Why can’t we defend Blackness when a Black person does something wrong?

“Nothing exists in a vacuum” is a trite old aphorism used to explain how all actions have consequences. It is founded on a basic principle in physics that states that space without matter, by definition, contains nothing. The saying highlights the reality that any actions occurring outside of vacuums create ripple effects because matter connects everything together.

This reality is sometimes used to explain the concept of collateral damage, and how the imprecise targeting of an individual is bound to impact more than just that one person.

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.

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.

Rachel Dolezal, Farcical Blackness and ‘Eating the Other’

By: Imani J. Jackson

One day I was minding my business, as an actual Black woman, when the Internet alerted me of a narrative that captivated America. Rachel Dolezal was a disgraced NAACP president whose whistleblower parents alerted the public of their daughter’s lived lie.

Dolezal had deputized herself as a Black sister, taught Africana studies and filed hate crime complaints that curiously could never be corroborated.  Further, the folks she thought she fooled through her racial Rachel curating apparently knew something was amiss.  

The Harsh Reality Of Being Black, Woman, and Abroad

“If it gets to be too much, or if you start feeling like you’re in danger, you call the university and tell them to bring you right back to Chicago.”

I was on the phone with my mother discussing my upcoming study abroad trip to Europe. “I hope they like Black people there”, I joked with a tinge of seriousness. Though I spoke solid French, I deliberately chose to complete my minor in a German-speaking country: Austria. After committing to the program, I caught up with a friend who had recently studied abroad and he shared the rampant racism he both witnessed and experienced in Mexico.

Black August

My generation has started both online/offline revolutions in 2013. Yes, that’s right. The twerking, selfie photo obsessed, and tweet happy children of the late eighties and early nineties have found it in our hearts and minds to stand for the social, political, and spiritual liberation of all oppressed people. In an age where folks shun us for our sagging pants, we’ve learned how to elevate above the rhetoric through our work on the ground. Whether it’s the Dream Defenders occupying the Florida State Capitol building to push for a change in public policy, or the Bois of Baltimore providing a safe space for womyn who identify as masculine-of-center to build an uplifting and transformative movement; young people of color have made it very clear that we are willing to fight for what we believe in.


This year many folks in Generation X are observing Black August. Don’t believe me? Just check #blackaugust on Twitter to see the discourse. This month and year mark the 33rd anniversary of the existence and observance of Black August, the movement that honors the radical resistance, resilience, and collective action of Afrikan peoples of the Diaspora. From the Haitian Revolution, to Underground Railroad, to the March on Washington, to the Watts uprisings, people of color have been resisting colonization for centuries. As we continue to develop and grow our revolutionary movement built on the foundation provided by our foremothers and forefathers, we must  not forget the sacrifices that were made by them.

Wild Thing

By AJ Thomas

20-years old



When I woke up this morning I was a Black woman.


It’s not to say that I wasn’t one before, but on this occasion I had changed. My skin was brown, my hair was curly, and my lips were full. I had become a Black woman; I had become a wild thing.


In his poem entitled “Self-pity” the poet D. H. Lawrence says, “I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.” My metamorphosis from a caterpillar to a butterfly was a slow process.

To All Afraid of the ‘Ghetto’ Continued


I was delighted by the discussion my last blog post- “To All Afraid of the ‘Ghetto’”- sparked both online and on the University of Chicago campus. Many of my classmates approached me about the blog and gave even more personal accounts on comments the pervade our campus from our administration, the University of Chicago Police Department, and an overwhelming amount of students that actively other black neighborhoods and discourage people from entering into these spaces. It was especially fruitful to engage in the often-ignored discussion on violence and crime in predominantly white neighborhoods and sexual assaults that occur frequently at several universities and colleges. Nevertheless, while I did receive much vindication, I also received much flack. A number of individuals (mostly classmates) approached me essentially contending that poor black neighborhoods are innately more dangerous and that majority white neighborhoods-in urban and suburban areas- are inherently safer.