Queer Women of Color Still Face Racism During Pride, Among Other Things (Repost from Spectra Speaks)
In response to mainstream prides everywhere, including both the racism and sexism that pervades the larger gay community, Queer Women of Color and Friends (QWOC+ Boston) hosts OPTIONZ — in its fifth year — tonight, a highly anticipated annual pride party specifically created to provide a space for lesbian, gay,bisexual, transgender and queer women of color and their friends, supporters, and allies during pride. But as excited as I am about QWOC+ Boston’s work in ensuring that we — women of color — are celebrated and visible during pride, that this is not the main subject of my post. If you follow QWOC+ Boston, you may have noticed on Facebook or any of our other social media channels, that our OPTIONZ party needed to be relocated to a new venue.
The reason for the venue change is that, last-minute, the previous venue, Caprice Lounge, presented me with some new terms: “No Hip Hop music, because of issues we’ve had in the past.”
Now, QWOC+ Boston has had a long-standing relationship with Caprice; we’ve been hosting events at their venue for the past three years. The reason, they gave, for the new policy was due to some recent violence that ensued after a Hip Hop show they hosted. Besides the fact that we’ve never had a single fight break out at a QWOC+ Boston event, it seemed ludicrous that the management had decided to villainize an entire genre of music based on a one-off incident. Something else that really pissed me off is that after informing us that we could not play Hip Hop at our party, we were offered a slew of other genres we could play as substitute including… (wait for it)… Rock music. So while we’re on stereotypes, it’s okay to play angry white man music, but not angry black man music? Wow.
Racist stereotypes aside, I was also only told that we could not play Hip Hop music on Tuesday (just two days before our event), which also seemed shady and manipulative. There had been no mention of this during our earlier communications. So, despite the fact that they’d been pushing for a large venue deposit to be made and incessantly trying to get me to sign a contract that would guarantee them two thousand dollars from the bar (of which I’d be liable if it was not met), I’m just floored that they had the audacity to limit whatever kind of music we played at our party.
So, guess what I said? HELLLL NO!
Okay. Not exactly in those words. I needed to be realistic. Despite the outrage expressed by community members after I’d relayed the incident — including the collective push for us to say goodbye to Caprice, I wasn’t sure it would be possible to find another venue, not during one of the busiest seasons of the year — weddings, graduations, prides etc — with just TWO days to go before the event.
So, rather than be seduced by the opportunity to give Caprice a self-righteous middle finger — and run the risk of having to cancel our pride party altogether — I told the event coordinator at Caprice to send me the contract with all terms laid out; I would look it over and get back to her. In the meantime, I reached out to other venues comparable in size, and after just one day of mass emails and phone calls, I got lucky.
Market Lounge was big enough to accommodate us. Moreover, they weren’t going to charge us an arm and a leg to use the space (since they had no competing events during our event time). In fact, they seemed excited about getting the business of over 150 pride-ful peeps on a Thursday night. We had struck gold! Or so everyone thought…so the applause began.
Great decision. Excellent. Yay for saying no to racism! But what I didn’t tell people, was that the new venue had a similar (albeit less overtly racist) dress code policy; a variation of the all too familiar Boston ‘dress code’ which goes something similar to “No hats, no sneakers, no do-rags, no athletic wear… women in dresses/skirts, men in collars etc” was prominently displayed on the wall by the entrance to their establishment. Here’s the picture on the right.
Making a decision based on who was less racist seemed impractical, so we went with this new venue because they were responsive, accommodating of our group last minute, the management agreed to not enforce their dress code policy during our event, and most importantly, they weren’t going to charge us an arm and a leg to bring them business (vs. Caprice that was essentially trying to make us pay them to go against our ideals).
Here’s the thing folks… I’ve been an event organizer for over five years, and I know first hand that most — if not all — downtown club venues have similar racist policies intended to keep “those people” out of their clubs. It doesn’t take a genius to note that these policies are overtly racist. In fact, as you read through the banned items of clothing, you’re almost expecting to come across, “No Black People,” towards the end of the list.
Venue policies are a stark reminder of Boston’s deeply rooted history with racial segregation, but racism isn’t the only issue queer women of color have to deal with.
If I turned my nose up at every venue that had a racist policy, homophobic and/or sexist staff etc, QWOC+ Boston would never have succeeded in pushing the physical boundaries of our community and creating new safe spaces for LGBTQ people of color in the manner in which we have. I daresay our willingness to push through the discomfort of so many tough, frustrating, awkward interactions has created more “ally venues” today for LGBT people of color — and the larger gay community as well as evidenced by a number of organizations / producers hosting events at venues after we’d done so successfully — than if we immediately walked away whenever we faced policies we didn’t agree with.
But this is not to say that we should ignore blatant signs of discrimination. There are venues that I’ll never send a dime of business (and LGBT organizations that I simply refuse to work with) until they’re willing to meet us halfway on the issue of white privilege/racism, male privilege/sexism etc. However, if we are to charter new territory, we must be patient, and more importantly, we must learn to speak the language of the gate keepers. In this case, that means knowing how to use money to send a message.
You should know that once I told Caprice that I was moving the party to a new venue, they came back with an O.K. to play whatever we wanted. This made for a great opportunity to explain that we would NOT be working with them this time around. And whereas, the loss of business may not result in the dissolution of their policy, the owner will remember that he lost a big event — a pride event, big dollars consumed at the bar, ouch — because he dared to broach the subject to the queer women of color who had been repeatedly giving him business for the past three years. (Incidentally, we first worked with Caprice during the second year of OPTIONZ, because we were in a similar situation; the venue we’d been in talks with slapped us with a racist dress code last minute, and wouldn’t budge on enforcing it. Caprice opened their doors to us then, and we’ve been working with them since. Isn’t it ironic, that the venue that has been the most flexible and easy to work with as far as hosting QWOC+ events, is the one being villainized for being racist today?)
I keep going back to the strong push I felt from our community to say F-U to Caprice and stand against racism, and can’t help but wonder if another ism or form of discrimination would have been met with the same level of engagement (and anger). What if I told you that via my work as an event organizer, I’d run into minority-owned/run venues with similar racist music / dress code policies? Can we remind ourselves that in women’s spaces /feminist circles, there is still so much language riddled with homophobia and transphobia? Shoot, I still pray for the day when sexism will be met with as much anger and outrage as racism from Boston’s LGBT community, when the political war being waged against women (via Planned Parenthood funding cuts, the GOP redefining rape etc.) will be treated as seriously by QPOC as they do AIDS/HIV prevention.
It’s easy to call out isms when the perpetrator is perceived to be a straight white man — the icon of patriarchy, which most of us can relate to wanting to take down. But the reality of being a queer woman of color is that you’re burdened with calling out offenses and violations against multiple facets of your identity, and forced to reckon with the harsh truth that your allies in one arena can be your oppressors in another.
Activism, for so many of queer women of color, is a constant negotiation of which ism to address. We don’t have the luxury of snubbing everyone that offends us, or we would have no where to go. We can’t — and shouldn’t have to — fight everyone. As a direct consequence, for queer women of color, standing up for what is ‘right’ in the face of racism, sexism, transphobia, xenophobia — all issues that significantly impact our community — can sometimes mean drastically limiting access to resources that we need as a community. So, whereas we should never compromise our ethics (as in this case — for the sake of a good party), QWOC+ Boston’s work isn’t just about one event, not just about today. I don’t think that I speak out of turn when I say that we all work our asses off so that tomorrow can be better, for everyone.
So, as we march, rally, dance, and speak out during pride, let us not forget those of us who are marginalized within the gay community, those of us who don’t have the luxury of approaching “Equality. No More. No Less,”, per the 2011 Boston Pride theme, as an isolated single issue. Most of the time, I hear louder, more aggressive forms of activism (against one kind of ism) encouraged and celebrated. But today, I feel humble as I reflect on the patience and perseverance that must have been maintained by my mentors and predecessors against so many injustices, that have enabled me to come this far. I celebrate you. I salute you. And I wish you all a happy pride.
I’m very happy to host the most excellent Dennis Upkins, author of the soon to be released Hollowstone. He breezed through the windy city during a stop on his book tour. Hollowstone is due out on 17 June 2011.
Q: Now, it’s great to see more POC authors and queer authors getting their work out and into the hands of readers who often feel left out of the literary mix. Hollowstone looks to address a lot of those needs. However, as a fan who is often left out of the mainstream media I wanted to know what else you might have planned to fill the gaps in for folks who aren’t seeing themselves reflected in the media they purchase?
A: I was talking to a good friend of mine about this, another professional writer, and we both discussed how we’re always looking for areas of opportunity to improve as far as being progressive and inclusive goes. While Hollowstone runs the gamut in tackling many facets of bigotry and institutional oppression, with Empyrea (the recently finished novel I’m currently editing), I come at representation of marginalized people from a completely different angle. Empyrea features a queer POC as the main protagonist, features multiple women of color in prominent roles.
It shows a loving interracial family in a matter of fact manner. Empyrea essentially illustrates what a world devoid of racism, misogyny, homophobia (as least as we know it) could look like. And while Empyrea is breaking a lot of ground, I’ve already got sequels planned and I’m looking for ways to step my game up. In the sequels, I know I will have a heroine who is a trans woman, lesbian characters and a disabled character. Each of them have important storylines, fleshed out roles, and treated with respect. The next novel I’ve got planned after Empyrea is a superhero story which features a teenage black girl and a gay man as the co-protagonists. Both characters have stories that are worth sharing. I’m constantly striving for ways to improve representation in my works because I believe everyone has a story worth telling.
Q: I know you’ve mentioned it on your blog, but I’m curious about who would be cast in a Hollowstone movie? Do you think the movie would suffer from white washing such as the reported casting options for a remake of Akira? Would you rather Hollowstone remain a book if your only option was to have a movie cast in the majorities image rather than how they are depicted in the book?
A: In regards to dreamcasting, I think this post sums it up: http://neo-prodigy.livejournal.com/954523.html Do I think the movie would suffer from white washing? That would always be a risk, a huge one in fact. It would really depend on the players involved, how much money would be riding on it and chance. For that matter, a publisher could’ve tried to whitewash the story, and we’ve seen this crap happen far too often. Luckily I was blessed to find a home with a good publisher (Parker Publishing) that was welcoming of Hollowstone as is. I give props to Neil Gaiman and Ursula K. Le Guin who have both been outspoken in standing tall against allowing their characters to be whitewashed and I would like to think if presented with the choice, I would make the same decision. Because Hollowstone tackles too many important issues to allow such crap to happen.
Q: If you could make the literary world over in an image that would included fair and equal representation for everyone, how would you do that with your authorial powers?
A: I guess pretty much what I’m doing now. Writing stories that celebrate marginalized people. Supporting works with my money that celebrate equal and fair representation of everyone and promoting and working with other marginalized creators to see their work make it to the public.
Q: We already talked a bit about being marginalized and invisible in mainstream media. As a queer man and POC, did frustration with that marginalization and invisibility have anything to do with Hollowstone’s creation?
A: Not really. At least not consciously or directly. I didn’t intentionally set out to write a story that was in reaction to being marginalized or invisible in mainstream media. But as the story developed, took on a life of its own, and continued to evolve, it did exactly that. But it had more to do with the fact that much of Hollowstone is based on personal experiences and things I’ve witnessed first hand. The marginalized issues was something I struggled with. It felt like walking a tight rope. Do you tip your toe in the pool of social justice issues and risk making your characters cliches who only exist to whine about racism or homophobia or do you go all out, balls to the walls, and show it all unapologetically and let the story share its truth. And why does it always have to be about racism/homophobia with gay and black characters. I wrestled with these choices and then finally I just had to tell myself, frak it. Truth is truth, no matter how inconvenient it is, and as Noah states in the opening of the novel, there are some stories that just must be told.
Q: If you could fix one thing in fandom (Take your pick; comics, movies, books, all of the above) which one would you fix or is it too broken to fix?
A: I would say all of the above, if for no other reason than they all intersect. I’m not sure if fandom is too broken to fix but I definitely think something drastic is going to have to happen, a massive overhaul to fix things. At minimum, marginalized peeps are going to have to double their efforts in creating their own spaces, their own media, supporting one another and boycotting those that denigrate them. At most, the industry is going to have to fall and be rebuilt before things can improve. Or something else unexpected can occur. I think it’s a matter of staying vigilant about these issues and continue to press forward even if fandom is hellbent on backsliding in regards to progress.
Q: If any of your characters from Hollowstone could write a post for the We , who would submit their story and what would they say? Project
A: WOW! This has to be one of the most powerful questions I’ve received. You know the We Got Your Back Project is near and dear to my heart, and some of the characters would definitely have a lot to say.
Noah- He would definitely discuss his experiences with knowing Ryan, Neely, and another gay character who is revealed in the story. He would discuss his experiences in trying to be a straight ally and would urge other allies to be proactive in supporting their queer brothers and sisters based on the folks who impacted his life.
Neely- She would discuss her experiences being a bisexual teen, growing up in a conservative environment, and how it isn’t easy to be out and proud, in spite of what society would have you believe. She would also point out that if it wasn’t for her older brother—who loved, protected, and accepted her as God intended her to be—she probably wouldn’t be here today. She would probably say why support and love is vital, especially in light of all the hatred and bigotry LGBTQs endure on a day to day.
Ryan- Ryan’s story would be the most powerful. Because he goes through a lot in the story. And his story is a sobering reminder why it doesn’t always get better and that in fact, it rarely does. And if his story doesn’t move people to take an active role in fighting bigotry and hatred, nothing will.
Q: Do you think that Hollowstone and books like it will finally get POC authors out of the “African American Author” purgatory books by black authors are often dropped into regardless of the books subject matter?
A: Your guess is as good as mine. If authors like Octavia Butler and L.A. Banks haven’t clued society in that our work is universal just like white authors, I don’t know if society will ever learn. As POC authors, all we can do is do what we can and just hope and pray for the best.
Q: Lastly, will we get to see more of the Hollowstone cast in future novels? Will we get to follow them as they develop or will they remain in the world built in Hollowstone?
A: You know, the thought of doing a sequel, even a trilogy, crossed my mind more than once. It was an idea I toyed around with and even debated with myself. Then I realized that the characters in Hollowstone get so much closure, not to mention the fact that the novel ends in a very unique way, that to do a sequel would probably be a disservice to the characters and the story. If you can ever exit on a high note, that’s the way to do it. That being said…in the superhero story I’m outlining, one of the central characters will make an appearance and something about their fate that was all but promised in Hollowstone, gets confirmed in the superhero novel. So stay tuned.
Denny, thank you so much for stopping by during your book tour and we’ll be sure to give Hollowstone a review once its out! If all of that didn’t convince you to buy Hollowstone, here’s 12 reasons to order it! You can order Hollowstone directly from the publisher or from Amazon.com
Snagged from Geek Feminism’s Blog. Reposting since it reached in and grabbed me by the heart.
Women, feminism, and geek culture
Cori Roberts is founder of Gameinatrix.com and remaining founding member of Gamer Girls Radio, and has been involved in gaming media for over 8 years. She’s currently obsessed with the MMO Fallen Earth and anything involving vampires in the world of Second Life.
This post was originally published at The Border House.
While several gamers are fighting for the right to game with all the controversy surrounding the community as of late, there are a few of us women gamers waging another kind of war in our own respective communities. It’s not just the standard girl gamer war, where there is incessant name calling, references to genitalia or even the normal male chauvinist crap. The battle is having to defend why we are even playing games, in the first place. Why would “we” be playing games, because black women don’t play games.
I’m one of these elusive, mythical, Black (African American for you new kiddies) women gamers who purportedly do not exist. While this particular battle is not a boss battle for me, it is an annoying and repetitive battle. It’s one I have to wage most every time I encounter a new “sistah” who can barely operate her iPhone, but thinks she is somehow more versed in games and who should be playing them, than I am. The first thing I’m asked is how I ended up even playing games, like it’s a disease I somehow contracted. Then I’m told how “different” and “odd” I am. My mother bought me my first console at age six and I never knew I was any different from other little girl. Never knew I was a geek, a nerd, or any other derivative until I was much older. However, after I realized I was one of these beings, referred to as a geek, I kept it secret and tried hard to suppress it. I can tell you I use to rent games at Block Buster and often lied about who they were for. Once out on my own, gaming became part my regular daily routine. Get up, school, work, come home, game. When I couldn’t afford to go clubbing, you’d find me on the floor of my furniture-less apartment, head propped up with pillows, faithful dog at my side, playing games. The only thing I bought other than games was clothes. Come on, I’m still a girl! It should suffice to say, I obviously don’t fit the mold of fat white guy, with glasses. I was a thin shapely black chick with glasses (used to wear glasses anyway), who spent her free time perusing not only Cosmo magazine, but strategy guides in now defunct Electronics Boutique. The guys began to love when I came into EB every Friday, because other guys followed me in and they stayed to chat when they realized I actually loved games just as much as they did. Me, wearing my designer perfume and clothes, could take a guy down in Tekken in 30 seconds flat. After getting over the shock of being beaten by me, I always had a new friend and finally there in EB I stopped feeling odd and out of place. I fit in somewhere. However the older I got, the more dissonance I noticed with other black women once I mentioned video games or anything geeky for that matter. All of those silent lunches finally lead to me speaking up and a mini-battle royale about the Lifetime Network and gaming where I schooled my “sistah” on the world of gaming and technology. I also shared with her that technology is an area where black women were being left in the dust. Most of us are still taught and truly believe as black women, it’s just our not our place to be “smart”. Before the eye rolling begins, this is not true of all women of color, but it’s true enough. So true that I still have yet to pick up an Essence, Ebony, or Jet magazine and see an entire tech section (not to pick on Essence, this is true of a lot of women’s magazines). Hip Hop mags like XXL do share some tech info with its readers, but tend to have more male readers than females. It’s also still true that most black women tend to steer clear of the whole technology thing and can barely use an iPhone, let alone know which cables go where on their Xbox. While we’re excelling in other areas, still some black women view the gaming industry as a childish and MALE one. As a result, our presence in the world of tech and gaming is lagging far behind the rest of the world.
As a Black woman (I prefer being called Black to African American, I didn’t move here from Africa and become American, I was born here), I find it disheartening that even so many of our notable Black public figures and role models don’t even acknowledge the gaming culture unless it’s the latest fad. For instance Oprah Winfrey has had a show or two about gaming addiction and how horrid gaming is, only to give away the Kinect on her show later. As a gamer I was not impressed or fooled. I once heard Tyra Banks say on her show something akin to she thought men were so childish playing games, and she hated when her man did it. Women don’t wanna play games, chile! These women are considered great role models and several young women look up to them. I wonder if they know the message they are sending to young black women. Yes you’re teaching them that beauty is subjective, but are teaching them that technology is for those other folk. This, in my opinion, will lead to a nation of beautiful black women who are technologically incompetent. They will know the best way to maintain their weave but not how to change out a faulty hard drive. Or even how to do something as simple as defrag a hard drive.
Take note, most of the women you’ll see fighting for a place in the gaming industry usually are not of ethnicity. I explained to my friend the facts and figures of the gaming industry, and how our lives as black women should not be all about being a nurse (this is a common thing in the black community, pushing daughters to be nurses or get into law, go after the money), but instead embracing a new culture, a culture that does in fact make a LOT of money, a culture that, though considered controversial at times, is indeed the future. A culture where most times, our differences are celebrated, not hated. Ok, perhaps I’m pushing the Utopia envelope here, but aside from a very few assholes, I’ve NEVER been called out for the color of my skin. Admittedly, I hail from several racial backgrounds, but I identify as being your average garden variety, Diva, black, woman. I pointed out to her that I’ve never been told I wasn’t dressed appropriately to game. That my manicure to was too old to game. That I wasn’t black enough to game. The only thing that has ever held me back is not having the SAME game as a gamer buddy.
Said friend turned her head to look out the window and quietly said to me, “I just don’t get it…you gamers…” But she did call a few months later sounding bubbly and told me she’d bought her first console. Yes it was a Wii, but she was planning on getting an Xbox, as well. She’d seen some ‘interesting’ things at Game Stop that she actually wanted to play. But I dare say if I hadn’t opened my mouth, if I hadn’t in essence said that gaming as entertainment is okay, she would never have played. Though I’ve managed to bring some of my friends to the dark side, I still have to deal with strangers form assumptions based on the fact that I’m a gamer. If I’m in Best Buy or any store’s PC section, I still get the tech behind the desk who feels the need to try to explain to me every detail of my video card and how it works, where to install it on my motherboard. I hate the condescension in their voice and this is after I’ve told them a million and one times that I’m a gamer. I have every console, (except the 3DS, but give me time) and even a gaming PC, that I built myself, from scratch, even after I tell them I run a gaming website and podcast and have for 8 years. They don’t hear me until I get a little belligerent and then they are shocked and awed. The next thing is to test me, because it’s just impossible to them that black woman as a gamer exists. I am always told that of course I must not be hard core, no woman is. I can tell you that I am indeed as hardcore as they come. And just because I may wear a weave, wig, extensions or like shoes, doesn’t detract from that. I’d like to tell my fellow “sistahs” that yes, you can be fabulous, and play games, and know how your iPhone works. I do not find it cute or charming when you have a beautiful piece of technology and you use it more as a status symbol and can’t even figure out how to make a simple call. You can be smart, and know how to fix your own PC, iPhone, or hook up your own HDTV and then feel extra proud to sit down and watch your Sex in the City re-runs, without having to call your man over to do it for you. I am hoping one day to be in the store and not have to tell another black woman to buy games for her daughter, not just her son, and not hear the mother say she won’t like it, when clearly the little girl is interested. I’d like to see more black women put their daughters in front of a computer and push them to learn more math, science and physics. But sadly I see this particular battle as a very long one. While I am graced to have a few black women who do share my passion for gaming, my white girlfriends (whom I love just as much) far outnumber the black ones. I do wish I had more black gaming girlfriends (and in the same city would be nice) so this black girl can stop constantly LFG.
Via the Nappturality forums, a thread on What is the Funniest or Stupidest question you’ve been asked about your locs?
Some are funny, but most are sad and shows the ignorance people still have over black women, natural hair and locs. For the record, this post is NOT an invitation for me to teach anyone a damn thing, nor is it an invitation to try and school me on anything.
My hair is MY hair and you are not welcome to discuss it as if its some separate thing from me. I am not my hair, but my hair is part and parcel of me, my identity and my journey to accepting my natural hair as it is as a thing of beauty.
If you can have some adult level discourse,feel free. If not, then you will be mocked, and shown the door cause I frankly ain’t got time for it.
The problem is when those friends and strangers just feel the need to touch my hair and not accept no for an answer. Not only do I not understand why you’d want to touch someone else’s hair (“Oh, is it soft?”—Opposed to what? A brick?), but it seems to be only white people who do this—at least to me. Black women seem to be capable of admiring it without wanting to finger it. In fact, most white women do too (the previous mentioned person who walked pass me, just to come back was white).
But the ones who are not content to admire my hair are always white. This is not happenstance, of course, white people generally feel more entitled to infringe on other people’s spaces. But, I won’t get into the historical and political aspects of why blacks hate this. There have been post, after post, after post on the matter, and even a guide here. They aren’t hard to find.
The main issue I have is that in this day and age, people should know better. Any information you wish is just a click away. Don’t believe me? Check google: “why not to touch a black person’s hair” or “touching black people’s hair.” See all those links? They are real. They are written by real people with real feelings. (In fact it has been written about so much I almost didn’t bother to post this. But it’s obvious some people just haven’t gotten the memo.)
There are so many reasons not to touch or ask to touch people of color’s hair. Some of them include: offensive, dehumanizing, rude.
But let’s get to the meat of it, show of hands. How often have you gotten you hair done just right, in that up-do, or curled just so for that special occasion and someone then come along and ran their fingers through it? How annoying is it? Very? Really? Well imagine being on display like this all the time, 24-7.
The most recent incident came when I was with a group of friends, sitting at a table and a woman walked over and said, “Oh, your hair is so pretty.” Then she stretched out her hands as if she was just going to touch it (without permission) and when I moved out of her way, she looked shocked. “Oh, I just wanted to feel it,” she said.
“No,” I shook my head.
She looked puzzled. “No?”
I smiled, and said nicer than she deserved, “I’m having dinner with friends, do you mind.”
“Well, EXCUSE me.” She said, as if I had offended her and not the other way around—as if I had the nerve to refuse her natural born right to touch me. I stared for a moment and watched her walk away. My group of friends were mixed company, but they are pretty awesome women.
“Bitch.” Someone said—I refuse to say who would say such a thing (besides my friends are like the mafia, snitch and you’ll wake up swimming with the fishes).
Listen, I’ve heard all kinds of excuses about why this is not a race issue. They seem to mainly be: “I am a white female with blonde hair, and on more than one occasion, someone has touched my hair.” But, I’ve learned along the years that I can’t decide when someone else should be offended or why they get offended. Neither can you.
In the end, The Stuff White People Do blog put it best. You’re not allowed to touch my hair:
“Because I’m not an animal in the zoo.”
“Because this is my body and I don’t have to let anybody touch any part of it, EVER, if I don’t want to.”
“Because my black ancestors may have been your ancestors’ property, and had to smile while they got touched in ways they didn’t want to, but I am not YOUR property and never will be so you’d best move your hand away from me.”
And I’ll add one of my own: Because you live in a different world from your mothers and fathers and you have the opportunity, no, dare I say the responsibility, to research and find out the views of other people before you make an ass of yourself, and before you offend someone with your ignorance.
‘Nough said. Got it?
- Mood: aggravated
The Angry Black Woman’s Guide to Hair Etiquette
1. It is never okay to touch, pull, or stroke a black person’s hair without permission. No matter how different, cool, or fun their hair looks, you just don’t.
2. It is never okay to ask a casual acquaintance or a perfect stranger if their hair is real. It doesn’t matter how curious you are or how incongruous their hair is to your expectations. Don’t do it.
3. Realize that, in asking if you can touch a black person’s hair, you are objectifying them in possibly uncomfortable ways. That person may consent to letting you touch their hair just to be nice, but rarely is it because they enjoy having your hands on them. The most polite thing would be not to ask until such time as you know that person well enough to know if they won’t mind the request. This is not the Petting Zoo.
4. Think before you make any comments expressing surprise that a person’s hair could look any certain way without a lot of help from chemicals, products, or professional stylists.
Print this, carry it around with you, tell others. I know I will. Because the next person who touches my hair without permission is going to come out of the encounter with several strands of their own missing (with root tags attached).
This video is for anyone who ever asked, wanted to ask or has asked ignorant questions about black people’s hair. ESPECIALLY for those that have touched a black person’s hair without permission, and thought that it was OK. ESPECIALLY for those that want to misappropriate locs and think that it looks good. ESPECIALLY for those people that ask dumb questions like, is that your hair? Do you actually wash it? Oh, you can feel it if I touch your twists/locs?
I read the Huffington Post. Most of the time its on point, humorous and gives me a chuckle. That was not the case when this article: Two Black Role Models done in by Hubris went up.
The author is not a woman of color, nor does she seem to understand that her article is patently offensive and racist. A summary for those that don’t click. She posits that these two black men were brought low by their hubris. Woods for his extramarital dalliances and Obama for failing to deliver on his campaign promises in his 8 months in office so far. Um, what? I didn’t appoint her my savior and decider of who gets to speak for me as a black person to the world at large.
When readers call her on the idiocy of linking these two men based on skin color alone, she gets quite defensive in the comments to her own piece. I notice that she trips over herself basically calling herself out and back pedaling on what she did and didn’t actually say in the piece. Critical thinking fail here people.
Here’s my comment in case anyone is interested:
“That you even think their race had anything to do with their failure means you can’t read.” If that’s the case, what was the point of your article in tenuously linking two famous black men? What hubris can you point to on the part of the president? You really need to step back, untangle the straps of your invisible back pack and realize the issue people are taking with your “article”. Let me clarify for you.
You, as a white woman are attempting to tell us people of color that we ought to be ashamed of these two fallen role models of our “people”. No one assigns my role models. No one famous person of color should be held up as the monolithic example of what POC should aspire to, and none of us should be told by journalists of any race, creed or color that the “failures” of famouse POC are doubly problematic and just such a disappointment for the race.
This is condescending, patronizing and yes, it is a racist action. You can commit racist actions and not even realize it. Reading your commentary back to posters here, it seems as if you are treating people’s responses to this poorly written attempt at connecting two famous black men as personal attacks.
Your closing line is very telling on yourself, you should read it and let it sink in because its exactly what you are doing by jumping up and down screaming but I’m not racist! online.
I’ve had the issue of women being treated as property, as if (some) men think we are here for their pleasure only, as if we are to be honored by your hey baby, how you doin’s as we go about our daily lives, but instead when we ignore you, tell you to fuck off or just keep walking the insults flow freely.
Instead of understanding that women are not chattel, we do not exist to please you… you revert to mental infancy and call us sluts, whores, bitches… ask if we think we’re too good for you, or won’t we just FUCKING SMILE, after all it was a compliment I paid you, damn why you have to be like that. The litany could go on forever but you get my point.
After a post by karnythia on creepy ass man following her and try8ing to intimidate her, and the story of the MTA passenger who just needed some help but instead was asked out for a date by an employee, this topic has boiled over in my head and needs to be let out.
I know men don’t understand that life is different for women, in that alot of us are raised to be leery of unknown men, especially ones that approach us on the street. It’s something that keeps you safe and can save your life, because you never know when a dude is just trying to be a harmless flirt or a serial killer or rapist. I know its harsh, but you (men who think you’re doing us a favor by hollering on the street)don’t know our lives, our stories, what kind of baggage we’re carrying around.
That woman whose arm you try to grab so you can “talk to her” could be a rape survivor, she could be on the way home after being laid off from a job, or getting some other bad news. She could not be smiling because she just found out her grandmother died or she failed a test, or for any number of reasons. You never know what a person has going on in their head, and presuming that she should give you the gift of her smile, her time just because you’re a man is pretty damn arrogant.
Thinking that women should be honored because you deign to throw some two bit line our way on the street, or talk about us as if we’re nothing more than walking tits, ass and vagina’s put on display for your approval and usage speaks volumes about how little you know about women or the real world. I don’t speak for all women, but I think anyone with a shred of self-respect wouldn’t bother with a trifling ass man who thinks the way into a womans heart is to talk about that ass, and how you’d give her what for.
Men, at least the men who think that this is a GOOD IDEA and women should be grateful for your attention… realize we don’t owe you a motherfucking thing. We don’t owe you our time, our energy, our bodies or our smiles.
Lastly, posted this in a comment to an earlier post of mine and it needs to be seen, and reposted far and wide.
that buy into the idea that women of any color should lower their expectations for your trifling ass… especially anyone who agrees with this Memo to Black women informing us we’ll never get a Barack or Denzel because our standards are too high? Here’s a note from a black woman who sincerely wants to inform you that:
Black women are not required to lower our standards for men like you. They are called standards for a reason. Black women are not obligated to play faux mommy to men like you that can’t fend for themselves in the real world because no one made them grow up and get their shit together as adults.
Black women are not obligated to know how to cook five course meals for you that will be piping hot and perfect when you decide to bring your triflin’ ass home. We are not obligated to be ferocious in bed, pandering to your every sexual whim because you’re a MAN; yet accept the fact that you have no real clue on how to please a woman and be grateful for what little attention you give us.
We have the right to expect that whatever man we end up with is a decent fucking human being and will treat us with respect, love and actually want us because we have a brain in our heads and not just great bodies.
We are not obligated to lower our standards so man-children like you have a chance at a good woman that you can’t handle anyway. So get yourself to a library, school, read a damn book and learn that it isn’t all about you and getting a woman to serve your needs by erasing her own.
“A Message from the Average Black Person”
Via the Huffington Post (Would love to hear what you guys think – Sorry about the cut IT WONT WORK. And if you enjoy this please DIGG it - http://is.gd/1ev4T – and feel free to pass the link along!)
This is a total no-brainer to me that is once again touted as something new and shiny for people to go, really? I would have never have thought that! Poor black folks don’t like middle class black folks usually. The rest of us don’t like those uppity negroes who ahve the gall to be upper class and in some cases pretend as if they arent black any more.
No matter how much green is in your pocket dear friends, if someone sees your blackness first and your bank account second they won’t care how much you’ve got or not. You’ll be the poor/not broke as those welfare shuckers and jivers (aka doing alright)/ or bourgeoisies.
There’s no happy medium when it comes to black folks and class I’ve found in my 35 years on this earth. If someone is out of work, and you have a steady job then of course you must have spare money to give them right? If you work your ass off everyday, you do so to be rich… not wealthy mind you, but rich. There is a difference. (See Chris Rock’s Bigger & Blacker routine) You’re never happy cause you don’t have what that rich brother or sister has … and you eventually hate them for it, becoming poisoned against someone who came into money by hard work or luck… and then you scheme to take them down via word or deed.
Keep in mind that my opinions are my own and if you come here looking for a fight you’ll get one.
Skin, bits, issues and voting at Angry Black Woman. By the most awesome Karnythia
Karnythia is guest blogging at ABW. She has summed up my feelings on the election madness much better than I ever could. full text of the piece under the cut.
For anyone who may be a frat or soror at/alum of an HBCU. Any thoughts on this topic?
Diverse Web Chat
Please join us for an exciting Web chat discussion about the state of Black Greek Letter Organizations at 1 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Nov. 14. Read more…
Lauredhel posts about some breast surgery that isn’t breast surgery according to the docs who invented it.
2049live posted about the Twin Towers Alliance Interview [he's working on their site]
Karnythia posted some interesting thoughts about other IBARW posts she’s seen around the net
Angelsscream’s IBARW posts are all here
*All links will open in a new window
My friend Fard did a very good post on his LJ about this topic. You can find it here.
Here’s my comment.
Meant to comment earlier. I agree and its sad, very sad that black women seem to be at a point where its seek that rare and mythical educated black man who has no kids, hasn’t been to jail, hasn’t been in a gang and has a job or date “outside” as it were.
The sad thing is, there’s no happy medium for anyone involved. If a black woman dates a white guy, she’s a traitor or too siddity to be with a brother… if a black guy dates a white woman, he’s going after the forbidden fruit that the MAN told him he can’t have.
Sadly white women & men are just ass out in the view of some blacks because its like they are trying to prove just how NOT RACIST they are by dating outside white culture.
What are your thoughts gentle readers?
I’m almost done with this book, I highly recommend it to anyone who thinks that one person can’t make a difference. Doctor Maathai is an inspiration, and I’m glad I recieved this book. Makes a great gift too. Below is a review from Amazon that sums up what I’d like to say, but its much better written
A well written review from Amazon’s site:
Perseverance and hope, April 5, 2007
By Friederike Knabe (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) – See all my reviews
When Wangari Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, questions were raised regarding her choice by the Nobel Committee. Why should an environmentalist receive a prize that was identified with peace and human rights, voiced the critics. Reading Maathai’s memoir sets the record straight, and justifying her selection for the award. In this fascinating and very personal account, she paints a vivid picture of her life, embedded in the realities of Kenya before and since independence. Her experiences during the Moi regime, in particular, demonstrate the challenges a young educated woman confronted in the face of traditional prejudice as well as political oppression.