All Articles Tagged "black power"
Well, 2012 certainly turned into the “Year of Kerry” and 2013 started out recognizing Kerry Washington for all that hard work. The actress picked up three awards during Friday’s 44th NAACP Image Awards: outstanding actress in a drama for Scandal, supporting actress in a film for Django Unchained and the President’s Award which is a special recognition for public service. As many may know, Kerry was very instrumental during both terms of President Obama’s campaigning.
The show was hosted by Steve Harvey and was held at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
Washington noted during her first “thank you” speech for Django that the award did not belong to her, but rather to the ancestors whose shoulders they stood on while filming the movie.
Other winners during the live portion (many of the awards were given out prior to the NBC broadcast) included: Don Cheadle for outstanding actor in a comedic series for House of Lies, Loretta Devine for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series for Grey’s Anatomy and Lance Gross, looking a king size chocolate bar, for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy for Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.
The legendary entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte was honored with the Spingarn Award, which honors outstanding achievements by an African-American. Common and Wyclef immediately followed with their version of Belafonte’s “Day O.”
The surprise award of the night was handed to George Lucas for Red Tails, winning for outstanding motion picture. Lucas joked on staged by saying, “Look, I beat Tarantino” who was also nominated in the category for Django Unchained.
Gladys Knight also performed “The Way We Were” during the “In Memoriam” portion of the show.
Denzel Washington, Viola Davis and Omar Epps were televised winners but were not present to accept their awards. While they absolutely could have been busy working, it makes you wonder if some celebrities feel that these awards shows (read: the black awards shows) aren’t as important as the so-called “major” awards. Just a thought.
Did you catch it? What did you think? Fashion reviews?
So I have a question: Why is exploitation of the female form only okay when it is wrapped in Kente cloth?
Don’t quite understand the question? Well, I’ll explain.
I have a diverse group of folks within my social networks. One such group of folks, are the self-professed afro-centric, pro-black nationalist types. Within this group, these folks like to post historical passages and scholarly quotes from black leaders like Marcus Garvey, Dr. Carter G. Woodson and Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, among others. They like to share YouTube videos of drum circles and conscious music from throughout the Diaspora. And they like to tag people in a bunch of memes about blackness and why we should honor our African ancestry. Generally, most of these posts are harmless enough and in fact, I can certainly respect and appreciate anybody who is about encouraging black empowerment and uplifting of the race. However, there is a small minority within this group, who sometimes, I’m not sure what their motivation is.
You see, these folks, who are mostly men, desire to uplift the black woman. They do this by chastising rap music for being denigrating to black women and criticize black women with weaves and other extensions, for neglecting to accept their beautiful “natural” form. They say words like Queen and Goddess when referencing black women and like to write entire odes about us being the true mothers of civilization. Yes, these brothers truly feel that respect is at the utmost importance for our Nubian sisters – with exception of our bodies.
On any given day, I see about two to three of those photos posted on my social working site from these mothers-of-civilization-praising brothers. Just to set a visual: imagine a picture of a fully exposed, dark-skinned black woman posing with one raised fist on the beach, looking intensely at some far away distances, possibly Africa. She is completely naked and exposed – with exception of her afro, locs or other natural hairstyle, which is wrapped in swirls of red, black and green fabric. Think I’m exaggerating? Well for the past week (and remember, it is only Wednesday) one such dude in my network has been posting similar in kind photos of the exposed backside of a woman with an afro. From the photo, you can see no descriptive of the woman other than her large buttocks. Yet the caption to the photo read, “All Hail the Mother of Civilization – got damm!!!!” – Yeah, with that many exclamation points.
It never ceases to amaze me how these pictures, and the sentiment behind them, are so well received from men and women. There is something about the inclusion of African cloth and other Afrocentric dress and graphics, which somehow sets it apart from the typical T&A we see plastered – and often times are disgusted by – in music videos, in movies, in advertising, and even in the streets. Yet for me, I’m just hard press to make the distinction between this so-called reverence for the bareback Afro-centric sister and the same old subjugating value we place on women’s bodies.
Let’s be clear: this isn’t a discussion about if nudity is natural or if it is pornographic. We should all be grown enough to know that the display of the human form has many purposes besides sexual. Besides, weren’t we all born into this world naked? Certainly no one sees anything pornographic about that. But this is a dialogue on how in these images, which are said to be a celebration of black womanhood, we still see the perpetuation of exploitative beauty we attribute to music video culture and magazines. This is also an opportunity to ask why can’t we ever seem to portray women as feminine and beautiful without turning them into objects?
Even with the Kente cloth headdresses women are reduced down to Jezebels, whose only purpose is to be one-dimensional pleasurable sexual objects. With titles like Earth Goddess and Mother of Civilization, we are told that her main and possible sole purpose within the black existence is to act like a vehicle for procreation. And thanks to the camera angles we are treated to the same sort of body portioning, which the highlight is buttocks, breast and in some instances vagina, which we see in more mainstream representation. Likewise, have you ever noticed that in most of these pictures, the women are slim, fit and youthful, which is said to be the ideal Westernized interpretation of sexuality? Yet you never see the caption, Mother of the Earth, over a butt naked picture of a big black old woman with sagging tiddays and a dimply behind, which is probably more representational of a woman, who birthed a nation.
No matter, which way you cut it, these hyper-sexualized interpretations of black female bodies does exist even within the Afrocentric community. And just because we wrap it in Kente cloth headdresses doesn’t change that many of these images and portrayals only seek to bolster male masculinity through another one-dimensional idolized role of what a righteous woman should be. Even as the red, black and green flags waves behind her, women are still preferred to be seen as, at the least, a decorative object, meant to serve as only the arouser of so-called more positive brothers, and, at the most, a vessel for his child. I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but I have no desire to be a goddess or a queen, if my only contribution to the movement of uplifting blacks and empowering a people seems to stop at my body.
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When Ana Carolina Bastos, an Afro-Brazilian student at the Unidade Integrada Estado do Pará in Maranhão, Brazil, showed up for the first day of class this year, she was hardly greeted with a warm welcome.
According to the 19-year-old, on February 23rd, the university’s director, Socorro Bohatem, stopped her at the entrance of the school and told her that she was dressed in an “inadequate” way. Thinking that the director was referring to her clothing, Ana Carolina defended herself by pointing out that another young, (white) girl, had on a more low-cut dress than hers and was not barred, and that’s when the director explained that she could not get into school because of her “black power” hairstyle. Black Women of Brazil reports:
“According to the student, the director was astonished by her choice of hairstyle, asked why she wore her hair ‘in that way’ and told her leave the building. “’The other student wore a top and a very low-cut dress. It was my style that didn’t please her. It was a case of racism. Later I found out that this was not the first time something like this happened’, said the student.”
The Secretary of State is now investigating the alleged crime of racism after the student filed a complaint with the police. Ana Carolina has since been allowed to attend classes, but she still plans to enter a complaint against the director in the State Public Ministry of the State. The government replied that it “will hear the parties involved and take appropriate action.”
Last Friday, several students and members of the Movimento Negro held a protest carrying banners and signs against the action of the director in front of the school. The director reportedly told the students she had not behaved in a racist manner, but she has been prohibited from granting interviews to local press until the investigation is over. For Ana Carolina, this experience adds more motivation to her dream of becoming a sociologist so she can fight for minorities in the capital city of Maranhão.
“When I was barred, my sister cried and I was horrified,” she said. “A lot of people were looking at me. It was a massacre. I wasn’t [trying to] start anything. I go to school to be someone in life. I have a black identity and I will not change it.”
Have you ever heard of anything like this happening in the US?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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(Washington Post) — From the start of his history-making tenure, the nation’s first black president took care never to be seen making policy or political decisions aimed solely or directly at black America. His position: He is the president of the whole country, focused on broad-based fixes to “lift all boats.” The race-avoidance strategy served President Obama well, helping him attract support from many whites while also mobilizing African Americans energized by the powerful symbol of a black commander in chief. But a soaring jobless rate among African Americans and a newfound comfort by black lawmakers to criticize Obama’s economic policies are prompting the White House to recalibrate — and to focus more directly on the struggles of black America. The shift comes amid a growing concern among some Democrats that the stubborn economic conditions in minority communities might hamper efforts by Obama’s reelection campaign to generate the large black voter turnout it needs in key cities to make up for his declining support among white independents.
(KALW) — In San Francisco, Fillmore-based Marcus Books has been a hub for the neighborhood’s black community since it opened in 1959. Founders Julian and Raye Richardson believed it was the first African American bookstore in America. A lot has changed since it opened – these days, the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and the poetry of Langston Hughes share shelf space with books like Justify My Thug and Heartbreak of a Hustler’s Wife.
(Black Voice News) — As a ballot petition to repeal Public Act 4, the Emergency Manager law, circulates throughout the state, a broad coalition of labor and civil rights attorneys has already initiated legal action to defeat the bill in court. Filed in Ingham County Circuit court June 22, the lawsuit states that Public Act 4 illegally establishes a new form of local government, violating the constitutional rights of Michigan residents. Attorney William Goodman of the Detroit Lawyers Guild told a National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) forum, held July last week at Fellowship Chapel, that putting together a legal strategy against a law so unjust proved challenging. “The courts are controlled by reactionary, right-wing train of thought,” Goodman said. “But we have drafted a lawsuit that is very strong and powerful.” In addition to legal aspects, over 100 in attendance heard testimony on what happens when an emergency manager takes over an entire city, such as Pontiac. Pontiac’s elected city officials have had their political power stripped completely since the state of Michigan appointed Emergency Manager Michael Stampfler to run the city of Pontiac March 19.
(ColorLines) — When Malcolm X was assassinated on a sunny winter’s day in 1965, many thought black radicalism would die with him. “Malcolm is our only hope. You can depend on him to tell it like it is and to give Whitey hell,” one man told the New York Post. But the movement did not die in the Audubon ballroom that tragic day. It in fact catapulted, sparking talk of revolution in black America and third world nations around the world and blooming into a black nationalist movement that helped shape the politics of race for decades to come. Recently, there has been a lot of debate about Malcolm’s life and politics, due to a new biography, “The Reinvention of Malcolm X,” by the late scholar Manning Marable. The book depicts an activist in constant metamorphosis, a man who went from being the target of the U.S. government’s anti-intelligence programs to being heralded on a postal stamp 35 years later. However, while the debate rages on about the reinvention of Malcolm, very few have questioned whether and how the black nationalist movement he helped foster matters today, or whether it should matter.
(The Atlantic) — IN HIS LIFETIME, Malcolm X covered so much ground that now, 46 years after his murder, cross-sections of this country—well beyond the conscious advocates of my youth—still fight over his footprints. What shall we make of a man who went from thoughtless criminal to militant ascetic; from indignant racist to insurgent humanist; who could be dogmatically religious one moment, and then broadly open-minded the next; who in the last year of his life espoused capitalism and socialism, leaving both conservatives and communists struggling to lay their claims?
Gripping and inconsistent myths swirl about him. In one telling, Malcolm is a hate-filled bigot, who through religion came to see the kinship of all. In another he is the self-redeemer, a lowly pimp become an exemplar of black chivalry. In still another he is an avatar of collective revenge, a gangster whose greatest insight lay in changing not his ways, but his targets. The layers, the contradictions, the sheer profusion of Malcolm X’s public pronouncements have been a gift to seemingly every contemporary black artist and intellectual from Kanye to Cornel West.
For virtually all of my sentient life, I have carried some talisman of Malcolm—key chain, audiotape, or T-shirt. I came of age not just among the black and conscious, but among that slice of the hip-hop generation that witnessed Malcolm X’s revival in the late 1980s and early ’90s, bracketed by the rapper KRS-One’s appropriation of Malcolm’s famous pose by the window and Spike Lee’s sprawling biopic. For those who’d grown up in hardscrabble inner cities, Malcolm X offered the promise of transcending the street. For those who’d been the only black kids in their classes, Malcolm’s early and troubled interactions with his own white classmates provided comfort. For me, he embodied the notion of an individual made anew through his greater commitment to a broad black collective. When I first lived alone, at the age of 20, I purchased a giant black-and-white poster of Malcolm with the phrase No Sellout! scrawled at the top.