Tag Archives: New York City

Dear Lena Dunham: I Exist

By Guest Contributor Kendra James

Lena Dunham (third from left) and cast of Girls. Courtesy: Rolling Stone.

The advertisements for the new HBO series Girls presented us with main character Hannah referring to herself (while on drugs) as “The Voice of a Generation.” Salon calls the show a “generational event,” and other reviewers rave over the series’ realism and call it “spot on,” and the characters’ feature by Emily Nassbaum in New York Magazine refers to it as “FUBU: For Us, By Us.”

But which “us” are you talking about? And how is this a realistic? I asked myself, as I struggled to figure out exactly what I had in common with these four white girls.

I only became more confused when I remembered what Dunham and I actually do share.
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The Politics Of Safety For Women

 By Guest Contributor Erika Nicole Kendall, cross-posted from Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss

There is a trigger warning for violence and general issues of safety here. Please protect yourself.

An important part of this journey, for me, has been learning more about myself–paying more attention to the way I do things and the why behind the choices I’ve made. In the past six or seven months, I’ve learned some really nasty things about myself … not nasty because they’re so bad, but nasty because I’m pretty sure it says something about me.

Ask me if I care, though.

When I was 18, I moved out of my mother’s house. Left her house for the dorms, and left the dorms and moved into a house with a couple other people. It wasn’t in the safest environment, but it didn’t matter–I was pulling so many double shifts at work that I barely noticed. I, eventually, would go back home around age 21 to have my daughter.

At this point, it gets tricky. Once I was stable, I moved her to a gated community in Miami. Complete with security–code entrance, security patrolling the neighborhood, and even its own emergency response system, I felt safe there. I felt like it wasn’t a big deal to be out with my daughter after dark, walking around the neighborhood.

Eventually, I would move her (and our new puppy, Sushi) closer toward the beach, where it was less secluded, but because it was Miami Beach, cops patrolled the area every ten to fifteen minutes. I felt, again, safe. The island was no wider than maybe four or five street blocks, and I knew what those street blocks looked like. They were clean, loiterer free, frequent police visibility… safe. If I wanted to walk take my dog for a brief potty walk in a short dress, I could do that without being audibly harassed.

But when I moved to New York …

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Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Son Of Baldwin’s Robert Jones, Jr.

By Andrea Plaid

I fell in love with the pithy brilliance of Robert Jones, Jr.  (pictured below) the 21st-century way: online.

Courtesy: Robert Jones, Jr.

I guess that’s what happens when you grab the mic with the moniker Son of Baldwin.

Like his spiritual dad, novelist/essayist/critic/poet/activist James Baldwin, Jones brings the love, the pain, the rage, and the joy of being Black of 21st-century USA through his specific lens of a queer Black man born and reared in New York City. But Jones doesn’t regurgiate Baldwin like hip platitudes: it’s as if Jones sprung, Athena-like, from Baldwin’s head and reshaped Baldwin then-prescient ideas about the contours and everyday workings of racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism (among other -isms and -phobias) for this era.

I’m not the only one who feels all like this about the guy: when I told both Latoya and Arturo, they were all like, “We love Son of Baldwin! Good choice!!” (And, according to the stats on Son of Baldwin’s Facebook page and Twitter, about 6,400 of us thinks he’s pretty choice.)

So, with my questions quivering in my virtual hand–and trying really hard to control my squee–I approached this week’s Crush.

Tell me about your background: where you were born, what neighborhood did you grow up in, what were your family and neighbors like, schooling, etc.

I was born in Manhattan, but raised in Brooklyn, NY–where I have spent the majority of my life (outside of an excursion to Charlotte, NC, from 1998–2002). I come from a family that is Southern Baptist on my father’s side (by way of Savannah, GA) and Nation of Islam on my mother side (by way of New York City).

I grew up mostly in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn in the Marlboro Housing Projects, so, as you would imagine, I know oppression QUITE intimately. I was first called a nigger, in 1977, when I was six years old. I was hanging out with friends, four or five blocks away, when Yusef Hawkins was murdered in my neighborhood in 1989.

It’s weird to think about it now, but I was chased home from school every day by white boys who hated that I went to “their schools.” And once I reached home, I was taunted and abused by black boys (and girls) who perceived me as “soft.” So I was forced to be “hard” simply as a reaction to the amount of cruelty I was experiencing. I have a few fond memories of childhood, but most of them are tainted by some form of terrorism. Nevertheless, during the most ferocious of those years, I discovered reading as a means of escape and that quickly led to writing. I think I wrote my first short story when I was 12.

I’m a bit of a late bloomer in regard to my college education. I didn’t commit to obtaining my undergraduate and graduate degrees until I was in my 30s. I received both my B.F.A. in creative writing and M.F.A. in fiction from Brooklyn College. For the latter, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham was my mentor.

Why do you love James Baldwin so much?

I am consistently floored by James Baldwin’s intelligence, honesty, and prescience.  I can’t help but admire and want to emulate that painfully rare kind of brilliance. I discovered Baldwin later than most—during my first semester of undergrad. I fell in love with him immediately after reading his last essay, “Here Be Dragons.” Then I hunted for the rest of his work. It’s remarkable that Baldwin’s work continues to reveal things to me, some things I find joyous and some things I find disturbing. No matter what, though: It’s always enlightening. I wish I had the opportunity to have met him before he died.

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Whitney: Why Does It Hurt So Bad

By Guest Contributor Aurin Squire, cross-posted from Six Perfections

I was in the middle of chairing a meeting. We were at break when someone rushed in and interrupted our separate conversations.

Whitney Houston is dead. 

She’s gone.

I wanted to cry. The meeting went on as if on autopilot. I went through the agenda and don’t even remember what I said.
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Proposition 8 Struck Down–For Now

By Arturo R. García

The fight for marriage equality isn’t over yet. But Tuesday brought with it a huge win for opponents of California’s Proposition 8, as a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the law was unconstitutional, possibly sending the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Prop 8, which had banned same-sex marriages, was approved by California voters in 2008, overturning a California State Supreme Court ruling. In 2010, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled it was unconstitutional, a decision the panel upheld in a 2-1 vote. The panel also ruled Walker, now retired from the bench, did not have to vacate his decision for not revealing his own same-sex relationship at the time of his ruling. Walker’s decision to keep his ruling under a court seal was also upheld.

Despite the panel’s ruling, however, LGBT couples still cannot get married; the law will remain in place during a two-week period the law’s supporters have to determine whether they will appeal to a larger 9th Circuit panel, or go directly to the Supreme Court. Some legal experts have suggested the higher court might leave the case alone.
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‘It Did Not Start With Stonewall’ Resurfaces After Five Years

By Arturo R. García

Over the past month, this video, “It Did Not Start With Stonewall,” has been picking up steam online – we first saw it on Elixher – which is curious, given that it was originally uploaded in 2007. In the clip, a group of black women offers perspectives on life in the LGBT community in New York City in the era surrounding the seminal Stonewall Rebellion of 1969.

But it cuts off just after the three-minute mark, leaving people wondering where it came from – and whether there are more interviews like these out there. Racialicious contacted the person who uploaded the video Wednesday night, so we hope to have an update soon. In the meantime, the transcript to the video is under the cut.

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Hate & Basketball: What has – and hasn’t – been said about the murder of Tayshana Murphy

By Arturo R. García

Basketball fans are well-acquainted with stories about a local star who never got to show their skills outside the neighborhood courts.

And make no mistake, Tayshana Murphy was on her way to bigger things. As Grantland’s Jonathan Abrams wrote:

Mention a court in New York City — West 4th, Rucker, Orchard Beach — they don’t just know of Tayshana “Chicken” Murphy. They know her. She possessed that killer crossover and played “man strong,” as Taylonn, her father, likes to say. Tayshana loved contact. “Babies,” she called the girls who helplessly bounced off of her when she drove to the rim. She played taller than her 5-foot-7 and with a fierceness that contrasted against her gentle, hazel eyes.

Those eyes sized up Shannon Bobbitt of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever this summer.

Bobbitt conducts a clinic every year outside the Harlem projects where she grew up. The clinic is a way for children to see the footsteps she laid for them to follow. Bobbitt had heard of Tayshana and that she could ball. She probably had no idea that the high schooler was itching to test her skills against the professional.

“She’s fast as hell, Pops,” Tayshana told her father of Bobbitt. “But she’s so little. She can’t handle me. I’m too big for her.”

Murphy’s story came to a premature and violent end on Sept. 11, when she was shot and killed in the Grant Houses project where she lived. Initial reports said the shooting was a case of mistaken identity stemming from a feud between residents of the Grant Houses and the nearby Manhattanville Houses – a story her family refuted.

Three men have been arrested and charged in connection with Murphy’s murder: Tyshawn Brockington and Robert Cartagena, who allegedly shot her, and Terique Collins, accused of delivering the murder weapon. But since her death, details have emerged adding more layers to the tragedy.
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Friday Links Roundup, 12-2-11

Melvin Childs is a former radio executive (now promoter/producer) with several claims against Tyler Perry, including: his chance meeting with Tyler Perry, long before most of had heard of the man, that changed both of their lives forever; that they were friends before Tyler betrayed him; that he discovered Tyler Perry; that there’s a different side of Tyler Perry than the image he publicly projects; that Tyler severed their relationship with no explanation and used his (Childs’) original marketing blueprint to help create the framework for the future Tyler Perry Hollywood brand, despite the fact that he was a mentor, producer, and friend to Tyler Perry; that he (Childs) revolutionized the marketing format for black theater with Tyler Perry’s first play; that he (Childs) made huge sacrifices with his family for Tyler Perry’s sake; and of course the aforementioned secret backroom deals, illicit cash, backstabbing, and double-dealing.

Yes, this is a real book folks; I’m not making this shit up.

A small church in Pike County, Kentucky has voted to ban interracial couples from most church activities ‘to promote greater unity among the church body.’

Melvin Thompson, former pastor of Gulnare Freewill Baptist church, proposed the ban after Stella Harville brought her fiance, Ticha Chikuni, to services in June. Harville, who goes by the name Suzie, played the piano while Chikuni sang.

Before stepping down as pastor in August, Thompson told Harville that her fiance could not sing at the church again. Harville is white and Chikuni, a native of Zimbabwe, is black.

The group includes 10 current employees and one former worker who was fired in 2009, according to the lawsuit. The plaintiffs, on average, have worked for Comcast for 15 years.

The employees — technicians, who are responsible for installing and repairing cable equipment in customers’ homes and for diagnosing and repairing large-scale cable outages — described the South Side facility as a ‘hostile’ work environment where they were called derogatory names including ‘ghetto techs” or “lazy techs.’

The plaintiffs also claim that the South Side operation, located at 721 E. 112th St., was infested with roaches and rats, and until it was renovated in 2009, had a leaky roof and was not temperature controlled.

The figure of the longshoreman has cut an enduring image of hard-working New York for decades. But troubled by a work force that remains predominantly white, the commission, a bistate agency that oversees the dockworkers, pressed the New York Shipping Association in May to produce a diverse pool of candidates for temporary jobs. The shippers deferred to the International Longshoremen’s Association, the union that has maintained an iron grip on the ports for decades, and the union came up with 37 candidates.

All but four were white men. None were Hispanic. Only one was black, and, according to the commissioners, he did not really want a job. The other three were white women.

By Thursday, as I returned to New York City, I continued to see tweets and blogs about the brutality of the NYPD. Although I absolutely agreed with the sentiments, I had a nagging feeling in my stomach. I couldn’t let it go. My inner militant Negro (whom I keep sedated with brunch and Modern Warfare 3) wanted to write in all caps:

“OH, SO THE WHITE MAN GETS HIT AND NOW IT’S AN ISSUE! THE BLACK MAN HAS BEEN BEATEN FOR YEARS! WE DIDN’T LAND ON PLYMOUTH ROCK, PLYMOUTH ROCK LANDED ON US!!”

I knew that wouldn’t do anything besides exacerbate the situation, but I wanted to comment on it and reasonably say, “Um … so there’s this … ” I didn’t want to take away from the issue of the abuse that the occupiers were receiving, but I wanted to acknowledge the irony of the collective outrage over an issue that’s become so commonplace within my community that small children are taught never to disobey a police officer, to quietly go along with whatever is happening in order not to be on the receiving end of abuse.