Marches for Trayvon

Today, like many folks, I marched for Trayvon Martin. Despite the heat, I wore a hoodie and shouted in a collective voice“No justice, no peace!” It felt good to let the anger pour out of my body.  I was defiant as I pumped a black fist in the air. There were many speeches. Some folks went on a tangent about America, in general. Some folks tried to piggy back off the march with their own agenda (420 rights).  I liked the people who spoke honestly/passionately about racism, black liberation, and anti-black racism. I had mixed emotions about the white hipsters in the crowd. The march was held in a neighborhood hit hard by gentrification. The displacement of a black community by those very same folks.  There weren’t  a lot of people. The park should have been filled with protestors.  When I walked to the rally, it shocked me to see people casually hanging out coffee shops, sipping on drinks outside restaurants, and walking leisurely down the street. Why  weren’t more people outraged? I thought. Why does everything still seem so normal? The sad truth is that despite these tragedies, life goes on. I think that’s what makes it so messed up, when you think about it.   The rest off us will go on with our lives. The truth is the anger gets reduced to a simmer until the next incident (probably the white man who shot a black teen for blasting music in a car with friends). But for Trayon’s parents, this is their truth forever. They no longer have their son. He was murdered for no other reason than being black.

And that’s f*cked up. ..

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Gimme the Loot

I love slice of life films. So, my curiosity was peaked, after reading a review  for  Gimme the Loot.  It’s rare  that we get good black films these days, let alone about black teens. However, my eyebrows were raised after I watched the trailer). I wondered why so many young white women in a film about black teens. I researched the  writer-director Adam Leon, and turned out he’s a young white director. The film has also been endorsed/presented by Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme. It made more sense that two white male directors  would feel the need to incorporate whiteness into black folks lives. To be fair though, the young white women do serve a purpose for one scene in the film.

SPOILERS !!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!

The two young actors (Tashiana Washington (Sophia) and Ty Hickson (Malcolm) were amazing. They portrayed Bronx teens, pretty convincingly.  I am especially looking forward to more work from Ms. Washington. While her role was the cliché loud/foul mouth black girl, you understand why. As a young woman in the male dominated world of graffiti/taggers, she has to make folks take her seriously.  Actually, that might have made it a more complex film, looking at her life from the perspective as a young woman tagger.  There are a couple of sweet moments for Sophia, but overall, the character is the  standard sassy black girl. I also didn’t care for seeing the black female character lamenting about possibly not being seen as beautiful as the white female lead.

My other concern was that Sophia and Malcolm engage in a lot of criminal activity.   Okay, I’ll backtrack a bit. The storyline revolves around two best friends, Sophia and Malcolm, who are also graffiti artists.  They decide they want  to leave a mark on New York City (NYC), in a big way.  The two teens set their sights on tagging a big apple, that pops up, every time a home run is made at  Shea Stadium. In order to do this, Malcolm has arranged for them to pay $500 dollars to a security that works there, so they can get into the stadium. Of course, they are teens with limited funds, and need to get money anyway they can.  So, there is context to their criminality, but I still didn’t care for it. The first scene starts off with them stealing from a store and progressing to a potential robbery .

Currently, New York City has been under fire for its Stop & Frisk law.  The concern of racial profiling of black & brown folks, especially young folks, is very real. There have been several instances of unjust harassment of young people of color by the NYPD:

NYPD Commanding Officer Caught On Tape Ordering Cops To Stop And Frisk Young “Male Blacks 

How ‘Stop and Frisk’ Is Too Often a Sexual Assault by Cops on Teenagers in Targeted NYC Neighborhoods

I know it’s just a film, but it made me uneasy to see young folks of color casually stealing, robbing, and selling drugs. It’s not an image that needs to perpetuated, when there is so much intense racial profiling, in areas like the Bronx.  Leon does try to show the racial and class disparities in NYC, with Malcolm and the white female character, Ginnie (Zoe Lescaze ). It’s  during the scene with Malcolm, Ginnie, and her white girlfriends where you feel for Malcolm (and Sophia) and understand how their lives have been framed, so much differently from these  upper-class white girls.

I did enjoy watching the two charismatic teens zig-zag around their neighborhood. It was interesting to see all the many characters they interact with, during their harrowing weekend. The ending scene was also very heartwarming.  It will be interesting to see other folks of color thoughts on this film.

Charles Ramsey: ‘Take that reward and give it to’ the kidnap victims

Most folks have heard about the heroic efforts of Charles Ramsey. If not, here is a quick recap: 

On Tuesday, Mr. Ramsey  was eating at a McDonald’s in Cleveland, when he heard cries for help. When he went to investigate,  he noticed a young woman screaming for someone to call 911, and trying to kick down the door of her house.  It turned out the young woman was Amanda Berry. She had been kidnapped over ten years ago.  There  was also two other young women that had been held captive with Berry–Gina DeJesus & Michelle Knight. The young women suffered years of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.  It was the speedy actions of Ramsey (he eventually kicked down the door), that helped save the lives of all three women.

Of course, Mr. Ramsey became an instant media sensation. He was just an everyday guy having lunch and got involved.  It was amazing, because there have been countless stories of folks that have literally stepped over a person dying on the sidewalk.  Mr. Ramsey obviously is an old school guy, and presented himself as such. His words “I knew something was wrong when a pretty little white girl ran into a black man’s arms,” is going down as the soundbite of 2013, trust me. There have been several articles written about Mr. Ramsey’s lively personality, and how it came across on the national news :

http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/05/07/181982154/are-we-laughing-with-charles-ramsey

http://guyism.com/humor/charles-ramsey-rescues-three-women-gives-greatest-interview-in-the-history-of-television.html

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/05/07/charles_ramsey_amanda_berry_rescuer_becomes_internet_meme_video.html

Some folks thought Mr. Ramsey’s heroic efforts were being mocked, because of his quirky personality. I have to admit, I chuckled when I heard Mr. Ramsey say what he said. I thought he was being raw and honest, and I got what he was saying.  I wasn’t laughing at him at all. I am a black woman who comes from a black family sprinkled with Charles Ramseys. Like Ms. Sweet Brown before him,  they represent themselves as they are, because they are not ashamed of who they are. Why should they be? They should not be defined by their dialect or that they have a head-wrap on their head or that they don’t give bland responses.  Of course, there are those that are going to run with these images  (memes). However, from what I can tell on the (black) blogs, black folks have much respect for  Mr. Ramsey, and nodded their heads knowingly at his words.

I wish Mr. Ramsey well…

Racist Commercial Las Vegas 2013

I’m sure most folks have heard/seen this racist ad courtesy of Las Vegas.com…If not, here ya go:

The Sapphire stereotype is an image mainstream media loves of black women. They can project all of their hatred of blackness/women on this caricature. The loud black woman rolling her neck with long acrylics at her customer service job,  dehumanizes black women who work in these positions .  The Sapphire stereotype has been around forever.

As noted on the website, For Harriet: celebrating the fullness of black womanhood:

“Hard, strong, emasculating, overbearing and controlling are all characteristics of the traditional Sapphire stereotype.  Sapphire was created to threaten the power of the black male and to place a negative gaze upon any black woman who dared to critique the horrible conditions black women had to face.  The Sapphire stereotype was popularized by the character, Sapphire Stevens, in the mid 20th century television show Amos ‘n’ Andy. Today Sapphire has evolved into the angry black woman.  This stereotype is probably the most popular characterization of black women today.  This woman is always yelling, starting fights, and insulting men.  Reality television is perpetuating this stereotype more than ever by highlighting fights between black women and failed relationships with black men.  This stereotype has become such a popular way to view black women that our first lady, Michelle Obama, who exudes grace and class has been classified as a modern say Sapphire.”

http://www.forharriet.com/2013/02/from-mammy-to-sapphire-reincarnation-of.html 

I agree with the blogger’s sentiment. It’s obvious the images of black women have grown worse due to the presence of Mrs. Obama. There seems an urgent agenda to degrade and tear down the self-esteem of black women/girls. They can’t have other black women/girls thinking they can achieve all that Mrs. Obama has, now can they? Mrs. Obama was also initially portrayed as an angry black woman/Sapphire. The early criticisms included: her not smiling enough, her words “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country,” and her insistence on being viewed as equal to her husband. It’s not surprising that Mrs. Obama has now been regulated to background status. Now she is loved by the masses, because she no longer posses a threat. It’s obvious she has been forced/coerced to soften her style. White feminists have criticized this change, but it just show that  they have failed yet again, to look at the complexities of women of color lives. It’s a thin line Mrs. Obama teeters on, as the first black First Lady. While I wish she would do more, I understand. In any case, this commercial shows that black women must be diligent in resisting these stereotypes. These images are being put out there to  destroy and colonize our minds.

 

Angela Davis and Assata Shakur’s Lawyer Denounce FBI’s Adding of Exiled Activist to Terrorists List

Democracy NOW!

http://www.democracynow.org/2013/5/3/angela_davis_and_assata_shakurs_lawyer

An Open Letter from Assata Shakur: ‘I Am Only One Woman’

http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/05/assata_shakurs_open_letter_i_am_only_one_woman.html

Welcome

Hello….My name is Tonya J.

I am the creator of the zine “See Me: Issues that Affect Our Lives,  Acts of Resistance against Oppression, and Black Feminist Thought.”

What’s a zine? It’s  a take on the word maga(zine) and is a form of self- publishing. Read here to learn more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zine

The purpose of this blog is the same as my zine…to resist oppression with black feminist thought.