He Chose “Bitches” over Me….Musing on My Brother

As many of you know, my brother is one of my most favorite people in the world. He is funny, handsome, has a dark sense of humor think “Black Mike Judge” meets Richard Pryor. Lastly he is extremely charming and tries to be there for momma. As a Black working dad who tries to participate in his children’s lives as much as possible he keeps me grounded in many ways.

As of late, we have been having beef, Why? His anger and how he expresses it.

Now we have been known to dance around our mutual disagreements. Dude is an avid Mike Savage listener. I kid you not.

He would say something anti-immigrant, or homophobic. And I would decide whether or not to engage with him.

If it was a “not engage” I would be like “blood, Imma call you tomorrow, because clearly you are on personality number 252 and I need number 28 today, later”. And that would be that.

If it were an “engage” I would be like “what do you mean by that?” We have blown up at each other, made up, etc.

Well, as of late I have been insistent about him raging at me about shit he does not like in his life, mainly his love bear who he often refers to as “bitch assed bitch” when he is upset. This can be twice, three times a week. o.O

Now deep in my heart, I knew I was going to have to account for this. Meaning I knew that the vitriol he directed at her was going to come my way. How could it not?

It hurts when standing up for yourself means having less communication with someone you Love.

However, God did not put me here to be someone’s (auditory) rug.

Words can be Love. Words can do Violence.

If they don’t do violence, let a white person call a Black person a “nigger” publicly and see what happens. (And honestly, I historically do not spell out the B word, BUT because of my contention with rap blogs and how they will SHOW women’s bodies but not type out the B word or the N word. Really. Sounds like corporate sponsor bullshit to me).

I hope that my brother is able to see that I am standing up for myself on principal. Even if he doesn’t I have to.

I will call for Thanksgiving, if I am up to it, or Christmas for sure. Other than that, I am all set until I am spoken to like a human being.

I am not an object and neither is he. #LovenAndChangeareAlwaysPossible.


My Daddy Ain’t No Feminist

Saturday I was talking to my daddy and was catching him up on my week. I told him I was reading this awesome book on Billie Holiday, If You Can’t Be Free Be a Mystery by Farah Griffin,  and that I was having a public conversation with another writer, a Black man, about the importance of having a working understanding of gender analysis if one is going to examine race in a meaningful way.

My father responded, well, Renina,  racism, sexism and homophobia are connected.  I sat there speechless. Quiet.

I didn’t expect him to say that.

That the man who raised me says things like this is telling. My dad the retired truck/bus driver.

You see, he went back to take some college courses at Merritt College (a community college in Oakland) in 2005 in his late fifties. At Merritt he took a class on Black studies with Dr. Love and they read Paula Giddings “When and Where I Enter.” In fact, HE read the book before I did.  We are both readers.

The fact that my father said this to me illustrated something that I haven’t been able to put my finger on in terms of my conversation with Ta-Nehisi.

I am not asking Ta-Nehisi to become a feminist, I am merely asking him to show me the same respect that I showed him and his work and read something that I have suggested. Furthermore, looking back, the reason why I picked up Nixonland (which then led me to finally start the book club here) because Ta-Nehisi recommended that I read it when I asked him for a book that would help me to understand the electoral politics of the 60’s and 70’s that would lead us to the dope game fresh era of the 80’s.

Framing the conversation as me asking him to become a feminist is lightweight absurd.

It reminds of some kinda Black feminist one drop rule. If you read one work, your shit might turn like that press and curled hair in the rain. <<<#turrible aren’t I?

My daddy ain’t no feminist. But having read Paula Giddings book he can say matter of factually that racism, sexism and homophobia are related, and I would imagine if probed we could discuss why.

Side bar. My daddy also read Malcolm’s Autobiography when I was 14, after I read it. It had a pretty profound effect on me, as it tends to, so my dad wanted to know what was going on. He read it too, and it impacted him as well. In fact, as I write this I realize how our journey’s as readers was connected. Because my dad is a working class Black man, I have had the working assumption that working class Black men read. I am learning, that this is false. I am finding that this isn’t the case, especially, as I date.

Friday I ran into a friend of mine, Mr. Fantastic, who is a historian as well and he chatted with me about this conversation I have been having with Ta-Nehisi.  He said something pretty daggumit profound which was, “Who is responsible for telling both sides of the story and why?”  and “Is there more than one side.”  I don’t have an answer, but I am thinking about it. These are the kinds of things that historians say. #Theybekillingme.

Why is the fact that I am suggesting that a text be read  being framed as asking someone to become a feminist or even a gender analysis expert?

Maybe my daddy is a feminist or perhaps an ally? Luls.


How old were you when you read Malcolm’s Autobiography?

Rap Blogs + Feminism, an Uneasy Marriage

Via Complex (Really awesome post on “dead” rap magazines.”)

In May of 2009, every since John posted the nude pictures of who is largely speculated to be singer Rihanna Fenty, I haven’t felt the same way about rap music.

When I saw that he posted the pictures, I contacted him and we had a conversation about the reasons why he would or would not post pictures of Rihanna Fenty, and I asked him whether I could blog about it. He said no.

It was then that I concluded that  Black women stay being for sale. I say this to speak back to the idea that the internet is some “democratic” space where everyone has a voice. No, power is relational. And as @afrolicious says, the same relationships of power you see on the street, in schools, at the bodega on the train, are at work on the internet as well.

It was bugged out to me, that he wouldn’t consent to me talking about our conversation yet, felt he needed no consent to post nude pictures of who we believed to be Rihanna Fenty.  I remembered saying to him, I know you are not a feminist, but this shit blood, really? I always considered you to be an ally.

This man, at one time, had the password to my blog, and the freedom to take posts as he liked and put them on The Smoking Section. I appreciated it as he exposed my work to a larger audience.

He is also one of the first people online who told me I had a writing voice waaaaaaay back in ’06, when I didn’t even SEE that I had one. Furthermore, in Summer ’08,  when Latoya ran one of my pieces on Racialicous, and it was picked up the the Daily UK’s blog feed, I told John who further explained to me all sorts of nuances of blogging in terms of mining the reader data, tracking ping backs, strategically picking topics to post about to render myself an authority, building my audience. He mentored me and tried to help when he could and I appreciated it.

I also felt like I had an investment in The Smoking Section because I assisted John in navigating the move to Uproxx.  We had our seperate lanes, no doubt, and I wanted to see him win. I read the contract, asked him questions and gave him feedback on what I thought about various clauses. Having had corporations and trademark and I believe I was taking mergers and acquisitions, I had  familiarity with the language. I looked at it as a case study exercise.

By 2009, as I saw his site taking on more and more of the soft porn of eye candy. All I could think is, you can’t figure out how to enhance your quotes without peddling eye candy? Blood, what kinda facts are those?

I asked him something about this, along these lines and he responded, its a trade off. I link to you from time to time, I post the eye candy, win – win. I gave him a side eye.

As a Black woman blogger who sits at the intersection Rap/pop culture and feminism, I have very unique perspective. I am not aware of any other Black woman who has blogged as consistently as long as I have.

Because of this I have had a very particular experience in the blogosphere.

One by one, with bloggers, the majority of whom ran rap blogs, have had moments around gender. I remember when Eskay called Karrine Steffans a “slore.” A combination slut and a whore. I was like, Umm, that shit is not cool.

I remember when I had a conversation with Dallas who argued, and I paraphrase, that the fate of Black people rest on the “respectability” of Black women.  This was based on a conversation around the Duke Rape case. I responded, blood what the ___ are you talking about?  Truth be told, Dallas is the one who named me M.dot, based on the two M’s in Model Minority. It just kinda stuck. He is also the person who encouraged me to write about the Venus Hottentot and Buffy the Body.  This was kind of a game changer for me because it got me thinking about Black women in music videos from a historical perspective.

Lastly my recent conversations with Ta-Nehisi around “For Colored Girls” and the significance of looking at a text around gender when talking about race, are a  part of this pattern as well.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I am seeing a pattern here of me challenging or questioning Black men online, and me receiving various forms of “nah, pump your breaks” in response.

My interactions Ta-Nehisi’s and John’s are similar in that I supported them, in the way that I could on my blog or with my blog. These men would have gotten to where they are, regardless, as they seem to be committed to what they do.  What is material to me is that I saw that a line was crossed in terms of Black women, I brought it up to them, and I received a variation of  “nah, pump ya breaks.”

Whats the deal with that?

I have thought about writing this since those pictures were posted in 2009. I just wasn’t sure how. My conversations with Ta-Nehisi has clarified the issue in some ways. In fact a comment on his blog, which was brought to my attention by @tkoed on Friday (by the time I saw it the comments were closed) further encouraged me to write this. I was largely inspired based on a comment at Ta-Nehisis’ blog. The commenter, Sorn writes,

…What I see as the major bone of contention is that TNC is speaking from his experience of being a black man, and Renina is speaking from her experience of being a black woman. The language is the same, but the meanings are different, because meaning –on an emotional level– is ultimately derived from personal experience.

I think there is a fascinating conversation that needs to be had here about how each gender is raised to view and interpret the actions and words of the other. Academic literature is important, but what is more important to me, as a reader of this blog, is how the literature sheds light on experience. TNC has repeatedly written about the relationship between hip-hop and the mask worn by young black men, and in my head I took the post on the misogyny of Malcolm X to be along the same lines as earlier posts discussing the same relationship in hip-hop.

When I read this I was like. Damn GINA! Someone gets it! It was at this moment that I realized that I BEEN had something to say it that was time to say it.

Do you think it is significant that one by one, I have crossed a gender line with a few Black men on the internet?

Where is the space to have what Mr. Fantastic call’s “Healing Conversations” about gender? Would you participate in them?

Other thoughts?