Archive for July, 2008

Slavery By Another Name

Posted in Civil Rights, Politics, Race and Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2008 by Noli
Punishment in a Forced Labor Camp, 1930's, Georgia

Punishment in a Forced Labor Camp, 1930's, Georgia

Definitely check out the new book entitled, “Slavery by Another Name – The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II” by Douglas A. Blackmon.  After the end of slavery, old massah didn’t take it too well, and Black Americans were falsely arrested and then forced to work to pay off fines and to pay for their own arrests.  The US government then leased these people to various companies and plantations, putting money in the government’s pocket made off the backs of innocent Black Americans.  It has been said that the torture in labor camps was far worse than what was regularly experienced during slavery.  In addition to jail slavery, other Black Americans were just kidnapped and enslaved, never to be seen again by their families.   [Slavery By Another Name]

My Dad went to an HBCU in the 60’s, and he said that most of his friends from Alabama, Mississippi and other southern states said that slavery was still alive and well there.  They didn’t mean share cropping either.  I read this article entitled “The Damned” that was in the Washington Post years ago that really breaks down what was happening then.  If you weren’t aware, one of the last prosecutions for holding slaves was in 1954 when the Dial brothers in Birmingham, Alabama were convicted of holding 2 Black men by threat of violence.  They were only prosecuted because someone from their plantation took one slave’s body to the morgue and he was bound and had been whipped to death…and they called the police.  The Dial family had one of the largest plantations in the Delta and had been kidnapping Black Americans and holding them as slaves for years.  They were only sentenced to 18 months in jail.  [Washington Post]

CNN is Tripping – Spike Lee is the TRUTH

Posted in Civil Rights, Community, Entertainment, Politics, Race and Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2008 by Noli

After seeing the second installment of “Black in America” which dealt specifically with “The Black Man,” I realized what the real problem is with this documentary.  THE UNDERLYING ASSUMPTION IS THAT ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE POOR AND ARE CRIMINALS.  So, in addition to the producers not giving “context” for why some Black Americans are in the situations that they are in, they also chose to present our community as though the GHETTO is our only experience…as though we are a one dimensional community. They profiled only a slice of Black life.

In “The Black Man,” there were an exhorbitant number of orange jumpsuits and men in handcuffs, talk of drug abuse and absent fathers throughout.  All of this and no mention of racism or stereotypes…until Spike Lee gets on the mike.  How in the world could CNN portray Black men this way and not mention neither racism nor stereotypes?  I’m shocked that Spike’s calm rant even made it into the documentary, but I’m glad it did.  Unfortunately, that short rant didn’t erase the further damage to America’s image of the Black man that was done throughout…it was worse than the evening news.

I really didn’t like that the Black men that were doing well (the children of the Little Rock 9 man and the guy in corporate America) all said that they didn’t fit in with Black people and that they were ostracized by Black people because they were “smart.”  Not saying this has never happened…but trust me, there are Black men that are educated and successful with Black wives and Black friends.  There are Black people that are successful that socialize with Black people and are comfortable with being Black.  There are Black people who’s great grandparents went to college in the early 1900’s, grew up privileged, and didn’t have to escape the ghetto.  We didn’t see them tonight though.

I accept the Black experience fully, the success and the struggles…primarily because I am proud of my heritage and aware of what my people have been put through in this country.  I do, however, also acknowledge that most Black folks don’t live in the ghetto.  Most Black folks aren’t in jail.  Most successful Black folks are not sell outs.  CNN, next time you do a documentary on a minority group, give us a full spectrum of the experience from an unbiased angle, and give us context for why they are experiencing struggle.  You can’t wholly increase awareness without that.

CNN’s “Black in America”…Can I Get Some Context?

Posted in Community, Entertainment, Love and Relationships, Politics, Race and Culture with tags , , , , , , , on July 24, 2008 by Noli

Last night after I watched the doc, I thought it was pretty good.  This morning when I awoke , I didn’t feel the same.  I mean, it was great to see the stories of Black folks, and I know that 2 hours is not that much time, and I also know that it was made for CNN’s White viewership.  I appreciated the stories, but decided that if I were a part of the demographic, let’s say a White conservative, I probably wouldn’t have received it well.  They didn’t provide context for the “situations” that Black folks are in, and I think it was necessary.

Ex. #1:  Black Family reunion with White family members; White Great Great Grandfather had 2 families, one with White wife and other with Black Mistress who was not a slave (which they stated clearly).  White Conservatives see: their Black Great Great Grandmother was a “ho”.  Reality when put in context:  I don’t care whether she had slave papers or not, because of the power dynamic in the 1800’s, that Black woman was being raped by that man.  Remember, women didn’t even have basic rights then, and this was a Black woman.  A one sentence mention of this power dynamic would have helped to frame this properly. 

Ex #2:  The Black high school drop out rate is much higher than that of White students.  White Conservatives see:  Black people are dumb and just can’t make the cut.  Reality when put in context:  They mentioned substandard schools, but didn’t address that even at top high schools the drop out rate for Blacks is higher.  The issue is that racism is still prevalent in schools, and Black kids are automatically pegged as being dumb, so they are not encouraged and they are not expected to achieve.  Could we have gotten some voiceovers giving us some possible explanations of why the rate is so high?

Ex #3:  Black women choose to date only Black men and because of that most are single and will never get married.  White Conservatives see:  Black women are racist and don’t want to date outside their race to their own detriment (trust me, White people throw around this “reverse racism” like candy).  Reality when put in context:  We definitely can be more open, but they didn’t mention that out of everyone, Black women and Asian men have been determined in multiple studies to be the least desirable by other races for relationships.  That means our choices are not limited solely by us.

Again, I appreciate the documentary, but I think that providing context for the specific issues of Black Americans even if brief would have served the documentary and its audience well. I’m sure that the conservative bloggers are buzzing this morning saying everything negative that they can about Black America and using this documentary as ammunition.

Meharry Developing “Chemical Condom”

Posted in Community, Health and Wellness, Race and Culture with tags , , , , , , on July 22, 2008 by Noli
Photo courtesy of Larry McCormarck, The Tennessean

Photo courtesy of Larry McCormarck, The Tennessean

Dr. James Hilbreth at Meharry Medical College is testing a cream that may be able to block the transmission of HIV.  The cream supposedly removes cholesterol, which is needed for HIV to be transmitted.  This is an important development, especially since Black women are disproportionately affected by HIV and possibly feel ashamed in many cultures to request the use of a condom.  If the cream can be used, women would not even need to make their partners aware of the protection, which may help to decrease the spread of the virus.  This is still being tested, but if the FDA approves it, it may be available as soon as five years from now.  This could save a lot of lives! [The Tennessean]

CNN’s “Black in America” Series

Posted in Community, Politics, Race and Culture with tags , , , , , , on July 20, 2008 by Noli

Make sure that you don’t miss CNN’s “Black in America” shows this week.  On Wednesday, July 23rd,  the focus will be on “The Black Woman and Family”, and on Thursday, July 24th, it will be on “The Black Man.”  Both shows start at 9pm EST.  Also, try to catch the repeat of the “Black in America” panel discussion done at the Essence Festival entitled “Realizing the Dream”.  You can check out the CNN Black in America webpage here.   The “Black in America” series is hosted by Soledad O’Brien, who is a Black Superwoman!

**Check out my commentary on “The Black Woman and Family” here and “The Black Man” here.

20 Sexiest Black (Super)Women over 40!!

Posted in Entertainment, Fashion and Beauty, Race and Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 19, 2008 by Noli

AOL Black Voices made a list of the 20 sexiest Black (super)women over 40. The list includes Iman, Victoria Rowell, Sade, Garcell Beauvais-Nilon, Tracey Edmonds, Lisa Raye, Janet Jackson, Toni Braxton, Vanessa Williams, Halle Berry, and others.  I just want to say that I’m glad I’m Black because WE DO NOT AGE!!!!! (among other reasons)  (:

Check out the Black Voices list in its entirety here.

Saartjie Project Explores Politics Around the Black Female Body

Posted in Community, Entertainment, Politics, Race and Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 19, 2008 by Noli

The Saartjie Project is a collective of artists and activists exploring the life and legacy of Saartjie (Sara) Baartman.  Baartman was a South African slave woman that was taken to Europe in 1810 and put on display to audiences because of her “highly unusual” bodyparts…which means she had a regular Black woman’s body.  After being objectified, raped, and mistreated for 5 years, she died in 1815 at the age of 25.  In death, her labia and brain were pickled and put on display in the Musee de Homme, a museum in Paris, along with a plaster cast of her body made after her death, and were on display until 1974.  Nelson Mandela demanded the return of her remains to South Africa in 2002, and she has since had a proper burial.

The European obsession with Black women’s bodies and need to explain their lack thereof through creating stereotypes of oversexed and inferior Black women is still alive and affecting us as Black women daily. The Saartjie Project will explore the life of Saartjie Baartman and the politics surrounding our bodies through personal relection, song, dance, and spoken word in live performances at the DC Arts Center in Washington, DC on August 22-23, 2008 at 7:30pm.  Contact the DC Arts Center  at 202.462.7833 for details.