BWAAAAHAHAHAHA! Ahhhh, it’s funny ’cause it’s true.
Posted tagged ‘Stop Being Such a Bitch!’
N-Bomb Chronicles, Entry Three: I now have “shakes” and night sweats. If I am to make it through the rest of this month, I am going to need a gag order for these wockaflockas.
During moments when the n-bomb hangs dangerously in the air, I have taken to defacing pictures of Tyler Perry. He hasn’t said/done anything particularly ill-advised recently that I’m aware of. I just don’t like him.
Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh. Now THAT’S how you spell “relief.”
::: blink :::
::: jaw drop :::
Sweet, minty Jayzus Haysoos Buddha Ahura Mazda [open to interfaith suggestions for this mess. In fact, you know what, just call EVERYBODY. They also don't have to be minty. Sweet, cinnamony Ganesha will work just fine].
I could say a lot - a LOT - about my Latino brothers and sisters and the conscious reinforcement of culturally reified, racist systems of shame. But that would be grossly unfair to the proud Afro-Latinos/Latinas out there, particularly the ones who I am blessed to call my chosen family. Even though, truth be told, a few of my buddies who should know better sheepishly acknowledge that they either have or likely will succumb to family and social pressure to marry White and “improve” the race. (Aaaaand even though ”proud Afro-Latino/Latina” seems to be the exception…not the rule. SIGH. See? I should leave it alone.) Besides, the visuals for this sadness speak for themselves.
Lord. I can’t take this shit AND Good Hair, y’all. Someone come hold me.
(*”Shaming the ancestors” comes courtesy of the amazingly wonderful dopegirlfresh, through whom all internet fuckery flows.)
In other words, things you throw together to create a single cohesive item/experience. It’s been a while since my last post, and months since I put some original content up here. There are a lot of reasons for that, not the least of which is the fact that Twitter is voraciously consuming my day-to-day sparkly creative brilliance.
If you need your Fiqah fix, I’m over here, acting up. Please be advised that my tweets are alternately raw, preachy and ridiculous – comme moi. So, yeah, they’re pretty flippin’ awesome.
I’m currently working on several long-assed, hyper-involved posts, gearing up for NaNoWriMo, and otherwise (re)adjusting to une vie au marais. In the process, I have discarded several blog post ideas that for whatever reason have not completely panned out. It occurred to me that some of the ideas were pretty good, but not in a stand-alone way. What do you do with something that’s not good enough to use by itself, but is too good to just chuck away? Why, you mash it up, of course!
That’s not really what I was going for. Hmmm. ::: snaps fingers ::: Got it! This post is like…a bunch of tapas and a lotta really good wine instead of the meatloaf-and-gravy you usually get here.
Ehhhhh? Much better, right? Yup. Aright.
People of color in general and trans and cis women of color in particular are disproportionately under-insured in this country, and if this healthcare crap doesn’t come together soon, we will continue to be disproportionately represented among the dead. That’s not just empty statistic inflation. For me and millions of others, it is a day-to-day cold, hard fact. Of the people of color in my immediate social circle (25 or so, all under 44 years of age), seven of us are uninsured, and five of us Uninsured-erinos are cis women of color. We are staving off deadly flus, both swine and regular, with vitamins, Echinacea and syncretic faith rituals. (Yes. Really.) Now, some folks might think it’s alright that in a country that stockpiles antibiotics/antivirals/antideath medicines my people are forced to enlist the aid of the spirit world and the dubious healing properties of the coneflower in order to stay healthy. Personally, I think it sucks. I think it sucks big ole hairy donkey balls. So, instead of pitching a fit about it in a post, I decided to learn more about it, and have been quietly agitating my governmental representatives in both states for weeks. I encourage you to do the same.
In a small effort to stop and correct the erasure of trans men and womens’ experiences from various types of dialogue…I am committing myself to using the terms “trans” and “cis.” It’s part of an ongoing effort to educate myself (and hopefully other like-minded but ignant cis folks) about what it means to truly advocate for real social justice. Privilege has this nasty tendency to be invisible until it is pointed out. (“Progressive” cis women and men are just as guilty of this as not progressive people.) So…point point pointy point point.
Mother Nature is still the boss of you, me, and the whole wide world. My mama raised me to have a dual appreciation of my selves. This means that I was raised to understand just how big (a lovely, kind, talented and bright child of eternal God) I am as well as just how small (powerless in the face of the awesome wrath of nature, a pawn of the Fates, morally flawed, unquestionably mortal, a speck of a speck of a speck’s speckled speck in the Cosmos and prone to the occasional “owie”) I am. This is the contradictory duality of the human experience. There’s a reason why at the sub-atomic level everything in existence is composed of essentially the same shit, and I firmly believe that part of that reason is to keep mankind appropriately humbled. Nothing drives that point home for me more clearly than hard-core weather and sudden violent seismic activity.*
An amazing friend of mine wrote a very touching post about the recent natural disasters in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim. He linked this relief organization, and since every little bit really does help, I encourage you to at least look at the services offered and their greatest areas of need. I say this because I mean it: a better world really does start with you. Yes, it does. Yes, I know, shit is rough, and we are all struggling. But if you flushed your terlet with clean water today, then dammit, you have it pretty good. Not because you deserve to, but because you are lucky. Here’s a quick compassion exercise. The next time you see or read about someone catching hell through no fault of their own, before you judge and distance yourself from their situation and humanity, say this: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” And then, you know, go work on being less of an asshole.
The agony irritation of self-labelling. So someone who has become very dear to me in a series of months did an amazing write-up via Twitter about why calling oneself an “ally” is problematic. In a nutshell, she said, it’s kinda like coming up to someone, declaring that you wanna be their best friend, and INSISTING that they recognize you as such. The concept of an ally, when you put it like that, is…well, it’s obnoxious as hell! I have struggled with the term “feminist” over the years as well, specifically because feminism as it is popularly expressed speaks to, for and about straight cis able-bodied White women (I’m looking at YOU, Jezebel) and often either ignores or silences the experiences of any woman who lives outside of those categories. That’s also obnoxious as hell. SIGH. Still haven’t quite figured this one out yet, really.
Dear White people: Black people tan. On purpose. (Really.) This was actually something I mentioned on Teh Twitteh. While relaxing on the GOOAHGEOUS white sand beaches of my home state, I attracted quite a bit of gawking from White people, who seemed to be baffled at what was clearly my intentional sunbathing. One woman in particular stared, openly and rudely, as I happily basked in the golden sunshine and patently ignored her. As fate would have it, we rode the same bus back to my city’s downtown area. I happened to be sitting behind her and was treated to an up-close view of her disgustingly mottled, prematurely aging back. Now, here’s my question: if you DON’T have eumelanin (and if you freckle in the sun, then you don’t) why the fuck are YOU tanning?
Dear White cis women: Stop referring to YOURSELVES as “White girls.” A recent email exchange with a White cis woman who strongly identifies as a feminist bugged the shit out of me. Why? Because she referred to herself, in so many words, as a well-meaning, progressive-thinking “White girl” who was just tryna figure it all out. SIIIIIIGGGGGGHHHHH. She didn’t mean to work my nerves. But the fact that so many White cis women are hesitant to refer to themselves as adults speaks a LOT to sexism and White gendered privilege. Self-infantilazation does not help the movement(s), anymore than the fetishization and co-opting of the pain (i.e., “strength” ) of trans and cis women of color helps. This shit is toxic. For you, and for all of us. Recognize.
Here’s some stuff you need to know about Black women. Lisa said it better than I could. Yes, indeed.
Steve Harvey’s an asshole. I feel like that one writes itself. I mean, a thrice-divorced philanderer giving romantic advice? And in THOSE suits? C’mon, now.
This concludes the hash post. OH! One last thing about soap bits – you can make eco-friendly art with them!
Read all about the Accumulation project, and don’t let anybody tell you that beauty can’t be crafted from bits, pieces, scraps and…ehr-um…chunklets.
*THIS IS NOT TO SUGGEST THAT ANYONE DESERVES TO SUFFER FROM THE DEVESTATING IMPACT OF NATURAL DISASTERS. I wanna make that clear. One issue I have with Gaea theorists is the idea of the natural disaster as collective punishment for ”sins” commited against the earth. People in nations with smaller GDPs and less governmental infrastructure are impacted more heavily and for longer by natural disasters than wealthier countries. But the worst ecological offenders – the greediest consumers, the highest per capita polluters – are wealthier, “developed” nations. Soooo until I hear about a hurricane leveling the Hamptons and ALL the Bush family residences, I’m giving Gaea theorists the side-eye.
From the Fuckery Machine we call Life: Tyler Perry is scheduled to direct Ntozake Shange’s seminal “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf.”
The following is a list of my tweets about this egregious unfolding of events.
- So I’m going through your tweets and apparently that nightmare I had about Tyler Perry and “Colored Girls” actually happened.
- I KNEW that “Star Trek” cameo would go to his head.
- If Madea shows up in this movie in any way, shape, or form I’m gonna snatch Tyler Perry’s wig and beat the living shit outta him with it.
- Dear Tyler Perry: You have (ganked snatched stolen) been handed a classic and important body of work. Don’t fuck it up.
- Dear Tyler Perry: If there’s a whiff of “White Collar Sistas Need 2 give Blue Collar Brothas a Chance” in “Colored Girls”, I will HURT you.
- Dear Tyler Perry: If you make anyone a Baptist minister, TRUST that I will have a pot of boiling hot grits at the ready to throw on you.
- Dear Tyler Perry: Let’s play “Two Words.” “Colored Girls.” Too good. Too important. For you. Let go. Step back. Fuck off. Hot grits.
- I’ll stop threatening people with hot grits. For now. ::: side-eyes the planet :::
That’s about all I could get in 140 characters or less. I wish I had virtual tomatoes to throw.
I’ve found that many heterosexual men with healthy libidos are often unfairly labelled - mostly by women – as sexist pigs. This is most unfortunate. Some of the best men I’ve been blessed to know have been feminist and progressive, but often faced criticism from sex-positive and otherwise like-minded women because of their active sex drives and lives.
As tough as I can sometimes be, I do like to give Good Guys a break. This test was thrown together devised to determine whether or not you are merely blessed with a vigorous libido…or if your penis is getting in the way of your personal evolution. Good luck!
The Hornball or Sleazeball Test for Men
You will need a pen or a pencil and one or more sheets of writing paper for this exercise. Time: 15 minutes.
1. Taking your pen, draw a vertical line down the middle of your sheet of paper to create two equally-sized vertical columns.
2. Label the column on the left with the following heading: “Women I Respect, Admire, Like and/or Regard As Peers.” You may include celebrities.
3. Label the column on the right with the following heading: “Chicks I Wanna Bone.” You may include celebrities.
4. List all the women who fall into either of these categories for you. You may list the same woman in both lists.
5. Count the women listed in the left column. Note the number.
6. Count the women listed in the right column. Note the number.
7. Count the women who appear in both columns. Note the number, and add it the number from the left column.
8. Divide the combined number from the left column by the number from the right one.
9. Brace yourself, homie.
Score 1 or higher – Hornball
Congratulations! You’re a certified hornball! You might lead with your dick, but you don’t let your dick necessarily lead you. Your healthy sex drive is enhanced by a healthy perspective of women, who you see as complex human beings, just like yourself… but with delightfully-touchable parts. Women adore you, so you probably have lots of female friends, as well as a good number of former lovers who regard you fondly, and/or a history of loving, reciprocal relationships. Conversation may not arouse you the way foreplay does, but you’re a saavy enough lover to understand that really good sex starts in a woman’s head, and you know just how to get there. You may or may not be the “settling down” type or even remotely monogamous, but it’s a safe bet that the women whose lives you passed through are eternally grateful that you did. Stay horny.
Score less than 1 – Sleazeball
Wow. You’re a sleazeball. You know those jerks out there who make it hard for decent guys to have a woman give them the time of day? Well, you’re one of ‘em, a pig whose interest in any woman is predicated almost totally on her perceived physical attractiveness to you. Women to you are an interchangeable assemblage of parts and fuckholes…and you probably treat them that way, in and outside the bedroom. Any attempt at emotional intimacy with you is impossible because you lack the capacity to be emotionally vulnerable. This may be due to some early emotional trauma – if so, you’re gonna want to get therapy as soon as you can. You probably don’t have a lot of female friends because you’re an asshole. Your male friends think you’re an asshole, too, but have in all likelihood convinced themselves that you’re “just being a guy.” Which works out great for you, because their girlfriends – who you have secretly hit on - are pretty hot. Hopefully, your appalling lack of spiritual growth is due to youth and lack of life experience. However, if you’re over thirty-five, and this behavioral pattern hasn’t significantly changed since your days as a young buck, I recommend immediate outside intervention. Otherwise, you’ll look up one day and find that you’ve turned into That Dude At The Club. You know, the one who’s not too “old”…but who’s really too old to be there? Yeahhhhh. Euw.
Some background: for most of my adult life, I have been a fugitive from religion, the monotheistic “Big Three”, anyway. (Sorry, any faith doctrine that includes an interventionist, anthropomorphic, masculine god/godhead is prolly gonna earn some side-eye from me.) Because my sociopolitical views and general life philosophy are widely regarded as “radical,” the decision to not participate in often conservative organized religion was a sensible and organic one. The Bébé Fiqah trauma that led to my adult decision to be an unrepentant heathen/sinner/whateverthehell is all a very loooooong story that nobody wants to hear, so I’ll sum up by saying that until recently outside of weddings, baptisms, mitzvahs, and funerals, Grown-Up Fiqah rarely darkened the doorstep of any house of worship.
However, when one of my elderly neighbors, a very dapper Georgia born-and-bred gentleman, invited me to come to his Southern Baptist church here in Harlem last fall, I accepted. I was going through a particularly difficult time emotionally, and while the choir was sorta weak (sorry, I’m Southern, and we have standards for this kinda thing), I found the service overall to be very spiritually uplifting and healing. I was delighted by the sermon, as well as the inclusive spirit of the congregation. (“All are welcome” is the credo of just about every Southern Baptist church, but in many places, certain”children of God” - non-Christians, LGBTIQ people - are most emphatically NOT welcomed.) I decided that maybe dropping in to Chetch every now and again wouldn’t be so terrible.
This morning, I attended services at another Southern Baptist church here in Harlem with my buddy J. who never misses a Sunday. In spite of the late summer swelter, I happily donned my Sunday best, pearls and good heels and headed on over to Chetch. In retrospect, I should have said some kinda prayer asking for patience and composure before I stepped out of the door. Because what awaited me at church would have tested even the most forgiving soul.
You see, J. and I were seated in one of the balcony pews, along with several Italian tourists. European and Asian tour groups and buses are a common sight on Sundays in Harlem. As annoying and ubiquitous as they are, for the most part, church tourists are ignorable. Well, this group must have been especially rude, because several members of the group spent much of the service talking. Talking. In spite of being shot admonishing looks by several parishioners and being approached by one of the ushers, the conversation, though lowered to murmuring, continued. The only time it seemed to stop was when the choir led the church in a song, when the tourists watched the choir and the other attendees with that peculiar mixture of fascination, fear and envy that White people in spaces of color often seem to have. As they watched us, my friend and I watched them, swaying all wrong, clapping off beat and basically turning what was a joyful but sacred experience into a spectacle for their entertainment.
I did my very best to remain silent and non-responsive. And I was good. I really was.
I had just bowed my head, closed my eyes, and was just about to connect one-on-One with the Lord…when the cell phone of the woman sitting behind me went off.
And she answered.
“Oh, I don’t even believe THIS shit!” I said. J.’s eyes flew open, and she covered her startled gasp with her hand.
“Fiqah. I know…but….God,” she whispered anxiously, waving her hand at the ceiling to indicate God’s presence. An elderly woman sitting right in front of me had turned around to glare at me for cussin’ in the Lord’s house. My friend’s a long-time member of her church, so embarrassing her (and myself) further was not an option, but I was pissed.
“Unless that is God on the line she needs an ass-whooping. Jesus be an electrified fence,” I grumbled, frowning and closing my eyes as J. stifled her laughter.
Later at brunch, we talked about what had gone down. Both of us had attended church in Harlem, so we both knew that the tour groups were common. It wasn’t the first time we noticed tourists – whose presence alone is disruptive – acting out in Chetch. We had both also noticed that the groups seemed to be getting larger, testimony to the appeal of these tours for Asian and European tourists as well as to the drawing power of good gospel music. J. feels ambivalent about the gospel tours because as annoying as they are, no tour group member ever neglects the collection plate. My own feelings about them were firmly in the negative category. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I have such a visceral dislike of these gospel tours until today, when I decided to gather some information about them so that I could better understand their appeal. Here, an excerpt from an account by a White tourist from London** who went to a Harlem church specifically for the music:
I meet Tim Rawlins at the Memorial Baptist church choir practise. He’s rare proof of the fact that white men can sing gospel. He says I’ve got to surrender to the music – feel it – and forget I’m English.
That statement, which positively reeks of cultural fetishizing, gave me a headache. Forget you’re “English” (read: White and proper) and “surrender” (is it attacking you?) to the wild, untamed Black Black Blackity Blackness of the music. Hallelujah, let the Othering begin.
Tim: “What I like about gospel music, is that it breaks from that old European tradition which separates intellect and reason from feeling and really in Gospel music you feel with great thought and you think with great feeling…”
Ummmm…as much as I love traditional gospel music, it has never teased an elliptical statement outta me, so I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to that. Luckily, the author knew just what to infer from it.
That probably means loosening up physically too. When the elderly women start to practice I find myself entranced watching the soloist, Lonnie Gray. She’s 77 years old but she’s out there, her face enraptured, her hips swaying, moving with the rhythm – feeling it.
At this point, I’d had quite enough, so I ventured off to other parts of the interwebs to sift around for tour information and possible articles. I discovered that this issue was one that Black churches in Harlem had been facing for almost two decades. The tours, while often disruptive, are revenue generators, with prices ranging from $45-$99 dollars per person, and many including an “authentic” (sigh) soul food brunch. It’s for this reason that the general consensus amongst many of Harlem’s Black church clergy seems to be that the gospel tours are a necessary evil. Church attendance has dropped significantly across all denominations in the past half century in the United States. Churches are financially reliant upon the generosity of their donor base, which has historically been their congregation. As tax-exempt entities, religious organizations are able to (presumably) expend their funds on capital expenses, such as building renovations. This piece from 1996 gives an excellent overview of the tension. Meanwhile, this quote from it sums up just about everything that I find objectionable about these tours:
“It’s something exotic,” says Nelson Motta, a Brazilian journalist who promotes visits to Mount Moriah in his native country. “Seeing the black people in the church, the feeling is warm.”
In other words, it’s Church Time at the Apollo. Good grief. I repeat: Jesus, be a fence.
Churches have been recognized for centuries as both places of worship and sanctuary in countries with substantial Christian populations. This was also true of Black churches in the U.S. The roots of Black Southern Baptist churches in the United States can be traced all the way back to the earliest days of the slave era. The first Black churches were organized by free blacks in the North and Southeastern United States. Gospel music’s call-and-response style, which is common in many different styles of music throughout the African diaspora, was often employed openly during worship and clandestinely by slaves as resistance. Organizers of slave rebellions and escapes often sang gospel “work” songs in the field with double entendre lyrics in earshot of slave masters and overseers, whose presence was constant. (Following Nat Turner’s Rebellion the state of Virginia passed a law that required that a White minister be present at Black congregations.) The gospel work songs often included instructions, directions, and even times of day. The genius employed in this “hiding in plain sight” method was more often than not missed by slave owners, most of whom did not consider the intellect of the Negro to be sophisticated enough to grasp anything beyond the most basic concepts. (As Dave Chappelle once famously stated in one of his early comic specials: “It doesn’t happen often, but when racism works in black people’s favor . . . it’s fucking sweet.”) Following slavery’s abolishment, the Black church remained a vital part of the social fabric of African-American communities. In addition to worship and religious ceremonies, church “socials”, dances, bake sales and other informal gatherings were common in the American South during the Jim Crow era. The connections between Black-led civil rights movements and the organizations that grew from them and Black churches is well-established. Civil Rights era protesters often sang gospel songs during rallies and marches, and rallies, marches and sit-ins were frequently planned in churches on non-worship days.
Outside of the South, many congregations remained largely divided along racial lines. White members of Protestant churches often expressed concern over what they viewed as improper exuberance found in Black churches. The notion that the style of worship found in Black American churches was somehow vulgar and inauthentic persisted long after the abolishment of slavery, and was far from confined to any denomination. Mahalia Jackson, arguably one of the best gospel singers ever recorded, was regarded by many of her upper and upper-middle class Black contemporaries as an embarrassment. (Yes. Mahalia. Jackson. I know…) “Negro spirituals” were rarely included in hymn books outside of Black churches, and have only recently been recognized as acceptable expressions of faith through song by many denominations. In spite of the rich faith diversity within Black Chrisitan communities, Black worship and Black gospel were widely regarded as odd at best and sacrilegeous at worst. The fact that the only exclusively American musical forms – blues, jazz and rock-and-roll – emerged from traditional Black gospel music has lent it a sort of global validity. (Although I will note here that even the stunning Gospel at Colonus, a gospel play based on Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus that was considered for the Pulitzer Prize for drama, opened to an initially chilly reception a mere twenty years ago on Broadway.) The beauty and singularity of gospel music is openly praised by the contemporary mainstream. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who’s asking) this acceptance has meant an increasingly secular appreciation (or appropriation…once again, depends on who’s asking) of traditional gospel music. It has also helped transform places of worship into stages, where both resident gospel choirs and congregation members are put on display for (oft-times) White tourists:
“This is not a buck-and-dance show,”says the Rev. Calvin Butts of Abyssinian Baptist Church, one of Harlem’s most politically powerful ministers [whose] church has resorted to passing out a flier to visitors, explaining how to behave during the service. Congregants complain that tourists annoyingly turn their cameras on the devout at prayer and snap away whenever a shout arises from the church’s “Amen” comer.
This manner of blatant disregard of church protocol and behavior evidences a lack of respect for the sacredness of the proceedings. The offense here is multi-layered: a.) the proceedings are not taken seriously, b.) the participants are regarded as exotic curiousities and c.) there is an underlying assumption that the presence of (often) White European tourists is “welcome.” The unexamined sense of entitlement that accompanies the idea of White people being welcome in any space is the factor that makes these tours possible. (I’m fully convinced that if 100 casually-dressed and snap-happy Black Americans rolled up into a Lutheran church on a Sunday in Haarlem, the ensuing outrage at their gall would cause an international incident…but I digress.) Tourist groups in Black churches violate both outer (the church) and inner (the congregation members) spiritual space. The concept of the church as a sanctuary, as a sweet, soul-sustaining and necessary respite from earthly troubles and oppression, is blown to smithereens by the transgressive presence of these tourists, no matter how benignly they view themselves. Never mind messy polemical discussions, ”Jesus and the money changers” versus “The Church is a business” blah blah BLAHHH. If the devout are prevented from fully connecting with the divine by disruptive interlopers, then the spiritual imperatives must trump the financial ones.
*“Soul voyeurism” is a term I derived from the Newsweek article entitled “Soul Voyeurs Invade The House of God” by Gregory Beals and Kenneth L. Woodward.
** The author of this account first attended a Black Baptist church in Harlem as a “drop-in” – not a regular attendee – and then was invited to attend a choir rehearsal. Attending a rehearsal to enjoy the music, IMO, is fine. The tone of the piece is troubling nonetheless.
SIGH. New parents have it hard. They rilly, rilly do. One of the biggest complaints I hear from my buddies who are parents is that you don’t get to sleep again until your kid is three (and by then, that single, two-minute, rushed and unsatisfying sexscapade that you had while your baby was napping has produced – TADA! - another little miracle…and the beat goes on…) or so. With all that in mind, I can see how this silly, ugly-assed bag would seem like a good thing to have. I mean, sleep deprivation can lead to hallucinations and schizophrenic episodes. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to suggest that, at the very least, it can also lead to some piss-poor purchasing decisions, too.
You know what the best part about this bag is? Naw, it’s not the fact that it’s tricked out with gadgets, doodads and buckly whatchamacallits. It’s that it comes in camouflage. Muh. Fuggin. CAMOUFLAGE. For, you know, hiding deep in the jungles of your Threatened Masculinity. Nothing says “I’m afraid that publicly caring for my offspring is making my penis shrink” like a camouflage-print diaper bag. Smacking my GOT-dayum head.
I’m giving this bad boy the Baby Zahara Side-Eye* Royale.
*”Side-eye” is not a registered trademark of Crunk and Disorderly…but it should be. And once again, click on that link AT YOUR OWN RISK. I tend to keep it PC on the Stew, but this is not everyone’s policy.
::: stares :::
::: deep, set-upon sigh:::
Sweet, minty Jayzus.
Y’all, I know I say it all the time. But I attract internet fuckery like a black shirt in July attracts heat: it burns, I sweat, and nobody’s happy. (Hat-tip to Jameelah for passing this on.) There are far too many things to unpackage with these ads, which are actually spoofs, and from a purely spoofy* standpoint I guess conceptually they work…as much as ANY ad for a product with a Noveau Mammy figure can “work.” It amuses/depresses me that some consumers still eat this up and ask for seconds. Already, the reception to these ads has been tremendous. After all, who doesn’t LOOOOOOOVE the Pine Sol Lady? “It’s Pine Sol, baby!” Good grief.
Mammy aside for just a moment though, I think Diane Amos looks beautiful in these ads. But therein lies the rub. These ads are not designed to be taken seriously. These ads are designed to be appreciated because of their absurdity. What they’re doing is essentially inviting you to laugh behind your hand at what everyone knows is a grotesque inversion of desirability, femininity, and beauty. Why does this feel…familiar?
Ohhhh. Yeah. That. Huhn. o_O
As someone who laughs at everything and who a friend teasingly calls “The Giggle Box,” please let me be the first to tell ya that this kinda isn’t funny. Beyond the immediate spoof context, it’s EXTRA not funny. It’s not funny that a talented actress is reduced to pushing toxic floor cleaner because that’s what a sexist, racist, and sizeist world has decided is her niche. It’s not funny that the people who love the Pine Sol Lady never ask themselves just why they do. It’s not funny that every time it feels like this world is getting a little better, I’m reminded that while its steps towards change are incremental, its lapses back into misery and evil are often monumental. I know that this is just an ad. But you know what? It’s NOT just an ad. And I’m not fucking laughing.
*Aaaaand cue my inner critic: ” ‘Spoofy,’ Fiqah? Wasn’t Smurfy enough? MUST you mangle English with your *air quotes* ‘wordsmithing’?” Someone pleeeeeeeeeease tell me I’m clever and shut this bitch** the hell up.
** I know. I’m using the word “bitch” a lot today. If the world wasn’t so chock fucking full of weak-ass, simple-ass, sorry-ass, triflin’-ass bitchy-ass bitches, then maybe a bitch could use another word to refer to them bitches! Sorry. My bad.
You might wanna take care of that, dear.
- The Management
Heads up, y’all: this is not – repeat, NOT – an overly-intellectual or analytical post. I wanted it to be that at the outset. My favorite fellow dog-lover did an amazing breakdown/takedown on the issue of pronunciation, and I was really hoping that I could do something similar, if not quite as good. (Hey, I’m just sayin’, your girl knows when she’s outclassed!)
However, after having watched this clip for the gazillionth time over, I realized that there would be no way for me to approach this with anything resembling deconstructive objectivity. After mulling over why that was, I arrived at the conclusion that the reason is because I love Mos Def at exactly the same level that I despise Christopher Hitchens. So, any claims I made about being “fair and balanced” would be as phony baloney as the ones that Fox News makes. And honestly, at thirty-one, I’m trying to be less of an outright hypocrite. So…with all that said, I present my take on Def/Hitchens 2009.
0:06 The Coast Looks Clear: The clip begins with Mos Def asking what I feel is a perfectly valid question: does Al-Qaeda have a documented political manifesto, in the manner of other revolutionary groups.
0:39 The Voice of Reason: Salman Rushdie is quick to point out that Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are two separate-but-related entities. Good on him.
0:51 The Fuckery Starts: Okay, let the record show that Chris Hitchens’ assholery shows when he is explaining what his understanding of Al-Qaeda’s mission statement is, as illustrated in the Bin Laden tapes (also available on YouTube). The camera cuts briefly to Mos Def at 1:01, giving the best under-cap-head-on-side-eye I have EVER seen. Congratulations, Chris: you have inspired his ire. ::: applauds :::
1:56 Chris Sets the Tone: Aaaand Mr. Hitchens manages to both put words in Mos Def’s mouth and a big ole foot in his own with that “Saying that elections are the work of the devil often means an undemocratic society.” Then he sidesteps by saying, “Oh, no, I’m saying that that’s what THEY say.“ And the subtext there is “…and you don’t want to be seen as aligning yourself with THEM and their whack job ideologies, now, do you?” I am fluent in the art of subtext reading, so I call bullshit. (This is not mere speculation on my part: towards the end of the clip, Hitchens confirmed this suspicion when he told Mos Def “I’ve met people like you before, I know how you think.” Really, Chris? “People like you”? Where is Al Sharpton when you need him?) Hitchens then goes on to say “[Al-Qaeda’s] objectives are to have everyone on their knees bowing in submission.” That’s not Al-Qaeda; that’s not even a proper reference to a caliphate, Islam or the Qu’Ran. That’s a dungeon party. So whatever, mane.
2:30 Okay Be Nice: I kinda wish Mos Def hadn’t talked over Salman Rushdie. Aside from the fact that it’s…well, rude, I’m wondering if Rushdie was put off enough about it to just kinda not step in when Hitchens took his prickmobile to full-throttle later.
4:38 Bill Maher Does Not Care About Radical Black People: “Assata Shakur? Who? I don’t who that is.” (*DEAD*) And now, a quick chapter of Black Radical history from Mos Def. Poor baby, this is the point at which he definitely succumbs to his frustration and views the whole panel as hostile.
5:48 Oh No You Didn’t!: Alright, calling Mos Def “Most Definitely” all snarky-like = a short walk to a long ass whoopin’. I’ve never seen anyone be this dismissive and openly disrespectful to any guest on his show. It’s galling to watch Hitchens goad him.
6:06 Aww, Sooky-Sooky Nah!: Bill loses control of the panel. Those worry lines have an expressiveness that always kind of fascinate me. I don’t know if he still smokes but you can tell that he did. Kids, quit before 35 or there is no undoing the dermal damage. Seriously, fuck it. Just get fat. You will still get laid.
6:13 Back the Fuck Up Chris: “I DO do research on my own account, so don’t start no shit, Mr. Hitchens. I’m from Brooklyn! I‘m not afraid of nothing‘!” <3 <3 <3
7:11 Oh, Dear, This Won’t Do: Poor Salman Rushdie, he actually looks a little scared, touching Mos Def’s arm. Imagined thought process: “Oh, my. I’ve heard about people from Brooklyn. This situation could escalate very quickly. Perhaps we can cut to a commercial? No, blast, it’s cable. Damn you, HBO!” And in my head Salman Rushdie sounds like Stewie Griffin. I realize that this is ironic on a number of levels.
7:18 Hitchens Tears His Ass For All Time: Guess what, Chris? The world is filled to bursting with people who don’t agree with everything your stankin’ ass has to say. That does NOT make those people, or their opinions, stupid. Quick hypothetical – would you be this much of a rancid dick with a White co-panelist?
7:26 Brills, Bills: Bill regains control of his own show. “Alright, Chris, let’s just say it was the scotch talking…”
7:34 Bill Reads From the Book of Regulations: “Chris, you just got beat up in Lebanon, let’s not have it here in Beverly Hills, too.”
…AND THE TAKE-AWAY
1.) When Mos Def was asking about Al-Qaeda’s manifesto, I think it would have been helpful for someone to point out that the Palestinian Liberation Organization, unlike Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, predated the successful faith-driven 1979 Iranian Revolution. People don’t always remember how significant a change that was, and how much it scared the beejeebus outta folks, but in these discussions not referencing it is fallacious because it makes it seem like all these “Muslim/A-rab/ terrorist/ululating” groups (God, I wish I had more than two eyes to roll) emerged from some ahistorical, chaotic, senseless ether. Also problematic are the conflations of notions such as “The Islamic/Arab world”… Iran, anybody? Contrary to what the Bernard Lewis/Samuel Huntington School o’ Politics would have us all think, “Radical Islam” (sigh) is not an ancient, embedded concept. It’s new, and if anything is to be blamed for it, it’s European colonialism and all of its ills. Not some kinda “screw-loose” gene specific to those nutty brown people. Fuck a duck.
2.) I’ve always liked Mr. Rushdie, more for his gorgeous intellect, elegant bearing and fortitude (seriously, the man is part human, part Teflon) than anything else. I’m ashamed to say that I found Midnight’s Children less-than-spectacular. But hey, when you can snag a woman like Padma Lakshmi , you don’t really need the approval of girls like me.
3.) Dante (Mos Def) and me need to start making li’l militant babies as soon as possible. They can talk like me. “Oh my God, like, seriously, I am so not gonna let your racist hegemonic agenda kill my buzz. You are, like, so nasty, and it is, like, so totally unnecessary! Revolution and junk!”
4.) I said this shit on Twitter but it bears repeating because it STILL blows my mind: Bill Maher drew a blank on Assata Shakur, huh? Hm. Maher’s “Not ‘Down’, Just Visiting” status is official. #rollcredits (Yeah, that’s right. I quote myself. I LOVE myself. If I don’t, who’s gonna?)
5.) Mos Def does not trust mainstream media. So? Is that a crime? A lot of younger people, critical thinkers, and bloggers especially just don’t anymore. For eight long years, any organization with a remotely critical stance of the Bush Administration felt its wrath in the form of everything from audits to Congressional hearings. Journalists and the editorial bodies they reported to became less interested in real reporting, and more interested in riding it out by toeing the line. When TIME Magazine named Bush the Younger the Man of the Year in 2004, it was a fucking wrap for me.
6.) Hitchens has a point about watching the tapes with an Arabic speaker. It’s just a good idea to do that, and if you want to get a better understanding of something without having the information be skewed by MSM’s angles, then you MUST do your own research. I still hate Hitchens’ jainky guts, though, and the fact that he deliberately provoked Mos Def and caused him to lose his temper was the nail in the coffin for me. The Rules of Engagement for debate for people of color are different: no matter how passionate we are about a topic, we are never permitted to raise our voices, or otherwise indicate a loss of composure. Because if we do, we are perceived as irrational and “angry” – and the validity of any points we make is compromised because of it.
7.) Bill Maher – while I don’t always like you, when you step up, you step up. Reallllly wish you weren’t a raging Islamophobe. Or a sexist arsehole to awesome progressive White feminists like Eve Ensler. Hm…weird that he’s always extra-polite with Black women, and most women of color, with the exception of the amazing Irshad Manji…and I suspect that had more to do with her defense of her adherence to her religion (Islam) than anything else. For what it’s worth, Maher made the Bush years bearable, and for that I’m eternally grateful to him. Hmmm. I dunno.
I guess I’ll keep watching.
It’s about that time, y’all. Let the fhat-the-wuckery begin!
1. reverse racism and salsa – See, I like MY salsa with chips. But, hey. Do you, boo boo.
2. “mendez berry” beautiful – Yes, she is.
3. possum stew blog in harlem – That’s right, tell the WHOLE world wide web where I am, why don’tcha? Just kidding. Hey, Mikey.
4. my last stop interracial love – It’s like “The Love Train” meets the SOOOOOOULLLL Train. And Don Cornelius would STILL be able to host, I don’t think he’s been with a sista since 1973.
5. racialicious i dated white men – TRUE CONFESSIONS! ::: eye roll :::
6. i won’t date white females – Reallllly hoping you’re not expecting a prize for that.
7. episiotomy protest – Dude, there’s an episiotomy protest being held somewhere? I am SO there! “VA-gi-CA! VA-gi-CA! VA-gi-CA!”
8. lol pillow – Oooooh, I want one! My pillow just lays there when I tell it jokes.
9. are white people welcome in Africa – As long as they don’t, you know, try to colonize, enslave, or otherwise subjugate anybody. So…no.
10. why black women don’t date white men - Ummmm…because apparently we skip that whole “dating” thing and go straight to marriage and babies with them.
11. how people of color handle racism of white people – Carefully, and always with baking mitts. Think fresh-baked cookies…except, er, NOT delicious. You know what? Bad analogy.
12. little crumb snatchers – HA! You can almost hear the disgusted muttering undertone in this one. Ah, kids. ::: kisses her condoms :::
13. black women only desirable to black men – HA! I’d betcha nuts to nachos a Black man wrote that. In which case, keep dreamin’, bruh.
14. is michelle obama a snob – SIGH. Now, listen up, because I’m only gonna say this shit once. Leave her. The fuck. Alone. Frickin’ frackin’ mainstream media jackholes.
15. possum stew for the spirit – This one really made me smile. Move over, Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul!
16. possum stew chanel aviators, possum stew “i’m cocoa – Okay, process of elimination: John, if this is you, please stop blog-stalking. It’s sad now.
17. Hymenated - Oh. NO! (*DEAD*)
18. grow afro milk of magnesium – Wow, is there anything Milk of Magnesia CAN’T do?