BYP: I’m Not Here For #CrimingWhileWhite and You Shouldn’t Be Either

Last Wednesday, a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict 29-year-old Daniel Pantaleo, the White New York City cop who applied an illegal “chokehold maneuver” to Eric Garner’s chest and neck causing his death on July 17th. Immediately following the grand jury’s decision, well-meaning Whites took to Twitter to show an “act of solidarity” using the hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite. A simple Google search of the term yields stories from New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and USA Today. But, doing the same for#BlackLivesMatter – a hashtag started by Black activists – yields strikingly different results. So, what does it say about solidarity when the rallying cry of this generation’s Selma gets less traction on social media and in the mainstream than White privilege confessions?

The #CrimingWhileWhite hashtag can best be understood as Whites noting and “confessing” their privilege, drawing on differences between themselves and murdered Black men like Eric Garner and Michael Brown, but not actually doing anything about it. It isn’t an understanding of the issues facing the Black community and police violence so much as it is a platform for concerned Whites to air their own grievances with White Privilege – the very privilege which many willingly benefit from rather than seek to dismantle. Sadly, the hysteria and self-aggrandizement of White people’s understanding of racism in the United States resulted in the hashtag being the highest trending topic in the United States outpacing those used and promoted by Black Americans seeking justice for the unanswered brutality against their communities. Media outlets equated the hashtag’s importance with those created within Black communities, once again undermining Black folks’ efforts to empower and amplify one another. It seems even within this “act of solidarity” White Privilege squelches the advancement of Black voices.

Read the full article at Black Youth Project.

My Final Goal for 2015: I am Going to Not Care

This sounds rash. I know. But I mean it. One of my greatest flaws is my inability to not care about situations or people who set out to harm or otherwise negatively impact me. In 2015, I am letting that go.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I don’t want to just be “carefree”. I like the goals of the “carefree Black woman” movement – to show that Black women do things beyond stereotypes like riding bikes, eating brunch, and hanging with friends. I’m just not overly concerned with perception here. I am making this goal an introspective, self-centered one. On purpose.

I definitely think we need to care about plenty of things like social (in)justice, economic wealth disparities, unequal access to healthcare, or increased unemployment across Black communities in this country. I plan to continue to devote my intellectual abilities to asking questions about Black women’s self-making and politics in this country. And, I don’t plan to abandon my research in post-racialism or media framing of violence against Blacks. I support the notion of self-care, but I am not seeking ambivalence here. Instead, I just want to stop caring about how others feel more than how I feel about myself. I want to stop caring so deeply for people that I support hostile or unjust social groups and institutions in the name of solidarity.

This is something I struggled with at my first job out of college. I had grown up adoring Disney. My favorite childhood movie was Cinderella. I knew all the words. I knew all the songs. And, when I was asked to interview on those hallowed grounds, I felt beyond honored. But, what I wasn’t prepared for –  in my naiveté – was the fact that everyone working there was human. Deeply human. They weren’t princesses or princes. There were plenty of villains but no fairy godmothers. Well, maybe a few. In my blind devotion to the few people there who I cared deeply for and to the brand itself, I lost sight of myself.

Read the full article at Water Cooler Convos.

My 2nd Goal for 2015: I Want to Develop Better Discernment

black-woman-thinkingLast week, I shared that I would be working on owning myself in 2015. While that is my primary goal for the New Year, I have several others to add. My second goal in 2015 will be developing better discernment. That means, I want to be better at waiting for people to show me who they are before I believe them. Let me explain why this is so important.

I am one of those people who gets really excited about other people. I am an extrovert to the bone. This means that the people I keep around me actually have an impact on my happiness. It also means I’m drawn to folks with interesting personalities, quirky mannerisms, or other unique personal traits. For these reasons,  I typically end up embracing people I meet without properly questioning their intentions in their interactions with me, their historical biases, or other non-first impression-based attributes they may possess. In other words, I fall for people. I fall fast. And, I have been sorely burned by it…a lot.

Historically, I am that person who gets “friend dumped”. I have been dumped via email, text, and carrier pigeon (not really, but you know what I mean). In fact, it just happened to me (again) last week. This usually happens when I naively assume that someone has my back or cares for me like I care for them when in fact – for whatever reason – they don’t. Yes, I am usually the person who gets immediately blamed in these scenarios but, in retrospect, these folks usually come back to me and apologize for mistreating me. But, the real question is: why do I keep allowing these relationships to move past the point of no return anyway?

My 1st Goal for 2015: I Am Going to Own Myself

black-woman-happy-cropI am a Black woman in the United States. I have spent a great deal of time in my first quarter of my doctoral program examining the citizenship and self-making processes of Black women in this country. As such, I have come to the conclusion that not enough Black women are in full ownership of ourselves. We belong to jobs. We belong to friends. We belong to family. We belong to society. Some would say, the Black woman is “de mule uh de world.” But, I’m not here for that anymore. In 2015, I’m going to own myself for the first time in my life.

Yes, this is a lofty goal but, I believe, it is totally attainable. Not only is it attainable, it’s imperative.

First, I am no longer going to allow the actions and/or expectations of others (especially those outside of my social circles) dictate my behavior, appearance, and comfort in my own skin. I have started some of this already by calling out folks when they treat me differently than others or undermine my contributions or intelligence in ways meant to silence me. I have stopped caring about what others think about my chosen hairstyles or clothing. And, I have increasingly moved away from social groups which require me to change in order to be a member. I am subscribing to the belief that me just being me is good enough.

Read more at WCC.

Blogher: I Was the “Black Working Mom” Example

When it came time to tell my manager about my pregnancy, I worried. I knew my explanations that I wasn’t pregnant during interviews or I had found out after accepting their offer wouldn’t matter. She’d just think of me as a risk.

I knew it meant I would have to work harder in a “man’s profession.” I just didn’t understand how my status as a new mother would affect their expectations of me as a professional. I also didn’t realize how my race would play into other people’s perceptions of me on the job..

My department had been looking for an industrial engineer for some time. In me, they found a combination of technical expertise and talent with group work.

When they learned I’d be out for a while on maternity leave, they were understandably disappointed.They asked daily questions like, “How long do you think you’ll be out?” and “You don’t have a lot of time accrued, do you?”

The questions became so frequent that I made up canned responses. I’d say, “Oh, not long at all,” or “I’m not sure yet,” just to avoid these incredibly personal conversations.

As folks scrambled to cover me in my absence, I found my work being hijacked and disregarded as others deemed this a great opportunity to increase their status.

Read the full article at Blogher.

For Harriet: Why We Must Find Space for the Activism of Black Women Academics

“You think your piece of paper makes you better than me?” 
This is the question I can’t seem to escape, no matter the circumstance, interaction, or context. For others, my “piece of paper” often stands between me and activism. It labels me as an outsider and makes me an “other.” But why?
I am a Black woman academic. I am working toward a doctoral degree in Political Science while writing and building my community with other activists. I give talks, volunteer, and offer myself as a resource in my circles of influence, especially where it concerns uplifting young Black women and girls. 

Read the full article at For Harriet.

White Couple Behind ‘Thug Kitchen’: You Don’t Get to Redefine the Word ‘Thug’

When you’re white, making vegan food, and hanging out with Rachael Ray, you probably aren’t a ‘thug.’ You also probably aren’t in any position to reclaim that particular word for your own entrepreneurial purposes. But, that is exactly what Michelle Davisand Matt Holloway, the “masterminds” behind the blog and recipe book “Thug Kitchen,” are doing. And it’s disgusting.

I mentioned this couple in a previous post but it seems the point was lost on some of my readers so I am going to emphasize it here again. This time, I will do it with audio directly from the couple’s mouths.

See Exhibit A below where Davis and Holloway appeared on the Rachael Ray Show on Friday to sell their vegan food and curse words (I apologize in advance for the fact that this means you have to watch anything involving Rachael Ray. At least I fast forwarded the clip to the part you need to see. You can stop around minute 6:00 or 7:00).

Read More at WCC

Blogher: Why Charlo Greene’s “F*ck it. I Quit.” Is a Revolutionary Act

I have never had the courage to just walk off of a job. I have wanted to, many times. But, I never had the economic ability (or guts) to do so. Beyond the monetary constraints, there was this lingering concern about being blackballed, blacklisted, and otherwise blackified for not conforming to the respectability politics of the workplace. I behaved as completely politically correct as possible to keep food on my table and a roof over my family’s head. I just didn’t end up having much to show for it.

Continue reading “Blogher: Why Charlo Greene’s “F*ck it. I Quit.” Is a Revolutionary Act”

WCC: Being Respectable Won’t Keep You From Being Labeled the ‘Angry Black Woman’

I guess Shonda Rhimes didn’t get the memo. She was the latest victim in bigoted white America’s endeavor to undermine successful black people. And she certainly won’t be the last.

Alessandra Stanley, writer for the New York Times, is probably in hiding right now. Not only did she open her garbage television editorial called “Wrought in Their Creator’s Image” with this line – “When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called ‘How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman.’” –  she went on to describe Rhimes’ capable, educated, and tenacious black women characters as “intimidating,” “haughty,” and “authority figures with sharp minds and potent libidos.” Noting how these women aren’t depicted as “maids or nurses or office workers,” Stanley seemed positively impressed that Rhimes and her team of prolific writers have figured out a way to characterize black women as anything but a stereotype…then she stereotyped them all (and Shonda herself) as angry.

Honestly, I am not entirely sure what the goal of the article was exactly. In one keystroke it seemed that Stanley meant to laud Rhimes for her innovation and creativity when developing her gamut of black female characters. But, moments later, the writer noted how much more “benign,” “elegant,” and “serene” Clair Huxtable was from “The Cosby Show.” Describing Rhimes’ newest character, Annalise Keating from “How to Get Away With Murder,” as “this one,” Stanley wraps an entire article in well-meaning bigotry.


Read the full post at WCC.

WCC: Racism Doesn’t Work Both Ways and Neither Does Cultural Appropriation

Sometimes people ask me really moronic questions. One that I get all the time is, “But, but, on your blog, aren’t you racist against white people though? Because you say some really bad things about us.” Short answer: no. I can’t be racist because I’m not…well…white. And, I also can’t – as a recent troll implied – “appropriate white ‘culture’.” Why? Well, because when a racial group decides their normative choices are “respectable” thus setting their lifestyle as the best way for everyone else to live, they don’t get to play “backsies” when others emulate them. Cultural appropriation is wholly different from taking on presumably respectable behaviors to garner material or social benefits. It isn’t a game of backsies and it is most definitely used to demean, undermine, and disadvantage minority groups in society.

There is no such thing as reverse racism. Comedian and friend of the blog, Aamer Rahman, handled that in his viral comedy routine some time ago.  In summary, because minority groups don’t have inter-generational privilege we can wield against whites (thereby limiting their possible wealth, educational, employment, and/or environmental outcomes), we really have no way of being racist against them. Racism requires power. Without it negative racial feelings might be discriminatory but they certainly aren’t racist. Any racial animus held by minority groups toward whites cannot be set apart on its own as an initial offense because we have already experienced centuries of targeted racial oppression from whites. So, the point of reverse racism is moot.

Read the full article at Water Cooler Convos.