Yesterday, it was announced Erykah Badu was the new face of Givenchy. Badu (besides being a “cleva” singer/songwriter) is a beautiful woman. She also has a slick sense of fashion. She deserves to get some model shine. Badu will represent Givenchy’s Spring 2014 Collection, along with other fly women of color. I was a wee bit disappointed to read it’s for the line that’ is “a mash-up of African and Japanese influences,” they are always less hesitant to show women of color in these segments of fashion But, it’s still exciting to see Badu getting her due props in high fashion. Analog girls in a digital world need love too…
Years ago, I remember complaining on a blog that light-skinned black women singers were the new standard in r&b/mainstream music. At the time, Beyonce was at the height of popularity and record companies were following suit with their own “light girl” copies of Bey. Another poster responded “Don’t worry, dark girls got next.” I guess things do work in cycles, because ten years later, it looks like dark-skinned black women are back in vogue again (how I hate saying that).
Whatever the reason why darker-skinned black women are making a comeback, it’s still exciting to see these women getting shine in black and mainstream media. I can only imagine the damage that has been done to little black girls with the constant white washing of black female images. I’m a grown azz dark-skinned black woman, and have to fight daily to keep my mind decolonized. The media works hard to make us all hate ourselves (they need us to buy products), but the hostility towards darker-skinned black women was getting out of control. It’s refreshing to see a variety of images again in the media. This is not to say, all is better for darker-skinned black women. There is still an agenda to erase us, but we are pushing through. Whether they like it or not. Heh.
The main person setting it off, is actress Lupita Nyong’o. Nyong’o is currently starring in 12 Years a Slave (I still haven’t seen this yet, for some reason):
Besides being gorgeous, Nyong’o received her Master’s degree from Yale School of Drama. Nyong’o is seriously giving Anika Noni Rose a run for my new girl crush. Man, I hate break ups 😦
Next, is my favorite new singer Laura Mvula. If you haven’t heard any of her music yet, you better ask somebody! She caused a bit of controversy with her music video “It’s Alright.” In the song, Mvula scolds folks who criticize her for not being light skin. On the cover of Pride Magazine, Mvula stated she was “proud to be an ambassador for darker skinned women.”
And last (but never least), is my girl Danai Gurira. She plays Michonne on The Walking Dead. So, that’s enough reason alone to give her props. She’s another babe rocking it for dark-skinned women. And she can wield a mean sword:
Kanye constantly complains/whines about nothing. Jay-Z refused to stop his dealings with Barneys. Lil’ Wayne degraded the memory of Emmett Till for cheap laughs/white approval. Obviously, these folks stand for nothing, unless it will line their pockets with money. I can’t imagine these people giving up 27 years of their lives to protest a demeaning/racist practice like apartheid. They can’t even maintain their dignity for a day. Nelson Mandela was a rare soul. May he rest in peace…
I have not read “The Help.” I have not seen the movie. And I don’t plan to do either anytime soon. I could tell just from the trailer that the movie/book was garbage. A romanticized version of black maids in the south. Blah. I’m glad the white woman character was able to find her voice/come into her own off the backs of black women. Double blah. Also, a black maid can shit in a white woman’s pie for revenge (trust me I’m not ruining anything for you) and not have anything happen to her. Come on. Emmett Till was tortured/murdered just for whistling at a white woman.
I laughed my azz off at the whole premise of the book/film and The Association of Black Women Historians did so as well. It’s not surprising in our “post-racial” society, there has been a white washing of slavery/the Civil Rights Movement and white folks weird obsession with “reverse racism.” It’s not surprising a book/film like “The Help” would be popular in this kind of climate.
So, I wasn’t shocked to read that The National Council of Teachers of History and The National Council of Teachers of English are pushing teachers to use “The Help” as a way to teach students about the Civil Rights Movement. HA HA HA HA HA! Really? The irony about all this, is that books by black authors that deal with racism/oppression, are being banned in schools. I guess white authors are the ones that have the “real” insight into the lives of black folks. Triple blah.
As many who are within this network are aware and many I’m sure who are not, Shannon Gibney, a Professor of English and African diaspora studies at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), recently received a formal reprimand from the institution.
The reprimand was due to the discomfort of two white male students who said they were being personally attacked while Professor Gibney led a discussion about structural racism in her political science and communications course. These very students interrupted Professor Gibney during the discussion, expressing that it was upsetting to them that it was being discussed at all. MCTC went so far as to identify Professor Gibney’s conduct in the class as a violation of the Non-Discrimination Policy and she was directed to meet twice with the Chief Diversity Officer to learn how to be more welcoming to people of all backgrounds.
It is an outrage, albeit not…
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A couple of days ago, the world celebrated World AIDS Day. The day is an opportunity to speak out about HIV/AIDS, allies who support those living with HIV/AIDS, and honoring those who have passed away. It’s a tricky thing writing about HIV/AIDS and black women. Recently, a friend gave me a TV. I’ve been trying to avoid having a TV. Of course, I’ve been sucked back into the worlds of Maury and Jerry. These shows (especially Maury) survive on paternity tests episodes. The shows usually have black women (and other women of color), running/around acting wild because they supposedly don’t know who their child’s father is. It feeds into the stereotype(s) about black women being sexually irresponsible. It’s because of these images, folks usually don’t have empathy for black women living with HIV/AIDS (read Pearl Cleage’s “What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day” a fictional story about a black woman living with HIV/AIDS).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV infections declined for the first time since 2010 for black women. “In 2010, black women accounted for 6,100 (29%) of the estimated new HIV infections among all adult and adolescent blacks. This number represents a decrease of 21% since 2008. Most HIV infections among black women (87%; 5,300) are attributed to heterosexual sex. The estimated rate of new HIV infections for black women (38.1/100,000 population) was 20 times as high as the rate for white women, and almost five times as high as that of Latinas.”
However, black women still make up a significant amount of new HIV cases. I think a lot of it has to do with the gender imbalance/sexism in the black community. Until black girls/young women/women are genuinely respected/valued in our community (not the fake “black queen” rhetoric), we will continue to have high HIV rates. Black women are dragged unmercifully in mainstream (white folks) media, but sadly we often don’t have safe spaces in the black community either. The images tend to be just as bad, and I think it has warped some black males interactions with us. I remember being on a bus and watching a teenager bop his head as “dirty bitch,” “ho,” etc., came pouring out of his headphones. This can’t be good to listen to this stuff on a daily basis and think one can actually go on to have healthy relationships with their “queens.”
It’s time we starting having frank conversations about sexism/oppression of black girls/women in the black community (e.g. sexual abuse). Trust it would help to elevate some of these HIV cases. Also, we need to give space to the voices of black women/folks living with HIV/AIDS in our community. The stories of these women can be informative/empowering to young black women as they deal with blossoming sexuality/sexual desires.