Society allows white guys to utilize this music to get their aggressions out, act like He-Man and go crazy. The same benefits they get out of the music, black women not only get, but need even more. Black women need spaces in society where we can be free and express our individuality and be who we want to be.
- Laina Dawes, author, What Are You Doing Here? A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal
Stop owning the idea of black dysfunction. Stop repeating that “we” act this or that way. Stop believing that every ill-advised or socially unacceptable act of an individual black person (or 20 black people or 1,000) is a blight on the whole of the black community or YOU personally. Stop pretending that all black behavior is endorsed by the black collective. That racist America thinks this way is no endorsement. But taking to comments sections to proclaim loudly your disgrace at how other black people are living is an endorsement of credit-to-your-race type thinking as well as the idea that the caricatures the media treat us to really are representative of our race.
Stop it with the black shame. Shawty Lo is not the black community. If the white guys over on Gawker aren’t hanging their heads over Mick Jagger, his many children, and their mothers, then you can still hold your head high in a world where Shawty Lo and “Fighter Baby Mama” exist.
I know what you’re about to say: “But…but…but…72 percent of black children born out of wedlock!” Right. The face of family is evolving all over the world–not just in America and not just among black people. Marriage rates are at an all-time low in the United States and across Europe. Rates of cohabitation and children born to unmarried parents are up. And these combined statistics don’t always add up to economic and social decay. (Hello, Sweden!) We need to begin figuring out how to adapt to these changes. And if you want to, you can lament that the changes are occurring. But here’s what you can’t do: pretend that Shawty Lo and his family are representative of single-parent or nontraditional black families. Because you know damn well they are not.
–Tami Winfrey Harris, “Black America Is Not Shawty Lo,” Clutch Magazine
By Guest Contributor Crunkonia; cross-posted from The Crunk Feminist Collective
[Watch Racialicious for the first interview in this series coming soon.]
There are brilliant scholars who historicize and build upon black feminist participation in conversations about pornography. And there are others who simplify the argument into a false then vs. now paradigm that presents our foremothers as prudes, not as the women who made it possible for us to talk about sexuality in the ways that we do today. I believe these others wish for the day when black women can talk about sex as if they were white men, with no cloud of controlling images over their heads.
[W]hile obvious bias can’t be easily discounted, sometimes misdiagnoses are the unintended side effects of persistent cultural misunderstandings. [Jonathan Metzl, a psychiatrist at Vanderbilt University and author of the book “The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease”] argues that racial tensions are structured into clinical interactions long before doctors and patients meet in the exam room.In the early 1970’s a series of influential studies established the fact that people of color were often over-diagnosed with much more severe mental illnesses than their white counterparts. When psychiatrist miss the mark so consistently, one obvious side effect is that persistent — though perhaps less severe — mental illnesses often go untreated.
Metzl notes that black men are historically underdiagnosed with illnesses like depression, anxiety, and attention deficit disorder.
“There’s a mistrust of psychiatry that I think is very well-founded. In the 1960’s we see very clearly that psychiatric experts were pathologizing civil rights protests and particularly black power protests as being insane. And it’s very hard to turn around from that and say, ‘Oh no, we made a mistake, please trust us.’ If you have a history of pathologizing legitimate political protests as mental illness, you set conditions for mistrust on both sides.”
– From “Young, Depressed, and Of Color: Why Schools and Doctors Get It Wrong,” by Jamilah King, for Colorlines
By Guest Contributor Sikivu Hutchinson; excerpt from “Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels” (Feb. 2013); originally published at the Feminist Wire
The 24-hour prayer sessions are the true test of a warrior for Jesus. They require Herculean stamina, the patience of Job, and the rigor of elite marathon runners hitting the wall in a fiery sweat pit at high altitude, primed for God’s finish line. In many small storefront Pentecostal churches these “pray-a-thons” are women’s spaces; hubs of music, food, caregiving, and intense witnessing. My student Stacy Castro* is a bass player in her Pentecostal church’s band. She is also the pastor’s daughter and a regular participant in the pray-a-thons, a mainstay in some evangelical congregations. Much of her weekends are focused on church activities. And though she is an intelligent, gifted speaker, up until her participation in the Women’s Leadership Project she thought little about pursuing college and wanted to go to cosmetology school. Stacy’s aspirations are not atypical of students at Washington Prep High School in South Los Angeles. In a community that is dominated by churches of every stripe; only a small minority go on to four-year colleges and universities.
Over the past decade, Pentecostal congregations have burgeoned in urban communities nationwide, as Pentecostalism has exploded amongst American Latinos disgruntled by rigid Catholic hierarchies, alienating racial politics, and sexual-abuse scandals. The gendered appeal of Pentecostalism is highlighted in a 2008 American Religious Identification Survey which concludes that, “Latino religious polarization may be influenced by a gender effect, as in the general U.S. population, with men moving toward no religion and women toward more conservative religious traditions and practices. Two traditions at opposite poles of the religious spectrum exhibit the largest gender imbalance: the None population is heavily male (61%) while the Pentecostal is heavily female (58%). (Italics added.)”[i]
Eighteen years ─ nine months ─ sixteen days and one-thousand seconds of riding in cars with nothing but white people ─ and not once had an officer expressed interest in where we were heading.
While I did not know it at the time, growing up one of the benefits of my honorary white and suburban privilege was the ability to gather, congregate and move aimlessly through public spaces without attention or purpose… Perhaps that’s why for years after leaving home I carried an old family picture, tucked directly behind my driver’s license, where the latter went the former followed, sometimes whispering, and sometimes shouting “I am not the Black Man you think I am. Now please let me pass without delay or further hindrance.”
–From Chad Goller-Sojourner’s sophomore solo performance: Riding in Cars with Black People & Other Newly Dangerous Acts: A Memoir in Vanishing Whiteness. ‘Riding in Cars with Black People’ is the groundbreaking and crushingly honest story of what happens when a black boy, raised by white parents, “ages out” of honorary white and suburban privilege and into a world where folklore, statistics, and conjecture deem him dangerous until proven otherwise. ‘Riding in Cars’ will debut in April 2013. Support the project on Indiegogo.
By Guest Contributor SL Huang
Oh, I know the answer, of course. A white nuclear family is what networks think everyone can relate to. And even if people can’t relate, they see and recognize that “ideal” and know what sort of cultural message the writers are trying to send. It gets across the message of Normal, Everyday, Good Old Down-Home FAMILY to people.
But you know what? It’s started pissing me off.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love that more television shows are including diversity. I dig it. I’d much rather they include people of color somewhere, anywhere, than not at all.
But I’m starting to see the “ethnic sidekick” problem on family shows: that the ethnic or mixed families are being shown in contrast to a “normal” and “ordinary” family, and are therefore implicitly not normal or ordinary themselves.
Let’s take Modern Family. Now, I love Modern Family—I think it’s a smart, sharply-written show and that it does a lot of good with the diversity of characters it does show. But part of the premise is clearly that the two families that are more “modern” versions of what family can be are being contrasted against the white nuclear family of a happily married mother and father and their three children living in suburbia. The two families being contrasted? The mixed-generational couple of Jay and Colombian immigrant Gloria with Gloria’s son Manny—who becomes a stepson to Jay—and the gay couple with their daughter adopted from Vietnam. All of the diversity in the show is bundled into the families that are billed as having “complications.” What if, instead, Claire’s husband had been cast as an African-American man, and her kids were all half black? Or, even more scandalously, what if Jay’s first wife had been an Asian woman, and Claire and Mitchell were both happa? You might argue that it wouldn’t be the same show, and, well, of course not. But it’s a show that bills diversity as part of its message, and all I’m saying is, what if the diversity weren’t billed as being so “different,” but instead mixed in with what we’re meant to see as “normal”?
The new show The Neighbors is an even better example of this happening. The aliens who have taken human form have seemingly done so without regard to race (although, of course, the person billed as “their leader” chose to be a white man . . . who would have suspected?), and the lead alien family has a mother who appears black and an oldest son who appears Asian (the father and younger son appear white). It’s cute, and I’m glad they do have that diversity, despite the always-troubling aspects of aliens being the only people of color on a show (both Stargates, I’m looking at you). But, of course, the family who moves into the alien development, the “normal” human family we’re meant to contrast the aliens against, is all white. Because white is normal. And human. It’s the weird alien family who cry tears of green goo out their ears who have people of color among them; diversity is acceptable there. Why not have had the human family be mixed-race, or Hispanic, or Asian? Oh, I know why, of course; I said it at the beginning—writers and producers think viewers can’t relate to people of color. But, well, maybe I’m sick of being forced to relate to white people.
I’ll throw one more example into the mix, since I’ve been so sick I have been watching EXCESSIVE AMOUNTS OF TELEVISION lately. I have to admit to being a fan of the ABC Family show Switched At Birth, despite teen drama not usually being my cup of tea, and as far as I can tell (not being Deaf myself), it’s pretty awesome at giving people great insight into Deaf culture and experiences. And I’m all in favor of any show that treats a minority culture with respect and gives it attention, because media has a huge impact on how we all interact with each other culturally (plus all the Deaf actors who have jobs because of that show; mad props for that casting—Sean Berdy in particular should win an Emmy). But this show does the exact same thing I’ve mentioned above: it contrasts the Kennishes, the white, upper class nuclear family, with the Vasquez women—the family that has a very poor single mother raising a Deaf daughter, the “different” family, and, oh yeah, the one with a mother who just happens to be Latina. I do give Switched At Birth props for addressing race—Bay struggles with the fact that she’s suddenly Hispanic when she always thought she was white—but we still have the stable, nuclear family being the white one and the “different” family having the diversity. What if Regina Vasquez had been Caucasian and Kathryn Kennish had been Latina, with everything else remaining the same? What if the children of the rich nuclear family with with ex-professional athlete father had been the children of color instead of the other way around?
I have to admit, “family” shows (by which I mean shows about families) are not what I usually watch, so maybe this trend is not as universal as I think it is. But for a sample size of three, we’ve got three shows that contrast “different” families with “normal” families, and in all three cases, the “normal” family is the white one and the “different” families are the ones that have the racial diversity in addition to their other “differentness.” Just once it might be kind of cool to see the “normal” family have a little melanin. Wouldn’t it?
Now, we could argue about the merits of a show making out one family to be more “normal” than another in the first place. For example, there’s nothing textual suggesting that Claire and Phil’s relationship in Modern Family should be seen as any more stable than Jay and Gloria’s or Cam and Mitchell’s, nor their family any more “normal” or “ideal.” But I think it’s naive to think that the writers weren’t trying to set up the Dunphys as the white-picket-fence, 2.5-kids-and-a-dog type of “normalcy” so that they could contrast the other two families against them. And I’m equally certain that for all three of the shows I talked about, the casting in terms of race was very deliberate, as it serves to heighten the contrasts between the families.
And does such casting serve to provide that heightened contrast effectively for most viewers? Reluctantly, I have to admit that it probably does. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t feel irked, nor feel like it isn’t a problem that we’re still constantly billing minority races as the families that are “different.”
[This post has been brought to you by either Lyme disease or typhus, whichever one I have, as I am STILL SICK and therefore watching far too much television.]
- This is not to say that I would want anyone other than Ty Burrell playing Phil; the man is brilliant. Just making a point.↵
- Did not think I would like this show. I watched it because a friend of mine works on it, and so far it’s like a train wreck: I’m not sure what’s so fascinating about it (other than Toks Olagundoye), but I CANNOT LOOK AWAY.↵
- Unlike, say, Third Rock From the Sun.↵
- Unless, of course, we are talking about a show like The Neighbors, in which the “different” family is an alien one.↵
By Guest Contributor T.F. Charlton, originally published at Are Women Human?
Trigger warning: sexual violence and rape culture, racism, misogyny, online harassment, suicide.
Everyone is buzzing about Adrian Chen’s article for Gawker unmasking the identity of Michael Brutsch, better known as Violentacrez, a superuser who contributed to and moderated several of the creepiest, racist, and misogynist forums on Reddit. With reason: it’s a well-written and impressive piece of investigative journalism, and does important work unmasking someone who’s done a huge amount of harm–and the broader user and company culture at Reddit that allowed him to get away with it for so long.
That said, I have some reservations about the piece and how it’s been received. While the behavior of Brutsch and other Redditors is particularly disgusting, it’s worth noting Chen writes for an outlet that’s far from innocent when it comes to racism and misogyny (for starters).