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?

Musing on Steve Harvey and Black Women

^^Thowback For Colored Girls

Two things have me thinking about doing an oral history project on Black Women’s Sexuality/ Life Choices.

The first is reading this line today on sexuality and race in early Philadephia in Sex and the Rabble, An Intimate History of Gender and Power in the Age of? Revolution, Philadelphia 1730-1830.

“White Philadelphian’s racialized constructions of sexuality became important tools in reconstituting racial oppresion without slavery.”

In my mind I thought, wait, so chattel slavery is over, so ya’ll are going to regulate Black women and low income white women (the rabble) by hyper monitoring and regulating our sexuality. Word? word.

It was then that I began to think that? when this democracy gets fragile the hyper regulation of women in general and Black women specifically comes out. Word to the 1980’s.

The second was reading Fallon’s blog post on the Hill Harper + Steve Harvey + Black woman can’t find “no good men” meme…eh?

She writes:

“Yep, I?m going to beat this drum . . . black men are the problems. Perhaps, someone who has a glimmer of common sense? <strike>Hill Harper, Steve Harvey, or Kevin Powell</strike> should write a how-to-book with colorful pictures teaching black men how to become unconventional/atypical black men . . . the kind of man who allows a black woman to be herself . . . the kind man who does not mentally masturbate with black feminist heterosexual women, but who wants a lifetime of memories with her (yep, that?s my personal gripe). . . the kind of black man who believes ?iron sharpens iron, she will make a better black man out of me? . . . the kind of man who will endure many years of psycho therapy to understand his emotions so that he can be an emotionally available father and husband . . . the kind of man who is proud to say I am the husband of such and such using her maiden name . . . the kind of man who will smile and at times grin at her witticism/arguments deeply respecting her thoughts . . . I could go on forever listing how black men can begin to challenge their male privilege, but, hey, Random House is not ain?t giving me no book deal they are too busy running behind the Steve Harvey?s and Tyler Perry?s of the world because clearly they speak for black women [pure sarcasm].”

This really hit me because it spoke to WHO gets to tell WHICH stories, and whose interests are being served by the stories being told.

Fallon goes on to say,

“Once again, I believe there is a political project afoot to make black women to feel woefully inadequate because they lack black hetero-male romantic partnership/marriage. And I think part of the political project is to cloak the dysfunctionality of capitalism and to warn other groups of women what will happen if they stray too far from appropriate feminine behaviors and identities?you will be blamed for the toxic social issues of your community and will be subjected to public ridicule on Nightline and other mainstream news shows?so be a good little girl . . . a ?well behaved? black girl.”

Be a good little Black girl or [Rabid US] Capitalism is coming for that ass, Word?

The voice and who has the right to speak for whom as been on my bird lately.

While doing research for my crack project, I was searching for articles on Friday on the psychology and how Black adolescent boys and girls made sense of the crime brought on by the crack epidemic, and all of the articles were about Black deviant boys and the code of the street. Im like the fuck? I knew dudes that hustled and were in college with good grades. Where is negro deviance in that situation? I was like wow…they really think our boys are animals.

Elijah Anderson’s work, in many ways, is the nucleus of this narrative. Elijah is an Awesome ethnographer, but this “Black boys are deviant” narrative is janky.? Has Anderson read Barry Michael Cooper’s “New Jack City Eats its Young?”

BMC provides both the conditions that allowed the crack epidemic to take root, but also historized it to show how violence works on a generational level and ties the crime commited by youth in the 80’s to the riots that happend in the 60’s in a really Martin Luther Kingian way.

Furthermore, BMC’s piece is the only thing I have seen that tells the story of the hood, on paper, from the ground up, with the voices of people who LIVED during the crack epidemic. But then again, I also just discovered In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio, which I am looking forward to reading.

The issue with the pervasiveness of Andersons work is that the Department of Justice cosigns him as the truth and uses his theories to frame their polices on Black adolescent boys and violence.

But back to Steve and them.

Why are Black men on TV talking about WHO Black women are dating.

What does it mean that they are doing it on Nightline?

I am trying to wrap my head around what he is talking about and what I know about my life.

My crew is thorough.

One homie is a lawyer by day, an award winning filmmaker at night, who just completed her first? long form short that WE know will lead to her next deal.

Another runs a really popular blog,? with global reach, and is my writing/networking mentor.

Another homie is a photographer with The Post who is building her chops as a Black conceptual artist and getting ready to blow.

Another is working on teaching at a fancy liberal arts college and working on her dissertation in the north east.

Another is a doctoral student, heavily engaged in criminal justice and work rentry for Black women, church and archival work and a lecturer.

Another is in the throws of her dissertation, will be teaching in the fall and allways takes my phone calls, no matter what time (Love you.)

One more is a manager at a shelter for kids in NYC, who works from 10 to 10, is on call 24 hours a day 3 days a week, is exhausted AND LOVES her work.

You get my point. We thick.

And as I said to @Moyazb earlier today (which was really the genisis of this post,”

“The angst around dating is not at the center of our lives.”

We Live. Love. Work to pay the rent/mortgages. Take care of our nieces and nephews, little brothers and sisters. Make Art. Party. Pray. And try and make all of the people who invested in us over the years proud.

Yes we do trip off of our dating and Love lives,? if we are having a dry spell or a relationship is breaking our heart into hella little pieces, or if a Lover is janky, or we got stood up, or if the person on Match dot come was hot for two weeks then kinda fizzled out, but daggumit.

We human.

But we we ain’t as pressed as Steve and them make it seem. And when we do get that pressed, we feel it (we may marinate in some sorrows) and move on. Or hold on to it UNTIL can move on.

We human.

All this being said.

I am thinking of doing a Black Woman’s Sexuality/ Life choices oral history project.

In talking to @moyazb today,? she brought up how some Black feminists write about dating, but in many ways don’t do it personally which leaves some of what they are saying removed from readers in many ways.

Whereas, I’m trying to do some scholarly Zane shit. And that makes sense you know why? Because my grad school writing sample was based on this blog post. #ummhmm #getithowyoulive


The Nightline meme as punishment for not being feminine enough in the throws of rabid global capitalism?

Why are Black men talking about Black women’s dating habits?

Rather than be up in our dating lives, why not write about creating healthy Black men?

“Your Man is Lucky”

On the train tonight, I doubled backed to go and look for an earring that I lost.

If you know me, you know my earring game is serious.

I like them. They are little artistic pieces that I can wear everyday.

So. I was on a mission.
I’m exciting the train station and a man, who was cute in a rough around the edges,? chocolate Taye Diggs kinda way says:

Taye Diggs Cousin: Your man is really lucky.

Me: I chuckled to myself and kept walking. (He has no idea I have been immersed in gender and sexual relations in Early Philadelphia this afternoon. So my mind is brimming with ideas about sexuality and race.)

We are now at the turnstile, and he is ahead of me, so he has my attention. I am trying to get out to look for my earring.

Taye😕 Why you laughing?

I hesitate, and wonder if this is a moment to push back on presumptive patriarchy. In Oakland, being snarky with a man on the street while dressed provocatively IS reason (or not) , in some men’s eyes to slap a woman in the face.? But I decided to push him a bit.

Me: Oh, I find it funny that you presume it was a man.

He stopped and thought about it.

Taye: (He didn’t flinch nor blink) Either way. It could be a woman. I mean, she lucky too.

Me: (Smiling)? I could be crazy. Crazy out my skull. You don’t know me.

Taye: (Looked me dead in my face) It would be worth it, and then shuddered like he just swallowed an uncoated aspirin that gave him goosebumps.

I walk out the station. He stays behind, as his card had issues. I’m walking away and he requests to ask me one more question. I turn around and listen.

Taye: So do you?

Me: Yes, my hands are full.

Taye: You are…… Wow?!?!!?! (Looking @ me like imma? deluxe chicken snack,#desire).

Me: (I looked him dead in the grill and said) Everything that we have are gifts. None of this is “me.”

Taye: It’s not wait you have, its what you do with it.

He was right.

Me: Yessir. And? pivoted and walked away.

Ain’t that something. Here I am making assumptions about him, and he rolled right with it. #ummhmmm. Go head Black men, which ‘cho no flinching selves.

Have you addressed patriarchy with men or women in public or private lately?

If yes, how did? it go?

If you chose not to, what stopped you?

Dating Sans Patriarchy: A Black Man is not His Paycheck

In the comment section of my Musing on Harry Allen post, two Black men stated that they agreed with my date, that he should? be able to walk on the outside, etc.

This kind of thinking goes to the heart of patriarchal ideals which basically says that “because I have a vagina” I should be treated a certain way, which is problematic. Full stop.

As Black people, We don’t want to be patronized or treated a certain way (protected like children, dominated like women) by White folks because we have Black/Brown skin, right?

The same rationale applies here. Just because my body looks a certain way does not mean that I should be deemed “protection” or “domination” worthy.

There is a thin line between protecting someone and dominating them. Word to popo.

Patriarchy (institutionalized sexism) turns on the fact that the features of your body determine how you are treated. When in reality the fact that you are a human should. Full Stop.

Speaking of patriarchy, it is Black feminism that has helped me to articulate that a Black man is NOT his pay check.

Meaning that in our society, dominant manhood is rooted in this get a job, bring home the bacon narrative. You and I both know that employment has been and continues to be trife for Black men in this country. You remember that article in the NY Times last December about how Ivy league educated Black men are scrubbing the negroness from their resumes, because they can’t get jobs. #ummhmm.

I long for the day when Black male Humanity isn’t rooted in this White, get a job and a paycheck notions of BEING.

Don’t get me wrong, we all need to work to surivie, eat, live and support our families.? I am talking about tying a person’s sense of SELF into their paycheck here.

Both my daddy and my brother were human beings and men whether they were hustling, working, unemployed, barely getting by or getting major dough.? Full stop.

This is one of the reasons why I remained committed to writing about the troubling aspects of Beyonce’s cannon of work. As many of you remembered I was very clear about “Why is a lightskinned, middle class, Black girl from the Dallas suburbs continually singing about needing a soldier or a baller?”

In many ways,? I saw that she normalizes these transactional,? a man is only worth his paycheck ideals, which is really a problem for? Black folks and our families.

bell hooks offers a great analysis of Black masculinity and patriarchy when she writes, in We Real Cool,

Patriarchal socialization says your responsible if you get a job, bring your wages home, and provide for your families material well being. Yet poverty and lack of opportunities have prevented many males from being responsible in the patriarchal sense of the term. Many Black males accept this definition of responsible manhood and spend their lives feeling like failures, feeling as though their self esteem is assaulted and assailed on all sides because they can’t acquire the means to fulfill this role.

So yeah. You can walk on the outside. But unless you superman, that shit is absurd to me. Now if we in the deep east Oakland/Brownsville/Richmond/St.Louis/NorthPhilly, and you holding something..then yeah..I can see THAT kind of protection.#ummhmm. #praticalbearAintStupid.

You still believe that you should be standing on the outside?

If yes, what investment do you have in holding onto this idea?

Can your body mitigate the impact of? two ton car?

Musing on Harry Allen, Black Nationalism and Black Feminism

Barkley L. Hendricks Sweet Thang (Lynn Jenkins)

Yesterday,? I had a conversation on Twitter with @harryallen,
about Black nationalism and Black and White feminism,

It all started when I tweeted:

If White feminist examined the ways in which they were dominated by white men more closely, they would have more solidarity w/ Black feminist.

Harry responded saying:

Not a chance. Black feminists underestimate the strength of the relationships between white people, and, thus, overestimate……the value of what white females get from Black females. They do derive benefits, but compared to what they get from white…

He still disagreed with me and contended that: The definition makes clear what I said: You can’t prove “feminisim” exists from it. All the things it seeks to do are undone.

Apparently, Harry’s understanding of a social movement means that a social movement ONLY exists to the extent that it accomplished what it set out to do. Which is an interesting read of both social movements and history as they tend to not be this linear at all. Peep the Haitian Revolution, the French Revolution, Womens Suffrage in the US, US slavery abolition, the American Revolution, etc.

I then responded by giving Harry the link to my post “Black Feminism Crib Sheet{101}.”

I didn’t share this with him yesterday, but as I thought it I realized that? my thinking around Black men, White women and Black feminism is rooted in the Combahee Collective, whose statement says:

Black feminist politics also have an obvious connection to movements for Black liberation, particularly those of the 1960s and I970s. Many of us were active in those movements (Civil Rights, Black nationalism, the Black Panthers), and all of our lives Were greatly affected and changed by their ideologies, their goals, and the tactics used to achieve their goals. It was our experience and disillusionment within these liberation movements, as well as experience on the periphery of the white male left, that led to the need to develop a politics that was anti-racist, unlike those of white women, and anti-sexist, unlike those of Black and white men.

Earlier yesterday, I asked him if he thought he needed to prove that the Black Nationalist movement existed. He said no, because it doesn’t come out of white supremacy.

So Feminism comes out of white supremacy and it doesn’t exist because it didn’t set out to accomplish its goal?

This is absurd, as it leads to the logical conclusion that the work of Soujourner Truth, Ella Baker, Ida B. Wells, Ann Julia Cooper, Mary Church Terell, Paula Giddings, Darlene Clark Hine, Barbara Christian, Beverly Guy Sheftall, Marian Wright Edelman, Hortense Spillers and thousands of others was and is rooted in white supremacy.

The work of all these Black women is rooted in the Liberation of Black women, men and children.

Full stop.

Which leads me to the questions:

What is Black Nationalism?

Has it accomplished it’s goals? And if it hasn’t is it still a movement?

Harry and I have had conversations before about gender and race.

The last one stemmed from me tweeting that “Race is no longer useful as the primary category for organizing.”

We disagreed on that as well.

I understand that I can center women, food/social justice or gender as a unit of analysis because I am being trained to. I see engaging with him and writing blog posts like this as an opportunity to share what I have learned.

According to bell hooks patriarchy is? another way of saying institutionalized sexism.

I wonder if patriarchy prevents Black Nationalists from centering? not only race, but gender and capitalism as a unit of analysis.

I was reminded of the ways in which patriarchy be ALL UP THROUGH my life. A couple of weeks ago gentleman friend, insisted on walking on the outside near the curb. I understand. It’s his Brooklyn steez. But that shit was absurd to me, so I called it patriarchal. His response to it was that I was calling HIM patriarchal, and felt like I, like many Black feminists was alienating an ally. For him patriarchy became a four letter word. OUCH.

I asked him what he sought to accomplish by walking on the outside? That if a car jumped the curb, his body was going to stop ME from being pummeled as well? He answered yes. But I knew he couldn’t be invested in that answer. He is way to brilliant and loving for that.

Love listen, it was hard to stand up to me to stand up to him. Here I am decked out, we are eating cheese eggs,? and he reaching over kissing my hand, IN THE RESTAURANT.#ummp.

Who wants to challenge the person who drops that kind of attention on them? But I did, and we had beef.? *Big beef.

I Love Black men.

However, my Love for them does not include consent to be dominated by them sexually, spiritually, verbally, violently or any other way.

This means that statements such as “feminism” doesn’t exist because it did not do what it seeked to do must be dealt with head up. A literal binary read of social movement histories erases the work of all the women and men who allow me to have the life that I have today.

But for them, I would be picking cotton, rather than writing blog posts, or telling people that they have the right to be who they are.? Nor would I be challenging awesome Black men (and women) on how Patriarchy ain’t they friend.

*Beef was cleared up, but daggumit if that wasn’t hard.

Black feminism null and void?

What do you do when patriarchy shows up on dates?

Did you find this post useful, if so how?

If you are interested in learning more about Black women, White women and Feminism, Social Movements:

All the Blacks Were Men, All the Women Where White, But Some of Us Were Brave
Still Brave
Rules for Radicals
When and Where I Enter
Ain’t I a Woman
Local Black Freedom Movements in America
Sisters in Struggle, African American Women in the Civil Rights Black Power Movement
Want to Start a Revolution: Radical Black women in the Freedom Struggle