All Articles Tagged "black women"
In the wake of the video of the “father” beating his daughters with an extension cord, I thought that we should have a serious dialog about the politics around twerking.
Some folks might object to using “serious” and “twerking” in the same sentence but the art of booty-shaking is very complex. And yes, I did call twerking an art. According to writer Cosmic Yoruba, who wrote this piece for This is Africa, the style of dance in which the booty is the main focus and movement is actually rooted to traditions dances found in black cultures across the black diaspora. Writes Yoruba, those dances includes the Columbia gouyad/gouye; Jamaican whinin’ and the very salacious Mapuoka (which is translated to mean: the dance of the behind) from the Ivory Coast. If you have never seen the Mapuoka in action, pause this column and watch this video compilation of the dance, right now! You don’t need an African heritage DNA test to see that there are some ancestral oneness between the ladies in this video and the Twerk Team.
But even with its roots being firmly planted in the diaspora, Yoruba writes that the various incarnations of the booty dance still has to fight against attacks that it is vulgar, ghetto and immoral. She writes;
“There is a long history of Black women being sexually exploited, objectified, and labelled sexually lascivious in the Americas during slavery, and the story of Sarah Baartman is familiar to many; she was the Khoikhoi woman who was taken from her home in Eastern Cape to be displayed in “freak shows” across Europe for her large bottom, and subjected to scientific dissection after her death. With such a history, it is perhaps not entirely surprising that many are still not comfortable with Black women shaking or displaying their bottoms. However, it is necessary to question that discomfort since women’s bodies belong to them, and how they choose to display or shake what belongs to them is for them to decide. It is necessary to challenge the dehumanising and objectifying gaze that will view women booty shaking as mere sexual objects, as well as the colonial gaze that labels African expressions as obscene”
I can not twerk like the girls in the YouTube videos but I do love to shake A$$. I do it around the house cooking or cleaning and when “my jawn” comes on the radio or at the club. I wiggle my tail whenever I hear good news. I think that one of the main reasons why I love Zumba is because there is a lot of hip twirling and A$$-shaking. In fact, my hip and A$$ shaking is so ferocious at times that I have been known to pop a few threads on my waist belt, sending small gold metal coins and beads flying across the Zumba room. Yes there is something second nature to my booty-shaking. And I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge ways in which my A$$-shaking could be sexual stimulating. Growing up being constantly made aware that I do not posses a black girl’s booty I spent a considerable amount of time denying myself the opportunity to feel confident about the bottom half of my body. However I am a little older, a little more forgiving and a little more comfortable in my skin. Therefore, when I back that thang up, it is much more an expression about how powerful and accepting I feel about myself than what sexual titillation someone else may receive or even perceive.
There are lots of reason for one to twerk. In fact, I would be so daring as to say that twerking is a rightful dance and just as respectable as ballet, Latin, jazz or any other dance classified as legitimate art-forms. I doubt that there will be touring companies of twerkers making it clap at Carnegie Hall anytime soon but Fela! did do exceptionally well on Broadway and it wasn’t just because of the music or the story. There is a certain skill to twerking. I mean, you can’t just come in, off the street, bend over and start P-poppin’ it. I mean, you sort of can but it takes practice. Even Miley Cyrus had to start somewhere. For those unaware, there is all sorts of muscles moving, coordination, the rolling of ankles and squats, which happens when you are trying to make your butt move. Have you ever tried to get down low, bounce one butt cheek (just one), stop and bounce the other butt cheek; stop and then bounce them both at one time? What about doing a hand stand while simultaneously jiggling your booty to the beat? Of course you haven’t, but once you finish reading this article you certainly will. Point is, there is a certain level of physical endurance one must have to be about propel and control mass through space. Likewise, there are certain rules, which govern proper postures and techniques and even opportunities for competing against an opponent. In a fairer world, twerking could be an athletic endeavor. But heck, we still live in a country, which still doesn’t recognize cheerleading as a sport.
Last year, a vlogger by the name of StrugglingToBeHeard recorded and uploaded a video called “Twerk for Mother’s Day,” which was to honor all the undervalued and marginalized mothers, “who bust their A$$ for a society that does not really respect their work.” In an interview about the video, the vlogger says
“We twerk for justice, liberation and solidarity because: justice, as defined by marginalized people, is different from the dominant ones in society and so our own acts of justice will be defined by ourselves. Liberation because we have been restricted, tied down and abused by the societies we’ve lived in for too long and we will liberate ourselves through acts of dance and loving oneself and owning our bodies. Solidarity because we know some people have to twerk to survive, some twerk for their emotional health, others form bonds of friendship through twerking, some can release energies that they’ve been forced to hold in for too long. So basically, when we say we are twerking for justice, liberation and solidarity, we are twerking for ourselves and our sisters. We are twerking to say F**K YOU to the politics of respectability that say you are only worthy if you do x, y, z when we have learned that in a white supremacist patriarchal capitalist society, we are worthless to the dominant groups even when we do do x, y, z. We twerk because we will not be tamed, shut up or told what to do. We twerk because we want to and we are tired of people telling us what to do with our own bodies.”
The video was re-uploaded anonymously onto the website World Star Hip Hop where it was then misappropriated as a joke. Watching that video last week of the two black girls being savagely beat with an extension cord by their father for daring to move their hips, bellies and bottoms once again reminded me of StrugglingToBeHeard’s message about just how little control women, particularly black women have over defining what is respectable. And as much as folks worry about the exploitation, which could occur from those young girls willfully shaking their behinds on video pales in comparison to the subjugation that occurs every time we deny girls and women a say in the context in which their bodies should be viewed. This is the conversation I wish this dad would have had with his daughter instead of beating and then humiliating them by uploading the evidence to YouTube.
By Ashley Pettaway
A couple weeks ago while sitting in a staff meeting a coworker made a comment that was undeniably offensive. I stared at her blankly trying to find a way to explain to her why what she said was not only ridiculous but also prejudiced. I made sure to check my tone and say things clearly, but as I made my point her reaction was less than satisfactory. I could feel my voice rising and a little voice in my head began to scream, No don’t do it. Do not be the angry Black woman. Of course, I had to be respectful but this voice was different from the usual “keep it professional” mantra I generally live by. This was about a second layer of corporate professionalism we worry about as Black women.
We’ve all had that experience when someone has said something they shouldn’t have and you have to make the decision whether to address or ignore the comment. That little voice in your head that says, “No, don’t be that girl. You don’t want to be the angry Black woman” is an example of stereotype threat. Psychologist Dr. Claude Steele first identified stereotype threat in 1995 as essentially the anxiety that you feel when you fear that you will confirm a negative stereotype. [Source] We mostly talk about this concept in relation to school performances and things of the like, but stereotype threat follows us throughout our lives, in the workplace, and in relationships.
As Black women, we navigate several stereotypes, most notably the angry Black woman and the clingy girlfriend. For some, the fear of confirming these negative stereotypes prevents us from expressing ourselves in times when it’s truly necessary. I get it, you want to put your best foot forward, but at what cost? Let’s be clear, this isn’t about holding your tongue because you know you can’t just go off on whoever you want for looking at you the wrong way. This is about times when you keep silent on important issues simply because you don’t want to be perceived negatively.
Stereotype threat can also influence our behavior in relationships. How often have you said things like, “I’m not like other girls,” to indicate that you’re not clingy or overly sensitive? The problem with this assertion is that it does not allow you any individuality. Being angry, or sensitive, or whatever emotion is part of being human. Women, and especially Black women, do not have the monopoly on these emotions. Trying to avoid them for fear of being negatively stereotyped denies us a part of ourselves.
What are we giving up when we allow these stereotypes to influence our decisions? Of course, some of this is beyond our control. We cannot help the negative stereotypes that folks will place on us, but by stifling ourselves to avoid confirming these stereotypes we are giving away our power. We have to be honest with our coworkers, our loved ones, and most importantly ourselves.
So let’s talk about stereotype threat. Have you ever held your tongue because you didn’t wanted to be seen as a negative stereotype?
My man keeps calling me a “n***er b***h” during sex and I hate it.
I have been married for a year and I am at my wit’s end. My investment banker husband is from a White old money family. I am a first generation Black-American woman whose family is from the island of Jamaica. We met at a reunion for the ivy league school we both attended, and he proposed in six months.
We have the picture perfect fantasy life. He wines and dines me and we travel and shop the globe. Unlike all of the Black men I dated in the past, my husband is generous, loyal, committed and considerate. He courted me and I never have to pay for anything. He said I could quit my job and I did. He makes me feel like a woman.
I am a little embarrassed to share our problem. The first time he let the n-word drop was during sex on our honeymoon. When I reacted negatively, he explained that a Black woman he dated in the past enjoyed being called racial slurs. Another time he joked that he had purchased my freedom. He also speculated about whether his family could have owned mine because I have “good hair.” Then he made jokes about my pubic hair. He called it my “negro bush” and referred to himself as a “n***er lover.” He says I am being overly sensitive because he loves me to death and should get a “Black pass” for marrying me.
I told him that I don’t appreciate these comments and he says that my friends and family probably use the n-word all the time. He also asked why Black people can use the word and he cannot. I don’t use the word or believe in the n***a/n***er differentiation. Neither does my family. I am too embarrassed to tell anyone about this because I know they might say: “That’s what she gets for marrying a White man.”
Continue reading this letter at Essence.com.
There she is! Miss America! We’ve all seen beauty pageants on TV – Miss America, Miss Universe, Miss U.S.A., etc. The flawless, smiling ladies parading about on stage in dazzling dresses and teeny weeny bikinis that make us mentally plan our next crash diets. These pageant contestants spend hours primping, applying makeup and styling hair to perfection. They rehearse intellectual answers to worldly questions delivered by pageant judges and eagerly reveal their unique talents, such as playing the cello or performing a gymnastic routine. You’d be oh so surprised at some of the celebrities who actually participated in various pageants and donned sparkly tiaras.
Yes. Men do have preferences when it comes to women’s hair, though those preferences tend to give way when he deems a woman attractive.
Preferences aren’t anything more than a way for people to narrow the pool when it comes to potential mates. In the same manner a woman may have height/weight/body type requirements for men, men have the same type of “checklist” when it comes to women they may be interested in dating. More often than not, preferences tend to be fluid. I haven’t come across too many men who’ve simply outright refused to date a woman because she didn’t have a certain hair type.
There’s also a chance what wasn’t attractive or deemed problematic before, will not be problematic in the future. For example, while I was in undergrad I preferred for any woman I dated to not wear weave or heavy make-up. My dating preferences were pretty open then so I didn’t automatically turn down a woman who wore make-up or weave. If I was, however, deciding between two women, the woman I believed to be more attractive without weave/make-up was more than likely to be chosen over her counterpart. At that particular time, I had it in my mind that the way a woman wore her hair spoke to something about her personality.
Likewise, I currently have dreads that reach past the middle of my back. Depending on the woman I approach (or if I’m lucky, approaches me) her preferences will come into play. Some women think my locs are beautiful and would love nothing more than to spend half the day (and all night) running her fingers through my locs and counting each individual one. On the opposite end of the spectrum I’ve been turned down by women that preferred “clean cut” men with fades and thought men shouldn’t have hair that can’t be maintained by a brush. There is a certain stigma attached to men with locs (some believe the hair is dirty or can’t be managed) and it likely goes back to either what she has observed or where her standard of beauty is derived from.
As we all know, men are creatures who are more likely to judge based on appearances than anything else when dealing with the opposite sex. What a man uses to judge that standard of beauty can be based on any number of influences. Society tends to prefer that women look a certain way to be deemed attractive and if a man is heavily influenced by these outside factors, he’s more likely to find himself attracted to that standard. If a man has seen a variety of women with differing hairstyles who all look attractive, it’s likely he won’t make hair a determining factor when it comes to choosing a mate.
The preoccupation with women’s hair is mostly to determine if a woman is attractive. Meaning, as long as a woman looks good, a majority of men could really care less about the way a woman’s hair looks. You’d be hard pressed to find a man who found Halle Berry attractive when she had long hair saying she’s no longer attractive because she started rocking the short cut. Preferences for women’s hair aren’t set in stone, so if a man believes an attractive woman would look better rocking long/short/permed/weaved hair, he’s still more than likely to at least approach said woman, even if her hair isn’t styled to his preference.
In conclusion, yes, men do have hair preferences but those preferences moreso tend to be tied to appearance. Not just the hair itself.
So I want to hear from you. Do you find that men approach you more when you’re wearing a certain hairstyle? Has a man ever taken issue with your hair because of the way it was styled or stated he wanted you to go back to a certain hairstyle?
Hit the comment box and let me know.
For more on RealGoesRight’s opinions on men and women, be sure to check him out with the all-star collective of black men writers over on SingleBlackMale.Org. If you prefer something a bit more direct, feel free to follow him on Twitter at @RealGoesRight and subscribe to his blog at RealGoesRight.Com
Sistahs who rock naturals are just as easy, breezy, and beautiful as the models on CoverGirl commercials. Why, you may ask? It’s because they realized the beauty of the hair that sprouts from their scalp. Strands that for no reason have been persecuted by chemical relaxers, whipping them into straight submission. No more! Tresses are breaking the cycle of chains, free to be kinky, curly, plain-ol’-me coils. Listen in on some reasons to rock your natural and free yourself once and for all.
Stubbornness, immaturity, constant arguing, jealousy— they’re all signs of a teenage love. Insert a black girl from Brooklyn and white guy from New Jersey, and you’ve got a young interracial couple struggling to find balance in a society still far from being colorblind.
Growing up in a conventional two parent household in Westwood, New Jersey, Paul, 19, describes his life as stereotypical. His family is upper middle class; he drives a Mercedes-Benz, having only had one girlfriend before his current relationship, often the girls he’s been attracted to he refers to as “stuck-up.”
He believes the biggest obstacle he and his girlfriend, Corrine, 20, face in their relationship of a couple of months is a difference in their upbringings, not race.
“It’s not so much a black [or] white thing, but that we’re from different areas. She’s from an urban area and I’m from a suburban area,” he says, with his arm resting on the couch behind Corrine. The three of us sat in his spaciously furnished living room of the Queens house he rents with nine other guys. A black curtain hanging from the doorway, separating us from the den area one of his housemates turned into bedroom.
Starting out from an upper middle class family in East Flatbush Brooklyn, Corrine briefly dated multiple guys from different ethnicities and cultures— from a dope boy to a future Olympian— she’s interacted with most.
A month after their first encounter in the car of a mutual friend, the two often ran into each other in the athletic study hall of St. John’s University. They quickly entered a relationship, after spending hours a day together doing school work, both not knowing much about the other. She has only had one relationship prior to meeting Paul. Since then, they have constantly clashed over race and culturally sensitive issues. Corrine says she has had to inform him that comments he has made often offended her.
“[He would say] I’ll act ‘ethnic’ or I’ll act ‘black’ or I’ll act like I’m from Brooklyn. Oh, this is my favorite one— ‘you’re acting like a ghetto black girl from Brooklyn,’” she sarcastically says. “It used to make me so mad, until one day I finally had to let him know, he can’t say things like that because it sounds offensive coming from [him].”
Paul interrupted her, “Coming from me? So what if it came from a black a person?”
“It’s still offensive,” she says.
Paul believes such is an example of being from different areas, saying that one night after a Chinese restaurant messed up Corrine’s order; she called the place demanding the rest of her food after failing to soothe her anger.
According to the National Healthy Resource Center, interracial relationships are most common among the middle class, among those with higher education. College increases individuals exposure to other races/ethnicities and the idea of intermarriages.
Unlike Corrine who has been attracted to guys of different ethnicities. Paul didn’t develop an attraction for black women until college. She often worries about being too ethnic, debating one night while dressing if she should get braids because Paul doesn’t like them.
Relationships tend to be complicated. There are gives and takes, ups and downs, and of course the rocking of backs and forths. Eventually a couple will hit the wall and decide for a myriad of reasons the relationship needs to end. This will either happen amicably or one person will make their exit while the other insists it can be worked out. Both parties go through the grieving period and they slowly try to piece their lives back together.
A woman will find that she’s no longer missing “him,” she no longer looks at her phone hoping he calls, and she can finally get used to the lack of warmth on the other side of the bed. And just when it seems like she’s turned the corner, the ex-boyfriend shows up wanting to reconcile and try again.
The question going through her head is, of course, why? And here are four reasons why a man would come back to a woman after a break-up. (It should be noted these things are heavily dependent on the what led to the break-up in the first place and they should not be taken as a “one size fits all” option.)
1. He still loves you. The simplest and most self-explanatory of all the options presented. We’ve all been in relationships where even though the relationship was broken, it didn’t mean the emotions were severed as well. Sometimes relationships get convoluted and two people will lose themselves in the day-to-day activities. Couples can get so caught up in all of the “goings-ons” of life that they forget why they’re together in the first place. Unfortunately, one of the things that will get overlooked is the love between both people.
Maybe the break-up came after a heated argument or there was simply a lack of communication. Maybe a man just had too much going on at the time and felt like being in a relationship was overwhelming. Whatever the case, love is something we’ve relied on to explain situations we otherwise have no explanation for. When men fall in love, they fall hard and for some men, just walking away from that love without giving it a last ditch effort isn’t enough.
2. He’s grown up a bit and wants a chance to rekindle that old flame. Love can be inconvenient. A man might be in a stage of life where he’s trying to establish himself and working on the foundation to build his future. And in the midst of all that he may end up finding love before he’s attained those goals. From my observation women, generally, tend to believe that love can happen at anytime and are more apt to go with the flow rather than put it off until later.
A lot of men, on the other hand, try to get into the groove of identifying who they are professionally before they decide to take on the personal. We tend to be cognizant of missed opportunities and situations which would have played out much differently had they happened a bit later in our development. A man will occasionally reach out to one of the people in his past because he feels as if he’s in a better place to accept and nurture that love.
Lady Gaga still uses coupons at grocery stores and haggles down prices at retail shops. Angela Bassett has been known to flaunt her frugal ways, and let’s not forget Kandi Burruss buying two homes in foreclosure. If these top money makers know the value of saving cash, why not ball on a budget? Forget keeping up with the Joneses. Not only will you refrain from putting a hurting on your wallet, you will also revel in the fact that you just saved some major cash flow. Your paycheck may not be celeb size, but you can live it up baller-style with these super savvy saving techniques. From top savings on clothes to entertainment, there is always a way to shave cents off your purchases here and there. You work hard everyday. Now it’s time to play hard – minus big-time spending.
Grab the tissue and half pint of cookie dough ice cream. With classic sisterhood movies playing all day on your big screen one rainy Sunday afternoon, you simply can’t go wrong. The mere mention of these movies will have you dusting off old DVDs, yanking on some sweats, and cuddling in that Lazyboy, ready to revisit your favorite film with your girls.
The Women Of Brewster Place
The women living in the rundown housing projects on Brewster Place pumped it full of love, gossip, grief and joy. The black women are strong-willed and pitted against the dreadful brick wall and weak, oppressive black men. Oprah Winfrey’s matriarchal role comforted us as character Lucielia as we wept over the loss of her baby, Serena.