Friday, November 18, 2011

The Dark End of the Street

so i went to a lecture yesterday about this book that just came out from an Alumni from my school. the book is entitled The Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance--A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power by Danielle L. McGuire.
i found the title of the book very interesting, which is why i went to the lecture. turned out to be a very informative and eye-opening, and maybe if i wasn't broke, i would have bought the book.

during the lecture, and i supposed in the book as well, she details the ways in which Black women had to deal with sexual abuse at the hands of white men. black women were raped, sexually abused and harassed at alarmingly common rates on their way to and from church, the store, and most often, work (which was almost always in a white person's home, on the white side of town). the assailants were mainly police officers and bus drivers and males in the households in which they worked.
and while i found it surprising, there were actually a large number of women that reported these assaults to the police. McGuire found hundreds of police reports that were filed, witness testimonies, and statements from the victims.
this is all well known, or not surprising to most people who know the dynamic historical relationship between Black women and white men in this country. the purpose of the book, however, was to show that the civil rights movement was not a movement started, organized, or funded by Black men.

at some point, after the cases of Gertrude Perkins and Recy Taylor had garnered more outrage from these women that were assaulted on a daily basis, they began organizing against this treatment. they were always helped by men, pastors most notably, but the point being that these every day Black women who started this - they organized pastors to each other, held small boycotts, and eventually financed similar protests by selling baked goods. eventually, this led Rosa Parks (one of the activists who worked early on against the sexual abuse) to become what most of us have heard was the catalyst for the movement.

maybe i'll have more if/when i get her book, but i thought this was a very interesting point which seems to be well backed. but why do we constantly only hear of the civil rights movement through male names? why had i never heard of Dorothy Height until she died? what about Edith Savage and Fannie Lou Hamer? why can we list more names of men apart of the struggle than of women? is this the patriarchy of our system (and/or of the European system) finding its way into our own plight?
on another note, why is this book being written by a white woman? does anyone else feel slightly disappointed when books like these that expose histories forgotten or unknown are researched and written by white people?? how different would this book be had it been written by a Black woman or man? is this even a valid question??

comment. think. criticize.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Vintage Africa

i recently found an amazing website full of colonial era photos of The Congo, Central African Republic and Angola. i found them while searching for one of the photos below i found in a book about ethnomedicine in postcards. they're beyond beautiful. it doesn't specify what people's they're from, but i believe some are of the Banziri.

this photo is the one i was searching for. the book says this about it:

Enema among the Banziri (in what is now the Central African Republic) - Collection L. Martin
Instillation or insufflation of enema liquids into small children is a common type of self-care in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly for young children. modern estimates suggest that at least one million enemas are being used every month is Soweto and that infants in Swaziland may receive as many as 50 enemas a year.

interesting, yea?
if you know of any other websites that feature vintage photos of indigenous people, feel free to share.

Negro History: Lost, Stolen or Strayed

a very interesting documentary about Black History from the era of the 60's.
it is hosted by Bill Cosby with a few clips from early 20th century film that illustrate perfectly the way Blacks were perceived at the time. whats also interesting about this, is that it shows Cosby in way i haven't seen him before. he is angry (justifiably so) with a touch of dark sarcasm.

the only side of Cosby i have seen have been from The Cosby Show and his most recent remarks where he just appears to be an angry old Black man whose top priority is getting young Black boys to pull their pants up. but looking at this film and getting the feelings Cosby was trying to portray, it seems as though the Cosby right now is, just as a number of Black elders who lived during the turbulent times of the 60's are. they are angry that the real revolution never came and that Black youths of today have little knowledge of what they went through and a half-assed interest in even knowing. the bitterness he shows in his media appearances are simply an overwhelming sense of disappointment. he seems to be angry at the youth, but the youth didn't raise themselves. but he has every right to feel as he does.

watch parts 2, 3, 4, and 5 as well.
comment. think. criticize.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Skank Attire?

recently the philosophies and/or intentions regarding the way i, or women in general dress, and exactly what message that may send out to others, mainly in the culture of the US have inspired me to write a post about these feelings. i cannot put my style into any box, however, i will say that mini-skirts and dresses are part of most of my outfits; i own one pair of jeans, and other pants are few and far in between.

while talking to some friends and partaking in a discussion in one of my classes about some comments Muhammad Ali made (at 4:00) about what women should and should not wear, it has come to my attention that the majority of my outfits may be seen as me sending out the message to men that i want to be "bought". the critics use phrases such as "a woman doesn't dress that way unless she's advertising" or "why would a man buy the cow when he can get the milk for free?"
my (and others') outfits are apparently sending this message to men "i want to fuck. i'm a slut. i'm a prostitute. i have no morals. and i have no self-respect" and/or "i want to be bought aka married." the language used to demean other women, based solely on their wardrobe, shows just how little things have changed since the era of the suffragettes.

now, these stereotypes and ideas are not surprising given the religiously saturated society we live in that typically (from Abrahamic religions) believe that women are inherently temptresses that, unless tamed (by clothing and other sexually repressive means/mentalities), will be the doom of the world with our insatiable sex drives. it seems that most that have taken their religion to any serious levels (nuns, other religious women living in communes, etc.) feel the need to be completely covered, barely even showing an ankle. which i think has more to do with being likened more to a man than a woman. but that's another post...

these ideas are the fuel that compel people to ask a rape victim what she was wearing at the time of her rape. these ideas fuel statements that infer every rape/sexual assault/molestation case of a woman is done because she was asking for it and/or wanted it. these ideas are what keep women feeling as though it is OUR responsibilities to KEEP from being raped, as opposed to men just learning to control themselves (it should be said, however, that women and men are victims of rape/molestation by men and women).

women are not a monolith, and different women are portraying different messages. some women actually are sending the message to men that they're ready and able to fuck right then and there. and there isn't anything wrong with that. women have sexual appetites and we shouldn't have to stifle our sexuality because our society has deemed it something unhealthy and corrupt. some women are looking to have men pay their bills in exchange for sex. some are looking for attention and validation from men (and from women as well). and considering this society judges and evaluates women based on our physical appearances, it shouldn't be surprising that women judge themselves on the same standards, that is, on standards set by men.
the point being that, whatever a woman is doing it for, it cannot be assumed that all women are dressing for those same reasons.

personally, i dress however i want to. is it for male attention? i wouldn't say it is. it is more a political statement against the type of restraints this society places on women's bodies; women's sexualities. it is a statement that illustrates body-acceptance and sexual contentment. i think in the struggle towards owning our sexuality, as women, our wardrobe is a very important aspect that should not be slept on. we portray a lot with our attire. i also like the idea that i can possibly change stereotypes of scantily clad women by showing that we don't all have the same agendas. some of us are simply and perfectly content with our bodies and feel no need to cover them. as opposed to me approaching this from the standard of being covered, i'm approaching this from the perspective that we should be/would be naked if it weren't for certain societal standards.
moreover, as a woman of color, i can be dressed in a three piece suit and granny flats, and still be called a "hoe", a "slut" or any other label that seeks to put women down via our sexualities. the supposed lasciviousness of women of color and other sexual fetishes that have been placed on us will be present with or without attire that cover my neck and stop right below the knee.

i'd like some feedback on this.
criticize. comment. think. thoughts.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

thoughts on Occupy Wall Street protests

so here's a synopsis of whats happening with Occupy Wall Street et al. - recently, a bunch of folks have decided to "occupy"/protest certain areas of the country. there are a slew of various cities that have been occupied, such as New York City (Wall Street), Philadelphia, Oakland, Boston, etc. they all have issues with how the system is being ran, being forced to fund wars, being led to believe that a college degree will ensure economic stability when in reality it means nothing when the economy is a mess, accruing thousands of dollars of debt just by simply obtaining a degree, and other issues concerned with corporations and rich people having tax breaks and basically shitting on all non-rich people.

let me just say that all of these issues are legitimate issues to be concerned with enough for a protest/urge to change certain laws. i think it's very backwards the way this society pushes everyone to obtain a college degree, only to learn once you try to obtain it or actually succeed in getting it, that you will more an likely only be able to find a job that only requires a high school diploma or some type of non-academic training. i believe the biggest concerns are those with an unaffordable education and issues with health insurance. all of which have valid oppositions.

with that said, i don't necessarily support the OWS (acronym for Occupy Wall Street which i'll use for the duration to refer to all Occupy movements).

for one, it seems as though the protesters feel as though there is no power in being a consumer. but there is. it seems as though Americans want to be able to buy all they want, from whatever company, and then be able to tell that company they don't support their...wages, or occupation in certain countries, etc. we have to start looking for alternative ways to live in this system (with an aim of breaking it down) and those ways may not be the easiest or the most comfortable. maybe this involves learning to make your own clothes, growing the majority of your own vegetables, opting out of eating meat, buying from thrift stores and second hand consignment shops for some time/permanently (or bartering), opting out of the new video game/ipod/flat-screen tv/Jordans/Louboutins/hybrid automobile/human remy virgin yaki weave/any type of gold or diamond, finding different ways of transportation that don't rely on petroleum, using less electricity in your home, washing clothes by hand, finding other means of entertainment besides television, and the internet. we have buying power, and on a mass scale we can have a large impact. it can be done, we just have to be creative.

second, the rich are not the problem. Wall street is not the problem. predatory lending agencies and vicious student loan corporations are not the problem. Obama is not the problem. Republicans are not the problem. Democrats are not the problem. wars overseas are not the problem.
the ENTIRE SYSTEM is the problem. the design, the implementation, the maintenance, the philosophies that garnered it are ALL the problem. the more i have been learning about other cultures, with an emphasis on pre-colonial indigenous groups, the more i realize just how philosophically bankrupt this system is and always will be.

for example, the Third Genders i spoke of in the previous post are individuals that are ostracized in our society. but, in their own pre-colonial societies, they were accepted. my teacher suggested that this was a way of maintaining the balance; the well-being of the society. this person that may have been born a male but chooses to take on the role of the female is still someone that can contribute to the society; they're still humans; they're still someone's child. how can it be that our ancestors worked maybe 5 or 6 hours a day, yet everyone in the society was clothed, fed, and generally happy? there is no fixing little issues and "working within the system". there needs to be a complete breakdown and rebuilding of the system. a number of us right now are working 40+ hours a week and there's still thousands of homeless or near homeless people in our society and the rest that still need assistance to feed themselves. the issue is the ENTIRE SYSTEM.

third, i believe these protests that seem to be some universal trend, are planned.
how is it that some of the most stable nations in the world are the ones rioting as if they're the worst of the worst? Libya and Egypt, who have just overthrown their governments, with one leader shot dead, are two of the most stable countries in Africa (see charts here). the most unstable countries in the world have no OWS or protest to speak of. i hear about civil wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone, The Congo, Rwanda, and parts of south east Asia, Mexico and Central America yet the US and Egypt are rioting? Mubarak and Qadaffi weren't the best, but they weren't Hussein and Charles Taylor. and BOSTON is protesting? for real? yet black folks in Brownsville BK are no where near protesting their shitty conditions?? and we now have white folks in the US calling themselves refugees. ??? come on...
if anyone in the US has the right to be protesting it's people of color living in ridiculously low-income communities. oh wait, we have been doing that and no one has given a shit about it til 20 something year old hipster white kids started feeling the weight of our mess of a system on their backs. like it has been said at numerous OWS, black and brown folks have been the 99% since the inception of this country. the black male unemployment rate is at least 10% nationwide, and white folks are coming out en masse upset at the system??

this shit is planned. i'm not saying they don't have legitimate issues. i'm saying it's very skeptical that all these protests are occurring at this point in history and all at the same time with no consensus on the purpose or objectives of these movements.

think. comment. criticize.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Third Genders

so, in my Anthropology class, we began talking about genders and the boundaries and possible objectivism concerning the ideas of gender and what not. my teacher mentioned these four different groups from various indigenous (pre and post colonial) groups that operate outside the typical western idea of gender - that is, that man and woman are determined and aligned along biological limitations.

it is often thought, especially within the black community when speaking about "gay", "homosexual", "transgendered", etc. that these are colonial/European manifestations. this is especially evident in black power and Afrocentric circles (which can be seen here at 7:40). it is constantly tossed around not only by brothas and sistahs on an informal level, but is very much a part of a number of black scholarly work (Frances Cress Welsing, Eldridge Cleaver, Louis Farrakhan and the entire Nation of Islam, to name a few, have all had some anti-"homo" element to their writings/beliefs). this is not surprising, given the overwhelming amount of religiosity existent in black and brown communities, but there also is an underlying idea that being "gay" is a white/European thing; something only whites do. in the same idea that....white folks climb mountains, swim with sharks, jump out of planes....and other nonsensical things, but that these are things black folk don't do. but is this the case (rock climbing is quite fun, i might add...)?

from what i have read, the term "gay"/"homosexual", etc. are European creations. the term and connotations surrounding these labels originated in Europe. the idea that one's sexuality or sexual interests are the largest determining factor of one's self; one's identity; one's personality are also European. does this mean, however, that same-sex relations and/or people that lived as what we would today call "transsexual"/"trans-gendered" were non-existent prior to the term "homosexual" and prior to colonialism? not at all. here are four examples that do damage to this assertion:

  • Fa'afafine - those, typically male, who identify as this third (or possibly fourth, i've read) gender in pre and post-colonial Samoan society. more informantion here and here.
  • Xanith - those that identify has neither man nor woman that are typically biologically male within Islamic societies.
  • Hijra - biological males that have a feminine gender identity from South Asia.
  • Two-Spirit -also known as Berdache, are biological males that identify between masculine and feminine genders. more information here and here.

it appears as though this idea that westerners have of "transgendered" or possibly even "gay" (considering many of these examples have sex with both sexes) have always been around, even before colonialism. the idea that gender (roles, characteristics of a person) seem to be more aligned with personal identity rather than one's genitals; gender was something fluid rather than the restrictive way in which we think of it at the present.
in some cases, it seems as though whites that identify as "gay" or "transsexual" have influenced the way in which these societies thought of these third genders, mainly in negative ways. their influence changed one's sexuality or gender to the main determinant in one's self; in one's personal and societal identity. although, i don't feel as though many Fa'afafine or Two-Spirit have viewed this influence in negative ways.

it is also very interesting how the majority of the examples i've found have been of males, with almost no speak of biological females being "third gendered". does this suggest something about the female role in pre-colonial societies? or more about the male? from the examples, this third gender is usually recognized by the parents of the child at an early age and raised as such (as can be seen in the Fa'afafine), so the presupposition is that they were born this way. if this is the case, are women not born that way? why not?
i would like to read more examples of these from Africa and ancient Europe as well....if anyone knows of any examples.

comment. think. criticize.
(first two photos are Two-spirit. last one is Hijra.)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

i am troy davis

i have a number of feelings right now, so many that i don't really feel like writing anything. i'll instead let these photos convey how i feel.

this is what powerlessness feels like.

Friday, August 19, 2011

capitalistic, blood-sucking leeches masquerading as academic institutions

so i'm in the process of starting my Bachelor's degree. i haven't even started classes yet, and i already hate this institution.

if an institution or organization purports to be existing for the purpose of furthering its clients' (students') knowledge and wisdom in their respective fields, then their prioritization should be centered around that; education and access to that for the most amount of people should be central. however, just going through the process of getting loans, paying tuition, and other absurd fees (which at time, i feel as though i'm the only one that see these prices as completely ridiculous), have shown me that what is central to this institution, or any university for that matter, is money. these "educational institutions" are really businesses with the goal of gaining capital and nothing more. a wise brotha calls it "dissent management".

i can't recall where i saw this, but there was a study done on graduating college student's knowledge (ability to form strong opinions, growth of their knowledge of events going on around the world; of people and countries around the world; of their histories, etc.) to see what they had gained from their college experience, and the majority of students showed that their knowledge had very little growth compared to their knowledge upon graduating high school. the main reason being is that many students take classes they know they'll pass, skipping over the more difficult courses for fear of not passing (which i'm sure has something to do with financial aid and it being removed if you fail or drop below a certain number of credit hours), as well as professors becoming extremely lazy with their curriculum and failing to offer their wisdom in ways that ensure the student is learning and soaking up knowledge as opposed to simply remembering enough to pass the next test.

everyone is here simply to get a sheet of paper that says they are smart enough to do A, B, or C. and quite honestly, i believe the majority of people on this earth are comfortable with that. but where is the...respect/appreciation for the student that comes here to learn? and not just in the area of business and engineering? but learn about the world? about people that inhabit it? about our links to them? about the concept of a "link" and whether or not this is dependent on the idea of reality, identity or even a god? where is the space for those that want to dig deeper?

i paid $80 the other day to attend an orientation in which i received an ID card, registered for class, and learned ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! i didn't even get a campus tour, a speech about the different resources the school offers, etc.....NOTHING. i wouldn't have attended were it not mandatory. but again....$80!? and i've just learned that to get a parking park at least a mile away from my classes is $205!!!!!!! WHAAAAAAT!??
my school is about 80% white and middle/upper income, so this could possibly be the reason that they expect all their students to pay these absurd fees as if we all have money for these things, but i don't understand this. it's as if they figured that people cannot refuse to pay these fees, not the majority of students away, so why not amp up the pay?
a fee i can understand, but $205? i cannot understand this type of capitalistic bullshit. i cannot.
and what is the option of not choosing to get at least a Bachelor's? there isn't much of one.

and i don't even want to get on the student loan agencies and their evil tactics because i might break something. is it just me (and my minimum wage earning salary) or is this just the most ridiculous foolery type shit you have ever heard?

comment. think. criticize. donate =)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Richard Mosse

i've been seeing pieces from this artist Richard Mosse on the internet for some time now, and i've only recently looked into his extensive work. here are some of his amazing pieces.