I Don’t Know WTF To Write.

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

I miss blogging.

And I’m slowly coming back to it.

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The Best of the Internet: My Best Friend Gayle

As you may or may not know, folks of the internet, I like to analyze things, talk shit, and crack jokes. One of my favorite folks, Summer M., is quite adept at all three of these things. Her blog, My Best Friend Gayle, is a gem. I’m going to link my favorites of her more recent posts.

First off, this list of 25 lessons learned from watching Oprah. My favorite? Number three: “Everything Pras Michel knows about attaching himself to far more talented people and benefiting financially, he learned from Gayle King.” I laughed, I cried, I wished that I’d written it my damn self.

Next up, Summer’s post written on what would have been Michael Jackson’s 52nd birthday is not only a wonderful commentary on how to celebrate MJJ (tarring and feathering Joe Jackson’s raggedy ass sounds great to me), but it reminds my usually fist-in-the-air self that there is only one official black people holiday in the US.  I’d be all for having the day off and doing an enormous “Beat It” reenactment in the park, going to a Michael Jackson Day sale at Old Navy, and even dealing with my pain in the ass relatives for MJ Day dinner (though that’d soon die out, as my fave MJ activities include dancing w/ my friend Bill, singing “Another Part of Me” at karaoke, and watching Moonwalker).

And then, there’s the Montana Fishburne post. So brilliant. So fucking awesome. So . . . what I woulda written if I weren’t wasting my potential blog posts on the Twitter.  Because I’m a fan of having a soapbox, and folks will read and/ or tweet even from the toilet. Ain’t nobody getting into my long winded, high horsey, SAT-vocabulary-peppered posts while in a staff meeting. Or maybe y’all are. Nobody ever tells me.

Finally, the BET Awards post best chronicles the beyond witty commentary that keeps me in stitches when I read Summer’s posts on Twitter. God, I loooooooooove it! She said Debra Lee eats puppies. Ha HA!

Summer is a great writer, a hilarious thinker, and a deep lover of LaFace Records. How could I not appreciate her?

(Bonus post: a nice place where we can put our NAACP member relatives, neighbors, and former fifth grade teachers out to pasture when they get mad at the wrong shit.)

CALL FOR PAPERS!

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS – Occupied Bodies: Women of Color Speak on
Self-Image – Deadline October 15, 2010

Monday, July 5, 2010 at 1:07am
I am soliciting essays for an anthology on women of color’s
self-image/body image as shaped by family, friends, media, society,
history, lived experiences, etc. I’m looking for smart, accessible, and
snappy personal narratives that also offer nuanced analysis of the
underlying constructs that affect how we perceive ourselves. Exploring
intersectionality of identities is extremely important. I particularly
want the voices of women of color that are not often heard to be
represented, such as trans* WOC, disabled WOC, queer WOC, WOC outside
the U.S., WOC with eating disorders, working class/poor WOC and fat WOC.

Of course, all the varied perspectives any woman of color can offer are
welcome.
This is an exciting project, as this topic has not been explored in
depth and including such a diverse collection of viewpoints before. The
final manuscript will be submitted to relevant independent publishers.
——
Some possible jumping off points include, but are not limited to:
– What images of yourself were instilled in you by your
parents/guardians/other family members when you were a young child? What

positive or negative encounters with adults as a child helped shape that

image?

– If you were born in a country other than the U.S. and then immigrated
to the U.S., how did the society in which you were born play a role in
your developing self-image, and what contrasts did you find difficult to

navigate between the two societies?

– How did the media you consumed as a child/teen shape your body/self
image today? How does it complicate it? How does the media you consume
NOW affect your body/self image?

– How did pressure from family and friends affect the way you perceived
yourself after you were old enough to take care of yourself?

– How did you feel about societal beauty and body standards as a teen?
Did you rebel, or conform by any means necessary to avoid confrontation?

– How has the globalization and dissemination of the Western beauty
ideal affected you and women of color worldwide?

– Debunk this: “in some cultures they ______”, – deconstructing a
commonly held belief about an ethnic group’s relation to body (such as
the black community supposedly being OK with fat).

– If you’re queer, how has being a queer woman of color affected your
self-image and how you desire your partner to look? If you’ve had
partners who were also women of color, did/do you gaze upon them with
the same critical eye you reserve for yourself? Why or why not?

– If you’re a trans* WOC, how was your perception of your gender
identity shaped? How has your self/body image changed over the years and

have there been any other shifts in your thinking about your self/body
image? How does being a WOC interact with your trans* identity? How does

it affect how other people perceive you and your gender?

– How has being a disabled WOC affected your body/self image? Do you
feel it’s a detriment or a positive part of your person? How did you
come to terms with your disability, or has it never been problematic for

you?

– As a fat WOC, has weight shaped your self/body image your whole life?
Have you developed an eating disorder? Was it exacerbated by there being

virtually no resources for women of color, especially for fat WOC?

– Are you a sexual assault/rape survivor? How did that trauma affect
your view of yourself?
——-
If your experiences overlap on any of the suggested jumping off points,
PLEASE feel free to explore that.

Guidelines:
– Deadline for submissions is October 15, 2010;
– Submissions should be saved in Word format or Rich Text, double
spaced, size 12 Arial or Times New Roman;
– 500 to 5,000 words;
– Include RELIABLE contact information and a brief biography;
– Only e-mail submissions will be accepted, however, if you can’t
arrange that please contact me and we’ll work something out.
– Send submissions to: occupiedbodies@gmail.com;
– Again, the deadline for submissions is October 15, 2010.

Who I Am:
The woman spearheading this project is Tasha Fierce, a freelance writer
who also happens to be a fat, queer, disabled woman of color. I’ve
written about race politics, fat acceptance, disability and feminism in
several zines, including Evolution of a Race Riot and the zine I edited
from 1998-2001, Bitchcore. I have contributed to Jezebel several times,
the fat acceptance blog Shapely Prose, the race & pop culture blog
Racialicious, and the feminist disability activism blog FWD/Forward. My
work has also been featured in The Huffington Post. I live, love and
write in Los Angeles, California. You can regularly read me at my own
blog, Red Vinyl Shoes (http://redvinylshoes.com/blog) and on Twitter as
@redvinylshoes.

new digs.

since it’s spring, and we’re all about the rebirth here, i decided to bring my bloggity goodness over to wordpress full-time. 

it’s the same bloggity goodness as before.

it’s still me, i’m still out of pocket, and i still don’t use capital letters unless i feel like it.

welcome to my new house. go on and wipe your feet, now.

a letter long overdue.

this is the first of what could be many blog posts in dialogue with goddess jaz at goddesses rising.  we have taken it upon ourselves to examine our feelings and thoughts on intimate partner violence, triggered by the rihanna/ chris brown incident.  this series will not just discuss them, but IPV against women across the board.  to facilitate a flow of words, jaz and i have opted to follow the letter writing format utilized by the women who write the kitchen table blog.  i intended to post my letter shortly after jaz’s initial post, but the words just would not come. alas, here i am now with more to say than i ever thought.
jaz:

first, thank you for agreeing to do this with me! it’s an honor and a privilege.  let’s see if we can’t make a dent.  

i’ve been rolling my thoughts around, trying to best articulate my disturbances around this whole thing and attempting to string those thoughts together to create a coherent point.  my mind keeps coming back to one simple point: this is bigger than these kids or twitter, bigger than any blogs or newspaper articles.  unnecessary violence, particularly in close relationships (romantic as well as familial) is a problem that belongs to each of us.  so, it is with that thought in the forefront of my mind that i’m processing the entire mess and the conversations/ actions that have resulted from it.  these conversations and actions concern me much more than the current state that either rihanna or chris brown is in right now.
my concerns reflect yours, definitely. and my initial desire was to see to it that we discussed the impact of various kinds of media (especially gossip blogs, twitter, facebook status updates, and the text message fowards) on public opinion.  but i’m now in a new space.
because i’ve seen a photograph of rihanna’s face after the incident.  i’m in angry mode. again. the gossip blogs have, from the beginning, been on my nerves in varying degrees.  but now one of these blogs is the source of the very photo i did NOT wanna see. it was easier to imagine the horror than to see it with my own eyes. not that it didn’t seem real before, but that it made the whole situation that much more real to me: rihanna’s privacy was not protected or respected.  not by persons in her camp or at the hospital where she was examined, not by people who know her or her alleged attacker, not by the LAPD employee who leaked her photo to the internet, and most certainly not by the media.  
this whole incident has a crazy tone to it, a media circus for lack of better words.  it went from speculation to insane made up justifications for the attack itself.  crazy rumors about STDs, jealous fits, and failed breakup attempts abounded. all the while, my concern was the repercussions in the world at large. children discussing these things amongst themselves (and sometimes with adults) might have concerns or questions similar to the grown folks who seemed to be all over the internet talking about it: how long had this been going on? was it likely to happen again? would they get back together? why would they get back together? in my opinion, it matters less what we know about chris and rihanna.  it matters much, much more what we know about the women who are counted in the statistics we hear about so often and the women whose stories we catch on the news. i believe that the seriousness of the situation itself was diminished greatly by the fact that this involves two “celebrities” instead of everyday citizens.  because they have wikipedia articles, we’re not supposed to know when we’ve encroached too much on their lives? yes, it is important to discuss intimate partner violence. yes, it is important to fans of an artist to know how well their favorite artist is doing. but what we don’t need to know — especially because neither chris brown’s people nor rihanna’s people haven’t said anything — is what kind of relationship they have. we don’t need to know any of that unless either of them decides that it is necessary (as part of their healing, and only then) to speak on the situation or the nature of their relationship. no. 
what we need to know is that violence is the norm for too many of us.  what we need to know is that children who grow up in abusive environs grow into teens and adults who don’t know how to deal with conflict in a non-violent way.  what we need to know is that intimate partner violence does not lie specifically in the hands of the men, of the women, of the heterosexual or the underprivileged.  there was a sentiment of, “they shoulda never gave you niggas money,” a la dave chappelle as rick james. but i give thanks that these two young folks have their privilege.  why? because we now have contemporary faces for this problem. there is now a more immediate reason to discuss these issues with our children, with our peers.  this is the opportunity we as concerned community members must utilize to have dicussions.  
i’ve struggled with what i wanted to say here, because i want it to be impactful and clear. but something i’ve realized over the past few days of writing is that murky situations very rarely yield clear responses. it takes time, it takes dissection, and sometimes it takes walking away from the issue and reviewing it with new perspective.
it is my prayer that these two young folks have some new perspective — and that if they have not yet gained it during their separation that they develop it — so that they  can begin to heal themselves.

giving words to the unspoken: intimate partner violence.

i am thankful every day that i’ve never dated someone who has or would hit me.  that is a terror i’ve never known, and pray that i never will.  i do know what intimate partner violence can do. the losses of asia, latoyia, and san-dee serve as reminders to us all that women die because of intimate partner violence (also known as domestic violence, or domestic abuse). the very idea of the typical domestic abuse victim is seared into the consciousness of many people in the united states: she’s timid, she’s probably very pretty, she is attacked without having provoked her mate, and she always goes back.  the attacker is always someone who’s been emasculated to some degree — maybe his education level isn’t what hers is (or anyone else’s, like being a 10th grade dropout when everyone else is at least a high school grad), or he’s dyslexic, or whatever.  it’s mister from the color purple concentrated, it’s laurence fishburn as ike turner, it’s every lifetime movie shitbag boyfriend joined together like voltron.  
it’s never the sparkling smile of chris brown that spits threats or curse words, bites you or calls you names.  it’s never rihanna’s pretty face that is pummeled with fists. it’s always some nameless or faceless couple on “cops.” it’s always someone whose name has been changed to protect her because he’s stalking her. (and it’s always a hetero couple, but that’s another issue for another time.)  and this seems to be the root of the problem to me: celebrity, or fame, and the perception of “our” stars as anything other than human.  they are not necessarily regarded as human, even in times of tragedy (see: the losses jennifer hudson’s, bill cosby’s, and the late marlon brando’s close family members).  they are still these perfectly unreal creations — half of “their” public’s imagination, and half illusion borne of spin doctors.  celebrity is a tricky thing.  it’s fleeting, but so demanding. what does this pressure cooker life do to someone who’s barely a maturing child when they enter it, and is simply fortunate to be a functioning adult if/ when they leave it?
i ask this question because i don’t believe for one minute that this is a black and white situation (meaning chris, the aggressor, bears all the fault or that rihanna, the victim, instigated her own ass kicking).  i take into account that chris witnessed domestic abuse for as many as 6 years of his life (that’s 1/3 of his time on earth, roughly).  i understand that the highly invasive reports that are being shared pretty much confirm that rihanna was upset over a potential (or continued) infidelity on chris’s part. i understand that it’s likely that brown no longer wished to be in a relationship with her — but check this out: you can end a relationship with someone without hitting them.  you can make your point clear without fists and bitemarks.  
my concerns are for the privacy and safety of both of these young people. there are threats being made against both of them, there’s a lot of hearsay and conjecture. there are terrible jokes being made. it is now a verb to chris brown someone — to beat their ass.  unacceptable.  the facts are known only by the persons who were present for the incident that was reported to the police.  that’s not for any of us to learn about or gossip about. this is deeper than whether someone gave someone herpes, or whether someone’s cheating on someone else.
it is indicative of the fact that we all have work to do: work to heal, work to grow, work to end cycles. violence is never okay in a relationship, regardless of who throws the first punch.  intimate partner violence exists when women hit men, when men hit each other, and when women hit women.  intimate partner violence exists when we are unable or unwilling to talk about what hurts or bothers us, and when we don’t understand that it’s never okay to strike someone you love.  unless it’s self defense, it is wrong. always wrong.
this interview that jay smooth did with elizabeth mendez berry speaks much to why it doesn’t matter specifically that it’s a celebrity dealing with intimate partner violence. 

type, type, type . . . delete.

every time i get ready to start writing, i get bashful and quit. i’ll erase it all or save it as a draft . . . all because i’m not even sure i’ll like or be comfortable with what’s gonna come out. maybe i remembered that people read this blog, and i considered folks’ feelings before my own. not gonna work. whatever’s swirling around in my head has to get out. somewhere. somehow.
i need to put pen to paper.

i’ll be back, probably within the week. got some shit to let out first.

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