Friday, December 30, 2011

The Duplicity of the Women's Reproductive Rights Movement

Is it desirable that the unhealthy, the unfit, the feeble members of the community propagate their kind and fill the world with their children? Is it right for these to populate the world, as has been done, or shall some stringent measure be taken to stop this if we are to survive.  
- Margaret Sanger

Obviously, I am quite liberal-minded. I am for women who choose to remain single to achieve their career goals. I am all for women who raise their children on their own. I am for homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgender individuals. I am for interracial relationships/marriages and same-sex marriages. I am all for the liberation of the oppressed no matter what form they come in. As long as you are not causing harm to anyone (or animal) or the environment then you should be able to do as you please.

Margaret Sanger
So, obviously I am going to be for women’s reproductive rights. Duh! Women’s access to reliable birth control and safe abortions has given them renewed control over their bodies and their lifestyles. Safe abortions have given women the choice to terminate unwanted pregnancies resulting from abuse, such as rape and incest, or because they were simply not ready for children. With birth control, women can now dictate the number of children that they desire or whether they want children to begin with. Not to mention the added bonus of enjoying their sexual freedom as much as men. Every woman who makes use of birth control products need to give a personal salute to Mrs. Margaret Sanger who fought to bring birth control awareness to the mainstream and chaired the First American Birth Control Conference (FABCC) in New York in 1921.

Crypto Eugenics and Its Connection to Birth Control and Abortions

While there are similarities in the struggle for reproductive justice as far as white women and minority women go, our fight and our struggles are on a wider spectrum. That should be noted, examined, and acknowledged.  
-My boss, a Native American activist & revolutionary
My feelings towards abortion and birth control are double edged to say the least. I believe in birth control and that a woman has a right at all times to choose what she will or will not do to her body. However, I realize that when it comes to minority women, the poor, as well as the disabled, the aim of birth control and abortion come from Crypto Eugenics (Population control). If you’re unfamiliar with eugenics or Crypto Eugenics, trust that you're not the only one. I know about Crypto Eugenics because it is an issue that I have to personally write about for my job which involves the reproductive rights of Native American and minority women.

So here’s a little history...

In 1883 Sir Frances Galton (Cousin to Charles Darwin) founded the Eugenics program in order to create a more fit society by ridding society of what he deemed unfit. The term eugenics comes from the Greek, meaning “well bred.” Unfit or undesired persons are by eugenics definition poor, and or minority persons. Galton’s goal was to take Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest and mix the theory with Gregory Mendel’s plant genetics theory (Reynolds, D, 2002). 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Materialistic Consumption or Wealth Building?

A focus on material trappings is becoming an ideology in its own rights. Having a large quantity of these trappings is becoming an end rather than a means. It is becoming a measure of self-worth and success.  
- Jonathan Mobutu
Materialism is defined as a preoccupation with material rather than intellectual or spiritual things. Call me crazy, but is this not American society in a nutshell? We are a capitalist nation and it is all about what you got or if you do not have it then it is all about how you can get it (Wormer, Besthom & Keefe, 2007). I refer to this as individualistic materialism. We want the biggest houses, the baddest cars, the nicest clothes, the hottest shoes, and the best jewelry...for make us happy.

African-Americans play their fair share in society’s materialistic value system. Most blacks are living below the poverty line or close to it, but they are still very materialistic. It is a materialism marked by the consumption of things. In his book, The High Price of Materialism (2002), Tim Kasser says that poverty creates a troublesome environment in which people often worry about how their basic security needs will be met and they often become obsessed with materialistic goals in order to compensate. University administrator, Ferdinand Hamilton, leans towards this view when he says, “I understand the need to compensate for a lot of inequities” (Benjamin, 2005, p. 14). It is not unusual to walk through a lower-class, black neighborhood and see shiny Cadillacs sitting on equally shiny 32-inch rims in front of shabby looking homes. It is also not unusual to see young women in these same neighborhoods walking around with Louis Vuitton purses (not fake ones either) while barely making it paycheck-to-paycheck.

Materialism and the Black Culture

Gator Boots, with a pimped out Gucci suit
Ain't got no job, but I stay sharp
Can't pay my rent, cause all my money's spent
But that's okay, cause I'm still fly
Got a quarter tank gas in my new E-class
But that's alright cause I'm gonna ride
Got everything in my momma's name
But I'm hood rich da dada dada da
- Lyrics to rap duo Big Tymers' “Still Fly”
The Black community is not the only community that is affected by materialism, but it is quite prevalent. Don’t believe me? Just turn on the television or listen to the radio. Every other commercial shows a new gadget, new clothes, or new “toys” that an individual “must” have to be in the hip and in the now. Furthermore in almost every mainstream video given on countdowns that range from B.E.T. to M.T.V. to V.H.1., this materialism is oozing from the television. In order to be considered hip and cool a person is shown what is hip and cool, this includes clothes, rims, fragrances, etc. Funny thing is these outlandishly priced materialistic possessions are advertised by the same persons that are in these videos who seem to be “role models” in our culture within certain age groups. These "role models" are used advertise to our culture because marketing agencies know that people in the black community will buy the products if it is connected with a familiar face. (A note should be made that we don’t necessarily buy things made from people within our race, simply advertised)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Condemnation of Single Motherhood

It's a double bind for moms, because fathers seem to carry much less responsibility for the problems their sons may have, but in the political and popular culture of today, they are considered absolutely essential to raising good sons.

- Peggy Drexler

In a society that upholds Eurocentric values [patriarchal ideology], the single mother is met with regular hostility. The main reason is that single parent households headed by females do not fit in with societal norms (Dickerson, 1995). The singleness of single mothers is what is truly irksome. The traditional family consists of a father, mother, and children [don’t forget the family dog]. The mother is the caretaker of the household, cooking, cleaning, [birthing] and raising the babies, while the husband is the breadwinner bringing home the turkey bacon. This is the quintessential prototype of the American family. Single motherhood disrupts this capitalist dynamic causing it to be viewed as a threatening social problem which needs to be eradicated (Dickerson, 1995). You know, kind of like the plague—or a virus.

Ann Coulter [a white conservative, pictured on right] makes no qualms about her feelings for single mothers. Coulter says that almost all of society’s problems are the result of single motherhood (2008). And why is that you ask? Well, single mothers choose to have children out of wedlock every year without making that long trek down the aisle with their baby’s daddies or giving up those babies up for adoption to a deserving [traditional and middle-class] family (Coulter, 2008). These women have made the conscious decision to ruin their children’s lives (Coulter, 2008). Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution [fancy!] says almost all of the increase in child poverty since the ‘70s can be linked to single parent families...headed by women (Coulter, 2008).

What about Black Mothers?: Black Children and the "Need" for a Father

“I never had a father in my life, so I guess that’s why I am the way I am.”

"Well what about your mother, didn’t she take care of you?”

A conversation between my late mentor Dr. Cheryl Hardison Dayton and a fellow classmate

When I look at my niece and nephew and I look at my brother playing with or taking care of them, the statement that “Black men aren’t fathers in their children’s” lives becomes myth. While single parent households are on the rise in all levels of socioeconomic standing, this is not only an issue that affects Blacks but affects everyone. However when you turn on the television and listen to hip hop lyrics that brag about the amount of “Baby mamas” that a man has, it is easy to get caught up in the hype and overlook the facts. However, it is true statistically that in the United States 67% of Black household are single parent households (Children in Single-Parent Families, n.d.). This data however also includes couples who are cohabiting and step parents. (Thus the data is skewed)

When Barack Obama was governor he bought into the hype said that “Black fathers are missing in too many lives” (Davies, 2008). What isn’t taken into account is the definition of fatherhood and how that varies for race to race as well as the role that non-biological father figures can play in childrens' lives (such as mentor or step-parent, step parent, uncle, etc.) in a child’s life. Our president then went on to reiterate the same message in 2010 on Father’s Day. What he and others fail to understand is that research has shown that Black men keep in contact with their children more than any other race or ethnic of fathers (Alexander, 2010). Additionally, it blows my mind that no one is taking into account the amount of Black men who are incarcerated.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Single Ladies: They Don't Need (or Want) a Ring On It

Society doesn’t put the same pressures on men to settle down.

– Samhita Mukhopadhyay
The absence of a sexual partner frees women to focus on self-actualization, creativity, and personal growth.

– Ellen K. Trimberger

Society regards the accomplished single woman as an obstruction to the traditional family. Not only has today’s successful single women removed themselves from the household (where their asses the kitchen making the meal for their family...popping out children for their husbands...or on their backs with their husbands taking pleasure from their bodies whenever they want), but they also have the audacity to choose to forego the marriage and the baby carriage (Norment, 1982; Beaman, 2009; Mukhopadhyay, 2011). Not every single woman wants to remain single forever, but society makes it virtually impossible to enjoy being single (except for men that is). However, no matter how much the media tries to ignore content single women (or attempt to make them look desperate and in denial of their obvious loneliness), they are happy, fulfilled, and actually loving the hell out of "singledom."

Everywhere I turn I am hit with the same statistic over and over again: nearly 70% of all black women are single (Folan, 2010). I admit that it is a pretty considerable percentage especially when you compare it to the 31% of white women who remain single or the 32% of Asian women are single (Young, 2010). But before the media began turning the growing numbers of unmarried women (of all races and ethnicities) into a national crisis, I would like to provide some...exceptions. Did anyone consider that a number of these women are lesbians who may be living in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages? What about the women who are divorcees or widows and are uninterested in getting remarried? How about the number of girls who are as young as 15 and have been thrown under the category of “single women” when compiling data? Did anyone take into account the women were in long-term relationships but were not at that moment married? How do they fit it in? Once these “anomalies” are taken into consideration, is the number of single women really that much? By the way, I do not recall being sent a questionnaire about this. So how many women were really included in this survey for everyone to run wild with "70%"?

Happily Unmarried Black Woman is Not an Oxymoron

“So you’re twenty five, no kids, no husband? Do you have a boyfriend or is that just not your thing?”

-Intern coordinator at my current job

I can’t recall the countless number of times that people give me this quizzical look when I tell them that I don’t have children, or a husband or even a potential husband. Something about me must by default be wrong or off. People look at me like they want to ask me questions about me but are a bit afraid to come off as insensitive. When this happens I tend to smile at the awkwardness and open up the uncomfortable conversation that goes along with being single. (As in not married) As Stanford law professor Ralph Richard Banks states “Black women are the most segregated group in our society when it comes to relationships.”

When given the opportunity to dialogue about this labeled “catastrophe”, three ringed circuses occur, like the one in which occurred in 2010 in Atlanta with an” all-star” panel (Steve Harvey, Hill Harper, Jimi Izrael etc.) The panel in essence summed up that the problem Black women are facing is Black women. So “solutions” have come about to help aide Black women in our conquest to be “happily” married like everyone else. From books like Steve Harvey’s “Act like a lady, think like a man” and even more gut wrenchingly hilarious is Tyler Perry’s “Don’t make a Black woman take off her earrings: Madea’s Uninhibited Commentaries on Love and Life” (And please don’t even get me started on how twisted it is that he is writing from his alter ego Madea).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Where Da (Good) Black Men At? ....Then Where Are the (Good) White Men?

Perhaps they [black women] are punished for their success, reviled for their strength and independence, feared for their security, hated for their heart, loathed for their determination to survive, and yet still loyal to black men.
         –Michael Eric Dyson
When black women who want to be in relationships, who want to raise families, who want to share all the love inside them with a man reject possible partners who might be good for them and do so solely on the basis of race, they may be throwing away their best chances for happiness with both hands.
         –Karin Langhorne Folan

Can all of the good black men please stand up? Countless magazine articles, blogs entries (including this blog apparently), and news segments keep proclaiming that black women are facing the worst good black man shortage in history. This conversation has been going on for a couple of decades, so the drought should have declined by now, right? Am I doomed to be single for the rest of my life in a big house with my 12 Siamese cats (I like cats, so sue me) to keep me company and a well-stocked wine cellar to keep me warm at night? Or at the very least, end up as a lonely divorcee with three kids to care for? I cannot escape the bombardments of statistics of single black females since doing the research for this post. It is definitely a can of worms that I partially wish that I had never uncovered.

The Elusive Good Black Man
Is there honestly a shortage of good black men that are marriage potential for black women or is it merely a ploy by the media to further degrade the image of healthy relationships between the genders? Have black media outlets taken the bait of the mainstream media and are causing black women to sink to even lower levels of desperation?

Smith tells us that good black men cannot be found since they were never missing in the first place (2010). Kind of like when you lose your car keys and your searching everywhere for it and the moment you stop looking....BAM!! They keys were not missing, they were right in front of your face while you were busy searching in between sofa cushions, your pockets and everwhere else. The good black men black women are searching for may be right under their noses (Smith, 2010). May I suggest that these men write ‘good black man’ on their foreheads so that they can be easily identified? Black women keep missing them at every intersection for some reason.

On the hunt for the "Good" Black man.

“One day you’re going to marry a good Black man. He’s going to be a Christian, kind, loving, caring and handle all the bills…”

-My aunt

All my life I’ve been told that I was going to marry a “good Black man”. To be successful as a Black woman depended upon three things (As society had me believing), and those things are a decent income, a good education, and the unconditionally loving Black man for my husband. Numerous magazines, blogs, and persons have tried to give definition to what it means to be a “good Black man” Even furthermore the questions is where can they be found? Are they all in hiding in a particular spot in the country, and even more so if found then what?

ABC Nightline News had a special that in a roundabout way pertained to what it means to be a good Black man and additionally what Black women aren’t finding them. There additionally was a follow up article pertaining to the special. It is stated that 60% of college graduate who are Black are women. Furthermore 71% of those who are Black in graduate school are women. (Though it should be noted that there are roughly almost two million more Black women than Black men) While the special received loads of criticism and some praise, it is noted that this is a “problem” (Being single, Black, and a woman).

Monday, October 31, 2011

The (Perceived) Threat of Homosexuality

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of diagnosed mental disorders.

My mother and I were watching a (old) movie one day and during one of the previews Rosie O’Donnell came across the screen. “I used to like Rosie,” she says to me. “But I do not like her anymore. She married a woman. She is no good.” A hundred thoughts were running through my mind at that moment. I was enraged and disgusted that my own mother (who had given birth to such a liberal thinker) had such a negative, narrow, ignorant viewpoint of homosexuals. I wanted to know what Rosie marrying a woman had to do with her being “good” (here “good” is pertaining to morals). Did her character count for nothing? And I wanted to ask her what she would think of me (and do to me) if I told her I was a lesbian or a bisexual. I kept all of these thoughts to myself though. Talking with my mother and getting her to let go (for a few minutes) of her constricting viewpoints courtesy of a strict Christian upbringing in a Caribbean culture is equivalent to teaching a rock how to talk (it just ain’t gone happen).

My mother shares the same negative sentiments on homosexuality like most people who think that it is either a sin or inappropriate, especially Christian African-Americans. In the African-American community, homosexuality is not at all accepted; it is unnatural; it is a “white” disease (Corvino, 1997; Collins, 2004). Homosexuality carries such a negative stigma that one would be better off being a woman-beater instead (no, I am not joking). You would think that homosexuals were practicing bestiality or something. How many times have you heard the phrase, “God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve”? Who was the great mind behind that contribution to society? This clever reference to the Bible is tired and does not hold up if one is not going to follow other admonitions from the text. The Bible clearly condemns eating pork and coming into contact at all with the flesh of pigs...yet pork remains a popular meat on American dinner tables (Leviticus 11:7-8; Corvino, 1997). Pick what works for you and forget about the rest.

African American and our attitudes towards homosexuality (Gay, bisexual, and lesbians persons)

“I’d rather have a pedophile teach my child than a homosexual. Something about it is just wrong.”

-A former classmate at Bethune Cookman Univeristy

One of my most influential professors held open class discussions about whatever taboo topics he found would purposely spark controversy. At my small and tight nit University those topics could be anything from defining gender duties, to homosexuality. Because we had all been forewarned about the topic and to come to class prepared to discuss it some students purposely missed class (Some of whom had never missed class prior).

I remember sitting eagerly up front in class looking up from my textbook when the quoted comment above was said. My right eye began to involuntarily twitch. Did this young man understand the gravity of what he was saying? Did he understand that he was perpetuating ignorance? What I had heard must have been a mistake. Furthermore my eyes were surely deceiving me as my classmate slapped high fives with his neighbors in class. I waited until his ignorant tirade justifying his words ended and I laid into him like a brick worker lays down brick. However, at the end of the day I knew my words were not enough to get him to want to enlighten himself, nor were they enough to challenge these ignorant notions that our people (As well as numerous others) seem to want to embrace.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Interracial Friendship among Black Women and White Women

As a child growing up in St. Peters, St. Maarten (St. Martin), I was never aware of race among the girls in my neighborhood or my girlfriends at school. I suppose all children are usually unaware of race and racism, but I honestly have no recollection of race being as big of an issue as it is here in the United States. However, as I reflect on my childhood, I realized that my mother never had any white friends. Even the relationships with the Hispanics in my neighborhood, with whom my mother was always friendly, never went beyond being just neighbors. My mother worked as a housekeeper for a wealthy, white couple and on weekends she would take me to work with her. These "trips" with my mom were the only times I saw her interacting with a white woman...and she was in the position of a subservient servant.

I noticed that even after we moved to the states, my mother never had any white female friends or white friends in general. As a matter of fact, none of the adult females in my family have white girlfriends or girlfriends of any other race/culture. Of course, this could be due to cultural barriers like language and the fact that Haitians do not often form bonds of friendship outside of their family (the older Haitians in my family anyway). But if these deterrents did not exist, I doubt the situation would be any different. If I were in my mother’s shoes I probably would not be too open about embracing white women into my circle of friends either. It would be a constant reminder of my reprisal of the role of the quintessential “mammi”: hair tied, oversized flowered dress, always sweaty, overweight, taking care of “good ole white folk” (no disrespect intended). Without realizing it, I was subconciously internalizing this behavior from my mother.

"Why Can't You Be White?"

“Don’t you trust them, not a one [White people]. They will smile in your face all day and go on and have a lynchin party in your honor that same night they smiled in your face. There aint a friend you can make in a white person, something deep down in them won’t let nothing like that happen.”

-My mother Lovie Bell Brown (Who grew up in a small town in Georgia and used to picked cotton as a child, with welts on her hands to prove it)

I recall entering Kindergarten at a predominately white school and how my aunties stayed at the door of my class until halfway through the day. I recall especially looking for other Black persons in the class to at least make me feel at ease, since no one in my class seemed to look like me. They all had pale faces but different colored hair. And I remember sitting down with my overalls on in anticipation of learning. That year I learned more than academics. One day I was headed out of class and one of my “friends” at the time asked me an odd question that still sticks with me today. She said “Why can’t you be white so you can come over to my house and play?” After telling my family this they were outraged but eerily seemed to know that this incident or something of this nature would occur.

Fast forward nine years later and I’m entering ninth grade at a school that was predominately Black. This school though predominately Black was classist and had it’s own form of racism, i.e. Caribbean Students versus the rest of the student population. This go round because of the discrimination in that manner and discrimination via class, I found myself with white American friends as well as Black American friends. (With a few Caribbean students as well who didn’t care to discriminate) My white male friends and I tended to hang out quite a bit, and I was around my white female friends in school but outside of school not so much. I always kept in the back of my mind what had happened to me when I was in Kindergarten and while I was friends with them, I kept my distance for the most part as far as going over to their houses or spending time with them outside of school and extracurricular activities.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Light Skin & Straight Hair: Black Women and Internalized Racism

I have low self-esteem and I always have. Guys always cheated on me with women who were European-looking. You know, the long-hair type...Being a regular black girl wasn’t good enough.

- Lil' Kim, Rapper

I was in the sixth grade when my mother finally gave me the green light to put a relaxer in my hair. I was so excited because I would not have to deal with my mom pulling and tugging my hair every morning before school. I remember how envious I was of the other black girls who had been getting relaxers since elementary school. In a sense, a girl getting her hair relaxed was similar to a “rite of passage” of sorts, but I am uncertain of what we became thereafter. Appealing? Beautiful? Accepted? A little bit more white? Once I had my hair relaxed, people suddenly began noticing me as if my natural hair had somehow made me invisible. They affirmed my existence...and I liked it even though I did not understand it. At the time, I was not aware of black peoples’ obsession with long, straight hair (as well as lighter skin tones).

Fast forward six years later: I am walking home from school and notice a little girl who could not have been more than five years old with relaxed hair. For some reason, the sight made me extremely uncomfortable. On the other hand, I had a relaxer, so who was I to say that a little girl could not get one? Age was nothing but a number, right? I suppose what was truly upsetting was the awareness of how painful (and dangerous) relaxers could be and it seemed cruel to make a five-year old suffer through that for straight, “manageable” hair. What the hell was the mother thinking?

Another seven years go by: I am reading a chapter entitled, “Black Beauty and Black Power: Internalized Racism” from Killing Rage: Ending Racism by bell hooks. I have been reading a lot of her lately and after each chapter in one of her books, I have to stop and put the book down. I have to give my mind time to process her words because the issues that she chooses to discuss are so relevant.

The Black Beauty Standard

I have outlined a number of differences among the slaves; and I take these differences and make them bigger. I use fear, distrust, and envy for control purposes. These methods have worked on my modest plantation in the West Indies and it will work throughout the South. Take this simple little list of differences and think about them. On top of my list is “AGE,” but it’s there only because it starts with an a. The second is “COLOR” or shade. There is intelligence, size, sex, sizes of plantations, status on plantations, attitude of owners, whether the slaves live in the valley, on a hill, East, West, North, South, have fine hair, course hair, or is tall or short. Now that you have a list of differences, I shall give you an outline of action, but before that, I shall assure you that distrust is stronger than trust and envy is stronger than adulation, respect or admiration.

- from The Willie Lynch letter: The making of a slave

After attending predominately white schools from Kindergarten through eighth grade, I remember being more than jovial when I got accepted into a magnet school in a Black area for high school. I was delighted to think that there would be more than one other Black person in my class that I could talk to. I was delighted to think that for once I would be in the majority; I found comfort in this.

My first day at the school proved to be the complete opposite of what I had expected. There was an immediate division between those who were of Caribbean ancestry and those who weren’t. Rather, those who weren’t were African American, or white American there was a disdain for us. Furthermore, there was even more of a distinction for those who were fair skinned versus those who were dark skinned. There was also an emphasis on “good hair” and “bad hair” than I’d never heard in my life. When I heard terms like “Tar baby” and jokes that started with “You’re so Black..(Insert insult here)” something in my stomach churned. Something made me angry. Then when I got my class schedule because I was in advanced courses, there were maybe three Black persons at the most and I was one of them. I was in the same situation that I had been in all those years before. I was faced with what I was attempting to avoid and shun.

After overcoming the initial shock of this, however, I was able to graduate from high school. A year later, I attended a Historically Black College hoping that because of the higher level of education offered that I would experience what I had been looking for in high school.  However, and to my own astonishment the ignorance was magnified. With my professors attempting to quell ignorance and with the handful of us who actually came to college to learn we were all fighting an uphill battle that was in place before I even thought of being conceived. This battle stemmed back hundreds of years before me. And I realized how engrained in my culture this skewed and European definition of beauty was. Then, in my Africana Philosophy course I read the “Willie Lynch Letter”. This was my second time reading this letter but in retrospect it was my first time because my professor forced us to grasp the concepts addressed by Willie Lynch, and then he forced us to analyze the letter and see its relevance to us in our time. Sadly, not much had changed.

They say the revolution will not be televised

In response to what was going on with Troy Davis, the day he was was executed I wrote this piece. Something revolutionary within me was reignited because of the public outcry (Of which fell upon deaf ears) for justice.

For Troy Davis

Georgia was my home
For moments and hot summers long gone
With willow trees swayin to the soundtrack of wind
Georgia was my home, ya'll
And yours too brother, yours too
That is
Before she castrated your manhood
In her prison system
And paved her country roads with your tears
Georgia was my home
And supposedly you shot someone there
Some cop
Somebody's daddy, somebody's son, someone's husband
Supposedly you shot him
Off duty
He was a cop
Supposedly you shot him
But everybody who saw
Must've been blind
Like our justice system
Must've been blind like our president
Who could intervene
Because it's election time
And someone might notice his

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hey You...Got Revolution?

Georgia. On Wednesday, September 21, 2011, Troy Davis, a convicted (alleged) cop killer, was executed in Georgia despite a lack of substantial evidence and statement recantations from 7 out of 10 original witnesses (read all about the campaign to save Davis before his execution here). His story garnered international attention and Davis gained a large number of supporters who believed in his innocence. In the several days before the scheduled execution, everyone was talking about him. The discussion about Davis was full blown on Twitter.
If anyone did not know about Davis before, then they sure as hell did by the 21st (which was a little late if you ask me). Everyone was Tweeting and Re-Tweeting links to several petitions against Davis' execution, various numbers to contact officials about granting Davis clemency (which were busy as all hell), information about protests and marches, and just plain frustrated Tweets about the situation in general. For the first time, I was seeing people who never had anything substantial to say finally begin to..."wake up." It was refreshing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hello, World

Well, I’ve begun this journey (Blogging) with my dear sistah of soul or “soul sistah,” Sofoni with an open mind and a bit of excitement pertaining to the upcoming articles/posts, some of which have already been written. Sofoni brought this idea to me about a month a half ago and I’ve been thrilled about it ever since. Now that the site is officially up, I am ecstatic!

My intellectual journey rose and reached an amazing peak during my junior year at my prior undergraduate University. I was taking a class entitled “Women in U.S. history” even though I was a Psychology major. Psychology was boring me to tears with all of its schools and trains of thought that were established prior to me, which I could not question, so I wanted to minor in Africana Women's Studies. I wanted to question these different schools psychological thought because only one dealt with minority women. My second major, Philosophy, had me questioning everything that I was learning in about psychology, but was it was dominated by males.

I found solace in the Women in U.S. History class as well as in the office of my outside academic advisor and mentor, the late Dr. Cheryl Hardison-Dayton. She opened up an entirely new world to me in that class and just by being herself. Every notion that I had challenged about gender and societal norms, she gave me the knowledge and the books to educate myself. The world of Dr. Patricia Hill Collins and the world of Dr. Angela Davis were introduced to me. My thirst for knowledge became unquenchable. I lived in my advisor’s office, and I devoured every book she suggested. I took the knowledge she gave to me and the knowledge from prior classes, such as Africana Philosophy and Africana Psychology, and I ran with it. I realized that the standards set forth for black woman were not created by us. A new standard had to be set.

Thus, in writing on this blog we are expressing thoughts. I am expressing myself proudly from the perspective of a black woman whose love for the study of my womanhood and my gender has spanned from my personal life into my scholastic life (I am now attempting to obtain a Master's degree in Women and Gender Studies) and now into this blog. Some of my writings will be in honor of my mother, my aunts, and all the other women who surrounded me in childhood whose guidance was and is priceless. My writings are also in honor of Dr. Hardison-Dayton and for every professor that made me question, and think and encouraged me to rise above and beyond my own expectations and myself

May this journey be a fruitful one,

Danielle C. Allen a.k.a "Midnightrose"

The Start of a Journey

I have come to the realization that we often conform to society's manufactured roles for us without question and accept anything we are told without hesitation. We do not realize some of the foolishness that we condone: patriarchy, racism, the education system, sexism, government fallacies, elitism, etc., etc. As a former faithful (and I do mean faithful) devoter to television, it took a while before I came to this Truth as it is one of the main tools used to brainwash, divert, and deceive us.

I began to seriously question each of these ideas during the senior year of my undergraduate studies. I had an assignment in which I had to complete a paper for my Logic course. The professor told the class that the area of philosophy was constantly criticized because it was basically "memorizing the ideas of dead, white men," which I suppose is true to some extent. So, the professor wanted each of us to write a paper on a philosopher/intellectual of our choice who was living, non-white, and preferably not male. That is how I came across feminist thinker bell hooks and little did I know that she would be the beginning of my separation with societal conformities.

After writing about bell hooks, I could not help but read at least one of her books. I found her book, Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, in my university's library and it was like seeing the world for the first time. Although I had been conditioned to believe some things as being "right," it did not make them necessarily True. The more books I read from hooks, the more I began seeing the lies. Then I joined Twitter and began amassing a Twit Fam of folks who were also on the path of seeking Truth and they opened my eyes to even more knowledge (upon my own research, of course).

I wanted a place to share ideas (that gave me more room than 140 or 500 characters at a time), so I decided to start a blog with my soul-sistah where we could discuss the aforementioned topics. Each of us will provide our perspective on a certain issue, which may usually come from an African-American female's perspective because that is our least in this level of reality.

We hope that you will join us on this journey because the only way to learn is from the dissemination of ideas (in a mature and constructive manner). And anything that is discussed on here is a mere grain of sand in the vast ocean of what is the universe...but I like to start from the bottom and work my way to the top or from the simplicity of the outter to the complexities of the inner (I suppose it is the Capricorn in me). This is just the beginning.

Peace, Love & Light

Sofoni Michel