When I, a Black person, was told I didn’t know enough about another culture to have opinions on slavery

Last week, something Trumpian must have sparked a race between major publications to put out the most fucked up writings on the topic of slavery.

On Tuesday, The New York Times compared Saartje Baartman–an enslaved Black woman who, in addition to the many other horrors she suffered both before and after her death, was forced to perform in freak shows due to her curvaceousness–to Kim Kardashian. Not to be outdone, The Atlantic’s June cover story, “My Family’s Slave”, written by the late Pulitzer Prize winner Alex Tizon, ignited an even bigger controversy with the tale of an abused Filipino maid, Eudocia “Lola” Tomas Pulida, who spent 56 years taking care of Tizon and his family without pay.

I’ll still complain about politics even when I don’t vote – fight me.

I am a non-voter who has the audacity to still be upset that my people are dying. I have been told innumerable times that I am not supposed to be allowed this. “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain” is perhaps the most common non-voter shaming refrain I’ve heard, right up there with “your ancestors died for the right to vote.”

But I am not generally one to accept what society allows me to do as gospel.

I learned this from those very same ancestors, who, as even non-voter shamers acknowledge, lost their lives so that I could do what they weren’t allowed. Some say their deaths were only for my right to vote, but I know they died to get closer to freedom. I know they died also to be able to refuse the vote if it does not work towards that freedom. I know that my people are still dying–still died even when I did vote–and, if anything, my ancestors lost their lives so that I would never let anything get in the way of raising hell about it.

The forgotten collateral of exhuming the Black dead through art

My best friend’s brother was murdered in 2012. We shared a birthday and the Blackness for which he was killed. My mother might say the fact that we didn’t share the same fate is only by the grace of God. I wonder what kind of God saves one mother’s Black boy just to take one away from another and calls that grace.

I am reminded of my precarious Black life, seemingly hinging on a senseless God’s whims, whenever my friend’s brother’s name is evoked. You see, Trayvon was the reason #BlackLivesMatter erupted with such force it was able to stop so many from forgetting what  makes them not matter. And, like many Black folks in my generation, Trayvon Martin’s death and his murderer’s acquittal marked a vital juncture in my social awakening. If it weren’t clear before, the disregard for Martin’s life by Zimmerman, the media, and finally, the state, made plain just how long we had been walking in place when it came to the liberation of Black communities.

Black people not voting is logical, and vote pushers are usually anti-Black

For most of my schooling, I was treated as somewhat of a golden child. As an advanced placement student in a majority Black district, where most of the other Black kids weren’t surpassing their white peers scholastically like I was, the fact that I seemed destined to follow in the footsteps of my ivy-league older siblings did not go unnoticed by the approving adults in my life.

Not only did my “achievements” translate materially in the form of scholarship money, I received an enviable range of post-graduate opportunities, as well as positions of authority offered to me while still in school. I was also told flat-out many times and in various ways how different I was from the average Black student. It was never an insult. The average Black student was not someone to desire being in community with, apparently. My differences were always pointed out as if not being like them other niggas was the biggest compliment I could ever receive.

Solidarity can’t work without understanding that Blackness has a role in every struggle

The first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency have been marked by continuous attacks on the most vulnerable communities, just as promised. Those who have been resisting this administration have rightly responded to these attacks by attempting to shed light on every step taken toward such harmful efforts—from the blatantly bigoted “Muslim ban” and its equally bigoted second iteration, to threats against “sanctuary cities” whose governments refuse to go out of their way to target the undocumented.

However, in shedding this necessary light, many people have also chosen to distinguish struggles such as those against Islamophobia and anti-immigrant violence from the plight of Black people. While some have argued that its apparently lessened visibility is only a necessary evolution of the Movement for Black Lives, others have questioned the movement’s continued relevance after Trump’s ascension highlighted so many struggles that are seemingly distinctive and equally important.

What our fixation on Michelle Obama’s hair says about the space we give Black women to breathe

I can probably count on my two hands how many times I’ve seen my mother’s hair outside of its headwrap. For modesty’s sake, she has religiously worn the garment almost every day for as long as I have been alive. To my mother, hair is an intimate experience, to be let down only in intimately personal moments–and she has always had far, far too few of those in a world that demands she give all her energy simply to survive.

Why I’ll never thank white “allies”

It’s clear that a sustainable movement for progress requires a larger mass of folks invested in liberatory work than currently exists. Often, this insight coincides with appeals to allies in hopes that they will take greater part in this vision. Believing their role necessary in building a formidable coalition, we encourage allies by showering them with our gratitude, oftentimes for actions as minor as posting about reading a New York Times bestseller. We go out of our way to make “ally cookies” the sweetest they possibly can be, sometimes even materializing in the form of monetary rewards, to the point that the overwhelming appreciation becomes an incentive in and of itself.

“I’m not gay no more”: on Andrew Caldwell, static sexuality & gender expression

In 2014, Andrew Caldwell was introduced to the world via a viral video in which he proclaimed his deliverance from homosexuality at an annual COGIC convention in St. Louis.

“I was already fighting for deliverance,” he told me in an interview two years later. “That night I said, ‘God, if you’re real, I want you to show me.’”

It was truly a spectacle. In a loud, purple top with a giant mustard bowtie and matching handkerchief hanging out the pocket of his patterned suit jacket, he screamed what seemed an impossibly even louder, “I’m deliver’t! I don’t like mens no more!”

Why I’m tired of white gay men telling queer stories

A few days ago, it was announced that Ryan Murphy, the mind behind queer favorites like Glee and American Horror Story, is developing a show slated for 2018 called Pose that will explore 80s LGBTQ ball culture. According to Deadline, the series “examines the juxtaposition of several segments of life and society in New York City: the emergence of the luxury Trump-era universe, the downtown social and literary scene and the ball culture world.”

I hate it preemptively.

How our unhealthy understandings of accountability promote a race to the bottom

When Casey Affleck won the Oscar for his work in Manchester by the Sea last Sunday, many once again pointed out the racial double standard on sexual violence. If you recall, Nate Parker’s Oscar aspirations for his film The Birth of a Nation, initially regarded as a strong awards contender, were swiftly derailed when rape allegations against him from years ago resurfaced. Despite very similar past allegations, Affleck had no dim to his shine through his successful Oscar campaign. Similarly, the downfall of Bill Cosby, when contrasted with the continued success of Woody Allen, illuminates the ways in which anti-Blackness engenders a far more lenient response to sexual violence at the hands of white men compared to their Black counterparts.