Meet Faatimah Knight, Muslim Woman Who Has Spearheaded Fundraising for Black Churches

Twenty-three year-old Faatimah Knight is the woman behind Respond With Love, a fundraiser for black churches destroyed by arson. The fundraiser has already surpassed its $50,000 goal.

“We must always keep in mind that the Muslim community and the black community are not different communities. We are profoundly integrated in many ways, in our overlapping identities and in our relationship to this great and complicated country. We are connected to Black churches through our extended families, our friends and teachers, and our intertwined histories and convergent present,” reads the statement on the fundraiser’s page.

You can donate here.

Photo: Faatimah Knight/Facebook

Here’s a #BBHMMSyllabus Just in Time for the Weekend

 

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 11.24.20 AM.png

By Jayy Dodd

For your own sake I hope you’ve seen Rihanna’s short film for her song “B—- Betta Have My Money”, if you haven’t watch it here (warning: make sure yo Momma ain’t over your shoulder).

Now that you have died and been resurrected it is important to know the critical work that Rihanna is doing here. From demanding particular economies as a Black woman to her disavowal of White man’s property, Rihanna is providing needed language for carefree and resistive Black girls.

She is a in a long lineage of Black girls out there for themselves, their bodies, their money and their time. Here’s a round-up of some important things to know, learn, and re-watch when locating Rihanna’s work!

Read:

 

  1. RiRi crafts notably rebellious black female self-determination in this spirit, eschewing propriety in favor of a carefree, self-indulgent womanhood not contingent on respectability.” – Rihanna And The Radical Power Of “Carefree Black Girl” Celebrity by Hannah Giorgis.

 

  1. Just as Rihanna’s eponymous girlness-as-image brushes against but never touches affective white girlishness, she functions just outside of the womanish labor so often determining blackness. Her girlness shapes her relationship to cash.” – The Prosperity Gospel of Rihanna by Doreen St. Felix

 

  1. “She is making the claim that, in some sense, she is selling her body like the strippers and dancers in her video. And she doesn’t have a problem with that. Far from it, she embraces it.” – Talkback: In Defense of Rihanna by Muna Mire

 

  1. “The mere fact that the woman who directed this entire video is Rihanna herself is laudable — an action that could even be interpreted as a subversion of these typically male-run narratives that Tarantino & Co. tend to go hog-wild with sans repercussion.” – Stop Saying  Rihanna “Bitch Better Have My Money” Video Is Anti-Feminist by Sandra Song

 

  1. The fact is, Rihanna doesn’t get dubbed as a feminist icon for the very same reasons her white peers do: the black female body is deemed as overtly sexual. – Why We Can’t Have Black Feminist Pop Icons by Lesli-Ann Lewis.

 

Watch:

 

  • Janet & Carly Simon featuring Missy Elliott – Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think This Song Is About You):

 

  • Lil’ Kim – Came Back For You (Explicit)

 

  • Jhené Aiko – The Worst


What’s missing from the #BBHMMSyllabus? Use the hashtag to see more!

Jayy Dodd is a writer and performance artist based in Boston, originally from Los Angeles. After recently graduating Tufts University, Jay has organized vigils and protests locally for Black Lives Matter: Boston. When not in the streets, Jay has contributed to Huffington Post and is currently a contributing writer for VSNotebook.com, based in London. Jay Dodd is active on social media celebrating Blackness, interrogating masculinity, and complicating queerness. His poetic and performance work speaks to queer Black masculinity and afrofuturism.

Watch Bree Newsome’s Short Film ‘Wake’

Bree-Newsome-Wake

Bree Newsome garnered national attention when she climbed a 30-foot flagpole at the statehouse in Columbia, South Carolina last week and removed the Confederate Flag. But, the activist, singer, and filmmaker is not new to discussing and addressing issues of race and racism in the United States. Her powerful 2010 short film “WAKE” deals with the intersections of race, belief, and culture in the South. It gives a glimpse into what Newsome’s ideological and directorial stances are on the whole.

Among the other videos on Newsome’s channel, you can see the activist discussing issues Black science and fiction at Spelman College.

Jenn M. Jackson is the Editorial Assistant for The Black Youth Project. She is also the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Water Cooler Convos, a politics, news, and culture webmag for bourgie Black nerds. For more about her, tweet her at @JennMJack or visit her website at jennmjackson.com.

‘Passing’ Is the New Comic That You Have to Read

By L.G. Parker

passing3

“Passing is about the effects of integration and gentrification,” explains co-creator Danielle Belton, “and the kinds of people and friendships that come out of it.”

Featuring two twenty-something white sisters – Kelly and Unique – who were adopted and raised by a black family, Passing shows their life in gentrified Harlem, New York as they live with their friend Deidre Daniels, who is black. Unlike Kelly and Unique, Deidre is “over” blackness, having been raised by black nationalist parents who are akin to Angela Davis and Cornel West.

Let’s be clear, though. Kelly and Unique, the creators say, “would give Rachel Dolezal major side eyes and run her to the nearest psychiatrist.” Unlike Dolezal, “Kelly and Unique both realize they’re white. And it’s something they can’t hide; they don’t masquerade the fact that they’re not black.”

Passing_Main

“Living in the DMV area,” Callahan says, “[Belton and I] have come across white women like Kelly and Unique and we always wondered how did they get to become so engrossed into black culture. So we figured a way of showing that was to have them be adopted by a black family.”

“Also, transracial adoption has always fascinated me,” Belton continued, “in that while race is a social construct, it’s one we all have to deal with the fall-out from, and [transracially adopted] kids don’t get a choice because they’re either born into or raised by a family of a different race than their own.”

Throughout the comic, Kelly and Unique clash over how they navigate their identities as white women who were raised in black culture. “Kelly becomes more open to explore being white,” Belton says, “while her sister sees that as a betrayal to the people who raised them.”

passing

Prior to creating the comic, Passing was of major interest to a premier talent agency in Los Angeles, California after Belton and Callahan spent months developing scripts.

“The only way America would produce an honest show on black people,” the duo joked at Passing’s inception, “is if it starred two white women.”

“The agency that was interested in it told us it was too smart for television,” Callahan says “which was sort of a slap in the face after we spent a whole summer crafting episodes.”

 passing1

With a new strip being posted monthly on the Passing website, Belton says the team is “likely to animate [the comic] down the line as that technology becomes cheaper,” but they’re unlikely to return to developing it as a web series since the comic strip form enables them “to be as funny or political as we want, without having to answer to anyone.”

Follow Passing on Twitter and Facebook for updates on Kelly, Unique, and Deidre.

L.G. Parker is a poet and writer living in Richmond, VA. She is a Callaloo fellow and regular contributor to Elixher Magazine, Blavity, and the Black Youth Project.

6 Afrofuturism Films You Need to See

By L.G. Parker

AFRONAUTS

Afrofuturism has been described as, “the intersection between black culture, technology, liberation and the imagination, with some mysticism thrown in, too. It can be expressed through film; it can be expressed through art, literature and music. It’s a way of bridging the future and the past and essentially helping to reimagine the experience of people of color.” The termed was coined by Mary Dery in his essay, Black to the Future and encompasses artists from Sun Ra to Janelle Monae. The following films hold true to the Afrofuturist aesthetic.

 

1. An Oversimplification of Her Beauty

Director Terence Nance stars in this 2012 film in which he plays the role of a character who was stood up by a beautiful woman and then makes a film about her beauty and his pondering about the nature of feelings and specific moments and shows it to her. Debuted at this 2012 Sundance Film Festival, the highly celebrated film is available online.

2. Pumzi

Kenyan science-fiction writer and director Wanuri Kahiu’s 2009 short-film film establishes a post-apocalyptic world void of water, thereby absent of life aboveground. Kahiu’s film follows a scientist’s exploration of the germinating seeds beyond Nairobi culture. It was screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival as a part of the New African Cinema program.

3. Robots of Brixton

Brixton has become the home of London’s robot workforce in this film by Kibwe Taveres.

4. Afronauts

On July 16, 1969, America prepares to launch Apollo 11. Frances Bodomo’s 2014 short film depicts what was happening thousands of miles away, where the Zambia Space Academy hopes to beat America to the moon. The film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

5. New Siren

Wangechi Mutu’s 2014 short film infuses pornographic imagery, science, and ancient traditions to depict what true beauty, which she defines as being “complicated, like a flame that is both dangerous and interesting.” One of the leading figures in contemporary African art, Mutu’s film responds to and engages with both the policing of female bodies and demonization of Africa.

6. Crumbs

Described by its creators as a post apocalyptic surreal love story in Ethiopia, the sixty-nine minute film made its world premier at the 2009 International Film Festival in Rotterdam

 

Photo: Afronauts

 

 

I’m Not Okay

By Lauren Ash

Lauren Ash

I’m not okay.

Lately, I’ve been forced to face or examine some of life’s most pressing challenges: a parent with a life-threatening disease; the intensification of my persistent struggle with forgiving someone who has asked for my forgiveness, but who remains too difficult for me to love (my excuse for unforgiveness); and my own darkness pressed up against the Light. In all these circumstances, I am presented with choices. To go with the flow or to resist. I’ve found that in telling Life “no” or “later,” she continues to move on while laughing or rolling her eyes at me.

At age 27, I’m at that juncture where I feel it is quite easy to remain the same person, for better or for worse. The alternative is to grow rapidly into someone else, someone better, intensifying the beautiful, helpful qualifies about myself and what I offer the world, and weakening that which I no longer need to carry and that which is not useful for anyone, especially not myself. As I approach my return of Saturn, I reflect on the past year. How I’ve come to know myself – my patterns, my desires, my abilities – more than ever before. Thanks to mirrors, including my therapist, and close friends and family, who do the hard, yet appreciated work of reflecting me back to me. And thanks to Life, quite simply, as well as myself for the numerous moments when I’ve made those difficult, sometimes brave choices to opt for the road less traveled.

So, this is why I’m not okay. I’m uncomfortable. In transition. And for the first time in my life I’m okay with not being okay. I’m uncertain, at times, of what’s around the corner. But here’s the thing: I know when I choose to turn that corner only beauty awaits. It’s my own progress, growth, greatness that I’m afraid of. My stubbornness to be comfortable with how things have always been and to hide in the shadows of the comfortable struggle or complacency. We all go through this. And here’s what I’ve learned during this period which too shall pass:

Take deep breaths. The world will be okay if you hide out for a little bit. Step back. Say no. Say hell no. We all need to breathe, so if you’re going through it be honest about it and take some time to yourself. This might be a day, a week, or a month. Honor your need to recharge and reflect.

Be honest with yourself–and with those who care for you. “How are you” should be greeted with an honest answer. Not with everyone, because not everyone needs to be invited into your personal life. But your close friends and family who care for you should know, so they can support you, listen to you, and encourage you. Avoid the temptation to feel as if you are a burden on their time or energy–you aren’t.

Know that small leaps are still leaps. Whenever we test the unknown in faith — in small or large ways — trusting that we will grow from the experience, we do indeed grow. I’ve personally experienced how all of my needs are met when I take risks to love, forgive, and release something that doesn’t serve me, if I simply move with authenticity, trust the process, and avoid holding back in fear. In the past year, I’ve witnessed the power of faith to manifest all that I desire for my life. As you begin to do this, as well, know that faith is met with challenges to encourage you to believe in what you’re after even more.

Overall, practice self-love. Don’t internalize your struggles or pains. Your struggles and pains and challenges are not you. Be kind to yourself during challenging times of transition and trust that you will rise above.

Lauren Ash is a wellness curator, yoga instructor and writer. Primarily, she is the Founder and Creative Director of Black Girl In Om, a community and an online publication that promotes holistic wellness and inner beauty for women of color and encourages self-care and self-love for communities of color. She has contributed to Afropunk and Greenroom Magazine. Currently based in Chicago, she is most passionate about building community with creatives of color, cultivating wellness with women of color, and manifesting the visions she has for her life and supporting the visions of those she is blessed to be surrounded by.

 

Photo Credit: Oriana Koren

5 Black Queer Poets You Need on Your Bookshelf

insert boy

By L.G. Parker

For black and queer persons alike, much of the realities of our lives are considered “made up” by those who don’t and won’t understand us. Black, queer poets have access to new ways of approaching language as a result of this reality. As self proclaimed black lesbian warrior poet Audre Lorde said in her famous essay “Poetry Is Not A Luxury,” poetry  “forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action.”

These writers have used language to move American Letters, the public imaginary, and all who are touched by their work toward a tangible action unlike anything that came before them. You need them on your bookshelf.

 

 1. R. Erica Doyle – proxy (Belladonna Press, 2013)

Proxy is an unrequited love story in prose poems, where the landscape of the beloved body becomes the windows of New York City, the deserts of North Africa, and the mangroves of the Caribbean. PROXY is a conversation with the calculus, plotting and space against the infinite capacities of desire.

2. Bettina Judd – Patient. (Black Lawrence Press, 2014)

Patient. explores black women’s trauma in medical settings by greeting and conversing with the ghosts of Anarcha Westcott, Betsey Harris, Lucy Zimmerman, Joice Heth, Saartjie Baartman, and Henrietta Lacks.

 3. L. Lamar Wilson –  Sacrilegion (Carolina Wren Press Poetry Series, 2013)

Wilson’s debut collection is rich with the spiritual traditions of his Southern home. Each poem beautifully assaults and inserts the reader intro an urgent conversation about racism, homophobia, and being differently abled.

 4. Rickey Laurentiis – Boy with Thorn (Pitt Poetry Series, 2015)

In a landscape at once the brutal American South as it is the brutal mind, Boy with Thorn interrogates the genesis of all poetic creation—the imagination itself, questioning what role it plays in both our fascinations with and repulsion from a national history of racial and sexual violence. The personal and political crash into one language here, gothic as it is supple, meditating on visual art and myth, to desire, the practice of lynching and Hurricane Katrina. Always at its center, though, is the poet himself—confessing a double song of pleasure and inevitable pain.

5. Danez Smith – [insert] boy (Yes Yes Books, 2014)

Smith delivers, through a series of elegies for the black boy that is you, your brother, and cousins n’nem, a collection of poems that insist on and explore desire, the body, and how to say hallelujah anyhow.

L.G. Parker is a poet and writer living in Richmond, VA. She is a Callaloo fellow and regular contributor to Elixher Magazine, Blavity, and the Black Youth Project.

 

 

Activist Bree Newsome Takes Down Confederate Flag

This morning, activist Bree Newsome scaled the flagpole in front of the South Carolina Statehouse and removed the Confederate flag.

“We removed the flag today because we can’t wait any longer. We can’t continue like this another day. It’s time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality,” Newsome said in a statement.

You can donate to Bree’s bail fund here.

Photo: Bree Newsome/Twitter