Ciara’s #GreatestLove: Our Valentines Day Weekend & Summer Bop

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.

If you’re like most of us on Team CiteASista you were too busy working or writing or parenting or some combination to make things happen in full force. But that’s what weekends are for and we’ve got a sure hit to get yours popping.

Team #CiteASista’s fave and fellow Metro ATL native Ciara released her new song and video “Greatest Love.” The song has a very sultry yet upbeat vibe and after watching/ listening to it way too many times in a row, we are both fans of the song and video. As you start to get your summer 2019 vibes playlists together, make sure you add this one to it.

Check out the song and video below & sound off in the comments with your thoughts on Ci-Ci’s new jam.

Books about Black Women to Add to Your Black History Reading List

Let our society tell it, Black women have never had an impact on history.  Black women have no stories to tell.  Black women’s roles are to support – but never overshadow –  their husbands, sons, brothers and white counterparts.  History tends to leave Black women’s stories untold or flatten their stories into a bite-sized, one-dimensional tales of piety, sacrifice, or perfection.

The truth is that Black women have always been innovators, strategist, radical thinkers, and pillars of every community. Yet, somehow, so many amazing stories of Black women have been lost to time.

Here’s a short list of compelling books about Black women for your Black History Month reading list that aren’t Michelle Obama’s Becoming (which I assume is on all our “to read” or “read” lists).

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics by Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, and Minyon Moore with Veronica Chambers

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Photo credit: Macmillian Publishers

This book tells the stories of four women who have been major players in American political systems.  These women met early in their careers and have helped each other navigate work dynamics, personal tragedies, career mistakes and more by creating a support system for themselves and the other black women around them. They, individually and collectively, have been driving forces in some of the major Democratic campaigns and political moments, including both Jesse Jackson’s and Hilary Clinton’s historic presidential campaigns and the Clinton Administration. In addition to recapping their biographies and careers, the women provide thoughts on the importance of building and nurturing your networks and finding mentors and allies who can push you forward and keep you sane.

Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry by Imani Perry

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Photo credit: Beacon Press

Most are familiar with Lorraine Hansberry’s play “A Raisin in the Sun”, the first Broadway play written and produced by a Black woman.  This book chronicles Hansberry’s short life before she died from cancer when she was 34 years old and proves that her famous play is just the tip of the iceberg.  Hansberry was dedicated to living a life true to her ideals.  Hansberry grew up the daughter of a prominent Black businessman in a middle-class Black family in Chicago.  She was an outspoken lesbian, feminist and Black rights activist who never shied from expressing her thoughts. Her crew included the who’s who of the day, including James Baldwin, Nina Simone, and Paul Robeson.   Hansberry was revolutionary.

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele

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Photo Credit: Macmillian Publishing

In the relatively few years since the Black Lives Matter movement started, it has forever changed our language around the systemic abuse and deaths of black people by police officers. The casual BLM fan may not realize that that the organization was started by women who wanted to make a change in their communities.  This book serves as the author’s biography and to the events that lead to the start of the BLM and how the movement changed the lives the author and her family.

The World According to Fannie Davis by Bridgett M. Davis

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Photo credit: Little, Brown and Company

This book is at the top of my personal list, so – full disclosure- I haven’t read it but am extremely excited for my copy to reach my doorstep.  The author tells the story of how her mother made ends meet, bought a house and paid for her college education by running the Numbers.  The Numbers was something like a lottery system that was prominent in black communities.  Though this is a story of one woman, the greater story displays examples of Black entrepreneurship and black people creating wealth and investing in their communities through underground economies.

This list is just a flake on the tip of the iceberg and there are so many black female experiences not represented in this extremely short list.  What books would you add to the list?

Top 5 Podcasts by Sistas

So, I may be the last person on earth that’s finally gotten into podcasts but I’m so glad I did!  Morning commutes are so much better by starting the day with a hearty chuckle or the feeling like you can do whatever you set your mind to. So, as we find our groove in 2019, I thought it would be fitting to list my Top Five Podcasts by Sistas!

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Jesus & Jollof

This is the newest podcast but it doesn’t hold back when it comes to making their mark.  Luvvie Ajayi and Yvonne Orji are the friends you hangout with at a kickback and laugh all night. These proud Nigerian women give us insight on what life is like growing up for them in America but never losing their roots. The started off their first episode letting us know that they named their Podcast Jesus & Jollof because those are two things they can’t live with out. Topics range from Nigerian love languages, From bottom to breakthrough and more. But don’t let the laughs fool you, they are also dropping knowledge geared towards success in all aspects of your life, with a reminder that Jesus is the foundation of their life.

 

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Hey Aunty!

Self-described as “fireside chats with black women who’ve been there”.  Hey Aunty! is taped in Australia and has a global reach dedicated to honor and love our Blackness. I’ve been listening for the past few months, and I love that black folks share experiences and similarities no matter what part of the world we reside in. Shared experiences, positive and otherwise, like figuring out if you still be code switching or asking why we are like this, will have you nodding your head and waving your hand in agreement, all while getting insight from our sistas from down under.

 

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Side Hustle Pro

I grew up being told that it’s important to have multiple streams of income.  When I got to college, my side hustle was doing hair. So, this podcast was right up my alley.  Known as the “first and only podcast to spotlight bold, black women entrepreneurs who have scaled from side hustle to profitable business”.  Side Hustle Pro has the best to ever do it  share their secrets like how to kick imposter syndrome to the curb or what it’s like to launch a chocolate factory in Harlem.  Do you have a side hustle and you’re looking for motivation on how to have it grow? This podcast is for you and anyone who’s simply looking for motivation.

 

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Small Doses Amanda Seales

According to my best friend, Amanda Seals is my kindred spirit and insisted that I check out her podcast. Known as “your favorite truth teller” Amanda gives insight on how to navigate life with real, raw, and relevant information. From the side effects of not having kids, to toxic masculinity and being outspoken, her episodes are engaging and entertaining.

 

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Rants & Randomness with Luvvie Ajayi

If you’re looking for consistent motivation/gem dropping from people who’ve been there mixed with society and pop culture, this is your podcast.  I tune in to my fellow Chicagoan with my notepad ready to receive all the information her show gives out.  Luvvie discusses trusting your gut, loving radically, and even saving edges! This podcast is where you see just how magical our people truly are.

 

Now I want to hear from you. Have you listened to any of the Podcasts in my top five? If so what are your thoughts?  What Podcasts are you currently listening to?

Share in the comments below and help a Sista grow her Library!

On #NappilyEverAfter and embracing #NaturalHair: A Review-ish & Personal Reflection

My hometown’s public school system committed to having 3rd and 4th-grade students learn how to swim. I’m an ‘80s baby and the ‘90s raised me, so “protective styling” options and swimwear accessories during the school year were very limited. I’ve never chemically treated my hair, so water and I had a unique relationship. So unique that I never let the shower water directly touch my face. I cupped the water with my hands and washed my face to avoid the fate of possible first- and second- degree burns induced by my mom using the hot comb.

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So, when swimming lessons came in 3rd grade, I was unprepared for a few reasons. I reported to the pool with a stocking cap and shower cap and thankfully, one of the Black teachers intervened, as she knew the tragedy that was about to happen. She then braided my hair in the pool locker room. I am grateful to her.

Growing up with natural hair has come with its shares of pride and struggle, so when I saw that “Nappily Ever After” (NEP) was premiering this past Friday, I had to see what it was all about. Because, you know – representation matters. And I’m also a fan of Sanaa Lathan. I enjoyed watching the movie so I wanted to share some quick thoughts with you all. If you have not seen the movie, stop here because *spoilers ahead*.

NEP tells the story of Violet Jones, a thirty-something who has a built a reputable marketing career advertising mainstream beauty standards. Violet has been dating Clint for two years and presumes that he will be proposing to her at her birthday party. To Violet’s dismay, her elegant engagement ring is presented as a cute Chihuahua, named Lola. When Violet confronts Clint, he shares that their two years has felt like “two years of first dates” and expresses that he doesn’t know much about her, nevermind marrying her. If Clint honestly felt that way, I’d like to know how he felt confident getting her such a large commitment, like a dog, for a birthday gift, but I digress.

I appreciated that that NEP scratched the surface of the complexity of beauty being tied to hair through the lens of a brown-skinned Black woman — and one with at least 4A hair at that. Society has conditioned us to believe that natural hair is beautiful if it is long, perfectly curly when wet, and styled effortlessly. And we typically see these women presented in the media, leaving a host of other beautiful queens out of the picture. Natural hair is also kinky and coily, can betray you with shrinkage when wet, and take multiple attempts to achieve a perfect style. This shouldn’t make these types of hair desirable or publicly represented. We are overdue for more women that show the full and beautiful spectrum of natural tresses on the big screen.

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Prior to Violet shaving her hair off, she believed that hair held her attractiveness. And thankfully, she learned that her confidence made her attractiveness despite whatever style she chose to wear on her head. Violet and her mom have forged a strong relationship over hair care. Violet depended on her mother to press her hair and in turn, her mother imposed her rigid standards of beauty, which Violet later projects onto Zoe. Violet followed “all of the rules,” but was disappointed that this formula didn’t equal a marriage proposal. I found it freeing that when Violet shaved her head, she also cut her mother’s expectations. I was happy that she was able to meet Will, a Black man who validated her appearance and was able to make natural hair products that benefitted her. I appreciated the exploration of a heterosexual Black man with an “unusual” profession, such as a hairdresser. I hope that this creates more conversations about gender roles in the Black community. Often, we talk about Black women assuming the roles of “a man,” but there is little analysis of Black men assuming the roles of “a woman.” There seems to be many assumptions about Will’s class and sexuality. But, we also see a single-parent business owner who wants to make a woman happy. However, I’m still processing that sensual head massage in the park…

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I liked that the film shed light on people making career changes later on in life. Richard Jones, played by Ernie Hudson, took a chance on a dream of and pursued being a male model. I found it hilarious that he was featured in a boxer brief advertisement which generated a lot of attention. Although Richard wasn’t initially supported by his wife, we’re reminded it’s never too late to go after you want. After all, you’ll never know until you try and someone may very well be impressed by your “junk.” ; ) *bah duhn tisk*

I like the diversity in the Black male characters presented in the movie, even though I didn’t agree with some of the perspectives presented. George Wallace played a small role as a rideshare driver and meets Violet after her bloody honey fiasco with the guy she meets in the club. Violet shares that Clint hurt her feelings and Wallace essentially shared with her that she shouldn’t have an issue if she wasn’t cheated on or (physically) abused. This scene irked me but showed an existing perspective. Women are seen as sacrificial beings. Society and sometimes family will tell us we have to get a man, “keep a man,” and raise our family while our dreams, mental health, and happiness be damned. We are supposed to always put our full selves out for everyone else and be satisfied with the empty glass left behind. A woman’s role on this earth is not merely to exist and be perfect while doing so. I appreciated that Clint was able to boomerang back to Violet with a ring, only for her to realize that it was a ring from a man she didn’t want.

I believe sometimes our shoes begin to hurt to help us realize that we’re walking in the wrong direction.

Overall, I enjoyed watching the movie. I found joy in its opening and closing with a pool scene. There is a lot of contention around Black people and swimming in general, beginning with slavery, stifled with segregation, and topped with Black swimming parties not actually being “swimming” parties. I liked that it didn’t end with a marriage proposal disrupting the idea that “Happily Ever After” has to begin with a wedding. It does start, however, when you realize you are living your life and controlling your temple on your terms and yours alone. I believe that there is more to Violet’s story before or if she chooses to walk down the aisle. I wish it was the first of a miniseries because I’d like to see her journey explored further.

I also wish her mama would have celebrated Juneteenth over the 4th of July, but that’s just me.

-Tia M. Howard


What are your thoughts on Nappily Ever After? Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think!

Serena is ALL of Us: #BlackWomenAtWork Edition

We’ve ALL been there. Unjustly taxed, silenced, and punished for speaking up. We’ve endured the frustrations, anger, and even rage that is all too common for #BlackWomenAtWork. We know what it feels like to be repeatedly tormented in a public place and to FINALLY release those frustrations…only to be told that we “aren’t a team player” or we “are making too much of things” or, my favorite of all, that we “aren’t looking at the other side”.

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Serena Williams, the GREATEST athlete of all time, is ALL of us. The BLACK WOMAN who won titles WHILE carrying her beautiful baby girl. The little Black girl from Compton who was taught to pursue her dreams, relentlessly. The same Black woman who shows up and gives her all, regardless of how people perceive her greatness. The very defitinition of, #JustDoIt.

#BlackWomenAtWork understand the risks involved when we say, “enough is enough”. We are raised from infancy to self-monitor, so that we don’t offend or threaten white folks in those spaces. Serena represents every one of our Aunties and Grannies who has ever given us these survival tips: “Go to work, get your check, and go home. That’s where you can really be yourself. These white people are NOT your friends”…

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Serena is every Black woman who has had ENOUGH of the double standard in the workplace and decides to call someone out on it. She’s every Black woman who gets TIRED of having to explain her natural hair to her bosses. She’s every Black woman who puts on a smile and a CUTE outfit, despite being policed for her attire being “too Black”. She’s every Black woman who has ever been ridiculed and mocked for expressing any emotion other than (white-approved) anger.

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She’s every Black woman who has been positioned as an “attacker” for speaking up for herself and challenging the systems that attack HER. She’s every Black woman that’s verbally questioned the equity, practices, and policies within the workplace, only to be made to feel that she isn’t displaying proper gratitude for simply being there in the first place. She’s every Black woman that’s been accused of cheating or having an unfair advanage, simply because she was better than everybody else. She’s every Black woman that’s been ostracized for being too Black, too strong, too outspoken, too committed to justice, and TOO TIRED of being mistreated. #BlackWomenAtWorkIMG_0678

Serena represents every Black woman who has ever wanted to demand an apology from a man who wronged her, but could not do it for so many different reasons. She’s every Black woman who has wanted to breakdown and cry in the boardroom, but feared the repercussions of being that vulnerable and that human in an unsafe space. #BlackWomenAtWork

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She’s every Black woman who has had to put her own frustrations aside to ensure that the Black women coming behind her don’t have to fight the same battles. Serena is every Black woman who has comforted another sista, in public and in private, after the world has beat them up for being…themselves. She’s every Black woman who has stood beside another Black woman and said, “I’m with you, sis. We can fight against this, together”, in spite of her own pain. #SerenaAndSankofa

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While she didn’t ask for this weight or representation, Serena is ALL of us. Serena is a CHAMPION and she deserves better. We all deserve better. Serena reminds us that we can demand better, every day. We love you, Queen! #SerenaWins

 

 

*Image rights belong to respective owners. 

 

New Music Friday: Nicki Minaj “Queen”

Nicki Minaj has released her highly anticipated 4th Studio Album QUEEN today and the internet is ablaze.

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For full disclosure, I’m a Nicki fan and have never steered clear of admitting this even when I have to express my disappointment of some of her actions (e.g. her commentary on sex work). At the first playthrough, I found myself infatuated by the overall sound of the album, the seamless transitions between the songs, and variation of the imagery in the lyrics and sounds of the beats.

Like most Rap fans who genuinely enjoy hearing *Black* women Rap, I often have to wait a moment and listen to the music on my own as a means of weeding through stans, perpetual critics, and people who generally hate anything and everything a Black woman does no matter what.

DkRQlgTXcAAywLr.jpg I am, however, enamored by several tracks on the album and feel the tweets, posts, and reaction messages are warranted– finally. I say this because while I love Nicki, I have not liked any album as much as I’m enjoying Queen since Pink Friday and that is really hard to admit both publicly and in written form. This isn’t to suggest that I thought Nicki’s albums were bad. Again, I. Am. Not. Saying. Nicki. Ever. Had. A. Bad. Album.

I always appreciate artists pushing their creativity and trying new things. This is what Nicki did with Roman Reloaded and Pink Print. This is what Kanye did with MBDTF and 808s. This is what 3 Stacks did if you listen to his sound on Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik versus Speakerboxxx/Love Below. 

Queen sounds like a return to Nicki’s earliest sound on Pink Friday and the lyricism that made many of us (me) fall in love with her. The samples on the album are reminiscent of 1990’s Rap heyday particularly those on Barbie Dreams, Good Form, and Coco Chanel. While the tracks on Queen have a range from critiques and call outs of male attention and affection, reminders of her lyrical growth and personal development, and even showing ownership of her body; there are, however, some places where Nicki seems to show she has yet to learn from constructive criticism. Though I hope Nicki will continue to grow and learn from her fans and even the commentary from her critics, I would be lying if I said I was not in love with this album so far…

All that said, my personal favorite tracks on the album (in order) are–

  1. LLC
  2. Barbie Dreams
  3. Hard White
  4. Ganja Burns
  5. Chun-Li

I’m excited to continue listening to the album and see how the tracks make me feel as time goes on. However, it’s still early and I’ll be curious to see what the mainstream says. *eyeroll* Have you all heard Nicki’s new album? What are your favorite tracks? Sound off in the comments/ on twitter and let me (us) know.

Three Songs by Black Women to Add to Your Summer Rotation

I have a love/hate relationship with new music because I miss the days of things being clever versus on the nose. Nevertheless, I’m a huge music fan and I listen to everything and almost anything once– except EDM. Issa no for me dawg.

Either way, summertime playlists are a staple for us as Black women and I thought I’d add three songs that are in heavy rotation for me this summer. I try to post music that I know most people haven’t heard, but Janelle Monae is an icon at this point so she slid in because I’m obsessed with the song. Either way, check them out– the styles are all very different!

Janelle Monáe- I Like That 

CupcakKe- Hot Pockets 

Amber Mark- Heatwave 

What non-mainstream songs are on your summer playlist? Sound off in the comments.

Grief and Betrayal: What Happens When Black Men Betray Us?

Over the past few weeks, social media has been in a whirlwind of think pieces and “call-ins”, as we (society) have grappled with the realizations that some of our faves (actors, entertainers), may not be as perfect as *we* (society) once thought. PLEASE do not read this as being in defense of ANY of the egregious acts of Cosby, Nas, Kanye, R. Kelly, or any other Black man that has recently made pop culture news for their thoughts or actions. I have ZERO desire, whatsoever, to defend any of that. I do wonder, however, how we can make space for more than one thing to be true at a time? AND, how can we allow folks to painfully interrogate/accept these truths within our communities? Is it possible, that SOME folks, may be both grateful that we (Black women and girls) are FINALLY seeing some accountability and justice, while also experiencing grief over the loss?

Before I start, here’s a NECESSARY disclaimer: I am NOT a pop culture critic, nor do I claim to be one. However, I have read a lot of different threads of folks calling Black communities, particularly Black women, out and in for their disbelief of Cosby’s convictions, Kanye’s rants (*insert eye roll here*), the #muting of R. Kelly, and the new allegations of interpersonal partner violence made by Kelis against her ex-husband, Nas. I want to suggest to you that maybe, just maybe, the feelings of disbelief are not about these particular men, but are instead about what they (may have) represented.

Before you write this off as another, “Cosby represented Black fatherhood and we can’t just throw that away” op-ed, hear me out. When working with folks who have experienced trauma and betrayal, it is more common than not for survivors to feel torn between what they believe they should be feeling, and what they are actually experiencing towards the people/person/relationship/experience that violated and betrayed them. Part of this dissonance is related to processing and wrestling with feelings of grief, for and/or towards someone that they feel they should be happy is gone and/or for something that they feel they should be relieved has ended.

Believe it or not, some folks experience grief and are immediately angry, some are confused, some in disbelief, some relieved, some saddened, some enraged, some even grateful…and every other feeling that you could imagine. Much of this complexity is because grief doesn’t only apply to the physical loss of a person. We can grieve people, places, things, relationships, experiences, could-haves, should-haves, would-haves….the list goes on and on. Given this, is it at all possible, that SOME folks are grieving the (informal and one-sided) relationships and representations that they may have once experienced with these celebrities?

Now, WE know that when Black men mess up or are wronged in some way, it’s usually (historically) Black women that show up on the front lines for them. WE also know that, when we are hurt, mistreated, and even murdered, it’s usually other Black WOMEN that show up and mourn for us. To be clear: We DO NOT have to let these folks back in to our homes, earphones, tv screens, or hearts, simply because they once provided some form of entertainment or artistic pleasure for us. We DO NOT (and should not) have to apologize for the terrible things that they have done, for the sake of #theculture. That is a cycle of violence that has been sustained and preserved by our culture and communities for far too long.

We CAN, however, sit discomfortably in the process that it takes to accept that the person/place/thing/relationship/representation/experience that we once knew and believed in, is not *that* anymore. Feelings of betrayal aren’t assuaged away simply because, “no one should feel sorry for them”. While that may be true for many of us, it’s normal to feel betrayed by (the relationship you felt you had with) someone you once admired or respected (yes, even if that person only PLAYED a beloved character on a classic tv show).

I guess my hope in sharing this, is that we can add some nuance to the conversation about why SOME folks are struggling to come to terms with the news. After all, a consequence of becoming attached to/invested in (via time, money, viewership, etc) any (public) figure is knowing that at any moment, they could betray the trust/relationship that we once had in/with them (*knock on wood that Queen Michelle Obama won’t ever leave me hanging out here*).

If you see/hear someone saying, “I’m not sure how to feel about all of this”, consider for a moment that they may be grieving a relationship that they once held to/with that person’s art, music, entertainment, portrayal, etc.. While it should go without saying, we also know and unapologetically believe that feeling (momentarily) conflicted over consuming/eliminating one’s art does not AT ALL compare to the necessity of valuing and protecting Black girls and women.

As consumers, we are often called to separate art from reality, entertainers from their on-stage personas, characters from real people…that’s just part of the *relationship* that we can’t ignore. We also can’t ignore that these informal relationships can be complicated and messy and not necessarily black and white, particularly if *we* are grieving and/or feeling betrayed. If you have any thoughts about this process of grief and betrayal, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

On #Scandal, “The List,” & A Culture of Workplace “Sex”

I turned in a full draft of my dissertation proposal and finally got a moment to breathe. As an over-committed graduate student working to break the cycle of doing too much (in my best of Moneybagg Yo et al. voices), I decided to allow myself the space to watch four hours of TV this week.

In T.V. time, four hours is nothing. Four one hour episodes, two movies, eight episodes of a 30 min hit, etc. NOTHING. But given just how far behind I was, it was enough time to catch up on Scandal thanks to the lack of episode airings due to the Winter Olympics. I’ve never been happier to have a TV show I love disrupted by sports in my life.

At any rate, I finished my Scandal catch up with the episode “The List”. If you haven’t seen it, spoilers ahead so click off this post.

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The episode enters the Me Too discussion and follows the story of two recent graduates hoping to make it big in D.C. The pair are roommates and serve as Congressional aids/ Interns. At the start of the episode, we see a gorgeous Black woman (Alicia? Alisha? Francis played by Marquise C. Brown) who goes to buy herself a gun and then eventually find out she’s missing and given the purchase presumed dead. It is later revealed the Black woman (t.w.: suicide) killed herself as a result of being unable to gain a full-time position after the close of her internship because of a professional decision. With Olitz, because lol, on the case we find out the true cause of her demise was her unwillingness to participate in administering sexual favors for men she worked with/ for. Her roommate eventually comes forward (at the end of the episode) and it is revealed there’s a list that floats around D.C. so men know who to hire based on their willingness to perform sexual acts and attractiveness because these things are rewarded more than good work.

Whew.

I was particularly interested when Fitz asked Liv about the power dynamics that led to their relationship (but that’s another post entirely) and it brought up flashbacks for me about my own life.

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I once dated a man in my field for a few months only to find out he’d slept with a student who had an internship in his office. Though I spoke with the woman in question and she seemed to have some agency in the situation, I couldn’t stop thinking about the power dynamics associated with men in leadership sleeping with young, new, burgeoning professionals. I immediately thought about my own situation when watching this Scandal episode and wondered just how much agency does one have in a situation where we have to choose between our jobs/ livelihoods and elect to draw a line in the sand as they relate to professional ethics?

The Me Too movement and even this episode of Scandal shows just how differently workplace harassment manifests and how it can be particularly devastating for Black women. I’ll never forget the ways in which people immediately believed the tales about Harvey Weinstein until my fellow Hampshire Alumna and fave Lupita Nyong’o came forward. People couldn’t rationalize that Nyong’o would have been a victim because we position conversations about sexual assault as those where white women are victims and where Black women are willing participants. Because we rely on old stereotypes about the salaciousness of the Black female body (read: Jezebel) and when taken in tandem with white supremacist notions about beauty, we assume no one would assault a Black woman because Black women aren’t even worthy of assault. FFS.

What a ridiculous yet prevalent notion?

If you think I’m nuts, take a gander at the ways in which your favorite local Ashy men on Twitter and white supremacists talk similarly about Black women, our bodies, and our worth. It’s astounding, honestly.

I was shocked at the lack of attention given to this episode of Scandal because it tackled something that women everywhere could identify with.

Trans women (of color) experience sexual violence and harassment at alarmingly high rates.

Black women experience sexual violence and harassment at dangerously high rates

Non-Black women of color experience sexual violence at startling high rates.

White women experience sexual violence and harassment at high rates.

WOMEN. Experience. Sexual. Violence. And. Harassment. At. High. Rates.

And yet, one of the first mainstream primetime T.V. shows to talk about this subject with such nuance and proper timing and I’ve heard almost nothing in the blogosphere? Maybe I missed it because I can no longer live tweet. Maybe I haven’t done enough of my Googles. But this episode had me in my feelings as both a survivor of and champion against sexual harassment and violence. It also reminded me of the ways in which I traded on my own ethics about not speaking up regarding the man I dated and his misdeeds because I’d feel guilty about seeing a Black man fired. There goes that socialization for racial loyalty showing up despite my commitment to a Black feminist practice–I guess I have even more to unlearn.  This brought me back to Mama Pope’s monologue on the ways in which we as Black women work to save everyone even at the expense of saving ourselves.

 

Being in student affairs has made me particularly w(e)ary of conversations around workplace sexual violence and assault because a quick scan of apps and hashtags around conference season shows just how many people who are supposed to be protecting us and our students on campus are the very people committing some of the most heinous acts of violence.

Power dynamics are always at play and while I’ll never take away someone’s agency, I feel inclined to question how much agency a person has in a situation where their future depends on sexual compliance? It was about time for a mainstream television show to highlight this conversation and for us to be forced to contend with how these dynamics can have particularly catastrophic consequences for Black women–even if it is on a fictional television show.

And while I appreciate Scandal for tackling this issue at all, I was reminded by a friend in talking through this post of the ways in which Mellie and Fitz’s initial reactions to Olivia’s desire to take on the case were based in misogynoir and privilege. Fitz’s (white) male privilege had shone through as he didn’t fully grasp the big deal around this particular case and this particular girl (for a while) and Mellie was willing to listen to Jake and wait on seeking legislation around this issue until the face of the movement was Alisha’s white roommate. Yikes. It was a subtle reminder of the ways in which white women betray the sisterhood with their complicity in narratives around Black women’s experiences with sexual violence… And while this is just a show, Lupita’s experiences weren’t.

And silence.

Though Scandal has moved on to other storylines and I can’t wait to see Liv reclaim her power on the show, I am reminded of the power in each and every one of us as Black women calling out workplace harassment and sexual violence. We don’t owe racial loyalty to Black men when it comes in the name of perpetual harm (physical or otherwise) against ourselves and other (Black) women.

I don’t have a neat little bow to wrap this post with, but I hope that we’ll begin to have more real conversations about the impact of sexual violence and harassment on Black women. In the meantime, I’ll be doing my part to call out research that continues to silence Black women’s experience and whitewash dialogues around campus sexual violence. It’s the least I can do within my locus of control and a way for me to continue my commitment to uplifting and centering Black women’s experience.

Our stories and truths are ours for speaking, controlling, and deciding what to do with; We must take command of them to avoid being silenced.

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New Music Friday: Cardi-B x Be Careful

Cardi-B released her most recent single “Be Careful” and many consider it to be a musical warning shot at her cheating fiance.

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I don’t know the ins and outs of Cardi’s relationship, but what I hear in this song is a pain all too familiar. One that my friends be they Ph.D. or No-D, middle class or no cash, a pain that Black women everywhere can empathize with:

Heartbreak, embarrassment, and frustration(s).

Cardi’s song is an ode to the ways in which Black women continue to uplift and support Black men only for our love, labor, and affection to be abused in favor of women who “don’t even know your [his] middle name”. Whether this is based on her own experiences or not, the story she’s telling is one many of us have had to and may continue to have to deal with.

It’s gone hurt me to hate you, but loving you’s worse… – Cardi

I would almost never tell a woman to leave a man because if she leaves and misses him, it’s on me; and if she stays and he continues to hurt her, she knows I don’t think he’s deserving. But my advice in the larger scheme of things is this:

Stop chasing these men, sis.

Men who are unwilling to abide by the commitments they sought are not worth an early grave, gray hair, and weight gain (among other stress indicators) you may have to endure. You should NEVER have to ask a man to be careful with you–he should already want to be careful… Especially if you’re the reason “he acting out now he got an audience”.

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In a world where women have more opportunities than ever in their careers and along the lines of financial independence, it is perfectly reasonable to be more selective in your love life. It is also okay to want companionship and support of a partner. But we as women must not come to internalize our worth as tied to a man. Your value is not tied to a man who loves you, a man’s love for you, and how much you’re willing to withstand public and private humiliation. By virtue of your Black womanhood, you are worthy.

You.

Are.

Worthy.

I appreciate the vulnerability and honesty Cardi put into this song. It’s also a pain I’ve come to work through more recent than I care to admit… But you deserve better. She deserves better. WE deserve better.

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Check it out Cardi’s latest song on Tidal, Spotify, and Apple Music!