There Was Definitely A Little BWE In Obama’s CBC Speech

CBC Week wraps up its annual (I don’t know what to call it as I don’t know what the parameters to critique it are anymore) week-long event after a fancy dinner/dance and speech from POTUS.  A political speech is always a political speech, however some truths can apply. Mr. Obama referenced his focus on programs like My Brother’s Keeper did in fact FAIL to address the needs of black girls. Those were conversations we had online and how his largest base (black women) were being shoved aside for everybody else again).

His reference to the way our pioneering African American women Civil Rights leaders were sidelined by the [publicity-stunting, self-serving] males has been an on-going topic of conversation on these very pages for several years now  and it’s rewarding to see the work of vast networks of BWE and BW-centric digital spaces continue to pay off in shaping the zeitgeist.

Continue reading “There Was Definitely A Little BWE In Obama’s CBC Speech”

Civil Rights Was Not Supposed To Be The DESTINATION!

Note: I wrote this well over a month ago but haven’t been able to finish this the way I want. Then I realized it’s a blog post not a graduate dissertation (perhaps it’s the start of one) so I’m posting because it needs to be discussed. So have at it!

Civil Rights WAS supposed to be part of the CONTINUED journey of the collective advancement of African-Americans. Sadly it became the end of the road. As we who have eyes can see it has all gone downhill since then.

“A ballot is like a bullet. You don’t throw your ballots until you see a target, and if that target is not within your reach, keep your ballot in your pocket. “When you take your case to Washington, D.C., you’re taking it to the criminal who’s responsible; it’s like running from the wolf to the fox. They’re all in cahoots together”. “Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner, unless you eat some of what’s on that plate. Being born here in America doesn’t make you an American. Why, if birth made you American, you wouldn’t need any legislation, you wouldn’t need any amendments to the Constitution, you wouldn’t be faced with civil-rights filibustering in Washington, D.C., right now.” “You and I, 22 million African-Americans — that’s what we are — Africans who are in America. You’re nothing but Africans. Nothing but Africans. In fact, you’d get farther calling yourself African instead of Negro. Africans don’t catch hell. You’re the only one catching hell. They don’t have to pass civil-rights bills for Africans.” Ballot or the Bullet excerpt.

Malcolm X described his continued commitment to Black nationalism, which he defined as the philosophy that African-Americans should govern their own communities. He said that Black nationalists believe that African-Americans should control the politics and the economy in their communities and that they need to remove the vices, such as alcoholism and drug addiction, that afflict their communities.

If “we” as individuals and our (hold-overs from the 60’s & 70’s, self-appointed & future wannabe) MISleaders actually did GOVERN instead of defending all manner of mediocrity and depravity blacks in this country would be much better off. Govern is defined as:
  • To bring into conformity with rules or principles or usage
  • Impose regulations direct or strongly influence the behavior of
The African-American women who did all the grunt work behind the scenes were expecting to be rewarded for their loyalty later on. Many (most?) were cast aside and today with few exceptions are forgotten.

As Olson recounts it, the day after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus, the city’s black leaders held a mass meeting to promote a boycott. It was December 1955, and the meeting was packed with ministers and others who wanted to speak, among them Parks. The crowd never heard from her. “You’ve said enough,” one of the leaders told her. And with that, Olson says, Parks became a shining example of the role of women in the Civil Rights movement: they got things started and the men took the spotlight. Freedom’s Daughters excerpt

How many of us have considered the physical danger these women and children were put in?We have to remove the blinders or romanticism to properly assess the retaliation that went on behind the scenes. You’d have to imagine if law enforcement would let an attack dog loose on a person in plain sight something even worse occurred in absence of photographers and television crews. Think of Abu Ghraib.

The women who participated in the Freedom Rides and other resistance were likely exposed to untold abuse including sexual assault. I’m sure that was a message the male “leaders” didn’t want to get out. Neither would the women want to expose themselves to the public scrutiny. Being raped is traumatic enough but if it was coupled with efforts for equality…..I just can’t imagine going through something like that.

If anyone is reading this who personally knows some women in their late ’50’s – 80’s who’d be willing to step forward without shame and tell the TRUTH…try to get it recorded somehow. It’s a vital part of our history. Not just from a race perspective, but a feminist/womanist one. Could this also explain why so many women initially held tightly to the idea of “black love” and pairing only with other African-American males?
  • Pauli Murray
  • Maria Stewart
  • Fannie Lou Hamer
  • Ella Baker
  • Septima Poisette Clark
  • Diane Nash
Here are some names you may or may not be familiar with. Without them we wouldn’t have had a Movement. There are also many unknown contributors we owe a debt of gratitude to. We know Hamer was beat up and considered less than so it wouldn’t fall out of the realm of possibility that some women may have been assaulted as well. Those entrenched in supporting white supremacy murdered white people so nothing was off the table.

We also need to reexamine what we believe the Movement was about. If you start to dig deeper and look at things more critically you’ll see a pattern emerging where the African-American men who took prominent roles (or small) were interested in advancing their own interests above the collective. That included seeking out mates who were not black. It was a driving impetus for this “equality” fight. They wanted equal access without retaliation by white men to white women.

I’m reading a review by Paige Turner of the book: Freedom’s Daughters The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement from 1830 to 1970 by Lynne Olsen. Now with my analysis Ms. Turner has a few problematic beliefs that fall into the typical indoctrination of marginalized black women who diminish themselves: the “save all our people” complex as she titles her review, “Women Hold Up the Sky” and her willingness to dismiss Stokely Carmichael’s clear contempt of women with his quote about women’s best role as “prone”. Um…no dear. Anyone who makes “jokes” and does bad “satire” displaying racist images as we saw last year means it. Anyone who makes light of rape and tells women their purpose is solely for the sexual gratification of a man is SERIOUS.

Freedom’s Daughters draws strong connections between the plights of black and white women, both being in the same powerless boat. There is a good exploration of the complex and conflicted relations between white mistresses and their black female slaves. This conflict was never eradicated but reared its ugly head during the 1964 Mississippi “Freedom Summer” when the inequality of sexual attention given to the female SNCC workers created a permanent schism. “The clash between black and white women in Mississippi seemed to stem in some cases from the fact that each appeared to have what the other wanted. Unlike many white women, black women were not restricted to office work or the Freedom Schools. They were out on the front lines with men, canvassing, organizing, going to the courthouse and in general asserting themselves in no uncertain terms…[but]…when the day was over and there was time to relax, the men took out [their white female co workers]. “Our skills and abilities were recognized and respected,” Cynthia Washington noted, “but that seemed to place us in some category other than female”. (Sexism, patriarchy, jealousy, focusing on non-caliber men, the unresolved issues of sexual assault of black women by white men.)

Had Ella Baker had her way people would have been charged with taking more responsibility for themselves instead of looking to one decidedly male leader as Messiah. I don’t know that the masses would’ve complied but a few more key individuals would’ve been great! We can see that legacy being played out TODAY with how many African-Americans are resistant to the idea of true accountability for our “first black President” with their excuses at the ready. Ranging from “give him time to do x,y,z” “I trust him” “he’s the President of the US not of black people” those that are afraid to simply ASK for their due because they VOTED for the man at the highest rates of any other group have fallen into the pit of apathy, inaction and learned helplessness. I’ve discussed how I volunteered, that I was excited about the election and he was my preferred candidate but I have a list of things I expect be done. Like health care being passed with the public option. A lot of my support has always been about ensuring the prominent role of the African-American First Lady & First Daughters being used as an impetus for the rest of us to be elevated not just in the United States but the world. This is our best opportunity to do so and help secure more prominent futures for the next generations.

An important revelation in Freedom’s Daughters is the way male and female leaders perceived and wielded power. The legendary and greatly respected Ella Baker of the SCLC, NAACP and SNCC had a completely different view of people management than did Martin Luther King (as I mentioned above). “King ran the SCLC in the same authoritarian manner that he and most of the other ministers ran their churches. To them power meant control over others. Baker had a completely different view of power. She believed that King’s job and the SCLC’s should be to nurture people, to help them find the power within themselves to change their own lives and the society in which they lived.”

Of course someone reading this might protest and ask, “Why are you mentioning the black man and his “failings” or being critical” My reply: Look at the state of black people in America and ask yourself how did we get here? The men declared themselves the LEADERS! They abandoned their roles as fathers and husbands AFTER Civil Rights were won. The 30% marriage rate for blacks [married to each other], the 80% OOW birth rate and the 70% unmarried rate for black women did not happen by osmosis. So the buck stops with them.

There was a point where so many black women stopped looking out for their BEST interests and decided saving the race was more important. There’s a handful of black female bloggers discussing this error but NOBODY else is from. I’m certainly not finding groups of black men talking about how we are doing too much and they need to step up and hold themselves accountable. If there are feel free to leave their (names & numbers, lol) blogs in the comment section! SOMEBODY has to speak out. Really, I’m not trying to rehash but we need to fit some more of the missing pieces. I believe many black women are STILL thinking it’s certain “undesirables” who are acting up the way I used to before my revelation that it’s the majority of men (with an increasing number of women) who are [DBR] damaged beyond repair/recognition (of normative behavior).

I am reading and researching so many stories of WOMEN who risked LIFE and LIMB for the benefits we enjoy and squander so readily and it makes me angry to see their efforts be spit upon by those of us 1-2 generations beyond them and our endless litany of excuses about how we have it so “hard” now. People are struggling but some people are ALWAYS struggling. When is it ENOUGH? There is not enough money in the world to throw at people who’d take it and burn it while offering even more excuses about why they can’t function and how it’s someone else’s fault.

How did things fall apart so quickly AFTER Civil Rights was passed? The foundation must not have been strong to begin with. Why is ANY critique met with a rush to silence or attack the messenger? Why were the women marginalized and shut out? I’m not so sure I’m willing to say it was all or mostly their “fault” either. There would’ve been an internal war had women stood up. Yes, I think from my lofty perch I can say they should have revolted but perhaps they were thinking a compromise was better than complete failure for the Movement. It’s too bad that we won a battle (Civil Rights) that was miscalculated as a war, only to lose the real war (the entire population going to hell in a handbasket). Diane Nash put herself in physical danger because the “men” thought it wasn’t safe to march. Other women followed suit. Perhaps she thought being a female would protect her. It didn’t. Now I have to ask the obvious, what kind of coward lets a woman risk physical harm?


Let’s repeat that shall we?

No African-American women = No Civil Rights that we all got to “enjoy”.

No movement can be sustained strictly by the sheer force of will by a handful of women. Eventually they had to pass away. The men who were made “Gods” were killed. Since no one else has stepped into a leadership role BY EXAMPLE of course things have fallen apart. There’s a lot of talking and a lot of lying. There’s a lot of personal gain and a big giant collective failure.

It’s just a shame that we’ve regressed. African-American women have been doing EVERYTHING for soooo long most don’t even know how NOT to.

So put down your axe, pick, club, etc. Stop the hard labor and LEAVE the plantation. Your Emancipation came years ago only you were too busy SLAVING AWAY to notice. YOU ARE FREE!

Bookmark and Share

Michelle Obama in San Francisco Today

The FLOTUS is in California attending the National Conference on Volunteering and Service. More fodder for those that hate seeing the daughter of the survivors of slavery in the White House. Too bad! This is a live stream. If it doesn’t repeat I’ll look for it on Youtube later to switch it out. Enjoy!

Bookmark and Share

AA Legacy Series Spotlight on Ethel Waters

Just so that we don’t forget where we come from here’s my tribute to Ethel Waters. Who? You may ask. Well that’s why it’s important to do these….

Ethel Waters was first and foremost a survivor. Now this isn’t going to be one of those “she was a strong Black woman” meme reinforcements. She did have some serious obstacles to overcome given that her birth was the result of a violation. It just goes to show why the current focus on the health and welfare of Black women and girls in particular is such important work for some of us and needs to be continued. Like many people who have stories to tell she was able to successfully pursue a career in the arts. Given the time she lived (1896-1977) she would’ve definitely had some I bet!

She was the second African-American woman nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the movie Pinky. She wrote an autobiography of her life. She was part of the Harlem Renaissance. She was the first African-American woman to have her own variety show. Her contemporaries ranged from Bessie Smith to Julie Harris and she influenced some of those we consider greats like Billie Holiday.

Via AfroAm History: Waters’ success was related to her style of singing. She could sing like other classic blues singers with plenty of passion and fire, but she had a unique approach. She was not a shouter, but was able to hold the attention of the audience with her low and sweet voice. Because of her varied repertoire, she has also been categorized as a jazz singer. Her rhythm was closer to jazz than blues, and in her later career she sang popular songs with a jazz approach. Waters’ talent extended beyond musical style; she also had the gift of interpretation. As blues women began to fade in popularity, Waters was able use her interpretive ability to take advantage of acting opportunities on stage and screen.

Ethel sings Stormy Weather with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. She was the first to record the song that many connect with Lena Horne.

Here’s a lovely tribute that I found on Youtube, but after I finish my Final Cut Pro class I’ll be be able to do these myself!!

Bookmark and Share

I’m Not Sure If Empowerment Is the Real Goal For Some Black Bloggers

So if you read a variety of blogs like I do you may start to notice certain trends. Some of the same readers of one blog may also read another with varying levels of interest. Sometimes blog hosts may link to each other or mention something they’ve read or commented on. Often some will read but not quite comprehend and misinterpret the position of a blogger. I think we have to remember that bottom line we are all human and make mistakes.

Some may use their forum to uplift, challenge or reinforce existing commonalities. Some may inadvertently tear people down while claiming to do the opposite. Some seem to enjoy reveling in the dysfunction of others. Some may have perspectives that are completely different from what would be expected. All of these things can be useful for us if we are interested in renewing our mindsets or are otherwise open to being engaged.

Now I myself have found it necessary to be firm in my positions even as I seek to challenge myself to be a better person. Bottom line though is that I generally like Black people though I may question the motives of some and their impact on the general public. I have never wanted to not be Black, though as an African-American woman living in the US I have often wanted a less arduous journey. I know some of the challenges have been raced-based, but there has also been gender bias at play as well. Class mobility comes into play as well.

I’ve had quite a few moments of clarity reading the works of some Black female bloggers this past year. I’ve had things articulated in such a way that a few online conversations have resolved some things that I could never work through to my satisfaction in therapy. Which I recommend as it can have the same positive benefits of going to the gym to work on your body. Sometimes it takes another person who’s had a similar experience to fully understand where you’re coming from. Other times we need a completely different perspective to gain new ground.

This is where I find myself at a quandary. Some have been dubbed “empowerment” bloggers because they want to elevate the level of discourse. Or have others evaluate their choices. In theory this is great. Some people have a lot of wisdom to share and reintroducing common sense shouldn’t seem like a foreign concept! Others seem to offer bold and brash ways of thinking by getting us to ponder several objectives. I’m just not sure if they all really like the others they claim to want to be participating with. It has to be about principles not individuals, right?

I say this because while we are certainly not a monolith, or share the same backgrounds we do have some commonality somewhere down the line. We also have differences that need to acknowledged. Why is it threatening to discuss the intra-ethnic differences amongst Blacks but still want African-Americans to be given their proper respect? Some blog hosts say a lot of things that have me scratching my head at times because I feel as if I’m getting my hand slapped versus a pat on the back of encouragement. If we’re supposed to be coming together to hash out strategies and reevaluate how we think why do I feel the tone is off – harsh or even full of admonishment? Why do I feel condescended to at times?

Sometimes people assume and attribute things that were never explicitly said, sometimes I think people are responding to dog whistle disdain. If we can talk about class envy then we should also talk about class prejudice. If historically the Black elite did things to set themselves apart from other Blacks to further elevate their status how would that be any different today from the way those few that have access to and have owned media show how little regard they have by their content? Look at what Essence magazine (dubbed “Messence” by another blogger) is doing by suggesting going to a strip club to meet a Black man.

Why can’t we discuss opening up our social circles and world outlook to include many people from diverse backgrounds but still remember who we are? This can’t be about running away, for wherever we go there we are. We can’t look externally or through consuming goods to feel good about ourselves. Yes, we are responsible for our own self-esteem but it gets to be a little bit more challenging when a) white women are still being held as the standard of womanhood b) So many Black people are self-hating c) They have access to the media to promote their self-hate and hate of BW. We’re working with certain unmovable factors, but others are entirely our own design!

So I think it’s a valid argument that we should look at those individuals who’ve been elevated to “desirable” status and question why. That some of those happen to be multi-ethnic/have certain features is not an accident. When they claim the full spectrum of their heritage it’s a great thing, but can we not also acknowledge that some are also diminishing certain parts of their heritage for others and the one that they seek to lessen is their Blackness? If we’re going to discuss the internal motivations of some who need to step it up then we must also recognize the barriers others would like to see in place.

When do we ever hear of a bi-racial/multi ethnic POC with white ancestry deny or try to diminish it the way they do their Blackness? There may be confusion about race versus ethnicity not because of a lack of understanding it but because so many are trying to deny certain parts of who they are. I don’t think every brown-skinned person is Black (or African-American) but I know we all share a common African ancestry via DNA. That also applies to white-skinned people. If Italians were touted over Germans and Poles were stopped for walking down the street and followed through stores it would change the order of how whiteness has been established in this country. If an Estonian and Dutch person married and produced children and that child wanted to acknowledge its combined Du-Esto heritage fine, but if the Dutch side was featured more and thought of as more favorable wouldn’t the Estonians have a right to give pause to it? If all the white people from each ethnic group said “Hey we’re all white why do we need to discuss intra-ethnic matters” wouldn’t that seem strange?

I also have concerns about certain discussions being framed using the term “all-Black construct”. Certain mindsets are being discussed as the source of those that come from one versus its opposite as one is better than the other. Are we talking about geographical location and residential neighborhood or a state of mind? There needs to be a distinction. We need to continue discussing how culturally adrift many Blacks feel today and why researching one’s lineage is so important. We need as many pieces of the puzzle we can put together so people stop clinging to false tokens and throwing away what heritage we do have left. Yes, we need to recognize the unique talents and contributions of those descended from the mostly enslaved populations from the US and how other Blacks get to benefit from those historic struggles. That doesn’t diminish any individual any more than someone who wishes to acknowledge their full spectrum non-Black heritage.

I don’t like criminality, I don’t like apathy, I don’t like mediocrity. Having standards is necessary but I know that I tend to be hard on myself and perfection cannot be a goal. There are still real-life structural barriers in place that we have to knock down. For example this recent disclosure about Wells Fargo Bank pushing sub-prime loans onto Blacks. It’s either outright racial prejudice, racialized sexism via dismissal of women with more traditional African features or further disdain amongst Blacks. As a woman if our outer presentation doesn’t reflect our truest inner selves do we have to have that held against us until and unless we conform? Would part of the reason for that be a reaction to all of the things I’ve discussed so far?

We may not agree on how we want people to get to their own “promised land” but I can say unequivocally for myself that I do want it to happen. I like Black people after all. I can still demand respect be given to me as African-American woman though. I’m not sure I can say the same for everyone who’s claiming to be empowering for all of us, what “all” they’re referring to. 


***Just wanted to add in case it wasn’t clear that we have to look to our inner motivations, spiritual beliefs and life plans as we continually evaluate where we are in our lives, where we want to go and how to get there. Sometimes our plans may place limitations on what we can actually accomplish, sometimes we have to re-route our paths.


There may never be a singular consensus for what path is best. We have to make the choices that will hopefully work for us and our own best interests, not for the comfort and convenience of others. Not even when they claim to know what we “need” to do.

Bookmark and Share

Donna Edwards On Support & Accountability

See this is why I just love what (D-MD) Donna Edwards has done while in office. She is a true progressive and always make SENSE!!! It’s as if she wants us to take back the world “liberal” and make it clean again. This is why I mention those in the Republican Party who either aid or abet because that leadership single-handedly put a hex on anyone who tries to be reasonable and work with others to come to workable solutions. The Democrats don’t help by either being Republicans in disguise or just rolling over with no backbone. At the end of the day we’re all just people. We want to be loved and to care for our loved ones. The best societies encourage thriving intact families. When there’s an imbalance of suffering, greed and other wrongs it throws everything off kilter. Eventually it will plunge that society into ruin. We are still so on the verge of catastrophic failure that I don’t people really get it. So I’m glad Rep. Edwards has reminded us that we have to monitor ourselves and others for good to prevail. 

Donna, can you come and BAIL OUT California!!! Pretty please…..

Bookmark and Share

Deploying A Little Negro Spirit: When Black Female Artists of Substance Are Ignored

This is the fourth conversation in a series where I discuss race, culture, appropriation and the abdication of African-American touchstones due to devaluation of our unique perspective and shame.

Right now as I write this there’s a fight going on between the RIAA, radio broadcasters and the public. Only we don’t realize what’s at stake and who’s fighting for what, but when the dust settles we may be regretting our collective lack of participation. The RIAA is the lobby group for the record labels and distributors. You know, the majority of white men with all the money. They’re the ones suing 12 year olds for downloading music files. They also claim to be working in the interests of musicians, but in my opinion the fox doesn’t look out for the best interests of the hen house.

Continue reading “Deploying A Little Negro Spirit: When Black Female Artists of Substance Are Ignored”

Are African-American Women Gold Diggers?

I was having a brief conversation with a magazine publisher that features hip-hop refer to Kanye as a “positive” rap artist. Hmm, well I’m going to have to ask for a test on that one, unless we’re going to say positively sexist!  I know, I know the song is about an ALLEGED gold digger. There are other songs he’s released that are ‘good’ i.e. positive – but this just goes to show you that everyone has to be checked now and again. Lest there be any confused folks out there about who this alleged gold digger is there’s a line in the song where he threatens to “leave you for a white girl”. Who else is supposed to be threatened by that?
I wonder if the artists who are considered positive are really the lesser of the more depraved ones which isn’t an accurate assessment. The bar has been lowered and like a see-saw tipped far in favor of let’s say – NOT POSITIVE  – so anything that lifts it up is being considered POSITIVE. I also think the word positive is being used in place of normative because depravity has been allowed to run amuck. Like I’ve been saying in my music/cultural appropriation series WEEDS have been allowed to flourish and choke the life out of the garden. So the few plants and flowers that still exist are the EXCEPTION when it’s the WEEDS that don’t belong. 
Now let’s talk about this scandalous female: Sapphire, Jezebel, Delilah, Lilith, (the predatory lesbian if you want to get into a little film critique as well: see All About Eve) there’s always some categorization for a trecherous broad. She was always the exception though and acted alone. The vast majority of women have to be virtuous and unassuming for such trechery to exist!
The problem I see now is that many AA women are being assigned this label, in fact a near total majority by a few who have access to media. I consider this an attack against AA women. We have to look at who has a vested interest in devaluing the cache of all Black women and particularly AAs. The term has begun to be misused and applied to women who expect reciprocity in their relationships. Somehow the idea that a woman who knows her worth and commands full participation from a potential partner is threatening to some (weak) men – and male-identified women. 
The gold digger’s motivation stems in part from wanting to secure a financial future for herself. Also a value has been assigned to her appeal. Which is in itself a reaction to patriarchy. When does basic survival become greed? We know that women aren’t paid the same as men for doing the same work. We know that the motherhood ideal is worshipped but not supported in this capitalistic society. Otherwise healthcare, childcare, doulas, sick leave and maternity/family leave would be covered and enforced under Federal law. If women are expected to make “good” choices in choosing a partner, why can’t men be held to the same standard and pick a woman of substance instead of arm candy they can have sex with quickly?
How can a woman be treated unfairly AND demonized for using all assets at her disposal? I’m not condoning lying and thieving and there are truly some who behave horribly, but am I expected to believe this is the majority situation when we see how poorly women fare in this society and around the world? Most men want to control everything and dictate the terms in their favor and some take the maximum while putting in the minimum – if they can get away with it. That’s up to us to squash that. Since most women and children in this country live in poverty who are these gold diggers? Are these impossibly attractive women (who are deemed as such due to skin shade racism) and have their pick of men (to compete for by catering to the whims of these men or trying to manipulate a situation to their advantage)? Are these men who are incredibly picky and like to play with as many vaginas as they can but don’t want to be a provider and protector?
You know the issue of having unwanted or unplanned children can be easily solved. Men – don’t leave birth control up the woman and have a simple medical procedure. Snip snip the end. Oh wait…but some of you don’t want to do that! It messes with your “manhood”! Some of you define that by the number of women (or men) you can have sex with, how tough a persona you can project and other superficial things that have NOTHING to do with character development or morals. So I think the bulk of this accusation is total BS. Fatherless children are missing a life rudder that would help guide them better through choppy waters than alone.

Bookmark and Share