Posts tagged ‘women’

It’s World AIDS Day

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of days, you’d know that today is World AIDS Day. I decided to try something this time and do a short series of posts talking about my experiences with protecting myself, getting tested, and losing people I care about to the disease.

The next two posts will be dedicated to Damon Eskridge, a family friend of mine who shared his story about living with HIV to me and other young people years ago at my church back home in Los Angeles. Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I talked about how Damon influenced me and informed what I know about HIV and AIDS along with other STD’s. Damon passed away in December 2000 after a long battle with AIDS.

I am remembering Damon today as I write these next few posts. Thank you, Damon for sharing your story and your light. You are loved and missed.

For those of you in DC and wanting to get tested for HIV today call 202.442.9152 to find the nearest testing location.

Those of you tweeting on twitter about World Aids Day, the official hashtag for world AIDS day is #WAD09.

Shout out to the Red Pump Project, who raise awareness about HIV and AIDS 365 days a year.

BET actually does it right and remembers Black celebrities we’ve lost to AIDS.

Lastly, did you know that trans women are most impacted by AIDS? Get familiar. Many times we forget that more than Black cisgendered women* are trans women who are the most impacted by the disease and yet served the least…because trans women are often rendered invisible by the status quo. Some food for thought.


Sonia Sotomayor named to the US Supreme Court

Most of you by now have heard about this story, but I can’t tell you how excited and happy that a woman of color has been nominated for the supreme court. I am intentional with saying woman of color and not just Latina. I think Liza Sabater from Culture Kitchen said it best:

Sonia Sotomayor considers herself a woman of color, not just a “Hispanic”. She’s a proud puertorriqueña and a Latina, not some form of white-washed eurocentric spanish-speaking acceptable version of a WASP.

As a Black American woman, I’m happy and proud of Obama’s choice for the supreme court. When I was younger I thought I could only really relate to and act on behalf of Black women. As I get older, though, I have become an advocate for all women of color, as in some ways we all share a collective experience.

Most of the racist and sexist attacks on Sotomayor aren’t surprising to me. I knew people would claim she was loud, “ghetto”, and unfit for the Supreme Court. I knew conservatives would say she is a token. None of it surprises me.

The truth is that in Sonia Sotomayor we have a wise, intelligent, powerful woman of color who understands the plight of working class people. We have someone who I believe will bring a new level of experience and also dignity to the Supreme Court.

A few Words on Chris and Rihanna

Cross Posted at

Most of you have heard about the Chris Brown-Rihanna domestic violence issue. There are several sides to this story, but I will say that violence against women is a serious issue and it is an issue that needs to be addressed in our communities.

Two members of Females United for Action – 15 year old Alex Pates & 17 year old Ace Hilliard – wrote about the Chris Brown / Rihanna case.  The group is hoping that the article will be used  for discussions around intimate partner violence and how the media frames the issue.

I am so glad that these two young women are speaking out about this issue. My hope is that this story will begin an honest dialogue about domestic violence among men and women, boys and girls, gay and straight.

This is not an easy discussion nor is it an easy topic for me to write about. The thing that really bothers me about the way the media handles the Chris-Rihanna case is that it perpetuated a culture of blame when it comes to domestic violence coverage. What did Rihanna possibly do? Bloggers and reporters started to ask. Maybe she dressed too sexy. Maybe she threw his keys out the car. OMG, she gave him herpes! 

All of a sudden, the blame game began. The media–particularly entertainment media and the gossip bloggers who benefit from it–were blaming Rihanna for what had taken place. Nevermind the fact that Rihanna was in pain, mentally and physically–it was her fault right out the gate. 

Many rape and domestic violence cases go unreported because no survivor, regardless of their sex, gender, race, or sexual preference, wants to be blamed for the abuse they have experienced. No one wants to be told that perhaps they “deserved” their abuse, and no one wants to go to court only to see their absuer let off the hook. 

We need to break out of the habit of blaming the survivor for their abuse. I will acknowledge that there are several sides to cases like Chris and Rihanna but I also we must realize that a honest dialogue means having compassion and sensitivity for our friends, loved ones, sorority sisters, neighbors, and coworkers who have survived any form of abuse. An honest dialogue means being careful what we say around our children–that if we continue to be insensitive and forwarding around pictures of Rihanna’s bruised face, we are only setting a dangerous precedent for them.

Yes Means Yes @ Busboys and Poets

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a booksigning for Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power & a World Without Rape, an anthology edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti of Feministing.

What an incredibly powerful and liberating idea: creating a world where rape is rare and where women can truly own their sexuality. The title implies that if women can say no to sex, then they also have the right and the freedom to say yes to sex as well; a remix of “no means no” if you will (which, by the way, is  still a very important piece when we talk about rape).

I did livetweet this event,  but because some of my friends and homegirls couldn’t attend,  I thought I should do a wrap-up right here on black girl blogging.

The Purity Myth: Jessica Valenti talks about who gets to be considered pure (“skinny white girls” in her words), and why it is problematic for the rest of us. “Pop culture feeds us a modernized virgin/whore dichotomy…abstinence-only sex education by day, girls gone wild by night.” Well said, Jessica

Rape and the Immigrant Woman: Miriam Pena talked about an issue I hadn’t thought of before….how women who cross the border experience rape and violence from the men helping them across the border, among other people. “Rape is the price some women pay to get into this country,” she says. Wow.  I dont’ know what else to say about this. It is painful.

The “Not-Rape” Epidemic: LaToya Peterson of Racialicious explains how our framing of rape–especially for women of color–has silenced voices. The way that “not-rape” works is that we are told that rape happens to women who are in strange places with strange men–therefore, anything outside of that definition is considered “not rape.”

This becomes very apparent when juxtaposed with the “don’t have it” meme that elle, phd has discussed recently. Because many Black women are told growing up to just not have sex until we’re married–as I was–when we are “not raped” by someone who know, date, are friends with, are related to, etc. we are made to feel ashamed since, after all, we were told to “not have it”.

“Women are raped twice–once when the rape occurs and again in the courtroom,” says LaToya. This tweet from @naturallyalise took it a step further….that once they tell friends and family it is as if the rape is happening all over again if they face judgement.

Lastly, Jessica Valenti talked about pleasure as a universal right and how this idea cuts across racial and gender lines…Just hearing this made me feel inspired enough to write a piece about black sexuality next week as we get closer to Valentine’s Day….stay tuned.

elledub goes gawking at the alfalfa club dinner

Nerdette over at NotMyGal convinced me to spend my Saturday night watching the arrivals to the Alfalfa Club Dinner, a dinner honoring the legacy of Robert E. Lee (yes…I’m talking about this guy). Governor Sarah Palin was in attendance and so was President Barack Obama. We were there to see Gov. Palin arrive to the dinner and the Presidential motorcade, and have the live tweets to prove it!

We saw some pretty awful fashion choices that brought back memories of Golden Girls reruns….I talk about this and whether I would ever attend the Alfalfa Club dinner if invited in the vlog below brough to you by NotMyGal. Enjoy!

Victoria Secret Adds HBCU’s to their PINK Line

I’m really happy and proud about this story…it is another way that HBCUs are becoming a bigger part of mainstream culture:

From Black Enterprise:

When Victoria’s Secret Pink visited Florida A&M University (FAMU) last fall to announce that the historically black university would be included in Pink’s roll out of its collegiate collection—the largest retail distribution that has ever been given to an HBCU collegiate apparel—the students responded by buying out every single item at the makeshift Pink pop-up campus store.

So it’s no wonder that Richard Dent, CEO of Victoria’s Secret Pink brand is expecting huge returns when Howard University, Hampton University, North Carolina A&T University, and Southern Louisiana University joins FAMU in the second phase of Pink’s collegiate collection, which already includes 33 other schools that were launched in June 2008.

Last July, Amelia Reid, a sophomore at Howard University wrote a letter to Pink to express her dismay at the absence of HBCUs in the fall line. Reid, a Pink fan and an employee of Limited Brands, Victoria’s Secret parent company, received from the company a response that she described at the time as “sugarcoated” and dismissive.

Her disappointment materialized into a crusade to bring Pink into the black, and she launched a blog called “HBCU Ladies Wear Victoria’s Secret Pink Too” on Facebook in an effort to encourage people to write to the company and state their dissatisfaction with the HBCU oversight. Reid’s fan base grew significantly and her group has more than 700 members.

Dent contacted Reid through the Facebook group. “I reached out to her because she was a fan of the brand. I wanted her to know that we were not being insensitive,” Dent said at the time.

Dent said that the company had been in contact with many of the HBCUs months prior to Reid’s Facebook site and that she did not play a part in their decision to launch the line of HBCU apparel.

I may not be an HBCU Alum—I’m actually a GW Colonial–but given that Howard University is such a big part of the city I live in I may cop a shirt or two.

Momma’s Boys: Xenophobia on Parade?

So last night, I–and I’m sure some of you–tuned in to watch the season premiere of NBC’s Momma’s Boys. The premise of the show is that 32 women compete for the heart of 3 men. The twist is that these 32 women also have to get past the men’s mothers…who are very particular about the kind of girl their sons bring home.

When I met my man’s mother for the first time last year, I was naturally nervous. I knew they were close and I was worried that maybe she would be mean or wouldn’t like me. But when I met her, it wasn’t that way at all. She was really sweet and friendly, and never made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for her son.

But these moms on here? Hell no.

First, let’s get to the make up of the girls. Some of the girls are stereotypical “good girls,” the ones that the moms will “like” the most….nurses, teachers, grad students, etc. And then, some of the girls are “bad girls” the ones they will not like as much…ie, playboy models (oh noes!)

Secondly, I’ll start by saying that I don’t really have a beef with the first two moms–they seem to genuinely want their boys to meet someone nice, even though they are a little intrusive. Why can’t the sons be trusted to pick out their OWN girlfriends without their momma all in it? I will say that I found Esther, another bachelor’s mother to be the most stereotypical “Jewish Mom” archetype I’ve ever seen….and I knew that perhaps this was a bad way to start off. She uses yiddishims like “verklempt.”

But I digress.

Everything was cool til I met Khalood, Jo-Jo’s mom. Oh Boy.

In her video to the girls, she announces that she’s not with the “Black/White Thing” and that she does not like non-Catholic girls, Asian girls, etc. Basically, she doesn’t want her son with anyone who isn’t like her….nevermind the fact that she’s Middle Eastern. She wants a girl who is white and catholic.


But wait, it gets better.

Vita, a beautiful brown skinned lady with two degrees who works as a nurse for the military, lets Jo-Jo’s Momma know that they saw the video and that the ladies are PISSED. She tells her that her son can date whoever he wants, and as a member of the US Army, she spends her time defending “the likes of [Khalood]!” [1]

Things got heated, words were exchanged, the Mom claims she has Black friends (ugh) and before we know it, Khalood exclaims,

“I’m not racist, I’m darker than you, bitch!”

Oh Sweet Jesus.

Quicker than I could say, “oh hell no!” they cut to credits.

I don’t know what to think of all this. I’m disgusted that they are making this woman’s xenophobia as entertainment and as a way to stir the pot so that they can create drama and tension between the non-white non-catholic girls. She was so matter of factly about her views in her video, and then when the women say they saw her video she proudly says, “yeah, you saw that huh?”

It was just unreal. I almost hope this chick is just showing off for the camera and isn’t really like this, but I can’t help to think that she truly is this xenophobic. I use that term decidedly, as I am not sure if this is necessarily racism. It’s more so xenophobia because Khalood seems to have a great sense of fear and discomfort of “strange” people, that is to say people who are not like her. I would be remiss if I did not say that Vita deserves kudos for giving Khalood a piece of her mind.

Now let’s get to the gender side of things. At first I wanted to say, “man this foolishness is no different from Flavor of Love“. But the main differences are 1.-the girls aren’t necessarily as trashy or as cartoonish and 2.-the men on here are actually pretty attractive. But the biggest similarity I see is that these 32 women are competing for the hearts of THREE men, who are so lame that they gotta rely on their mommies to help them find a decent women. Who really wants a man like that?

It’s just another example of how media portrays women as desperate, sad, single gals who will do anything to find a husband or a boyfriend. And don’t get me started on how it makes the mothers look…completely dramatic and overbearing when it comes to their grown ass sons’ personal lives. Esther, the stereotypical “Jewish Mother” comes to mind.

I’m not sure if I will be watching this one regularly, because the fact that racism, xenophobia and  sexism is prevailing as a form of entertainment just makes me sick to my stomach.

[1] i realize that this point is problematic as it implies that the iraq war was about freedom. however, i think this is more about the fact that Vita is in fact, a great catch who is both educated and a military woman but who will not be accepted by Khalood.