American Nightmare

After reading Kevin P. Keating’scleveland-visitor-bureau post in, “Cleveland’s Heart of Darkness,” I felt a need to respond to his description of racism and classism in my hometown:

I lived it everyday in suburbia. I faced it everyday, as did my parents, brother, and most of my relatives. My parents thought moving to Bedford Heights would protect us from the ills that plague our culture–it was there in suburbia–just hidden under euphemisms.

This latest incident in Cleveland comes as no surprise–but through it all, the people still come together even when the rich and privileged don’t care. Notice I didn’t say that this was about race. Race is only one part here–SOCIAL CLASS has ALWAYS been the measurement by which the institutions and those running them have dispersed services and care in most cities. You see just as many if not more poor Whites getting ill-treatment as Blacks and Hispanics. We just tend to be locked up at higher rates.

To be poor is to be invisible in this country. That, to me, is part of the horror story unfolding in my hometown.

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Birdsfoot Trefoil: The Lady Of Charity (Part One) Story #6 [30 Stories in 30 Days]

Birdsfoot Trefoil:  Lady Of Charity (Part One) Story #6 [30 Stories in 30 Days]birdsfoot-trefoil

By Cherie Ann Turpin

The stench of old urine was almost overwhelming.  The floor had not been mopped, and the desk chair itself was covered in dried urine.  Emma Smith was forced to sit in that very chair for an entire week.  At eight years old Emma was potty trained and normally would not have urinated all over her school uniform, her desk chair, and the floor around her.

Emma was a transfer student from St. James Parish School, a Catholic school in Cleveland to Saint Margaret Parish School, a Catholic school in Bedford, a quiet suburb far from the city.  Her family arrived as new residents of the adjacent suburb Bedford Heights, part of the early wave of African-Americans migrating to outer suburbs for better schools and clean streets during 1974.  During their first week of suburbia, eggs were smashed against the side of the tan, three-bedroom house, and the word “nigger” was drawn in large black letters in their driveway.  Dan Smith was short, reddish-brown, and stocky, with prematurely grey hair and matching grey eyes that tended to frighten strangers.  Dan, still wearing his mechanic’s uniform, stood outside in his driveway staring at the slur crudely drawn, as if to comprehend the implications of bringing his family into a war scenario.  His normally calm face drew tight with silent anger, anger he swallowed as he washed and scrubbed away the offensive word from his property.

“But the schools out here are better, Dan,” pleaded his wife Janet, her large brown eyes watching him mark the kitchen floor with dirt from his work boots while he paced.  “The kids need to be away from the city.  It’s not safe for them.” Janet watched Dan as he stopped in mid-pace and said, “and this is safe?”

Emma’s first day at Saint Margaret’s was marked by the initial reaction of the two girls to her appearance at the bus stop one cloudy Monday.  The two were waiting for the school bus at the end of Deer Run Drive, and were curious about the waif-like girl with three big plaits and cinnamon skin wearing a dark blue uniform and neat white oxford shirt with a rounded collar.  Her brand new saddle shoes were black and white leather.  She carried a Scooby-Doo lunchbox full of snacks, fruit, and a cheese sandwich. The two blond girls wore identical uniforms, and carried lunch boxes as well.  Emma spoke first, smiling.  They stared at her for one whole minute, silently.

“Why do you talk so proper,” responded one of the girls. She made a “eww” face, and whispered to the other girl.  The yellow bus appeared, and the two girls got on first and moved to the middle seat, while Emma sat up front.  The entire busload knew that the Black girl talked “weird” by the end of the bus trip.

Third grade teacher Miss May was not amused at the prospect of her classroom becoming integrated.  By the time the urine incident happened, she had routinely downgraded Emma’s homework and marked her as disruptive in class for asking questions.  Unfortunately for Emma on that fateful day, the row where she sat had been punished because one student spoke out of turn: no bathroom or playground breaks for the entire afternoon.  Emma tried to hold the pee inside, and begged to be allowed to go to the toilet.

Miss May, a tall, thin, stern woman with cold grey eyes shrouded by spectacles and short bangs, was not moved.  She watched the little girl squirm and finally, as the urine flowed, cry silently, ashamed and humiliated.  Emma’s luminous brown eyes lost its shine that day, and grew duller as the week progressed and the smell lingered.  Her little classmates were already hostile to having a Black girl in their midst; they laughed at her in the playground and on the school bus taking her home.

“Why don’t you like me?” Emma asked Miss May, as the class filed in a row to depart for the weekend.

Miss May paused for a moment, then bent down, looking at the sad girl, “Of course I like you, Emma.” Some of the girls in line giggled.

Emma felt something break inside herself, and a voice near her ear began to speak: she lies, bitter, angry woman.  Emma looked around to see who was talking, but saw no one.  I am here, child, take notice of my voice.


To be continued….

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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?


DC Slave Revolt: The Flight of the Pearl

H-Net Discussion Networks – DC Slave Revolt.

Know your history.  Washington, DC, long known for its past as a part of the slave-owning South, was shocked one fateful morning in 1848 when seventy-seven slaves disappeared from their posts and were later discovered to have escaped via ferry up Chesapeake Bay headed north towards freedom.

The past, present, and future have a habit of crossing paths more often than one would like to admit, especially in these troubled times.  Lest you forget those ancestors who lived in the midst of that great evil “that pecular institution,” read the post I provided for you, and think about those who persist in invoking that same evil in the name of politics and racial hatred (we have politicians on the Right who seem to think that enslaving Africans was beneficial for my ancestors).  Calling forth those ancestors to protect us from that evil from reemerging on the land is also Afrofuturism.  Ashe!


Race and Sexuality w/Tristan Taormino & Cherie Ann Turpin 07/26 by AfroerotiK | Blog Talk Radio

Race and Sexuality w/Tristan Taormino & Cherie Ann Turpin 07/26 by AfroerotiK | Blog Talk Radio.

Ladies and gentlemen, this time I get to be the call-in guest.

This is definitely a show you will want to listen to up close and personal, and indeed, you will want to join the discussion.

From AfroerotiK’s blurb about the upcoming show: “In the adult industry, white women are “Hot,” Latina women are “Exotic,” Asian women are “Dolls,” and black women are   “B!tchez.” Black men are “Mandingos,” and  “N!ggaz,” and white men run the entire show.  Join us for an in-depth conversation about race and sexuality where we talk about the implications and effects of continued stereotypes and racism in the adult industry and the how it affects perceptions in society.  In the house will be two dynamic ladies helping to peel back the layers of how race and sexuality impact culture.

Tristan Taormino is an award-winning writer, sex educator, speaker, radio host and feminist pornographer. She is the editor of 25 anthologies and author of seven books, including The Secrets of Female Ejaculation and Great G-Spot Orgasms and her latest, The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge. She writes an advice column for Taboo Magazine. Check out her radio show, Sex Out Loud, on the Voice America Variety Channel.

Cherie Ann Turpin is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of the District of Columbia. Dr. Turpin’s research areas include African Diaspora Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, World Literature, Multicultural American Literature, and Film. She recently published How Three Black Women Writers Combined Spiritual and Sensual Love: Rhetorically Transcending the Boundaries of Language.  She’s also host to an online radio show on BlogTalkRadio: At the Edge: An Afrofuturist Salon.”