Archive for the ‘black women bloggers’ Category

The Post-Racial Prince and Princess

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

princess and frog

Well, what d’ya know? It seems that Disney has finally gotten around to including an African American in its pantheon of royal animations. ‘The Princess and the Frog,’ set in New Orleans and featuring an African American Princess Tiana, is set to be released later this year in December. Strangely, while Prince Tiana is black, her dashing prince is…well…gosh…darn…I don’t know what he’s supposed to be? Do you? Anglo-Rican? Some unknown Brazilian actor with a slight Spanish accent does the voice over for the goofy looking Prince Naven of Maldonia. What’s wrong with a black prince?

Well, everyone knows –including Disney, evidently — that black men, especially ones that are princes, don’t much choose dark-skinned black women to be their princesses (unless you get a prince by the last name of Obama, of course).

But let me not be petty.

I haven’t had a chance to check, but I’m sure the scores of blogs here in cyberspace that promote interracial dating and marriages as the way black women should go (and, boy, are there a lot of them!) are hailing Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” as a sign from God. Maybe they are right.

This newest animation is certainly a sign of the so-called “post-racial” times in which we find ourselves coming as it does after the election of a bi-racial president.

Oh well, I guess black women and girls should feel special. Not only is Prince Tiana Disney’s first black princess, she’s also Disney’s first American princess.

(By the way, actress Anika Noni Rose does the voice over for Princess Tiana. Oprah Winfrey does the voicing for her royal mother Eudora.)

What d’ya know? The giant of cultural myth making and cultural myth preserving Disney is releasing an interracial love story in animation Just tell me this: Does the movie end with the promise that the interracial couple lived happily ever after?

What A Year! What a Year!

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

2008!

It was the best of times and the worst of times for fire-breathing, justice loving, loud mouth, nappy head, community organizing, Spirit conscious, passionate, opinionated, thinking women of faith. Whew! The year’s momentous events gave us lots to talk about, marvel over,  yell and scream at each other about, pray for, disagree about, organize for and against, be grateful for, be pissed about, mutter under our breaths over, laugh about, dance about, and give God thanks for.

There were days I couldn’t wait to get to the blog to weigh in on a topic. There were other days when I’d rather cut a vein than face the computer and think up something  to blog about. Some discussions here on the blog got so heated, contentious, and snarky, well, let’s just say that it’s a good thing it all took place in blogosphere instead of face-to-face, across the kitchen table. Those who couldn’t take the heat stomped away vowing never to return. Others slumped back and took the “high road” of righeous silence.  While the rest of us stayed in to hash it out, not caring whether we ever agreed or saw things the other’s way, just content to have somewhere to say what was on our minds. On other occasions and on other topics close to our hearts as women, we were each others’ confidants, cheerleaders, prayer partners, soul sisters, and ace boon coons.

Thought I’d list my Top Ten favorite discussions from this past year (not in any particular order).

  1. The discussion that ensued as a result of the post I did on the mother daughter conflict between writer Rebecca Walker and her larger-than-life writer mother Alice Walker, and the daughter’s tell all accounts about Mommie Dearest and her maternal flaws.
  2. My rant about black women’s up-in-arms outrage over the sexist and misogynistic attacks against Michelle Obama and their teeth-sucking, hypocritical  silence when similar attacks were directed at Hillary Clinton.
  3. “Them Baptists” was my tirade against the Southern Baptist church and misogynism that gets cloaked under talk about biblical authority so as to protect itself from scrutiny and de-construction.
  4. All of us in blogosphere have the 2008 Elections to thank for sharpening our writing, our thinking, and our understanding of American politics, American culture, and American religion. Click on anything in the archive about Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin and you’ll find sparks. You’ll also find out why Americans love to evoke the First Amendment when their insensitive, ill conceived comments get backed up against the wall.
  5.  Prop 8, homophobia, and the black church is a favorite because it gave me a chance to think out loud, theologize on the run, and stand back and see for myself what I believe and where I stand as a Christian, minister, and biblical scholar on the topic of homosexuality.
  6. Hey, why we’re at it, let’s not forget our discussion of abortion, Sarah Palin, and all things Evangelical (that’s Evangelical with a capital “E,” mind you).
  7. Jessica’s “Sunday Morning Confession” guest blogpiece on not being able to endure Sunday Morning church services anymore kicked up a lot of dust on the blog and caused sparks to fly.
  8. Women mentoring women is a topic that never fails to get my goat, as they say. And I want to thank the Young ‘uns who read this blog for coming on with hands on the hips and getting us Ancient  Ones straight on where we have failed them. Cough. Cough.
  9. Excuse me while I pat myself on the back.  I love the blogpiece I wrote in defense of Silda Spitzer, Carlita Kilpatrick, and wives who stay with cheating husbands. That one is for big girls. Pour the wine. Hmmm…I really gotta get going  writing a book about love and the loss of innocence. I really wax eloquent when I’m on that topic.
  10. And then there’s the discussion about Barack Obama, Rick Warren, and who’s a Christian and who’s not that had everyone’s religious drawers in knots. We will have occasion to revisit this topic again in January, I’m sure.

Blogging has taken up a lot of my time. Special thanks my friends who have done without my friendship on occasion and my family who has had to do without my ministrations because they love someone who is blogger. The husband that lives in my house just shakes his head and makes up the bed himself. The teenager who lives in my house can’t figure out why anyone would sit before a computer and voluntarily write anything that causes them to anguish over grammar, punctuation, syntax, or organize their  thoughts before blurting them out.

Writers are only as good as what they read. You all know my love for books.  But I must come clean here at the end of the year and give a shout out to blogs and bloggers that keep me informed and whose lively writing, deep passion, searing intelligence, sharp wit, and/or infuriating points of view frequently give me just the jolt I need to think my own thoughts on whatever blog topic it is that I’m tackling on a given day. A soul sister shout out to: Aunt Jemima’s Revenge,Callahan Thinks, Anderson@Large, Womanist Musings, Sojourner’s PlaceThe Kitchen Table, Professor Kim, The Black Snob, HuffingtonReport, and Progressive Revival (where I have a blog column). (Lord, who have I forgotten to include on this blogroll?)

Finally, despite the time blogging has gobbled up, I’ve learned a lot from readers and appreciate the virtual friends,  the sho’ nuff colleagues, and the flesh-and-blood devoted and not-so-devoted blog readers  I’ve gained over the year. Heck, I’m even grateful to those of you who drop by to let me know that you disagree adamantly with my views, my right to speak, and my very being. You have helped make me the headstrong, clear thinking, confident women of faith I am today.

Thanks and Happy New Year to everyone.

And now I close with a song I’ve been dying to post here on the blog even though it has absolutely nothing to do with anything we’ve been talking about lately. But you all know how much I love me some “heartbreak” ballads. Big girl music. It’s the kind of record a woman plays on the last night of the year for the last time, just before turning the page to a new chapter on her life.

Enjoy!

(I’ll be back on Monday, January 5th. I’m off to cook my black-eye peas and  candied yams before the New York comes in, and then off to Watch Night service to see the New Year in with the rest of the saints!)

And You Call Yourself A Christian- Part 2

Friday, December 19th, 2008

So what if it’s taken two days for me to calm down, gather myself and weigh in on the Rick Warren controversy. Barack Obama’s choice of  pastor of Saddlebrook Church  and new voice of the Evangelical Right Rick Warren to pray at his swearing-in ceremony has progressives everywhere howling in protest. I haven’t been able to comment for seeing red. The truth is that I wasn’t simply disappointed when I heard that Obama had chosen Warren to be part of his inaugural ceremony. I nearly lost my salvation. I’m kidding. But only a little.

Warren and ObamaI know we’re supposed to be won over by the fact that Warren is allegedly the face of a kinder, gentler generation of Evangelicals. Warren, touted as kingpin of a new breed  of religious conservatives, speaks out against poverty and has lent help to orphans of HIV/AIDS  in Africa, both of which are commendable of course. But don’t be fooled by Warren’s relaxed, Hawaiian shirt wearing, California style of compassionate conservative social justice. Rick Warren is as against women’s equality, against gay rights, anti-choice, and anti-stem cell research as the old Right he fancies himself to replace. He admits that the main difference between himself and rabid conservative James Dobson is a matter of tone. This Purpose Driven Evangelical has a purpose in mind as he made clear when he muscled his way into presidential race by hosting a pastor’s forum that forced McCain and Obama  to show up to answer questions. Rick Warren is the new kingpin politicians must answer to to win the Evangelical vote.

Here’s my challenge to those of us who don’t fit, or refuse to fit, under the tent  Rick Warren and his brand of new Evangelicals are pitching.

Progressive Christians can not afford to let a new face of conservative religious operatives come on the scene and  dominate and define the national discourse on what it means to be Christian.

We have sat by for the past 20 years and let the Religious Right hurl spittle and scripture at the rest of us until we recoiled in dignified, but silent disgust, and in our silence, left it to the Religious Right to frame for America and the media what is Christian orthodoxy and what is not.

Those of us who do not subscribe to Warren’s brand of Christianity must make it clear that conservatives, whether they be old line conservatives or new conservatives in sheep’s clothings, are not the only ones who pray and can talk about values. New Evangelicals don’t get to pose questions about integrity, loyalty, character and their understandings of the teachings of Jesus Christ to determine for the rest of us whether they got it right.

Above all, the conservatives  are not the only ones who get to say what the Bible has to say about the social issues of our day. Gay rights. Abortion. Women in the Pulpit. Above all, we have to make it clear that contrary to what conservatives think intolerance is not a Christian virtue. Nor is it proof that one is a true Christian.

Progressive Christians have to got to step up to the mike and make clear that there’s more than one way to be a Christian, more than one way to read the Bible, and that for every passage in the Bible conservatives come up with to exclude, silence, and restrict women, gays, and others, there are others in the Bible reminding us that God has a history of siding with the banished and rejected.

Long ago conservative Christians figured out how to silence progressive Christians, and that was by making us think that any belief other taking the scripture as a whole as God’s infallible, inerrant word was not truly Christian. They say one must accept or reject the Bible as a whole as words that dripped once and for always from the lips of God, or you can’t quote the Bible. Not only are the words holy (and thus taken as a whole and without dispute), but that means that there’s only one way to read or interpret the Bible –which is literally. You either believe what it says, how it says it, – and interpret it the way conservatives say it’s supposed to be interpreted – or you step away from it and leave it to the “true” believers.

That’s crap.  And I for one don’t plan to sit around and watch a new breed of smiling Right wing Christians in Hawaiian shirts cozy up to presidents and other politicians and tell the rest of us  who’s a Christian and who’s not.

One can be biblically grounded and yet find that the Bible’s authority lies not in some supernatural claim to special revelation, but in its special claim to be a holy text that for centuries has inspired generations  to struggle for freedom, equality, justice, human dignity, reconciliation, hope, and to walk humbly before one’s God.

Sure, Obama’s choice of Warren for the inaugural prayer proves nothing more probably than that Obama is a consummate politician. He’s decided to  use the inaugural platform as a space in which  to extend an olive branch to a large block of skeptical religious voters. (And by the way, let’s throw in civil rights statesman Rev. Joe Lowry, Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, and Yale poet Elizabeth Alexander for counterbalance.)

But here’s also why Obama’s selection of the controversial Rick Warren had me chewing on my collar for the last two days. Why does Warren who’s proving to be a  divisive figure get a pass and Jeremiah Wright does not?Wright and Obama

Rick Warren’s smiling socially conservative, anti-gay, anti-women’s rights biblical preaching gets the nod of the country and the new president. While the blistering prophetic denunciations of American imperalism by Obama’s longtime pastor and spiritual mentor continues to condemn him as a  pariah on the American stage.  (Gnawing on my collar right now.) It galls me that the man whose fiery preaching nurtured Obama into becoming the community organizer he is at heart is banished from the inaugural platform, if not from the American public.

And I’m ticked that “we studied The Purpose Driven Church in our bible study” black people can’t see Warren for the Jerry Falwell type ambitious,  self-anointed, religious gatekeeper that he aspires to be.

And so Obama begins his presidency “building bridges” to the New Right and leaving the rest of us to be content with symbols tied to the Old Left (in all due respect to Joe Lowery and Aretha Franklin).

It seems women and Christians and bloggers and progressive types like myself continue to have our work cut out for us. We’ve gotta roll up our sleeves and get to work fashioning a new, more inclusive face of Christianity.

I’m A Community Organizer, and I Bet You Are Too

Monday, September 8th, 2008

I join progressive bloggers today in honoring the great work that community organizers do and in saying that, contra Sarah Palin, community organizers are changemakers and have made critical contributions to American history.community organizer

What are some things community organizers do?

Anyone who has volunteered to help register voters is a community organizer.

Anyone who has volunteered to pick up people and transport them to the voting poll, to a cleaner and better hospital than the one they usually go to, to a cleaner and better supermarket because the one in their neighborhood is a rip off.

Anyone who has tried to organize a group for a cause is a community organizer.

Anyone who has spoken out about injustice, whether writing into a campaign, talked to their friends, or made a phone call is a community organizer.

Says sister progressive blogger, Sojourner’s Place:

Whether it be HIV/AIDS or Apartheid in South Africa or genocide in Darfur or Voting Rights, community organizers have played an integral part and had significant impact these issues and instigated change. To discount the significance and importance of Community Organizers, is to discount the significance and importance of what it means and is to be American.

For it is the Community Organizer who accepts the challenge and ofttimes thankless and dangerous position to go up against the status quo. It is the Community Organizer whose very life is dedicated to leaving the pile higher that it was found regardless of the cost. Yet, it is the Community Organizer who finds him or herself in the throes of ridicule, obstacles, and obstructions.

Community organizers, says, Prof BW DO in fact have responsibilities:

Community organizers are sometimes unpaid and more often underpaid for the work they do. Their hours are long as they have to accommodate constituents, emergencies, and changes in strategies and venues. They develop some of the strongest coalition building skills of anyone involved in civic work because they have to work closely with ideologues, establishment, rich, poor, the hurt, the angry, the apathetic, and the uncaring to accomplish their goals… More than that, many community organizers have been the first and strongest defense against the assault on the rights of marginalized people.

Come to think about, I too AM a community organizer.

I’m working with folks on my street to do something about the house across the way that some overzealous builder started building last year but went bankrupt and abandoned six months into the project and has now become an eye-sore street and a danger to kids in the neighborhood who like climbing its inside rafters to get a view of the city as the house sits on a hill.

I recently signed on to help register to vote the under-served residents who live around my church and to see to it that the members of my church know where to go in their neighborhoods and how to make certain ahead of time that they haven’t been dropped, because of some inconsistency, from the voting records.

After living in this neighborhood for over ten years I only recently spotted a nice neighborhood park that I’d like to take daily walks in (rather than driving 10 miles across town to walk around the university track), But I think the city should cut back some of the hedges, bushes, and growth surrounding the park to make it more safe for women to walk alone. I think I’ll see if there are others in the community who think the same and are willing to help start a petition to take downtown.   Fannie Lou

Here’s to the memory of the hundreds of community organizers, especially the women talk about a lot on this blog, whose fire breathing work on behalf of justice made it possible for us to enjoy the freedoms we have today.

Contra Sarah Palin, community organizers are changemakers.

Think about, Miriam, Deborah, Mary Magdalene, Priscilla and Lydia. I bet you’ve done some organizing, agitating, disseminating information, marching, and speaking truth to power in your lifetime.

I bet you can can come up with something you’ve done (or are currently doing) that’s said to the powers that be ”Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” If you haven’t, just hold on: these hard economic times we’re living in are gonna make prophets and community organizers out of all of us before it’s over.

Anybody wanna give a shout out to some community organizer that you know of or to some comunity project you’re working on and the many volunteers who work with you on the project?