A place where policies that worsen wealth disparities are instituted by an administration that touts ‘major economic growth,’ benefitting the top 10%, whilst millions of Americans teeter on the brink of eviction, hunger, or joblessness.
America’s racism is in Supreme Court decisions; the air and the water; and it’s pastimes. And it’s in you too. One thorough vibe check would show us the insincerity of the this-isn’t-who-we-are’s, when all signs strongly point to what America is, and always has been: the home of unabashed racism.
“Even the Nazis did not stoop to selling souvenirs of Auschwitz, but lynching scenes became a burgeoning sub department of the postcard industry. By 1908, the trade had grown so large, and the practice of sending postcards featuring the victims of mob murderers had become so repugnant, that the U.S. Postmaster General banned the cards from the mails.”
Secondly, some big events happened recently: Meg the Stallion confirmed that Tory Lanez shot her in the foot, and the 100 year anniversary of White Women’s Suffrage just passed; and yes, I’m going to show you how both of those things are relevant to the overarching theme of this video which is BW being the most unprotected group in society. And contrary to popular belief, we struggle to find that protection in the company of Black men, and we especially do not have that protection in the company of white men or white women, even though allyship is the latest trend/performance to dominate our culture.
And on that note, I want to make super clear that this video is about hating or ridiculing anyone, it only serves to connect the dots between Black women’s experiences with intimacy and violence, which I have research on and lived experiences with that make that a TRUTH, not a figment of my imagination or that of other Black women’s. If you genuinely want to learn something, this video is for you. Thank you for watching it, I love you. But if you want to watch this video in order to argue about how my points are untrue, and how I’m making everything about race, please do not watch this video, and even better, fuck off.
But back to my last reason for making this video, which I’ve wanted to make for a long time; I feel a responsibility to myself to speak on these experiences that I’ve kept inside for so long, to make them feel more real to myself, and I feel a responsibility to the Black women who have had similar experiences to mine and the Black women I’m going to reference, and are struggling with trusting that they’ve had these experiences because they’ve been gaslighted so much and for so long.
I want to start with Megan Thee Stallion getting shot by Tory Lanez and Megan not reporting him immediately out of concern that the very aggressive LAPD would abuse, shoot, or kill Tory. As someone who has seen and heard the way LAPD interacts with suspects, over the 3 years that I lived there, I completely understand why she wouldn’t. Just last month, I was woken up by a frightening police stop that happened right outside my apartment, so it makes complete sense why she would fear the police.
Black women are not spared mistreatment by cops or police violence, yet when we talk about police violence in the US, it’s always within the context of Black men. In her report “African-American Women, Mass Incarceration, and the Politics of Protection,” Kali Nicole Gross in The Journal of American History states, “If the issue of black female incarceration is raised, it is usually as a tangential afterthought in discussions about the carceral experiences of black men—and even then the role of intraracial gender violence is rarely discussed.”
And culturally, these practices are perpetuated in the lack of media coverage of Black women’s killing by police vs Black men’s. Obviously, the goal is to have both Black women and Black men not be killed by police or experience state violence at the levels they do, but we also have to realize that why we hear about police violence against Black women. The way Breonna Taylor’s death has been made into memes, clickbait, and profitable events sharply contrasts to how the general public reacted to Ahmaud Arbery’s death. Please understand that these are both tragedies that never should’ve happened but Breonna Taylor’s murder is currently being profited off of by people other than her family, while people have had enough respect for Arbery to not do that.
The lack of protection of Black women is clear in stories like “Marissa Alexander [who] was incarcerated for three years though sentenced to twenty years for firing a warning shot during a confrontation with her estranged, abusive husband, whom she had a restraining order against. Gross’s report notes that “whereas [George] Zimmerman successfully used the stand-your-ground defense after taking the life of the unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012, Alexander was unable to invoke the same protections. No one died and no one was hurt at the hands of the battered Black woman, yet she received a twenty-year sentence.” Alexander’s story is not unique, as Black women like Catina Curley, LeToya Ramseure, Chrystul Kizer, and Cyntoia Brown, were also incarcerated for defending themselves against their abusers, pointing to a major flaw in the judicial system that still fails to see Black women as worthy of protection in general, and not even in situations wherein they’ve been abused.
And being of celebrity or affluence doesn’t shield Black women from abuse either, as we see with Meg Thee Stallion. After *months* of having one of the most streamed songs in the world that went viral on Tik Tok via the Savage challenge, there was very little media coverage on her being shot. Even on social media, the outpouring of love and support she received was overwhelmingly from Black women, even though everyone and their mothers were literally doing the Savage challenge on TikTok!
It brings me back to what happened when Chris Brown severely assaulted Rihanna. Though there was significantly more media attention than the Meg and Tory situation, Rihanna was dragged through the mud. People very openly debated, “what did she do to provoke him?” And flouted rumors that “she gave him herpes so he hit her,” or “she hit him first,” or “provoked him” in some other way. That’s how society treated the pain of a young Black women; and let me just point out that the silence has been more deafening in Megan’s case because she is not a slender, white-passing Black women like Rihanna, but we’ll break down how colorism comes into play soon. Both Rihanna and Megan’s treatment shows that no matter how high profile you are, as a Black women you’re still less likely to be heard, believed, or respected, while non-Black women who cosplay as Black women i.e. Kim and Khloe K, Kylie, YesJulz, Iggy Azealia, and all hundreds of non-Black Influencers who can’t stop blackfishing.
Yet, they get all of the support that they need. Their pain is acknowledge, their tears become other people’s tears; Black women do not receive that. And that goes for Black women around the world, not just in America.
But in America specifically, the level of sexual violence against Black women is high.” While Black people make up 14% of the US population, “40% of victims of human trafficking are Black.” Even worse, “traffickers interviewed for a study for Urban Institute overwhelming believed that trafficking white women would make them more money, but trafficking Black women would land them less jail time if caught, and traffickers are more than likely selling their victims to affluent and highly regarded Caucasian men.”
This disregard of Black women’s sexual exploitation has a long history stretching back to America’s colonies; “Virginia’s December 1662 decree (part of their Slave Laws) that the children of enslaved Africans and Englishmen would be “held bond or free according to the condition of the mother” meaning that if mom was a slave, the mixed race child would be too, if mom were free, the mixed race child would be too. Essentially, there would be no penalty for slave owners who raped Black women. Instead they could see huge profits through rape, leading to “countless rapes and instances of forced breeding.” So, “the rape of Black women was not acknowledged by early American law. Mainstream attitudes further negated their victimization with ruinous myths about Black women’s libidinous sexual proclivities.”
And that history is still with us today. research shows that “the demand for African Americans for sexual exploitation is higher than that of other races and the penalties associated with trafficking African Americans are less severe.“ For similar reasons, “missing white children receive far more media coverage than missing black and brown children, despite higher rates of missing children among communities of color.”
Even within the consensual sex, or the performance of consensual sex, the white gaze fixates on Black women. Culturally, we tend to uphold that the American South is‘more racist’ than other parts of the country, yet in 2016, Pornhub, a highly popular porn streaming site, revealed that “Ebony and Black” categories were the most viewed in states such as Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and Delaware.” Yet, when it comes to serious relationships, “Black women are the only race of women who experience exclusion from both Black and non-Black men.”
I can’t begin to tell you how many experiences I’ve had that speak to this. I’ve dated many non-Black men, and the brunt of racial abuse has come from them, but I’ve found that the Black men I’ve dated have also used stereotypes against me, branding me “too independent,” and “too outspoken.” But, let’s talk about the non-Black men first. Most of my experiences have been enjoyable, but they’re also the antagonists in my really horrible memories.
My first experience that made me realize that dating would be different for me because of my Blackness came when I was 15, and had my first boyfriend. I technically wasn’t allowed to date at this point, and probably for good reason. I dated a white guy who went to another high school because the majority of the white guys I went to high school with were not interested in dating me, let alone asking me to go to a dance (unless they we were friends *that did happen once), let alone spitting on me if I were on fire. His parents found out that we were dating and they told him to break up with me because they didn’t want him to date a nigger.
The next big incident was probably my sophomore year of college. I went to London that summer to see my family but I stayed in a hotel for a week in the city center, met a Polish guy on Tinder. Initially he was sweet, just like another guy at the beginning of your contact with them, and we had a couple conversations after I had left, and I remember him saying that I am Black so he would never date me.
There was a Lebanese guy who I had a very short date with in LA earlier this year who kept trying to tell me that he’s never dated a Black woman, but instead of saying that, he would just say “I’ve never dated a ….*hand gestures*” I finally interjected and finished his sentence, and was just completely weirded out that he couldn’t even formulate the words Black woman.
There was a Mexican guy who fetishized my “Black” body [you can literally insert body part there]. When I called him on it and asked him not to do it again, initially he apologized, and then he asked me to help him understand why that was wrong, which was met with him completely invalidating my feelings. He told me that I was “making everything about race,” made a very weird comment about how he supports BLM and “everything you guys are trying to do, but found me calling him out for fetishizing, “taking things too literally,” and “to another level.” That one happened last week.
So all in all, I have 10 years of traumatic experiences in dating that have made me question if I’m lovable, what I’m doing wrong, and why society hates me and women who look like me, when we just want to be loved like anyone else wants to be.
And despite these awful experiences, I get A LOT of “…well, maybe it’s the guys you’re choosing,” from well-meaning friends (many of whom are non-black and will never experience race-related trauma in dating), and even my Black family, who sometimes miss the connection not just between racism and the treatment BW receive in intimate relationships, but the further breakdown of colorism and sizism within that too.
Do you know how many times non-Black men have wanted to play house with me, and know so much about me and my life, but never want to tell their family about dating me? Yet, no one wants to acknowledge how racism affects dating for BW?
Do you know how many times non-Black men have played house with me, and sold me all of these dreams, sometimes, even introducing me to their entire family, and promising me the heavens and the Earth, only for them to get into relationships months, or even weeks later with women who are with non-Black, or mixed, or white-passing? Yet no one wants to acknowledge how colorism affects dating for BW?
Many times, men of all races comment on how muchthey love my curves, yet I did not have the privilege of seeing women my size in mainstream media, let alone being celebrated for their curves. And I’m a US size 8/10, which is still pretty slender in the grand scheme of things. Yet, no one wants to acknowledge how fatphobia adds yet another layer to dating for BW, who are culturally generalized as fatter than non-Black women?
I don’t know how I can make the connections any more clear YET, society is constantly putting ME at fault for that. It’s “well, you’re bad at choosing men,” when realistically, there’s no way for me to learn about my dates’ biases until they show me that they have them, and honestly, it can be very subtle.
And then, I encounter the many Black men do not want to date me because I’m too Black for them, I’m not white-passing, or mixed, or white enough. Let’s talk about the cultural phenomenon that sees Black men date BW up until they ”make it.” Whether that’s obtaining celebrity, affluence, or even becoming more educated, there is a phenomenon wherein BM marry light-skinned, white-passing, or white women to signal their higher status. I am not taking issue with anyone’s marriage or dating life, I am merely acknowledging the existence of a cultural phenomenon.
In Gold Digger by Kanye West and Jamie Foxx, West says “when he get on he’ll leave your ass for a white girl,” and then…he did.
In Kanye’s case, this phenomenon feels even more icky than usual because he’s currently married to a non-Black woman who regularly cosplays as a BW and has profited off of her appropriation of Black culture for YEARS at this point. Do NOT come into my comments saying “she’s half-Armenian,” because yes, that makes her a white woman. Spare me.
Again, this is not just some wild coincidence, as Research conducted by Sarah Adeyinka-Skold, adoctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania revealed that stereotypes of Black women as ‘emasculating, angry, too strong, or too independent’ are *rampant,* so much so, that “both Black and non-Black men use the stereotypes or tropes that are popular in our society to justify why they don’t date Black women.”
Historically, these include the Sapphire stereotype, characterizing Black women as strong, masculine workhorses who labored with Black men in the fields whose aggressive and overbearing demeanor drives away her children and partners. The Jezebel stereotype of Black women as hyper-sexual in contrast to the “demure Victorian lady,” was also used to justify white slave owners raping their slaves, and breeding them with other slaves (which we already discussed re Virginia’s Slave Laws.) Then, there’s the Mammy archetype of a Black women completely dedicated to caring for a white family, especially the children, and though the Mammy is ultra-feminine instead of hyper-sexual, she is still undesirable by white and Black men because she’s typically overweight.
These caricatures are global, as Brooke Newman, associate professor of history and interim director of the Humanities Research Center at Virginia Commonwealth University argues in her piece, “The long history behind the racist attacks on Serena Williams,” published The Washington Post: “In late 18th- and early 19th century London, visual artists such as Isaac Cruikshank, James Gillray, Richard Newton and Thomas Rowlandson focused public attention on the unsuitability of women of African ancestry, not only as sexual partners for British men but also as free and equal imperial subjects. Caricaturists depicted African-descended women as simultaneously comical and frighteningly brutish, with jet-black skin, voluptuous bodies, thick lips and insatiable appetites. Black women, cartoonists suggested, posed a danger to the nation unless subject to white male control.”
Similarly, “The Golliwog doll originated in an 1895 children’s book by Anglo-American illustrator Florence Kate Upton called “The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a ‘Golliwogg.’ ” Inspired by caricatures of black-faced minstrel performers, the Golliwog had coal-black skin, unruly hair, large lips and leering white eyes and teeth. The Golliwog became associated with a number of now-defunct 20th century consumer products, from English marmalade to Australian chocolate biscuits.”
This isn’t to say that Black men still grapple with stereotypes that are perpetuated in media and society as well; the ‘Mandingo stereotype,’ is perhaps the most prevalent and depicts Black men as is having a huge penis. Now think about how many times you’ve heard or believed that one off rip. Another stereotype still at play for Black men is Uncle Tom, a Black man who is “perhaps simple-minded and compliant but most essentially interested in the welfare of white people over that of other Black people.”
Stereotype attribution happens most to dark-skinned Black women, as well as Black men, but of course, it is especially harmful towards dark skinned Black women. We see this in the public reception of The Williams Sisters (esp while they were children), but while Venus, who is more slender, received less scrutiny, her sister Serena, who is more muscular and curvy, has had to endure abuse that is even more racist and sexist than what she did. Serena has been called too manly, and too aggressive, even within the context of her love life, and even by Black men. And then after years of Black men degrading her, they had the freaking nerve to say that she turned her back on them by marrying a white man, who, mind you, loves her and celebrates out loud, unlike any of her previous Black partners. The attacks she has endured show that the hyper-masculinization of Black women takes place mostly with dark-skinned Black women who are not what society would consider ‘skinny.’
In sharp contrast, light-skinned Black women are coveted and protected at all costs due to their proximity to whiteness. This is a huge shift from the 20th century stereotype of the Tragic Mulatta, a white-passing Black women often showed as “mean, unsympathetic, sexually-attractive,” and determined to marry any unsuspecting, well-to-do white man; however, this stereotype gets a lot of play.
Let me make the connection between these stereotypes and Black women’s lives experiences even more clear with some research. In 2010, The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology conducted a study to see how well people remembered Black women’s faces. They showed White participants a series of photos depicting men and women who were White or Black. Results suggest that Black women are more likely than Black men or White men and women to go unnoticed by others in a group or social situation.
They examined whether Black women were also more likely to go unheard when contributing to a group conversation. In this study, participants overheard a conversation between eight people, including two Black women, two Black men, two White women, and two White men.
They found that participants were more likely to mix up comments made by the two Black female speakers, suggesting that they perceived the two Black women as relatively interchangeable
Participants were also more likely to misattribute the Black female speakers’ comments to the other speakers in the group
Compared to Black men, White men and White women, comments made by Black women are more likely to go unheard when made to a largely White audience.
I found this study so interesting that a couple years ago I decided to experiment on my own. I did a lot of walking in the cities I’ve lived in so I started to see what would happen if I always continued straight ahead no matter who was in my path. And it revealed to me 1) that I’ve been subconsciously taught to get out the way, and 2) non-Black people have been subconsciously taught to not get out of my way; I’ve experienced people walking into me on a few occasions but, like unlearning apologizing excessively, it’s something I’ve continued doing to this day.
So let’s bring this all super full circle because now this idea of “allyship” has really taken hold, especially among White women. There’s a long history of Black women being the afterthought when it comes to rewarding basic human rights, and suffrage. The, all-white, National American Women’s Suffrage Association was at the forefront of the Suffrage movement, and they avidly silenced and ostracized Black women, simply for wanting to be part of their movement. Black women, led by absolute legends Ida B Wells and Lucy Parsons, had to create their own spaces, without support from prominent white women like the ultra-racist Susan B Anthony, even though they were fighting for the same damn cause. Black women also advocated for themselves, again, without the support of prominent Black men, while finding support mostly in their Black male partners, brothers, and fathers, or “the everyday Black men.” Angela Davis’ Women, Race, and Class lays this out plain as day and with a landmine of sources.
So, overall ,”This lie or myth that it’s all about you, the individual, and your agency, simply isn’t true. Structures matter. The ways that governments make laws to marginalize or give power matters for people’s life chances. It matters for their outcomes. It matters for love.” Sarah Adeyinka-Skold concludes, and I concur.
So many of my experiences and the experiences could’ve easily perpetuated the self-hate that Black women are taught at every level of society–in media, education, politics, medicine, and even within their own communities. But, instead, for me, awareness has only made me love myself more, and made me give even more of my time and support to Black women. And because of that, I’m also big on calling out when Black women model misogynoir through their opinions and actions, which only perpetuates the harm that we face as a group. As the great Monique, who is one of my faves who deserves all her flowers, would say, “[Black women] I love us. For real.” I’ll keep fighting for us. Even if it makes me unlikable or less desirable, I’m proud of my Blackness, I love my Blackness, and I love yours too.
Originally from a ‘small island’ in the Caribbean, he was in awe at the wealth of opportunities up for grabs in the new country he made his home.
He found himself in the concrete jungle of New York City, which excited him to no end; the idea of working on Wall Street put more life in him than God ever could, but he settled for medicine. He enrolled in a two-year Physician’s Assistant program at Touro College in New York, and worked as a security guard and taxi driver to put himself through school. He had guns held in his face on more than one occasion, but he never folded.
Sans sufficient emotional support, he tried to be everything he could be, for himself. He seldom made it to class, but in the end, he got his degree, and immediately got to work, as he always had; Touro College, on the other hand, changed its rules on attendance requirements immediately following his graduation. He worked hard, so much so, it left him with little time to think about anything else in his life, but he always made it to the gym, and on Sundays, to the parkway with his little girl.
He breathed life into his community by seeing anywhere from 40 to 80 patients a day, six times a week, until recently, when he scaled back his schedule to five days a week. He worries when the government cuts Medicare and Medicaid because he knows it means life or death for some of his patients. He has cared for the ill, trans, and the deserving from Rikers Island, New York, down to Albemarle, North Carolina. He truly cares about people’s wellbeing, whether they’re his patients, or someone he’s just crossing paths with; I had seen him do this throughout my life, but his latest, un-billed diagnosis happened at the gym, pre-COVID, when he urged a man working out next to him to get checked for sleep apnea, which he did, and confirmed for him that he had it. Currently, he weans addicts off of opiates, among other things; all in all, his life revolves around saving lives. Every. Single. Day.
The man I speak of is my dad: the eternal optimist, and the capitalist.
…And, perhaps, the person I am most similar to–sometimes, to both of our detriment. Fortunately, he was the first person to teach me about mindfulness, the value of energy, and the freedom that can come with detachment. He was the first person to sit down with me, an 8 year old, at the time, and openly contemplate God’s womanhood; in fact, he’s the only man who has ever posed the question to me. He was the first person to teach me about the erasure of ancient African deities and belief systems. He was the first person to encourage me to question ‘what if?’ again and again, and yet, he is unable to believe in anything other than the system that wears him down, keeps his beloved patients sick, and begs his children to sell their souls.
I’m asking him, ‘why?’ very often, pointing to the system’s brutality, its intrinsic racism, and its false promises. But, my father’s opinion won’t budge, and luckily, neither will mine: this system is killing us, and only we can save ourselves. Reform is a bandaid that we can only wear for so long, and even then, we are lacking enough public servants in positions of power to make the kind of reforms that we so desperately need.
The writing is on the wall: capitalism is failing us; only our imaginativeness and resilience can save us. I mean, seriously, if we can ask, ‘what if?’ in regard to nearly everything else in this life, why is it so hard for us to begin to ask ourselves,
It wasn’t a particularly Earth-shattering event, in fact, I’m currently waking up in the same bedroom I was dreaming in, crying in, and generally, being bratty as fuck in from age 10 to 18 . It has been a cool 7 years since I’ve experienced the stillness (and mania) that comes with this long of a stay at your childhood home (but I am enjoying the perks, like the six-layer, rainbow, explosion cake that my mom made me.)
And with that comes a lot of time to reflect on how I’ve spent my life, where I’m at, and where I’m heading.
Here are 25 things I’ve learned about life:
Treat yourself like an asset with appreciating value. You are your longest relationship, so treat yourself kindly for the long haul! Furthermore, not treating yourself this way just increases the likelihood that others also won’t show you the respect you deserve.
Trust in the divine, and your angels. No matter what that divine looks like for you, they’ll never lead you astray. My God is a faceless, nameless God that I believe in without books, or any other rhyme, or reason; my faith has been tested on several occasions, and I’m happy to know that my God is very much so walking with me through this life.
Cut all the bullshit, and expeditiously! Call yourself on your own crap (limiting beliefs, biases, and unhelpful habits), cut out fake friends, lousy partners, and unsupportive family. You cannot reform anyone’s hateration other than your own, so when you see that someone’s heart isn’t in a place that feels good to you, leave, and expeditiously!
What’s in your head and what’s in your heart will always take you farther than what’s in your bank account.
Celebrate who you are–especially if you’re seen as “other” within your community. Your mind, your heart, and your vision are very needed in this world.
Don’t second guess yourself, and don’t let anyone make you feel like you should start doing so.
Set BIG (and sometimes, seemingly unrealistic) goals; go for what your heart truly wants–it always knows.
….THEN, pair that with setting achievable mini goals. Whether it takes you 2 days, 2 years, or 2 decades, your big goals can happen when you commit to working towards them little by little, every. single. day.
Stay curious about yourself, others, and human nature. Nothing stays the same; allow that to excite you, not terrify you.
LOVE LIKE IT’S GOING OUT OF STYLE. This goes for all kinds of love, not just romantic!!! There is SO much love to experience in the world, keep your heart open to giving and receiving it whenever you can.
…BUT, give your love with discernment. Loving people unconditionally is unrealistic because healthy relationships, whether they’re romantic, platonic, or familial, are reciprocal.
Express yourself with your entire chest. Do not say something behind someone’s back that you wouldn’t have the courage say to their face; my mom taught me this at a young age and it has helped me avoid A LOT of conflict.
You *really* don’t have to be friends with everyone. And honestly, you really can’t be because not everyone can offer you the same support.
Give without expectation. Whether it’s a good deed, a monetary donation, or your freakin’ heart, pour from a cup that is full.
Tell people how you really feel, always. You owe it to yourself to be transparent about your feelings, no matter if they’re reciprocated or not.
Validate yourself on YOUR standards. What makes a good life is wholly subjective; believe in your vision and your vision alone.
Most things are black and white, but the grey area is OK too. Sometimes just accepting things as they are is all you can do.
Give your time and energy to people who celebrate you. Without question, no matter what–even when they don’t completely understand your life.
ACCEPT YOUR FUCKING BODY. It is beautiful the way it is, no matter how “other” you are. Having a body that does what you need it to do (contain your insides) is much more important than how it looks.
Your words have energy. Everything that you say is possible and can become true. Seriously! My grandma and I watched Oprah most days after school, and she always said, “T, I wanna see you on TV one day,” and it just so happened that I shared that vision for myself too. I kept believing in it–no idea when, or even how it would happen, but I kept putting energy behind it, declaring it, and shaking the hands I felt would lead me to it. Then, BOOM, 3 TV appearances later, I do not mess around with what comes out of my mouth. There’s no room for negativity, or speaking out of anger.
Have some tact!!! Churchill was a real POS, but he told 0 lies when he said “tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”
Failure is just an illusion if you look at each one as a lesson, and give yourself some grace. Perfection IS an illusion, and nothing will change that.
Taking accountability will improve your quality of life in every sense. It will not kill you to admit that you’ve been wrong (I have), have hurt others (who hasn’t?), and need to look in the mirror (it’s part of life.)
Stay playful. Life is everything and nothing all at once; it’s tiring, yet fleeting, but we are here to make the most of it. Keep laughing, loving, and accepting the lessons learned from the bad days, because better days are always coming.
You will find someone who loves everything about you, but before then, the universe will send you lots of riff raff. As my Angel Reader, Ivette, says, “focus on having an abundant, joy-filled life, first and foremost, and the right person will be happy to join you for every inch of that journey.”
All the glory onto God;
I will never be ungrateful.
God blessed me in real life;
I don't fear demons nor enemies.
I'm protected by the most high.
Between half of the Black Twitterverse declaring, “I am not my ancestors,” and the rest of America gobbling up the Disney-fied stories of Civil Rights leaders, the amount of cap we’re producing as a society right now is truly unprecedented.
I’m no historian, but the re-writing of history that is occurring on social media in threads that contemplate all things headass, from “why MLK Jr. wasn’t more radical?” to, “why can’t Black men stop killing Black men?” and even, the K*nye W*st special, “why didn’t Black people try harder to end slavery? is beyond concerning and asinine, but luckily, it can also be easily debunked.
History shows that Black freedom fighters sought their basic human
rights knowing that they would face some combination of social
blackballing, financial retaliation, violence, or death.
And the threat of death continues to this day. A piece published in Rolling Stone in 2019 explores the ‘mysterious deaths of six Ferguson Activists:’ In 2014 Deandre Joshua, 20, was found dead inside of a torched car, bullets in his body; two years later, Darren Seals, 29, was found the same way. Three others, MarShawn McCarrel, 23, Danye Jones, 24, and Edward Crawford, Jr., 27, died in apparent suicides; though Jones’s mother, Melissa McKinnies publicly revealed that she felt her son was lynched. In 2018, Bassem Masri, 31, was found unresponsive on a bus and was later pronounced dead by overdose.
Their deaths (suspected murders, really) have spurred widespread conversation about surveillance, and full-on campaigns that independent journalists and media outlets blur protesters and organizers faces to protect them from violent, systemic retaliations. We have yet to see if their deaths, or if the mass of Black deaths (and if not death, the physical, mental, and emotional scars, losses, debilitating anxiety, and experiences of upheaval) in the freedom fight, can convince the collective that protest, in all of its forms, was nothing short of revolutionary, but if any thinkpiece hopes to change that, it’s this one.
It’s been time that we put some fucking respect on ALL the names of the people who fought for Black liberation, expression, and excellence, beginning with, the great, Bob Marley.
From his, “Redemption Song:”
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Have no fear for atomic energy
‘Cause none of them can stop the time.”
Though Marley became a household name from his hits “One Love,” and “Three Little Birds,” the lyricism within his discography explores the history of slavery, the brutality of capitalism, punitive justice, and of the system as a whole, while promoting Pan-Africanism. Despite The Wailers’ lively instrumentals, Marley’s recounting of life in Trenchtown, the lasting effects of Britain’s rule on Jamaica, and the violence levied at activists like himself, is as raw as his many philosophies on life.
His final words? “Money can’t buy life.”
Hansberry wrote A Raisin in the Sun, the first play written by a Black playwright to debut on Broadway on March 11, 1959; it was revolutionary not only for its subject matter, but also, its majority-Black cast. One year after its debut, Hansberry’s play was nominated for four Tony Awards. In 1983, Frank Rich, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times, declaring, “A Raisin in the Sun changed American theater forever.” Several revivals of Hansberry’s play have been performed all over the world as recently as 2017, leaving no question of its enduring influence.
Beyond her writings, Hansberry inspired her friend Nina Simone to write “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black,” an anthem during the 1970s era of the American Civil Rights Movement.
Ironically, my own introduction to Gil Scott-Heron’s, “The Revolution Begins: The Flying Dutchman Masters” is due to K*nye’s sampling of Heron’s “Comment #1” on “Who Will Survive in America:”
The time is in the street you know
Us living as we do upside down
And the new word to have is revolution
People don’t even want to hear the preacher spill or spiel
Because God’s hole card has been thoroughly piqued
And America is now blood and tears instead of milk and honey
The youngsters who were programmed
To continue fucking up woke up one night
Digging Paul Revere and Nat Turner as the good guys. America stripped
For bed and we had not all yet closed our eyes. The signs of Truth
Were tattooed across our often-entered vagina
We learned to our amazement untold tale of scandal
Two long centuries buried in the musty vault
Hosed down daily with a gagging perfume
America was a bastard the illegitimate daughter
Of the mother country whose legs
Were then spread around the world
And a rapist known as freedom: free doom
Democracy, liberty, and justice were
Revolutionary code names that preceded
The bubbling bubbling bubbling bubbling
Bubbling in the mother country’s crotch
And behold a baby girl was born
Nurtured by slave holders and whitey racists
It grew and grew and grew screwing
Indiscriminately like mother, like daughter
Everything unplagued by her madame mother
The present mocks us, good Black people
With keen memories set fire to the bastards
Who ask us in a whisper to melt and integrate
Young, very young, teeny
Bopping revolt on weekend young dig
By proxy what a mental ass kicking
They receive through institutionalized everything
And vomit up slogans to stay out of Vietnam
They seek to hide their relationship with the world’s prostitute
Alienating themselves from everything
Except dirt and money with long hair, grime, and dope
To camo-hide the things that cannot be hidden
They become runaway children to walk the streets downtown with everyday
Black people sitting on the curb
Crying because we know that they will go back
Home with a clear conscience and a college degree
The irony of it all, of course
Is when a pale face SDS motherfucker dares
Look hurt when I tell him to go find his own revolution
He wonders why I tell him that America’s revolution
Will not be the melting pot but the toilet bowl
He is fighting for legalized smoke, or lower voting age
Less lip from his generation gap and fucking in the street
Where is my parallel to that?
All I want is a good home and a wife and a children
And some food to feed them every night
Back goes pale face to basics
Does Little Orphan Annie have a natural?
Do Sluggo’s kinks make him a refugee from Mandingo?
What does Webster’s say about soul?
I say you silly trite motherfucker, your great grandfather
Tied a ball and chain to my balls
And bounced me through a cotton field
While I lived in an unflushable toilet bowl
And now you want me to help you overthrow what?
The only Truth that can be delivered to a four year
Revolutionary with a hole card i.e. skin is this:
Fuck up what you can in the name of
Piggy Wallace, Dickless Nixon, and Spiro Agnew
Leave brother Cleaver and Brother Malcolm alone please
After all is said and done build a new route to China if they’ll have you
To many, she is Tupac Shakur’s mom, but to her fellow activists and Black Panther Party members, she was a consummate guide. In an interview, Jamal Joseph recalls seeking out the BPP “[to get] a gun, but was instead given books and a mentor in Afeni Shakur.”
“Afeni would teach people how to lead themselves. She would not just help people, then leave...She made sure you knew how to get out of your own circumstances and your march toward liberation, being able to transform personally and in the community.”
She was known for running the BPP’s free breakfast program for Black youth, and was the youngest of 21 Panthers accused of conspiring to bomb department stores and police stations in New York City. Pregnant, with a $100,000 bail (in 1970s $), and 300-year sentence over her head, she represented herself after reading “History Will Absolve me” by Fidel Castro; she was the first Panther released, and played a major role in their 1971 acquittal on 156 charges.
Her legacy? Showing people how to defend their constitutional rights.
Piper is easily the most underrated, conceptual artist of our time. Her 50 years of work can be identified by her many street performances, which addressed “ostracism, otherness, and attitudes around racism,” a shock within the overwhelmingly white, male-dominated industry of conceptual art.
"In Catalysis (1970-3), her earliest sets of street performances
aimed at testing public perception," she boarded a peak hour train in New York in clothes that had been soaked in eggs, vinegar, and fish
oil for a week [intended to see how the public would react to someone deemed ‘unwashed’ or ‘repulsive’], walked around Central Park with
helium-filled Mickey Mouse balloons tied to her ears, [and] travelled on a bus with a bath towel stuffed in her mouth."
Like many other artists, performance art wasn’t her only ‘thing,’ but regardless of how she created, she used “direct action to generate change.”
"In Catalysis III (pictured), Piper walks down the street and
around a Macy’s department store with a sign on her body saying
‘wet paint’, just like a freshly painted handrail. Many would have
witnessed Piper and been intrigued to touch the board to see if the
paint was actually fresh or not, but no one did because of society’s restraints."
Piper’s work relied on confronting the uncomfortable, repressive, and deadly, as did Davis’, Heron’s, Hansberry’s, and Marley’s. They, and all other Black, freedom fighters in history, chose not to shield themselves from the proverbial fire and brimstone, set upon them for speaking truths of the past and present, whilst fighting for a better future.
Until you do the same, who the hell are you to say that their actions weren’t radical, or revolutionary enough?