Category Archives: activism

No Wedding, No Womb: Sistas, Let’s Lead the Cause

I know black women who won’t swim because they might get their perm or weave wet.

I know black women who won’t let you borrow their keys or give you a place to stay for a week or two.

I know black women who would give you their last dime

I know black women who are so convincing, they could talk a leopard out of its spots.

I know black women who manage each dime of their paycheck like they are working for the Obama Administration and correcting the BS of the American banking system.

I know black women who are the coldest, most put together people on the planet.

I’ve seen black women overcome obstacles, handle their business, love like no other, help their communities, and carry the load.  We can be opinionated, steadfast, loving, passionate, pushy and exacting.  Even our errors are correct, as Nikki Giovanni might say.   We are some of the strongest people on the planet and we often have to make some serious decisions.  One of the toughest decisions can be who we share our bed with, our womb with. However, I know a LOT of women who have made a conscious decision to wait until they are married to conceive.

This is why I believe that the goal of the NO Wedding, NO Womb campaign is something that Black Women can really embrace.  NWNW calls for WOMEN [and men] to put the needs of children first, and advocates that couples abstain from having children until they are emotionally, physically and financially able to care for them.

Is this about bashing single mothers?  NO.  Frankly I know a lot of single mothers who would happily embrace the concept that people should think long and hard about having a child out-of-wedlock.  There are burdens and joys to being a single mom.  I believe that most would not call it all roses.

Black women, we control access to our wombs.  We carry the genes of slave foremothers who did not have choice when it came to reproduction, but have passed on their strength to us.  WE can make a difference in our communities by embracing the message that African-Americans should consider waiting until marriage to have children.

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NAACP: Don’t Just Criticize, Become a Member and Effect Change from Within

I just have to give my 2 cents on the Wells Fargo, NAACP, and Boyce Watkins drama.  I’ve listened to all the points given.  I think there are a lot of valid points on both sides.  However, the thing that stands out to me is that the NAACP as an organization is not the same organization that I read about in the history books.  It’s not the NAACP of the time of W.E.B Dubois or in the 60s with King.  This is a different time.  A time that calls for different tactics and is full of different concerns.  The very fact that such an institution is now being challenged from within the black community is interesting.  The NAACP is a holy grail organization historically.  What this whole conflict has make me consider is the future of the organization and how African Americans can best influence it.

The best way for people to influence and ensure its future…JOIN.  For just $30 you can join and actually help this historic organization.  Money talks. If you really care, pay your dues and get involved with the actual governance of the organization.  Sure, you can affect it from outside, but if you really cherish what the NAACP has meant to the African American community, wouldn’t you want to see it refashioned for future survival?  If you have answers and know what direction the organization should do in, why not share them?

Sponsorship means money.  Perhaps if there was an infusion of new member revenue, the amount of sponsorship revenue needed for the conference would have been reduced.  Perhaps they could afford to be more choosy when selecting sponsors in that case.

Just my 2 cents.

Background: Recently the NAACP came under fire by bloggers for having Wells Fargo as a leading sponsor for its annual convention this July. Dr. Boyce Watkins wrote an op-ed for theGrio questioning why the NAACP would partner with Wells Fargo – a company accused of predatory lending practices — so recently after the civil rights organization dropped its lawsuit with the bank. Click here for the response to Dr. Watkins’ inquiry from NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous.

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Was Your African American Studies Class Ethnically Chauvinistic?

By now most of you have heard about the new bill that Arizona is taking heat for that bans some ethnic studies courses.

Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, already under fire for approving the nation’s toughest illegal immigration law, has again run afoul of liberal activists, signing a bill Wednesday that targets ethnic studies programs in schools that critics say unfairly demean white Americans.

The law, which takes effect Dec. 31, would prohibit courses that promote resentment toward one race; that are designed for students of one race; that promote ethnic solidarity “instead of treating students as individuals;” and that encourage “the overthrow of the United States government.”

The proposal was the brainchild of Tom Horne, Arizona state superintendent of public instruction, who has long battled with the Tucson Unified School District over its Mexican-American studies program, contending that it promotes “ethnic chauvinism” through the use of textbooks such as “Oppressed America” and at least one guest speaker who said, “Republicans hate Latinos.” – source

As a HBCU grad who loved all of the African American studies classes I had, I was disturbed by the language in this bill.  The measure prohibits classes that advocate ethnic solidarity or that promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group.  I feel that legally, some of the points in the law would be very hard to define.  CNN did a great job of bringing this out.

What do you think?  Would your African American studies class be banned under this bill?  What is wrong with ethnic solidarity?  Couldn’t one argue that American history as it is traditionally taught could easily promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group (ie. “Cowboys and Indians”)?

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Happy Easter: Martin Luther King’s Last Sermon

Today, many will celebrate Easter Sunday.  They may not realize that today, April 4, 2010, marks the 42nd anniversary of the assassination of Civil Rights Leader, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  He spoke these words on April 3rd, 1968.

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

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Typical Negro Shout Out of the Day

Today I’m starting a new series of posts called “Typical Negro Shout Out of the Day”.  I’ll regularly post “Shout Outs” to blogs, celebs , pundits, and other notables.  This is in honor of the grand ole Black tradition of randomly “shouting out” people when you have access to speak to a large group of people (via radio, television, your boy’s rap video, etc).  Even President Obama has done it.

Shout out to one of my favorite blogs, Field Negro!  Thanks for the love you’re currently showing us with the feature.  We’re feeling you too.  “Hey!” <– said with my best ghetto girl intonation.  Blessings!

field negro blogBack to our regularly scheduled program…already in progress…

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When Negroes Need to Feel “Special”: Tavis’s Black Agenda Event

Tavis Smiley is hosting a national forum today in Chicago titled, “We Count! The Black Agenda is the American Agenda.”  I don’t like the title at all.  The Black Agenda is PART of the American Agenda but it’s not THE Agenda any more than the Hispanic, White, Native American, or Asian “Agendas”.  Do I think that the US Government should show concern when any of its citizens are racially profiled, denied mortgages, or otherwise discriminated against?  Yes.  Do I think African-American face some special challenges due to institutionalized racism in this country?  Yes.  However, I think that the Black community has to galvanize and organize to create solutions internally and not depend on the Federal Government or Barack Obama for all the answers.  Where are the Black leaders who are challenging Black America to stand up and take responsiblity?  Where are the brothers and sisters who understand that WE not ONE can save the nation?

If this all you have to do be a Black leader?  Get a soap box on TV and take that influence to create a leadership persona.  Is it really that simple?  I really have to question the context of this meeting.  Is there corporate sponsorship?  Is it being done in a spirit of black unity?  I didn’t hear about it until Tavis had a bone to pick with other black leaders.

The issue came to a head recently when Tavis Smiley, appearing on the morning show of syndicated radio host Tom Joyner, openly questioned black leaders such as NAACP President Ben Jealous, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Council of Negro Women’s Dorothy Height about their unwillingness to hold President Obama accountable for these disparities and demanded that Obama develop an agenda targeted to address black inequalities. Impassioned by the debate, Smiley is hosting a national forum today in Chicago titled, “We Count! The Black Agenda is the American Agenda.” – Washington Post

You know, we need to be real.  There are a lot of black people who are wearing the leadership hat who frankly may just be working their gig for everylittle bit of fame we will give them because that is their full-time job.  If you are selling books, throwing events, or appearing as a TV news pundit more than twice a year, I think you may just be trying to drum up business for yourself.  Let’s be real people, we all know of  black activists who are not in it for the money.  We see people working who don’t have to invent issues or attach themselves to the latest tragedy of the day.  They are working hard as advocates on the behalf of the people and their rewards are progress and change…not air time and notoriety. Continue reading

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A Day in DC: Part 2 – Photos of Health Care Bill Protesters at the Capitol

At the NMAI, I found out that you can’t bring protest signs into Smithsonian buildings when a female protester was stopped by security at the door and told she had to leave her signs outside.  Was she shocked?  Yes.  Was it funny?  Yes.  When we left the museum there were at least 20 signs outside.  A security guard had to go out and move them (photos below).  Duh!  It’s a government building.  You can’t just set up a mini protest outside the door.

2nd RevolutionAt the urging of the friend I was with, we wondered up to the Capitol where a few hundred people had gathered to protest the health care bill (and democracy in my opinion).  I can sum up what I saw very simply: Mob Mentality.  One of the craziest things was a guy selling 2nd US Revolution flags. I asked him what the flag meant if he had a website.  He told me it was for the 2nd Revolution and he gave me his card.  I really wonder if he’s just making money off the fringe element in the Right or if he’s serious.  Here are my other observations:

  • I saw 4 black people participating out of hundreds.  95% of the rest of the crowd was white people who were of the Boomer generation or older (a few hispanics and asians sprinkled in).  It made me wonder whether they would have the same feelings if they had cancer or some other disease and experienced issues with coverage.
  • Out of the 4 black people, there was a guy selling flags, including yellow “Don’t Tread On Me” flags.  He was down there representing Capitalism, not the Tea Party.  Good for you bro, make that money.
  • I would break this group into a few factions:  The Stupid, The truly faithful far Right, Racists who are mad that a Black man won the Presidency, The Brainwashed, and The Fear Mongers.
  • When they saw the Presidential motorcade appear they started shouting, “There he is!” and “There’s Obama!”.  There was lots of booing and then they all started running to the east side of the Capitol where the motorcade was passing.  It was kinda scary actually.  It felt like a lynch mob.  I was not surprised to hear that some of them yelled “nigger” and “faggot” at congressmen that day as well.
  • Many of the signs were outrageous and didn’t make sense.  One of them said “Health Care is a Privilege, Not a Right.”.

I’ve created a gallery of some of my health care reform bill protester photos below:

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Health Care Bill Protesters Call Rep Lewis the N-word and Spit on Rep. Cleaver

I went down to the National Mall on Saturday and witnessed the Health Care Bill Protesters first hand (posting photos soon).  They were in rare form, but thank God no one spit on me or called me “nigger”.  I was spared, apparently.   Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Barney Frank, and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver were not as lucky.

Salon.com: On Saturday, as a small group of protesters jammed the Capitol and the streets around it, the movement’s origins in white resistance to the Civil Rights Movement was impossible to ignore. Here’s only what the mainstream media is reporting, ignoring what I’m seeing on Twitter and left wing blogs:

  • Civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis was taunted by tea partiers who chanted “nigger” at least 15 times, according to the Associated Press (we are not cleaning up language and using “the N-word” here because it’s really important to understand what was said.) First reported on The Hill blog (no hotbed of left-wing fervor), the stories of Lewis being called “nigger” were confirmed by Lewis spokeswoman Brenda Jones and Democratic Rep. Andre Carson, who was walking with Lewis. “It was like going into the time machine with John Lewis,” said Carson, a former police officer. “He said it reminded him of another time.”
  • Another Congressional Black Caucus leader, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, was spat upon by protesters. The culprit was arrested, but Cleaver declined to press charges.
  • House Majority Whip James Clybourn told reporters: “I heard people saying things today that I have not heard since March 15, 1960, when I was marching to try to get off the back of the bus.”
  • There were many reports that Rep. Barney Frank was called a “faggot” by protesters, but the one I saw personally was by CNN’s Dana Bash, who seemed rattled by the tea party fury. Frank told AP: “It’s a mob mentality that doesn’t work politically.”
  • Meanwhile, a brick came through the window at Rep. Louise Slaughter’s Niagara Falls office on Saturday (the day she argued for her “Slaughter solution” to pass health care reform, though it was rejected by other Democrats on the House Rules Committee).

On Thursday MSNBC’s “Hardball” host Chris Matthews grilled tea party Astroturf leader Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity about supporters who taunted a man with Parkinson’s disease at a tea party gathering in Ohio last week.

That video of the guy with Parkinson’s is HORRIBLE.  These Health Care Bill Protesters and Tea Party members should be ashamed of themselves.  Everyone has a right to protest and let their voice be heard, but racial slurs, spitting on people and mocking the sick is mob mentality.  How is Fox News going to spin this?  I’m sure they will find a way.

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A Day in DC, Part 1: Michelle’s Jimmy Choos and Black Indians

What a day I’ve had!  I learned about African Native American history.  I saw First Lady Michelle Obama’s Jimmy Choos on display.  I took pictures and video of the Tea Party protest of Health Care Reform on the steps of the capital and was told about the 2nd Revolution on the way.  I witnessed a very moving anti-war demonstration near the Washington Monument.  And…I found out that the protesters are really bold and don’t like the fact that you can’t take protest signs into the Smithsonian buildings [duh!!].  I wasn’t there when the Tea Party crowd was shouting “nigger” at Rep. John Lewis by the way. I’m going to have to break this post into a few parts.

It all began as a usual day just hanging out on the National Mall.  I was very excited to visit the The National Museum of the American Indian for the “IndiVisible” exhibit.

Within the fabric of American identity is woven a story that has long been invisible—the lives and experiences of people who share African American and Native American ancestry. African and Native peoples came together in the Americas. Over centuries, African Americans and Native Americans created shared histories, communities, families, and ways of life. Prejudice, laws, and twists of history have often divided them from others, yet African-Native American people were united in the struggle against slavery and dispossession, and then for self-determination and freedom. For African-Native Americans, their double heritage is truly indivisible.

It is a beautiful exhibit and I’m so glad I got to see it. If you’re in DC, check it out.  Before we got to NMAI, I went over to the American History Museum to see Michelle Obama’s Inauguration Ball dress.  Lovely!  Here are the photos I took:

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Are Ultra Conservatives in Texas Deciding What History is in Your Child’s Textbooks?

In a 10-5 party line vote last week, the BoE rammed through a vast number of changes to the Texas state history standards, all of which conform to the über-far-right’s twisted view of reality. In these new standards, Hispanics are ignored, Black Panthers are added to provide balance to the kids learning about Martin Luther King, Jr., and get this, Thomas Jefferson was removed*. discovermagazine.com

If you’re a parent, you should be aware that a movement is going on that is dedicated to changing your child’s textbooks.  Most parents trust that their local school districts are buying books that accurately represent american history and social studies in a way that is not significantly biased by any view, let alone ultra-conservative or ultra-liberial.  Well, that may not be the case.  You might be very concerned if you look through your child’s history books.  I would encourage you to take a look at this news and then find out if your child’s textbooks have been affected.  Watch this Video from CNN for details.

Articles:

From AC360 - In Texas today, the state’s board of education approved a new social studies curriculum that conservatives say is meant to correct for a liberal bias among the teachers who initially drafted the standards. The vote came after days of charged debate.

Out: Calling the U.S. government “Democratic”.  In: Calling it a “Constitutional Republic.” Also out: too much talk about Thomas Jefferson and the enlightenment, which stressed reasoning and science over blind faith. Also In: More recognition of the contributions of religious leaders, like Moses.

All of this matters, because with almost five million students in Texas, the state buys a lot of textbooks that could determine what publishers put out for America’s other school children. Though, in this digital age,  that is not as big of a concern as in past years.

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