Monthly Archives: January 2012

Submission?

I recently had a conversation with some friends and we were discussing whether we could see ourselves being housewives and being 100% submissive to our husbands. The controversy came when we compared our views to the views of our supervisor, who is an early 50’s African American married male whose been married for 20+ odd years to his wife, and mother of his children, who was an stay at home mother until their children started school. His views are similar to those of someone from back in the day where the wife is a stay at home mother and basically listens to whatever her husband says and is pretty much completely submissive to her husband. There’s nothing wrong with that; however, I feel like times have changed and we are no longer living in that time period. I feel like in a marriage your suppose to meet each other half way and support each other. Coming from a background of being taught to be independent, I just can’t see myself putting my goals and aspirations on the back burner to be a housewife. I would take off time from work to dedicate to my children, but to not work at all is really not an option for me. Furthermore, I can’t see myself just being 100% submissive and not using the voice I have. I understand that the man is suppose to be head of household; however, I will not be controlled like I don’t have a mind of my own. Anyone agree or disagree? Feel free to voice your opinion J

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DO BLACK MEN CONTRIBUTE TO PROBLEMS IN ORGANIZING BLACK FEMINISTS?

A Black Feminist Statement – From The Combahee River Collective

http://www.feministezine.com/feminist/modern/Black-Feminist-Statement.html

I read an article that openly accuses black men of contributing to the African American Feminism struggle. I found that odd on many levels, but also can see where the concept comes from.  It read as follows:

During our years together as a Black Feminist Collective we have experienced success and defeat, joy and pain, victory and failure. We have found that it is very difficult to organize around black feminist issues, difficult even to announce in certain contexts that we are black feminists. We have tried to think about the reasons for our difficulties, particularly since the white women’s movement continues to be strong and to grow in many directions. In this section we will discuss some of the general reasons for the organizing problems we face and also talk specifically about the stages in organizing our own collective.

Feminism is, nevertheless, very threatening to the majority of black people because it calls into question some of the most basic assumptions about our existence, i.e., that gender should be a determinant of power relationships. Here is the way male and female roles were defined in a Black Nationalist pamphlet from the early 1970s:

We understand that it is and has been traditional that the man is the head of the house. He is the leader of the house/nation because his knowledge of the world is broader, his awareness is greater, his understanding is fuller and his application of this information is wiser. . . . After all, it is only reasonable that the man be the head of the house because he is able to defend and protect the development of his home. . . . Women cannot do the same things as men—they are made by nature to function differently. Equality of men and women is something that cannot happen even in the abstract world. Men are not equal to other men, i.e., ability, experience, or even understanding. The value of men and women can be seen as in the value of gold and silver—they are not equal but both have great value. We must realize that men and women are a complement to each other because there is no house/family without a man and his wife. Both are essential to the development of any life.

The reaction of black men to feminism has been notoriously negative. They are, of course, even more threatened than black women by the possibility that black feminists might organize around our own needs. They realize that they might not only lose valuable and hard-working allies in their struggles but that they might also be forced to change their habitually sexist ways of interacting with and oppressing black women. Accusations that black feminism divides the black struggle are powerful deterrents to the growth of an autonomous black women’s movement.

These are pretty strong statements.

Are they relavent in 2012? To the married women and those in committed relationships, do you agree or disagree that black men’s reactions to black feminism can be notoriously negative? Would your ‘black feminism’ unite or divide your home? Would you risk your relationship to participate in the Black women’s movement?

 

The Effects of Willie Lynch on Women….

For those of you who don’t know who Willie Lynch is, he was a British slave owner who taught U.S. slave owners how to control their slaves.   The word “lynching” is derived from his last name.  He spoke of many ways to condition your slave but lynching wasn’t one of them, he considered it a waste of property.  He spoke of turning the slaves against one another by using age, skin tone, and sex.  One example of this is the house slave and field slave theory.  If you were light skinned you were made to work inside, but if you dark skinned you worked in the field; this method was used to create envy among the slaves.   This put a wedge in the African American community that I feel still goes on today.  Especially among women, I believe African American women separate themselves based off complexion.  Small examples are AKAs and Deltas, light skinned women are normally AKAs, and Dark or brown skinned are Deltas.  I’ve heard the same stigmatism between black altos, and sopranos.  I suppose it was learned through our interactions through media marketing.  Majority of the earlier advertisement for black products or people always included a fair skinned woman.  So we associated beauty with a lighter skin, the closest to white.  It hurts my heart that we as a people don’t like our color.  I haven’t seen love for a black skin shown in a profound way since the Black Panther Party.  Studies like the black doll shows how it has even trickled down to little black girls.  That have it engrained in their minds that lighter is whiter which is prettier.  It makes me afraid to have a black daughter; no child should have to feel that.

Hiding behind the Curves

In another one of my women’s studies classes we had a discussion that was all about body image and how young women feel the need to mirror the body images seen in the media via super models and celebrities. However, I don’t quite agree with this idea when it comes to the majority of young black women and how they view their bodies. In my own experiences I’ve heard many young girls talk about how they look at music video girls and try to mirror their body type. But it makes me wonder, why it is that so many of them feel this way? I believe it’s because those women seem to receive all the desired attention from men, the money and the nice clothes which draws young teenage girls to their lifestyle. But it’s a trap that ultimately leads to low self-esteem, because it’s an impossible expectation that then makes these young women upset that they can‘t actually meet it. In reality, most of these “videos girls” either have been photo shopped to receive these perfect measurements of having a large chest, flat stomach, and large hips or they have had work done to receive this attention.
Regardless, I still realize that not all everyone can be generalized. Some of these women are blessed to have measurements close to what our African American media deems as “perfect“. Although, majority of black women do not, some women have big hips and small breast while others have large breast and small hips. A number of young teenage girls go to extreme lengths to get this body, because even our own black men discriminate against a woman if she is not shaped according to the socially constructed norm placed on us by society. I believe that all of this assists in lowering the self esteem of our black sisters because as I previously stated: it is rare that women actually have the perfect measurements to uphold this stigma that is placed on television.

Discrimination in our own race??

I felt the need to talk about this situation, because it absolutely boils my blood. I had another topic I was going to post this week but today I encountered this situation and I needed to get this off my chest. No offense to anyone of any sexuality or gender but this need to be said.

We as women need to realize that we already are a minority and being AA that’s another minority so we are already two strikes down; I can’t seem to understand why there is no sisterhood amongst us. We would rather talk about each other and discriminate because the hue of our skin. It makes absolutely no sense why women of color cannot get along. African sisters would rather talk about AA women not being real African descent because they don’t know or practice the ways of ancestors or light skinned women thinking they are better because they are closer to white. One of the worst examples sad to say are the Greek sororities. The biggest rivalry are the AKA & DST, two prominent and intelligent group of women who can’t get along because one feels that the other is not competition because of the skin color. They would rather fight and argue with one another than to come together and be powerful. These sororities were not created for this purpose and they should not be carried on in such manner.

Another issue that boils my blood is how as AA we cannot come together as one and support one another. I am a lesbian, plain and simple. It annoys me that some of my friends and family judge me because of my sexuality. I do not discriminate any sex, race or, class; so I can’t understand why people my own race judge me and shun me for what I am. As AA people we know what it is like to be oppressed and not being able to live and love freely so what gives us the right to deny someone else the right to love freely? I feel that AA people need to see the bigger picture and stop being so shallow minded.  We seriously need to come together as a race of people and support our own race no matter the condition, women, men, homosexual, or heterosexual.

Woman on Top

The time is right for women to excel and step into challenges of leadership. Research shows that in recessionary times like these, firms with more women in higher executive positions perform better than women with less. Womens’ Roles have evolved so much in the past ten years and to see women like Sheryl Sandberg take advantage of this and speak out about the issue is amazing to me. Seeing a sucess story like Sandberg’s is very empowering and throughout the next couple of years I believe that women like her, sharing their success story, will become more and more frequent, which EXCITES me!

My favorite part of Sheryl Sanberg’s speech is when she talks says “make your partner a real partner.” Sharing the roles I believe is a start to equal success beween genders. She talks about going to her child’s school functions and the father (who stays at home) is the only one to play with their children at the function. Sandberg talks about the exploitatuin that comes along with women in the workplace. If a man stays at home he is looked at as “The family man” but women are not percieved as that. And if women are in the workplace they are percieved as “selfish” for taking advantage of time with their children.

Woman on Top   <<<<<Click on this link to watch the video 🙂

Casual Conversations

Just something I was thinking about so I decided to post.

I feel as black woman at times we can be our biggest opponent. Often I hear all the time walking around look at her, she ________ or she think she ________ (you can fill in the blank). When you fill in the blank I am pretty sure that most of the things are negative.  I hear very few African American females say something positive about another female. I’m not saying I am above this, I think as women we all have said something about whether we knew the person or not.  Some people wonder why Caucasian and African American men talk about and degrade black women in some of the way they do.  I am not saying its right because I don’t agree with it but when you talk about a person around other people that makes them think since you talk about that person it is ok for them to do the same. I never really hear African American women uplifting each other although in certain organization in school I think the female members may uplift one another in doing task. Usually female’s especially African American females see each other as competition instead of allies.  As we read about African American women and all that they have done to get us rights and to be viewed as equals, in today’s society we still look at our own African American sisters in ways we should not. At times African American women contribute in oppressing other African American women.

SECOND in line…..to the caucasian woman

SECOND in line…..to the Caucasian woman

As we look around and through the media whether it is on the news, on the radio and more than likely on the internet, we find that there are more interracial couples present today. Speaking personally I have a Caucasian brother-in-law and I have seen firsthand on the racism. It is obvious that more black men are with white women opposed to white women are with black men. To me it seems as though as soon as a black man make it “big” than he has to get into a relationship with a white woman. While they are climbing the ranks of the corporate ladder or as a professional athlete black men are having  African American woman raise their children, cook, clean and everything in between. As soon as they have reached stardom the first person you see on their arm is a white woman. Why? As I spoke with my brother-in-law he tell me that it is about status. You are perceived to have more power. He also said it is like “having something that is forbidden”. But my point is why African American women have to put down for the white woman to pulled up and praised?” We are often talked down to and called out of our name, but the white woman does not have to succumb to these stereotypes. African American women were raised to be ashamed of their skin and body parts. As a little girl, all I wanted was to be white and have long hair. It did not matter on the color of hair as long as it was long enough to throw back. Why do we have to work so hard and struggle for all everything? As an African American woman I do not care if the black man chooses a white woman. I do have a problem when you forget where you came from, and who you came from. Yes, a black woman.

Obey!!

Yesterday I had a converstion with an older African American friend of mine at work about how the women of our culture react to the use of the word “obey”.   She explained to me that while talking to other co-workers she expressed to them that her husband wanted her to follow him to put gas in her car and, instead of restisting like she wanted to, she was “obedient” to him.  She instantly felt the glares of judgment by the other women (who all happened to be AA) for using the term; like they felt that she was a “kept woman”, trained by her man. 

She went on to tell me that she didn’t mean that she was obedient in that sense; she was being obedient to that gut feeling from God, letting her know in what direction to go.  Coming to realize that it was a blessing that she did follow him to the gas station because his truck had caught on fire and she was there to help and rescue him.  True story.  

I understood her reasoning behind the use of such a mishandled word, and I could also relate to the tender feeling that the other women got from it’s use.  The issue of women being subordinate to men is touchy subject in more modern relationships, since the roles that women and men play in relationships has changed.  Historically we had been groomed to eventually marry and within that union respect, honor, and “obey” our husbands.  We are now taught to be independent thinking women who don’t necessarily rely on men to guide our decisions.   As AA women have progressed in our society we now relish in the fact that we can now speak for ourselves.  It gets a bit tense when some women feel that this form of freedom is being challenged. 

 

Queen of Soul

Etta James was a force to be reckoned with. A true gift to music and a woman of great spirit and courage.

Her raw tone and the passion she put forth on a record spoke to me at a very young age and has continued to influence and inspire me throughout my career. She will NEVER be forgotten, her voice will forever live on and she will inspire talent for generations to come. –Christina Aguilera

“This is a huge loss. Etta James was one of the greatest vocalists of our time. I am so fortunate to have met such a queen. Her musical contributions will last a lifetime. Playing Etta James taught me so much about myself, and singing her music inspired me to be a stronger artist. When she effortlessly opened her mouth, you could hear her pain and triumph. Her deeply emotional way of delivering a song told her story with no filter. She was fearless, and had guts. She will be missed.”-Beyonce

The recent loss of this great singer prompted me to honor her. Etta James died January 20, 2012 at the age of 73. Ms. James left behind a legacy of not only drama but a great legacy of music, inspirations and innovations. Etta started her career during an era when black music was finally getting its notoriety. Her first recording was at the age of 15 “Roll with Me Henry.” Her next song is what kick started her fame “the Wallflower” it was #2 on the R&B charts in 1954. She signed to Chess Records in 1960. She was among great singers such as Chuck Berry, Muddy Walters. During her time there she made popular songs “At Last” and “All I Could Do Was Cry”. Etta has been inducted in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame as well as Blues Hall of Fame. She is the winner of 6 Grammys including one in 2003 for her lifetime achievement she also won 17 Blues Music Awards. Etta was an innovator in the music industry amongst the men she dared to stand out and stand up. Etta was known for making her opinion known and cursing and smoking in public. She dared to sing about the taboo and take control of her career as an artist. I loved how Etta straddled the line between R&B and Rock and Roll she mixed the two and created her own brand, she was versatile in her music she went from racy to sultry tunes. In all her fame she had her downs in her battle with drugs but she states that recovering from drugs helped to shape her in her latter life.

I love how Ms. James led her life she dared to be different during a time when black people let alone black women were not noticed. What women wore platinum blonde and sexy attire? Nobody but Etta James. Etta has been the inspiration of many of today’s singers including Christina Aguilera who names Etta as one of her idols. Looking at the music and the time period when Etta was in her prime years she almost stood alone in the industry. There were artist like Billie Holiday that came before her, but Etta kind of paved the way for women artist to have the freedom to sing about what they wanted. She paved the way for women to have the freedom to be provocative.

Ms. James will truly be missed but we have her music to keep us. 

Beyonce Sings “All I Could Do Was Cry” in her portrayal as Etta James in Cadillac Records