Laverne Cox and bell hooks Talk About Feminism and Pop Culture

Whoa! bell hooks has been KILLING it these last couple of days, as she does another week-long residency at The New School. She’s had some great discussions with white feminist icon Gloria Steinman and fellow black intellectual, Cornel West (the two of them had me rolling).  My favorite conversation was the one between her and Laverne Cox.

Cox stars on the television show “Orange is the New Black.” I have not watched the show. It hasn’t really interested me (and in their talk) hooks articulated some of my concerns about the show.  However, it’s been great to see Cox get mainstream shine. It’s rare you see contemporary black celebrities knowledgeable about politics/social injustices. Particularly, the work Cox does around transgender rights.

Enjoy their fun and thoughtful discussion by clicking the link 🙂

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Photo from: http://colorlines.com/

http://new.livestream.com/TheNewSchool/bell-hooks-Laverne-Cox/videos/64265837

 

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Raven-Symoné and Anti-Blackness

The That’s So Raven star pissed everyone off with her interview on Oprah’s “Where Are They Now?” show.  Symoné passionately rejected the term ‘African-American.’

“I’m tired of being labeled,” Symoné said. “I’m an American. I’m not an African-American. I’m an American.” Symoné told Oprah she wasn’t sure “what country in Africa” she was from but that she did know her family’s roots are in “Louisiana.” “What I really mean by that is I’m an American,” Symoné said. “That’s what I really mean. I have darker skin. I have a nice, interesting grade of hair. I connect with Caucasian. I connect with Asian. I connect with Black. I connect with Indian. I connect with each culture.” http://thegrio.com/2014/10/06/raven-symone-not-african-american/

Eh…Symoné told on herself.

To a certain extent, I get what Symoné was trying to say. She just wants to be her.  However, her comments lacked a deeper consciousness about the ways white supremacy and anti-blackness operate in American culture. I mean. I guess she missed the whole Ferguson thing this summer?

We tend to think because celebrities are amazingly talented at singing/dancing/acting that they must be brilliant in other aspects of their lives. 9 times out of 10 (when you take them off stage) you realize they actually tend to be pretty clueless about the world around them.  I guess the fame monster does that to you. Particularity, black celebrities who now have the protection of wealth. It gives them the false illusion racism doesn’t matter anymore. I find it interesting even those who grew up in extreme poverty/oppression and who have sung/rapped/talked about it, still tend to sell out pretty quickly/become apologists for white racism/are now “colorblind.”

The new blacks are going to be the death of us yet.

In any case, Symoné basically believes her light skin and “good hair” exclude her from being a “plain old African-American.” Okay, well she’s going to start turning down African-American roles, right?

 

The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete

The film “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete” popped up on my Netflix line up. I decided to watch it, since it’s rare to see films about black youth. I was a bit disappointed to see it was a cliché film of a low-income black kid with a drug addict for a mother, the absentee father, the scowling local drug dealer/pimp (Anthony Mackie wearing a laughable Rick Ross beard), and a tough azz nails police officer. *sigh.*

Despite my disappointment, there were some good moments in “The inevitable…” The young actors Skylan Brooks (Mister) and Ethan Dizon (Pete) are too adorable. They do a good job of carrying the film by themselves. Pete was the stereotypical silent Asian character, though.

Hopefully, one day we will get a fun black kid’s film (like The Goonies) were there isn’t so much despair. “The inevitable…” was depressing as hell to me.

FKA Twigs

When Janelle Monáe rose to popularity a few years ago, her presence was a breath of fresh air. In a dire music world, where black female singers are being forced to look one way and sing about nothing, Monáe‘s sharp suits (a uniform she wears to pay homage to working class folks) and infectious pop tunes, mixed with a bit of jazz/funk/hip hop, dipped in political awareness, and sprinkled with android love…it was like yes. FINALLY!

This year, it is FKA Twigs breaking the current rut of black female music. Twigs is actually English (overseas black singers are KILLING it these days), but has started to get some shine in the states.

Tahliah Barnett was born in Gloucestershire.[6] Her father is Jamaican, and her mother, who used to be a dancer and a gymnast, is part English and Spanish.[7] Barnett was raised by her mother and stepfather. She did not meet her father, a jazz dancer, until she was 18.[8] She grew up in a rural part of Gloucestershire, and she has described the county as “kind of in the middle of nowhere.”[7] She attended St. Edward’s School, Cheltenham,[9] a Catholic school where she was the only mixed-race girl.[10]” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FKA_twigs

I first became aware of FKA Twigs this past summer. A blog I like to visit, posted the video for her song “Two Weeks.” She had me at “I know it hurts…” The song is sexy as hell.

Once I got a little extra change in my pocket, I bought her new album: LP1.  Which is saying a lot for me. These days a singer has really got to peak my interest for me to buy their whole album, and not just purchase singles. Honestly, the album is pretty good. While none of the songs are as addictive as “Two Weeks” (to me anyway. i can play that cut over and over again). There are some hot tunes on the album. My other favorites are “Hours,” “Pendulum,” “Give Up,” and “Kicks.” I feel like I need a couple of whiskey sours to enjoy “Preface,” and “Lights On.” However, I still try to listen to them. You do need patience to get into Twig’s music.

Recently, Twigs has been in the news. Not for her music,  but because America has welcomed her with a good old-fashioned slice of American apple pie racism.

“Robert Pattinson’s new girlfriend FKA Twigs has been the target of a barrage of online racist abuse since her relationship with the former Twilight star become public — and she’s decided enough is enough. Speaking out via her Twitter account on Sunday, September 28, the half-Jamaican, half-Spanish singer slammed the Internet trolls who have been leaving her racist messages, and proved she wouldn’t be bullied. “I am genuinely shocked and disgusted at the amount of racism that has been infecting my account the past week,” the 26-year-old singer, real name Tahliah Debrett Barnett, wrote. “Racism is unacceptable in the real world and it’s unacceptable online.” http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/robert-pattinsons-girlfriend-fka-twigs-suffers-racist-abuse-online-2014299

When I first heard about this, I didn’t even know who the hell Robert Pattinson was. Once I found out he was that funny looking guy from the Twilight movies (which I have NEVER seen. thank goodness), I had to crack up. White girls tripping over that? Pattinson really does look like a vampire to me.

I’m glad Twigs spoke up for herself, though. Although it would be better if Pattinson would speak out for her.  He has a duty if he has decided to be in a relationship with a woman of color. He needs to put his people in check.

In any case, FKA Twigs is da bomb.  She is giving us genuine black female musicianship (she is also a highly skilled dancer, check out her moves in the “Two Weeks” video),  desire/sexuality, and a longing that we haven’t heard in a minute.

Keep brushing those shoulders off, girlfriend.