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Wednesday
Oct292014

TALES OF A FREE BLACK WOMAN: Toni Morrison Can House Her Papers Where SHE Wants To

Highly entitled Black people are complaining about Toni Morrison leaving her papers to Princeton University. They feel entitled to tell this woman what she can do with HER work. Work they didn't create. Work many people supported. Yes, Toni Morrison graduated from Howard, but she has a lengthy professional relationship with Princeton.  We could debate which school is fit to house her papers, but that's irrelevant.

The fact that you feel entitled to try to regulate the choices that this woman can make with her life's work is indicative of a much larger problem - We feel entitled to Black women's bodies, minds, images, blood, sweat tears, time, talent and treasure--- JUST BECAUSE! If you want something from Black women, you should have to EARN IT! Make an argument for it.

We don't know if any HBCUs offered to take her papers. We don't know what Princeton offered her. We don't know what resources Princeton is going to bring to bear.  Did Howard want the papers? Did Howard present an offer? Other than graduating from Howard, what is her current connection?

The King Papers are at Stanford by the way. Langton Hughes' papers are at Yale.  I guess we should thank Marc Lamont Hill for letting ONE Black women participate in the conversation with FOUR Black men talking about Toni Morrison.

And can we stop it with the "open letters"?

While I made life long and treasured friends in undergrad and grad school, I don't feel any deep connection to the institutions I attended. I have far more of a connection to the local colleges and universities where I take continuing education classes. Just because she went to an HBCU doesn't mean she had an amazing experience that trumps her connections to Princeton.

 

Sunday
Oct052014

Don't #FixMyLife: Did Oprah Need to Put Jay Williams and His 34 Kids by 17 Women on OWN to Teach us Forgiveness? 

So apparently some of y’all are questioning Iyanla Vanzant’s “motives.” Shame on you belov-eds! 

But let's call a thing a thing - I have never seen someone who claims to be a life coach so obsessed with what other people are saying about her. Iyanla, Beloved, you can count me among those questioning your motives.

Remember when Oprah launched the Oprah Winfrey Network with the promise that the network was going to be inspiring us all to live our best lives? It actually happened. Well after an initial launch of goodness and light, Oprah embraced the high-quality storytelling of Tyler Perry and buried the hatchet with Iyanla Vanzant and embraced a Black audience... for now. That’s not an unheard of strategy, FOX did it, the CW, formerly UPN did it. 

My Twitter timeline has exploded each week Jay Williams with 34 children by 17 or so different women has been on Iyanla’s Fix my Life. Realizing the rating boondoggle that this dysfunctional family presented, Iyanla has now stretched the melodrama surrounding this narcissistic misogynist and his brood to a five week series and don’t be surprised if Oprah gives Jay and his family their own spin off. 

In all the blog posts I have seen about Jay and dysfunctional situation ( because if they were functional, Iyanla wouldn’t be there) I have yet to see anyone question why Oprah Winfrey choose to give over her platform to broadcast this dysfunction.

To hear Iyanla tell it, Jay Williams and his dysfunction are a gift to all of US:

I now understand that the Jay Williams story is all about self-value, self-respect and self-worth gone awry because of the lack of effective and meaningful conversations and much-needed instruction at every level of society.  There are moments in time when we find ourselves in the midst of a sacred experience, a time of change, an opportunity for healing that can leave us breathless or totally confused. Iyanla Vanzant 

When non-Black people have several dozen children, they get uplifting family dramas on television like the Duggars. We get Juaamne, 34 who has six children by four women, Terrance who has four children by two different women, Nathaniel, 28 children by 17 different women. All were featured on the Jay Williams mini-series on OWN.


Did we really need so see this level of dysfunction in order to learn forgiveness?

Can Iyanla really fix this level of dysfunction within dysfunction on top of dysfunction?

Is it possible to talk about a highly dysfunctional Black man without Black women taking the blame?

 

No, no, and no.


The truth is that Jay Williams has 34 children by 17 women because he hates women. It really isn’t more complicated than that. Because only a man who hated women would impregnate three or more of them AT THE SAME TIME and then walk away from them and leave them to fend for themselves. 

 

Iyanla is going to drag this misogynist and his narcissim out for as long as possible:

 

 

  • If this story is actually what I believe it to be, a wake-up call from the universe, men will stop making excuses, women will stop being angry, and people will start talking and healing the things that really matter: relationships, families and our collective investment in the future of this world. People may not agree about why I do what I do the way I do it. They may continue to question my motives, intentions and the size of my paycheck. That will not make this story or the issues it has placed on the table of public conversation go away. One man, one story, has opened the floodgates of healing, growth and a new reality. We simply must do better. Iyanla Vanzant

 

Yeah, I can learn something from a man who abandoned 34 children and gave family planning less thought than what he was going to eat for breakfast, but I’d love to hear more from Black folks who are doing just fine. I can learn from them too. Oprah and Iyanla should just admit they gave over to ratchetness for ratings. 

 

For those of you wondering where the functional Black families are hanging out, I would suggest HGTV and the Food Network ( except the Neelys - turns out their PDAs during cooking were all lies!).You know what would be really awesome? A totally intact, highly functioning Black family on a road trip. Or a cooking competition between some highly functional Black families. We aren’t like Big Foot, Santa or the Tooth Fairy. We’re all over my Facebook timeline. 

So belov-eds let’s call a thing a thing - Everyone involved in this Jay Williams/ Iyanla Vanzant vortex of foolishness need intensive counseling - mental health, family planning, financial literacy and probably a half a dozen other specialties. 

 

It’s not “judging” all involved to say that a television show is the LAST place any of these people belong. 

Monday
Sep292014

We Have to Be More than "Entertained" By Suffering: Why We're Raising Money for Africare

I'm raising money for Africare, one of many organizations fighting Ebola in West Africa. I signed up with Africare to be an Africare Champion. I set a modest goal of $1000 and as of the writing of this post, we're $415 away from our goal thanks to contributions from members of our Facebook community. You can donate directly to Africare on our Africare Champions campaign page.

I decided to raise money after I learned that 3 out of 4 people infected with Ebola are women. I wanted to do more than just be "entertained" by other people's suffering.By that I mean, the tendency of online audiences to gravitate towards every calamity, crisis and outrage. Hit the like, share, or retweet button -Lament how awful things are and then go on with their lives, doing nothing, while the objects of their laments continue to suffer.  I don't want to do that anymore.

That's something that I hope has distinguished this blog over the past 8 years. Sure, we whine and complain with the best of them, but every once in a while this blog audience does what it can to change what it can. We won't stop an epidemic alone, but we can save at least one life by making sure that those who are brave enough to tend to the sick, have personal protective equipment.

Africare posted a message on our Facebook Fan Page about where the money will go:

Currently, all unrestricted money raised is being directed to Ebola. What does that mean? It might mean direct cash contributions to families who have lost loved ones, and thus lost income which sustained an entire family. It might mean paying for gas for our staff in Liberia to deliver personal protective gear to healthcare workers in more remote locations. It might include equiping microphones and sound systems to trucks to blast messages to communities about ebola, educating them on methods of contraction and prevention. It might include working with local organizations to trace individuals who have come in contact with disease.WAOD FB Fan Page.

Give what you can. Thanks in advance!

Some Background

On August 20th, I shared an article over on the WAOD Facebook Page called "Ebola is Mostly Killing Women and No One is Talking About it."  According to  Elizabeth Plank, 75% of those infected with Ebloa are women.

In one of the most affected countries, 3 out of 4 patients affected by Ebola have one thing in common: They're all women. As reported by Lauren Wolfe at Foreign Policy, the Liberian government announced that 75% of those infected are female.

Why are women dying? Their vulnerability to the disease isn't rooted in biological dispositions; it's purely structural. They are caring for the sick, and it's literaly killing them. Identities.Mic

Over a month later and people still aren't talking about it.Entire hospital staffs are being decimated when multiple  nurses die and some of the leading infection control experts in countries with already fragile health infrastructure are dying too.The New York Times published an article about the devestating impact Ebola is having on nurses and the young men who bury the bodies of the dead.

Not only are they at risk for Ebola, but they are watching their colleagues die around them AND on top of it all, their friends relatives and neighbors are ostracizing them... for being brave enough to treat the sick.

Outside the hospital, they continue to face stigma. Some of Ms. Sellu’s staff spoke of husbands abandoning them and neighbors shunning them. One nurse told of returning home to find her belongings in suitcases on the sidewalk, and her spouse warning her to stay away. Another nurse, seeking lodgings, lied to the landlord, telling him she was a student. NY Times

 

In doing their jobs, the burial boys have become pariahs. Many have been cast out of their communities because of fear that they will bring the virus home with them. Some families refuse to let them return. NY Times

But that's not the only reason we should care about the current ebola outbreak. Even though it is an ocean away, there are two scary scenarios that are looming A) political instability in West Africa and B) every time the virus infects a new person, there is a possibility that it mutates and what now requires skin to skin contact or contact with infected fluids could eventually mutate and be transmitted through the air.

THE Ebola epidemic in West Africa has the potential to alter history as much as any plague has ever done.  

There are two possible future chapters to this story that should keep us up at night.

The first possibility is that the Ebola virus spreads from West Africa to megacities in other regions of the developing world. .....

The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air. You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. But viruses like Ebola are notoriously sloppy in replicating, meaning the virus entering one person may be genetically different from the virus entering the next. The current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented; there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice.NYTimes

I've been following the story since early summer on my own, but I don't recall receiving a single email about it - and I receive a ton of email.

The Ebola Leadership Gap- Politico

Thos Who Serve Ebola Victims Soldier on - NY Times

Sunday
Sep212014

Civil Rights "Leaders" Najee Ali and Earl Ofari Hutchison DEMAND Apology from Black Woman Whose Civil Rights were Violated #KissingWhileBlack

I passed on the Django Unchained #KissingWhileBack story when y'all sent it to me A) because Daniele Watts was doing THE MOST in photographs of her in handcuffs and B) I didn't believe the "we were just kissing and they arrested us" story. We live in the age of Knee Jerk reactions and Hashtag and Headlines Activism. I knew there was more to the story and I wanted to hear the "more."

The lack of facts, however, didn't stop LA's self-proclaimed "Civil Rights Leaders" Najee Ali and Earl Ofari Hutchison from attempting to shoehorn their way into Daniele Watt's media spotlight after she alleged that the LAPD detained for kissing her boyfriend in public.   After audio of Watt's police interaction was released along with photos of Watts appearing to be having "relations" with ther boyfriend in broad daylight with a car door open, the LAPD is calling Watts and liar, and Najee Ali and Earl Ofari Hutchison are demanding an apology. 

"I was one that was very outspoken about it," he said. "We take racial profiling very seriously. It's not a play thing. It's not trivial." Earl Ofari Hutchison

You take this seriously yet you mobilized having NO FACTS? #KneeGrowPlease

And they had the nerve to call a press conference!

Notwithstanding that Watt's rights were probably violated*, have you ever ever ever in life EVER heard of a "Civil Rights" "leader" asking a Black man to apologize to them under similar circumstances?Modern "Civil Rights leaders" routinely crusade on the basis of perceived racial slights. Watts maintains that her detention was race-based and if the perception of racial bias is sufficient for Black institutions to rally on behalf of Black men, then that standard should also apply to Black women.

Does anyone remember a time EVER in the history of your life when Civil Rights leaders have demanded that the prop ( that they did not vet) used in a knee-jerk crusade apologize? EVER?

The CRIC has no problem with mobilizing on behalf of ACTUAL Black criminals- even when the victims of those Black criminals are Black women and girls.  In fact, Black (male) criminals are the rallying cry of most modern "civil rights" activism. Part of that makes sense - 50% of the prison population isn't Black because Black people are more likely to be criminals than White people.

Ironically, is exactly this type of police encounter that leads to the over representation of Black people in prison--illegal detentions and the use of discretion in charging and prosecution.

If Hutchison and Ali were really "Civil Rights leaders," they would have scheduled a meeting with the head of the LAPD to discuss potential training issues related to A) detaining someone for failure to show ID, B) detaining someone for being belligerent, and C)detaining one person engaged in a public sex act while allowing the other to go free and possible D) de-escalation techniques in cases involving possible mental illness/emotional instability. These are all law enforcement training issues that a legitimate civil rights leader would have championed.

But Hutchison and Ali aren't Civil Rights leaders. They are attention seeking carnival barkers who saw a bright light and jumped in front of it - it isn't Watt's fault that the bright light was attached to the front of a freight train.

But back to my point. Their demand of an apology from Watts is indicative of sexism and misogyny that is embedded into the DNA of the CRIC. The CRIC routinely marginalizes and dehumanizes Black women and girls. The CRIC routinely ignores or actually helps to facilitate the abuse of Black women and girls. And when they DO rally on our behalf, they have the audacity to demand purity and perfection - something they NEVER demand of the Black men they champion.

I'll demand an apology from a Black woman when "civil rights" groups demand an apology from Genarlow Wilson, Mike Tyson, Benjamin Chavis and any number of Black men who they've rallied around after acting boorishly and illegally. Just charge this one against the overdue balance that the CRIC (Civil Rights Industrial Complex) owes Black women in general, it will still take a lifetime for repayment of the blood sweat and tears Black women have invested in the CRIC with negative rates of return

*In 'Murica!, we don't have to show our papers or be polite to police. If there was probable cause to arrest her for public sex acts, then the boyfriend should have been cuffed too. She was detained because she didn't show ID and didn't defer to law enforcement- not crimes.

Some stories about excessive use of force used on Black women you might have missed while following this circus:

California Highway patrol Officer Accused of Police Brutality

ASU Professor Slammed to the Ground after Jaywalking and Failure to ID

 

Monday
Sep152014

Black Women Make Shocking Discovery: Money to Be Made Meeting Each Other's Needs

I'm working on an Ebola fundraiser right now for the WAOD community, but I have a couple more questions to get answered, but until then, here is a post to hold you over.

In the same week that news outlets published reports that unemployment rates for Black women increased in that last two years while rates for every other group, Black went down, the New York Times published an article  about the growing number of Black women who are opening up beauty supply stores and launching their own natural hair care lines.

From MSNBC on the misery and woe:

Adult black females in August posted an unemployment rate of 10.6 percent, the same rate that group registered in August 2013 — while during that span unemployment rates decreased for black men, white men, white women, Latino men, Latino women, and adult Asian Americans, according to the latest federal labor figures.

Some economic experts — and some out-of-work black women — assert the numbers lead them to one uneasy conclusion: racial and gender hiring biases are blocking many adult females from regaining prerecession financial footholds. MSNBC

The NY Times story is more hopeful.

In South Florida, Ms. Graham-Campbell of Alikay Naturals recently made the biggest announcement of her career to her nearly 100,000 YouTube subscribers: Her line of organic hair creams, oils and conditioners for black women, products she had cooked up in her kitchen, was hitting the shelves of Target stores.

Ms. Graham-Campbell, 27, started her business with $100 as a college student, marketing her products on YouTube and selling them on Etsy. Now her videos can draw as many as 200,000 views from fans. “They want to know, who’s the face behind the brand?” she said. “Are you able to relate to my hair, are you able to relate to my struggles and to my journey of being natural?”

Most of all, she said, she loves hearing from women who notice her photo on Alikay bottles. They tell her that they tell their children: “Someone that looks like you makes that product.” NY Times

As someone with natural hair, I am one of the 200,000 who has watched her videos and I've tried her products as well. Good for her.

So what is our lesson today?

I took both articles as a sign that Black women need to focus as much on being entrepreneurial as they do on "moving up the career ladder" and getting a "safe job." No such thing. One of the largest markets we have is each other.