This one tells the story of the gender-conscious black male. Nothing is special about these individuals, but the universal disregard for womyn ensures problems in recognition. The people that we showcase, that we respect or esteem at high levels, reflect our understanding of society. What makes us proud of other people is our comparison of their swagger to what everyone else does. Since womyn are invisible in almost every circle of the black community, the black man that cares about the womyn’s experience will be recognized as exceptional. As black folk headed in the direction of a new experience of America it helps to pay attention to who we think are cool.
Since I was a little a brown girl, I have always secretly wanted to save the world. Yes, the whole big world. To say the least, I was utterly enthralled with movies like Indian Jones and the last Crusade to the point of obscene dissidence to the 80s generational black-uplift narrative of being a lawyer like Clair Huxtable. Oh no, I wanted to be an archeologist like Indian Jones. Can you see it? Me, chocolate face black girl, dawning the traditional beige musky hat of the archaeologist to uncover some man-made or supernatural plot to destroy the world. I tell you, this desire to save the damaged and brokenness of humanity is something I came into the world with. I see it as part of my soul assignment to help people know who they are and to uncover their soul names. But, somehow all of this—saving the world . . . helping people discover their inner names—got misconfigured by growing up in a violent home.
Now that it is Women’s Her-story month I thought I would stoke the fires with a blog about something many black women would have a problem with, but something I need to write and have been thinking about for some time . . . our love for President Barack Obama. Perhaps, not love, but our longing for him. Yep, I am questioning our longing for him as black women. I tell you, it greatly saddens me to see black women swoon over Barack Obama and his family because it lets me know how desperate we are as black women for the illusion of the acceptable black family model and an acceptable black man.
And, yes, all ages of black women tend to swoon over him even seasoned (cough cough cough) 55 year-old black women shave countless decades off their lives and become 16 year-old navel gazing black girls referring to Obama, the President of the United States, as His Cuteness as if President Barack Obama, the leader of the known world, is some simple cast member of Grey’s Anatomy where the most attractive male cast members are seductively and playfully referred to as McDreamy, McSteamy, and, now, His Cuteness. I know many of you are saying, “It’s all fun and banter.” And, in response, I would say both yes and no. Don’t get me wrong, I relish the womanist talk downright juicy idioms and metaphors we use to talk about deliciously beautiful black men. I have been known to call a certain coco-looking black male actor, “The Stick.”
14 year old black boy says: “I want to be one of the big black boys.”
14 year old black boy says: “So, I killed my black mother with a twelve gauge shot gun.”
Since when does killing your black mother make you a big boy? I know this is the Black Youth Project and we are advocates for black youth, but sometimes you have to pause and say, “Who told you son that killing your black mother would make you a man?” Have we cheapened . . . completely extinguished the experiences and voices of black boyhood that now to enter into black manhood, our sons must kill their mothers. Yes, kill their black mothers. Since when did killing black mothers become a Rites of Passage program? As a bone-a-fide black feminist who often writes about black women and black girlhood, we need to develop a national Rites of Passage program for young black men. And, yes, I know the issue is not simply behavioral that systems of oppression—racism, sexism, heterosexism, class, and many others—shape access to resources and definitions of manhood. But, when a black boy says, “I want to be one of the big black boys, So, I killed my black mother with a twelve gauge shot gun because she told me I could not play with them,” we need to develop quickly ways and outlets for young black men to know they have become men.
Like most children, I told lies when I was a little black girl. I told big lies. I told small lies. I told white lies. I told lies. And, even had the audacity to argue with my “all seeing all knowing” do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do black grandmother about the usage of lie over her usage of “telling a story.” What does telling a story have to do with telling a lie? I tell you, this infuriated me. I prefer the word lie. Even though my grandmother and I had many disagreements over the terming of untruths often leaving my backside sore with resentment, she had a remarkable almost supernatural way of knowing when I, her precocious granddaughter, was telling her a lie. She would say with a type of black woman resolve, “There’s a stirring in the pot . . . there’s a stirring in my soul,” and before she could finish her statement I knew she knew that I had lied. And, boy did my sore backside know it too. And, so in the tradition of my no nonsense black grandmother, I say, “There’s a stirring in the pot . . . there’s a stirring in my soul that something is amidst in Conservatives—religious fundamentalist, Republicans, Tea Party Members—grand desire to restrict or completely annihilate US’ women’s right to choose.
Dear Sister (i.e. Komen Organization),
Like many of your supporters, I was utterly disheartened by your hasty decision to severe ties with Planned Parenthood because of the unfounded legal witch hunt of Pro-life Congressman Cliff Stearns launched. As one of the few national health organizations that support women and girl’s health, it deeply saddens me that you, like a fearful child afraid of scolding, scurried blindly away from another sister health organization in her time of epic crisis. Though your mission may not explicitly say “sisterhood” or seek to build “sisterhood” among women, your focus on women’s breast implicitly makes that claim. So, I am writing you this letter as a sister holding another sister albeit sister organization (i.e. Komen Organization) accountable for how she treats another sister organization (i.e. Planned Parenthood).
Let me just say this point blank, you don’t get to scurry away from Planned Parenthood. As a sister, you dig your heels into the ground and say,
“These are my boundaries, you can talk about my Jesus . . . the clothes I have on, but HELL NO don’t you dare talk about my sister (i.e. Planned Parenthood) . . . for if you cross that line I will not cower away and lick my wounds . . . I will fight you. Do you hear me? I will fight you.”
It is this spirit of fighting for your sister organization, Planned Parenthood, which you seem to lack even though you rescinded your decision not to fund Planned Parenthood. And, let me also say that no man, Congressman Cliff Stearns, or institution, the Right, should be able to take you, a national women’s organization that touts support among thousands of women in the US, away from your sister organization Planned Parenthood. For if they are able to do so, you become no better than the many backstabbing melodramas that confound women on reality TV shows like Mob Wives or Atlanta House Wives. You become another example of women not being able to work together. You become what men have always thought women to be “weak.” Honestly, you do more harm to womankind than the breast cancer you work to
What if we treated every little girl of color like we treat Ms. Blue Ivy Carter? What would the world be like if everyone in the world waited with breath held for every little girl of color Spirit to divinely make their grand entree into this world because as Jay Z so methodically rapped in Glory, they are, “Destiny’s Child?” What would the world be like if every father, husband, brother, uncle, nephew, and son made a verbal, but, most importantly, a soul abiding commitment to banishing the shrieking vows and consonants that congeal the five letter word for female dog? What would happen if they did this?
What would happen if every person in the world devoutly and fundamentalist-ly believed that girls of color had a profound purpose? Would they seek as Joseph Mbeh sought with Ms. Blue Ivy Carter’s name to trademark all little girls of color names saying to themselves in the way men often say to themselves about woman-kind, “Let us own them, let us make them ours for we know the brilliancy of their minds.”
What would the world be like?
This is a New Year and being the black Christian feminist/womanist perennial thinker that I am, I want my first blog in the New Year to be about a sustainable hope for a better world. The video above is captivating. And, perhaps, captivating does not capture the feeling of unfettered hope one receives from watching the video. Rarely, do I post a YouTube video clip as my featured blog. Of course, this does not count my addiction to all things Awkward Black Girl web series video clips. However, there are times when I come across a YouTube clip that literally steals my breath and I must share.
Though the focus of the Black Youth Project is on all things related to empowering black youth and black communities, I think that this mission in part is creating a world of hope for people and communities who are caught at the “intersections” of multiple systems of oppression. Therefore, the title of the video above is “A Message of Hope.” It talks about how we as lovers of life and others can change the world by first beginning with ourselves. We can change the world by examining how we treat others and ourselves. Often, when we hate, love, and fight others we hate things within ourselves, love things within ourselves, and fight things within ourselves. I know this to be a truism for my own life. I have written about such things before on this blog. Just click on the links below.
So, yesterday was Thanksgiving and all I can say is that my great aunt pushed the ultimate button and questioned why I consider myself a feminist. I tried to ignore her comments about feminists being lesbians. I tried to take the higher ground when she said, “Our men need for women to help them, cook for them . . . be their neck and that’s the only way the black community will survive.” I tried . . . but then she said feminists have not done anything for the black community, but to divide it. And, then I said, “If it was not for black feminism I could not tolerate let alone love your alcoholic abusive nephew (i.e. my father).” Yes, I said exactly that and the whole house became quiet. And, of course, she was very offended and left. But, all this got me to thinking about why I am a black feminist.
I want to join the chorus of the many in honoring Nikky Finney for being awarded the National Book Award for Poetry. Her written words and the recounting of her words in her own voice are amazing. And, I use the term amazing not in the typical ways in which we use it to objectify some thing or someone, but amazing in the flesh and blood sense of the word. I must say I had the privilege to know of her as a student at Spelman College. I use the phrasing “to know of her” because it allows me to say I know her without transgressing the intimate boundaries of knowing her as sister-friend on the couch knowing or as cousin twice-removed knowing. Yes, I know of her.
Many years ago at Spelman College I was privy to be within earshot of her words. Privy, not privileged not blessed, but privy denoting the sharing of some secret knowledge to describe my somewhat commanded and providential attendance at Spelman’s Annual Toni Cade Bambara Writers Activist Collective Conference where Nikky Finny with the care of a well-seasoned mid wife delivered words in honor of Toni. Toni? Toni? At the time I did not know who Toni was beyond the 1990s R&B songstress. I knew only that the future old woman of my heart commanded (as she so often does to this day) my attendance and so I sat next to her (i.e. old woman of my heart) completely impervious to what was about to unfold. Yes, unfold like removing sheets from the dryer only to find tucked within the fitted sheet the sock you thought was lost.