Thoughts on Jamie Foxx & Bruce Jenner

Anyone who has followed the life and career of #JamieFoxx would know he is far from a hateful human being and takes no issue with gender identity or expression, even dressing up as a woman early in his career as one of his most well known characters. However, I had to check my privilege as a heterosexual woman today in response to the backlash about his #iHeartRadio awards comment on #ChrisJenner when he joked that the transitioning Kardashian relative would be performing a male & female duet all by himself. I won’t lie, I thought it was funny. And when I saw the response on the web I thought Damn, is it that serious? But THEN I thought about how salty I was when Sean Penn made his remark at the Oscars about a Hispanic director having a green card. Most racism is not in the form of a joke but when a racially insensitive remark is made on a grand stage, I’m the first to turn up. I don’t want to compare struggles but I do want to acknowledge that I am not a trans person and I cannot know their struggle nor should I think I can tell the trans community how to feel about jokes they feel have been made at their expense. That’s what I want people to do when the Black community is justifiably outraged at the constant onslaught of racism disguised as humor and political incorrectness we have to deal with, so I will show the same consideration to other marginalized groups. It doesn’t matter whether or not I think his joke was transphobic because I am not trans therefore I have no stake in the conversation. Just a very public moment of self reflection.

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Study: Writers with preconceived notions about women with natural hair get it ALL WRONG & pretend they have proof

* The satirical nature of the story didn’t deter me from clapping back because people really think like this. I wrote as though the piece was authentic because the fact it was deemed funny satire is problematic in itself. *

Woo chile. Let me take a breath and gather my thoughts before I even BEGIN to address this supposed ‘study’ by no name ‘cosmetics company’ Bountiful Hair which suggests that ‘women with natural hair have low self esteem.’

I want to start out by saying that on the website this article was published on, thenewsnerd.com, there are also ‘stories’ (and I use the term loosely) claiming that Danai Gurira (Michonne) contracted Ebola last year while filming ‘The Walking Dead’ in Africa, that ‘Game of Thrones’ is coming to B.E.T and that Laverne Cox of ‘Orange Is The New Black’ fame has been cast as Beyonce in an upcoming biopic.
Let that marinate.
Now, let’s revisit this notion of women with natural hair having low self esteem. 
In any study, proof is required, and that proof is based on information gathered by participants. Guess how many of the supposed 3,000 participants in this study were quoted in the report of its findings? One. A woman named Pilar Ciara Jones was quoted saying, 

 “Some days I just don’t know what to do with these naps — and on those days I just avoid the mirror altogether.”

“I try to tell myself that wearing my hair natural is all about empowerment and expressing natural beauty, but there were times when I just did not feel pretty,” Jones continued. “When you continuously break combs because your hair is so nappy, and you use everything  in your refrigerator to try to tame that mane, and you still have hair so rough you could polish rocks, you begin to reevaluate your choices.”

“At one point I was using a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs on my hair every day to try to soften it. That’s when I knew it was time to make a change. I got a relaxer and a Brazilian weave down to my butt, and I have never felt prettier,” Jones stated.

Let’s assess that.

Do I believe that some women of color, even those who rock their natural hair texture, have days when they feel unattractive? Of course I do. That is not an exclusively Black and natural hair texture wearing phenomenon. Men and women alike, across cultures, have ‘bad hair days,’ moments where they simply can’t put together that perfect outfit or experience a feeling of inadequacy in the presence of someone they feel is more aesthetically pleasing.

The difference here is where the root cause lies. Most women can agree when they see an Instagram post of K. Michelle they immediately feel lacking in the booty department. You see Lupita Nyongo and you think man her skin is glorious! You see Jill Scott rocking her 5 millionth hair style in a month and you think, ‘Goodness! Is there any look she can’t kill?!’ There isn’t necessarily a problem with you so much as you can appreciate what they have and they make it seem worth having. That’s not a black girl problem. That’s a human problem. Constant comparison. And none of us can help it.

When it comes to natural hair and how it is perceived by black and white people alike, the matter is a socially constructed concept of what is attractive, professional and/ or appropriate and that has not been decided by us. We as a society have been handed down Eurocentric beauty ideals riddled with racist undertones for centuries and the masses are only recently waking up to the fact that multiple types of beauty can exist in the same world.

As a result of this growing consciousness, you have droves of Black and African identifying women across the diaspora embracing their natural hair by wearing it without altering its texture. A key component to ‘transitioning’ or ‘going natural’ that people outside the movement may not understand, and that speaks to the faulty point this article is trying to make is this:

Some of us have to fake it until we make it. 

What I mean is, Some of us comprehend our glory in the context of history, or appropriation, or icons in the media who embrace their God given kinks and curves (or lack thereof) but personally there still may be a struggle going on perceiving what’s in the mirror as ‘beautiful.’ 

Some of us have to start the process and experience the journey to truly feel as beautiful as we think Solange or Erykah or Ledisi look with their natural hair. 

And that’s ok.

To my transitioning sisters still accepting their God given magnificence I say this:

You are allowed to feel however you feel about yourself, but I want you to know that you are beautiful. Even when you don’t feel beautiful, you are, because God don’t make no junk. 

To my sisters rocking weaves, wigs & relaxers:

You are still my sister. One of us is not better or worse than the other. There is no level of blackness you are incapable of attaining because you choose not to rock your natural texture. I just want you to know that YOU TOO are beautiful, just as you are, and I hope the choice to wear a weave, wig or relaxer is a personal decision based on preference and not  a choice made based on what someone else has convinced you is more attractive or in your best interest. Only you know what works for you, and authenticity, whether wearing a weave or fro, always works.

To my sisters who were natural before the current natural hair movement began:

Thank you for setting the example. We don’t ‘go’ natural, we return.

Lastly and definitely least, I’d like to let whoever wrote that so called article on women with natural hair having low self esteem know that their plan failed tremendously. Your intentions were clear. You wanted to (re)affirm that Black women are unhappy with themselves unless they’re fitting into a Eurocentric mold. This movement of authenticity clearly bothers you, and you wanted to assert the same old narrative that suggests Kinky hair (which you referred to multiple times as nappy and coarse) is ‘untidy’ ‘unprofessional’ and ‘unattractive.’ You claimed that these are the feelings of employers and black women but I think they’re yours, and I think you picked them up the same place beautiful little black girls pick them up- somewhere else. 

You need to put them back, and give yourself the chance to see through your own eyes instead of allowing ridiculous notions about what is or isn’t attractive to shape your view of the world around you and the unique and beautiful people in it.

Signed,

A Life Long Natural with plenty self esteem!

Join me for the first annual YPOC Mothers & Fathers Day Brunches

Join #YPOC for brunch on Mother’s Day & Father’s Day weekends this year! 

We’ll be celebrating motherhood, sisterhood & positive female role models Saturday May 9th from 11-2pm @ #Buka in Brooklyn and paying homage to the dutiful dads and father figures we know and love on Saturday June 20th from 11-2pm @ #Madiba in Brooklyn. 

Come support Black owned restaurants, and one another as we break bread and discover what it means to raise a village as a unit as opposed to looking out for our youth on an individual basis. 

Bring the kids! It’s a family affair 😊 RSVP on eventbrite using the link below!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ypoc-mothers-day-brunch-tickets-16328955345

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ypoc-fathers-day-brunch-tickets-16328992456?aff=erellivorg 

   

Why I watch Empire

a friend posted this on Facebook and I felt it was worth sharing.

at the end of the day white television employs few blacks if any so if it’s helping my people make money, that’s support for us too. and as far as disdain for cookie because she perpetuates stereotypes, I know a couple of cookies in my hood and I like seeing that. it’s inside jokes that I get. I hate that black people have to walk on eggshells and protect our actions in the media because people perceive it on a broader scale. they will say we are all cookie. but im tired of proving im educated because frankly, I have a little ratchet in me too and it says nothing about my intelligence or manners. the two coexist.

-Dorothy 

For Black folks who see my self love as ‘divisiveness’

When I promote self love and I’m met with resistance from brown folks I really have to wonder who your parents are, what books you’ve read, whether or not you watch the news, where you live, who your friends are, and a host of other things that would help me try to understand why me loving me makes you feel the need to declare that everyone should love everyone. The onus of responsibility to recognize the humanity in others does not rest with the oppressed. Sure, we are all capable of prejudice and sometimes we all judge a book by its cover. Self reflection and betterment is a life long process. But global anti-Black racism and the systems in place that attack the lives and livelihoods of marginalized groups cannot be dismantled by pretending they do not exist or trivializing their sordid histories and current ramifications. Not acknowledging things like racism, transphobia, Islamophobia, and other rampant forms of intolerance does not render them insignificant, it has the exact opposite effect. 

While you live the best life you can thinking neutrality and color blindness will save you from the ugly and all but ‘obsolete’ idea of racism, legislation is drafted up to steal your voting rights, protect killer cops, censor the Internet (where so much movement building for marginalized groups takes place and opposing narratives to mainstream news are revealed) and the list goes on. Reproductive rights are under attack. Religious freedom is becoming a thing of the past. 

Couple any universal issue with racism and intersectionality becomes such a necessary thing to acknowledge and understand. 

So please miss me with the self hate disguised as humanity, the denial masquerading as color blindness and the lack of commentary and action simply because you choose not to live in the real world.

A late St. Patty’s Day Post

I’m saying. Green on St. Patty’s day, red white & blue on ‘Independence Day’ (ha!) Christmas sweaters in December and all kinds of pastels on Easter Sunday but no one knows what Juneteenth is or celebrates Kwanzaa. I get that some things are just an excuse to hang out and have fun, and some are family staples long before we are educated about the historical context and origins of many holidays. But when you know better, you’re supposed to do better, and if we got half as excited about our own culture, people/ communities as we do about others, imagine how much better off we would be. I know a lot of us have mixed families and that’s obviously important to acknowledge because we all identify differently. But it pains me to see my people so quick to embrace and seek acceptance from other communities thinking it makes them more desirable or cooler, especially when they are immediately identifiable as people of color. That sprinkle of Irish in you will not stop your brown skinned behind from experiencing life as a Black person no matter how many ‘kiss me I’m Irish’ shirts you rock. Know that.

Notes on Aniah Ferguson, community intervention & perspective sharing 

Growing up in Williamsburg, where I have always been surrounded by diverse groups of people and no criminal or stereotypically ‘urban’ element, I acknowledge that it is probably much easier for me to say ‘you should say/ do something!’ In instances where someone bears witness to violence than it is for a young person or even an adult to actually step in when someone is being physically attacked in a more dangerous environment. 

I am not excusing people who sit idly by when they can make a difference and speak up but I do want to acknowledge my own privilege in that no fight I ever witnessed escalated to the point of a child being knocked unconscious. 

The most you’d get at PS 250 or IS 318 is some pushing, two kids talking smack into each others necks while swaying to a chorus of ‘ooooohs!’ Or a couple wild swings that would leave both participants virtually unharmed- and that’s something I’m grateful for. 

I didn’t grow up having to worry about my safety and that enabled me to focus on my grades and even pursue multiple extra curricular activities. Where I was educated, These were altercations you could put yourself in the middle of without fear of losing your life. No one was going to stomp you out. No one was going to pull a gun on you. But in some schools/ neighborhoods that is the reality. 

While I have worked in some tumultuous neighborhoods I certainly have never been in a situation like what happened to that poor girl in McDonalds and I think it’s important for us as community members, parents and educators to step outside ourselves and really consider how our lives are different and how we can share perspectives that will enrich our understanding of one another. 

I hear a lot of talk about how the girl responsible for the brutal attack needs to be sent to prison for life because of her rap sheet, but I wonder how she became this way. I wonder if someone ever sees these kids like people or if they are ‘delinquents’ ‘thugs’ ‘savages’ and ‘brutes’ from their very first infraction. 

I wonder if anyone ever asked her about her life, or how she ended up pregnant at 15, or why she stabbed her brother or treated her grandmother so terribly all those times she was arrested for violently acting out. I wonder who, if anyone sees her for what she is, A CHILD, anymore.

I wonder who will acknowledge the culture of apathy we all are a part of that has created a generation of youth who will tape a fight before they stop it. 

I just have all these thoughts. This is a young person about to be sent to prison after all. I don’t think it’s a race thing to say, hey. Let’s consider how she got this way before we dole out a punishment. I’d want the same for any child facing hard time. 

I don’t think it’s naive to believe something other than the penal system can rehabilitate this girl. I don’t think I’m wrong for wondering why she gets labeled a ‘savage’ while the young white men who shoot up schools get the sympathy of a nation because of their ‘mental health issues.’ 

This girl stabbed her brother and threatened to burn her own house down. Doesn’t it sound like she has mental health issues to you?

There are so many things that lead up to kids leading these types of lives and I just think it’s important we try to understand. Even if the mainstream media refuses to do so, all the human beings and ESPECIALLY the Black folks on my time line need to put a conscious effort into understanding the psyche of our wayward youth instead of writing them off like the Daily News wants you to.

At the end of the day, the disenfranchised need to stick together, and no matter how dissimilar you think you are from kids like Aniyah Ferguson, outsiders group us all together. Understanding one another rather than playing ‘who’s the better black person’ would serve us all well. 

Aniyah was wrong for what she did and so were the rest of those girls, there’s no denying that. There should definitely be repercussions. I just think it’s important to consider a scenario where Aniyah is not only punished, but also given the tools to stop this behavior. What’s the point of sending her to prison if she gets out and beats someone else half to death again?

Aniah Ferguson is not a savage 

I have put life and limb on the line many times to stop my students from doing one another harm when I worked in some pretty perilous school districts. I know everyone won’t do that, it’s not in the job description. But to sit there while a child gets the stuffing beat out of her in a crowded, public place, is despicable. Part of the reason these kids act this way is not only their faulty value systems which have them convinced being ‘swaggy’ and ‘gangsta’ is what’s most important in life, but even when they leave their communities or their schools, here they are in the world with no one providing a moral compass. Not one person in McDonalds, customer or employee, had the balls, sense or compassion to break this up, or at the very least, speak up? But they’re the only ones being called savages? Methinks we’re all to blame. When you idly watch something like this you might as well have participated. This kid needs some YPOC and a grade A ass whooping in her life. But the adults who watch these things happen and then talk about these kids like dogs, I really don’t  have a solution for you. Constantly shaming these youth but WHO IS RAISING THEM?! Don’t get me wrong, this girls actions were reprehensible and her rap sheet at 16 is longer than my arm but let’s consider how this young woman got this way and whether or not throwing her in jail at the tender age of 17 will help or hurt her. Side note: I don’t recall the white dude who shot up the school full of first graders or the columbine kids ever being referred to as brutes or savages, but here we have a young black girl involved in a violent altercation where the victim lived and she is painted as a savage. I’m not saying she isn’t wrong. Her actions are despicable and she needs help. But why is it we make excuses and suggest mental illness in the case of murderers but paint a clearly troubled girl from an urban environment as a monster? #BlackLivesMatter#ItTakesAVillage #BlackGirlsMatter #SaySomething #DoSomething

#BlackOutDay is every day!

They so mad about #BlackOutDay and I’m just basking in all this truth & beauty. In small ways and large, keep advancing the struggle. We can all make a difference and we should all practice self love, and black love, daily. Black lives mattered long before the hashtag. Stay positive and encouraged but most importantly stay woke. Don’t allow anyone to shame you out of loving yourself and your people, fully and publicly. Their issues are theirs, not yours. And if they’d rather create #WhiteOutDay than take the time to comprehend the necessity of black out day in a world where state sanctioned violence takes the life of a Black man woman or child every 28 hours, Welp. They just aren’t worth your time are they? #blacklivesmatter