January 1, 2011

on new year's eve, my white boyfriend, and our new relationship

We are not revolutionaries or freedom fighters or anything like that. We're just dating. He's my boyfriend. And yes, he's white. He never says things like, "You're the first black grrrl I ever dated/kissed/fucked, etc". It's a non-issue. We don't spend hours and hours talking about race and class and gender and how he's a white male and I'm a black female and what that means. We actually spend most of our hours making out, eating, and drinking beer while making out. Our life is simple and quite beautiful.

omfg interracial love is HAWT!! Pictures, Images and Photos

But last night was different. It was our first race talk. I honestly believe that when people are drunk, their real personality comes out. We were at a party, it was a little fun, nothing spectacular, a few of his friends were there, a few strangers. We felt welcome. Of course I was the only black grrrl there. I am the only black grrrl everywhere I go. I don't necessarily like it, but I'm definitely used to it.

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A little after midnight, a few more people (the hostess's brother and his wife) stumbled in, drunk and laughing and falling all over themselves. I am not a huge fan of drunk people and so I curled up closer to my boyfriend with my blankie in his lap.

To everyone: "Hey there's a black woman on our couch. How did this happen? This feels like undergrad". Awkward laughter from the other party-goers and then silence. I am trying to figure out what's funny. He stares at me. I stare back. My boyfriend says something to the effect of, "Dude this is my girlfriend".

I wanted to go home. The party wasn't fun anymore and I was tired. And so we decided to leave. I went around the corner to put my boots back on (because we had to take them off when we came in out of respect for the family's culture). I hear the brother say something like, "Hey what was that black girl's name? I want to make some more jokes about her that was so funny". I come back into the living room and look at him. My boyfriend says, "I'd rather you didn't, that's my girlfriend". Nobody else says anything. Not the hostess. Not my boyfriend's friends. Not the guy's wife. Nobody. Nobody says anything. We are left standing alone, fending for ourselves.
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I think that's pretty much how life is.

And so instead of ringing in the new year with laughter and friends and good times, we are alone in his bed talking about race and what our relationship means. If our families will like each other, what people will say, what our response will be, what we will do and say. We have known each other one week. We'd rather be making out or having sex, but we talk and talk and talk and then sleep.

I'd like to say that everything is answered now. That we have everything figured out. But we don't. I'd like to say there were lots of pictures to choose from on photobucket that depicted us, that a black woman and a white man was something that people thought of as "everyday life," that people considered us a "regular heterosexual couple," that people wouldn't stare at us when we kissed. Neither of us wants to answer questions about what it's like to be with someone from a different race. I just want to go places with my boyfriend and be treated with dignity. That's it. It sounds simple. Other people make it complex.

interracial Pictures, Images and Photos

This has everything to do with my feminism. Being a black woman, being considered desirable, finding someone to share my life with, being treated as less than human by pretty much everyone, being thought of as a whore or a video girl, being called a "baby mama," thinking about power structures, being told I am a traitor by black men when they have been dating white women for years, wanting to fit in, being seen as exotic or as a fetish or a prize. Fearing white men, but also fucking them and loving them and meeting their mothers. I am always on the edge. ALWAYS. There is never a time when my guard is down. There are no holidays. This is also part of my feminism.

I'm not really sure why I assumed that people were going to be somehow smarter and less ignorant about race and relationships in the year 2011, but they aren't. Think, love, question, call people out, respond, try not to punch people in the face, leave the party, discuss, move on, keep loving, never stop.

December 14, 2010

When she talks, I hear the revolutions

None of us seem to update this blog anymore and that sucks, I'm sorry. But maybe we'll revive it someday? That would be cool. Though these days I've been working on starting up my own zine, this blog will always have a little place in my heart. So I'm sure I'll return to it from time to time. So keep an eye out!

But anyways, for now I just have to use this as a place to talk about and document the amazingness that was The Kathleen Hanna Tribute show at The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, NY this past Saturday night. So if anyone is actually reading this...now you know.

I seriously don't even know where to start, I had such an amazing time! The tribute show was put together and filmed for an upcoming documentary about Kathleen Hanna being made by the wonderful director Sini Anderson. So for the first half hour or so of the show Sini filmed the audience doing various dances to a handful of different Kathleen Hanna songs. Which was actually a lot of fun, I busted out some pretty smooth dance moves if I can say so myself.

Then the show started; a bunch of different bands and artists came up on stage to performed their renditions of Kathleen Hanna songs. Anything from Julie Ruin, to Bikini Kill, to Le Tigre. There was such a wide range of performers that night, which was probably one of my favorite things about the show. Everything from local artists like Hilly Eye (Who I fell in love with that night, might I add. Their sound is awesome!), to big names like Toshi Reagon. Young 16 year old girls on guitars, to older men on keyboards. Dance performances, acapella groups, xylophones; there was seriously a little bit of everything. It was just so fucking interesting to see all the different kinds of people that have been influenced by Kathleen Hanna's work. It really blew my mind.

Care Bears On Fire. These young girls are so fun and talented! I've listened to them piror to this show, so it was great to get the chance to see them perform live.

Electric Child. Another band that I heard for the first time that night and fell in love with.

JD Samson (from Le Tigre) with her new band MEN.

Besides the great music and performances, there was another magical moment of the night. When Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth fame) came out to read Kathleen Hanna's Riot Grrrl Mannifesto. I seriously think I teared up at this point, no joke. It was just really beautiful and aw-inspiring. 

And then SURPRISE! Kathleen Hanna herself came out with her new band The Julie Ruin (which features Kathi Wilox of Bikini Kill and The Frumpies) to perform a few songs!! They played a few of the hits and one of their new songs from an upcoming album (can't wait for that!!). Finally getting to see Kathleen Hanna perform live was like a dream come true for me. I've always wanted to, but was unfortunately wayy too young to during her Bikini Kill days. I feel like I can die happy now, heh. And, of course, they were astounding.

First the Hilarious Murray Hill introduced The Julie Ruin. Trust me, this video is worth watching!

Kathleen Hanna!

All in all it was a really wonderful night, one that I'll never forget. I'm so glad I got the opportunity to go, seeing as how the tickets sold out so damn fast. I've never been to a show with that many talented women on the stage before, it was super inspirational for me. And just to be surrounded by so many like-minded individuals and a real sense of sisterhood was heartwarming. There were great vibes in the venue that night!

Anyways, I'm going to end this dragged out entry with a kick-ass video of Bridget Everett's performance from the night! I wish I got pictures of that one, but I guess I was just too busy dancing hard. 

All photos taken by me- Valerie Amaral

September 16, 2010

On girl-hate and sisterhood.

If there’s one thing I can’t stand hearing, its girls saying how they “hate all other girls”, or “only hang out with guys because they are less drama”. Some of us like to call this the special snowflake syndrome. I have a hard time believing that out of the whole population of females, you are the only one who doesn’t cause drama. Plus, from my experiences, guys cause just as much drama as girls do. I don’t think it’s much of a gender issue, but rather a personality issue.

I think what grinds my gears about all of  this is that girls seem to say this hateful stuff in an attempt to be seen as “one of the guys”, which is really problematic. It’s like when a group of guys say a really sexist joke in front of a few girls. A couple of the girls try to explain why the joke is offensive and sexist and not funny in the least, while the other girl laughs out loud to show that she finds it funny. Then the guys proceed to say something like “she SHE gets it, why don’t you?”. It’s just not cool, it’s seen all too often, and it puts us in the fight against misogyny in an awkward position. I’m tired of being seen as having no sense of humor, or overly sensitive and “politically correct”, because I won’t stand for anybodies sexist jokes or rape jokes or so on. I actually have a great sense of humor, thank you very much, but some stuff just isn’t funny and shouldn’t be joked about- and it makes me sad to see so many girls do so in order to be placed higher up on the male pedestal.

But I’m not here to condemn any girl, so I’m not going to sit here and say that it’s their fault. I mean think about all of the negative attributes associated with women- we are weak, catty, unfunny, emotional and the list goes on. So who would want to be around that, or even act like that for that matter, when you can be one of the strong, tough, fun, hilarious, chill, drama-free guys!? Much like that graphic above says, I think we all need to realize that women are not all alike. We don’t all have the same hobbies, interests, or overall personalities. So saying that you “hate all other girls”, or “only hang out with guys because they are less drama” is an extremely silly thing to do, think before you gender stereotype.

The funny thing about all of this is that I myself mostly only hang out with guys; I have very few female friends. I know, I know, “what, then who are you to talk!?”. But I actually wish I had more female friends, I long for them but am not sure how to go about actually making them. I think there is something really special and beautiful about sisterhood and female relationships, as corny as that may sound, it’s true. I’m not sure why I, and other girls I’ve talked to, have a hard time making female friends, but I’d like to think that it has a lot to do with the sheer amount  of girl-hate going on these days. I know that we've touched on the subject of girl-hate in here before, but I just think it’s really sad and unfortunate that it’s so common, and it doesn’t seem to be talked about as much as it should be in feminist spaces. I like to believe that we as females look up to each other, and too many times that love and admiration is taken and twisted into jealousy and hate. Girl-hate is something that I firmly believe needs to be eliminated as soon as possible. When girls can be more open and kind to each other I feel that it will break down a lot of barriers and make many things easier for us and our friendships.

I was pretty scatter-brained in this entry and touched on some vulnerable topics, so I apologize. But as my hunt for some female friends continues (oh shit, I feel like a female version of the main character from the movie ‘I love you, Man’) stop the hate and spread the girl virus! 

September 2, 2010

riding the red river

I know a lot of men. Tons of them. Football players, military snipers, captains, sergeants, basketball players, pierced ones, black ones, white ones, old ones, young ones (not too young, i'm not trying to go to jail), professionals, medical doctors, heck I even birthed a boy. I know men. If you know me, you know that about me. And I've been officially "boy crazy" since I was about 16 or 17.
Isma Pictures, Images and Photos

boy crazy Pictures, Images and Photos

But I am troubled. And Confused.

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Most of these men, with varying degrees of frequency, brag about their brawn, strength, mental abilities, how much better they are at everything than a girl is (usually me), how much more "productive" they would be if they were the stay at home parent (good luck breastfeeding, my friend), how many guys they tackled in football, how many people they have shot, how many bullet wounds they have, how much bigger, stronger, taller they are, how their upper body strength is nearly three times that of mine, how hard they can fuck me, how they can open stuff I can't open (pickle jars, etc). If you are reading this blog, you're probably a woman and hear the same shit day after day after day. We are supposedly the "weaker" sex.

Here's the kicker though: Tell any of these guys you're on your period and they run screaming in the opposite direction. Like what? Not like a girl, because we can handle it, they scream like the little boys that they are. It's blood. It's not war or American football or another guy pointing a gun at your head, it's a bloody vagina. It's not even bleeding all that much, and it's doing what it's supposed to do. Duh. Wouldn't it be more scary if we were telling you we were pregnant?

Rag Pictures, Images and Photos

Trying to convince most men that you're still the same woman and therefore still have a libido while you are on your period is probably the hardest thing on Earth. It's dirty, it smells funny, they can see it, it's gross, etc etc etc. But here's how dumb guys are:

1. Chlamydia is on the rise. It has no symptoms. Any other week, they'd probably be more than willing to stick their face down there with their mouth open. I'm not asking for all that. I'm being honest with you. I TOLD YOU I was bleeding. Unprotected oral sex is ok but safe vaginal sex with a little blood is bad? One is way dirtier than the other.

2. How does it feel different? It should probably feel better because this way we're lubed up. Guys are impatient and not the best at foreplay. The blood will make us wetter and more relaxed.

3. Orgasms help relieve cramps. Why wouldn't you want to help your sexual partner relieve some of her pain if you could?

Superman Pictures, Images and Photos

4. Cumming on our faces is "beautiful" but you wearing a condom and "riding the red river" is disgusting? Total double standard.

5. Guys have no room to complain about anything stinking.

But it's not a lost cause. Once I was dating this guy who was extra cool because he had a Prince Albert piercing. He came over and I was just laying around being whiny about my cramps and he says "we should probably have sex then to ease your pain a little bit right? That'll help you out a lot". And seriously my face just fell on the floor. It was one of the sweetest things anyone's ever offered to do for me; help take the pain away, and accept all of me. But that was an isolated incident. Who knows where that guy is now, but he was an angel.

Angel boy Pictures, Images and Photos

I'm trying to convince my current boyfriend that we cannot plan our visits (we're in a long distance relationship) around my bleeding because it's stupid and my life continues to happen whether I'm bleeding or not. He argues that he can help me by bringing me pills and giving me alone time. No one has won yet, and he's still a bloody virgin. ha ha.

If you are having sex with a boy, ask him about period sex, let me know what he says. Maybe that'll help me out.

also this video made me very happy.

August 22, 2010

do 8 year olds really need bikini waxes?


According to current research, girls are going through puberty earlier and earlier, with many getting their periods, developing breasts, and growing body hair as young as 7 or 8 years old. Because this is a fairly new phenomenon, scientists are still trying to understand why this is happening, but many suspect hormones in food, diet, and obesity to be key factors. Also the risks these girls may face in later life is still not understood either.

Here is one, of many articles, on this growing public health concern.

Currently, to help "deal" with the body hair "issue" that these young girls are facing, salons have started offering waxing services for the tweens set and girls as young as 8 years old are getting their pubes waxed. There are even discounts for "virgin hair". I just threw up a little in my mouth after I typed this.

Let's back up for a minute: When I was in middle school, I thought my underarm hair was out of control. I used a depilatory similar to Nair and broke out in this itchy painful blistering rash. It was so bad I had to go to my pediatrician and get it looked at. It hurt so fucking bad. My doctor, who's known me since I was 2, wanted to know why I wanted my hair to be gone. I told him that I didn't like it and that I needed it gone and that my friends had theirs gone too. And what if I wanted to wear a bikini one day, I'd need to have no body hair. He just stared at me, puzzled. He told me if I wanted to wear a bikini, which he thought I was way too young for anyway, that I should wear boy shorts, and that hair under my arms was just fine and that my body was doing what it was SUPPOSED TO DO by growing hair. Then he told me to put baking soda under my arms.

Now imagine being 8 years old. Imagine not knowing anything about puberty or growing up and then you look down one day and see hair on your vagina. It's interesting. Slightly scary. But also fascinating. And then imagine someone telling you this is gross, and taking you somewhere and letting some stranger put hot wax on your little 8 year old vagina and ripping the hair off. Have you ever had your pubes waxed? Me either, but that shit hurts. Or imagine growing up thinking that body hair is disgusting, and seeing the other women in your family without any, and feeling ashamed because you have some growing on your vagina, upper lip, arms, or on your legs. It's confusing to me and I am 28. I have no idea what to "do with my pubes" but I am adult. I am not 8 years old.

Here is something to consider: Who is looking at an 8 year olds pubes anyway? Who is concerned with this? And why? Parents why are you forcing your daughters to endure this humiliation and pain at such an early age? Girls, who told you this was ok? Waxers, what the fuck are you doing making money off of girls like this and making them think that they are not ok as they are?


mother issues


My mom is on facebook and we are friends. I know that's weird for some people and some of my friends aren't "facebook friends" with their mothers, but a whole lot of them are. And you know what? It is weird. Suddenly, a whole lot of the secrets I have worked so hard to keep from my mama are right there in her face and accessible to her and the rest of my entire family, who is also on facebook. I feel like I am an embarrassment to her, to them, to everyone.

I am not one of those people who logs on and writes about what they ate for dinner and what they think of the too hot or too cold weather. I write how I feel, what I did last night, how much I drank, screaming matches I got in, and my boyfriend whom I adore. There are pictures, there are my friends comments, and there are my own responses. I often wonder what my mom thinks of this. I ask her, she says, "I am way too busy doing my own stuff, I don't follow you that carefully".

And then I think about all the stuff she has no idea about. I want her to be like other people's mother's. I want her to "get me," to be proud of the things I have done, to talk about me, to visit me when I am far away, to know my writing, to know what I do everyday, to follow me more closely. I feel like a stranger to my whole family. I moved to a whole other state, many of them don't know. They never knew I was pregnant, married, divorced, a grad student. Most of them think my name is "Nana" and most of them have no idea how to say my son's middle name (is it really that hard?).

I want to discuss books with my mother, to take her to the spa, to paint with her, to dance with her, to show her where I stayed in Kenya, to show her where my son's family comes from. She is always too busy for me. Always. Not just sometimes, all the time. It hurts me.

When you are 28, people automatically assume you don't need your mother as much as you did when you were 8, but you do. Maybe more. Life never stops being difficult and mothers are so incredibly good at figuring things out. I miss her. I need her. I hope these little peeks into my life via facebook make her realize how much she is indeed missing, how much she doesn't know, how much I screw things up because I don't have her to help me.

July 20, 2010

girl fight

Before I show you this video I want to tell you how graphic and violent it is. These women are pregnant, they are fighting each other, other people are watching, cheering them on even, and it's very disturbing. This video is going to make you angry, but it happened last week. It's a little long, so if you want, you can just skip to the fighting scenes. After watching it, we'll talk.

Ok, I know that was tragic. I've been pregnant before. I know how vulnerable and alone and big and sad being pregnant is. I know how angry people can make you get, and I will admit to having screamed at a girl at a party when I was 2 months pregnant with my son. I seriously could have went there with her, but my son's dad, picked me up and got me out of there. Not my finest hour.

We are women. We are not supposed to fight each other. Period. There are no exceptions to this rule. Nothing is worth fighting another girl over. At my internship, four girls "jumped" a fifth girl, at least 10 people watched, not doing anything, not calling anyone, not helping. The four girls were STAFF. Other people watching the fight were JUNIOR STAFF. Someone taped it. Our cameras caught it. They saw the knife, they saw who was fighting, and people were fired. This is a COMMUNITY CENTER. These staff work with children. It's sad. Maybe I have said too much already. I'll be quiet about my work now.

Things to Consider
1. A lot of men think girl-fighting is sexy. They get off on watching you fight other women. They want you to fight in jello, in pudding, in a kiddie pool full of noodles, on the street, in a bikini covered in oil. Don't do it.

2. A whole lot of girl fights are over words, or men. Men are not worth fighting over. They're just not. The thing about men is they LIE. There will be times when you didn't realize someone was married or had a girlfriend because he didn't tell you and his female partner, instead of getting mad at him, will come at you. This is stupid. Don't do it.

3. It's selfish to fight when you're pregnant. Your baby gets stressed out. It's still growing. It could get hurt, it could die. Don't do it.

4. If you do get in a fight or someone "jumps" you, most people won't help you. They will stand there and watch, they will go get some popcorn, they will pull out their camera phone, even if you are on the floor dying, nope, not gonna help you. Sometimes even the police.

5. And finally, it's a crime. You will just go to jail, where you will get in more fights. It's an ugly cycle.

We are women. Of course we make each other mad sometimes, we will disagree, we will have misunderstandings about men, we will not like the tone we take with each other sometimes, but we must never get violent with each other. We have the gift of communication. We should use it to our advantage. We don't have to love each other, but we must not kill each other either. I can't stress that enough. Please don't fight your sisters. And we are all sisters.

Women sometimes want to beat my ass, for a lot of different reasons and they make it extremely clear to me. It's scary. I walk around scared quite a bit actually. It's no way to live. Luckily I haven't been beat up yet, hopefully I never will. I hope you never get beat up either, and if you have, I'm sorry. I know it wasn't your fault. I hope someone helped you. I hope security guards didn't stand there and watch you get your ass beat doing nothing. I hope that feeling of total helplessness fades with time. I hope you don't live in fear of other women, like I do sometimes.