Existing While Black: Mike Brown and Why We Don’t Trust the Police

Source: NewsOne/AP

A few months ago, a police officer that was on the scene of Tupac’s fatal shooting shared what is believed to be the rapper’s last words. When asked who shot him, Tupac said “fuck you” and died. On top of that, no one else was talking so his murder is still unsolved. There are thousands of other unsolved murders that could’ve been solved if someone spoke up. Still, people stay quiet. Some stay silent out of fear but there are others that refuse to talk because they don’t trust the people that are asking the questions. The “no snitching” movement has been a target of extensive criticism and blame for so-called Black-on-Black violence. But, in the wake of the latest deaths resulting from police brutality, I can’t blame folks for not speaking.
Black mistrust of the police isn’t restricted to not snitching to uphold some hood commandments. We don’t trust the police because they have yet to earn our trust. In the past few weeks, three stories of Black men being shot down like animals have hit the media including Mike Brown, an unarmed teen in Missouri who was shot ten times on yesterday. There was a press conference this morning where it was alleged that he was fighting with the police over a gun but eyewitness accounts refute that claim. Meanwhile, various publications are reporting that Eric Garner, who was killed by the NYPD a few weeks ago, didn’t have any intoxicants in his system as if that is relevant to his case. Not only were these men executed but their character is being assassinated to justify their murders.
People have been protesting Brown’s death since it happened even though police officers are staring them down while holding a dog’s leash because they’re tired.

We all are.

We’ve been tired since Emmett Til was killed. We’ve been tired since mobs were snatching Black men out of their houses and jail cells to be lynched while the police did nothing or participated in the lynchings. We were tired when Trayvon and Troy died. We get tired every time we’re harassed for walking down the street, chilling with friends in public or even standing outside of our houses. Existing while Black is a crime in this supposed land of the free. If you’re read as queer, especially if you’re trans, may the odds be in your favor because you can get in trouble for having condoms or just being different. Ask Cece McDonald or Monica Jones about that.
This lethargy and weariness of the police is a big issue because it keeps us from addressing some of the ills that happen in the Black community. Mistrust of the police is what keeps a lot of us from reporting abuse of Black women at the hands of Black men because no one wants to see another brotha in the system, even if he deserves it. This mistrust is why people are getting killed by the dozens in various cities with no end in sight. The police are supposed to serve and protect and they are doing their jobs to an extent. They exist to serve and protect the status quo and Black bodies, queer bodies, trans bodies and other marginalized bodies don’t fit.

 

Note: For on-the-ground coverage, follow reporter Brittany Noble on Twitter. She’s keeping up with everything via social media.

Too Many Names: For Trayvon Martin and Other Victims of the System

Ashleigh L.A.:

As long as our brothers and sisters keep dying, I’ll keep updating this list.

Originally posted on Ashleigh, Not Ashley:

I have been sitting in my room figuring out what to say about the Trayvon Martin verdict. I am still at a loss and this probably won’t be the last time I address this issue this week but I feel like I just have to put something out there. I decided to pay tribute to Trayvon and countless other black bodies that have been swallowed by this legal system. Remember these names and remember their faces.

Michael Brown

His story.

More.

Eric Garner

His story.

John Crawford

His story.

Aiyana Stanley

Her story.

View original 151 more words

300 Words or Less: Fire and Fake Intellectuals

I see stupid stuff go up and down my timeline on a daily basis. I typically ignore it but sometimes I get exposed to something that is so mind-numbingly idiotic that I get mad enough to write about it. Enter the following picture:

Y’all, this picture reaches so far that it is tickling Jesus in the ass. I am so sick of pseudo deep negroes making something out of nothing. The fire challenge and its equally dump fainting challenge are nothing more than stupid (mostly) teenage shenanigans. Kids, regardless of race, do stupid shit all the time. If you go to Youtube and search for prank videos, you will get millions of links to kids of various colors doing dumb stuff from jumping off roofs with skis and sticking fire crackers up their asses. Somehow, Black kids aren’t allowed to participate in adolescent foolishness without someone placing the advancement of Black people on their backs. To compare these internet challenges to the systematic abuse and murder of thousands is intellectually lazy at best and plain dumb at worse. To say this type of behavior is the reason we are relegated to second-class status in this society simplifies oppression and place the blame on the oppressed. There are plenty of valid reasons to criticize these photos and this ain’t one of them.
Let kids, Black ones included, be kids.

Hey Y’all! I’m still here and so is this blog!

It has been long few weeks, y’all.

As I type, the space formerly known as my bedroom is in shambles as I prepare to move into my dwelling, affectionately known as Nappy Haus. Mind you, this is about 24 hours after crossed over to the better side of the Mason-Dixon line after spending four days in Boston for the NABJ Convention. I’m tired, overwhelmed and excited but I gotta keep it moving. I decided to take a break from these happenings because I just realized this blog will be 2 years old this month.

Two whole years.

I am so proud of this impending milestone because I have been at this blogging thing since I was 18 and this is the first one that stuck. This is the first one that felt right. I used to get embarrassed when people mentioned my other blogs to me offline because I didn’t believe what I was writing. I wrote just to say I wrote something. I was too busy trying to emulate other bloggers and my content suffered. Now, I am proud of Ashleigh Not Ashley becoming an offline nickname. I am proud of my content, including the blog posts that reflect opinions that I don’t have anymore. This blog is a testament of my growth and I have a bevy of plans and ideas that I can’t wait to share with all of you.

I want to thank everyone that reads my posts, comments and shares my articles. Because of you, this blog is sitting at over 56K views. I may not write every day or even every week but y’all keep coming back. Cheers to many more years!

8 Songs By Women Who Know They’re Awesome (Seizure Warning)

Editor’s note: I placed a line break for the readers that might be sensitive to gifs. I use gifs in other pieces too but not to this extent. I’m trying to make this space more accessible for everyone. 

A couple of days ago, I read a BuzzFeed post in which the author slammed songs about women being beautiful because they don’t know or acknowledge their beauty. I’ve noticed this too and I could have written about it but I can also do a fun posts with pretty gifs. I decided on the latter because being serious all the time is no fun and I like experimenting with my content. Anywho, here’s a list of eight tracks where women proudly boast about their beauty and general awesomeness. I figured this would be a great way to thumb my nose at the idea that women have to be modest and understated about how they feel about themselves while men have no problem with aggressively reminding the world how awesome they think they are. This list is by no means extensive and I am fully aware that some of these songs have some problematic elements.

Let’s get into it:

Continue reading

Help Me Get to #NABJ14

My first convention in Philly. I was TOO excited.

I’m going to level with y’all: I need your help.

At the end of this month, I will be heading to Boston for the annual National Association of Black Journalists Convention and Career Fair. I’ve been to one every year since 2011 but this year is the first time I’ve felt like I’m clear about the trajectory of my career. As I said in my last blog post, I almost gave up on the media industry last year and a big part of that was a lack of direction. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I could barely come up with a topic for a blog post so coming up with a career path seemed impossible. On top of that, depression and anxiety made me doubt me and my abilities. I considered other “safe” careers because I was too scared of the uncertainty of my future. While my depression and anxiety still present some problems, I am feeling more optimistic about my purpose.

As I was experiencing conflicting views about my career, I dealt with similar feelings about my sexuality. Until September 2013, I intended to stay in the closet which meant stringing my then-boyfriend along and not letting on that I was queer. Then, I got tired. I got tired of lying and hiding. I was also tired of wasting my boyfriend’s time. So, I broke it off. My friends and family were shocked but I felt free. Soon after the break-up, people started outright questioning me about my sexuality and although I was single, I denied everything. Eventually, I got tired again. So, I started to come out little by little because contrary to popular belief, coming out is a process not an event. I started by telling my sisters and dropping hints on social media. A few months later, I told my mom and after knowing she accepted me, I stopped caring as much about what other people thought. My life improved and so did my writing. I started feeling more at ease about writing about queer issues because I was able to inject my own experiences into my post. Honestly, I think this blog is better because of that.

I said all of that to say this, I want to make this thing bigger. AnotA is my baby and I want to see it grow. I feel like going to NABJ with a plan and direction will help so if you feel it in your heart, please donate to help with my expenses. The donation money will only be a fraction of what I need but it will help me immensely. If you cannot donate, share this blog post and my donation page. Either way, I appreciate everyone whether you donate or not because there would be no AnotA without my readers.

 

Click here to donate.

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Maureen Taylor, Dodai Stewart Prove Diversity in Media is CRUCIAL

 

Last year, I swore I was done with journalism. Despite dedicating the last eight years to this industry, I was ready to give it all up. I thought journalism had become another tool of the establishment. It seemed like everyone around me was more concerned about getting a job under some corporation’s masthead than storytelling. I understood that people had bills to pay but the lack of dreamers and risk-takers disappointed me. Sometimes, I still feel that disappointment but I digress.
Eventually, I wandered back to the dark side because, as cliché and corny as it sounds, I want to be the change I want to see in this world. I am also inspired by women like Zerlina Maxwell and Melissa Harris-Perry who do important work in media. Additionally, there have been a couple of incidents that show me that diversity in media is a worthy fight.

Last Monday, I logged onto Twitter to see blogger Luvvie Ajayi going off about Jezebel’s latest screw-up. If you haven’t heard by now, they have a new editor-in-chief, Emma Carmichael. There isn’t anything inherently special about this development except Carmichael, a 25-year-old editor from another publication, was chosen over Dodai Stewart, who has been deputy editor of Jezebel since it was founded in 2007. If you do the math that means Carmichael was in high school when Jezebel was founded. To add another layer to this story, Carmichael is white and Stewart is Black and for a publication that has been criticized for not being intersectional, this ain’t a good look. Carmichael must be pretty special to be an editor at 25 years old but I refuse to believe she was more qualified than Stewart. As a working class Black girl trying to make it into this industry, this is a slap in the face and yet another example of white feminism at work. They give good lip service but when it comes down to it, they only look out for their own and they ain’t worried about my or anyone else’s Black ass.

Emma Carmichael

A day later, I came across a video of Detroit-based activist Maureen Taylor going in a reporter that was sharing misleading information about the city’s water crisis. The reporter, a white man, was clearly biased against the thousands of poor people that have had their water shut off by the city for suspicious reasons. Meanwhile, there are more affluent entities that owe money, including the state of Michigan, that owe thousands of dollars but still have running water. Those facts seemed to be lost on the reporter who claimed these people cared more about their cable than their water.


Thankfully, Miss Maureen got him together in a way that only an older Black woman can. If you don’t believe me, just press play.

Incidents like these are what keep me writing. They are why AnotA is going to celebrate two years on the innanets in a month. It’s clear that people like me will only have space at the table if we conform so I say screw the table as I gather lumber to build my own. I’m sick of waiting for a chance. Hell, I’m sick of writing about this too.

I’m hoping some more of my melanated, queer, female and all of the above folk join me because we’re all we got.

Why We Mad: Columbusing The Natural Hair Movement and Other Marginalized Spaces

I started writing a blog post last Friday about the Curly Nikki debacle but stopped midway because I felt like I would be beating a dead horse. I said this on Twitter and intended to leave it at that until a lady, from Switzerland, explained that knowledge that is presumably common might not be so and a lot of people might not know why people are up in arms about this situation. My first instinct was to write it off as white-splaining but I got to thinking and this thinking led to this blog post. I’m feeling charitable so I am going to let this be a teachable moment for people that might find themselves under fire for barging their way into a safe space. I think marginalized people feel protective of these spaces because of two reasons:

 

The world doesn’t validate “minorities” so we create our own affirming spaces.

Black people have been in the Western hemisphere for centuries and it has been a rough time. We have been subjected to ridicule, abuse and humiliation and anti-Blackness is international disease. We are still being fed an ideal that deems European features the most beautiful. Black women have done everything we can to fit this ideal even though our Africaness prevents us from truly reaching it. In addition to society, our family and community members influence our perceptions of ourselves. Men flip noodle when their woman cuts her hair and mama might hurl the “what are you going to DO with it” question at a cute twist-out or bomb ass fro. My own grandmother told me she preferred my hair the “other way” when I went natural. It’s real out here and natural hair spaces give Black women a break from Eurocentric foolishness. The same can be said of ball and drag culture for queer people of color, predominately Black organizations and so on. So, when a privileged person insists on being included, it is irritating. The world is already customized for certain people but their entitlement tells them it isn’t enough. They have to have everything and throw a tantrum when they don’t get it. Meanwhile, the lower classes are unable to get their break because they’re too busy trying to accommodate people. Curly Nikki can put anything she wants on her blog but she needs to remember who was there when she was trying to build her brand.

The privileged have appropriated and stolen from marginalized people for profit.

Proponents of Curly Nikki’s inclusiveness have argued that it could benefit the natural hair community. Outside of a few more product options, the mainstreaming of the natural hair movement hasn’t done much for Black women. Corporations hopped on the bandwagon and found a way to line the pockets. The wealth isn’t being fed into the Black community so we’re not the main benefactors but hey, at least our hair looks good.

There are plenty of other examples of this phenomenon. Madonna’s appropriation of ball culture via her hit Vogue didn’t do shit for the poor queer people of color that created voguing. The contributions and culture of the oppressed remain stigmatized until the ruling class takes it and claims it as their own. Black Twitter had to school Variety after they attributed the invention of rock music to Elvis Pressley. The internet even created a term, Columbusing, for people who discover something that wasn’t lost in the first place. Point is, we have a reason to be sensitive about our shit and it isn’t because of basic pettiness. For many of us, safe spaces keep us from being another casualty of this heavily prejudiced world.

Sticks and Stones: Response to Luvvie’s (@Luvvie) Political Correctness Rant

I have been actively involved in social justice for a little over a year and in that short time, I have had extremely rewarding experiences. I’ve met some of my most cherished friends, found part of my purpose and expanded my worldview. I want everyone, regardless of their life’s path, to have the same opportunity. I don’t think social justice work should be limited to “educated” people with disposable incomes that have vocabularies full of fancy words. I’m not a liberator that is going to swoop in and save the “unconscious” people. I want to work with them as comrades, not as a savior. Sadly, a lot of people seem to take up the latter position and therein lies my issue with many social justice spaces. Intersectionality is a major buzzword among activist circles but it seems like that concept isn’t practiced at its core. Unless you know all of the jargon and manage to snag some e-fame, these spaces can feel alienating. So, I kind of get where Luvvie, of AwesomelyLuvvie.com, was getting at in her Twitter rant about the “over-policing of words.” There are times where I’ve been smothered by the fear of offending someone and having the internet hounds released into my mentions. Sometimes, it seems like every little thing is something phobia, shaming or triggering and it can be very daunting because it seems like there is no room to fuck up without being publicly humiliated. Luvvie gave examples of “over-policing” like calling someone stupid being ableist and a retweet of someone saying breast feeding was an offensive term because every mother doesn’t have breasts.

LOL

In her rant, Luvvie mentioned there were bigger issues to fight over than words and while there are definitely instances of hair-splitting, words do matter. Privilege blinds people to many things that don’t seem like a big deal because they don’t affect us directly, including words. A major example of this is the recent controversy over the use of “tr@nny” and how it affects trans women, especially those of color. Trans women are still majorly stigmatized and the t-word is a part of that stigma. The same can be said of other slurs. We have to have productive conversations about these words an their relation to oppression. Tr@nny may not be a big deal to a cis person but transwomen are being executed and abused like animals across this country and the problem is barely being addressed. That word still has power and lives are at stake because of it. Nonetheless, someone is gonna fuck around and use it  and other slurs anyway and we need to figure out what to do when someone slips up. Mistakes are inevitable, even from people with the purest of intentions. The advancement of social media gives us an opportunity to find productive ways to handle mistakes but people are too wrapped up in being right to find solutions. I believe that is what Luvvie meant when she said she “feels like we’re creating [a] generation of overly politcal[ly]correct people who are no less sensitive to the plight of others but hide it better.” Calling someone out doesn’t always have to be a spectacle especially since every major social media platform has private messaging. If you’re face-to-face with someone, pull them over and find a civil way to bring it up. There are many times when people speak out of sheer ignorance that has never been corrected. We’ve all been there an sometimes a swift kick in the pants is needed. Everyone has room to learn. However, if that person is just an asshole, you have every right to turn up on that ass.

If you are the person being called out, listen and reflect on what is being said. Don’t go on the defensive and demand an explanation because Google is a thing that is at your finger tips. No one is required to explain anything to you, especially if you’re acting an ass. Tantrums are things flame wars are made of and at that point, no one wins. When you know better, you do better. So, let’s do better.

#NotBuyingFA : Alternatives to Feminist Apparel

Editor note: I took the “I Met God, She’s Black” shirt off of this list because the streets was talking about the owner and until proven otherwise, he guilty. Not to mention, he’s a white cisman. Keeping that shirt on here would defeat the purpose of this list, dontcha think? Anywho, I will keep updating it as long as y’all keep telling me about cool people selling cool stuff. Thanks!

A while back, I came across a picture of a Black woman wearing a shirt with “I woke up like dis” emblazoned across the front. My love for Beyonce is well documented on this blog so I did some light research and found out Feministing had something to do with it. I kept going and discovered Feminist Apparel, a site that sells a bevy of t-shirts with snappy sayings. Initially, I was going to buy them but my intuition was like “NAH” and I closed the tab. Flash forward to right now and #NotBuyingFA is trending on Twitter because some white man is trying make a profit off of the backs of women of color. Turns out my intuition was right, again. But, rather than writing some long ass diatribe explaining why you shouldn’t buy from them, I shall use this as an excuse to help some others make some money. That said, here are a few alternatives to Feminist Apparel:

“Black Girls Are Magic” by The PBG

Soul Seed Tees

For Harriet Store

The Young Mommy Life Scholarship Tee

AND this shirt goes to supporting young moms that want to continue their educations.

Philadelphia Print Works (Per Suggestion)

This shirt and various others are sold out but you can sign up for a mailing list to be notified when they’re available.

I’m certain this blog post will be constantly updated so if you have any suggestions, let a sister know. Support Black/WOC businesses y’all!