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Workshopping Women

This past Wednesday, I participated in an on-campus (Columbus State University) workshop called “For Colored Girls,” named after the play/movie. It was the first meeting of minds for this all inclusive support group that covers issues from the play.

So far we have discussed race relations/understanding, body image and women in higher education. This is a weekly meeting, Wednesday’s at 12 pm and if you’re in the Columbus, GA area, you should come.

If you’re not, please get together with females on your own college campus and create a support group! School is hard enough on its own, but if you add social stresses, it sometimes leads to high drop out rates. We don’t want that for women who really want and need to go to school.

I’m the wife of a faculty member and a graduate, while attending this workshop, but feminist issues certainly don’t stop after you finish college. So even though I would have greatly appreciated something like this while I was in school, I’m not going to miss an opportunity to sit down with other women and talk about important topics!


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You Cool, Chris?

All of Chris Brown’s fans may have forgiven him for his assault on his then girlfriend, Rhianna in 2009. . . but I have not. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t appear that he’s learned his lesson or toned his rage down these days.

This morning, during his appearance on Good Morning America, Brown tried to deflect Robin Roberts questions about the 2009 beating. He was very focused about plugging his new album F.A.M.E and didn’t want to talk about the past, even though Brown is still on probation.

Fortunately, for him, he was able to perform for his fans and leave with all sorts of buzz. Fortunately, for me (and I am smirking) he wasn’t able to do all of that without “Hulking Out”. After his performance he went back to his dressing room where,  he was “screaming so loud, the people in hair and makeup became alarmed and called security.” TMZ.com Oh and then he threw a chair through a window. This childish scene made him miss a performance and plug opportunity at ABC.

I say keep acting like an asshole. Let people see the monster they keep forgiving. Maybe soon someone will want to put him in prison and keep him there. Brown thinks he’s invincible or at the very least, really cute. Well, he is neither. Fans (mostly young girls) need to see past his cute face and slick dance moves. Let’s get straight to his core, he’s an abusive man who will abuse the next women he finds, until he sorts his life out.

Brown’s Tweets after the incident:

 UPDATE 6:49 AM PT:  Brown just tweeted, “I’m so over people bringing this past s**t up!!! Yet we praise Charlie sheen and other celebs for there bulls**t.”

UPDATE 6:59 AM PT: Brown has already deleted the previous tweet … and added a new one that reads, “All my fans!!! This album is for you and only you!!! I’m so tired of everyone else!! Honestly!! I love team breezy!!”


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Passing Down the Banana Skirt

 
When asked what kind of music she likes, my 16 year old cousin squealed: “I love Nicki Minaj!” I didn’t know who Nicki was or what kind of music she made, but I could tell was particularly “awesome” from the way my cousin Yolanda began hyperventilating. I thought to myself, I gotta find this Nicki Minaj!
I saw Nicki on television, a beautiful woman with a futuristic pop fashion sense and comical British/Queens/Spanish accents. At the time she just seemed cute, a painted black Barbie making strides in the rap community. But then I saw the music video Monster, the latest single from Kanye West, where Minaj makes a guest appearance. (*Note: I have a lot of problems with this video and hold Kanye West accountable for most of it. If you’d like to watch an analysis of his music video and how its images are harmful to women, make a quick stop here.)
In Monster, Minaj is continuing her multiple personalities gimmick with black leather clad dominatrix persona and her sweet bubble gum Barbie persona. “Dominatrix Minaj” was fully sexed up. She was not an ordinary sex bomb, but wild, savage, and essentially monstrous. This imagery is not new at all. Black women have been represented in the media as loose Jezebels, who thick hips and asses were solely for the purpose of pleasing men. Black women were bought, bedded and sold on these physical attributes in this country three hundred years ago.
Which brings me to Josephine Baker, an American ex-pat of the early 20th, who wowed French audiences with her exotic dancing. One of the most enduring images of her comes from her performance in Danse banane. It doesn’t take too much of a leap to say the bananas are sexually provocative but they are also culturally specific. Baker was bringing to life a wild jungle image that whites expected from a black performer back then. She was also in films like Siren of the Tropics (1927) and Princesse Tam Tam (1935).  I won’t deny that Baker went on to do better things. She was a spy during the second World War and went on to be a powerful voice in the Civil Rights Movement in America.
What’s remembered, however, is Baker’s image. If we fast forward to today, we meet up with Nicki Minaj, a performer who is built entirely upon image. She graces the covers of magazine, ass first. Her hips and butt are prized and make her a 21st century “hot n tot.” She’s another sex symbol, yes, but built on old stereotypes that are harmful to black women today. Not all of us want to walk the streets representing hassle-free sex. Not all of us appreciate cat calls that bring attention to just our butts. Not all of us are performers with sex to sell. 
Minaj and other black performers like her i.e. Foxxy Brown and Lil’ Kim are problematic for black women today because their image is stopping an entire group from progressing in today’s society. There is no room to grow if we’re hiding behind our “thickness.” I’m not fine with having no autonomy. I have a brain and I do other things besides dance. I write. I investigate. I change. 
These are things I want to tell young black women: “You have choices!” I want to tell my cousin that there’s nothing wrong with pop music and the people that sing it, but do look closer at what else they are selling you. If you find that they are perpetuating unhealthy imagery and problematic social constraints, then you need to consider your loyalty to that artist.


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Rock Steady

The song I’m listening to: Rock Steady by Aretha Franklin  

I’m getting fired up for work and I don’t know if I’ll actually finish out a night there. There is a good chance I might get fired tonight for speaking out, but I have to do it. A bar waitresses job is a rough one, but I do it because the money is good. . . and that’s the only reason. Here’s what I have to deal with the nights I work:

  • Sexual Harassment: Men who think they can call you anything, grab at you, try to kiss on you, and dance with you. They do it because they know you’re working for a tip and it’s their job to “make it rain.”
  • My Boss: Fires people because she’s having a bad day. When she’s having a red wine night, everyone is one their guard. We sometimes don’t know how we’re getting paid; checks might come three or four weeks at a time and she’s counting on us not minding because the paychecks are shit anyway.
  • Illness: I’ve been the most ill in my life while working at this bar than any other time in my life. I’ve had cold after cold, flu, bronchitis and pleurisy (not making that one up) and I’ve been afraid to take off because that could mean automatic firing. 

So there! The last draw is being asked to work St. Patrick’s Day for 15 hours. Come in at “Oh I don’t know, 11 or 12 and just stick around.” When I asked her what “stick around” meant, She said that it meant until close (3:30 AM)

There are four waitresses, and she wants two to come in early, while two come in later. That should cover things. Well, I’m sure it does, but none of us want to work overtime (with no overtime pay) on the rowdiest night an Irish pub will have in a year.

I’m going to be plain with her tonight. I can work, but not like a dog. I’m getting ballsy to Aretha Franklin. I know for sure she wouldn’t take no labor inequality shit! Wish me luck, readers. One of your bloggers might not be employed come tomorrow. For now let’s get Rock Steady!