from my tumblr blog)

“Erzulie continues to articulate and embody a memory of slavery, intimacy, and revenge.”–Joan Dayan, “Erzulie: A Women’s History of Haiti” (2005) (via kismetfour)

working with this imagery of erzulie (either freda or dantor), i am inclined to take this quote as a reminder. no matter what happens, yeye will not be silenced or ignored. the premature celebration of some of philly’s residents around the potential disappearance of odunde is not gonna change much. the city’s lack of funds (screw what that article says, they didn’t give the st. patty’s day or mummers’ day parades this much of a hassle) does not mean there will be an erasure of the traditions of black folks. it’s not just about fried fish sandwiches, earrings & performances. odunde started as a procession to the schuylkill river to venerate orisha oshun. to say “modupe-o, yeye” (thank you, sweet mother) & make ebo (sacrifice or offering) to her, followed by a chance to fellowship. for brown faces to join in a setting that was not about a funeral, a trial, or a wedding. & the very second there’s something reminding some folks about where we come from & who we are, there’s a problem.

well, that’s too fucking bad. we may migrate to new neighborhoods & let y’all pretty things up — that’s fine. that’s a blessing to all involved, as each city needs is revenue. but there will be no erasing us. some of us are generations deep in this city.

oshun is the source. she is honey, she is beauty, she is creativity, she is the honey bee, she is the one who sprouts honey, she is the one with ears to hear. oshun is love. there is no stopping the river.

mbe mbe ma yeye (exist, exist always mother)
mbe mbe l’oro (exist, exist always in our tradition)

oshun isn’t going anywhere. we aren’t going anywhere. things may shift and change, but when we leave something behind it’s to get to something better, bigger & greater. this is something the colonizers never understood, something i daresay is still part of modern western consciousness: destroying something in the physical world very rarely means that there’s an end to it in the other realm.

spirit is not to be played with.

in defense of sex workers

(apologizing in advance for the rambly nature of this post. it’s taken me weeks to finish it.)

i am privileged. i come from a middle class background, both my parents are college educated, i went to prep school, and i attended a liberal arts college. i am privileged. i grew up with access to healthcare, to many resources in my neighborhood and in my city at large, and access to the information that can be used to improve just about any situation i’ve entered. the golden standard of my life has been one influenced by steady employment, education (self or institutional), and class-based values.  i have never taken a pay cut or been in a situation where i had no choice but to claw my way to the top. i’ve always been “employable” in situations that would improve my financial standing.  and, within my privileged status i have had the opportunity to do something that folks a the bottom of the capitalist ladder do not do: i have chosen to reject many facets of (if not all of) this privilege in the name of satisfying myself first.

my privilege, my access, my black bourgeois status means i have not yet in my life faced a situation where i had no choice but to work illegally to take care of myself.  i have never been a dope girl in that conventional sense; my existence has never hinged on the distribution of any package.  i have never robbed folks, participated in identity theft or other fraud, and i have not ever become a sex worker to support myself.  this is because often, choice is directly linked to access. it’s linked to privilege.

within my very strong interest in human sexuality, i have always considered sex workers in my conversations and thoughts.  sex workers are prostitutes, sex workers are porn stars, sex workers are phone sex operators and everyone in between. many (if not most) sex workers live lives devoid of fortune, fame, and glamour. instead, this is about the commodity of their bodies’ abilities to perform — not unlike those of us who work in settings viewed as “legitimate” by the larger society — and the profitability of their skill sets as well as the rate at which they produce.  this is about making money.  do not get it confused.

and though there’s a prevalent notion that anyone who does sex work is contributing to the decline of society as a whole (and that their morals are non-existent or “wrong”), i think it’s safe to say that a lot of folks know sex workers personally.  in my personal experience, stripping was a rite of passage for some friends. it was what you did to hustle up some money when there wasn’t any available.  lots of shake dancers are single moms; lots of women who turn tricks have mouths to feed. it’s a simple fact. and if nobody wants to hire you because you have kids (let’s face it, emergencies at school turn into hours lost at the plantation), or if you’re competing with dozens (even hundreds) of people with identical or better qualifications for the same job, your chances for hire are simply not that good.  everyone’s taking applications & resumes, but ain’t nobody hirin’. we all know that.  the present economic climate is beyond volatile; brown folks and women are feeling the pinch most of all.

i said all that to say that most ppl who know the life do not actually aspire to the life.  it is dangerous.  it is a source of shame. but it’s money. fast, usually, getting paid the same day you work (perfect for those emergencies, like food!), and almost a guarantee that you will spend less money on child care because the hours are shorter than day jobs or retail gigs.  it makes sense if you have an immediate need, it makes sense if you’re trying to stack a lot of money in a short period of time, & it makes sense to be a sex worker (namely a stripper or prostitute) when you cannot find a “legit” job that will pay you what you need. 

i have quite a few girlfriends who’re trade school grads, high school grads with some college under their belts,  and  college grads who’ve been sex workers. we live in a world where money is what you need, almost always, to get what you want/ need.  anyone who says they’d clean toilets for a living before being a sex worker probably doesn’t know that cleaning toilets for a living tends to have a 30 day (or more) turnaround period from inquiry to hire.  again: immediate needs tend to trump the “legitimacy” of a job.  this, to me, means that most of the folks talking shit about what’s wrong about sex work in regard to morality have no idea what it is to be that close to nothing.  this is beyond hand to mouth, beyond two checks away from poverty; this is poverty.  stepping away from privilege creates a whole other consciousness around what poor is, what poverty is, and what might be required of a parent (or of a family) to even begin to make ends meet.  i daresay that when some poor folks indict the character of sex workers it’s the result of internalized classism combined with the comfort of being able to point a disapproving finger at someone.  

the choices we make about the jobs we accept are framed by privilege, including the kind of work we do. my forays into sex work have been limited to working as a pro domme & subject of foot worship. i am not a prostitute.  i am not a shake dancer. i am not an escort. i am a pro domme.  i had the opportunity to research this type of sex work before deciding to participate. i have access to resources that have enabled me to decide the kinds of domme work i’m going to do, to advertise myself in arenas that maintain my anonymity & privacy, to do all of these things that give me a certain level of protection not afforded to women or men who walk the street or dance.  i am able to shut my business down or take it to another level whenever i’d like. i have more control over the whole situation because i’m informed enough and can create safety measures for myself. there’s time and space for me to create the situation i desire. though my privilege does not guarantee my safety i know that i at least have a buffer between myself and danger.  there’s something like a respectability factor that, if i got “busted” by someone’s wife, i could always throw prostitutes and strippers under the bus.  “at least i’m not fucking your husband, lady. i’m a domme, not a whore.” 

if i were selling my ass on the street, it’d likely be a different story. whether i had a pimp or not, i’d be in immediate danger of being subjected to attacks by citizens and police alike.  if i were dancing, i’d be subject to all manner of abuses both inside of the club and out.  as a matter of fact, as i type these last sentences there is very likely someone on the loose in philly poisioning girls who dance, either with drinks or drugs. (more on that later)

i could very easily, with a few changes to my life story, be one of these women.  the women we blame for being sex workers when they are assaulted or killed.  the women  whose lives we assess with two or three words because it’s convenient for us to do so (whore. dirty slut. home wrecker. trash. good-for-nothing).   with a few modifications to my background — or even my present situation — i could be the conspicuously invisible or missing family member who died mysteriously but has nobody to speak up for her.

& maybe that’s my whole point. there’s misrepresentation and misunderstanding around sex work.  regardless of whether you domme, you’re a porn star, you dance, or you escort, there’s an automatic marginalization.  the idea is that you are lesser than, you don’t deserve to walk with dignity or hold your head up high — especially if your station in life is not “honorable.”  but, in this structure, there is not built-in honor for all. there is no common knowledge that reminds folks of the idea that none of us deserves to be degraded or downtrodden by virtue of who we are. we do not earn or deserve suffering or mistreatment because of what we do to make money any more than by simply being who we are.

dear young strappin’:

it’s over. it’s been over. i liked you, a lot, for a long time. you are tall, dark, handsome, you have a strong back & you’re pretty damn smart.  we had some good times, you know?  late night pancakes, the time you lifted me over your head, the time you drove from new england in the rain just to see me for my birthday . . . & the sex was great. it was. i really enjoyed you.  you seemed to really enjoy me.  you were the perfect casual sex partner. conversation was good enough. you weren’t old enough to drink legally when we me but initially, that gap in age really didn’t mean a whole lot to me. because i wanted some no-strings-attached fun.  you provided that.  i was so grateful, especially that night you came out in a snowstorm just to look at me . . .

but then you got comfortable. i’m not saying i didn’t get comfortable as well, but damn.  you knew i had a kind heart & a soft spot for broke college kids & their elderly grannies. so, i let some shit slide that i wouldn’t have. it was the usual: i allowed my understanding of your situation become an excuse for allowing dumb shit. that’s not okay under any circumstances.  it implied that you were not responsible, on some level, for yourself.  you needed gloves and a hat for late season football practice and i broke my neck to get them to you. you still have them 5 years later (presumably a testament to how appreciative you were and most likely still are, no doubt), but the first time sets the precedent.   cuz my dumb ass shoved $50 in one of the gloves as a show of kindness, affection, and “you know this pussy will be waiting for you when you come home” type feelings. oh, how foolish i was! because you were gonna come get it anyway — the culture shock of all those beckies in one place was too much for you that first semester. you had to get used to your surroundings before attempting to fall off in the sorority houses, etc. & you didn’t like me nearly as much as you were fascinated and intrigued by me. the feeling was mutual, as much as we both sought to hide it.

and i carried a torch of sorts. you were that bridge between the rapper and whatever was next. i said good night to him & met you not even 5 minutes later. you served a purpose and represented something. i don’t resent or regret one moment of the time we spent together. i really did enjoy it for what it was. but things started to shift.  there was the time you took a call from another woman in my presence and told her the same shit you always used to tell me: you were hanging w/ your boys.  that didn’t sit well with me. because you were fucking me, but sleeping in her house. you were lying to both of us in some way. & since i’d taken the time to make our interactions about forthrightness (as much as possible), i was insulted. you asked me not to take that shit personally, but it’s kinda hard when you’re fucking someone and they’re complicating a relatively simple situation with half-truths.   but i stuck it out, cuz i figured you were young & didn’t know any better.  i presumed that you really didn’t know how to articulate your needs in a way that was comfortable for you. & though that was probably the case, i had no idea.  i tried to anticipate you. i tried to meet you three-fourths of the way because it made me feel like i was doing the right thing.  oh, young strappin’, what a fool i was.

when i moved to my new apartment in north philly, you had my back! you helped me move some stuff in.  you helped me hang curtains.  you fucked me on my new bed & scared the living shit out of my then-roommate’s piece of trash boyfriend. i appreciated you even more.  we were still functioning in that same fuck buddy space, but there was a new element. you could easily use my space as an overnight crash spot. i was okay with that. you distracted me from my situation with someone whom i’d met in the interim. you were competition for the dope boy over on jefferson street.  you gave me status, so to speak, when i was still learning that another person’s attraction to/ desire for me had nothing to do with the number of admirers i had.  oh, young strappin’, the things i’ve learned!

by the time i was settled into my routine and apartment in west philly, some things had changed. i was studying the yoruba tradition almost exclusively and contemplating taking the steps toward initiation.  i had cut my locks and gotten a tattoo.  i was beginning to explore my craftiness, my activism, and my sexuality in new ways.  i had new friends, i was finding community, and loving myself more.  that evolution marked the beginning of the end of our thing, this long & somewhat drawn out series of encounters that really should have been meeting over coffee or a random phone convo. but, when folks genitals are involved, it’s not always like that.

now, it’s been five years. we’ve both had some major changes in our lives. tats, piercings, haircuts, passing fancies, deaths in the family, graduations, trips abroad, championships . . . if i’d had to guess, i never would have imagined my relationship to you would be impactful.  i never would have thought that you’d be the only person i’d fucked in this bed. in this third, bigger, more expensive apartment.  & i would have never, ever, ever imagined that we wouldn’t be at least friendly any longer. i don’t know how that even happened. our last encounter wasn’t even good. i was in a new headspace then.  it was one of self affirmation, of self love, of making sure i was getting what i needed/ wanted out of every situation i entered.  & you couldn’t give me what i needed. it just wasn’t the right situation for me anymore.  & it still is not.  your stresses about the health & well being of your grandmother and younger siblings had you distracted. you really needed someone who was more open to soothing you. that wasn’t me at that point. & it quite possibly isn’t me now. i’m sorry we couldn’t do more for each other, yet thankful that it was what it was. 

so, i’ll keep your number and you’ll keep mine.  maybe we’ll cross paths somewhere in the city.  maybe i’ll reactivate my facebook account and send you a message one day, and we can do drinks or pancakes. we can catch up. you can show me your girlfriend or wife, your kids, your goddaughter . . . whatever. but, for right now i’m not answering any late night text messages. nobody wants to just say hi to me at 1:34 in the morning.  i’m not wasting my time responding to anything that isn’t an emergency.  so, i pray you’re safe. i hope you’ve found your dream job.  i wish you nothing but the best & brightest.  heaven knows you deserve it. you should be blessed infitely for your hard work. love & happiness are your birthright.