Aye Blood…….

I am old enough to know that it will go away.

But damn Gina if I don’t miss my friend.

Tonight, I am working on a review of 5 years of a feminist journal. I got stacks of papers, outlines, mo’ stacks of papers. The goal is for us to start thinking about the places that we would like to publish, places where our work will fit.

Hard assignment.

But it is the kind of thing that will allow me to KNOW a journal that I would like my work to be in.

Sometimes, there is nothing harder than accepting that you
have to let that thang go.

What’s perhaps even more difficult is when the person
was your friend, and that you are similarly situated
in life, in terms of work. That cha’ll went or will soon go through
the same shit.

In fact, this assignment is showing me how historians are like
lawyers in that they stay putting stuff into seperate categories,
then analyzing the categories. I have been thinking in terms of
categories and themes for the last 48 hours to make this assignment pop off.

I am close to God tonight.? I’m tired. Imma work till 12, then lay it down.

I would imagine he may read from time to time. So,
if you catch this Love, I am doing a review of 5 years
of the journal Meridians and the papers are awesome:

“Guantanamo: A Feminist Perspective on U.S Human Rights Violations” by Victoria Brittain

“Never Innocent: Feminist Trouble with Sex Offender Registries and Protection in a Prison Nation” by Erica Meiners

“The Future of our Worlds: Black Feminism and the Politics of Knowledge in the University under Globalization” by Grace Kyungwon Hong

“Hip-Hop Honeys and Da Hustlaz: Black Sexualities in the New Hip Hop Pornography” by Mireille Miller-Young

Back to 2nd person.

I know that he would appreciate not only the fact that I have this assignment, but the pedagogy that the professor is using in terms of getting us to do the assignment. She just said DO it. No guide. It is forcing us to stretch.

I COULD call a grad school homie, but we all doing the same assignment. At home, pressed, reading, trying to make sense of it all and meet our deadline.

I am grateful for this blog as a place to work it out.

Thank you for reading. Especially you T.dot. You inspire me.

Fearless y vulnerable,

~neens

The Failure of the Strong Black Woman

One of surefire ways of avoiding victimhood is
asking for what you need.
This, can be a tremendously difficult thing to do, simply because
you make yourself vulnerable to being rejected.
That being said, as a tool for getting out of victim hood thinking,
I have begun to ask people for things with I need. For example,
I need a successful pitch letter because I am trying to publish
three
articles this year, can you get one for me?”
I need help moving, can you help me? “
I need help storing boxes, can you help me?”

It is no one else’s job but my own to determine what I
need.

Here is the added caveat, I also say, its okay, if you can’t,
just let me know so that I can ask someone else.
This forces me to ask for what I need, avoid being a victim,
and gives the person room to say no and not feel bad.
I find that if I am not getting any traction on the goals
that I have set for myself, I am either not being disciplined
enough, I am not asking for help, or both.
It is very easy to look around at others whose
careers are blossoming or whose projects are
blowing up and hate them, because they
doing what they need to do to get their needs met.
It is very easy to look around at others and see
that their needs are taken care of and be angry
at myself because my needs are not being met.
It is something totally different to sit down and think
about what I need, to think about how I
can get it, to
thinking about who I can call and say
“I need your help, I want to start a new website
on gentrification, can you design my banner?”
It is something totally different to sit down and think
about what I need, to think about how I can get it, and
to have the discipline to think about the small
intermediary goals before the big goals.
Which brings me to the Failure of the Strong Black Woman.
Wallace talks about being called a Strong Black Woman.

It made me cringe to hear men refer to me as “strong,”
because I knew they were referring to the historical
me, he monolithic me- the invincible black woman who
made their penises shrivel up in their bellies, who reminded
them that they had no power to control their own destinies,
much less hers, who made them loathe and want to destroy
that woman. Never realizing how imaginary her “strength”
really was, I swore never to use it.

Wallace’s description of the term, “Strong”, underscores
the discomfort that many of us have had with it.

Yes, I want to be called strong because I am survivor.

I also have had to remind myself that strong doesn’t mean
that I don’t need help.

I would imagine that you are asking what is the connection
between having my needs met to the myth of the Strong Black
Woman?

Well, they are connected because we, Black women,
tend to put the needs of our families, our children and our partners
first. If we constantly put the needs of others first, we will
consistently
be saying yes on the outside and resentful on the inside.

Yes, our families are a priority. Yes our partners are a priority.

But, our financial, spiritual and creative health comes first.

I can’t take care of anyone if I am in my grave.

Think about your needs lately?

Why is it so hard to do that?

I am thinking about Rihanna.

Michelle Wallace and Illmatic

The World Is Yours (Remix)

Rare is the person who can conceptualize the hood,
in all its pain, beauty and promise.

Two pieces that do this are Nas’s Illmatic and
Michele Wallaces, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman.
Whats strikes me about both pieces is that they illicit an
emotional response. In addition, Black Macho is particularly
moving because Michele focuses on how gender influences
the lives of Black women in urban environments. She writes,

Now I want you to picture a little black girl in a jungle
that has no
tigers and lions, but poverty, ignorance,
welfare centers, tenements,
rats, roaches, inadequate
schools, malevolent teachers, pimps,
Forty Second Streets,
heroin, hypodermic needles and methadone,
opportunistic
preachers and community leaders, a narrow range
of career
possibilities , always impending pregnancies, sterilization

and illogical court system, and two races of men who prey
upon her
as sexual chattel and a beast of burden. And
suppose that behind this
black girl, there was a whole
string of little black girls who had faced
this same jungle
with their imaginary advantages and been defeated.
Would
it not be an act of unkindness, of extreme justice really, to
tell
her that she was a woman of strengths, of exceptional
opportunities.

Any one of the above mentioned phenomena, my seem
innocent
on its face. But when the “ignorance, welfare centers,
tenements,
rats, roaches, inadequate schools, malevolent
teachers, pimps,
Forty Second Streets, heroin, hypodermic
needles and methadone,
opportunistic preachers and
community leaders, a narrow range
of career possibilities”
are taken together, it becomes very
clear exactly what some
young black women are facing in their day to day lives.

Looking at the The World is Yours video isn’t a reminder of what
young men and women in Harlem, Detroit, Oakland and Philly
are facing, yet I do feel a sense of urgency when watching it.
It’s not that the jack moves portrayed feel intense, its the foreshadowing,
the moment right before that has me on needles while I watch it.
This video 4 minutes of 49 seconds of sheer grimeyness.

On the song Memory Lane Nas opens, giving a description
of the hood that came to mind while reading the above
Michelle Wallace passage. He raps,

I rap for listeners, blunt heads, fly ladies and prisoners
Hennessey holders and old school niggas,
then I be dissin a unofficial that smoke woolie thai

I dropped out of Kooley High, gassed up by a cokehead cutie pie
Jungle survivor, fuck who’s the liver

My man put the battery in my back, a difference from Energizer

Sentence begins indented with formality
duration’s infinite, moneywise or physiology
Poetry, that’s a part of me, retardedly bop
I drop the ancient manifested hip-hop, straight off the block
I reminisce on park jams, my man was shot for his sheep coat
Chocolate blunts make me see him drop in my weed smoke

It’s real, grew up in trife life, did times or white lines

Both Nas’s and Michelle are saying I present
to you the stories of some folks who are trying
to survive in a world, stories of folks who have been told
at every turn that their survival is irrelevant.

This is why both of these two pieces move me.

Wow. I think this was an actual thugs, feminist and boom
bap post. Nice.

The Silence of Black Women Writers

Black writers are a cursed lot.

By its virtue of its origin, suture and function, black writing is
mission conscious and is necessarily a hazardous undertaking.
In turn being a black writer is an enobiling, exigency and black
literature constitutes one of the supreme enrichment’s of black
culture and black life. This has been and is the burden as well
as the heritage and legacy of every black person who takes
up a pen in the United States. ~Calvin C. Hernton

In October and November I spent a lot of time reading looking
for connections between the misogyny in the civil rights movement
and in hip hop.

I hit the nail on the head while reading Calvin Hernton’s book
The Sexual Mountain and Black Women Writers.
Hernton spendsin time analyzing the swift effort to condemn
both Ntozoke after
For Colored Girls hit Broadway and
Michelle Wallace after Black
Macho came out.

Hernton sum’s it up when he says,

Although we keep looking for the men in The Color Purple to
be white, they are black men, our men, committing deeds
we cannot help but associate with slavery. The analogy
unbearable, the irony
is burning. Black men who are themselves
victims of oppression victimizing
black women in what looks
like the same oppression? A system of oppression
within
another system of oppression.
(Can Victims Be Perpetrators came
out of this reading.)

Which brings me to last night. I was at a function and a black man
asked me what
I wrote about. I said hip hop and feminism. He then
put up
the two fingers and said, “Are you an L?” and I looked at him,
unphased
, as I saw it as a teachable moment. Then I said, eye brows
furrowed, “Hunh?” He joked “There is nothing wrong with that as long
as I can watch.” I guess he THOUGHT he was going
to humiliate me.
All I could think was my ipod died two weeks ago,
my relationship
died three weeks ago and I took the GRE this morning,
nothing
really was going to f-ck with me.

I let him speak, he stuttered and stammered and then he noticed
that I was serious. I responded saying “It’s interesting that I say I am a feminist
and you joke about me being a lesbian, I am currently writing a piece
titled a A World Built on Black Pussy.” He raised his eyebrows this time.
It was clear that I was serious. I added, “The rappers talk about it all the
time, but if I do, I am being tacky.” We were then able to have a more
civil conversation that wasn’t based his lesbian fantasies.

In his comment, I was reminded about how normalized it is for men
to be so flip towards women, women who are strangers, about
sex. Yet, as a woman if we have the gall to say something back we risk getting
the Michelle Wallace, Ntozake Shange treatment. Silenced. Dismissed
and told you are being used by The Man against BLACK people.

I am happy I didn’t come at him hella sideways. I mean. What
good could have come of that? Besides I think god puts me
in those situations because I don’t look for victims, or opportunities
to humiliate people who have neanderthal-esque gender politics. I see
it as a chance to be like “eassssy star, lets think about what
you just said and the implications of it.”

Being an M.dot is hard.