A friend of mine asked, two days before the theatre premier of Straight Outta Compton, what impact I thought the N.W.A. biopic would have on the Black Lives Matter movement. My answer, since I had not seen or read much about the film, was insufficient and characterized by stock hip-hop feminist answers: white viewers and critics of the Movement may very well use the film to say, “See! They’re advocating violence, glorifying it even!”; hopefully it’ll give historically contextual backing to the legacy of violence visited upon Black bodies to which Black Lives Matter is speaking directly; and, of course, as with all things venerating hip-hop, I worry about the gendered violence and erasure of (Black) women.
This last point — the violence and erasure of Black women in particular — is what the conversation in the car ride with a few other Ph.D. students at my graduate school revolved around. And rightly so.
If we are to allow the film to speak to the plight of Black bodies in contemporary America and use it to do the work of Black liberation, then we must honor the aims of the Black Lives Matter Movement—and the three queer Black women who founded the movement—by critiquing the normalization of violence against Black women. Continue reading →
With Kanye West in seemingly another controversy this week following a mid-concert rant, it’s a good time to revisit Latoya’s look at the furor surrounding his 2011 single, “Monster.”
By Latoya Peterson
Kanye has officially overdosed on artistic symbolism.
After his 35 minute debut of "Runaway" in back in October 2010, it difficult to figure out how Kanye would top a video that incorporated references to modern performance art, ballet, couture, mythology, and Fellini.
And yet, I don't think anyone counted on Kanye deciding to deck the halls with dead white women in "Monster". Continue reading →
I have been routinely accused – often by these very same Asian American misogynists – of having a problem with Asian American men. Let me be clear: I don’t have a problem with Asian American men. I firmly believe in the political uplift of Asian American men, and the dismantling of institutionalized Asian American emasculation.
I just think that our definition of masculinity – specifically, our uncritical embrace of mainstream misogylinity – is flawed.
Misogylinity – masculinity defined by sexual conquest, or what the seduction community calls the “game” – is fundamentally misogynist; it is also heterosexist and racist. It fails to critically challenge racist stereotypes, including those that posit Black men as hypersexual and Asian American men as asexual. Individual, straight men of colour might achieve a modicum of masculine success by playing this “game” and repositioning themselves towards the center (defined by normative Whiteness), but this doesn’t challenge the fundamental stereotypes upon which the entire misogylinist “game” is built. Even if some Asian American win, all Asian American men still lose because the “game” is fundamentally rigged against us.
The solution that brings actual uplift of Asian American men – and all men of colour – is to stop playing. It is to change the rules.
If you’ll allow for a moment of first-person writing today, I’m happy and proud to announce that, in addition to being part of the team here at The R, I was asked to be part of We Are Comics, a new campaign created by longtime comics pro editor Rachel Edidin over the weekend to spotlight the fact that comics fandom extends far, far beyond the cis-het white male realm often attached to it.
On the first night of the Afropunk 2013 festival, there was an onstage twerk contest.
It was not on the program and happened right before Saul Williams was supposed to go on stage. It was an impromptu event that was designed to buy time and presumably build excitement. Big Freedia was playing the next day, so it is impossible for one to say that twerking was something that didn’t belong at Afropunk. Twerking, like any other dance can be a way for a person to claim power in her own body, enjoy her physical possibilities, challenge herself, expand her range of movement and feed her mind with physical knowledge. But in that moment? In that way?
Since twerking has gone viral, commentaries on the trend have focused on the roots of the dance and what it possibly means for various groups to preform it. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been enough discussion about twerking in a performative context – i.e. what kinds of spaces twerking might be preformed within and for what reason. It feels like the discussion has been more about validating or condemning twerking in a vacuum rather than giving it space to exist within the realm of dance.
Dance movement depends on a dancer or choreographers intention, and awareness combined with the effect of the movement itself. A seemingly “vulgar” posture can convey profound messages. Unfortunately black women’s bodies, and dance expression have been viewed through a white supremacist lens of projected profanity, which is something some supporters of the twerk movement may be seeking to actively oppose. How do we strive to define spaces in which we can use dance and physical expression, including twerking, in a way that promotes a world in which women are free? What does it mean when this effort is confronted with a patriarchy that is vying for the same spaces? Continue reading →
San Diego Comic Con was overwhelming and not for the faint hearted, but also one of the most unique experiences of geekdom I’ve ever had. After taking a week to recover I wanted share a few highs and lows, insights and lessons learned from a first time SDCC attendee.
by Guest Contributor Cheryl Lynn, originally published at Digital Femme
Frank Ocean publicly addressed his sexuality recently, with the same deftness, eloquence, and gentleness that is evident in the manner he approaches his music. I was elated at his announcement and at the warm reception he received. I was glad to see that another young man had the strength of character and the purity of spirit to share his true self with the world and to show that queer men of color have been a part of our community and have contributed immensely to our culture. However, I was also pleased for more selfish reasons. I had hoped that if the straight and straight-identified men of hip-hop could openly love and embrace the black men who resided in their hearts and their minds and their beds, that perhaps they could embrace the black women who inhabited those same regions as well. My hopes have been dashed, for I realize that the hatred of black women is so profitable and pervasive and has such a tenacious hold on mainstream hip hop that the men of power and/or influence in hip hop would likely extinguish the culture entirely before relinquishing it.
And yet, strangely, due it its current ubiquitousness, hatred of black women is not a tenet of hip-hop, is not necessary for hip-hop to thrive, nor was it present at its birth. Though the arena was dominated by men, women were given a clear voice in the genre via ladies such as Roxanne Shanté. Hip hop in its earliest days was an even field where men and women of color could have an open dialogue—one that was teasing and playful. The words of black women were considered and soughtforinclusion. Black women were not depicted as a monolith and had multiple roles available to them—sister, wife, and lover; trophy, thief, and soldier; adversary and confidant. No, not all of these roles were beneficial. However, there was diversity and choice. That choice is long gone, quietly usurped during the late nineties and aughts with the onset of the commercialization of gangsta rap and its permeation of hip-hop. Continue reading →
Our first track this morning goes out to the sad, sad person behind this hoax:
Screencaps via Racialicious reader Lauren.
Last week, after Manny Pacquiao’s highly-suspect loss to Timothy Bradley, some goon pretended to tweet as Roger Mayweather, uncle and trainer for Pacquiao’s biggest rival (before Bradley, anyway) Floyd Mayweather, and trolled after seemingly anybody in sight, including New York Knicks player Jeremy Lin:
As it turns out, there’s either one really sad person or a number of them with the same stupid idea floating around. In short, whoever this is is a Hater. So, for whoever it is who somehow derives enjoyment from spewing digital diarrhea, Isabel Fay’s (NSFW) “Thank You Hater” is just for you:
We’re going back to the old-school for the next track, since you might not be able to hear it on the silver screen any time soon; according to Shadow & Act, while Outkast’s Andre 3000 may be working on a Jimi Hendrix biopic, the Hendrix estate is saying he’s doing so without its permission, meaning Hendrix’s music wouldn’t be cleared for use – which, given the subject, is a rather big obstacle.
Speaking of movies, the arrival of Ice-T’s documentary Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap couldn’t come at a more interesting time, for reasons I’ll get into after watching it this weekend. As a primer for anybody going to see the film, how about a little Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force?
Next up, a meditative tune from the great Los Lobos: “Mariachi Suite,” one of their contributions to Robert Rodríguez’s Desperado from awhile back. Not that one ever needs a reason to listen to this group, but in this case, consider it a hint as to our Crush of the Week. Enjoy!
Let’s kick the tempo up again with this track from L.A.-based electro-pop group IAMMEDIC, which has a new album, Monster Monster, due out soon. Here’s one from their previous effort, Perfect, and though it gets a little NSFW-ish lyrically in the middle, “Spaceship” is pretty fun otherwise:
Wrapping us up this week is a pick inspired in part by the #vaginamovielines hashtag, which surged after Michigan state representative Lisa Brown was barred from speaking on the state House floor Thursday. Her crime? Telling state speaker James Bolger, “Finally Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no.'” According to Politico, she didn’t back down from her comments after Bolger’s overreaction:
“Maybe they are banning me because I dared say ‘vagina,’ the correct, medical name of a part of a woman’s anatomy these lawmakers are trying to regulate,” she said. “I’m outraged. I’m outraged that this legislative body not only wants to dictate what women can do, but what we can say.”
This kind of silencing was on Salt and Pepa’s mind just over two decades ago. Sad to see that time hasn’t helped Bolger get the message.
Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World