Racism is a covert agent in our lives. Some claim that it is invisible to them; completely hidden. It is very infrequent that racism openly reveals itself for long enough to be identified, before disappearing, cloaked in discussions about “culture,” “socio-economics,” “sensitivity,” or “history.” Online prostitution is one venue where structural racism can be seen in plain sight.
That’s why I researched online prostitution in New York City for my college thesis. With the help of websites like Backpage.com and Craigslist.com, I became acquainted with the underground sex industry, where the value of a woman is in plain sight. Her worth is advertised without a hint of political correctness. No excuses are made about class, schooling or occupation. Every woman is simply a scantily-clad commodity who, with the click of a mouse, is deemed wanted or unwanted for purchase. Keep reading »
Whitenicious, a cosmetics line created by California-based, Nigerian-Cameroonian pop star Dencia touts its ability to help customers even out their skin and get rid of discoloration. The product is essentially a skin bleaching cream in a golden jar, sold for $150 a pop– well, at least that is what anyone would gather from Dencia’s “transformation” as seen on the advertisement, from a mocha beauty, to a caramel, Beyonce look-alike, to a washed-out corpse.
So why is this never explicitly stated? More importantly, why is the purpose of Whitenicious — to make a dark skinned person have lighter skin — intentionally concealed? The advertising campaign for Dencia’s product leads consumers to believe that the function of her “cosmetic” is to “nourish your skin and lighten dark knuckles, knees and elbows.” Keep reading »
I am a 23-year-old black woman who, for a long time, tried to have discussions with white people about racism in America. I went to a white, liberal college in New York City where I thought such exchanges were welcomed. I actually believed there could be such a thing as a productive conversation on the matter, some type of engagement, a debate. I wrote speeches about the wealth gap between black and white families (a staggering $100,000 difference), the unforgivable incarceration rate of black men, the discriminatory education system. I even made a video about the misrepresentation and misuse of black women by pop culture and the media. Most of my revelations were met with silence and blank stares by my class of mostly white peers. Eventually the professor, typically a white man or woman, would clear his/her throat and ask, “Well, any questions for Tiffanie?” The students would whisper amongst themselves, but oddly, I was never asked to elaborate. It was understood, in their opinion, that I was the overly sensitive, angry black woman. The racist; a race baiter. Keep reading »
When I saw an online ad that said, “Seeking Elves For Seasonal Position,” I admit, I was pretty excited. Not only did I fill out the application and provide a full resume, I also attached a cover letter with reasons why I would make the perfect elf:
“With over six years of experience working with children, I have full confidence in my ability to be an asset to your elf team!”
In my defense, even as a freshman in college, I was still a big kid inside. I was envisioning my elf experience to be like a scene out of an iconic Christmas movie. I would hand out candy canes to smiling kiddies, hoist little boys and girls onto Santa’s lap, listen to bubbly recitations of toy-filled Christmas wish lists, and push gleeful children down a slide into a sea of puffy, cotton clouds. As a Christmas elf, I would have the power to make so many childhood wishes come true. I would be part of the spirit of Christmas!
I showed up to the first day of training at Macy’s flagship New York City store. Getting in character, I practically skipped all the way there. When I entered through the huge golden doors of the mega-retailer, I was bombarded by sales people wearing Santa hats trying to sell me luxury bags I couldn’t afford, and the overwhelming scent of perfume.
“Where do I go for training for SantaLand?” I asked a sleepy looking security guard.
“You have to go through the employee entrance around the back,” he explained. Keep reading »
I am a black woman and my best friend is a gay man. He came out to me the summer between our senior year of high school and our freshman year of college.
“I really need to tell you something,” he began, while driving us home from our summer job at the local pool. I didn’t know what to expect — an admission of love, maybe? That would be awkward.
He pulled the car over, then stared deeply into my eyes and said, “I’m gay.”
I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Oh, that’s cool with me,” I replied.
He was excited that we would remain friends and was especially happy to have someone to go out and “meet boys” with. Together we frequented New York City’s gay clubs and bars, more often than the straight ones. Splash, Therapy or Barracuda, but The Ritz was a mutual favorite. It was a two-floor bar with a huge dance floor, usually jam packed with sweaty, shirtless men by 1 a.m. The environment offered us both freedoms: I could be as black as I wanted: dance to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” twerk it, shake it and break it (while being applauded), and he could be as gay as he wanted. Keep reading »
I have been a symbol of sex my entire life. As a black woman from a poor, single-parent household, I know the script that is written for me far too well. Black women are always more appealing as strippers or “hoes.” Before I even hit puberty, this script was shoved in my face and I was forced to memorize it.
When I was 11, I lived in a predominantly underprivileged, black neighborhood in Houston, Texas. Everyone knew each other. My mom worked nights at the local hospital, so often I was home alone with my brother, sister and an older cousin. My mom thought the high fences that surrounded our complex kept us safe from what was on the outside. Little did she know, what was on the inside tormented me daily. Keep reading »