By Guest Contributor Chaya Babu; originally published at Feminist Wire
Image by xpgomes11 on Flickr
I was a few weeks into my freshman year at Duke when my sister, a senior at the time, said to me, “Indian girls who date black guys are sluts.” Just like that.
We were sitting in her car in the circular driveway behind my dorm. The night was warm and wet in the late North Carolina summer. I had just told her about the budding flirtation with a boy from Memphis who lived across the grassy quad. I would spy him coming back from class and get the jitters. He asked me to help him study Spanish. I got excited just talking about it. And her sisterly response? Indian girls who date black guys are sluts.
I think I was already mildly aware of this idea. It had lurked in the periphery of my consciousness in high school because of the way my family looked suspiciously upon my adolescent tryst with a lanky, dark-skinned boy from a neighboring town and even my interest at a young age in hip hop music. They didn’t say anything, but they didn’t have to. The unspoken messages about how they viewed blackness and sexuality and the intersection of these two things – and how I was attaching myself to it – were successfully transmitted. And lately, at 30 years old, I wonder if I’m still working through them somewhere deep beneath the surface as I finally try to reclaim and redefine this part of my identity as my own.
Roger and Chaz Ebert. Image via Chicago Sun-Times.
How can I begin to tell you about Chaz? She fills my horizon, she is the great fact of my life, she has my love, she saved me from the fate of living out my life alone, which is where I seemed to be heading. If my cancer had come, and it would have, and Chaz had not been there with me, I can imagine a descent into lonely decrepitude. I was very sick. I might have vegetated in hopelessness. This woman never lost her love, and when it was necessary she forced me to want to live. She was always there believing I could do it, and her love was like a wind forcing me back from the grave.
Does that sound too dramatic? You were not there. She was there every day, visiting me in the hospital whether I knew it or not, becoming an expert on my problems and medications, researching possibilities, asking questions, making calls, even giving little Christmas and Valentine’s Day baskets to my nurses, who she knew by name. –Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, July 17, 2012.
He fought a courageous fight. I’ve lost the love of my life and the world has lost a visionary and a creative and generous spirit who touched so many people all over the world,” she said. “We had a lovely, lovely life together, more beautiful and epic than a movie. It had its highs and the lows, but was always experienced with good humor, grace and a deep abiding love for each other. –Chaz Ebert, quoted in People Magazine, April 4, 2013.
I am still at Stanford (and will be until June.) But I am bringing back an old tradition of doing class notes on some of these ideas.
Joan Morgan, hip-hop feminism pioneer, has been moving her work into conversations around pleasure and sexual politics. Jeff Chang, hip-hopper-about-town and the head of Stanford’s Institue for Diversity in the Arts, asked Joan if she’d like the be the artist in residence for WinterQuarter. Joan agreed and then developed a class called “The Pleasure Principle: A Post-Hip Hop Search for a Black Feminist Politics of Pleasure.”
“The Pleasure Principle: A Post-Hip Hop Search for a Black Feminist Politics of Power” (CSRE127B) will explore the various articulations of a politics of pleasure in black feminist thought. We will examine classic black feminist texts on respectability politics, the erotic, hip-hop feminism, and dancehall culture, geared toward helping students develop a critical lens for interrogating depictions of black female sexuality and articulations of pleasure in popular culture. Examples include “The Cosby Show,” “Sex in the City,” “Girlfriends,” “Basketball Wives,” “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” “Pariah,” as well as the works of Beyonce, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Tanya Stephens, and Lady Saw. Continue reading →
RuPaul is a Black gay man, not a transperson, and the trans community is beyond sick and tired of being sick and tired of him being elevated by cis and gay people to some nebulous ‘trans expert’ level..
As a matter of fact, one of the reasons I became a trans activist in 1998 was because of a Transgender Tapestry magazine article in the 90’s that ignorantly considered RuPaul and Dennis Rodman as Black transwomen juxtaposed against other accomplished white trans people despite both Ru and Dennis Rodman emphatically saying they weren’t trans and didn’t want to transition.
It was the epiphany that made me realize just how invisible Black transwomen were in the trans human rights movement and gave me the impetus to get involved and change that dynamic.
It looks like the people in this group are chatty–but also rather astute. Fabulous combination, if I do say so myself. If you need to reacquaint yourself with last week’s plot–Scandal 2.10 “One for the Dog” take a read here. This roundtable is to serve as an insight into the actions of the previous episode, so you go in refreshed and omniscient as I feel when I finish editing these.
In addition to Kendra James and me, joining us we have Loree Lamour, Zach Stafford, T.F. Charlton, Johnathan Fields, and Jordan St. John. And boy, we have quite the analysis for you, so I’m going to let you, the reader, get to it!
And remember! Spoilers lie below the cut. Spoil-y Spoilers.
Perhaps Shonda Rimes referred to the wrong interracial relationship in last week’s Scandal. For the sexual/romantic agency–as problematic as it is–that both Olivia Pope and President Fitz Grant do exercise, they’re probably closer to the Richard and Mildred Loving than Sally Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson.
Spoiler Alert: If you didn’t watch last week’s episode of Scandal, do not read any further.
While Shonda Rhime’s “Scandal” has become a reliable source of Twitter water-cooler talk every Thursday night, last week’s episode especially touched a nerve, after this scene between our protagonist, high-powered problem-solver Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn):
“I’m feeling a little Sally Hemings-Thomas Jefferson about all this,” Olivia told Fitz, who looked about as stunned as many shows reacted online.
So what to make of this in a broader context? As the season finale approaches Thursday, Guest Contributors T.F. Charlton and Arrianna Conerly Coleman weigh in on this special Roundtable. Continue reading →
Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World