Week Three of 30 Day Real Black History Challenge 2015

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Week Three of 30 Day Real Black History Challenge 2015

Week three of the 30 Day Real Black History Challenge was not as long as some of the others due to my own commencement ceremony and celebration, but there are also some really important things that happened in this week (including the Rachael Dolezal story).  There are some great videos and research information. Enjoy.

June 11th:

Every chance I get to share this video I do. It is one of my all time favorites. I first saw it at a trauma symposium where I attended a session on historical oppression. It took my breath away and still does today.

What happens to those who are left in the wake of mass incarceration and the disproportionate detaining of Black people in our distorted racial caste system. What happens to the children without a father? What happens to those who are searching for answers in a society that has none?

This. This right here.

“Everyone experiences trauma. Whether it’s natural trauma, such as the death of a loved one or a serious illness; interpersonal trauma, such as abuse or sexual violence; or insidious trauma, such as racism and sexism—we can all count ourselves as trauma survivors.

But some of us are more at risk for experiencing trauma than others, and very few are more at risk than Black women. Why? Simply put, oppression and abuse go hand in hand, and given that Black women wield less social and political power compared to other demographics, we’re more likely to experience all types of trauma.

We know by now that Black women suffer disproportionate rates of sexual violence, incarceration, interpersonal violence, and state violence. Black women are more likely to experience poverty, chronic illness, and reproductive and medical violence. We are also more likely to die younger than our white peers. Queer and trans Black women face even higher rates of life-threatening violence and poverty. Black women often must also cope with the high rates of incarceration and state violence experienced by their brothers, sons, and other Black men in their lives. The lingering social and political effects of slavery and Jim Crow segregation also arise in racist and sexist interpersonal interactions, such as microaggressions and abuse.

All of this—from “big T” traumas like sexual violence, to “little T” traumas like the continued vigilance borne of coping with anti-blackness—has real and measurable effects on our physical and emotional well-being. Besides the obvious physiological consequences such as chronic illnesses and shortened life spans, we often experience lasting psychological consequences from the constant stress of merely existing as Black women in a world hostile to our presence.”

#30DayRBHC http://ow.ly/Oa3XD

“[Educated blacks] Society refuses to consider them genuine Negroes. The Negro is a savage, whereas the student is civilized. “You’re us,” and if anyone thinks you are a Negro he is mistaken, because you merely look like one.” ― Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

A great historical glance at one of the reasons people should NOT refer to a Black person as “well spoken”. It is the aversively racist tone it takes that perpetuates the stereotype that it is a surprise when a Black person speaks intelligently. It is not a surprise when someone speaks with education, with presence, with purpose, with skill. People should not act like it is.

“This, then, is the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well.”

― Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

A real hard look on the role of allyship and the misguided attempts of allies that really miss the true understanding of what it means to support the people who are oppressed. You cannot be an ally for those you cannot trust.

Introspection is necessary in the struggle. All the time.

“…the fact that certain members of the oppressor class join the oppressed in their struggle for liberation, thus moving from one pole of the contradiction to the other… Theirs is a fundamental role, and has been throughout the history of this struggle. It happens, however, that as they cease to be exploiters or indifferent spectators or simply the heirs of exploitation and move to the side of the exploited, they almost always bring with them the marks of their origin: their prejudices and their deformations, which include a lack of confidence in the people’s ability to think, to want, and to know. Accordingly, these adherents to the people’s cause constantly run the risk of falling into a type of generosity as malefic as that of the oppressors. The generosity of the oppressors is nourished by an unjust order, which must be maintained in order to justify that generosity. Our converts, on the other hand, truly desire to transform the unjust order; but because of their background they believe that they must be the executors of the transformation. They talk about the people, but they do not trust them; and trusting the people is the indispensable precondition for revolutionary change. A real humanist can be identified more by his trust in the people, which engages him in their struggle, than by a thousand actions in their favor without that trust.” ― Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Oh my…. this is so my story in so many ways. And I had to deal with the alienation of by skinfolk in middle and high school (and after) because I embraced an alternative style and music choice….. and then religion.#30DayRBHC

“Alternative is not a word I would have ever used to describe myself at any point in life. Alternative is not a word I would have used to describe any Black woman or girl, no matter how closely she aligned with an “alternative” aesthetic. Like most people, I believed that alternative culture was the property of whiteness, so I either hid or denied all my alternative inclinations. I told no one that I loved groups like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Third Eye Blind, or that I fed myself on art house films.

This denial made it difficult for me to see that my attraction to artists such as Kelis and the late Lisa “Lefteye” Lopes lied in the fact that they presented themselves in the same way as many whites in the alternative scene. Black girls simply were not alternative. Being alternative in some way meant being white, so Black women and girls in these scenes were not only seen as embracing whiteness, but also eschewing their blackness.

There are many reasons I finally realized Black girls could indeed be alternative and were in fact catalysts behind many alternative trends and movements. One of them was that I realized a lot of the indicators for alternative lifestyles were taken from Black cultures and the cultures of other people of color: tattoos, piercings, scarification, and other forms of body modification, as well as alternative fashion and music almost always originate from Black and Brown people.”

“On June 18, 1964, black protesters jumped into a whites-only pool at the Monson Motor Lodge in St. Augustine, FL in an effort to combat segregation. The owner of the hotel combated this invasion of the “whites-only” space by people with a darker skin tone by pouring acid into the pool.

Fast Foward to 2015, on Friday, some residents in a Texas town decided that a number of African-American teenagers had no place in a pool in the 75% white neighborhood.

Police were called after white residents started a confrontation with some African-American guests at a pool party at the McKinney Community Pool. Party Organizers said…

“This lady was saying racial slurs to some friends that came to the cookout. She was saying such things as ‘black effer’ and ‘that’s why you live in Section 8 homes,” Tatiana Rhodes, who says she was attacked by two white women, explained. According to Rhodes, the African-American guests at the party were told by one neighbor to “go back to your Section 8 home.”

One police officer demonstrated how difficult it is to be black in America. While Texas copsbasically had a tea party with white bikers who engaged in a gang war that left nine people dead, McKinney Officer Eric Casebolt decided to go “full Rambo” on the crowd of unarmed African-Americans.”

June 12th:

So much this….. so much this! Tired does not begin to explain it.

“Black America is tired. The liminal existence of Ellison’s invisible man; Cornel West’s brilliant meditation on “niggerization” as a state of existential fear, where black and brown people are unwanted, unprotected and unsafe in America; and the genius insights of Richard Wright’s “Native Son” speak to a stalwart resilience in the face of the racial absurdity that is white supremacy and the color line in America (and the world).

Black Americans are the moral conscience of the United States. In her book by the same title, political theorist and legal scholar Lani Guinier described black folks as a type of “miner’s canary” for a democracy that is still very much a work in progress: a country whose origins are in the twin crimes against humanity that were the genocide of First Nations people and the murder and enslavement of millions of blacks held as human chattel, and one that still struggles to perfect a “more perfect union” in the face of a resurgent White Right, a plundering plutocrat class and the terror of neoliberalism and the politics of human disposability.

Black America is strong. But “Black America” is more of a symbol and an idea than it is a place or a fact. Black Americans are not a monolith, the Borg, or a hive mind. They are individuals who have a shared experience of racialization in a society structured around both maintaining and protecting white privilege and white supremacy.” #30DayRBHC

Because one article is not enough when someone appropriates your whole culture and poses as one of you, runs a chapter of one of your historic organizations and then cannot understand a simple question…. “Are you African American?”

#30DayRBHC http://ow.ly/OdaXy



June 13th:

I found this particular piece very interesting because of the lobbying I recently did at the State Capital on SB23, the bill to repeal the family maximum grant. As I was doing the research it became increasingly clear how racist and classist the current bill is, and it is still in the law books. It has been the law for 20 years.

It amazes me that people would assume that there are “welfare queens” having children to collect an additional 122.00 a month.#30DayRBHC

If you know me at all, or have followed the 30 Day Real Black History Challenge in 2013 or 2014, you know how I feel about the Black Panthers and their contribution to the history of the Black Liberation struggle for freedom. So it is about timely that I post something from one of my personal inspirations, Co-Founder of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

This quote speaks volumes about what we know still happens today! The media controls the images that we have regarding Black people here in America. And as soon as something happens (especially with the police) the media makes sure to blast images the coincide with thugs, criminals and gangstas. And American culture buys it hook, line and sinker every time.

“People called me a hoodlum and a thug. But they didn’t tell you I was a carpenter, an architect, a stand-up comic–even a bartender. And a barbecue cook. But they didn’t tell you that.” – Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

June 14th:

“You need to clean that kitchen”… a statement my mom use to say to me when I had naps on the back of my neck. It is an old saying… one I have heard many times from many Black people with roots in the south. But where do phrases like that come from in Black culture? And what is the correlations with nappy hair and kitchens?

I can only think of some immediate associations that would relate to the unruly nature of our kinky hair and the association with labor and acceptability. I can only imagine the correlations with slave times and what was presentable and how “culture” creates folk tales and statements that we pass down to our children…… Dr. Joy DeGruy always says that this is not “culture” but it is trauma. I agree…. and see it as both. Our trauma becoming our cultural expression and connection to our present. How we express ourselves.

The history and story of our hair tells a lot about Black women, our culture and the state of our present here.

What is the damage of mass incarceration on those who are stuck in the racial caste system of America’s New Jim Crow? How easily we dismiss human beings as criminals and think no more about the damage that happens in these institutionalized systems. What happens to someone when they are released after years of existing like animals in a system that sees them as a number.

When we talk about criminality in our country, we cannot stop at the words criminal. We cannot separate out the understanding of intersectionality, oppression, lack of education, poverty, drug addiction, mental illness and racism. And then we think about the systems that exist around mass incarceration and our corrections systems…. the courts…. the biases within our police departments. How do we continue to justify our lack of accountability to justice and fairness when it often stops at ignoring the humanity of those we label as criminal? How do we ignore the trauma created by such systems?

We are beautiful. We are the beginning….. the Black woman is the beginning of all human kind. And so oppressive powers need to always keep us in “line” so we cannot remember our true nature. Our TRUE power.

What would happen if the destructive messages of our society did not exist and instead we were able to know our true histories, beauty, power, purpose and magic. That is something for the masses to be truly scared of.

We are beautiful period. Not for a dark skinned girl, or a light skinned girl, or a black girl, or a big girl or ……. We are Pretty PERIOD! We have all heard this shit far too much.

And we need to be reminded. We need to remember. We need to stop allowing the manipulation of white supremacist culture to condition us to think any differently about ourselves or one another.
#Pretty365, #Prettyperiod,#30DayRBHC


And then there is this…. and oldie but goodie. I remember when this came out and I remember how shocked, offended and hurt I was. #30DayRBHC http://ow.ly/OiS4w

And then we see bull like this that tries to manipulate and use us against each other. Attempting to use the trauma and words of other Black women to push the agenda of capitalism and consumerism and keep us trapped in ideals of Eurocentric beauty standards that never applied to us. We are not white women, we will never be white women.

Like with any attempt to break the status quo, there are challenges and moments of insecurity that come with that. But to attempt to minimize the complexity of that and simplify that to what this “study” does… so they can sell more products… is unethical and criminal.

“According to research by cosmetic company Bountiful Hair, women with natural hair have lower self-esteem than women with treated hair.

According to BlackHair.com, natural hair is “hair whose texture hasn’t been altered by chemical straighteners, including relaxers and texturizers.”

The most common natural hairstyle is an afro, which many black women consider an undesirable look. The hair is many times matted and coarse, and is not considered appropriate for a business environment. Many employers consider the look untidy, and ban individuals from wearing this style.

According to the study by Bountiful Hair, natural hair being viewed as a messy look is causing many women, who wear their hair in that manner, to feel inadequate and less desirable as their counterparts. Those feelings of inadequacy causes women with natural hair to lash out at women with treated or straightened hair, and in turn lowers their self-esteem.

Of the 3,000 women who participated in the study, 2,500 said they did not feel as pretty as women with straightened hair. Pilar Ciara Jones, who says she participated in the study, stated, “some days I just don’t know what to do with these naps — and on those days I just avoid the mirror altogether.”

What is the impact of our political and historical climate on Black women? This is something often ignored or glanced over since much of our culture focuses on Black men. (which is not always good either).

“African American women are a diverse group with respect to skin tone, social
class, mental health concerns, and coping mechanisms. However, African American
women share a common history, surviving in a country in which social and governmental policies have supported and perpetuated discrimination, sexual and economic exploitation, and relative powerlessness for women of African descent. The 1960s was one decade that produced marked social changes relevant to African American women.
Since the 1960s African American women have achieved some educational and
economic gains, have navigated the often difficult and uncharted terrain of integration, and have encountered additional stress from mobility and marginalization (Gibbs & Fuery, 1994). As Gibbs and Fuery (1994) note, comprehension of African American women’s mental health issues is complicated as it is unclear to researchers and clinicians how much of African American women’s mental health concerns are attributable to sexism, racism, or the dynamic interaction of the two.
Due to the intersection of sexism and racism, negative images of African American women have been present in society throughout the history of this country 6 (Gibbs & Fuery, 1994). Historically, negative beliefs regarding their inferiority have been the basis of policies that have limited African American women’s chances for
educational, employment and residential upward mobility (Williams & Williams-Morris, 2000). Stereotypes about African American women have been transmitted via mass media and centuries of literature, and subsequently reinforced through social policies (Gibbs & Fuery, 1994).”

Sociocultural, sociohistorical, and sociopolitical effects on African American women ‘s sense of self

This piece is incredibly relevant and right on point. The correlations between our systems of mass incarceration, racial caste systems, and mass incarceration in the participation of our economy cannot be ignored. And should not.

One of the largest issues with our attempts to change the systemic and institutionalized racism in this country often fall a bit short of diving into the ways that racism continues to benefit this country and certain people within in. How has America benefitted from racism and the continued systems of racism that we feed everyday? Those are some hard pills to swallow…. why?

Because Capitalism.
“Scholars and activists have plunged into an examination of the historical origins of racialized slavery as a coercive labor form and social system in an attempt to explain the huge increase in mass incarceration in the U.S. since the end of World War II. Drawing these links has been important in explaining the relationship between racism and criminalization after emancipation, and in connecting the rise of industrial and mechanized labor to the destructive effects of deindustrialization and globalization. The point of retracing this history is not to argue that prisons have been a direct outgrowth of slavery, but to interrogate the persistent connections between racism and the global economy. Mass imprisonment on the level seen in the U.S. in the 20th century occupies a phase along the spectrum of unfree labor related to, yet distinct from, chattel slavery. As many scholars of the punishment industry have shown, regardless of the labor prisoners do to service the larger economy (either private or public), prisons increasingly function in the U.S. economy as answers to the devastation unleashed by the dual forces of Reaganomics and the globalization of capital (Parenti, 1999; Gilmore, 1997; Manning, 1983). The immediate post-emancipation period is a key place to start in outlining the investment of the U.S. state in this trade in humanity….

June 15th:

So this comes out….. that she sued Howard for “reverse racism” when she claimed being white. The plot continues to thicken. And this just SMASHES the idea of tranracial with Rachel. Smashes it to pieces.


“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are

presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new
evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is
extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it
is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize,
ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”
― Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

Confused at the Black hair stuff? Black hair run through… 101 stuff. Let’s demystify the confusion around Black women and their natural hair.#30DayRBHC


“What’s crucial to understand, as Baltimore residents take to the streets in long-simmering frustration, is that their general grievances are valid regardless of how this case plays out. For as in Ferguson, where residents suffered through years of misconduct so egregious that most Americans could scarcely conceive of what was going on, the people of Baltimore are policed by an entity that perpetrates stunning abuses. The difference is that this time we needn’t wait for a DOJ report to tell us so. Harrowing evidence has been presented. Yet America hasn’t looked.

I include myself.

Despite actively reading and commenting on police misconduct for many years, I was unaware until yesterday that the Baltimore Sun published a searing 2014 article documenting recent abuses that are national scandals in their own rights.

A grandmother’s bones were broken. A pregnant woman was violently thrown to the ground. Millions of dollars were paid out to numerous victims of police brutality.

And almost none of us noticed!

So I join all who say that protests in Baltimore should remain peaceful, and I will continue to withhold judgment about Gray’s death until more facts are known.

But I also insist that Baltimore protests are appropriate regardless of what happened to Freddie Gray, as is more federal scrutiny and intervention. Although much was rightly made of Ferguson’s racially unrepresentative local leadership, the presence of a black mayor and a diverse city council has not solved Baltimore’s police problem, partly because the DOJ responded to revelations of epidemic brutality with less than the full-scale civil rights probe that some residents requested and because Maryland pols have thwarted reform bills urged by city leaders.

There are so many good reasons for locals to be outraged.”

Brilliant discussion among some educated and wonderful Black women about the politics and relevance of the Black woman’s hair. Incredible dialog about what our hair communicates and how our hair has often been a reflection of what was right… or wrong…. in our greater culture. I find it great… discussing the complexity of it all.

Here is part 2 of the incredible discussion of the Politics of Black Hair….. Melissa Harris Perry is dynamic and fantastic for always providing a platform for such complex discussions…..#30DayRBHC

June 16th: 

Because we forget too often what we are. Because we struggle in a society that continues to condition us to believe we are less than, inferior, not as gifted, not as capable…. and yet we are royal beyond our understanding much of the time.

Fantastic rewrite of a song by a gifted artist who makes sure to put the one two punch inside of the lyrics…. so listen closely. #30DayRBHC

Fantastic short video done about Black culture, appropriation and the complexity of that by the actress from the Hunger Games. Great, clear points about one of the most challenging topics to dissect.#30DayRBHC


There are lines of history documenting the abuse and dismissal of Black children at the hands of systemic and individual racism. We know that there were even laws in place so that a white person would not suffer legal issues if a slave was killed by a white person during “correction”. Dr. Joy Degruy talks about how this was largely put in place because of white women killing the black children during these discipline moments.

The humanity of our children has always been questioned by the overculture of our society, conditioning people to bypass the discomfort of cognitive dissonance by disregarding the worth of our Black children. That has not stopped today. It is a historical issue we continue to face.

This is a powerful piece. I wanted to post this about Dolezal because so many people are confused right now about why this is as harmful and problematic as it is. And the oversimplification that is happening about the black existence in America is the point I want to highlight. I could care less about Rachel Dolezal, but I do care that she not perpetuate the divisive nature of racism, while those who do NOT understand the complexities of this all come to her rescue. Instead I hope it is used as a means to understand some critical things that are missing in the psyche of average American thought.

“If Rachel Dolezal really, truly cared about the black community, then she would have known (especially as a professor of African-American studies) how inappropriate it is as a white woman to try to speak for black people. She would have known that Blackness is more than skin-deep. She would have stayed in her Whiteness and done the hard and necessary work that white allies need to do. She would have used her privilege to make changes in the white community. She would have worked to dismantle the system of privilege that apparently had made Whiteness so unattractive to her.

She knows that if her Blackness gets too difficult, she can shed it as easily as she can flat-iron her hair.

But instead she fled. And in fleeing into Blackness and claiming it for her own, she did what so many defenders of white supremacy have done — she simplified Blackness to skin tone and hair texture. She divorced the best of black culture from the struggle that it was born from. She claimed the community, the platform, the music, the clothing, the hairstyle — all without a minute of the fear, oppression and discrimination that black Americans have faced for centuries, and still face to this day.”#30DayRBHC

Powerful, powerful talk about the history of the public displays of violence against Black men and how we are witnessing this sameness now. She talks about the “ferguson inside of us”. What are we going to do about it? How do we look within and be willing to change ourselves? How do we keep ourselves accountable for the images we uphold about young black men, that contribute to the continued killings happening?

Are we ready to look at the painful truths and the things that we hold inside that perpetuate these horrors? This is hard work. And those who are unwilling to do it are helping to hold the gun……. Those who are unwilling to explore their own biases and racist issues are literally killing us, doesn’t matter if they are holding the gun.#30DayRBHC

June 17th:

Fantastic book list for Black children to read…… they need stuff to read that helps them see themselves.#30DayRBHC


A well done video discussion the history of our “Hair” story.

“When, long ago, the gods created Earth

In Jove’s fair image Man was shaped at birth.
The beasts for lesser parts were next designed;
Yet were they too remote from humankind.
To fill the gap, and join the rest to Man,
Tåh’Olympian host conceiv’d a clever plan.
A beast they wrought, in semi-human figure,
Filled it with vice, and called the thing a Nigger.”
–H.P. Lovecraft, On the Creation of Niggers (1912)

So POWERFUL that I cried. I cried real tears of sadness, and pain, and historical memories, and fears, and reality when I listened to this poem. You see, so many people do not understand. White privilege in this country has divided so many from their experiences and the very empathy of ours. White privilege often confuses Black people as much as it confuses and cushions the white experience.

There is NO way to explain what this incredibly gifted woman, the poet Crystal Valentine, gave to us at the finals of the 2015 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. Power beyond explanation.

A MUST listen…. with your ears and your heart. One of the treasures that rocked my 30 Day Real Black History world in 2015.

“Black privilege is being so unique that even God will not look like you…. Black privilege is still being the first in line to meet him….. Black privilege is having to have the same sense of humor as Jesus…. Remember how he smiled on the cross, the same way that Malcolm X laughed at his bullet… and there I go again, asserting my Black privilege using a dead man’s name without his permission…Black privilege is a myth, is a joke, is a punchline, is a time a teacher asks a little boy what he wanted to be when he grew up and he said alive.”

“Black privilege is me having already memorized my nephew’s eulogy, my brother’s eulogy, my father’s eulogy, my unconceived child’s eulogy,” she recited. “Black privilege is me thinking my sister’s name is safe from that list.”


1 Comment

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

July 4, 2015at 7:31 am

This is all powerful material…I will remember Amandla Stenberg’s “What would happen if American culture liked Black people as much as it likes Black culture?” for a long time; and Crystal Valentine’s poem is phenomenal. I also love the Melissa Harris-Perry segments…

Also: I’m really horrified to have seen and heard of the whole Rachel Dolezal thing, especially since I lived in Spokane when I was doing my M.A. and was also doing a lot of diversity/social justice work, and worked with the local chapter of the NAACP on many occasions and loved the president of it (at that time) very much indeed. (The next time I see you in-person–in Salt Lake City?!?–remind me and I’ll tell you a ridiculous story of an event she was nice enough to help me with, and how badly it went, but what a great sport she was all the same.) Spokane is a really bizarre place in so many ways, but that doesn’t excuse Ms. Dolezal one bit.

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