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