Category Archives: news & politics

Raven-Symoné & Dr. Ben Carson Released, says the black delegation

The 2015 racial draft is amongst us. It’s official. The black delegation has decided that we are releasing Raven-Symoné and Dr. Ben Carson. They are now American free agents. We are sick and tired of being sick and tired of them. They rather conform to Americanism and belittle blackness at every turn. We’ve decided that we’re a better team without them. 

The black delegation knows that many of you have read Dr. Ben Carson’s autobiography, Gifted Hands for inspiration. You’ve connected with him as you read about his struggles and triumphs on his way to greatness. His story is well-documented. His mother proudly raised two boys with the help of public assistance to make ends meet. He was considered the ‘dumb student’ until his mother required him to read two books a week. He had a violent temper that led to near stabbing incident of friend over a radio station. He received a scholarship to Yale University where he felt isolated and alone. But he overcame all of these obstacles to become a pioneering neurosurgeon at John Hopkins’, one of the best medical institutions in the world. All of which made Dr. Ben Carson symbol of inspiration and hope.

Ben CarsonAnd throughout his career at John Hopkins’, Dr. Carson continued to give back to the black community by going to inner-city schools encouraging kids to be their best selves. New York Bestseller author for Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates who grew up in Baltimore admired Dr. Carson for talking to the young people to let them know there were more to life than the streets. INSPIRATION! But then he started to attack Barack Obama in ways not even his white counterparts couldn’t with the exception of the uncensored bigot, Donald Trump. Carson had the audacity to say that the Affordable Care Act (affectionately known as Obamacare) was ‘the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”

We could not believe Carson who has been a victim of racism compare universal health care to slavery. But more than that Carson is a hypocrite. We think that Dr. Ben Carson forgot that he benefited from welfare and affirmative action. Dr. Benjamin Carson has decided to close the door of opportunity that millions died and fought for him to get him through. He chooses to disregard that he benefitted from same social programs that he wants to get rid. So we are done. It is not his affiliation with the Republican party. We always knew he was conservative, for he always believed his values of faith, family and self-reliance helped him to get to his prominence. It did. He also needs to acknowledge that affirmative action and public assistance helped him. 

But Carson’s insistence to be included to be a part of America blinds him to the reality of being black in America. Let’s ask Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray. Oh yeah, we can’t. Their lives were cut short because they were executed for being black. Ben Carson doesn’t want to address the disproportionate risk blacks face of death at the hands of the police. We think he feels he is exonerated. Let us remind him that in 2009 Yale graduate and Harvard professor, Dr. Henry Louis Gates was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for trying to get in his house. Since Dr. Ben Carson wants to be American, we’ve severed ties with him. You’re free, Ben, to sign with any other delegation that will have you.

raven-symoné rooster hairNow let’s get to Raven-Symoné. In the last 6 months she’s defended Univision’s Rodner Figueroa’s statement that Michelle Obama looked like a member of the Planet of the Apes cast. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey despite her racial origin and her same-sex relationship, she did not want to limit herself being labeled as African-American or gay. Since she was 4, we fell in love with Olivia, the cute precocious child on The Cosby Show. Did we know Raven-Symoné? How could we? She was only four.

Raven-Symoné grew up in front of eyes first as Olivia on The Cosby Show then as Nicole Lee on Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper. But it was her stint on the Disney Channel that made Raven-Symoné so famous. She started with a voice role of Monique on Kim Possible. Then she auditioned for a part that became That’s So Raven which spawned a franchise of soundtracks, dolls, episode videos and video games. This led to multiple Disney roles and albums with a Disney-based record company which yielded a lot of money. Yes, we know her professionally, but we really never knew who Raven-Symoné was until now. She’s telling us who she is, and we should believe her.

Yesterday Raven-Symoné got more public heat for her comments in the Hot Topics segment for refusing to hire anyone with ‘ghetto names’. But this is discrimination. This is racist behavior. This was our last straw with Raven-Symoné. Maybe she’s in denial about her own name. Maybe she’s immersed herself in the privilege that her money has afforded her, for she’s never been a child of struggle. She’s never had to put her name on a job application to just make ends meet. Obviously, she lives in a bubble of a post-racial America that the rest of us do not live in, but it is time to let her go and be just American. 

We do not care what Raven-Symoné says. We should be proud of our names. According to her Barack Hussein Obama should not be president based on his name alone. Ta-Nahesi Coates should not be on the New York Times’ Bestsellers List. Quvenzhané Wallis should not have been nominated for Oscar award. Taraji P. Henson should not be a leading actress in one of the most popular shows in America, Empire. Maybe Condoleeza Rice shouldn’t have been Secretary of State. Or Uzoamaka “Uzo” Aduba should not have been given the chance to read for Crazy Eyes and eventually winning an Emmy for that role. Basically, Raven-Symoné believes that we shouldn’t be judged by the color of their skin but our name on paper.

We, the black delegation, find this absurd and elitist. Therefore, take both of them. We don’t want anything in return. We thought about Matt McGorry from Orange Is The New Black and How to Get Away with Murder especially after he spoke out for Black Lives Matter movement. But we have to get our shit together. We have to learn to support each other no matter our shade, names and socio-economic positions. Before we can get to #AllLivesMatter we have to learn that #AllBlackLivesMatter. We have to create businesses to hire our own where our worth is not linked to the color of our skin or the names we write on our resumés or job applications but rather if we can do the job well. We have to take care of our own Maliks, Amirs, Shaniquas and Anisas one at a time. But in the meantime, we would like that 40 acres and a mule from the white delegation. 

 

I am black. I am a woman. I am a lesbian. My black life matters.

alicia_patrisse_opal_tumblrI am black. I am a woman. I am a lesbian. Some would say those are three strikes in a hetero-patriarchal white society. But I am proud to be ME. I love my blackness. I love being a woman. I love that I love a beautiful woman. Everybody doesn’t like that I take pride in all of my intersections. And it hurts when I am judged based off of my appearance, a masculine-identified black woman especially by the persons I defend and fight for.

For example, I was approached by a black man who was offended that I put the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on a Instagram post about marriage equality. In the comments section of the picture I posted, I stated that while we celebrate the SCOTUS decision on marriage equality, but there are many other issues we have to address which included LGBTQ job discrimination, police brutality, poverty, trans lives and ending white supremacy. This black man that #BlackLivesMatter didn’t have anything to with who I slept with. 

Yes, it does because I am black, I am a woman and I am a lesbian. Most times we often talk about race, gender, sexual orientation, and other social aspects. We tend to focus on them one at a time as if they are separate from each other. Intersectionality acknowledges that race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, education, citizenship status, and your geographic location all interact with one another.

We cannot talk and think about race, gender and sexual orientation separately because we minimize diversity and deny complexity of our lived experiences. This is what the black man on Twitter tried to minimize my voice as a black lesbian. He argued with me about how my intersectionality didn’t warrant a celebration for marriage equality. He only wanted to focus his energies and consequently, my energies on the Mother Emanuel Massacre.

This black man could not understand that I was more than black. His statement of #BlackLivesMatter does not have anything with whom I sleep with is problematic. He only sees my relationship as sexual. He voids the love and the authentic connection I have with my girlfriend. He probably would rather see us in a porn flick getting it on instead of being free to marry (if we want). But he probably doesn’t see his homophobia or patriarchy in that statement either. Maybe he doesn’t care that his statement is homophobia and patriarchal because he’s only focused on blackness and its oppression.

My life is often politicized and policed. I refuse to allow this black man, a stranger to marginalize my other identities because it doesn’t serve his purpose. He’s no different than white LGBTQ members who think I shouldn’t bring up so-called black issues. I refuse to allow anyone minimize who I am. While I can fight against white supremacy with this black man, that is not the only fight I am fighting against. I am fighting multiple battles for my right to live.

I am tired of fighting battles with folks I battle with for some issues and battle against for others. I am tired fighting with black men about humanity as a black woman. I am tired fighting with black folk about humanity as a black lesbian. I do not like how white LGBTQ folk want me to choose between LGBTQ or blackness. Like activist, poet Red Summer eloquently said on Facebook, “I am not picking a side. I am not taking up one struggle as at the detriment of the other. I stand in the intersection of (at least) two polarized communities. I am not one or the other. I am both (actually all). My life matters, too.” She illustrated this with a picture of both red, black and green for black unity and the rainbow for marriage equality.Red Summer

Yes, my black lesbian life matters as well. To this black man, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter must mean only heterosexual black lives even though two of the founders of the hashtag, Alicia Garza and Patrice Cullers are queer women of color (QWOC). Guess what? This is not the first time the black LGBTQ stood up for black freedom. And it won’t be the last. We are part of the black community. Some notables are Angela Davis, Lorraine Hansberry, Alice Walker and Bayard Rustin.

I guess this young man haven’t heard of Bayard Rustin. Who is Bayard Rustin? Rustin served as Martin Luther King, Jr’s strategic advisor during the Montgomery Bus Boycott as well as one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was also the chief organizer of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Yes, he was an openly black gay man. If you haven’t heard of him, it’s probably because he’s gay.

The Harlem Renaissance is one of the major highlights of black excellence in America. As much of that excellence was black it was also gay. Langston Hughes is considered one of the prolific writers and also led a double life. Bruce Nugent wrote the first published gay short story. This list includes writer Zora Neale Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God), lyricist James Weldon Johnson (“Lift Every Voice and Sing), poet Countee Cullen, Wallace Thurman, Claude McKay, and Angelina Weld Grimké. These luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance ranged between openly gay to sexually ambiguous to down low. In other words, there wouldn’t be a Harlem Renaissance without the young, gifted, black and gay.

But we are marginalized not only in the black community but in the LGBT community as well. Many times black LGBTQ icons are erased from the LGBTQ history book even though they have been at the heart of the LGBTQ struggle for rights and inclusion. I suspect it is the same reason that there is the invisibility of and discriminatory practices against people of color: racism. Racial issues in the LGBTQ community only reflect what happens in the dominant society. Sometimes QPOC are only needed when the LGBTQ wants use the QPOC in their ‘growing’ number.

If you’re a part of the LGBTQ community, it behoove you to know about the Stonewall riots. On June 28, 1969 at Stonewall Inn, one of the few bars in Manhattan people the LGBTQ community could dance with each other without police harassment, New York Police Department raided. This time the patrons fought back which was fundamental in sparking the LGBTQ rights movement in the United States. But do you know the names Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Miss Major? These black transgender women were the first Stonewall instigators. But their contributions at Stonewall were whitewashed. As the LGBTQ movement gained steam it was for a primarily white gay men while people of color, women and trans people were marginalized.

I am outsider in every identity that I am. For some in the black community I am not black enough, for gayness is some ‘white shit’. The LGBTQ community thinks I am too black. Or maybe it’s I am too masculine? Maybe that means I’m not woman enough. But all my identities make me who I am. Through my intersectionality I am able to be both empathetic and sympathetic to others, for I know it is hard to be yourself when society wants to place you in a box.  I am black. I am a woman. I am lesbian. I am me. I am the diversity that America claimed it wants wrapped in blackness, womanhood and lesbianism. I will continue to fight to freedom. The question is ‘Who will allow me to be me as we fight side-by-side?” 

Love Isn’t Self-Defeating

Emanuel 9After hearing about Mother Emanuel Massacre, I tried to sit down and write to articulate my feelings. I was confused, frustrated and angry. That was evident in my first few drafts which had too many typos and delved into a few topics surrounding this tragedy. But I couldn’t write it then. And another thing I knew was my soul could only take writing one story about the Mother Emanuel Massacre. It’s time to write it now.

Usually when a tragedy like this occurs, I become a social media activist, retweeting my favorites like @deray, @FeministaJones, @fakerapper, @beauty_jackson and the like, for they articulate my pain, anger and frustration with clarity and wit. Then I interject here and there, writing a few profound statements on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram. Basically, I have nothing to lose and nothing to gain since it continues to happen over and over again. My anger does not turn to action. Though my anger lingers until the next tragedy occurs.

But something happened to me the morning after the Mother Emanuel Massacre. Something woke within me , for this tragedy broke me down. Even though I am tired and frustrated with yet another tragedy against blackness, my blackness, I knew this time something was different. It was the first time in the last year that my anger subsided. In that year, we’ve witnessed the deaths of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawfod, III, Tamir Rice, Aiyana Stanley-Jones and a host of others. Right before this tragedy, we watched video of the policeman manhandling a 14-year-old girl for ‘insubordination’ in McKinney, TX. The Mother Emanuel Massacre was my breaking point. 

My blackness has been constantly under attack, and I am ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired’. So today I stand up and make a revolutionary statement: “I love my blackness. I love my black people.” With that love I will appreciate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quote: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” But it will not be the lover of my oppressor. Let’s start with self-love (including self-preservation).

In a Psychology Today article, Deborah Khoshaba Psy.D defines self-love as ‘a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support physical, psychological and spiritual growth.” Black folk, we have not done this. We’re too busy trying to get validation from white America. We’re too busy trying to assimilate. For white America continues to appropriate our culture as if it’s new. We have to learn to love ourselves as we are not what society wants us to be. We have to love our melanin, our broad noses, full lips and naturally kinky and curly hair. We do not have evoke our history of being kings and queens to validate our existence. Our human existence should be our only validation.

This love is not passive or dormant. In her book All about Love, bell hooks writes, “The word ‘love’ is most often defined as a noun, yet…we would all love to better if we used it as a verb. Love is transformative that is based on affection, respect, recognition, commitment, trust and care. Black folk, we have to love ourselves to expose white supremacy for what it is, a systematic power structure that perpetuates and maintains the social, political, historical and industrial by white people. We have to love ourselves to fight for our dignity as black people. 

It is clear that love is foreign to America. America’s only love is one of violence, hate and domination. Did the first Americans love the natives to this love? No, they brought epidemic diseases, violence and warfare and enslavement. Did the first Americans love the West Africans? Only if you call the Atlantic Slave Trade and their subsequent enslavement love. What about the Japanese Americans during World War II? They were put in the concentration camps. You could call that love if you like dysfunction. 

But when America wants forgiveness, America want to appeal to our spiritual sensibilities. America always have seen black folk as mystical survivors. But we bleed blood. We should be tired of being the  bigger person for white people to feel about better about themselves. An example of this is when Judge James at Dylan Wolf’s bail hearing asked for sympathy for Wolf’s family. Wait! What! Gosnell was more concerned with the well-being of the good white folk thus showing love for white supremacy not humanity. And maybe that’s the only love he’s been taught. But that’s not my concern. My concern is this constant attack on my blackness and my humanity. My concern is for the Emanuel 9’s family members in this instance.

Even though I was raised Catholic and recited the Lord’s Prayer every night, I know it takes time to ‘forgive those who trespass against us’. Forgiveness should not be our initial focus. Our focus has to be loving our humanity and our blackness. I don’t know about you, but that’s my focus. I will not wait until the tragedy happens before I do something. The real tragedy is it’s 2015, and we are not free. Malcolm X eloquently stated: “I am not a racist. I am against every form of racism and segregation – EVERY form of discrimination. I believe in human beings and that all human beings should be respected as such regardless of color.” Malcolm X said that over 50 years ago, and it rings true today. 

Like Malcolm I can hate white supremacy as a systemic oppressor without hating white people. I can hate police brutality and the killing of unarmed black women, men and children without hating individual cops. I hate any system that discriminates and prey on marginalized persons. It’s my love for blackness. It’s my love for humanity that continuously speak out in my writings and in my everyday actions. We can’t just love black in mourning. We have to love blackness, our humanity every day.

Dear Transphobic ‘Friends’ on my Timeline

Dear Transphobic ‘Friends’ on my Timelines,

Yes, Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner) broke the Internet today with her photos from Vanity Fair. You’re tired of seeing her pictures all of over social media. Just because it does not affect you directly does not mean the topic is not important. It is not trivial. It may or may not be a publicity stunt. We understand that she was previously married to Kris Jenner, the momager of the whole Kardashian clan.  But one thing is for sure Caitlyn Jenner has a platform for voice in ways #girlslikeher do not (even Janet Mock and Laverne Cox). 

Please recognize that transphobia is real, and it kills. It kills the souls of young transgender boys and girls who only want to live their lives as is. It obliterates tolerance. In late March a transgender activist Blake Brockington, 18 committed suicide a year after he was named homecoming king. While Brockington was a source of inspiration, he continuously dealt with negative comments online. With the publicity of the becoming the first transgender homecoming king, this may have been too much for him to handle.

In December a transgender teen, Leelah Alcorn committed suicide by walking in front of oncoming truck. She’d been forced to undergo conversion therapy which seeks to change sexual identity and/or orientation through therapy. “The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights,” wrote Leelah as part of her suicide note.

No, you may not know a transgender person. But each person (it doesn’t matter what adjective in front black/white, gay/straight/trans, Christian/atheist/Jew/Muslim) should have basic human rights to live their lives as is. Nobody should trivialize the importance of one life if it doesn’t match her/his own.

Transphobic woman, next time you bring up that $0.72 to a man’s dollar. Why should we care? Why should we care that you want to have full control of your body especially when overwhelmingly men make the laws that affect you? Why should we care about rising child care costs?

Transphobic black persons, next time a black man, woman or child is killed at the hands of the systemic racist police, you cannot get upset with white people that do not understand. For it’s not their issue why should they worry themselves with yours? You want compassion and empathy when your mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and friends are dying. What happened to #BlackLivesMatter? Blake Brockington was black. Does that mean his life did not matter because he was transgender?

Transphobic gay persons, next time you want folks to listen to why you should get married or love as is, you cannot get upset with heterosexual people that do not understand. Didn’t the Bible say, Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve? Remember it’s the LGBT, and the T stands for transgender.

You want others to listen to your experiences and struggles, but oppress another. How selfish is that!

We all have our struggles. I definitely have and had mine. I am a black lesbian. I know how it feels to be racially profiled in a store. I know all about ‘driving while black’. I know about walking into a bathroom and being questioned about being in the right bathroom. I’ve heard the whispers and snickers as my girlfriend and I ate dinner in a restaurant. Everyday is a battle to live as is, but I’ve learned to love myself as is. It wasn’t easy. And some days I thought about committing suicide, but I had a great support system of family and friends who could lean on. I wasn’t confident back then as I am now. Were you? Are you now?

Therefore, check your privilege at the door. In the same way that white feminists identify with their victimization as women but ignore the privilege that racism grant them, and that black men scream racism yet see sexism as being trivial, black lesbians can perceive their own race, gender and sexual orientation oppression yet victimize transgender people. I’ve had to check myself. I didn’t understand, but it’s not for me to understand. It’s for me to have compassion and love. Even Caitlyn Jenner has a privilege over other transgender women and men because of her economic status and notoriety. Thus, there’s a hierarchy where there’s always someone trying to push someone down to be on top (even if it is at the bottom of the barrel). Let’s end that. 

You do not know have to understand or agree with one’s life. You just have to agree that they have his/her life and can live it as best as they possibly can. Just like my friend Christopher Long said on Facebook: “You do not have to relate to everyone, everywhere to empathize with anyone, anywhere.” We all need compassion. The word compassion according to Webster’s Dictionary means: “sympathetic concern for the suffering or misfortunes of others”. Be compassionate towards others who do not have your privilege.

We are all human. We all bleed the same. A little compassion could go a long way. It could have saved the lives of Blake, Leelah and the many others who didn’t think it would get better. Just live and let live. 

Sincerely,

A. Kenyatta Parks

Religious Oppression Restoration Bill Comes to Louisiana

Bobby Jindal

Piyush Jindal is at it again with pushing a Religious Liberty bill that could protect businesses that want to refuse service for same-sex weddings and deny benefits to employees in same-sex marriages.

Truth is all these religious freedom bills are labeled incorrectly. They should be called ‘Religious Oppression Restoration’ bills. On Meet the Press, Louisiana Governor Piyush Jindal (R) did not take an official position on the legislation, but typically Jindal supports legislation that strengthen religious freedom. Therefore, he chooses oppression in the name of religion and what is right. We’ve seen this before i.e. Middle Passage, slavery, the Holocaust, and colonialism.

Jindal wants to protect bigotry in the name of religion, but this is a political move because he thinks that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of marriage equality. This is a way to circumvent the Supreme Court’s ruling. Unlike the Indiana and Arkansas laws, the newly-introduced Louisiana legislation mentions same-sex marriage and marriage equality as a justification.

By extending religious protection to businesses, this law would allow restaurants to refuse service based on ‘assumed’ sexual preference. The assumption is left up to the business owner’s interpretation. That’s discrimination.

New Orleans has a city ordinance protecting against LGBT discrimination, but the rest of the Louisiana does not. New Orleans hosted major sporting events including the Final Four which will host the women’s Final Four in 2020. NCAA President Mark Emmert expressed concerned about Indiana’s ‘religious freedom’ law which is where the NCAA’s headquarters are. But this ‘religious freedom’ bill named Marriage and Conscience Act can adversely affect New Orleans and Louisiana’s ability to generate tourism revenue.

Equality Louisiana has a call-to-action for LGBT advocates to call their state representatives and senators to denounce this bill. THE Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is currently reviewing the Louisiana and could start calling for artists and events to avoid the state as early as next week. HRC called on the NFL to reject Atlanta’s bill for the 2019 Super Bowl if Georgia passes a similar law.

Piyush Jindal needs to sit down. These religious fanatics need to give understanding and love a chance. Remember that Jesus hung out prostitutes and sinners. No one was beneath him to receive love and understanding. Why we cannot be more like that? Why we have to live in judgment? Why we cannot live and let live? Just some questions we need to ask.

And Let Me Shut You Down

At the Senate confirmation hearing of Loretta Lynch for Attorney General, Republican U. S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina asked Lynch to explain if same-sex marriage should be legal why polygamy. Obviously, Graham wants to keep the sanctity of marriage between a man and woman ONLY. 

Senator Graham fumbled his words as he asked this question.By the way, did he say ‘Wrassling” Or did he mean wrestling? Please talk proper. Oh, respectability politics doesn’t apply to good ol’ white boys from South Carolina. Excuse my ignorance! I guess he didn’t know that 36 states have allowed same-sex marriage (with a few Southern notables such as my homestate Louisiana holding out). The U.S. Supreme Court will probably take this marriage equality case in May or June, 36 states have allowed same-sex marriage (with a few notables such as my home state Louisiana holding out).

As if to know the defeat of the ban of same-sex marriage is near, Graham asked, “Could you try to articulate how one can be banned under the Constitution and the other not?” By the way, did he say ‘Wrassling” Or did he mean wrestling? Please talk proper. Oh, respectability politics only applies to non-white folks. Excuse my ignorance! 

Lynch’s response was beautifully articulate and to the point. Basically, she shot him down. I don’t know about you, but I love it! 

Nine LGBTQ Stories Big Media Ignored in 2014

Laverne Cox and CeCe McDonald.
Laverne Cox and CeCe McDonald. (Photo by Sabelo Narasimhan/The Opportunity Agenda)

By Toshio Meronek, Truthout

Radical queer organizing was alive and well in the US in 2014; you just may not have heard about it in mainstream media.

The mainstream “Homosexual Agenda” in 2014 revolved around conservative issues like gay marriage and transgender military inclusion. That meant lots of important queer and trans stories didn’t get much of a voice.

Buzz about the criminalization of trans sex workers and the horror stories of undocumented queer people in immigration detention centers may have been muted by the Big Media gatekeepers, but these issues deserve a wider audience. Here are nine stories that will no doubt reverberate in 2015:

READ the rest of the story: HERE

Reprinted with permission of Truthout