By Book Review Correspondent Carly Neely
Recently, I was asked to help a friend’s son prepare for the SATs. One of the practice writing prompts asked for a discussion on the importance of determination and persistence in relation to success. If I had only read this book a little earlier I would have just assigned this book!
In the Sea There are Crocodiles is based on the true story of Enaiatollah (Enaiat) Akbari, translated by Fabio Geda from Italian. The tale follows Enaiat as a 10 year old in Afghanistan to a 15 year old in Italy, traveling on his own. Reading Enaiat’s first person account of his trials creates a feeling of sitting down for coffee with an acquaintance — but before you know it, you’re diving head first into the history of a most unbelievable life. He describes his saga casually despite the unrelenting challenges set before him.
Enaiat’s story begins in a small village in Afghanistan: happily living with his family, playing with friends, attending school, and its all set against an idyllic landscape. Those descriptions strongly reminded me of those in Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner.
By Guest Contributor Brokey McPoverty, cross-posted from PostBourgie
The website un’ruly held a public art exhibit in New York City this weekend entitled “You Can Touch My Hair.” Three black women stood in Union Square with signs that read “You can touch my hair,” welcoming strangers to come and cop a feel. The women had different hair types: dreadlocks, straightened hair, a big, blown-out afro.
My intent was to have a piece on this event written a couple of days ago, but getting my thoughts together has been tougher than I thought. But now that I’ve had a chance to chew on this for a while, I’ve decided that this is either some amazing real life trolling or a misguided attempt at doing something important. Or maybe both.
I’m a woman with big hair who has had many a strange, uninvited hand in her head, and so my entire body and spirit reacted to this event. There is a special kind of violation that comes with someone putting their hands on you — any part of you — without your permission. When you’re at a club and someone puts his hand on your waist or the small of your back to get your attention. Or you’re at a work function and a happy-faced woman in a business suit sticks her hands in my hair. When someone has decided that their desire to touch you is more important than your interest in being touched, you don’t feel very much like a person. And being asked by a stranger for undeserved permission to touch part of me is exceedingly creepy.
By Arturo R. García
Always a joy to watch when our contributors get some shine in other media outlets. Latest case in point: Tressie McMillan Cottom, who has shared some great work with us covering, among other topics, Anne-Marie Slaughter and “trickle-down feminism” and young education activist Aamira Fetuga, featured on Dan Rather Reports for this story on for-profit colleges — and how far they go to make that profit.
“Can you serve public and can you serve the public good simultaneously? I don’t think we’ve answered that, as far as education is concerned,” she says.
The report also shows footage from a federal probe in which undercover agents posing as students were lied to and brushed off when they asked to speak to a financial aid expert before signing up for student loans needed to cover their tuition.
“They’ve even said to me, executives from for-profit colleges, ‘No, Tressie, we are motivating them, and a part of motivating them is to hit their pain points,’ and that’s a direct quote,” says Cottom, a former ITT counselor. “If part of motivating them is to hit their pain points, their objective says, ‘That’s fine, as long as it gets them to start school.’”
The segment is just under 15 minutes long and safe for work, but it does provide a disturbing look at what’s apparently going on behind all those smiley commercials many of us have probably seen. Congrats, Tressie!
In Bitch magazine, Racialicious senior editor Tamara Winfrey Harris weighs in on feminist criticism of singer Beyonce:
Dr. Sarah Jackson, a race and media scholar at Boston’s Northeastern University, says, “The idea that Beyoncé being sexy is only her performing for male viewers assumes that embracing sexuality isn’t also for women.” Jackson adds that the criticism also ignores “the limited choices available to women in the entertainment industry and the limited ways Beyoncé is allowed to express her sexuality, because of her gender and her race.”
Her confounding mainstream persona, Jackson points out, is one key to the entertainer’s success as a black artist. “You don’t see black versions of Lady Gaga crossing over to the extent that Beyoncé has or reaching her levels of success. Black artists rarely have the same privilege of not conforming to dominant image expectations.”
Solange, Beyoncé’s sister, who has gone for a natural-haired, boho, less sexified approach to her music, remains a niche artist, as do Erykah Badu, Janelle Monáe, and Shingai Shoniwa of the Noisettes, like so many black female artists before them. Grace Jones, Joan Armatrading, Tracy Chapman, Meshell Ndegeocello—talented all, but quirky black girls, especially androgynous ones, don’t sell pop music, perform at the Super Bowl, or get starring roles in Hollywood films.
Black women (and girls) have also historically battled the stereotype of innate and uncontrolled lasciviousness, which may explain why Beyoncé’s sexuality is viewed differently from that of white artists like Madonna, who is lauded for performing in very similar ways.
Above, actors Kerry Washington (Scandal) and Don Cheadle (House of Lies) speak with Variety magazine. The conversation includes the following exchange:
When people reference your race when describing your career, is that a point of pride, or is it something that you think is overplayed in the media as part of your story?
DC: I think I’m somewhat defined by my race for sure, and I’m good with that and I actually want that to be a part. … I think that should be fodder for our work — we should use all aspects of ourselves. I’m always trying to find a place where that’s actually an impact on what I’m doing as opposed to going, “Well, we’re all just people and we’re the same.”
KW: I agree. I think it’s relevant. I think gender is relevant. I bring something to the table as a woman; I bring something to the table as a woman of color. So I feel like, if it’s the only thing you focus on, then it’s a danger, and if you never talk about it then it’s a danger.
In a three-part weeklong series, ELIXHER examines the Black lesbian web series phenomenon.
It’s human nature to long for reflections of ourselves in our surroundings. Our ability to connect with people, places, and objects is based on a feeling of familiarity. Without this component, the connection is lost. That’s why it didn’t surprise me that I was uninterested in a recent film’s sad attempt to depict a lesbian relationship.
The acting wasn’t bad; nor were the women unattractive. It was more about my inability to connect with the characters. I saw very little of myself within them. I didn’t leave nor did I ask the movie attendant for my money back; instead I sat there purging myself on over-buttered popcorn and large doses of caffeine. I left feeling unsatisfied, as if I have shared the bed of an inexperienced lover.
It has been days and the junk food has left my system. However, I find myself insatiably hungry. My spirit will no longer allow me to be pacified by lesbian-inspired films and television dramas with women who have no resemblance to myself. As a queer woman of color, I long to see my beautiful sisters playing roles that reveal our truth.
What I do not want is to see unstable relationships, the come-save-a-lez male character insertion, or the downward spiral of our brown skin queer women due to their inability to deal with life’s issues. I’m not asking for perfection because I find beauty in imperfection. I am, however, asking to see our truth receive just as much exposure in mainstream media as some of the well-known lesbian flicks that chose to exclude women of our shade.
In my quest, I sent out a call to speak with queer African American women that had been involved in web series. I asked them why they felt that we have shows that meet our standards popping up all over the Internet but not in mainstream media.
My first interview was with Milanda who appeared in the first season of Come Take a Walk with Me with me directed and written by Mina Monshá. Come Take a Walk with Me is a coming out story that focuses on lesbian relationships during the characters’ college years. The cast is comprised of an eclectic blend of queer women of color. This alone had me at hello.
I spoke with Milanda for hours discussing a wide array of topics that included our responsibility as brown skin queer women to educate the masses of our existence, the reason why we may get a bisexual cameo here and there, and why we find it easier to showcase our talents on the web versus television or the movie screen.
The truth is that we have a responsibility to each other to ask for what we want and when we get it, to show up. Often times we hear the cries for something better but when something better presents itself, we don’t always show our support. We will always be stronger in numbers. We must also look at the fact that more often than not, we create the labels and boxes that society tries to stuff us in. Because of this it is our responsibility to educate our heterosexual counterparts about who we are.
We both agreed that it seems to be easier for those outside of our space to tolerate our truth when we wrap it in a bisexual package. It seems that by including a man at some point of the story allows men to continue the fantasy of possibilities; possibly they can have us, possibly they can change us, possibly they can save us. But we don’t need saving. Black women have worn capes since the dawn of time and know how to make a steak out of a honey sandwich. After my conversation with Milanda my head was in a tailspin and that is when I realized that we are a strong force with the power to create change.
Shortly after our discussion, the opportunity to speak with the cast of Lez-B-Honest fell into my lap. This web series was birthed from the minds of its producers Dacia Mitchell, Shannon Todd, and Tonica Freeman and is filmed out of Palm Beach, FL. The show tackles various issues that go on within our relationships and community. Yes there is drama, cheating, and sex, but there is also true love, spirituality, the journey to finding self, and the battle with creating one’s own positive self-image.
These women brave the stigma that we have been imprisoned to and show how life really happens for some of us. After the first five minutes of watching one of the shows my soul felt quenched. And with over 6 million views combined at the end of their second season, it is obvious that I am not alone in my thinking.
I didn’t know what to expect when I sat down to talk with these women, but what I received was a true representation of the queer family unit compiled of intelligent and grinding women.
In my interview, I had the pleasure of speaking with the characters Reese, Tye, Portia, Renee, Alex, and Shawna. All of the women came to the show for different reasons but after coming together found a bond that connected their spirits. I was able to learn a lot from our conversation. The most important thing I learned is that we all want the same thing.
They too would like to see more of us in mainstream media, outside of the stereotypical labels and preconceived notions. They feel that we have the power to make this change. They also expressed the importance of queer women supporting one another in their ventures and educating each other about the resources that are available in order for us to produce more of our brand of work.
See here is the thing: queer women of color come in as many types as we do shades and hair textures. To limit our ability is to kill the spirit that makes us who we are. When we invest in the next big movie or television series, we should invest not only our time and money but our hearts into media outlets that represent us in all of the forms we come in. We, as a unit, must come together because it’s time the revolution be televised.
It’s long overdue.
What’s your go-to Black lesbian web series? Make a commitment to supporting our own! Share your favorite episode on social media, advertise your business on their website or purchase their merch.
Spoken Pandora considers herself a gypsy that has traveled worlds through the literature she writes. Currently she resides in North Carolina with her daughter and partner. When she is not writing, she publicly speaks at LGBTQ events on sexual related topics. Her work can be found on her website.
By Kendra James
A few weeks back I suggested that you might want to catch up on BBC 1’s Luther, starring Idris Elba and Ruth Wilson, before the premiere of the show’s third series in July. This week brought us the first trailer for the summer season (above), so I repeat: Watch Luther. We’re a country with eighteen thousand different Law and Orders, a million CSIs, and nine seasons of Criminal Minds. This show should be way more mainstream than it is.
(Video heavy under the cut this week, folks, so hold onto your computers!)
PARIS — In one of her more revealing moments this tournament, Serena Williams addressed the various personalities that reside deep within her. Since she first infiltrated the Tennisphere in the late 1990s, Serena has been a bundle of contradictions and unpredictability. We call her by her first name, yet she remains mysterious in some ways. Now, 15 years into an astonishing career — filled with all sorts of plot twists and relentless, almost devotional, winning — we have some insight into the driving forces.
There’s Summer. “My assistant who lives inside my body,” Serena said. “She’s really organized and she’s amazing. I love her.”
Then there’s Megan. “I think she was a bad girl. … Haven’t seen her in a long time.”
And there’s Laquanda. “She’s not allowed to come out. She’s on probation. She’s not nasty. She just keeps it real. And you don’t want to cross her.”
The same facets that continue to make Serena a singularly compelling personality also inform her tennis. The casual fans will see she won still another major singles title Saturday afternoon in Paris — we’re up to 16, for those scoring at home — beating a game Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-4 in the French Open final. They will assume Serena did what she often does and brought her insurmountable power to bear, turning a tennis match into a physical altercation, playing with peerless intensity.
And they would be right. But they would be missing the multiple personalities of her tennis game.
– “Serena’s personalities, legendary game produce French Renaissance;” On Sunday afternoon Serena Williams defeated Maria Sharapova to win the French Open, her sixteenth singles title. With Wimbledon around the corner, Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated takes a look at Serena’s winning strategies and shows that her success goes beyond the physical.
About This BlogRacialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable
Keanu ReevesJohn Cho newsflashes.
Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.
Comments on this blog are moderated. Please read our comment moderation policy.
Use the "for:racialicious" tag in del.icio.us to send us tips. See here for detailed instructions.
Interested in writing for us? Check out our submissions guidelines.
Follow Us on Twitter!
- Jenna England on Open Thread: Kanye West and Yeezus
- ISpeakMyTruth on Tyler Perry Hates Black Women: 5 Thoughts on The Haves and Have Nots
- ISpeakMyTruth on On That Serena Williams/Steubenville Comment
- SuperBrother on Tyler Perry Hates Black Women: 5 Thoughts on The Haves and Have Nots
- Cece Duvall on Tyler Perry Hates Black Women: 5 Thoughts on The Haves and Have Nots
- The Evolution Of Hula: Traditional, Contemporary, And Hotel
- Table For Two: Man Of Steel
- On That Serena Williams/Steubenville Comment
- Barack Obama as our first Asian American President?: Part I
- It’s Time to Recognize All Dads on Father’s Day
- Casting Call: Lucy, the Mutant Human/Angel Hybrid Who Speaks with an Asian Accent (But is not Asian)
- Quoted: The problem with “Devious Maids” goes far beyond Hollywood
- Open Thread: Kanye West and Yeezus
TagsABC activism advertising african-american asian asian-american barack obama black blackface celebrities comedy culture diversity fashion feminism film gender glbt HBO hip hop hispanic history hollywood identity international interracial relationships latino media mixed race movies music muslim politics race racial stereotypes racism religion sex sexism sexual stereotypes stereotypes tv Uncategorized white youtube