Guest Blogger, Pop Culture, Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

On Being Black and Having It Both Ways In The Mainstream Media

h515894B7[VSB Note: Today I’m handing off the podium to Shamira aka Sham-wow who said to me I’ve got an idea and I said, that’s good. Share. So she did. So ladies and gentlemen, give it up…for Shamira!]

Yesterday there was a rather spirited discussion in the VSB comments section about whether or not The Boondocks was problematic because of the way that it exposed presumed “black” culture to audiences that are primarily white.

This isn’t a new point by any means – it seems that whenever anything that is viewed as uniquely black develops a mainstream platform an iteration of this conversation rears it’s ugly head. A very notable example of course is when Dave Chappelle walked away from his hit TV show. More recently, however, versions of these talking points have emerged in the context of the Black Jeopardy skit that happened on last weeks episode of SNL.

I found the kerfuffle via SNL to be particularly interesting in the wake of the concerted effort from folks for the show to have a more substantial black/nonwhite presence. For better or worse Lorne Michaels did exactly that, casting a black woman as well as hiring two black writers. Yet when we got a sketch catering to a black audience written by black actors and casting black people…(some) folks took issue.

This begs the question: if we are given the seat at the table that we demand, should we be concerned with how our message is received.

Before I go any further, let me admit my bias and say that I thought that the Black Jeopardy sketch was funny. (I’m also quite easily amused so you may want to take my humor tastes with a grain of salt – I’m currently giggling at an overweight cat falling right now).

Beyond that, however…I’ve never been explicitly concerned about how white people receive black content once it’s been given the space for a large audience. While I understand other peoples valid concerns, I don’t think putting  content out removes the social responsibility of white people to see their privilege and know when they are able to jump in and when they should just step back and listen.

Furthermore, the folks who use caricatures and entertainment-created characters to justify their prejudices are not my worry. I don’t find value in putting out content that takes every effort to avoid the potential of future confirmation bias. In my opinion, desiring a space to depict the varying versions of the black experience is disserviced if we feel required to dilute the message to accommodate for the ignorant and the hopeless. The second we feel dictated by people who are already uninterested in our narratives is when we cede our power before mobilizing it.

To sum up…it’s not my problem if the white audience didn’t get the joke.  I’m only interested in ensuring that we have a multitude of avenues to say what we want to say in the manner that we see fit. If nonblacks get it, great. If they don’t…I’m trying to find a bother, but it seems that my pockets are all out of them at the moment.

Anyways, what say ye, folks of VSB? Am I being ignorant of reality here? Or should we go three sheets to the wind and stop worrying about what white folks may or may not think?

-SHAMIRA

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Damon Young

Panama Jackson is pretty fly for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future.

  • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

    Much of me wants to say “Eff the white man! We doing what we doing for us!” but there’s also a part of me that knows that the actions of one black person often (unfairly) represent the whole. It’s a fine line to walk. 90% of the time I feel like I can’t just exist because I’m trying to live life for every black person lest white folk think all black women are loud, angry, welfare queens, etc. :-(

    On a more positive note, look what I got!!

    http://31.media.tumblr.com/3d9eb54f4d8c61430d88ad414421dc11/tumblr_n3fhd1ndPY1sd241to1_1280.jpg

    • NomadaNare

      Are those books in the background? What are you reading?

      • Sahel

        You are looking at the books instead of that warm inviting smile……

        • NomadaNare

          Saw more than the smile… but you know what BVD says about a big butt and a cute smile.

          • Sahel

            She’s a trap,hmm

            • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

              @Sahel:disqus can you stop blocking my e-blessings? Thanks.

              • Sahel

                I wouldnt dream of it. I enjoy your blog way too much to do so

                • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

                  Are you a follower or are you a lurker? If you’re the former you need to drop a line in my ask.

                  • Sahel

                    Am good lurking.

                  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

                    Wait what blog

                    • Sahel

                      She has quite the blog…the photos,my goodness the photos

                    • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

                      Exactly, what blog?

          • kidvideo

            BVD?

            • Jay

              lol… drawls tho??

            • NomadaNare

              Lolz. Meant to say BBD. Was well past my bedtime.

      • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

        Yes. Right now I’m in between “Black Girls are from the Future” by Renina Jarmon and “Blackness Visible” by Charles Mills.

        • NomadaNare

          Mills seems interesting. I’ll add that to my list. In time, we will discuss. Can you explain a bit about BGAFTF?

          • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

            It reads like a thesis to me. There is discussion about varying topics such as food deserts in urban areas, black feminism, the author’s issues with Mobb Deep and patriarchy within hip-hop, branding oneself online and such. It’s really all over the place.

            • NomadaNare

              Yeah, from a quick googling she seems somewhat scattered, but am interested to hear young black feminists do serious critiques on pop culture. I almost assume she’s like Klosterman but black and female. What say you? is it a read?

              • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

                I believe it’s a read :-) A decent collection of essays without all the she-woman-man-hater club feel.

            • kidvideo

              Mobb Deep is a rather random group to hav an issue with…does she blame Raekwon for the increase in teen birth rates?

              “Keep it Thorough” is my joint…

              • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

                I’m getting a “Chocolate Deluxe” t-shirt for the summer and posting up in random barber shops across my city for “reasons”.

            • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

              What’s wrong with Mobb Deep? I’m curious about this author’s take. It’s also interesting considering that one of the members is clinically depressed with sickel cell anemia. That doesn’t exactly call for a happy, chirping persona. LOL

              • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

                I haven’t gotten to that part of the book yet lol

        • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

          I need to read her stuff. Adding it to the mountain…

    • Sahel

      Man VSS should put more pics of themselves up like this…i definitely won’t mind being examined by Dr.Petite

    • Marc.J.H.

      I want one of those shirts. Are they just not available anymore, forever?

      • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

        I’ve been getting hounded online about why people can’t purchase these. You’ll have to ask Champ or Panama about these shirts going on sale again.

        • Marc.J.H.

          Thanks, AfroPetite. Champ? Panama?

          • panamajackson

            When/If they go on sale again, it will be plastered all over VSB like it was for the 3 weeks we were selling them.

        • http://TheNewEve.com/ Bunni

          Supply and demand at its finest….snatch it off the shelves and errbody wants it lol

      • panamajackson

        For right now they’re not available. We may very well make them available again. The demand seems to be there for them…but for now. They’re not available.

    • 321mena123

      Such a pretty face.

      • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

        *blushes* oh you….stop :-)

    • panamajackson

      Thanks for posting the pic and for coppin’ you one! It looks great…

  • Charlie

    The SNL skit was corny. I enjoyed the twitter version more, and the fact that the jokes were being made to and from black people did play a part in why I enjoyed it.

    I don’t like playing guessing games when it comes to motives of jokes. Thinking “Are they laughing at or with us?”.

    It’s great that you’re above it and can just enjoy the jokes, but I’m just not there yet.

    • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

      the difference between laughing with and laughing at is you have to be laughing in the first place. For example, last night I’m watching Anchorman 2 with a ladyfriend and Ron makes a Haiti joke, ladyfriend of Haitian descent, not amused. Now had she laughed, even at just how random and outlandish it was, my laughter would serve as a cosign that jokes of the sort was okay.

      In the same vein, some people just feel like by supporting a Boondocks or Key and Peele we are giving white people that pass to laugh at our expense. I don’t necessarily agree, but I understand

    • panamajackson

      I didn’t think the SNL sketch was that funny either. However, I honestly ain’t one of the folks who worries aboutif they’re laughing at us or not…i assume they always are. I just don’t care b/c everybody knows I’m a motherf*cking monster. Living my life in other people’s concerns just doesn’t work for me.

  • nillalatte

    Good piece Shamira. Loved the SNL skit! I laughed, a lot, out loud. Not buying into believing what others think of you. Self actualization. I’m down.

  • NomadaNare

    “Beyond that, however…I’ve never been explicitly concerned about how white people receive black content once it’s been given the space for a large audience. While I understand other peoples valid concerns, I don’t think putting content out removes the social responsibility of white people to see their privilege and know when they are able to jump in and when they should just step back and listen.”

    Win. The issue would not be ours to fix even if we could. People have said it time and time again: we could do everything demanded of us and would still be in the same situation. The truth of the matter is that racism in its current incarnation is a white disease, and trying to treat their symptoms by walking on eggshells won’t solve the problem.

    Also, the black Jeopardy skit was funny as he ll and also had a very clear point (well at least to me). The best comedy always has something incisive and witty to say about life and I felt that this sketch achieved that level. Anyone care to speak on what it said to them?

  • Sahel

    White guilt and white social responsibility are debates that are on par with black people getting reparations and an apology worldwide,never ending.Fact remains we are judged and take collective responsibility for the sins of one another because the deck has been stacked against us. We can choose to talk about it as we have done for years or try and make changes. There is a spectacular misunderstanding of africans and it’s sire worldwide. This narrative has to change.

    • ratchet d-Ibaka

      We are slowly but steadily starting to institute these very same changes we’ve been crying for years.

      • Sahel

        Yeah,it has to start somewhere. Instead of i wish let it become i will

    • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

      ~ There is a spectacular misunderstanding of africans and it’s sire worldwide.

      misunderstanding, to me, suggests it happened by happenstance. the misinformation and propaganda circulated is intentional, strategic, and designed for very specific purposes.

      • Sahel

        That’s why i always advocate that one’s history should not be in control of others. The power that history has is immense and that is why black history is shrouded.

        • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

          ~ That’s why i always advocate that one’s history should not be in control of others.

          may i ask, how do you advocate this beyond talk ?

          • Sahel

            Ever been to Mali ???

            • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

              this is not about me. it’s about youu. tell me about Mali, Sahel ~*~

              • Sahel

                They have a very nice ancient library there that unfortunately nearly destroyed by islamists. The history in those books details the history of most of West Africa. Am trying to have some of that info digitized so that it’s not lost. It’s one of the few places where blacks had a hand in writing their history.

                • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

                  brilliant ! may i ask, do you have any photos ? it sounds like something i could write about, to bring more attention to the subject. most of the people i know are obsessed with books and the preservation of history.

                  • Sahel

                    I currently don’t have pics with me because i handed them over to the guys who will run the entire process of digitization.But it’s open source stuff that is on the net,just search for Timbuktu

                    • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

                      thank you ~*~

                • ratchet d-Ibaka

                  If you are Malian, your stock just shot up through the roof, if you aint, it’s still at ocean level.

                  • Sahel

                    You really ought to learn opsec

                • SuperStrings

                  Timbuktu is an awesome testament to the greatness of Africa. Many of the writings are literally crumbling before your eyes.

                  • Sandpaper

                    Got a link? I haven’t started reading Yurugu yet. It’s in the pipeline.

                    • SuperStrings

                      You might want to keep a pen and pad handy while you read Yurugu. She completely redefines some notions with her own words and then references those often throughout the book. Also, I’ll get you a link about Timbuktu.

                    • Sandpaper

                      Thanks.

      • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

        absolutely. we are not misunderstood. we are maligned.

        • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

          beautifully said. i dont believe in allowing lies to stand when the truth can—and must—be told.

          • Sandpaper

            And the truth is coming to light ever so progressively. Let’s hope that Yellowstone doesn’t get us first.

  • ratchet d-Ibaka

    Are white people concerned about how black people receive their content? Clearly NOT. So why should we split hairs and grey unnecessarily? We have more legitimate concerns to worry about than white people and their approval or lack therof, of our content.

    • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

      But some people just love them some Uncle Charlie sadly.

  • Val

    Thinking that it doesn’t matter what members of the larger society think is okay in a vacuum. Yes, White folks should assume a certain responsibility not to allow media portrayals of us as gross stereotypes to influence them. But, how can we expect that when to a certain extent those same portrayals have an affect on us?

    There’s a reason companies buy TV time to advertise and then run those ads over and over. Repetition of images imbeds them in our heads whether we like it or not. Seeing the same gross stereotypes of Black folks portrayed on TV and in film over and over imbeds them in our heads as well.

    We have to interact with non-Black folks who, unlike most of us, may not have the will or care enough to flesh out the real from the stereotype. The consequences of that can be minor to life threatening. If a White cop sees us as just sterotypes and not being as human as others then that makes us less safe from police brutality. If White doctor in the ER sees us as less human then maybe we won’t get the same invasive treatment as a White person would.

    This can play out in all sorts of other ways from the White HR rep judging us based upon stereotypes to teachers having lower expectations of Black students.

    So, yeah, it’s nice to say fcuk it, if they can’t tell a real Black person from a stereotypical TV portrayal but then reality reminds us why it matters.

    My point; we’re have and always have been in a quandary as to how much to care what others think of us. It’s part of the burdon of being Black in America. As Afronica pointed out on yesterday this is what Dubois was speaking of when he talked about our double consciousness.

    The solution? I’m not sure. Other unfavored minorities have actively tried to protect their images in the media to varying degrees of success. But, those other groups don’t have our history so I’m not sure if the same strategy would work for us. I guess we just have to keep dealing with this stuff on an incident by incident basis.

    Sigh.

    • Sahel

      Methinks we try too hard to assimilate. Let us live with the cards dealt to us and play the game.

      • Val

        I’m not sure of your point. We’ve been dealing with the situation we’ve been dealt since the beginning and doing fairly well in spite of it all, despite what the naysayers say.

        • Sahel

          I mean too many of our people play it safe so that others feel at ease around us. If you ran for a political seat miss Valentina,would you trumpet you’re connection to the hood,that is if you have any.

          • Val

            I’m not talking about playing it safe. I’m talking about dealing with the distance between the way things should be and the way things are.

            • Sahel

              Understood.

      • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

        azzimilation is the essence of American life. the idea of a melting pot is that we all become one. in this case, it’s whitewash, in the service of the propaganda the Founding Fathers set forth.

        notice that “model minorities” as white folk name them are those that azzimilate the “best” in that they most embrace the paradigms of American culture at its most conservative base.

        • NomadaNare

          But it’s not even assimilation, it’s total and complete submission to have their culture dissolved away. How many examples of nonwhite model minorities have you seen that have successfully integrated their culture and at least some of its richness into assimilation? I haven’t seen a single group do it, but for some reason we are asked to rid ourselves of “blackness” and “our ties to Africa” when they also mean remove ourselves from a poverty that they designed. TFOH.

          • BlueWave1

            “…but for some reason we are asked to rid ourselves of “blackness” and “our ties to Africa”

            This is very true. We are supposed to forget it at every turn. The idea of black Americans being connected to West Africa really unsettles a lot of people for a variety of reasons.

          • afronica

            “How many examples of nonwhite model minorities have you seen that have successfully integrated their culture and at least some of its richness into assimilation?”

            I have some Chinese friends. When they are out in the wider world, they play the white man’s game very well. When they come home, they are thoroughly Chinese. There is a profound separation between the two for them. I think it’s wrong-headed to aspire to integrate our culture into anything mainstream.

            • NomadaNare

              This is very common for first generation Chinese immigrants. I’d wager that your friends are first generation. Also, their children usually completely assimilate mostly forgetting the culture of their parents even to the point of never learning Chinese.

              • afronica

                Some first gen, some ABC. And you’re generally right about the language. But culture is more than language. Food, loyalty to the family, importance of the family unit above other priorities, wealth accumulation, religion, veneration of the elders – those things are culture, too. And they practice those fiercely.

            • SuperStrings

              This also seems to be true of East Indians.

          • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

            ~ But it’s not even assimilation, it’s total and complete submission to have their culture dissolved away.

            i am not disagreeing. that’s why i described it as whitewash. we use the word azzimilation as a euphemism, but ultimately, it’s about eradicating differences.

            ~ How many examples of nonwhite model minorities have you seen that have successfully integrated their culture and at least some of its richness into assimilation?

            i think Chinese and Japanese have done this, through their ability to capitalize on their culture in the American market. but they adhere strongly to the American Dream, and in doing so, they aso embrace a great deal of the consumer culture that plagues this country by and large.

            ~ but for some reason we are asked to rid ourselves of “blackness” and “our ties to Africa”

            i am interested in the reason itself. i have my own theories, about recessive DNA, but i wonder if you have any you might share.

    • Shamira

      All valid points. Allow me to clarify a few things :)

      I don’t believe repetitive portrayals does us any favors as well. I don’t think I’m arguing that here. My personal convictions, if you would like to explore that are that we shouldn’t be as pressed to worry about the negative portrayals and focus on creating more avenues to create a diversity of experiences. Push for more Issa Raes and more “Dear White People” or “Pariah” movies. Working on flooding the market with different and valid black associiated things I think does us much more of a service than being concerned with one show or experience that while not outwardly offensive to us, makes us wonder how white people receive it.

      Also, in the context of todays post, I was really just focusing on humor. Expanding it to all entertainment would have been a whole chapter and none ofus have time for that. Music alone…my head hurts just thinking about it.

      Re: repetitive stereotypical content – again, I dont entirely disagree, but 1) I dont think black people get nearly exposure on a “mainstream” TV medium now to be even considered repetitive and stereotypical and 2)referring back to the earlier part of this response I promote diversity of content outright.

      Also, I don’t really buy the microaggressions-as-a-result-of-media content. White people don’t believe that Black people are trash or hood or low class because of what they see in TV or hear in rap music. They already are ignorant and use the one-off to reinforce that fact…and personally I don’t think removing content that we can agree is “valid” and “enjoyable” for fear that it may give Reince Priebus another excuse to go Fox News with another sternly worded letter doesnt affect that fact. It’s kind of like how people know that White HR folks discriminate on black names….so they give a more “Anglo” name to their child…problem is, you still have to get to the interview, and the HR person who would have screened your flat out name before even seeing you still has those prejudices.

      I just want to stress in case it isn’t clear…that I’m not defending racist, prejudiced or offensive imagery…I’m just exploring the concept of black people putting out content that we thing is entertaining and has value but wondering how white folks feel about it. It is very possible that I may end up having a more expanded viewpoint on this at the end of the day as the discussion expands :)

      • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

        ~ Also, in the context of todays post, I was really just focusing on humor. Expanding it to all entertainment would have been a whole chapter and none ofus have time for that. Music alone…my head hurts just thinking about it.

        may i ask, why do you draw this hard line distinction in the form of media ?

        • Shamira

          I dont draw this hard distinction in general…I just only had so many words I wanted to write. I think that discussing different mediums requires different essays because there is just so much unique nuance and content in each.

          • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

            understood. i tend to respond to the media as a whole with an integrated approach, since the players tend to overlap in their business dealings.

      • afronica

        *uproots goalpost, moves it*

        I understand that you specifically kept your argument to tv and movies to try to contain your argument to manageable size. But like esa, I wonder about that boundary. I think domestically, tv and movies featuring black people may affect us more, but internationally, I think music and associated images get more play. As I think Sahel was saying, a lot of people abroad think black people sing and dance and rap on cue. They also think we carry guns, are inherently violent and don’t understand how to care for the children we create. Think about those images without any context or explanation.

        But I am on the side of freedom of expression and agree with your solution – let’s produce more of what we’d like to see out there about us. And I’m not talking about earnest but deadly dull filmed book reports. I just mean more things that are authentic to whatever we think or feel, understanding that means possibly controversial material that may be misconstrued. But at least it will be more real than things created by others about us.

        • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

          ~ But I am on the side of freedom of expression and agree with your solution – let’s produce more of what we’d like to see out there about us.

          yes ! and also, let’s promote and focus on what already exists, and who is leading the brigade on various fronts. to me, the hyper-focus on critiquing mainstream media is simply shadowboxing with a lie. ie. a dead end.

      • http://www.facebook.com/MentalMass MENTAL MASTURBATION

        One of the major problems I have with black people is our classist mentality, especially those of us who have ascended to a certain socioeconomic status.

        I hate when we complain about wanting “positive” portrayals of blackness, which is nothing but a nice way of saying that films which tell the story of disenfranchised black people hold less merit than the stories of upper-middle class African-Americans.

        This is why we hate Precious, but love Best Man Holiday. Both movies are amazing, but many black people find a problem with Precious because it’s not a “positive” portrayal of blackness.

        I disagree— many of us simply hate to see the ugliness of our own community which is usually very present in poor, black communities and reflected in films such as Precious.

        • Shamira

          Negative portrayals was a bad word choice on my part…what i should really say is programming that is perceived as enforcing previously existing negative stereotypes of black people.

          • http://www.facebook.com/MentalMass MENTAL MASTURBATION

            “….perceived as enforcing previously existing negative stereotypes of black people.”

            Essentially—behaviors, mentalities, and cultural artifacts that are present in poor, black communities.

            It’s still a very discriminatory mindset rooted in a divisive classism found within the African-American community.

            • Shamira

              I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing here. I don’t think that things rampant violence and aggression are defacto parts of the poor black community. I think that they are associated with them unfairly. So when I say perceived, I quite literally mean that…because I dont equate the two. Do you get what I’m trying to get at here?

              Either way, I dont care if the programming exists or not. I mean, I watch a lot of it without shame. And the stuff I don’t like, I don’t watch.

        • Epsilonicus

          I did not realize Black folks hated Precious like that.

      • Val

        Hiya, Shamira!

        *waves*

        “…we shouldn’t be as pressed to worry about the negative portrayals and
        focus on creating more avenues to create a diversity of experiences.”

        I totally agree with that although I don’t think it’s an either or situation. We can push for more realistic/ diverse portrayals while still taking note of stereotypical portrayals.

        When I speak of media portrayals of us I’m not just talking about current ones, I’m also thinking about the entire history of the media in this country and how at times the media has created stereotypes or advanced them. In that context I think it’s important not to just be consumers of media but it’s important to analyze it and understand how it influences our lives.

        I don’t think we need be overly burdened by how White folks process media portrayals of us but I don’t think we should ignore the possible impact it, those portrayals, can have either.

    • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

      Thinking that it doesn’t matter what members of the larger society think
      is okay in a vacuum. Yes, White folks should assume a certain
      responsibility not to allow media portrayals of us as gross stereotypes
      to influence them. But, how can we expect that when to a certain extent
      those same portrayals have an affect on us?

      So in other words, Think Of The Children.

      I get really Hulk Smash angry whenever I see this argument. Sure, the argument goes, freedom is good for you and me, but what about those who can’t handle it? There is no societal arrangement that wil be 100% for everybody. Setting up society to appeal to the lowest common denominator doesn’t help the weakest of hurt and actively harms everyone else. Or maybe that’s the point. Hmmm…

    • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

      ~ The solution? I’m not sure.

      i believe the best way to change a paradigm is to shift it. the things about repetition is, a lie told enough times becomes truth. you can’t shadowbox with a lie, you can only offer counterpoints, enough of them, consistently, that are brilliant in their ingenuity, intellect, style, and accessibility.

      that said, you cannot control the message once it is released. so one has to be exceedingly strategic about the message, the medium, and its marketing. America has transformed into a content manufacturer, and people consume it endlessly. the thing, as i see it, is to produce more than you consume. thus, you create the world in which you wish to live ~*~

      • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

        I see your point, but I’m not sure I fully buy it. The context of the audience matters as well. It’s like blaming gangsta rap music for why a kid is dealing rugs and not the fact that mama doesn’t seem to care where her son is when she’s not beating him. Or blaming videos for a kid mistreating women when his uncle stays with 50-11 different women, 8 of which he has kids with because he doesn’t believe in condoms, and who verbally and physically abuses every woman unfortunately enough to land on his peen. While the medium is the message, the context of the audience is very relevant as well.

        • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

          ~ While the medium is the message, the context of the audience is very relevant as well.

          agreed. but from what i have seen, the best way to change context is to change the paradigm. it doesnt work for everyone, because not everyone is invested in their own life. it only works for people who have a true and insistent will to overcome suffering.

          ~ It’s like blaming gangsta rap music for why a kid is dealing rugs and not the fact that mama doesn’t seem to care where her son is when she’s not beating him.

          i got into a huge debate with my boy, who used to teach high school students on Rikers Island. i kept arguing that music was irrelevant when compared to the conditions of the worlds from which they come and he was arguing that music was the central to the conditions from which they come. he was at Rikers when 50 Cent got big, and he said that 50’s message was what was driving these kids to respond to their environment in a very specific way.

          all told i believe there is a relationship between both context and narrative, that certain narratives have more influences due to the conditioning the context brings. because the human mind is exceedingly plastic, the importance of the paradigm shift in narratives cannot be underestimated, especially when it is consistently underpracticed as a whole.

          • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

            i got into a huge debate with my boy, who used to teach high school
            students on Rikers Island. i kept arguing that music was irrelevant when
            compared to the conditions of the worlds from which they come and he
            was arguing that music was the central to the conditions from which they
            come. he was at Rikers when 50 Cent got big, and he said that 50’s
            message was what was driving these kids to respond to their environment
            in a very specific way.

            Word! There are a lot of White (and Black) kids from happy, stable, loving homes who looked at 50 Cent as nothing more than entertainment, this generations version of Dirty Harry or those old Westerns. Unfortunately, it’s a lot easier to blame 50 than to blame adults who may be near and dear to people for messing up their kids.

            • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

              ~ Unfortunately, it’s a lot easier to blame 50 than to blame adults who may be near and dear to people for messing up their kids.

              i’m not here for blame. i am here for personal responsibility. that’s what i was arguing with my boy, and he was explaining that the context (the poverty, abuse, systemic racism that promotes legalized slavery under the 13th amendment) was why these kids were so ripe for absorbing the self destructive message 50 engendered.

              it circles back to my original point: the best way to change context is to change the paradigm.

              the reason i argue for this consistently is: 1. i have seen it change lives. 2. it is not done in any large enough degree for us to rule it out as ineffective. imagine how fukkinn effective teaching the Truth would be.

      • Val

        I totally agree about the lie told over and over becoming the truth unless rigorously challenged.. And I guess that is at the core of what I’m saying.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MentalMass MENTAL MASTURBATION

    I agree with all the points made in the post.

    Black people spend too much time worrying about how our actions are going to be perceived by white people? Seriously, what type of existence is that? I don’t want to spend my life being a slave to white people’s thoughts or perceived opinions.

    It’s 2014, can we stop giving a f*** about what they think about us? I’m sure they don’t give two dry f***s about what we think of them. And sure, there is a system of white supremacy that favors white individuals and we should probably learn how to go along to get along, and eventually get ahead… but I’d rather live a free life and not “make it” rather than submit to such a silent form of white supremacy.

    And anyway, Black creativity is stifled when we put too much thought into figuring out how NOT to push the envelope or offend others with our artistic content.

    Stop trying to become mainstream and catering to everyone’s taste. That is bland and boring. And it will not set you apart from the next man(or woman).

    Be you. Have a voice. Have a spark. That’ll get you mainstream appeal. Ask Eddie Murphy, Redd Foxx, Jamie Foxx, Chris Rock, Martin Lawerence, and countless other black comics who were boldly black in their material.

    And if white people are offended, so be it….

  • Obsidian Files

    “She watch Channel Zero…”
    -Chuck D/Public Enemy

    *Previously on VSB*

    Good morning Panama, Ms. Shamira, everyone,
    The lady’s guest topic/post notwithstanding, as I said yesterday, I make it a point not to watch much TV, and the combined discussions have, in a very real way, vindicated why. Simply put, I just can’t be arsed up enough to care about things that have so little direct impact on my or the lives of so many African Americans – and indeed, if the stats are to be believed, if anything Black folks watch TOO MUCH TV, and should seriously “unplug”.

    Simply out, there’s bigger fish to fry. There, I’ve said it.

    Yesterday, while noticing an event announcement posted by Panama on Hip Hop & Feminism, I made the case that Black Feminists in our time have much to answer for in terms of what real “issues” they have left to address – assuming that is, there were any “issues” they could and did address in the first place. I offered a short list of roughly five distinct areas where Black Women overall, have greatly benefitted from the efforts of, to be frank, White Feminists, and then took things a step further, “remixing” a popular trope trotted out by White Feminists and aped by their Black Sisters:

    Has (Black) Feminism, been good for the Blue Collar Brotha?

    This is a very powerful – and highly legitimate question – for reasons that really shouldn’t have to be laidout in “Ned & the First Reader” fashion. Contrary to many who live and breathe inside the Bougie Bubble, the truth is that there are far more working class Black folk than they are of the former, and Big Ideas – to say nothing of Big Policy – like Feminism in all its flavors – have permeated every nook and cranny of our society. It is now the very air we breathe. And so, since this is indeed very much the case, and since it is bleedingly obvious to this Brotha at least, that such questions as mine simply will not be raised unless a Brotha like me raises them, here I am.

    The search for answers, continues.

    In addition to raising the aforementioned question yesterday, I then argued that on net, (Black) Feminism hasn’t been so great for the Blue Collar Brotha – indeed in many ways, it’s been prretty darn bad. To support my thesis, I referenced four sources:

    “Promises I Can Keep”, Kathryn Edin & Maria Kefelaas
    “The End of Men”, Hanah Rosin
    “Doing The Best I Can”, Kathryn Edin & Tim Nelson
    “Coming Apart”, Charles Murray

    There are other works I can mention, but the above short list will suffice – for they all point to an undeniable truth: that Black working classs communities are de facto Matriarchies, where contrary to the yammerings of “Crunk” Feminists, Black Women Rule. They do so with the imprimatur of the State, with the social sanction of public polcy wonks for decades, and they do so unilaterally – hardly in the “seesaw” fashion that tony Cognitive Elites like to preen on about in their MSM outlets. Indeed, contrary to notions on the part of Black Ivory Tower types, Blue Collar Brothas are hardly the knuckledragging Neanderthals many of them claim they are, and in fact it is often their putative counterparts in the Hoods Across America, who are the ones who cling to outmoded and played out notions of masculinity. “Doing The Best I Can” explains how.

    In case anyone out there didn’t get the joke, please note that the above reading list contains no Black names – and certainly no Black Feminist ones. Now why, pray tell, woould that be – hmm?

    I knew it wouldn’t be long before one of the ladies would come around to challenge the O-Man on this, and to be sure,I welcome it – and Ms. Mena didn’t disappoint. She argued that my thesis was wrong because, Slavery, or Jim Crow, or White Flight…yea, that’s the ticket. And to be fair, yes, these factors are indeed important to take into account.

    The problem with her argument however, is that it (1) neglects to take into account the events of the past roughly half a century, events that are indeliably stamped with Feminism’s “brand”; and (2), it once again seeks to absolve Women in this case Black ones, from ANY role, agency or responsibility they have and continue to play, in this here thing. Oh, the irony.

    Feminism’s thesis rests on the notion that it is important that a society deeply question how it has done business and where needed, make important changes as regards Women, for the ostensible Good of All; Black Feminism goes one better, arguing that the Intersectionality of Gender, Race and Class, must be recognized, and then even more questioning of things have gone with regard to Black Women who don’t live high on the proverbial hog, have gone down, too. Fair enough.

    And so, I take the analytical tools that Black Feminism hath wrought us,. put them into the hands and the Blue Collar Brothas, stand back, and see what happens.

    Oh boy, what a show’s this gonna be!

    By all means, continue. :)

    Now adjourn your arses…

    O.

    • Obsidian Files

      While we wait for the kiddies to have their fill of the cartoons, let’s revisit a remark made by Mr. Todd, who, in response to my commentary, argued that the undeniable fact that there is no other Woman in America that is MORE “s*xually empowered* than Black Women, say that this was due to Slavery.

      Hmm…

      OK, so let me get this straight – does Mr. Todd mean to suggest, or outright tell me, that the reason why we have a proliferation of Public Twerkin’, is because, Slavery?

      That Beyonce’ is Beyonce’, because, Jim Crow?

      That Sistas “exploring themselves…and errbody else” is due to…Mr. Charlie?

      Really?

      Wait – I thought that Olivia Pope, Beyonce’ and “RHOA” were all unabashed statements, and examples of, Black Women (re)claiming their own s*xual agency and empowerment…right?

      Right?

      It just seems to me that it’s hard to see how Black Women, as a group, aren’t “empowered” in this manner, and have been for quite some time now – so again, I’m having trrouble seeing what else the Black Feminists have to meaningfully address.

      But perhaps I’m missing something here; anyone wish to point it out to me?

      Anyone?

      O.

      • Obsidian Files

        Another point Mr. Todd raised yesterday, in reaction to my mention of Prof. Brittney Cooper’s recent Salon article in protestation of Pres. Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, was that said article was basically dismantled in Bernard Hopkins-fashion, by a relatively new and female voice to the Manosphere – one Ms. “Judgy B*tch”. A White Woman – and one that would be considered upper middle class at that – she nevertheless broke down, in point for point style, how and why Prof. Cooper’s “thesis” was woefully flawed.

        And the Good Crunk Professor’s response?

        She ain’t got time for that.

        No, really – her argument was how dare a White Woman have the gall to actually rattle off like a grocery list what anyone can see with one good eye.

        How erudite!

        And this is what the Black Academy has produced in our time – weaksauce intellectuals, who’s idea ofintellectual rigor amounts to little more than “re-education camp” style harangues, where no one can question it, or even discuss it, without being peppered with all manner of derogatory slur.

        What. A. Joke.

        No wonder Feminists in general – and the Black ones in particular – can’t be seen participating in any actual debates…

        Brittney Cooper, Crunk Feminist Exrtraordinaire – You Go, Grrl!

        O.

        • Obsidian Files

          The following is an excerpt from a previous column of mine over at J4G, where I directly quote Hanah Rosin and Kathryn Edin on how and why Black working class communities have become de facto Matriarchies – very unfair ones:

          “For example, please share with me, this lengthy quote from Hanna Rosin’s popular book, “The End of Men”, where she gets prominent researcher Kathryn Edin’s take on how working and lower middle class America has become a Matriarchy:

          “The sociologist Kathryn Edin spent five years talking with mothers in the inner surburbs of Philadelphia. Many of these neighborhoods, she found, had turned into matriarchies, with women making all the decisions and dictating what the men should and should not do. “I think something feminists have missed”, Edin told me, “is how much power women have” when they’re not bound by marriage. The women, she explained, “make every important decision”-whether to have a baby, how to raise it, where to live. “It’s definitely ‘my way or the highway'”, she said. “Thirty years ago, cultural norms were such that the fathers might have said, ‘Great, catch me if you can.’ Now they are desperate to father, but they are pessimistic about whether they can meet her expectations. So they have the babies at nineteen or twenty, but they just don’t have the jobs to support them.”

          There’s more:

          “Over the years, researchers have proposed different theories to explain the erosion of marriage in the lower classes: the rise of welfare, the disappearance of work for men, or in the eyes of conservative critics like Charles Murray, plain old moral decay. But Edin thinks the most compelling theory is that marriage has disappeared because women are now more economically independent and thus are able to set the terms for marriage – and usually they set them too high for the men around them to reach. “I want that white-picket fence dream,”, one woman told Edin, and the men she knew just didn’t measure up, so she had become her own one-woman mother/father/nurturer/provider. Or, as Edin’s cowriter Maria Kefelas, puts it, “everyone watches Oprah”-or whatever the current Oprah equivalent is. “Everyone wants a big wedding, a soul mate, a best friend.” But among the men they know, they can’t find one.” (pp. 92-93)

          So much for the notion that Blue Collar Guys in inner cities like Philly are all Archie Bunker Mini-Me’s, and so much for the idea that inner city cuties are such relationship Egalitarians…quite the opposite, in fact.

          http://www.justfourguys.com/the-devils-advocate-tyrone-the-college-sorting-machine-why-writers-you-know-dont-write-about-him/

          Comments?

          O.

          • Obsidian Files

            More from the book, “Promises I Can Keep”, this time on the question of child support and how it can and often is used by the De Facto Black Matriarchy:

            “Couples who remain together usually manage to avoid child support, unless she claims welfare and is thus forced to participate so the state can reimburse itself for her benefits. But if the couple breaks up, the child support system will approriate a considerable portion of the father’s income. If he doesn’t pay, the police will visit him on his job and harass him in full view of his employer and coworkers. Then his driver’s and other professional licenses can be revoked, and he may be imprisoned for the debt on a contempt of curt charge or fined. And if he flees across state lines to avoid paying support, he can be jailed on a felony charge. More important, the mother will retain almost complete control over the child, regardless of whether he pays child support or not. Meanwhile, she can, on a whim, block his access to his child. Even worse, from his point of view, she can introduce another man into the child’s life, one who may take the father’s place.

            Youg men are aware that once they are out of the mother’s life, they may find themselves out of their children’s as well, even though they might be required to bear the burden of an eighteen year financial commitment. Though we did not interview fathers for this study, this scenario surely runs through a young man’s head when he learns of a pregnancy. Ironically then, while pregancy may ignite his fear that fatherhood mens the end of his life as he knows it, his girlfriend sees it as the point at which her life has just begun.” (69-70)

            Comments?

            O.

            • Obsidian Files

              There are those who, like Mr. Todd did yesterday, will attempt to argue that Feminism is an upper class White thing, and that for everyone else it simply doesn’t apply – the Black Feminist Project begs to differ. So do the results as I have noted and directly quoted above. And the idea that Feminism would bring nothing but daisies and sweets…well, like I said, try telling that to any Blue Collar Brotha, and holla back the results.

              These are very serious questions, folks. They cry out for examination and answering – how odd then that our putative Best and Brightest have not seen the light?

              Hmm…

              O.

      • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

        I was in disposed last afternoon, but let me explain my point. In any society where there is a noted shortage of men, there tends to be looser sexual behavior among the women. This is something that is pretty consistent within history. Heck, I’ve even seen arguments that not implausibly traced part of the motivation of the $exual Revolution of the 60s to the noted shortage of older men due to the men who were killed off during WWII.

        Throw in the real economic desperation among the working classes, and you have desperate women doing desperate things. This isn’t to say that Black women are Bad, as much as they are responding rationally to incentives. Gender imbalances cause imbalanced behavior. The flip side is true as well. Being a single woman under 35 and traveling to the Oil Patch in North Dakota is a very dangerous thing these days, with offers of marriage and pr0stitution all over the place due to the shortage of women.

        Simply put, Black women are people, too.

    • 321mena123

      I didn’t absolve women of anything yesterday. I just showed you how historically you can’t focus on one thing which you love doing. Also, you didn’t address my other point concerning voting and women’s rights. Your anger should be directed elsewhere.

  • Rachmo

    I’m on Team Honey Badger. I’m at a point where I can’t worry about how White people perceive every piece of entertainment we put out.