#SayHerName: Two Male Suspects Arrested for the Murder of Arnesha Bowers

Arnesha-Bowers-WBALArnesha Bowers was a 16-year-old eleventh grader at City College in Baltimore, Maryland. Her brutal murder happened just recently but hasn’t been as prominent as it should be in news media. The good news is, Baltimore Police may be getting closer to administering the justice this young woman deserves.

According to Baltimore Police,  the teenaged girl was followed home from a party by one young man. After her grandmother dropped her off, the young man, now aware of Bowers’ home address, returned with another young man. They allegedly robbed, dragged, and sexually assaulted Bowers. Then, they choked her to death with an electric cord, and set her on fire. As of today, news has developed in connection with the arrests of two suspects. One suspect has offered his account of the events which resulted in Bowers’ unfortunate death.

According to police, Childs indicated that the two men had planned to rob Bowers’ home suspecting that her grandmother might have valuable belongings there. When they entered the home, Bowers was asleep. It was when she awoke that Dixon dragged her down to the basement. This is allegedly where the sexual assault occurred. Childs says that Dixon returned upstairs and indicated that the two should leave the home because it was on fire. Reportedly, Dixon also told Childs that Bowers was dead. The two young men, Adonay Dixon, 23, and John Childs, 20, have been charged with first-degree murder.

Read more at Black Youth Project.

Why it Matters That Hillary Clinton Said “All Lives Matter” In a Black Church This Week

hillary-clinton-missouriOn Tuesday, Democratic presidential hopeful, Hillary Rodham Clinton, gave a speech on race in the United States at a Black church in Florissant, Missouri. The church is just a short drive from Ferguson, the city where Michael Brown was murdered by Officer Darren Wilsonlast August. While Clinton’s speech was meant to score points with Black voters, a voting bloc which has been on the fence about her since her 2008 run against then candidate Obama, she missed the mark on several fronts. Mainly, her speech seemed like a canned response with no actual thought toward fixing the issues of ongoing systemic racism in this country. And, her use of the violent phrase “All lives matter” in the speech only confirmed to many Black Americans that she is completely out of touch with the community at-large.

Clinton’s speech was problematic for two major reasons.

Read the full article at Black Youth Project.

Why I Really Want to Stop Talking About Rachel Dolezal

o-RACHEL-DOLEZAL-facebookThis post was originally titled “Rachel Dolezal and the Audacity of Whiteness.” I was completely prepared to rage against the machine and rehash what everyone else has said about this ordeal. But, then, I realized that I am tired of Rachel Dolezal, whiteness, and all the intersections thereof.

When it came time to write that essay, I simply couldn’t bring myself to pen yet another piece decrying White Supremacy and its boundless nature. I couldn’t spend one more moment explaining why Dolezal’s  claims that she is a Black person are the epitome of her privilege as a White American. I couldn’t waste 750 words shouting into the ether that Dolezal is a conglomeration of one liners from Black movies, quotes from Black authors, and Indian Remy Yaki-ness.  So, I’m not going to do that. I’d rather talk about what Dolezal has done, the issues her farce has raised about blackness, and what it means for real Black people going forward.

From the moment this story hit the mainstream, folks have been writing in response. Some have taken issue with the conflations Dolezal’s acolytes  have made of race and gender. Others have been awestruck at the inconsistent and problematic presentations Dolezal sets forth in her differing interviews. Others still have been concerned with how Dolezal’s masquerade is harmful to actual Black Americans. There are so many think pieces about Dolezal on the internet. So much air time and web space has been dedicated to this White woman, posing as a Black woman, in the past few weeks. But why though?

Read the full post at Water Cooler Convos.

Black Death, Camera Lenses, and Race Beyond McKinney, Texas

11401035_837034976385473_7721217889258483423_nI saw a post on Instagram yesterday which evoked a visceral response from me. The image, by artist Kiakilli (@3rdPharoah), shows an outstretched Black hand, reaching for life out of troubled waters while one White hand points a gun squarely at it and another extended White arm focuses a cell phone’s camera lens. The image captures what has become a narrative in the daily state of affairs in the United States: the commodification of Black death and dying and its spectacular consistency in contemporary American life. But, the illustration’s implicit messaging captures even more than that.

The powerful image was obviously born out of the events inMcKinney, Texas last week where an irate officer drew his weapon on bathing suit clad Black and brown teens at a pool party in a Dallas suburb. At the party, no one drowned to death. That is why the symbolism of the image is so striking.

Read the full article at Water Cooler Convos.

The Racists Are Winning: Why I Can’t Say ‘Micro-Aggressions’ Anymore

I realized today that I don’t know how to be a carefree Black girl. I think part of me wants to be. But, most of me can’t for reasons (read: White Supremacy).

Between the omnipresence of Black Death displayed via the very public execution of unarmed Black bodies  (as most recently reproduced in the case of Walter Scott), and the perpetual anti-Blackness I experience every single day in academia, I’m finding that I do care. I care a lot. Yet, I’m growing so weary of it.

This weariness is the exact goal of modern racism. Just wear Black people down until we have no fight left. Just bludgeon us on all sides until we can’t even figure out a plan or mode of attack (or defense). I feel like they’re winning at it too.

I used to use the term “micro-aggression” to describe my daily battles with Whites and non-Black people of color (NBPoC) who reproduce White Supremacist oppression. But, I have grown and matured. My race-related lexicon has expanded. I have more flowery words to describe this limited term now. Truth is though: microaggressions aren’t micro at all. They are a part of a macro-level system of White supremacy and White privilege which systematically isolates and excludes Black folks from equal access to justice, representation in politics, respect in the public sphere and from institutions, and opportunity for social mobility.

Read more at WCC.

In Defense of Nene Leakes’ Femininity

Let me start by saying: Nene Leakes is incredibly problematic. She has said terrible things about LGBTQIA folks, she called a biracial woman a “half-breed”, and she may have distributed t-shirt designs that weren’t her own work. She isn’t perfect. But, this piece isn’t in defense of her actions. Some of those are indefensible. Instead, it’s in defense of her right – as a tall, dark-skinned, outspoken cisgendered, heterosexual woman – to be feminine. That’s something, to me, that shouldn’t be up for questioning. Ever.

I was parousing the internet last night and was reminded of how often Leakes’ gender takes center stage both on RHOA (which I still watch) and in general. Last year, when Leakes got into an argument with Marlo Hampton, someone who was once her dear friend, Hampton pulled the “you look like a man” line with ease. It wasn’t the first time Leakes’ gender and femininity were questioned.

Kim Zolciak and Sheree Whitfield – ex-cast mates on the show – also questioned Leakes’ gender and physical appearance with reference to her femininity. A simple google search yields hit after hit of questions on the web about Nene Leakes’ gender. Like Wendy Williams, another tall, Black, outspoken woman, there seems to be this perception that taller than average Black women with large personalities are “manly” or less feminine than other women. Unfortunately, this is an issue I can relate to.

I have been tall for as long as I can remember. I have been over six feet tall since middle school. In elementary school, I frequently saw the tops of the heads of my peers and teachers. I towered over all the girls and the boys. And, coupled with my outspoken nature, billowing voice, and forward demeanor, I was often called a “tomboy.”

I never really knew what that meant. I wasn’t a boy. I didn’t feel like a boy. But, then again, I didn’t know what being a boy felt like. I just felt like me.

For one reason or another, other children and society in general separated me. I had to play basketball with the boys while the girls played Four Square. I played tether ball (and whooped everyone) while the other girls jumped rope. By fourth grade, there was a clear distinction between me and the “cool girls.” Whenever one of them felt threatened by me, they’d say, “Jennifer, why don’t you just go do ‘boy’ stuff?” To which I’d answer, “Why don’t you shut up?” A reply that almost immediately landed me in the principal’s office at my very parochial Catholic school.

Read more at WCC.

ForHarriet: We Done Told Y’all What’s Up: Black Folks are Not Here for the White Gaze

There may be nothing more intimidating – and therefore offensive – to White folks than Black Americans who set boundaries for their personal space and public privacy.

Increasing numbers of Black celebrities, entertainers, and athletes have forcefully established themselves as people rather than objects for commodification and public consumption. From Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, to Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, to Beyoncé Knowles Carter, Blacks in the public eye have demanded respect for their personal space in ways that disrupt White Supremacy and challenge the control of the White Gaze.

Within the past week, Lynch—a fellow alumnus of Oakland Technical High School—has gained national attention for his continuous assertions that he has no intention of giving mainstream media outlets more than what he owes: To perform well with his teammates on the field. At the NFL’s Super Bowl Media Day, his repeated statement of, “I’m only here so I won’t get fined,” let us all know that he is not checking for the (predominantly White) news media.

Read more For Harriet.

The Root: How ‘Selling a Home While Black’ Nearly Broke Me

Everyone tells you it’s hard to sell a home nowadays. No one tells you how hard it is to sell a home while black.

Last March we did all the things you are supposed to do when selling a half-million-dollar Orange County, Calif., home. We packed items we were no longer using. We downsized our furniture. We painted baseboards and repaired walls. We even bought new wall art to neutralize the feel. After seeing several comparable homes sell within weeks of listing, we were certain we would only be on the market for a month at most. We were wrong.

Our agents held open house after open house. One Saturday, a white couple was returning to the home for a second visit. They had come before without their children and wanted to show their oldest son. But he wouldn’t walk upstairs. According to our agents, he seemed anxious. He just wanted to leave. Sadly, the couple never returned.

Following that experience, we removed a few more of our personal items, thinking maybe the home wasn’t race-neutral enough. We put away books, removed every photo of our children—no matter how small they were—and even packed away Christmas cards from family and friends.

Soon, we saw an uptick in interest and traffic. Interested buyers were coming by every day. We had already lost thousands in potential proceeds and were a few weeks from our targeted move date. This process was not only becoming economically untenable; it was emotionally overwhelming.

One afternoon, while I was sitting at my dining table with my children, a man walked up and retrieved a flier while admiring the exterior of the home. Immediately, a neighbor approached. He was a renter in the process of moving because the homeowners were selling the property. We didn’t know him well but had always been cordial when we saw him in the neighborhood.

Read the full article at The Root.

Ebony: Hate in the Pulpit

“If folks would get themselves in line with God’s word, then Black lives would matter…we wouldn’t have all of these out-of-wedlock babies and we wouldn’t be talking about same sex marriage.”

That was the warning a Black male pastor issued his congregants and us new visitors at a service late last year. His logic subsumes that reading the Bible will make police stop killing unarmed Black Americans, men stop raping and degrading women, and anti-gay and anti-trans organizations stop erasing LGBTSTGNC folks. Except we’ve tried prayer already. And, I’m certain oppression doesn’t only happen to people who don’t have their lives “in line with God’s word.”

This Black male pastor, speaking specifically about the killing of Michael Brown, turned the narrative of oppression into one to chastise Black youth and perpetuate respectability politics. He later called a sex worker in the Bible, the “President of the Kitty Kat Club.” As expected, his use of the Bible to demean women’s sexuality was met with laughter from his congregants. His words confirmed two things for me: first, I wouldn’t be joining, and second, the Black Church still can’t productively address social justice issues which matter to many Black women.

Looking for a Black church – since we recently moved to the area – has resulted in Sunday after Sunday of oppressive, hateful, anti-queer, anti-gay, and misogynistic language from Black Pastors. What used to exist in public has become the “new normal” within God’s holy sanctuary.

Read more at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/news-views/hate-in-the-pulpit-503#ixzz3P2VCyZDw

For Harriet: How the Media Exacerbates and Erases Black Women’s Suffering

“If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels.” —Janay Rice

This was Janay Rice’s response to news media outlets following the viral video of her then fiancé, Ray Rice, brutally punching her, knocking her unconscious, and dragging her out of an Atlantic City hotel elevator. Her focus on the role the media played in her re-victimization preceded but is eerily similar to Camille Cosby’s response after the recent surge in mass media coverage of her husband, Bill Cosby, and his litany of sexual assault allegations. Her response that “there appears to be no vetting” of her husband’s accusers indicts the media rather than placing blame on Bill Cosby himself.

The similarities between the two women’s responses make it difficult for mass media to advocate for Black women who are abused by prominent Black men while respecting their rights to privacy. More importantly, though, these women’s statements show that the news media has work to do to gain trust from Black women.

Camille Cosby questioned the verifiability of her husband’s accusers rather than his propensity to abuse others. The tenor of her response – and her comparison of his accusers to Jackie, the woman at the center of the UVA story in Rolling Stone – set a tone which urges the public to believe Bill Cosby (the man we “thought we knew”) and disbelieve the women who have come forward (women we don’t know). Her focus on the media’s need for viral content led her to even ask, “Who is the victim?”

Read the full article at For Harriet.