“All that you touch, You Change. All that you Change, Changes You. The only lasting truth is Change.”–Octavia Butler
It’s Black History/Future Month. A time to reflect on the past contributions of Black Americans, as well as the visions/creativity/activism of the next generation.
The purpose of my group (PDX Black Feminism) is to honor the barriers broken by Black women/Non-Binary people. We provide a space to talk about issues affecting us in/outside of our city. It’s also an opportunity to explore the Afrofuturism tools of resisting oppression.
Please support our work this month. The funding helps rent space for meetings, provide refreshments, and self-care needs. In celebration of Black History/Future Month, we will be hosting a showing of “Unbought and Unbossed.” The film explores Shirley Chisholm’s run for presidency, a Black politician trailblazer.
Recently, I came across a Black millennial Youtuber who talked about being sick of Black folks obsession with the 90’s. She urged us to “let the 90’s go.” I had to laugh, because I’m guilty of this. As you grow older, it’s hard not to romanticize your childhood. Plus, the 90’s were an amazing time for Black folks. Particularly, in music and fashion. The fusion of r&b/hip-hop propelled Blackness into middle America, like never before. The influence of Black culture was undeniable…and hasn’t waned. That’s why you see white moms rapping in detergent commercials.
I think that’s why so many Gen-Xers, like myself, adore the 90’s. It was an explosion of Black style/dance/slang etc. Back in the 80’s, radio stations played a handful of Black singers that consisted of Whitney,Michael, Prince, and Janet. So, we do tend to carry on about the 90’s, but it’s because we remember how Black artistry was treated before then.
Besides music, Black television also grew in popularity. Shows like Martin, Living Single, and of course…A Different World. A Different World was the first mainstream program to represent Black college life. The first two seasons were terrible (sorry, Lisa Bonet), but it picked up steam after Debbie Allen took over as producer/director.
A couple of months ago, I started rewatching the show on Bounce TV. Now, I can’t begin my mornings, until I sing along with Ms. Aretha. “I know my parents love me, stand behind me come what may…”
If you’ve been a long time follower of this blog, you know I love to read. Especially, books written by Black women. I’m currently on a science fiction/fantasy novel kick (I’ve even been dabbling in writing my own quirky stories). So, I was super excited to get two new books as Christmas gifts.
I cheesed with delight when I unwrapped N.K. Jemisin’s “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.” I read Jemisin’s “The Fifth Season,” about a year ago. I cheated and listened to the following novels in the series, “The Obelisk Gate” and “The Stone Sky,” audiobooks (I felt sooo guilty about that!) I need to relisten to the last few chapters of “The Stone Sky.” I tried to wait until my toddler was asleep, to have peace and quiet, only to keep dozing off myself.
I’m just a few pages in “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” (the novel tops out at 395 pages!), but it seems like an intriguing read so far.
I’m less familiar with Nishi Shaw’s work, so I’m really looking forward to reading her book. As noted on the back cover, “Everfair”“explores the question of what might have come of Belgium’s disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had access to advanced technology.” Sounds like I’m going to need a drink with this one!
I can’t wait to get deep into these books. The goddess Octavia Butler, kicked down the door for Black science fiction writers. It’s wonderful to see the growing literature of Black women in this genre.
If you are looking for some new reading material, put these books on your list!
The holiday season is fast approaching…12 days until Christmas! It’s been hard getting into the festivities this year. It feels like so much has been going on. It’s been a long year. But this is a great time to support Black women’s businesses. Especially, after Black women saved the world again. *cough Alabama*
If you are looking for last-minute gifts, here are some crafty Black women making fabulous things 🙂
I can’t remember where I saw this delicious organizer, but I’m glad I bookmarked it! The2018 womanist agenda yearlong monthly planneris a cute accessory for those who will have a busy 2018. The organizer is filled with beautiful images of Black women/Trans/Non-Binary folks and empowering quotes.
In 2013, I got the opportunity to interview Kayin Talton Davis for theWomen of Color: How to Live in the City of Roses and Avoid the Pricks zine. She talked about her shop, Soapbox Theory, and the challenges of being a Black woman entrepreneur. It’s been amazing watching her business grow. I know it’s been difficult for her to hold onto her shop, in a Black neighborhood that’s been hit hard with gentrification. Check out these new products from Davis!
A few weeks ago, I attended a virtual self-careretreat for Black women (how cool is that!) It was an amazing experience. The only drawback, the daily videos were scheduled 8 am eastern time, which meant I had to be up by 5 am Pacific. Of course, it wasn’t that difficult for me to get up. I have a toddler. Those with small children know kids are usually breathing in your face at the crack of dawn. So, I was semi-awake for this inspiring event.
Jefferson talked about the importance of thinking deeper about self-care practices. The rhetoric tends to be go get a manicure or go to the spa, and all will be well. Jefferson encouraged Black women to take a more holistic approach. It could mean getting rid of toxic people in our lives. Or cutting out destructive habits (overextending ourselves, smoking) etc.
Faust discussed the challenges of finding time for self-care, especially as Black mothers. In/outside the Black community, there is expectation of Black women sacrificing themselves for everyone else. The pressures triple, once we have children. We are raising Black children in an anti-black world. We have to protect our children differently than non-Black mothers. How can Black mothers indulge in self-care without feeling guilty or judged?
Recently, I celebrated my birthday. A good friend gave me a gift card to one of my favorite stores. I had to force myself not to buy my son a new outfit. It was a struggle to only spend the card on myself. Honestly, I kind of failed. I did get him a t-shirt. It’s this dilemma as Black mothers of knowing it’s okay to self-indulge, sometimes.
The self-care retreat was interesting and fun. When the organizer asked about ideas for next year’s gathering, I suggested more interactive opportunities. But she did a wonderful job for her first time!
She sent a link of Black women owned businesses that include coaching, counseling, products, etc. Personally, I’ve got my eye on Jefferson’s self-care box. I will make self buy it. I will make myself buy it… 😉
The last few weeks the public has been inundated with shocking revelations of predatory behavior in Hollywood. So much so, I needed time to process before writing about it. Some folks have been skeptical of the allegations, as many of the women have waited 5-10 years (if not more) to share their stories. While I’m sure most folks figured there were shenanigans going on in Hollywood, I think it’s been hard for people to grasp that it’s on such a wide scale. Especially, with celebrities they admired. I think it speaks to the fact, that this country has not really addressed the pervasiveness of sexual violence against women.
Recently, I came across a post that pointed out that we need to make a distinction between sexual assault, sexual harassment, and just asshole behavior. I thought this was important, and probably what’s contributing to most of us feeling overwhelmed. The mixing of incidents, is creating confusion. Ellen Page shared that Brett Ratner “outted” her on set. While offensive, and the way he did it was vulgar, it’s not rape. Lupita Nyong’o wrote an article about her interactions with Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein lured Lupita into several uncomfortable situations, one that resulted in her having to give him a massage, for her own safety. She experienced harassment, but it wasn’t rape. Other women (and men) talked about incidents they’ve endured, while disturbing, many were asshole antics…but it wasn’t rape.
This is not about oppression olympics, all of these scenarios feed into the larger issue of rape culture. However, it’s making me a little anxious folks are lumping a outting story (as Kevin Spacey also tried to do), or someone giving a perverted sneer, with rape.
The reason why I decided to write this series, is not because I like telling my business, but rather my housing situation has truly been surprising to me. I thought I did everything the “right” way. I got the degrees, I didn’t have a child until I was in my 40’s, and I have stayed out of trouble. I have applied for job after job after job, yet I struggle.
The fact that I experienced homelessness for over six months was frightening to me. Even in my 20’s, when I was the brokest of the broke, I still found a way to keep a roof over my head. It’s not as easy these days, with increasing rents, gentrification, and unsympathetic landlords excluding working poor communities.
In my current city, Portland, Oregon the displacement of communities of color, especially Black folks has been alarming. I relocated to Portland spring of this year, after my ill-fated attempt to make home in the Deep South. When my roommate and I were given an eviction notice due to an accident, I had had enough. I tried to get acclimated to my new southern town, it was hard. Like most kids who were raised in the north, but shipped to the south during the summer months to spend time with family, it was different living there full-time as an adult.
The “red stateness” of it all made it unbearable. The limited access to social services, poor public transportation, and proud “rebels” was a bit much. I had to witness a pro-confederate flag rally once a month, when I rode the bus to work. The rally was held right next to the civil war museum downtown. I’m sure you can guess which side the museum wished won.
I decided to return to Portland, after our landlord was committed to kicking my roommate and I out. I packed up my son and our belongs and the little money I had saved and got out of dodge. But as the saying goes, “jumped from the frying pan into the fire.”
The shooting of Justine Diamond by a Black officer, has riled up white folks. Diamond’s death has caused white folks to bemoan the overuse of force on the most “innocent of victims.” Besides the curiosity of this outrage, has been the amusing scolding of the Black community to come together as “humans” and fight against police brutality. Huh? These are the same people who cursed Black Lives Matter activism. They tend to see Black victims as having “done something wrong” to warrant their killing. Even when the victim is a child. The lack of support from many Black folks has confused white folks, but what did they expect? You can’t treat a group of folks sh*t, then turn around and expect them to be a shoulder to cry on.
While it’s a terrible thing that happened to Diamond, in the end she will get justice. Already the police chief has resigned, and the black officer that shot her is getting vilified (no Blue Lives Matter love for him!) The same can not be said for Black victims. I’m not going to get too emotionally involved in this particular case.
What did pique my interest, this past week, were two articles I came across on the ‘net. Both deal with the criminalization of Black women, particularly poor Black women. In “A Warrant to Search Your Vagina” Andrea J. Ritchie discussed the abuse of Black women by police officers. Ritchie has written extensively about the sanctioned violence by the criminal justice system against Black women. Ritchie detailed how Black women are often beaten, raped, and killed by police. It is the combination of race and gender, that makes Black women particularly vulnerable to police harassment.
Currently, there has been a call of compassion and health crisis by politicians for opioid/meth users (usually 90% white), this olive branch has not been extended to Black women. Black women are still being brutally attacked and exploited in “the war on drugs.” Black women bodies are routinely degraded. It is reminiscent of the days of slavery, when Black women were made to strip naked and sexually assaulted.
Ritchie noted that police CAN issue a warrant to search one’s vagina. It may seem absurd, but it is true. This is alarming and sets the stage for abuse of power, as illustrated in the cases discussed in the article. Generally, the women did NOT have drugs on them, but will forever be humiliated by this invasive body search.
A few years ago, I bought a Kindle thinking I would download a bunch of books and read to my heart’s content. Y’all know I LOVE to read. Strangely, I found myself not liking the electronic device that much. I pined for the feel of a real book in my hands. The anticipation of turning a page, underlining with a pen when a passage stood out to me, spilling food and drinks on the crinkled pages.
Now fast forward, when I have a toddler running around. I’ve snatched that Kindle back, quick! It’s just easier access to books with a kid. I don’t have to worry about pages being ripped up or drooled on.
For summer reading, I’ve added Mecca Jamilah Sullivan’s “blue talk & love” to my library. A collection of short stories, perfect for a busy mama. Rubbing my hands together with delight 🙂
Sorry about that y’all. I’ve been a bit neglectful keeping the blog updated. Thank goodness the holidays are over. That was such a stressful time. HAPPY NEW YEAR!! (I hope you got your spoonful of black-eyed peas🙂 Unfortunately, we are starting 2017 with the inauguration of a President who has made it clear he is anti-people of color/women (don’t be fooled by the celebrities of colorwho are kissing azz for their own benefit). I encompass both, so Trump will be no ally to me.
It’s more important than ever to support marginalize voices/communities, as these groups will not be able to look to the new administration to align with those who aren’t white, male, and wealthy.
As someone who is a big lover of DIY (Do It Yourself) culture…I urge folks to financially/promote alternative forms of media/activism, as we will need these resources to keep ourselves safe and heard these next four years.
Black Women’s Blue Print: “Black Women’s Blueprint envisions a world where women and girls of African descent are fully empowered and where gender, race and other disparities are erased.”
Feminist Wire: “The mission of The Feminist Wire is to provide socio-political and cultural critique of anti-feminist, racist, and imperialist politics pervasive in all forms and spaces of private and public lives of individuals globally.”
Brown Recluse Zine Distro:“Zine culture is not white culture. D.I.Y. culture is not white culture. Punk is not inherently white culture. So in the spirit of resistance, in the spirit of visibility and in the spirit of celebrating our cultures and intersectionality: Brown Recluse Zine Distro.”