September 16, 2014

What Janay Rice and Jill Scott Have in Common

If you are thinking, Erin isn't this a blog for feminists about women's issues? What in the world took you so long to write about what a monster Ray Rice is? The truth is, I didn't want to write about Ray Rice or the NFL. I did not want to write about how a man who was indicted by a grand jury for aggravated assault, was only punished after a video of him knocking out his now-wife emerged- 6 months later. The story makes me furious. However, the conversations have been even worse.

Oh, so we only need protection from police?

Comments blaming the victim, jokes about taking the stairs, arguments of who hit who first are maddening. I am also sick of hearing what a scandal this is for the NFL! They will be alright. I assure you. What is not right and what is not fair, is that over and over again women of color are left to fend for ourselves when the pot gets hot.

Two weeks ago I cannot explain how excited I was to see Jill Scott trending on Twitter. After having a really rough morning at work, I thought I would get to see a trailer or hear a new song that would help me hit reset on the morning. Instead I saw breasts. I saw a lightly robed Jilly from Philly in her bathroom. Thinking it was a Photoshop joke I scrolled down to see the constant RTs and jokes about "Jill Scott built like." Why?! I was angry and I was shocked.

How is it that one of the founders of Twitter can stand for Mike Brown, but miss a nude celebrity? What is it that gives the world permission to mock us and kick us when we're down? It's baffling and tiresome. Of course Jill Scott responded with the Grace of thousand queens because that is who she is. However, that does not excuse the fact that she was left vulnerable and exposed in a way Jennifer Lawrence was not. (To this day, the breasts of J. Law are hardly anywhere to be found.)


I write this to simply say that I hope this is a wake up call. You don't get to be an ally when it's convenient; when you get to defend Nicki's butt or Beyonce's wigs. Show up when it really matters, show up when we need you. No one should get to pick and choose who deserves empathy in a clear case of abuse. I want to see the concern for Mrs. Rice and her child. I want every domestic abuse prevention and recovery organization to get shine. Who cares if Roger Goodell is fired? Our priorities need a realignment. If we're firing him, we need to fire congressmen, pastors, coaches, and anyone who is, or protects abusers everywhere, because its not OK!

For more information about domestic abuse and organizations, check out the amazing post by Afrobella, interviewing an expert in domestic abuse cases.

See also #whyistayed and the resources list here.

We ALL deserve protection, not to be belittled in the face of adversity. #YesAllWomen

What do you think Diamonds? Do you think it's time to change the conversation? Leave a comment or let me know on Twitter.

September 3, 2014

It's Always About Race, Until It's Not

An Unpopular Opinion About the Shooting of Unarmed Teen Michael Brown

I am going to post an unpopular opinion, broken down into three points, about the events in Ferguson and move on. I will not move on because I do not care, but because I believe in what I am about to say.

To date, there have been countless thought pieces about the shooting of unarmed teen, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the militarized police force that occupied the town in response to community protest. Some of them have been amazing, some have been absolutely irresponsible (Ahem, the New York Times). As it stands, Darren Wilson (the offending officer who killed Brown), is in an unknown location, has not been indicted, and swimming in half a million dollars. Michael Brown is dead. His parents buried him on August 25th. Now I am not a lawyer, and I am not going to give a play by play; it's been done. My thoughts are simply this:

1) Traditional broadcast media is not of, for, or about the people. It was great that this case was brought to America's attention, but I constantly ask to what end? The St. Louis County police department have been COMPLETLY OBSCURE in their presentation of what occurred- from the first day, while they were still "gathering facts," to not releasing Wilson's name for over 4 days. Unfortunately, there are many people who truly believe police are practically infallible, or will sympathize with the fact they have a hard life defending us. In reporting this story, there were few facts that would convince anyone who hasn't heard the unarmed Black man shot by police story a thousand times. (Just the mere protection of the Officer frames him as a victim.) What is going on with the Ferguson community now that the cameras are gone? We don't really know. What is the status of the investigation? We don't really know. At the end of the day mainstream media reporting is a business. Since when did corporate interests lead to social justice? Next time, tell CNN to leave Don Lemon at home.

Protest in Staten Island for Eric Gardner, Michael Brown,
and others that lead into a televised pep rally.

2) Real G's move in silence. Ladies you know how you have an argument with a guy, tell him OK, you're right, and then numb chuck his ass later? Yeah, like that. Protests are awesome, but what happens when they don't listen? What happens when they don't hear us? Get quiet real quick, and then go to work. I have been inspired by the passion and work of the Dream Defenders that advocate for a change in LAWS. What would be the most effective form, or boycott that does not completely depress the community economically? How do you get these decision makers out of their comfort zone? Let's raise the money to do that. To be clear, I am not condoning any kind of violence. However, I am pointing out the fact that tanks vs. people does not sound like the best of strategies, which leads me to my last point and post title...

3) Institutionalized racism isn't really about race, it's about seperation.* When you're shaking down a tree, the most ripe (i.e., vulnerable) fruit will fall down first. There is a piece I read that delves into this better than I can articulate in a bullet point, but the fact is that it may be time to reframe the conversation of "no more Trayvon's or Michael Brown's." It is a narrative that even leaves out women of color. Now while we can see how we are intrinsically linked, the blonde suburban mom struggling to make her mortgage may not, but the truth is this, they'll send tanks down her street in time too.

*This point does not in any way deny the legitimacy or detract from the organization of Black people around issues that affect us Vis à Vis institutionalized racism. Simply pointing out the fact that in 2014 there is still a minority of Whites who empathize with Black pain and an even smaller group who dare speak up about it because they do not believe it is "their fight." This point often goes unaddressed, leaving us having the same conversations with ourselves.  

August 22, 2014

Blog in the Round: Celebrating Authors!

Literary event organizer extraordinaire and published author Raquel Penzo has asked me to participate in Blog in the Round. What is that you ask? It’s a way for you and me to get to know authors and find out what they are working on. Raquel was asked by Nina Foxx, who was asked by her friend and author Melissa Monteilh, who was asked by KL Brady, who was asked by Trice Hickman. I’m supposed to answer four questions about my writing process, and then pass it on to other authors.

What am I writing/working on?
The biggest project for me this year has been producing content for my blog and attending more literary events. I am slowing getting on a bi-monthly poetry schedule to enter contests and have published. Kind of like that anthology business I was in earlier this year! ;)

How does my writing/work differ from others in its genre?
Well first of what is my genre? I would put my site in the creative non-fiction category because it's all me with some research and essence of Zora. A lot of people want to write about and to millinials -what we're thinking, what we're buying,  and where we're moving to. However, very rarely is the spotlight put on us to tell our own stories. Along with being a young Black woman having the nerve to write, I also tackle feminist issues from a hybrid perspective of traditional Southern and "Big City."

Why do I write what I do?
I have always had a passionate curiosity about the world. When I realized that this was something I shared with the brilliant and wordly author Zora Neal Hurston, it changed my concept of what writing was and the power it held. Writing did not have to be stuffy,  or go in perfect chronological order. Writing can be real, it can breathe, and it can bring people together. My hope is that I bring people together, that they read what I write from my collective experiences and know someone else felt it, and it's OK. I write to start conversations because the world shrinks everytime two people talk.

How does my writing process work?
My process often starts with personal reflection. I think about my day, my week, my month, and then move out. The biggest secret about being unique is that no one is. Somewhere, on some farm, some guy thinks he's the first person ever to fall in love with a donkey. Then at some point that guy gets slapped with a sad nope. What is unusual though is the bravey and courage it takes to be vulnerable and sometimes state the unpopular opinion. In putting my stories to paper, I don't imagine the most ridiculous story I can tell, but rather what was significant about something as simple as getting dressed and going to work. I often scribble my ideas or themes out on post-its or my tablet then flesh them out starting with the end; meaning I try to narrow down what the take-away should be before I finish filling it the Who/What and all that jazz. Oh, then lots of editing. I try to step away, come back, then edit some more. There isn't really a routine to this, for better and for worse.

Who’s next? I will be passing the torch to Fifi Buchanan. Visit her blog today!