Tag Archives: Civil Rights Movement

#Ferguson Has Changed My Career Path

12 Sep

ACTIVISMIf you’re like me and a lot of other people with emotions, you’ve been upset by the events in Ferguson. Yes I’m still talking about Ferguson one month after the murder of Michael Brown. There’s still a lot going down in Ferguson right now.

Now that the police are no longer wreaking havoc in riot gear, citizens are now filing lawsuits against the Ferguson Police Dept. and the city, community members are demanding answers at city council meetings, and the state government is looking into cases of police brutality all over Missouri.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting comfortably at my desk wondering what I can do.

As I’ve said in previous posts, I want to be more than a writer. I love writing, but I want to do more than raise awareness. I want to be at the center of the change.

So I decided to get off my ass, leave my computer screen for a while, and rethink how I can better participate in the change that is so needed in our society. Lately, I’ve felt called to community activism.

There’s a myth that young black people don’t care about our communities, and that we are too lazy to work for justice and peace. I used to believe that too—until I was introduced to several community organizations ran by mullenials.

They are the ones who will make a difference. They are the leaders—the ones who care enough about devastating racial divides in our nation to do something about it. And with enough care, support, leadership, and hard work—maybe we’ll see a continuation of the Civil Rights Movement (Lord knows we need it).

Sure, I may sound a little idealist—but no one creates any type of change without first believing that it can be done. I mean, if we all thought the situation was hopeless, no one would try.

I want to be among the people that try. I want to be among the people who give a shit and do something about it.

So I’m working toward building the necessary skills to be a successful activist: I plan to join an LA-based community organization, attend Toastmasters meetings (gotta work on my public speaking), study the civil and women’s rights movements in depth to draw inspiration and ideas from their successes, and maintain my eternal optimist spirit.

Yes, I’m a dreamer. But I’m a dreamer with a plan to succeed.

 

P.S.: I want to apologize for the fewer posts. I’m working full-time and going to school in the evenings. It hasn’t been easy. Yet, I do have new writing goals: I’m aiming to publish in bigger publications, like Ebony, The Grio, Salon, The Root, and several other places. My goal is to publish an article once or twice a month. I’m truly sorry about the infrequency—It pains me to even miss a week of publishing on A Womyn’s Worth. But this is only a temporary situation. Soon I’ll go back to publishing once or twice a week. You all can hold me to that.

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How to Change the Image of Women in Hip Hop

19 Mar

How to Change the Image of Women in Hip Hop: from Powerlessness to Activism

Lately I’ve been hearing a collective complaint regarding the image of black women in the media: There’s nothing we can do about it.

In an interview with Clear Channel (a large mass media company), activists from an organization called FAANMAIL explained that people don’t feel empowered enough to change hip hop’s portrayal black women. People don’t feel like they can’t make a difference because of the large entities they are up against.

Yes, the task will be challenging.

When challenging misogyny and racism in the media, you’re up against powerful companies with billions of dollars, that control what airs on TV and the radio, and employ several destructively influential hip hop artists, reality TV stars, and insatiable businessmen that all act as a collective Goliath.

That’s why people don’t try.

But we need to get out of this powerless state of mind. It’s not the government, the industry, or “the system,” that suppresses our voice—it’s the belief that we can’t do it that stagnates progress. Our feelings of powerlessness are partly the reason the image of black women in the media is what it is: an uneducated, hypersexed, “big booty hoe” with no concept of manners or self-respect.

However, change is not impossible. People have already made tremendous strides. Several organizations, such as FAANMAIL and Truth in Reality, work to change the image of black women in the media. In addition, we’ve all heard about how one writer, Sabrina Lamb, started the petition that canceled the show All My Babies Mamas. This is just the first step.

More work must be done—and it cannot solely happen online. It’s great to raise awareness through petitions on Change.org and social media, but armchair activism cannot replace live effort.

Activism online is too easy, and as the Harvard Crimson puts it, “Effective activism that creates lasting change takes effort and is often very frustrating. In fact, if an action is shiny, prepackaged, easy, and does not require any research or other sort of effort on the doer’s part, that is probably a sign that it is not going to be highly effective. If we hope to make a difference, it is essential that we are critical of such representations.”

In other words, real activism requires you to leave your computer screen and get your ass off of the couch (Ironically, I need to take my own advice. Blogging is a start; but, it’s not enough).

Here are some ideas on how to get active:

  • Connect with like-minded individuals.
  • Partner with organizations that are already doing the work
  • Host public rallies to show others there is a group that cares about the issue.
  • Use social media to its fullest extent
  • Involve local newspapers to spread the word
  • Get corporate sponsors (I know this may be easier said than done…yet still possible)
  • Try focusing on what changes you would like to see in the media (explaining what you don’t like is good, but giving examples of what you would like shows potential)

Of course, all of this will not happen overnight. But its the perseverance, dedication, and passion that gets things done.

“No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”

~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Recommended Link: http://faanmail.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/talk-back-our-conversation-with-clear-channel-about-community-concerns/

Lil Wayne and Black History Month

26 Feb

At the close of Black History Month, I want share 2 images I found on the internet that display why this month is so crucial. (they’re tiny so you may have to click on them).

21st century Venus Hottentot

I found this image on Facebook yesterday, but  I’d first learned of Saartjie Baartman (Sarah is her English name) at the very beginning of this month while doing some research for my thesis*. Saartijie was put display in London as a human freak show, and called the Venus Hottentot. During my research, I read “How Not to be a 21st Century Venus Hottentot,” where writer Fatima N. Muhammad compares video girls and hyper-sexed female rappers to Venus Hottentot, as they too are examined and put on display for their body parts.  She explains that mainstream hip hop has adopted racist 19th century ideas.

I don’t think anyone could argue with that after Lil Wayne’s offensive comment about Emmit Till in his song “Karate Chop Remix.”

Lil Wayne Emmit Till

I found this picture on Faanmail’s site (Thanks FAANMAIL! I love your posts).

Since the song leaked, the line “beat that pussy up like Emmit Til,” has been pulled from the song, and Till’s family has asked the rapper for an apology. Wayne has yet to respond. I’m not holding my breath. Anyone who thought putting that line in a song was ok has no respect for the Civil Rights Movement and isn’t real enough to own up to their mistakes.

Someone needs to strap him to a chair and make him watch all 14 hours of Eyes on the Prize.

But I’m not one bit in shock that Wanye would say something like that. It’s not the first racist thing to come out of a rappers mouth.

And it’s hardly different from his song “Mrs. Officer,” when he says, “Rodney King baby yeah I beat it like a cop.”

Once again he managed to disrespect women and diminish the importance of a tragic event in black history in just a few short words.

This line from Lil Wayne and the image of Saartijie Baartman portray the necessity for Black History Month and year-round community education, as history has already began to repeat itself.

Further Reading

Muhammad, Fatimah. “How NOT to Be a 21st Century Venus Hottentots.” Home Girls Make Some Noise: Hip Hop Feminism Anthology. Ed. Gwendolyn D. Pough, Elaine Richardson, Aisha Durham, and Rachel Raimist. Mira Loma: Parker, LLC, 2007. 115-140. Print.

http://faanmail.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/talk-back-lil-wayne-epic-records-and-sony-entertainment/

*My thesis is on the image of black women in hip hop. I explore how male rappers talk about vaginas in comparison to how woman rappers do. In addition, I look at how a rapper’s ethos is built on a racist and sexist ideology. It has to be at least 25 pages due in early April. Clocks Ticking!

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