On Black Men Telling Our Stories?

One of the reasons why I have devoted nearly a year and half to working on a project on Black women’s sexuality is because I am sick and tired of Black men speaking for us. Telling our stories.

Stories help us to understand who we are. Stories are how we make sense of the world. This is why children love them so much. Stories are magic.

How are you going to understand who you are when someone is always telling your story?

In terms of Black women’s bodies, I have found that between being perceived as being 50 million ho’s in rap videos to having our bodies hyper surveilled by our families, there is no place for us to just be, in our bodies.

The way I see it, the ability to speak for my self, for ourselves is tied to our ability to act, to be human.

Think about it. When was the last time you were at work or at home or with your family and someone started speaking for you, putting words in your mouth.

I can’t stand when someone puts words in my mouth. I can speak for myself.

Last week, I had a heated discussion with Goldy about my blog. I had just learned that a new book  is about to come out about Black women and dating titled “Is Marriage for White People?”  I was pissed because I thought, here we ago, another person, who is not a Black woman, talking about Black women’s narratives. I thought to myself Act Like a Lady and now this?!#@#@!I#P@#%!

With regard to my blog, Goldy couldn’t understand why I did it. Wait scratch that, she asked me whether I thought about the tension between writing publicly about sensitive topics, some of which are personal, and the risks associated with it, ie your google footprint.

I can see why she would be concerned, as I write about my life, so that means I will ostensibly be writing about her as well.

I went on to tell her that I am tired of Black men telling our stories. She then looked at me and said “That story that he is telling is not Black women’s story. In fact, there ARE many women in DC who believe the narrative and the advice in Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.” I said “Well, my blog is a counter narrative. #Blackgirlsarefromthefuture. I write my blog to show that there is a different experience. That Act Like a Lady narrative attempts to erase me and my homies. We don’t want for dates. We are Black feminists. We want to be treated like human beings. Thats the issue. We get all the dates we need.”

She then went on to say that “While that may be true, the Steve Harvey book IS speaking to a group of Black women, they believe it, that is their story but that is NOT Black women’s story. Renina, you are saying that Black men are telling our stories, they are telling one story about a group of women who believe it.”

Then a light bulb went off. I realized she was right. My adviser stays on me about using precise language when I am writing. And I mentioned that.

I then went on to say that “Okay, you are right. Black men are telling a particular story about Black women. However, when we look at mainstream representations of Black women, the image of the single, affluent/middle class, college educated, lonely, heterosexual Black women is pervasive. Wasn’t there an entire special on TV last year about this demographic? In some ways this woman is the new “Welfare Queen.” Black women have gotten off public assistance, according to mainstream representations, but we are still  dysfunctional and deviant, strong, powerful, unmarried and childless.” She nodded.

I like the fact that she challenges me. That she can point to weaknesses in my arguments and my logic. This is a hard thing to find as a doctoral student. #Ummhmm.

**For more Peep Summer’s piece on Black men telling our stories and Beauty standards for Black women set by popular culture and Black men.

What would you change about how mainstream media represents Black women?

What is the appeal of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man? Have you read it?

For Colored Girls Blog Carnival

Dear QBG/CFC Bloggers, Friends,?colleagues, and more,

With the premiere of Tyler Perry?s?For Colored Girls approaching,?we at?Quirky Black Girls are planning a?blog carnival concerning the movie. A blog carnival consists of hosting a webpage where linked blog posts discuss a similar subject. We know that many people are going to blog about the movie, the way that it relates (or doesn?t) to Shange?s original work, how it represents black women and men, how?triflin? it is, so we decided to create a central location where people could read it all!

If you would like to participate in the carnival, please send us a link to your blog at quirkyblackgirls[at]gmail[dot]com by Friday, November 12, 2010.

Oh and be sure to check out what?Real Colored Girls are doing in terms of helping folks organize screenings and discussions in their area! Also, Evelyn Alfred is rocking out with a?For Colored Girls twitter book club! Check the #forcoloredgirls for all the awesomeness!

With so much love and rainbows,

QBG?s Fallon & Moya

Tyler Perry and Chris Brown: A Teachable Moment

Earlier this week I was sitting in on a class about the Myth of
the Black Mammy.

Tyler Perry and the fact that his films are popular with
white
crowds and Black crowds alike came up. I mentioned
that Black comedians have a history of dressing up like
Black women begining with Red Fox and Flip Wilson.
I went on to say that in some ways it is a rights of
passage
for Black male comedians to dress like older Black women,
ridicule them.
I pointed out that these are the very women
who have held down both Black and White families
throughout history.

The professor mentioned that one of the reasons why
Tyler Perry’s films are funny is because Madea says things
out loud that Black women have been saying to themselves
since forever.

The professor went on to mention how her mother told her that
if a man ever put his hands on her, that you wait until he went to sleep
and you poured boiling hot water on him. She then went on
to mention the regional differences. In New York, it was lye,
in the west it was grease, in the midwest it was hot grits,
in the south it was just using a hot iron skillet.

A white student raised her hand and mentioned that her
mother
never told her anything about what to do if a man
put his hands on her
and that in watching Madea was the
first time she heard a woman speak that way. There were
several murmurs in the class from other white women about
how they are beat, and that their mothers hadn’t given them
a language, pep talk or pre-conditioning to understand, anticipate
or deal with it.

This was remarkable for me. In some ways I came to appreciate
the survival skills that all of our momma’s have given us over
time.

Which brings me to Rihanna. I wonder if she followed her intuition.
I wonder what her mother taught her. I wonder what her dad taught her.

There is nothing like being beat. There is nothing like being beat by
a loved one.

Here is where the teachable moment comes in . Here is an opportunity
for us to get involved in the lives of young people.

We often joke about Ike beating Tina, however this photo, if it is
true, it shows us just how dehumanizing violence is.

We can’t fix what happened between them, in fact we don’t know
what happened between them. However, given the attention
that the issue is receiving what we can do is take care of ourselves
and be an example to our peers and to the young people that watch
how we move
.

If you want to get involved there are a few organizations that do work
around gender and violence. The UNFPA does workshops. Women
Against Domestice Violence lists workshops and shelters
. The Audre
Lorde Projects does workshops and trainings around gender violence
.

What did you feel when you saw the Rihanna photo?

Have you thought about how Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence,
Tyler Perry, Flip Wilson and Red Fox have all dressed up like
older Black women?

For the women, did you momma’s tell you anything in terms of
what to do if a many ever hit you?