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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bell hooks and Beyonce

bell hooks pissed off a lot of folks last week when she criticized pop singer Beyoncé:

“I see a part of Beyoncé that is anti-feminist–that is assaulting,” she said. “That is a terrorist in terms of impact on young girls.”–bell hooks

I don’t have a problem with what hooks said. She is a cultural critic and that’s what cultural critics do…deconstruct popular images. “Cultural critics define the (often political) reasons why a certain aesthetic or cultural product is more valued than others. In doing so, they examine value hierarchies that have been established within such categories as class, race, national origin, gender, sexuality, feminism.”–dictionary definition.  bell hooks critique of Beyoncé is no different from her views on Tina Turner (who Beyoncé borrows heavily from) and Madonna, back in the day.

Plus, if you really are a fan of bell hooks, you would know she speaks in hyperbole.  She is purposely trying to make you angry. She is trying to get you to think about how these images affect our lives in an Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy.”

I’m sure it’s hard to grow older as a woman in the Entertainment Industrial Complex. It’s probably why Beyoncé pushes so hard to stay around. Even Madonna (the queen of reinvention) eventually was weeded out.  And we see what they did to Janet. Beyoncé’s new music would be interesting to me, if she genuinely tackled these issues. Instead we  get lines like “eat the cake, Anna Mae” in her quest to stay relevant. She really needs to take some time off and reevaluate her image/music. Her urgent desire to stay popular is making her put out all kind of bizarre images that are inadvertently affecting young black girls. They are the collateral for her to stay rich and famous, I think that what hooks was trying to say.

Also, all of this focus on Beyoncé is causing confusion/hostility between black feminists. Probably what they want as it distracts us from other issues…

What do you think?

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Photo from: colorlines.com

 

Mother’s Day/Passionate Present: Protecting Black Girlhood

My mom passed away a few years ago (RIP), so I’m ho-hum about Mother’s Day this upcoming Sunday.  My mom and I had our battles (typical parent/child stuff), but we got along well for the most part . She was my friend. Plus, my mom didn’t play. Heh.  I remember being shocked out of my socks, when my mom’s partner called to tell me that she had passed away. He had found her in the shower. I remember throwing down the phone and screaming/crying.  I had just saw her the week before.  At the time, my mom was living in Arizona and I visited for a short vacation.  I remember she had cooked a huge pot of gumbo and she tried to get me to take some home with me. I didn’t want to have to carry it on the plane, so I declined. I figured I would get a bowl next time…

The following days were surreal. I had to fly back to Arizona to pack up her things. Then I flew back home to make arrangements.  Then I flew to our  original hometown to have the funeral with our family. Finally, I flew back home to…sadness. They say time heals all wounds, and it does make things a little easier. I still miss my mom everyday and wish she was here. Happy Mother’s Day, mom 🙂

Sexy mama...I miss you.
Sexy mama…

I don’t have children of my own, so I won’t be getting a box of chocolates on Sunday. I have to admit this is the one day I’m envious of folks with children. I want a free meal too! I have never wanted to have kids. Even when I was a child, I told folks I didn’t want children. Of course, folks said I would change my mind when I got older. Well, I am older and if anything, it has reinforced my stance.

I don’t know why having children has never appealed to me. Maybe it’s because I’m always on the go. I like movement and freedom.  Also, despite popular belief, motherhood is not universal. Motherhood is much more complex for black women. We live in a society that hates our children. We have to worry if our children will come back home after walking to the corner store or seeking help after they’ve had a car accident. Will the police shot our children, just because they see a black kid running? Will another black child shoot our child because of internalized racism/misguided priorities?

It can be stressful combined with all the regular parent worries. That’s why I give props to black moms/parents/caregivers who have decided to go down that road. It’s not easy to raise black children in this society. So, much love this Mother’s Day.

The reason why I’m being  reflective on the issue of black motherhood, is because I watched bell hooks recent lecture at New School.  hooks and Salamishah Tillet tackled the difficulty of raising empowered black daughters. It’s a good discussion…

Photo from: http://shine.forharriet.com/
Click to watch the video: http://new.livestream.com/TheNewSchool/PassionatePresent/videos

 

bell hooks

March is Women’s History Month. I’ve been trying to think how I could honor this month. Since this blog focuses on black feminism as a tool to resist oppression, I thought it would be proper to show love to a woman who helped revolutionize black feminism. That woman is the author bell hooks:

“bell hooks, is an American social activist, feminist and author. She was born on September 25, 1952. bell hooks is the nom de plume for Gloria Jean Watkins. bell hooks examines the multiple networks that connect gender, race, and class. She examines systematic oppression with the goal of a liberatory politics. She also writes on the topics of mass media, art, and history. bell hooks is a prolific writer, having composed a plethora of articles for mainstream and scholarly publications.”  http://www.egs.edu/library/bell-hooks/biography/

I first learned about bell hooks in college (which is way too late if ya ask me). I took a course all about bell hooks. We read her books and discussed them in class. The thing I love about bell hooks is that she keeps it real. As a poster responded to an interview with hooks,“she gives it to you straight, no chaser.” This can be off-putting to folks, especially folks who have bought into what bell hooks calls Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy. She is going to hurt your feelings. Rip out your heart, really. But it’s only because she wants you to think deeper about the world around you. Too many folks believe racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, etc., that it’s “just the way it is.” These oppressions have been normalized in our society. However, we must resist this conditioning. Someone shouldn’t be viewed as more valuable just because of the whiteness/lightness of their skin, because they are male, rich, etc. We all deserve to live our lives with respect and dignity.  That is all bell hooks is saying.

So much love to her this month and every month. I also like to give  honor to other pioneer black women feminists: Sojourner Truth,Fannie Lou Hamer, Alice Walker, Michele Wallace, Audre Lorde, and Patricia Hill CollinsOf course, this list  could go on forever!!

Happy Women’s History Month 🙂

Whitelicious/Skin Bleaching

I was shocked when I saw this new picture of singer Elle Varner:

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Photo from: http://necolebitchie.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why in the blue hell would she downgrade her look from a cute brown-skinned/naturally curly-haired quirky girl, to another cliché blonde haired/skin bleached black female singer.  I find it amusing as black women celebrities are doing this, Hollywood’s current love affair is with a dark-skinned/short-haired African woman (Lupita Nyong’o). This is why women of color should never listen to the Hollywood Industrial Complex.  It will have you all f*cked up.

Recently, Cameroonian/Nigerian artist Dencia, was criticized for promoting her skin bleaching line–Whitelicious:

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*sigh* In an imperialist white supremacist patriarchal (thank you, bell hooks) society, there is an agenda to keep darker skinned people oppressed/and to make lighter skin people feel they have an advantage. The point is to make folks of color feel bad about ourselves so that we (1) buy products, and (2) don’t question/keep the status quo in tact.  It hurts my heart that so many folks of color have fallen for the okey-doke and/or contribute to the problem.

This is not just an issue with Black American women or African women, but a global problem. All across the world, folks of color have bought into light/white is right:

It’s disturbing how pervasive this has become… It takes a lot of strength to resist this brainwashing.  It’s hard for many folks of color, as they are browbeaten/bombarded 24/7 with images that light/white is better.

Here are some folks whose mission is to deconstruct the rigid beauty standards of women of color/women in general:

My Black is Beautiful:  https://www.myblackisbeautiful.com/#home

Love Your Body Campaign: http://www.loveyourbody.org/

PBS Black History Month

It’s almost that time again…In our so-called “post-racial” society folks have challenged the purpose of still having a Black History Month. Personally, I think it’s still an important and needed month. Especially, for our black youth (and hell even some adults).  Yeah, yeah black history should just be considered American history. Yeah, yeah most black folks have made significant strides since the Civil Rights Movement. Yeah, yeah we have a black President, Oprah, Beyoncé etc. Black wealth/power is at a level it has never been before (too bad most of our black celebrities do absolutely nothing with it, but I digress  😦

YET,  there are  just as many black folks struggling. Many black folks live below the poverty line, highest rates of unemployment, targeted for the Prison Industrial Complex, shot in the back while walking from the store, etc. We still have a long way to go. It’s important we know our history, so we can’t be bamboozled into thinking we deserve our mistreatment. We don’t ever want racism/oppression to be normalized or thought of as “that’s just the way it is.” There’s a rhyme and reason for everything in our imperialist white supremacist patriarchal society (thank you, bell hooks).

Any who, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has an amazing line up of shows to celebrate Black History Month. Check ’em out, if ya can:

“ARLINGTON, VA – January 16, 2014 – In commemoration of Black History Month and as part of its year-round commitment to provide diverse programming and resources for all Americans, PBS today announced new shows and online content celebrating the African American experience past, present and future. From an AMERICAN MASTERS profile of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, to an INDEPENDENT LENS documentary about the secret spy agency created to maintain segregation in 1950’s Mississippi, Black History Month on PBS will provide programs that educate, inform and inspire viewers to learn more about the rich culture of our nation. The lineup begins on February 3 at 10:00 p.m. with “American Promise,” a powerful coming-of-age documentary from POV that follows the journey of two young African-American males from kindergarten through high school graduation as they attend a prestigious Manhattan private school. Confronting challenges from typical childhood growing pains to cultural identification within a predominantly white environment, the young men and their parents push toward success and discover their own individuality in the process.”–http://www.pbs.org/about/news/archive/2014/black-history-month/

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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