Thursday, November 13, 2008


A little late, I know.

So like millions of people around the country, my eyes were glued to CNN on election night. After President Obama flashed upon the screen, there was complete pandemonium in the Afro American Cultural Center.

I’m looking at the TV and everyone is going crazy. Jesse was crying! Hope-rah was crying! Hell, I almost let a tear fall down. As Obama emerged from backstage to address the nation, there was a sense of hope for all Americans- that we truly can do anything that we set out to do. As people cried and cheered, I cheered along with them--- but then the cameras got closer to Obama and I had to ask myself... are those waves?!

A million questions started floating around in my head on election night about President Obama's fresh cut. Does he sleep with a wave cap? What products does he use? Who lines his hair up? How often does he get it cut? Does he carry a brush around in his breifcase? After seeing a bunch of tired combovers and receding hairlines, it’s nice to see a Commander in Chief with a fresh cut and waves deeper than the Mariana Trench.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Home of the Free...ish

Now that we’ve all cried, sung, and hugged everyone we know, let’s get back to business. America is still fucked up. Yeah, I said it. We have a black president and somehow we still look like we’re trapped in a land of bigots. Am I being rough on America? Yes. Will I give America a break? No. Because if I did, nothing would change and isn’t that what we’re all looking for?

California. Fail. Arkansas. Fail. Florida. Fail. Arizona. Fail.

Liberal media. Fail. Why? Because there’s a large chance you have no clue what those states have in common. Go ahead and google it…I’ll wait….

So now that you see what I’ve taken issue with, I will begin to rage.

Change - We asked for it. Begged for it. Shit. We even got t-shirts made. And not the spray paint or cheap screen print kind. We got the real won’t fade in the washing machine shirts. Yet these propositions allow for the continued disenfranchisement of homosexuals (and others in Arkansas). Where is the outrage from America? Have we become dormant already? Are we again entering the post-Civil Rights coma induced from patting ourselves on the back one too many times? This is the time to push on.

I cannot imagine the audacity of any person who would even attempt to deny another person of any right. And to imagine a black person that did or would have voted yes on Prop 8 were they given the chance? That’s insane. I know black people love their religion but can you not look past that to see that you are denying people their human and civil rights? I guess the Bible is an established truth…kind of like science. Which is why we still abide by Eugenics.

It’s hard to push for a separation of church and state here in the land of democracy where you have the freedom to practice whatever religion you want (long as Jesus is white) when you go in a court room and swear in on a Bible. Still I find it funny that Christians pick and choose which doctrines they choose to enact and stand behind. I didn’t know that sins came on a hierarchal system. Apparently things like homosexuality send you straight to Hell but sex before marriage is cool. You just get put in timeout or something. I didn’t even know Heaven had corners.

Besides that, you (possibly previously divorced) people out there want to protect the sanctity of marriage. Though homosexuals are allowed to appropriate the language of heterosexual romantic love, they are not deserving of the right to marry. That oh so sacred rite of Las Vegas marriages somehow alludes gay people. Change marriage? Impossible. Every interracial couple I know was ecstatic about Prop 8 passing.

I had a friend(?) of mine who was happy about the yes on Prop 8 tell me that things are still equal. That homosexuals can still be equal citizens without the right to marry. Umm hellllllo. Equal. Meaning the same. After alerting him that someone/anyone/everyone else not having all the rights he has is not equality and that with marriage came other shit like taxes and hospital visitation rights and other like protections under the law. So I asked him if a prop came around that said black people can no longer marry, would he still think we were being treated as equal. He says yes…as long as they had good reason. You can’t make this shit up. The reaches to which people will go to prove they are not in fact homophobic are amazing. They have gay friends and they’re totally cool with their lifestyle…they just don’t think they should get married.

Personally, I would think that marriage between two consenting adult human beings should be an automatic. There shouldn’t be a need for legislation to make anything outside of heterosexual marriage legal. You would think the same thing applies to legislation that requires equality for racial minorities and women but we know how that goes.

Rejoice America. Change has come in Obama but so much has stayed the same. Go ahead. Party and celebrate for four years and you will look up and see that America looks eerily the same.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

No House, No Vote???

Please read this article:

According to the article, republican strategists in Macomb County, Michigan are trying to subdue "predictably left leaning" voters by challenging voters whose residence is listed at a foreclosed home.

However, the accused vote suppressors say that this is not so:

Who didn't see this one coming...

Whether or not this story is true, let's be real here. Such intimidation tactics are being employed in this election. The new voting block that turned out in record numbers during the primaries will play a crucial role in this election, so this story does not surprise me. We have to do our part to combat such tactics. Long voting lines, misinforming people about their voting eligibility, and outdated voting machines in lower income areas has been a serious problem in elections all across the country and very little has been said about it. We should be raising hell! We're talking about voter disenfranchisement! Where is the outrage from the media? the people?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11/2001- We Will Never Forget

Let us remember the men and women who lost their lives seven years ago from this date. You might be very busy today, but take a brief moment of silence to honor the brave fire fighters, city workers, victims, and families of victims.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Obama is my...Slave?

This afternoon, I checked my email and found another disheartening story about ignorance in connection with Barack Obama. (thanks to Naima for bringing this to my attention)

Doron Braunshtein, an Israeli-born designer, created a $69 t-shirt that says "Obama is my Slave". WHAT?! According to the New York edition of Metro News, a 25 year old graduate student was wearing the T-shirt in UNION SQUARE and was confronted by 4 teenage girls. They pushed her, pulled her earphones out of her ears and spit on her. Now this person wants to sue the designer for "all he's got". So much is wrong with the whole situation, I don't even know where to begin.

I understand that everyone doesn't support Obama, but I don't understand why people would feel that this reference to slavery is an appropriate way to display their displeasure with his candidacy. At least create a T-shirt about legitimate concerns like his 'lack of experience'. Why insult him and Black people everywhere with such an awful slogan? In the Metro News article, the designer, which here means, placing not-so-witty phrases on t-shirts and selling them for 3 times what they're worth, claims that "his outrageous design reflects not his views but those of 'ordinary WASPs'.” Later in the article, we learn that he "can't stand Obama" because he reminds him of Adolf Hitler. Wow.

Moving on to the alleged beat-down of the lovely lady wearing the shirt. Maybe it's naive idealism on my part, but I highly doubt that an educated person would wear a shirt like this. In Union Square of all places. It just doesn't make sense. If she did, I'm not sure why she'd sue the designer of the shirt. He didn't force her to wear the shirt that day. And I can't imagine why she'd be surprised that people were upset about the shirt. In fact, she's pretty lucky that something worse didn't happen to her. Some of the other bloggers think this may all just be a publicity stunt, but either way people are still buying this and other awful, overpriced shirts. Braunshtein claims he's sold 1,200 shirts that say "Who Killed Obama?" Clearly, there's a lot more ugliness to be unveiled before this election is over.

Original article:

Other blogs posts:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Barack and Michelle Obama are gracing the latest cover of the New Yorker magazine, but I get the feeling that they might not be too thrilled about it. The latest cover of the premier magazine features Senator Obama dressed in traditional Islamic clothing while giving his wife Michelle their trademark fist pound. Add a burning American flag, a portrait of Osama Bin Laden, and over exaggerated facial features (with a dash of hyper sexualization) and we have our selves a nice gumbo of racism, ignorance and regression. Anyone hungry?

The picture is problematic for so many reasons. The image clearly suggests that the Obama family is anti-American…Now are they anti American or anti status quo? Let’s tease this out a bit. Senator Obama is the only black Senator in the U.S. Senate and the first African American to be the presumptive presidential nominee for a major party…I’m inclined to go with anti status quo.

The image also feeds into the notion that Michelle Obama is an angry black woman or unpatriotic. Despite her education and career accolades, her accomplishments have been devalued on account of her race and sex. A strong, black woman is often labeled as bitter or angry, which is a SERIOUS problem. This image suggests that women of color should not exercise the same rights enjoyed by others; it also limits their right to freedom of expression. The fact that the New Yorker thinks that it was fine to dress Michelle Obama in Army gear and a gun is indicative that we have a long way to go.

Aside from the image being entirely inaccurate in its portrayal of Barack Obama as Muslim, it is also inaccurate in its less than subtle message about followers of the Islamic faith. The New Yorker cover clearly suggests that followers of the Islamic faith are unpatriotic. There are four million Muslims in this country who love and appreciate their rights as Americans and deplore the actions of Osama bin Laden, yet they are unjustly devalued, and in turn, denied full citizenship.

Yes, everyone does have the right to free speech. This does, however, infer that one has the right to question, protest, or react when attacked or discriminated against. Jeffrey Goldberg from The Atlantic stated, "As someone who appreciates a good joke, as well as a bad joke, it bothers me that people are reacting so dyspeptically to the cover.” Hmm, now why would anyone be bothered by an oppressive image with offensive racial and sexual undertones that infringes upon the right to citizenship? I don’t know…

(Thanks Naima for the link)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

LGBTQ Youth: When Some Lives Matter Little

Following Camille's and Brittani's suit on LGBTQ awareness:

What makes some lives less valuable than others?

(thanks to Reny for pointing out the first news story)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Black (LGBTQ) History Month

I'm sad to say I didn't know about this for the majority of February aka Black history month, so I have to do some catching up: the Bilerico Project, a group LGBTQ blog, has been publishing a series on black LGBTQ history all month. Each day, along with the National Black Justice Coalition they profile a different notable queer black person. Click here to check out the series.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

No Words

On MLK Day...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dad's...umm...working late?

A couple of months ago I saw a KFC ad on TV (I couldn't find it on youtube) that struck me by surprise. I got pretty mad after watching it actually. It was the typical KFC family value meal commercial. However, the family was black...and missing a father. I don't recall having seen any other KFC commercials sans father. So I thought of course they're targeting black single mothers. Ad agencies are bad. We know this. There are plenty of racists, sexist, etc. commercials on the market or those that target groups that they either shouldn't be targeting or are going about it in the wrong way. But this was painstakingly obvious. Black family. No father. Really KFC? I know people think, well maybe he was working late or something like that. But then that would leave Americans to assume that a black male had a job and that's not good for anyone. And since when do commercials need a back story to be TV appropriate. If we're going to be real about things in commercials, then why not be really real. Why not have 13 yr olds smoking cigarettes? Why not have obese people chilling at McDonald's? I'm not saying stop targeting groups. I'm saying try to be a little less obvious. Nobody was complaining when a couple of years ago McDonald's all of a sudden had an unusual amount of black people in commercials with hip hop blaring in the background. Discreteness. Try it.


"A real man shouldn't have to say no homo." - Jadakiss

I'm not sure who are what started the no homo movement but it is by far the most annoying thing I have ever heard in my life. I'm not homosexual but every time I hear someone (usually a black male) say no homo, I want to hit them in the face. I'm not perfect. I don't pretend to be. Rarely do I describe something I don't like as gay but it does happen. This epithet (yeah...I think it expresses hostility) has found a home in the hearts of males everywhere. But black males...wake up! The ultimate threat to your manhood is not homosexuality. The ultimate threat to your manhood is the white male. Has been for sometime now. You were probably too busy calling each other fag to notice.
What did you do before no homo came along? Did you not express any emotional feelings for another man? Did you not say anything phrased in a particular manner? Did you just say stuff and if anyone even thought about calling you gay you would punch them in the face before they got a chance?
Stop the spread of this hatred please. You 'men' have little boys who don't even understand what homosexuality is running around chanting no homo. This is the same instillation of fear and hatred racists instill in their kids. This is the same process that has little white kids yelling nigger from their fence when they don't understand what it means other than someone with darker skin than theirs. What is a black male to do when he finds himself questioning his sexuality? Who should he turn to when his best friend says no homo every five seconds?
The homophobic black community is a problem. Anyone who can no truly express what they feel because of a fear of being called gay does not have my respect. Not that that matters. I'm just saying you're a punk.
So black 'men', don't be afraid to give your guys some love.
No homo.


The continual borrowing from European and African culture to define everything around without engaging in part contributes to the tabula rasa that was and somehow continues to be white American culture. A heavy reliance on traditionally African arts is expected of the black race in America and to some extent, other races given its innovativeness and pervasive tradition. However, such a large adoption by white America was a surprise. This implementation was initially a result of the White Gaze but without racism this shared ownership, and outright stealing in some cases, would not have occurred in the same volumes. The racial climate of America spurred the onslaught of appropriating African-American centered, and thus in many cases, African based performance arts.
What began as a fixation with black dance and song became a mania for black culture. This was evidenced in the success of Elvis Presley. Again the desire to get as close to blackness as possible without touching it arose. Just as masses believed the white minstrel could portray the black man better than anyone else, Elvis Presley could be a black musician better than any black man could. The white face with black movements was the embodiment of supremacy. It was socially acceptable for white women to lust for this man who attempted to seem black from his hair, to his voice, to his dancing, to his songs. He went further than attempting when he stole songs and music from black artists. Elvis overwhelmingly succeeded because the real black artists were hindered by racism. Even this white man of a lower class was better than a black artist whose intent was not to benefit from the state of his downtrodden people.
The differences in European and African dance styles opened the door for the idea of Social Darwinism. Though racism spurred white cultural producers to make a mockery of African performance art in some cases and allowed them to take part in it in others, many believe Social Darwinism opened the doors for racists to have some biological proof that there is inferiority in those outside the white race. The rigidity of European dance lends to the common saying that white people can not dance and are stiff. The movements incorporated in African dance led some people to believe that black men and women are promiscuous. Although not all descendants of these two groups fall victim to these assertions, enough to spread these stereotypes. Racist forces prevent blacks from being able to speak out and truly engage with the possibility of Social Darwinism. This fear prevents African-Americans in America from owning particular dance styles as cultural property. It should be well known that many dance styles are brought to America from Africa and given their due just as European dance styles are given theirs.
To this day, appropriation of black arts is seen. In the music industry, white rapper Eminem is often reprimanded. While hundreds of black artists have come and gone, many saying far more heinous things than Eminem, the purity of white womanhood must be protected. As a white man, it is unacceptable for him to present himself in this manner while also defaming his white ex-wife and mother. His success benefits from these outrageous statements which garner so much attention because he is white. The racism that plays in the backdrop of the hip hop music industry says it is okay for a black male to degrade his own race and women but allows a white rapper who appropriated the style to succeed and be seen as an advocate of free speech while also attacking him for challenging the sanctity of white womanhood.
Preventing black cultural producers from receiving their credit is heavily influenced by racism. The thought that black artists could produce anything worthy of praise other than coon songs was a concept many had not wrapped their heads around yet. Though African styles of dance can be incorporated into major dance works of white artists, the style itself which has been heavily present since the times of slavery does not have the same allure and grandeur of European dance styles. Racism in America allowed for the appropriation of African and African-American styles for the benefit of white supremacy and looks down on white artists who lower themselves to a level where they seriously engage with the works, themes, and styles of unworthy black forms.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Welcome to Black History Month

29 days.

Black History Month is, once again, upon us. We have added one more day to our month this year. We hope to add more and more days to a dialogue that, sadly, is far too short and much too ghettoized into simple narratives and stock film reels. We seek to change that this year with our own voices. Like all months, TNS strives to "write to right" and write to explore our own voices as we continue to grow and learn.

The list of some of our campus events are below. Come if you can. If not, I hope myself and others can do a little on-site blogging. Although I have not heard much regarding any special events outside of the campus this Black History Month, I am oddly hopeful that this one might be meaningful. Let's see where we are 29 days from now.

Feburary 2nd
Yale Gospel Choir Alumni Concert
7pm Afro-American Cultural Center

February 4th
African Cooking Planning Meeting
5:30pm Afro-American Cultural Center

February 7th - February 9th
Dancing in the Dark
a musical about the life of Bert Williams
8pm and 10:30pm Yale Cabaret

February 8th
Annual Black History Month Dinner
Keynote: Dr. Alexa Canady (first African-American female neurosurgeon)
5:30 Calhoun College

February 11th
African Cook-Off
6-8pm Afro-American Cultural Center

February 12th
Afropunk Screening and Discussion with James Spooner, Director
7-9pm Afro-American Cultural Center

February 14th
Shades Annual Valentines’ Day Concert
Midnight Location: TBA

February 15th
ViDhA, an event illuminating the lives of black women living with HIV/AIDS
7pm Lo Ricco Ballroom

February 15th
Staceyann Chin
6:30pm Afro-American Cultural Center

Feburary 19th
Here, Our Voices Presents: Professor Elijah Anderson
5:30pm Afro-American Cultural Center

February 23rd
Film Festival: “Black and Green - Land, Power and Sustainability in the African Diaspora
11am-4pm Afro-American Cultural Center

February 29th - March 2nd
Black Solidarity Conference (
“The Ballot or the Bullet” Featuring, Tavis Smiley

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Three Cheers for Reproductive Rights...just not for you.

This past week was the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the laws that legalized abortion on a national scale. All around mainstream pro-choice blogs, newsletters, and campus mailing lists, I saw a lot of people really excited about the anniversary...with little to no mention of all the women left out of the mainstream reproductive rights movement (i.e. immigrant women, women of color, disabled women, working-class women, women on welfare/Medicaid, women in prison, and so on). You all know the drill; nothing new, huh?

The language usually used to talk about reproductive rights is about "choices," having the "choice" to have access to an abortion or access to contraceptives. But this ignores the lack of choices a woman has when her very residence in this country is not a free choice, but a move pushed by forces like NAFTA; when her family is already below the poverty line and she can't feed another child; when she is uninsured and has to take what she can get from Medicaid, if she can even get that much; when she has already been denied autonomy over her health by rape or incest; when she is in prison (and likely unfairly so) and therefore denied abortion access in many states; or when the combination of religion and shame have denied her comprehensive sex education to even know where to begin. Calling reproductive justice a "choice" is only easy for some.

Of course, it is great how far reproductive rights have come, but no victory is worth winning if the fight isn't inclusive. So instead of merely throwing Roe a birthday party, I'm rounding up a few articles as a starting point in the reproductive justice movement outside the cozy confines of the mainstream:

* "Expand the Pro-Choice Dialogue," and anything else you might find on the SisterSong Collective's website.

* "Demanding Reproductive Justice for Latinas"

* "Latinas and Abortion Access," and anything else from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

* Holla!, a newsletter put out by Sistas on the Rise, an activist group for teenage women of color's reproductive rights & education

* We Got Issues, from the National Asian/Pacific American Women's Forum, on the absence of API women from the reproductive health movement

* An Open Letter on the ableism buried, not too deeply, within much of the mainstream movement

* "Reproductive Rights in Theory and Practice: The Meaning of Roe v. Wade for Women in Prison"

And with that, I wish you a happy Roe v Wade week.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Achola Obama

So I finally read Steinem's op-ed published earlier this week. I thought Steinem raised a solid point about how we understand women's accomplishments in terms of relationships, rather than individual successes. But it also revealed the inadequacy of the message Hillary Clinton is currently campaigning behind.

The figurative punch of her lede—the mysterious, unelectable black woman—comes from our attribution of the woman's accomplishments with those of her husband, children, and the people around her. That is, her marriage to a corporate lawyer and raising of two children is right up there with her work as a community organizer and a state senator. Hell, she can't even choose her racial self-identification ('in this race-conscious country she IS CONSIDERED black). It's a classic example of having her identity as a woman defined by her relationships, and by those standards alone we would dismiss her candidacy prematurely.

It's a valid point, but it also happens to be the substance of Hillary's entire campaign. Hillary seems to bring Chelsea to events not to add another voice to her campaign—Chelsea doesn't speak to reporters or supporters—but to reaffirm her status as a mother. Bill stands right beside her, reinforcing the fact that her "experience" is based on eight years as the wife of the sitting president. I don't honestly believe she or the American public would say an additional four years in the US Senate is enough to deduce that she has more experience to lead. I also don't think Laura Bush or Nancy Reagan somehow have significantly more experience than any junior senator. But while Steinem decries our unwillingness to look beyond gender and see the true accomplishments of the individual, Hillary is, in essence, asking us to wait a couple of months before heeding Steinem's advice.

Hillary Clinton is definitely qualified to run for president and lead the country. But I really don't think her campaign of experience is challenging us to look critically at how we perceive gender, either.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

I cannot believe this...

Barack Obama just won my home state.
The first caucus of the year.
How in the world?
I am hopeful.
This is history.