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Possibilities & Personhood: Selfies, Women of Color, and Healing from White Supremacy »

plastickitten:

"[WOC Selfies are] not designated for white consumption; it’s not even about my consumption - it’s about the picture being theirs and whatever they would like to do with it. It signifies humanity and personhood; away from whiteness and independent of whiteness. The possibility of being possible on one’s own terms."

I wrote a post about brown and black girl selfies, why self-representation is important, and why they’ve helped me down the road with regards to self-esteem in the face of white beauty standards. 

A love letter to all my woc friends I’ve met on the internet.


indigenousnationhoodmovement:

NEW POST: "I Am Accountable to Loretta Saunders" - by Sarah Hunt
"We are connected through our grief and our collective resistance to this terror which targets our relations. We are linked through our sense of urgency to stop this violence from continuing and to change the society in which this terror is normalized."

Sarah Hunt has been writing about these issues for years, which makes this particular piece even more hardhitting. Hunt points out exactly how the government often blames Native women themselves for their deaths and disappearances, how dangerous our legal and social attitudes towards sex workers are, and challenges both herself and her readers to think long and hard about what justice for missing and murdered women would look like. 
In conversations with friends, I’ve been struggling to explain why and how the disappearance and death of Loretta Saunders feels bigger than just the loss of one bright, young woman who I never met. Struggling to explain to friends who don’t know any Native people, friends who didn’t really understand what Idle No More was/is about, friends who never heard the word “colonialism” in their day to day lives. Trying to explain while I’m still trying to understand myself.
Hunt brings her wealth of knowledge, resources and experience together in this heartwrenching piece. She takes us to task, wondering if asking for a government inquiry is really a step forward:

Appealing to the same government that removes our children from our homes, takes our land for resource extraction, and denies our own legal jurisdiction over our homelands and households does not make sense to me. Is Harper really the source of solutions to violence against our aunties?

The missing, the murdered, Loretta Saunders… these are the stories keeping me awake at night. But I find a small amount of solace in Sarah Hunt’s words, and in the actions of hardworking community organizers, writers, resisters like her. People like her cousins who gathered in Ottawa a week after the news of her death was announced. Her cousins who reminded us the words she lived by, “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.” Cheers to the very few politicians, like Charlie Angus, Romeo Saganash, and Nikki Ashton, who are trying their best to represent the voices of the missing, the stories of the families who mourn and miss them, all in the hopes of challenging the dysfunctional political systems they work within.
I’m trying to find hope.

indigenousnationhoodmovement:

NEW POST: "I Am Accountable to Loretta Saunders" - by Sarah Hunt

"We are connected through our grief and our collective resistance to this terror which targets our relations. We are linked through our sense of urgency to stop this violence from continuing and to change the society in which this terror is normalized."

Sarah Hunt has been writing about these issues for years, which makes this particular piece even more hardhitting. Hunt points out exactly how the government often blames Native women themselves for their deaths and disappearances, how dangerous our legal and social attitudes towards sex workers are, and challenges both herself and her readers to think long and hard about what justice for missing and murdered women would look like.

In conversations with friends, I’ve been struggling to explain why and how the disappearance and death of Loretta Saunders feels bigger than just the loss of one bright, young woman who I never met. Struggling to explain to friends who don’t know any Native people, friends who didn’t really understand what Idle No More was/is about, friends who never heard the word “colonialism” in their day to day lives. Trying to explain while I’m still trying to understand myself.

Hunt brings her wealth of knowledge, resources and experience together in this heartwrenching piece. She takes us to task, wondering if asking for a government inquiry is really a step forward:

Appealing to the same government that removes our children from our homes, takes our land for resource extraction, and denies our own legal jurisdiction over our homelands and households does not make sense to me. Is Harper really the source of solutions to violence against our aunties?

The missing, the murdered, Loretta Saunders… these are the stories keeping me awake at night. But I find a small amount of solace in Sarah Hunt’s words, and in the actions of hardworking community organizers, writers, resisters like her. People like her cousins who gathered in Ottawa a week after the news of her death was announced. Her cousins who reminded us the words she lived by, “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.” Cheers to the very few politicians, like Charlie Angus, Romeo Saganash, and Nikki Ashton, who are trying their best to represent the voices of the missing, the stories of the families who mourn and miss them, all in the hopes of challenging the dysfunctional political systems they work within.

I’m trying to find hope.

vintageblackglamour:

Zora Neale Hurston was born 123 years ago today, January 7, 1891 in Notasulga, Alabama and raised in the legendary all-black town of Eatonville, Florida. She made the following observation in her 1950 essay, What White Publishers Won’t Print. ”For various reasons, the average, struggling, non-morbid Negro is the best-kept secret in America. His revelation to the public is the thing needed to do away with that feeling of difference which inspires fear, and which ever expresses itself in dislike. It is inevitable that this knowledge will destroy many illusions and romantic traditions which America probably likes to have around. But then, we have no record of anybody sinking into a lingering death on finding out that there was no Santa Claus. The old world will take it in its stride. The realization that Negroes are no better nor no worse, and at times just as bonny as everybody else, will hardly kill off the population of the nation.” This rare color photograph of Ms. Hurston was taken by Carl Van Vechten in 1940. Photo: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

vintageblackglamour:

Zora Neale Hurston was born 123 years ago today, January 7, 1891 in Notasulga, Alabama and raised in the legendary all-black town of Eatonville, Florida. She made the following observation in her 1950 essay, What White Publishers Won’t Print. ”For various reasons, the average, struggling, non-morbid Negro is the best-kept secret in America. His revelation to the public is the thing needed to do away with that feeling of difference which inspires fear, and which ever expresses itself in dislike. It is inevitable that this knowledge will destroy many illusions and romantic traditions which America probably likes to have around. But then, we have no record of anybody sinking into a lingering death on finding out that there was no Santa Claus. The old world will take it in its stride. The realization that Negroes are no better nor no worse, and at times just as bonny as everybody else, will hardly kill off the population of the nation.” This rare color photograph of Ms. Hurston was taken by Carl Van Vechten in 1940. Photo: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

“…I’m over people not explicitly acknowledging (racism in the fashion industry). Go on. Say it. Utter the word. You can do it. It’s scary; I get it – it’s scary because as a white dude naming a thing you (consciously or not) play part in perpetuating. You’re shooting yourself in the foot.”

The Fashion Pirate takes on the Fashion Critic by Arabelle Sicardi (November 18th, 2013)

pushinghoopswithsticks:

noiseymusic:

The Pop Diaspora of M.I.A
One of the most entertaining and frustrating things about being a fan of M.I.A has been watching white critics struggle to articulate her style while challenging her right to the aesthetic she cultivates. Artists of color aren’t often recognized for their sophistication or intent. Rather, they’re ascribed a “primitive rawness.”
With her synthesis of diverse but connected motifs M.I.A gets dubbed “cut and paste.” Words like “patchwork,” “slapped-together,” and “scotch tape” are regularly used, and that’s from positive reviews. American critics, unsure of the cacophony of identities and experiences M.I.A offers, commonly project their own uncertainties onto her.
The reception of her albums can be charted along her public perception, which took a hit in 2010. Her increasing success hadn’t changed the tone of her antiestablishment politics and the juxtaposition made scoffing at M.I.A as fashionable as dancing to Galang had been.
Continue

I wrote about Matangi Arulpragasam and the subaltern struggle.

Do yourself a favour and read everything Ayesha has ever written about music. 

pushinghoopswithsticks:

noiseymusic:

The Pop Diaspora of M.I.A

One of the most entertaining and frustrating things about being a fan of M.I.A has been watching white critics struggle to articulate her style while challenging her right to the aesthetic she cultivates. Artists of color aren’t often recognized for their sophistication or intent. Rather, they’re ascribed a “primitive rawness.”

With her synthesis of diverse but connected motifs M.I.A gets dubbed “cut and paste.” Words like “patchwork,” “slapped-together,” and “scotch tape” are regularly used, and that’s from positive reviews. American critics, unsure of the cacophony of identities and experiences M.I.A offers, commonly project their own uncertainties onto her.

The reception of her albums can be charted along her public perception, which took a hit in 2010. Her increasing success hadn’t changed the tone of her antiestablishment politics and the juxtaposition made scoffing at M.I.A as fashionable as dancing to Galang had been.

Continue

I wrote about Matangi Arulpragasam and the subaltern struggle.

Do yourself a favour and read everything Ayesha has ever written about music. 

thereconstructionists:

Few artists have captivated audiences with equal enchantment in coffeehouses and at Carnegie Hall, have sung for prisoners and for presidents, have come to be known by first name only and to speak for millions at the same time, becoming the voice of a movement that shaped the course of history. But singer, songwriter, and activist Odetta Holmes (December 31, 1930—December 2, 2008), better-known simply as Odetta and widely celebrated as the “voice of the civil rights movement,” did just that.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. revered her as the “queen of American folk music.” The New York Times anointed her a “mother goddess” of folk and blues. The Washington Post called her a “matriarch for a generation of folk singers.” Reconstructionist Maya Angelou proclaimed that “if only one could be sure that every 50 years a voice and a soul like Odetta’s would come along, the centuries would pass so quickly and painlessly we would hardly recognize time.”
Odetta’s influenced fueled a remarkable creative lineage that stretches across Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Paul Simon, Carly Simon, Tracy Chapman, Nick Cave, Jewel, and Nellie McKay. In Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, Dylan cites her 1956 album Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues — the same record that inspired young Janis Joplin to become a singer — as a key turning point in his musical career:

The first thing that turned me on to folk singing was Odetta… . I heard a record of hers in a record store… . Right then and there, I went out and traded my electric guitar and amplifier for an acoustical guitar.

So monumental was Odetta’s cultural impact that her life was even adapted in a children’s book.
Above all, however, Odetta considered herself a “musical historian” who brought back to life — to new, more dimensional life, thanks to her remarkable vocal range of soprano-to-baritone — the forgotten songs of chain gangs, cowboys, and the working poor, which she herself excavated from the archives of the Library of Congress. She saw in that music a way to deconstruct the conceits of culture, something she articulated beautifully in a 1965 New York Times interview:

In folk music, complex emotions are spoken about with such simplicity that it’s the highest form of art to me. You can unclutter things.

Learn more: Library of Congress | Wikipedia

thereconstructionists:

Few artists have captivated audiences with equal enchantment in coffeehouses and at Carnegie Hall, have sung for prisoners and for presidents, have come to be known by first name only and to speak for millions at the same time, becoming the voice of a movement that shaped the course of history. But singer, songwriter, and activist Odetta Holmes (December 31, 1930—December 2, 2008), better-known simply as Odetta and widely celebrated as the “voice of the civil rights movement,” did just that.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. revered her as the “queen of American folk music.” The New York Times anointed her a “mother goddess” of folk and blues. The Washington Post called her a “matriarch for a generation of folk singers.” Reconstructionist Maya Angelou proclaimed that “if only one could be sure that every 50 years a voice and a soul like Odetta’s would come along, the centuries would pass so quickly and painlessly we would hardly recognize time.”

Odetta’s influenced fueled a remarkable creative lineage that stretches across Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Paul Simon, Carly Simon, Tracy Chapman, Nick Cave, Jewel, and Nellie McKay. In Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, Dylan cites her 1956 album Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues — the same record that inspired young Janis Joplin to become a singer — as a key turning point in his musical career:

The first thing that turned me on to folk singing was Odetta… . I heard a record of hers in a record store… . Right then and there, I went out and traded my electric guitar and amplifier for an acoustical guitar.

So monumental was Odetta’s cultural impact that her life was even adapted in a children’s book.

Above all, however, Odetta considered herself a “musical historian” who brought back to life — to new, more dimensional life, thanks to her remarkable vocal range of soprano-to-baritone — the forgotten songs of chain gangs, cowboys, and the working poor, which she herself excavated from the archives of the Library of Congress. She saw in that music a way to deconstruct the conceits of culture, something she articulated beautifully in a 1965 New York Times interview:

In folk music, complex emotions are spoken about with such simplicity that it’s the highest form of art to me. You can unclutter things.
garconniere:

Raven: On the Colonial Fleet, by Skeena Reece (2010, photo by Sebastian Kriete)

Remember this amazing art I shared on tumblr back in March 2012? If you’re in Montreal between October 17th, 2013 and January 14th, 2014 you can go admire it in the flesh.
Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture describes a generation of artists who juxtapose urban culture with Aboriginal identity to create innovative and unexpected new works that reflect the realities of Aboriginal peoples today. Organized and circulated by the Vancouver Art Gallery and based on an initiative of grunt gallery, Vancouver, Beat Nation features painting, sculpture, installation, performance and video. 
It features so many of my favourite artists! I can’t wait!

garconniere:

Raven: On the Colonial Fleet, by Skeena Reece (2010, photo by Sebastian Kriete)

Remember this amazing art I shared on tumblr back in March 2012? If you’re in Montreal between October 17th, 2013 and January 14th, 2014 you can go admire it in the flesh.

Beat NationArt, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture describes a generation of artists who juxtapose urban culture with Aboriginal identity to create innovative and unexpected new works that reflect the realities of Aboriginal peoples today. Organized and circulated by the Vancouver Art Gallery and based on an initiative of grunt gallery, Vancouver, Beat Nation features painting, sculpture, installation, performance and video. 

It features so many of my favourite artists! I can’t wait!

Twerking Makes the Oxford English Dictionary on the Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina »

crunkfeministcollective:

What do twerking and Hurricane Katrina have to do with each other? Absolutely everything.

I know that y’all have been inundated with discussions of twerking since Miley’s unfortunate, insidious, and downright bad performance at the VMA’s earlier this week. There have been some really great pieces about all that is wrong with her performance here and here. So I will not retread this ground.

But when I woke up this morning to discover that the word “twerk” is now being added to the Oxford English Dictionary, I felt some type of way. I felt the same type of way years ago when “bling” was added to the OED.

When words get added to the OED, it means that white people have started using them, and therefore, they rise to the level of the Oxford brand.

But as is the case with both bling and twerking, and twerking much more so, these are words I grew up with …literally.

I am from Louisiana, and I came of age there in the 1990s. Back then, before local radio outlets were all coopted under the banner of Top 40 stations, twerk music from local New Orleans based musicians DJ Jimi and DJ Jubilee was always played on the radio. These songs were the soundtrack to every party I went to in high school, and were frequently played on the local radio during the “top 8 at 8.”

So this morning, just before I discovered that “twerk” is now Oxford worthy, I had an unsettling feeling that there was something significant that happened on August 29th that I needed to remember. I sat and thought hard for a few moments, but only remembered that this is the 21st anniversary of my great grandmother’s death.

Then I proceeded on to my usual morning Facebook routine wherein I commenced a snarkfest about all that is wrong with twerking being coopted by white people. I talked about the need to write a piece about how disturbed I am at the historical erasure of Louisiana from the narrative of twerking, even though the contemporary iterations of this African ancestral dance are indebted to New Orleans local bounce and sissy bounce music cultures.

Then one of my friends from New Orleans posted her own remembrance of Hurricane Katrina. And I realized that I had forgotten.

Now, I’m from the Northern part of Louisiana, a place that often feels like it is in a different country from the Southern part of the state, and my family members were not heavily impacted by the storm. But I think the thing that connects Black folks throughout the state, particularly those of us of a certain age, is a love for New Orleans bounce music.

So many of the local cultures that make New Orleans the unique and valuable city that it is were nearly washed away in the unrelenting waters of Hurricane Katrina.

Black people on a rooftop, with the phrase

How dare we forget? How dare I forget? Bodies being stranded on rooftops, having written, “We are Americans.” Waving the flag. Hoping that Black lives mattered. Hoping anyone would care.

This white cultural fascination (really fetishization) with a “new” aspect of Black culture makes our forgetting all the more egregious.

(H/T to DivaFeminist for sharing this vid.)

First, “twerking” ain’t new. Second, twerking would not be a part of the national imaginary right now, if it weren’t for New Orleans.

(Consider these two videos.)

(In this one, a few things are noteworthy — men of presumably all sexual orientations danced and twerked, joyfully. Black college bands [Southern and Grambling] did routines to the music. And the DJ interpellated call and response culture through the use of “stop…pause…now.”)


Neither would terms like “ratchet” and “bling” and the various cultural practices associated with them.

Moreover, New Orleans has been a model for embracing queer music cultures through folks love of Sissy Bounce.  I know everyone talks about Big Freedia, but Katey Red is the one I remember; she used to be played on the radio. Name a Black trans artist that you can hear on mainstream radio now.

Katey Red

And since we are remembering women’s contributions to this art form, we cannot forget Cheeky Blakk’s “Twerk Sumthin’”

Even while the country decries Black low culture (mind you, all low culture ain’t Black and all Black culture ain’t low), white folks steadily play in the dark, hoping that the quickness with which they coopt and assimilate the lingo and gestures of Blackness into their cultural repertoire will confer on them unfadeable street cred.

This has been a week of remembrances for Black folks, and for the most part it hasn’t been done well. Did President Obama even mention Hurricane Katrina in his speech yesterday?

But on this week, we celebrated the 50th March on Washington, the anniversary of Aaliyah’s death, the anniversary of the lynching of Emmitt Till, and the anniversary of Katrina. Perhaps all this premature Black death, made the ether too heavy, because I surely felt uninspired by the March on Washington commemoration. It felt more like a funeral for Civil Rights and  a death knell for Black dreaming.

This is the kind of moment in which Black folks might throw a party and twerk until the wee hours of the morning, to dance away pain, to remember joy in community. Despite the respectability politics that had many Black folks clutching pearls at Miley, this is just one more reason why her stuff is so disturbing. Ratchetness and low culture are a part of a multi-faceted repertoire for Black people. I usually am not being ratchet on my day job. But I recognize ratchet cultural forms as part of my own cultural heritage that I can draw upon and enjoy in the appropriate cultural context.

There is time and place for sexy gyration with wild abandon, and Black folks should never concede that this isn’t a part of our inheritance. We recognize as we participate that ratchet is a part of who we are, but not the whole picture. And it is a part of our experience that made the blues and jazz and hip hop necessary, not just for entertainment but for survival.

Yet, it is amazing how Black people themselves float away in these remembrances, while the spaces in which we have lived for generations (Brooklyn/New Orleans — North/South) and have produced art and culture become gentrified, taken over, and unappreciated. White people want the cultural products, but not the cultural producers. They want Blackness to be the backdrop against which their whiteness in all its complexity stands out in stark relief.

So even as we call for the genealogies of twerking to be properly named, we also resist the impulses of needing an official narrative (no thank you wikipedia), precisely because these practices are beholden to different forms of authority, accountability and knowledgemaking than those that inform the OED, academe, and even the VMAs.

I’ll stop now. But I simply ask that you remember, recognizing that the history we tell, is always a mashup of memory, archive, and storytelling. If twerking and the place that (re)birthed it, is not a part of your memory, your archive, or your story, (in other words, if forgetting doesn’t cost you anything) perhaps you should leave it be.

[Update, 11:57am — a reader let us know the word twerk has been added to the Oxford Dictionary Online, but not the OED. As yet anyway, since entries from the ODO inform what is put in the OED. Moreover, I think the original point holds — there is something imperialist about putting black cultural references in the dictionary (whatever their form) when white American becomes aware them.]