Thursday, December 29, 2016

ABCD: Can all Black people dance?

Contrary to popular belief there are probably some Black people out there that can't dance.

Kind of like unicorns or Tupac: we know they might exist, but can't really prove it.

All jokes aside, I think it is safe to say that most Blacks can keep the beat. Can they win Dancing With The Stars 10 times out of 10? Nope, but a two step is like a duck taking to water.

A black duck swimming in purple kool-aid.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Ask a Black Canadian Dude: Are all people with dreadlocks musicians?

So you see a Black person walking down the street with dreads and your first thought is:  "man, that's gotta be a Marley. I wonder if he can drop a verse from 'no woman, no cry' ."

Newsflash, my White friends, all dreads (Black people with dreadlocks) are not musicians.

Yes, some are, just like some White people belong to the KKK.

So before you assume you're standing next to that next reggae star on the subway, that's probably your banker. Or doctor. Or plumber. Or any damn thing other than a musician.

Monday, December 26, 2016

ABCD: Do Black people really like chicken?

Well my White friends, this is one stereotype that is pretty damn true.

Black people love chicken.

Shit, I love chicken so much I don't even bother for it to grow from an embryo before I eat it.  Raw too. #EGGS

Fried. Baked. Boiled. Jerked. BBQed. Curried.

Shoot, Black people love chicken so much they invented a new way on how to cook it: broasted.  Yes, broasted.

Some Bajans even chew down the bones cause hey, the marrow is damn good too.

But before you get super racist, White people love chicken too. But they love cheese more.

ABCD: Can Blacks be racist against Whites?

I've heard this one bandied about quite a bit.  It doesn't have to be Blacks vs Whites, but any non-White group vs Whites.

Let me break it to you White folks,  and you are not going to like my answer: you can't be victims of racism.  Ever.

Why you ask?

A fundamental feature of racism is power.  Because of funny things like imperialism, colonialism, capitalism, and now Trumpism, White people have created a system of White supremacy that the institutions around us (ie every damn thing) were created to keep Whites at the top of the food chain.

So long story short, even if a Black person supposedly "gets" a job because he or she is Black and White folk are mad that they were denied an opportunity and scream "anti-White" racism, you need to understand that for every one "token" there are 100 others being denied opportunities that they are beyond qualified for.

It may not be you personally saying "no," but take a step back and see who runs the company you work for or the country you live in. What colour are they? What made them more qualified than a non-White person? Why is it "normal" to have White leaders?

Think about it.

ABCD: Can I touch your hair?

Before you ever ask that question (or attempt to put your cheese eating fingers in La'Quanda's new weave), ask yourself this:

Would you like it if a stranger drove by your kids walking home from school and offered them candy if they came in his white van with no windows?

I didn't think so.

Keep your hands to yourself. Or buy a dog.

ABCD (Ask a Black Canadian Dude): Do all Black people celebrate Kwanzaa?

The short answer? No.

The long answer? No.

Considering that most Blacks in Canada are from the West Indies and the vast majority of West Indians are Christians (Protestants) because of a funny thing called slavery followed by colonialism, we celebrate Christmas.

In fact, as a whole,  Black people in Canada are probably more religious - Christian - than the dominant White majority.

Oh ya, and Kwanzaa is an African American tradition. Not Black or African.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

New Blog Series: Ask a Black (Canadian) Dude

Have you ever wanted to ask that one slightly racist question,  but were afraid to be labeled an alt-right Trump loving xenophobic racist?

You ever wondered if all Black people can dance? Or if we can get  a sunburn?  Or if we all celebrate Kwanzaa?  Or if we really do like watermelon  or fried chicken?

Or maybe on the subway you looked at a person with dreads and really wanted to know how they got their hair that way. Or wondered how one day say your colleague at work has long hair and then short hair and then even longer hair the next day.

Well, my White friends (I assume you are White), you are in luck.

I was given this idea from a great intellectual brother in arms, Brother S, where folks can ask slightly kind of racist questions and I will do my best at answering them with all the qualifications I have as a Canadian Negro. I might throw in some perspectives of my Bajan background or if you are lucky, my PhD.

Can hit me up @DrCSTaylor on Twitter or email me at step1.cstraining@gmail.com. I will not post your name or pass judgment.

Unless you really are a racist and I will berate you with all of my pent up anger of a Black man.

Happy Kwanzaa

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Friday, December 9, 2016

#WS3330F Blog Post # 19: Ola Osman - An African Child Becomes a Black Canadian Feminist: Oscillating Identities in Black Diaspora

On “An African Child Becomes a Black Canadian Feminist: Oscillating Identities in Black Diaspora”

Notisha Massaquoi’s “Oscillating identities in the Black diaspora” looks at the ways African identities are discursively produced based on geographical location. Specifically, Massaquoi is interested in the fluidity of gendered subjectivities that cross borders. She maps out the ways in which our names and bodies cannot be separated from Africa as home but also the ways in which we produce romanticized constructions of a forever shifting home. We negotiate our performances of African personhood based on our understandings of viable personhood inter-racially but also intra-racially “where it becomes more advantageous to identify with the homogenous group ‘Black people’” (Massaquo 1). As pre-narrated identities we produce communities based on our collective Othering.  Personal testimony is central to Massaquoi’s work, as a first generation African woman her identity is taken up as negotiable and her Canadian citizenship is constantly questioned. Massaquoi interrogates Othering of African identity within the context of academia because she does not fit within the framework of a victimized “third world” gendered identity. This then places Africa in the essentailized rhetorical trappings of the “west vs. the rest” (Massaquo 5).  Massaquoi is interested in feminist literature that frames African women as agentic textual subjectivities and locating/understanding her layered identity within that literature.

On We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity       

bell hooks’ We Real Cool is about intervening in the larger American imagination that constructs Black men within tropes that script them as inherently violent super-predators.  She interrogates Black masculinity by framing gendered masculine Blackness as a repressed form of personhood. She looks at the image of the “untamed, uncivilized, unthinking and unfeeling” Black man (xii). Culturally curated imaginative notions of Black males as animalistic in nature operate as a threat to the state, because at any given moment this angry uncivilized brute could potentially incite an actual revolution. What this then does is produce what hooks calls the ‘symbolic lynching’ of Black men on the public stage but also in the most private, intimate moments of their lives.
Hooks posits that what is truly suffocating Black men is the idea that their survival rests on patriarchal masculinity. The text is interested in shifting away from the neoliberal approach to “the problem with Black boys” to analyse the “crisis” in Black masculinity. Black boys are socially constructed as other through the language of “at risk” and their boyhood is always pathologized. The text moves away from this narrative of Black boy bodies as inherently bad and moves towards holding oppressive structures accountable. Hooks tells us that we exist in a “culture that does not love Black males, that they are not loved by white men, white women, black women or girls and boys. And that especially most Black men do not love themselves. How could they, how could they be expected to love surrounded by so much envy, desire, hate” (xi)? Let me just say that no one loves Black men more than Black women. No one has loved Black men more than Black women. Our racial allegiance has been so unconditional that we have literally given up parts of our identity and sometimes our lives. This is a reminder that Black women are dying not only at the hands of the state but at the hands of Black men, the hands of our brothers and that needs to be approached with intellectual seriousness.  Moreover, hooks’ approach of “hurt people hurt people” and the claim that Black women do not love Black men positions Black men as the actual receivers of harm and Black women as in part producers of this collateral damage.
Within the context of Black radical politics Black men have been mapped out as exceptionally vulnerable bodies and Black women have been completely written out of that narrative. This is rooted in white women’s struggle for an electoral reform that was grounded in a racist politic but also a Black Power movement that could not understand racism as a gendered problem. Black radical tradition is in part couched in this belief that oppressive structures are dismantled from the top down, that the most vulnerable among us should be waiting for what Kimberlee Crenshaw describes as a “trickle down social justice” (Crenshaw). And hooks reminds us that “it has served the interests of all who are the enemies of black self-determination to keep black females and males vying for the position of most oppressed rather than working together to end our collective suffering” (hooks 147). It is absolutely not my intention to become an agent of division work and “I want to stay attuned to both the danger and the futility of placing Black youth in discursive predicaments where they must compete for space at the bottom” (Cox 6). However, I want to centralize the jeopardies of reading liberation work that takes up the vulnerability of Black girl and womanhood as doing the work of racial division for a white supremacist agenda or that this work is disruptive of a larger social justice project.
Finally, we can understand that hip hop, gangster culture, and American Cool pose are all heavily intertwined concepts. Further, hooks does the useful work of rooting violent hegemonic masculinity in whiteness but also charts Black dispossession as leading to a life that is rooted in a consistent yearning for successful assimilation. She makes the claim “[Black men] moved from brilliant critiques of white supremacy and capitalism into assimilating into whiteness and striving to get money by any means (selling dope, creating fashion, etc.)” (hooks 18). Human value is measured by the dollar in the same way that we understand valuable citizenship as capital producing citizenship. In the late sixties Black men were looking to make money by any means necessary, hooks understands this moment as the embrace of capitalism. In the nineties Black people started owning their own businesses to produce a dignity in labor. Cool pose is rooted in dignity and a form of re-drawing boundaries. I think practicing group economics is a dignity producing project that actually embraces neo-liberalism for collective survival. A dignity producing project that must be contained by the dominant culture. We can look at Black Wall Street as the epitome of containment, Americans will bomb their own country to contain the cool. I am interested in the unconscious political interventions that further situate already dispossessed bodies as “at risk”. I would like to locate these lived out moments of opposition as legitimate productions of theory that should be considered with scholarly urgency. Particularly, the ways in which the personal can become an unintentional site of political negotiation which constitutes a larger social justice project. The language of Cool pose is deployed out of context to valorize this unattainable white masculinity and frames Black boys as performers of a failed white boyhood. The naturalization of whiteness constructs the performance of blackness as a yearning for white acceptability. The cool is a performance in and for the margins, for their fictive kin. Black youth are not in a constant state of deliberate deviance to disrupt white hegemony. The assumption that they are, traps them in this binary state of being in between “not good enough” and whiteness. It constructs them as never resistant enough to attain normalcy. Traditionally, Black radical politics in part rely on an active refusal of engagement with oppressive social, political and economic institutions through public demonstrations that disrupt daily activity. I am interested in writing the bodies whose performances of race and gender are unconsciously theatrically disruptive to daily activity into the discursive spaces of revolutionary academic engagement. I am looking to explicitly locate performative cools that are understood as criminal or deviant as legitimate sites of theory making, “I’m referring here to evasive, day-to-day strategies: from the footdragging to sabotage, theft at the workplace to absenteeism, cursing to graffiti” (Kelley 7). Specifically, the resistance potential latent in the performance of a ‘cool pose’ that is inherently oppositional and therefore read as what Cathy Cohen calls “seemingly self-destructive” behavior. Let us try to situate cool within a framework that locates us as agentic intentional or accidental political actors instead of social problems to be solved. Hooks, fundamental claim is that gangster culture is inherently a yearning for whiteness and patriarchal hip hop “had for the most part no transformative power no ability to intervene on politics of domination and turn the real lives of Black men around” (hooks 150). I am wondering if patriarchal hip hop and “selling dope” can be understood as a politics from below, that can actually generate some form of social returns. That this behavior that has been scripted as self destructive in the discursive spaces of academia is actually in part fertile.  
Question
How do we understand theory and can we consider deviance through a performance of gangster and the production of a patriarchal hip hop culture as actual legitimate theory making? Further, is the theoretical work of hip hop useless because it dehumanizes Black women?

   
Works Cited
Cohen, Cathy. “Deviance as Resistance: A New Research Agenda for the Study of Black Politics.” Cambridge Journals, vol. 1, no. 1, 2004.
Cox, Aimee Meredith. Shapeshifters: Black Girls and the Choreography of Citizenship. United States, Duke University Press, 14 Aug. 2015.
hooks, bell. We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity. New York, Routledge, 27 Nov. 2003.
Home. KimberlĂ© Crenshaw on “black girls matter” and Shifting Community and Policy Priorities. For Harriet | Celebrating the Fullness of Black Womanhood, 2 June 2015, http://www.forharriet.com/2015/02/kimberle-crenshaw-on-black-girls-matter.html#axzz4PZDPtQYD. Accessed 10 Nov. 2016.
Kelley, Robin D. G. D G, and George Lipsitz. Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class. New York, NY, Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, 1 June 1996.
Massaquoi, Notisha. ““An African Child Becomes a Black Canadian Feminist: Oscillating Identities in Black Diaspora.”” Canadian Woman Studies, vol. 23, no. 2, 2013, pp. 140–144.


#WS3330F Blog Post #18: Jamie Kim - Reel to Real

“Reel to Real”  by bell hooks is a collection of 21 essays and interviews that engage “movies” and visual culture as a site of critical analysis. I couldn’t cover all the chapters in the presentation, but I encourage checking out some of them: e.g., “Artistic integrity: race and accountability” and “Neo-colonial fantasies of conquest: Hoop Dreams.”

“Reel to Real” in the Western Library Catalogue:
http://alpha.lib.uwo.ca/record=b2774423~S20
http://alpha.lib.uwo.ca/record=b4695808~S20

The chapter on Crooklyn: Crooklyn tells the coming-of-age narrative of a young girl named Troy Carmichael, daughter to Woody and Carolyn. Now Carolyn, the mother, is portrayed as an “emasculating Black matriarch,” who usurps her husband’s parental authority, shames her husband in front of the children; she is volatile and over-reactive and portrayed as standing in the way of pleasure and happiness.

“Powerful Black mothers, the film suggests, who work outside the home “fail” their families, as Carolyn does, by not fulfilling the sexist-defined feminine role. Their punishment is death.” (hooks 56).

hooks argues that Spike Lee represents “dead female mothering body” of the matriarch as an ungrievable death. The Angry Black Woman’s death is not seen as a loss of individual life, but rather, as a gain for the family as a whole; this is a death that is not mourned; instead, it is a sacrifice necessary to uphold patriarchy and white supremacy. Carolyn’s death is not only a punishment for a Black woman defying the role of subservience and passivity, it is also a tragedy that “needed” to happen to teach the young Black girl, Troy, a valuable life lesson. Implicit in this narrative structure, is the idea that a Black girl’s coming-of-age is supposed to have trauma or some form of violence.

“The Universal Charter on Media Representations of Black Peoples” was written by Anthony Morgan, a lawyer and social justice advocate based in Brampton, Canada. This charter emphasizes that popular media and culture have a direct impact on the quality of lived experiences of Black people. It says that media representations are inseparable from issues of  impoverishment, incarceration, and institutionalized neglect of Black people; representations actually perpetuate and justify the precariousness of Black lives in a white supremacist society.

“The Universal Charter on Media Representations of Black Peoples”:
https://charteronblacksinmedia.wordpress.com/

The Open Letter from Black Women to SlutWalk Organizers (the third reading for the seminar), published in 2011, had this to say about racialized labels: “Black women have worked tirelessly since the 19th century colored women’s clubs to rid society of the sexist/racist vernacular of slut, jezebel, hottentot, mammy, mule, sapphire; to build our sense of selves and redefine what women who look like us represent.” This was a letter produced by Black Women’s Blueprint and signed by a host of other organizations across North America, in response to the “SlutWalk” which started in Toronto after a police officer advised a group of York University law students that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”

The Open Letter commends the SlutWalk organizers for mobilizing against rape culture and misogyny, but criticizes them for the exclusion of Black women from leadership and design of the movement, and the erasure of the particular needs, histories, and lived experiences of women of colour. SlutWalk was centred on white women “reclaiming” the word “Slut” in defiance of slut-shaming and victim-blaming; However, the letter suggests that the word “slut” has different associations for Black women due to the history of slavery, Jim Crow lynchings and kidnappings, the racist and sexist constructions of Black women.

An Open Letter from Black Women to Slutwalk Organizers
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-brison/slutwalk-black-women_b_980215.html

Additional Resources:

YouTube Video - Tropes of Black Women in popular entertainment
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQO7XoANYb8&t=205s

“Another Round” Podcast - Black Films
https://www.acast.com/anotherround/episode65-isyourshinysuitalright-withaishaharris-

The Black Film Canon - The 50 greatest movies by black directors
http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/cover_story/2016/05/the_50_greatest_films_by_black_directors.html