Last week, court papers were released that reveal Chris Brown had been diagnosed with bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorders. I’ve had my issues with Breezy but that revelation broke my heart. He has become yet another example of what happens when mental illness and past traumas are ignored. Yet another Black boy who was not given an outlet to feel and express his hurt. On top of all of that, he has been exposed the spoils, vices and general fuckery that can accompany fame but’s he’s just a public example. He isn’t the only black boy walking around with bags filled with emotional and mental turmoil. He is one of thousands, maybe even millions.
Prior to the Rihanna incident, Brown revealed that he’d grown up watching his mother be abused by her intimate partners. But, since he was still the fresh-faced kid dancing in doublemint gum commercials, so people took that story as merely one of overcome adversity when in reality, he should have been getting help back then.
He will not be a time bomb.
Then, it happened. Chris and Rihanna were missing for the 2009 Grammy ceremony. The rumors started swirling and then we saw that picture of her battered face. Brown’s downward spiral had begun. That’s when that interview about his child resurfaced. Statistically, children that are raised in abusive households grow up to abuse or get abused. While there is absolutely no justification for what he did, it shouldn’t have taken him assaulting his girlfriend for people to know something was wrong. He was a ticking time bomb and so are a lot of Black men and boys. And like Brown, no one cares or does anything until those bombs detonate. Our kids, regardless of gender, are born into a war because of their skin color so when they are not allowed an outlet, they suffer. We all suffer.
Black boys are not ending up behind bars because they are inherently bad people. They don’t get thrown in special education in droves and punished at higher rates than other school children because they are dumber. They’re hurting. They’re forced to adhere to some hypermasculine ideal that encourages them to be stoic from a very young age. When they cry, they get scolded and punched in the chest. If they express creativity that isn’t cosigned by the hypermasculine norm, they’re discouraged because no one wants to raise a fag or sissy. Their inner flame is extinguished early so they lash out. They lash out at their families, intimate partners and anyone else that’s close. They turn to crime. They drop out of school. They commit suicide. They hurt each other and they hurt Black women and girls. These boys become Chris Brown, my adopted younger brother, my cousin Tavares; cautionary tales that are discussed in hushed tones and behind closed doors. We need to do something about it or we will keep losing them.
We need to nurture our boys and let them have their emotion. Whether they like to throw footballs and roll in mud or play barbies with their sisterfriends, it’s okay. Sagging pants aint cute but they aren’t the end of the world. We need to let them be multi-faceted, complex individuals or they will keep slipping away. In addition, when we sense them slipping away, we need to act. Therapy, pills and a good cry are not weaknesses nor are they indicators of deviancy. I could go on forever about this but the point is, we need to let them BE so they can not only survive, but thrive. We might not be able to save each and every one of them but we will be able to hold on to more of them.
Disclaimer: if you don’t like the “n-word”, this rant might upset you.
Like many intellectual negroes with internet access, I did something to acknowledge Black History Month. I used my Facebook page’s cover photo slot to share names and faces. It’s something nice, simple and quick. Sadly, as I expected, some folks just had to do the complete most with the least. Niggas with Ankhs (NWAs), as they are affectionately called on the interwebs, usually act a fool but they lose whatever was left of their mind in February. I have been subjected to negroes posting random instragram memes and social media rants about how Black women don’t conduct themselves as “queens” all dang month. They typically use revisionist history to juxtapose women of the past to women of the present. In a typical NWA picture, a scantily clad Nefertiti rip-off is compared to some random screenshot of a twerk team video.
This shit right here….
In other words, this propaganda promotes a ratchet ass version of the virgin-whore dichotomy except Black men tend to put their own spin on it so I call it the queen-ho dichotomy. The queen-ho dichotomy comes in different forms. The stupid Facebook Alex H comics that are supposed to shame black women into acting in a way that NWAs deem respectable. They hide their misogynoir and benevolent sexism behind the queen label and imaginary pedestals. They praise natural hair and shame women that choose to wear their hair in a weave, relaxed or straightened. They rant against Eurocentric values but are extremely homophobic and claim queerness is European creation even though there is evidence of the opposite. They are patriarchy in a dashiki and they only believe in a one-dimensional black womanhood. NWAs are the enemy and shouldn’t be trusted.
These fools are the reason I don’t trust any dude that constantly refers to me and other black women as queens because that title tends to come with conditions that I refuse to meet. Yes, I have an afro that stretches to the sky and I dropped almost 80 bucks at a bookstore yesterday but guess what? I like to twerk, listen to Nicki Minaj and sometimes, I like to wear clothes that show off my assets. If that excludes me from queendom, I’d rather be a hoe because my black womanhood is multidimensional.
Note: I know this story is old as hell and not newsworthy but I wrote it like 2 weeks ago and forgot the post it. I’m gonna post it now and you will deal.
About a week ago, Shakira and Rihanna released a music video for Can’t Remember to Forget You. They’re beautiful women so I wasn’t surprised to see them being sexy in the video. As a matter of fact, I expected it because their discographies include songs like S&M and Hips Don’t Lie. What I didn’t expect to see was Rihanna and Shakira fondling each other while lip syncing about some boy that broke their hearts. I’m not prude but I was very uncomfortable. To be honest, I welcome imagery of women being openly affectionate with each other. However, I am not here for that affection being nothing more than a spectacle for the male gaze. From Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl to Nicki Minaj rapping about stealing Cassie from Diddy in Lil Freak, female affection is commonly reduced to fap material. Frankly, I’m sick of the shit. This behavior, usually by avowed heterosexuals, promotes the idea that same gender love between two women is only legitimized when it turns someone on. No one see intimacy, love and pure adoration. They’re just waiting to see a titty pop out. Consequently, lesbianism is seen as something that can be changed as soon as a cock is introduced. This might not seem like a serious issue but this logic contributes to rape culture and street harassment. Some men see lesbianism as a challenge and use their bodies as a weapon of correction. Others think if they badger a woman enough, the lesbian facade will fall and they’ll get that number.
In addition, these displays encourage femme-phobia, an aversion to femme people. There’s already a prevailing idea that a woman has to be masculine of center in order to be considered a “real” lesbian and that affects how lesbians interact with each other. Femme women have to go through some cockamamie screening process in order to be taken seriously and if she’s bisexual, she catches a special hell. No one should be forced to prove their authenticity because some straight girls want to play the fool. Maybe, I’m just looking to it too much. Eh.
As I type this piece, Janet Mock’s second interview with Piers Morgan and my blood is boiling. I tried to wait for the video to stop before I type but I figured typing this post would be a more productive use of my time than rolling around my bed and screaming at my computer.
Y’all, Piers Morgan was dead ass wrong. Wrong as two left shoes and unsweetened ice tea.
In case you didn’t know, Janet Mock, a trans activist, writer and author, went on Morgan’s show to promote her book, Redefining Realness. She has been making media rounds as expected for fledgling author and she probably figured that it would be pretty routine. Sadly, Morgan showed his white cisgendered privileged ass. The first interview was cordial enough even though Morgan and his news packaging team kept emphasizing that she was supposedly a former man or boy and asked some fucked up questions. All hell broke loose after that interview when Janet used her Twitter account to express her dislike of the terminology used during the segment and in the information bars placed across the screen. Her supporters called him out and then the tears started flowing. There were enough white tears to keep Janet’s curls tight and defined for months.
It was messy and the mess carried on to a second interview on the show. During the exchange, Morgan’s tone was hostile and accusatory as if Janet stepped on his Jordan’s and kicked his dog. He was demanding of explanations he didn’t deserve and when Janet did get the chance to speak, he interrupted and cut her off. When asked why she didn’t say anything about Morgan’s use of terminology during the first segment, Janet admitted that she was scared and considering how Morgan acted on Twitter and during the second interview, I can’t say that I blame her. She felt unsafe, like many marginalized people do in certain environments, and addressed her issue the best way she knew how. Morgan continuously stated that he felt villanized but from the looks of that second interview, it seemed like that was his intent with Janet.
As I watched these segments, I couldn’t help but think of Laverne Cox‘s and Carmen Carerra‘s visit to the Katie Couric Show a few weeks ago. Like Morgan, Couric asked both of the ladies some invasive questions and used incorrect terminology. Couric also reacted indignantly when Carmen brushed off one of the questions by asking Laverne the same question and making slick remarks about Carmen refusing to answer her. Like Mock, both ladies kept it cute and remained cordial although it seemed like these television hosts wanted to fetishize them for ratings. Both Couric and Morgan claim to be allies but like many so-called allies, they suck at it so I’m going to give them a few pointers:
When called out, shut your damn mouth and listen.
Marginalized people don’t owe you a damn thing, including an explanation. If you really want to know, do the damn research.
Sometimes marginalized people don’t say anything because they feel unsafe. It is never too late for them to stand up for themselves when they feel safe.
EVERYTHING AINT ABOUT YOU.
Ugh. That’s all I got for now.
I have plans to do a learning type thing on allyship as well as something with Janet’s book so keep a look out.
Wanna add some tips for these fool ass allies? Leave a comment.
I swore I wasn’t going to write a Beyonce think piece but dammit, I gotta say something.
I have been reading a bunch of other articles, both defending and complaining about Beyonce’s Grammy performance. Some felt it was too sexy and demeaning while others didn’t see what all the hullabaloo was about but one common theme I saw was the mention of her being a mother and wife. The critics felt her behavior wasn’t becoming of someone that is hitched with a baby while others felt like her performance was acceptable since she has a husband. Honestly, I think both ideas are a tad bit problematic.
Like every other stan in the country, I was watching the performance as it happened and although it was a tad boring compared to her other stuff, I still got my life because Beyonce. I bought her newest album when it came out and while some parts made me blush initially, I liked that Beyonce was owning her sexuality. I enjoyed seeing her stripper kick in the Drunk in Love video, writhe in pleasure in Paritition and shake her fatty in Blow and I would have felt the same way if she was single. Unless you’re harming another person, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get your rocks off, married or not. In some people’s version of a perfect world, everyone would meet “the one” as virgin, screw them after the ring and live happily ever after. I hate to break to them but that ain’t realistic and honestly, everybody aint about that picket fence life. If I don’t want to marry, I have every right to get my itches scratched and so does everyone else. If my itch gets scratched by one person or many, that’s my business.
I guess Bey has to look like this all the time.
Another issue I have with this married argument is that it promotes the idea that women, especially wives and mothers, are supposed to be one-dimensional. Yes, Beyonce was busting it for a real goon on that Grammy stage but she has plenty of other performances where she wasn’t shaking something. Her new album wasn’t just sex either. The song Blue was dedicated to her baby girl while Pretty Hurts addressed our society’s rigid beauty standards. Other songs covered topics like jealousy, loss of a loved one and affirmation of oneself and their flawlessness. Needless to say, Beyonce isn’t a one-trick pony. She ain’t Whitney Houston or Lil Kim and she shouldn’t have to choose between one or the other. If Beyonce wants to twerk for some, let her do it. If she wants to belt a ballad at the top of her lungs in a long flowy gown, by all means.
I understand that we want to teach our kids that sex isn’t the only way they should strive to get attention but trying to neuter and cover up everyone isn’t the way to go. Instead of trying to snatch Beyonce and Rihanna off the air, we need to work on introducing the kids to other imagery so they can be a balanced media consumer. Let them listen to a little Michael Jackson and Jill Scott while you take them to school. Take them to events that expose them to other parts of the arts. Do things with them that actually takes effort instead of hiding everything from them because you think they’ll get corrupted at the sight of a shaking ass.
But, that’s just me. Let me go back to iTunes so I can sit my aaaaaasssssss…..on my bed.
As I type, the live stream of the Ebenezer Baptist Church services plays on another tab. I am sitting in my bed and according to some, I have committed a cardinal sin because it is King Day and I should be out doing some random service project. I could very well be out doing a project but my body is telling me that I need to sit my black ass down in the form of a headache and tummy ache. For the past week or so, MLK Jr. related topics have went up and down my timeline including faux outrage over some tacky club flyers with Dr. King’s face plastered on them. I call it faux outrage because people took these flyers as an excuse to denigrate and insult “hood rats” and people they deemed “niggers” and “ignorant.” Rather than attacking the people that actually made the damn flyers, people took this an excuse to denigrate a section of our community that they deemed below them. Y’all, the classism was real in these streets.
Too turnt with nowhere to go.
Many of the people complaining about the “hoodrats” were the ones that were posting quotes from Dr. King. I am so sick of seeing so-called educated black people being so eager to look down on hood black people. Rather than reach back and lend a hand, these bougie mofos turn up their noses. The same ones crying about this generation’s woes and claiming the black community’s doom probably only give back in the form of an occasional service project and waxing poetic on social media. I am not one to police anyone’s service but I have no issue with questioning a person’s motives. When I see people displaying this snooty ass behavior, it makes me wonder what their motivations are. Do they genuinely care about the black community or do they just care about how the black community looks under the white gaze?
I need some of you to ask yourselves that question. What motivates your work? Do you actually care or is it respectability politics? These flyers are horrid but we have bigger fish to fry. Our people are being picked off like animal thanks to trigger happy police officers and citizens. Black babies are being threatened with expulsion for working their kinks and coils on their schoolyards. Our trans sisters are being assassinated for just existing. Meanwhile, the government is trying to tell me what I can and cannot do with my body.There are so many other issues that we have to deal with. So excuse me if these flyers are barely a blip on my radar.