Cruel Summer


R.I.P. John Hughes

It’s been a tough summer for 80s babies. Though Purple Rain–and my sister–turned 25, those of us who remember taper-legged jeans and neon colors the first time around have had a rough summer vacation with the death of Michael Jackson and now John Hughes. Frankly, the shit is freaking me out. I’m getting old(er).

The Problem with "America's Next Top Model"

A couple of months ago a good friend of mine asked me to accompany her to America’s Next Top Model auditions here in chicago.

shes a huge fan of the show, and can pretty much tell you everything you want to know about all 12 cycles. shes also always wanted to be a model… and since this cycle is focused on petite women (5’7″ and under)… it seemed like her perfect chance…

i tend to be pretty shy and private, so i’ve never had any desire to be a model at any point in my life. but… recently i’ve been working on being more adventurous and expanding beyond my own worldview… and i wanted to support her… so i decided to tag along…

Where's Aniysah? A Campaign to End Violence Against Women of Color

This week, I am going to feature a blog I wrote for Document the Silence which is a website I co-founded dedicated to ending violence against women of color. Right now, we are in the midst of mounting a national online media campaign todsc_0138 document how domestic violence and the family court system work in tandem to re-victimize women of color survivors. The title of the campaign is “Where’s Aniysah?” It is a campaign about the (in)justice system and how it fails brown women and children daily. Specifically, it is a story about a mother named Angeline and a daughter named Aniysah. The blog I wrote below gives more details about the case.

A Tragic Story of Continual Violence against Women of Color: Anyisah’s Mother’s Story, Angeline

Here at Document the Silence, one of our goals is to break the silence surrounding violence against women of color, particularly those who are poor and working class. Moreover, we want to raise awareness about how this violence informs and intersects with various aspects of our culture, including the media, politics dsc_03711and the legal system.  Thus, we think it’s critical to point out that the “Where’s Aniysah” campaign is not only about the failings of the family court system.  But, it’s also about domestic violence and how it has shaped the legal struggles of Aniysah and her mother, Angeline.  As a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of Anyisah’s father, Angeline’s story is a testament to the “intimate” connections between experiences of abuse among women of color and the mistreatment they experience in the family court system

As word continues to spread about this campaign, we’ve received two important questions about Aniysah’s story that, when considered, illuminate the ways that Anyisah’s father used the legal system to continue to terrorize and harass Angeline and Aniysah.

Many people have emailed us asking, “How did Anyisah end up in family court system?”

Answer:

  • Angeline separated from Aniysah’s father because he was physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive.  Angeline has documentation of his abuse and the court orders forcing him to take anti-battering classes. Judge Fernando Camacho issued an Order of Protection for the father to stay away from Angeline and Aniysah, May of 2005.
  • Even though Angeline separated from Aniysah’s father, he continued to harass and terrorize Angeline and Aniysah by fabricating lies to Child Protective Services (CPS) and filing for full custody of Aniysah. June 2005 – October 2006 Judge Morgenstern issued several Orders of Protection for the father to stay from Angeline.
  • Judge Morgenstern granted the father unsupervised visits on the weekend with Aniysah at the father’s mother’s house. However, just as the unsupervised weekend visits begin, Aniysah begins to display unusual behaviors. She told the social worker that someone named “grandpa” touched her inappropriately. Aniysah developed a rash between her legs and Angeline takes her daughter to the doctor and the doctor reports the rash to CPS as a possible issue of child abuse. At this point, the doctor at the emergency room reported on the possibility of Aniysah being abused while in her father’s care.

The second question people have asked us, “How and why was Anyisah taken from her mother, Angeline?”

Answer:

  • The law guardian appointed to the family’s case within the court system continued to make false accusations by suggesting that Angeline is fabricating lies about the father sexually abusing his daughter. However, Angeline has not once reported these accusations and the Child Protective Services’ reports as well as the emergency room reports show that Angeline never once accused the father. These reports were filed independently by the doctor and the social worker.
  • In response to the Law Guardian’s lies, unlawful actions, and inappropriate behaviors, Angeline wrote a letter to Judge Morgenstern explaining how the Law Guardian is fabricating lies as well as not following protocol and proper procedures for reporting on Anyisah’s care when she is with her father. Judge Morgenstern disregarded Angeline’s complaints and maintained that the law guardian was following procedure.
  • Without any legal recourse to protect Aniysah, Angeline moves with Aniysah to Utah, where Angeline’s mother lives, to protect Aniysah and herself. While in Utah, Angeline starts a new and renewed life for Aniysah and herself.
  • While Angeline is in Utah, Judge Morgenstern summons her to court.  However, she was never contacted in Utah. The papers were delivered to her old lawyer who she was no longer a client of. She documented proof that she informed the law guardian that the old lawyer no longer represented her beginning in August of 2006. Because Angeline did not show up to court, Judge Esther Morgenstern granted the father custody of Anyisah even though Judge Morgenstern knew the court file contained the returned notices showing that the mother had never been served.
  • Angeline’s 20 year-old son wanted to see his mother. Angeline came back to New York where she decided to have dinner with her son. While having dinner the cops come to arrest her and take Anyisah because of the warrant that was issued.
  • Because Angeline did not have any family in New York to provide care for Aniysah, the police officers were informed by Child Protective Services that they had to take Aniysah to the paternal grandmother’s home.
  • It has been 122 days since Angeline has seen Aniysah on March 3rd, 2009. She has only seen Aniysah on two occasions each one hour visits each costing of $125.00 each visit.  She has had no physical or phone contact with her daughter at all during the month of August.

Overall, Angeline’s story shows how domestic violence and being a woman of color in the family court system are “intimately” tied to the injustices women of color endure when trying to protect their children and themselves. In order to advocate for Angeline and Anyisah, we must see the complexities of her case and how Anyisah’s father could continue to harass and abuse Angeline and Anyisah through the court system. A court system that ignores black and brown women because it fundamentally sees poor and working class women of color as women who are incapable of making sound decisions about their lives and the lives of their children. This is a systemic problem.

With respect to Angeline’s case, the two judges who have chosen to ignore the facts of Angeline’s case and the law guardian who has been unethical in her testimonies are equally complicit in the abuse of Anyisah and Angeline. They, like Aniysah’s father, must be held accountable because they represent a legally sanctioned system of abuse. “Where’s Aniysah?” is a cry countless numbers of women of color cry daily when having to negotiate the terrains of domestic violence and terrains of the family court system. Where’s Aniysah . . . Where’s Aniysah . . . and how do we protect her and her mother from continual abuse.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AybEcaiR_DI

It’s time to hold the legal system accountable. Document the Silence asks that you join them in the “Where’s Aniysah?” campaign by posting information about this case on your blogs, online social networks and throughout your community. You can find out more about this campaign to stand against injustices against our children in the legal system by visiting the Document the Silence. There are additional facts and information about Anyisah’s case, and suggestions for what you can do to demand that justice is served on August 24.  We especially encourage you to leave comments on the site expressing your support for Aniysah and any details about what you plan to do to help.

Blacks and BAD HAIR

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0KHbK81QxI

I am looking forward to the theatre release of this comic documentary Good Hair about black folks’ obsession with ‘good’ hair. Chris Rock’s drive to start this project came when his daughter asked him why she didn’t have good hair. My best friend feels that “most people don’t think about [hair] in terms [of self-hate] as much these days.  It’s almost viewed as good grooming, particularly for Black women…like brushing one’s teeth.” I want to expand the discussion to include black men as well because we too process our “nappy” hair.  So for me honestly, it is not about self-hate it is mostly about good grooming and appeal.  

A Gay Man's Struggle: Original Poetry…"Why DL"(Cont.)

They tried to debate…which man is more of a man…

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“Girrl you let him get yo boogina?!? No shade girl, but imma need you to not be looking at me like that, cuz how I is, is how I was and how I will always be… OOKKKK!!!”

Vs

“naw JO, I don get down lik dat… naw dude, I don hug dudes cuz our stuff might touch and dat stuff is gay, no homo.”

Effeminacy in men vs behavior of the down-low male “trapped in the closet” …. BOOK-OnTheDownLow

Two forms greeting difference at life’s doorstep. Stepping to the beat of that fem boy that tries to walk through life like he is walking down the catwalk, yearning to be a cheerleader, while he played with little kenboy dolls, not liking to get his hands dirty and hated playing kickball. That katkatkatkatkatkat oooowww vougining queen with a twist of extra sugar

they tried to debate who is more of a man. Because there is a very different style of male that has the very same thoughts and sexual preference, but he’s straight? right?

The DL man, having to prove his masculinity every second of everyday, having to grab his crouch so tight that his 3XL Roca Wear Jeans position themselves twenty inches beneath both butt cheeks. The Internal thoughts of a 35 year old male, 20 years into being DL, married with kids and he hides his true desires, because his daddy told him that all fags go to hell…and he told his son the same.


And some cringe when they hear their high pitched voices speaking out in individuality. In a world invested in apeing heterosexual-identities. Idolizing hyper-masculinity, causing DL to hide the truth from their family, causing feminine dudes to be ostracized within our community. as mothers frown at the thought of tolerance and fathers yell at their sons that its not natural.

SO, Who…is more of a man…

Those who accept who they are, or those who hide in the shadows. Because Shadows KILL…

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Kill those DL men who were born with the same thoughts, but their voice was deep and their wrist stayed straight, their mannerism were manly, and they could pass for being trade, putting on this facade and on the inside hypocrisy was manifesting in rooms under dimmed lights and closed closet doors shut tight like, those DL men, that spread aids to our women, give claps to dozens but we’re holding the applause.

Because this feminine vs masculine spectrum is only a debate because people looked down on all those who came out the closet…its only a debate because society chose to look down on all those who chose to accept who they were…different religions judging them away, instead of loving them closer, hearing echoes of people yelling obscenities down long hallways, like “fag” and “sissy” like people don’t have feelings…necause whether your a “go-girl” snaping in Z-formation or no-homo-jo attempting to escalate your constipation

Beyond The Down Low

…Feminine men, are still cursed for their mannerism and DL men cursed after creating a new generation of false masculinity…a generation that is living in a reality has been bashed by bigotry…everyone needs freedom to discover themselves and find their own identity…

Tough Enough?

  

   President Barack Obama has a knack for quelling folk’s fears through rhetoric. When his opponents said he was inexperienced, he countered them by characterizing himself as the “fresh air” Washington needed after being pillaged by Beltway insiders. When Black folks questioned his Blackness, he adopted a more homiletic tone in some of his speeches. When the media asked if could he handle the rough and tumble of national politics, he assured everyone that he was tough because he was from the Southside of Chicago. We all knew what Barack meant by this comment. As Congress enters recess I have to give Obama his “props”. Anyone who can deal with Nancy Pelosi, Fox News, “The Birthers”, and all other political hacks and come out composed is a tough person.

   As I sat back and reflected on the political environment Barack Obama has had to work in, it became clear that he was a strong guy. In less than two years he has had his patriotism, nationality, race, and religion put on trial by the court of public opinion.  But thus far he’s come out the victor. That is saying a lot for a country where the criminal justice system favors Blacks about as much as Paris Hilton favors chastity.

   These issues have for the most part been proxies for a referendum on the comfort of Americans with a Black President.  I’m almost happy Obama has endured all this insanity. Although none of these groups that promulgate these bogus theories that Obama is a Muslim or was born in Kenya are credible, it’s obvious that they got traction. A recent poll released by Kos/Research shows that 28% of Republicans don’t believe President Obama was born in the United States of America and 30% were unsure. Even after the Hawaii Health Department produced his birth certificate, and even after a resolution proclaiming Hawaii to be Obama’s birthplace was unanimously passed by the US House of Representatives detractors still squabbled.  This is a good indicator to the World that race relations have not yet healed in the United States. But in the word’s of Jay-Z “if you feeling like a pimp n**** gone brush ya shoulder’s off”.

Baatin & JD: Rest in Beats

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K71y2xJ9BEE&w=150&h=300

My apologies if I’m stepping on toes by posting on Wednesday, but I couldn’t let the week go by without honoring Baatin of Slum Village, who passed away unexpectedly last Sunday. Zo! (you maybe have seen him on tour with Platinum Pied Pipers and/or The Foreign Exchange or know him from Zo! and Tigallo Love the 80s) posted this tribute to Baatin and Dilla to his youtube page. It’s a great homage. Mad love to Zo! for sharing this with us.

And if you missed Dwele’s tribute to MJ, please check it out:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_N1L3YwbLK0

Today in Post-Race History: Hooray, Beer!

Let’s face it, no one wants to sit around with the President, Joe Biden, Skip Gates, and some random police officer–with “diversity” training–drinking beer and pretending to talk about race. Sure, it’s a (free?) trip to the White House and all, but I don’t want to explain to Joe Biden what I mean by calling him the Pras of this Obama outfit with a bubbling belly full of Bud Light. (Buy American.)  I’d be sitting in my chair, staring at the filth, counting Secret Service dudes, and trying not to hum Stevie and Sir Paul’s “Ebony and Ivory” too loudly. Besides, I’d rather drink Hawaiian Punch and ask BHO how many times they’ve had Harold’s flown in. But who can end racism when a black person brings up chicken? Personally, I believe we might perfect this union more expediently over a 4-piece wing dinner (fried hard, salt, pepper, & mild sauce), but that’s probably just me. Besides, I don’t want to be blamed for getting the Bill of Rights all greasy. Either way, let this be a lesson to you (white) police officers out there: if you arrest the right black guy, you’ll get invited to the White House. Don’t shoot him, though, because that’s not cool.