Victims of Chicago Gun Violence Are “Unforgotten”

 unforgoten

A pop-up exhibit currently in downtown Chicago called “The Unforgotten,” is a project of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. The exhibit highlights victims of gun violence in Chicago and throughout Illinois.

Artists carefully studied images and videos of victims in order to create lifelike statues of them. Some statues are wearing clothing from the victims.

The statues were commissioned to remind viewers of the humanity of the victims. They remain faceless to remind viewers that while the statues are lifelike, the victim is permanently lost.

“It does (convey) the message that my daughter was once here and she is no longer here,” Bonita Foster, the mother of a shooting victim, told the RedEye.

Read more.

Photo: Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence

Janelle Monáe’s Perfect Twitter Clapback

Queen Carefree Black Girl Janelle Monáe shut down this Twitter user and his unsolicited misogynist two-cents very quickly yesterday. It’s safe to say, don’t come for Janelle unless she sends for you and even then you should stay in your lane.

Photo: Janelle Monáe /Screenshot

Get Off Him Miss Ann; or Why Madonna Needs a Seat

DrakeMadonna

By Jay Dodd

We shouldn’t be laughing at Drake right now. Like for real.

Say what you want about the memes, and lists, and tweets reacting to Madonna’s latest shock attempt, but it’s not funny yet. Madonna can’t perform that type of “domination” in such a public forum without critique. His face said it all. Drake’s face was of disgust and shock. Madonna’s arrogance gleaming, almost grotesque, beside him. But she stay doing this. Madonna stay exploiting Black men/of color who serve as sexual prop for her own attempts at taboo. She stay attempting to politicized her body by positioning it near and around Blackness. She stay having this history of Black men she attempts to keep in her wake. Whether this Cochella “highlight” was rehearsed or not, the optics of this kind of dynamic is troubling.

Madonna has been on a crusade to be the most un-self aware White woman of the century. From calling her son “#disnigga” on Instagram andcomparing her oeuvre to Nelson Mandela and Bob Marley. She is one of the original modern appropriators and has exploited popular Black bodies before (see: Tupac). Her most recent quips declaring ageism as the new “Black” of sorts, positioning it as “the worst thing” we casually allow. (Because they aren’t killing Black people of all ages right now in America). Madonna’s flippant ignorance sets an uncomfortable stage for her interaction with Drake. She is clearly trying to assert a power. Her power as a woman is unquestioned, but she too is White, and has a dynamic power in relation to Drake.

While (Black) men are complicit in misogyny against all women, White women have a different conversation. White women have participated in anti-Blackness in ways only they can. They have been unjustly positioned as the pure and fragile and Blackness, her enemy. White supremacy positions white women as the most vulnerable to threat of Black men; we feel this weight. Some Black men prize White women as sign of “making it” —that’s both misogynist and a colonial thought. Other Black men know the danger White women could bring. Black mothers warn of white women with white fathers. For many Black men, a White woman is just as terrifying as a White man.

We also are complicit in misogyny and must complicate our “distrust” of any woman. We must locate any violence as it is. But there is a dynamic here.

There is a dynamic between Drake and Madonna. What could he do? On a global stage with a powerful woman with significantly more capital? He was, in many ways, powerless. She really could have taken that as far as she wanted. His face said it all. Whatever could have been planned was not that.

There is so much more (Black) men need to be doing to combat misogyny and sexism, and we must also acknowledge subjugation as it appears. We need language to call out White women for their complicity in racism against Black men/of color. That language needs not to reproduce misogynistic violence.That language needs to find a word for the emotions Drake must of felt as Madonna strutted off.

If I had read Harry Potter, I’d make a better dementor joke.

—–

Jay 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.

Shuck and Jive 2.0: The Epidemic of New Blacks

Raven-Symone

By Jay Dodd 

 

Among Azealia Banks’ unfortunately few poignant and meaningful clap-backs is the occasion she came for Clifford “TI” Harris’s life for defending Igloo.In her 140-character shade, she called TI a coon. A humorously archaic  “slur” is made relevant again as we see its residual mindset permeating many Black men in the music industry. Black folk have created many languages for folks found betraying Blackness. Coon is Uncle Tom isDon Lemon— Black folk who have taken on an ahistorical burden of appealing to White supremacy. Coons not only embarrass but reaffirm systemic erasure. As high profile pop cultural makers have proven, from the minstrel to the misinformed, wealth and access for Black folk does not always benefit Blackness. New Blacks, as (Black) Twitter has masterfully coined, perform these jigs away from more “controversial” Blacknesses as a symbol of progress. The shuck and jive for maintaining accepted (read: White) norms of success. Now, as per usual, our faves provide necessary complications to these narratives. While some attempt to gain access to wealth as success from erasing black folk, there is also an unfortunate erasure is Black exceptionalism. Our faves do a work for radical aspiration but their successes are often uncomplicated as markers of progress.

Erasure does a work in both, the embarrassing acts of Black minstrelsy and mythic post race neo-Blackness; we have many scripts for the former.  The latter is born of respectability politics (the recurring impossibility). The heartbreaking crutch of respectability politics relies on the fear Black folk have of being embarrassed; in “being” the way White folk think “we all are”. These stratifications of acceptable Blacknesses only reproduce widely (mis)understood structures of power. While for some, Black folks of a particular demeanor, dress, or class location can embarrass, others see the greater disappointment, appealing to White values. It is when Don Lemon, though a potentially historic figure for Black queer men in popular media, seems to go light years out of his way to undermine and disarm Blackness. When Bill Cosby, on top of completely benefitting from White fandom and a culture of misogyny, can be defended as a trailblazer. When notable Black figures create abandon against Blackness, they embarrass because we are fighting so intently to be seen as human. When not undermining Blackness directly, the 21st century coons among us strap on the most luxurious capes for Whiteness.

Returning to my early statements around TI’s coon-dom, we have seen an overwhelming number of Black folk violently dismiss histories, facts and generations of  Blackness in this country, (read: Kendrick). Like some toxic elixir has made them drunk on the realities of Black America. In his measly defense, TI even offered that because of Itchy’s Australian heritage, she is somehow placed outside of racism and white supremacy. Noting the clear ignorance around how global both settler colonialism and anti-Blackness is, Brother Harris is quite literally just wrong. However, our faves don’t always embarrass with ahistorical nonsense.

Our modern era of the #NewBlack can be marked by the litany of often ridiculous yet ultimately dangerous quips of Black celebrities essentializing or minimizing Blackness, it’s rage and celebration. Notable grievances include: Common’s extended hand in love to white folk “finally” getting to the root of racism, Raven’s colorless Americana, and Pharrell’s whole Other movement. Black folks who achieve some cross-cultural notoriety make lavish attempts to re-sale or re-package Blackness. It becomes just an aesthetic, a check box, a coffee order. In what seems like the most cognitively dissonant rhetoric I’ve heard in this era, Isaiah Washington, noted homophobe and “newest” Black, says that the best way for Black folk to survive is to #adapt. As splashed across Twitter, Washington confessed to changing one’s life style is the only way to stay safe. These cultural figures have the semi-awareness of the danger but choose to take the onus of attempting humanity in the eyes of folk refuse to see you. When we position, modify, perform our beings for the gaze of whiteness, we are doing a violence to ourselves.

And, for the rafters, hurting our people.

However? Our faves are doing much for us either.

The press conference forTidal was in many ways a collection of some of the most excellent Blackness this world has documented. Favorites from across the board gathered to “begin a moment” and combat the status quo. In days previous, Twitter and Facebook washed over in the ugliest aquamarine announcing Tidal’s arrival. The mantra #TidalforAll rang from update to retweet and the mobilization sprang up from nowhere. One of the centrally important things about Tidal is that the owners are Black folk. Few enterprises as lucrative and culturally relevant as Tidal are owned and connected to Black people who look like Nicki, Rihanna, and Kanye. They are Black people getting necessary coins, and we should imagine translating this on our bodies. Still, a dissonance forms when our favorites who have been (un) remarkably distant from current movements around anti-Blackness and institutional violence can so quickly mobilizing around retaining wealth. While they are committing to expanding iconography of black excellence, their location in the out cry for Black humanity is ambiguous, if not destructive? Though there is a power in Black folk using this language of resistance and independence, to mobilize around retaining wealth while across the nation Black folk are mobilizing for their humanity. In the way that Black folk who take on the values of White folk disarm our diaspora, our faves stand in the place of folks who require conversations of liberation. To use the mediums, rhetoric and framework of subversive resistance, in this season, for anything but the movement, hurts.

Blackness is expanding. Blackness is speaking across the globe, building new worlds and conversations around solidarity. In the United States, the Black Lives Matter movement has centered Black Trans/ Queer folk in ways earlier iterations were lacking. Blackness is speaking in more tongues and we are seeing shifts from appeals to White supremacy. We have a wealth of popular Black icons who disrupt spaces of white power and popular culture. Unfortunately, white supremacy still seeps in to many a Black conscious. It’s patriarchy instills misogynoir in BM. It’s sexual morality polices queer and trans Black bodies. It’s promise of relative power siphons Blackness of its exponential potential. If we could consider this an era of “New” Blackness, we must continue to imagine greater for ourselves.

 

Photo: Instagram