Stop blaming black parents for underachieving kids

Improving black students’ learning doesn’t “start at home.”

Mayors, teachers unions, and news commentators have boiled down the academic achievement gap between white and black students to one root cause: parents. Even black leaders and barbershop chatter target “lazy parents” for academic failure in their communities, dismissing the complex web of obstacles that assault urban students daily. In 2011, then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg exemplified this thinking by saying, “Unfortunately, there are some parents who…never had a formal education and they don’t understand the value of an education.” Earlier this year, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman diagnosed that city’s public schools’ chief problem: the lack of “active, radical involvement of every parent.” And even President Obama rued last week that in some black communities, gaining education is viewed as “acting white.”

Clearly, there is widespread belief that black parents don’t value education. The default opinion has become “it’s the parents” — not the governance, the curriculum, the instruction, the policy, nor the lack of resources — that create problems in urban schools. That’s wrong. Everyday actions continuously contradict the idea that low-income black families don’t care about their children’s schooling, with parents battling against limited resources to access better educations than their circumstances would otherwise afford their children.

In New Orleans this month, hundreds of families waited in the heat for hours in hopes of getting their children into their favorite schools. New Orleans’ unique decentralized education system is comprised largely of charter schools and assigns students through a computerized matching system. Parents unhappy with their child’s assignment must request a different school in person at an enrollment center, with requests granted on a first-come, first-served basis. This year, changes were made to the timing and location for parents to request changes. A long line began forming at the center at 6 a.m. By 9:45 a.m., it stretched around the block. By 12:45 p.m., officials stopped giving out numbers because they didn’t have enough staff to meet with every parent.

Research backs up the anecdotal evidence. Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research recently found that African Americans are most likely to value a post-secondary education in becoming successful, at 90 percent, followed by Asians and Latinos. Whites, at 64 percent, were least likely to believe higher education is necessary for success.


Students take take a test at New Orleans school. Showing their commitment to education, black families stood in line for hours to enroll their children in choice schools this month. (Photo by Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post)
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When judging black families’ commitment to education, many are confusing will with way. These parents have the will to provide quality schooling for their children, but often, they lack the way: the social capital, the money and the access to elite institutions. There is a difference between valuing an education and having the resources to tap that value.

A study released this month found 26 percent of ACT-tested students were college-ready in all four subject areas. Among low-income students, college-readiness dropped to just 11 percent. The study determined that it was poverty, not motivation or attitudes, that contributed to the lower performance. “Nearly all ACT-tested students from low-income families in the United States aspire to go to college — at an even higher rate than students overall — but many lack the academic preparation to reach this goal,” the ACT noted.

Privileged parents hold onto the false notion that their children’s progress comes from thrift, dedication and hard work — not from the money their parents made. Our assumption that “poverty doesn’t matter” and insistence on blaming black families’ perceived disinterest in education for their children’s underachievement simply reflects our negative attitudes towards poor, brown people and deflects our responsibility to address the real root problems of the achievement gap. Our negative attitudes about poor people keep us from providing the best services and schools to low-income families.

This thinking hurts not only children, but entire communities. Low expectations extend beyond the classroom into homes and neighborhoods. The greatest tragedy of the New Orleans school enrollment fiasco isn’t just that parents had to wait in long lines. It’s that the school district assumed parents wouldn’t show up. Officials assumed grandma wouldn’t be there before dawn. They assumed Ma wouldn’t take off work with child in tow. This is a sign of deficit thinking — the practice of making decisions based on negative assumptions about particular socioeconomic, racial and ethnic groups. The enrollment center was understaffed because officials assumed applying for school wouldn’t demand a larger venue, like the Mercedes Benz Superdome. An aside: The Superdome hosts the Urban League of Greater New Orleans’ annual Schools Expo.

When it comes to providing a better education for black children from low-income families, I worry less about poor folks’ abilities to wait in long lines and more about the school policies, the city halls, the newspaper columns and the barbershops that are plagued with deficit thinking.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/07/30/stop-blaming-black-parents-for-underachieving-kids/

 

 

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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.”

8.
 

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.”

11.
 

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.”

17.
 

Carol Powell / Via itooamharvard.tumblr.com
18.
 

Carol Powell / Via itooamharvard.tumblr.com
19.
 

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

Trayvon Martin Still Lives Within Us #BLACKLIVESMATTER

COMMENTARY: In the Wake of Trayvon Martin’s Death, Black Men Are Still Under Fire

Today marks the second anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s senseless death. The unarmed teenager was gunned down by security guard/wannabe cop George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida while walking home from a convenience store.

Although told to stand down by police after reporting Martin as “suspicious” Zimmerman followed the teen and confrontation ensued. He shot Martin in the heart, saying he felt threatened by a slim, good-natured 17-year-old carrying a bag of Skittles. Acquitted on all charges by a Florida jury, to this day Zimmerman has not expressed one ounce of remorse for the tragic killing. So what have we learned in the two years since Trayvon’s tragic death?

 

We have learned that it’s still open season on black men – young and old – as white men are firing on black men for no apparent reason and then using “Stand Your Ground” laws as their sorry defense. Sadly, in some cases, the “Stand Your Ground” law is working. And we have learned that for some whites, black life – and the lives of black males in particular –means absolutely nothing.

There have been many rallies, vigils, protests and sermons about Trayvon’s death and, no doubt, there will be more. Today, I reflected on a statement by President Barack Obama after he was criticized by some conservatives last year for weighing in on Zimmerman’s acquittal.

https://i1.wp.com/collectiveliberation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/1069270_10201559180122752_381679732_n.jpg

“The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy,” Obama said. “Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son.”

“We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities,” Obama said. “We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.”

It’s no secret that Black Americans have always been distrustful of the nation’s racially skewed judicial system.

“Our kids are still defined by the color of their skin,” Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother, told me last year.

I remain concerned for the safety of young black men while, regrettably, watching history repeat itself: First there was 14-year-old Emmitt Till, who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955 by white men who claimed Till was flirting with a white girl. In 1963 in Mississippi, NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers was shot to death in his own driveway by a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

And now there’s Trayvon Martin and more recently, Jordan Davis, another unarmed teenager who was shot and killed in Jacksonville, Florida, by Michael Dunn, a white engineer, simply because Jordan’s music was too loud. And let’s not forget Garrick Hopkins, 60, and Carl Hopkins Jr., 61, two brothers from West Virginia who were shot and killed by a white man, Rodney Bruce Black, 62, who thought the Hopkins brothers were trespassing on his land – when in fact, they were inspecting a shed on their own property.

The sad truth is that black men are no strangers to racial profiling.

Almost all of my black male friends have been racially profiled at some point during the lives – and that includes me. So what have we learned on the anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death? We have learned that unfortunately, some white men will always see young black men as thugs and will shoot first — and then call a lawyer. And we have learned, I hope, that we must fight collectively to repeal “Stand Your Ground” laws in Florida and in other states across the country to prevent these pointless murders of young black men.

If we sit back and do nothing, shame on us. What do you think?

Source: http://blackamericaweb.com/2014/02/25/commentary-in-the-wake-of-trayvon-martins-death-black-men-are-still-under-fire/2/

Renisha McBride Killed After Asking For Help In White Neighborhood

Black Woman Killed After Asking For Help In White Neighborhood

Image

(pic courtesy of Fox 2 News)

You might be reading this headline and think that I am mistaking Renisha McBride with the name of Jonathan Ferrell. You will recall that Jonathan Ferrell is the 24 year old man killed by Charlotte Police after surviving a serious car accident. Ferrell was murdered after a resident called 911 when Ferrell knocked on her door for help. The police arrived and shot at unarmed Ferrell 12 times, 10 of those bullets hitting Ferrell. Sadly just a few months later a similar situation has happened.

Renisha McBride, a 19-year-old young woman from Detroit was involved in a car accident around 2:30am Saturday morning in the predominantly white Detroit suburb Dearborn Heights. McBride’s cell phone was dead and she knocked on the door of a Dearborn resident for assistance. At this moment McBride’s life was ended by the resident who shot her in the head right on his front porch.

The police are already up to their shady tricks, as they refuse to release the name of the resident, and have given mixed stories about whether or not McBride’s body was dumped somewhere other than residence. The police are saying that the shooter mistook McBride for an intruder and acted in self-defense (Michigan is a “stand your ground” state). At this moment no formal arrest have been made against the shooter. I don’t know any intruders that knock on doors, or stand on porches waiting for the residents to come the door. I would say that the resident should have called the police, but who’s to say the police wouldn’t have shot Renisha down in cold blood too? Let’s remember that the police were the ones that killed Jonathan Ferrell.

The real question is what steps will the people take? Renisha was only 19 years old, she was someone’s daughter, niece, cousin, and friend. Do we just add her name to the long list of Black lives eaten up by a vicious system that devours whenever it feels hungry? Or do we finally say enough is enough, and awaken, organize, and fight? If we choose to fight we must remember that we must not only fight individual acts of racism but institutional racism. These despicable acts of individual racism are reflective of deep rooted systemic racism, like symptoms of are reflective of a disease. In order to stop the symptoms we must cure the disease. The best thing we can do at this very moment is get Renisha’s story the attention it deserves. Pass this story onto every individual you know. People need to see the evil that still exists in this country. Our children need to know what they are facing every time they walk out the door. This time it was Renisha, next time it could be you or your loved one. Stay Woke

Please see Rania Khalek’s original post on Renisha McBride (http://raniakhalek.com/2013/11/06/black-detroit-woman-shot-to-death-while-seeking-help-in-white-neighborhood-after-car-crash/ )

About blacksankofa

Taurean Brown is an author, poet, speaker and activist. “You don’t have to agree, but I want you to think. Just trying to speak what I believe is the truth, and it is always out of love.”

Youth Must Take the Lead

Want change after the Zimmerman verdict? Youth must take the lead

, @mharrisperry

9:25 PM on 07/17/2013

A demonstrator chants, Sunday, July 14, 2013, in New York, during a march against the acquittal of neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida.  (Photo by John Minchillo/AP)

A demonstrator chants, Sunday, July 14, 2013, in New York, during a march against the acquittal of neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida. (Photo by John Minchillo/AP)

The summer before I started high school, there was a spate of violence in my hometown. Parents and community leaders were distressed, and responded by organizing a prayer vigil.  I attended along with many of my friends. All the young people were asked to come forward at the end of the evening and form a tight circle. The adults followed and circled around us, lifting one hand over our heads and using the other hand to grab our shoulders in a sign of love, support, and protection. The minister then prayed for our nation, our community, and for us.

I’ll never forget his prayer.

“Lord, build a hedge of protection around these children. Lord, be a fence all around them and keep them from the winds of the storm.”

I should have felt grateful for the love and concern of my elders, but I mostly felt annoyed. Even as the Reverend prayed that God keep us from the storm, I sent up my own prayer:

“Not me, Lord. Put me right in the storm. I don’t want to be protected from those winds. I want to make them!”

I have never regretted my counter-prayer. In high school, I discovered the writings of Steven Biko, learned about the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and became convinced my generation could still be part of great actions for change. In college, I was swept up in campus activism that altered the direction of my professional and personal life. Being in the storm always seemed both more interesting and more meaningful than being sheltered safely on the sidelines.

More than 25 years after bristling at the idea of being protected, my first reactions to the George Zimmerman verdict were to cry out in distress about what feels like my powerlessness to offer safety to the children of our communities. Like the parents who extended their arms and prayers over me all those years ago, my first reaction to this feeling of insecurity was to reach out and grab those young people close.

I had forgotten. We must not fetishize safety to the exclusion of justice. The activism of our young people may just be the most powerful tool we have in the fight for a fairer world–even if their activism also makes them vulnerable.

  • Fifty years ago, in early June, 1963, the children of Birmingham, Alabama, marched through their city’s streets to make demands of their mayor. They were met by the dogs and fire hoses of Bull Connor. In response, President Kennedy articulated his support for a federal Civil Rights Act for the first time.
  • On May 4, 1970, students organized peacefully in protest of the Cambodian Campaign initiated by the U.S. government under President Nixon. The Ohio National Guard opened fire on the unarmed students, launching at least 67 rounds into the crowd and killing four. Their deaths were a pivotal moment in American public opinion about the war in Vietnam.
  • On June 16, 1976, more than 20,000 teenagers in Soweto township in South Africa took to the streets in protest of the apartheid education that forced them to learn in the language of their oppressors. Their uprising breathed new life into the movement against apartheid.
  • On October 9, 2012, 12 year old Malala Yousafzai was hunted down and shot in the head by Taliban gunmen as she rode a school bus. Her vocal, international advocacy for girls’ education had made her the target of their violent hatred. She survived their assassination attempt and last week addressed the United Nations, demanding international commitment to openly accessible education for girls.

I wept this week for the lost innocence of youth who were told by a not guilty verdict that their lives did not matter. While I wanted to protect them, they spoke out forcefully for themselves. They were clear. It is not protection they need. It is justice. It is organization. It is directed action to change the world.

(I recommend that you listen to the words of the Black Youth Project 100, a group of young black activists from across the country who were together when the verdict was read. Listen to their tone and their determination.)

Let me revise my prayer. “Lord, make me brave enough to follow the young people into the raging storm.”

Source: http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/07/17/want-change-after-the-zimmerman-verdict-youth-must-take-the-lead/

“He’s more likely to be dangerous and commit crimes because he is Black …”

Duane Buck & The Systematic Execution Of Blacks – Huffington Post

Duane Buck & The Systematic Execution Of Blacks
Huffington Post
Evidence shows that Duane Buck was convicted and sentenced to death largely because of his race. An investigation reveals a long and deep culture of racism in Harrison County, Texas that has resulted in the “over-execution” of black bodies. Hosted by: …

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE

“Temptation Is a Movie About Punishing Women …”

Tyler Perry Isn’t Just an Artless Hack, He’s a Scary Ideologue

By  Lindy West

There are a lot of things to laugh at in Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Kim Kardashian’s attempts to move and talk at the same time, Vanessa Williams’s fake French accent for no reason (hoh-hoh-hohhh!), the alien dialogue, the blunt-force moralizing, the sheer ineptitude of Perry’s filmmaking. (Worth noting: None of Perry’s actual scripted “jokes” made the list.) But, that said, it is not a funny movie—it’s a frightening one. Temptation is a movie about punishing women. Specifically, Perry is obsessed with punishing women who stray from the good woman/bad woman binary dictated by traditional Christian gender roles. That is the film’s entire purpose. I watched it 24 hours ago and my skin is still crawling. And I’m starting to believe that Tyler Perry isn’t just artless—he’s reprehensible.

Temptation is framed as a story told by a marriage counselor to her client. The client, some white lady, comes in and is like, “I’m thinking about having an affair! YOLO!” And the marriage counselor is like, “Well, let me tell you a little story, lady. About my, um, ‘sister.'” (The first of a million spoilers: IT’S REALLY ABOUT HER. SHE IS HER OWN SISTER.)

The “sister” in question is Judith—a nice, pretty, church-going “good woman” who wears ugly high-collared blouses, cooks dinner for her man every night, and only has married-sex in bed with the lamp off. Judith’s husband, Brice, is a “good man.” He works hard at a pharmacy all day, wears glasses, and is on great terms with Judith’s mother. They are “happy.” Except that they’re totally not (spoiler #2: it’s Judith’s fault).

The first hint of Judith’s discontent comes when she and Brice are heading home from a romantic dinner. A group of ne’er-do-well youths on the street cat-call Judith as they pass. Judith flips the fuck out and has to be physically restrained by Brice, who tells her to calm down, ignore it, let it go. They get in the car and go home. Judith refuses to speak to Brice for the rest of the night, because he didn’t defend his property her honor by fighting the cat-callers to the death. He didn’t do his manful duty. “But honey, they could have had guns!” Brice says. THEN HE APOLOGIZES TO JUDITH FOR NOT FIGHTING THE YOUTHS. I didn’t see the rest of the scene because my eyes fell out and rolled away.

Meanwhile, at the Millionaire Matchmaking agency where she works, Judith meets Harley—the “third largest social media inventor since Zuckerberg!” (so, uh, LinkedIn? Christian Mingle?). Harley immediately fixates on Judith and begins scheming about how to get his penis inside her posthaste. Harley is rich, sexually aggressive (his dialogue highlights the inhuman weirdness with which Perry writes about sex: “Sex should be random, like animals!”), he believes in Judith’s career (Brice, by contrast, told her that she should stay at the matchmaking agency for 15 years before starting her own practice—!?!?), and he goes jogging with no shirt so ladies will look at his muscles. “I bet you only have sex in a bed with the lamp off,” he tells Judith. (Nailed it!!!) In a clunky counterexample to the cat-calling incident, Harley attempts to murder a doofy bicyclist who accidentally bumped Judith’s knee with his bicycle. He is truly the best man ever.

Oh, also Harley is literally the devil. Linemouth.

You can tell he’s literally the devil because he says things like, “Let me play devil’s advocate,” he drives a sinful red sports car, everything in his apartment is constantly on fire, and every time Judith’s churchy mom sees him she starts screaming, “HE’S THE DEVIL. THAT MAN IS LITERALLY THE DEVIL.” He is literally the devil.

And because he’s the devil, he manages to “seduce” Judith, lure her away from her good Christian life with Brice, nose-feed her mountains of cocaine, beat the shit out of her, and turn her into a cackling demon who hates Jesus and never, ever cooks dinner. Back at the pharmacy, Brice discovers that Harley has been running around giving HIV to all kinds of fallen women all over town. This discovery finally awakens his dutiful aggro side, so he runs to Harley’s apartment to rescue Judith from Satan-AIDS, and then throws Harley through a window. Then Brice gets a new, better, non-HIV-having wife and Judith puts her frumpy clothes back on and goes to church, alone forevermore.

Cut back to this dialogue between the therapist and the white lady:

“How does the story end?”
“Well, it’s still being written.”
“Did [Judith] get HIV too?”
“Yes.”
“Did Brice?”
“No.”
“Thank you so much for sharing this story with me  I’m going to end this almost-affair and stay with my husband.”

THE END. OF THE MOVIE.

Okay. Now. Okay. There are three main areas in which Tyler Perry is fucking over the entire human race in Temptation.

1. Men Do Marriage Like This/Women Do Marriage Like This!

Temptation is a feature-length Chick tract, only with slightly less artistry and nuance. Watching this film as an atheist, it makes absolutely no sense. If you don’t believe in the devil, which I don’t, Temptation is simply the story of a 25-year-old woman who got married too young, is no longer compatible with her partner, is frustrated with her stalled career, and is preyed upon by a charismatic sociopath with a drug problem. Then, because of Perry’s fixation on Christian moralizing, the film portrays Judith’s contraction of HIV (deliberately given to her by an abusive partner) as a fitting punishment for her “sins.” From a godless perspective, this is bonkers.

Outside the confines of traditional gender roles, Judith is just a woman trying to find her place in the world. She is confused, she is sad, she is frustrated. “I feel so dead with you Brice,” she says. In the real world, women are not obligated to cook dinner for their husbands, or eschew casual sex, or put their careers on hold for their partners, or submit sexually to dominant men, or ignore cat-callers, or stand up to cat-callers, or swath their knees in modest hemlines, or be nice to their moms. Women are people. But in Perry’s universe, women are women, and a “good woman” is a very specific and important thing to be.

People can have whatever kind of relationships they want—if a traditional Christian marriage works for you, go nuts—but Perry’s insistence on punishing women who don’t follow his doctrine of subservience is harmful and oppressive. Compliance with gender roles doesn’t make anyone a good person. People are good people because they’re good people. Church doesn’t make you good. Loving your mom doesn’t make you good. Even fidelity doesn’t make you good. Those are all just excuses, loopholes, cop-outs that signify “goodness” without having to actually do the legwork.

When Judith stops being “good,” she is punished. The moral of the movie is explicit: Stay in your unhappy marriage forever because the alternative is Satan-AIDS.

Which brings me to my second point.

2. People with HIV Are Not Your Toys.

Three people in Temptation have HIV. One of them is literally the devil (see above), and the other two are black women who slept with the devil. That Perry would have the gall to use HIV as a punitive measure against black women who don’t fit his idea of “goodness”—black women, by the way, account for 2/3 of new HIV infections among women—betrays a frightening selfishness and lack of empathy. It echoes, very plainly, the old Fundamentalist rhetoric that AIDS is a punishment from god for the sins of the gays. Perry expands that rhetoric, sure—now dirty, filthy women can sin just like gays do!—but the message is the same. Casual sex is a sin and sinners deserve HIV. That. Is. Crazy.

The other woman infected by Harley is named Melinda (played by the Brandy), a saintly gal who works at the pharmacy with Brice. “I’m accepting my part in it,” she says. She chose to stay with Harley even though he was abusive and she knew he was sleeping around. Besides, the film takes care to point out, she totally took Harley’s private jet for granted—so of course he cheated! Temptation isn’t a movie about Harley—who, after all, can’t help his sin seeing as he is a demon from hell. It’s a movie about Harley’s victims. Only they’re not portrayed as victims—they’re sinners. They’re to blame. And in the end, Melinda and Judith wind up alone, repentant and meek, while Brice finds himself a new, untainted wife.

Apparently this needs to be said: People with HIV are people. People with HIV are not a rhetorical device that Tyler Perry gets to exploit to keep women in line. People with HIV have healthy relationships with other people, regardless of HIV status. Tyler Perry is a bad person.

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3. Harley Rapes Judith.

Here are all of things that Judith says immediately before Harley has sex with her in his private plane: “No.” “Stop it.” “I don’t want to.” “Get off of me.” Judith does not want to have sex with Harley. (There’s another layer of nuance here—one reason Judith doesn’t want to have sex with Harley is that she’s deeply invested in Perry’s beloved gender roles. But the reason for her “no” is irrelevant. Her spiritual weakness betrays her, Harley can tell she wants it, and she’s punished for that weakness.)

He does not stop. He just tries harder. He knows what she really wants, no matter what her mouth and body are saying. She never says yes. He says, smugly, “Now you can say you resisted.” He has sex with her anyway. This is a rape scene. But, in Perry’s universe, Harley is right. She did secretly want it. And that’s the real problem.

Afterwards, for a minute, Judith is disgusted with Harley and with herself. She pushes him away. She tells him never to contact her again. But then! Then! She’s back on the phone with him almost immediately (while Brice is caught up in the football game—doofy doofy dur dur!), telling Harley he’s the best she’s ever had, begging him to have sex with her again. Judith, it seems, is addicted to what the dick did. And now she’s like, “OMG I NEED MORE OF YOUR SATAN BONER AND ALSO COCAINE.” Because that’s how us fickle ladies work.

This idea—that men know what women really want, that resistance can be fucked out of us (or consent fucked into us)—is DEEPLY NOT OKAY. It’s not okay to telegraph this to young men or young women or victims of sexual violence or potential perpetrators of sexual violence or lawmakers or anyone. It’s a paradigm that I was hoping had died out with Pepe LePew. It is frightening.

I’m amazed at how efficiently Perry was able to roll back discourse, human rights, the basics of consent, and storytelling itself in just one shitty movie. Perry has done a lot for the visibility of black voices in popular culture, but that doesn’t make his moralistic subtext in Temptation any less repellant and irresponsible. The world should demand better than Tyler Perry.

Source: http://jezebel.com/5993523/tyler-perry-isnt-just-an-artless-hack-hes-a-scary-ideologue

Spinning The New Pope as a Good Guy

 

 

The media keeps highlighting that the new pope has a long history of advocating on behalf of the “poor”. I’m assuming they think this absolves him of his homophobia, misogyny, and all around ignorance. It’s easy to be “for the poor” without examining how social inequalities like disdain and lack of access to contraception like condoms and birth control adds to the growing number of the poor. Or how homophobia prevents people from accessing the workforce and other segments of society that could help them hold a job. Or how forcing women to carry pregnancies that they don’t want or can’t afford also adds to the growing number of the poor. Also, I don’t see homophobia and misogyny as synonymous with humility. A modest view of one’s own importance does not translate into infringing on OTHER’s rights. They can try to spin this new pope into being a “good guy”, but he’s not.

– The Anti-Intellect Blog

 

Rest In Power Trayvon Martin

Remembering Trayvon Martin

By: Anti-Intellect 2/26/2013

             In remembering Trayvon Martin, I can’t help but look at his tragic and untimely death in a larger social context. It can almost be said with certainty that Trayvon Martin would still be alive today if the gender of his killer were different. Simply put, there are no widespread cases of women gunning down other people. The murder of Trayvon Martin is a feminist issue. It is my hope that his death will become a catalyst for further contemplation of both race and gender relations. There is something terribly wrong with the way that we socialize me in this world. That gun violence has almost become synonymous with maleness is something that deeply disturbs me as a feminist man. George Zimmerman did not just attack and kill Trayvon on that fateful night simply because he was Black. Both Trayvon and Zimmerman’s gender played a significant role in how things played out. Patriarchy is a social system that privileges men over women, but it also privileges stronger men over weaker men. That night, with that gun, George Zimmerman was the more powerful man, and he knew it. In honoring the life of Trayvon Martin, I will continue to use my voice as a Black male feminist to critically examine our notions of gender. It is the least that I could do for him. Rest in power Trayvon Martin.

 

Demetrius Martin cries as he remembers his brother, Trayvon Martin, during the 'March for Peace' at Ives Estate Park in honor of the late Trayvon Martin on February 9, 2013 in Miami, Florida. Martin was killed by George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012 while Zimmerman was on neighborhood watch patrol in the gated community of The Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Demetrius Martin cries as he remembers his brother, Trayvon Martin, during the ‘March for Peace’ at Ives Estate Park in honor of the late Trayvon Martin on February 9, 2013 in Miami, Florida. Martin was killed by George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012 while Zimmerman was on neighborhood watch patrol in the gated community of The Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)