we all have the responsibility to give back to our communities and support causes we find valuable. there aren’t nearly enough spaces aimed at connecting and cultivating artists of color, so when i saw folasade adeoso’s instagram post seeking support for her newest venture, open space, i jumped at the opportunity.
we’ve been fans of issa rae since the first season of the misadventures of awkward black girl. if you’ve never seen the show: get your life. the uber talented writer, actress and producer is gaining major star power with a new book and hbo pilot. the show, called insecure, chronicles “the awkward experiences and racy tribulations of a modern-day African-American woman.” let’s hope the pilot makes it into production! in the meantime, read her book, watch her you tube channel and laugh hard.
last week, tamar braxton broke down on her television show the real about facing constant bullying on social media. the popular singer and reality tv star has been the recipient of verbal attacks by many, including chris brown and k.michelle. in an era where “shade” and “reads” less than 140 characters can travel at the speed of light, taking shots has never been more toxic.
i’ll always remember the anger in my grandmother’s face when i told her that i was being bullied; however, she wasn’t mad at the bully. she was mad at me. how dare i come home and cry about being psychologically tormented? at seven years old, my responsibility was to use any ammunition at my disposal to clap back. her anger was my first conditioning into a lifestyle that black women know all too well — not to experience pain when hurt, but to hurt others.
i come from a long line of truth-telling women who annihilate the unworthy with words. when words don’t work, they’re known to lay hands. this violent experience of black womanhood is not unique to my family, and represents the mechanism we’ve adopted to survive both patriarchy and white supremacy. our tongues of fire protected us through slavery and racial apartheid, and continue to serve as a safeguard, even when our safety isn’t threatened. welding negative power is better than having none at all.
such negative power is captured in the “strong black woman” stereotype, a depiction of black womanhood that has taught us strength requires toxicity. affirming ourselves beyond the superficial and practicing self-care is weak. affirming other black women and leading with kindness is extremely weak. what’s most ironic is that given our oppression, black women being kind to one another is actually the strongest thing we can do.
we should be ashamed that tamar braxton was brought to tears on national television because of the black community’s abuse. it’s frustrating that so many of us have been raised to construe negative critiques as love that we deny the harm caused by verbal assault. until black women change the definition of strength to include self-care and unapologetic kindness, our emotional well-being will continue to suffer.
in case you didn’t know, one of the best movies of 2015 was directed by a black woman. the film: selma. the director: ava duvernay. a vision with long locks, impeccable style and black consciousness, she just might be politics & fashion’s crush of the year.
selma’s been nominated for a golden globe for best director, making ava the first black woman to be nominated for this award. take a look at this great new york time’s article written about the struggles she and other women directors have faced in hollywood.
popular model and blogger danii phae bravely shared images of her alleged abuse by ex-boyfriend j$tash. in a tumblr post, she described him as someone who abused her “verbally, mentally and emotionally.” according to danii he became physically violent on september 15th after she confronted him regarding his infidelity.
my heart goes out to this young sister who is facing such a difficult struggle. her courage is beyond commendable, especially because her popularity gives her every reason to hide her abuse. instead, she’s using the very platform that helped make her famous, the internet, to empower others and “speak up against domestic violence for those who can’t due to the manipulative acts [their] abusers inflict.”
words can’t explain how inspired i was over the weekend at afropunk. the vibe was amazing, hundreds of people of color were in one venue simply loving life, music, culture and each other. the spirit of social activism was in the air as signs were posted that said no to all forms of oppression and people staged a “hands up, don’t shoot” demonstration to protest police brutality. it was undeniably the best experience that i’ve had all summer.
misty copeland is the first and only black soloist for the american ballet. the dancer didn’t take up ballet until she was 13 years old, and she’s been open about facing turmoil as a woman of color in a highly competitive field that lacks diversity. i know it’s just a commercial, but i honestly teared up when watching it. in every leap, she’s inspiring little brown girls everywhere.
today show host tamron hall wore her natural hair on air for the first time last friday and the twitterverse came out in full support. as the only black female anchor on the long-running morning show, it’s great to see tamron feel beautiful without straight hair. while this moment may seem trivial to some, every act that erodes the prevailing standard of beauty is a small victory. go tamron!