Miley Cyrus finally announces the end of her minstrel show, proving once and for all the violence of appropriation

By Sherronda Brown

“When I want something, it’s fucking easy for me.” – Miley Cyrus, the self-ordained savior of our nation

The words “Dumpster Fyre” hover above the head of Miley Cyrus on the cover of Billboard Magazine. Even though they refer to the debacle at Fyre Festival in which rich white kids were finessed out of thousands of dollars and found themselves in a trash pile with bologna sandwiches rather than at the lavish resort they were promised, these words are perhaps more fitting for the interview with the 24-year-old.

via Billboard Magazine

Billboard explains that the Disney Alum “has left behind the pasties, hip-hop bangerz and, yes, weed for her new incarnation: countrified singer-songwriter and hopeful unifier of a divided nation.” Standing among waist-high greenery with her hands in her free-flowing hair, Miley dons a simple pink farm girl dress with frilly lace about the sleeves and bodice. The expression on her face is plain and unassuming. Save for the sporadic miniature tattoos peppering the length of her arms, she is a vision of white Southern Belle innocence and propriety.

Ashanti Hunter

Why seeing the murder of Ashanti Hunter as anti-Black violence does not distract us from fighting for Black men and boys

By Treva Lindsey

Often, there is an alarming silence around the deaths of Black women. From the under-reported murders of Black women by their former or current partners to the vicious and specific targeting of Black trans* women, the killings of Black women rarely garner sustained media coverage, substantive rallying cries, or formidable mobilization and organizing from people other than Black women and gender non-conforming/fluid people.

What you need to know about Chicago’s ‘gang database’ and the lawsuit from local activists

In a “broken windows” fashion, the Chicago Police Department sustains a gang database of its residents. They say this is in efforts to stay ahead on crime. They also seek to punish those on the list to the fullest extent of the law when the opportunity presents itself.

As of last week, CPD and it’s gang database are at the center of a recent lawsuit after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided the home of Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez. This happened after incorrect information about him surfaced through this database, identifying him as a gang member. Not only is the department being hit with a lawsuit, they will also be answering to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about how the database is used. The suit was filed on behalf of BYP100, Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD), and the MacArthur Justice Center.

Simply, the gang database is an excuse to justify further surveillance and excessive force against Black and Brown folks in this very sensitive time regarding citizenship.

Why The #BlackAndTraveling Movement Must Confront Its Classism

A few months ago, as I was scrolling through the ‘Explore’ page on Instagram, I came across the page of an up-and-coming Black travel group. As someone who is keen on snatching grant money and leaving the country for weeks, if not months at a time, in the name of research and scholarship (plus photo ops), I gobbled up all of the beautiful photos of young Black people getting their entire lives in places like Laos, Madrid, Rio, Capetown, and many more. Aside from the warmth of seeing myself represented in countries and experiences that I might not otherwise be, I share the point of view that to be Black and traveling out of one’s own volition is a radical act.

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.

Donald Trump civil war

White people have long tried to obscure slavery as the cause of the Civil War. Donald Trump is no different.

In a recent interview with the Washington Examiner‘s Salena Zito, Donald Trump – the current President of the United States – asked, “What caused the Civil War?” This led many in the news media to highlight the sitting president’s apparent lack of knowledge about the historical context surrounding this country’s most deadly war. While it might be the most convenient answer that Trump just “doesn’t know” anything about this country’s history, I have reason to believe this whole farce of a president and the antics he continues to perpetuate run much deeper than simply not knowing any better.

Details of Jordan Edwards’ Police Shooting Death Change

Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber’s story about  Jordan Edwards’ death has changed with new information. While Haber initially told the press that an officer fired into the car full of teenagers because it was driving in an “aggressive manner,” that wasn’t truly the case.

The New York Times reports that the car Edwards was riding in was actually driving away from the officers before they opened fire and struck him in the head. 

How Jesse Williams’ divorce highlights the way white-supremacist beauty standards affect relationships

By Catherine Imani

By now, you’re probably aware of the fact that Jesse Williams and his wife Aryn Drake-Lee are divorcing after 5 years of marriage and 15 total together. This is not an article about their divorce, because no one knows what is going on inside of their home but them. This is about the ways beauty politics affect relationships–especially relationships in which one person is more attractive by the general society’s standards than the other.

It’s no secret that Jesse fits many stereotypes for attractiveness. He has light skin, light eyes, he’s physically able and slim-thick with a cute ass. In short, he’s “Hollywood pretty,” and that on top of his acting and social justice politics made him very popular among black women specifically.

Jesse was able to leverage that popularity into speaking engagements, interviews and job opportunities. His wife, on the other hand, while gorgeous and intelligent, is not the kind of woman usually seen in Hollywood. And Hollywood is a microcosm, where the ideals and standards of white supremacy, cis heteropatiarchy, fatphobia, colorism and ableism are magnified.

If the rumors are true, it would be no surprise that a fellow “Hollywood pretty” white woman led to the demise of Williams’ marriage.

Again, this isn’t about the couple’s divorce. But any conversation about love, relationships and community is not complete without talking about who is good enough to love, and how that is often directly tied to what is defined as beautiful in our white supremacist society.

Those of us who are not beautiful enough to love are often left with the opposite: violence and abuse. The fact is, although Jesse leaving his black wife for a white woman might be surprising given his seeming embrace of black feminism, it still fits the trend of “when (a black man) get on, he leave (a black woman’s) ass for a white girl,” which is compounded by the larger trend of “attractive person benefits from the love and labor and resources of their less attractive partner only to discard them when they don’t need those things anymore.” There are so many songs, movies and books normalizing this concept, that its effects on the larger society cannot be ignored.

Studies have shown that black women are viewed as being the least desirable across racial categories. Even within the black community, what is defined as desirable mirrors white supremacists standards. Beauty is often talked about in opposition to blackness, and is instead aligned with whiteness and everything whiteness represents.

Because of this, the pressures around beauty for black women are more pronounced. It makes sense that our community exalts the light-skinned, “mixed”/non-black/exotic, cis, abled, and/or slim women, but what goes ignored are all of the ways that beauty is more than skin deep. Beauty–read: how much a black woman aligns with the white supremacist standard–can be a deciding factor in getting a raise, and changes how that woman is perceived by her coworkers or even the judicial system.

In my community, it was very common for young men who were down on their luck to date women who did not meet social beauty standards but had an apartment or a car. They would dog them out the entire time or spread malicious rumors about them, and then when they were financially stable they would leave them. The women are usually much worse off financially than they were when they first met these men.

When I was more gender nonconforming in my presentation, men would threaten to “beat me like the man I thought I was.” I know many women who did not meet society’s attractiveness standard and have had to physically fight men who would never dream of hitting a non-black woman or black woman they deemed attractive. (And that is not to say that only women who are not stereotypically beautiful are abused, but that their abuse is treated differently than that of other women).

This dynamic is especially evident in the responses to the recent Cleveland Shooting regarding the woman the shooter abused. Once people found out who she was and, more specifically, what she looked like, some noted how weird the shooter was for being homicidal over a woman as unattractive as her. Still others blamed her for his violence and tried to threaten her into contacting him.

Image Descriotion: A screenshot of a Facebook post of a selfie of Joy Lane under the text: “Joy Lane please take that milk dud nigga back you not even all that to be curving bruhh like that you got this nigga going around tripping call this nigga and apologize or i’m fucking you up dude yo peanut head ass bitch you horse teeth dry weave stale ass bitch you betta take him back @Joy Lane.” Joy Lane was tagged by the poster.

 

Image Description: A screenshot of a Facebook message to Joy Lane that reads: “Aye hoe call that nigga Stevie , so he can stop killing ppl!!!!”

Her deviance from the standard of beauty made her someone that a lot of people were unable and unwilling to empathize with. It made her someone that a majority of people did not see as deserving of love, safety or affection. It made people think of her as less worthy of life than the people he could have potentially killed (because I do not believe that she would have survived another 3 years if the shooter hadn’t killed himself).

When a black woman who doesn’t meet the standard of beauty is in a relationship, she is blamed for any failings in that relationship. He cheated? Her fault. He abuses her? Her fault. He leaves her after 15 years of commitment? Her fault, because what should she expect?

When news broke that Jesse was leaving his wife, many people commented that they could see why. One’s alignment to these white supremacist beauty standards has very real consequences on how black women are viewed and treated.

Movement’s like #BlackOut and #DisabledAndCute, and the efforts of black women on social media challenge beauty being about one’s alignment to whiteness and redefine it in a way that is more inclusive. Although this is an issue that can never be resolved quickly, conversations like this help. As Jesse Williams said himself, “Now, this is also in particular for the black women … who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you”.

Further reading:

Romantic Love is Killing Us: Who Takes Care of Us When We’re Single?

What It’s Really Like To Be A Trans Woman

Society (And My Rapist) Says I’m Too Ugly To Be Raped


Catherine Imani is a queer disabled black femme based in Atlanta, Ga. They love art and science and are passionate about social justice and equality. Tip them at paypal.me/catherineimani .

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.