Women Her-story Month: Do You Have a Chosen Sister?

I speak as a – a sister of a sister. Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on my birthday. And for over 30 years, Coretta Scott King and I have telephoned, or sent cards to each other, or flowers to each other, or met each other somewhere in the world.

We called ourselves “chosen sisters” and when we traveled to South Africa or to the Caribbean or when she came to visit me in North Carolina or in New York, we sat into the late evening hours, calling each other “girl.” It’s a black woman thing, you know. And even as we reached well into our 70th decade, we still said “girl.”

I pledge to you, my sister, I will never cease.

Dr. Maya Angelou’s remarks at Coretta Scott King’s Funeral

So, I was watching the Monique Show last night and Taraji P. Henson was one of her guests. What was interesting about the show was not that they both were Oscar nominated actresses, but that they were girlfriends. I mean Sistergirl girl friends. Sistahfriends whose on screen chemistry spoke of countless nights of belly laughs and Girl, let me tell you . . .” call and response, “I almost had to take my earrings off,” black girl stories. So, inspired by their on camera friendship and Women’s Her-story month, today I pay tribute to Sisterfriends without whom many black women including myself would go crazy on what seems like an ordinary day. Yes, black girl friendships are a blessing.

The Princess and the Frog, but what about the White Frog's Hunters?

Today the Princess and the Frog opens across the nation. Of course, I’m going to go see the movie, however like most cynics I wrote a blog about the movie before it premiered approximately two months ago to  be exact. So, if my argument is proven wrong by actually seeing the film, I will write another blog saying I was wrong. However, I do not think this will be the case. Also, I hope bloggers, writers, teachers, critics, etc. are equally critical of this movie as they were of the movie, Precious.

The original title of the blog was, Mobs, Cracker Barrel, and Hunters . . . Oh, My.

Beyonce Says Big Ego, but Ruth says, “Eat your [damn] eggs, Walter Lee”

So, why is it that every time I talk about black women’s lived experiences feeble-minded always on the black woman’s titty black man hollers in his best tonka truck voice, “We got it hard not black women?” Wow. My first immediate response is, “Did I say anything negative about the black man?” No. My second response is, “Did I even use the male pronoun in any part of my statement?” No. So, how is it that you, Mr. Beans and Rice eating barefoot and pregnant needy black man, are offended, wounded, and betrayed by my acknowledgement of black women’s stories? You see, Beyonce calls it your big ego. I simply refer to it as your broke-down Napoleonic black male privilege having @$s. I know the tone of this blog seems reminiscent of Erykah Badu’s Tyrone and Beyonce’s Irreplaceable, but my intent is not to lyrically serenade you with all the ills black men have visited upon black women, but to say that I am sick and I am tired of the, “I am black man and the world is on my shoulder boo who who” whine every time I mention anything about black women.

I mean, I can say, “I as a black woman sneezed today,” and the black man would counter, “I have a sinus infection.” I as a black woman could slip and fall and the black man would argue for dear life that he invented the slip then fall movement. I can say, “As black woman I love my vagina,” and the black man would say, “Not as much as I do (hearty John Coffy from the Green Mile’s laugh).” I can say, “I scraped my knee,” and the black man would moan like an old southern Baptist minister, “I am quadriplegic . . . I am so oppressed.” Really, is it that important that you, Mr. I am an Endangered Species, be the center of attention all the damn time?  When I go to the bathroom, I have to seriously think about how my brown poop will oppress you. When I sleep at night, I have to think about how my dreams will challenge your manhood and rival your oppression. I am so over, “The world is against me” black man’s dirge. Go sing that song to a group of people who care, people like Tiger Wood’s wife and even they are tired of your big ego.

Chris Brown and Rihanna: A Woman's Worth


This situation is tragic. There is no other way to describe it. It is tragic. As with other tragedies, there are lessons to be learned. And no, i am not of the mind that it is somehow more tragic because it happened to Chris Brown and Rihanna. Whenever i hear or read that “if it could happen to them it could happen to anyone”, i cringe. What do we mean by that? Are young, pretty (yes, he’s pretty too) Black stars somehow domestic violence proof? Does the shroud of fame and fortune protect them from the horrors that haunt countless families?

We Are All like Precious' Mother, Mary, Gotta Have a Man!!

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s my best friend flying away at supersonic speeds into the distant sunset with her new boyfriend. As she soars hugging her newfound beau who she only met a week ago on eHarmony, does she look back to see her best friends staring at her in utter disbelief? No. As she breaks the sound barrier itself with her rampant flight after a man who claims to love her after only knowing her a week, does she wonder if her best girlfriends who she has known since high school’s English 101 will be there waiting when she falls from the blissful skies of love?  No. No because she is one of them. You know the ones I’m talking about. The girls who get boyfriends and then disappear off the face of the Earth only to be spotted like wayward UFOs when times of distress arise. The girls who ignore your phone calls because they are so enraptured by a guy they have only known for a day. The girls who expect you to be understand why they have canceled the last five girls’ night out activities because Tyrone wants to watch the NBA Championships. Yes, those types of girls.

Before you take my opening comments as a sign of Erykah Badu’s “My eyes are green cause I eats a lot vegetables,” green-eyed monster called jealousy or take it as “You wish you had a man” syndrome, let me clarify my intent and the purpose of this blog. I hate downright loath when girls who claim to be your friend, your best friend, and your sister friend decides that they have to sever ties with you to be with a man. Mind you, I can critically analyze how patriarchy shapes how women interact with each other and how privileges are garnered through performing appropriate hetero-patriarchal behaviors like dating a guy and making him the center of your universe. However, it still pisses me off.

Every time one of my girlfriends goes what I have now termed as “ghost” I feel angry and deeply betrayed. And let’s be honest, when she goes crazy underneath her bed babbling like Miss Sophia from The Color Purple, “Sat in dat jail . . . sat in dat jail,” from being at the intersection of being black and woman who’s going to climb underneath that bed and cry with her or at least climb underneath the bed and tell her that she can as Maya Angelou wrote, rise? And if you’re thinking it will be that man of hers who she has metaphorically only known for a day is going to be her Savior or her Prince Charming you, my dear friend, are mistaken. It will be us, her girlfriends. You see, it never fails to happen that girls who go “ghost” call you in times of distress after not talking to you for ages and expect you to drop everything you’re doing to help make their world better.

I saw the movie Precious, but what about her mother, Mary?

I am my mother’s daughter and my mother is the daughter of my grandmother. And both their stories and silences speak through me.

I begin with this mantra because spiritually and mentally I desperately need to understand why tears stained and wrinkled my cheeks as I watched the movie Precious. Yes, I am a Cancer and have been known to wear my heart on my sleeve, but there was something so violent and painful about how Lee Daniels portrayed Precious’ mother that tears could only convey my ill ease and anger. Mind you, there are many critiques I could write about the movie. However, I think summer’s Lost in Translation: A Response to Precious gets at the root of why so many people like myself wanted to storm out of the theater babbling among many things, “I can’t stand Tyler Perry’s @s$ who makes millions off of black women being damaged.” So, if you want to read a good critique, please read summer’s Lost in Translation. I guess I should also say that I have not read Push by Sapphire and all my comments are in response to the movie, Precious.

So, I begin by asking the question, what if the movie Precious was not told from the point of view of Precious, but told from the point of view of Mary. I know many of you are scratching your heads asking, “Who’s Mary?” Well, Mary is Precious’ mother. I think it is important that we know the name of the woman who is “solely” responsible for making her daughter overweight, infecting her daughter with HIV, allowing her father to rape her, and forcing her to quit school to get welfare. Given all of this, I think it is important to know the name of Precious’ mother, Mary.

Yes, I know that the purpose of the movie was to tell the daughter’s story. But, as I watched Mary silence, physically abuse, and sexually sodomize her daughter, all I could think about as tears flowed was Mary’s story and how she became who she was. What were the political, social, cultural, and economic forces “intersecting” to shape how she saw her daughter and how she saw herself? Mary is not one dimensional in the sense of simply being organically evil. But, Lee Daniels—as he also did in Monster’s Ball—did a good, downright extraordinary job of painting her as such, ignoring the many structural and cultural forces at play during the 70s and 80s that made the image of the black welfare queen palatable and punitive.

Be Bold Be Re(a)d: The Podcast

I want to thank my good sisterfriend and comrade, Alexis Gumbs, for pulling the Be Bold Be Re(a)d podcast together.

3 years ago women of color came together and transformed what it meant to transform terror on Halloween, declaring October 31st Be Bold Be Red Day, a day for women of color and allies to wearredspeak out against violence against women. And 30 years ago women of color came together to respond to violence in the same critical and poetic spirit.

Towards the world the we all deserve, fully transformed from the misogyny and internalized racism we face in popular music to the frightening expendability of the lives and bodies of women of color this podcast places the brave voices of women telling the truth about gendered violence over the remixed sounds of Miles Davis. This year we take every sound back, starting with our own voices and the background that seeks to silence them.

Listen with your community, your class, your friends, your study group, your church, your crew, pass the link on or listen by yourself and see, hear and wear red.

listen here

or download here: http://brokenbeautiful.wordpress.com/files/2009/10/real-be-bold-be-red-podcast.mp3

She's Gotta Have it: What, Exactly, is "Rape Rape"?

I’m still on IR trying to get this chapter draft to semi-embarrassing level.  (Which, frankly, would be a pleasant surprise to my committee since, you know, I rarely have anything to show them–and when I do it’s some incoherent mess about black people and geography. Yes, I mortify the race with every word I type.) So, I have to give you video you’ve probably already seen.


Mobs, Cracker Barrel, and Hunters . . . Oh My!

So, what does a frog, a violent racist white man, and non-violent racially complicit white people have in common? Well, they’re all  mammals. No, that’s not the answer because a frog is an amphibian. What they have in common is that they all contribute if not directly participate in the abuse of black women. I know at this point, many of you are wondering how so and in particular how the frog figures into the equation. Well, I’m glad you asked young grasshopper. Inspired by summer’s You Gon’ Be All Right: On Maia Campbell and (More on) Tyler Perry, I decided that I too wanted to map connections between dissimilar current events to talk about how they represent normal and normalizing narratives of violence against black women. The stories I want to talk about are the upcoming Disney movie, The Frog and the Princess and the Cracker Barrel Nut. I know for some of you these stories seem inconsequential to each other. However, if you look closer you will see common strands of violence against black women.

So, let’s begin with talking about Disney’s The Frog and the Princess. Of, course there are many critiques to throw against this movie from the emphasis on girls being Princesses to the racist stereotyping of African cosmologies.  However, the bone I have to pick with the film today has to do with the “white” hillbilly “frog” hunters pursuing and hoping to eat the first Black Princess, Princess Tiana, who spends the majority of the film as a frog. Of course, I am pretty sure Disney like the rest of Post-Race America is banking on black people being so desirous of a black princess that they will only see the “clueless” and “stupidly innocent” nature of the white frog hunters because how could the hunters know the true “human nature” of princess Tiana. (In my best sarcastic voice) Just like how could Glen Beck and Joe Wilson know that their comments about Barack Obama were racist they were only saying what they felt they didn’t call him the “N” word. And my response to this hogwash is that’s some cow dung. Yep, just in case you did not catch it I said “cow dung” instead of using the four letter expletive.

Even if the white hillbilly frog hunters are impervious to Princess Tiana’s humanity the historical and at times very present nature (i.e. Duke Lacrosse Team gang rape of Black female Dancer) of white male mobs “hunting” black women’s bodies should have signaled an alarm. But, it did not because it’s all too common of a practice to abuse or to imagine abusing black women whether they are human or in “frog” form. If you are skeptical of my claim all one has to do is look at the footage of the Boston Tea Party March on DC, go to a Cracker Barrel, read about what happened to Semenya, or type the phrase “black girl” into any search engine to know black women like other women of color are subjected to the most violent and horrific forms of real and imaginary physical and sexual abuse and often without legal, societal, and communal recourse.

And let’s be honest, Disney is not completely clueless to the historical meaning of white mobs because if they were the white hillbilly frog hunters would be featured in The Frog and the Princess’ movie trailers, but they are not. To know that they are a part of the movie you have to visit The Frog and the Princess’ Facebook Fan Page. 5655_151497223708_99911703708_3551667_1534218_nThere you meet the white hillbilly hunters—Two Fingers, Reggie, and Darnell.  And of course, Disney makes sure to mention how “dim witted” the klan clan is as if their dim wittedness and “hunger” for frog legs is suppose to make us feel as if they do not really mean “intentional” harm to Princess Tiana because if they, the klan clan of hunters, knew she was human than they would not harm her. Yeah right. What crack is Disney smoking? It must be that good stuff that Whitney referred to in her interview with Diane Sawyer. Because if we bring into the conversation the historical setting of the movie—French Quarter turn of the century— white supremacy and racism was the law of the land meaning white men could easily rape and kill black women without retribution meaning the seemingly innocent dim witted white hunters in Disney’s film could literally not only eat frog legs, but also devour black women’s flesh through rape.

And of course, we don’t have to look at historical times to see how white men have violent access to black women’s bodies. Just look at what happened to Tashawnea Hill and 7-year old daughter at a Georgia’s Cracker Barrel. Ms. Hill, an African American woman, was beaten by Troy West, a white man, because she asked him politely to watch out when opening the door at Cracker Barrel. At this affront, Troy West started to beat Ms. Hill and call her Black Nigger Bitch. No one intervened to help her and her daughter. Furthermore, Ms. Hill recalled how some of the white patrons grinned in delight as she was beaten senseless. Can you believe that no one helped her? Perhaps, it isn’t difficult not to believe because just a month ago a black woman was beaten by her husband in broad daylight and no one interviewed to help her.

And of course of many of you are saying what does all of this have to do with an animated Disney Film? Well, it has everything to do with it because movies like The Frog and the Princess and Monster’s Ball represent what is normal, acceptable, if not downright desirous behavior toward and of black women. It becomes publicly sanctioned behavior for men irrespective of race to abuse black women. Therefore, Disney’s animation and characterization of the white hunters as dim witted white hillbillies minimizes the intended violence of the hunters, makes their violence normal, and makes their “hunger” a justified reason for killing Princess Tiana. This all too well reminds me of what a white man screamed at the Boston Tea Party March on DC this last Saturday. Holding a sign that read, “We did not bring guns this time,” a middle age white man begins to fuss about how he lost his job and how the government is too big because of black welfare queens. I know all too well how his words and job loss can justify the retrenchment and sidewalk abuse of black women during this recession time.

Lions and tigers and bears Mobs, Cracker Barrels, and Hunters . . . Oh My!

You Gon' Be All Right: On Maia Campbell and (More on) Tyler Perry

Note: I know this post is mad long.  I’ll be more succinct in the future.  I know you have better things to do.

Last week, I didn’t take the opportunity to blog about Maia Campbell, something that I had fully intended to do.  Instead, my only significant output was a blog about Tyler Perry taking over command of the for colored girls film.  I worry that not allowing myself time to post my thoughts about Campbell was an implicit, unspoken participation in the suppression and dismissal of her situation, her struggles.  I want to correct that.  Further, I want to make a connection to both events, which is something I haven’t seen folks do, but I find especially necessary at this juncture.