Maya Angelou, Lyrical Witness of the Jim Crow South, Dies at 86

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Hiding the Pain: The Emotional Repression of Men

By: @TheBlackVoice

 

Men aren’t supposed to cry. Men aren’t supposed to hug. Men aren’t supposed to say how we truly feel. Men aren’t supposed to be afraid. Men aren’t supposed to be wrong. I could keep going on with the long list of things men aren’t supposed to do, as I’ve had “man-laws” drilled into my head for decades. The worst law I learned in the school of manhood, is the one saying that men aren’t supposed to feel.

As men we are taught that any emotions other than anger or lust are signs of weakness. Weakness is like kryptonite to patriarchal masculinity, so no man ever wants to show any indication of it. Whenever our emotions do come up, we do our best to hide them. We front, so we won’t be exposed and have our manhood challenged.

I often hear the conversation about how emotionally insecure women are. I find this surprising because I believe that men are more or just as emotionally insecure as women. My logic behind this statement is quite simple. The patriarchal definition of masculinity in this society does not allow men to express our emotions. Emotions such as fear, pain, and sadness are swept under the rug. They’re not to be seen by society, because a man’s (defined by patriarchal masculinity) greatest fear is to be perceived as weak or soft.

The emotional crippling of men is destructive to the mental and physical health of men and society in general. All men feel, because we are humans. Feelings of empathy, fear, anxiety, patience, love, and compassion are not just specific emotions that women express. The human spirit contains a wide variety of emotions. Patriarchal masculinity attempts to suppress these emotions, which in turn creates broken men. Men who cannot express the fullness of their emotions are broken.

One of the biggest coping mechanisms of this emotional repression is foolish pride. Foolish pride enables us to shield ourselves from personal insecurities, rather than dealing with them. Basically it is a process of deflection. When we are afraid, we deflect. When we are hurt, we deflect. When are unsure, we deflect. Any emotion or action that goes against the “guy code” gets deflected.

This front is something men do conscious and subconsciously. The conditioning of patriarchy is so deeply rooted that the emotional repression of men has become normalized. As long as men continue to use the front, we will never be able to heal from the wounds of this emotional paralysis. We can’t heal if we don’t feel. Men have to feel and own our pain. As a community we must create spaces where men can feel comfortable expressing their emotions without being shamed. We cannot build a powerful movement towards self-determination with broken men. Masculinity must be redefined in a way that uplifts our humanity, the humanity in men, women, and other genders. It’s time to stop fronting and start healing. Stay Woke.

 

When Black Hair Is Against the Rules

By AYANA BYRD and LORI L THARPS

 
America has always had trouble with black hair. The United States Army is only the latest in a long line of institutions, corporations and schools to restrict it. On March 31, the Army released an updated appearance and grooming policy, known as AR 670-1. It applies to all Army personnel, including students at West Point and those serving in the R.O.T.C. and the National Guard.
No distinctions are made for race or ethnicity, only gender, in that the regulations regarding hair are divided between women and men. But it’s not hard to infer that certain sections pertain specifically to black women, since they refer to hairstyles like cornrows, braids, twists and dreadlocks, severely limiting or banning them outright.

While the Army certainly isn’t the first to impose these kinds of prohibitions, it may be the most egregious example, considering that the 26,000 black women affected by AR 670-1 are willing to die for their country. On Tuesday, Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel ordered the entire military to review its hairstyle rules, after the women of the Congressional Black Caucus sent him a letter saying that the Army policy’s language was “offensive” and “biased” and strongly urging him to reconsider it. More than 17,000 people signed a petition submitted to WhiteHouse.gov asking the Obama administration to review the policy.

The bias against black hair is as old as America itself. In the 18th century, British colonists classified African hair as closer to sheep wool than human hair. Enslaved and free blacks who had less kinky, more European-textured hair and lighter skin – often a result of plantation rape – received better treatment than those with more typically African features.
After Emancipation, straight hair continued to be the required look for access to social and professional opportunities. Most black people internalised the idea that their natural hair was unacceptable, and by the early 20th century wore it in straightened styles often achieved with dangerous chemical processes or hot combs, or they wore wigs.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that the Black Power movement declared that “black is beautiful” – and not least unstraightened natural black hair. Soon the Afro became a popular style, first at protests and political rallies and eventually on celebrities from Pam Grier to Michael Jackson.
But in many settings, black hair was still a battleground. In the 1980s civil rights groups led boycotts against the Hyatt hotel chain after it terminated a black female employee for wearing cornrows. In 1999, couriers for Federal Express were fired for wearing dreadlocks. And this past fall, 7-year-old Tiana Parker was told her dreadlocks violated her elementary school’s dress code in Tulsa, Okla., and 12-year-old Vanessa VanDyke was threatened with expulsion from her private school in Orlando, Fla., because her natural hair was deemed a “distraction.”

If a person doesn’t have black hair, isn’t married to someone with black hair or isn’t raising a child with black hair, this issue may seem like a whole lot of something about nothing. But what these women are demanding is a policy that reflects a basic understanding of black hair. For most black people, hair naturally grows up and out – think of the shape of an Afro – not down. But the Army’s regulations assume that all hair not only grows the same way but can be styled the same way. For example, one permitted hairstyle is a bun. Yet because of the thickness of a lot of black women’s hair, a bun is not always possible unless the hair is put into twists first. But twists and dreadlocks, no matter how narrow and neat, are banned in the policy and labelled “faddish” and “exaggerated.”


Black people around the globe have worn dreadlocks for centuries. They can be easily and neatly worn under a helmet or in a bun. Two-strand twists, a popular option for black female soldiers that look similar to braids but are much easier to style, especially in the field, are versatile and require little maintenance. AR 670-1 does allow women to wear wigs and hair extensions, a suggestion that borders on the ridiculous when considering the time and cost required for upkeep in a salon – let alone in a desert army barracks.
The argument isn’t that the Army does not have the right to enforce a conservative code – this is the Army, after all – but that it must consider the diversity of hair textures. The current policy is the equivalent of a black majority military telling its thousands of white soldiers that they are required to have dreadlocks or Afros.

At a time when the military is trying to attract more women to its ranks – this week, the military’s newspaper, Stars and Stripes, ran a cover story about West Point’s attempt to draw more female cadets – it can’t afford policies that punish those same women for their ethnic features. Secretary Hagel says the military has three months for its review “to ensure standards are fair and respectful.”
Here’s an idea: Why not take a survey of active and retired black servicewomen? Let the courageous women serving our nation contribute to an understanding of what conservative, safe and professional means when it comes to their own hair. –NY Times

Source: http://www.nation.com.pk/international/02-May-2014/when-black-hair-is-against-the-rules

Are You Down With Co-Washing?

By Dr. Phoenyx Austin of DrPhoenyx.com
Hey ladies! One of the best hair practices I adopted after going natural was co-washing. I was actually years into natural hair and cleansing my hair with sulfate-free shampoos. I knew all about the harsh sulfates thing, but I had no clue that there was something even better than shampoo. Then one day, a fellow naturalista put me onto co-washing. And boy oh boy did this doc fall in love!


Do you co-wash?

If you aren’t hip to the co-washing game, I’ll give you a quick debriefing of what it is, why you should do it, how often you should do it, and what types of conditioners to use.

What is it?

Co-washing is simply using conditioner to cleanse the hair instead of shampoo. You just cut out the shampoo step and go straight to conditioning

Why you should do it?
Co-washing is muy bueno for hair- especially natural hair! As far as cleansers, you should already be switched over to sulfate-free shampoos. Sulfates are cleansing agents that are included in most commercial shampoos. Sulfates are what give shampoos their bubbly, foamy quality. Sulfates may make bath time fun, but they are also powerful degreasers that will literally strip the oil from your hair. No bueno! This is why you should use sulfate-free shampoos IF you do use shampoo.
Now if you want to take things up a notch with your hair care, co-washing is the way to go. Commercial conditioners are actually formulated with cleansing agents too- not just conditioning agents. So shampoos are really not that necessary. You can use conditioner to cleanse your hair- it’s like getting 2 benefits for the price of 1!

What types of conditioner to use?
The most common issue with co-washing is product buildup on hair. This is because conditioners contain silicones- an agent that gives hair “slip” and shine. Silicones come in 2 forms- water soluble and non-water soluble. It is best to use conditioners with water soluble silicones (or no silicones) because product buildup will be unlikely. Water soluble silicones wash easily from hair. Non-water soluble silicones do not- they can only be washed off with stronger cleansers that are found in shampoo (i.e. sulfates).

To tell if your conditioner is co-wash friendly, just read the ingredients on the bottle and look for these silicones: Dimethicone Copolyl and PEG Modified Dimethicone. These are the water soluble silicones. If you conditioner contains these, you’re good to go!
And don’t worry about cost. There are tons of el-cheapo conditioners that contain water soluble silicones. So you won’t have to break the piggy bank when looking for these types of conditioners.

How often should you do it?
That’s all personal preference. You can keep you current regimen, while simple eliminating the shampoo step. So if you normally wash your hair once a week, keep washing your hair once a week. Just use conditioner instead of shampoo. I know many naturals that co-wash daily. I don’t. I usually co-wash once a week, or at most twice a week. And if I ever feel like my hair is becoming heavy or dull from product buildup, I’ll simply clarify with shampoo or an ACV rinse once a month. Done, and done!

Do you co-wash? How well does co-washing work for your hair? What are you favorite conditioners for co-washing?

 

Source: http://www.curlynikki.com/2011/11/are-you-down-with-co-washing.html

The MOVE 9 Bombing: 29 Years Later

Today marks the 29th year since the Philadelphia-based movement’s headquarters were bombed by law enforcement

move

On this date in 1985, a four pound bomb made of the explosive C-4 and Tovex, a dynamite substitute, was dropped onto the roof of a revolutionary organization by American state and federal agencies, killing six adults and five children.

No, this was not in Afghanistan, Iraq, or any other country that the media has trained the general public to believe is justified in receiving such an attack. This military action was executed on American citizens.

MOVE, which was founded in 1972 by Vincent Leaphart, who later became known as John Africa, lived communally and frequently engaged in public demonstrations related to issues they deemed important. MOVE’s early protests centered around treatment of animals in zoos and circuses and poor housing conditions for the elderly. As time went by, MOVE began to protest chemical companies such as Dow Chemical and DuPont. As the decade wore on, MOVE began to be targeted by the Philadelphia Police Department for its views on technology and its “getting back to nature” mentality.

In 1978, a negotiation was reached to vacate their Powellton Village headquarters after a year-long standoff with the police, however, they refused to follow the court order and vacate. After the eviction notice was served on the premises, the Philadelphia PD attempted re-entry, in which Officer James Ramp was shot in the back of the head and killed. In turn, nine members of the group were found guilty of 3rd degree murder and all sentenced to 30-100 years in prison. 7 of the 9 became eligible for parole in 2008, but were all denied.

Following the 1978 shoot-out, or “shoot-in” as it has been called by some, the MOVE house was immediately bulldozed despite a court order against its destruction — as well as the fact of it being a crime scene — by the city on the orders of mayor Frank L. Rizzo. This destroyed any and all defense evidence. For the next seven years, MOVE worked tirelessly to free the MOVE 9 and other members of the organization who had been jailed. MOVE relocated to Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia. After neighborhood complaints about dirtiness, rat infestations, and MOVE’s refusal to use electricity and gas, another eviction notice was drawn up to relocate MOVE members. This time 500 to 600 armed law enforcement descended into the Osage Avenue neighborhood and neighborhood residents were ordered to evacuate their homes. On the morning of May 13, 1985 MOVE headquarters was bombarded with water from fire hoses. Then came the tear gas. At 5:20 p.m. the four pound C-4 bomb was dropped and MOVE headquarters caught fire. Despite using fire hoses to try to get MOVE members to evacuate the house on Osage Avenue, after the fire started the fire department turned no hoses towards the flames. Instead, the flames of the fire were left to burn destroying MOVE headquarters and 58 other houses in the neighborhood. Neighborhood residents were shocked and appalled by what had transpired. Eleven people – six adults and five children – were massacred, an entire neighborhood was burned to the ground and over 280 people were displaced from their homes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Delbert Africa dragged by Philadelphia police officers after they dropped a bomb on the MOVE home.)

According to a chosen few, the price of freedom is death. MOVE members have given and continue to give their lives in the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality.

A revolutionary soldier salute goes out to Sister Debbie Africa, who I have had the honor of corresponding with and has sat in a Pa. prison cell for 25 years in the name of freedom. She gave birth to her son Mike Jr. in her prison cell on September 15, 1978 with no medical assistance

-Sha Be Allah(@KingPenStatus)

Source: http://thesource.com/2014/05/13/the-move-organization-bombing-29-years-later/

8 Reasons Young Americans Don’t Fight Back

 How the US Crushed Youth Resistance

 

Republished from alternet.org
By Bruce E. Levine

Traditionally, young people have energized democratic movements. So it is a major coup for the ruling elite to have created societal institutions that have subdued young Americans and broken their spirit of resistance to domination.  

Young Americans—even more so than older Americans—appear to have acquiesced to the idea that the corporatocracy can completely screw them and that they are helpless to do anything about it. A 2010 Gallup poll asked Americans “Do you think the Social Security system will be able to pay you a benefit when you retire?” Among 18- to 34-years-olds, 76 percent of them said no. Yet despite their lack of confidence in the availability of Social Security for them, few have demanded it be shored up by more fairly payroll-taxing the wealthy; most appear resigned to having more money deducted from their paychecks for Social Security, even though they don’t believe it will be around to benefit them.  

How exactly has American society subdued young Americans? 

1. Student-Loan Debt. Large debt—and the fear it creates—is a pacifying force. There was no tuition at the City University of New York when I attended one of its colleges in the 1970s, a time when tuition at many U.S. public universities was so affordable that it was easy to get a B.A. and even a graduate degree without accruing any student-loan debt. While those days are gone in the United States, public universities continue to be free in the Arab world and are either free or with very low fees in many countries throughout the world. The millions of young Iranians who risked getting shot to protest their disputed 2009 presidential election, the millions of young Egyptians who risked their lives earlier this year to eliminate Mubarak, and the millions of young Americans who demonstrated against the Vietnam War all had in common the absence of pacifying huge student-loan debt.

Today in the United States, two-thirds of graduating seniors at four-year colleges have student-loan debt, including over 62 percent of public university graduates. While average undergraduate debt is close to $25,000, I increasingly talk to college graduates with closer to $100,000 in student-loan debt. During the time in one’s life when it should be easiest to resist authority because one does not yet have family responsibilities, many young people worry about the cost of bucking authority, losing their job, and being unable to pay an ever-increasing debt. In a vicious cycle, student debt has a subduing effect on activism, and political passivity makes it more likely that students will accept such debt as a natural part of life. 

2. Psychopathologizing and Medicating Noncompliance. In 1955, Erich Fromm, the then widely respected anti-authoritarian leftist psychoanalyst, wrote, “Today the function of psychiatry, psychology and psychoanalysis threatens to become the tool in the manipulation of man.” Fromm died in 1980, the same year that an increasingly authoritarian America elected Ronald Reagan president, and an increasingly authoritarian American Psychiatric Association added to their diagnostic bible (then the DSM-III) disruptive mental disorders for children and teenagers such as the increasingly popular “oppositional defiant disorder” (ODD). The official symptoms of ODD include “often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules,” “often argues with adults,” and “often deliberately does things to annoy other people.”

Many of America’s greatest activists including Saul Alinsky (1909–1972), the legendary organizer and author of Reveille for Radicals and Rules for Radicals, would today certainly be diagnosed with ODD and other disruptive disorders. Recalling his childhood, Alinsky said, “I never thought of walking on the grass until I saw a sign saying ‘Keep off the grass.’ Then I would stomp all over it.” Heavily tranquilizing antipsychotic drugs (e.g. Zyprexa and Risperdal) are now the highest grossing class of medication in the United States ($16 billion in 2010); a major reason for this, according to theJournal of the American Medical Association in 2010, is that many children receiving antipsychotic drugs have nonpsychotic diagnoses such as ODD or some other disruptive disorder (this especially true of Medicaid-covered pediatric patients). 

3. Schools That Educate for Compliance and Not for Democracy. Upon accepting the New York City Teacher of the Year Award on January 31, 1990, John Taylor Gatto upset many in attendance by stating: “The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools as teachers and aides and administrators, but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions.” A generation ago, the problem of compulsory schooling as a vehicle for an authoritarian society was widely discussed, but as this problem has gotten worse, it is seldom discussed.

The nature of most classrooms, regardless of the subject matter, socializes students to be passive and directed by others, to follow orders, to take seriously the rewards and punishments of authorities, to pretend to care about things they don’t care about, and that they are impotent to affect their situation. A teacher can lecture about democracy, but schools are essentially undemocratic places, and so democracy is not what is instilled in students. Jonathan Kozol in The Night Is Dark and I Am Far from Home focused on how school breaks us from courageous actions. Kozol explains how our schools teach us a kind of “inert concern” in which “caring”—in and of itself and without risking the consequences of actual action—is considered “ethical.” School teaches us that we are “moral and mature” if we politely assert our concerns, but the essence of school—its demand for compliance—teaches us not to act in a friction-causing manner.  

4. “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top.” The corporatocracy has figured out a way to make our already authoritarian schools even more authoritarian. Democrat-Republican bipartisanship has resulted in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, NAFTA, the PATRIOT Act, the War on Drugs, the Wall Street bailout, and educational policies such as “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top.” These policies are essentially standardized-testing tyranny that creates fear, which is antithetical to education for a democratic society. Fear forces students and teachers to constantly focus on the demands of test creators; it crushes curiosity, critical thinking, questioning authority, and challenging and resisting illegitimate authority. In a more democratic and less authoritarian society, one would evaluate the effectiveness of a teacher not by corporatocracy-sanctioned standardized tests but by asking students, parents, and a community if a teacher is inspiring students to be more curious, to read more, to learn independently, to enjoy thinking critically, to question authorities, and to challenge illegitimate authorities. 

5. Shaming Young People Who Take EducationBut Not Their SchoolingSeriously. In a 2006 survey in the United States, it was found that 40 percent of children between first and third grade read every day, but by fourth grade, that rate declined to 29 percent. Despite the anti-educational impact of standard schools, children and their parents are increasingly propagandized to believe that disliking school means disliking learning. That was not always the case in the United States. Mark Twain famously said, “I never let my schooling get in the way of my education.” Toward the end of Twain’s life in 1900, only 6 percent of Americans graduated high school. Today, approximately 85 percent of Americans graduate high school, but this is good enough for Barack Obama who told us in 2009, “And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country.”

The more schooling Americans get, however, the more politically ignorant they are of America’s ongoing class war, and the more incapable they are of challenging the ruling class. In the 1880s and 1890s, American farmers with little or no schooling created a Populist movement that organized America’s largest-scale working people’s cooperative, formed a People’s Party that received 8 percent of the vote in 1892 presidential election, designed a “subtreasury” plan (that had it been implemented would have allowed easier credit for farmers and broke the power of large banks) and sent 40,000 lecturers across America to articulate it, and evidenced all kinds of sophisticated political ideas, strategies and tactics absent today from America’s well-schooled population. Today, Americans who lack college degrees are increasingly shamed as “losers”; however, Gore Vidal and George Carlin, two of America’s most astute and articulate critics of the corporatocracy, never went to college, and Carlin dropped out of school in the ninth grade. 

6. The Normalization of Surveillance. The fear of being surveilled makes a population easier to control. While the National Security Agency (NSA) has received publicity for monitoring American citizen’s email and phone conversations, and while employer surveillance has become increasingly common in the United States, young Americans have become increasingly acquiescent to corporatocracy surveillance because, beginning at a young age, surveillance is routine in their lives. Parents routinely check Web sites for their kid’s latest test grades and completed assignments, and just like employers, are monitoring their children’s computers and Facebook pages. Some parents use the GPS in their children’s cell phones to track their whereabouts, and other parents have video cameras in their homes. Increasingly, I talk with young people who lack the confidence that they can even pull off a party when their parents are out of town, and so how much confidence are they going to have about pulling off a democratic movement below the radar of authorities? 

7. Television. In 2009, the Nielsen Company reported that TV viewing in the United States is at an all-time high if one includes the following “three screens”: a television set, a laptop/personal computer, and a cell phone. American children average eight hours a day on TV, video games, movies, the Internet, cell phones, iPods, and other technologies (not including school-related use). Many progressives are concerned about the concentrated control of content by the corporate media, but the mere act of watching TV—regardless of the programming—is the primary pacifying agent (private-enterprise prisons have recognized that providing inmates with cable television can be a more economical method to keep them quiet and subdued than it would be to hire more guards).

Television is a dream come true for an authoritarian society: those with the most money own most of what people see; fear-based television programming makes people more afraid and distrustful of one another, which is good for the ruling elite who depend on a “divide and conquer” strategy; TV isolates people so they are not joining together to create resistance to authorities; and regardless of the programming, TV viewers’ brainwaves slow down, transforming them closer to a hypnotic state that makes it difficult to think critically. While playing a video games is not as zombifying as passively viewing TV, such games have become for many boys and young men their only experience of potency, and this “virtual potency” is certainly no threat to the ruling elite. 

8. Fundamentalist Religion and Fundamentalist Consumerism. American culture offers young Americans the “choices” of fundamentalist religion and fundamentalist consumerism. All varieties of fundamentalism narrow one’s focus and inhibit critical thinking. While some progressives are fond of calling fundamentalist religion the “opiate of the masses,” they too often neglect the pacifying nature of America’s other major fundamentalism. Fundamentalist consumerism pacifies young Americans in a variety of ways. Fundamentalist consumerism destroys self-reliance, creating people who feel completely dependent on others and who are thus more likely to turn over decision-making power to authorities, the precise mind-set that the ruling elite loves to see. A fundamentalist consumer culture legitimizes advertising, propaganda, and all kinds of manipulations, including lies; and when a society gives legitimacy to lies and manipulativeness, it destroys the capacity of people to trust one another and form democratic movements. Fundamentalist consumerism also promotes self-absorption, which makes it difficult for the solidarity necessary for democratic movements.  

These are not the only aspects of our culture that are subduing young Americans and crushing their resistance to domination. The food-industrial complex has helped create an epidemic of childhood obesity, depression, and passivity. The prison-industrial complex keeps young anti-authoritarians “in line” (now by the fear that they may come before judges such as the two Pennsylvania ones who took $2.6 million from private-industry prisons to ensure that juveniles were incarcerated). As Ralph Waldo Emerson observed: “All our things are right and wrong together. The wave of evil washes all our institutions alike.”

 

Bruce E. Levine is a clinical psychologist and author of Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite  (Chelsea Green, 2011). His Web site is www.brucelevine.net

Light skin vs Dark skin

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By March 12, 2014

ONE DAY while walking with some family members on Philadelphia’s South St., I said, “I love those light skin girls with that long hair. They look beautiful.”

It bounced off my 15-year-old tongue effortlessly, landing in the eardrums of my aunt.

She quickly responded, “Oh you like those light girls. You one of those House Niggas. That’s what your name is. House Nigga.”

My jaw dropped as I tried to win my Black Card back. “I didn’t mean in like that.”

I was young and already walking the streets with a color complex constructing my attraction to girls based on the shade of their skin. My aunt called me “House Nigga” for the next 10 years, constantly helping me relive that moment. I was influenced by the images in my environment, mainly from television screens and magazines.

I thought back to that moment on South Street last week while I was reading the Willie Lynch letter to a group of students in a classroom.  The conversation was intense.

“Have you all seen the stuff on social media where people are posting ‘Team Dark Skin’ and ‘Team Light Skin?’

Nearly all of the students said yes.

“Ok. I got it,” I said. “Y’all know about it. How do y’all feel about it?”

“I don’t like being dark skin,” one of them said. “I know I’m black. I just feel so heavy with blackness. I just don’t like being black. In the summer it’s the worst. I turn into the Grim Reaper.”

His words turned the room into a quiet asylum. There was no refuge from the words he had just shared. After years of teaching I am sad to say his words did not shock me, but the boldness with which he spoke them did. With his face wrinkled in disgust he pointed to his skin, barely wanting to touch his arms while expressing his disdain for his tone. We watched him as his self-esteem was being placed in a coffin of hatred.

Another student said, “I don’t like light skin people because they are stuck up and conceited. They think they better than us. When I was pregnant I said to my stomach don’t let this baby come out light skin. Don’t you know that baby came out light skin? I was mad!! Until the baby got a lil’ chocolate a couple months later.”

The students’ laughter bellowed against the walls. I whispered a muted anger blended with frustration inside.

I then read Lupita Nyong’o’s words: “I tried to negotiate with God. I told him I would stop steeling sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted. I would listen to my mother’s every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me a little lighter. But, I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because I never woke up lighter.”

The classroom fell silent again like an atomic bomb of reality had just mushroomed, destroying all we knew. We sat staring at one another with a new beginning. All of us. It was an unexpected moment of silence. A moment where I could no longer hear the term, “House Nigga.” Just the wheels of learning turning.

We have to teach these young people how to love, how to dream, how to plan, how to archive before it is all lost. We even have to teach them to love themselves.

The discredited value of blackness is deeply engrained in these young people, and as we strive to hold on to the heritage, culture and self-love we have left, it’s imperative we show our children that the value of their person should not be determined by the shade of their skin. That value comes when you discover you personal power and cherish every breath you have….

Source: http://www.solomonjones.com/light-skin-vs-dark-skin/


corbin thumbnailGreg Corbin is a poet and teacher. He pens the Real Talk feature for Solomonjones.com

 

 

 

George Zimmerman signs autographs at Orlando gun show

ORLANDO, Fla. —George Zimmerman was shaking hands, smiling and signing autographs at a central Florida gun show Saturday

Zimmerman greeted people and autographed photos of him posing with his dog. He appeared at a scaled-down version of the New Orlando Gun Show at the Arms Room store on East Colonial Drive.

The show was originally set to be held at the Majestic on John Young Parkway, but organizers said the venue canceled late Thursday after getting negative feedback about Zimmerman’s planned appearance.

“They told us they canceled for community pressure,” said Mike Piwowarski, a show organizer. “They were getting phone calls and backlash, and didn’t want that kind of person there.”

Piwowarski said he was angry the Majestic canceled the event and he plans to sue for an estimated $300,000 in lost gun sales.

He said he supported Zimmerman during his trial in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and after he was acquitted.

Zimmerman offered to return the favor and support Piwowarski’s gun business, which led to today’s appearance, he said.

Black Harvard Students Share Their Experiences

 

63 Black Harvard Students Share Their Experiences In A Powerful Photo Project

The “I, Too, Am Harvard” photo campaign explores the diverse experience that black students at Harvard have to face. Here are 21 of the images. posted on March 3, 2014 at 1:06pm EST

BuzzFeed Staff
 
1.
 

Carol Powell / Via itooamharvard.tumblr.com

A group of black students at Harvard are fed up with the institutional racism they say they have experienced, and are speaking out against it through a commanding photography project on Tumblr.

“Our voices often go unheard on this campus, our experiences are devalued, our presence is questioned,” the website says. “This project is our way of speaking back, of claiming this campus, of standing up to say: We are here.”

2.
 

Carol Powell / Via itooamharvard.tumblr.com

The Tumblr is part of a larger campus campaign that all started with a play written by sophomore Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence, pictured above.

Matsuda-Lawrence and other members of the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College, Harvard’s oldest existing black organization, came up with the idea last year around spring break. She conducted 40 interviews with black students on campus for an independent study last semester; those interviews are the basis of the play, called I, Too, Am Harvard, which will premiere March 7.

She emphasized to BuzzFeed that “I, Too, Am Harvard” is a collective black community project that doesn’t yet reflect that experience of all students of color.

“We want to build a larger movement for students of color in general, but this play is for Harvard’s Black Arts Festival,” Matsuda-Lawrence said. “The project is coming out of the black community on campus.”

As part of the campaign, Harvard sophomore Carol Powell, a fellow Kuumba member, photographed 63 black students holding boards with micro-aggressions and racist remarks they have heard on campus. Some chose to write messages to their peers.

Speaking about her own portrait from the photo campaign, Matsuda-Lawrence told BuzzFeed that while walking through Harvard Yard last Friday night with black friends, they were approached by two white males who appeared to be drunk.

“One of them came right up in my face and yelled, ‘CAN YOU READ?’” she said. “This confrontation is just one of many instances in which black intelligence is questioned on this campus.”

3.
 

Carol Powell / Via itooamharvard.tumblr.com
4.
 

Carol Powell / Via itooamharvard.tumblr.com

Since the Tumblr launched Saturday night, it has received more than 19,000 page views, and the “I, Too, Am Harvard” team has been contacted by students of color on other campuses, including students from the University of Pennsylvania, who want to launch their own campaign.

“We’re part of a nationwide movement of black student activism,” Matsuda-Lawrence said. “We haven’t started this, but we’re hoping we can add to the movement and speak up against racism on college campuses.”

5.
 

Carol Powell / Via itooamharvard.tumblr.com
6.
 

itooamharvard.tumblr.com / Via Carol Powell

The campaign was created in response to an article written by a white student and printed in the Harvard Crimson in November 2012 called “Affirmative Dissatisfaction,” which started debates on campus about Harvard’s affirmative action policy.

“I felt, and other students felt, that our presence and identity as black students was being de-valued. At the time I was a freshman. We’d just shown up on campus, and we felt like people were saying I wasn’t smart enough to be here,” Matsuda-Lawrence said. “Everybody was talking about it on campus and it created a lot of racial tension.”

“This is our way of speaking back and saying we belong here. We’re claiming this campus as our own.”

7.
 

itooamharvard.tumblr.com / Via Carol Powell

In one interview, a student told Matsuda-Lawrence how hurt she was by the article:

“I read the article, and when she was saying, ‘giving black people entrance into schools like Harvard was the same as teaching a blind man to be a pilot’ — I read that, and I just cried. My heart ached, you know, I was so excited to be in this place, and they didn’t want me here.”

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itooamharvard.tumblr.com / Via Carol Powell

“There is a feeling a lot of black students share, which is that even though you got a letter of acceptance, you’re never fully accepted on this campus,” Matsuda-Lawrence said.

She added that throughout her 40 interviews, she hardly ever mentioned the affirmative action article, yet almost every person brought it up. “That’s the effect it had on our campus,” she said.

“The administration was silent on the issue,” Matsuda-Lawrence said. “They did not come to the aid of students of color on campus, and the voices of black students were not heard in the affirmative action debate.”

9.
 

Carol Powell / Via itooamharvard.tumblr.com
10.
 

Carol Powell / Via itooamharvard.tumblr.com

In another interview, a woman expressed how hard it was for her to feel comfortable in the classroom:

“I’m doing electrical engineering. And electrical engineering is really hard. Like that’s all I can say about it. It’s really hard. But I just don’t want to ask white people for help. Specifically, like if he’s white and male… Because I can’t have him thinking that I’m this dumb black girl — that I don’t deserve to be here.”

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Carol Powell / Via itooamharvard.tumblr.com
12.
 

Carol Powell / Via itooamharvard.tumblr.com
13.
 

Carol Powell / Via itooamharvard.tumblr.com

The play is part of the school’s 16th Annual Dr. Walter J. Leonard Black Arts Festival, sponsored by the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College, as well as a number of other institutional organizations.

The “I, Too, Am Harvard” team has invited a number of professors and administrators to the performance, and hopes they will help work to affect change on campus.

14.
 

Carol Powell / Via itooamharvard.tumblr.com
15.
 

Carol Powell / Via itooamharvard.tumblr.com
16.
 

Carol Powell / Via itooamharvard.tumblr.com

“This project has helped us realize that we’re not alone,” Matsuda-Lawrence said.

“We want to build a movement that can be translated into real institutional change so that black students feel that we belong. The play isn’t an end, it’s a beginning.”

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Carol Powell / Via itooamharvard.tumblr.com
18.
 

Carol Powell / Via itooamharvard.tumblr.com
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Carol Powell / Via itooamharvard.tumblr.com

Matsuda-Lawrence said the goal of the “I, Too, Am Harvard” campaign is for the Harvard administrators to take note of the movement and address it directly.

“Our biggest demand would be for the president and administration to issue a public statement in response to the affirmation action article to support students of color, and say why they value diversity on campus.”

Harvard did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed’s request for comment.

20.
 

Carol Powell / Via itooamharvard.tumblr.com