Get Your Life

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I won’t try to take up space with discussing Raven’s “grade of hair” comment. And I won’t be like everyone else who’s decided that by saying she is not African-American that she has forsaken her Blackness.

I will say that this moment in history is why my dissertation is aiming to do the work it does, which is basically arguing over and over that Americans (including a number of black girls in grad school) have very little respect for individual African American cognitive trajectory.

The main point of this for those of you who are too lazy to go through the point by point —> Stop dragging Raven Symone because her ill-fitting hyphenated racial identity will not save you.

We’ve had all the celebrities in the world claim their African American-ness … you still aren’t saved are you?

No, because as I’ve argued time and time again … racism is illogical, the system is absurd … it will take much more than Raven declaring herself African-American (which, let’s be real, she is American … she was born in America and since white people don’t have to label themselves as Swedish-American, German-American, Middle European-American, “some whole continent”-american … she doesn’t have to either) to save us. So, there’s that.

But back to this “black people not getting the right to speak and revise and grow and think for themselves and express all of that and then revise some more” situation …

Since Raven’s comments on Oprah, Raven has publicly clarified her statement …

“I never said I wasn’t black… I want to make that very clear. I said, I am not African-American. I never expected my personal beliefs and comments to spark such emotion in people. I think it is only positive when we can openly discuss race and being labeled in America.” (source)

But none of you are addressing that, right? None of you are taking the time to understand that sort of sentiment … the courage it takes to defend your own nuances of identity, push back against dogma and old language and idiotic ways of labeling us that then leave us clinging to those labels for hope yet left with nothing but anger when we feel them threatened? None of you are really trying to understand that, yes, being black in America is a dangerous thing, and no, being black in America is still no reason to lose hope for more; it is no reason to set aside your personal beliefs in order to maintain the approval of the rest of us.

I’m saying …

So, like, maybe Raven sounded stupid as fuck on Oprah trying to answer questions about her sexuality and identity. Maybe all of us would have done better on national television answering questions that straight and white people never have to answer. Sure. We’re all prepared to sound like scholars on Oprah. Better yet, maybe we all would have magically burst into African-American militant politics and defended our entire African-American separatist nation … or whatever. Of course. I believe it. rolls eyes

Listen … as long as we have carefree black girls running around wearing flower crowns and shopping at Urban and bleaching our hair and straightening it or not … not doing any of that … just simply creating our own definitions for ourselves, and still somehow finding a way to respect our politics … as long as that’s happening, let’s all stop pretending like Raven lost some battle for us.

Because, true, like you’ve been saying … Mike Brown happened. Raven didn’t fix it before her interview and I know you didn’t expect her to fix it during the interview or after. She won’t. Nor will she fix Ferguson or Oakland or NY or the entire United Stated where blacks are murdered daily … daily. She can’t fix Liberia or Ebola. Because she is not your savior. She is one person. On a path. Her own. And maybe you hate that. Good thing you’ve got your own. Good thing you’ve got other things to focus on … like those who are trying to be down for your African-American by all and any means team … or whatever team you’re choosing today.

But just in case, like me, you’re not marking Raven down for the count in terms of revolutionary warfare … I’ll throw in the voice of someone else who’s already said what Raven said, but long before … and a little more eloquently. Maybe it’ll help?

I am of no particular race. I am of the human race, a
Man at large in the human world, preparing a new
I am of no specific region. I am of earth.
I am of no particular class. I am of the human class,
Preparing a new class.
I am neither male nor female nor in-between. I am of
Sex, with male differentiation.
I am of no special field. I am of the field of being.
(Jean Toomer, XXIV)

(Source:, via gurl)

Filed under jean toomer raven symone carefreeblackgirls race oprah

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The Myth of Diversity and Critical Thinking in American Academia

By Brittany Chávez and Louis Yako

The authors of this piece refuse the pitfalls of identity politics, but we both connect deeply and find ourselves situated with people, whom, in today’s world, count as “the wretched of the earth.” What is at stake in these two stories is far from just personal. We explicitly pull from the feminist adage “the personal is political” in politicizing our stories and choosing not to be silenced. We are also two dear friends, writing in two voices, together, both located at major Research One American universities and thriving in our doctoral programs. We found one another in a shared class during our doctoral coursework, and we cling to like- minded individuals so that we can be with those who understand, find a way to stay, and help each other not feel isolated and insignificant. As it will become clear to any reader of these stories, race, class, gender, sexuality, nation, citizenship and belonging are all intersectional, and oppression is systematic.

(read more)

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Over 700 Jefferson County High School students are staging walkouts and protests over proposed changes to the Advanced Placement History curriculum. According to Colorado Public Radio:

Last week, a school board member proposed that advanced placement history classes be required to promote free enterprise and patriotism and be required to avoid classroom materials that encourage social strife or civil disobedience. Two high schools in Jefferson County closed Friday after dozens of teachers called in sick in protest.

According the online petition to be delivered to the School District:

Jeffco Public School Board has just proposed a change of curriculum stating that, “Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law. Instructional materials should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage.”

This means that important parts of our history such as the Civil Rights Movement, Native American genocide, and slavery will not be taught in public schools. If these important lessons are not taught, children will not learn from them, and what will stop them from happening again? This is a severe form of censorship intended to keep the youth ignorant and easy to manipulate. I’m hoping to get enough signatures to prove that this is a public issue, so, please, if this is important to you, please sign. Do not let our youth grow up in ignorance; we all deserve the truth!

You can sign the petition here.

You can read more articles at The Denver Post, CBS Denver (with video), and Colorado Public Radio.

Thanks to theseacaptainsdaughter for dropping a link in my inbox.

I see White folks still scared about being the minority here in the States, that they gotta erase all folks of color from the damn history books.

If I had not taken APUSH and AP World History I would not know half of the horrors that America has committed.

I would not know that Abraham Lincoln was a supporter of the colonization movement, or that the Emancipation Proclamation wasn’t NEARLY what people seem to think it was.

I would not know that America was so afraid of Communism that it purposefully overthrew DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED leaders of countries in order to assure that no communist or socialist policies were put into place that ENDANGERED AMERICAN CORPORATIONS.

I would not know that Republicans used to be “liberal” and that Democrats used to be the white supremacy party.

I would not understand the extent of the build up to the Civil War, and the argument over slavery that existed from the time of the country’s founding.

I would not know that coup d’etats in Guatamala, Iran, Cuba, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and so many other countries were the product of American espionage.

I would not know who W.E.B Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, or Marcus Garvey were or how diverse and divided the civil rights and abolitionists movements were.

I would not know that Americans at the time of the American Revolution were the best fed, best dressed, best housed, least taxed people on the planet and they still found reason complain.

wouldn’t know that socialist policies enforced by F.D.R. helped to bring this country out of the great depression, and I wouldn’t understand the relationship between the U.S. and communism.

wouldn’t know that Andrew Jackson completely ignored the Supreme Court’s ruling against the Indian Removal Act, thus marching thousands of Native Americans to their death.

Yes, I wouldn’t know all the awful things about this country that people try to brush under the rug, and I would probably be in a blissful and ignorant bubble, enjoying life as a middle class white kid.

But I also wouldn’t see how far we’ve come, and how much farther we have to go, and everything we need to change about this country to make it better and to fix our mistakes.

AP United States History is so important, because theres so little between us and what’s happened in the past, and if we can’t educate kids on what the past is, then don’t expect them to learn any lessons from it.  If we can’t understand where we come from then we have no idea where we can and will go. 

(via medievalpoc)

Filed under running out of time

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Well, I think it brought to American literature a long missing part of itself. I think it made a gateway for younger non-white people to come into American poetry, into American literature. And I think that’s important. When I was young, I didn’t see a gate through which I could come, so it didn’t occur to me that I could be a part of American literature, or part of what is read, etc. But I think the Black Arts Movement … to tell the truth, when I was a young woman I didn’t even know what that was. I didn’t know what was meant. One day, I got a letter from Hoyt Fuller who was editing Negro Digest (you know it latter became Black World). He told me that he was grateful that when I mention when I was first published, I always said it was in Negro Digest. He said some people forget. [Laughter] I didn’t forget. I think that allowed there to be a gate through which I could come, certainly, though I was a little older than some. But people have a tendency, I think, to believe that if you don’t say “black” in every other line, you must be somehow not wishing to be part of Black. But as Gwendolyn Brooks has said, “Every time I walk out of my house, it is a political decision.” And I think that’s true.

What was the effect of the Black Arts Movement on our literature? Given the above, how can we know? What I do understand is that it is better to speak our stories than to keep silence. It is better to try and define ourselves than to remain defined by others. A better question might be this: What was the effect of the movement on our lives? There is a tendency in our literature, in the American tongue, to write with an eye on how the critics and intellectuals receive us. Are we writing for them? Poetry is a human art. It is about being human, whatever gender or color or class. My cousins have never heard of any movements much. Do we not write for them also?

Lucille Clifton, “Interview with Lucille Clifton, Charles H. Rowell”


Filed under lucille clifton running out of time