By Andrea Plaid
Beyonce Knowles-Carter. Via wallpapersbest.net
I find myself increasingly defending someone whom I otherwise wouldn’t look around at or wouldn’t listen to: Beyoncé.
I haven’t converted to listening to her discography: To me, she sounds like every other Black female soloist in a Black church choir, so her voice–her timbre and melisma–isn’t unicorn-unique to my ears. In fact, I find it gratingly common because I heard so many women with her voice every Sunday from the age of five to my late twenties; Beyoncé just has a better production team.
And, as I’ve said on the R, her female-empowerment messages aren’t my feminism:
[S]ome of folks who see Bey as “girl power” may have never heard of Valenti or may even want to be bothered with her writings or what they perceive to be “white feminism” that she embodies. Bey is their feminist text and their idea–and ideal. And whatnot…On the real though, Bey is not my sort of feminism–and that’s not blasphemous to say. Then again, neither were the Spice Girls…or the Riot Grrls, for that matter. And I remember folks tripped on each of those pop-cultural “generations” of feminist representations, too, trying to figure out their effects on younger people.
Feminism is rather malleable as each generation figures out what it means to them, even when we’re fighting the same old battles. Or because of them.
And let’s not forget Beyoncé now-notorious photo layout in French Vogue, which she said was an homage to “African queens in the past” and “African rituals”:
And I was quite happy to leave Beyoncé to her ideas about race pride and “girl power” with a genuinely heartfelt “bless her heart”…until Harry Belafonte came along.
by Guest Contributor Paula, originally published at Heart, Mind, and Seoul
Just last month I was on a flight where I was on the receiving end of blatant racism. I have no doubt in my mind that the manner in which this particular airline employee (a white woman) spoke to me and treated me was a direct result of the color of my skin. As I am wont to do when it comes to processing the acts of racism that I am subjected to, I felt the immediate pull to name and claim my own responsibility in the situation. I know this undoubtedly is the result of being socialized from the collective culture who repeatedly and authoritatively tells me and other people of color that our experiences with racism actually have nothing to do with race at all and it’s a notion that I find imposed upon me on an all too regular basis.
Luckily, I had the good fortune of traveling with a friend who helped keep my perspective in check. My gut knew that this flight attendant’s behavior was racist, but I still found myself trying to make excuses for her. I was pissed. Both at her, and at myself for not calling her out right then and there. Then again, she did threaten to take my bag off the plane if I didn’t do what she said (although my friend heard that it was me the employee was threatening to remove from the plane), so I promptly obliged and sat down in my seat.
With a highly critical letter already half composed in my brain (which I did write when I got home), I looked across the aisle to my friend and said “Gee, I’m thinkin’ she would have never treated or spoken to S. (my husband, who is white) that way.”
Fast forward to the following month. Last week my family and I were on a return flight finding ourselves in the same predicament that I was in just several weeks before: trying to position and accommodate our airline approved carry-on luggage in the already crammed overhead compartments. Like my flight a month before, it was full and the overhead space was at a premium. Even though my husband’s luggage didn’t fit (just like mine didn’t quite fit when I was on my flight), he didn’t find himself on the receiving end of yelling, scolding and condescending behavior. Rather, two flight attendants made triple the amount of attempts on behalf of him and his luggage that I made with my mine – attempts mind you which were met with hostility and a threat to have my suitcase (or me, as the case may be) removed from the plane.
Admittedly, these events were not truly identical in that not only did we have different flight attendants, but that my family was on a completely different airline than the one I flew on last month. I get that. But that doesn’t change the facts of how I was treated and how my husband was treated. I wish I could tell you that these events happened in isolation and that our family has never experienced another situation similar to these. But of course we all know that not to be the case. I am aware of it. My husband is aware of it and our kids, ages 9 and (nearly) 7 years are fully aware of it as well. Continue reading
[TRIGGER WARNING. This is a very frank post on violence.]
So, last week Jill at Feministe has a post up on the first real-time spanking study.
Time Magazine reports:
[I]n the course of analyzing the data collected from 37 families — 36 mothers and one father, all of whom recorded up to 36 hours of audio in six days of study — researchers heard the sharp cracks and dull thuds of spanking, followed in some cases by minutes of crying. They’d inadvertently captured evidence of corporal punishment, as well as the tense moments before and the resolution after, leading researchers to believe they’d amassed the first-ever cache of real-time spanking data. […]
The parents who recorded themselves represented a socioeconomic mix: a third each were low-income, middle-income and upper-middle-class or higher. Most were white; about a third were African-American.
Researchers broke down the data, detailing each spanking or slapping incident, what led up to it, what type of punishment was used and how much, how a child reacted immediately and then several minutes later.
“The idea is this data will provide a unique glimpse into what really goes on in families that hasn’t been available through traditional methods of self-report,” says Holden.
About a year ago, I got a request to talk about spanking on Racialicious, from the perspective of a black parent wondering why other black parents were so quick to put their hands on their children.
Renina has written about this in the broader context of policing masculinity with violence. She said:
In this video I just watched today a Black Uncle whoops his presumably 13 or 14 year old nephew with a belt for “Fake Thugging” on Facebook. He then forced the young man to put the video on Facebook. #triggerwarning.
I have long been reluctant to talk publicly about Black parents beating Black children, however, it needs to be done. Honestly, its one of the things that I have been scared to write about and I don’t scare easily.
bell hooks has said Black feminist’s lack of writing about how some Black parents, spank, whoop and beat their children is one of the ways in which Black Feminist have failed Black families. We analyze domination between men and women and Black folks and White folks and even global violence but we don’t closely analyze how parents dominate children.
Conversations around spanking, particularly in progressive spaces, take a very hard line around corporal punishment. Renee, of Womanist Musings, has written dozens of posts about why spanking is wrong. Some of the commenters on Jill’s post (somewhere back in the 100s) brought up differences in what is considered culturally acceptable. Most of Jill’s commenters came to an agreement dominating the thread – there is never, ever a reason to discipline your child physically. But most of these conversations assume certain things. That these are interactions solely between adult and child, and that generally, the household is in an atmosphere of peace. What isn’t raised is the reality of raising children in environments where random street violence or drug use is commonplace. Continue reading
by Guest Contributor Paula, originally published at Heart, Mind, and Seoul
You simply cannot train for a marathon without hearing about hitting the dreaded “wall”. The marathon wall is a commonly used term to describe the ultimate running fatigue that typically happens around the 20th mile of an endurance run such as the marathon (26.2 miles). Muscles grow heavy with fatigue and one’s pace slows down considerably. The body literally hits the wall and it can feel almost impossible to keep moving forward.
The first marathon I ever ran was in New York City. I was lucky enough to connect with the New York Road Runners Club and I had some amazing coaches, not to mention a host of running partners to keep me motivated. I remember attending a running clinic that was geared specifically towards first time marathoners and the panel talked about the wall. I left that auditorium determined that I would not be another one of its victims.
I gave myself a full year to train for the marathon. Single and ready to conquer the world, I had nothing but time and excess energy to invest into my overall training. Marathon wall be damned! Maybe I was too young or inexperienced to believe that I could train enough to avoid any pitfalls during the race, but it was the fear of that cursed wall that pushed me to train above and beyond what my already rigorous training program required.
I hope this doesn’t across as too arrogant, but I honestly found the marathon to be one long, fun and dare I say, easy run. Mile 20 came and went. Same with mile 21. Mile 22 came around and I felt stronger than ever with random bursts of extra energy. The last four miles of the race ended up being my fastest mile splits ever. I was high on the intensity and enthusiasm of the crowd as well as buoyed by the many, many hours of training I had put in over the past year (oh and I’m sure that little thing called adrenaline didn’t hurt, either). Granted, my time of 4 hours and 20 minutes was nothing to write home about, but I had accomplished a personal goal and had a blast doing it in the best city in the world (my .02!) – all while avoiding that cursed wall.
There are no shortages of examples written by those who believe that the marathon is a metaphor for life. Certainly I can reflect back on the 3 different marathons that I’ve completed and draw parallels to how my own life has played out. My last marathon was run with minimal training, an attitude that bordered on sheer apathy and a lack of respect that a marathon calls for and rightfully deserves. Not only did I hit the wall, but I incurred a rather serious injury that forced me to walk almost the last 5 miles of the race. I contend that the biggest difference between my first marathon (enjoyable and fun) and my third marathon (miserable at best) was all in the training and preparation.
As a person of color, I think of how many times I have hit the wall in my life as I navigate through this racially charged world in which we live. Continue reading
By Deputy Editor Thea Lim
From How to Raise Racist Kids by Jonathan Liu:
Step One: Don’t talk about race. Don’t point out skin color. Be “color blind.”
Step Two: Actually, that’s it. There is no Step Two.
Congratulations! Your children are well on their way to believing that <insert your ethnicity here> is better than everybody else.
Surprised? So were authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman when they started researching the issue of kids and race for their book NurtureShock. It turns out that a lot of our assumptions about raising our kids to appreciate diversity are entirely wrong:
It is tempting to believe that because their generation is so diverse, today’s children grow up knowing how to get along with people of every race. But numerous studies suggest that this is more of a fantasy than a fact.
Since it’s Black History Month, I thought it would be a good time to talk about race, particularly some of the startling things I found in this particular chapter of NurtureShock. What Bronson and Merryman discovered, through various studies, was that most white parents don’t ever talk to their kids about race. The attitude (at least of those who think racism is wrong) is generally that because we want our kids to be color-blind, we don’t point out skin color. We’ll say things like “everybody’s equal” but find it hard to be more specific than that. If our kids point out somebody who looks different, we shush them and tell them it’s rude to talk about it. We think that simply putting our kids in a diverse environment will teach them that diversity is natural and good.
And what are they learning? Here are a few depressing facts:
- Only 8% of white American high-schoolers have a best friend of another race. (For blacks, it’s about 15%.)
- The more diverse a school is, the less likely it is that kids will form cross-race friendships.
- 75% of white parents never or almost never talk about race with their kids.
- A child’s attitudes toward race are much harder to alter after third grade, but a lot of parents wait until then (or later) before they feel it’s “safe” to talk frankly about race.
Thanks to Elton Joe for the tip!
Photo of Telfair Museum in Savannah from UGArdener’s Flickr.
by Guest Contributor Rachell Arteaga, originally published at The Majority Post
A member of Women in Children’s Media, I recently had the privilege of attending this year’s 10th annual KidScreen Summit. With just over 1000 attendees and hundreds of speakers from across the country and all over the world, this truly was a Mecca for all those who are in the business of creating kid’s media. I, however, attended as an observer absorbing what I could from workshops that really delved into the inner workings of the content and production of children’s media. I arrived at this three-day extravaganza with one question – what is the kids’ media industry doing to serve girls and children of color?
I couldn’t help but feel frustrated by the answer. While programming aimed at children in preschool and ages 5-7 seem to do their part with shows like Dora the Explorer, Maya and Miguel and Little Bill, ‘tween audiences (ages 8-12) seem to be left in a vast cultural wasteland with a dearth of empowering female role models and an even greater absence of featured children of color. This hole in representation is glaringly more apparent in animation. Dr. Maya Götz, head of the International Central Institute for Youth and Educational Television (IZI), conducted a study which surveyed television shows throughout the globe. In it, IZI found that “Only 32% of all main characters in children’s television are female. The ratio of male to female characters in animation programmes, especially if the main character is an animal, monster, etc., is as disparate as 87% male to 13% female.” The same study found that “72% of all main characters in children’s television [around the world] are Caucasian.” Continue reading