the black male privilege checklist.

you read that right.

The Black Male Privileges Checklist
By Jewel Woods
© Renaissance Male Project (2008)

What does “privilege” have to do with Black men? We understand some kinds of privilege. The privilege to call a black man “Boy”, even if that black man happens to be 60 years old or older. The privilege to drive a car and never have to worry that the police will racially profile you. Privileges that have nothing to do with what a person has earned, but rather are based entirely on who a person is, or what color they are.

As African Americans, we have the ability to critique and condemn these types of “unearned assets” because we recognize that these privileges come largely at our expense. We have also learned from social and political movements that have sought to redress these privileges, and academic disciplines that have provided us with the tools to critically examine and explore them.

However, there is another type of privilege that has caused untold harm to both black men and women but has not had the benefit of being challenged by a social and political movement within our community, nor given adequate attention within our own academic community. The privilege that I am referring to is male privilege.

Male privilege is more than just a “double standard”, because it is based on attitudes or actions that come at the expense of women. Just as white privilege comes at the expense of African Americans and other people of color, gender double standards come at the expense of women.

Given the devastating history of racism in this country, it is understandable that getting black men to identify with the concept of male privilege isn’t easy! For many black men, the phrase “black male privilege” seems like an oxymoron — three words that simply do not go together.

While it is understandable that black men are hesitant or reluctant to examine the concept of male privilege, the African American community will never be able to overcome the serious issues that we face if we as black men do not confront our role in promoting and sustaining male supremacist attitudes and actions.

Inviting black men and boys into a conversation about male privilege does not deny centuries of discrimination or the burden of racism that we continue to suffer from today. As long as a black man can be tasered 9 times in 14 minutes, shot at 50 times on the morning of his wedding night, or receive less call-backs for a job than a white man with a felony record, we know that racist sexism that targets black men is alive and kicking.

Examining black male privileges offers black men and boys an opportunity to go beyond old arguments of “personal responsibility” or “blaming the man” to gain a deeper level of insight into how issues of class and race are influenced by gender. Gender is one of the most important tools in the production and reproduction of power because it relies on consent and not just coercion.

The items represented on the Black Male Privileges Checklist reflect aspects of Black men’s lives that we take for granted, which appear to be “double standards,” but in fact are male privileges that come at the expense of women in general and African American women in particular.

I offer this checklist based on years of experience working with men, and with the faith that we as men have far more to gain than we have to lose by challenging the privileges that we take for granted.

I believe that there are more similarities between men than there are differences. Therefore, many items on the Black Male Privilege Checklist apply to men generally. However, because of the specific privileges that black men have in relationship to black women; there are specific items that apply only to black men. I will leave it up to you to determine which items apply only to black men, and which items apply to men in general.
The Black Male Privileges Checklist
Leadership & Politics

1. I don’t have to choose my race over my sex in political matters.
2. When I read African American History textbooks, I will learn mainly about black men.
3. When I learn about the Civil Rights Movement & the Black Power Movements, most of the leaders that I will learn about will be black men.
4. I can rely on the fact that in the near 100-year history of national civil rights organizations such as the NAACP and the Urban League, virtually all of the executive directors have been male.
5. I will be taken more seriously as a political leader than black women.
6. Despite the substantial role that black women played in the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Movement, currently there is no black female that is considered a “race leader”.
7. I can live my life without ever having read black feminist authors, or knowing about black women’s history, or black women’s issues.
8. I can be a part of a black liberation organization like the Black Panther Party where an “out” rapist Eldridge Cleaver can assume leadership position.
9. I will make more money than black women at equal levels of education and occupation.
10. Most of the national “opinion framers” in Black America including talk show hosts and politicians are men.

Beauty
11. I have the ability to define black women’s beauty by European standards in terms of skin tone, hair, and body size. In comparison, black women rarely define me by European standards of beauty in terms of skin tone, hair, or body size.
12. I do not have to worry about the daily hassles of having my hair conforming to any standard image of beauty the way black women do.
13. I do not have to worry about the daily hassles of being terrorized by the fear of gaining weight. In fact, in many instances bigger is better for my sex.
14. My looks will not be the central standard by which my worth is valued by members of the opposite sex.

Sex & Sexuality
15. I can purchase pornography that typically shows men defile women by the common practice of the “money shot.”
16. I can believe that causing pain during sex is connected with a woman’s pleasure without ever asking her.
17. I have the privilege of not wanting to be a virgin, but preferring that my wife or significant other be a virgin.
18. When it comes to sex if I say “No”, chances are that it will not be mistaken for “Yes”.
19. If I am raped, no one will assume that “I should have known better” or suggest that my being raped had something to do with how I was dressed.
20. I can use sexist language like bonin’, laying the pipe, hittin-it, and banging that convey images of sexual acts based on dominance and performance.
21. I can live in a world where polygamy is still an option for men in the United States as well as around the world.
22. In general, I prefer being involved with younger women socially and sexually
23. In general, the more sexual partners that I have the more stature I receive among my peers.
24. I have easy access to pornography that involves virtually any category of sex where men degrade women, often young women.
25. I have the privilege of being a part of a sex where “purity balls” apply to girls but not to boys.
26. When I consume pornography, I can gain pleasure from images and sounds of men causing women pain.

Popular Culture
27. I come from a tradition of humor that is based largely on insulting and disrespecting women; especially mothers.
28. I have the privilege of not having black women, dress up and play funny characters- often overweight- that are supposed to look like me for the entire nation to laugh.
29. When I go to the movies, I know that most of the leads in black films are men. I also know that all of the action heroes in black film are men.
30. I can easily imagine that most of the artists in Hip Hop are members of my sex.
31. I can easily imagine that most of the women that appear in Hip Hop videos are there solely to please men
32. Most of lyrics I listen to in hip-hop perpetuate the ideas of males dominating women, sexually and socially.
33. I have the privilege of consuming and popularizing the word pimp, which is based on the exploitation of women with virtually no opposition from other men.
34. I can hear and use language bitches and hoes that demean women, with virtually no opposition from men.
35. I can wear a shirt that others and I commonly refer to as a “wife beater” and never have the language challenged.
36. Many of my favorite movies include images of strength that do not include members of the opposite sex and often are based on violence.
37. Many of my favorite genres of films, such as martial arts, are based on violence.
38. I have the privilege of popularizing or consuming the idea of a thug, which is based on the violence and victimization of others with virtually no opposition from other men.

Attitudes/Ideology
39. I have the privilege to define black women as having “an attitude” without referencing the range of attitudes that black women have.
40. I have the privilege of defining black women’s attitudes without defining my attitudes as a black man.
41. I can believe that the success of the black family is dependent on returning men to their historical place within the family, rather than in promoting policies that strengthen black women’s independence, or that provide social benefits to black children.
42. I have the privilege of believing that a woman cannot raise a son to be a man.
43. I have the privilege of believing that a woman must submit to her man.
44. I have the privilege of believing that before slavery gender relationships between black men and women were perfect.
45. I have the privilege of believing that feminism is anti-black.
46. I have the privilege of believing that the failure of the black family is due to the black matriarchy.
47. I have the privilege of believing that household responsibilities are women’s roles.
48. I have the privilege of believing that black women are different sexually than other women and judging them negatively based on this belief.

Sports
49. I will make significantly more money as a professional athlete than members of the opposite sex will.
50. In school, girls are cheerleaders for male athletes, but there is no such role for males to cheerlead for women athletes.
51. My financial success or popularity as a professional athlete will not be associated with my looks.
52. I can talk about sports or spend large portions of the day playing video games while women are most likely involved with household or childcare duties.
53. I can spend endless hours watching sports TV and have it considered natural.
54. I can touch, hug, or be emotionally expressive with other men while watching sports without observers perceiving this behavior as sexual.
55. I know that most sports analysts are male.
56. If I am a coach, I can motivate, punish, or embarrass a player by saying that the player plays like a girl.
57. Most sports talk show hosts that are members of my race are men.
58. I can rest assured that most of the coaches -even in predominately-female sports within my race are male.
59. I am able to play sports outside without my shirt on and it not be considered a problem.
60. I am essentially able to do anything inside or outside without my shirt on, whereas women are always required to cover up.

Diaspora/Global
61. I have the privilege of being a part of a sex where the mutilation and disfigurement of a girl’s genitalia is used to deny her sexual sensations or to protect her virginity for males.
62. I have the privilege of not having rape be used as a primary tactic or tool to terrorize my sex during war and times of conflict.
63. I have the privilege of not being able to name one female leader in Africa or Asia, past or present, that I pay homage to the way I do male leaders in Africa and/or Asia.
64. I have the ability to travel around the world and have access to women in developing countries both sexually and socially.
65. I have the privilege of being a part of the sex that starts wars and that wields control of almost all the existing weapons of war and mass destruction.
College
66. In college, I will have the opportunity to date outside of the race at a much higher rate than black women will.
67. I have the privilege of having the phrase “sewing my wild oats” apply to my sex as if it were natural.
68. I know that the further I go in education the more success I will have with women.
69. In college, black male professors will be involved in interracial marriages at much higher rates than members of the opposite sex will.
70. By the time I enter college, and even through college, I have the privilege of not having to worry whether I will be able to marry a black woman.
71. In college, I will experience a level of status and prestige that is not offered to black women even though black women may outnumber me and out perform me academically.
72. If I go to an HBCU, I will have incredible opportunities to exploit black women

Communication/Language
73. What is defined as “News” in Black America is defined by men.
74. I can choose to be emotionally withdrawn and not communicate in a relationships and it be considered unfortunate but normal.
75. I can dismissively refer to another persons grievances as ^*ing.
76. I have the privilege of not knowing what words and concepts like patriarchy, phallocentric, complicity, colluding, and obfuscation mean.

Relationships
77. I have the privilege of marrying outside of the race at a much higher rate than black women marry.
78. My “strength” as a man is never connected with the failure of the black family, whereas the strength of black women is routinely associated with the failure of the black family.
79. If I am considering a divorce, I know that I have substantially more marriage, and cohabitation options than my spouse.
80. Chances are I will be defined as a “good man” by things I do not do as much as what I do. If I don’t beat, cheat, or lie, then I am a considered a “good man”. In comparison, women are rarely defined as “good women” based on what they do not do.
81. I have the privilege of not having to assume most of the household or child-care responsibilities.
82. I have the privilege of having not been raised with domestic responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, and washing that takes up disproportionately more time as adults.

Church & Religious Traditions
83. In the Black Church, the majority of the pastoral leadership is male.
84. In the Black Church Tradition, most of the theology has a male point of view. For example, most will assume that the man is the head of household.

Physical Safety
85. I do not have to worry about being considered a traitor to my race if I call the police on a member of the opposite sex.
86. I have the privilege of knowing men who are physically or sexually abusive to women and yet I still call them friends.
87. I can video tape women in public- often without their consent – with male complicity.
88. I can be courteous to a person of the opposite sex that I do not know and say “Hello” or “Hi” and not fear that it will be taken as a come-on or fear being stalked because of it.
89. I can use physical violence or the threat of physical violence to get what I want when other tactics fail in a relationship.
90. If I get into a physical altercation with a person of the opposite sex, I will most likely be able to impose my will physically on that person
91. I can go to parades or other public events and not worry about being physically and sexually molested by persons of the opposite sex.
92. I can touch and physically grope women’s bodies in public- often without their consent- with male complicity.
93. In general, I have the freedom to travel in the night without fear.
94. I am able to be out in public without fear of being sexually harassed by individuals or groups of the opposite sex.

Background:

The Black Male Privileges Checklist was born out of years of organizing men’s groups and the numerous — often heated — conversations I have had with men while utilizing Barry Deutsch’s The Male Privilege Checklist. In my experiences, most men would object to at least some items on the Male Privilege Checklist. However, “men of color”, and especially African American men, often had the sharpest criticisms of the Male Privilege Checklist and the most problems relating to the idea of male privilege.

There are many reasons why black men would be reluctant to identify with the concept of male privilege. One of the most important reasons is that our experience with privilege is based on a history of political, economic, and military power that whites have historically exercised over black life. This conceptualization of privilege has not allowed us to see ourselves with privilege because the focus has been placed largely on whites. Privilege is not restricted to economic, political, or military areas of life. Privilege is also social, cultural, sexual, institutional, and interpersonal in nature. Our inability to have a more expansive understanding of privilege and power has foreclosed important insights into virtually every aspect of black men’s lives and other “men of color”.

As black men, we have also been skeptical of pro-feminist males, most of whom were white and middle class. Black men who fought for freedom during the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Movements were suspicious- to say the least- of the motives of white men who were requesting that black men give up the privilege they never felt they had. Given the timing of the pro-feminist male movement and the demographics of these men, it has not been easy to separate the message from the messenger. Black men had a similar reaction to the voices of black feminists, who we saw as being influenced by white middle class feminists. Alongside this, there has long been a belief among many black men that racism provides privileges to black women that are denied to black men.

In addition, many of the items on The Male Privilege Checklist simply did not to apply to black men and other men of color. As a result, many black men argued that the list should have been called The White Male Privilege Checklist. In light of these considerations, the Black Male Privileges Checklist differs from the Male Privilege Checklist in several respects.

First, It departs from an “either/or” view of privilege that suggests that an individual or a group can only be placed into one category. Therefore, the focus is on privileges and not privilege. It also highlights belief systems that often serve as the basis for justifications and rationalizations of exploitation and discrimination. Second, The Black Male Privilege Checklist takes a Life Course perspective, acknowledging the fact that privilege takes on different forms at various points in men’s lives. Third, it takes a Global perspective to highlight the privilege that black males have as Americans, and the privileges black men share with other men of color. African American men rarely acknowledge the privilege we have in relationship to people in developing countries — especially women. Too often, our conception of privilege is limited to white men and does not lead us to reflect on the power that men of color in Africa, Asia, and Latin America exercise over women. Finally, it calls for action and not just awareness. We need “men of color” to be actively involved in social welfare and social justice movements.

Invariably, the Black Male Privileges Checklist will inspire some men to create their own list describing the list of privileges they believe black women benefit from. What men need to understand is that paying attention to male privilege does not mean that women are without faults. Rather, it means that black men cannot be blind to the facts that black men earn more than black women do, black men continue to dominate most of the political, religious, and cultural institutions within the black community, and that black men continue to dominate black women in areas of physical and sexual abuse.

As “men of color”, we have a responsibility to acknowledge that we participate in this system even though it offers us little rewards. Most African Americans, for example, take for granted the system of capitalism that we all participate in, even though we know that it does not offer us the same rewards that it does for whites. The sex-gender system, which privileges men over women, operates in similar way for all men. Black men and other “men of color” can participate in this system even though it does not offer similar rewards.

Finally, the Black Male Privileges Checklist is a tool that can be used by any individual, group, organization, family, or community that is interested in black males having greater insight into their individual lives and the collective lives of black women and girls. It is also a living tool that will grow and be amended as more discussion and dialogue occurs. This is the first edition of the Black Male Privileges Checklist and will be updated regularly. This checklist was created with black men in mind, and does not necessarily capture the experiences and cultural references of other ethnic males. I would welcome dialogue with others who are concerned about these constituencies as well.

Please visit our website at http://renaissancemaleproject.com/ to view our Teen & Male Youth Privileges Checklist. An historic tool for all young males, schools, community organizations, youth groups, sports teams, and families that can be used to assist our young males in becoming the type of adult men we want them to be.

Jewel Woods is a gender analyst specializing in men’s issues and executive director of the Renaissance Male Project . He is also the co-author of ‘Don’t Blame it on Rio: The Real Deal Behind Why Men Go to Brazil for Sex.’

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cryin like a hit dog

(and maybe you are?)
(this is a rant, straight up)

dear penis-havers:

if you ever find yourself complaining really hard about what another dude is paying for child support, create an advocacy group. do something to change the law. have a balanced, fair, honest assessment of the situations that are being mediated (however poorly or well) by the courts. the “keep a nigga” baby (phonte said that, not me) isn’t the only kind of baby. there’s often the “that nigga switched up” baby, and the “he started doing drugs” baby . . . sometimes the “i really shoulda left that nigga alone when he told me he was married” baby. often, in my experience, there’s the “fuck that, nigga i’m not getting an abortion” baby. why? because abortion isn’t anyone’s fucking party, and male contraception comes in at least two trusty flavors: vasectomy (with a lower mortality rate than a tubal ligation!) and condoms. that doesn’t make any woman less responsible for her own contraception, but i’m sayin. motherfuckers love pointing blaming ass fingers after the kid comes and ppl stop wanting to even look at one another.

often, going to court is a final choice for two otherwise rational adults. in my personal experience, the legal proceedings of divorce kind of demand that agreements be reached (either with or without a court), and put into writing to be made binding unless both parties agree to change things. this is usually effective if the divorce is amicable. if it’s not — and it seems like most divorces aren’t, for the same reasons there are ‘fatherless’ children — then it gets hairy and ignorant.
and nobody’s gonna tell me that everyone remains a grownup when it comes down to the breakdown of a marriage. it’s like when you break up w/ your boo of years (regardless of who’s wrong or right) and emotions get heated. because they do. because you’re human, and so is s/he. fuck outta here… everyone should act sensibly when it comes down to it. but that’s not the most realistic thing to ask when you realize your lady’s been plotting to divorce you for the past six months and only does it after she makes sure you put some money up for a down payment on a house. it can’t happen when you marry your man because the two of you agree that it’s the best thing to do for the new baby, but that jackass stops coming home at a decent hour and smells like some other woman’s pussy when he does. quit fuckin playin.
puffy pays what he pays not just because of his income. back before justin was actually old enough to know the difference between birthdays bein the worst days & sippin champagne when he’s thirst-ay, puff was on that bling shit. before it had a name, he championed it. soooooo, of course misa hylton-brim is gonna get crazy money for that kid. regardless of her own income as a stylist, puffy makes infinitely more money than she does or ever did. that means that per the law in most states/ commonwealths, it’s based on the needs of the child in addition to the income level of both parents before they split up. the lifestyle comes into question. a lot of it is spousal support, too; the idea is that both the custodial parent and child did better as a full on family unit with the non-custodial parent present.
if you don’t like it:
lobby
protest
picket
wrap your dick up
tell your boy to wrap his dick up
make sure you learn what the laws are in your state or commonwealth
be for real for 5 minutes and remember that the biological function of sexual intercourse is to make babies
respect the whole process
and go to your legislators and tell them to change the shit to really help those babies! i believe moms, dads, kinship caregivers, foster parents, adoptive parents, and anyone else who gives a shit about the wellbeing of a child should band together. these fuckers make laws for us all of the damn time that make zero sense in our day-to-day lives. they’re not necessarily living the same way we are. so of course they do seemingly dumb shit like award $20K per month per kimmussell until they’re 20 or whatever. and you know what? it’s warranted, according to the man who has to “foot the bill.” stop looking at the kids like fucking bills. you weren’t thinking about that shit when all that fuckin and suckin was goin on, WERE you? nobody ever is. i’m still childless after one extended stint as an almost baby’s mama. and you know what? that shit scared me right into the place i am right now: focused on taking care of ME.
but that’s another story.
my point is this: for those of us who can’t hash it out like grownups, we go to court or have a spiritual advisor or whomever help us do so. it happens. don’t talk about the shoulds/ should nots simply because that’s a waste of breath. if it’s gonna be so in your fantasy world, put in the work to create the world you want to see.
and start with your kids, nigga, so they might have a chance at doing it differently than you.

** i do agree with some of what tigallo said, particularly about what can happen whilst fuckin with “ain’t shit” individuals. problem: most ppl with errant babies fall into the “ain’t shit”/ TKON affiliate or card carrying member category. i’m just sayin, if the brotha’s raps aren’t lies then he’s personally invested in the whole child support/ separated parents side of life. fine. that’s his walk. but everyone ain’t tay. everyone ain’t russ, kimora, misa, puffy, or even charlie sheen or denise richards.
some of us got too comfortable with someone and when the lil piss test showed two lines instead of one, folks began to show their asses.
then they end up writing songs like “ms. jackson.” even your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper goes through it. we’re not all at the same maturity level. it is what it is.

*shrug*

life lessons.

in my old blog (it’s not published any longer, so please don’t ask for a link) i began to write life lesson posts. i copied and pasted the text here, for my own amusement & wonder at my personal growth. i’m likely to revise these and really make them more comprehensive. i’ve got 4 years of personal growth on me that will hopefully enrich my original project.

lesson one: your first mind.

we human beings have this wonderful thing called a first mind. or, as some call it, intuition/ a gut feeling/ a hunch. follow that motherfucker. if you are of the impression that someone’s shady, chances are you’re right. my first mind told me i wasn’t gonna make it through my second week working for ACORN. did i? nope. when someone shows their ass to you in such a way that you can’t deny what’s going on, step back. evaluate what’s going on. listen to the part of self that chews @ your insides telling you, “cut that shit out, yo.”

lesson two: respecting one’s gangsta (incomplete)

if you don’t know, one’s gangsta is their gumption/tenacity/ovarian or testicular fortitude. my gangsta is what made me decide to rock a teal t-shirt w/ red & green beaded necklaces, deep magenta sneakers & a pocket book that doesn’t match ANY of it . . . all whilst wearing jeans w/ a hole in the arse. understand? i love me. i respect me. ain’t nobody dope as me © outkast

dig me? your gangsta is all the history you carry w/ you that made your parents meet up & be who they are, everything that allows you to be your wonderful self. so yeah.

lesson three: extending yourself

it really boils down to a few points:

ppl who’re unable to articulate their need for your help are more than likely incapable of articulating their appreciation of said help.

if you’re helping folks so they will sing your praises eternally, you’ll be disappointed.

know when to step back.


lesson four: knowing when to shut the fuck up. (also incomplete, likely to be revised along with the others at a later date)

just because you’ve been lied to/ bullshitted(bullshat?)/ had smoke blown up your ass, by no means do you need to be skeptical of everyone you know. there’s a fine line btwn critical thinking and just getting on ppl’s fucking nerves.

sometimes, you really do have to take things @ face value. & even if you don’t believe everything you’re being told, just take it w/ a grain of salt & allow that shit to roll off your back.

i skipped ahead cuz i felt like each lesson should move in progression, kinda building up to a climactic final life lesson, which i may only know of when i die. but anyway:

lesson seventy-five: shackin up

postin up w/ a motherfucker like you’re his/ her wife/hubby is NOT the move under most circumstances. i was thinking back on how the fall of 2001 through the fall of 2002 was one painfully long, drawn out lesson on why plenty folks will not even consider buying the cow, so to speak, when there’s free cow juice to be had. really. playing that role, for me, has proven to be a huge mistake. case in point: when you’ve already given everything & your relationship is still new, you’ve already taken away the mystery/ goodness of getting to know that other person. in a way, you’ve fast forwarded past the really dope shit & more or less created mundaneness. i’m not saying relationships can’t move fast, but if it’s only been three months & you still don’t know where the fuck your partner grew up you might wanna fall back.

on: acting right.

thembi’s lady laws for black women (with my notes in italics):

1. Stay Off Of The Pole. And For That Matter, Out Of Videos. I haven’t decided whether or not I have a real problem with strippers or strip clubs in general – who am I to say that men shouldn’t be allowed to gather in a public place and expose their inability to be fully intimate with their spouses by fondling and ogling some stray woman? What I do know is that YOU shouldn’t be one of said strays. Letting your body be drool-worthy for a room full of men cheapens and degrades you, and in the long run is not at all worth the money (no matter how pressed you are for cash). You never know who will be in that club, and when the “I saw Keisha on the pole!” story is told, your future boss or uncle who was “just in there with his boys” won’t be the shamed one, you will! If you like showing off your sexy side, which all of us should, save it for the right man, who will love enjoying all of the freaknasty you have inside of you without having to pay for it on a dollar-by-dollar basis. Someone will always do it, just don’t let that someone be you. The same goes for being in videos. That is NOT a profession and will not lead to any sort of meaningful career, modeling or otherwise. A ho is a ho, root word whore, meaning sex for sale, and your stuff is priceless. Got it? [my note: this ties directly into lady law #8. if you’re gonna strip, you’re gonna strip. but don’t walk out of the shaky butt feeling like someone has managed to get more out of you than what they’ve paid for. unfortunately, we all know about becoming a sex worker (i include strippers in that) to pay for tuition and to feed babies. in my opinion, there are a few social issues that come into play when it comes to dancing vs. working 3 jobs or whatever. i kinda doubt that most of the women who might need this caveat even read thembi’s blog. but she makes a damn valid point: your future boss might be there with his boys. then what do you do? sometimes, the immediate need outweighs any potential fallout. especially when it comes to maintaining the roof over your head and that of your family. ultimately, though, shame/ embarrassment seem to tie directly into whether or not you fully own your history and present. living with no regrets usually involves being unabashedly yourself, which leads us into lady law #2.]

2. Go Where No Blackgirl Has Gone Before. The obvious interpretation of the title of my blog is that I think that I’m some Jesus figure. Not so. Actually, the very weekend before I started blogging, loyal commenter Aaliyah was at an almost all-white party filled with beefy frat boys and was asked to do a kegstand. At her side were two other friends of mine, one of which said to her “What would Thembi do?” The obvious answer – go where no black girl has gone before and do the freaking keg stand! It really IS ok to be you, whether it’s as trivial as going snowboarding or as major as pursing a PhD in Greek Mythology. Do the most random or ridiculous things you feel like doing even if you’re not technically supposed to do them, and do them at all times. The same goes for rock concerts, tattoo conventions, playing the accordion, or whatever! Being a blackgirl comes with a unique set of baggage – on the one hand, we’re accustomed to being a minority in almost any situation a million times over. On the other hand, we feel like there are certain places and activities that aren’t “ok” for us. Forget all of that, risk ostracization, and trailblaze for us all. We can’t keep saying “But blackgirls don’t _______” or else we’ll never do anything at all. Be YOU, regardless of whatever skin tone, sorority, thickness, neighborhood, or whatever you may be a part of. None of it is as fresh as plain old blackgirl you. [ummmm, BASICALLY. do what you want to do because it makes you feel tingly and warm all over. screw what everyone else thinks your blackness makes you. you’re yourself. period. it feels good to own and love your whole self. there’s nothing like it.]

3. DON’T Get Pregnant, DO Have A Baby. When people say “Life Is Short,” they really mean that life is short – when you’re unencumbered. Life is really, really long when you’re tied down to some dude who seemed great when you were sixteen years old but hasn’t even made it through his baby boy years when it’s time to send junior off to middle school. In fact, it can even seem too long when you start to calculate the potential unpaid child support, the number of times you tried to “make it work for the baby”, and the time you’ll spend child rearin’ instead of actually growing up, getting degrees, and making a name for yourself. Not to say you can’t have a baby early and have it all turn out rosy in the end, but howsabout having children with someone who can actually agree to be with you in a family unit for the long haul whether or not you just happen to get pregnant? Sidenote: It should go without saying, but why even risk diseases by not protecting yourself? A baby is not the only gift that keeps on giving, you know. [again, the women who probably need to at least be exposed to this concept are not reading thembi’s blog. unless thembi is posting her blog for the world on blackplanet or in the back covers of teri woods ‘novels’ so folks can at least impede their hurtling toward disaster. *shrug* you can’t win ’em all.]

4. Know Your Own Hair. Black women have more hair options than almost anyone else, and we exercise them to the fullest. But even those of use who switch from weave to ponytail and from blonde to red would never dare to wear our natural hair in public. I can spend the whole day running errands and not see one blackgirl without a perm, and the same goes for watching television or opening a magazine. What is up with that? Granted, I went natural the easy way with the Philly soul thing being at my heart and a head of naps that never really took a perm quite right, but what pains me is when another blackgirl says to me “I love your hair! How long did it take to grow? I could never get my hair to be that texture. How did you do it?” The reality of it is, most of us don’t even know what is growing out of our own heads, and its very sad. Not one other group of people on this planet can say the same. It’s fine if you settle on a perm or some braids or even a Jheri curl after exploring your options, just get to the point where you can say that you know what your natural hair even looks and feels like before you aspire to be Beyonce by default. [it is IMPORTANT to know what your hair is really about. it is really important to style, care for, manage, and possibly even cut your own hair YOURSELF. dependency on a stylist is kinda, like, not cute. no matter what your choice of hair is. if you’ve got a natural and only ever wear microbraids or wigs or weaves because your hair is ‘ugly underneath that’ SOMETHING IS WRONG. love yourself enough to know how to do specifically what you want for yourself at all times. it’s a liberating feeling.]

5. Get Out Of Town. I’ve met young women who have never left their cities, seen the ocean, or even set foot in another zip code. It’s not always cheap, and it’s not always fun, but the sooner you start traveling the better. In fact, this Lady Law applies to almost everyone of every race and gender. Make a list of dream locations and get started as soon as possible. The more time you spend in the same surroundings the less you understand about the world, and for that matter, what the world thinks of you – you’ll learn that you’re not trapped after all. Besides, you can’t conquer the world if you don’t know what’s out there, and it should be your goal to conquer it! Let the trailer trash of West Virginia confuse Mexicans with Spaniards and believe that Africa is a country and not a continent. Learn your world because it is yours to learn, even if you have to do so only an inch at a time. [i used to feel bad about not having hit every country i’ve wanted to by age 25. but then i met someone who’s never spent a night in a hotel (even in his own city, which can still be fun and eye opening depending on where you stay), never even been to the airport (cuz his ppl never go anywhere or do shit), and was so amazed at my proclivity toward traveling to nyc on a whim that he nearly pissed his pants at the chance to go himself. i got over that feeling of inadequacy. i am gonna go where i wanna go at every given chance. this year: a conference in harlem, caribana in toronto, quality time w/ the fam at the jersey shore (you aren’t a philadelphian without it), and a good girlfriend of mine is moving to atlantic city. it doesn’t take a lot, except maybe a plan or at the very least the real genuine true desire. things happen for us all at the right time, when they need to happen. no need to rush to be amelia earhart, but you most certainly need to get out of your zip code. not not just to go to court.]

6. Don’t Get Called Out of Your Name. I’m not on this whole “we were queens” tip, but I know that none of us should be called or let ourselves be called any of the following: bitch, ho, trick, and on and on and on. Don’t sing along with songs about “makin’ it rain” unless it’s for the sake of irony. Don’t even participate in anything misogynistic unless you know it’s only a joke to you, and even then don’t ever pay for it. Recognize that just like when he talks about selling crack you’re not selling crack, that when some rapper talks about his hoes he doesn’t mean you, download that song from Limewire, and keep it moving. And lastly, never, EVER call yourself anyone’s “baby’s momma.” My first encounter with an ex’s grown BM involved her introducing herself to someone as such, and as much evidence as I may have already had that she was feeble-minded, giving herself that label sealed the deal. Don’t be that broad. [context means everything, y’all. formal introductions should not ever in your life or your former partner’s life include the words ‘baby’s mama’ or any variant. that shit’s not cute. my mom occasionally refers to my estranged father as her baby daddy because she thinks it’s funny. she generally refers to him as her ex. big difference. also, the context within which we use the words bitch, ho, trick, etc. means a lot. a lot. if you’re at a drag ball, bitch is thrown around liberally. it’s culture. it’s context. watch yourself.]

7. Act White. I won’t bother justifying this term because you all know just what I mean. Talk white by speaking the King’s English, using full sentences, and the most intricate vocabulary you can muster. Act white by doing well in school, participating in any activity that suits you, and playing musical instruments. Don’t worry, you will never, ever actually BE white. If it were possible, don’t you think that all of those people who were lynched and beaten back in the day would have white-acted their way out of it? [i am a second-generation ‘oreo’. my mom said they used to call her white girl for being so precise with her english, and it’s definitely managed to rub off on me and my two sisters. it’s so serious that i have charged myself with the task of learning perfect, unaffected spanish so that i sound the best i possibly can to native speakers. i’m not playing. i know my vernacular, i have my moments where i’m like ‘you ain’t shit!’ or whatever. but when it comes time for that good code-switching i learned in my school days (penn charter and project learn STAND UP!), i go toe to toe with the best. furthermore, i’ve always believed that excellent grades are the ultimate smack in the face to the very white ppl whom your brown/ black/ red/ yellow peers can’t stand. fuck what the other black kids are telling you. strive to get that perfect score on the SAT’s. i took AP art history senior year. it was liberating, despite being the only black student in the class. again: be unafraid of your whole self.]

8. Get What You Deserve Without Worrying About What He Deserves. This is a weird one. All too often women say “I’m not giving it up to him, he doesn’t deserve it!” But what do YOU want? While it’s not smart to just go giving it up to any old body, getting caught up in the idea that your sexual desires should be based on what men deserve is the exact opposite of feminism. If we only had sex when men deserved it we would be a bunch of bitter, mean, deprived wenches. Learning and maintaining the balance between withstanding pressure from dudes and getting yours is part of becoming a real woman. [get yours, boo. GET IT. you want to fuck the guy or gal who delivers the milk to your supermarket? does she or he meet or exceed your standards for an acceptable fuck buddy? nobody said you had to marry the motherfucker. go on and make it happen. if you make everyone jump through a bunch of hoops when you aren’t trying to go far with their ass to begin with, you may find yourself bothered with the lack of good sex in your life. the key: having and maintaining real standards. truuuuust me. i had a dope boy as a fuck buddy. i never let him talk much, cuz he wasn’t the smartest. but he met the standards: ready, willing, able, clean penis, proximity to my home, a deep love for cunnilingus. my standards have since changed, as have i. but y’all get the point. there’s a difference between sleeping with someone who’s a total waste of your time/ energy and getting yours from someone who simply isn’t the boo of your dreams while still being a great sex partner. really.]

9. Don’t Eat That Mess. Our country is facing an obesity epidemic, yadda yadda blah blah. But it’s all so very real, ladies, and I’m as guilty as the next chick. The thing is, you can get fat and out of shape eating regular food and that’s damning enough. It’s the Chinese Store chicken wings and fries (saltpepperketchup or no), grape soda, chips, quarter water, or other mess. If you can believe for one second that AIDS or crack was planted in the black community to kill us, what do you think Crown Fried Chicken is here for? And your body may be able to metabolize it before you hit 25, but after that it’s just a quick ride to Lane Bryant once you get addicted, so don’t do it. [she is NOT LYING. ‘regular’ to most ppl is hyperprocessed foolishness that comes wrapped in plastics and wax paper and shit, then goes in the microwave. and that’s just what you eat at home. not a good look. i live in a walking city, yet we used to be the fattest city in the nation. the problem: most of us are walking to get junk food. i have a warm(er) weather routine: walk at least 1 mile each weekday, whether it’s on lunch hour or on the way to work or on the way home. it’s at least a weight maintenance measure. the next issue is making sure i don’t get high and wander about in search of wings and cookies at midnight when my ass needs to (a) be asleep or (b) eat a damn apple and go to sleep. the munchies are real shit. i think this city is also full of potheads who will eat anything that isn’t nailed down. it’s unfortunate, but true. if you have a crazy work schedule like mine, it’s super easy to do takeout instead of cooking. it’s pricey, though. and depending on where you live, you may only be able to get junk. the key is balance.]

10. Be A Lady. I have never been the most ladylike of blackgirls and most women like me can trace that to our upbringings, but it’s really very simple. It’s very natural for us to speak loudly, but it’s more powerful when used in small doses, just like hot sauce. Making that lip smack before you start speaking is not cute either, especially if it’s followed by a “weeeeeeeeaaaaal,” twist of your neck, and then whatever it is that you have to say. By doing that, not only have you butchered the word “well,” but whatever you have to say is eclipsed by that attempt to get attention and gear up like you need prep time just to speak your mind. Swearing every other word may be cute to around-the-way boys but if you ever want to get off of the block (see Lady Law #5), it won’t do you any good. Although every once in a while another female may make your blood boil, fighting is not cute – just think, aren’t you way too pretty to get into a fight and get some gash across your face? I don’t think I need to caution young blackgirls on good grooming because we’re good at that, but do you really need to let all of that unravel just because some girl is talking about you? What does that even really mean? Like Katt Williams says, if you’ve got fourteen haters, you need to find a way to get sixteen! [i’ve never fought someone who didn’t hit me first. i’ll never be the one who advises a friend to go slap the shit out of someone — that just is not my style. i believe in maintaining my relative freedom by not getting locked up. i also think it’s lame to fight someone when you have a job, or rent to pay, or kids to feed. then again, anyone who needs to consider this probably isn’t reading my blog. next up: lenée’s life skills classes. after doula training/ certification and a bit more day jobbing.]

in my quest for humorous discourse*

i have found myself exploring the idea that how you eat your food tells about how you get down in the bedroom. to that end, i have enlisted the assistance of a buddy of mine to weigh in on the matter. don’t forget: this is humorous discourse. that means you should laugh and learn at the same time. don’t agree w/ what’s written here? don’t be mad, ‘twan. i’m just sharing one man’s position on something very near and dear to my heart. may the lord add a blessing to the reading of this here word.

peace and love, party people.

i make no bones about it. i love love love cunnilingus. licking the honeyhole. in simple terms, eating pussy. and being as though I’m one of them fancy Black Americans of Island descent, I’ve had exposure to many delectable fruits that are native to that region of the world. juicy mangos, sweet oranges and stuff like that. i credit my love of the sweet and juicy for making me the pussy eatin’ champeen i am today.

i’ll never forget this one day in 10th grade i was eating a peach in front of Toni Williams with the big ol’ country ignorant ass and she was like “EW! DAY DAY EATING THAT LIKE HE BE EATIN BOOTY!”. now you gotta understand something about me…i was a stone cold geek who APPEARED to be cool but inside, i was a nerd. and for her to blurt out that statement with me being a fresh virgin, well, if i’m sure my black ass turned blurple from blushing so hard.

but as i’m eating this peach, i was thinking in my mind…”man if booty taste like that, i can’t WAIT to have me some”. so later that school year, i finally got around to getting laid and i sadly discovered that while vagina is a pretty amazing thing, it don’t look like no damn peaches. so it wasn’t no way in hell at the age of 15 i was finna chew me some woman meat…hell no. but let’s fast forward 4 years later when i was in college.

i asked my freak ass uncle rick what was the fastest way a young nigga can grow him some facial hair. he calmly says “eat some pussy,”and i laughed nervously but i was curious. i said “i never did that, uncle rick. how do you do it?” and he goes, you eat mango and peaches and oranges, right? just like that but don’t use your teeth”. now see, i was still skeptical because one, you keep hearing from your Jamaican side of the family that eating pussy is “filthy” and all that, you develop a slight complex. but curiosity got the best of me and i went forth with it. i can remember it clear as day. the girl sat on the edge of the bed and she had some big ol legs and i was thinking “yo, my dome is type large…what if i get stuck in her pussy vortex and die with my head all on her hoo-ha?”. i mean i was nervous, jack. but i did it and i literally ate it like a sweet, juicy mango. and it tasted like it too.

you ever had a mango so juicy that you needed a bib? i have…man, if i could, i’d put a slice of mango inside a woman and hoover that sum’bitch out but i don’t think that’s too sanitary or comfortable but you smell me though, right? now eating pussy wasn’t quite like that and i didn’t know what the hell i was doing. i think it was a good 4-6 times in before i finally made her cum. gee whiz that was difficult to learn…not anything like eating a mango. you slice a mango, you put your mouth on that exposed juicy flesh and you immediately grab a napkin to catch the run down in your chin.

first of all, young brothers (and sisters, since it’s that type of world), eating pussy isn’t rocket science but it IS a labor of love. meaning, if you gonna just tip at it with your tongue like it’s some hot broth and hold your lips all tight like you a trumpet player, you may not be one for pussy eatin…and that’s cool. but if you really wanna get it in, it’s simple.

there are many many many nerve endings down there, of course mostly concentrated in or around the clit. if i gotta explain this, log off and go get you some sex ed, chump. now…you have to not just lick there, but everywhere…find out what she reacts too, let the reactions inspire your movement. maybe you just like on the outside, right before the opening…maybe you slide your tounge in and out of it (i got a short ass tounge so i aint done too much tounge-fucking in my career). maybe you GENTLY open that flower up and put tight small circles around the clit…maybe you go viking style and just mash your whole damn mugpiece all on top of it and shake your head like that bamma on the Muppets that played drums in that band. you know who i’m talking about. (editor’s note: the author is discussing animal, everyone’s favorite wild ass muppet.) so yeah…you just gotta use your lips, mouth, tongue, face and be ATTENTIVE the whole time. don’t be afraid of getting your nose, mustache, goatee, beard and eyebrows (yes, i go that hard) wet. just go in there and make your presence felt.

now i’m not sayin’ i’m good at it now, but all that hoopin’ and hollerin’ i tend to be witness to can’t all be an act, can it? i know good and damn well that if i ain’t the best, i’m in the top 2% EASILY. i credit all my years of training on those sweet mangoes my Nana would buy from market. who knew that an innocent fruit would give rise to my most anticipated sexual activity. i’m telling you right now, if i ever have a son…we’re gonna eat mangoes every day until we’re sick of them. then when it’s time to have “the talk”, i can skip by the oral sex portion of it all. he’ll know exactly what to do.

*again, i say unto you readers: I DID NOT WRITE THIS SHIT. really. my boy did. and i’m over here dying laughing at it. don’t get all emo on me, okay? thanks.

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