Friday, December 5, 2014

If You're Not About Justice I Want Nothing To Do With You

If you're not outraged about police brutality against Black Americans then I want nothing to do with you.

Maybe that's blunt. But let me go further.

If you're not in recognition that Black people--and Black people in particular-- are being targeted by law enforcement then I want nothing to do with you.

If the word "thug" or "hoodlum" is in your vocabulary then I want nothing to do with you. If you believe there's ever a reason why lethal force needs to be used against an unarmed person then I want nothing to do with you. If you aren't about the chant "Black lives matter" then I want nothing to do with you.

I have no time to coddle people. And I'm certainly not going to debate my right to life in the United States. It's sick and disgusting that many people think I am willing or even emotionally capable of debating whether people who look like me should or should not be shot down by cops.

This is a civil rights issue. It's a human rights issue. And if you don't recognize that then I want nothing to do with you.

Circa 2012 I dealt with folks who wanted to argue with me about if Trayvon Martin deserved to die, if he deserved to be stalked and subsequently murdered in his own neighborhood. But no more.

We're not arguing over Mike Brown, Darrien Hunt, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Tanesha Anderson, Rumain Brisbon... I don't need to continue.

It's a free country (at least for some of us). And a person has the right to be a racist. As I have the right to not deal with racists as an elective decision.

As it is the United States has sent a strong message that I have no right to my life and liberty if I'm at the mercy of a cop seeking blood. And after my death, I have no right to justice.

I charge genocide. And if you don't then I want nothing to do with you.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Hollaback Video is Racist, But That Doesn't Mean Street Harassment Isn't an Issue

I've noticed a trend: white women use white feminism to let white men off the hook for their sexism and Black men use white feminism (or the excuse: well what white women did was racist!) to let themselves off the hook for their sexism.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Viola Davis Is Classically Beautiful Although It's Not Her Job to Be

I was very offended by the New York Times' article that insisted (among many other racist assertions) that Viola Davis isn't "classically beautiful." The author, a white female veteran journalist, said this along with calling Shonda Rhimes and the Black female protagonists she's created "angry Black women."

I think the root of my great offense came from the knowledge that beauty, or rather the need to be beautiful, is held over the heads of girls and women from birth.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"He Was No Angel": There is No Such Thing as Black Innocence

There is absolutely no regard for Black life. I say that without further qualification.

I continue to be astounded by the way Mike Brown's death has been disrespected. He is continually victim blamed for his own death despite the overwhelming amount of evidence (both testimonial and biological in the form of an autopsy) proving that he was executed by a Ferguson PD cop.

And yet, people continue to suggest that the true victim is the murderer. The continual narrative is that Mike Brown somehow deserved to be executed.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My Best Friend is White: On the Joys and Perils of Interracial Friendship

One of my best friends is white. We met in fourth grade and have remained generally present in each other's lives ever since. It's going on thirteen years of friendship. And yet, it wasn't until last night that we had our first real conversation about race.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Recommendations for Black Women!

Hello Readers!

I'd like to share with you some of my favorite books that I own. 

They cover broad genres such as historical or sociological scholarship, romantic fiction, classic literature, Black feminist theory, non-fiction and they're American and non-American. But what they all have in common is that they are by and about Black women. 

Leave a comment below if you've read any of these and enjoyed them! Or leave your own book recommendations!

- Danielle

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Why This Black Feminist Will Always Be Concerned About Black Male Issues

(March for Eric Garner in NYC)

Many Black women are deeply hurt by anti-Black misogyny. Although anti-Black misogyny comes from everywhere it seems to be a particular betrayal when it comes from Black men.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

For Women: The False Seduction of Giving up Power

The seduction of giving up one's power is always strong for a woman. I've been reading Maya Angelou's fourth autobiographical text The Heart of a Woman.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Personal Reflections on Black Immigrants and Transnational Boundaries

I finally finished reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Although it took me four months to complete it in the end it was an amazing book and it caused me to think deeply about my own national and ethnic identities.

The book featured two main characters, Ifemelu and Obinze, who immigrate to different countries from Nigeria. Ifemelu goes to America and Obinze travels to England. I found myself relating to both characters.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Virginity Concept: Meaningless?

Recently, I've been thinking about emotional sexual health. I came across an op-ed which argued that virginity is an imaginary concept bereft of actual meaning. While this seemed well-intentioned it made me weirdly uncomfortable.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The "Daquan" Meme: It Shouldn't Be Funny

I don't find the "Daquan" meme funny at all. Basically, it's a meme created by Black Twitter that stereotypes the "hood" Black guy who exclusively dates upper middle class white girls.

Daquan is a pedophile, a money launderer (with the assistance of his white girlfriend), obsessed with sex, a rapist ("he let the whole squad hit"). He also shuns education. Supports violence. And is only concerned with making money (illegally) and being a rapper.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Failure of the Natural Hair Movement

Honestly, I've never considered myself to be a part of the natural hair community. Yet, I've been sans chemicals all my life except once when I made a poor decision in ninth grade and got a perm. Never made that decision again because I lost a lot of my length.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Hobby Lobby Supreme Court Decision: A Setback for Women

Today's Supreme Court decision brought about a major setback for American women. Corporations are now allowed to deny women the right of full healthcare coverage if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.

So the 5-4 majority decision (notably voted for by all men and not a single of the 3 sitting women justices) has voted that religious rights trump women's rights. And furthermore, corporation rights trump individual rights.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Black Women & Patriarchal Relationship Advice

A lot of the relationship advice directed towards Black women is quite frankly scary.

Unfortunately, I'm not just referencing "relationship help gurus" such as Steve Harvey and Tyrese. I'm also talking about the advice you'll get from your mom's best friend, your auntie, your older cousin, and the well-meaning ladies in the church.

I find the advice given to Black women particularly discouraging in light of the fact that Black women deal with some of the highest rates of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. So you'd think we'd have created and sustained enlightening advice that supports our self-determination and physical and emotional health. But instead the intent of most given advice is towards pleasing and subordinating ourselves to (Black) men.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Road Trip while Black: Running into White Vigilantes

I have to share the story of what happened to me this past weekend. Fortunately, I was with friends when the situation happened.

Friday, June 20, 2014

When They Say: "If She Does X is She a Ho?"

Not too long ago I was talking about what I've come to call "modesty culture" (a topic I wrote about extensively in my "On Rihanna Teaching Me to Say No to Modesty Culture" piece). As I said in that piece, clothing choices are only one aspect of patriarchal control of women's bodies. Sexuality is a major component. I see this in no more succinct terms than when somebody asks: "If she does X is she a ho?"

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"We're All Black" Is Not the End of the Conversation!

I see it all the time. When an issue comes up within the Black community that highlights intra-group oppression somebody inevitably says: "At the end of the day we're all Black!" to end the conversation. Another popular line is that "Whites see us all the same!"

Not only is it NOT true that whites see us all the same. But more importantly, it's true that we don't even see each other in the same way. Intra-group oppression exists and is real. Colorism, heterosexism, transphobia, classism, and sexism are real in our communities and it impacts the way we navigate our lives.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

On Rihanna Teaching Me to Say No to Modesty Culture

I immediately fell in love with Rihanna's outfit for this year's CFDA Fashion Awards! I do not know much about fashion but the outfit reminded me of the 1920s. It heralded back to Josephine Baker.

I also loved her acceptance speech for the "Style Icon Award" where she spoke about the meaning of fashion to her life. She talked about how she used fashion as a buffer against the meanness of others, as a way to elevate her confidence and feel good about herself.

Rihanna was sending a message to women that extends far beyond the realm of fashion. She was speaking to the importance of self-defining and doing what it takes to feel worthy and confident and not asking for permission to do so. This is directly in contrast with modesty culture and patriarchy derived male entitlement.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Paradox of Being a Low Income Black College Graduate

I graduated from college three weeks ago. (That's me in the picture!)

I know that I am experiencing a barrage of emotions and thoughts. I know that one of those feelings is annoyance.

I am annoyed by the two emerging hegemonic conceptions of college.

There's the idea that college is the great equalizer and the ticket for anybody (regardless of initial socioeconomic class or race) to have access to the middle class. Then there are those who argue that college is no longer worth the money and time and college graduates are in an awful position and would have been better off never going.

The fact is that neither of these positions are correct. At least not for college grads like myself.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

On The Importance of Celebrating Revolutionary Sisterhood

I've learned many important lessons from my mother. One really important lesson I've learned is the importance of having strong relationships with other women.

As a young, single hetero woman I've often romanticized the idea of being a wife and mother. And yet, I've grown up witnessing my mother's close friendships with other women from the sidelines and I've seen how those friendships have sustained her in ways that being a mother or wife doesn't always.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Who Is THE Black Feminist? A Personal Reflection on bell hooks and Beyoncé

When I first heard about bell hooks calling Beyoncé a terrorist, I was confused.

I was knee deep in writing one of the seemingly million papers I had due during finals week (I think it's true that the last semester of college is the worst semester of college). I was only marginally using social media and in a very disengaged sort of way so I totally missed everything. And all I could say is: What? What are you talking about? I thought there was a mis-quote or a typo or something. But that was actually what was said.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Why am I So Nice to "Nice Guys"?

I never realized how I put myself in debt to "nice guys" until very recently. I find it easy to disregard men who I feel are disrespectful or rude. But I find it extremely difficult to straightforwardly tell a man I am not interested if he is "nice" even if I have absolutely zero romantic interest in him.

I could say it's all about a fear of male violence. And I'm sure that's part of it (and justifiably so when you hear stories about a teenage girl being stabbed to death by a boy who she rejected for prom) but it's definitely not the totality of the issue.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Donald Sterling Problem or an American Race Problem?

I have been paying attention to the recent scandal surrounding the owner of the LA Clippers: Donald Sterling.

Of course, his actual comments are interesting along with the fact that his girlfriend is Black and Latina and he seems to be in denial about it. But what's also interesting is that once again, like with Paula Deen, America is captured by an individual white person who says really racist things and kind of conveniently overlooks their actually racist acts.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lupita Nyong'o is "The Most Beautiful Woman" & What Does This Mean for Dark Skinned Girls?

Lupita Nyong'o, People's Most Beautiful

Lupita Nyong'o was recently named the "Most Beautiful Woman" by People magazine. She is the third Black woman to hold this title after Halle Berry and Beyoncé. However, Lupita's win is particularly noteworthy because she is dark-skinned with short, natural hair. In that sense, she is a first.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Allure of Pharrell's "New Black" But Why It's Dangerous

Recently, recording artist Pharrell Williams claimed that he is a "new black." He defines "New Black" as somebody who "doesn't blame other races for our issues. The "new black" dreams and realizes that it's not a pigmentation; it's a mentality. And it's either going to work for you, or it's going to work against you. And you've got to pick the side you're gonna be on."

We've got to pick the side we want to be on! We can either have a victim complex or we can be a "New Black" and usher ourselves into the post-racial world waiting at our fingertips! In either case it's our choice whether or not we're going to be oppressed on account of being Black.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Happy Performance Deconstructed: A Personal Reflection

I think the best thing I can do for myself is to be emotionally honest. I need to always be sure to verbalize my feelings. All of my feelings whether they are of happiness, anger, or pain.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

But Black Women Have Always Been "My Brother's Keepers" so Who is "Keeping" the Sistas?

When I'm asked about how Black male sexism makes me feel I am forced to think carefully about an issue that I find both demoralizing and complex.

I was raised in a very pro-Black household. In this sense I was raised to love Blackness, which in practice always means loving (cis hetero) Black men although it doesn't always mean loving Black women. I was taught to love and respect Black women on condition. Is she educated? Is she childless or married? Is she demure? Is she with a Black man? 

So I was socialized to love and appreciate and act in consideration towards Black men quite frankly at the expense of myself. Whereas the fact is that Black men are absolutely not socialized to be the same way towards Black women.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Black Girl Bravado (Because There is No Patriarchalized Femininity For Us)

Last night I attended a lecture on the "Impostor Syndrome" for Women's History Month. The "Impostor Syndrome" is basically the idea that successful women (to a greater extent than successful men) often feel academically and/ or professionally inadequate and live in fear that others will discover their incompetence and strip them of the awards and accolades they have received.

I sat listening to this lecture. Half listening, half feeling annoyed and trying to figure out why. It could have been the casual way that the presenter pretended to be intersectional by dropping the word "people of color" and saying, "This happens a lot to men of color too! In fact, I spoke to a group of Black male engineers once!"

I looked around the room. There were only two other Black women and no Black men. I was surrounded by white women who vigorously agreed with everything the speaker said.

Monday, March 24, 2014

I'm Not An Angry Black Woman But Should I Be?

Many people are concerned about anger within social justice circles. They want to limit and contain anger. Angry people are shamed as destroying the credibility of the movement. They are often told that if they were "nicer" they would be listened to.

However, I am concerned that I'm not angry enough.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Black Feminism 101: It Was More Than a Fight to Be Included in White Feminism

Occasionally, I lead introductory workshops to Black feminism. And I've found that I'm always called upon to comment on how Black women fought to be included within the white feminist movement.

This is the common way that people understand the Black feminist movement if they purport to understand it at all. They understand it as Black women fighting to be included in a white woman's movement.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Black Women and Stress: It is a Condition, Not Who We Are

I've realized that one of my greatest obstacles to happiness and self-actualization are my ties to stress. I have used stress to define myself and to understand my life existence. I am not who I am unless I am inordinately busy, unless I am struggling to fit in all of my responsibilities, unless I have minimal time for myself.

I am wedded to struggle more than I am attached to doing what will benefit my own happiness and that has taken a real toll on my emotional health.

Unfortunately, mental health is not really a priority anywhere. However, it has the tendency to be especially viewed as facetious or a joke for many Black folks.

However, the greater truth is that the same people who are not very concerned with mental health are also not very concerned with physical health either since both are inextricably connected. If I am not emotionally healthy, that will always impact my physical health.

Being tied to struggle is mutually exclusive with emotional health.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

FYI, I Cannot "Demand" Respect From Men so Stop Telling Me That!

Many girls are told from a very young age that it is their job to demand respect from men. Although the logic behind this is hardly ever teased out (mostly because it becomes illogical once you really think about it) this is the message we get.

Most girls are relentlessly told that we will be treated how we demand to be treated. If we want respect, we must respect ourselves.

Thoughts on Black Women Leadership with a Self-Focus

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece entitled "The Paradox of Assertiveness for Black Women"  and in it I discussed how the widely disseminated myth that Black women are assertive (as juxtaposed to white women) actually harms Black women. The fact is that we do not often have the choices and the leeway to truly be assertive on our own behalf.

I also talked about how many Black women have accepted the notion that we are innately assertive and independent because it makes us comfortable to believe we have more power than we in fact do.

I actually want to extend this argument further to suggest that Black women need to actively learn how to be assertive in a way that is self-focused. Not selfishness, but leadership that centers the needs of the individual Black woman leader and the needs of other Black women. The "feminist" message that Black women do not need to learn how to be assertive and leaders because we are naturally that way serves to keep us in a subservient position where the complete opposite is true.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Lupita Nyong'o Experience: Thoughts on Learning How to Love Black Womanhood

I am enjoying the post-Oscar glow that so many Black girls and women have right now after watching Lupita Nyong'o receive her well-deserved award for Best Supporting Actress! She looked beautiful. She gave a moving and emotionally impacting speech. She was radiant. I couldn't have asked for anything more!

Nothing can take the shine away. Not the racists who are "hiding" under a very, very thin veneer of stanning for Jennifer Lawrence. Not the so-called pro-Black people who chide Lupita enthusiasts for supporting the racist Oscars (and they're right about The Oscars being racist, but I'm still happy for Lupita and for myself! Representation matters!)

But what does bother me is the respectability politics. There is something so infuriatingly poisonous about how some Black folks have chosen to speak about Lupita Nyong'o. I knew it was only a matter of time until Lupita Nyong'o would be pitted against other Black women as an angel while everyone else is a demon.

Here we go again!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

I Love Lupita: Black Women & Beauty

I love Lupita Nyong'o. She is incredibly important to me. Not only is she an incredibly gifted actress, but her very presence has been actively re-envisioning notions of Black beauty.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Stopping Jezebel: Some Thoughts on the Complexities of Black Women Owning their Sexuality

I was thirteen and a freshman in high school when I got my first boyfriend. I didn't know anything about dating or relationships. It wasn't "serious" although I thought it was at the time. He would walk me to class. I'd watch him perform. We'd sit in the hallway giggling and holding hands. I even shared my first kiss with him.

Then we broke up. And one of the ways he used to get back at me was calling me a ho and a slut.

Later, I distinctly remember being taken aside by an older Black woman. She explained to me that I was called a slut because that's what men do when they're angry. And I could have avoided it if I had never been alone with him in the first place because once you do anything with a man he will expect you to have sex with him and if you don't he will begrudge you for it.

That's because boys will be boys. And it's because you are a (Black) girl.

That was my introduction to the politics surrounding the Jezebel image.

Black Tokenism & The PWI Experience

Most Black folks have experienced being the token at some point in their life. Especially if they are accustomed to inhabiting majority white spaces.

Predominantly White Institutions (PWI's) in particular are notorious for forcing the token identity on unsuspecting Black college students.

Being the token can be intimidating if you're shy and like to keep to yourself. It's a way of highlighting you for no other reason other than the fact that you're the only Black person in the vicinity. So now it is you who must speak on behalf of your race. It is you who must know everything about Black issues and hold all of the answers. Your classmates and even your professors will be looking to you.

This is a very common phenomenon that Black people, to a certain extent, have come to expect. But the emotional and psychological costs of tokenism are not often considered.

As I prepare to finish college, I am now more aware of all of the ways tokenism has been a detriment.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Not Your Strong Black Woman Anymore

Strong Black Woman enthusiasts aren't always obvious. Sometimes it is covert. But they reveal themselves by never believing that you are tired or sad or might need assistance. Or believing that you have everything under control at all times. They are the people who say there are "no excuses" and that includes being physically ill, depressed, overwhelmed, or just not in the mood to be busy.

It is a given that Black women will be treated like this by people who are not Black women. But oftentimes we treat each other in this manner as well. To me this has been the most hurtful because you can easily expect to be treated like a mule or an impervious superwoman by outsiders, but it is easy to expect compassion from one's own.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Black Feminist! Are you Black first? Or are you a Woman first?

Are you Black first? Or are you a woman first?

I get this question all the time because I am a Black feminist. People want to know if this means that I care less about the political realities of being Black. If  I am now only concerned with being a woman. Or do I allow my blackness to get in the way of caring about issues impacting women.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Let's Talk About Colorism (Beyond What Men Think & My Self Esteem)


Occasionally, the topic takes center stage in Black discourse. Usually spurred by a documentary or TV show. Recently, we've had the Dark Girls documentary and Oprah's Lifeclass. I've watched both of these shows. Both seem to be centered on how horrible it is to be dark and ugly and unwanted by men (these three things always go together!) and how dark Black girls just need to get over it and find her self esteem in spite of this.

Love yourself, girl! Then maybe others will love you and if they don't? Who cares!

The Good Black Girl Complex

I remember the first time I was praised for being a virgin. It was in comparison to another Black girl. The boy in question said I was actual "girlfriend material" because of my virginity. He didn't mention any other characteristics. Just that. And he compared me to another girl who didn't have that quality.

Even "pre-Black feminist" me knew there was something wrong. But I didn't have the sociological or feminist jargon to explain what was wrong to myself. And besides, like most people I enjoy attention that seems to be in my favor. I might guiltily enjoy it if it's at the expense of others but I'd be lying if I said that "pre-Black feminist" me found what the boy said insulting.

This moment was poignant. I remember the confusion of being praised for something that I had never considered to be important or consequential. I remember feeling happy that he liked me but disappointed that he compared me to somebody else. It seemed like less of a compliment.

Women learn from girlhood to take arbitrary characteristics, that don't in fact mean anything substantial or make them a better person, and believe that these things make them "good." There's so many messages floating around about how to be a "good" Black girl. And the fact that many of these messages are contradictory doesn't stop many Black girls from trying to fulfill them.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Nicki Minaj's "Looking Ass Niggas" & the Conundrum of Feminist Politics

[Trigger Warning for Discussion About Sexual Assault and Rape.]

I am a very huge fan of Nicki Minaj. Every time she releases a new video I am sure to watch it. So naturally, I found myself watching her new release "Looking Ass Niggas." Before the video release, fans were teased by stills from the shoot. Nicki seemed to have drastically changed her aesthetic for this video. She was a lot more "natural" than she normally is and seemed to be going away from her traditional Barbie look.

This excited many of her fans who have never fully embraced her Barbie image. Although I personally like her no matter what persona she sports. To me that is one of the strengths of Nicki Minaj. She is versatile. And she is creative. She captures attention. Another one of her strengths is that she has unapologetically spoken up in favor of women. But maybe not always in the best way.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Paradox of Assertiveness for Black Women

Last summer, I attended a college women's leadership conference. Everyone was high on Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In and I listened to a keynote speaker who talked about how women are socialized to be meek and quiet in comparison to men.

And then after her speech was over she for some reason felt compelled to mention that Black women are the exception because our culture encourages us to be assertive and in charge.

The "assertive" and "angry" in control and independent Black woman is a myth. It was disappointing to hear a well-known (white) feminist act as if this stereotype is factual and uphold it in front of hundreds of people.

Black women deal with the paradox of assertiveness. In order to be respected as a human being we all need to assert ourselves. We need to let others know how we want to be treated and given the space to control the direction of our own lives. Because assertiveness is a derisive label plastered on Black womanhood it necessitates that Black women give up these basic human necessities in an attempt to avoid further mockery.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Black Feminism and Everyday Living

"Academic women and men engaged in the production of feminist theory must be responsible for setting up ways to disseminate feminist thought that not only transcend the boundaries of the university setting, but that of the printed page as well. It is also our responsibility to promote and encourage the development of feminist theory by folks who are not academics." 
- bell hooks Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black 

I have self-identified as a Black feminist since I was eighteen years old. It was the summer after my first year of college. My racial consciousness skyrocketed my first year of college because of numerous racial incidences. And those experiences made me open to and receptive of wider notions of social justice and anti-oppression work: something that I'm still broadening to this day.

But I will always remember reading my first bell hooks book as a monumental turning point in how I viewed myself and the world. She was the first person who gave me the words to articulate the knowledge I implicitly had: that women are treated differently than men. She taught me that Black women are treated differently than Black men. She explained my every day experiences through a sociological and historical lens. I was blown away and I knew I had to learn more.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The 77 Cents Pay Gap Statistic Harms Women of Color More Than it Helps

Unlike many feminists, I am thoroughly unimpressed by President Obama's mention of the "pay gap" in his recent State of the Union address. President Obama stated, "Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it's an embarrassment." On the outset, this declaration sounds progressive. But I see it as a willful ignoring of issues of pay inequality plaguing people of color.

The 77 cent statistic refers to the fact that American women on average make about 77 cents to an American man's dollar. This is a widely cited statistic. It is a statistic that has been widely disseminated by the White House previous to this most recent State of the Union address. It is a statistic cited by well respected feminist organizations. It is so widely known that it suffocates any discussion of the racial pay gap.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Black Women & The Continuing Problem of Respectability

The myth of hyper-sexuality is a stereotype Black women have been forced to bear for centuries. It originates from slavery and is still thoroughly woven into our cultural imagination. It controls how Black women's bodies are viewed. It minimizes our sense of personal choice. It takes sexual subjectivity away from Black women.

Scholar Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham coined the term "politics of respectability" in her landmark text Righteous Discontent. In this text, she outlines how nineteenth century Black Baptist women countered the notion of hyper-sexuality by supporting a strict form of sexuality: a more perfected and stringent version of the rules of sexuality in which white women were expected to follow in their hetero-patriarchal society. They believed that this would allow them to escape some of the vitriol of being labeled immoral and impure.

Of course, respectability politics makes a fallacious assumption in believing that Black people are maligned because of an inability to strictly conform to white middle class norms. Most white people do not even conform to white middle class norms. Black folks are degraded because of race. Every other reason is simply an excuse or a way of masking the true nature of anti-Blackness.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Carefree Black Girl & Princess Tiana's

I am supremely interested in the concept of the Carefree Black Girl. 

I am not sure where the term originated  from but I believe it’s an important one that illuminates on the greatness of managing to exist as a Black girl and simultaneously happy, self-secure, and with a real sense of freedom.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Am Whole, Not Perfect: Reflections on Black Girl Perfectionism

Like a classic perfectionist I told myself that perfectionism assisted me. It gave me the edge needed to survive and thrive in spaces where I was doubted due to my race, class, and gender. It made me feel more resilient against charges of inferiority because I could prove that I was intelligent, hard working, and therefore deserving.

Of course, the great lie of perfectionism is similar to the lie of respectability politics. There is nothing you can do to ensure that you are universally respected. This is particularly true if you possess identities which are marginalized and oppressed.

For me perfectionism became an unhealthy coping mechanism for my feelings of self-doubt and low self esteem no doubt provoked by the constant onslaught of racist and sexist microaggressions. I began to commodify myself by believing that I would always be sure to have value as long as I was producing, making things, winning awards, and busy in a quantifiable manner.

Black women tend to celebrate their perfectionism as if it's a benefit instead of a dangerous character flaw that can potentially lead to anxiety and depression. In fact, my perfectionism made me feel like an authentic Black woman for a long time since I was parroting the behavior of the Black women around me.