All Articles Tagged "black women"
Hair care products, cocoa butter and a solid support system: these are just some of the things that no black woman can do without.
And back in the day, it was usually pink lotion.
So there is a parody video going around, making fun of Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” video.
It’s by Bart Baker and not surprisingly, the gist of his jokes are about her fake cakes, allegedly. But as the blog Stylite wrote of the parody:
“Surprisingly, or actually not at all surprisingly since the internet kind of sucks too, the video has already reached almost 900,000 views since being put on YouTube yesterday, with the vast majority of those drawing a very enthusiastic thumbs up for its remarkable rhyming of “surgery bill” and “lips.” Other notable lyrics include “rap about sex nonstop / act like a whore / waste the talent that I got” and “so plastic when I die they’ll throw me in recycling.” LOL. Though our favorite part is how the entire video is basically an ode to Sir Mix A Lot’s “Baby Got Back” when the two songs are about the exactly the same thing only one is told from a female point of view.”
When it comes to the formerly rainbow-colored “Starships” rapper, the validity of her cakes appears to be a favorite topic of most comedians and average snarky people on Twitter alike. And when folks are not harassing her about her surgically enhanced figure, they are equally perturbed by the equally large sexual gall in her lyrics.
Honestly, it is hard to say why (in a genre where a song will have the singer shooting two dudes, robbing a bank, going to the club to pop bottles with models, get on a private jet to Barcelona and be back at the ‘hood by morning to push weight – all one verse), folks single her out specifically. But the meme as of late is that Minaj is single-handedly corrupting the tender, impressionable minds of the entire next generation of Black folks, with her exaggerated body and raunchy lyrics.
That’s pretty much what the editor of AllHipHop.com wrote recently in his open letter to Minaj, more specifically:
“The song: “Anaconda.” The art: your booty in a thong. As a man, I can appreciate the virtues of your perfect posterior. The dad guy is not a happy camper, particularly now that his lil’ girl is transitioning into a young lady.”
For the children’s sake.
Meanwhile on the other side of the booty scale, T.I. has this to say to all the people criticizing his protege Iggy Azalea for her less than genuine act:
“Me knowing her, knowing where she comes from—for real, the whole racist thing, that’s American—we forget, she’s not American. So the whole Black, White, color divided thing, it isn’t a part of her DNA like it is here in America. It’s just ignorant to me. In this day and age, to be a race of people who are demanding equality and speaking out on injustices and wanting to be treated fairly, to stand up and do the exact same thing in opposite to someone unwarranted for no reason, it’s hypocritical. I’m a ride with her.”
I guess many Aboriginals don’t make it to a T.I show whenever he visits the land down under? I’m sure they would have something to say about the whether “the whole Black, White, color divided thing,” really exists or if it is just a figment of their Rabbit Proof Fenced-in imaginations. Or as Michael Arceneaux, writes for Urban Daily:
“Either way, more than anything else, it has been her whiteness that has benefited Iggy Azalea the most and no matter how uncomfortable hearing that repeated makes her supporters feel, it is the truth. Besides, it could be worse: she could bear the burden of being a Black female rapper trying to make it in 2014.”
The burden of being a Black woman rapper is having everyone make a big deal about your allegedly enhanced cakes while nobody – and I mean not a single soul – talks about Iggy’s probable fake ass. Nope, not a single parody video or song, saying “ha-ha-ha, that white girl got a fake ass” can be found anywhere around this Interweb. I guess folks truly believe she naturally picked that up in the South along with her accent. – or they want to believe anyway. In fact, if you try to bring up the fact that Iggy has a fake ass, folks will more than likely respond, “So? Nicki Minaj does too.” And they’ll say it with no irony in the fact that her fake ass is a major reason why folks mock and mudsling Minaj.
The burden of being a Black woman rapper means always having to be concerned with being a good role model to the next general of Black girls – or hell, women in general. As Black women are not individuals and capable of thinking like individuals. We are like the Borg. When one twerks, we all twerk. Therefore Minaj has to be careful how she uses her power. Don’t want to leave the childlike minds of women astray.
However, there are no “Dear Iggy” letters written most ironically from men within the rap industry, denouncing Azalea and her music for turning his precious Lil’ Precious into a dollar-strip walking whore. Even though, Azalea speaks in the same vernacular as many of the brown-skinned folks in her audience and swears and uses sexual imagery in her music as Minaj. And even though folks like T.I swear up and down that “race don’t matter.” Well if it doesn’t matter what color she is, how come we don’t hold her up to the same levels of respectability and accountability as we do her darker skinned counterparts?
Folks don’t like to admit it but everybody is amused and entertained. It’s cheeky and cute when Iggy or any White person does Blackness. Hell, she gets to sing her bullshit on “Dancing With the Stars” where middle aged White women in mom jeans and knit kitten sweaters can ironically sing along too. However the same attitude makes you very little friends or gains you very few supporters as a Black woman. And there is nothing too funny about that.
While actress Daniele Watts’ story of being mistaken for a prostitute has more holes than a flour sifter, the occurrence of Black women being mistaken for prostitutes is, sadly, not uncommon.
When Kantaki Washington and her two friends went out to spend an evening at the Standard Hotel in the New York City’s meat packing district, a few weeks ago, they encountered a similar, undeniably racist, circumstance.
Washington and her friends Cydney Madlock and J. Lyn Thomas told AlterNet that during the early morning hours of August 28, a security guard from the hotel approached them and accused them of being prostitutes.
The women had just come from Le Bain, a bar at the top of the hotel, and were seated in the lobby, when several men approached them, offering to buy them drinks. Shortly after an African American man introduced himself, a security guard from the hotel whispered something in his ear and ushered him away from the women.
Washington told AlterNet, “After the security guard ushers the brotha away, he comes over to me and my friends and says, ‘Come on, ladies. You can buy a drink but you can’t be soliciting,'” Washington told AlterNet in an interview. “We were like, soliciting? He said, ‘Don’t act stupid with me, ladies. You know what you’re doing. Stop soliciting in here. We were like, ‘Soliciting what?'”
Washington incredulously asked the security guard if he was accusing them of soliciting sex from the patrons of the hotel. He responded, “Don’t act stupid with me, you know what you were doing.”
Washington responded, “Dude, I’m a lawyer and these women are educators. Why the hell would I be in here soliciting prostitution?”
He said, “I don’t know but that’s what you’re doing.”
As you might assume, Washington and her two friends were the only Black women in the area and believe they were racially profiled. Washington demanded the guard give her his name and his manger’s name. He gave her his first name only and directed her to the reception desk.
Washington says when she and friends spoke with the manager, their story was received with indifference. The manager claimed the security guard was an outsourced employee and not officially a staff member.
Apparently, a few weeks later, the hotel saw the error in their ways and attempted to extend a peace offering.
Washington received an e-mail from the Standard Hotel inviting her and “three guests back to The Standard for a bottle of champagne in The Top of The Standard or Le Bain, followed by dinner for 4 (valued at $400) at The Standard Grill.”
Washington provided the e-mail correspondence between herself and The Standard to Alternet and none of them made any mention of the prostitution accusation.
Instead, a staff member wrote: “Again, I want to apologize for what happened to you here that evening. We are extending this table for 4 as a gesture of goodwill for you and your friends, plus one more person. Please let me know when you would like to come back.”
The fact that they thought a $400 dinner would fix being called prostitutes…ridiculous.
Ladies, have you ever been racially profiled in this way?
You can watch the women tell their story in the video below.
It was the summer after my junior year at Virginia Union University, when I decided to search for Jesus again.
It was a spur of the moment decision, brought on by the collision of raw emotions just the night before I decided to look for Jesus. I wanted to be home, back in Philly, but I had summer classes I needed to take if I was serious about graduating. Plus, I had no money nor car to even get me back home. In short, I was just pitiful and could have really used a friend. Therefore, Jesus.
Fortunately for me my apartment complex, which was located on the outskirts of Richmond, had chartered a bus for its college student tenants, which would take me back and forth to school. And I also had a friend, who would let me bum rides with her to our shared job hustling tables at Red Lobster. Unfortunately for me the bus didn’t run on the weekends and my only friend with a car did not believe in going to church. So unless Jesus was going to come scoop me up in his golden chariot, it was up to me to hike about 45 minutes each way just to get to the nearest bus stop.
I did so in a pair of sneakers, a dark colored jean skirt and a button down, which admittedly was a little snug from all the cheddar bay biscuits I had consumed in place of meals while working. The dress was my attempt to be presentable yet sensible enough for my long, hot walk. Luckily for me, my people were Catholic and the churches where we worshipped had a come as you are policy. So when I arrived 20 minutes late into the 11 a.m mass, no one paid me any mind.
In fact nobody paid me any mind, period. Not the ushers who didn’t welcome me into service. Instead they shoved a program in my hands, whispered in my ear a reminder about what time church services usually started and told me to sit in the back. Not the choir, who managed to take already antiquated hymns and make them sound even less charismatic. And not even the priest’s homily, which felt cold and impersonal and had nothing to do with anything I had been feeling at the moment. As I looked around the congregation, there was not a warm face in the bunch. This was so unlike my parish at home. In spite of the long-held mantra of come as you are, I certainly didn’t feel welcome that particular day.
After service had ended I stood solemnly at the corner near the church, waiting for the bus and watching the rest of the congregation walk back to their respective vehicles. I was both defeated and deeply disappointed that the magical interaction with Jesus, where I got to talk to him about all my problems and he would fix them right on the spot, did not happen. I was also annoyed that it was Sunday, which meant that the already slow and country bus system was going to be running extra slow and country today. And that meant I would likely be out there for an upwards of an hour.
Well now I’m thinking that Jesus is blatantly ignoring me and quite frankly, a bit of a prankster. I mean how else would you explain conning me out of bed on an Sunday morning and making me walk a couple of miles in the hot Southern heat, just for a dry wafer and sermon, which had nothing to do with me? I mean, what other purpose could this entire morning have served?
And that’s when a car pulled out. He rolled down the window, smiled and then said, “hey do you need a ride?”
It was one of the ushers in the church. I recognized him when I came in. He was the only one that smiled at me. Well, thank you Jesus!
Well into my grown years I can look retrospectively at that situation and realize it wasn’t the brightest of moves getting into that vehicle. But I was young, sweating like crazy and tired of standing. I wanted a ride, damn it! Plus I saw him come out of the church’s parking lot so I figured he had to be a good guy. Hell, maybe he was sent by the man upstairs as a way to make up for this false pilgrimage. Made sense to me.
“So it’s a nice day right,” he asked awkwardly.
I smiled too. “Yeah. And the sermon was lovely,” I said, lying on a Sunday.
He smiled a few moments more before turning his attention back to the road. “Well that’s nice. So how much?”
I stared at him cluelessly. “For what?”
We’ve already discussed the off the wall and crass things some White guys can say when they’re dating a Black woman for the first time.
Some of them can be quite ridiculous, unimaginable even.
And to illustrate just how absurd some of these comments are, BuzzFeed put together another one of their brilliant videos, flipping the script. The video features Black women saying the same type of stereotypical, distasteful and ignorant things White guys say to Black women they’re attempting to pursue romantically.
Take a look at the video below and let us know if you got a kick out of it.
Undoubtedly, every child is born with potential. But challenges, difficult upbringings and unfair circumstances can shroud or even snuff out some of that light. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If anyone can tell you that, it’s the Sanders sisters.
Triplets, Angel, Ashley and Amber Sanders, 24, did not always have a rosy childhood. Angel told The Indianapolis Star that around 7 or 8 she remembers being taken to the Marion County Children’s Guardian Home with her sisters. They obviously weren’t ideal circumstances but as they recalled the stories, all three wore smiles that seemed to suggest that they couldn’t believe that they had not only endured but walked away from that experience triumphant.
“It was like the movies,” Angel said. “There was a room with a bunch of kids and a bunch of beds. There was a little cubby for your stuff.”
And then her sister Amber interjected: “Some of those kids were bad.” She told The Star, they stayed in that home for a few weeks before being placed in foster care with a relative. And that was just one time. Before their childhood ended, the triplets would spend two long stints in foster care, several months in shelters with their mother, who had a substance abuse problem, and transferred to several different schools, homes and apartments. So many that the three of them have a hard time remembering all of them.
Ashley said, “It’s almost like a dream-it seems so far away. If we didn’t have each other, I don’t know how we could have done it. I don’t know who we would have had to talk to about all the things were were going through.”
Thankfully, the Sanders sisters found confidantes in their high school teachers and advisors.
Amber recalled having suicidal thoughts after being bullied as a young teenagers and all three of the girls remember cutting themselves for a brief period trying to cope with their emotional pain. Thankfully, the sisters, after landing at the Indianapolis Metropolitan School, were able to find teachers who were willing to council them.
Amber said, “Talking to teachers helped a lot. We were really quiet for a long time; it was like we never talked in public. But once we talked to our reached about everything, I felt we were more outgoing. We hadn’t known how to communicated and I just wanted to be quiet because I was mad about everything going on. I feel like talking to the teachers just helped me learn to speak up and find my voice.”
They certainly did. It was during their high school years that the sisters discovered their passion for languages, studying everything form Arabic to Chinese.
Principal of the Indianapolis Metropolitan High School, Clete Ladd remembers the trio well.
“They’re probably the hardest working kids I’ve ever met in my lifetime.” He recalled the sister rising above the violent and impoverished neighborhoods which they often lived and honing their energies on resumes, test scores and improving their grades. Ladd said, if one of the girls received an A- on a research paper, all three of them would march up to their teachers trying to find out what they needed to do to receive an A.
Ladd said one day the sisters, who always traveled in a group, came to his office to inquire about receiving an Academic Honors diploma. In Indianapolis Metropolitan, a high-poverty charter school, these types of diplomas were uncommon at the time. But Ladd says the sisters not only earned the diplomas for themselves, they encouraged fellow classmates to join them.
They also participated in a few after-school and summer programs, all which worked to prepare them for college.
They ultimately decided on Indiana University, (IU) because they knew they needed to escape the city life. They used scholarships to finance their educations and their high school teachers, and Principal Lad, continued to help them, serving as mentors and driving the three to and from IU at the beginning and end of each semester.
“I knew we needed to get away.” Amber said.
A change of scenery helped them. Angel majored in international studies and Amber and Ashley focused on East Asian languages. All three graduated with bachelor’s degrees a g.p.a. of at least 3.1.
But their education hasn’t stopped. They’ve been accepted to graduate school in South Korea. Their high school mentors have created a website to help raise funds for the sisters. You can learn more about it here.
Currently, each of the sisters help mentor children faced with some of the traumas they endured growing up.
“Kids need to know there are people that care about them. Teachers helped us.” Ashley said.
Angel reiterated her sister’s sentiment, reflecting on their own lives.
“I look back and I feel like all of the pain was building up inside of us because for a long time we had nobody to talk to other than each other. We felt so much better once we started talking to teachers and sharing our stories.”
I’m going to be straight up and ask an honest question here: Where are all the good biography films pictures on black women?
I’m not trying to start nothing – actually I’m okay and cool with starting stuff – but I have to say I’m not really impressed with the selection of biopics lately. The TLC, while full of gossipy tidbits, was ultimately a huge dud. So was the Winnie Mandela biopic entitled Winnie (which is available on Netflix but I would skip it). And excuse me for being presumptuous but I don’t have high hopes for either of the proposed Aaliyah projects. And I certainly won’t be supporting the Zoe Saldana/Nina Simone travesty, if ever that sees the light of day.
Perhaps it is the subject or the productions themselves, but Hollywood (inclusive of Black Hollywood too) really doesn’t attempt to immortalize Black women as it does Black men. This is particularly true of the big screen productions. In fact, it seems the majority of biopics on Black women are actually made for television, and by default, have all the cheese and camp of a film made for television.
As such, I have created a list of ten women, who would make awesome subjects for a well-produced and funded film production. Also so Hollywood doesn’t go casting Madonna as Rosa Parks, I’ll also include a list of women, who I believe would good fits for the roles.
Apparently, the NFL doesn’t take issues of documented domestic violence too seriously. Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens, the running back who dragged his then-fiancee (now wife) Janay Palmer, out of an elevator unconscious in Atlantic City, will only be suspended for two games.
The punishment is a result of Rice violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
In a statement, released by the Ravens, Rice said:
“It is disappointing that I will not be with my teammates for the first two games of the season, but that’s my fault. As I said earlier, I failed in many ways. But, Janay and I have learned from this. We have become better as a couple and as parents. I am better because of everything we have experienced since that night. The counseling has helped tremendously. My goal is to earn back the trust of the people, especially the children, I let down because of this incident. I am a role model and I take that responsibility seriously. My actions going forward will show that.”
Ravens general manager, Ozzie Newsome called the ruling “fair” and added,
“That night was not typical of the Ray Rice we know and respect. We believe that he will not let that one night define who he is, and he is determined to make sure something like this never happens again.”
Rice is currently enrolled in a program for first-time offenders that includes family counseling and will also clear his record of criminal charges if he meets all the conditions.
Can we agree that this “punishment,” if you can even call it that, is completely unacceptable and sends a terrible message on behalf of the NFL?
As USA Today Maggie Hendricks noted, far lesser offenses receive stronger punishments. Repeat offenders who violate a drug policy will be suspended for four games. A violent tackle will get you kicked out of one game. And if you haven’t quite made it to the NFL yet, selling your autograph while in college will get you “sat down” for five games.
But apparently, proof of you beating your fiancee and the mother of your child unconscious and then dragging her out of a public elevator like she’s a piece of trash is only worth two games.
This is not even just about Ray Rice anymore. When 1 in 3 women will be abused throughout the course of her lifetime, often by a member of her own family, it’s a problem not unique to Rice. We’ve seen it play out far too many times just in recent months with other celebrities beating their girlfriends, wives or fiancees. I believe in redemption and all that and the counseling might actually be working for him. But a part of learning the lesson is being adequately punished. And a two game suspension is more or less an extended time out. It’s not good enough for Rice, it’s not good enough for the other women who suffered like Janay but didn’t have their abuse recorded and broadcast and it’s not good enough for the young boys who will grow up thinking this wasn’t “that big of a deal.”
With this puny suspension, the NFL proves that they don’t really take violence against women seriously. I know you’ve heard the comparisons drawn thousands of times by now, but Michael Vick was practically stoned in the town square for allowing his friends to use his property for dog fights. I love dogs and dog fighting is wrong but I value the lives of women far more than dogs. Sorry, not sorry.
The only message this punishment sends is that violence against women can be forgiven with a press conference, pathetic statement and a two game suspension.
As Hendricks writes to the NFL: “Don’t tell me you care about women’s health come October. Don’t pink wash the whole league and pay lip service to how much you care about women. Don’t trot out breast cancer survivors as symbols of the NFL’s close relationship with women and then give a man who threatened a woman’s health–ON TAPE– a two game suspension.”
The NFL is about money. And they know the majority of their revenue is tied to public perception of their image. Sadly, the league got the message that men, their target audience and demographic, wouldn’t care one way or another what happened to Palmer, a Black woman, that night. And they subsequently didn’t care about the consequences Rice, the perpetrator of the violence, faced as a result.
Yes, the NFL dropped the ball. But really, their decision is just a clear indicator of just how much the whole country (and various parts of the world) really value women and their well-being. If you didn’t get the message, ladies, your life and well-being are worth two football games.
Well the debate around the death of police choke-holding victim Eric Garner certainly escalated rather quickly and in a peculiar direction…
In the piece entitled, Why I Will Not March for Eric Garner, Kimberly Foster, founder of For Harriet, writes in part:
“When looking at Eric Garner’s lifeless body, I don’t have to imagine that he is my brother or my father to recognize the injustice of his suffering. My heart aches for the family he will never return to. And if the justice we speak of routinely is more than a figment of our imaginations, I pray it comes swiftly to Mr. Garner’s family.
But if the NYPD or the City of New York fail to act, I will not march for Eric Garner. I will not rally for him because I am reserving my mental and emotional energy for the women, the Black women, no one will speak for.
While the effectiveness of social media in spreading Garner’s story heartens me. I could not refrain from comparing the empathy shown him, particularly by Black men, to that which is heartbreakingly absent when Black women attempt to discuss the everyday terrors we experience both in the world and at their hands.
Watching black men show up for Garner after seeing so many derail conversations about Black women’s well-being leaves me with little more than a sinking feeling of despair upon recognition that the understanding so many of us crave will not come.”
Folks don’t realize the emotional strength and fortitude one must posses in order to put one’s self out here in these blogging streets, particularly as a woman. And more particularly, a woman with an opinion, which goes against how we have always done it or thought in the community. This essay has indeed pissed a bunch of folks off. However I sincerely thank Foster for putting this conversation out there – as well as the other Black women bloggers, who too have expressed similar sentiments over the last few months.
Personally, Garner’s death affected me. And it is not because I’m carrying water for team men or seek to put their well-being in front of our own. I’m affected by Garner’s because I watched a man take his last breath right in front of my eyes. Then I watch a video of the responding EMT and police fail to do their due-diligence to save his life, also right in front of my eyes. And I feel like this is a person whose death did not have to happen and occurred due to carelessness (in the least). And because of that, I feel like he is deserving of justice. And I also have a sneaking suspicion that he will be denied that justice, right in front of our eyes. But that is a blog post, for a later day – maybe during the acquittal.
Still watching the television news stories and photo slide shows from print publications from the various marches in his name, I can’t help but take note of how much of the crowd is represented by Black women. They march, sometimes with their children in tow, alongside with the men, chanting slogans about “Saving Our Sons” and holding up signs like “Stop Killing OUR Men.” There is an ownership to a cause, which by the numbers doesn’t directly affect black women. Sure, we can make the claim that police brutality and mass incarceration leaves the sisters without partners; but where in that debate is there acknowledge that many times, it’s not the police or the prisons, which makes the brothers leave? There is no condition of support and no debate about what he could have done to prevent this miscarriage of justice and violation of public trust. You hurt a brother, you hurt us too. And without pause or any trepidation, Black women show up. Each and every time.
It is not always the same.
As a former community organizer, it was not uncommon to attend meetings held in churches or on the actual block about important issues in the community, and the primary attendees are women. Old women; young women; married or single; the women showed up. Not to say that there would not be men present. Often times they were the most vocal and visibly noticeable, but by number and mass, Black women represented the strongest.
Same as with neighborhood block committees and captains. Some of the more visible voices and face were the men but it was the women, who humbly volunteered their time and even resources in the trenches: doing the calling and mailings, getting the people out to vote on election day, feeding the children, cleaning the abandoned lots and sweeping the streets, standing in the front lines of anti-violence marches, planning summer activities for the children, so forth and so on…
This is not to discredit the active menfolk in the community, who put in work (because they get kind of sensitive about that) but I’m just sharing something that was noticeable to me. And very problematic. It wasn’t that I felt like Black women were incapable of running communities. But it at times, I felt that the buy-in of “community” wasn’t always as important to menfolks, who seem to seek validation or riches elsewhere. And Black women, particularly those leading movements, were not always supported in their endeavors or even acknowledged. The caveat being Black boys and men are free to champion those causes – and provided plenty of platform to do so – like miniature versions of Michelle Alexander.
And it is a common thread, which I’ve seen has played out in various political and social movements throughout history within our community. Many activists during both the Civil Rights and Black Power movements have been pretty vocal about the treatment of women leaders. Most recently, unsung Civil Rights activist and leader Gloria Richardson spoke to The Root about how during the infamous March on Washington, women speakers/leaders were segregated and even kept from speaking on the big stage. And this article in USA Today, which talks about how women leaders like Rosa Parks and Dorothy Height (along with Richardson as she would confirm in The Root piece) walked down Independence Avenue during the March, while the men leaders got to walk with the press down Pennsylvania Avenue.
And how has this marginalizing and silencing of Black women socially and politically affected the community at large? It means that astronomical rates domestic violence and sexual assault are ignored in favor of not contributing to the “victimization” of our men by the criminal justice system. And worse we found ways to put the onus of marching, organizing and ultimately problem-solving domestic violence and sexual assault on the already feet-weary Black women while our menfolk, who are often perpetrators of such violence against us, are left to skirt around claiming ownership in the problem or even seeing it come to an end.
Not to mention how our emphasis on men has meant the almost totally obscure how mass incarceration, racial profiling and intimidation affects Black women. Like Alesia Thomas, who was repeatedly kicked in the groin and genitals by a lady cop until she blacked out and died. Or 93-year-old Pearlie “Miss Sully” Golden or 22-year-old Rekia Boyd, who were both shot and killed by trigger-happy policemen. And so was 23-year-old Shantel Davis. We barely speak their names if we know them at all. But we know and pay homage to Bell, Grant, and now Garner too.
So yeah, as a Black woman, who has screamed, cried, written letters, signed petitions, marched and even prayed for justice for our targeted Black women, I too like Foster am still waiting for our brothers to show up and out in the same respects for black women. And I really feel that women in general, who show up in full force to fight for the brothers, should recognize and then extend that same level tenacity and love to our fellow sisters.
However that does not mean that I stop showing up. As one of my fellow cultural critic Kirsten West Savali said it best in her response essay, Why I Will March for Eric Garner:
“Knowing this, I do not need, want, seek, nor expect validation from those Black men who cling to archaic concepts of manhood and gendered community uplift. I am not waiting for those naked men to offer me their shirts. In the words of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz: “I am for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.” And the truth is, my feminism encompasses our sons, brothers, fathers, male friends, partners and allies. My feminism finds strength in tough love, not passive hatred.”
It goes without saying that timing is important. And perhaps waiting until some time has passed or instead writing an essay on how we could support Garner’s wife during this difficult time would have been more appropriate. After all, Garner’s wife along with his surviving family members deserve, at the very least, some peace. But as someone, who regularly draws the ire of folks with provocative topics, when is it ever a good time to have these conversations we don’t want to hear?
In continuation of the conversation from last week about the financial independence black women have been able to carve out for themselves within the booming and increasingly diverse hair weave industry, let me introduce you to Demajali West, creator and founder of the Hookie Do.
What’s the Hookie Do? Glad you asked.
The Hookie Do is a patent-pending reusable hair extension cap, which allows weave wearers to install a head full of new hair in under a half an hour without harmful glueing or sewing anything onto the hair or scalp, and simply by hooking the weft of a track onto some hooks – hence the name. An instruction video of how it all works is available here, but the overall point is that a person using the Hookie Do can quick change a hairstyle without costly hair salon visits or wasting bundles of hair.
Sounds pretty cool, right? Well it kind of is.
And late last month, West officially introduced her cool concept to the public in a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of raising enough investment capital to complete her first purchase order of the Hookie Do. She is asking for $17,000 from potential funders and in exchange, is offering a pre-order of the prototype at the $45 level (she says that the Hookie Do is suggested to retail at $89.99).
West said that she wasn’t quite sure how folks would respond to her crowd-sourcing approach considering that those spaces appears to be more occupied by white males. But by the middle of this July, West has not only managed to reach her fundraising goals, she is a couple of thousand over $42,000 in donations. And she still has five days left in her campaign.
“People say that black women don’t support each other. I can tell you that we do. And I am so appreciative of all the women who donated – even those who donated at levels that meant they couldn’t get the cap like $5 or even a $1 – just because they thought it was a good idea,” she said.
The story has all the markers of a quirky novelty story but don’t count West as either an overnight success or some potato salad farce. The Hookie Do is a culmination of two years of sacrifice, struggle, lots of money and uncertainty. It was a couple of years ago, right before the birth of her first child, when the thought came to West. Money was tight and West, who has no professional cosmetology training and education, had taken to creating and installing her own hairstyles in hopes of saving her family money. But West said that the frequency in which she changed hairstyles proved to still be financially burdensome as well as time consuming. That’s when she started to seriously begin mulling over new ways to go about getting salon quality hair at affordable prices.
It was her father, who first introduced the idea of using hooks. “Like on a ship and on a bra strap is what he kept saying over and over again. I didn’t know what he was talking about,” she said, giggling. But eventually something clicked and West said that she would test out her dad’s theory, using one of her old bras. “What I noticed is that the weft of the hair extension fit perfectly inside of the hooks on a bra and that’s when I knew I had something here.”