Google the term “Strange Fruit” and the first result is the Wikipedia page for the infamous Billie Holiday song, originally written as a poem by Abel Meeropol, about the lynching of Black Americans. “Strange fruit” literally refers to Black bodies hanging from trees. This is a fact that seemingly went over the heads of Ali Slutsky and Mary Mickel (above), the (white!) gals behind the two-year-old Austin-based “hospitality” firm Strange Fruit PR, whose Twitter bio completely seriously asks, “Are you a strange fruit?” Or it did up until today, when the Twitter feed, as well as the company’s entire internet presence, disappeared after they were called out about the offensiveness of their name. They also released a statement of apology, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Keep reading »
Dear Iggy Azalea,
I was a Black child of the ’90s who grew up on hip-hop and R&B. Some of my favorite adolescent memories were set to the soundtrack of the likes of Toni Braxton, Tupac, Sade, Lauryn Hill and Nas. I may have only been seven-years-old when DJ Kool announced, “Let Me Clear My Throat,” but I was always right on time with the chorus as the beat dropped. I Hammer-timed and sang along to “Baby Got Back” while shaking my booty in the mirror. These “Black” music genres gave me an identity to be proud of. It taught me how to display and be proud of my culture and heritage. These “Black” genres were dominated and represented by people who looked like me — and those “Black genres” were at the top of America’s music charts. It was a true phenomenon to behold; a very recent freedom acquired by Black Americans after a long history of musical and cultural theft by Whites. I am the byproduct of that freedom: confident, strong and unapologetically Black. Sadly, today’s Black youth will not have the chance to see themselves in the music created by their people — a cyclical, unbreakable White tradition of theft and appropriation has once again taken that from them. And you are part of the problem. Keep reading »
Earlier this week during Sunday night football, five St. Louis Rams players came out of the tunnel to take the field ahead of the rest of the team, arms raised in “hands up, don’t shoot” posture, in honor of the Ferguson protesters angry with the lack of indictment of Officer Darren Wilson, four months after his shooting of Mike Brown. The gesture was powerful, especially coming from influential athletes from the St. Louis community. And what did they get in return? A whole bunch of belly aching from the St. Louis Police Department, who demanded an apology, rightfully didn’t get one, and then still chose to pretend they did. What a world! Keep reading »
“You fucking stupid bitch,” a man screamed followed by the slam of a car door. Feet thumped and the passenger door swung open. The incoherent pleas of a woman could be heard.
Then the loud sound of skin making contact with skin reverberated through the late night, down the empty street. My brother, sister and I rushed to our window to peak through the blinds to see what was happening. My fingers pulled the blinds down and I peeped out into the darkness; I could see a young, dark-skinned woman, crying and begging like a sinner seeking forgiveness at the feet of a Jesus statue for some unknown, unrighteous sin. Except, the man standing in front of her wasn’t frozen in stone. With all the force he could muster, he launched a kick that landed square in her stomach.
“Call the cops,” my brother ordered. Keep reading »
I am at odds with feminism and my conflict is a “race issue.”
For White women, defining oneself as feminist is pretty simple. The need to advance a female political agenda — while dismissing male oppression — makes sense in a world where White men maintain the highest position and power. I understand that.
However, as a Black woman, I do not share that same freedom or privilege to so easily align myself with gendered politics. I elaborated on that notion sometime ago in a piece that I wrote about intersectionality. In summary, my existence is plagued by both White patriarchy and racism. Neither of those plights outweigh the other, though both do have their own implications that are divisive and confusing. Therefore, I, as well as other women of color, am constantly at odds with the struggle against racism and patriarchy. It’s a predicament where I must constantly defend my position as a woman who cares about women’s issues to Black men– and the Black community– who claim that the main political focus of any Black individual should be tackling racism and White supremacy. And, similarly, I must constantly defend myself to White women who expect that women will readily adopt a White feminist agenda that does not account for the particular position that women of color occupy.
This is my statement to both of these demographics: I care not for your acceptance or approval. I stand upon the platform built for me by my foremothers, the Black women who understood the various struggles that plague women of color and the truth that advancement for us cannot be realized without the release of our community — and men — from the shackles of racism. I stand beside Alice Walker, bell hooks, Clenora Hudson-Weems and the myriad of women who understand my struggle and advocate for progress for the Black community. Keep reading »