Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Heavy Load

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode? 
-Langston Hughes

I read A Raisin in the Sun today. I've been wanting to read it for a while, ever since I found out that Lorraine Hansberry, the author, was the first black woman to have a play on Broadway. Raisin made it to Broadway against all odds, though some theorize that it's because white Americans ignored the clear racial aspects of the play and instead chose to connect with the characters because "they were a typical middle class family." Because their problems and issues and feelings clearly were not influenced by their race. 

A few days ago, I read Ta-Nehisi Coates' The Case for Reparations. I've never given reparations much thought, just assuming that they would never happen because of how much money they would cost, money that we don't have at all.

Today, a video was released of a police officer killing Alton Sterling. He was armed, but in an open carry state. Because, you know, we're American and very into guns. What we don't talk about, but black people clearly know, is that this rule isn't meant for us. When people complain about their guns being taken away, they are white. 

Black people have never been able to have guns. The law says we are allowed to. The people disagree. The people are the government. The government is this country. "We, the people." 

I'm tired of respectability. I don't aim to earn the respect of someone who believes that a black person must have a fully formed debate ready whenever we state that our lives matter. I know that my voice is just one of many, that it might not be heard at all, especially since I'm so upset. That's fine. I'll stand with Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice and other teens whose voices will never be heard again. 

There is a fucking problem. It needs to be admitted. 
But that is not the only step. 

It is not simple enough for other people to just say "Black lives matter." For them to be silent on this issue. They don't even need to speak - they need to push for better laws to protect us, to put pressure on police departments. Of course, I write this having already made up my mind. I do not think things will change, not unless the police system is completely stripped down and changed. 

There is a fundamental problem. The issue is that so many institutions were founded with white people in mind, and they were never changed. In the Coates article previously mentioned, he makes several statements that resonated profoundly with me. He says that America has stacked up so many horrors, so many things done to black people, that were never acknowledged. He says it's like someone racking up debt on a credit card, then deciding not to use it, but being confused when the debt does not magically disappear.

The thing is that the debt continues to build. It grows and grows and grows. Black people can see it, but it seems as though no one else can. 

This is a heavy load that black people carry with them every day. Every single day. If you're not thinking about it, you see a cop staring at you and wonder if this could be the day that something happens. You wonder what picture of you they'll use. You'll wonder if you would've ever gotten the chance to make something of yourself.

It goes further than murder, though. Because that's what this is. Our people are slaughtered in the street. It is like Civil War "Reconstruction," like the 50s and the 60s that people think back to when they think about "real" racism toward black people. They think about strange fruit hanging from trees, the Klansmen standing in pictures and demanding that negroes leave. 

There is a petition calling for Jesse Williams to be fired from Grey's Anatomy for making his amazing speech at the BET Awards. I was called a nigger at least three times last week on Twitter for speaking about cultural appropriation. Justin Timberlake spoke down to a black man who told him to apologize for his appropriation and treatment of Janet Jackson. 

He won't acknowledge that he stole. That he stole our cornrows and our clothes and our way of speech. No, it was all his idea. It's cool, because we're "the same on the inside." But let a black person dress that way, wear cornrows, and they're ghetto. They won't get the same jobs. Timberlake can pull down Janet's costume, exposing her, and she'll be the one banned from award shows.

Black people are the ones who lose jobs, who are viewed on the same level as white people with crime records even when holding college degrees. We're the ones who get turned away after internships because of our hair, because of our manner of speech. Then the same white people take these things and deem them "cool", but only for them.

Guns are only for them. Happiness is only for them.

In Raisin, a family wants to move to a predominately white neighborhood. After closing the deal, a white man from this neighborhood offers to buy the house from them, paying even more on top of that sum. He came on behalf of his white neighbors. "You'll be happier in a colored neighborhood," he said. "You can't force people's hearts to change."

I thought about how that's still similar. How the worth of a home can go down after black people move in. How so much of the world is still segregated, specifically the major city I live close to - in Manhattan, black people live on one side of Park Avenue, where houses are falling apart and kids aren't finishing school, and white people live on the other, where there are chauffeurs and chances and hopes and dreams and happiness.

Money buys happiness. It does, really. Tell a black kid living in Flint that money wouldn't buy them happiness. Tell any black kid that, because we tend to be stuck in poverty. In apartments breaking down, like in Raisin, in places without sunshine. Here is where we should be happy. 

In Raisin, no one wants the sister to be a doctor. White people do not want us to move up, to change things. They tell us that we would be better off if we worked harder, but that's not true. We work hard just to stay in the same places. We're stuck. All because of money that was stolen from us years ago, where white people were earning money. White men were earning money they passed through their families, while black people were sharecropping, receiving faulty loans, not being eligible for programs that could've helped us.

White people were given a head start, and we were held back. Somehow, we're measured on the same scale, despite these major differences. 

In Raisin, the main male character speaks of all he wants to do. Of what he wants to give his son. Of having the freedom to pick, to fly, to soar up high. Of being able to move up the ladder, to actually live the dream that America is known for. He wants his hard work to count for something. He does not want to be stuck, nor does he want this for his son. 

I feel the same. I want to be remembered. I want to make art that people love and take in over and over again. Even more, I want security. I want money, no matter how much I'm lectured about it. I want to have enough to ensure a future for my family, for others, for myself. I want to be able to have power. I want to bypass all of the white gatekeepers who have so much power. I want to provide ways for other black people, for us to tell stories. For us to write bestselling books and win Oscars and any other things that we might think to be unbelievable. 

But then I look at the black people being killed in the street. 

I look at how things do not change. I look at how many times this happens. 

I grow tired of saying the same things. I see my brothers and sisters growing tired.

I do not want to be too tired to be rich one day, to have a production company, to make movies and plays and books. I fear that this will happen. I fear that I will die before this happens. I fear that my dreams and my goals will be stolen away from me. I fear that I'll fall into a cycle that my family has, that so many black people have, of being stuck. Of being poor, unable to move.

I'm scared of being slaughtered in the street like an animal. I'm scared of the people who are supposed to protect me. I'm scared of white people.

But even more so, more than being scared, I'm angry. 

White people steal. They steal and steal and steal. They steal our bodies and our hopes and our dreams and our chances. This is murder, it is gaslighting, it is abuse. It is outrageous. It is disgusting. It is despicable. It has to be proven, over and over again. It is ignored, because white people benefit from it. They benefit from us being down, by the system in place and built into, by living in their own worlds. 

You telling me Black Lives Matter is the bare fucking minimum. Don't act like you're doing something for me, when this is known to black people. When we say it all of the time, even when we're ridiculed and killed and torn apart. Even when we walk the streets and protest and bring this to court. Nothing is changing. 

What am I supposed to do about it? 

I suppose that I'll wait for it to explode. When riots happen, black people are called animals. They're just waiting for an excuse to dehumanize us, and they love when we act like normal people and they can use it. If these things happened to white people, there would be riots from everyone. Black people riot because we're in pain. Because we're ignored.

Because, what else are we supposed to do?


Saturday, June 11, 2016



I'm actually kind of weirded out, because I didn't have any feelings today. I think it's because I've been having issues with my depression (I can assure you that it was totally better today), and I think that's why I had issues registering what was going on. But seriously, I just had this constant feeling of euphoria in my stomach the entire time. 

For those of you who haven't been clued in on the entire journey, I'll start from the beginning. 

I've wanted to see Hamilton since last October, when my mom asked me what I wanted to do for my sixteenth birthday. I thought it was so cool that there was a rap musical on Broadway, and even better, that the cast was made up of all POC (with the exception of the actor who plays King George and one or two members of the ensemble.) It was super difficult to find tickets back then. 

Anyway, let's flashforward to May. The show released a new round of tickets, and I didn't make it fast enough. The only ones available were resale, and I couldn't afford any of them (the lowest price was 800 dollars and on Ticketmaster, there's not always the option to just buy one ticket.) I was pretty bummed, especially since my school went on a gigantic field trip to see Hamilton back in March.

The reason why I didn't get to go is because I wasn't old enough. The school board only approved it for juniors and seniors, plus 60 faculty members. It was this huge thing - 11 coach busses, they met the cast after the show, the other newspaper editors got to go backstage and ask questions. I'm still pretty bitter about it, honestly, because it sounds so awesome and I didn't get to go. Those kids didn't pay anything, while my ticket cost 1200+ and NO ONE LET ME BACKSTAGE. 

But I digress. 

I started a GoFundMe, at the suggestion of my lovely agent Emily, and we called the whole thing #Ham4Cam. I didn't think that I would be able to go, honestly. I wanted to write this blog post for all of you who donated and spread the word, because you are the reason why I got to go. Super shoutout to my badass anonymous donor who got me to my goal! I screamed when I found out that I was going to go to Hamilton, after fundraising for only 21 days. 

Since resale tickets suck, my mom and I actually had to pay over a hundred dollars out of pocket for some "handling" fee that Ticketmaster charges. But other than that, I got to go to Hamilton for free. I wouldn't have been able to do it if it weren't for you guys. 

I got there early, and was super surprised that I could see from up so high. I sat next to a lovely young lady who was just as excited as me, and had also come alone. It was great having someone to cry/scream with every few seconds. There were many members of the original cast: Lin-Manuel (!!!), Daveed Diggs, Phillipa Soo, RenĂ©e Elise Goldsberry, Christopher Jackson, Okieriete Onaodowan, and Anthony Ramos were all there. They weren't the only ones who were amazing - everyone was, including the understudies and ensemble. There was so much going on that I didn't know where to look. 

I felt like a little kid going to Disney World for the first time after marathoning the movies.

There were times where I wanted to cry but I couldn't. I just felt it in my stomach and my chest and I couldn't believe how absolutely real it was. I couldn't believe that this was the musical I'd listened to countless times before, in front of me, with its amazing cast and choreography and the stage and everything. It was so difficult to remember everything that I wanted to, but here are a few key points: 

-Thank God for Daveed. We don't deserve him. He made me laugh so much.

-My Schuyler Sisters! They honestly did act like sisters, which I loved so much. During their first song, I almost jumped out of my seat. It was just so perfect that I couldn't handle it. 

-I didn't really react to the show until Yorktown. Well, that's not entirely accurate. You see, I was laughing and clapping and singing along with everyone else. I was just in awe, and couldn't really register anything until HERCULES MULLIGAN. I started screaming then, and couldn't stop laughing. It felt like the end of a movie, where you know that all of the horrible stuff is over and you get to live in happiness forever.  

-Anthony Ramos pretending to be nine. Enough said. 

-Everyone who worked in the theater was really nice. I've been to lots of other shows before, but have never really interacted with anyone. Maybe it was because I was by myself this time, but I definitely noticed how awesome they were, especially the ushers. 

-Each song got, like, at least two minutes worth of clapping. Except for when the transitions were so fast that you didn't get any time to clap. 

I don't know how else to describe the show except for pure magic. That's what it felt like, honestly. I had a vague idea of what it would be like in my head, but seeing it acted out with just so much behind it was beautiful. I was actually upset that I didn't cry at the end, but all of my feelings just felt stuck inside of me. 

I really wish that I could've spoken to members of the cast, the pit, backstage, anyone, just to tell them how awesome the show was. And I know it wasn't just the cast (even if they were so goddamn amazing), because seeing it live made it ten times more magical. Not even better. It just made me want to soak it all in and try to remember it for as long as possible. 

I think the best part of the show wasn't how amazing it was. It's that it was so amazing while almost everyone I looked at was a POC. It's like, visual proof that POC are amazing and can handle themselves and make creative things. It's what POC have been trying to say for years, and the long line and screaming crowd just proved it to be true. 

I just kept staring at Lin and wondering how it feels to look at something so absolutely fantastic, so breathtaking, so stunning, that it took sucked of my emotions away for two hours and forty five minutes. I'm sorry that I can't articulate the feeling further, but I was just looking at him and I was so thankful for this. That he fought through all of the difficult moments in his life, as a person and as a writer, and told this story. 

That I was able to see it. 

I can't imagine that he will ever know how much this meant to me, how much it has inspired me, and I probably won't even be part of his story. But he is part of mine, a large part, especially since he has proved to me that my background and appearance and my life will all help me break barriers and records and be extraordinary. 

I heard so much of myself in his lyrics, from "I've imagined death so much it feels more like a memory" to "There's a million things I haven't done, just you wait." 

Even though I haven't been suicidal in a long while, I haven't loved life in almost as long. It feels like something I have to struggle through in hopes that it might someday get better. Today, at least, I felt like life could be amazing. I'm so glad that I'm alive right now, that I'm alive during the same time that Hamilton is on Broadway and speaking to people, and that I got to experience this. 

I won't always remember the show, but I'll remember how much it empowered me. I hope that one day I can reference it in a speech.

Dying is easy, but living is so much harder. But I am the one thing in life I can control, and I know that I am an original. I'm young, scrappy, and hungry and I'm not throwing away my shot because I know history has it's eyes on me. 

Guys, I am so so lucky to be alive right now. 


Saturday, April 30, 2016

excuse me my nigga

I'm back! Here I am, writing because the White House Correspondents Dinner is today, Larry Wilmore hosted, and it was brilliant. I'm going to miss Barack Obama so much that I can't even describe it. 

Moving on, Larry said "nigga" during one of his jokes. And I'm trying to beat out all of the think pieces from white writers who will write about why the word makes them uncomfortable and why it shouldn't be said. 

I'm so not about this. Like, at all. 

Earlier this year, I went to a meeting for a school club. People from my school follow me on Twitter now, so I won't get too specific, but we were talking about how other schools aren't nearly as "diverse" as ours is. I don't know how it led to the conversation we ended up having, but I remember talking about code switching. I talked about how there are differences in the way black people talk to other black people and the way they talked to white people.

I said that white people should not be saying nigga. And people got upset, including one of the teachers, who felt it necessary to say that she was Italian (because somehow that makes her more qualified to speak on the subject?) and that no one should be saying the word because it's disgusting.

I didn't get the chance to say anything else, because another black student agreed with her. And there was a bunch of applause, which drowned me out. Anyway, I won't tell you about how I took a survey of black students, asking them about how they felt about the word. That I ranted to my black friends. 

I'm going to tell you why this discussion, mainly having it with white people, irritates me to no end:

1) White people made up the word, and black people have repurposed it: Nigga was originally a word seeped in hate. I know that, and you know that. We all know that. But when black people say it, they're using it in greeting. They're using it in a way to call out to friends, to describe themselves. 

When I try to explain this, I usually compare it to women calling themselves "bitches" - something that men often do as an insult. They're owning the word, changing it into something else so that it can no longer be used to hurt them. That's what black people do with nigga. 

Okay, pearl clutching is pretty self explanatory - it refers to old movies and such where women used to clutch their pearls in shock and dismay. It's a term people use to refer to the shock and dismay of others in an annoying way, to boil it down. 

Examples of things people clutch their pearls at: kids running around without shoes, someone getting upset at teen sex being displayed in YA, people getting upset about cursing. Little things that they just get upset about for no real reason. 

Anyway, I love how white people love to get all upset about what a horrible word nigga is. Of course, they understand more about racism than the black people who use it. Of course, amidst all of the other shit black people have to deal with (including poverty, death at the hands of police, being treated as second class citizens, etc.), this is one of the things they get super upset about. Why? 

3) The entitlement: 
When white people tell me that nigga is a horrible word that no one should be able to say, this is what I hear: "Since I can't say it, no one else should be able to say it, either." 

It's a word for black people. I get that it can be difficult to come to terms with a word your ancestors probably said (or still do say) casually, and that there's so much hatred connected to it. That's something valid that you sort of have to deal with. If you told me you felt uncomfortable when people said it because you hear mean grandparents say it, I get that. If you were my friend, I probably wouldn't say it around you. 

That doesn't mean you can just say no one gets to say it. It's like someone who is a vegetarian because they hate the way animals are treated trying to tell everyone they can't eat meat. Go ahead, argue if you'd like - obviously not all of the time, because that gets irritating and I'd drop you. But to presume that a word should be discontinued just because you feel guilty/bothered by it is SUCH an entitled thing to believe that I can't even run with it. 

4) The superiority complex: Okay, this goes along with the whole theme of tone policing, but still applies to the nigga conversation. I remember sitting in school the day that meeting and thinking about how pompous that teacher sounded.

I have to stop here, because I have to say she's not a bad person. At all. I don't think this woman is horrible or anything because of how she approaches this word. I know many white people who think nigga is a horrible word (which I understand) and think no one should say it. So, the fact that I'm critiquing her on this doesn't make her horrible. She's actually lovely, and good about other things.


When people tell me that black people shouldn't be saying nigga, they sound paternal. It makes more sense in my situation, because she was a teacher and I was a student. But a lot of times there are grown white people saying this to grown black people. Adults. 

It comes across as white people going, "Oh dearie, you don't understand that we created this word to hate you even more. This must be an inside joke of sorts, because the blacks don't get it. Since I'm a nice white person, I'll let them know." 

The fact is that black people don't have to be educated on the subject - and not on tone or dialect as a whole. Lots of times, you get people going, "Sweetie, you sound too angry. I can't understand you." I see people saying this to black women when they discuss how their sons were murdered in the street. 

Black people can be talking about something super important, like being poisoned or treated horribly or being in poverty, but white people will still critique their tone. It's just a way for them to avoid the subject, but also exert this false sense of superiority. 

"The way I speak is correct, so you must emulate it." 
"No one can take you seriously if you're so emotional." 
"Since you speak with slang, you must not be intelligent." 

And so on and so forth. The fact of the matter is that a black person could have  PHD, could be speaking in textbook terms, could have references and a speech prepared, but if a white person doesn't want to hear it, the conversation is shut down. 

5) They bring up the discussion in the black community as a "got-cha:" This is the part I hate the most. I remember how betrayed I felt when I sat in that chair, surrounded by white people and black people who didn't agree with me. 

Black people have a right not to want to use nigga. They have a right to disagree with it. It's sort of like how I say "queer" all the time, and identify that way, but some older LBGTQIA people find it offensive. It's different depending on who you are and what you've experienced. 

If I had been given the choice, I would've chosen to speak to white students, black students, and other non-black POC all at different times. It might sound...I don't know, stupid, but it's really difficult to speak up about things like this in real life. I know that I know what I'm talking about, but black people might disagree. And that's fine. But it sucks to feel so small and like people are ready to jump on you, while the people you look forward to for support are "on their side." 

(There are no sides, but that's how I felt in that moment.)

Anyway, white people are allowed to have feelings, as I said previously. I know that a lot of white people don't like to use it because they grew up during the 60s/70s/80s and experienced the word being used with hatred in abundance. However,  they just don't get to control whether or not black people use the word. And I'm not about to argue with a teacher about it, because...


As for black people - I personally don't mind the use of the word, but I don't mind discussing the topic with black people. It's just that I think it should be a discussion to be had in the black community. I truly don't think that we're going to get everyone to stop saying nigga, especially since it's not seen as overly negative when black people say it. 

But again, I know that I don't say it around my parents or grandparents because - well, first of all, they'd probably hit me - but also because they grew up in a different time. I think my parents were in their late teens (ha, they'll kill me if they read this) when groups like NWA were first getting popular. 

My mom remembers moving into an all white neighborhood and "Go back home niggers" being spray painted on their garage. My grandmother remembers that people used to call her father "Uncle" instead of "Sir," a sign of disrespect in North Carolina when she was growing up. There are a lot of reasons why black people don't like the word, and don't want it used. 

But it's our word to decide on, and we don't need any help from the white community.


PS: NON-BLACK POC SHOULD NOT BE SAYING NIGGA, EITHER! There is anti-blackness in lots of different cultures, which makes me sad, but there are black slurs used for black people in lots of different languages. I feel it's different with POC, because they understand a lot of what it's like to be treated this way by white people, but there are still differences.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

exposure isn't enough, fam

I haven't written anything about this, because it's just started to bother me recently. I don't know how else to go about talking about this, so I'll just ask outright: why doesn't any website pay their writers? Why are writers expected to write for free?

Now, I'm being super dramatic. There are definitely websites that pay their writers. Lots of times they don't pay teen writers, or anyone without a degree. But I digress. 

There are websites that are so large, that have such a large reach, and still don't pay the people who write for them. I don't understand. Actually, I do. It's nicer to get a bunch of content from people who don't get paid. Even if the content is shitty. 

Because, like it or not, these people are providing a service. They are sitting down and spending time to write a post, to edit it, to reread it before sending it it. They are spending time to share this post, adding more traffic to this website overall. 

So not only does this happen a lot, but it also happens to teens.

I know a lot of friends who like to write for websites, and I don't blame them. It's great to see something that you wrote on the internet, for it to be retweeted and talked about like an actual thing. To be treated seriously. For your ideas to finally matter.

I think this also happens to black women a lot, to religious minorities, all sorts of people. That's another big part of this - minorities working for free. Teenagers working for free. People in general working for free. 

Writing is work, as if I need to remind you guys. 

I didn't mind when I first started writing, because I was so excited that people were finally taking me seriously. That I was actually getting recognition for my writing. I don't know when this changed - maybe when people stopped answering my emails, stopped answering the emails of my friends. 

It's one thing to work for free, but it's another thing to be working for free and be treated like an inconvenience. I don't know about you, but I've reached the point where I need to be paid. Not for everything, because there are some things I just want to do. 

But if I'm doing interviews or writing or whatever, I think that my time is valuable. 

Exposure is awesome. Writing for free has gotten me a lot of exposure, and I've met so many awesome people because of it. It's opened doors for me. But, at the same time, it's made me realize that I deserve better. 

I'm not saying that you should quit your job or position or whatever (though, if you're not getting paid, I doubt it's actually a job.) But I do think that we should keep in mind that our time is valuable. Our words are valuable. We have to find some middle ground between wanting to share that and needing to eat. 

Don't let people take advantage of you because you're young. Or because you're black. Or because you're a woman or queer. Maybe you're trans or Muslim or Jewish or something. Being different shouldn't mean that you have to work for free. 

Some people might say that you're entitled. Let them. They'll say that you're foolish. Let them. Ultimately, what matters most is:
A) How you feel about yourself and your work
B) How you feel yourself 

(In no certain order.)

I once read that white America has been calling black people lazy ever since we stopped working for free. That might not apply to you, but it also is something to think about.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

internalized misogyny and white feminism (omg ladies CHILL)

I don't know why, but I was under the impression that we, as a group, had moved past shaming other women. I guess I'm really sheltered within my own group of homies and Twitter peeps, since I haven't seen it THIS MUCH lately. 

It's all Kim Kardashian's fault.

Well, let me explain. I don't want to start off by saying that I severely dislike her, because that's not really the point at hand. She posted a selfie the other day. It was a nude selfie. She wasn't wearing any clothes, took a picture, and posted it online.

Lots of people already think that she's a slut or a whore or whatever, so this was sort of like icing on the cake. I didn't really expect a lot of people to be so upset, because it's not like this is new for her. But for some reason, people got really outraged. Especially celebrity women. So I have a few examples:

And I saved the best for last. This was tweeted by Pink (screenshotted in case she deletes it): 

I guess that I'll start by saying that I'm so disappointed in these ladies. They all present themselves as being such symbols of feminism and girl power. I suppose that this one instance doesn't strip away everything that they've done and stood for, but it does reveal much about their thoughts. This leads me to wonder how much they can support women with these mind sets.

While I get that Kim Kardashian is irritating, I feel like there's a difference between saying that and shaming her for her body. Yes, she got famous for no reason. Yes, she doesn't have any talent. I know that no one likes her. But the fact that she has managed to stay famous is something. But let's forget all of that - she's still a woman. A grown ass woman. She's still a person.

Do you know what that means? She can do whatever the fuck she wants.

I don't understand what the point of feminism is if it doesn't advocate for women being equal to men. That's what these women claim to be doing, but they're not. Why do they think that their ideas of what is "correct" are law? Why does Kim have to abide by them? This is a reason why a lot of women are turned off of feminism. 

Look. Kim makes money by doing lots of things. One of those things happens to be displaying her body. Great! She's rich and successful! I don't know why all these ladies are jumping at Kim, though. And not all of the other people who pose naked.


Like, homies, why is it different when you do it? I don't understand the shaming of Kim. Just because she poses naked doesn't mean that she has a lack of morals or goals or anything of the sort. I feel like discussing this in regards to Kim Kardashian is tricky, because she does do a lot of stupid things (like cultural appropriation CONSTANTLY.) 

But we aren't talking about that here. 

When it comes down to it, a woman's body shouldn't be sexualized in the first place. The fact is that our bodies have been sexualized by society, and I get that. I just don't agree with it. I also don't think that posting a naked picture means that someone doesn't have any respect for herself. 

Chris Hemsworth/The Rock/lots of other hot guys take off their shirts CONSTANTLY. Walk around in boxers in movies or even out in the street. The Rock has posted a large sum of pictures without a shirt on, which can be viewed on his Twitter account. No one is lecturing them about their lack of self respect. 

Part of being equal to men is having the same control of our bodies as they do. When a woman can't post a picture of herself without being shamed BY OTHER WOMEN, there's definitely a problem. Especially if these women claim to be feminists. 

That sort of thinking is so outdated. I can't believe that I'm hearing this from people like Chloe Moretz and Pink. This also ties in with the topic of white feminism, which I've spoken about a lot before. I guess feminism is only helpful when you're trying to sell movie tickets or records and need to talk about girl power? It doesn't apply when it comes to female sex workers or, you know, women who want to post pictures.

(By the way, white feminism is when a woman is only into feminism for herself. Feminism is supposed to be about all women. Not just one type of woman, whether that is one who has white skin or one who doesn't pose for naked pictures.)

Being uncomfortable with nudity isn't bad. Thinking that it is degrading isn't bad, necessarily. I just don't understand why one person's opinion should be a law that everyone else has to abide by. If you think that posing naked reflects poorly on yourself, don't do it. No one is telling you to give Kim K a hi-five. Just let her do her thing. 

 I don't mean to frame this like "women against women" is the issue. No, this is truly the issue of internalized patriarchy. 

I was having a conversation with two lovely ladies on Twitter earlier today about reprogramming yourself. What I pulled from this conversation was this - the thoughts that we think first are almost like reflexes. What we think next is most important. We've been fed so many messages through society that taught us to hate and police ourselves. I'm not going to pretend that unlearning isn't a thing, and a difficult one at that.

So, by calling these women out (or whatever), I don't mean to demonize them or distance them or say that their feminism is sub-par. My hope (even though none of them will probably read this), is that explaining why this mode of thinking/acting is damaging will lead to awareness. If women are aware of internalized patriarchy, they're one step closer toward fighting it off.

But sometimes, ladies are just jerks. I guess this could be another one of those things. I'm not going to let myself believe that, though.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Day 1: Umoja

I'm back!! And it's the first day of Kwanzaa, which means that it's the first part of this new blog series I'm going to try out. There are a few things that you need to know beforehand: 

-Kwanzaa doesn't have any religious connections to it. I mean, I guess it could if someone wanted to? But overall, the holiday is about celebrating principles (Nguzo Saba) and family and our connection to Africa as a whole, basically. 

-Habari Gani is Swahili for "What is the news?" If someone greets you that way, you're supposed to respond with the Nguzo Saba of the day. Someone told me that people who aren't of African descent just say "Joyus Kwanzaa," but if you know the Nguzo Saba, I don't think it matters.

As for today....

The Nguzo Saba is Umoja, meaning unity! 

Yay! When my mom gets home, we'll light the black candle on the kinara (the candle holder), because that always goes first. On the first day, my family usually decorates, even though we should probably do that before. We make bendera (Kwanzaa flags), lay out the muhindi (ears of corn for each child), and mazao (fruits representing productivity, which I eat when no one looks.) 

We also sit around and discuss the principal of the day and what it means to us. 

This year, when I think of unity, I think of my friends and family and how they have held me up. It seems like years ago that I went to the hospital because I wanted to die, but it was really just this February. My friends encouraged me to go, and basically held my hand after I was released. 

The social worker at school encouraged me to go. A girl from our peer support club told me that it wouldn't be that bad, that I would get better. Even while I was there, the other girls sort of helped (despite the fact that no one wanted to be there.)

I think of unity when I think about protestors and Black Lives Matter. 

I think of unity when I think of my friends also in publishing, DMing and texting behind the scenes about how crazy we go. 

I think of unity when I think of my mother always getting things done, no matter what odds are stacked against her. 

To me, unity means people coming together to help someone. And that's hella rad. 


Sunday, December 6, 2015

let's talk about sex baby (with Ayesha Curry)

Really quickly: Ayesha Curry tweeted some things about modesty and clothing and trends today. Some people are getting upset, but from what I've seen, more people are getting upset that people are upset. Does that make sense? I think I've seen a lot of people laughing about this being a thing.

ANYWAY. The tweets: 

So. You know what I'm going to say. But a lot of people on Twitter have just said that she was expressing her preference, or that she was just taking notice of the world, or that "attacking" her is anti-feminist. 

First of all. I don't understand why some people automatically view critiquing as attacking. Ms. Curry posted something on Twitter, which means she knew that people were going to see it. Once you post something on Twitter, people are going to have opinions. Full stop. That's a thing. 

Second, I want to direct you all to this lovely Tumblr post about telling women that they aren't real feminists. I'll quote my favorite parts:
"Feminists can be racist. Feminists can be classist, ableist, transmisogynist, Islamophobic, antisemitic, whorephobic, homophobic, intersexist, terrible people and still be feminists. It makes their feminism tainted and flawed and oppressive and not very useful, but it doesn’t erase it.
Pretending that only people completely free from bigotry are “actual” feminists gives us an excuse to not address the very real problems happening in our movement, by people who are very much a part of it, or even leading parts of it.
To say bigots “aren’t really feminists” allows us to ignore the white supremacist and transmisogynist histories of Western feminist movements, allows us to be self-congratulatory about our own imaginary lack of ingrained prejudice, and neatly absolves us of taking responsibility as a movement for bigotry happening within that movement.
So yes, let’s acknowledge that people can be shitty feminists. But to imply that their shittiness neatly removes them from the movement is to deny the harm that they’re able to do as part of it. And that’s not helpful."
I personally feel that Ayesha was making a dig at women who "don't wear clothes." Yes, she was expressing her preference, but she implied that her preference was the "right way." Particularly the point where she says that she'd rather be "classy than trendy." 

Women are classy when they are wearing clothes. Women are classy when they aren't wearing clothes. We have different definitions of classy, which is fine. The issue is that being classy means you get respect. Being classy means that people treat you better. When society overwhelmingly believes that women are only "classy" when they dress a certain way, there's a problem.

Women are deserving of respect no matter what they decide to wear.

Anyway, Ayesha obviously has her preferences. I have mine. I wish it were easier for me to disagree with her without it becoming some sort of feminist war. People on Twitter are laughing and mocking feminists about getting upset, while feminists are moving in some sort of retaliation, I guess. 

I honestly don't care what Ayesha decides to wear. My issue occurs when it is implied that only certain types of women should get respect. That being, women who "save themselves" for their husbands. I mean, some women don't have husbands. Some women like to only show off to their husbands. Some just want to have sex.

And sex is totally fine. Women should have as much, or as little, sex as they want.

I think the thing we have to remember about feminism is that it's about supporting one another. We are going to have disagreements and differences. Some of us are going to get angry at each other, because we all have internalized prejudices. The important part is that we have discussions with each other.

There's this weird culture, particularly in the United States, where things happen and we don't talk about them. We don't talk about internalized racism or homophobia or anything. We don't talk about events after they happen, even though they still affect the nation.

I don't want feminism to be like that. When everyone on Twitter is fighting about Ayesha Curry, I want to talk about why. I want my anger to be valid, just like I want the girl I was arguing with on Twitter to be valid. 

The best way to do that is to talk.