Who’s making the ‘Lemonade’? On bell hooks’ and Beyoncé’s Feminisms

I wasn’t going to get into the bell hooks versus Beyoncé fray over Lemonade and its myriad implications. I resisted the echo chamber hoping the frenzy would die down sooner rather than later. I told myself that there really was no point of debating the merits of either side since most of the dialogue has been forced into imaginary binaries like “old feminism” versus “new feminism”, intellectual versus artistic expression, academic versus non-academic, and the like. But, after seeing a Feministing article called “A Black Feminist Roundtable on bell hooks, Beyoncé, and “Moving Beyond Pain”,” I think it might be time we start thinking more critically about how we situate both women’s feminisms and who we foreground when critiquing them.

All of this started last week when foremother of Black Feminism bell hooks published a critique of Lemonade called “Moving Beyond Pain.” (Some would say this actually started when hooks called Beyoncé a “terrorist” because of her phenotypic imagery and effect on young Black girls but I am choosing to start with this recent issue).

In her critique, hooks offers both an anti-capitalist and anti-patriarchal analysis of the visual experience and lyrics Beyoncé offered us with Lemonade.

Read the full article at Black Youth Project.

‘Zootopia’: Disney’s Feeble Attempt At Discussing Racism Without Discussing Racism

Disney’s new film Zootopia has been universally praised by critics and watchers alike. Some have even called it an “instant classic.” The film features a slew of characters dealing with structural oppression and the politics of fear, but the title should clue you into the fact that they are all animals. And while that is a major problem for me, I was more concerned about the film’s handling of race, sexism and misogyny, police brutality, and a host of other very serious issues facing communities of color. It took the same preachy, white-washed, tone-deaf tenor that just isn’t going to dismantle any oppressive institution in the United States. Continue reading “‘Zootopia’: Disney’s Feeble Attempt At Discussing Racism Without Discussing Racism”

Let’s stop bothering Meagan Good about her clothes

Folks have been concerned about Meagan Good’s clothing choices for what feels like forever. A few years ago, she was in the news for wearing a revealing dress (that she looked absolutely stunning in) as a Christian woman and a reverend’s wife. The concern was that her attire didn’t match up with her faith. Now, video footage has emerged of yet another person who identifies as Christian maligning Good and telling her to “cover up.” Continue reading “Let’s stop bothering Meagan Good about her clothes”

Why Aren’t the ‘All Lives Matter’ People Outraged About Ethan Couch?

In December 2013, news broke that a young, well-to-do 16-year-old White male named Ethan Couch had been sentenced to probation after mowing down four people in a drunken stupor, killing them all and injuring two others. The claim: he suffered from something called “affluenza” – a problem which kept him from truly understanding the consequences of his actions because he had grown up never really having to answer for anything. Now, Couch is defying those orders and evading capture by police, and even the FBI and US Marshals.  Oddly though, there seems to be a deafening silence coming from all those people shouting “all lives matter” at the protestors and demonstrators all over this country who have been speaking out against the murders of innocent Black and Brown people. I wonder why… Continue reading “Why Aren’t the ‘All Lives Matter’ People Outraged About Ethan Couch?”

On Black Motherhood and Constantly Mourning Our Sons and Daughters

There is something about life that changes when a person becomes a parent. Specifically, for the person who carries a child and brings them into this world, the resulting event is far greater than just a physiological change. For me, I became a different person after having my first child, my oldest son. As a Black mother of Black children, I started a process of frequent mourning that I simply wasn’t prepared for. Continue reading “On Black Motherhood and Constantly Mourning Our Sons and Daughters”

The False Virtue of a Vagina ‘Certificate of Purity’

First, yes. The title of this article has the word “vagina” in it. I’m going to say it a lot because that’s what this post is about. I’m also going to talk about sex and penises and more sex and stuff. Calm down. You’ll be alright. Now, onto the topic at hand.

This month, a young Maryland bride named Brelyn Bowman presented her father – a pastor named Dr. Mike Freeman – with a certificate from her gynecologist confirming that her hymen was “intact” on her wedding day. The images of this presentation have since gone viral. While many have lauded this young woman’s fortitude, I find that this whole story is riddled with patriarchal and misogynist undertones that many Black Christians really don’t want to acknowledge.

Read the full article at Water Cooler Convos.

We’re Done Being Polite: A Reflection on the Mizzou Protests

Social movements over the years have taught us that politeness and respectabiility rarely result in lasting social change. When 15-year-old Claudette Colvin first resisted public bus segregation in Alabama on March 2, 1955, she did so knowing that she’d be classified as unruly, dangerous, and a threat to the very fabric of American society. Nine months later, when Rosa Parks did the same, it was groundswell effect of women like Colvin’s actions which helped to shift the public’s attention to the nonviolent but very disruptive actions of Blacks in Montgomery, Alabama. But these women, their fellow organizers and their tactics weren’t polite. So, why is anyone demanding politeness from young Black organizers today?

Read the full article at Water Cooler Convos.

To be a Black, Queer, Unrespectable Christian in an Era of Unrest

I got a “Monroe” piercing yesterday. I got it for my 31st birthday. Several times – after geeking out about how cute it is – I reflected on the words of my very staunch Christian Pastor and maternal Grandma growing up. When I was 11-years-old, I told her I was interested in ministry. In reply, she said “If you want to sit in a pulpit, you’re going to have to stop getting all those holes in your ears.” This was the first time I realized how much of my Christianity was wrapped up in performance. It was also the moment I started dismantling and unlearning the man-made systems of control meant to delimit my personhood while masquerading as “proper” Christian faith.

My mom and I chuckled about Grandma’s warning about earrings on several later occasions. First, we laughed as we drove to get my first nose piercing just about a year later. Then, we chuckled again when we drove to my favorite piercing and tattoo shop in Berkeley, California to get my first eyebrow piercing for my fourteenth birthday. We laughed again around my 28th birthday when we got matching eyebrow piercings just because we could. Frankly, we’ve been laughing ever since at the idea that piercing my body makes me less of a Christian.

Anyone who has read the Bible knows that ceremonial laws and rituals were abolished when Jesus Christ died on Calvary (find this in Romans – throughout especially 3 and 7, Galatians 3:20-25, Ephesians 2:15, and Hebrews 7 and 10: 1-9). This includes dietary rules, bodily restrictions (i.e. tattooing and piercing), and other performances of worship. Instead, God gave us moral law in the form of the Ten Commandments to guide our Christian walk. And, given that the Commandments mention nothing about sexual orientation, gender, nor bodily accessorizing, any messages from anyone which suggest otherwise are simply unfounded. This also extends to sexuality.

Read the full article at WCC.

Where Does the Black Woman’s Body Belong?

Few things personify white privilege more than the erasure of Black women’s bodies from the public sphere. Evidence of this fact can be found in the reactions to Serena Williams’ recent Wimbledon title and the faux outrage at Amandla Stenberg’s commentary on Kylie Jenner’s culturally appropriated cornrows. In the face of these obstacles, an important question we must ask ourselves is: Where does the Black woman’s body belong?

Serena Williams – arguably the best tennis player of all time – has been insulted, diminished, erased, and disrespected since she started playing the sport professionally nearly two decades ago. A recent New York Times article describing her body as “muscular” and questioning her womanhood is just a glimpse into the insults she has had to endure over the years. From racism and sexism to transmisogyny and flat out hatred, she has had to experience a myriad of criticisms just for existing in professional tennis while Black and female. The road to loving herself wasn’t easy.

But, Williams learned to do it despite the hate she continually faced from white critics, coaches, commentators, and fans.For Williams, her body belongs precisely where she has been all along: on the tennis court. While efforts to erase and exclude her from that predominantly white space prevail, she has been crystal clear that she both deserves and has earned the privilege to be there no matter how threatening it is to systems of white superiority.

Read more at For Harriet.

“All Lives Matter” but the KKK is Marching in 2015

I wonder if the words “All Lives Matter” get caught it people’s throats when they realize that the Klan is still marching in 2015. Yes. In 2015. The Klan is still marching.

I mean, I wonder about that but I don’t really wonder because I know it doesn’t happen that way. The events of last week alone sum up how difficult it has become to be Black and free in America. And, they’re further evidence  that the “all lives matter” narrative is meant to pacify rather than empower Black people.

Last week, a young Black woman with a new job, a bright outlook, and a life ahead of her was found dead in a Texas jail cell after a “routine” police stop for her failure to use a traffic signal. Her name was Sandra Bland. She was only 28-years-old. Within days, another young woman named Kindra Chapman was found dead in an Alabama jail cell just over an hour after she was booked. She was arrested for allegedly stealing a cell phone and was just 18-years-old.

Both women’s’ deaths have caused many to question how this happened. Many on Twitter struggle with placing themselves in a similar position. The hashtag #IfIDieInPoliceCustody has given voice to the fact that many Black people face the reality that they are one traffic stop or petty arrest from death in this country. But, you know, “all lives matter.”


Read the full article at Water Cooler Convos.