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.



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

Good ish from Melissa Harris Lacewell and Courtney Young RE the “Why y’all iches can’t get a man” circus

Read the whole post on The Nation‘s “The Notion” blog.

If you don’t have time, this is my favorite part of Lacewell’s painstaking critique:

“But even if we accepted the simplistic framing of an extant marriage crisis offered by the program, Nightline was stunningly simplistic (even for mainstream media) in its response to the issue. The solution offered most frequently in Wednesday’s conversation was familiar: professional black women need to scale back expectations. Black female success is an impediment to finding and cultivating black love. Hinging heavily on humor and black female desperation, like so many other conversations, articles, and news programs before it, this conversation missed the opportunity to offer a thoughtful analysis of structural, sociological, historical and political realities that serve as an impediment to fruitful partnerships between black men and women.

For example, the panel failed to address the reality that black boy infants are significantly more likely to die in the first year of life than are black girl infants, creating an immediate gender imbalance. The panel did not address the devastating effects of urban violence or mass incarceration on African American communities. The panel did not mention the systematic nature of inadequate educational opportunities for black boys or the continuing realities of employment discrimination effecting black men and women. These structural realities have an enormous impact on the shape and function of families.”

JEAH! Erudite. Thorough. Idiot-proof.

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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.


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

RE: That ABC show about why Black women ain’t got a man

I’m looking for someone who is committed to watching this thing to do a guest post. I can’t subject myself to it in real time. Any takers?


Filed under Uncategorized

Four little girls

On the A Train this afternoon, four Black girls are cutting school. (“Why we pick the coldest day to cut, son?” “Son, this is the last time I’m cutting!”)

One girl is light skinned. She has dry, pressed shoulder-length hair with aging twistrows at the crown. The other three are dark with short, growing-out perms and vinyl hairpieces glued at the bang.

All four are discussing how great it would be to be white.

Because white people have bread, son. And son, they have pretty eyes and long hair. They live in Miami and cake up. White people have a lot of cats though, and they stink. But son, they have pretty, long hair, like these ones standing in front of us. Black girls have short hair. It’s not fair. We’re stuck with short hair.

“I have long hair and I’m not white,” the light skinned one offers.

One of her dark friends–the loudest, bustiest of the quartet—retorts, “Bitch, you ain’t all Black! You know you got something in you, some Indian or Puerto Rican.”

All four laugh.

Soon the conversation turns to shape—how the light-skinned one is real skinny.

“Skinny bitch,” says the loud one. “Skinny bitch, you need to eat more chicken and more McDonalds.”

“Niggas like thick girls with guts,” another adds.

“Come get this gut, nigga!” the loud one screams theatrically. Her tummy is peeking out of the bottom of her shrunken T-shirt. It says, “Single and ready to mingle.”

The light skinned one plays it off: “So what if I’m skinny? I’m skinny because I’m a virgin.”

“NOT!” her friends scream in unison.

“Well to my mother I am a virgin,” she quips.

All four laugh.

After awhile, the light one stands up to stretch. One of her girls points at her crotch and claims to see a period stain. She’s being cruel; there’s no scarlet. But she won’t quit: “I’m telling you this because I care. You either have your period on your pants or you sat in something red.”

Stricken, the light  one extends her waistband and peers down at her crotch. “I knew it. I knew I didn’t have my period on my pants,” she says quietly.

She sits back down and her arm brushes against mine. Several moments later she turns to me.


“For what?” I ask.

“I touched you and I’m sorry.”

I right my eyes and put on the most neutral smile I can muster. “It’s OK. It was just a soft touch.”

I know I owed her more. But I didn’t know what to give.


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A new standard for ignance: “Love yourself, hoe.”

It always fascinates me when Black women use permutations of “Black Is Beautiful” and “love the skin you’re in” to ether other sisters. That’s why I’m marveling over the latest incendiary jewel from Khia.

On’s One Q, One A, blogger Tray Hova asks Khia if she’s been taking shots at Barbie loyalist Nicki Minaj to drum up publicity for her upcoming album. The pro-lickey Thug Misses replies:

“Publicity stunt? Honey, what do I need publicity for? … Everybody knows that I’m against the Barbie thing. I’ve always been real. My hair is as nappy as an African after a rainstorm. We’re all beautiful just the way we are. I’m against the butt shots. I’m not into the wigs. I’m not into the Barbies. No.”

As if the “nappy as an African after a rainstorm” piece isn’t enough, Khia adds,

“She doesn’t make music for girls. It’s a difference when I say ‘My neck, my back, my pussy, my crack,’ because it’s my own. You should be making men bow down. I respect myself. Love yourself, hoe.”

Now one could argue that spotlighting/critiquing/doing color commentary about Khia’s ignance is a waste of time and brain cells. (It is, sort of. Unless you count this my contribution to the growing field of Ignance Studies.)

One could also make a strong case against the icky Pecola Breedlovalization of Ms. Minaj’s image. When she pumps that Harajuku Barbie (or Marilyn Monroe or new-faced Lil’ Kim) idea without unpacking or questioning the currency of it, she’s asking for cheap shots from shit-starters like Khia and Keys, a Nikki D-esque rugged child from Baltimore.

But in my book, the Devil’s Bargain Nicki’s made with pop consumers is a little less offensive than Khia’s pimping of Black affirmation and “rap bitch” empowerment. In the twisted universe of hip-hop morality, Nicki comes out on top.

Love yourselves, hoes.*

Get up, stand up!

Lil' Marilyn Monroe Barbie

Random aside: Sometimes Nicki sounds like Amil. 'Member her?

*Morally, politically and intellectually, this makes no sense as a kicker. But it’s too funny to resist.


Filed under Faux empowerment, Shady lady stuff, the devil's work, Uncategorized

Lucille Clifton.

From Ak:

A few personal reflections on the power of Lucille Clifton, who died at 73 on Saturday, February 13, 2010.

Ms. Clifton, poet, wife, mother of 6, inspiration to millions

1. My mother introduced me to Lucille Clifton during my shitty senior year of high school. In a navy, oversized scrapbook, she captioned a pre-prom photo of me with the last bits of “homage to my hips.”

these hips are magic hips./i have known them/to put a spell on a man and/spin him like a top!

Through Ms. Clifton’s swaggerfic, body-positive verse, my mother reminded me to celebrate my curves. More important, she embraced my budding sexuality. A precious gift to an insecure daughter.

2. In the late 90s, my mother took me to the Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival in rural Jersey. During the hourlong drive there, she talked about how Lucille Clifton— the Pulitzer Prize-nominated, National Book Award-winning poet laureate of Maryland—was our long-lost cousin. Her evidence: Some shared roots in a small town down South, and the fact that Ms. Clifton, like my sister, Uncle Ronald and assorted other Nichols’s, had been “born with twelve fingers/like my mother and my daughter./each of us born wearing strange black gloves…

Only when we arrived at the muddy festival grounds did my mother reveal her plot to claim Ms. Clifton. Apparently she was dead-ass about holding up the book-signing line with this business of “twelve spiky fingers” running through our immediate families. I was terrified that Ms. Clifton would mishandle my mother’s exuberance. So I became quiet and sullen. But my mother pressed on, catching the poet after her reading and gushing about my sister’s extra digits, my uncle’s extra digits, and the Carolina town where our Dahomey tribe supposedly landed after the Great Maafa.

Ms. Clifton smiled and said something like, “Yes. We very well may be related. That would make sense.” And from there, she and my mother chatted like new friends with a secret.

3. My nephew was born with 12 fingers on February 3, 2010. True to form, my mother responded with a special photo shoot. She wrapped his miniature right hand around her ring finger and zoomed in on that sixth digit. When she emailed the pictures, the subject line read, “twelve spiky fingers!” And of course it was Ms. Clifton again, giving the woman I love the most in the world the language of joy, power and connection.

Just like family.

Mother and new nephew bask in Ms. Clifton's glory

RIP Ms. Lucille Clifton.


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