Be Bold Be Re(a)d: The Podcast

I want to thank my good sisterfriend and comrade, Alexis Gumbs, for pulling the Be Bold Be Re(a)d podcast together.

3 years ago women of color came together and transformed what it meant to transform terror on Halloween, declaring October 31st Be Bold Be Red Day, a day for women of color and allies to wearredspeak out against violence against women. And 30 years ago women of color came together to respond to violence in the same critical and poetic spirit.

Towards the world the we all deserve, fully transformed from the misogyny and internalized racism we face in popular music to the frightening expendability of the lives and bodies of women of color this podcast places the brave voices of women telling the truth about gendered violence over the remixed sounds of Miles Davis. This year we take every sound back, starting with our own voices and the background that seeks to silence them.

Listen with your community, your class, your friends, your study group, your church, your crew, pass the link on or listen by yourself and see, hear and wear red.

listen here

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Halloween: Battle Between Church and State

Blog #19 Main pic

Growing up in a fairly religious household, I was never allowed to trick or treat. I never got to dress up as a ghost, goblin, or display any type of cute themed cartoon— the innocent ones like Winnie the Pooh or Mighty Morphing Power Rangers (The originals). Unlike my story, most little kids growing up in the 90’s saw Halloween as fun. To me, it meant spending another day of the week in church, which had potential for fun, but not really the same experience as other kids my age. I can remember my grandmother tearing old linen sheets apart, as she created multi-colored robes to dress me and my brother up as what was suppose to be “two out of the three wise men in the bible.” I can’t exactly say those were “good times” but I do recognize that my parents made an active effort to keep us away from what they thought to be this “devil holiday.”

power rangers blog#19

This year, On my 19th Halloween I will be (for the first time) dressing up in a costume. (I know, I know, but better late than never right?)

However, just because I have been liberated from the conservatism of my family’s tradition, does not mean that this personal act is an accurate depiction of religious sects in our country. It’s actually quite the contrary.

The question is now surfacing, is “Halloween off limits in public schools?” Do Ghost, Witches, and Jackolanterns created in a 3rd grade art classes and displayed in elementary school hallways violate a separation of church and state? I believe the answer to be “of course not,” but that doesn’t stop many of these children’s parents across the country from accusing various public schools and libraries of “preaching witchcraft, promoting Satanism and leading children down the path of spiritual darkness.” This controversy finds it home from the consistent popularity of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. One would think that we would be happy that children are reading. We would rejoice that words in books are still keeping a new technology driven generation interested—even when books have to compete with high-def television, state of the art lap tops, and $500 blue chip video games. A school district in Texas requires parental permission before children may read J.K. Rowling’s books.

What is on your head?

This past weekend I took a break from the monotony of the “ivory tower”. I threw down my books and pushed aside my assignments so I could be entertained. My friends and I decided that with midterms rapidly approaching we needed a few good laughs to maintain our sanity, so we decided to go see Chris Rock’s documentary “Good Hair”. As much as we all appreciate thought provoking discussion, we weren’t looking to have our minds opened by some groundbreaking film. We were merely looking to laugh at “Pookie” from New Jack City, “MC Gusto” from CB4, and “Mays Gilliam” from Head of State. Heck, for $10 Chris Rock better had better given me stomach pains from laughing so hard.


By the end of the movie I was happily disappointed. I was happy because Chris Rock helped shed light on a very thorny issue pervasive in the Black community. Yet, disappointed in myself for underestimating his ability to brilliantly address such a meaty issue. I’m not going to give a synopsis of the film; you can google it if you really want to know what it’s all about. However, I will give you my reactions.

Kiss and Tell: Losing Isiah

Johnson, left, and Thomas exchanging kisses before a game during the 1989 NBA Finals (Andrew Bernstein/Getty Images)

Johnson, left, and Thomas exchanging kisses before a game during the 1989 NBA Finals (Andrew Bernstein/Getty Images)

Those of us who lament the current incarnation of the NBA despite Lebron James’ and Chris Paul’s (he’s soooo cute — no hetero) greatness do so because we remember the golden age of the league.  (Are you looking for Kobe love?  You won’t get that here.  Move along.)  Those of us born in the 80s were raised on the good and nutritiously entertaining similac of dope hip hop and an NBA that was absolutely faaaaaantastic.  Part of what made the mid-80s professional basketball such a renaissance was the rivalry between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, a contentious pairing that began during the championship game of the 1979 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, where Magic’s Michigan State Spartans beat Bird and the Indiana State Sycamores.  Thirty years after the Bird or Magic debate began, the former adversaries, now friends, have co-written a book with the help of former Boston Globe sports columnist Jackie Macmullan.  Though the book won’t be on shelves until November 4, last week the sports world took a brief break from obsessing over football to report on some of the juicier content.

Week of October 19, 2009 to October 25, 2009

Ford’s Insensitivity and Ignorance
Bill Maxwell, St. Petersburg Times, October 25, 2009

Summit Series Targets Achievement Gap; Richardson Will Host Private Talks
Journal Staff Report, Albuquerque Journal, October 24, 2009

LR district studies survival ideas if desegregation aid cut
Cynthia Howell, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, October 24, 2009

Forum looks at minority youths in justice system
Matthew Bowers, Virginian-Pilot, October 23, 2009

La. 47th in high school grad rate
Will Sentell, The Advocate, October 23, 2009

Ole Miss seeks to silence ‘rising South’ chant
Sheila Byrd, Associated Press, October 23, 2009

EXCHANGE: Student allege Chicago bar discriminates
James Janega, The Chicago Tribune, October 23, 2009

Attack on Tosa West runner racially motivated, police say
Tom Kertscher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 22, 2009

Rev. Al Wants Cops to Check Rape Story
Corky Siemaszko, Daily News, October 22, 2009

UConn team gets back to work after fatal stabbing
Pat Eaton-Robb, The Associated Press, October 21, 2009

Woman’s story of torture a lie, she now says
The Associated Press, October 21, 2009

Guns and kids; Lives interrupted
Florida Times-Union, October 20, 2009

UConn students in day of silence for slain player
Pat Eaton-Robb, The Associated Press, October 20, 2009

Report: 83 percent of 2009 class graduated on time
Zinie Chen Sampson, Associated Press Writer, October 20, 2009

Yes, I’m a Spelman Woman, but do I have to wear a white dress every damn day?

“Spelman thou name we praise STANDARDS and honor raise we’ll ever faithful be throughout eternity . . .”

Reflecting on my twenty some years of existence, I must say the best decision I’ve made thus far was to attend Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. Not because it was the blue print for the show, A Different World (even though I loved that show) and I often imagined myself as high pitched voice Whitley Gilbert and not the strangely socially conscious Freddy because I thought she was annoying always yapping about helping the world and saving the damn humpback whales. But, life is ironic and as I get older I feel more and more like Freddie always yapping about violence and oppression. But this is not the point of this post. The point is to answer the question, “Why is Spelman the best decision I’ve made thus far?” And the answer is because of the many invaluable lessons Spelman has taught me and continues to teach me about the strengths, weaknesses, complexities, “respectabilities,” and boundaries of who can be called a bonafide black woman.

You see at Spelman we would chant with arrogance, “You can tell a Spelman Woman, but you can’t tell her much.” We would also bellow, “You get you hoes from Morris Brown. You get girlfriends from Clark Atlanta. But you get your wives from Spelman College.” We understood from the very beginning who could and could not be called a Spelman woman and by default who could and could not be called a real black woman. In many ways the social practices at Spelman defined black womanhood as feminine, heterosexual, smart, non-promiscuous, have good relationships with Morehouse men, Christian, and class privileged. For instance, during orientation week at Spelman, incoming students are required to wear dresses the entire week and also until recently they were paired with incoming Morehouse students to foster a sexual platonic brother and sister relationship. Mind you, when I was a first year student I didn’t see any problems with either tradition. Yeah, I was in my Whitley Gilbert’s phase.

However, as an emerging Freddie, I can now say that these seemingly innocent social practices, Spelman and Morehouse Alumnae would call traditions, narrate and with an iron fist in a white velvet glove enforce “appropriate” feminine and heterosexual behaviors. Of course, this is not to say that Spelman should not create spaces for young women to be traditionally feminine or to identify as heterosexual. I think they should. However, I think this same facilitation of social practices—once again alumnae would call traditions—should be extended to girls who are queer. Yes, girls who prefer to date other girls. Yes, girls who are attracted to men, but feel awkward around them for various reasons. Yes, girls who don’t like to wear dresses and prefer pants and Timberlands. Yes, girls who like to have sex with different partners, male and/or female. I will be the first to admit I felt very uncomfortable around my Morehouse brother not only because he was weird, but because he was aggressive. So, to be paired the first week at Spelman with a man from Morehouse was not comfortable for me. To say the least, these social practices help to define appropriate behavior for Spelman women.

You’re probably wondering where I am going with all of this. Well, the recent uproar surrounding Morehouse’s announcement of their Appropriate Attire Policy got me to thinking not only about Morehouse College, but also about Spelman and other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) like Hampton University (i.e. no braids or locks policy) where similar policies seek to control sexuality and present “respectable (i.e. class)” heterosexual images of black men and black women. So, the frustration and anger that many feel about the new Morehouse’s policy should also be equally apportioned among other HBCUs where the “politics of respectability” reign supreme. Of course, many people have been throwing the phrase the politics of respectability around as if it was a Frisbee and self-explanatory. But I do not think the term is completely transparent and easily understood.

The Ballroom Scene: A New Black Art


Over the past month I have been writing on the good and bad of “The Ballroom Scene.” Now I want to take a moment to explain more about the rising underground dance, that is becoming one of the new “black arts.”  If homophobic, masculine idolizing, intolerant schools like Morehouse would be a little more open minded, maybe our black community could learn to accept things that are different. (Making a reference to Morehouse’s new anti-gay dress code)

Some are disgusted when they observe this new black art taking place. I would assert that people are still afraid of anything different. While, I cannot vogue and have many criticisms about the scene, I still know to respect both the Art and the people who choose to be in the ballroom scene.

Week of October 12, 2009 to October 18, 2009

ACLU: DeSoto Country Retaliating Against Student
Shelia Byrd, Biloxi Sun Herald, October 19, 2009

Making the Grade Isn’t About Race. It’s About Parents.
Patrick Welsh, Washington Post, October 18, 2009

Official: Black Colleges ‘Stuck in Survive’
Jordan Blum, The Advocate, October 17, 2009

Small Steps, Not Big Leaps to Help Pinellas’ Black Students
Ron Matus and Donna Winchester, St. Petersburg Times, October 17, 2009

Morehouse Dress Code Seeks to ‘Get Back to the Legacy’
Mashaun D. Simon, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 16, 2009

Black and White and Bled All Over
Nina Shapiro, Seattle Weekly, October 13, 2009

Special Programs Boost Diversity
Diette Courrégé, The Post and Courier, October 13, 2009

Wedded to the Idea of Promoting Black Marriage
Ellen McCarthy, Washington Post, October 4, 2009

A&T Flap Spotlights Hip Hop’s Message
Joe Killian, Greensboro News & Record, October 4, 2009

Scary Black Men

Am I really that scary? I’m  only 5’9’’ 180 pounds.  This is what I asked myself when a girl ran away from me as I walked down Ellis Avenue two weeks ago. Initially I was flabbergasted by her reaction. Did I look like a criminal? I had on an under armour shirt and some old basketball shorts because I had just left the gym. Was I doing anything out of the ordinary? No, I was just walking with a tote bag in my hand. From my vantage point I looked like an unassuming University of Chicago student tired from a long day of lectures and treadmills. She started walking briskly after she looked back and saw me behind her around the Midway. By the time I got to 59th and Ellis, she was in front of the Burton Judson Dormitory frantically searching for something in her purse.  Maybe it was a key or maybe it was mace.  Am I overanalyzing the situation? Maybe she really just had to use the bathroom. All I know is that when she saw me her nonchalant walked instantly changed into a deliberate sprint.


Today in Post-Race History: No Homo

I’m having trouble embedding the video in question.  Please view it here.

Remember last year when all the white gay people were mad at black people because Prop 8 passed in California?  Well, it wasn’t a fluke.  We’re still their whipping boys (er, bois?).  Last week, my internet boyfriend AC (again, the only man I’d ever seriously consider marrying), sent me a link of the above video, where Current TV contributor, Bryan Safi learns us about the phrase “No Homo.”   Most of the commenters loved this piece and deemed it “genius.”  Me?  Not so much.