Dominican actresses teach children about self love

Photo from: http://www.ctpost.com/news/world/article/Artists-educators-laud-black-heritage-in-DR-4886841.php
Photo from: http://www.ctpost.com/news/world/article/Artists-educators-laud-black-heritage-in-DR-4886841.php

The article “Artists, educators laud black heritage in DR”details the work of Dominican actresses Clara Morel and Luz Bautista Matos. The two travel with the theater group“Arbol Maravilloso.” Their goal is to empower black children (throughout the Caribbean) to love the skin they’re  in.

As darker skinned black people  (across the diaspora) continue to be degraded/phased out in mainstream media, the work these women are doing is very important. Children are more vulnerable to the brainwashing that being light/whiter is better or that natural hair is ugly…

 

Books for Black Girls

I used to love to read as a child. My favorite books were “Jane Erye” and “The Secret Garden.”  I also was obsessed with Judy Blume books. I wish I had more books to read that were geared for black girls/children. But this was back in the 70’s/80’s when black children’s literature was rare to non-existent.  Now, there are more books for black parents to choose from. We still have a long way to go, but to see the range of black children’s literature these days, warms my heart. The blog For Harriet, recently listed their “25 Empowering Books for Little Black Girls.”

“From the moment they come into the world, little black girls works just a little bit harder than their peers to construct a healthy sense of self in a society that prizes values and attributes that don’t mirror those they possess. We as their caregivers must help them find the way by offering them as many affirming messages as possible. We can do this with our words and by our example; however, books can also prove to be important points of contact into the souls and spirits of black girls.” http://www.forharriet.com/2013/10/25-empowering-books-for-little-black.html

They followed up with a second list “25 More Empowering Books for Little Black Girls.”   It’s times like these, I wish I had a child. I would fill their room with all these wonderful books  🙂

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“Something Beautiful” by Sharon Dennis Wyeth

Preachers of L.A.

The other day, I got the chance to watch Preachers of L.A. at a friend’s house. I’m not a big lover of reality shows, so I don’t bother watching online. But, when I visit friends, it’s fun to watch to pass the time. I’m not a very religious person, but even I was shocked by these preachers.  I really don’t know how their congregations take them seriously and give them their money. One of the preachers (Ron Gibson) tried to justify his/his fellow pastors excessive wealth/flash by stating, “P. Diddy Jay Z…they’re not the only ones who should be driving Ferraris or living in large houses.” Um, since when do preachers define themselves by secular standards? I’m not saying they have to live in the poorhouse. I do understand that preachers give a lot of themselves. They are basically on call 24/7. However,  I do think they should live humbly. It’s kind of alarming to me. I was going to say that religion has become style over substance (like everything else in the world), but it’s always been that way.  I can remember the opulent display of Jim Baker and Tammy Faye. And that was back in the 80’s…

 

 

Academic Whores

basically…

tressiemc

When Does an Academic Become a Whore?

That’s a question weighing heavily on me today after biologist Danielle Lee was called a whore when she declined to write an essay for a science blog. Danielle does things with rats in labs. I do not always understand it but I read her blog at Scientific American where she translates the scientific process for people like me. That is why Biology Online, an online science resource, asked her to write an essay for them. She declined. Someone representing the blog responded by calling her an “urban whore”. When Danielle wrote a post about the experience, Scientific American removed it. Full disclosure, I have followed DN Lee on twitter for quite some time. I read her work and happily shared news of her various engagements with bringing science to black media outlets and African American children. But even if I did not…

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October: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The other night, I attended a lecture featuring Tony Porter. Porter is an educator and social justice activist who challenges the social constructions of masculinity. He also argues that the so-called “good men” have a responsibility to speak out against their peers casual violence against women.  This was an important point to make, as violence against women, has skyrocketed.

It was a good lecture. It was nice to see so many men there. The event was held at a local college. The school’s football team was there.  I’m sure they were probably made to go, but it was still wonderful to see the young men absorbing Porter’s powerful message. Porter is specifically trying to reach out to younger men (“A Call To Men: The Next Generation of Manhood”).

Highlights from the lecture…

  • The Man Box is the rigid roles men are forced/cling on to (e.g. have to always be strong) in our patriarchal society. Porter noted, “homophobia/heterosexism is the glue that keeps the box together.”
  • Porter made the point that women’s survival in a male dominated society makes them know more about men, than men know about themselves. It’s similar to how  black folks must learn how to  safely navigate our white supremacist culture.
  • Our society encourages men to stay disconnected from women and their experiences.  While men are allowed to express anger, they aren’t allowed to show other emotions (sadness, pain, fear, etc.). This creates men who lack empathy.
  • The media contributes to the limited images of manhood. He noted how The Rock has been criticized for playing a toothy fairy/in children movies.
Tony-Porter-subpage
Tony Porter

 

 

 

Randomness: Rihanna & Chris Brown

So, I finally got a chance to see Rihanna’s new music video. I guess the song came out earlier this year, but the video was just released:

There’s been a lot of controversy about the video. Honestly, there’s been such an agenda in the entertainment industry to push pornographic images of women into mainstream media, I barely blinked an eye. Didn’t we just go through this with Miley Cyrus? Also, I have mixed emotions about representations of women who work as strippers. I do think there is opportunity to see the art/physical strength of strippers/sex workers. In the end, it’s a job. However, I feel uneasy constantly seeing black women being portrayed as azz shakers and literally only being shown as body parts. Rihanna to me is the new Britney Spears.  I know Rihanna isn’t the greatest talent or singer. She needs to rely on her body/sexuality to get her over. But, even she’s admitted to having to pretend with this whole “good girl gone bad” imagery. In her interview with OprahOprah asked her, “How did you become  so comfortable in your own sexual skin?” She said, “I had to fake to till I  make it. I had to pretend until I was comfortable.” I think if Rihanna could go back to living a quiet life in Barbados, she would. But the money’s too good. So compromises have to be made. Hell, she probably can’t get out even, if she wanted to. The industry will work her as long as they feel they can squeeze a dime out of her. Just like poor Britney Spears (even despite a very public breakdown), she’s stuck. At this point, Rihanna probably believes “if you can’t beat them, join them.” She co-directed the video. I have a feeling when she looks back on these days, she will cringe. It’s obvious she has succumbed to the entertainment industry’s manipulation of today’s young women pop singers. I hope she makes it out okay.

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A few days ago, Chris Brown shared something about himself that explains his current behavior.  The funny thing about it, Brown has been doing everything and anything to get people off his back about the Rihanna incident. Yet, something I believe he felt was giving him bragging rights, actually is the thing that is making folks view him differently. In an interview with UK Guardian, Brown shared about losing his virginity at age 8-years old. He stated, “It’s different in the country,” adding that he and his friends watched a lot of porn. “By that point, we were already kind of like hot to trot, you know what I’m saying? Like, girls, we weren’t afraid to talk to them; I wasn’t afraid. So, at eight, being able to do it, it kind of preps you for the long run, so you can be a beast at it. You can be the best at it.” 

The person he lost his virginity to was a teen girl around 14/15 years old. Of course, for myself/other folks this immediately set off alarm bells. When an 8-year old has sex with an older person, that is rape, not consent. Brown, like other folks, think it’s different when it’s a boy. But it isn’t. An 8-year old is a child. I can’t even imagine folks laughing about an 8-year old talking about being sexually active, and not wanting to call the police.

The combination of a too early sexual experience and watching his mother physically abused as a child, explains Brown’s attitude toward women, especially when he was dating Rihanna. Rihanna has also shared about domestic violence in her home as a child. It’s not surprising these two found each other, especially in an industry that exploits insecure/lost people. We see Rihanna acting out in videos and we see Brown tearing up stuff/fighting folks. This is not to make excuses for him, but rather, to put his behavior in context. It’s not mentally healthy for a child to be introduced to sex at an early age.

As blogger Olivia A. Cole noted:

“We know some of the behavioral signals that occur when girls have been raped. Depression, promiscuity, unexplained anger, anxiety. These are words we use when we describe the ways victims behave. It’s interesting that I have seen these same symptoms in young boys—alongside me in class when I was a child, in boyfriends as I got older, in men beside me on the bus in Chicago—yet no one looks at male anger and male promiscuity as symptoms of anything. These are just classic male behaviors. “Boys will be boys,” and boys sleep around. Boys have bad tempers. Right? Wrong.”–from http://oliviaacole.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/chris-brown-and-a-nation-of-raped-boys/

I really hope Brown gets counseling for his sexual abuse/the abuse he witnessed and suffered as a child. Or else he will continue to self-destruct. I pray that there are decent men in his life that will help him find his way. Other men need to let young boys know this is not healthy or cool.

Atlanta

I would like to say thank you to the Regional Arts & Culture Council for selecting me to receive a Professional Development Grant. The grant gave me the opportunity to fly to Atlanta to attend the Blogalicious Conference. Strangely, as much as I like to travel, I had never visited Atlanta before. It’s an amazing city. I now understand why my friend’s boyfriend said one needs at least a month in the ATL to see everything. The three days I was there, I barely scratched the surface of things to do:

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Downtown Atlanta

The Blogalicious Conference was interesting. It definitely attracts well-rounded, educated, professional, and ambitious women of color bloggers/entrepreneurs. It was amazing to see so many of these women under one roof. The attendees were people who had attended the conference over the years (Blogalicious was celebrating its fifth year anniversary). So, the majority of folks knew each other. It had a sorority type vibe, which I tend not to do well in.  It was a bit awkward for me. Folks were polite, but it helped if you had a couple of other women to kick it with. I attended the conference alone. Perhaps the conference organizers could think about dedicating one day (or the mornings sessions or whatever) to newbies to the conference. I know that some other huge conferences tend to do this as a way to support new attendees. Other than that, I would recommend this conference to WOC who are interested in learning how to promote their blogs/brand their work:

Conference schedule
Conference schedule
Conference swag bag gifts
Conference swag bag gifts

The best part of the trip was getting a chance to see relatives living in Atlanta. It felt good to relax and hangout with them:

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Dinner with family 🙂

I had some free time so I went to a lecture at the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture.  I got a chance to see artist James Eugene. Eugene paints futuristic images of black folks/sometimes other folks of color.  He shared with the audience his creative process/why it’s important to show futuristic images of black folks. His artwork is detailed and eye-catching:

Photo from: http://www.jameseugene.com/artworks/aanzii.html
Photo from: http://www.jameseugene.com/artworks/aanzii.html

Overall, I had a good trip to Atlanta. I can’t wait to go back and do more exploring 😉