Archive for the ‘violence against women’ Category

Rich, Famous, Black…and Pathological

Monday, March 9th, 2009

I just haven’ t been able to bring myself to write about Rihanna/Chris Brown before now. I just couldn’t. I should have spoken up. After all, I have a teenager in my house who idolizes idolized Chris Brown in the past. There was a time last year when Brown’s boyish smile was plastered on every available surface in my house: computer desktops, bedroom walls, magazine covers strewn around my house, television music channels. “Who is that?” I kept asking because I kept forgetting (they all look alike to me). “Chris Brown!” the teenager in my house would scoff with that sound in her voice that made it clear she thought her mother a loser for not recognizing a god when I saw one. Whatevah.

But I just haven’t been able to bring myself to write about yet another story of black celebrity relationship violence. Even though writing about violence against women both in modern culture and in biblical culture, and writing about the church’s complicity in domestic violence, is something I care and I write about a lot.

As sad and exasperating it is to read about yet another abused woman getting back together with a man who bashed in her head,  those of us involved in grassroot work on behalf of victims can not let our disgust keep us from picking up our bullhorns. We’ve got to stay on the wall sounding the alarm. Abuse is not love. He will hit you again. He’s crazy, and so are you if you go back.

What the Rihanna/Brown case proves yet again is that relationship abuse can happen to anyone — even to a woman who embodies success and confidence with numerous singles on the top of the Billboard charts.


I think I’ve finally figured out today why I haven’t been able to bring myself to write about the Rihanna/Brown story. Something else is bothering me.

What is it with the media’s fascination with provocative, unflattering images of black celebrity life? Are black women celebrities the only ones who get slapped around by their men? Are black male celebrities the only men who do dumb, sick things like smack around their women? Are photos of bruised, battered black female bodies the only ones the media pay money for? White women fall in love with jerks too. How do white women public figures manage to keep the degenerate aspect of those affairs out of the media?

Why do the stories about blacks that get breaking, headline news are ones where blacks are at the epicenter of some violence, scandal or impropriety?

If the media is the primary means in which Americans who know nothing about blackness encounter the “truth” about blackness, then who is surprised when dumb butt folks from hicktowns in America get in front of microphones and say during presidentials campaign, “He scares me” when explaining why they can’t bring themselves to vote for a black candidate. I know. I know. I know it’s more complicated than that. But you get my rant.

Media has made black public figures (with the help of these knucklehead black public figures, to be sure) provocative symbols of the nation’s worst depravities and moral lapses. In the last 20 years, issues such as domestic & family violence (O. J. Simpson, Jennifer Hudson’s family, Juanita Bynum, Rihanna/Chris Brown), gratuitous violence (Michael Vick), gratuitous sexuality ( Janet Jackson, Halle Berry), child molestation (Michael Jackson or R. Kelly), sexual assault (Kobe Bryant), steroid use (Barry Bonds), obesity and beauty standards (Oprah Winfrey, 2007 Rutgers Women’s basketball team), drugs, drunkenness, and debauchery (Charles Barkley, Whitney Houston/Bobby Brown, any hip hop artist will do), journalistic plagiarism (Jayson Blair), adultery (Jesse Jackson, Sr.) and political corruption (Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, State Senator Diane Wilkerson, Mayor Sheila Dixon) have served as talismans that stir debate and arguments in popular culture about all that’s pathological in the culture.

Blackness has become the cultural piñata everyone gets to smack around  and vent their anger and frustration up.  Blackness is the piñata everyone pummels and points to to show how socially crazy and morally degenerate the world has devolved into. By gawking at photos of Rihanna’s bruises audiences get to play the role of CSI agents (I know I’m switching metaphors here) where we get to gaze at, investigate, poke around, examine the evidence, point fingers, and whip ourselves up into a frenzy over. While other cases go unexamined, unsolved, and fall through the cracks.  Like what’s happening in this economy. Now there is a crime worth investigating. Like who are those responsible for bankrupting the economy? Talk about depravity and degenerate behavior. Like why poor and middle class people are losing jobs and homes while others who steal billions in fraud schemes get to live in their penthouses and walk the streets scott free? Talk about pathology.

Wear Red and Say Hell No To Violence

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

In light of all the violence in the news in recent days, let me urge readers of this blog to go in your closets, find something Red, and join me and others on Thursday, October 30th me in wearing Red on Thursday, October 30th in recognition of the second annual  Document the Silence of Violence Against Women of Color movement.

Last year around ths time I swore up and down to my young activist friends over at DSVAWC that women in the church care about domestic violence as much as they do and that church women have long been at the forefront of offering comfort and rescue to battered women and their children. Who do they think has been doing this work all these years? Women with deep religious convictions  have been working the phonelines and harboring abused women and their children in their homes for decades.

Where do folks get the idea that Christian women are not activists, that women who go to church are conservative, too conservative to respond to the cries of battered women? It’s stupid to confuse what black male preachers say with what black women in the pews think. And it’s insulting to hear folks talk as though women who go to church are dumb, uncritical thinkers.

Besides, what makes folk think that community activists have a monopoly on justice work and that those working in the trenches of community organizing don’t attend church? Don’t make me go there!

But I digress.

With all that’s going on, let’s all wear Red to work, Red to class, Red to early voting, and Red to the grocery store on Thursday, October 30th.

***In memory of Jennifer Hudson’s mother Darnell Donerson, brother Jason Donerson (brother), and nephew Julian King whose horrific murders are likely to have been the result of a family dispute.

***To call attention to the fate of the thousands millions of women who are beaten or killed every year by men they thought loved them.

And while you’re at it, wear Red

***In protest against the likes of white women like Ashley Todd who had herself beat up and branded with a “B” on the cheek so she could claim she was attacked by a big, black male Obama supporter who was getting back at her for supporting McCain.

***In protest against white skinheads everywhere who concoct plans to murder blacks, and especially any black man who thinks he has the right to become President of the United States.

***In protest against the racist rumor crackpots have tried posting on this blog and which I’ve heard again and again on television and radio in recent days, namely the rumor that regardless of the outcome black people are going to riot on and after November 4th. Whether in celebration of Obama’s victory or outrage at his loss, blacks are going to tear up cities and whites have reason to fear for their lives. Exactly who is responsible for this racist, noxious rumor? What’s with these white people who claim to be scared and torn about what to expect on Election Day? What the…..? This is crap. We have white skinheads concocting plans to murder the black presidential candidate along with dozens of innocent black students. We have a young white woman who gets someone to punch and slap her around and leave bruises on her face so she can claim she was attacked by a black male Obama supporter. We have whites growing angry and rowdy at McCain/Palin rallies, yelling “Kill Him” when Obama’s name comes up.  But never mind any of that. It’s black people who are violent and a threat to the commonwealth.

I’m not disputing that we have our share of ugly, nasty violence in our communities. But we are not alone.  America is a violent country. Besides, the last time I looked black people  are not the ones conspiring to commit violence designed to topple the government and disrupt the entire national election process.

But where was I? Oh yeah, like I said: wear something Red on October 30th, doggoneit, in a show of support for  victims of violence everywhere, especially women.

If you’re a woman who goes to church wear Red on October 30th to show that you don’t mind supporting your feminist and activist sisters everywhere who seek to call attention to the plight of battered women and their children.

If you are committed to real change, wear Red on October 30th as your way of saying “Stop the Violence.”

(Drop by Document the Silence of Violence Against Women of Color what else the group is asking folks to do on October 30th.)

Send this post to friends on your email list so we can all to do our part in getting out the work about DSVAWC “Wear Red” on Thursday, October 30th campaign.

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 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?

Wear Red on April 30

Monday, April 28th, 2008

I want to thank Fal and everyone over at Document the Silence for giving me permission to share a video presentation they’ve put together to raise consciousness about the epidemic of sexual assault crimes against women of color both here in the United States and around the world.  As I stated in an earlier Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Red. post, black women in the church need to know about and need to get involved with national and international organizations that are working on behalf of women everywhere who have been victimized.

I want to thank WOC in blogosphere who used April to raise awareness about the Congo rape epidemics as well as the genocide taking place in Darfur.   I was bogged down in travel and other obligations on the specific date is April WOC bloggers set aside to use our blogs to call attention to specif attrocities, and couldn’t write the kind of post I wanted . But today is as good a day as any to add my voice to those keening and inveighing against the murders and militarized rapes that are endemic to what goes on in war torn areas around the world.   

I want to thank Sojourner 4 Truth for reminding me that April is the 14th anniversary of the Rwandan genocides and for passing along information about Left to Tell, Immaculee Ilibagiza’s powerful memoir of both how she survived the  Rwandan genocide (by hiding out, along with 7 other women, in a pastor’s bathroom for 91 days) and how she managed to maintain and strengthen her faith during the trauma of that ordeal. Says Sojourner 4 Truth: “I read [Left to Tell] with the teens from my Rites of Passage Collective and they were so moved that they could not put the book down. We finished reading it in 3 days. They even read it to their parents!!!”

The presentation is about 5 minutes long– which is a long time for busy, busy women to sit and watch something on the computer, especially something that’s not a dance or music video. Five minutes. A long time if you’re sitting in front of a computer multi-tasking and trying to dash to the next project on your list. Five minutes.  A life time if you’re one of the hundreds of women around the world who are Right Now being raped and/or murdered.

(Be sure the volume is up on your computer so you can hear the “Sweet Honey” sound clip.)