Tag Archives: representations

The Weight Of Being A (Young And Successful) Black Male

by Guest Contributor Edward Williams, originally published at Policylink

It was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that most notably stated, “all progress is precarious and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.” I had never contemplated my personal success as precarious progress or that my success to this point could bring any non-materialistic problems, but I now find myself–like many of my fellow successful, young, black men–in a moment of crisis.

Before I dive into what exactly this 21st-century identity crisis is, what it is caused by, and what it ultimately means, I need to get some preliminaries out of the way to open some critical minds. First, this article is not intended to be braggadocious: I will discuss some of my personal success as I explicate this issue, but I will also share the success of several other young black men that I am close with. Neither their stories of success nor mine are expressed from a place of haughtiness but instead from a place of humility. I fear that it is out of concern for being perceived as arrogant or out-of-touch that this side of the young black male’s story is so rarely told.

Next, this article is not intended to complain about success. I recognize that success is usually not a word associated with black men, and I spend most of my article writing time trying to shed light on the crisis in our inner-city schools. It is not lost on me that most young black men will never be in a position to engage in the dialogue that I am about to embark on, because their potential success has been stifled.

Finally, I recognize that much of what I will discuss at length not only applies to successful young black men, but also to successful young black women and young successful minorities generally. I have consciously chosen to focus on the young black male success crisis because I understand it best first hand. It would be disingenuous of me to attempt to articulate the myriad of different pressures that other minorities or women experience as they climb the ladder of success. Therefore, for risk of speaking on that which I know little about, I have chosen not to explore those topics, but I hope that my fellow successful young minority colleagues and female colleagues will soon treat us with their own version of this crisis.

Now that preliminaries are out of the way, let’s get down to the issue; what exactly is the young successful black male’s 21st century identity crisis? Continue reading

Open Thread: Reality TV And Race

Request in the comments yesterday:

kdlmn • 14 hours ago
Could we have a reality show open thread and/or round table on racialicious sometime please? Just a suggestion. Reality shows seem to be together with crime shows the only area in which PoC are overrepresented–cause it gives the viewer yet another possibility to ridicule PoC (added bonus: women of color. women on reality shows in general are always catty and back stabbing, never help one another). There are so many offenders here that I don’t know where to start. The last ones I saw were “Hollywood Exes” (3 Black women, one Latina, one White woman) and “My Big Fat American Gipsy Wedding”, which is especially appalling as it comes just when the Hungarian and French government have in different ways declared that Roma are Open Game. In Hungary a right wing politician recently had a DNA test published to prove that he definitely had zero Roma ancestry. So gross.

Mickey • 7 hours ago
I agree about a round table discussion about these so-called reality shows. Whose reality are they showing? Most of this stuff is edited to make certain people fit into stereotypes the public automatically buys in to, especially regarding PoC. I watched a couple of episodes of “Hollywood Exes” and, although it is not too bad compared to other shows of its nature, the Black ex-wife of R. Kelly and the White ex-wife of Jose Canseco sort of get on my nerves.

Consider the thread open! A couple things I’ve noticed after the jump. Continue reading

Tonight! “Let Them Eat Cake: Art, Race, and Context” in DC & on Twitter

Arturo produced a great round up when the news of Makode Aj Linde’s cake hit the net. Now, Jess Solomon of The Saartjie Project (A theatre ensemble + creative tribe of women of the African Diaspora exploring race, gender and power through community-based action and cultural arts) wants to infuse that conversation with art and bring it into the real world.

Let them eat cake image

Let Them Eat Cake: Art, Race and Context? #LTEC

NEW LOCATION! Affinity Lab, 920 U St. NW (2 blocks from the U Street Metro – 10th St. exit, Green Line)

Let Them Eat Cake is a hybrid panel/performance/critical response informed by the photo of Swedish Minister of Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth eating cake – made in the minstrel image of South African woman Saartjie Baartman – as part of a performance called “Painful Cake” by Makode Linde at World Art Day on April 15th at Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

LTEC is an interactive discussion featuring artists and media makers who examine race and gender:

Amber Robles-Gordon, Mixed Media Visual Artist
Dr. Arvenita Washington, Anthropologist
(added!) Ebony Golden, cultural worker, public scholar, conceptual performance artist
Latoya Peterson, Racialicious
Margaux Delotte-Bennett, Performance Artist
Renina Jarmon, Scholar, Blogger, Model Minority
Wilmer Wilson IV, Performance Artist
Moderated by Jess Solomon, Founder, The Saartjie Project

As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Saartjie Baartman’s final homecoming, her body is still (symbolically) at the center of what has become a global discourse.

About Saartjie Baartman: Saartjie (pronounced Sar-Key) was a 19th century enslaved South African woman put on display as entertainment throughout Europe because of what the medical and scientific establishment regarded as her exceptional bodily form: protruding buttocks and an elongated labia.

Baartman was “exhibited” in London and throughout Europe under the show name Hottentot Venus (even after the abolition of the slave trade in London) from 1810 – 1815. She was also the subject of several scientific paintings and studies. When Baartman died in 1815, and her body was dissected in public, genitals and brain preserved and put on display at the Musée de l’Homme in Paris until 1997. After much political discourse over who she “belonged” to, her remains were repatriated to South Africa at the request of President Nelson Mandela on May 2, 2002.

LTEC explores:

Cultural and social implications of exploring race and gender as artists of color;
The extent and validity of “artistic license” and;
Significance of audience interpretation and reaction in their own work as well as that of Makode Linde;
Role of the media as cultural critics and tastemakers.

LTEC is on the visionary end of the spectrum and intended to bring both local creative consumers and cultural producers together to further understand how they inform each other.
Join in the discussion on Twitter: #LTEC
***

Special thanks for promotional support by Live Unchained, an international arts events and media organization featuring black women’s works.

Since this is an avant-garde kinda thing (complete with performances), I’m not preparing remarks but I will probably reference these posts:

Background Color, by Mimi Thi Nguyen of Threadbared
Background Color, Redux II, in which Mimi owns some fool that challenged her art cred
The Thin Line Between Art and Exploitation, when I took a look at the relationship between Kanye West & Vanessa Beecroft

I never wrote about the Runway video, but I may talk about that as well…

Hope to see you there!

Quoted: Chicago Abortion Fund Opposes South Side Billboard Campaign

“[I]t’s clear those who fight against reproductive choice for women of color know nothing of why women choose abortion Rather than create fake concern for a community these people have never set foot in, Life Always should spend their energies helping us address the reasons why women decide to choose abortion.  The procedures we help fund are because out community is among the least likely to have regular access to healthcare, family planning and comprehensive sex education.  Our services exist because our women are among the most likely to be victims of sexual assault…

“Women have a legal right to access abortion services and should not be shamed regarding the personal choices they make.  Abortion is a personal decision, not a political discussion.  We will not be moved moved by this anti-choice attempt to hijack our communities.”

~~Chicago Abortion Fund‘s Executive Director Gaylon Alcaraz

If you want to let Life Always know how you feel about their billboard, you can sign a petition here.

Photo credit: groundswellfund.org

For Your Black History Month: Black Moses Barbie

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

I first saw this on my Twitter pal Ludovic Blain‘s Facebook page and fell off my work stool in laughter. Perhaps I was dead wrong for doing so, but I’ll own it. Check it out:

Black Moses Barbie (Harriet Tubman Commercial) (1 of 3) from pierre bennu on Vimeo.

This is the blurb:

This mock commercial for a Black Moses Barbie toy celebrating the legacy of Harriet Tubman is part of Pierre Bennu’s larger series of paintings and films deconstructing and re-envisioning images of people of color in commercial and pop culture.

Two more commercials for this hypothetical toy will be posted throughout Black History Month 2011.

The transcript after the jump.

Continue reading