Deploying A Little Negro Spirit: When White Artists Go Black

I’m continuing the conversation from last week where I evaluated the use of Black gospel choirs to elevate the songs of non-Black artists. I haven’t decided whether it’s an all-out appropriation, some appreciation or callous apathy on their part but I suspect it’s a tradition that will continue. It will continue because some of us don’t have any cultural or racial pride and think of ourselves less than. Except when we’re validated by others (esp. whites). Even if that means we abdicate our musical heritage to anybody who shows an appreciation for early Aretha Franklin. We forget it’s the use of a music borne from pain, suffering and survival from experiences unique to African-Americans and part of our never-ending (but lax on acknowledging) contributions to the good ol’ USA.

Which brings me to the second conversation in this series about white artists who appropriate their version of the Black (American) experience and sell it back to us. Now the question that needs to be asked is why are those artists given a blanket credibility and support when we won’t even support actual Black artists who aren’t putting out what I’m calling XXX Porn & Warfare set to a beat? I think I already answered my question but I’m putting it out there for consideration anyway…..

Continue reading “Deploying A Little Negro Spirit: When White Artists Go Black”

Matthew Shepard’s Mom Responds to Foxx’s Homophobia

Judy Shepard was interviewed by Rachel Maddow a few nights ago. In her response to North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx (who got my Award of Shame last week) Mrs. Shepard said Foxx trying to distance herself from her earlier claims of Matthew’s murder being a “hoax” was an argument of semantics not a renunciation of her ignorance

“Well, you know, attacks of lesser consequence, I guess, have been said about Matt since the beginning, and in 2007 when it passed the House, the same sort of vitriol’ was spoken from the floor as well. I did not ever expect it to be called a hoax. Anyone who has done research into what happened to Matt knows it was a hate crime, although technically we couldn’t prosecute it that way because there was no hate crime law in Wyoming and no Federal hate crime law protecting sexual orientation. So we couldn’t call it a hate crime, but it was.”

Exactly! If we don’t speak out against such atrocities we are silently co-signing them. That acceptance leads others to add to the depravity  – until it starts to look like the normative circumstance instead of evil that needs to be stamped out. Here was a situation where white (male) privilege and class status did not protect someone. That makes it all the more perilous for the rest of us. So this is for all the Duanna Johnsons and the justice that has still been denied most (trans)women of color. 
P.S. Can we please end the “That’s So Gay” and “No Homo” stupidity now!?

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Do You Want to Be Strong Or Do You Want to Be Free?

I featured the poem, “The Strong Black Woman Is Dead” by Laini Mataka a few months ago and I’d like to revisit this piece. Here’s some excerpts but please go back and read it in its entirety:

On August 15, 1999, at 11:55 p.m., 
while struggling with the reality 
of being a human instead of a myth, 
the strong black woman passed away. 

Medical sources say she died of natural causes, 
but those who knew her know she died 
from being silent when she should have been screaming, 
milling when she should have been raging, 
from being sick and not wanting anyone to know 
because her pain might inconvenience them. 

She died from being dragged down 
and sat upon by UN-evolved women posing as sisters. 
She died from pretending 
the life she was living 
was a Kodak moment instead of a 20th century, 
post-slavery nightmare!

She died from sacrificing herself 
for everybody and everything 
when what she really wanted to do 
was be a singer, a dancer, or some magnificent other.
I’d like to compare and contrast that with the excellent post I read yesterday by Khadija, blog host of Muslim Bushido titled, “The Way of the Sojourner”. Here’s a summation but the detailed argument MUST be read!!!

A sojourner is free to seek self-actualization and follow her bliss wherever it leads her. The way of the sojourner has NO room for group think or uniformity. The only constants are: (1) freedom of movement, and (2) a commitment to keeping the path open. The sojourner’s path is unique for every woman who chooses to walk upon it. She makes the path her own. Her travels are her own.

And to prove that synchronicity does in fact exist Lisa, blog host at Black Woman Blow the Trumpet wrote this essay, “The Eulogy of Black Unity” which I’m enclosing this segment: 
.…the death of Black Unity forced us to define ourselves as individuals who fortified the collective, instead of as a collective that defined its individuals.

It was necessary for Black Unity to meet its demise in order for us to understand that it could not be immortal. Special Interest Solidarity demanded that we cremate Black Unity and so we respect its ashes as we gather to give tributes to the legacy that Black Unity left us.

Black Unity lived valiantly and we all benefitted from its longevity. Black Unity functioned ably among us and saved many lives of those who mattered to this nation. Black Unity protected us during a period in our nation’s history when we needed it. As Black Unity lost its vitality, black women learned that Black Unity could no longer guarantee protection.

There are quite a few points of intersectionality. Many of us remember what things used to be like (amongst Black communities or relations) and are trying our darndest to return to “paradise”. You know I had a conversation with a relative the other day who was still talking about how simply having a college degree provided job stability. I had to show her the actual research from the BLS that stated Blacks with degrees have the highest unemployment rate out of all similarly-educated groups right now. 
That may have been the case for those of her generation. That isn’t the case NOW. Some of the positions stated may not necessarily apply to all, but the fact this is the reality for too many women, specifically Black women still remains true. It’s time we change that. We cannot take our rightful places as leaders (or free agents) until we do. Do we need reminding of the sacrifices of African-Americans who built this country and the debt owed us. Obama being elected doesn’t begin to address that. 
With the pending retirement of Justice Souter, who is erroneously being championed as a “liberal” by some President Obama needs to appoint a strong candidate who has our interests at heart. Further what’s so wrong with wanting a Black female Supreme Court Justice when there are numerous qualified candidates who could be a champion, not just for others but for US? With the latest Pew Research Center Report (via Real Clear Politics site) showing Black women as his highest voting block at 69% he OWES US. 
Blacks, meanwhile, had their sharpest increase in voter participation in more than a decade, with 15.9 million casting ballots to make up 12.1 percent of the electorate. Blacks previously had seen their share decline to 11 percent in 2004 after their low turnout in Republican George W. Bush’s re-election win over Democrat John Kerry.

But in 2008, about 65 percent of blacks went to the polls, nearly matching the 66 percent voting rate for whites. Black women had the highest rates of participation among all voters at 69 percent; they were followed by white women (68 percent), white men (64 percent) and black men (61 percent).
For anyone to deny that or try to diminish the impact of our (unused) political currency, they are not working in OUR best interests. Even if they look like us. Even if they claim to be our ally. It goes without saying EVERY OTHER GROUP will be lobbying on their own behalf. Why not US? Some of us are too busy trying to save and rescue others (or tell us that WE should be spending all of our time doing so) that’s why. Except who will be there for US when WE need saving? In fact many of us need saving RIGHT NOW!

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You’re So Lame Award of Shame – Virginia Foxx

Well Keith Olbermann laid it out so well during this segment. His ‘mocking voice’ was funny but a bit over the top.  Rep. Bachmann must have been part of a social experiment to pass people regardless of their comprehension. Rupert Murdoch can’t keep letting his Editors put up cartoons of primates and tie them to legislation (and indirectly the President). But this week’s award hands-down goes to NC Rep. Foxx who unlike another Foxx can’t blame it on the alcohol for her bias, ignorance and delusion. To oppose the hate crimes legislation that passed was bad enough but to claim Matthew Shepard’s murderers were only out to rob him and killing him for being gay was a hoax is…just beyond my pay grade of depravity. 
If someone would automatically think that a woman would have more compassion by virtue of anatomy then they’d be proven how wrong that premise is. Some people are only interested in things that directly affect them and have zero empathy. Bachmann and Foxx are cut from the same Palin swatch and to dismiss them would be unwise. We must catch ourselves lest we become swayed by gender loyalty (as easily as some are to race) and acquiesce to white privilege.

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