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Wednesday
Nov132013

Readers Who Write Wednesday ( Paranormal): Roslyn Hardy Holcomb 

So over on the WAOD Facebook Fan Page, we were discussing why Black women have a really difficult time accepting a narrative where we are not long suffering victims. Roslyn, a longtime reader who also is a writer mentioned that she's noticed a similar resistence in the response to some of the paranormal fiction that she's written -> IE out limited views of ourselves. 

My two previous shifter historicals haven't sold well at all. I think people assume they're more of the same, but there are no downtrodden or magical negroes in my books. One heroine is a cat shifter and a hero is a bear shifter. They kick much booty rescuing enslaved people. I get comments that folks are tired of reading about slavery. *shrugs* I thought people would enjoy seeing slavecatchers get their throats ripped out. Apparently not so much. Roslyn on the WAOD Facebook Fan Page

Well we can't have that!

So if you're interested in some alternative narratives about Black women, consider checking out Roslyn and Lisa G. Riley's Given

She also has a book called Stolen, but I couldn't find it on Amazon. 

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!

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