Speech begins at 2:31
Category: A Rich Conscience (Page 1 of 18)
It’s not that I don’t give a damn, or that I’ve had nothing to say following the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. If you’ve seen my Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, I’ve stated how I’ve felt as best I could without falling into the pit of narcissistic grief that I’ve seen all over the interwebs. Self aggrandizement is just not my style.
The past week has been traumatizing, frightening, and exhausting. I cried as a mother, and friend, both scared for the livelihoods of so many brothers that I love, and for my own livelihood, which seems to be at stake with every breath I take. But as a woman of action, I didn’t want my acknowledgement to be reduced to a series of hashtags, retweets and emojis. Too many times educated professional Black folks get lost in rhetoric, talking ad nauseum about the injustice of it all while lounging in luxury in their gentrified apartments before happy hour, adding little to the conversation except posting or liking stylish, yet superficial social media posts. I can’t be that. I have a responsibility as a Black woman, a mother, a woman of intellect, to take real action so that these horrifying incidents don’t become just another day in the life of.
Gathering with other Black mothers, and people interested in protecting and growing our communities, I gained so much knowledge on what I can do to give self care and contribute to healing my community. Here are several actionable points we can all do:
Allow yourself to grieve and practice self care.
Let non-people of color know that you are not responsible for making them feel comfortable around you
And also let them know that you are not responsible for teaching them about racism. They can learn that on their own
Put your money back into the community. Buy from businesses owned by people of color. The WhereU App lists these business that are near you. And Solange just posted a list of Black-owned banks on her website
Gather people from your community to grieve, get to know one another, and discuss proactive ways of developing stronger law enforcement and community relations. Anybody can do this. So many times young people and professionals get so ‘busy’ that they spend no time meeting their neighbors or finding out what is developing in their own neighborhoods. But they damn sure know what’s poppin’ on Instagram, or who went to the hottest concert last night, or can share their latest foreign retreat. Please, people. Call your local town hall, and keep calling until they sit down with you. Meet with the police and bring actionable points to the meeting, including fears coming from both sides and how we can all better manage them.
Ask your local government for accountability. Newark, NJ has recently developed a Civilian Review Board, a sort of Yelp for police, giving a rundown of issues between residents and the police. Constant notation and accountability is a key to transparency and progress.
On an ending note, a friend of mine posted this poem, and I think it’s apt for all of us who ‘made it’ and somehow believe that is enough.
“NOT MY BUSINESS”
They picked Akanni up one morning
Beat him soft like clay
And stuffed him down the belly
Of a waiting jeep.
What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?
They came one night
Booted the whole house awake
And dragged Danladi out,
Then off to a lengthy absence.
What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?
Chinwe went to work one day
Only to find her job was gone:
No query, no warning, no probe –
Just one neat sack for a stainless record.
What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?
And then one evening
As I sat down to eat my yam
A knock on the door froze my hungry hand.
The jeep was waiting on my bewildered lawn
Waiting, waiting in its usual silence.
– Niyi Osundare
Freedom is somehow always conditional here. You’re free, they keep telling us, but she would have been alive if she hadn’t acted so free.
Jesse Williams drops the mic.
Last night, I actually watched the BET Awards in real time. My sole purpose was to see how exactly they intended to memorialize Prince after Madonna’s catastrophe at the Billboard Music Awards. Since the tributes were sprinkled throughout, I had no choice but to stay. Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar wasted no time in getting to the Black of it by performing her song “Freedom”. I watched as Erykah, Bilal, Maxwell, Janelle Monae, and the incomparable Sheila E. did the damn thing on stage. Hs Royal Highness would be pleased.
But the most mind-blowing moment? When actor Jesse Williams took to the podium to claim his humanitarian award. And he blessed the crowd with more than a thank you.
what’s going to happen is we’re going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function in ours
Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday. So, I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich
If you have no interest in equal rights for black people, then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.
…Gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit.
And the entire transcript, just in case the powers that be make it extra-hard to view the video. Just read the whole thing, and then read it again:
“Peace. Peace. Thank you Debra. Thank you, Nate Parker. Thank you, Harry and Debbie Allen, for participating in that. Before we get into it, I just want to say I brought my parents out tonight — I just want to thank them for being here and teaching me to focus on comprehension over career. They made sure I learned what the schools were afraid to teach us. And also, thank you to my amazing wife for changing my life.
“Now, this award, this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country. The activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do. All right? It’s kind of basic mathematics. The more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize.
“Now, this is also in particular for the black women in particular who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.
“Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill white people every day. So what’s going to happen is we’re going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function in ours.
“Now, [standing ovation] I got more, y’all.
“Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday. So, I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich.
“Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better to live in 2012, than it is to live in 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner. Tell that to Sandra Bland. Tell that to Darrien Hunt.
“Now, the thing is, though, all of us in here getting money that alone isn’t going to stop this. All right? Now dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back. To put someone’s brand on our body when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies and now we pray to get paid with brands for our bodies. There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There’s no tax they haven’t levied against us. And we pay all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here. You’re free, they keep telling us, but she would have been alive if she hadn’t acted so free.
“Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter but, you know what, though, the hereafter is a hustle. We want it now. And let’s get a couple of things straight here, just a little sidenote. The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job. All right, stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for black people, then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.
“We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo. And we’re done watching, and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us. Burying black people out of sight and out of mind, while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil — black gold. Ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them. Gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is, though, the thing is, that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real. Thank you.”
This may very well be one of the most important speeches in contemporary culture. Thank you, Jesse Williams.
Bell Hooks praises Beyonce’s Lemonade, but with a word of caution: the black female experience cannot be neatly tied up in an hour-long visual presentation; that there is no glamorization in rage; that in order to overcome hurt we must let go of the romanticizing of patriarchal-led relationships. Read her poignant article here.
I having mixed feelings. On the one hand I am ecstatic that Harriet Tubman will be the face of the new $20 bill. For once, every American and visitor will have to face a defiant Black woman as a primary means of conducting their daily affairs. This is a slap in the face of every open and closeted white supremacist, and nothing short of avoiding currency altogether can keep them from acknowledging the magnitude of this change.
But what does it truly mean to have a woman, a Black woman, who was formerly a slave, her body formerly a monetary instrument, to be used once again on a piece of currency? That the same body conjured such shock and anger amongst Americans, that it would be worth a premium bounty of $40,000? I would venture to say that it seems ironic, if not unabashedly shameful. That the black body was repeatedly passed between hands for centuries, in an emotionless, matter-of-fact manner only to come full circle several hundred years later is pretty deep. How long after the initial hype of the new Harriets wear off will people begin to look at that note with less enthusiasm, and just a symbol of day to day commerce, her face regularly smudged with the countless hands of strangers, crumpled in pockets, stained, ripped, lost, left behind. What legacy is this?
The new Harriets will be amazing, but lets not forget that such a move is problematic and can be viewed as tokenism at best. Sure, we may add the face of this Black woman to the American monetary system, but this is in no way penance for over 400 years of the atrocities and the after effects born of the slave system.
Beyonce is out for blood in the video and song for Formation
Well, it’s about time. You know, I’ve been listening to Beyonce since high school. As a fellow class of ’81 woman, I’ve fallen in and out of love with the music, and her, as she grew into her stardom. While I’ve watched our fellow classmen & women evolve musically (Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, etc) I have admittedly been hyper- critical at what I’ve seen as Beyonce’s refusal to grow. I mean, we all grew up. Had kids. Some of us got married. We moved on to grown people shit, and here she was doing diddy bop songs. I just expected more from this Black woman.
I’ve always had a feeling of falseness in her personal proclamations of divadom, feminism and women power, enough that I could never get on board with the Beehive, despite the clamoring of everybody and ‘em. The songs just seemed like one heap of contrived, commercial garble, and nothing resonated with me. Even a few autumns ago when everyone was jumping out of their seat over 7/11, all I could thing was, really Bey?
But this video. I’m so proud of this song and video. It pays homage to everything Black.
To the richness of America’s Black South.
To the beauty, the complexity of Black culture.
To the broken levees, voodoo, Zydeco, civil rights marches, and crawfish.
Beyonce lets you all know lyrically and visually that she is fearlessly, ferociously, and unapologetically, Black. Forget the heavy bass and the booty shaking. It’s more than a song filled with braggadocio. She actually says something with a power that I’ve never truly felt in Diva, Run the World, or any of her other countless girl power anthem, and this time, I believe her.
Not that she cares.
Now watch the video:
I was speaking last week with a fellow homeschooling mom about a recent plight with my daughter and her self image. She had recently taken a liking to watching girls play with their dolls on Youtube Kids. The play in and of itself was fine, but the subjects was distressing, being that the majority of the girls and dolls were white. I had began to notice my daughter make subtle comments about how she wish she had different hair, or how she wished she was like those girls. Often she would check herself if she found me listening, and self-correct her comments to a more pro-black mantra.
But this was a problem. Because she was simply trying to please me and didn’t truly believe that her black was beautiful. It didn’t start with the Youtube videos. Friends and neighbors would give her white dolls, and would offer her white Barbie doll movies to watch. I hated it, but relented because I knew I couldn’t change what people watch in their own household. I just figured that I could do the teaching at home to set a strong foundation.
Boy was I wrong. The damage had been done, and she firmly believed that the slender blond-haired, blue eyed doll was the superior one, and that she would never be as pretty. Enter crisis control. My friend told me that I would need to delete those videos cold turkey. No more Barbies. Censor everything, and infiltrate her with all black images, all of the time, to let it sink in. I thought it was drastic, but I did it. Because what I realized was that, even if she were to find a black barbie doll on TV, it would only come after hours of watching, and even so, that black Barbie would likely be a background role. The videos that are frequently and consistently presented are the white ones, and so naturally, any other doll wouldn’t seem as glamorous.
Sadly, with Mattel’s new release of their multicultural line of Barbies, the damage is too far gone to positively impact the role of Barbie on non-white children. Had blond Barbie been introduced with the slew of other Barbies at the same time, maybe things would have been different. But we all know what was considered desirable in America in the 1950s, and it wasn’t anything melanated – at least for the children of the time. So why, after 66 years of dragging their feet, would Mattel think they are doing something special? They’re about 24,000 days late and several million dollars short.
All is not lost. Do yourself a favor and check out this amazing list of Black dolls for your little Queen. You’ll be building her self esteem and supporting Black business.
When your back is up against the wall, your bank account is empty, and creativity and passion are the only resources you can afford, success is your only option.
So many people have the mindset of “if I only had $X, then I could start $Y”. But few really know that many of the millionaires and billionaires we know of started with nothing: no inheritance, no angel investors, little to no savings. Instead, they had a big dream and some truly ingenious ways of putting their vision out to the world and making it a reality. That is true entrepreneurship, and I am constantly learning how to build wealth this way.
Daymond John, founder of iconic hip hop brand FUBU, and a judge on ABC’s Shark Tank has a new book out where he details his own rise to the top with $40 and a hunger to win. In The Power of Broke, are stories from himself and other entrepreneurs on the struggles and victories of building a brand. Definitely something to add to my Blackenomics collection.