‘We Were the Undeserving Throngs’

From Chronicle Review:

Being a Black Academic in America

In the wake of the scandal, The Chronicle Review asked graduate students, junior professors, and senior scholars what it’s like to be an African-American academic today.

“The first thing I learned at college was that as a black student I had ruined college for everyone else.”  Read more here.

I’ll be back in a future post to talk about my experiences from grad school in New England to mid-career at an HBCU in the midst of many micro and macro aggressions along the way.

Comment and discuss below.

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Retrieving Erotic Power: Part One

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My healthiest romantic relationships as an adult have been with three different people, one of them being a woman, none of them producing children or involving legal marriage, all three of them not being monogamous (I am good with monog or poly), and one of them being live in with a woman).

Commonality when it came to sex?

None of them forced sex on me, and that includes oral sex. I do not engage in receiving oral sex as a practice, and if I do oral sex, it tends to be with men. Rape does some really fucked up things to a mind, but so does physical and emotional abuse, and that happened at school and at home.  Black folk love to talk about strict households building up moral character in their children, but it also sets them up to be preyed upon by scavengers looking for tenderized flesh accustomed to casual cruelty and exploitation.

The man who raped me shortly after I turned 18 at Clark College forced oral sex on me before forcing his penis in me–twice. I was a virgin, but it does not matter–even if I’d fucked a football team before that asshole did what he did, he was wrong.  By the time I was 18 the damage to my mental health was set in–and sexual predators look at emotionally and physically abused people as perfect victims who are the most likely to not report, which is exactly why I did not report what was done to me after it happened.

I do not see all men as rapists, and I do not see all women as incapable of rape. I do not see myself as a victim–I am a survivor. Part of healing what’s wrong with my brain is getting to those pieces of my life that keep playing like old records in my head and affecting my decision-making and physical health, including my blood pressure and stress levels.

I’ve tolerated my own decision to maintain a celibate, lonely life for about 14 years, save for two encounters with two different male friends 9 years ago. I have no regrets about not marrying because I do not believe that the options that were presented to me were healthy–and I refuse to conform to social pressure.

Non-conformity to monogamous heteronormative coupling and being out as bi, poly-monog, leather, has been freeing and healing in so many ways, as being pro-consent. That last word consent is the most important piece.

Why?

Because it has been my experience that many if not most hetero men do not know the meaning of consent.

A poem is coming.

But first, a revelation as I heal and recover more personal power…

Soundcheck.

Most of my adult life I allowed people to tell me what my boundaries, needs, and spaces are or should be, what or who I should allow close to me, how I should react–mostly at my expense, emotionally and otherwise.

Black women are pressured into participating in our own gaslighting for the good of the collective, and those of us who question this way of thinking are perceived as troublesome or at the least hostile. When silence prevails, boundaries, needs, and spaces are not respected or met.

I wanted to break that cycle. It is one of the biggest reasons why I am, once again, back into therapy.

I am speaking of when communication is not happening, when consent and respecting boundaries, needs, and spaces are not being discussed or negotiated with regard to gaining and developing emotional access and intimacy.

As Black women we have the right to negotiate our own boundaries, as well as our own needs and spaces despite living in an environment that privileges men, particularly men with race and social class privilege.

Further, consent is not just about sexual contact.  In fact, it has less to do with sex, and more to do with one person treating another person as being more than something to consume and discard.

Consent means mutually respecting boundaries, needs, and spaces when it comes to gaining and developing emotional access and intimacy. It is also about people speaking up and speaking in a manner that is honest and free of passive-aggressive diction.

Finally, it is also about respecting each other’s humanity through communicating.

In short, do not assume I have or have not given consent.

Ask me. Discuss it. Negotiate consent as a reasonable person.

Ask questions and engage in discussion. Challenge assumptions, and engage in discussions about mutual and different boundaries, needs, and spaces.

I refuse to play into others’ assumptions about me or other human beings, so please provide that same opportunity to me and others.

Communication is key in building respect and trust, and so is practicing consent.

I cannot call you trustworthy or one who respects my worth as a human being without the mutual praxis of consent and communication because without that structure there is confusion and more often than not emotional and spiritual injury.   It cannot be forced or shaped out of obligation or tradition or expectation, and it certainly cannot be bought.

 

My latest podcast is definitely for the culture!

Good afternoon readers and listeners,

You might like this podcast—my guest Lisa Rose-Rodriguez talks about her work in reducing gun violence in Black communities with a focus on young Black men and boys.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/at-the-edge-thinkculture/2019/01/05/adapting-the-interpersonal-reducing-gun-violence-in-black-communities

How many leaders who shape policy in American institutions believe in the racist myth that African-Americans accept gun violence in our communities as a norm?  Dehumanizing African-Americans in the justice system and in mainstream media has kept victims from receiving needed treatment and remedies in medical settings such as emergency rooms, as well as receiving needed counseling.  Racial bias may have also blinded us to possible preventative solutions beyond criminalization.

Epidemiologist Lisa Rose-Rodriguez discusses her work to decrease mortality rates for African American men and boys through counseling and improvement of interpersonal connections.  As a board member of Connecticut’s Mothers United Against Violence, Lisa has worked with victims, and has advocated for a reinterpretation of gun violence as a public health issue that must be remedied by preventative counseling and treatment through local/state institutions, as well as nonprofit and grassroot organizations.

Lisa Rose-Rodriguez was born in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from Shaker Heights High School, she matriculated at Howard University in Washington, DC. There she upheld the tradition of attending an HBCU for three generations. She received a Masters of Public Health at the University of Connecticut and is completing a Ph.D. in Media Philosophy at the European Graduate School. img_1192

At The Edge – Think Culture 2018 Shows

Greetings readers and listeners! Happy Holidays!

I’ll be adding some poetry to my blog over the brief break. More podcasts are coming for 2019, but for now please download my latest podcast here:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/at-the-edge-thinkculture/2018/12/13/soulful-visions-of-the-speaking-self-ronald-mason

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Here’s my first 2018 episode featuring Ronald Mason:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/at-the-edge-thinkculture/2018/06/22/culture-makers-ronald-mason-and-spoken-word

Also, do check out my talk with Amanda Huron – Carving Out the Commons http://www.blogtalkradio.com/at-the-edge-thinkculture/2018/12/05/amanda-huron–carving-out-the-commons

Pick up Amanda’s book here:

https://www.amazon.com/Carving-Out-Commons-Organizing-Cooperatives-ebook/dp/B07B46FS9H/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1544020183&sr=1-1&keywords=amanda+huron

Support my website and podcast here –> cash.me/$drcat

My first book is still available too: https://mellenpress.com/book/How-Three-Black-Women-Writers-Combined-Spiritual-and-Sensual-Love-Rhetorically-Transcending-the-Boundaries-of-Language-Audre-Lorde-Toni-Morrison-and-Dionne-Brand/7973/

I am currently at work on my second book!

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Safe travels, and hugs/kisses for all my readers and listeners!

Quentin-questionable-Tarantino | Black Feminists

Quentin-questionable-Tarantino | Black Feminists.

Why does Quentin Tarantino believe himself to be an authority on Blackness or on African American history? Why do we continue to defend what seems to be Tarantino’s ever-growing and ever-public arrogance with regard to African Americans and racism?

 

REVIEW: Movie-Shuffering and Shimiling: Race,Degradation,Apathy in Netherlands [racism/sexism triggers]

REVIEW: Movie—Shuffering and Shimiling: Race, Degradation and Apathy in the Netherlands by Shantrelle Lewis.

Reading this review reminds me of the recent Spanish magazine cover featuring a depiction of Michelle Obama as a topless, head-wrapped slave.  I am also reminded of the ways in which Black women living in the so-called Western world have been and continue to be exploited, objectified, humiliated, and dehumanized in the name of “free speech,” “artistic license/freedom,” “being hip.”

I am also reminded of conversations I’ve had with some European men and women who proclaim the United States as less sophisticated than continental European countries with regard to race relations and acceptance of cultural differences.  Given my own experiences traveling through parts of Western Europe, I propose that what some people label as “sophisticated” may be in fact just more spin on a very visible and ugly legacy of hatred/fear of the Other.  Think of it as a reheating of a long brewing stew of racism with its base being the bones and marrow of European colonialism and enslavement of Africans and Asians.  In other words, to borrow from bell hooks’ essay “Eating the Other,” our bodies and our cultures continue to be (mis)categorized, commodified and consumed by those motivated by hegemonic forces who wish and need to see a perpetuation of eurocentric, phallocentric ideologies that dehumanize, silence, and ultimately disappear so-called racial/ethnic others through racist and misogynist discourse.

Is it any wonder I don’t go to movies anymore?  But we know that the movie industry is but a small part of a much larger problem when it comes to media, race, and gender.  I am not surprised at the persistence of racism and sexism/misogyny in Europe or the United States.  Simply put, I am tired of it.  I am tired of being subjected to the lasting impact of isms on the quality of my life.  I am tired of explaining to folk why having a Black president does not make the Western world free of its own racist poison, why having a Ph.D and a career as a professor does not give me immunity to the sexism and racism casually thrown at women of colordaily.

This is but one more example of how far the West has not traveled away from its legacy of slavery and colonialism, and in fact, seems unable to wrest itself from a dependency on othering and exclusion in order to define and distinguish itself.  It is a shallow and useless relationship based on lies and delusion, one that has no basis on reality, but continues to seek ways of feeding the addiction through the perpetuation of racist myths and stereotypes.  Meanwhile, the population of the planet continues to grow in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, and the West continues to “brown” and “blacken.”

As such, the practice of using racist scripts and images in mass media and entertainment in the West is not only unsophisticated, but small-minded.  We who are Black and Brown do have power, in that our wallets and our voices make a wonderful pair to reinforce how tired we feel about encountering racism and sexism in pop culture.  It is time to start using our power.