October is Breast Cancer Awareness and Domestic Violence Awareness: But Are We Truly Aware of Both??

So, I am sitting here trying to understand why during the month of October Breast Cancer Awareness gets more media attention and corporate sponsorship than Domestic Violence Awareness which is also remembered during the month of October. I know that most women have breast irrespective of their size, pigmentation, and function. And, I also know 1 of 8 women will be diagnosed with some form of breast cancer. However, what I am having a hard time trying to understand is why it seems to be favored, if one could favor one personal disaster over another, over domestic violence especially when 1 of 4 women will experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetime meaning women are more likely to be exposed to domestic violence than breast cancer.

This acknowledgement is not to reduce the level of attention Breast Cancer Awareness’ initiatives receive because it is important. And, evermore important to me because a couple of months ago my “beloved” godmother was diagnosed with it which caused me to become a consumer of all things related to curing Breast Cancer. However, as a survivor of domestic violence—lived through my mother’s daily beatings—and goddaughter of a breast cancer survivor, I see the interconnections and similarities between both issues and why they must be addressed simultaneously.

I Know Why Black Men act the Way they Act: Peter Pan Syndrome!!

As I walked home yesterday from the market with my several bags of groceries and my godson in toe being harassed by young black men who probably could be my nephews, I finally understood why many Black men act the way they do. Why they are completely impervious to emotions. Why they can sleep with countless numbers of women and men and deny their sexuality. Why they have so much free time to harass me as I walk down the street (al. holding constant the double digit unemployment rate in the black community). Why they can walk away from raising their children. Yes, I know why they act the way they act. It’s pretty simple. They have no social responsibility and by extension no emotional responsibility.

Follow Up to Chapter’s EBT Video: Why Single Black Women Have Babies

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mG_Gvd4PFFo&feature=related

As a follow-up to The Viral Video, EBT: We Have Failed You Chapter…An Open Letter, I want to talk about a comment that I received frequently about Chapter’s character in the EBT video. Many people have emailed me saying that they agree with my blog, but that they also know black women who do those things. Those things . . . as if those things that they do are so vile that the actual act must not be named for fear of its appearance. Those things. What types of those things? Getting pregnant in order to qualify for general assistance?

It has been my experience as a mentor that when a young woman tells me she wants to have a baby it is because she wants someone—the baby or her boyfriend—to love her, and, of course, this rationale comes with its own set of consequences. But, my young mentee’s rationale is not far removed from why some single privileged or married privileged women decide to have babies. They too seek love or at least commitment from the men in their lives. The difference between my mentee and the privileged women is that their class privilege absolves them of blame.

I say all this to say that perhaps the reason why young women decide to have babies is not to “swindle” the government, but to secure that which all women are taught to desire in this society, what bell hooks refer to as the “male gaze.” And, the male gaze includes having the man’s baby or performing your feminine gender of being a mother. So, perhaps, the larger issue is not about “those things” single black girls do, but more about who they are doing those things for.

How Racism Is Destroying America's Political Discourse

A few years ago I had an internship at the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, where one of my chief duties was to spend hours looking through microfilm for newspaper clippings that dramatized the racial climate in Philadelphia throughout the years.

One article that stood out was a poll of Philadelphians that asked, “How would you describe the state of racial equality in America today?” The vast majority of whites (something like 60-70%) answered “Good.”

The year was 1968.

These people had no idea how dire the state of race relations was in America at the time because all they could compare it to was a not-so-distant past marred by lynching, sharecropping and segregation. But today we can see quite clearly that things were bad. Racism was alive and well.

And that’s why race is such a tricky issue in America. Racism grows classier and more refined every day, but it never goes away. How else can we explain the American people tolerating the unprecedented disrespect, racism, obstruction and outright legislative terrorism being perpetrated by the GOP?

Jay-Z and Kanye's Out-Of-Touch, Wealth-Obsessed, Culturally-Irrelevant "Otis"

A couple days ago, Jay-Z and Kanye West unleashed their new single “Otis” upon the internets. Set to a fairly inventive (if awkward) sample from Otis Redding’s classic “Try A Little Tenderness,” Jay and Ye trade bars about money, wealth and….umm, money.

The song is really, really bad.

Now don’t get it twisted. The very idea of a Jay-Z-Kanye West joint album makes me all giddy and warm inside like any other Hip Hop (or Pop) fan. But if this “luxury rap” style is going to define Watch The Throne, Yeezy and Jigga might reemerge from their luxurious, million-dollar mansions in the sky to find themselves irrelevant to a culture founded on its ability to resonate with the common man.

Black Women: Baby Makers or Baby Killers?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4668c8O8XfI&feature=BFa&list=PLAA6D5AE0F1172DD9&index=2

 

According to Clenard Childress, “the most dangerous place for an African American to be is in the womb of their African American mother.” From claims of being the least attractive women in the world (Satoshi Kanazawa’s study), to schizophrenically being viewed as both “irresponsible baby makers” and unrepentant “baby killers,” Black women find their roles as mother, daughter, lover, and grandmother under attack.  This is not a new situation but what is at issue is the consequences that these attacks have on all black women’s ability to live as self-determining human beings.

Oh, Hell No not on Good Friday: The Movie the Help

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_ajv_6pUnI

I tell you, watching the trailer above all I could do is shake my hand and say, “Hell no.” Yes, I said “hell no” in the shonuff way my Great Aunt Bessie would say with hand on hip gossiping with the mothers of church while cooking Sunday dinner. I tell you, watching this trailer elicited something deep within me that said, “Here goes another movie of the good white woman saving the poor colored peoples.” Perhaps, I am not being entirely fair with my ardent, “Hell no” response. Perhaps, the movie will be liberating . . .  perhaps, it will be liberating for the good white women who treated their help “like family.” Perhaps, they will now have a movie to venerate their image from the real white women mean girls. All I have to say is, “Hell no.”

How Fate Brought a Hip-Hop Pioneer and a Activist MC to Madison, Wisconsin

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It has seemed since me and Paradise the Architech began this journey of exposing “right wing” liars using the most powerful weapon on the planet, Hip-Hop, the stars have been aligning for us. From being in Oakland, CA the day of the Oscar Grant rebellion, to covering the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, to the almost perfect timing of our Tea Party video, we’ve always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. And once again, by sheer “coincidence”, we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of 70,000 protesters last Friday and Saturday in Madison, Wisconsin.

About 4 months ago, I was contact by the University of Wisconsin-Platteville to be the keynote speaker for their Black History Month celebration called ” Ebony Weekend “. (Of course, we had no idea what was on the horizon that same weekend in Wisconsin, but that’s not all…) A few weeks ago, we had an opportunity to sit down with some very cool people we had met at the PA Progressive Summit. Paradise and I had traveled to DC to do an interview on ” Russia Today ” and afterward we met with Beth Becker, Neal Rauhauser, Alan Rosenblatt and a few others to talk politics.

The Bed Intruder Song is not an R. Kelly Jam: So, stop bobbing your head to Sexual Trauma!!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoLHtzHvyQk&feature=player_embedded

So, am I the only one who finds the YouTube’s “viralization” (yes, I made up a word) of the Bed Intruder Song deeply unsettling and problematic? Every time, I check my Facebook newsfeed I see, yet, another “remix” of the Bed Intruder Song. For those of you who are not familiar with the song, it tells the “real life” story of a young black woman who experienced “sexual violation” (yes, I know she was not penetrated, but that does not mean that she did not experience sexual trauma or sexual violation) when a man climbed through her window while she was sleeping. However, the attack was stopped by the young woman’s brother, Antoine, who helped to scare the man off. And, who, vocally stated on the local news the following evening:

Obviously we have a rapist in Lincoln Park, he is climbin in your window, he’s snatching your people up.  So y’all need to hide your kid, hide your wife and hide your husband cause they rapin everybody out here.  We got your t-shirt you done left your fingerprints behind and all.  You’re so dum, you’re really dumb for real.  You don’t have to come and confess what you did, we’re looking for you.  We, we’re gonna find you. So you can run and tell that homeboy.

I want to begin be saying that I honor the voice of Antoine and his sister, Kelly, for speaking out, fearlessly, against their attacker. Often, when sexual violations happen silence is a safe response for both men and women to take in order to cope with their abuse. So, I applaud both, sister and brother, for speaking out.

The First Step is Acknowledgement: I Have Class Privilege

Aloha . . . Mahalo . . . Hula . . . Hana Hou . . . are a few Hawaiian words I’ve learned this week while visiting Hawaii. You know, I think Hawaii is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen with its luscious green mountains and its sparkling blue beaches. There is something special about this place that makes me want to be less troll-like to people who attempt to break my camel’s back or who attempt to pull my last nerve. Indeed, Hawaii is a special place. Perhaps, it has something to do with the bounty of green vegetation that encircles the island. And given that I grew up in an inner city, went to school in an inner city, and probably will die in an inner city, seeing the abundance of fauna and flora is simultaneously breathtaking and a little disturbing as well.

Breathtaking for all the reasons listed above. But disturbing because I seem to be allergic to Mother Nature and of course I have capitalism, pollution, and chemically enriched foods to thank for all of this. Furthermore, seeing all the vegetation and the beauty of Hawaii is equally unsettling because it reminds me of how privileged I am and how many in my immediate biological family will never be able to visit the land of Hawaii because they do not have the funds and/or time to do so.

Yep, you’ve guessed it this blog is not about Hawaii per se, but more about my inner turmoil with dealing with my increasing class privilege. I know the phrase “inner turmoil” seems a tad bit dramatic, but it’s the best phrase I can conjure up to use while struggling with jet lag. Also, Hawaii is a metaphor for talking about privilege. Well, even though my going to Hawaii was based on my services of being a part-time grad school nanny. It still feels like a privileged state because I did not have to pay for anything. Furthermore, the child was extremely well-behaved and I had an abundance of time to explore Hawaii. So, to say the least I felt inner turmoil about being in Hawaii when so many in my family struggles to keep their heads above water.

Recently, my mother told me she and my two younger siblings will have to move yet again because of a faulty housing agreement. This will make the fifth time they have moved in the last five years. Of course, my mother told me not to worry about her because she’s a hustler, but I can’t stop worrying about her and the need for my younger brother and sister to have a stable place to lay their heads. In addition to this, my older sister is continuously in and out of the hospital because her insurance–which she got only a year ago after working at the job for two years–does not provide her with the best doctors to ensure correct diagnoses. And these examples of hardships are just the tip of the iceberg.

In response to me telling people I have “inner turmoil” about my class privilege, they say, “Well, you’ve made the right decisions in life. You’ve worked hard in school and so you deserve to have.” There is something unsavory about their response because they assume I’ve made the right decisions at every moment of my life and that if you make one bad decision than you are forever doomed to be poor living pay check to pay check.