Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Own Womanism

I really intended to be more consistent in my posting, but I rarely sleep and am constantly tied up working on one thing or another. While working tonight, the trackball on my Blackberry stopped working, and I know that this may not be a crisis to most. In fact, my boss rang me on the phone at work and asked why the evening was so chaotic, and that was the icing on my cake! She replied, "oh, maybe you'll sleep tonight then!"

...but maybe not, blogworld. I had two incredible blog topics to write on that were experiences from my workplace, but when you work 65 hours a week, you just plum can't think about work outside of working. I've had a serious case of writer's block, even with the added inspiration; I'm sure that I've yet to write because, beyond lacking the time, I can't figure out how to properly express myself. I suppose I am still in a place of development.

At any rate, 2:13am doesn't appear to be much different from the last week of writer's block, and so I thought to re-post some of my writings from my old online blog. This was written over a year ago and I think it exemplifies a little of what I find Womanism/Black Feminism to be about.

...and it goes a li'l something like this:

A (not-so-brief) Public Service Announcement.

* Sep. 15th, 2008 at 3:45 PM

A slightly difficult thing for me to admit to myself is the fact that, even in my eclectic nature, people continually (and, dare I say, increasingly) find it difficult to relate to my based on the rules and personal laws that I abide by versus the image they have of who I should be as a Black woman. Majorly, all types of people have a difficult time with my lack of affiliation with an official religious group. I do have an issue with people challenging the validity of the things I believe, though, about being a Black woman. Womanism, or black feminism, is a very important concept in my life. As I have said before, it is very difficult for me to divorce my blackness from my womanhood and I truly believe that both are equal and essential concepts to who I am as an individual (most specifically, [Livication]) and how I choose to live.

I am a very bold and opinionated woman, and many people do not find this out until they test their boundaries and/or disrespect who I am. Growing up under the circumstances I did, I constantly had to prove my Blackness to my peers. For instance, my siblings and I were a set of the few Black children that we knew with both parents until we moved from the neighborhood that I was born into. I was teased for being in "white" (Academically Gifted) classes in elementary school and junior high. I wanted to do poorly and not be on the honor roll so that kids wouldn't regard me as less than Black, because my mother raised me with such pride in Black womanhood! This reminds me of an article that I read for one of my classes suggesting that girls, in general, tend to perform poorly in middle school in order to impress boys socially.

And any rate, I participated in a marathon shouting match over the course of the entire day yesterday and two primary things toward the tail end of the conversation (minus the idea that exercising my independence as a woman in 2008 is a whorish act) were: 1) the principles that I subscribe to are arguments that can be described as "white feminist bullshit" -- created by rich, white men to mainly benefit themselves sexually and economically and 2) the idea that things are created equally, but are not equal.

Are we all created with equal efforts but with an imbalanced sense of worth or purpose? If the answer is yes, then weren't slave masters justified in what they believed about the purpose of Blacks on earth? The "equal versus equally" argument struck a nerve with me, but it also made me reflect on my belief about the yin and yang and the importance of balance. Just based on the image of the yin and yang, they are both equal and complementary; the difference is in color and nature.
I do believe that there are universal laws that everyone should adhere to; what I do not believe is that I should insult people -- and entire movements -- based on my disagreeing. In the past, I have wasted a lot of energy arguing religion with the people who ask for it based on their lack of understanding of my character; after all, how can I live my life both morally and upright, and not believe in Jesus or Mohammad?

I know that I am not typical for a 21 year old Black woman (who grew up in the South), and I would like to continue to believe that my experiences have shaped who I am and who I am still working on becoming. The arguments that I have read about Black feminism from the perspective of many Black men is that the movement betrays the entire race because white women have tricked us into abandoning the quest for equal rights for the entire race to just seeking rights that benefit them (additionally, I would like to point out that in its inception, white women were not entirely with the idea that Black women be allowed to join the movement because it would compromise their potential for gaining the equal rights).

If I may reiterate, from an earlier post:

"I love being a Black woman. I love my Black skin, I love my kinky/coily/curly (otherwise known as "nappy";)hair, I love being a goddess. After undergrad, I want to devote my life to what I believe my true purpose is: (re)strengthening the Black woman and helping her to realize her true potential.
Loving being Black does not mean I do not like white people. Humanism is the big idea, to me."

If there is one thing that my father forced me to internalize (besides my competitive nature, know-it-all personality, and nail-spitting temper) is a rule about disrespect that I am still learning to enforce (because I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt way too often). When I was in high school, I got into an altercation with a guy (he smacked me -- I wouldn't put out), I told my father of a situation (making it hypothetical, with a "friend") similar and he looked at me and said, "don't ever let anybody disrespect you" (Oddly enough, my father was the catalyst of much of the disrespect I've had to deal with my entire life, and my rebellion against it caused a strain on our relationship).

My tolerance level for disrespect has a very tiny threshold. Small things like lies certainly make it difficult for someone like me (who believes in a lot but is quite reluctant to share in order to avoid conflict) to trust another person, but I do not think I have stopped speaking to a person based on their lack of truthfulness; I have, however, cut people off for disrespecting me (insinuating that my independence is in vain, criticizing the things that I (do not) believe in, and speaking to me as though I am less than what I am).

I need to focus on myself (I've been saying it for a year or so, I know) and my overall mental (and academic) well-being right now. In such, I am deciding to avoid dating and relationships until after my undergraduate career, because I have so much to focus on this year and I already feel overwhelmed. I doubt that I am at a place in life to find the yin to my yang (besides my best friend/cousin). I can't say that I've yet to find a person that is both complimentary to my nature and aware of their equality in purpose. I just want a John Lennon-Yoko Ono relationship -- egalitarian (one of those white feminist bullshit principles), and full of love derived from a deeper social and intellectual purpose. I'm not searching for it, but my ultimate goal is to know someone who can balance my characteristics and quest for revolution.

Black feminist or not (because we all know how I feel about labels in general -- the proof is in the puddin'), the nature of who I am as [Livication] is ever evolving, and I certainly refuse to be disrespect and held down by oppressive values and opposition.

Be Rightous.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cop Killer?

As a member of the Black community (and I am a member, I'll show you my card) and a cop's kid, I sometimes find myself emotionally confused with certain issues, and I have no reservations with deciding not to form an opinion. Growing up was cool for me; I grew up around the corner from the projects and next door to the hood, but I had both my parents and I was cared for. I played kickball on the street and had to come in when the street lights came on. I knew people who were involved with things that were less than legal, and yes, I did have a drunk addict of an uncle. Well, maybe even more than one.

But, I am a cop's kid. Not-so-recently, a friend of mine was telling me about a documentary ("SNBN: Snitch Nigga, Bitch Nigga") that talks about snitching and the Black community. He then called into question my street credibility and asked me if it was difficult to make Black friends growing up since my pops is "the boys". My answer: anyone who would decide that I would be a liability to them based on my parents' occupations probably isn't worth having as a friend. I mean, we probably aren't interested in the same activities if my mother's social work and activism in low income areas and my father's position as an officer of the law (and a very active, card carrying member of the Black community) bothers someone, they may be involved with things that I shouldn't be.

I did go through a radical period in my life where I hated, questioned everything my father did and stood for as an officer of the law. How could he? How could he work for and support a system that has historically fought against Black people? How could he want to defend the justice for some and not all? And then one day, I opened my eyes and thought: he should be applauded. Would I rather potentially racist white cops police low income, predominately Black neigborhoods? Heck no. Pops isn't on the side of whitey, he's on the side of justice. Cut him some slack.The truth is, he probably deals with the same struggle daily. My father and I have had quite the volitile relationship, but we are very much alike. He's a cool dude; has the same struggles with hip hop as I do. Before my pops was an army man and in with the police, he was a disc jockey! I mean, my cop-father is so cool that he raised me listening to Public Enemy and NWA. I know that it has to be a struggle for him; and I sincerely applaud Black officers who can do their job without having to throw on their Uncle Tom suit everyday. It has to be difficult, and that's why my pops exposed me to the good and the bad. Unfortunately, he is also where I get my know-it-all, i'm-gonna-be-right-and-i-just-don't-give-a..what attitude.

I do sympathize with the law, being a cop's kid, a follower of the law, a holder of a BA in Criminal Justice, sometimes having the desire to work for the police; however, I can admittedly sometimes sympathize with Black perpetrators of certain types of crimes.

A Black man in Seattle recently shot and killed some local police officers. He's Black. They're white. What is my initial reaction? I don't know. What were the circumstances of the situation? I don't know anything about him or his situation, or many details about his murdering the officers. Just that the news has labeled this man a cop killer. Was he provoked? What did the officers do? These officers are parents! Would he have popped a Black cop? What if he shot my dad?

I pretty much sided with, I hope the truth comes to light. I hope he gets what he deserves. I wish peace for the officers' families.

This morning, he was "killed" by a cop. My reaction?

I learned more details about the situation and about the killer-turned-killed so that I could have a properly shaped opinion: he raped young women. Has a long history of violence, including but not limited to killing police officers. I'm not an apologist. I'm just wondering the age old question: is it nature or is it nurture? His family helped him evade arrest, even though he has an well documented history of this type of behavior. Was he born a bad seed and then shaped into something more horrible over time? From the surface, on the macro level...why is this happening?

My opinion?

...some things might be better left unsaid. How should I feel? Were the murders avenged? Or was he in need of help that the law was not providing for him, as a Black man in a white-run system? I've seen the good things done by the police but I also know the bad things that have been done. Does that make a difference? What's right in this situation?

I wrote this in hopes of discovering my feelings on the incident...

...but my feelings aren't relevent. What's "right" is...but what, exactly, is that?

Be righteous...

Tiger Woods

Having been accused at times of being both racially biased and biased based on gender, I feel the need to post on the recent Tiger Woods incident. However, I will say that I feel less than informed enough to "side"; abuse is wrong whatever the form, but like I said in my post about Chris Brown and Rihanna, I only know what I know from what's been delivered by the media. I'm tired of seeing things like "Tiger Woods gets 'Chris Browned'" or "Becky beat Tiger Woods and doesn't go to jail" or "...but if he would have hit her back, ____ would happen". As a result of my academic work and my personal experiences, I do know that there is absolutely an imbalance when it comes to male victims of sexual and domestic violence. On top of the discrepencies in prosecuting violence perpetrated by women toward men, there are differences in prosecuting crimes that are perpetrated by whites toward "minorities".

All though, every variation of this conversation tends to be along the lines of "the brotha got beated up by a white woman". Race certainly matters not, and I am noticing a lot of people wanting to qualify his victimization. No person deserves to fall victim to abuse -- no matter what people think they've done to precipitate it. I don't think it's excused, but that there are different excuses people are willing to deliver: "he was cheating', 'it was a woman', 'should have been doing ___/shouldnt have been dealing with white chicks'; it all becomes quite exhausting to hear as an advocate against violence. People don't realize that, much like everything that is said about women victims of sexual and relationship violence, these excuses and rationalizations on top of the imbalance where the law stands serve as reasons why male victims do not seek help.

She will not be arrested unless he presses charges (as with many other domestic violence situations). Many men do not press charges for many reasons; some to do with how we view masculinity and some are the same reasons women victims do not -- they're married, have children together, they want to move past it, etc. I think that in the public eye there are many versions and judgments to be made but legally, things can be done if he is willing to know his options and act on them.

That said, every other opinion I have on the incident falls in the same realm as the Chris Brown and Rihanna post. Remember the affect the things you say can have on other people.

Be Righteous.