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.