to no one in particular:

(from my tumblr)

fear is what keeps your reflexes razor-sharp when there’s danger about. in case of fire, alligator, beehive attack, or hailstorm, you need fear. it’ll kinda clear your mind of the bullshit that doesn’t count.

fear is not for everyday stuff like going to the grocery store, calling your bank, smiling at someone you think is attractive, or even getting out of bed to go shower.

if you’re paralyzed by fears that you recognize as abnormal compared to your usual stuff-to-be-afraid-of (stingray fear is not the same as fear of answering the door for the UPS guy), please reach out & get yourself some support. talk to someone you trust. talk to someone who works in a supportive capacity for folks who need to be directed towards help. please, please, please, PLEASE do not let it swallow you up.

this has been yet another “i’ve been there, please don’t do it to yourself” production.

peace to the brokenhearted.

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.

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.

you can’t stop my go!

so, i love mos def’s “casa bey” to pieces. in this clip below, mos breaks down the meaning of the song to him:

& here’s the song itself, probably one of my top 5 mos songs ever.

Protected: it’s funny, you know

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self love. self preservation.

there is no way on earth i’ll ever go back to letting someone else tell me how to love myself.

there are examples that we give one another. how to love strong. how to love from within first, so that the outside parts match the inside. so that i may tell new people in my life precisely how i receive and give love. it’s important. it’s valuable. it’s not a trifle. i think that it’s apparent to most of us, what happens when we aren’t protecting/ preserving/ healing/ caring for ourselves. it’s ridiculous to me, at this point in my life, to act like i don’t. when i neglect myself, i become reckless. that is not healthy. recklessness can mean anything for anyone, but i presume it’s usually characterized by destructive behaviors & an unwillingness to slow the fuck down. but i can only speculate on what it’s like for anyone but myself.
but like i said, other folks can’t tell me how.
cuz this is my shit.
& in that space of loving oneself, there is that awakening of the fiercest instinct to protect oneself. to be honest with yourself because there’s no space or time for lies & bullshit, no willingness to allow farces to be the order of the day. we remove the mask. we, little by little, get back to our inner children & allow them to kind of run the show. not the inner child who couldn’t drive or cook a meal. but the inner child who used to snap out if mommy passed us to the wrong person. that person is the one who, through lots of anti self-love programming (that’s what i call it), learned to hide. polite & respectful are not the same. politeness smacks of fakeness. respectfulness implies an allegiance to one’s whole & full self. (for example: no apologies. respectfully disagreeing & agreeing to do so without name calling, taunting, or other shenanigans.)
preserving your core. looking out for your star motherfucking player, like katt williams said. making sure you have yourself to get around with, like the lady in green. acts of self love are likely to keep you from needing to be rescued.
it’s a thought. you don’t have to believe it yourself. but i know i do. nothing feels quite like me, to me.

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.

on: somali pirates, lies, and defending what’s yours.

some words from johann hari via the independent, and a two-part interview with somali musician k’naan:

also, big shouts to the homie nezua for his post on the matter.  his words reflect my thoughts and feelings regarding this issue. 

of course, the moment some brown/ black folks decide to defend what’s theirs, it’s a problem. imperialism hasn’t ended just because all maps have been drawn.  this is an injustice, to say the least. the somali people have every right to defend themselves.

fronting: an undoing.

peeling off, peeling out, laying the dumb shit to the side.
seeing myself, wholly, in bright light
not allowing myself to be lost in the crevices between what he says, what she says
slipping through cracks that seem more like caverns
i am no longer willing to be held hostage by image or ego, whether mine or someone else’s
coming undone has never been so dope, and i love how it feels
i have started to embrace la loba within.
and for the first time, in a long time, i don’t feel the overwhelming urge to tattoo or pierce, to cut my hair or get my eyebrows waxed.
i’m fine how i am, where i am
because i’m meant to just do what i do
there’s nothing to stop me
no one to slow me down

the only one in the way of this is me. and i’ve decided to move on over.

in boldface.

all day, i thought about what i would write. some prolific, expansive, sweeping text that would move readers to tears and/ or action. i intended on changing minds and lives with some cleverness, something that even i could not anticipate creating. i was going to surprise and dazzle folks with my words.

but when i finally sat down to write, i felt like there were no words that could do justice to my feelings & thoughts.

i want us to be bold
be blissful
be brave
be better
be badass
be bountiful
be beautiful
be brighter

& in that we can heal ourselves and begin to pull it all together.

Posted by Picasa

i feel like i have to protect what’s mine

the sanity
the peace
the sanctuary
everything.

i’m less open to the bullshit. every day, my tolerance is less.
that does not bode well for the following:
assholes
abusers
know-it-all judgmental dickheads
haters
naysayers
& general ne’er-do-wells.

i won’t be laying with you, cosigning your shit, sitting idly by while you wreak havoc on the rest of humanity, or running interference for you.
your time is quickly drawing to a close.
i hope you got all your jabs in, because it’s just about over.
tip your bartender.

polishing my gun

(a stream of consciousness)

for every woman left alone to labor
for every child damaged by those who should be giving care
for every man who fits the description
for every person who’s been watched more closely or ignored altogether for being brown
for the birth trauma survivors, mothers and children both
for every hottentot, jezebel, mammy, hot-in-the-ass teen mother and bust it baby
for every person who’s simply trying to practice love, regardless of a religion
for every unnamed man with his nuts in his mouth and a noose around his neck
for every person who’s ridden a train, hidden in a vehicle, or walked endlessly to come to this side
for every girl who aspired to become a boi, and every boy who ever aspired to become a gyrl
for every woman who couldn’t rhyme along anymore because when they got to that part of the song, everyone was looking at her booty instead of ol girl in the video
para los antepasados (iba ara torun. mojuba awo egungun! modupe-o!)
for everyone whose life is worth it
whether they know it or not
i choose to fight
i wouldn’t have it any other way
because the love motivates me
because the love is reflected to me
i’m a humble servant of the people
red black & green
these are the colors that don’t run

be bold, be red: october 30.

mil gracias a nezua for posting this on umx, and reminding me to begin with!

Be Bold Be Red Goes Viral Loco Visual

Beloved Survivors, Warriors, Allies, Activists, Organizers, Artists, Healers, Visionaries, Sisters and Friends,

In October 2007 people all over the United States gathered physically and in spirit to speak out against violence against women of color. Some of us wore red all day and explained that we were reclaiming and reframing our bodies as a challenge to the widespread acceptance of violence against women of color. Some of us wrote powerful essays about why we were wearing red and posted them on the internet. Some of us gathered with bold and like-minded folks and took pictures, shared poetry and expressed solidarity.

This year, on the first anniversary of the Be Bold Be Red Campaign, we invite you to make your bold stance against the violence enacted on women and girls of color in our society visible. In D.C., Chicago, Durham, Atlanta and Detroit women of color will be gathering to renew our commitment to creating a world free from racialized and gendered violence, and this time, we’ll be using a new technology called CyberQuilting to connect all of these gatherings in real time. To learn more about CyberQuilting, which is a women of color led project to stitch movements together using new web technologies and old traditions of love and nurturing, visit www.cyberquilt.wordpress.com.

This letter is an invitation for you and yours to participate in a gathering in your city on Thursday, October 30th that will be webcast to similar gatherings in other cities. We are calling on you because we recognize and appreciate the work that you and the organizations you work with are doing everyday to make this a more loving and less violent world for women and girls in oppressed communities. Please join us on October 30th so that other warriors in this struggle can be strengthened and affirmed by the energy of our collective ferocity!

If you are not located in D.C., Chicago, Durham, Atlanta and Detroit for the webcast, you can still participate by wearing Red on October 30, 2008 and send us your pictures to beboldbered@gmail.com

Also we are asking once again that people wear Red on October 30, 2008 and send us your pictures to beboldbered@gmail.com

As we receive them we will upload your pictures under “Red Pictures Today.”

Also, as well as to share your stories of Red on this website under “Why are you wearing Red on October 30, 2008.”

So, are you ready?!

on: standing in the gap

when a friend falls down
falls apart
falls out w/ someone they love
needs to scream
needs to cry
needs to use expletives excessively, in succession, making little to no sense
that’s when you know you trust them
that’s when you know they trust you
that’s when you honor that space & that event
i give thanks for the opportunity to do that and be on both ends
and if i count you in that number
please know that you’re more than welcome, as long as i have the ability to provide for you the arms to hold you up or the hands to piece you back together
the back to carry you
the courage to see that you are not a burden, but a reflection
i will love you
i will support you
i will honor and respect you
let this be my pact
from now until the last blink.

ashé + amen

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.’

dope girls.

in streetwise terms, the word dope only means one thing: the illegal, illicit shit. usually coke or heroin. it’s the norm to be a dope girl nowadays. you have a kid or two. job corps really didn’t do for you what you thought it would. that welfare-to-work medical assistant training is fine but the pay caps out at $32K per year depending on where you live — and if you’ve done welfare-to-work, you probably have babies to feed. so what’s a girl to do?
you start pushing weight, or boosting & selling the hot shit on the street. or, you get two jobs — maybe three — so you can handle your business.
i’m not saying that this is what happened to gina hunt & andrea yarrell & their children, but damn if it doesn’t seem that way. i’m not okay w/ this shit. it bothers me to no end that they were targeted for robbery and killed over some weed & money. i’m fucked up about the comments ppl have made as to the whys of these murders. i’m not okay with pointing my finger at any woman who seems to have chosen to push weight (or strip or prostitute or do any of those “bad” things) so she can maintain a fucking roof over her fucking head. i’m not gonna knock anybody because i know for a fact that in the past 2 years i’ve been so desperately broke that i wondered if selling weed was a better idea than dayjobbing it. no lie. & heaven only knows if i’ll find myself there again. who knows if any of us will be in that position? over and over again, ppl are saying it’s all about what the mothers did before that point. my god, is it really like that? you mean to tell me that before the killer shot that he couldn’t have decided to do something else? he couldn’t just walk out? what the fuck? but i guess if their house had been mistaken for a different house, it’d be okay. these girls weren’t euologized as ph.ds or neurosurgeons — cuz rich motherfuckers get into drug shit too — so i’m under the impression that just maybe it wasn’t about the fun or glamor of selling dope. i’m pretty sure that these women knew that it’s not cute out here — it weapons were found in the home, they probably knew what the norm is. there’s no honor among thieves, obviously. shooting babies? for what?
my heart’s broken by shit like this. i understand that murder is par for the course, and i know that folks are transitioning at what seems like an alarming rate. but the way this shit went down really breaks my heart. sometimes i understand why so many folks say “some days it doesn’t pay to wake up black.” apparently, it doesn’t pay to wake up female, mothering, black in this country.

fuck. what is wrong with people? these cowards won’t even admit to who shot whom. pointing fingers and laying blame at others’ feet, like that shit’s gonna help shit. so damaged. so damning.

may these lives be lost not in vain, but to teach valuable lessons to those who hear of the events. may there be rightful, righteous justice visited upon the heads of the killers. may the families of the lost/ loved ones be comforted & edified by the outpouring of sincere support from wherever it comes. it’s not often that a mother or father has to bury a child or even a grandchild — but i pray that those left behind are able to heal.

i don’t even know what else to say. peace to the mothers & children.

i don’t feel like delving today.

that is, i’m cleaning out my closets literally but the figurative act of doing so is way too much to handle at the moment. there are things churning around in my head about becoming a doula, becoming a massage therapist, & about this evolution i’m experiencing overall. i am a crafter, a day jobber, a writer . . . all these things that seem to be vying for dominance in my life. i mean, the logic says that i’d be without a place to be all this “other stuff” without having a pain in the ass day job, right? but i could not possibly look fwd to leaving work each day if i didn’t come home to my creatively-infused home, right? so much. so many things. i’ve got to be immediately occupied w/ working, crafting, healing (my tattoo is healing funny, but from what i surmise it’s an issue of its locale on my body & not shoddy work by jason, but more on that later), loving, laughing, building & a bunch of other -ings before i can even think about becoming the fabulously & fully self-employed self i want to be 1 year from now. there’s a lot. i don’t know if i can say i feel overwhelmed, or simply unaware of where/ how to begin.
thankfully, though, i’m being held up by folks who feel inclined on a consistent basis to contribute in a positive way
i’m learning to juggle (& eventually balance) it all
loosing myself of things/ persons unnecessary
finding out exactly what it is to actualize potential in the face of what can only be described as the “no-you-can’t” mass choir & its accompaniment, the faithful “i’ve-never-heard-of-that-so-it-must-not-be-valid” chorale. fuck ’em both; i’ve got work to do.
i’m letting go of the idea that i’ve got to get everything done all at once just because i think of everything all at once. this is not freaking easy. at all.
i’m learning process
practicing patience
trying my damnedest not to just up & quit the things i hate, though they get harder on the daily
i still feel like i’m waiting for my turn to jump into something. maybe a chute or giant water slide that leads to something with which i’m entirely unfamiliar. i’m less angsty about it, though.

i just wanna be fully ready to get this show on the fucking road.

i won’t ever forget it: the beginning of the end.

the time he likened us working our problems out to the way we’d coach each other at free cell.

i wanted to smack him in the face w/ the keyboard at that exact moment, pack my shit, & walk the fuck out. but all i had to my name were some nickels (probably not enough for the bus) & whatever food i’d bought for the week. i couldn’t go back to my mom’s like that. but i felt it in my gut — i felt someone telling me to leave.

lesson #1: always listen to your first mind, no matter how crazy you might look to everyone else.

i feel very protective of my dreams right now.

i’m not sharing with too many folks. that is, i’m not talking to anyone whom i know to be negative or whom i know for a fact doesn’t really know me. i can stare into a person’s blank face every day for nearly 4 years (like i do at work with some ppl) & know that they’ve no clue about how to treat me. & i am, for all intents & purposes, my dreams. whatever i conceptualize, whatever i decide to become, that’s me. that’s where i’m headed if i’m not there already. & if that person should treat my developing self poorly then how can i ever expect her or him to be good to me once i arrive at my destination? that’s got to be im-fucking-possible. i’m not buying that jack-nicholson-as-the-joker smile & hands open only to make mincemeat from my most tender parts.
my dreams are not meant to be picked apart or turned into a frankenstein monster by anyone except me. there will be no opportunities for detractors to take from me or lessen my potency. there is not any good reason for me to take my brand new dreams out of my pockets to show to/ share with any person who isn’t also nurturing a dream. & i don’t mean simply thinking of something to do with the rest of her or his life — i mean someone who is actively putting together the pieces of that one thing they’re meant (or are trying) to do w/ the rest of her or his life. i’m tired of being exposed to folks whose uncertainty about their own places in the world serves as a platform (or a castle tower) from where they pass judgment on everyone else’s situation. that mess is sickening, anti-productive, & a huge waste of my time.
in short, i’m not having this bullshit for much longer. it seems that there’s a grillion ways to take the piss out of the good thing someone else has got going, but not as many ways to push that good thing along. anyone who’s well versed in the pushing along & forward movement is welcome.
all others may fall by the wayside. period. i am speaking power to my situation, regardless of what anyone has to do or say about it.

addendum:
mel, post this on your mirror or something. happy birthday. stay motivated, beautiful, & strong. i love you to pieces.

i just had a great idea for a blog entry

when i was in the shower. something about how i’m realizing that people give academics & whomever else deemed as ‘experts’ all the power when it comes to discussing situations that they live every day.

on some, “how dare you question your doctor/ boss/ landlord/ the police/ anyone who’s got a higher degree than you (or a degree period)?”

granted, i know absolutely nothing about being a dentist so i follow my dentist’s instructions, but not without asking why or what certain procedures do.

*sigh*

i guess i’ll go back to bed & pray that these thoughts come back asap.

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