Girls of Color on Tumblr: AMA (Ask me anything: Reddit Style)

Girls of Color Tumblr

TW: suicide

In mid April of this year we lost kick ass Black Girl blogger Karyn Washington,  the wonderful Black feminist historian Stephanie Camp, and DC was still looking for Relisha Rudd.

To say that I was overwhelmed was an understatement.

In order to cope with this, I decided to make myself available to girls of color on tumblr who are creating new media (blog posts, podcasts, digital poetry books, indie fiction) etc.

It was a way for me to honor the legacies of Karyn Washington and Stephanie Camp, and not be overwhelmed by the fact that we were looking for Relisha Rudd.

I promised myself that I would do the exercise again. So here it is.

When I did this exercise the first time people asked me questions about:

  • Using blogging to get into journalism (depends, you can go the school route, but you need to have a social media presence and online archive that legacy media folks can recognize, you can go indie as well)
  • How to make a blog that makes money? (get a squad, feed the meter, have and en game; a blog is social capital)
  • What was hard about writing the book? (finishing it was hard, marketing is far more difficult)
  • How can I monitize my Black girl fashion blog? ( you need to sell something your community is willing to pay for (make up boxes, t-shirts, coffee mugs…etc), or feed the machine in order to earn enough traffic to attract advertisers…this was easier to do pre-2010.
  • One person wanted to learn more about how to apply to grad school and I just had her call me because, that was too long of an e-mail to type out. We still remain in contact:)

So leave your question below or e-mail me @ first name.last @ gmail and I’ll respond. The deadline to reach out is 11:59 pm Thursday night and  I will respond to everyone by the weekend.

Thank you for your patience. I’ve wanted to do this all summer, and I just now have the time.

I look forward to hearing from you all.

~<3 Allcity.

  1. What do you want to learn more about?
  2. How are you trying to grow your current blog/podcast/vlog?
  3. Is there anything you’d like to know about book writing, marketing?
  4. How do I avoid burnout?
  5. #BringBackRelishaRudd

All City Real Talk for @JessSolomon, @Mqueez, @Afrolicious

I have been reflecting on why I have been scared of taking these next steps.

The thing about it is, is that it is fear.

Fear that I won’t have the people in my life now that I have had because I am not only working way more, but moving in new and other circles.

Fear that being of service will take me away from the people that I Love.

I have my shine now, and the space is comfortable. But having ran into my homie two weeks ago who runs a prep school for boys in Bed-Stuy I was reminded that I have work to do. That I was put here to do work for others on another scale. That is some scary shit.

 

To do more means getting used to being liked or not being liked on a whole other level, and I don’t often know whether I am up to it. Because as a doctoral student and someone who is being trained to be a professor and as a Black woman, I know about the toll that emotional work takes on Black girls. I also know that if I don’t have a strict self care regime and a sort of emotional work plan I am going to be fucked off in the game. One of my projects entails engaging women of color nationally in local electoral politics. #gamechanger.

Latoya has told me that the way to deal with this is to select two or three people whose opinions I respect, and check in with them when I am tripping or there appears to be a rupture or disturbance in the force. What I interpret her to say is don’t let just any raggedy negro online affect how your moral compass about your work shifts. She has a point. I do that now in some ways, but I think she is recommending something a bit different in terms of being a bit more deliberate.

I mean, to spend hella time and writing working and researching something only to have someone tell you “nah B, you are hating” is a huge slap in the face. That’s the kind of shit that will have me telling someone that they are politically under developed and that they need to sit down and read a book before they come at me. #ego.

I also fear that I have said something in the past that has alienated people. But, as a writer I was more underdeveloped then, and I did not see, at the time, how the things that I said would be read. I also know, that challenging peoples thinking isn’t a popularity contest. People can get rich affirming what folks already know, but they rarely become popular or rich challenging them. And that my dear is the rub.

So now that I have said it outloud, it no longer has as much of a hold on me.

Reconciling the Non-Profit “Post Industrial” Complex with Black Girls in Mind

Who is Anna Julia Cooper? Click here to learn more. Awesome FIRST wave Black Feminist.

On Monday, I went to visit the Score Small business mentoring office to learn about the benefits and limits of a 501 (c) (3 versus an LLC or a conventional corp. #planning. #wingsup.

I was REALLY surprised to learn that a 501 (c) (3) is seen as being owned by the public because of the tax exemptions that it receives.

I was really surprised to learn that there was an entire series of tax exempt classifications.

I also learned that,

To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.

This has huge implications for Black girls, in that I know that 501 (c) (3)’s are relatively recent institutional creations charity wise. This also makes me I wonder what was the unstated rational for preventing 501 (c) (3)’s from being allowed to be involved in electoral politics.

Here is the exact language,

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity.

Were 501 (c) (3)’s created to absorbed the progressive energies of women while also giving them a wage?

#blackgirlpolitics.

What happens to Black girls employed in 501 (c) (3)’s when the executive directors don’t know that they are magic, and attempt to relegate their duties to to administrative realm ?

Don’t get me wrong, I have been an admin before, and I enjoyed the work, because not only was I good at it, but I was also recognized for it. I can run your office. Trust. Without an awesome admin, you don’t have an office.

However, if you are a Black woman who is a policy expert, health expert or finance expert and you have to keep struggling to not have your position turned into one that is increasingly administrative and less focused on your expertise, it feels both racialized and gendered. Our mothers and fathers did not sacrifice and fight tooth and nail for us to go to school, only to be treated like administrative mammies in the workplace. #DamnthatwasaTangent. #HadsomeShittoSay.

Which leads me to the question of how does this rule impact the lives of women in general, women of color in particular?

How does the creation of 527’s impact the lives of women of color?

How different would community organizing look of 501(c)(3)’s could participate in electoral politics?

Black Girl 501 (c) (3) thoughts? I wonder what Latoya thinks…

What Awkward Black Girl and Trans Women Have Taught Me About Black Gender Politics

Where in the hell do I begin? I will just start with me and the two questions that have been on my mind since Moya (and I believe a loose collective of folks) wrote the criticism of Awkward Black Girl‘s usage of transphobic and homophobic language in a recent episode of the web series Awkward Black Girl. I am a huge cheerleader of Black women filmmakers, to that extent, I am a fan of the show. I haven’t seen as many episodes as my homies, however I have been thinking recently about coordinating screenings of episodes as a kind of Black girl film/video night.

Let me be clear. This post isn’t about their exchange per se, but it is about how Black women interact with each other online when it comes to Black gender politics. This post is also about the significance of words, questions of solidarity, and issues of critique within the Black girl blogosphere.

I stayed off the internet in Wednesday. Largely because I was busy but also because I sensed an intra-racial shit storm brewing and that I wanted to observe, collect my thoughts and then offer my perspective.

As I watched the blog posts fly hella questions came to my mind.

The first question is what responsibility does a Black woman who is a digital cultural producer have to her audience? This is related of course relates to Issa Rae, Moya’s letter and the subsequent feedback and comments on blog posts throughout the Black girl interwebs.

My second question is what responsibility does a Black woman who is an editor at a Black girl publication have in terms of setting the tone for a post about how Black LGBTQ politics are represented in a cultural production created by a Black women. This relates to a conversation that I had on twitter with Britni Danielle, an editor at Clutch Magazine and a post that she wrote about Awkward Black Girl. After a conversation and some prodding she ultimately concluded that editors do have power to shape conversations and that she would try to be mindful of the tone that is set in blog posts.

I also need to take a moment and state my stand point. I have been blogging for hella long. This puts me at a particular social location because I know where “the bodies are buried” if you will. Second Black girl creatives, especially those of us on the internet, all know each other. And if we don’t know each other it is one degree of separation. This means that I know Moya, I know Britni I am also a member of The Crunk Feminist Collective. Perhaps most importantly, I subscribe to the idea that the shit that I write, I am going to probably have to answer for, to someone’s face. This makes the prospect of  getting hot in the mouth with someone on the internet really real, in that I know that it is a human being behind that keyboard. Not a robot. We are human beings.

Shortly after Moya wrote her post, Issa Rae responded with a tweet saying, “Respectfully, “Awkward Black Girl” was never meant to be politically correct. We poke fun at ignorance. Response letter coming soon”.

I cringed, but I also thought, this could lead to an interesting conversation.

Then, Britni wrote her post at Clutch, Moya wrote another post on Crunk Feminist, Jamilah wrote her post at The Root and Issa Rae released her statement.

I frequently tweet that sex and sexuality are the third rail of conversations about race. Meaning that when some Black folks get together to talk about the intersection of sexuality and race, their heads like to explode. And I understand why. Because of how racism works, we don’t want to air our “dirty laundry” about sex and sexuality because we have historically been read as savages, as deviant, as loose.

Our silence will not protect us.

I personally was troubled by some of the comments on Britni’s Clutch Magazine post because of the ways in which some women, who I assume to be Black because it is a Black girl space, stated that “I am not trans or LGBTQ” so that issue does not apply to me.

I found this standpoint problematic for two reasons. Do we really need to be a “member of a community” in order to call spades? When my friends say things like that to me I respond saying “I am so glad that it ain’t 1850 and you aren’t on the US abolitionist committee, because left up to YOUR ass, I would still be picking cotton”. What I am saying here is that when people say “that shit don’t apply to me” the space is created for minority folks to suffer and or be dominated.

For me here, the issue is of social power, and who has the right to say things about members in racial, sexual minority groups. And when racial minorities say harmful things about racial and sexual minorities should they be held accountable? And if so, how?

Second, is the issue of being “politically correct”.  Four years ago, if Don Imus fixed his raggedy mouth to say “You all are being too sensitive when I called the Rutgers basketball team nappy headed ho’s” we would have been like you need to sit that ass down.

Saying derogatory shit about Black women hair and sexuality on a national radio show is wrong. Here is the blog post that I wrote about Don Imus and the Duke Rape case in 2007 titled “My Duke/Imus Moment“.

What I am trying to get at, is that we need to be mindful of what people, who are in positions of power and by this I mean those of us who have the capability to convey ideas through blogs, or digital cultural productions, have to be mindful of the language the we use, who we are willing to throw under the bus, and of the impact of language if it causes harm.

Four years ago, I was not down for throwing Black cis women under the bus when Don Imus called the Rutgers basketball team nappy headed ho’s.

Today I am not going to throw Black trans women under a bus.

The idea of words being violent has particular meaning for me, because as a writer and as a teacher and a historical Lover of hip hop, I know that words are powerful.

So let me take a step back and make the connection between connection between racial and or sexual slurs and physical violence.

The first step to treating a person like they are not human, like they are not shit is in calling them a slur. This goes for Black folks, Mexican Folks, Native American folks, Japanese folks, Muslim folks, low income White folks, Gay folks, Lesbian folks and so on.

People tend to get this with race, but it is harder for them to get it with gender.

#Hang in there with me.

Slurs are real because they are the first step in creating the conditions to treating a person like they are not a human being. See Jean Kilbourne’s video Killing Us Softly @2:09-2:20.

Heterosexual Black women are human beings.

Cis Black women are human beings.

Trans Black women are human beings.

Lesbian Black women are human beings.

Full stop.

The violence that trans Black women are subjected to has a particular resonance for me, because as a cis Black woman, I watch in particular how they deal with the violence of street harassment in DC.

Writing at The Advocate in August of 2010, Julie Bolcer states that,

According to a report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs released in July, transgender women of color experienced hate violence far disproportionate to their actual numbers in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected community. People of color represented 70% of all LGBT-bias-related murder victims in 2010, and some 44% of LGBT murder victims were transgender women.

The violence is real.

One of the reason’s why the violence that trans women face is also important to me is because of the threat of violence I constantly deal with both because I am a woman, and because I am a Black woman who walks around cities like I have a right to be here. My most recent post on street harassment, “Kill Me or Leave Me Alone“, speaks to some of my experiences with the threat of violence that underpins street harassment.

Ultimately this conversation about Awkward Black Girl and trans women have taught me that there is space for Black girls on line to engage with each other. Mostly constructively, sometimes not so much.

It also has taught me that conversations like this create the space for us to talk about how there are multiple and various communities of Black women online. I personally am happy about this because I when I first started blogging, there was not.

I honestly enjoyed seeing some of the conversation online for two reasons. First, because of my understanding of the future of the mobile internet, the popularity of web series as a whole is bound to grow so it it is important for us to have a feed back loop with regard to representations of Black women on the internet in cultural productions. Let’s not recreate what happened with television.

Second, we seemed to be having a conversation between and amongst each other about how Black women are represented. I think this represents an important historical moment. This isn’t a presentation of Black women that we saw on BET, this is an independent production, created by a Black woman and supported by ostensibly a multiracial audience that includes a huge portion of Black girl supporters.

#Blackgirlsarefromthefuture AND we are not all the same.

Thoughts?

On Black Girls and Pleasure

Waaaaay back in 2008 I wrote a blog post in the summer time, right after we learned that Erykah Badu was pregnant with her little bear about the fact that Black women’s bodies do not belong to themselves.

Looking back I realize that I was inspired by the fact that that in public people feel entitled to touch our hair and our bodies, and in private our families and loved ones feel that they have say so about our hair texture (nappy vs. straight, or re: going natural).

So. This brings me to this morning when I finally figured out WHY I am writing about Black women’s sexuality.

Saturday, I got no work done. Nonya. This was the first time this year where my schedule got completely upended.

Last semester was on #Aquemini Saturday. My boo’s do be my muses. o.0

Rather than go to read and write on Saturday morning, we drove to Balitmore for brunch and that shit was luxurious.

Then I slept. Then we went to the movies.

Granted, I was behind as shit on Sunday, because so many chores didn’t get done.

So this morning, I was saying that I wanted to GO BACK to Saturday; It was impromtu and fun; it felt like a vacation.

Then Goldy turned around and called me greedy. I was like, “I am greedy because I want to hang out the you and not be running 5011 errands for two or three hours straight?” “I don’t think it’s greedy, I think I am being a human being.” She got my point.

It was in THAT moment that I realized why I have been writing about and invested in Black womens sexuality and the social and economic forces that shape how Black women make sexual choices at home and in public.

Many of us are told by our mothers that all we need to do is “work” because “you can do bad all by yourself.”

When many of us were little, language is used with Aunt’s, Uncles, and grandparents to discourage them from giving us stuff or being nice to us otherwise we may get “spoiled.” Spoiled food is rotten and inedible.

All of this leaves me with a few questions.

Out of a desire for our mothers to protect us, and make sure that we have tools to deal with a fucked up world, did they make Black girls and pleasure two mutually exclusive categories?

Did our mothers socialize us to run away from pleasure?

Does enjoying pleasure mean being “ruined”? Ruined for who?

Why are the boys in our family not talked about in the same way?

Are the boys in our family ever described as being “spoiled?”

Does it have the same meaning when it is used to describe girls?