WCC: Public Spaces, Black Faces, Latino Gazes

Race in America is often discussed in a continuum of black and white. One’s worth is measured by one’s simultaneous distance from blacks and closeness to whites. One group that likely finds itself pulled in either direction on this linear structure is Latino Americans. Often clumped into race conversations as the “brown” to our black, Latinos face wholly different social and economic circumstances than blacks. Not only that, they have a range of socio-political issues which can draw them toward blacks and away from whites. But, in an attempt to distance from blacks, Latino Americans sometimes embody the very same racial animus some whites show toward black Americans. When that happens, we all lose.

Saturday was an atypically cold day in the sunny SoCal city of Orange. My children, husband, and I decided to go catch breakfast at a local diner we have eaten at at least 100 times. The place was surprisingly packed from front to back. We were toting two little ones and an infant in a car seat. So, we were obviously laden with parental responsibilities – along with a giant diaper bag and bejeweled princess backpack for the two-year-old. While I have previously written about the negative reception I have gotten from unwelcoming white folks in the OC, today’s gazers, avoiders, and repugnant face-makers were all Latino women.

When we entered the restaurant and added our names to the waiting list, there were two open benches. I told my husband, “Let’s sit down over here” while walking toward the seat nearest the door. I was no more than three feet away when a Latino young lady turned, and raced toward the seat. As intended, she beat me to it. Snarkily, I said, “Well, nevermind.” Since we were already walking in that direction, my husband and I stood next to the seat organizing ourselves and children. The young lady, so concerned that we wanted to share the four-foot long bench with her, scooted to the middle, sat her purse down next to her, and put both hands out on the bench beside her. We definitely got the message; she was waiting for others and she didn’t want us to sit on the bench.

Read the full article at WCC.

WCC: On the Jordan Davis Murder and Why I Avoided the Michael Dunn Trial

On Saturday, Michael Dunn was convicted of three counts of second-degree murder while the jury was torn on the killing of unarmed black teen Jordan Russell Davis, 17. It happened. It was sad, wrong, and terrible and it happened. Most of us expected some type of injustice to ensue. But, I’m sure none of us could have imagined that Dunn would be convicted for not killing enough young boys that day. This is my first time writing about the trial because…well, because I got too invested in the George Zimmerman trial last year. It became a personal issue for me. It hurt me so deeply. So now, I have taken to emotional detachment as a coping mechanism.

I took to Twitter to read words from acquiescent black murder apologists like “grateful,” “at least,” and “partial justice.” Some folks were happy that Dunn would be going to prison for “attempting” to kill Jordan Davis’ three other friends who were in the car with him that day. They felt at least partially satisfied that, unlike George Zimmerman, Michael Dunn wouldn’t be walking away free. What they didn’t realize was that the conviction – no matter Dunn’s age and likelihood of rotting in a prison cell – was not justice for Davis.These folks don’t have the courage to admit that their Kool-aid has gone sour. There just aren’t enough straws to grasp anymore.

In essence, Dunn could have shot and killed Davis, walked down the road, then shot at – and missed – all of Davis’ friends and the same outcome would apply. Dunn didn’t kill enough young boys playing “thug” music to walk free.

Only in America can a grown man – with obvious racial hatred – shoot and kill a young black boy only to go to prison for shooting at the boys he didn’t kill. Had those boys not been in the car with Davis, Dunn wouldn’t be serving any time at all. Let that marinate with you for a bit.

Read the full article at WCC.

WCC: Olivia Cole Says ‘F$?# You Miley Cyrus!’ [INTERVIEW]

You may know Olivia Cole from her frequent contributions at Huffington Post. Or, you may know her from her own site. If you don’t know her yet, let me introduce you. She is a writer, poet, and activist who offers her bold perspectives via the written word. I am smitten with this young lady. She perfectly sums up what I mean when I talk about “allies” outside of communities of color.

I asked Cole about her forthcoming book “Panther in the Hive.” The book is about Tasha Lockett, a bad-ass black woman with a knife and a Prada backpack in the inner-city of Chicago amidst a cybertronic Armageddon. I wanted to know what made her pick a woman of color to helm the dystopian sci-fi zombie novel.

COLE: “Well, first, sci-fi and fantasy kind of deal with what my friend Lamont actually said to me recently. He said ‘You know, it’s the people don’t wanna listen to current events issues that end up reading them in dystopian books.’ So, you know, people who are not necessarily into economic issues are reading the ‘Hunger Games’ and they’re like ‘Yeah!’ But, you know, I feel like it’s a sly way to get people thinking about these issues. And, my blog is the more blatant way of doing that. But I have been a writer, a creative writer my entire life. So that just seems like the most natural way.”

Read the full story here.

WCC: Ain’t I a Woman? Black Women, Decency, and Public Spaces

Even with Beyoncé taking over the universe with over 1 million copies of her self-titled fifth solo album sold in one week, black women continue to struggle with recognition and respect in public spaces.

This isn’t a new thing. Women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth delivered her iconic “Ain’t I a Woman” speech in 1851 at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio dealing with this very issue. Her simple inquisition underscored the need for black women to become a part of mainstream gender conversations.

“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?”

One would assume we’d be past this basic question over a century and a half later. But, truth is, we aren’t. Black women continue to face struggles with being recognized as the loving mothers, daughters, sisters, and aunts that they are. In public spaces, we are often judged and, sometimes, punished because of one-dimensional images in the mainstream psyche which outshine our true personae. I talk about the feelings arising from this treatment in a piece about being a black mother in Orange County, CA.

What is often most interesting about this differentially unhelpful treatment is how others in public spaces seem to “code switch” in an adverse way. In the black community, code switching denotes the process wherein black people change their vernacular, conversational content or other social cues in order to adapt to diverse social situations with non-black people.

Read the full story here.

WCC: Social Activism Tastes Better When the Waiter is White

Ever heard the phrase, “When regarding a message, consider the source”? Well, it seems white people (and everyone else) have been doing that about pretty much everything. White supremacy means that everything good has to be white. Heroes, casts of hit movies, heck, even messengers need to be white. Social activism via social media is the newest “it” thing. And, even though racial minorities have been activism-ing for decades, it seems the only time the message is palatable for mainstream white society is when it is delivered by another white person.

I guess that means I need to get a white friend who can write then, hunh?

Remember when Macklemore made that song about gay marriage like he was saying something new? I remember sitting in the car with one other black girl and three white girls when I first heard it. The other black girl and I were like, “meh.” But, one particular white girl was just in awe of how courageous Macklemore was for singing about such a taboo subject. “This song is really powerful,” she swooned. Yeah, it’s a nice song. But, it can’t hold a candle to Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On?” It seemed to me like that phenomena on The Simpsons when Marge says something like forty times then Homer says it and acts like he initiated the idea. It’s like social activism Groundhog Day every time a white person decides to take a logical stance against white privilege in favor of equality measures.

I first thought this was so when the whole #WhiteGirlsRock idiocy happened. Basically, a bunch of white (and black) people were offended and butt-hurt that they couldn’t have someone as awesome as Queen Latifah tell them they rock. So, they made fun of the annual Black Girls Rock! Award Show on Twitter…like grown ups.

Read the full story here.