Happy Veterans Day 2013

While most of us loathe war (at least I hope so), we try to sympathize with our veterans/military folk. Plus, if you really study about people who join the military,  you understand many tend be low-income, undereducated, and/or come from communities of color.  They register with the service as a way to get out of bad situations, fund their education, or support their families. Poor women of color tend to be the most vulnerable to military recruitment. They also tend to receive the worst treatment while in the military. The list of grievances regarding racism, sexism, homophobia and sexual assault is long in the military.  Hell, you wouldn’t catch me signing up. But, these women do it the same as other folks, to earn money/build careers. Also, some women of color just like adventure. So, I give honor to all the veterans today, but especially women of color who go through so much in war zones and within the military.

Check out these resources about women of color in the military:

I’m Still Standing: From Captive U.S. Soldier to Free Citizen–My Journey Home by Shoshana Johnson 

Home from the Military

Black Women Fallen Soldiers

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bell hooks & Melissa Harris-Perry livestream

I think this event happened last Friday (the days are going by in a blur). It was an interesting conversation to watch. bell hooks was amazing, of course. Perry didn’t bring it like I thought she would. I can’t be mad at her. I would probably freeze up around bell hooks too. As hooks noted, “she has twenty years (of life/writing experience)” on Perry. The issues that were brought up sometimes faltered, because Perry was nervous. However, I would still recommend folks watch it:

“bell hooks (née Gloria Watkins), scholar-in-residence at The New School, is among the leading public intellectuals of her generation. Her writings cover a broad range of topics including gender, race, teaching, and contemporary culture. Melissa Harris-Perry is founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South, Professor of Political Science at Tulane University, author, and host of MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry.”  via livestream

http://new.livestream.com/TheNewSchool/blackfemalevoices

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Summer Reading: Update Update

Yeah, yeah I know it’s November. I flopped at doing all my summer reading.  I’ve been busy, yo (in my Jesse Pinkman voice). I decided to revisit the books on my summer list, as the holiday season is upon us.  I think books make great gifts, don’t you? So, here are the three books I was able to chug though this summer/fall. I would suggest keeping these books in mind for the readers in your life:

  Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America
By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

  In Perry’s book, she examines the stereotypes used to degrade/shame black women. She writes about the “crooked room” a space where the complexities of black womanhood is distorted by racist, sexist, etc., images.  Black women aren’t allowed their full humanity, thus constantly find themselves navigating  oppressive situations.   “When they confront race and gender stereotypes, black women are standing in a crooked room, and they have to figure out which way is up. Bombarded with warped images of their humanity, some black women tilt and bend themselves to fit the distortion…to understand why black women’s public actions and political strategies sometimes seem titled in ways that accommodate the degrading stereotypes about them, it is important to appreciate the structural constraints that influence their behavior (Perry, 2011, pg. 29).” 

Perry writes about everything from black women survivors of Hurricane Katrina (a voice that tends to be underrepresented when looking at our country’s blatant negligence of black life, before/after the storm), The Duke Lacrosse Case (personally, I still think they did something to those young women), and ends with a look at Michelle Obama.  While I will always have respect for the symbolism of Mrs. Obama, I’m not as a huge of a fan I used to be.  However, Perry does a great job of detailing the obstacles Mrs. Obama faces as the The First (Black) Lady.  “Issues of hypersexuality  lurk in the media obsession with Michelle’s body; the specter of the angry black woman shadows discussions about her marriage; and national yearnings to depict black women as Mammy are embedded in public discourses about her role as mother (Perry, 2011, pg. 277).” 

All Decent Animals: A Novel
By Oonya Kempado

It took me a minute to get through this book. The book is a lyrical read from beginning to end. The author sticks to the dialect/cultural sayings of the people she is writing about. It can be a difficult read, but that’s okay. Folks need to be pushed out of the comfort  zone, sometimes 🙂 It’s a fictional story centered on Ata and her friends.  Ata is a young woman living on the island of Trinidad. She works in carnival design, but longs to do something else with her life. She meets European Pierre, at a party, and they soon begin dating. The story chronicles the ups and down of their relationship in the midst of celebration of Carnival and their friend Fraser, who is dying of AIDS. “Fraser’s new lightness of weight gives him spring and hope. Maybe he could live with this, the dialysis part. The expensive cocktail of drugs for HIV is another thing, but with more research, things could get better (Kempadoo, 2013, pg. 138).” There are a couple of surprises in the book, no spoilers 🙂 Be prepared for the rich and complex tale Ms. Kempadoo has woven.

Ghana Must Go
By Taiye Selasi

I cried several times while reading this book. It’s hard not to think  Selasi’s story  comes from some personal experiences. If not, she has an amazing gift for writing. “Ghana Must Go” is about a family dealing with the unexpected death of their father.  Kweku Sai is a renewed surgeon who abandoned his family years ago. Sai leaves his family, after being wrongfully dismissed from his job,and feeling like a failure. Some of his insecurities, stems from his poverty-stricken childhood in Ghana. The family tries to forget about him, but he is always in the back of their minds.  So, his death comes as a shock and leaves questions unanswered.  The family consists of Fola (mother), Olu (eldest son), Kehinde and Taiwo (the twins), and Sadie (the youngest child). The family returns to Africa, for their father’s funeral. It’s there they must deal with the heartache, lies and disappointment they have all suffered. “As it finally hits him, “He died,” Kehinde answers and starts, at the laugh. He can’t quite imagine what his sister finds funny, but she appears to be laughing, outright, her back turned. “Taiwo,” he whispers, thinking maybe she’s crying, but she turns to him dry-eyed. “He’s gone.” She shakes her head. She doesn’t stop laughing (Selasi, 2913, pg. 210).”