My updated @C2E2 schedule!

The 2017 C2E2 schedule is finally live! So here’s an updated and accurate schedule of panels I’ll be on with links.

You Have Died From Exposure: The Importance Of Compensating Geeky Marginalized Creators

Jennifer Cross [M], Michi Trota, Suzanne Walker, Charlie Hawkins

April 21, 6:45 – 7:45 pm S405a

“Do It for the Exposure!” “Aren’t you just grateful to have this opportunity?” Too often, marginalized creators are thrown these adages as compensation for their hard work and creativity in lieu of financial redress like their privileged counterparts. We will be discussing the importance of equal compensation for equal work, the benefit of outreach, and how it’s led to opening the geek culture markets for creators & consumers who don’t look like or think in “mainstream”.

Behind The Parable And The Power: A Celebration Of The Black Women Creators Of The ‘Verse

Jennifer Cross [M], Mikki Kendall, Keidra Chaney

April 22, 4:15-5:15pm S405a

The ladies from A Black Nerd Girl’s Journey and More Than Warriors And Weather Witches are back! This year, we’re going to celebrate the black women behind the pages and productions of our favorite stories from the ‘Verse. We will laud the history of their influence, analyze how far we still need to go, and hopefully hear from the audience how their favorite black women creators have inspired them to pursue their own geeky paths.

How to Twitch safely as a POC/LGBTQIA/Female ID’d Streamer

Tanya DePass [M], LethalJugular and Coco_The_Louder

April 22, 5:15 – 6:15 pm, S503

Streaming on Twitch can be fun, but it can also be perilous for some of us. This panel will bring you some tips and tricks such as using bots, human mods and other methods to make your experience as stress free as possible.

Reblog, Retweet, Resist! Hashtag Movement and Fan Activism

Presented by Racebending.com with Gabriel Canada, Michi Trota, Mikki Kendall and me

April 22, 1:30 – 2:30 pm Room S405b

You reblog, retweet and resist! Social media has transformed pop culture fans into popular movements through fan activism and Hashtag campaigns

My @C2E2 Schedule!

C2E2_Logo_Square.jpg

 

April 21

You Have Died From Exposure: The Importance Of Compensating Geeky Marginalized Creators Jennifer Cross [M], Michi Trota, Suzanne Walker, Ariela Housman

“Do It for the Exposure!” “Aren’t you just grateful to have this opportunity?” Too often, marginalized creators are thrown these adages as compensation for their hard work and creativity in lieu of financial redress like their privileged counterparts. We will be discussing the importance of equal compensation for equal work, the benefit of outreach, and how it’s led to opening the geek culture markets for creators & consumers who don’t look like or think in “mainstream”.

April 22

 Behind The Parable And The Power: A Celebration Of The Black Women Creators Of The ‘Verse Jennifer Cross [M], Mikki Kendall, Keidra Chaney

The ladies from A Black Nerd Girl’s Journey and More Than Warriors And Weather Witches are back! This year, we’re going to celebrate the black women behind the pages and productions of our favorite stories from the ‘Verse. We will laud the history of their influence, analyze how far we still need to go, and hopefully hear from the audience how their favorite black women creators have inspired them to pursue their own geeky paths.

4:15 pm Room S405a

How to Twitch safely as a POC/LGBTQIA/Female ID’d Streamer with Brandon Stennis UGRGaming and Coco_The_Louder

5:15 pm Room S503

April 23 

Reblog, Retweet, Resist! Hashtag Movement and Fan Activism presented by Racebending.com with Gabriel Canada, Michi Trota, Mikki Kendall and me

1:30 pm Room S405b

Fire and Flow at #ORDCamp 2017

One thing I was really looking forward to at my first #ORDCamp was learning to firespin, taught by Michi Trota!  She gave us basics and let those who felt comfortable doing so try it out. Photos by Anne Petersen, Under Creative Commons License (some rights reserved) pictured;me solo and me with Mikki Kendall.

Quick video taken on my phone by Caitlin Rosberg:

On the expectation of free labor to diversify your spaces

[Copy/Pasted from an early AM twitter vent this morning 12/21/16]

I’m in a mood, and I’m irritated. I want to talk about value of work, specifically diversity work & people’s expectation of free labor. So I’m lucky, and in a good position where sometimes people come out the gate with what are your rates & fees? This does not always happen though, don’t get excited. Like I said I’m in a good position.

However…there’s the pervasive idea that we should provide our expertise, our skills and knowledge for little or no pay. How about no? A lot of places want to be seen as progressive, diverse and doing the right thing but they don’t want to invest time & resources. Or they think it’s as simple as invite a few brown folks and a queer person, give them top billing one year & we’ve done it! Uh no.

web-analytics-my-1-if-you-built-it-they-will-come

See, we can see right through that bullshit. Especially when your convention committee doesn’t change, your policies don’t change. You can’t put the current hyper visible POC in your field up as your diversity! And expect us to flock to your event. Again, we see you.

Here’s my main gripe though. Reaching out to people to get help but not offering compensation at the same time.

It’s always “Let’s have a coffee, let me buy you lunch and pick your brain…”

This isn’t about greed either. This is about valuing someone enough to “pick their brain” but not enough to pay them.This is doubly true when you expect someone to help with event they may attend but won’t offer some kind of comps or payment.  Helping the community is great, but it doesn’t negate the value of that persons time.

Even asking someone to take the time to chat with you, have an email exchange or Skype call should be considered work.I think it comes down to people not seeing it as “real” work. Also, acting as if someone asking for compensation is wrong? Or insinuating they don’t actually care because they wanna eat?

Nah, we all got bills and if you want my time & expertise? FU Pay Me. Nobody expects teachers to work for free, or other laborers so why us? Because a lot of the work is emotional labor. To unfuck the ways that events and orgs have failed on representation is a lot hard work y’all. So stop asking for free labor under the guise of doing better. Improvement takes effort, time and money. Investment not hollow promises.

When you ask someone on how to do better, ask what their preferred compensation method is. Fucking pay people for their time.

fuckyoupaymeartprintfromgeekcalligraphycom

 Fuck You Pay Me available from Geek Calligraphy, purchase one for your workspace!

Last thing, think real hard on how you react to black Womens, lgbtqia & other folks asking to be paid vs whites.Look at all the extra shit people want from us to prove we’re worth the time, effort & money to support. Look at how angry people get when we dare to say our time & knowledge is valuable. Y’all have seen it, people bring accused of running scams, that we should help for $0.

However, white folks come up with the weirdest shit for a kickstarter or crowd funding that overfunds but we can’t make the minimum.So if I’m bitter? It’s with damn good reason. Tired of being told the work is valuable, needed but when we ask for help? Support is nil. TL;DR, stop asking people for free work. Value our skills enough to offer payment when asking for said work. Exposure kills, it’s not money, not valid currency anywhere.

It’s not the first time I’ve talked about this. It probably won’t be the last either. As long as people continue to undervalue, or assume no value for the hard work that is required to achieve better representation, more diversity and make it stick; we’ll keep having this damn go round and around until people get it.

Other writings I’ve done on this topic & related issues: 

You Wanna Diversify huh? That’s Nice, Pay Us

On paying black women for the work we do and the ways people accuse us of cashing in

Thoughts on diversity, conventions & cost

Emotional Labor, OT edition for POC, LGBTIQIA & others — Fandom edition

On the value of black women’s work

So yesterday I couldn’t sleep and twitterpated all over about the Safetypin box and the reactions to it. Notably that some dude bro who didn’t know anything about the creators (Leslie Mac and Marissa Johnson)

I collated those over on Medium for anyone who wants to peep  that first. On paying black women for the work we do and the ways people accuse us of cashing in

Today, I had more twitterations on the idea that Safetypinbox HAD to be a 501 c 3 charity or people felt uncomfortable with where the money was going. IE These two black women can’t be trusted. Those thoughts and some more to follow because I am fed the entire fuck up with how people want the benefits without realizing the human cost behind it. What follows are my tweets c/p from 12/6/2016.

I keep seeing people throw out that *should* be a 501(c)(3) charity. Because that gives *them* comfort somehow. Let’s talk.

One, if this was charity work then fine. It’s a service however. Says so right on the website.

spb-not-a-charity

Go read it over, then come back.

Two, do any of these people talking about how easy it is to become a 501(c)(3) know anything about the process? At all? Guessing that’s a no. If you have to file the 1023 form, (30 pages long btw)have the $400 or $850 filing fee & get it done quickly? 180 day window for decision.If you qualify for 1023 EZ filing? Still $275 & 180 day decision window. So it’s not easy to start a charity. But that’s not the issue here.

The real issue is two black women have done the same thing white activists are lauded for & y’all mad.

They are putting a dollar value on the free emotional labor that people expect of black women all day, every day. I should just start posting the requests to pick my brain, get a cup of coffee to get a read on something I get re: games diversity. Y’all expect black women especially to do this heavy lifting for the good of the community, for free cause it’s better for all.

Fuck that

It’s unsurprising to see who has some shit to say in the face of black women going fuck you, pay me for my time & knowledge. Like people who go follow black women, expect to be educated & have their ignorance lifted but won’t drop a tip or support their Patreons. Out here treating us like Hazel, like we’re supposed to hold your fucking hand & let you sip from the Chalice of Wokeness for free!

Nah, we all gotta live. Stop devaluing our labor, our knowledge & expecting a handout to rise beyond your ignorance. Google is free y’all. So stop acting like we’re asking for too much when we say pay up for that time you asked us for. We value our work, our expertise. Since you asked for our help? You must value it too. So put your money where your mouth is or be quiet.

I salute you y’all for getting that money

That said, I had the usual rando’s and well, actually’s roll through my TL. Once I was properly up and about, I had a few thoughts on the people who follow me on various sites, say they learn from me etc. Yet, people don’t value work all the same. Even had someone who inferred I was saying pay me to tweet.

I got nothing to say about that except that added 2+2 and got yarn. If anyone following me thinks that’s where I was going, then leave now. Ain’t nobody said pay me to tweet. For those curious I said the following:

So I’m up and I been thinking. Remember when I asked people why they follow me? Realize what the majority of answers were? To recap: Because they learn something, because they get a POV unlike their own. I.E they get value from my tweets.

Or the articles I write and share here, or the collated, nicely bundled and edited twitterpations I put out on Medium. Still with me? I have over 6700 followers (for now, watch I drop some after this tweet). Some are bots that will drop off & don’t count. Let’s be generous and say 1500 are not real accounts that haven’t dropped off. That leaves over 5500 people reading what I have to say daily.

If half those folks dropped a donation or even supported my Patreon at $1 each? I’d be A-OK. But I guess there’s a line for some. Ok. Same for other black women on here & other platforms. People listen but they ghost out when we pass the hat or ask to be compensated. [this is where some people got stuck and probably thought I was saying pay me to tweet. Which I wasn’t but whatever]

I’m mad but I’m also tired, tired of the expectation of free labor from some. Not everyone does this but it happens too often.

Here’s the thing, no one is obligated to do a damn thing. Ain’t nobody gotta follow me, or donate or support me on Patreon. Point was it would be great if the same people who say they learn from what I say, who say they enjoy my work and consider the other things I do off twitter to be important would throw some coins my way.

It’s been almost a year since I lost my day job, just 9 days away from that anniversary so I’m probably noticing this more keenly than usual. But I’m real tired of black women’s work not being valued. For POC/LGBTQIA/Disabled/Neurodivergent folks to have the burden of free emotional labor dropped on them but when they ask for compensation? Then they’re greedy, not helpful, scamming… it goes on and on.

Just tired and full of thoughts that needed to get out. Consider what you are asking when you ask us for that coffee chat, a quick lunch or a few minutes of our time. The cost is usually higher than what you think.

 

 

I’m fed up

I thought about writing out my thoughts on all the killings and shootings of our people instead of a long thread of tweets. However, I’m not doing that for two reasons.

One) it’s like the second I talk about one person’s murder by cops, another occurs in hours if not days and it’s exhausting emotionally, physically to wake up to the same news, same situation, same cycle of victim blaming of the newly murdered and sympathy for the killer in blue.

Two) When I share my thoughts, my pain without fail someone takes it as some academic lesson, some object lesson on racism instead of hearing out their friends pain about another black life taken. They share it as a lesson to other white friends who don’t get it. My pain is not a soundbite, it’s not a handy lesson to pass around to show how woke you are.

It also happens without fail someone will whitesplain back what I’ve said or try to play devil’s advocate when I speak from my heart. That usually happens more on twitter than here but it’s irritating and hurtful that people who follow me would rather turn someone’s very real hurt into an academic circle jerk on whether the things I’ve said are valid because they don’t see it in their lives.

I’ve got filters upon filters on Facebook, and a private, locked twitter. That’s where I’ll be having a lot of these conversations or venting going forward because my pain over more black murders isn’t there for people who don’t get it and thank me for sharing on breath, yet continue to be clueless and hurtful in the next.

Semi-infrequent reminders of how to support my work

Hey y’all! Here is a handy post on how you can support my work. A lot of people say they love what I do, and want me to keep doing it, but hey bills don’t pay themselves, Comcast won’t wait for their money and the cat needs kibble, I need food, y’all know how it goes.

The straight up, no bullshit thing is; if I have to go back to a regular 9-5 gig then I Need Diverse Games will die off. I cannot maintain that work, do conventions and other things with a regular gig AND do the level of work for INDG that I am now and have it still be a thing I am proud of, that I got to where it is now along with friends and supporters. There’s a separate patreon for I Need Diverse Games, but this post is about ways to keep a roof over my head so I can continue to do this full time.

Luckily, there’s a few ways to help keep me afloat.

               patreon_logo_black Patreon – patreon.com/cypheroftyr

Why I’m on Patreon:

#INeedDiverseGames is my full time job thanks to being abruptly let go from my previous employer in December 2015. I’m dedicating all my time and resources available, but doing this doesn’t generate a lot of money, it usually costs me what little I had to spare when I was employed. To survive, pay my rent and keep fed, along with the cat, etc I need to ideally pull in at least $2000 a month, but to truly have all bills paid, be able to attend conventions, etc I need to hit a goal of about $3K a month. I outlined this in a recent post on my blog, and I’ve copied some of that below.

Ideally I would need at least $2000 – $3000 a month coming in to cover the following:
Rent $925 a month [Goes up to $950 on October 1st]
Bills, including internet, electricity, cooking gas, etc. ($650)
Pet costs ($125)
Groceries ($300)
Transit costs ($100 a month, unlimited rides on CTA)
INDG related Travel & Doing cost of business expenses (which could also be pulled from INDG for specific reasons/conventions)

If you can help me support myself while I do this work it would be great. Thank you in advance for any help you can give so I can continue to do this full time.

I’ve got a decent social media presence, almost 5900 followers on twitter, over 1500 on tumblr, the I Need Diverse Games tumblr has over 7K followers. If even half my twitter followers pledged $1 a month, I could do this without worrying too much about money and keeping a roof over my head.
Maybe you’re thinking a monthly commitment to $X in support isn’t your thing, you can’t but you still want to help? I’ve got a paypal.me button (and no shame) if you’ve got some loot in your pocket that would help out I can give it a good home.
paypal me logo
paypal.me/cypheroftyr

 

Lastly, I like to write! I’ve written quite a bit and if you’re in a position to pay for articles, opinion pieces or maybe need some diversity consulting done, that’s another way to help support & keep me working! I also go to conventions, and if you have a local con and/or a way to get me to a not-so local event, you can send that info to me via this page on my site.

 

ICYMI – I wrote about Ghostbusters, tropes & missing discourse for @Polygon

ghostbusters2-0-0

Ghostbusters is still haunted by negative racial tropes

What the movie got wrong

Opinion – By Tanya D.

I remember the original Ghostbusters movie. I was a teenager when it was released, and I saw it in the theater. It was fantastic for a little nerdling like me to see science and cool stuff and people who won through smarts rather than brute force.

Ernie Hudson’s Winston Zeddemore wasn’t a scientist. He wasn’t one of the smart guys who saved folks. That’s what bothered me when I saw the first film the most: seeing a black person on screen, but not seeing them be fully part of the story. We’ve gotten the same old tropes 30 years later, and it’s still a problem. This is why I’m not cheering the reboot with the same unbridled glee as other folks.

THIS IS A TREND

The original Ghostbusters wasn’t an anomaly in this sense. I never got to see myself as the scientist, the geek or the nerd, except by proxy of a token black dude that tagged along with the other guys in movies. Black girls and women weren’t there unless they happened to be the mom, girlfriend, sister, cousin or random neighbor of the token black dude. I grew up, but the media I watched didn’t.

Read the rest on Polygon

Can y’all believe @OutOfTokensCast is almost a year old!

It’s been nearly a year since our little gaming podcast, Fresh Out of Tokens was released out in the wild for folks. For a show that started on a whim and a $50 mic, and Skype mp3 recorder, put together in 8 hours, we’ve done pretty good eh? So if you’ve enjoyed the show, have had a fond memory of an episode, if any guests have touched you or you have thoughts on how this first year has gone, send us a note at freshoutoftokens@gmail.com 

We’re pretty stoked to have Sammus on with us to celebrate the one year mark. So we hope you come along with us for another year, and enjoy the ride.

Our one year anniversary is coming up! Tell us what your favourite episodes are, or or who a favorite guest was. Email us at freshoutoftokens at gmail or @ us on twitter by 1 June.

Here’s our very first episode, released on 10 June 2015.

Prism Shells, Tres Witchers and E3 Predications! With Chris Algoo of Brooklyn Gamery as our first guest.

We’re also super, super excited to announce that our guest for our one year anniversary episode will be Sammus Music!

SammusInfusion.jpg

 

Support the work of POC, bi, trans, non-binary, other LGBTQIA folks signal boosting edition

Cross Posted from my Patreon, where it originally appeared on 9 May 2016.

Another signal boost post, this time to focus on the works of POC, Bi, non-binary, trans and other marginalized creators. Re-using my caveat from my women’s work post because it is what it is. I lost some of my own Patreon support after that post, so oh well.

Caveat , because well people. I took in names and suggests from all over my social networks. I’m sure that means there will be someone listed below that you may not particularly like or feel deserves support. Well too bad, this isn’t high school and I’m not here for infighting, If you see someone you don’t care for, there’s a simple solution… don’t support their work. 

I do not, under any circumstances want messages, DM’s, etc with OH MY GOD HOW CAN YOU SUPPORT HER/THEM/HIM! This is a post to boost others work and help others get their work seen via the little bit of social capital I have.  

Not Patreon:

Mel Fox: makes a zine about identity and grief after a divorce –

Bi’s of Colour:  

http://bisofcolour.tumblr.com/ 

Tauriq Moosa: Tip Jar

http://freethoughtblogs.com/indelible/2015/10/06/tip-jar/

IsaJennie

Radically inclusive Disabled activist w/ against all oppression.

Creator of 

  

Riley

https://www.youcaring.com/my-own-and-other-similar-projects-527012

Fund Better Tech/Fundclub

http://joinfundclub.com/

Patreon: 

Rex Magnus

https://www.patreon.com/rexmagnus?ty=h

Nino Cipri

https://www.patreon.com/ninocipri?ty=c

MakoFury

https://www.patreon.com/Makofury?ty=h

Sydney/BeautifulDad10

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=2302765&u=2302765&ty=h 

Arkady Rose

https://www.patreon.com/arkady?ty=c

Davy Shirley –

Keffy

https://www.patreon.com/keffy?ty=c

Tab Kimpton –

Dina/Petite Mistress

https://www.patreon.com/dinadraws?ty=h

Lynne Triplett –

Harry Bentley –

Asheville Blade

https://www.patreon.com/AvlBlade?ty=h

Silvyen –

Nia King

https://www.patreon.com/artactivistnia?ty=h

Amy Letts –

Christian Beranek –

Alex Herberling –

Erika Moen –

Sfe –

Christine Smith –

Kat Tanaka Okopnik

https://www.patreon.com/ktokopnik?ty=h

Rose Lemberg

https://www.patreon.com/roselemberg?ty=h

.@sammusmusic’s new EP Infusion is so damned important

Watch Sammus Music’s video below, then come back to this tab. Trust me, I have reasons.

 

This song is …it’s so fucking important to me. It’s about getting therapy, and as a black woman hearing this from another black woman, it made me sob when I heard her sing this at GX3. I’ve struggled, hell I still struggle with a lot of issues and I was afraid, discouraged from seeking help by my mother for so long.

It wasn’t until some friends spoke openly about therapy did I even consider it and then it still took me years to take that step. I needed it, absolutely, positively and it made a difference. Granted it wasn’t the lay on the couch and tell me your problems BS that some people think therapy is; nor was it group disclosure of our issues and whatnot but it was there and I got the help I needed. To be honest, I need to go back to therapy but as of this writing I don’t have a day job or resources to get low cost or free sessions. [that was not an invitation to send me recommendations in comments. I’ll take that info from people I know well and when I ask for them thanks.]

I digress, this post is about the love I have for Sammus’ music, her artistry and her words. She’s so powerful and I’m so glad I found her music via a friends podcast and I’ve never looked back since.

Another song, released on the same day Infusion was released is Mighty Morphing.

 

I’m not one thing.
I’m not two things.
No, I’m not three things.
I’m not four thing.
I am more things than I’m reporting,
So let’s not force it because I might be morphing

This song, it encapsulates so much of what I have felt as someone who doesn’t fit a lot of stereotypes of black culture; I’m not what people ‘expect’ as it were. Whatever the fuck that means, I feel weird even typing that out because what people expect black women to be is never accurate. We’re all so varied, with different interests, experiences, and lives. Just this song got under my skin, and soothed my heart because I wish this song was around when I was younger, hell even five, ten years younger.

I’m so glad Sammus is here and that she’s getting the recognition she deserves. I’m glad she’s making music for girls and women like us who love games, anime, who prosper even when others try and tell us when we don’t belong in these spaces that we’ve always been in and will not leave.

Thank you for 1080p, Mighty Morphing, Motherbrain, and all the music you’ve gifted us with Sammus.

For those of you reading this, please support her work, so she can continue to grace us with her words and wisdom. So other girls and women can see in 1080p without years of static keeping their vision sharp.

 

ICYMI – I’m in this @Offworld piece by @sangfroid_san

alreadyheroes

What can game developers do to better represent black women in games?

“They need to get some fucking empathy,” says Tanya dePass, a campaigner for better representation inside game worlds and among those who create them. She curates websites, hosts podcasts, maintains the#INeedDiverseGames tag on Twitter, works as a diversity consultant andspeaks at conventions and panels.

Work is steady, but change is slow. For critics and activists, the pushback on inclusion is constant, from other gamers and the industry itself. DePass finds it baffling: “why don’t you all like money?” she asks.

One of many black women disrupting an insular culture, DePass critiques games and offers an alternatives to often-toxic online communities. Hashtag activism this is not. As DePass notes, “change needs to happen from the ground up.”

Lauren Warren is a contributor to Black Girl Nerds, an online community “devoted to promoting nerdiness and Black women and people of color.” In addition to panel appearances, cosplay showcases, TV spots and endorsement by Shonda Rhimes and others, BlackGirlNerds launched two new series profiling women and people of color.

“I hope that the Women in Gaming and Diversity in Gaming series reach people who are interested in pursuing careers in the games industry, but may be hesitant because they don’t “see” themselves fitting into the existing corporate culture,” Warren writes. “It’s no secret that our presence is lacking behind the scenes on the game development side, on streaming sites and at major industry events and publications. The larger the community, the more visibility we have and the bigger our impact will be in the future.”

Warren says that substantive progress towards inclusion requires changing corporate culture, but also its perception by prospective employees. It’s cyclical: the more resistant toward change the industry becomes, the less that women and people of color will want to invest their time and energies into a potentially unwelcoming space. This breeds further insularity. The cycle continues—unless it’s disrupted.

Samantha Blackmon is one of the creators of Not Your Mama’s Gamer, a feminist gaming community made up of podcasts, livestreams, critical essays and their latest project, Invisibility Blues, a video series exploring race in gaming.

Blackmon told me that issues have gotten better over time, but many mistakes are still being made.

Infamous_2_Nix“When I look at playable women of color in games now I have more hope, but I still cringe at the characters that fall back on old racist stereotypes and add things like “tribal” costumes and “urban” language patterns,” Blackmon wrote, “or some clueless writer’s take on what those language patterns are.”

Color has meaning. And without people of color involved in the designing process, games are routinely unaware of these meanings. For Black women, this problem arises in a very specific way. DePass used the phrase ‘fantasy-black’ to describe the “not too black” design trope in games. As DePass notes, women in gaming designed to read as “Black” frequently have blue or green eyes, straightened or silver hair, or lightened or red-tinted skin. Preferencing black women who read as biracial or display some otherwise exoticized trait has troubling overlaps withcolorism, discrimination based on skin color. Colorism is a serious societal issue, evinced both by the disparity in punishment for black girls with darker or lighter skin and the huge industry of harmful skin-bleaching creams.

kara

So while all women in games are subject to staid metrics of desirability, black women have their blackness negotiated in a way that assumes blackness itself is undesirable. (Conversely, black men in games are almost uniformly depicted as having very dark skin—their color is ostensibly measured according to metrics of threat and physicality.)

“I know the lack of options is often the result of a lack of diversity amongst the development teams and there is no one present to advocate for creating and pushing these choices,” writes Warren. “Real change would need to start there and then consumers will ultimately reap the benefits of having more realistic images to choose from in their gaming experience.”

But instead of a robust and dynamic experience, players are instead faced with repetitive, one-dimensional and largely overlapping portrayals of Black women. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the overreliance on the “strong Black woman” trope. This derisive meme limits portrayal of black women in pop culture to, as author Tamara Winfrey-Harris writes, “indefatigable mamas who don’t need help [and] castrating harpies.”

Continue reading “ICYMI – I’m in this @Offworld piece by @sangfroid_san”

Forced change is happening…

I got back to work from GX3 today to unpack my office, get everything settled and then was let go. I had no sense this was coming. After all who would be that low-down and dirty right? Well apparently my now former supervisor would be that’s who.

indg3

So I come to y’all humbly asking for help and support to do this work full time while I try to figure things out. I have a Patreon, well two really. One is to support my work as #INeedDiverseGames and the other is to support me, keep a roof over my head etc.

Right now I need far more support on my personal Patreon as I have no idea if I will get unemployment or have to fight for it. If I have to fight the state and former employer that could drag out for a while, or worst case scenario I’ll have to cash out my retirement well before I am ready to do so.

#INeedDiverseGames has become my full time job thanks to being abruptly let go from my previous employer after returning from GX3. Now I will be able to dedicate the time and resources it deserves from me. To survive, pay my rent and keep fed, along with the cat;etc I need to ideally pull in at least $1750 a month, but to truly have all bills paid, etc I need to hit a goal of about $3K a month. I outlined this in a recent post on my blog, and I’ve copied some of that below.

Ideally I would need at least $2200 – $3000 a month coming in to cover the following:
Rent $925 a month
Bills, including internet, electricity, cooking gas, etc. ($650)
Pet costs ($125)
Groceries ($350)
Transit costs ($100 a month, unlimited rides on CTA)
INDG related Travel & Doing cost of business expenses (which could also be pulled from INDG for specific reasons/conventions)

So if you can help me support myself while I do this work it would be great. Thank you in advance for any help you can give.

Queer Women of Color Still Face Racism During Pride, Among Other Things (Repost from Spectra Speaks)

In response to mainstream prides everywhere, including both the racism and sexism that pervades the larger gay community, Queer Women of Color and Friends (QWOC+ Boston) hosts OPTIONZ — in its fifth year — tonight, a highly anticipated annual pride party specifically created to provide a space for lesbian, gay,bisexual, transgender and queer women of color and their friends, supporters, and allies during pride. But as excited as I am about QWOC+ Boston’s work in ensuring that we — women of color — are celebrated and visible during pride, that this is not the main subject of my post. If you follow QWOC+ Boston, you may have noticed on Facebook or any of our other social media channels, that our OPTIONZ party needed to be relocated to a new venue.

The reason for the venue change is that, last-minute, the previous venue, Caprice Lounge, presented me with some new terms: “No Hip Hop music, because of issues we’ve had in the past.”

Now, QWOC+ Boston has had a long-standing relationship with Caprice; we’ve been hosting events at their venue for the past three years. The reason, they gave, for the new policy was due to some recent violence that ensued after a Hip Hop show they hosted. Besides the fact that we’ve never had a single fight break out at a QWOC+ Boston event, it seemed ludicrous that the management had decided to villainize an entire genre of music based on a one-off incident. Something else that really pissed me off is that after informing us that we could not play Hip Hop at our party, we were offered a slew of other genres we could play as substitute including… (wait for it)… Rock music. So while we’re on stereotypes, it’s okay to play angry white man music, but not angry black man music? Wow.

Racist stereotypes aside, I was also only told that we could not play Hip Hop music on Tuesday (just two days before our event), which also seemed shady and manipulative. There had been no mention of this during our earlier communications. So, despite the fact that they’d been pushing for a large venue deposit to be made and incessantly trying to get me to sign a contract that would guarantee them two thousand dollars from the bar (of which I’d be liable if it was not met), I’m just floored that they had the audacity to limit whatever kind of music we played at our party.

So, guess what I said? HELLLL NO!

Okay. Not exactly in those words. I needed to be realistic. Despite the outrage expressed by community members after I’d relayed the incident — including the collective push for us to say goodbye to Caprice, I wasn’t sure it would be possible to find another venue, not during one of the busiest seasons of the year — weddings, graduations, prides etc — with just TWO days to go before the event.

So, rather than be seduced by the opportunity to give Caprice a self-righteous middle finger — and run the risk of having to cancel our pride party altogether —  I told the event coordinator at Caprice to send me the contract with all terms laid out; I would look it over and get back to her. In the meantime, I reached out to other venues comparable in size, and after just one day of mass emails and phone calls, I got lucky.

Market Lounge was big enough to accommodate us. Moreover, they weren’t going to charge us an arm and a leg to use the space (since they had no competing events during our event time). In fact, they seemed excited about getting the business of over 150 pride-ful peeps on a Thursday night. We had struck gold! Or so everyone thought…so  the applause began.

Great decision. Excellent. Yay for saying no to racism! But what I didn’t tell people, was that the new venue had a similar (albeit less overtly racist) dress code policy; a variation of the all too familiar Boston ‘dress code’ which goes something similar to “No hats, no sneakers, no do-rags, no athletic wear… women in dresses/skirts, men in collars etc” was prominently displayed on the wall by the entrance to their establishment. Here’s the picture on the right.

Making a decision based on who was less racist seemed impractical, so we went with this new venue because they were responsive, accommodating of our group last minute, the management agreed to not enforce their dress code policy during our event, and most importantly, they weren’t going to charge us an arm and a leg to bring them business (vs. Caprice that was essentially trying to make us pay them to go against our ideals).

Here’s the thing folks… I’ve been an event organizer for over five years, and I know first hand that most — if not all — downtown club venues have similar racist policies intended to keep “those people” out of their clubs. It doesn’t take a genius to note that these policies are overtly racist. In fact, as you read through the banned items of clothing, you’re almost expecting to come across, “No Black People,” towards the end of the list.

Venue policies are a stark reminder of Boston’s deeply rooted history with racial segregation, but racism isn’t the only issue queer women of color have to deal with.

If I turned my nose up at every venue that had a racist policy, homophobic and/or sexist staff etc, QWOC+ Boston would never have succeeded in pushing the physical boundaries of our community and creating new safe spaces for LGBTQ people of color in the manner in which we have. I daresay our willingness to push through the discomfort of so many tough, frustrating, awkward interactions has created more “ally venues” today for LGBT people of color — and the larger gay community as well as evidenced by a number of organizations / producers hosting events at venues after we’d done so successfully — than if we immediately walked away whenever we faced policies we didn’t agree with.

But this is not to say that we should ignore blatant signs of discrimination. There are venues that I’ll never send a dime of business (and LGBT organizations that I simply refuse to work with) until they’re willing to meet us halfway on the issue of white privilege/racism, male privilege/sexism etc. However, if we are to charter new territory, we must be patient, and more importantly, we must learn to speak the language of the gate keepers. In this case, that means knowing how to use money to send a message.

You should know that once I told Caprice that I was moving the party to a new venue, they came back with an O.K. to play whatever we wanted. This made for a great opportunity to explain that we would NOT be working with them this time around. And whereas, the loss of business may not result in the dissolution of their policy, the owner will remember that he lost a big event — a pride event, big dollars consumed at the bar, ouch — because he dared to broach the subject to the queer women of color who had been repeatedly giving him business for the past three years. (Incidentally, we first worked with Caprice during the second year of OPTIONZ, because we were in a similar situation; the venue we’d been in talks with slapped us with a racist dress code last minute, and wouldn’t budge on enforcing it. Caprice opened their doors to us then, and we’ve been working with them since. Isn’t it ironic, that the venue that has been the most flexible and easy to work with as far as hosting QWOC+ events, is the one being villainized for being racist today?)

I keep going back to the strong push I felt from our community to say F-U to Caprice and stand against racism, and can’t help but wonder if another ism or form of discrimination would have been met with the same level of engagement (and anger). What if I told you that via my work as an event organizer, I’d run into minority-owned/run venues with similar racist music / dress code policies? Can we remind ourselves that in women’s spaces /feminist circles, there is still so much language riddled with homophobia and transphobia? Shoot, I still pray for the day when sexism will be met with as much anger and outrage as racism from Boston’s LGBT community, when the political war being waged against women (via Planned Parenthood funding cuts, the GOP redefining rape etc.) will be treated as seriously by QPOC as they do AIDS/HIV prevention.

It’s easy to call out isms when the perpetrator is perceived to be a straight white man — the icon of patriarchy, which most of us can relate to wanting to take down. But the reality of being a queer woman of color is that you’re burdened with calling out offenses and violations against multiple facets of your identity, and forced to reckon with the harsh truth that your allies in one arena can be your oppressors in another.

Activism, for so many of queer women of color, is a constant negotiation of which ism to address. We don’t have the luxury of snubbing everyone that offends us, or we would have no where to go. We can’t — and shouldn’t have to — fight everyone. As a direct consequence, for queer women of color, standing up for what is ‘right’ in the face of racism, sexism, transphobia, xenophobia — all issues that significantly impact our community — can sometimes mean drastically limiting access to resources that we need as a community. So, whereas we should never compromise our ethics (as in this case — for the sake of a good party), QWOC+ Boston’s work isn’t just about one event, not just about today. I don’t think that I speak out of turn when I say that we all work our asses off so that tomorrow can be better, for everyone.

So, as we march, rally, dance, and speak out during pride, let us not forget those of us who are marginalized within the gay community, those of us who don’t have the luxury of approaching “Equality. No More. No Less,”, per the 2011 Boston Pride theme, as an isolated single issue. Most of the time, I hear louder, more aggressive forms of activism (against one kind of ism) encouraged and celebrated. But today, I feel humble as I reflect on the patience and perseverance that must have been maintained by my mentors and predecessors against so many injustices, that have enabled me to come this far. I celebrate you. I salute you. And I wish you all a happy pride.

Next up: we host Dennis Upkins for a spell on his Hollowstone book tour

I’m very happy to host the most excellent Dennis Upkins, author of the soon to be released Hollowstone. He breezed through the windy city during a stop on his book tour. Hollowstone is due out on 17 June 2011.

Q: Now, it’s great to see more POC authors and queer authors getting their work out and into the hands of readers who often feel left out of the literary mix. Hollowstone looks to address a lot of those needs. However, as a fan who is often left out of the mainstream media I wanted to know what else you might have planned to fill the gaps in for folks who aren’t seeing themselves reflected in the media they purchase?

A: I was talking to a good friend of mine about this, another professional writer, and we both discussed how we’re always looking for areas of opportunity to improve as far as being progressive and inclusive goes. While Hollowstone runs the gamut in tackling many facets of bigotry and institutional oppression, with Empyrea (the recently finished novel I’m currently editing), I come at representation of marginalized people from a completely different angle. Empyrea features a queer POC as the main protagonist, features multiple women of color in prominent roles.

It shows a loving interracial family in a matter of fact manner. Empyrea essentially illustrates what a world devoid of racism, misogyny, homophobia (as least as we know it) could look like. And while Empyrea is breaking a lot of ground, I’ve already got sequels planned and I’m looking for ways to step my game up. In the sequels, I know I will have a heroine who is a trans woman, lesbian characters and a disabled character. Each of them have important storylines, fleshed out roles, and treated with respect. The next novel I’ve got planned after Empyrea is a superhero story which features a teenage black girl and a gay man as the co-protagonists. Both characters have stories that are worth sharing. I’m constantly striving for ways to improve representation in my works because I believe everyone has a story worth telling.

Q: I know you’ve mentioned it on your blog, but I’m curious about who would be cast in a Hollowstone movie? Do you think the movie would suffer from white washing such as the reported casting options for a remake of Akira? Would you rather Hollowstone remain a book if your only option was to have a movie cast in the majorities image rather than how they are depicted in the book?

A: In regards to dreamcasting, I think this post sums it up: http://neo-prodigy.livejournal.com/954523.html Do I think the movie would suffer from white washing? That would always be a risk, a huge one in fact. It would really depend on the players involved, how much money would be riding on it and chance. For that matter, a publisher could’ve tried to whitewash the story, and we’ve seen this crap happen far too often. Luckily I was blessed to find a home with a good publisher (Parker Publishing) that was welcoming of Hollowstone as is. I give props to Neil Gaiman and Ursula K. Le Guin who have both been outspoken in standing tall against allowing their characters to be whitewashed and I would like to think if presented with the choice, I would make the same decision. Because Hollowstone tackles too many important issues to allow such crap to happen.

Q: If you could make the literary world over in an image that would included fair and equal representation for everyone, how would you do that with your authorial powers?

A: I guess pretty much what I’m doing now. Writing stories that celebrate marginalized people. Supporting works with my money that celebrate equal and fair representation of everyone and promoting and working with other marginalized creators to see their work make it to the public.

Q: We already talked a bit about being marginalized and invisible in mainstream media. As a queer man and POC, did frustration with that marginalization and invisibility have anything to do with Hollowstone’s creation?

A: Not really. At least not consciously or directly. I didn’t intentionally set out to write a story that was in reaction to being marginalized or invisible in mainstream media. But as the story developed, took on a life of its own, and continued to evolve, it did exactly that. But it had more to do with the fact that much of Hollowstone is based on personal experiences and things I’ve witnessed first hand. The marginalized issues was something I struggled with. It felt like walking a tight rope. Do you tip your toe in the pool of social justice issues and risk making your characters cliches who only exist to whine about racism or homophobia or do you go all out, balls to the walls, and show it all unapologetically and let the story share its truth. And why does it always have to be about racism/homophobia with gay and black characters. I wrestled with these choices and then finally I just had to tell myself, frak it. Truth is truth, no matter how inconvenient it is, and as Noah states in the opening of the novel, there are some stories that just must be told.

Q: If you could fix one thing in fandom (Take your pick; comics, movies, books, all of the above) which one would you fix or is it too broken to fix?

A: I would say all of the above, if for no other reason than they all intersect. I’m not sure if fandom is too broken to fix but I definitely think something drastic is going to have to happen, a massive overhaul to fix things. At minimum, marginalized peeps are going to have to double their efforts in creating their own spaces, their own media, supporting one another and boycotting those that denigrate them. At most, the industry is going to have to fall and be rebuilt before things can improve. Or something else unexpected can occur. I think it’s a matter of staying vigilant about these issues and continue to press forward even if fandom is hellbent on backsliding in regards to progress.

Q: If any of your characters from Hollowstone could write a post for the We Got Your Back Project, who would submit their story and what would they say?

A: WOW! This has to be one of the most powerful questions I’ve received. You know the We Got Your Back Project is near and dear to my heart, and some of the characters would definitely have a lot to say.

Noah– He would definitely discuss his experiences with knowing Ryan, Neely, and another gay character who is revealed in the story. He would discuss his experiences in trying to be a straight ally and would urge other allies to be proactive in supporting their queer brothers and sisters based on the folks who impacted his life.

Neely– She would discuss her experiences being a bisexual teen, growing up in a conservative environment, and how it isn’t easy to be out and proud, in spite of what society would have you believe. She would also point out that if it wasn’t for her older brother—who loved, protected, and accepted her as God intended her to be—she probably wouldn’t be here today. She would probably say why support and love is vital, especially in light of all the hatred and bigotry LGBTQs endure on a day to day.

Ryan– Ryan’s story would be the most powerful. Because he goes through a lot in the story. And his story is a sobering reminder why it doesn’t always get better and that in fact, it rarely does. And if his story doesn’t move people to take an active role in fighting bigotry and hatred, nothing will.

Q: Do you think that Hollowstone and books like it will finally get POC authors out of the “African American Author” purgatory books by black authors are often dropped into regardless of the books subject matter?

A: Your guess is as good as mine. If authors like Octavia Butler and L.A. Banks haven’t clued society in that our work is universal just like white authors, I don’t know if society will ever learn. As POC authors, all we can do is do what we can and just hope and pray for the best.

Q: Lastly, will we get to see more of the Hollowstone cast in future novels? Will we get to follow them as they develop or will they remain in the world built in Hollowstone?

A: You know, the thought of doing a sequel, even a trilogy, crossed my mind more than once. It was an idea I toyed around with and even debated with myself. Then I realized that the characters in Hollowstone get so much closure, not to mention the fact that the novel ends in a very unique way, that to do a sequel would probably be a disservice to the characters and the story. If you can ever exit on a high note, that’s the way to do it. That being said…in the superhero story I’m outlining, one of the central characters will make an appearance and something about their fate that was all but promised in Hollowstone, gets confirmed in the superhero novel. So stay tuned.

Denny, thank you so much for stopping by during your book tour and we’ll be sure to give Hollowstone a review once its out! If all of that didn’t convince you to buy Hollowstone, here’s 12 reasons to order it! You can order Hollowstone directly from the publisher or from Amazon.com

WGYB Project is still alive, and we’re still taking your stories

We Got Your Back Project is still alive and still seeking submissions!

I had a chance to talk the project up at Gay Is the New Black? Event hosted by JF tonight. Hopefully this will generate some interest and new submissions.

Can I ask a favor? Can anyone who comes across this post please signal boost this project for me & whereisjoy? We don’t want to see it die but to thrive it needs stories, your stories so that our POC-LGBTQIA youth know that they are not alone and just because someone says its gets better, that it may not apply to them.

Sumbission Info

Submission guidelines are below. If you come across something you think would be good for posting, please email us at wegotyourbackproject@gmail.com or tweet at us WGYBProject on Twitter.

Thanks for your interest in contributing to the “We Got Your Back” Project! We are accepting videos and written statements that share how the lives of LGBTQIA people get better when we have each others back. Give some hope to LGBTQIA youth by telling them how your own life improved. To submit, send an email to wegotyourbackproject@gmail.com We request that posts meet the following guidelines:

Videos: Please keep videos to no more than 8 minutes maximum. If you have a video on YouTube or Vimeo, please submit a link to the video and a brief description.

Length: 2,500 word maximum. (Please note, longer posts may be broken up into several posts on the project)

Language: Feel free to use adult language, however please warn for swearing or other adult and/or potentially triggering language in your post at the beginning. If you do share potentially triggering material, we ask that you use the “more” tag to put it behind a cut.

Permission to repost/share your content: Please indicate to us whether or not you consent to the sharing of your material outside of this project when you submit your post and/or video.

Black is… black ain’t…

Black is beautiful, just so we are motherfucking CLEAR. Black ain’t “less desirable than other races”,

“inherently less attractive than other races”

tumblr_llb9rsnCiZ1qzo0zoo1_500

So… we are in the throes of yet ANOTHER online storm about black folks. Black women’s looks, black women’s bodies, black fathers and the old ass trope of omfg black folks are on the internet too!?! How about that has been dragged out and beaten again for what its worth. (A hint – Not much). I tried to be eloquent and wordsmithy, but you know what? Fuck it, I’m sick of being polite about people telling me how I should feel about how I look.

So many people have waxed eloquently on this topic that I’ll give you links and such… but for what my 0.02 is worth; I’m so fucking sick of being told that I’m not beautiful or attractive or worthy of love and affection because I’m “strong” or career focused or “the strength of the family.”. I’m really fucking sick of the idea that everyone gets a say in how I feel about myself as a black woman. I’m tired of everyone getting to hold up the brown paper bag to check my blackness, and worthiness of having a say in racial debates because I’m fair skinned and obviously “not really black.”

I’m tired of pseudo scientists speculating on the attractiveness of myself and the bounty of black women everywhere. Who the fuck decided that this guys opinion was worth anything to begin with? I don’t even know what an evolutionary psychologist is, do you? Someone explain what that means and then you’d better have a really, really good reason as to why some “evolutionary psychologist” gets a say on black bodies and beauty. I’ll be here, so when you get a clue, come holler at me. Until then, all these faux pop psychologists and arm chair thinkers can shut the fuck up about our bodies, our beauty and everything else in-between.

I leave you with some great articles and a repost of a lovely image snagged from the Angry Black Tumblr.

You Keep Saying Black Women are Ugly Worthless Whores and We Refuse to Believe you by Karnythia

Racialicious: Repeat Offender: Satoshi Kanazawa’s Other Greatest Misses

Angry Black Tumblr: The Article is now gone, but more thoughts

Angry Black Woman: Initial post on this article; noting original title was “Why are Black Women Ugly?”

ABW: Screencap of the article in question, after the title was changed.

Repost – BGG (Black Girl Gamer)–LFG, PST!

Snagged from Geek Feminism’s Blog. Reposting since it reached in and grabbed me by the heart.

Women, feminism, and geek culture

2011 April 8

Cori Roberts is founder of Gameinatrix.com and remaining founding member of Gamer Girls Radio, and has been involved in gaming media for over 8 years. She’s currently obsessed with the MMO Fallen Earth and anything involving vampires in the world of Second Life.

This post was originally published at The Border House.

A well-dressed black woman holds a machine gun.African American (black) woman from the recent Call of Duty commercial. One of the very few times a black woman has been used in the marketing of any game.

While several gamers are fighting for the right to game with all the controversy surrounding the community as of late, there are a few of us women gamers waging another kind of war in our own respective communities. It’s not just the standard girl gamer war, where there is incessant name calling, references to genitalia or even the normal male chauvinist crap. The battle is having to defend why we are even playing games, in the first place. Why would “we” be playing games, because black women don’t play games.

I’m one of these elusive, mythical, Black (African American for you new kiddies) women gamers who purportedly do not exist. While this particular battle is not a boss battle for me, it is an annoying and repetitive battle. It’s one I have to wage most every time I encounter a new “sistah” who can barely operate her iPhone, but thinks she is somehow more versed in games and who should be playing them, than I am. The first thing I’m asked is how I ended up even playing games, like it’s a disease I somehow contracted. Then I’m told how “different” and “odd” I am. My mother bought me my first console at age six and I never knew I was any different from other little girl. Never knew I was a geek, a nerd, or any other derivative until I was much older. However, after I realized I was one of these beings, referred to as a geek, I kept it secret and tried hard to suppress it. I can tell you I use to rent games at Block Buster and often lied about who they were for. Once out on my own, gaming became part my regular daily routine. Get up, school, work, come home, game. When I couldn’t afford to go clubbing, you’d find me on the floor of my furniture-less apartment, head propped up with pillows, faithful dog at my side, playing games. The only thing I bought other than games was clothes. Come on, I’m still a girl! It should suffice to say, I obviously don’t fit the mold of fat white guy, with glasses. I was a thin shapely black chick with glasses (used to wear glasses anyway), who spent her free time perusing not only Cosmo magazine, but strategy guides in now defunct Electronics Boutique. The guys began to love when I came into EB every Friday, because other guys followed me in and they stayed to chat when they realized I actually loved games just as much as they did. Me, wearing my designer perfume and clothes, could take a guy down in Tekken in 30 seconds flat. After getting over the shock of being beaten by me, I always had a new friend and finally there in EB I stopped feeling odd and out of place. I fit in somewhere. However the older I got, the more dissonance I noticed with other black women once I mentioned video games or anything geeky for that matter. All of those silent lunches finally lead to me speaking up and a mini-battle royale about the Lifetime Network and gaming where I schooled my “sistah” on the world of gaming and technology. I also shared with her that technology is an area where black women were being left in the dust. Most of us are still taught and truly believe as black women, it’s just our not our place to be “smart”. Before the eye rolling begins, this is not true of all women of color, but it’s true enough. So true that I still have yet to pick up an Essence, Ebony, or Jet magazine and see an entire tech section (not to pick on Essence, this is true of a lot of women’s magazines). Hip Hop mags like XXL do share some tech info with its readers, but tend to have more male readers than females. It’s also still true that most black women tend to steer clear of the whole technology thing and can barely use an iPhone, let alone know which cables go where on their Xbox. While we’re excelling in other areas, still some black women view the gaming industry as a childish and MALE one. As a result, our presence in the world of tech and gaming is lagging far behind the rest of the world.

As a Black woman (I prefer being called Black to African American, I didn’t move here from Africa and become American, I was born here), I find it disheartening that even so many of our notable Black public figures and role models don’t even acknowledge the gaming culture unless it’s the latest fad. For instance Oprah Winfrey has had a show or two about gaming addiction and how horrid gaming is, only to give away the Kinect on her show later. As a gamer I was not impressed or fooled. I once heard Tyra Banks say on her show something akin to she thought men were so childish playing games, and she hated when her man did it. Women don’t wanna play games, chile! These women are considered great role models and several young women look up to them. I wonder if they know the message they are sending to young black women. Yes you’re teaching them that beauty is subjective, but are teaching them that technology is for those other folk. This, in my opinion, will lead to a nation of beautiful black women who are technologically incompetent. They will know the best way to maintain their weave but not how to change out a faulty hard drive. Or even how to do something as simple as defrag a hard drive.

Take note, most of the women you’ll see fighting for a place in the gaming industry usually are not of ethnicity. I explained to my friend the facts and figures of the gaming industry, and how our lives as black women should not be all about being a nurse (this is a common thing in the black community, pushing daughters to be nurses or get into law, go after the money), but instead embracing a new culture, a culture that does in fact make a LOT of money, a culture that, though considered controversial at times, is indeed the future. A culture where most times, our differences are celebrated, not hated. Ok, perhaps I’m pushing the Utopia envelope here, but aside from a very few assholes, I’ve NEVER been called out for the color of my skin. Admittedly, I hail from several racial backgrounds, but I identify as being your average garden variety, Diva, black, woman. I pointed out to her that I’ve never been told I wasn’t dressed appropriately to game. That my manicure to was too old to game. That I wasn’t black enough to game. The only thing that has ever held me back is not having the SAME game as a gamer buddy.

Said friend turned her head to look out the window and quietly said to me, “I just don’t get it…you gamers…” But she did call a few months later sounding bubbly and told me she’d bought her first console. Yes it was a Wii, but she was planning on getting an Xbox, as well. She’d seen some ‘interesting’ things at Game Stop that she actually wanted to play. But I dare say if I hadn’t opened my mouth, if I hadn’t in essence said that gaming as entertainment is okay, she would never have played. Though I’ve managed to bring some of my friends to the dark side, I still have to deal with strangers form assumptions based on the fact that I’m a gamer. If I’m in Best Buy or any store’s PC section, I still get the tech behind the desk who feels the need to try to explain to me every detail of my video card and how it works, where to install it on my motherboard. I hate the condescension in their voice and this is after I’ve told them a million and one times that I’m a gamer. I have every console, (except the 3DS, but give me time) and even a gaming PC, that I built myself, from scratch, even after I tell them I run a gaming website and podcast and have for 8 years. They don’t hear me until I get a little belligerent and then they are shocked and awed. The next thing is to test me, because it’s just impossible to them that black woman as a gamer exists. I am always told that of course I must not be hard core, no woman is. I can tell you that I am indeed as hardcore as they come. And just because I may wear a weave, wig, extensions or like shoes, doesn’t detract from that. I’d like to tell my fellow “sistahs” that yes, you can be fabulous, and play games, and know how your iPhone works. I do not find it cute or charming when you have a beautiful piece of technology and you use it more as a status symbol and can’t even figure out how to make a simple call. You can be smart, and know how to fix your own PC, iPhone, or hook up your own HDTV and then feel extra proud to sit down and watch your Sex in the City re-runs, without having to call your man over to do it for you. I am hoping one day to be in the store and not have to tell another black woman to buy games for her daughter, not just her son, and not hear the mother say she won’t like it, when clearly the little girl is interested. I’d like to see more black women put their daughters in front of a computer and push them to learn more math, science and physics. But sadly I see this particular battle as a very long one. While I am graced to have a few black women who do share my passion for gaming, my white girlfriends (whom I love just as much) far outnumber the black ones. I do wish I had more black gaming girlfriends (and in the same city would be nice) so this black girl can stop constantly LFG.

More on that damn Feministe post and the comment trail where I apparently Other another POC by the use of OP

This is a totally random thing, but in going into WP and cleaning up spam and seeing older comments, I tracked back to that idiotic post on child free space on Feministe. A place where I commented, via a blog comment here, a pingback there got really nasty against me after I commented. I did not swear at the person who wrote the blog or OP nor did I get really bent out of shape, in my opinion.

How, someone tell me my one comment becomes an example of how not to comment on this person’s blog by rules that seem extreme to me (and by extreme I mean they want a point by point analysis of where you think someone is wrong, and what you plan to do about it in detail) and by saying OP instead of her name, which I couldn’t recall at the time of my comment I’m now othering the author of that “article”?!

On the one hand, I know these are people I don’t know, will probably never meet and shouldn’t give two shits about in the long run. On the other, it bothers me greatly that I’m being accused of othering another Person Of Color by mere virtue of not recalling her name at the time I left my comment there. FWIW, I didn’t even know that this woman was a person of color when her post really pissed me off, but it wouldn’t have made a damn bit of difference in how I responded to her.

I dunno, maybe I’m feeling hair trigger today but I’m trying really hard to stay my hand and not respond to the negative comments there because in the long run these people aren’t worth my energy or time but damn that really bothers me that I’m “othering” another POC by the mere fact I couldn’t recall her name when I left my comment.

Time to think about what you ask folks about their hair…

Via the Nappturality forums, a thread on What is the Funniest or Stupidest question you’ve been asked about your locs?

Some are funny, but most are sad and shows the ignorance people still have over black women, natural hair and locs. For the record, this post is NOT an invitation for me to teach anyone a damn thing, nor is it an invitation to try and school me on anything.

My hair is MY hair and you are not welcome to discuss it as if its some separate thing from me. I am not my hair, but my hair is part and parcel of me, my identity and my journey to accepting my natural hair as it is as a thing of beauty.

If you can have some adult level discourse,feel free. If not, then you will be mocked, and shown the door cause I frankly ain’t got time for it.

Repost of: Navigating Through this Post Racial Society; via Neo_Prodigy on LJ

Reposting from Neo_Prodigy on LJ.

Navigating Through This Post-Racial Society

Neo_Prodigy once again nails something on the head so hard it howled for mercy that has been milling around in my head regarding the reaction to Lebron’s leaving Cleveland and how Lebron’s non-decision overshadowed the news of the cop that was convicted of the lowest possible charge in the murder of Oscar Grant.

Long post is long but worth every damn word and graphic within.

Where Oscar Grant Meets Lebron James

This post shares some cold hard fundamental truths about this society.

Two black brothers with two very different stories, yet the underlying message of “white people own, operate, execute, and enforce this shit” could not be clearer. In the same country where video evidence of a white police officer murdering a black civilian can result in an involuntary manslaughter conviction, is it really any surprise that a white (basketball) owner feels so entitled to a player’s black body that he would resort to name calling and tantrums?

The days of literally owning our bodies are over, but the remnants of our time under white supremacy linger. Dan Gilbert’s bitchfit over losing his most prized possession, while excellent fodder for late night talk show hosts and bloggers, is nothing compared to the pain Grant’s family and our community experiences as we add another name to the ever-growing list of brothers and sisters slaughtered by those ordered to protect and serve. Malcolm X’s words are still new: “You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches and then pull it out six inches and say you’re making progress.”

It also reiterates a point “afro_dyte” made in the past: that the unquestioned assumption that a Black person’s body, a Black person’s space, a Black person’s time (or other POCs for that matter), has no innate value (save the value White people give it), which makes it impossible to violate.

This also puts in perspective some wank I endured online a few years back. A few years back I spoke out on offensive tropes concerning gay men and demanding better on a writing forum and a condescending white woman rolled on to my blog and made with the trolling. After asking her to leave and then being forced to ban her, I found out later that she made some friends-locked post and all of her buddies came over and began flaming my blog. After tearing each and everyone of them a new asshole, they pulled some Rosewood shit in crying that the Negro Savage was being meeeeeeeeeeean to the poor innocent white woman. And what was interesting was when I called them out on how wrong they were for flaming my blog, my personal space in the first gawd damn place, they acted nonplussed because I was getting all “uppity.”

More than the usual sense of entitlement, ignorance, arrogance, and just grade-A bitchassness, there was something about that whole troll situation that got under my skin and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what it was. While I dealt with trolls before this was unsettling. A bunch of white folks acted under the assumption that a POC’s space and time had no value save what they gave it and therefore they felt completely justified. IE, in spite of the fact they were wrong about the whole argument and situation, in all their white privilege, they felt entitled to roll into my home unannounced, unwelcomed, take a steaming shit in the middle of my living room and get outraged because I refused to wipe their asses.

And then they wonder why the Negro savage gets all Negro and savage.

Mel Gibson’s Racist Rant

And clearly someone’s Nazi ass didn’t learn his lesson from last time.

White Peepul: The Following Video Is A Surefire Way To Wind Up On The Back Of A Milk Carton”

A couple of points:

1. There IS a difference between being accused of being a racist and committing a racist act.

2. Being called on racist activity IS NOT more offensive than the act itself.

3. Just because you aren’t intentionally doing something racist or bigoted out of malice or hate DOES NOT mean that your actions aren’t racist, hurtful and destructive. Intent does matter but only so far as whether or not I’ll forgive you and try to educate you or whether I just throw up my arms and walk away shaking my head, less I risk catching another assault charge.

4. Just because you say something bigoted in a polite or diplomatic manner does not negate the fact that you are saying something bigoted. Too many times I’ve seen folks pull this shit. Whether you’re screaming “Fuck you nigger!”, “Faggot!” or justifying institutional oppression with “The police are well within their rights to racially profile blacks and Latinos because numbers show they’re the only ones committing crimes” or “Publishers/Media Execs are totally justified in whitewashing or making with the gay erasure because they don’t generate sales and it’s all about numbers,” you’re still saying something bigoted (and for that matter inaccurate) and others are well within their rights to get outraged and call you out on it. And speaking of calling out, that’s right Scans Daily, I’m looking at you, yet again.

5. When you do say bigoted shit, you don’t get to get mad or dictate the terms of the discussion or police people’s reactions because someone is outraged over something bigoted you said.

As a friend of mine once stated, “When it comes to race, a lot of people (including people of color) assume – if not outright state – that White is a lack of race, an empty ethnicity, the default, normal, invisible. As a result, when it comes to matters of race, Whiteness becomes impartial, objective, unbiased, rational, common sense. I’m sure you can imagine how this plays out in racial discourse. Whiteness is positioned as true and therefore right. Of course, no one thinks that consciously (duh!), but it often comes out in how, in a weird sort of way, White people seem to act like they’re only White when the topic of discussion is racism and not every waking moment of their lives. And this confuses the shit out of me because that’s like a straight person acting like they’re only heterosexual when the issue of gay marriage crops up. Or a man acting like the only time he notices gender is when people bring up sexism. To which the only prudent response is to disengage before the intensity of delusion makes your head explode.”

Lost In Translation

H/T to heavenscalyx for the following:

Addendum: In the second panel in the top right, the other more prominent translation is- All my friends are white. All the men I fuck are Black. But the only men I even remotely consider for a serious meaningful relationship are white.

heavenscalyx also recently made some excellent points on Racefail that I think eloquently sums up a lot of what we’re witnessing:

What none of my fellow People of Pallor seem willing to suggest out loud (so, of course, I’m going to do it) is that it’s probably no coincidence that RaceFail has happened so vividly in the post-Obama-election world.

Because, really, isn’t it the same fundamental fear that motivates the Tea Baggers and the Birthers and even the various extreme white supremacist groups that causes all these white folks to drop their pants on the Internet?

Fear takes the filters down. Fear makes even reasonable people unreasonable. Add extra fear — the fear that they really haven’t come so very far after all — in the hearts of white people who consider themselves broad minded liberals, or at the very least, educated and “color blind”, and the filters really come a-tumblin’ down to let out all the defensiveness to cover the shame and embarrassment.

Because I have no doubt that on some level, people are ashamed to realize that there’s a corner of their minds that doesn’t believe that “all men are created equal.” They push that knowledge down, cover it up with stuff, and hope no one notices this pile of ugly baggage in the corner.

This artificial Fear of the Other is programmed into us by our society and culture — that’s what institutionalized racism (and sexism and homophobia) IS, after all: the fear that the oppressed people will do to the privileged folk just what the privileged folk have done to them. It is, I daresay, practically impossible to excise. Further, I believe that there isn’t a person in this country who is without it, no matter what they may claim.

The only way to beat the Fear of the Other and all its horrible, devastating consequences is to be aware of it, to pay attention to it, and fight it by not letting it win, by consciously trying to keep it from getting its sticky little tentacles into less formed minds, and by keeping a constant monitor on our interactions with others.

Originally posted on tanyad @Dreamwidth. Feel free to comment here, or there

repost of Being a Black Woman and Happy with it.

On a happier note, here’s a kick ass post from the awesome Karnythia. Linking you to the ABW post.

So, there’s this thing happening in the black American community (and outside it) where women who look like me are supposed to be grateful for any crumbs that happen to fall into our bleak little lives. Apparently, our lot in life is to be miserable unless some rich educated black man wants us. We’re struggling to survive on our own in a world where we might have to actually be self supporting and self loving, and we don’t even have the good sense to realize that it’s impossible to be happy with ourselves as long as we’re not reflecting the picture society expects. After all, such stellar catches as Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, and Michael Jordan have opted to seek out women of a…lighter persuasion rather than black women.

It’s questionable enough that anyone believes that three dudes who wouldn’t understand fidelity if it walked up to them and sat in their laps being unavailable to black women is supposed to be a clear indicator that black women aren’t valuable. Erm, how to put this politely? Oh right, I’m not in a mood to be polite so I’ll just say flat out I wouldn’t touch any of those cats with my worst enemy’s vagina mmkay? I have standards for the men in my life that include things like trust, respect, and at least a vague grasp of human decency. For the record? I’ve been married twice. The first time was a hot mess in that way that can happen when you’re 21 and too dumb to read the big flashing neon signs that say “Leave this dumb bastard alone” but my current marriage? Loving it. He’s black, educated, and has a good relationship with his mother. It wasn’t hard to find him (I wasn’t even done with my divorce when I met him as a matter of fact) and he has never expected me to be someone else. He loves me for me. I love him for him. That’s our big secret. We’re not unique in this respect either. There are plenty of happy black couples (married or not) out here leading their lives without feeling the need to resort to a Stepford process for either partner. That’s before we get into what it means to be LGBT and unable to legally get married in a lot of places. Newsflash: Not every black woman wants a man. And even for the ones that do? Marriage isn’t necessarily their first priority.

Now, let’s take a second to be real on the topic of marriage. The institution grants certain legal protections and rights, but it doesn’t guarantee a happy couple or even a long lasting relationship. For further proof on that topic feel free to check out the relationship history of the three celebs I’ve already mentioned along with Swizz Beatz, everyone on Basketball Wives, and most of the rest of the modern world. That 50% divorce rate has nothing to do with the flaws of black women and everything to do with the reality that people get married for the wrong reasons to the wrong people everyday. As societal panaceas go, marriage has never really been all that effective despite the hype about the good old days. In the good old days, women got stuck in horrible relationships, men brought home social diseases, and everyone wished they had way out that was socially acceptable and didn’t result in life long poverty. So, let’s drop this idea that marriage has ever been the institution to grant us a stable society. It can’t even grant a stable relationship. And really, if we’re going to harp on the value of marriage? Let’s make it available to everyone instead of offering up expensive substitutes and insisting marriage only has one meaning. If some pop star can get married for 56 hours and the institution still have meaning in the aftermath of that quickie divorce? It’ll be just fine.

This phenomenon doesn’t just rear its ugly head around our love lives though, we’re also supposed to hate our hair, our skin, even the shape of our bodies, and we’re supposed to strive to achieve behavior patterns that are in direct contradiction to our personalities as soon as someone hints that they find us too strong/abrasive/angry/loud or whatever other bullshit excuse they can trot out as part of the effort to denigrate and demean every facet of our existence. After all, we do insist on wearing our hair the way it grows out of our heads, and choosing colors and styles that highlight our skin tones as well as displaying our bodies in ways that we find flattering. I mean, whoever heard of someone wearing a sleeveless top indoors in the winter? Oh wait, I lift weights (and kids) on a regular basis and I also wear short sleeved or sleeveless tops most of the year too. Because they’re comfortable and I like them. And really, what gives anyone the right to police our bodies as though they don’t belong to us? Whoops, I forgot I’m supposed to be begging everyone else for their approval as part and parcel of my experience right? Right.

Except that’s not ever going to happen and the fact that a lot of people are assholes isn’t a reason for black women to turn themselves inside out. It is a good reason to ignore the assholes and keep going about the business of life. Yes, even with “nappy” hair, my natural eye color, and an ass that makes skinny jeans self-destruct I am happy to be a black woman. I love myself, and I love my life even if someone says I’m living it wrong. Instead of finding new ways to insist that to be a black woman is to be miserable, how about celebrating all those unique qualities that are inherent in our shared existence? Oh right, that would require putting down all those ‘ism’s people love to cling to wouldn’t it? I guess if you can’t give up the sexism, racism, and classism then we’ll just have to learn to live with the hate and keep doing our own thing.

Fat shaming and concern trolling in Why are black women so big?

So there is an article out there called Why are Black women so Big!? The author of this little gem wrote a piss poor piece, basically saying all black women are fat asses that simply eat too much. She does not take into account the various factors of weight gain, and the struggle to lose the weight. Initially the picture that accompanied the article was Eddie Murphy in a fat black woman suit, in Norbit.

I called this out, in the following comment:

You know, the fact that you used a picture of a man in a black woman fat suit as some caricature and lame attempt at sensationalism immediately invalidated any point you thought you were making. The next time you decide to fat shame and concern troll, actually find a picture of a fat black woman to make your point.

Oh, that’s right you really didn’t have one to begin with so you used lazy writing to get people’s attention to a shoddily written “article” and then began the bashing. Next time, try some actual writing instead of trotting out the same old tropes used to shame women into being, or damn near killing themselves trying to become the “ideal”.

I go back to the article later and the photo has been changed to a photo of Jill Scott in Why did I get Married?  The fact that the author of this “article” changed the picture without so much as an acknowledgment of her invalid attempt at caricaturization of fat black women into a cartoon villain, something to be feared possibly and definitely made fun of I could have at least given the article a once over without the side-eye. Instead, anything this person could have said fell on deaf ears, her feeble attempt at a point lost in the winds of lazy writing and sensationalism. I looked over the comments, now totaling over 350 and I was appalled that the author was resorting to attacking people in comments, further destroying any shred of credibility she could have had.

I found the following response to many of the comments by the editor of this online publication, the FreshXpress. Editor Sean Walton Jr. puts forth the following statement:

I posted this on Twitter earlier:

“No disrespect was intended… it was one writer’s opinion and attempt to start a conversation on a subject that does warrant attention. We’re a community built upon a foundation of open dialogue and debate. The thoughts expressed represent thought in the community. While we dont take a stance on too many topics as a website, our writers do. Through the dialogue sparked, we hope to promote understanding. So no disrespect was intended, and hopefully the resulting conversation was productive and people grow from the discourse. We’re not into too much censorship. You can censor the message, but that doesn’t stop people from thinking the way they do. We’d rather tackle the topic head on, and see what comes from it.”

That being said the author had an opinion she wanted to share with her community, and get your thoughts on it as well. While her opinion was not well received, she articulated her view and why she felt that way. Was it “well-written and thought out”, etc.? That is for you to decide (as many of you already have). What is “well-written”? An article written at a level where only graduate school educated folks can read? Or an article written where everyone can understand her message, read through it, and provide feedback? Point being its all relative.

The bottom line is that our thoughts in the black community are diverse, as are our approaches to expressing those thoughts. You may not like the author’s approach to tackling this subject, nor her words used, nor her message. But that doesn’t stop her from feeling the way she does, and clearly there are many others who feel the way that she does. To NOT post this article, which was not blatantly offensive on the surface, would be to censor true thoughts and feelings in our community. But to post it… thats tackling the issue head on, bringing the debate to your face, in all its uncomfortable glory, and allowing you to “school” the author (and commenters) on your perspective, and hopefully everyone can grow from the entire process. If nothing else, you at least understand how other people feel. Because the reality is that clearly some people do feel this way.

To say we’re “better than this post” is appreciated, and duly noted as we continue to grow as a publication. At the same time, it alludes to us being “better” than the author’s opinion, and thats just not the case. For all we know, her opinion could be the majority in her community, amongst her friends, or even in our community as a whole. The fact remains that only an elite few actually speak out and voice how they feel. So the 100+ commenters on this blog who disagreed with it… for all we know there were 500 people who agreed. And maybe 300 of them had their opinions changed by the resulting conversation. Or maybe they didn’t. We don’t know. But what we do know is that while this post may have been very uncomfortable it forced us to address issues that wouldn’t have been previously addressed and discussed on this level, whether it be the problem of obesity in the black community, the lack of empathy we hold on issues affecting each other, or just the general attitudes we bring to each other.

Avoid it if you want to. But the author and people who feel like the author aren’t going anywhere unless we confront these beliefs and discuss them head on. Or, you can refrain from it. Either way, if we’re not an open forum and community (both as an online community and black community in general) we’re not doing each other any favors.

I left the following in response to his comment above. I think I’m done with this conversation, as it’s gaining me nothing and just aggravating the hell out of me after a long day of work. As Karnythia often warns, don’t read the comments! You’ll just get angry.

You know, if the article had been written higher than a 5th grade reading level, and if the author had not used a caricature of “the fat black woman” by using a picture of Eddie Murphy in a fat suit, I could have possibly taken her article seriously. If the author had not responded to comments in such a base and ghetto way, insulting women, calling them hippos etc then perhaps her article could have been taken seriously.

Any author postulating that ALL FAT BLACK WOMEN ARE THAT WAY BECAUSE THEY OVEREAT apparently  failed to pay attention in the community, to the fact that many folks are obese because good food costs money and often in our communities we can access the liquor store, Walgreens and fast food before we can access grocery stores, and are able to learn healthy eating habits.

There are many factors as to why women are obese. It’s lazy writing to point fingers, shame women and drop every single fat black woman into the bucket of you’re a lazy cow that over eats. This publication does not service the community by promoting articles like this that read more like a slam letter because the author had a bad day, is mad at someone or they just didn’t feel like doing the research required to cover this topic.

It pains me to see anyone get paid to write such drivel, and for the publication to instead of copping to its mistake, defend the authors lackadaisical writing and tell people that this issue won’t go away. Trust me, as one of the women the author oh so eloquently calls a “hippo”, I know I’m fat and I also know what I can do to change that, and it’s not as simple as putting down the chicken leg and going for a walk. That sounds like the privileged knucklehead I had the misfortune of taking a class with last year who kept spouting such idiocy, but they were barely 20 and hadn’t really been out in the world so I could forgive them more easily than I could forgive the author of this “article”.

In closing, I think its pretty telling that the author changed the photo associated with this “article” but does not even acknowledge that she’s done so. Good luck to this publication, as it seems you’re going to need it with such quality authors on your staff.

My hair is not a walking invitation to the Zoo.

I have people coming up to me all the time to tell me how much they like my hair. Seriously. At one point a woman walked pass me, stared at me the whole time while she passed, then walked all the way back just to say, “Your hair is awesome.” I enjoy this. My new hair IS awesome and I love to get compliments on it. I love compliments from my friends and from strangers.

The problem is when those friends and strangers just feel the need to touch my hair and not accept no for an answer. Not only do I not understand why you’d want to touch someone else’s hair (“Oh, is it soft?”—Opposed to what? A brick?), but it seems to be only white people who do this—at least to me. Black women seem to be capable of admiring it without wanting to finger it. In fact, most white women do too (the previous mentioned person who walked pass me, just to come back was white).

But the ones who are not content to admire my hair are always white. This is not happenstance, of course, white people generally feel more entitled to infringe on other people’s spaces. But, I won’t get into the historical and political aspects of why blacks hate this. There have been post, after post, after post on the matter, and even a guide here. They aren’t hard to find.

The main issue I have is that in this day and age, people should know better. Any information you wish is just a click away. Don’t believe me? Check google: “why not to touch a black person’s hair” or “touching black people’s hair.” See all those links? They are real. They are written by real people with real feelings. (In fact it has been written about so much I almost didn’t bother to post this. But it’s obvious some people just haven’t gotten the memo.)

There are so many reasons not to touch or ask to touch people of color’s hair. Some of them include: offensive, dehumanizing, rude.

But let’s get to the meat of it, show of hands. How often have you gotten you hair done just right, in that up-do, or curled just so for that special occasion and someone then come along and ran their fingers through it? How annoying is it? Very? Really? Well imagine being on display like this all the time, 24-7.

The most recent incident came when I was with a group of friends, sitting at a table and a woman walked over and said, “Oh, your hair is so pretty.” Then she stretched out her hands as if she was just going to touch it (without permission) and when I moved out of her way, she looked shocked. “Oh, I just wanted to feel it,” she said.

“No,” I shook my head.

She looked puzzled. “No?”

I smiled, and said nicer than she deserved, “I’m having dinner with friends, do you mind.”

“Well, EXCUSE me.” She said, as if I had offended her and not the other way around—as if I had the nerve to refuse her natural born right to touch me. I stared for a moment and watched her walk away. My group of friends were mixed company, but they are pretty awesome women.

“Bitch.” Someone said—I refuse to say who would say such a thing (besides my friends are like the mafia, snitch and you’ll wake up swimming with the fishes).

Listen, I’ve heard all kinds of excuses about why this is not a race issue. They seem to mainly be: “I am a white female with blonde hair, and on more than one occasion, someone has touched my hair.” But, I’ve learned along the years that I can’t decide when someone else should be offended or why they get offended. Neither can you.

In the end, The Stuff White People Do blog put it best. You’re not allowed to touch my hair:

“Because I’m not an animal in the zoo.”

“Because this is my body and I don’t have to let anybody touch any part of it, EVER, if I don’t want to.”

“Because my black ancestors may have been your ancestors’ property, and had to smile while they got touched in ways they didn’t want to, but I am not YOUR property and never will be so you’d best move your hand away from me.”

And I’ll add one of my own: Because you live in a different world from your mothers and fathers and you have the opportunity, no, dare I say the responsibility, to research and find out the views of other people before you make an ass of yourself, and before you offend someone with your ignorance.

‘Nough said. Got it?

  • Mood: aggravated aggravated

The Angry Black Woman’s Guide to Hair Etiquette

1. It is never okay to touch, pull, or stroke a black person’s hair without permission. No matter how different, cool, or fun their hair looks, you just don’t.

2. It is never okay to ask a casual acquaintance or a perfect stranger if their hair is real. It doesn’t matter how curious you are or how incongruous their hair is to your expectations. Don’t do it.

3. Realize that, in asking if you can touch a black person’s hair, you are objectifying them in possibly uncomfortable ways. That person may consent to letting you touch their hair just to be nice, but rarely is it because they enjoy having your hands on them. The most polite thing would be not to ask until such time as you know that person well enough to know if they won’t mind the request. This is not the Petting Zoo.

4. Think before you make any comments expressing surprise that a person’s hair could look any certain way without a lot of help from chemicals, products, or professional stylists.

Print this, carry it around with you, tell others. I know I will. Because the next person who touches my hair without permission is going to come out of the encounter with several strands of their own missing (with root tags attached).

A post on black hair & locs

This video is for anyone who ever asked, wanted to ask or has asked ignorant questions about black people’s hair. ESPECIALLY for those that have touched a black person’s hair without permission, and thought that it was OK. ESPECIALLY for those that want to misappropriate locs and think that it looks good. ESPECIALLY for those people that ask dumb questions like, is that your hair? Do you actually wash it? Oh, you can feel it if I touch your twists/locs?

Which of these two things are alike?

I read the Huffington Post. Most of the time its on point, humorous and gives me a chuckle. That was not the case when this article: Two Black Role Models done in by Hubris went up.

The author is not a woman of color, nor does she seem to understand that her article is patently offensive and racist. A summary for those that don’t click. She posits that these two black men were brought low by their hubris. Woods for his extramarital dalliances and Obama for failing to deliver on his campaign promises in his 8 months in office so far. Um, what? I didn’t appoint her my savior and decider of who gets to speak for me as a black person to the world at large.

When readers call her on the idiocy of linking these two men based on skin color alone, she gets quite defensive in the comments to her own piece. I notice that she trips over herself basically calling herself out and back pedaling on what she did and didn’t actually say in the piece. Critical thinking fail here people.

Here’s my comment in case anyone is interested:


photo

“That you even think their race had anything to do with their failure means you can’t read.” If that’s the case, what was the point of your article in tenuously linking two famous black men? What hubris can you point to on the part of the president? You really need to step back, untangle the straps of your invisible back pack and realize the issue people are taking with your “article”. Let me clarify for you.

You, as a white woman are attempting to tell us people of color that we ought to be ashamed of these two fallen role models of our “people”. No one assigns my role models. No one famous person of color should be held up as the monolithic example of what POC should aspire to, and none of us should be told by journalists of any race, creed or color that the “failures” of famouse POC are doubly problematic and just such a disappointment for the race.

This is condescending, patronizing and yes, it is a racist action. You can commit racist actions and not even realize it. Reading your commentary back to posters here, it seems as if you are treating people’s responses to this poorly written attempt at connecting two famous black men as personal attacks.

Your closing line is very telling on yourself, you should read it and let it sink in because its exactly what you are doing by jumping up and down screaming but I’m not racist! online.

My smiles are not for you, random man on the street

I’ve had the issue of women being treated as property, as if (some) men think we are here for their pleasure only, as if we are to be honored by your hey baby, how you doin’s as we go about our daily lives, but instead when we ignore you, tell you to fuck off or just keep walking the insults flow freely.

Instead of understanding that women are not chattel, we do not exist to please you… you revert to mental infancy and call us sluts, whores, bitches… ask if we think we’re too good for you, or won’t we just FUCKING SMILE, after all it was a compliment I paid you, damn why you have to be like that. The litany could go on forever but you get my point.

After a post by karnythia on creepy ass man following her and try8ing to intimidate her, and the story of the MTA passenger who just needed some help but instead was asked out for a date by an employee, this topic has boiled over in my head and needs to be let out.

I know men don’t understand that life is different for women, in that alot of us are raised to be leery of unknown men, especially ones that approach us on the street. It’s something that keeps you safe and can save your life, because you never know when a dude is just trying to be a harmless flirt or a serial killer or rapist. I know its harsh, but you (men who think you’re doing us a favor by hollering on the street)don’t know our lives, our stories, what kind of baggage we’re carrying around.

That woman whose arm you try to grab so you can “talk to her” could be a rape survivor, she could be on the way home after being laid off from a job, or getting some other bad news. She could not be smiling because she just found out her grandmother died or she failed a test, or for any number of reasons. You never know what a person has going on in their head, and presuming that she should give you the gift of her smile, her time just because you’re a man is pretty damn arrogant.

Thinking that women should be honored because you deign to throw some two bit line our way on the street, or talk about us as if we’re nothing more than walking tits, ass and vagina’s put on display for your approval and usage speaks volumes about how little you know about women or the real world. I don’t speak for all women, but I think anyone with a shred of self-respect wouldn’t bother with a trifling ass man who thinks the way into a womans heart is to talk about that ass, and how you’d give her what for.

Men, at least the men who think that this is a GOOD IDEA and women should be grateful for your attention… realize we don’t owe you a motherfucking thing. We don’t owe you our time, our energy, our bodies or our smiles.

Lastly, posted this in a comment to an earlier post of mine and it needs to be seen, and reposted far and wide.

On Caster Semenya… (xposted from my LJ)

As usual has Karnythia has written this topic up much better than I can but I had to get my two cents worth out there…I’ve not said a lot about Caster Semenya and her treatment by those who apparently couldn’t lose gracefully but attacked her “questionable” gender because she beat other runners in the 800M category. Apparently because she looks “mannish” the losing coaches decided to contest whether or not Caster is even female, and she was subjected to Gender Testing. Mostly because I couldn’t believe that in this day and age a young lady would be subjected to such testing because she was too good.

I admit my ignorance about such things, and I didn’t even know athletes could be forced to undergo such testing if a competitor coach/trainer/other sports folks demand it. Besides the fact that its humiliating to have your gender puzzled over in a public forum, this has now become an international media circus that has thrust a young woman into the public spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Instead of being celebrated for her performance, she has been mocked, derided and stripped of the dignity all people deserve by having her medical issues trotted out for the world to see.

I don’t care if Caster is cisgendered, intersexed or whatever she feels the need to call herself, but being forced to prove she’s female to satisfy a sore loser’s ego is wrong, wrong, beyond wrong. She is not public property to be examined to everyone’s satisfaction. She is being treated as Sara Baartman was back in the days of slavery. Baartman or Hottentot Venus as she was also known was treated as a literal specimen and freak show by those who could not believe that she was human because of her differences from Europeans of the time.

I feel that Caster is being treated to the same freak show mentality of an overly-curious public that seems to think they have a right to know her medical history and how dare she keep such things from the public. News flash, no one has a right to know about your medical history and splash it all over the news, or even spread it as idle gossip with friends and family.

What really took this over the edge for me is that Caster was not informed of the results of the tests before it was leaked to the media. Let give you that one more again; Caster was NOT INFORMED OF THE RESULTS BEFORE IT WAS LEAKED TO THE MEDIA. Someone’s fucking greed and treatment of another human being as a curiosity was more important than medical confidentiality.

Now Caster is under a suicide watch and if this young lady kills herself, her blood will be on the hands of everyone involved in this debacle. Especially the greedy, heartless bastards that leaked her results before she was informed of them.

For those who want to support Caster and send words of encouragement, you can contact her via one of the agencies below: (list courtesy of LJ Community Blackfolk )

Women’s National Coalition
E-mail: women@womensnet.org.za
Tel: +27 (0) 11 429-0000/1
Fax: +27 (0) 11 838-9871
Postal address: P O Box 62577, MARSHALLTOWN, 2107
Physical address: 31 Queen Street, Newtown, JOHANNESBURG
2001

Women’sNet
Physical Address: 31 Quinn Street, Newtown Johannesburg, South Africa
Postal Address: PO Box 62577, Marshalltown, 2107
Phone number: +27 11 429-0000
Fax: +27 11 838-9871
Email:women@womensnet.org.za

Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa
Queen & Vermeulen Street, No. 66 Regent Place Building, Pretoria, 0001
Pretoria
South Africa
Telephone: (012) 304-5199
Fax: 086 535 1477

U.N. – Division for the Advancement of Women
Address: 2 UN Plaza, DC2-12th Floor, New York, NY 10017, USA
Fax: +1-212-963-3463
Email: daw@un.org
Website: http://www.un.org/daw

Gender DynamiX South Africa
info@genderdynamix.org.za
+27 21 6335287

Gender DynamiX
Saartjie Baartman Centre
Klipfontein Road
Athlone

Postal Address
PO Box 347
Athlone
7760
South Africa

Intersex SOUTH AFRICA
PO Box 12992
Mowbray 7705
Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: +27-(0)21-447 6290
Email: coordinator “at” intersex.org.za

For those that want to make their displeasure known:

International Association of Athletics Federations
17 rue Princesse Florestine
BP 359
MC98007 Monaco
Tel: (+377) 93 10 8888
Fax: (+377) 93 15 9515

International Olympic Committee
Château de Vidy
1007 Lausanne
Switzerland
Tel : (41.21) 621 61 11
Fax : (41.21) 621 62 16

A memo to the black men out there…

that buy into the idea that women of any color should lower their expectations for your trifling ass… especially anyone who agrees with this Memo to Black women informing us we’ll never get a Barack or Denzel because our standards are too high? Here’s a note from a black woman who sincerely wants to inform you that:

Black women are not required to lower our standards for men like you. They are called standards for a reason. Black women are not obligated to play faux mommy to men like you that can’t fend for themselves in the real world because no one made them grow up and get their shit together as adults.

Black women are not obligated to know how to cook five course meals for you that will be piping hot and perfect when you decide to bring your triflin’ ass home. We are not obligated to be ferocious in bed, pandering to your every sexual whim because you’re a MAN; yet accept the fact that you have no real clue on how to please a woman and be grateful for what little attention you give us.

We have the right to expect that whatever man we end up with is a decent fucking human being and will treat us with respect, love and actually want us because we have a brain in our heads and not just great bodies.

We are not obligated to lower our standards so man-children like you have a chance at a good woman that you can’t handle anyway. So get yourself to a library, school, read a damn book and learn that it isn’t all about you and getting a woman to serve your needs by erasing her own.

A message from the Average Black Person by Elon James White (reposted w/Author Permission)

“A Message from the Average Black Person”
Via the Huffington Post (Would love to hear what you guys think – Sorry about the cut IT WONT WORK. And if you enjoy this please DIGG it – http://is.gd/1ev4T – and feel free to pass the link along!)

To Whom It May Concern:

Greetings. My name is Elon James White. I’mBlack.

I write this letter on behalf of a lot of people that fall into the category of Average Black People. (Yes, I capitalize it, as if it were a title.) I do not claim to represent them because that would be absurd. I really, truly don’t. I don’t even represent my circle of friends. At any point in time one of my Black buddies will, in fact, tell me to go to hell when speaking on concepts of race, politics, or religion.

I do, however, qualify as an Average Black Person. I am neither a part of the Black intelligentsia, nor do I fall into the category of your garden-variety street Negro. A lot of folks see Black people in one of these two categories. Normally, let’s be honest, it’s the latter.

I don’t qualify.

I do come from “the Hood.” That’s right. I am a born and bred Brooklynite raised in the middle of Bed-Stuy. If you aren’t familiar with Bed-Stuy, perhaps you have never listened to gangster rap. You’re probably also unfamiliar with Jay-Z, Biggie Smalls, or the thousands of songs that yell out “Brooklyn!” and then give a shout-out to Bed-Stuy. It’s fine. Just understand that Bed-Stuy has a primarily negative connotation and for many years was used in boasts to gain respect or fear because it’s an incredibly violent environment.

In other words, you could get shot, son.

Speaking of which, I am the son of a single mother. My father is in prison. My grandfather was a pastor and I grew up in the church. I, without shame, also enjoy fried chicken, watermelon, ribs, and orange soda. I can have an incredibly in-depth debate on the best five MCs ever. My credit isn’t great and I’ve been shot.

With facts like this I qualify as a stereotypical Black person right?

But I am also a computer programmer. I’ve been known to quote Nietzsche. I, on occasion, host dinner parties where I serve five-course meals, including a specialty of mine, White Truffle Tilapia (it’s delightful). I have the entire John Williams discography and wear a backpack that is emblazoned with the Thundercats insignia.

Those with one half of that story shake their head at the sheer mass of stereotypes I carry. Then those with the other half question if I even understand the Black experience at all. Some refer to me as someone who “made it out.” I currently live in Crown Heights. Some say “You’re not like the others.” Most people I interact with are very similar to me.

I am an Average Black Person.

So, as an ABP, I have a few requests:

Media.
Please stop referring to blacks as a monolith. I can’t possibly express to you the different types of Black people that exist. We neither move as an entity, nor do we move as three or four entities. For every Sharpton, there’s a Steele. And for every Sharpton and Steele there are a hundred folks in the middle. What we share is a past, which on occasion helps shape our view on things. Also? Obama is not a unicorn. Please stop acting like Obama and his family are magical in the Black community. Just because some of you may not have seen a Negro like this doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Lots of smart black folk living with their smart mates and their cute smart kids. So please remember. Obama? Not a unicorn. Black people? Not one voice: I don’t care what the supposed Black leaders try to claim.

Supposed Black Leaders.
Please stop speaking for us as if we were a monolith. This is not the 1960s. We don’t need a Martin Luther King, Jr. or a Malcom X. You speak for yourselves and your view on what’s happening. You also can’t police black people. There isn’t an us. Are there issues within the Black community? Absolutely, but it’s not everybody as much as it is certain groups, most time classes that are in need of help and focus. Hence you can’t speak for “Blacks.” There are people who need your help and don’t want you speaking for them. Oh, and for the love of all that is holy, could you please stop critiquing Obama simply to show you aren’t drinking the kool-aid? I get it. You’re sugar-free. Got it.

Critics Of Obama.
Hey, um…guess what Black people are not? A monolith. We are not holding Obama on a pedestal. Some critique him harshly (and personally I feel unjustly) and others love him. This is the case with every president. Obama is not the spokesperson for Black people. He is a symbol of hope. He is a symbol of opportunity in a land where opportunity for us seemed nonexistent. He’s a symbol of a fight where people cried and died and sacrificed in order for the opportunity for him to exist. But his actions are his actions and have to be judged. Just not four months after he walked in the door with one of the worst clean up jobs in the countries history. You may critique him without critiquing Blacks’ ability to critique him.

The hypocrisy of saying we are not One, and yet speaking for the exact group for which I justemphatically denied exists, is not lost on me. Perhaps there are Black people who absolutely want to be spoken for and referred to as if we were one big team. I acknowledge the possibility, but if this was the majority people like Dyson and Smiley would be way more important, and let’s be honest: they aren’t. I hope that my message is clear. After reading this, the next time you talk to a Black person you can feel comfortable in now knowing with every fiber of your being that you have no clue what they think or feel based on their skin color.

But if they’re wearing a Soulja Boy shirt you may disregard this essay and judge them immediately

Promotion Post – Verb Noire

**DISCLAIMER: THIS POST IS NOT AN INVITATION TO POST YOUR THOUGHTS ON RACE FAIL 09. WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT? GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND**

As some of you who have been following RaceFail 09′ know… one good thing has surfaced from this fiasco. [info]verb_noire is a new press started by [info]karnythia & [info]thewayoftheid. Those of you on my f-list that would consider submitting works, the submission guidelines will be up this week.

The mission statement is:

To celebrate the works of talented, underrepresented authors and deliver them to a readership that demands more.

What does that mean? That if you’re a talented writer with an awesome, original story about a POC girl/guy/transgendered character, there is a place for you. And that if you’re a sci-fi/fantasy fan who has grown tired of the constant whitewashing of these genres, there is a place for you, too.

Now that isn’t to say that we will accept ANY ol’ manuscript as long as it features a POC protagonist, because we will NOT. What we’re looking for is quality, soul and PASSION, something that will resonate with readers for years to come.

“Everyone has a story.” These words have driven my professional career for the last decade. These words are also the driving force behind this project, because I believe that EVERYONE has at least one good story in them, and that story demands to be shared with the world.

The rough part, of course, will be funding. In the next few days, you will be seeing a crazy amount of “Donate” buttons on the sites of friends, family and other folks down for the cause. Please click on them and spread the word, if you’re so inclined. 🙂

Other folks are promoting Verb all over the place and I want to add to the voices saying hey you! Awesome writer who thinks your voice will never be heard? Come here, check this out and submit your work to folks who won’t try to mainstream it into a shadow of itself.

[info]telesilla is also promoting [info]verb_noire at this post Go read it!

And even though they have surpassed their fund raising goal, it will keep money to keep this venture afloat and viable. So please if you can: A donation button is at Verb Noire

We did it, we did, we did. Thoughts on watching history unfold…

I’m so proud right now. So damn proud of our country, it’s people and of our new President. Yes, it was so good to hear “Do you, Barack HUSSEIN Obama …” and not have them skirt the issue of his middle name. It was good to hear him swear his oath to this country and it’s people. Hell, I’m not going to lie, I’m ecstatic that we are seeing the beginning of a new era today and ending 8 years of oppression based on lies, fear mongering and hate.

Now, the party will go on for a couple of days and we’ll all revel in a new era. However, the real work needs to be started. It needs to begin and continue with the people who mobilized to put President Obama in the Oval Office. This work does not rest solely on his shoulders or Vice President Bidens’ but on every single person in this country.

Whether you voted for him or not, President Obama is now our leader. I would hope that those of you that spent so much time hating, disbelieving and being obstinate in your views of this man, his ideals and the ideals of the party he is with can put aside that hatred to achieve the greater good. Which is restoring this country to the great nation it once was. I’m not saying the US is down for the count now, but we’re going to need some crutches for a while.

I ask those of you who are on the “other side of the aisle” to put down your animosity, your vitriol and join with your brothers and sisters in rejoicing today, and every day that we are starting with a new administration. One that says here, this is what I did today… that says I need you, the people to help me get to the mountain top.

If you cannot do that, it’s your loss and I honestly feel sorry for you. This nation was not built on the ideals that party loyalty means lack of patriotism or less love for this country because we don’t share the same ideals or values. We are all American’s and we all must work to redeem this country in the eyes of each and every person who has suffered, each person lost to war, hate, lack of money, education, poverty … the list goes on.

I do not come to admonish those who do not join me in cheering our new leadership, I come to offer the olive branch of our common humanity and ask you to join me in working together for a better day, month and years to come.

I’m off to celebrate more watch the parade and I hope you can do so with joy in your heart and hope for our future.

Social divide among low, middle and upper class blacks you say? Well no shit…

This is a total no-brainer to me that is once again touted as something new and shiny for people to go, really? I would have never have thought that! Poor black folks don’t like middle class black folks usually. The rest of us don’t like those uppity negroes who ahve the gall to be upper class and in some cases pretend as if they arent black any more.

No matter how much green is in your pocket dear friends, if someone sees your blackness first and your bank account second they won’t care how much you’ve got or not. You’ll be the poor/not broke as those welfare shuckers and jivers (aka doing alright)/ or bourgeoisies.

There’s no happy medium when it comes to black folks and class I’ve found in my 35 years on this earth. If someone is out of work, and you have a steady job then of course you must have spare money to give them right? If you work your ass off everyday, you do so to be rich… not wealthy mind you, but rich. There is a difference. (See Chris Rock’s Bigger & Blacker routine) You’re never happy cause you don’t have what that rich brother or sister has … and you eventually hate them for it, becoming poisoned against someone who came into money by hard work or luck… and then you scheme to take them down via word or deed.

Keep in mind that my opinions are my own and if you come here looking for a fight you’ll get one.

Continue reading “Social divide among low, middle and upper class blacks you say? Well no shit…”

Webchat on Black Greek life… is it still relevant?

For anyone who may be a frat or soror at/alum of an HBCU. Any thoughts on this topic?

Diverse Web Chat

Please join us for an exciting Web chat discussion about the state of Black Greek Letter Organizations at 1 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Nov. 14. Continue reading “Webchat on Black Greek life… is it still relevant?”

In lieu of real content some linkage for you peeps

Lauredhel posts about some breast surgery that isn’t breast surgery according to the docs who invented it.

2049live posted about the Twin Towers Alliance Interview [he’s working on their site]

KittieKattie posted an excellent essay on that one black kid and Overt Racism being less than a generation away

Karnythia posted some interesting thoughts about other IBARW posts she’s seen around the net

Angelsscream’s IBARW posts are all here 

*All links will open in a new window

Dating “outside” … some thoughts.

Could Mr Right be White? Or dating ‘outside’ comes into practice for black women

My friend Fard did a very good post on his LJ about this topic. You can find it here.

Here’s my comment.

My 0.02

Meant to comment earlier. I agree and its sad, very sad that black women seem to be at a point where its seek that rare and mythical educated black man who has no kids, hasn’t been to jail, hasn’t been in a gang and has a job or date “outside” as it were.

The sad thing is, there’s no happy medium for anyone involved. If a black woman dates a white guy, she’s a traitor or too siddity to be with a brother… if a black guy dates a white woman, he’s going after the forbidden fruit that the MAN told him he can’t have.

Sadly white women & men are just ass out in the view of some blacks because its like they are trying to prove just how NOT RACIST they are by dating outside white culture.
What are your thoughts gentle readers?

Continue reading “Dating “outside” … some thoughts.”

Recommended reading – Unbowed by Wangari Maathai

Unbowed_Wangarri Maathai hardcover

I’m almost done with this book, I highly recommend it to anyone who thinks that one person can’t make a difference. Doctor Maathai is an inspiration, and I’m glad I recieved this book. Makes a great gift too. Below is a review from Amazon that sums up what I’d like to say, but its much better written 😉

A well written review from Amazon’s site:
Perseverance and hope, April 5, 2007
By Friederike Knabe (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) – See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
When Wangari Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, questions were raised regarding her choice by the Nobel Committee. Why should an environmentalist receive a prize that was identified with peace and human rights, voiced the critics. Reading Maathai’s memoir sets the record straight, and justifying her selection for the award. In this fascinating and very personal account, she paints a vivid picture of her life, embedded in the realities of Kenya before and since independence. Her experiences during the Moi regime, in particular, demonstrate the challenges a young educated woman confronted in the face of traditional prejudice as well as political oppression.
Continue reading “Recommended reading – Unbowed by Wangari Maathai”