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Monday
Nov112013

Why Bethany Arceneaux's Story is Resonating: Thanks to Derrimetria Robinson for NOT Being a Bystander

Happy Veterans Day! To all of you who have bravely served our country, thank you for your service to the nation. 

Over the weekend I posted a story on the WAOD Facebook Page about Bethany Arceneaux:

Bethany Arceneaux's family didn't rely on law enforcement to find her when her violent ex kidnapped her after repeatedly violating restraining order. They found her in an abandoned house, police missed. They confronted her kidnapper and shot him-he's dead. There is also a video interview with a woman [Derrimetria Robinson] who rescued Bethany's 2 year old son during the kidnapping. We've covered countless stories over the years of bystanders looking on as Black women were victimized or law enforcement taking a less than proactive stance on looking for missing Black women.Protective orders only work in cases of SANE people. This man repeatedly declared that he was going to kill her. Sending light and love to Bethany.

 

Get full details of the Bethany Arceneaux story at the website for the local newspaper. 

So far the Facebook post has over 100 likes ( which only happens when I post about Gabby Douglas, Beyonce, or Amandla Steinberg) and 12 shares.

The narrative of a Black family searching furiously for a Black woman and then kicking down a door to go rescue her just doesn’t fit into the narratives in some corners of the  blogosphere with large audiences of  Black women. I’ve already read on post by a Black feminist that began by wondering whether Bethany is “Cajun.” (* 1000 eye rolls and  pause to hand over the link to the Wikipedia page on the Acadians* and Creole peoples- neither of which apply to this case.).  Bloggers want to celebrate a Black woman being rescued, but they might have to confront a departure from the “party line” in certain corners of the Black blogosphere. 

The standard line is often A) NO Black men  care about ANY Black women or girls, B) EVERY community of Black people is inherently inferior and dangerous and you should avoid/flee them and most important C)There is no cure. Give up! ALL hope is lost- but if you follow me, I will lead you to paradise.

And yet, this story is clearly resonating with Black women, men, and people of all races around the World. Why? 

  1. We love the image of a family, any family, doing what we think families should do- love, protect, care for each other- particularly when times are tough. 
  2. We recognize that the protections of the criminal justice system for victims of intimate partner violence are a JOKE and often times the only way one of these violent relationships ends is with death and we’d prefer the violent aggressor be the one to die. 
  3. We like the idea of vigilante- do-it-yourself justice when law enforcement/ judicial system fails.
  4. We’d like to think that if we were imperiled, we’d be rescued.
  5. We want to be important or viewed as valuable/worthy. There’s nothing worse than thinking your life doesn’t matter or that you are unworthy. 

Broad declarations writing off entire communities make for awesome blog posts, but in reality- most Black women and girls live in Black families. A large number of them will marry and/or have children with Black men. And many of them will live around other Black people.

Navigating and combatting internal issues of violence, misogyny and sexism takes more effort than throwing up your hands in exasperation and walking away - but for the vast majority of Black women and girls, combatting these cancers in Black institutions like the Black church, the Black family, Black Elite Establishment, Civil Rights Industrial Complex and Black entertainment is necessary.  You have two options when facing danger- fight or flee.  Some will FLEE all things Black and others will fight. Flight and fight are both legitimate options. When you're dying on a deserted island, you patch the boat you have.

And so this is your reminder that life is often more complex and nuanced than blog posts allow.  You are not a movement- you’re a human being. Taking an ACCURATE inventory of the resources available to you requires some amount of precision. 

One reader on the Facebook Page posted this:

 

It used to be that families protected their own like this. Black women today could use families like this. Imagine BW and BG being valued en masse like this.

 

I responded:

 

We still have Black families like this. When I heard this story, it sounded familiar to me. What we see foisted on us on television, radio, print and in movies is just ONE version of the Black family. The image of the Black family has been held hostage by a small group of people. Which is why I am so aghast when I read about people acting indifferent to the suffering of others. But like these people, I grew up in a relatively small city where you would have a family, friends, and neighbors rolling deep through fields looking.

 

It is important to maintain a distinction between “blog life” and “real life.” In real life, there are lots of dysfunctional families ( Bethany's might be one of them). But there are also families who will hunt for a Black woman and risk their lives to rescue her and her child.

Black women and girls have access to more resources than we sometimes acknowlege. 

Friday
Nov082013

Creative Friday: Ava DuVernay and the Coat of Desperation, National Novel Writing Month, and ESSENCE Short Film Competition

Still recovering from last weekend so no hellfire and brimstone this week. Next week- I promise :)

I watched this last week and it really spoke to me. It is Ava Duvenay's Keynote at the 2013 Film Independent Forum. She talks about using what you have write now to create.There is no  success fairy running around who is going to grant you your creative wishes. She also makes a strong argument for not playing the Hollywood "get green lit" game and letting your work speak for you.  Skip the first 5 minutes or so to get past the introduction. Do the work. Its a really good, heart-felt talk.

National Novel Writing Month

It is an annual tradition on this blog to encourage you to participate in National Novel Writing Month. Well it has arrived. Don't worry if you have not started yet, you can catch up. 50,000 words by December 1st. I recently pulled up a novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo five years ago and its a pretty good first draft. Even though I'm not participating in the challenge, I plan on attending the local write-ins. If you sign up on the NaNoWriMo website you can find other writers in your area. 

 

ESSENCE Short Film Competition

Yes it is ESSENCE :( but I'd love for one of y'all to win this one. And give me a shoutout from the mic. They would just LOVE that :)

The film competition is in response to a study ESSENCE conducted about images of Black women.

Unsurprisingly, the results were dispiriting. The 1200 respondents reported seeing twice as many negative portrayals of black women as positive ones, with most images of black women falling into one of a handful of stereotypes: "Gold Diggers, Modern Jezebels, Baby Mamas, Uneducated Sisters, Ratchet Women, Angry Black Women, Mean Black Girls, Unhealthy Black Women, and Black Barbies."

In response, Essence is encouraging filmmakers to counter those demeaning images by creating their own in the form of a short film competition. Submissions should feature "an image of a Black woman in a unique, refreshing way" in twenty minutes or less. 

Here are the rules. You basically give away rights to your film without compensation for use in advertisments. 

 

Wednesday
Nov062013

Meet the New First Lady of New York City: Chirlane McCray

Meet the new First Lady of New York City: Chirlane McCray. Some are erroneously reporting that she is the first Black First Lady of New York, ummm I believe David Dinkins was married to a Black woman- was he not?

Friday
Nov012013

OH Nooz! The Hood Feminists Threaten to Get Me if I Don't Stop Talking About #solidarityisforwhitewomen

Well my Halloween was made even scarier this year because a hood feminist ( his words not mine) has declared that if I don’t stop talking about #solidarityisforwhitewomen something bad is gonna happen to me. 

 

Here is the tweet he sent to my personal account. He added the “.” in front of my Twitter username intentionally so his Twitter followers would see his threat to me. 

 

 

So let me see if I have this right. "Hood feminists" have a Black male in their ranks that is running around the internet demanding that Black women be silent... or else. And he’s doing this in their name.

 

Now I conferred with the What About Our Daughters Ministry of Defense, also known as the WAOD Facebook Fan Page. Several suggestions were bandied about. Some involving vaseline and pulling off earrings. I have formulated a formal response to the hood feminist’s ultimatum that I “stay in [my] lane” and stop blogging about #solidarityifforwhitewomen:

 

Are y’all ready?

 

My formal response is....KNEE GROW PLEASE!

 

If you don’t stay out of grown folks business and go sit down at the children’s table. Ain’t no body scared of y'all or your hashtags. #havefiveseats #illdowhatiplease #iwishyouwould I will write about whatever I please and if you don’t like it, don’t read it. I would rather live a short life filled with random acts of boldness than a long life of perpetual cowardice. 

You ought to be embarrassed to be using a #hoodfeminism hashtag while telling another Black woman to be silent - what exactly is hood feminism fighting for? Silent Black Women? This is what happens when people get more obsessed with the brand name  of a “movement” with little regard to its mission - which is why hashtag activism can occasionally be problematic.

 

I COULD fight with “hood feminists” about a hashtag I really don’t care all that much about one way or the other. I find the behavior in response to that Feministing post highly irritating, but it itsn’t something I’m willing to fight about. Why fight someone who is hell bent on self immolation. 

 

And let’s be clear,  based on their behavior on Twitter, WAOD would win a battle with “hood feminists” decisively. I’d add with one hand tied behind my back, but that would be DOING. THE. MOST. 

 

After all, we’ve  fought (and won) skirmishes with multi-billion dollar companies, sex predators and their publicists, almost every major Black publication, the Internet Ike Turners, the Civil Rights Industrial Complex,  and the Black Elite Establishment. So we could easily add some emotionally unstable Twitteratti throwing up “hood feminism” gang signs to the list. But I really do have much better things to do with my time and the attention of my blog audience. 

Also, I don’t hold Mikki Kendall, the creator of the #solidarityisforwhitewomen responsible for the Tweets of her acolytes. I get highly irritated when people expect me to be accountable for the crazy antics of my blog readers :)

Mikki, 

You have captured the most valuable asset in the digital age- people’s attention.

That attention has value- whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

You appear to want to control in some way the destiny of your creation - which indicates a desire to execute some of the privileges of ownership.


Despite the desire to execute the privileges of ownership, you have no desire to carry the associated burdens and responsibilities of ownership. Mikki Kendall, the #solidarityisforwhitewomen creator wrote the following to The Root:

I started the [#solidarityisforwhitewomen] to call out the problem of mainstream feminism sidelining the concerns and safety of marginalized women. It's an old problem. The tag was great for the marginalized. But now it seems it's being commodified to suit the same people who were complicit in the problems it references. Now they're talking branding and setting up meetings and events. And even if those things don't directly pay, they do help people get paid. The Root

 So the solution is to sit by and let them commodify your creation while taking absolutely no steps to A) prevent them from comodifying your creation and B) comidify it yourself? #GurlStop!

*sigh* Your Twitter followers make a public #$*&^ of your hashtag by outright lying about material facts related to the #solidarityisforwhitewomen panel organized by the National Organization for Women (NOW).

  • yes you were invited (albeit in an incredibly TACKY manner on Twitter - NOW should have done a better job in that regard.) - it is not true that you were not invited.
  • yes, NOW acknowledged that the hashtag was your creation- it is not true that they did not give you credit. 
  • No, Feministing.com was not an organizer of the panel - it is not true that Feministing.com was an organizer. 
  • Yes, Feministing.com hosted a discussion about the hashtag on a video chat- there’s no law preventing them from doing so. 
  • No, you never indicated to anyone that you did not want the hashtag discussed online without your prior approval - whether the law requires it or not. - if you wanted a courtesy contact from them, then that should have been made clear. It is not customary online to get pre-clearance to discuss a “hot topic.”
  • You didn’t make clear that you don’t actually want to be in solidarity with White feminists, you just want to use the hashtag to discuss why you aren’t. You don’t want resolution or reunification, you want to critique the breach. You’ve got people talking about your creation without knowing what it means, and that’s not entirely THEIR fault. If you want to define what it means- then DEFINE IT or someone else will define it for you. 

 

So to readers who are observing all of this, I leave you with following words of wisdom...

If you create something powerful, it doesn’t become less powerful because you didn’t intend it to be powerful or you didn’t want it to be powerful or you didn’t want to use the power of what you created. If what you create has monetary value, that value does not disappear because you decide you don’t want to profit from your creation. And take it from one who knows, if you aren’t the one using the power that you created, someone else is. If you’re not the one profiting from your own creation- someone else will. 

The creator of #solidarityisforwhitewomen is not going to take my suggestion because she appears to be particularly averse to following the advice and counsel of others, but I’m going to make the suggestion anyway because it might be helpful to others- if you are going to continue to be irritated by what other people do with the #solidarityisforwhitewomen hashtag, then  ask friends, family or organizations which share your values to be guardians of your creation. 

 

And yes, somewhere right now, there is someone plugging away at a book all about #solidarityisforwhitewomen -  They are capturing the #hashtag impressions to present to a publisher demonstrating that this is a “hot topic” and they are going to get a book deal and become an authority on something SHE created.  Just because she can’t capture the lightening in a bottle doesn’t mean someone else won’t. If I were  her, I’d get off of Twitter and get to writing. 

 

I’ll conclude with reposting a comment from a WAOD reader who get’s the point I was attempting to make:

 

I think what you are saying, Blogmother, is that things like clever hashtags are only truly meaningful in the context of a broader strategic undertaking. That perhaps we're too caught up in the tactical, and don't focus nearly enough on the end game. That the store goes on unminded while we're off engaging in futile arguments with white women about things like the precise level of 'cultural appropriation' involved in some tawdry, utterly boring, white starlet’s performance act. The black woman responsible for this meme seems to have some talent for generating ideas that resonate with a certain demographic of black people who use the internet. But, for reasons that are not quite clear, has difficulty leveraging these ideas into something that will: a) strategically (there’s that word again) advance her own career, and/or, b) cushion her bank account (at least in this instance, I cannot speak to the above allegations) I love a trenchant takedown by a black woman as much as anyone. It provides a measure of psychic comfort to know that as a black woman I’m not imagining racism and sexism. And it also helps us to determine the dimensions of the problems we must confront. BUT, what I have come to realize, and what you’ve been preaching all of these years, is that the takedown is not enough—we have to find a way beyond this. We have to find a way to channel our anger, indignation, and exasperation into something that is, quite literally, self-serving. I know that much of our inability to do this is rooted in our collective lack of proximity to power—most of us have only an outsider’s view, and are thus lacking a firm grasp on its internal machinations. But maybe that just means that we have to do some reverse-engineering. Black women need infrastructure. And even though I’m not even sure that I know what that means, I’ve sure as hell been trying to grapple with it this past year. I’m can’t say that I’m close to a solution, but I can say that my thinking is now oriented towards doing. I’m asking myself what I can do/create/bring to fruition that will both serve my own interests, and constitute some sort of infrastructure that is capable of furthering the interests of other black women. I’m thinking in terms of tangibles.WAOD Reader Shlbshl

The Blogmother has taught you well!

Wednesday
Oct302013

SolidarityisforWhiteWomen and Apparently So is Strategy

I was just having a discussion with @RoslynHolcomb and @Zabeth8  on Twitter about my growing hatred of Twitter hashtag activism. It is ranking right up there with online petitions.  I like a good online fight, but hashtag wars rank right up there with watching cat videos. Hashtags are basically Twitter's Dewey Decimal System. They are quite useful, but they are still a tool.

I was on blogcation when the whole #solidarityisforwhitewomen hashtag broke out. #ThankYouLAWD! For those who missed the earlier uprising, the hashtag was basically a laundry list of grievances Black feminists have against White feminists. The grievances range from the substantive to the petty - real and imagined.

Well apparently NOW/Feministing/ the NSA/Who Cares At This Point  hosted a panel and they discussed #solidarityisforwhitewomen. I actually got an email invitation to the event, and I ignored it:

When the hashtag #solidarityisforwhitewomen was created this past summer it caused an uproar on Twitter, with Women of Color questioning their position within the feminist movement.  Tomorrow, Tuesday, October 22nd, the National Organization for Women (NOW-NYC) will host a conversation that will explore how Women of Color feminists navigate their experiences within a society where solidarity has been commonly defined by white women. We will discuss recent developments within the feminist movement as it pertains to Women of Color and how race, politics/policy, pop culture/media and economic developments affect their lives. Panelists will participate in a roundtable discussion, engaging in conversation with one another conducive to defining Solidarity for Women of Color by the end of the evening. I am excited and so honored to share that I will be one of the panelists sharing my thoughts on this provocative topic. This is a FREE event so if you can, please join us. 

Well they didn't get pre clearance from the creator of the hashtag and they didn't invite the creator to be a panelist and another round of online sniping ensued.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So apparently you can't discuss a hashtag on Twitter unless the creator of the hashtag is present and approves. And I'm being facetious here folks- this is far deeper than the hashtag, but instead of addressing the underlying grievances, we're fighting over a hashtag. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And yes, I like to do my own online sniping, but over things like rape, torture, murder, movies with all-Black casts, but not hashtags. Second, I'm not seeing the connection between Feministing and the panel other than a writer over at Feministing covered the panel and hosted a webchat. 

 

 

If the creator wants to control the hashtag then print up t-shirts sell them for a dollar and then get a trademark with the USPTO.  And if you have not purchased the domain solidarityisforwhitewomen.com - then you're a fool not to.    Too late. Someone purchased the hashtag while they were fighting about it on Twitter. LAWD Have Mercy! 

 

 

Can we be real here: this isn't about marginalized women. Sorry I'm not buying that.

 

 Yep- it's about money. 

 

 

Marginalized Black women don't give a rip about a bunch of privileged BLACK and WHITE women fighting over a hashtag.And if you want to scream "we're not privleged," I don't believe you. I know two things about you right now A) you have an internet connection and B) you can read. You're privleged. 

 

 

And so the way to address this is a hashtag?At least one person on Twitter got it right.

 

 

 

If you want to attack imbalances between Black and White feminists then start carping at the cable news networks who don't book Black feminists.

 

 

Demand that publishers explain why Black feminists weren't offered book deals. But before you demand that information from the publishers, we probably ought to know how many Black feminists pursued a book deal. 

The blood of Black women and girls is running in the streets and out brightest minds are fighting over who can use a hashtag. 

 

 

No, they didn't steal the hashtag, you gave it away. Isn't that the point of a hashtag, to spread a message? 

So folks is there any strategy associated with the #solidarityisforwhitewomen other than using it to memorialize grievances? Is the goal to create solidarity at some point or just talk about its nonexistence? And did anyone get in Michaela angela Davis' grill about "appropriating" the hashtag for her piece over at Jezebel?

Black and White American women were doomed from the start, introduced through treacherous, asymmetric, viciously competitive, inhuman maddening circumstances. And perhaps it’s because we’ve never dealt with the underlying issues of our tragic start a hashtag like #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen can trend in the summer of 2013.

Women’s movements can’t move in America until we have courageous honest discourse about the sadistic historic foundation of the relationship. We were systematically cultured to distrust and envy each other. We were never meant to be sisters.

I say it’s time to define, for the first time, who we are as Black and White American feminists, time to be fearless, fully equal and free for real. #SolidarityIsForAllSisters Jezebel

I don't have a dog in this fight. My only caution to my readers is be careful about pledging allegiance to #hashtags, just because someone is clever and can put a # symbol in front of a catchy phrase doesn't mean you want to ride off to war behind them. 

I washed my hands of Black feminists online when they mocked my horror and sadness over the Dunbar Village gang rapes on the blog BrownFemiPower. August 12, 2007. I haven't forgotten. I'd link to the post where the Black feminists attacked me for not embracing "transformative justice", but the blog was shut down because White feminists made her mad. Yeah, that was a brillant strategy. 

 

 

If "the work" means protecting your #hashtag then you aren't doing "the work." The "work" would have been to legally protect the phrase #solidarityisforwhitewomen to be a steward of its use - you didn't do that. Nor have you paid the $4.99 to reserve the domain name of the same name.   TOO LATE- someone with a clue purchased the hashtag last night during the Twitter fight. If "the work" is monetizing, then you should have already have announced a book deal. The moment the hashtag blew up, you should have been contacting agents if they weren't contacting you first.  UPDATE: My sources indicate that book deals were offered/discussed, but have not been accepted. UPDATE to my UPDATE: No book deal ( source, you're on my list naughty list!)

 

 

I can bet $1000 someone is writing a book called Solidarity is for White Women - right now---while you're fighting on Twitter over a hashtag. So what exactly is "the work" associated with a hashtag once it has been created?

I've been called CRAZY plenty of times online, so I ought to know... Y'all CRAZY!

UPDATE: I woke up this morning and bought the domain name for a hashtag I frequently use- I also checked the availability of solidarityisforwhitewomen.com and it looks like someone out of the UK already purchased it this morning.

 

 

The time y'all spent castigating Feministing.com should have been speant passing a collection plate to protect "the work."

UPDATE: NOW NYC just responded as well:

In response to NOW-NYC's recent event referencing the hashtag #solidarityisforwhitewomen:

On October 22, 2013, NOW-NYC's volunteer Activist Alliance hosted the event, Activist Night: 'What is Solidarity for Women of Color,' an event inspired by the recent conversations relating to the hashtag#solidarityisforwhitewomen started by Mikki Kendall. The panel discussion explored how feminist Women of Color navigate their experiences within a society where solidarity has been commonly defined by White women. Event information can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/465994880174466/

At the event, the hosts clarified that the event was not intended to reapprorpiate #solidarityisforwhitewomen, but that Mikki Kendall's hashtag was inspiration for the conversation. You can view the first hour of the discussion here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgczM5z6Fkc&feature=youtu.be.

Activist Alliance members invited potential panelists by tweeting at them directly or emailing them when an email could be found in connection to their work. Mikki Kendall was invited via Twitter from the onset of outreach. Alliance members reached out to many other influential speakers through the same initial tweet but received a response from only a handful. 

We would also like to clarify that this event was not hosted by Feministing. A representative from Feministing was invited to speak on the panel, who then referenced the #solidarityisforwhitewomen hashtag in her recap of the event on the Feminsting website. 

We hope this helps to clarify the event's production and intentions, and does not detract from the efforts to engage in a critical dialogue.

 

Update of the Update: Here is video of the panel and the first thing out of the host's mouth is that Mikki Kendall started the hashtag. 

Update of an Update of an Update:

The hashtag creator isn't writing a book because it would be controversial and she thinks it wouldn't sell. #GurlStop! #You'reNotSerious 

 

And one more update:

Maam. You have ridiculous sense of ENTITLEMENT. And are seriously detached from reality. In SEVEN years of blogging- I have never gotten pre-clearance to blog about whatever-in-the-hell I want to blog about. And I'm not going to ask permission from you NOW! Get a grip! Your supporters are cheering you right over a cliff. #YouDontWantNONEofThis. Go back to whining to feministing. 

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