We haven't really talked about the mess that was the Oscars. From Neil Patrick Harris using a black woman as a prop (an unaware Octavia Butler) to his constant mispronunciation of David Oyelowo's name, the Oscars were awash in self-congratulatory white supremacy. Patricia Arquette's speech took the cake though! She made a really valid argument about the wage gap between men and women needing to be closed, but it was her backstage speech that just ruined everything. Check out AwesomelyLuvvie's response to Patricia Arquette.
The artistry of Nina Simone will always be relevant, but the political messages of her songs haven't lost their poignancy either. In honor of her birthday, here is her iconic performance of "Mississippi Goddamn."
"All I want is equality for my sister, my brother, my people and me."
We had the great honor of returning to our alma mater to speak on hashtag activism and #BlackLivesMatter. Check out some of the live-tweets about the panel below.
This just tears us to pieces. The video is a few months old, but the wonderful Franchesca Leigh hits all of the right notes.
There is some question as to whether bell hooks is out of touch with the younger generation of black feminists and womanists. Despite that divide, we do find that her dialogues can be interesting and thought provoking. Check out her discussion with Arthur Jafa on transgression in public spaces.
Hip Hop artist Kendrick Lamar has made it no secret that his artistic and activist priority is the advancement and appreciation of the black community. Rapping about the harsh realities of poverty, violence, and the necessity of self-love has lead him to success not only in hip hop, but as a black cultural figure.
As I first listened to "The Blacker the Berry," I was amazed. Kendrick succinctly comments on white supremacy, the hate for black bodies, prison labor, the violence of slavery, and genocide of black and African people all within a few verses. The realness of it was enough to make my head spin, and the anger of the young black character Kendrick embodies was speaking his truth. With lyrics like:
My hair is nappy, my dick is big, my nose is round and wide
What's not to love?
Throughout the song, Kendrick's character refers to himself as a hypocrite, without revealing the meaning behind those words. But surely, nothing could take back the power claimed through the rest of the song? Kendrick finishes with:
So why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street?
Yikes. Nothing could damage his message except a healthy dose of respectability politics bullshit. Let me be clear: weeping for the deaths of our black women, men, and children at the hands of white supremacy and through the systemic criminalization of our very bodies does not make one a hypocrite, no matter one's status or participation in "black on black" crime. "Black on black crime" as a concept is born of white supremacy. Violent crime is most frequently enacted upon the people you live around or are related to. In a society as deeply segregated as the United States pretends it isn't, that means black on black crime is an obvious result.
Even that idea still indulges the "hypocrite" argument too much. Gang activity and situations in the black community that lead to desperation and poverty, and in turn violence, all can find their root in racism and white supremacy. When we mourn victims of gang violence, when we mourn our own participation in cycles of violence, when we mourn men and women gunned down in the street by rogue racists and by state-sanctioned racist police, we are all mourning the same damn thing: black death and degradation as a result of centuries of systemic racism, oppression, and violence against black people in this country. To imply anything other is a waltz of respectability for the white gaze, a dance that never ends, that distracts us from the ultimate goal of dismantling racism. Kendrick, for all his knowledge and good intentions, has been caught in a seductive trap designed to tell black people that they are the problem. Black people and communities are not hypocrites or problems to be solved.
Initiated by Jamilah Lemieux, #AdviceForYoungFeminists is an offshoot of the trending #AdviceForYoungAcademics and #AdviceForYoungJournalists hashtags. There are some gems among those tweets for feminists of any age to keep in mind.
Twitter is so hilariously irreverent at times, but there is so much community and realness centered around lived experience, truth, and justice. They will call you out when something ain't right! The Grammys did not get off lightly for their whitewashing of blackness and inability/refusal to recognize the talents of black people and other people of color.
We've been bumping Jazmine Sullivan's "Reality Show" for weeks, analyzing her commentary on popular culture, societal pressures facing women, toxic relationships, and the obstacles on the way to empowerment. We think the whole album is a masterpiece, but her song "Masterpiece (Mona Lisa)" is a radical self-love anthem with a womanist vibe. Listen to her perform the song with ThisIsRnB Sessions below.
Welcome to Womanist Expressions, brainchild of Caitlin Gunn and Kidiocus Carroll.