Monthly Archives: May 2010
To the uncritical eye it would seem appear that Alicia Keys had released just another video. But after a critical look at the video it appears that the latest video from the singer is filled to capacity with problems.
Thea Lim of Racialious examines:
Alicia Keys loves drama – and no, I am not referring to her current lovelife (you’ll have to read a different kind of blog to get that gossip, unfortch), I’m referring to her music videos. When it comes to star-crossed histrionics, both Keys’ music and videos always deliver the goods. Which I kind of like, most of the time; woman’s got a good set of lungs and a nice scrunchy crying-for-the-camera face.
But her latest video just gets on my nerves. ”Unthinkable” stars Chad Michael Murray as Keys’ white lover, and shows reincarnations of the same interracial couple across several different decades, suggesting that from the 40’s up to today interracial relationships still face prejudice.
While I appreciate the way Keys uses time to show parallels between the racism of the past and the racism of the present, there are a few things about this video that strike me as deeply dishonest. Broken down for your reading convenience, here are my issues:
When I first watched the video I immediately felt a little odd when it concluded. At the time I couldn’t articulate just what didn’t sit right with me about the video. I truly appreciate Thea Lim for articulating what I could not and truly speaking truth to power. An amazing analysis of the video and one that we can all take seriously.
“A people without knowledge of their history… Is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey
Somewhere along the line African Americans and the greater African diaspora decided that teaching our children the Judeo-Christian history would be sufficient enough in terms of understanding our place in the world. I am here to tell you that this has had disastrous affects on the African community.
I want to yell, shout, and scream as loud as possible.
The history of the Judeo-Christian faith is not BLACK HISTORY. It is not the end all and be all of our history on this planet.
So many African Americans and Blacks seem to think that we as a people begin and end with our faith in the Judeo-Christian belief system and as long as we teach our children about Jesus, Moses, Noah, and other biblical characters we have sufficiently equipped our children.
I am here to say that is simple not enough and it simply won’t do.
We must demand that the history of Africans from the ancient world to the contemporary world be told. That our history be told without the oppressive shadow of the Judeo-Christian faith looming down on us and clouting out our respect for our African heritage.
There is more to being black than worshiping Jesus. Subverting an appreciation of ancient Africans like Mansa Musa, Emperor Menelik II, Ann Nzinga “Queen of Ndongo”, Sundiata of Mali, and many others.
Our children can tell you all about Noah and his accomplishments, Moses and his accomplishments, but they draw blank when it comes to any of the aforementioned African King and Queens.
This has got to change.
Enough is enough.
The history of the Judeo-Christian faith is not the history of Black people or the African diaspora.
What’s more exciting than reinforcing patriarchy in your ad campaigns? Nothing according to Hardee’s.
Someone who works at Hardee’s, had the idea, that creating a commercial around patriarchal masculinity, would be a great way to connect with men folk out there in the world.
Someone at Hardee’s, approved of this patriarchal masculinity embracing commercial, and gave it the go ahead.
In the commercial a man is hanging out with his friends, and they are watching a stereotypically manly spectator sport, Nascar. One of the men comes in the living room and offers the other men some Cinnamon rolls he just baked. His friends turn to him and look at him like he just asked them to rob a bank because obviously GUYS DO NOT BAKE.
Now there’s so much patriarchal masculinity on display in this commercial I honestly don’t know where to begin. On what planet do men not bake? Planet Patriarchy. On what planet do women alone do the baking? Planet Patriarchy. I think its high time we reminded people that earth is not in fact Planet Patriarchy. Why do we allow companies to send us damaging messages about gender roles and expectations?
Men can bake.
Women can bake.
Anyone with will and determination can bake.
You do not need a Vagina in order to bake, nor do do you need a Vagina in order to accept a baked good from your friend.
This commercial is pathetic. Pathetic because someone thought it up. Pathetic because someone green lighted it. And pathetic because millions of people around the country are going to look at this commercial and not think twice about the gender rigidity it is displaying.
Its commercials like this Hardee’s commercials that make it hard for boys like my nephew who enjoy cooking and baking. The notion that ones manhood is somehow diminished or not pure if you partake in baking and cooking.
There simply has to be a better way.
I am a black man who is a feminist. This makes people mad.
Now as a right thinking person with an enlightened mind I have a responsibility to question, critique, and challenge all things. I am strongly of the belief that nothing is above question or critique. Now when I see things like homophobia, racism, and sexism, being thrown around casually or used as the source of jokes I take issue with that.
And that’s what I did today. I dared to challenge someone who was reinforcing sexism.
Now this someone just happened to be a woman which depending on how you feel may the crime worse? But thats neither here nor there. So there I was challenging sexism and and I learned that challenging sexism and people’s right to reinforce sexism on a public form is a mistake of the highest regard.
Remember I said earlier that I was a feminist?
Well apparently, women are so used to men not supporting their rights, and the right of them to be seen as full human beings, and not the butt of jokes, that my very maleness coupled with my feminism offended women.
How dare I a male question a woman on Women’s Rights and encourage her not to reinforce sexism and misogyny? I was clearly out of my order. A good man is expected to find jokes about violence towards women at the hands of men funny. A good man is expected to see a man calling a woman a bitch and not think any of it. I failed at this. And thus I crossed the threshold of some acceptable male expectation and I was going to pay for it.
Let me just state:
THERE’S NOTHING FUNNY ABOUT JOKING ABOUT VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN.
THERE’S NOTHING FUNNY ABOUT CALLING A WOMAN A BITCH.
And I take issue with anyone male or female who believes that those things are funny.
Now as the conversation divulged on twitter more and more people who claimed the debate wasn’t “serious” poured in. And I was eager to engage fellow college educated minds on issues of Sexism and Misogyny and all of our complicity in their perpetuation.
I was called dumb, I was called ignorant. Someone even threw out “Who does he think he is Malcom X for gays.” It had all come full circle.
What’s most troubling to me is not that people readily and eagerly brush of the seriousness of issues like Sexism and Racism. While that in and of itself was supremely dismaying, something else was even more troubling to me.
Bubbling below all of the discussion and all of the tweets was what seemed to be a disgust for those who dared to be knowledgeable. There seemed to be a disgust of the acquisition of knowledge and the application of that knowledge on something as simple as twitter.
These were not people out on the streets who are often accused of being ignorant and not having any sense. These were college seniors attacking another college student for daring to challenge sexism and misogyny and doing so because of the education he received in college.
I think that above all the discussion and the debate was the most troubling.
If we can’t expect college educated students to know and do better than who can we expect to do better?
There seems to be this misconception in both the straight and gay community that all transwomen are created equally. For some reason people seem to think because they know a particular transwomen this means that they know everything there is about transgender identity and everything about every transwoman that ever lived and will live. People come up with all kind of crazy and ignorant things to say about transwomen based on whatever isolated experience that they have. So let’s get some things straight about transgenderism and transwomen shall we?
Transgenderism is more about what is between ones ears than it is about what is between ones legs. So many people seem to think for some asinine reason that transgenderism is all about genitals. While some transwomen like to connect their physical to their mental that is not the case for all transwomen, so please stop approaching transwomen and thinking you can figure them out in a heartbeat based on whether they are pre or post op. You can’t.
There is no “look” to transwomen. To the ignorant people who think they can tell a transwoman based on certain characteristics and that this physical test is a full-proof way of identifying transwomen you are wrong. Transwomen are as diverse as cisgender women. They come in many shapes, colors, sizes, and degrees of femininity. Some are feminine ideals and some are just regular women who look like every other regular woman on the planet. You can’t tell all transwoman are transwomen by their hair, their legs, their feet, their hands, their neck, their shoulders, their eyes, their lips, etc. Doing so only makes you look like an idiot so please give that up.
Associating all transwomen with sex workers is unfair and inaccurate. This is the problem with stereotypes. As Chimamanda Adichie so powerful noted, “The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.” And thats what associating all transwomen with the sex workers is INCOMPLETE. Are there transwomen who are sex workers? Of course there are. As is the case for straight, gays, men, and women. Its not something unique to transwomen. There are many transwomen who are making honest livings, college educated, and even making waves in the White House (Helena Bushong).
Transwomen are not a threat to women in public restrooms. There seems to be this narrative of painting transwomen as threats to other women in public restrooms. Obviously this is nothing more than a scare tactic used to reduce transwomen to nothing but men in dresses. I haven’t heard of a case of a transwoman entering into a bathroom and raping a woman. If someone can find me evidence of this happen I will stand corrected.
Transwomen are not the ugly stepchild of the LGBT communty. Many gay men with nothing better to do with themselves take to the waves and say awful things about transwomen. Why this is done? Perhaps its because oppressed people need someone else to oppress? Perhaps the people are just losers? But transwomen are just as valid and just as deserving of respect as everyone else in the LGBTQIA community. And for any gay man who is a member of a marginalized group to turn around and marginalize a transwoman, shame on you and you need your head examined.
Not all transwomen like stereotypically girl things, they don’t all want to have surgery, they aren’t all sex workers, they can’t all be identified by some random test, they aren’t all interested in fooling straight men.
The more we educate ourselves about cisgender and transgender the better off we all are. So lets please release some of these assumptions and stereotypes we have about transwomen please?
So this evening I had the opportunity and the fortune of being invited to attend and speak at a a memorial about the late Sakia Gunn. Following a documentary about Sakia Gunn I was allowed to moderate a discussion about the documentary and issues that pertain to the LGBTQIA community.
Who is Sakia Gunn you might ask?
Sakia was the oldest of four children born to Latoya Gunn. She did well in school and was a star basketball player at Westside High School in Newark, New Jersey. At eleven years old, Sakia sat on the front porch with her mother and told her simply, “I don’t like boys.” In her own way, that was how Sakia came out to her mother. Though Sakia lived in Newark, she enjoyed hanging out in New York City on Christopher Street, where young lesbians and gays can be found on the piers until the late hours of the night walking, talking, listening to music, and dancing.
On Saturday May 10th, 2003, Sakia and many of her friends went down to those piers. After an evening of fun they returned to Newark on the train and Sakia and her friends were waiting for the bus at the corner of Broad & Market Streets. Two men approached the bus stop and were attempting to proposition Sakia and her friends. They denied the men’s advances and told them PROUDLY, “We’re gay!” One of the men, Richard McCullough, began yelling deragatory statements from the car at Sakia and her friends. McCullough and his friends got out of the car and attacked the three young girls.
McCullough stabbed Sakia in the back of her neck. Sakia fell to the ground. Her friend to push her to get up, but she couldn’t. The girls flagged down a passerby who took them to the hospital. As they pulled into the hospital Sakia died in her friends arms.
Current laws in most states do not include sexual orientation as the protected category under state hate crimes. Richard McCullough thus only received 20 years after pleading guilty to aggravated assault.
Sakia Gunn should not have been approached by a 30 year old man. Saki Gunn should not have been attacked. Sakia Gunn should not be dead. And the fact that she is dead angers me. It should anger us all. Is there no justice in the world for a young woman merely standing at a bus stop with her friends?
While watching a documentary about Sakia Gunn I was truly changed. I went into the panel discussion prepared to talk about certain issues but upon finishing the video I was sent in a totally different direction. The video and the participants in it as well as the love and care that went into the production really resonated with me. Sakia, her family, her friends, they all spoke to me on a truly visceral level.
When it cam time for the panel discussion I was truly appreciative to be able to lead a discussion of the documentary and other issues pertaining to the LGBTQIA community. To me there is nothing greater than speaking truth to power and having it received by people who care. There was a lot of passion and energy and open and honest conversation in that room this evening and I was truly benefited from having been there. I am of the strong belief that there is power and I mean real power in good conversation. Tonight in that room we in our recognizing Sakia Gunn, and the conversation that followed, conquered speechlessness. And I was truly thankful to be a part of it.
I will never forget Sakia Gunn and the thousands of LGBTQIA teens who suffer like her. We all have a responsibility to make sure that no more children die early at the hands of hatred.
RIP Sakia Gunn.
May 26, 1987 – May 11, 2003.
Read more about Sakia at: http://www.sakiagunnfilmproject.com/
We all have our opinions on “outing” people and I personally think that its not the right thing to do to someone. But I do think their is a difference between a person who just hasn’t come to terms with their sexual orientation and someone who is insecure in their sexual orientation and uses that as an excuse to belittle, demean, and attack other gay men (homophobia).
Once again I am going to delegate to Sparky on this one. He writes:
“For many years I have wrestled over the idea of outing homophobes, and the full reasoning would take another post – but I have largely come down on the side of believing homophobic closet cases working against us are fair game.” – Sparky
What do you guys think? Are homophobic self hating gay men fair game? Do they forfeit their right to discretion when they spend their time attacking and belittling other gay men?
Sparky is the author of: http://sparkindarkness.livejournal.com/?skip=20
Today I received a message in my inbox that really made me tear up. The message came from a fellow user of Black Gay Chat a website that brings together Blacks & Latinos in the LGBT community and seeks to foster inclusion and communication.
Good evening, I know we haven’t talk in months but I must say every time I come to your site you always pick me up, yet we never met. But today you made me just say thanks for being you. The Pledge really got to me. If only I could be in your present sometime to see your great mind at work. Dis Drew. Looking forward to the day we meet.
I strive in my life and my actions to be a light for others. Guiding them and saving them from the rocks. It truly feels good to know that I am a light for others in dark places.
“I’ve been there and I’m OK now. You are there and you’ll be OK too. We’ll be OK together.” – Chely Wright
Some people would like you to believe that raw sex is bad. Now on the surface you would take that to mean that raw sex is in and of itself is bad. But upon listening to and processing the many responses of gay men you come to realize that their are conditions upon which raw sex becomes bad, at least in their opinion.
So let’s take a lot at some of the bad types of raw sex.
Raw sex involving gay men.
Raw sex involving gay men who know they are HIV+
Raw sex involving groups of gay men.
Raw sex involving gay men that takes place at a “party.”
Raw sex that that involves more than one man ejaculating into another man.
Raw sex involving people with “dead” looks in their eyes.
From the men I talked to these were all examples of bad raw sex. Now I was under the impression that raw sex is in and of itself is bad but I guess thats not the case.
Apparently their are types of raw sex that aren’t bad. At least thats what I learned from speaking to other gay men.
Heterosexuals who have raw sex are perfectly fine.
Gay men who have raw sex but are in committed relationships are fine.
Raw sex by a duo as opposed to a group is fine.
Raw sex that does not take place at quote on quote parties is fine.
Raw sex that takes place by people who have “alive” looks in their eyes is also fine.
Now anyone who is interested in effective HIV/AIDS awareness knows that making that making the case against unprotected sex about conditions as opposed to the act itself is very poor HIV advocacy. Telling people that unprotected sex becomes “more” bad or “more” worse when its done by groups or at parties or on Sunday or at a night club as opposed to at home in your own bed involving only one other person is very problematic.
I would hope that people are opposed to unprotected sex because its a known way of spreading HIV/AIDS and not only when that unprotected sex takes place in an environment in which they disagree with or look down on.
What does it benefit Gays, Blacks, or Women to follow the Master Narrative?
That shit don’t benefit us not one bit.
All it does is make us self hating blacks who think that white and lighter skin is inherently better than dark skin.
All it does is make us self hating gays who think that gays are inferior to and less than straights. And that straights by nothing more than the virtue of their straightness are inherently superior to every other sexual orientation.
All it does is make women think that they really are inferior to men. That they really are defective men who somehow should follow behind men and accept their place as second class citizens.
The Master Narrative tells us that women shouldn’t be paid the same as men, that blacks aren’t be beautiful or intelligent, and that gays love is somehow less valid than that of straights.
Unless you are a wealthy, white, able bodied, heterosexual man you have no business following the Master Narrative and its high time we started waking up and realizing that we who are Black, Gay, or Woman need to stop following, perpetuating, reinforcing, sustaining, and maintaining, the Master Narrative.