"On one level, the ability of some (not all) rap artists to merge the call for black empowerment with the call for black female subjugation seems like a glaring inconsistency, yet, on another level, it is not incongruous at all. In fact, this issue reflects the ongoing and longstanding contradictions of cultural nationalism with regard to gender and, by extension, the gender dilemma that the African American freedom movement has yet fully to address or resolve.
As E. Frances White points out in her brilliant article on nationalism and gender, there is a precedent, in the cultural nationalist movements of the 1960s, for “an oppositional strategy that both counters racism and constructs conservative utopian images of African American life … (especially) utopian and repressive gender roles.” The reconciliation of sexism and antiracism is typical of a particular strain of cultural black nationalism. This vision of black struggle and empowerment equates black liberation with black male liberation only; uncritically accepts the dominant society’s patriarchal model of gender and family relations; sees the sexual objectification and sexual manipulation of black women as a male prerogative; and defines political militancy as a part of some exclusive male domain. These flawed and erroneous assumptions about gender and liberation provide a perfect rationale for the continued subjugation of black women, almost as a matter of principle.
That is, if Black Power is defined as redeeming black manhood, and black manhood is defined uncritically as the right to be the patriarchal heads of black families, and the exclusive defenders of the black community, black women are, by definition, relegated to a marginal status. The point here is to suggest that the type of political radicalism defined by some male rap artists is not antithetical to their promotion of antiwomanist messages, but, rather, is quite consistent, and goes to the core of the contradictions and limitations of the political framework itself."
— Barbara Ransby and Tracye Matthews, “Black Popular Culture and the Transcendence of Patriarchal Illusions” (via wretchedoftheearth
"Because femininity is so focused on women’s bodies, the value placed on various attributes of female bodies means that evaluations of femininity are fairly clearcut. Within standards of feminine beauty that correlate closely with race and age women are pretty or they are not. Historically, in the American context, young women with milky White skin, long blond hair, and slim figures were deemed to be the most beautiful and therefore the most feminine women. Within this interpretive context, skin color, body type, hair texture, and facial features become important dimensions of femininity. This reliance on these standards of beauty automatically render the majority of African American women at best as less beautiful, and at worst, ugly. Moreover, these standards of female beauty have no meaning without the visible presence of Black women and others who fail to measure up. Under these feminine norms, African American women can never be as beautiful as White women because they never become White."
"These comments left many calling out Valenti’s hypocrisy and the idea that strong female figures must hide the joy they have for parenting in the name of feminism. But more importantly, in dismissing The First Lady’s sole decision to self-identify with the title of “Mom in Chief,” Valenti not only denied the first lady autonomy over her own personal choice, she also dismissed the monumental symbol that the first family is for black families all over America. While imposing her short sighted beliefs on the meaning behind the importance of the first lady, Valenti highlighted just why intersectionality within feminism is of dire importance."
"White women’s tears can come about in different ways, but here is the classic scene:
1. A white woman says something racist.
2. A black woman points it out. (It could be any person of colour but it works best against black women for reasons given below.)
3. The white woman says she is not racist and starts crying.
4. For added effect the white woman can run out of the room.
5. Other whites, particularly white men, come to the aid and comfort not of the wronged black woman but of the racist white woman!
6. The black woman, the wronged party, is made to seem like the mean one in the eyes of whites.
7. The white woman continues to believe she is not racist.
Tables turned! It works so well that it is hard not to see the tears as a cheap trick.
This is more than just a woman using tears to get her way. It is built on a set of White American ideas about race, listed here in no particular order:
It works best when these two stereotypes can be applied:
The Sapphire stereotype - black women as mean, angry and disagreeable
The Pure White Woman stereotype - white women as these special, delicate creatures who need to be protected at all costs. It is what drives the Missing White Woman Syndrome – and, in the old days, lynchings.
The r-word: to be called a “racist”, however gently and indirectly, is a terrible, upsetting thing for white people – far worse than, you know, being a racist.
White people and their feelings are the centre of the known universe.
Hearts of stone: meanwhile whites seem to have a very, very hard time putting themselves in the shoes of people of colour.
Moral blindness: white people think they are Basically Good, therefore if someone points out something bad about them it must be out of hatred.
White solidarity: whites are afraid to stand up against racism, particularly when they are with other whites. Also, they do not like it when you call other whites racists – they seem to take it personally for some reason."
"I want to have more expansive storylines for people of color. I just feel like our lives are not shown in a way that is human and deep and complicated. A lot of times we’re just fill. Even when we’re not meant to be, we end up eventually being that. I always say we’re like the Greek chorus."
Oscar winning actress Viola Davis
On Broadway, too, Davis points out that years like the last one, which featured a range of dynamic roles for black actors, are often followed by a few years “of nothing.” As long as that cycle continues, it exacerbates the problem.
“When you’re not given the opportunity to work and to shine, it’s like having a great body and going to a $10-or-less store to buy your clothes — it’s never going to emphasize what you really look like,” she says. “Your gifts can atrophy if you’re not given the opportunity to use them.”
"Every black american is bilingual. All of them. We speak street vernacular and we speak job interview. There’s a certain way I gotta speak to have access. If I’m sitting across the table from a studio executive, ya know, somtimes they’ll do it to me. (mimics executive) “Hey my man what’s happening”. Hold up. Hold up, no no no no no. And I gotta throw out them big words. I gotta let them know that my parents are probably smarter than your parents. Much better educated than your parents. But they may not have had the access that your parents had."
Dave Chappelle (Inside The Actors Studio)
Every damn time. Until it’s time to flip the script on they ass
And I gotta throw out them big words. I gotta let them know that my parents are probably smarter than your parents. Much better educated than your parents. But they may not have had the access that your parents had.”
"I grew up reading a generation of American and English people like [Saul] Bellow, [John] Updike or [Martin] Amis. Everybody’s neutral unless they’re black — then you hear about it: the black man, the black woman, the black person. Of course, if you happen to be black the world doesn’t look that way to you. I just wanted to try and create perhaps a sense of alienation and otherness in this person, the white reader, to remind them that they are not neutral to other people."
Zadie Smith, discussing how she never mentions the race of any of the characters in her new novel, NW, unless they are white. (via theraconteurasaurus)
Zadie Smith is SUCH A BADASS.
It took me another couple of years to really begin to master [self-care], to do something as simple as take Sundays (or a weekend) off and here’s the kicker— not feel guilty about it. Where does that guilt come from? I suspect it’s old, old colonial shit. Really, I hate to be crass, but it’s true. If we think about the fact that colonization enslaved our peoples of color for centuries, and required that we work non-stop or be killed. It messed with our sense of balance. So that work ethic we’re proud of and that Corporate America loves us for. well, the irony is that if it goes unchecked and unbalanced it does what our ancestors were trying to avoid back in their enslaved days — it kills us.
My ancestors did not die and survive for me to make myself sick or kill myself in this system of corporate greed. This is how I stopped feeling guilty. I walk my path as whole and healthy as possible because I answer to those who sacrificed for me to exist. I want to model health for those younger folks and children I love. People who love you will ask you to stop and slow down, because they want to see you healthy. All of us have worked with unhealthy people, and in the end, it does more damage than good.
"For white women, the emergence of sexualized images reads as a cultural backlash against their expanding political, social, and economic opportunities. MTV’s 16 and Pregnant and the Real Housewives series are not accurate portrayals of white women’s lived experiences, and evidence shows that media-based sexual objectification has measurable deleterious effects on girls and women. But the implications of sexual images for black American women are different. Although sexism affects all women, black women’s relative economic and political weakness makes them more vulnerable to state intervention. The sexualized myths of black women have conspired to narrow the political and social world for sisters."
— Melissa Harris-Perry Sister Citizen; Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women in America