Tag Archives: african-american

Salon: “First lady got back”

by Latoya Peterson


As America fretted about Obama’s exoticism and he sought to calm the waters with speeches about unity and common experience, Michelle’s body was sending a different message: To hell with biracialism! Compromise, bipartisanship? Don’t think so. Here was one clear signifier of blackness that couldn’t be tamed, muted or otherwise made invisible. It emerged right before our eyes, in the midst of our growing uncertainty about everything, and we were too bogged down in the daily campaign madness to notice. The one clear predictor of success that the pundits, despite all their fancy maps, charts and holograms, missed completely? Michelle’s butt. [...]

I can’t talk about Michelle’s butt without acknowledging her hair, another physical feature that stirs anxiety about black female difference. Let me just say that I hope that gets unleashed, too. How sad that, in order for a black family to prevail — because Michelle and the girls were all running for office, not just Barack — they had to sublimate their blackness like crazy, starting with the visuals. Michelle’s ethnic butt might have snuck under the radar, but an ethnic do wouldn’t have stood a chance.

So writes Erin Aubry Kaplan, in her piece “First lady got back” which was recently published on Salon.

Reader Virigina sent in the tip, writing:

Although Erin Kaplan does make a few decent points about how black women are viewed in this culture, most of the article just reinforces stereotypes. She is defining Michelle Obama and black women in general by their butts and hair. There are so many other traits that she could have discussed.

After reading the full piece, I’m inclined to agree. I get the semi-tongue in cheek tone of the piece, but this article just feels a bit wrong for the audience. Perhaps if it was written for a magazine like Essence or Clutch, which routinely explore the issues of black women and how a lot of our politics are wrapped up in our appearance, I would feel differently about the end result.

But it’s at Salon.

And while the commenters debate back and forth about whether or not the article is “joyful” or “disrespectful,” a large part of me wonders when Salon will publish an article on what faces Michelle Obama in the White House, or an article about racial trends in America penned by a woman of color, or a review of a book like Naked which lays all these issues bare. My problem with the article isn’t that it’s a lighthearted musing on Michelle’s attributes, as seen through the eyes of another black woman (who – according to Kaplan’s website – has also whipped out personal essays on her own butt, as well as musing on J.Lo’s.)

My problem is that articles about Michelle Obama’s wardrobe, booty, and mom duties are what is fit to publish, what is seen as relevant to a mass audience.

And everything else – like a reflection on how Michelle’s “makeover” was to make her more palatable to a certain set of Americans and what that says about race and gender in this country – seems to fall by the wayside, stuck in the niche analysis category.

Funny how that works.

Can the LGBT community spare some outrage for Duanna Johnson?

by Guest Contributor Jack, originally published at Angry Brown Butch

On February 12, 2008, Duanna Johnson was brutally beaten by a Memphis police officer after she refused to respond when the officer called her “he-she” and “faggot.” That night, Johnson became yet another of the countless trans women of color to be targeted and brutalized by police in this country. Two officers were fired after the attack; neither was prosecuted.

Just to be trans, just to be a woman, just to be a person of color in this country is enough to drastically increase one’s exposure to hatred and violence; when oppressions overlap, violence tends to multiply.

This past Sunday, Duanna Johnson was found murdered on the streets of Memphis. I didn’t hear about this until today, when I read a post on my friend Dean’s blog. When I read the awful news, I felt heartsick in a way that has become all too familiar and all too frequent.

After reading Dean’s post today, I was surprised to find out that Johnson was murdered nearly three days ago already and that I hadn’t heard about this until today. I know that I haven’t been very good at keeping up with the news or the blogosphere these past few days. But I can’t help but notice that despite this relative disconnection, I’ve read and heard no shortage of commentary, protest, and outrage about Proposition 8.

A Google News search for “Duanna Johnson” yields 50 results, many syndicated and therefore redundant. Much of the coverage is tainted by the transphobia and victim-blaming that tends to inflect media coverage of violence against trans women of color (like this Associated Press article). A search for “Proposition 8″? 18,085 results – 354.6 times more than for Duanna Johnson.

The skew in the blogosphere is less severe but still pronounced. A Google BlogSearch for Duanna Johnson: 2,300 results. For Prop 8? 240,839, or 100 times more. Continue reading

Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom Movie Plays to Modest Success

by Latoya Peterson

Well, look at what slipped under the radar.

In the midst of the election run up, the results, and the waves of discussion about proposition 8, Logo launched a movie based on their popular (yet mysteriously canceled) series Noah’s Arc.

The New York Press’ Armond White has a thought provoking review on the significance of the movie, titled “MEET THE BLACK CARRIE BRADSHAW – LOGO’s Noah’s Arc makes the jump to the big screen—showing a completely different African-American experience”:

Noah’s Arc’s quartet of young black men counteracts the prevailing image of gayness as a young, rich, white male phenomenon. The title refers to Noah (Darryl Stephens), an L.A.-based aspiring screenwriter whose love and social life resist Hollywood storybook cliché. Noah may dress in couture like Carrie Bradshaw (he enters Jumping wearing a Russian toque, cape and calf-high boots) but his style is provocative; he flouts ideas about masculinity, blackness and class. If you accept Noah (his gentle, gazelle-like demeanor stresses effeminacy), his friends still test your tolerance: Chance (Doug Spearman) is a snooty, over-enunciating university professor; Alex (Rodney Chester) is a plus-sized drama queen who likes to cook when not dispensing counsel at a gay men’s health center; and Rickey (Christian Vincent) is incorrigibly promiscuous. Continue reading

D.L. Hughley Headlines a New Political Comedy Show on CNN

by Latoya Peterson

Please Note: This is NOT a D.L. Hughley fansite. You cannot contact him directly through this site, or leave feedback about his show.

Before I sat down to watch D. L. Hughley Breaks the News, I was skeptical of the whole project. D.L. Hughley doesn’t immediately come to mind when I think of a comedian that is well versed in politics and current events. The author of the NY Times article seems to concur, noting:

For the last week Mr. Hughley, 45, has had to arrive every morning at his office at CNN in Manhattan at the ungodly (for a comedian) hour of 11 a.m. to digest reams of information from newspapers, Web sites, television and talk radio. He has no time to goof off during the 8-to-12-hour days; only the occasional moment to glance at his new profile in the CNN company directory that lists him as an anchor.

“I’m like, ‘Come on, man,’ ” an incredulous Mr. Hughley said in a recent interview. “I barely even know how to read. I’ve got a G.E.D.”

Just 10 days ago CNN announced that Mr. Hughley would be the host of a new comedy-news show, “D. L. Hughley Breaks the News,” which has its premiere Saturday at 10 p.m. Eastern time.

AverageBro already laid down his thoughts on the show, writing:

I’m not saying Hughley isn’t funny. His early days of Comic View were classic. And for the record, his standup career is far more successful than anything Stewart did pre-Daily Show.

But DL just doesn’t seem to have the gravitas to pull this off. His shortlived Comedy Central talk show, Weekends At The DL, was atrocious. His appearances on shows like Real Time With Bill Maher and The Glenn Beck Show don’t give me the impression that this cat is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to politricks.

He also brings up another large elephant in the room when it comes to D.L. Hughley’s idea of comedy:

Is it wrong for me to still be upset about that “nappy headed hoes” comment more than a year after the fact? Prolly not, but I’m sorry, I just cannot get over that. That sh*t was a straight up James T. Harris b*tch move in my book.

I wonder how dude could go home and look his wife and daughter in the eyes after that bullsh*t.

I prolly won’t watch this show, so I guess I shouldn’t bash it. Could it possibly be any worse than Chocolate News or The Tony Rock Project? Even though I wished CNN’s affirmative action hire had been Roland Martin instead, I guess I should just be happy to see black men working, no matter how mediocre the product.

Nah. Bump that.

If you wanna support a black man on TeeVee, peep BET’s slept on Somebodies. Now that’s comedy.

Screw DL Hughley. A true Nappy Headed Hoe!

Continue reading

The Invisible Muslimah

by Guest Contributor Faith, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch.

What’s the first image that comes to your mind when you think of a Muslim woman? Is she Arab or South Asian? White or maybe Afghan or Indonesian? Notice that I haven’t mentioned African American (and also Latina). The media depiction of Muslim women usually does not include African American women. Often, Muslim women are depicted as coming from the Middle East or South Asia, and occasionally sub-Saharan Africa. Also, there has been increasing focus on Muslimahs of European descent, especially converts such as Yvonne Ridley and Dr. Ingrid Mattson.

When African American Muslims are depicted in the media, it is usually a male face (Siraj Wahaj, Abdul Hakeem Jackson, Malcolm X, Imam Warithdeen Muhammad, etc.) that is presented to the public. There are exceptions such as Dr. Amina Wadud. However, the overall trend is rather disheartening, considering how much African American Muslimahs do for other black Muslims as well as the whole Muslim community. I have often wondered why the stories, needs and concerns of African American Muslimahs are not focused on and come up with a myriad of possible answers. Continue reading

I Know Why Zane Sells

by Guest Contributor M. Dot, originally published at Model Minority

Zane sells because her fiction allows Black women to be sexual in a culture that refuses to acknowledge that we are sexual, a culture that calls us hos if are so inclined to be sexual, talk about sex, or even look like we are human and have a sexual appetite.

When was the last time you saw a Black woman have a love interest and sex in a movie?

Or a tv show?

Yesterday, I was doing all this reading of Hortense Spillers, Tricia Rose and Hegel (whom I struggle with tremendously), as I am developing an outline for a writing sample.

When instantly, Zane’s popularity clicked for me.

Professor Spillers essay titled, Intercises: A Small Drama of Words discusses, the position of Black women’s sexuality in American culture.

She writes,

Our sexuality remains an unarticulated nuance in various forms of public discourse as though we are figments of the great invisible empire of womankind.

If I attempted to lay hold to any fictional text-discursively rendered experience of Black women, by themselves- I encounter a disturbing silence that acquires paradox, the status of contradiction.

Continue reading

Anti-Intellectualism: An African American Problem

by Guest Contributor Merq


They are proud of their ignorance.

They equate getting an education to “acting white.”

Inner-city students have to decide between being smart and being “cool.”

I’m sure you’ve read at least one of the above statements at some point over the course of the last five years. Like the “down low” frenzy of yesteryear, it’s the pummeled dead horse du jour of African-American narratives.

As a student of propaganda, its uses, and its effects, one thing that has always intrigued and sickened me about American discourse (as typified by its mainstream media) is its ability to make a phenomenon untrue or non-existent by simply ignoring it. When Paris Hilton bares her lady parts for what must be the thirtieth time, it’s still considered newsworthy. But her continued pattern of “n*gger”-calling has gone so roundly ignored that only a fraction of a population inundated with her very presence is aware that she’s done this even once. I mean, Dog the friggin’ Bounty Hunter got more column inches for his idiocy (and he genuinely thought he was black) while Hilton never even needed to roll out the standard Non-Apology Apology! I, as a black man, speak for my race (as we always seem to do in the media) when I say we wuz robbed!

In a similar vein, it tickles me to no end (or inasmuch as an assault on the ribs can be considered tickling) that America can really create this whole “Crisis in Black America” phenomenon over something as essentially American as anti-intellectualism – and get “black leaders” to cluck their tongues and rhapsodize on how “we got to do better,” even!

Yes, In case you’re wondering, I watched CNN’s “Black in America” series. Yes, I saw black folk say the same thing, and wallow in self-validating self-pity as they recall past (and present) experiences with those who deemed them “too white.” I don’t know why people hold up these folk as some sort of proof that this “tryna ack’ all white” phenomenon is actually real – there are multitudes of black males who will also tell you that black men can only aspire to being ballers or rappers, or that they have no business wearing flip-flops. Do we take them at their word simply because they’re black? Continue reading