Black Girls be Announcing the Winner: “Hidden Fences” and the bounds of white imagination

And the Winner is…: “Hidden Fences” and the bounds of white imagination

Last night the Golden Globes aired and amidst the normal red carpet couture conversations there was a sense of expectancy, no, the arrival of something different. Maybe it was the way the paparazzi’s flashes bounced off their skin; the Black and brown bodies dripping in shimmering metallics like they had floated in from an intergalactic cocktail party in a universe far, far away–but it felt like no matter who got a golden trophy, they had already won.

But then whiteness showed up, as it always does, a tether pulling us away from the Afrofuture, back even from this moment and to a not so distant past. With one “innocent” mistake whiteness reminded us that we are interchangeable, frivolous and indiscernible. When “Hidden Fences” fell from one white mouth after another, it was supposed to be a sign that our stories don’t matter, no one cares and we can be invited and still unwelcome. At least, it was supposed to be: But instead it showed the limitations of the white imagination.

An imagination that cannot tell the difference between a screenplay based on a play by one of the greatest and most prolific playwrights in American history and a movie based on the true story of the Black women who were pivotal in NASA’s moon mission. Black imagination propelled us to space. White imagination couldn’t get the names right.

But what’s ironic about this “unintentional” snub is that “Hidden Fences” is exactly why the Black bodies are in the room. These Black artists can see the truth, beauty, pain, complexity and fullness of Black life and experiences. With this vision, they can tell the stories that white imagination doesn’t believe exists. White imagination can’t fathom an awkward Black girl because that would mean acknowledging the full humanity of Black women and girls, and yet there sat Issa Rae with a Kanekalon crown, donned in white. White imagination is struggling to solve a very simple equation that has been stumping it for centuries; if bodies have souls and Black men have bodies, how then? To which Moonlight replies, then Black men have souls. And as America prepares to send its first Black woman to the International Space Station, white imagination cant find the space in its mouth to admit and affirm that Black women got us to space in the first place.

There were indeed hidden fences at the Golden Globes last night. However it was not a nominated film about a baseball game on the moon featuring Denzel Washington and Janelle Monae. It was formed by boards of ancestral lies and fortified by indifference that makes it impossible for white imagination to dream Black characters beyond caricatures. So Donald and Viola and Tracee and Mahershala and Janelle and Issa and Octavia and Courtney hopped the fence. A fence that is coming down, whether whiteness can imagine it or not.

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A Reflection on Water

Today we will measure the water; a 1/2 cup for Auntie Lila’s stuffing, 2 quarts to boil the macaroni and 6 cups for Grandma’s lemonade. If Thanksgiving had an official sponsor it would be water. This is true every day but especially holds on days like today where we gather to feast with family and friends.

But when it comes around to you and your little cousin Cam just said she’s thankful for her mom and dad, will you say you’re thankful for water? Will anyone?

This holiday is a bit fraught. Particularly this year it feels down right violent to pile a plate high in commemoration of a meal that never really happened as Indigenous folks and their allies are being attacked by water hoses and flash grenades as they deliver bottled water to folks standing in water they have vowed to protect. The very same water we boil our greens in.

Water protection has to be one of the most divine acts. As 71% of this planet and 50-65% of human bodies are water, when we guard it we are protecting ourselves, our food, our pets, our families and our Earth. It all flows together. It always has.

We must protect the water like our lives depend on it, because they do. And there is so much water to protect. Protect our lakes and rivers from coal ash. Protect Flint, Michigan, which has had contaminated water for 31 months and counting. Protect the water out west as Nestle bottled up water in the middle of a years-long drought. Protect the water that shouldn’t be streaming down the Black faces of the families and friends of #FrankClark AKA Scooter Bug, who was killed by Durham police on Tuesday, #IndiaBeaty, killed by Norfolk police in March as she attempted to break up a fight, and 15-year-old #JamesMeans, who was murdered 3 days ago for bumping into a white man. Protect the water that is home to so many refugees as they drift away from war and death in the hopes of finding lands of peace and rest. And protect the water protectors, who are putting their water-filled bodies on the line because they believe it is their duty to fight for that which can’t fight for itself.

Water has always shown us a version of ourselves. Our ancestors first saw themselves in water. Somewhere along the way, most of us lost that connection. But we must reestablish that relationship. Its for our survival. It’s what we are made of.

Be grateful for water. All of it. All the ways it shows up. Honor it. Dont take it for granted. Drink it straight. Make ripples and waves in it. Dont waste it. Conserve it. Share it. Visit it. Submerge in it. Look at yourself in it. Reuse it. Consider it. And fight like hell to protect it.

Here are some ways you can support the water protectors as they oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline:

https://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/18FR1AGDPWZLC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_ep_ws_9qRnybRQHT9F1

Here are some simple ways to conserve water:

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/20-ways-to-conserve-water-at-home.html

*Featured Image by Jackie Cooper

Black Girls Be This: a Meditation on Holy Week and HB-2

This week is the holiest of holy weeks in the Christian faith. With Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Resurrection (or Easter) Sunday, it is supposed to be a time of honoring the greatest sacrifice made and a celebration of renewal. Newness. But one cannot bask in the Great Re-Do without first taking ownership and account of what has been done.

Last night, in the moments before the new day, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed HB-2 into law, effectively eliminating anti-discrimination regulations that protect those in the LGBTQ communities and veterans. Many North Carolinians responded with #WeAreNotThis and while I understand the sentiment, the truth is, we are. And we always have been.

#WeAreThat when we ridicule the little boy who likes playing with dolls. #WeAreThat when the little girl mentions a boy from school and we immediately ask if that’s her boyfriend. #IAmThat when both of my examples use gender roles that exist on a socially constructed binary and #YouAreThat if you didn’t even notice until I pointed it out.

So, yes. We are this. Our state is this. The world is this. And just as the people of Golgotha were all #GoJesus on Sunday, I’m sure they would have called you a bald-faced liar if you tried to tell them that they would be #CrucifyHim on Friday. They would have sworn that #WeAreNotThis. And yet…

But as a Christian woman, I have to believe in a God of renewal and resurrection; a God that can empower us to live a life worth hashtagging. Because as Reverend Lisa Yebuah of Edenton Street United Methodist Church says, “what God can do in us, God can do through us.” So we will be the ones that ask and honor folks’ preferred gender pronouns. We will be the ones to let our children grow and develop without shackling them to gender roles. We will be the ones to let everyone cry and everyone get dirty and everyone play sports if they so choose and love who they so choose and pee where they so choose. We are not this yet, but with intentionality, communication, re-education and most importantly, Love, #WeCanBe.

This post was inspired by the sermon preached by Rev. Lisa Yebuah at Edenton Street United Methodist Church on Sunday, March 20th, 2016.

Black Girls Be Witches

Before you recoil in fear like:

This girl dont lost her natural Black mind!

This girl done lost her natural Black mind!

Let me lay out a story for you.

A few weeks ago, my mother was sitting at her sewing machine at 1am, making “slave skirts” for our production, Escape to Freedom. As I watched her hunch over the machine and heard the mechanical rattle, this exchange happened:

Me: Mom, you believe that God lives in you, right?

Mom: Yes, Monet.

Me: And you believe that God has the power to do amazing things, even miracles, through you. Right?

Mom: Yes, Monet.

Me: Than wouldn’t you consider yourself a witch? A woman with magic?

(Pause)

Mom: I guess so.

END SCENE

Ok maybe my mom wasn’t completely sold but I am! I am ready to claim the title of WITCH. Though it may be defined as a woman with “evil magic powers” I believe that creating the word “witch” and then demonizing those they considered fit the description was a way for society to demonize the inherent power of women. A power that they didn’t understand nor could they control. And then by making violent examples of those who continued to honor their spirit and follow the practices that fed them, other women were frightened out of their curiosities and natural propensities.

Well today I am claiming my inner witch.

Now for anyone reading this, particularly my Mama, I will not be praising a Dark Lord or checking out books on the Occult at the Durham Public Library. I am, and will always be a child of God because God is Love and I am a child of Love. And I believe in the power of love. The power of positive thoughts. The power of affirmations. I believe that Nature can heal us of all our maladies. I believe in the power of deep belly laughter and long hugs. I believe my body knows what’s best for my body. I believe in the power of the moon at all phases. I believe in the power of menses. I believe in the power of community. I believe that nothing is an accident. I believe in the power of women and the men who truly love themUSme.

I know I am magic and am forged by magic and I make magic

because Love is the greatest of all magic so it is mathematically so. 

So I’m a witch. Cuz I said so. No broom required. But I might need a Swiffer.

Never mind. I cleaned it up.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Cover Image by Tumblr User Mariannewiththesteadyhands

Black Girls Be Checking Alex Trebek

It is 7:13pm on Monday, June 30 and Jeopardy is on the tv. Just as it has always been in my house for my whole life. When I was 2, I would slurped down mashed peas and hum the Final Jeopardy round theme song. But as I have gotten older, and so has everyone else, I have realized that Alex Trebek is a jerk!

Now, I don’t know the man personally, nor do I know his professional aspirations, but maybe hosting a game show wasn’t his dream job. Or maybe the decades of trivia has made him cynical but whatever it is he needs to SIT DOWN! Just like a teacher who has had it up to here with misspelled 4th grade book reports and juvenile jokes. But lately Trebek has said some douche things to players that have thrown them off their game.

Last week, on Friday, June 27, he taunted the returning champion saying something to the effect of “Ringing in and expecting the answer to come isn’t working for you today, is it?” It was taunting in tone and I think the producers said something to him because after the commercial break he said that the player told him that she was buzzing in before she knew the answer and it was coming to her. But it was too late. That player was taken out of her game, was flustered and she lost.

And today, when the players were sharing their corny stories (99.98% of the stories shared on Jeopardy are SO corny!) And the returning champion mentioned that she met Vanna White on a flight and that she was small, he said “Like you. Slim. A very pretty lady.” She looked perplexed and bothered and she didn’t buzz in for a while.

Alex Trebek is tripping and he is messing with folks minds and money! While doing research for this post (ie Googling),  I discovered that when types in “Alex Trebek is…” the autocompletes are “mean” “condescending” “a jerk” and “losing it”. There is even a whole tumblr called Mean Alex Trebek, so this behavior has been documented.

I just spent the last 350 words on Alex Trebek as if SCOTUS didn’t decide that my job knows more about my health than my doctor does and walking papers are still necessary if you’re brown and anywhere where folks think you ought not be, but today Alex pissed me off. So Black girls gotta check Alex Trebek.