Women's Herstory Month: Do You Know Any Border-Crossing Black Women?


On the last Friday of Women’s Her-story Month, I want to honor black women who are what I call “border-crossers.” Border crossing is centered in the margins and “what moves people” . . . the fluid transmissions and the mergers. It comes out of womanism and black feminism. It comes out the frustration with borders and boundaries. It comes out of the need to build sustained and people-centered movements.

Gay Is the New Black: limitations of identity politics

By Justin Hill

In 2008, when I first read “Gay is the New Black” on the cover of the Advocate, I CRINGED at its implications.  Even as I write, “Gay is the New Black,” it is unsettling because it elides, obfuscates and erases many tensions and concerns. You may be asking, “Why speak about it now, three years after the article was published?” The answer is simple—I feel the need to talk about my concerns and fears on the matter because of the Obama Administration’s legal/political move to position/add gay people as a protected class of citizens.

An Open Letter of “Support” for Karrine Steffans and Domestic Violence Survivors

This month Vibe Magazine featured an open letter from Karrine Steffans telling of her struggle to leave an abusive relationship. What Karrine Steffans is known for is her truth-telling first about the gender and sexual violence of being a “video vixen”in the rap industry and now she is known for her truth telling about her struggle to end her domestically violent relationship with her ex-husband. Of course, both forms of truth telling provoked great backlash from both men and women who believe that “a real woman keeps her mouth shut.” However, Ms. Karrine continues to speak her truth irrespective of how people interpret it.

After reading Ms. Steffans’ open letter to Vibe Magazine, my heart grieved for her and the countless women who struggle for various reasons to leave their abusive relationships. Overall, Ms. Steffans’ plea illumines the visceral complexities of domestic violence, love, trauma, and escape. Her letter reminded me of my mother and grandmother’s story of spousal abuse. In particular, how my mother continued to love a man who would beat her and other women senselessly. Yes, the open letter made my heart weep, but it was the depredating comments about Ms. Karrine Steffans on various websites that really pissed me off made me angry. So, in solidarity with Ms. Karrine Steffans, I have decided to write an open letter to all the people who responded negatively about her struggle to leave an abusive relationship.

Dear Negative Comment Writers,

“I must have done Something Right”: My mother and Tyler Perry’s Father

This week on the Oprah show Tyler Perry shared with Oprah how as a child he was beaten senselessly by his father and that even now his father denies any wrongdoing.  His father states, “If I had beaten your ass one more time, you probably would have been Barack Obama.”Of course, Oprah was stunned and I too was somewhat flabbergasted, but for a somewhat similar different reason. His father’s comment reminded me of something my mother recently said about how she must have done something right given that one day people will call me Dr. So and So. Mind you, my mother did not beat me or my sisters black and blue. For all intended purposes she was a good mother outside the fact that she was never meant to have children. Yes, I said she was never meant to have children which would mean that I future Dr. So and So would not be a living breathing thing which would not be necessarily a bad thing because I do not think non-existing things sit around moaning about their non-existence. When I say she was not meant to have children I am referring to the fact that my mother’s spirit like so many feminine spirits were meant to be free unencumbered by the trappings of domesticity and motherhood.

Can You Stand a Fight: Recognizing Predators when you are P.O.W. (i.e. Push Over Woman)

I’ve decided to start a school entitled, “I Know Who You Are.” I know it’s a very weird name for a school, but it encapsulates the purpose of the school. I am going to teach little girls how to recognize predators not only the predators that walk down the street and abduct them as they are walking to school or the predators that creep into their bed as they sleep, but predators that come in a non-threatening, “I love and worship you . . . I will give you the world . . . trust me I am your Prince/Princess . . . I will make everything right” manner, but who’s very presence is sinister and downright starved for the light that naive girls and women emit. Because their light tells a story of trust without boundaries, devotion without commitment, care without concern. Yes, they are what I call P.O.W.s—Push Over Women.

And, let me be honest, I can’t stand P.O.W.s. They irk me. All, I want to yell to them is, “Put your big girl drawls on and fight, shit . . . whatcha crying for, you better woman up.”But, I realize that sometimes this type of “I am a strong black woman” motivation is not the most effective in training P.O.W.s on how to recognize and fight predators. But, I result to such tactics because I know what it means to be a Push Over Woman and the daughter of a Push Over Woman. It means making men the center of your life. It means never listening to your inner voice . . . your intuition. It means loving a man who fundamentally hates himself and who can only experience fleeting moments of happiness when he is beating you senseless. It means meaningless groping and touching without mutual intimacy. It means telling your daughter to never depend on a man but showing her your constant dependence. Yes, I know what it means to be a P.O.W. an untrained naïve woman . . . a woman who does not realize the power she has.

In Solidarity w/Crunk Feminist Collective: I, too, know what it means to date Black Men as a Black Feminist

“Feminism tells us that the personal is political. Therefore, feminism is a useful frame for helping me to make sense of the gender politics that may be at play in my dating life. When a card-carrying feminist goes on a date, it is a feminist issue, maybe a micro-level one, but a feminist issue nonetheless. In my facetious blaming of feminism, I simply meant that the confidence which it instills in women concerning their intellect and the often radical politics it causes us to espouse, can very often throw a monkey wrench in one’s dating game.” —Crunktastic, July 15, 2010

Wow, for me this quote is “church” as my high school mentee would say. Meaning, this quote is the truth on the level of canonical truth.  I cannot count on my fingers, toes, and follicles of hair the number of black men I’ve dated who have placed me in what Crunktastic calls the “mind f*u$k” category or as I have come to refer to it as the mental masturbation category. Meaning, [in your best non-British intellectually laced Idris Alba’s voice] “I, black man, will date you, black feminist, for a set amount of time . . . give or take three months . . . slowly draining you, my sweet ebony Amazon, of your bookish, but devilishly witty comments . . . then I, black man, will slowly nibble at your “cute” feminist push backs about my male privilege then after that I will marry La’Keisha because she has relaxed hair, childbearing hips, believes in religious “submission” and will happily keep my house and cook my dinner.”

Okay, I know this is a caricature of the some of the men I’ve dated, but the truth remains the same as Crunktastic humorously and facetious writes that, “the confidence which [black feminism] . . . instills in women concerning their intellect and the often radical politics it causes us to espouse, can very often throw a monkey wrench in one’s dating game.” And, I would go even further and say that it throws hammers, nails, the kitchen sink, and, yes, even dry wall into the mix.

What’s the Difference between Slapping Kat Stacks and the Grim Sleeper Murders? Nothing, Absolutely Nothing


When the first video of Kat Stacks being slapped by Bow Wow’s male fans became viral on YouTube back in June, I was immediately angered by the physical act of violence and then equally angered by the misogynistic rhetorical of male honor and female “sexual” dishonor that legitimized the beating of Kat Stacks. However, when another video became viral depicting the same tragic events only this time it was with a different black male perpetrator slapping Kat Stacks, publicly, into submission, I was left speechless. How could this happen again? What in the air as my grandmother would say makes random black men think they have the right to beat a woman because she publicly touts her heterosexuality and the insufficient smallness of several male rappers’ penises—Bow Wow, Nelly, and Fabulous? What in the air allows people both women and men in the videos to stand by and cheer for her demise?

A Misguided Attempt to Empower: Deborrah Cooper’s Lonely Black Church Woman Blames Black Women for their Singleness


I am single black church woman. I go to church on Sunday morning because I need to hear a word from God. I need to know that there is hope in the world. I need to know that when “my body is ailing” as the old folks say and my childhood traumas—daddy beating momma—keep me awake at night that there is a contemplative word of peace, healing, stillness, redemption, and salvation is spoken to let me know that I can make it through, yet, another week. I go to church because on its most good day holding constant its homophobia, materialism, and patriarchy teaches people to be a more loving, caring, and community focused people. And of course, some churches do it better than others, but the point remains that there is an attempt to provide a collective healing space for both black men and black women.

So, when I read Deborrah Cooper’s article, The Black Church: How Black Churches Keep African American Women Single and Lonely, I was left in some ways flabbergasted by her blatant generalizations about single black church women and then equally disturbed by her many negative hackneyed expressions about the Black church which prompted me to say, “What is nuanced about her article that differentiates it from the numerous Nightline’s, CNN’s, and ABC’s news stories about the doom and gloom of being a single black woman?” What makes it stand apart from the many decades of telling single black women and unwed black mothers that they are responsible for their singleness?

And, all that I can surmise is nothing. There is nothing unique or empowering about this essay.

Single Black woman says, "I ain’t the Problem, Nightline, Black Men Are!"

So, that we are crystal clear I do not run behind black men. I do not beg them to spend time with me. I am not desperate for their attention, money, or third arm. I am so tired of Nightline, CNN, ABC, and yes the great matriarch himself, Tyler Perry, telling me that I am the problem. There is a political project afoot to make black women feel they are woefully inadequate. And to this, I say bah hum bug.

– April 24, 2010 Facebook’s Status, Fallon

Just in case you’re wondering, yes, I started my blog with a status update I wrote last week when Nightline aired its show, Face-Off: Why Can’t a Successful Black Woman Find a Man? The Facebook status update conveys my sentiments about this latest cycle of blaming black women for the woes of the black man, the woes of the black community, and the woes of the economy. Yes, if only I would become barefoot and pregnant unemployed and desperate for Big Daddy’s benevolent protection then I would be married [cue the Disney’s music] and the mice with their little mice hands would make my white wedding dress . . . living happily ever after . . . yes, if only I could be that type of woman again. Yes, I use to be a version of her (i.e. wanting to marry the senator instead of being the senator syndrome) when I was searching for my voice.

But, I ain’t her now and I don’t know too many black women who are. If you want a more scholarly understanding of this issue I suggest you read Melissa Harris Lacewell’s Nightline asks why black women can’t get a man or Farai Chideya How Does It Feel to Be a Black, Female, Single Problem because my blog is going to be a rant about how I think black men are the problems. Yes, I said they are the PROBLEMS. Okay, not the pen-ultimate problem, but definitely the problem when it comes to how they use their hetero-male privilege in romantic relationships with black women in particular black women like me who are not willing to put up with their shit cow dung.

Says Seven year-old, “Big Sister let them Rape Me:” Trenton, Irresponsible Black Girls, and Savior Russell Simmons

TRENTON — City police have charged a 15-year-old girl as an accomplice to the gang rape of her 7-year-old sister. Police said they believe the older sibling was paid for having sex with multiple partners Sunday night during a party at the troubled Rowan Towers apartment complex, and that she then sold her sister to others at the party.

My heart grieves not only for the seven year old black girl who was gang raped, but also for her 15 year old sister who sold her body and her sister’s body for money. Yes, my heart grieves even though many people are angry with the older sister for not protecting her little sister calling for “the book to be thrown at her.” To say the least, the big sister is going to jail for a very long time. But yet, my heart weeps for her as it wept for Precious’ mother, Mary. It weeps because it says something about the level of sexual abuse she herself must have experienced to make the idea of being complicit in her sister’s rape plausible. My heart moans because she like other girls knows that they can make a living by selling their bodies. It wails and weeps because no one stepped in to stop her first sexual abuse. My heart grieves.

The question is: Can we really be angry with the 15 year old sister for what she did? And I am having a hard time answering this question because a part of me wants to be angry at her for not protecting her little sister. However, I have to assess how much of my sadness and anger is in response to the crime of rape and how much of it is in response to her not being a good big sister. You know the type of big sister my older sister was forced to be completely responsible for raising me when she was only a girl herself because . . . momma had to work late . . . momma did not like being tied down . . . daycare is expensive . . . momma had a second job . . . momma was gone . . . momma had to party . . . daddy was gone . . . so she became responsible for raising and protecting “us” her younger siblings.