Ebony Magazine Faces Hatred for Covers Honoring Trayvon Martin

Often, in American culture, racial minorities face a certain “twoness” when interacting with the world around them. W.E.B. Du Bois best summed this up when he simply asked “How does it feel to be a problem?.” The murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in early 2012 is the quintessential example of how one’s twoness can converge upon a single moment in time thus dictating one’s life outcomes. Now, after the trial has ended, the assailant has been found not guilty, and the family, friends, relatives, and surrounding community continue to mourn the loss of Martin, many have taken to the idea of fictive kinship, the notion that because we are all in this community together, we are each susceptible to the same type of animus responsible for Martin’s murder. Ebony magazine, a publication serving the black community, has focused its upcoming September issue on Trayvon Martin’s namesake and legacy. But, the magazine isn’t without its detractors. [Read more…]

I Stopped Being Normal & Started Being Me

normalFile this post away in your “Confessions of an Ex-Poser” file cabinet. Have you ever been or met a poser? You know, those people who claim to have been born in some exotic locale so they can sound well-bred. Or, a young lady who claims all her hair is her own but she might “clip a little something in sometimes.” Or, one of my favorites, black folks who claim that they are “part Indian” but they have no idea what tribe, province, or “part” they are. These are the hallmarks of a poser. And, I am no different. I have been a poser at different points in my life. I was afraid that if people knew who I really was, they wouldn’t be impressed enough. I was trying so hard to be normal that I wasn’t being myself. [Read more…]

Worth 104: Know Your Worth…Then Live it

worthQuoteWhat does this quote mean to you? Do you believe it? After reading Worth 101, 102, and 103, do you actually believe that your worth is determined just by the mere you-ness in your veins?

This final installment of the introduction to The Worth Campaign is really about you understanding you. There are no lessons from me here. You are the pilot of your own Worth Campaign just as I am the pilot of mine. There is no single method to understanding your worth and living it. But, I have a few observations that I have made as I have navigated my own journey. [Read more…]

Worth 103: When Shaming Becomes Action

Welcome to Worth 103: When Shaming Becomes Action. This piece was originally written on Water Cooler Convos addressing some of the messages manifested in real-life and written about by Melissa Harris-Perry in Sister Citizen.

The purpose of this installment is to illustrate how the theme of shame in interwoven into the lives of women of color. Additionally, shame, in some cases, is used to punish women for socially-identified stereotypical behavior whether it is truly present or not.

Have you ever watched butter melt? It is actually quite interesting. There are several options when melting butter you know. One, you can simply leave it out on the counter and let it rest for a few minutes or hours depending on whether it was in the freezer or fridge. Two, you can melt it on the stovetop. Or, three, you can just pop it in the microwave and hit the “melt” button. I melted some butter this weekend while making my kids a batch of pancakes. And, as I watched the tall chunk of dairy goodness become swallowed up by the plastic measuring cup, I felt myself drift away a bit. [Read more…]

Worth 102: Understanding the Roots of Stereotypes

Worth 102 is the second installment in your introduction to The Worth Campaign. This lesson is intended to educate young women of color about the roots of three dominating stereotypes: the Jezebel, the Mammy, and the Sapphire.

The Jezebel

According to Harris-Perry, the Jezebel ideal originated when Southern slaveowners needed a reason to legitimize the forced nakedness, physical “commoditization,” and coerced sexual relations between them and their female slaves. In order to justify the rape and dehumanization of these women, they had to be depicted as wanton, over-sexed, whorish, and seductive. How were these poor slaveowners to deny these big breasted, chiseled bodied, and perpetually available Black women whose sole desire was to sleep with them? These women were cast as animalistic in nature. Sexual prowess was just a Black woman’s natural instinct toward physical gratification. Disgusting right? [Read more…]