The West Indies is a Country.

just stopSo, major American newspapers have really been getting it wrong on race lately. If Alessandra Stanley isn’t obnoxious enough, the Washington Post has more cheerful, dangerous, racist ignorance to offer us, courtesy of a man who discovered a “colorful” Indo-Guyanese community in Queens just before National Genocide Celebration Day Columbus Day. Like, how all West Indians “sound like Bob Marley”, and how OMG, did you know that there are INDIANS from INDIA in Guyana? And that they speak “Creole-sounding words”? Etcetera. The media are not our friends. Grumpy-cat-nope

Missing the train.

It is always a surprise to see her.

On this last occasion, I was taken aback because I was on my own turf, busy creating a new version of my old life. It was Monday morning, and notwithstanding the cruel end to a weekend, I was ready. My stubbornly plump figure notwithstanding, I was well dressed, in the new gold-tipped, leopard print smoking flats. My locs crinkled past my shoulders, thick and full, awaiting the compliments to which they had become accustomed. I had resolved to be confident, physical shortcomings and all, because confidence is half the battle.

I did not expect to see her, and I certainly did not expect her to see me–neither did I expect that we would notice each other. In fact, I only noticed that she was present because of the feeling I had, on the platform, awaiting an express train, was that someone–one of the hundreds of people trying to stuff themselves on an overcrowded A train–was looking at me.

I saw her before I believed I saw her. What was she doing here? She was, as always, physically flawless. Petite, svelte–things I am not and will likely never be. Her skin glowed. Her hair extensions were perfectly attached, and looked natural. She was one of those women who looked like they were wearing makeup even when they weren’t, and when they did wear makeup, their natural beauty was only enhanced. We did not have the same style, as hers was distinctly Native Urban New Yorker, but it always worked for her.

And yet, as insecure as I felt, as I decided whether or not to fight for a micro-spot on the train while she, too, saw, and then confirmed, that it was me, that I was still in town, or back in town, depending on what she had heard, I was not envious and admiring, as I had once been.

I knew too much now, about how she used her beauty and talent at the expense of others, with no regard for how it hurt others–other women, who simply wanted to guard what she wanted to acquire. She had tried to enroll me in a game, and play me, without my knowledge, having assumed that I, too was a hustler. She assumed we would compete for the same illicit prize, and that I deserved whatever came my way, because there is no honor among thieves. It had never occurred to her that I was not a thief, that I had faith. And so, she did not warn. She did not mentor. She did not protect.

She preferred to rule.

And she assumed that her throne was guaranteed, but she was the devil’s queen, and the devil has no loyalty. So, here we were, in the same place once again, and far removed from each other. I, bruised. She, wounded. Even if I was one of only a few who knew I was innocent, we all knew she was guilty. And now she was wearing the pain she had inflicted on others like a necklace, reflecting the confusion in which she was willing to let me drown, in her big, beautiful eyes. Her anger was dull, and matter-of-fact because in her mind, we were jousting, and though I was less qualified than she, less cunning, less street-smart, I had won her sick game without even doing her the honor of playing a round.

“Stand clear of the closing doors.”

I stepped back. She lithely slipped onto the train. With her looks, some man–maybe somebody else’s man–would make room for her, if only temporarily. But I take up too much space. I do not share. I do not fight. I do not steal seats, or step on toes, because then you have to ride the train with people who hate you. And if you survive–if you survive–that long seven minutes to 59th street, you will still never outlive your reputation.

Doors closing.



Fight or flight? Great, thoughtful post…

Originally posted on Fledgling:

duboisOn Thursday I was sitting at my desk listening to NPR when they announced Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation. I felt my eyes filling with tears and immediately thought of W.E.B. DuBois’ decision to surrender his U.S. passport and move to Ghana after a lifetime of fighting for social justice. Holder insists he hasn’t been pushed out by Republicans who have been calling for his resignation for years; it seems his wife was worried about his health and God knows his body must be weary from fighting the good fight for 6 years in D.C. Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time inside my head and when I return to the real world I see or hear an echo—a ghost. Holder conjures DuBois, Viola Davis fights backwhen the NY Times calls her ugly and I think about Audre Lorde’s important reminder: “For to survive in the mouth of…

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Today, I turn 29 years old. I don’t know what that means, per se, but I feel like it’s time for me to get anything of mine that’s not together all the way together.

I’ve only recently been forced out of adolescence, what with the acquisition of a stepson and a husband (in that order), a new grown woman job, a household to manage. I could swear that my cat looks at me from time to time, as I’m in the middle of deciding whether I’m going to hold it together or fall apart when I’m up against my will at 6:45 am trying to drag Baby B to school, willing me to “keep it tight, Jackson. Keep it tight, and make sure you don’t forget to scoop my poo and change my water.”

28 was so traumatic that it taught me how to not give a damn about: 1) things I can’t change; 2) things that will work themselves out; and 3) things that aren’t really my business. I learned how to take life in stride, how to worry slightly less than normal, and how to be slightly more patient than comes natural. It also began to teach me how to allocate my energy and my time, how to center myself in my purpose.

I have grown folks’ business to which I must attend. I am on this earth to stir things up, to provide voice for the silent and voiceless. I am here to write, to teach, to sing, and dance. I am here to dream and discern, to warn, and advise. I am here to organize, strategize and resist.  So, my promise to 29 is that I will dig ever more deeply into a faith that has preserved, promoted, and provided for me, and that I will walk more firmly in my commitment to fighting, scheming, and screaming for human rights–especially for women, and everyone else to whom rights are systematically denied.

I make this promise because though I am not necessarily fit to share space with them, I am here to carry forth the work of warrior women who came before me. I am a daughter of Queen Nanny, the revered and legendary community organizer, resister, healer, counselor, and colonialism’s worst enemy on the island of Jamaica. The blood of inwardly liberated women–liberators–runs through my veins. I am here to empower while speaking truth to power. I am here to dismantle and create, to correct and to encourage, to eviscerate and to give life. I am a woman, and I belong here, in the fullness of my being. QueenNanny

Ain’t I a Human? On the Fairweather “Brothers” Who Need NFL Football this Fall…


I thought Ferguson had awakened us, but many of us are still fast asleep.

In the wake of TMZ’s release of a video* of Ray Rice’s brutal attack on his then-fiancee, now-wife, Janay Rice, the responses from many were predictable, boring, and utterly exhausting. Despite the fact that the video shows Ray Rice spitting on his fiancee before punching her, and then punching her unconscious, before casually standing over her body and then dragging her, limp, out of an elevator, many people were more focused on what the victim might have done wrong.

Why did she marry him? Is she a gold-digger? Was she talking too much? Did she, no physical match for her fiance, hit him? Had she really been spit upon?

And then there was the apathy: Despite the fact that the video footage revealed the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens, and the relevant law enforcement officers to be liars, conspirators, and misogynists (yes, even the female prosecutor) who covered up Rice’s brutal attack for a host of financial, commercial, and deeply cultural reasons, many folks have decided that they do, in fact, want and even need to watch Monday Night Football this evening. Because football > women’s rights to be liberated from systemic gender-based violence. Because those watched football this evening are PARTICIPANTS–tacit, or otherwise, in a culture of systemic gender-based violence.

This disgusting response has transcended ethnicity, race, gender, educational attainment, and class. We have all, at some level, been indoctrinated into our culture of victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and rape-condoning. We still believe that what a man does with an intimate female partner is that man’s business because that woman is his property, at some level of our subconscious. In the words of Deion Sanders (words that no one has requested since the late 1990s), we should be praying for the Rice’s marriage and otherwise be staying out of their private business–advice too many Black women have heard in church concerning what to do with an abusive spouse. We have to buy into this garbage and sell it to others, too, if we are meant to be able to enjoy professional football this season.

While that alone enrages me, I am particularly indignant vis-a-vis all the so-called revolutionary, activist Black brothers who were recently on the front lines of protest in support of Mike Brown (though even he seems to be old news now, in September…his murder was sooo August 2014, it seems…we are fickle, and, well, football season is upon us). I have come to accept that though I was willing to spend a Saturday morning in Staten Island marching for Mike Brown, Reverend Al and his ilk will never, ever organize a march for all of the identified and unidentified black women that police officer Daniel Holtzclaw raped in Oklahoma City, neither will they be issuing any statements in condemnation of Ray Rice’s abject brutality. Black women are meant to be supporters of the black male agendae; we are never the agenda. Ours are the bodies upon which Black men practice rape before completing a perfected act upon White women, per Eldridge Cleaver. And if we’re lucky, if we’re very lucky, we get to be pressured into marrying a (Black) man (Black women are still disproportionately expected to date and marry Black men, even though Black men are free to be with whomever they choose) who beats us unconscious because we are taught that we need a man, and that if we find a man with money who wants to “wife” us, we’d better stay with him, because what the hell else are we good for, anyway…

What I cannot accept, and will not accept, particularly after Ferguson, is the rhetorical double-speak in which many of my “brothers” are engaging, concerning Janay Rice. While we righteously protest the attempts of folks in the media and elsewhere to cast aspersions on Michael Brown’s character and personal history, too many Black men have insisted that Janay Rice’s personal choices may have justified Ray Rice’s attack. While we understand that nothing that Michael Brown did warranted him being gunned down by Darren Wilson in the absence of a firearm in Brown’s possession, no matter if he had a criminal record, or stole cigars, or if he mouthed off at the police, too many fail to understand that the same rules apply to gender-based attacks. While we have rejected colorblind equivocations and deflections–irrelevant queries about the much-exaggerated prevalence Black-on-Black crimes and disingenuous claims that Black people systematically brutalize White people or otherwise systematically express anti-White racism–the damning video of Ray Rice literally knocking Janay Rice unconscious in an elevator has been met with purportedly gender-blind proclamations that “well, neither women or men should hit each other”, which are specifically meant to distract us from the reality that men brutalize women daily, worldwide, and discredit brutalized women’s disproportionate experiences of disproportionate violence.

I am enraged because I must now accept that Black men’s deceptive culture of gender oppression is absolutely no different from the modes and means used to maintain and preserve White supremacy and racial domination in the United States. Indeed, it has recently become clear that many Black men, in fighting racism, have never sought liberation from neo-liberal White Supremacy, but access to its tropes, tools, and benefits. They have sought equality with their oppressors, not liberation from their oppressors, and certainly not for Black women. Just as Black people are not human in the United States, but thugs, welfare queens, monkeys, and a host of slurs, hip-hop artists who protested in Ferguson constantly refer to Black women as bitches, hoes, while others refer to us as “light butts” or “dark butts”. Lil’ Wayne, who was recently outraged by a tape of Donald Sterling’s racist tirade, is featured on infamous woman-beater Chris Brown’s “These Hoes Ain’t Loyal” and also talked about “beat[ing] that pussy up like Emmett Till” on another track. As to the latter, much outrage was expressed by his disrespectful reference to Emmett Till, but not to the violent sexual imagery.**

Rape culture was never to be dismantled, neither a culture of domestic violence, neither sexism in the Church or other religious institutions. Patriarchy has always been a key ingredient in many Black men’s recipe for freedom, and Black women, as always, have been expected to do the cooking. After all, just as the United States has always depended upon a permanent Black underclass for its economic, social, and political survival, men will never feel like kings without subjects, or more specifically, enslaved harems. For too many Black men, it seems, racial justice means little more than acquiring the means to make enough money, so that they can afford to buy a wife to slap around. And that’s why they can’t see–won’t see–the parallels between Janay Rice and Michael Brown. And that’s why so many of them will be watching football this fall, angrily dreaming for an end to structural and institutional racism that will never actualize so long as they fail to check their misogyny and knock it unconscious.


* I decline to provide a hyperlink to the video, which, I believe, further dehumanizes and degrades Janay Rice.  Even in the absence of the complete video footage, sufficient evidence existed to demonstrate, beyond a shadow of doubt, that Ray Rice brutalized her and should have been held accountable by the criminal justice system, as well as in the court of public opinion, months ago.

** I decline to provide hyperlinks to crap rap misogynoir.

Detroit Flood Insurance Map 1981


Very, very interesting…

Originally posted on DETROITography:

Detroit FEMA 1981

This map (with an interesting take on the Detroit border) is unfortunately timely in its discovery after the recent flooding. The map is a part of a 1981 study of flood insurance and flood plain issues in Detroit.

“This Flood Insurance Study investigates the existence and severity of flood hazards in the City of Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, [...]“

The study was to cover areas of low development for potential upcoming flood risk as far into the future as 1983 and there was a focus on the shoreline because it was highly developed and “susceptible to flooding and erosion.” The report later notes that the shoreline area of the City of Detroit had a very low likelihood of flooding. There haven’t been ferry boats on Downtown streets since composite photography made some stunning fake postcards in the early 20th century.

Source: Detroit Historical Society

The 1970s also saw some serious…

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Companies that got rich from Slavery



Originally posted on Kushite Kingdom:

History has consistently shown that slavery has diminished the quality of life for African Americans and simultaneously enhanced the quality of life for White Americans. From institutionalized racism to blocked social and economic opportunities, African Americans are often excluded of African Americans.

Apologies cannot compensate an entire race of people for all of the social and economic ills they face as a result of their enslavement. They cannot address the residual effects of slavery. They cannot provide job opportunities to a race of people who are experiencing high unemployment rates. Apologies without action from the very systems they helped to create. Had it not been for slave labor, many corporations would not be where they are today and for these companies to acknowledge their involvement in slavery and then simply say ‘Oh, I’m sorry”, is to downplay their role in perpetuating the degradation are nothing more than a futile attempt…

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Detroit citizens transported back to Stone Age


Spot on analysis, from Dakar, Senegal

Originally posted on Phantive Blog:

The United States of America. The self-professed “greatest country in the world”; the “land of the free.”

Anyone who knows me knows that I would beg to differ. And perhaps, so would the people of Detroit, Michigan.

Detroit used to be a bustling metropolis. In the early 20th century, it established itself as the world’s automotive capital, and during the 1950’s to 70’s, it was a prosperous city thanks to the thriving auto industry. It’s also the home of Motown, Berry Gordy’s record company (which is now a nickname for Detroit, as well as the musical genre), which was played a large role in racially integrating music and entertainment.

Despite all of the commercialism and creativity that the city was known for, there was also volatile racial tension, not to mention a Klu Klux Klan presence that surfaced in the 1920’s. The city’s decline has resulted in…

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back to reality

Originally posted on Fledgling:

IMG_2296My flight home from Dakar was not a happy one, but I’m not going to dwell on that here. I got home safely on Tuesday and my luggage followed two days later. My little car rapide got dinged up a bit but everything else was ok. Now that I have my power cords, I can pick up where I left off with my writing. I spent two days indoors—partly because I was waiting for my suitcase to be delivered and partly because I wasn’t ready to leave my bubble. The Novotel in Dakar was the perfect place for me; the staff was friendly and helpful but not at all intrusive (except for the housekeeping lady who would enter the room regardless of the “do not disturb” sign on the door). It was quiet and I was able to write without any real distractions—and despite ordering room service twice a day…

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