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How do Your Define "The Ark" and "Divesting"?

WARNING: If you are not a proponent of "the Ark" or" Divesting "do not leave a comment. It will be deleted. You will be banned and it will be irreversible. Not because I don't want to hear read opinion, I don't want to read it at this instant in time.

The universe has been stirring up waters as I try to formulate my explanation of why I am not considering getting into the oft mentioned "Ark" to flee the foolishness, debauchery, chicanery and evil we so often highlight in this space.

A couple of weeks ago I was discouraged when people started thanking this blog for giving them the impetus to run for their lives and "divest." A few of you have suggested that there is still room on "the Ark" for me :) For now, my response is thanks, but no thanks.

I would define what "The Ark" means, but since I didn't come up with the concept, its hard to argue against something I don't fully understand. So when some of you speak of "divesting" or "the Ark" what does that mean to you? What does it look like?

This is not a thread to discus the pros or cons of "the Ark" or "Divesting" it is merely a post to make sure there is a meeting of the minds of what it is we're talking about. If you have a blog post that explains "The Ark" or "Divesting," just leave the link in the comments section. I know Lisa has gone on extensively on her blog about Divesting, but I'm trying to grasp any variations in meaning before I respond.

WARNING: If you are not a proponent of "the Ark" or Divesting do not leave a comment. It will be deleted. You will be banned and it will be irreversible- Not because I don't want to hear read your opinion, I don't want to read it at this instant in time.

Reader Comments (45)


When I think of divesting as explained on many of bwe blogs, I look at it this way:

If a woman is living with an abusive partner, should she leave or should she stay and fight? If her children are being abused, should she leave and thus save her children or should she stay and fight? Should the Jews have stayed to fight in Nazi Germany or should they have left if given the opportunity? If a fight is winnable, that's one thing. Not all fights are winnable.

Thus, I believe in divestment. To me it means that I must be free to be who I am and play the card that will push me ahead. I.E. remaining in "all-black constructs" or limiting myself to black-only alliances will not help me to advance socially or economically. It means no more thinking of myself purely in terms of race but pushing what really drives me, that being my femaleness. For years I was black before anything else which for me was an unnatural existence. Why? Race is social while sex/gender is both social and biological. My race has nothing to do with how I naturally behave but my sex does. To make a long story short, divestment allows me to live life according to what is best for me as a woman instead of a completely social construct (race).

Divestment does not mean a rejection of blackness or black people. It, to me, frees me from the unfair burden that I'm responsible for people who should be responsible for themselves...men or women. No matter how hard we try, black women cannot heal black people or preserve a black "community."

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLorMarie

To me divesting is a fairly simple concept. It means that I will not give my time, energy or effort to anything that does not pertain to uplifting and the empowerment of black women and our vulnerable children. It also means that I will work diligently AGAINST anything that is detrimental to the health, safety, well-being and SANITY of same. This notion of black unity is a specious one that has in no way, shape or form served the best interests of black women and children. I will only be a party to those efforts that put black women and children FIRST AND FOREMOST.

The ark is an equally simple concept. I ceased to live in or socialize in predominately black communities or use my resources in their regard quite some time ago. Why? Because those who reside there have no regard whatever for me and mine and would just as soon rip my throat out and leave me to die in the gutter. These so-called black communities are the most dangerous place on earth for black women and children.

So, when I speak of getting on the ark, I'm speaking of physically getting out of black communities, and further, no longer wasting your time, energy and resources advocating on behalf of same.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRoslyn Holcomb

Divestment to me means choosing to distance myself from those who seek to use, abuse, dismiss, or demean me. This includes family, peers, coworkers, people I once considered friends, and media. When I go home to visit I am there to see my Mother, my extended family is very toxic and I avoid them at all cost.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaDonna

Divestment also means ignoring the constant calls to self sacrifice that the community expects of black woman. Divestment means not lowering my standards but instead expecting people to rise up to them.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaDonna

This is heavy, very heavy.

Gem, do you see similarities between the frustrations that brought about "divestment" and the frustrations that are extropolations of the what some have termed "The Black Culture War"? In your commentary on Dunbar Village and the protests on behalf of Lovelle Mixon, for example, you seem to suggest a misguided activism on the part of Civil Rights ideologues that turns a blind eye towards the victimization of Black women by other Black people.

Is this type of victimization, and its subsequent dismissal by the contemporary Civil Rights movement, a subset (for lack of a better term) of how Black folks in general are treated by Black victimizers and the contemporary Civil Rights movement?

Once I wrote a nearly satirical commentary in which I claimed that I was divorcing myself from that subgroup of Black people who victimize other Black people. I justified my divorce on the grounds that race solidarity be supplanted with behavioral solidarity. It seems that divestment, in at least one case, bears some similarity.

Do you think divestment is a consequence of the Civil Rights establishment attempting to quash any meaningful discussion on Black on Black vicitimization? I am reminded of the majority of Black folks who nodded in agreement as Cosby issued his "Poundcake Speech" and Michael Eric Dyson's immediate rebuke of Cosby.

P.S. I am aware of Coby's "issues" with young black females. A strange irony, isn't it?



April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAl From Bay Shore

This was brought home to me when we had a case in Alabama where a social worker was brutally raped on the job. She suffered from PTSD and couldn't work. The state repeatedly denied her Worker's Comp claim. The perpetrator was never caught. No one held a march on her behalf. Nobody raised money for a reward fund, or to help her pay her medical bills. Consider the irony, she was in that dangerous neighborhood trying to save someone else's child, and because she chose to do that, her own children are left to starve. In my mind I ceased to be a social worker that day. I know that no matter what else I ever do, I can never be a social worker again. I went to school, went $40k in debt because I was driven to 'save my people.' Truth of the matter is, 'my people' don't give two good goddamns about me and mine. I have to focus on protecting me and mines, just like everybody else.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRoslyn Holcomb

For me divestment is not putting my time, energy and resources into people who do not care about black women and children. I will do what is best for me and my immediate family and help those who are willing to make needed changes but I won't be an enabler. I'm not going to be a martyr to nor an apologist for other people's pathologies.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterZooPath

I apologize Gem, didn't mean to go off message. My post was my way of getting more info on "divestment" and the "Ark". Oddly, your scolding helped me to get a better idea. Here we go:

I said something about frustration in my last comment and, to me, it appears that frustration, as a motivating factor, is an element of this. The frustration with the inability or refusal of persons and institutions who have defined themselves as being pro-Black and in the vangard of Black empowerment, to address Black on Black victimization. Many, if not most of us (Black people) live in Black neighborhoods and have maintained, in some degree or another, a partiality towards supporting Black entities (ie. choosing a spouse, living in a Black Community, innate tendencies towards uncritical support of Black leaders and organizations). This frustration not only raises questions of the aforementioned support for things Black but also raises questions concerning the viability of this support as a means of securing the most basic of needs if not our natural rights - the need for safety and security for ourselves and those we love, and the right to our livelihoods, and the fruits they may produce.

Additionally, there is a belief that Black on Black victimization is a problem greater than racism as far as Black people, and the infrastructure of the Black community is concerned. Divestment, based on its origins, seems to suggest that Black women and children endure the greatest impact of Black on Black victimization, and this impact goes largely ignored by those Black leaders and organizations who have modeled their activism on Civil Rights ideology and its variants.

Divestment seems a response to the reluctance on the part of traditional Black Leadership, and their application of racial solidarity ideology to address Black on Black victimization. In practice, divestment is a form of expatriation, in fact it is a domestic expatriation that applies, at this time, to the Black community. Divestment places personal safety and livelihood ahead of the interests of race solidarity.

There mere existence of the term "divestment" suggests an attempt to reconcile Black identity with the need for Black expatriation. There is a tradition of labeling Black people in terms of the extent of their "Blackness". Divestment seems to indicate a form of expatriation that is not a renounciation of what the expatriate interpets as the nature of being black but a response to the inactivity on the part of contemporary Civil Rights institutions in addressing the greatest threat to existence of the Black individual.

Phew! That was alot. Watch, little do I know, I was banned for my last commentary and all this energy went to waste.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAl From Bay Shore

To me divestment means not spending time, money, resources, energy on that which has demonstrated a deep intense hatred of and will to destroy black women and black children.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKitty

It's pretty simple for me:

1) Being triple careful about any companies I support. This means I cannot be lazy and just make a purchase for convenience NOR can I assume that because a black face is representing a product I should lay my dollars on the counter. This applies to everything from entertainment to travel to food to clothing. This has led to me shopping less and spending less money. It is time consuming but it is not hard. I shop "ethically" not just for convenience. I don't give to black organizations because I don't want to finance some pimp's Cadillac but I do try to support LOCAL organizations run by black women and am even on the board of one.

2) I am married but when I was single I made it a point to only live in safe neighborhoods where there was a general agreement that the women and children in said neighborhoods were worth protecting from crime and violence. This meant spending more money (not much more, but a little) and having to be a true minority in my community. So I think part of divesting means leaving these parasitic environments that leave black women and children vulnerable. Too many black communities are full of broken families. Family is the backbone of our society and when a community has thrown in the towel on keeping families in-tact and healthy, that is no place for women and children to be. So in conclusion, divestment means leaving the "comfort zone" of black communities for a place that is safer.

3) Divesting mental and physical energy is also important. I think this takes time. For a while it was hard for me to hear about bad things happening in black communities without immediately going into the "white supremacy/institutional racism" mode. I had to teach myself to be rational and careful - even with my thoughts. I also stopped looking for ways to help everybody (volunteering can be very draining) and focused on helping a smaller group of people that I knew for certain WANTED my help.

4) I think the biggest piece of the divestment puzzle is getting rid of the guilt. So many black people feel guilty about wanting to escape. Once I stopped feeling guilty about the way I wanted to live my life and the types of relationships I felt i deserved - the rest was really easy.

I think the owner of this blog has already divested, she just doesn't see it that way. Any person who is advocating for black women and who has taken on the big boys has already divested. It doesn't mean you don't CARE about black folks, it just means that you are not going to stand for the foolishness. There are plenty of black people working hard to help other black people but are divested from the collective.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHollywood Blackout

Well I hope you don’t “burn & ban” me, because I’m in total agreement with the concepts of “divestment” when it is necessary.
The girls have already adequately gotten the point across that divestment is not about ‘denying who you are’, ‘forgetting your roots’ or any such nonsense. It’s about a very realistic view of the world around you and then making some personally/family beneficial choices.
It might help a little to use a few comparisons. Think of it in financial terms. How risky is it to have everything you got invested in one thing? How often we hear about “diversified investments”? Why? Because in an uncertain, ever changing environments, it’s the only practical way to provide some level of personal protection. You tap a number of financial resources and possibilities. It’s just smart.
It has become the same with job/career skill sets. How often are we encouraged to make them as wide and diverse as possible? Again, why? Because it gives you personal options. If you’re a ‘one trick pony’ you’d better hope the world don’t change on you, lol. But it does. The responsible, adult thing to do is be very honest about that reality and learn to be as relevant/diverse as you can be.
Further, contemplate just how this country came into existence – Divestment! People got sick of what was happening to themselves and family and truly divested; got on a boat and left! Didn’t mean they forgot who they were, where they can from, nor did they loose certain cultural peculiarities. When it got to the point the majority here no longer wanted the shabby treatment as a British Colony, they divested again! Went to war they did! They were willing to burn the bridge at that point and forge a completely new way, their way. Now that’s divestment in a reasonable, realistic sense.
This is the same sentiments I’m reading you women are expressing. The present situation is crappy, dangerous, even life-threatening to some. Time to do something different!
Well, it’s about time women of color in America realized you CAN do something. Expand those options. Leave the “old world” and all it’s failed crap behind.
You are already getting great ideas on the specifics, so I’ll leave it there.
Hope this “qualifies”, lol!

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterUh Me-I Guess

Ooops! My mind going faster than my typing skills there.
The comparison in financial terms (which I didn’t complete; my bad) was to be, if your whole investment is in the (now mythical) “Black Community”, you better really hope it’s a sound investment. If it’s not, that’s when people “divest” i.e. look to put their resources somewhere else.
Hope that makes more sense (not like I ever do, lol!).

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterUh Me-I Guess

Went to "blackwomenblowthetrumpet" and the ideas related to "divestment" are amazing (Don't worry, I'm going to add more to my attempts at defining this issue).

I am reminded of the Renaissance and the Age of Reason in that it was a period which was a break from the church's ideology which placed greater emphasis on life after death than life in this world. In a way, this same form of committment exists in the popular culture of Black America. A lot of what we do in our existence is guided by the principle of race solidarity. Inherent to this ideology is a subtle insistence that group needs takes precedence over individual needs. Divestment, like the Renaissance, makes individual needs not those of the group central to existence.

One of the group needs that was problematic to individual existence was the reluctance to issue criticism of people within the group. This created a situation that viewed these types of criticisms with disdain. Anything percieved as being against Black people was improper, including criticism of Black people by other Black people.

I think Black feminists occupy a unique role in this entire context. With neither a place amongst White feminists and acutely aware of sexism in the Black community, they seemed mired in a type of purgatory (was that appropriate?). The gravity of the needs or interests associated with race and gender must be profoundly conflicted at times. In light of the presence of Black on Black victimization, divestment seems to have arisen out of a need for a practical response to real problems.

To be continued. This issue of divestment has given me some serious food for thought.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAl From Bay Shore

I'm not done yet, I am completely fascinated by this. In the only time in which I saw reference to an "Ark" on the "blow your trumpet" blog, a commenter defiantly noted that she was not going to be anywhere near where folks are drowning in the flood waters. It seems that the "Ark" is more than the mindset that places the needs of the individual over those described in the orthodoxy of group identification. The "Ark" is also a physical place where there is the greatest probability of self actualization. To actualize is to have greatest access to opportunity. The greatest access to opportunity is also the elimination of anything that denies opportunity. The issue of personal safety is the foundation of self actualization. In choosing a spouse, a supportive spouse is also a part of self actualization.

Group identification and its ancillary requirements place severe restraints on actualization. Its a philosophical bureacracy of sorts. The Ark, like the one the Flood Story, is a vehicle that is not only designed to protect but to also allow people to reach a place where the possibility to reach one's potential is greatest.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAl From Bay Shore

If you are free, you can go where you wish. I understand no one is absolutely free, but relatively speaking, freedom allows mobility.

That there is such a large discussion in the blogosphere and elsewhere about divestment indicates to me how severly Black women have been mind-controlled, curtailed, and locked into the slave/suffering servant role.

Part of being an independent adult person is the ability to choose what you do and where you do it. Part of being a strong person is the ability to withstand, absorb, or redirect hostility, pressure, and negative responses to your personal choices as you continue to move forward.

My parents "divested" from the rural south and moved north because they wanted a better life with more opportunities. Did this mean they forgot their relatives who remained in the south? No, but it meant my parents knew they couldn't continue to live down the road from those relatives and still have the life possibilities they deserved and wanted.

If divestment is defined in those terms, I'm with it.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdeborah

The "Ark" is the opposite of the suicide-martyrdom-"save the (already dead) Black community" missions that Black women have been HEAVILY recruited for. [= guilt tripped into]

"Divestment" is for Black women to remove our resources (emotional, financial, political, time investments) from people, places, and things that do NOT provide reciprocity in return. Of course, divestment also includes NOT supporting people, places and things that are actively working against BW's interests.

In practice, the most basic form of getting on the Ark is to save our own lives by fleeing Black residential areas. I talked about this in detail in a blog post dated 11/18/08:


In practice, divestment means Black women withdrawing our resources from:

(1) Most Black organizations (NAACP, NAN, etc.). These organizations support Black male criminals at the expense of Black women and children's safety (such as when the NAACP supported bail for the alleged Dunbar Village rapists; Genarlow Wilson; Jena 6, etc.). A disproportionate number of "foot soldiers" for these groups are Black women.

(2) Black men who are not protecting and providing for Black women and children. It should be noted that most Black men have already completely divested from the now-dead Black community. This is part of why the Black community is dead; and we only have Black residential areas where Blacks eat and sleep.

Black men have not been active stakeholders in the former Black community for the past 3 DECADES. Secretly, we know that Black MEN (as opposed to Black male scavengers) are long gone and they're not coming back to the so-called "community." This is why the vast majority of the "save the community at the expense of your own life and happiness" messages and guilt trips are targetted at Black women.

(3) Divestment also means relationship freedom for Black women. Currently, most Black women are restricting their dating and marriage choices to an ever-dwindling number of (increasingly low-quality) Black men. [The self-defeating "nothing but a Black man" mindset.] Black women's quality of life has dramatically declined because of this "nothing but a Black man" mentality.

Meanwhile, Black men have NOT been restricting themselves to Black women as dating and marriage partners. In fact, Black men have been pursuing relationship freedom for the past 45 years!

Currently, Black women are collapsing under the weight of trying to carry an already-dead community on our backs ALONE. Many of us are living in literally life-threatening Black residential areas without any male protectors or providers. Currently, Black women are investing our resources into people, places and things that provide us with LESS THAN NOTHING in return.

Investing in non-reciprocity is literally killing Black women. For our own survival, we must reallocate our resources into people, places and things that will provide life-sustaining returns on our investment.

Peace and blessings.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKhadija

Divestment means refusing to continue to live in a war zone within your home (and yourself) any longer. Selah.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterattorneymom

Oh dear...

This may get me banned but so what?


April 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commentereffingfilmmaker


April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSeattle Slim

I am just loving deleting, unapproving, and critiquing the comments of self centered rude boorish people with such a strong sense of entitlement and fear of any thought they disagree with that the cannot exercise enough impulse control to wait a whopping 48 hours to discuss something they don't yet understand fully enough to critique.

All of you comment martyrs offering up yourselves as sacrificial lambs to my smartphone have at it.

Its an interesting display in human behavior and online entitlement.

Here lies the wreckage of grown people who couldn't bring themselves to wait until Monday morning to comment on a blog topic. BWAHA!

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergem2001


The fact that some readers of your blog refused to honor your clearly stated request about how and when to post on this topic is, in my mind, a perfect picture of why many of us support divestment.

The refusal to follow your rules on your blog demonstrates the lack of respect for Black women that is so widespread in "the community."

April 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdeborah

@deborah of course its disrespectful and a sign of extreme selfishness and poor impulse control.

I never go to other blogs who actually have permanent posting guidelines and say "I don't care, I'm gon' post this anyway!" If it is that important, I come back to my blog and say whatever I want to say in whatever way I want to say it. Which is why I rarely post comments on other people's blogs. If I'm THAT passionate about something, I write a post.

Anywho, I'm Easter shopping and deleting and banning while standing in line. No great tradgedy.

If they don't care, then why post a comment in the first place? Yeah right!

April 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

Many of us have been building our Arks for years. We have long dealt with naysayers, victimizers, those in denial and those accusing of abandoning our race or traitors on many fronts. I think they use to refer to it as "jumping ship" but now I see that it was "boarding ship". I guess divestiture has always been an option for me and my sisters. Extended family laughed while we were gathering our wood. Now, most of them are hopelessly mired in their environments (and mentality), thinking that Obama will come in and magically save them as individuals. We are the Noahs and the rest have already drowned.

April 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLorraine

Here we go again, I ain't done yet. Khadija's commentary inspired me to continue to build a definition. She writes the following:

"The 'Ark' is the opposite of the suicide-martyrdom-'save the (already dead) Black community' missions that Black women have been HEAVILY recruited for. [= guilt tripped into]..."

"In practice, the most basic form of getting on the Ark is to save our own lives by fleeing Black residential areas."

"Many of us are living in literally life-threatening Black residential areas without any male protectors or providers. Currently, Black women are investing our resources into people, places and things that provide us with LESS THAN NOTHING in return."

A major theme here is the suggestion of a collapsing black community. When I say community, I also mean its infrastructure. Community is supposed to provide the things we need to live - public schooling, goods and services from stores, governmental provisions for the protection of life and property. Khadija's term "...(already dead) Black community'..." implies that residential Black communities* are incapable of adequately providing a functional infrastructure. Public schooling is nearly ineffective and can be threat to personal safety. Stores that can efficiently provide goods and servces of quality are nearly non-existent, and government institutions charged with the duty of protecting life and property are overtaxed and, as a result, their services can be substandard. For example, police officers in a given area are stressed beyond their working capacity due to rampant criminal activity.

As I mentioned before, group identification or race solidarity is a prevailing thought pattern amongst Black folks in America. This often leads people into making important life decisions rooted in the idea of helping the larger group. Khadija alludes to this when she notes that "Black women have been HEAVILY recruited for [= guilt tripped into]..." a service to the Black community.

As much as I hate to say it, many of our communities are like money pits into which resources are thrown and, as in the words of Khadija, many if not most Black communities have been a "places and things that provide us with LESS THAN NOTHING in return." Divestment and the Ark is survival response designed to allow Black folks who once bought into group identification to get their lives back.

In a way, this casts the contemporary Civil Rights movement as an undemocratic institution that places natural rights on the back burner in favor of using personal property and talents for the purpose of helping the larger group. Divestment and the Ark is, in many ways, similar to a democratic revolt against a tyranny. in this case, the revolt is against two tyrannies: (1) the Civil Rights establishment and (2)the tyranny of the ghetto.

*This is not to suggest that all Black communities are like this however, one would be hard pressed to find functional Black communities outnumbering dysfunctional Black communities. This speaks to what I have termed "the prevalent dysfunctions in popular Black culture." In many cases, middle class Black neighborhoods are often nesteled within the ghetto. As a result, they suffer from the by products of the dysfunctions that plague the ghetto. This creates a tyranny in terms of break-ins, thefts, violence. The response of the Civil Rights establishment has been to demand continued involvement and outreach under the idea that racism is the root cause of these problems.

April 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAl From Bay Shore

If they don’t care, then why post a comment in the first place? Yeah right!--Gina

Because they are terrified that black women will actually start divesting. As a result, they will lose the blind support they've enjoyed all these years.

April 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLorMarie


Prince George's County, Maryland is not nestled in the ghetto. It's supposed to be the promised land...unless you are a black woman who is married.

April 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

I am a proponent of anyone doing anything to protect themselves and to make themselves feel safe.

Ironically, I just finished watching the animated WonderWoman movie and I promise to make some of the points in the movie relevant to this post.

Wonderwoman aka Diana was the princess of Thymiscira, an island created in the Aegean Sea by the Goddess Hera for the Amazons. The island was created to be a paradise for the Amazons who fought to free themselves from the oppression and tyrrany of men under the direction of Ares, the Greek God of war. He was also a former love interest of the queen of the Amazons, Hippolyte. Hippolyte would have killed Ares because not only did he betray her love for him he also raped her, forced her to bear a child that she did not want, and then enslaved the Amazons. Instead, Hippolyte spared Ares life.

For her part, Hippolyte received a promise from the goddess Hera that an island would be created to shield the Amazons from the corrupt and wicked nature of men. As a result, Thymiscira was created. The Amazons flourished, were protected from the ravages of time, and lived peacefully, until of course, a MAN inadvertently discovered the island.

Likewise black women have been subjugated, betrayed, raped, and abused by many a black Ares. Instead of striking the death blow to kill him, they have spared his life. Because of this, I believe that any black woman who chooses to divest, should be fully supported for doing so. Physically, Financially, Romantically, Politically, AND SPIRITUALLY.

I'm still thinking about "the Ark" from a covenant perspective.

April 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBLKSeaGoat

At the risk of sounding redundant, to me divestment means to separate. Separate from that which is toxic. But also to separate your resources from those things as well.

It doesn't mean not helping or not caring. When Moses said "let's go" there were still some who stayed behind. What could he do? Nothing. He only worked towards helping the ones who wanted to be saved.

I don't know the ark concept. I'm learning about this now.

But even though Noah saved only himself and his family in the ark, where as Moses saved himself and a bunch of folks. One thing they both have in common is that they both LEFT.

April 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermiriam

Hollywood Blackout: I share your sentiments, especially your point number three and your last paragraph.

I have a lingering affinity for the concept of community. Perhaps “movement” is the more correct term; but I believe in a collective that works to better every entity in that collective. What is known as the “black community” has fallen short of this in that it has failed to champion black women, children, and even law-abiding black men.

That being said, I suppose I have been divesting for some time now, simply by making a conscious effort to be in communities where, and in the company of those with whom, I feel safe intellectually, emotionally and physically.

April 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiki

This is a great conversation to have. I think there may be some shades of grey where the Ark and Divestment are concerned due to our individual experiences but there are certain things that should be non-negotiable:

1. Safety: In our homes and neighborhoods, physical & emotional.
2. Quality: Working infrastructure, food supply, transportation systems.
3. Standards: A means of addressing things when they're not being met. Free from police tyranny. Knowing what we want and how to accomplish it.
4. Parity: Seeing a return on the time and resources we give that's equal in measure.
5. Protectionism: Fighting all attacks on our person as Black girls/women and NOT supporting those that do so. That includes race based and gender based attacks as well as anti-intellectualism.

One of the things that trips many of us up was the indoctrination of all things Black. That may be because we saw people having to overcome outside obstacles related to race-based prejudices. So what was a situational obstruction based on systematic racism can easily be thought of as pertaining to all areas of our lives.

There is definitely the great scam of hanging an anvil around the Black woman ankles and even as it has drgged many of us down we didn't understand that we could free ourselves from it at any time. That may mean setting boundaries and penalties for those that cross it and finding an entirely new standard for living.

So it means leaving behind concepts, people, residential areas, bad habits, religious beliefs whatever gets in the way of our complete agency. We have to be able to life our lives at their fullest. That doesn't mean having all of the answers immediately. It's a journey but it needs to be undertaken with seriousness and resolve. We must have parity in our relationships.

I'd say for some of us the lack of divestment may impact us to varying degrees and perhaps may not be so bad for some, but it still means perhaps not fulfilling out total purpose. For those in the dangerous neighborhoods removing oneself physically and emotionally is absolutely necessary.

We can't fight any battles when we are the walking wounded. We have to secure ourselves first.

April 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaith

Hmm, I'm not sure how much more I can add. Folks here have put it together rather concisely.

I will say that my parents didn't raise me to be a sacrificial lamb. They've always told me to do what pleases me (within legal and moral limits). I know "our" collective history.

However, I've never felt the compulsion to place myself in a misery bucket just to please strangers who think they get to dictate what "black" is and isn't. I see myself as female first, always have, even before I found out I was "black."

For me, it is quite simple: I have the same right as any human being to live well, and that is what I am doing. The "black community" didn't put me through college. They don't pay my bills. They have not and will not pick the love of my life. They cannot dictate how I live.

When I left home my only criteria - for the new residence(s) - was a low crime rate, so that everything which followed was gravy. I didn't consider the demographics - just the crime rate. Where I live the people are friendly, regardless of race. No one, in the decade I've lived here, has ever cat-called, harassed, followed, or verbally abused me like they did in the old hood.

I do want how black women are viewed to improve. I am concerned about the portrayal, condemnation, and vilification of black women by the evil propagandist media. Our image gets around the world before any of us ever step on a plane to reach that destination. We deserve, and need, fair and balanced stereotypes.

April 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGoldenah

Actions Needed: (May Be Redundant As I Got Here Late...LOL)

-Cease supporting entities which DO NOT show BW in a flattering light and/or excludes us from anything possible...They have 'freedom of speech', WE have the power of the dollar...

-Cease supporting third parties who are guilty by proxy...

-Music...Buy your own to play in the house or car and PERMANENTLY turn off those hip-hop stations

-TV...No more MTV and Gina's favorite station BET *Ducks* LOL

-Starve out trolls who come to these forms to disrupt

-Do NOT goto Black neighborhoods to buy hair products...Plenty of merchandise can be found online i.e., eBay for reasonable prices

-Take your worship to a church that is multi-cultural and does not preach the same old non-productive sermons (My newest post touches on this subject briefly...HA!)

-This one will take more willpower...Separate yourselves from those who hang around with "the element"....Separate yourself from women who deal w/ ex-cons and have reprobate people in and out of her home...Do not allow your children to play with their children....If you need to take your children 'cross town to avoid the damage, then so be it!

April 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCW


-Save every penny and do EVERYTHING possible to escape the projects/hood or any enclave where low-class behavior is supposed to be 'norm'...

(This message was NOT meant to be politically correct)

April 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCW

The Ark is for the most part a notion of separation that provides an immediate solution for the individual and the individual's familiy, but not a long term solution for the masses. For example, the notion of black women and children separating implies separation from black male adults, yet it fails to address the fact that half of the children within roughly a decade and a half at the most will be black male adults who were raised without fathers, thus warranting a new ark to continue the run once they reach maturity. Not to mention that a number of the families will inevitably open their doors to brothers, uncles, male cousins and other black male relatives and aquantances.

This is exacerbated by the fact that white response to The Ark is for themselves to build an arc, thus leaving the original arc inhabitants to live in a new situation that is reminiscent of the old situation. Added to that is the fact that there is a strong tendency for others within the original community (male and female) to follow the original arc and for government to eventually make it easy for them to follow once the white population has diminished.

So my definition of The Ark is that it is a move for immediate needed benefits that inevitably will result in the growth of the original community that The Ark took flight from originally. It's good in the short run, yet not so good in the long run. If white flight could be eliminated as well as ghetto magnetism, The Ark could be far more effective as a long term solution. I am a proponent of the notion, yet I realize that in practice it is very ineffective.

April 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLea


There is NO solution for "the masses." The "masses" of African-Americans are going to form a PERMANENT UNDERCLASS in this country. I believe that we have already completed roughly 85-90% of this process. The African-American collective has gone beyond the point of no return to becoming a permanent underclass.

I say this based on a combination of factors that are UNPRECEDENTED in surviving human groups. We are doing a multiplicity of things that have NEVER led to anything except collective destruction:

-A majority OOW birth rate, which results in having NO stable family structure.

-An expectation that women will raise children ALONE.

-An expectation that women will socialize male children into manhood.

-A culture of disdain for the very things (such as education) that can lift one up and out of the underclass.

The "masses" of African-Americans (who believe that the above behaviors are a-okay) are already effectively dead. They are simply animated corpses. Those of us who survive will do so as individuals, or as small family groupings.

African-Americans had our last, best chance for collective advancement during the past 40-45 years. This was when we were still the #2 population group in this country. This was when the political overlords were Whites, some of whom felt a minimum of "White guilt."

If we didn't get anywhere are the #2 population group, what are going to get as #3 after the Latinos? Answer: Nothing nice. [For detailed examples, examine the fate of Blacks living under the Latino political overlords in Miami.]

Our "15 minutes" of compassion from outsiders are over. We have now dropped down to #3 after Latinos. Soon, we'll drop down to #4 after the Asians. Latinos are displacing us economically and politically. I've read estimates that Blacks will lose around 6 Congressional seats after the next census-based redistricting.

The new, emerging Latino (and soon Asian) political overlords will not respond to our historical sob stories. They don't care if we march or protest. They aren't part of that particular narrative; and they have their own sob stories.

The time when collective advancement was available for us has long since passed. On top of that, we have made cultural shifts during the past 25-30 years (disdain for education, the rise of the "acting Black crew," etc.) that have made collective advancement impossible.

Peace and blessings.

April 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKhadija

Hello Lea,

Some of the points you bring up have been discussed before.

", yet it fails to address the fact that half of the children within roughly a decade and a half at the most will be black male adults who were raised without fathers, thus warranting a new ark to continue the run once they reach maturity."

Old dynamics may be difficult to play out in a new environment bc it won't be tolerated.

"Not to mention that a number of the families will inevitably open their doors to brothers, uncles, male cousins and other black male relatives and aquantances."

Men are protectors and providers. If these relatives were any good to BW then there would be no need for the ark in the first place. Some BW need to escape brothers, uncles, male cousins, and other BM relatives in order to have a shot at being safe, sane, and healthy- and not let them back in.

"white response to The Ark is for themselves to build an arc,"

1. White flight may not be a response. People can do many things to keep you out instead of them leaving.

2. I would distinguish myself from what another blogger calls the ABC's or the acting black crew.

3. and lastly and most importantly- I would not move into a neighborhood that was at or close to its tipping point with POC.

There is not one white/multiracial community - there are legions spread out all over the US. If i knew that I could earn a decent income - I could live in Kansas or Alaska - it doesn't matter.

April 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterOshun

The ark Black women must build is an ark of standards. A circle of a dozen or so young black women (ala the “Spelman Convention”) needs to gather formally and by consensus establish a rules document. This document could be endorsed by older, more powerful and influential women, and then shared with communities. Not everyone beyond the circle must join or agree with the standards, and that’s the point. A new set of standards would create a new group of “insiders” and “outsiders” and reframe the culture with new rules.

This document could be in the form of a bill of rights, or something like the “Contract with America” that Republicans used to take over Congress, or like the 10 commandments or Martin Luther’s 95 theses that launched the protestant reformation. In each case the positions were concise, decisive and divisive, to clearly separate those “in the ark” from those excluded. This is what Gina did right here on this page, by setting simple rules that made this blog an “ark” only for those who accepted her standard. So let’s expand this thinking into a set of general commandments promoting comprehensive security for Black women beyond this blog. Once written, invite men and women to post the rules on their blogs, print them on t-shirts, tape them to walls in dorms, barber and beauty shops, nail them to church doors, mail them to whom they please and quote them on radio and television interviews.

Creating a simple, clear list of rules would seem like a little thing, except for the fact that many revolutions started that way.

April 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaybeSo

@ MaybeSo: The idea of "rules as guidance" is an interesting concept.

Someone once said power is the ability to reward your friends and punish your enemies. Rules serve their purposes only when rule breakers are effectively punished and others observe the punishment and decide rule breaking is too costly.

Sadly, our current situation is one in which no one seems to have the ability or willingness to punish the enemies within the camp. Therefore, the enemies have taken over most sections of the camp. Thus follows the need to break camp for the sake of safety and create a space where safety and well being are protect-able and sustainable.

Rules only work if enforcement is swift and certain. Who is going to enforce your "clear, simple list of rules"?

April 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdeborah

Hi Maybeso,

I can agree that standards/rules may be beneficial and are a part of this, but another blogger has stressed to me that wise immediate action is necessary right now.

[I had similar thoughts such as you posted above]

BW women need to do whatever they can on a practical level right now - in the time that it would take to execute a plan like that how many more BW will have suffered?

Divesting or getting on the ark would require the reallocation/gathering of resources whether mental, emotional, and financial. That is a process for many BW that would require their energy and focus -now.

April 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterOshun

I think that what happened here on GEM's blog is actually a microcosm of what should be happening in the black "community." She set forth a fairly simple rule, and when people trespassed she deleted and banned them.

If we had the power to do that we wouldn't be dealing with the fucknuttery that we currently face. Instead, we have marches and welcome home parades on behalf of convicted rapists and various other predators. Nope, the time for guidelines has long passed. Get out while you still have a chance.

And most importantly, don't look back. I keep saying this because oftentimes we have seen situations where people will escape the pestilence, yet they'll allow it to go with them in the form of friends or relatives, thus corrupting a formerly safe environment. Looking back is never a good thing.

April 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRoslyn Holcomb

As I think about it, my parents certainly raised me to develop a mindset that fostered the notion of thinking about "Arks".

When I was of junior high school age, they did not want me attending the local public school, but instead wanted me in a Catholic school. When I became of high school age, I went to an integrated school in a neighboring community.

As for the notion of black feminism, that undoubtedly contributed to my notion of black women needing an "ark." For one, I was an early reader of Ms. magazine, when I was in junior high school--there were copies of the magazine around the house that my aunt brought for my mom.

So I was already thinking about gender questions, and I never adopted the mindset that "feminism" was for white girls, when I saw that Ms. magazine spoke about issues that could potentially affect many women, but that they also included articles written by black women or which were about black women's issues, in a way that Essence magazine and Ebony did not.

By the time I got to be of college age and I heard the propaganda about "feminism," my response was, "huh?," especially when I saw that civil rights movement ideology was not talking about gender in the black community, and especially since my first women's studies class was with a black female professor, and she showed us how feminism was about all women, not just white women!

By this time, I already had an ark mindset, that I was to reject any ideology that did not address my race and gender at the same time.

As for sacrificing "for the race," I believe in racial uplift, but I always questioned this notion of sacrificing--what am I supposed to sacrifice, and who is going to benefit from my sacrifices? What will be my return?

Most importantly, it always seems to me that black women are called upon to sacrifice, but I don't see any ideology that black men are to sacrifice at the same time. This to me is sexist, and I have no interest in it; thus, I believe in the "Ark."

April 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpioneervalleywoman

Deborah and Oshun, I agree 100% with your frustration and impatience about finding safety NOW. Things have slid way too far in a negative direction. However, regardless of the path we choose, we will need a set of principles. Whether folks choose to establish a new community elsewhere or establish a new culture where they live, we need new rules to live by.

Our discussion parallels the debate between Marcus Garvey and the NAACP. Garvey literally built an Ark to return Black folks to Africa, which proved more difficult than it seemed initially. When we leave, we abandon an infrastructure and resources our ancestors spent literally hundreds of years building, to wander in the desert. Ask Palestinian refuges how they feel now about leaving their towns when life there seemed unbearable... we too could leap from from the frying pan into a fire in the name of safety.

While Garvey built his ark as a physical ship called the Black Star Line, a group of Black visionaries built their ark as an abstract covenant on a Niagara Falls retreat in 1905. The set of principles they proposed became the foundation of the US civil rights movement, which achieved virtually all its goals within two generations. They were so successful that today, their concerns seem kind of quaint: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niagara_Movement

Today, with the strategic use of the internet, television and other media, we can do what took them 60 years in less than a decade. Doubt it? Remember Google didn't exist 10 years ago, and Obama was a nobody 5 years ago.

We will not earn anyone's respect by running away from a righteous fight.

April 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaybeSo

I'll remind all of you brilliant folks to RE-read the instructions in the bright red letters. This isn't the FOR or AGAINST thread. Its the "what the heck is it." thread. Great conversation, wrong, place. Wrong time.

I commend all those who are impatiently holding your peace. I know its been difficult :)

April 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

"There is NO solution for “the masses.” The “masses” of African-Americans are going to form a PERMANENT UNDERCLASS in this country. I believe that we have already completed roughly 85-90% of this process. The African-American collective has gone beyond the point of no return to becoming a permanent underclass."

Khadijah, you are righter than right here. Once you realize that the majority of blacks are working triple time to make themselves into THE underclass of the United States, the answer of whether to "divest" or "build an ark" should be loud and clear.

My father used to always say that black people were going to have a day of reckoning within "our own borders" - having nothing to do with white people. We were going to have a civil war between blacks who wanted to live happy, healthy, safe and productive lives and who knew how to do this without a lot of hand holding and ego-stroking and those who do not. This is what we have been in for the past thirty years. The sheer number of african americans living in utter dysfunction (relationship, professional, financial, etc) is growing and growing with each generation.

I shutter to see what the 2010 census is going to look like in regards to OOW births. If only a third of black children were born out of wedlock instead of only one third being born to married parents I think we could find ways to at least help this one third from growing any larger. But at this point, it is just too late. Things like "Marry your baby daddy" are not going to help either.

The HIV/AIDS pandemic in black areas is also one of the last few nails in the coffin. The rates of transmission to black women by their jail bird lovers is something we apparently don't like talking about. We are denying the fact that a lot of men are having sex with men (either voluntarily or rape) and contracting the disease. Or the legions of "playas" out there having sex with hundreds of women and not using protection. There is a sexual health crisis in the black community that we are ignoring to our own peril. HIV/AIDS is keeping black women dead-locked by severely limiting their ability to find a healthy, stable relationship. It is robbing children of their parents the same way gang violence did in the 90's.

Low educational attainment, another nail.

Rate of black male felons continues to climb - even post-Obama - another nail in the coffin.

If we were only dealing with one of these MASSIVE problems then maybe we could talk about "saving" folks and "staying and fighting". Sadly I think we are past the possibility of restoring the communities we had in the 50's and 60's. We are past "black meccas" and middle class black neighborhoods with parents and children and black businesses and churches. These places are not going to come back - they are gone and have been replaced by non black owned businesses, single women with children and pay day loan establishments.

April 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHollywood Blackout

Thanks everyone for participating. This comments thread is now closed please come back later in the week for my response. :)

April 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

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