Category Archives: Choosing love

Rape and resistance in Haiti, post-quake

From Ak:

I don’t have expertise or on-the-ground observations about the sexual violence or other conditions sisters are facing in Haiti’s post-quake tent cities. But some people do. Go to this site–please–to find out more.

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Filed under Choosing love, Protect and respect us, Uncategorized

Hurt people hurt people: The Jimi Izreal and Ak incident

Please listen to yesterday’s Micheal Eric Dyson radio program. I’m on there trying (unsuccessfully) to reframe the dialogue about Black women’s love lives with The Denzel Principle‘s Jimi Izreal without losing my ish.

It starts at about 33.01.

Juxtaposed with the preceding segment–an interview with Simeon Wright, who witnessed the August 28, 1955 kidnapping of his 14-year-old cousin, Emmett Till–my and Jimi’s exchange sounds so silly and cynical. To borrow a phrase from Raiyshe, a commenter from the Precious post, my spirit feels dirty.

I hope Jimi’s does too.

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Filed under Choosing love, crazy+racism=cracism, double standards, Faux empowerment, the devil's work, Uncategorized

An aside about that Black women with jobs cain’t git a man show

Since no one signed on for the guest post (you know who you are!) I was going to try live-blogging about Nightline’s “Face-Off: Why Can’t a Successful Black Woman Find a Man?”

Sadly, I kept falling asleep.

The part I did see featured a very unmarried Hill Harper using Barack Obama as an example of the Black Everyman’s potential—you know, the stuff Sisters of the Big Shoulder Pad Tribe ignore because they’re too busy chasing upper middle class pipe dreams and Sapphiring out on blue-collar brothers.

Anyway, I was gonna wake up early and watch it online then do a catchup post. Except I was working on a bill-paying, old media assignment–about what men like in bed. (Ha!)

So now I’m  too late. Everything good to say about this essentializing, divisive, ahistorical, overly general fra fra has been said by the Crunk Feminist Collective and the Facebook pop-Womanist massive.

One teeny scrap I can’t resist riffing on:

The headline for the online version of the broadcast reads like this:

Nightline Face-Off: Why Can’t a Successful Black Woman Find a Man?

Sparks, Sincerity, Sass Fill Atlanta Auditorium in Seventh ‘Nightline Face-Off.

I understand the impulse to abuse alliteration (see?). But if you’re using the odious “sass” in reference to Black women–financially successful or otherwise–you don’t need to be selling ad space on our backs. Keep our romantic lives, our hair, our sexual health, our income, our weight, our desires, our souls, our fate out of your greedy, hype-riding mouths. You don’t really mean us well. So just stop it.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Choosing love, crazy+racism=cracism, Faux empowerment, Should be embarrassed, stream of consciousness

Precious

I saw Precious on Saturday. Two days later, I’m still traumatized and overwhelmed by the sheer degradation of the thing.

This film is marketed–by Oprah and Tyler Perry–as a story of individual triumph over savage abuse. Thanks to newcomer Gabourey Sidibe’s excellent performance, I somehow believed that Claireece Precious Jones—a morbidly obese, illiterate, often greasy incest victim with skin the color of soil–reflected some form of reality. And to me that’s what’s so dangerous and seductive about this fucking thing.

Precious heaps so much context-free, visually engaging emotional and physical abuse on its 16-year-old protagonist that I couldn’t think straight. When her nasty, faceless, AIDS-infected daddy rapes her, when she gives birth to her second child by said daddy, when her sexually abusive, sadistic, welfare cheat of a mama beats the shit out of her, I was so fucked up, so fucking sad, so at a loss for any word or thought besides fuck! that I forgot that this fucking film was an overwrought throwback to Reagan-era tall tales of urban savagery and Black maternal neglect.

Sure, Mo’nique’s fat, evil, proudly unemployed Mary hunkered down in front of an antiquated TV all day wearing a Unitard, smoking cigarettes and sucking down the pig’s feet she forced her daughter to cook. Sure, Mary later reveals that Precious’s father suckled milk from her breasts and began fondling their baby who slept in their bed as they had sex. Sure, Precious masturbates her mama for food money. Sure, she boosts a 10-piece bucket of fried chicken from the neighborhood greasy spoon in an act of fun and mischief. Sure, 9 out of 10 of the heroic characters are white, biracial or very light-skinned professionals while the overwhelming majority of villans and victims are fat, dark and poor. Somehow, amid all of this pornographic pathology, I was trying to find something new or clever that would justify why Oprah, Tyler Perry and so many critics were salivating over this freak show.

Only when I left the theater, got some sleep and relayed this flick to my sister, was I able to grasp how cartoonish and exploitative the whole thing is. I can’t prove that there aren’t Black girls in Harlem who have daughters by their own daddies whom they name “Mongo” because they’re born with “Down Sinder.” Maybe their mamas do throw their 3-day-old grandsons born of incestuous rape to the ground in a fit of jealousy then go on to throw a TV down several flights of stairs almost killing their fleeing daughters who are holding their grandbabies. Perhaps these daughters run to a storefront church that just so happens to be next door to an animal shelter with the words “spay” and “neuter” emblazoned on it. If all of this does happen, and this movie was made to honor and humanize them, why does it fail to reveal the roots of their mamas’ psychosis? The only motivation Mary seems to have for allowing her man to rape and impregnate her daughter is her fear of being alone, without someone to squeeze or love her at night. The impoverished backdrop ostensibly fills in the blanks. That’s a problem.

One could argue that Precious should be evaluated as an individual work of art, a faithful adaptation of Sapphire’s problematic Push. But the same way I won’t laud the technical accomplishments of Birth of a Nation or blissfully ignore how Breakfast at Tiffany’s features Mickey Rooney as a bumbling Chinese neighbor who enters each scene with a gong, I won’t allow the transcendent performances in Precious to distract me from what it says and repeats about my folks. I insist on asking questions like, “Why the fuck does this film show Precious’s mother railing at ‘White bitches’ and tricking the welfare lady when it doesn’t bother to tell us what it is about the system and White authority that has her so pissed in the first place?” “Why does director Lee Daniels do so many closeups of revolting, unhealthy food in Precious’s household?” “Why does Lee Daniels make a slimy simmering pot of fatty eggs and meat the visual prelude to Precious’s father’s fat stomach gyrating over his daughter as he rapes her from behind?” “Why does he have the fine, trim male nurse played by Lenny Kravitz eating organic fruit when the movie is supposed to take place in 1987?” “Why are all of the abusive people fat?” “Why are both of Precious’ kids light skinned when she, her mama and her daddy are all the color of Ham?

I kinda think I know why. Because somewhere in the pockets of the filmmaker’s mind, being dark, fat, poor and Black places you at greater risk of acting like a fucking animal. And it’s his job and the job of middle class do-gooders and ticket-buying gawkers to humanize said animals with our pity.

That my sisters and brothers is BULLSHIT. Even if fashion houses sell neon leggings this season, they’re not new. They’re more 80s than a motherfucker. So is Precious, and that’s not a compliment.

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Filed under Choosing love, colorism, crazy+racism=cracism, Little Black girls, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, Uncategorized

So much to say. So lickle time to say it

Two things happen when you’re a self employed single woman in New York City who writes, edits and researches for your cheese.

#1: During jury duty, you tell the plaintiff’s attorney that due to your multiple deadlines, his manipulative, time-eating banter with Juror Number Four is becoming an economic hardship for you.

#2: You lack the energy and concentration to blog for free.

You know, I recently realized that my relationship with this blog is like that of Angela from Boomerang and the young Black youth at her Saturday art class. Only I’m not pausing on small.medium.large after having my heart broken by a Jehri-box wearer named Maaaaaacuss. I’m forsaking it for the rat race. (Cue in “Love Should Have Brought You A Fellowship Last Night…”)

halleberryboomerang

This is Angela in career gal mode. But she still has so much love in her heart.

Anyway, I want to be the Angela who gets the visit from the kids at her powerful new gig and presumably balances her community work with her for-profit endeavors. I want to be sweet Angie who designs blue people and makes inspired speeches about love.

So today I’m posting, quickly. If you’re still with me here, consider this an IOU, a public meditation of sorts. (And for the commenter who recently took time from her/his action-packed life to post “yawn” on an ancient entry, consider this your lullaby, bitch.)

I, Ak, pledge that I will post after seeing “Precious” on Saturday. Yes, my butt clenches every time I think of Lee “Monster’s Ball” Daniels adapting the pitiful story of a dark-skinned, fat Black teen with two kids by her stepfather and a mother who, at least in the book, forces her to perform oral sex on her. But I should at least see the film before I throw up in my mouth, right?

I’m also posting to tell you, my 16 devoted readers, that the book I co-edited, Naked: Black Women Bare All About Skin, Hair, Hips, Lips and Other Parts, has lapsed from printing. Apparently it sold well for years, then dropped off in the last two quarters. This is what the paperwork says, even though people keep running up on me in the street saying they just discovered and read it. The good people at the publisher’s office are working with us, but it’s still annoying as hell.

naked

Naked, no more? Bah!

OK, this is starting to feel like something bitter-but-powerful Angela would write between barking orders at her incompetent creative staff so I’m signing off. But Saturday y’all.

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Filed under 1990s, Choosing love, Uncategorized

Solange’s haircut: A delayed-reaction stream of consciousness

Solange’s haircut looks very, very pretty. It allows us to see her gorgeous face and gives us a break from the ubiquitous lacefront. It also reinforces what should be obvious: Healthy Black hair is beautiful hair…

Gorgeous. The part adds flavor. Lickle earrings look dainty.

…that’s why I wish she had never made that offhand comment about “going crazy” and “pulling a Britney” before she cut it. She didn’t mean it literally. But with that one little statement, she gave bumbling culture bandits an excuse to define yet another African thing through the lens of Euro-wackness.

This counts as wackness. Sorry.

The wackness.

Actually, Solange pulled a Jean Baylor…

Jean is on the right.

Jean is on the right.

…or a Badu…

badu

…or a Nina Simone, a Miriam Makeba, or a Masai sister…

biography008cdmakebaphototn_MasaiWoman

There is nothing “edgy” about Solange’s look. Nor is she “bald.” Let’s call this what it is: a Black woman wearing a short, shiny natural with a part on the left.

Solange hit the tweetdeck to shut down the random commenter hateration: “…dont. want. a. edge. up. or a perm. because. im not trying. to make this “a style” or a statement/i. just. wanted. to. be. free. from. the. bondage. that. black. women sometimes. put. on. themselves. with. hair.”

But what if wearing a lacefront wig/weave/whateverelseshehadgoingon was a “statement” and the actual hair that grows out of her head was just business as usual?

Let’s stay woke.

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Filed under Choosing love, stream of consciousness, Uncategorized

“Good Hair,” Yani and Tyra B.

From Ak:

Yesterday Yani and her Hair Story co-author Lori L. Tharps rocked an episode of the Tyra Banks Show.

Given that Yani and Lori wrote a unique, widely bitten respected social history on African American hair, Ms. Tyra invited them to weigh in on that ooooolllllldddd, Antebellum, white supremacist, seemingly intransigent and overall pesky phenomenon we know as “good hair.”

Although I didn’t see my homies on TV–shademeister Yani didn’t deign to tell anyone the ep was airing and Lori even forgot that it was coming on–I’m thankful that they were on deck to provide some context and analysis. After all, without context, seeing little Black girls choose a dusty-ass Hannah Montana wig over their African coils, curls and kinks doesn’t do anything but break your heart and make you ‘shamed.

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Filed under Choosing love, crazy+racism=cracism, Little Black girls, Uncategorized