Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Five: 5 stereotypes that whites and blacks share about each other

As I stated in response to Zora, not only was Toni Morrison’s “Bill Clinton is the first black president” comment not racist, it was aggressively anti-racist in that it was meant to underscore the inherent ridiculousness of racial stereotypes. I was extremely disappointed (though not surprised) when pundits and cultural critics in the mainstream media tripped over one another to condemn Morrison’s “racism.” If they’d only read Morrison’s short story “Recitatif,” they’d understand that Morrison would never condone essentialist racial stereotypes. The story follows the lives of two women—one white, one black. From childhood to adulthood, the women harbor racial stereotypes about each other, but Morrison uses ambiguous language and signals, so it is never totally clear which woman is white and which is black. “Recititaf” draws its force from one of the cruel (yet hilarious) jokes of American race relations: due to our historical and cultural proximity, black people and white people have many of the same stereotypes about each other. To be fair, these stereotypes apply to all groups that position themselves opposite another, but as I’m most familiar with black-white relations, that will be my focus.

1.) They stink

…as in, their bodies smell funny. “White people smell like wet dog,” “white people’s hair smells like wet dog,” “white women’s diggum smacks smell like wet dog.” Clearly, wet dog smell figures prominently in black stereotypes about white people’s odor. And any casual perusal of white supremacist literature and music will turn up assertions of black people’s supposed stink. Cooler heads have suggested that argue that genes, diet, cultural preferences for hair and body products can account for different racial odors. I can’t say that I’ve noticed, but then again, I don’t go around sniffing folks.

2.) They are sexual deviants

Many white people believe that black women are promiscuous and have a primal sexual energy (signaled by the hypnotic movement of black women’s hips and asses on the dance floor). Many black people say that white women are nasty and loose. Black men, in particular often brag about the relative ease with which they can bed or turn out white women. White folks (and black folks too) have bought into the idea that black men are sexually potent and promiscuous. Black people often say that white men are into “freaky shit” (s and m, interracial cuckolding, bisexuality). Nowadays, black men are getting some of that with the overblown D.L. panic, but the “freaky” stereotype is still relatively rare for them.

3.) They have terrible taste

…in music/movies/books/clothes/food/comedy/beauty, etc. Black people like Tyler Perry plays and movies, crappy stand up comics, lowbrow rap and derivative R and B, gross, greasy fast food, and tacky, bright colored clothes. White people like “Friends,” crappy stand up comics, unlistenable rock and country music, bland food (or sometimes “exotic” cuisines), and lame clothes. What makes this one an interesting stereotype is that it often goes beyond generalizations about cultural preferences. This stereotype tends to bolster the idea of differing racial aesthetic capacities. The white vs. black “tastes” typically break down along the binaries of affect vs. authenticity, formal training vs. instinct, script vs. improv, craft vs. style…in other words, (white) mind vs. (black) body or (black) soul.

4.) They don’t discipline their kids

Without this stereotype, 95% of black hack comedians wouldn’t have material. According to popular stereotypes spread among black people, white kids can curse, disrespect, and hit their parents, all without being punished. White people, on the other hand, look at unruly, vulgar black kids in public space like malls, schools, public transportation, and think that black kids are generally out of control due to absentee parenting or disrespectful black culture. There’s no shortage of asshole kids who have little respect for others’ property or public space, but racial tunnel vision makes us see only what confirms our prejudices. When someone has destroyed or defaced public property in an interracial neighborhood, many white people just assume that black kids did it; most black people probably think that drunken white fratboys did it.

5.) They are untrustworthy

I’ve come across quite a few old black people who tell me that white people are shady backstabbers, not by nature, but certainly by having been raised in a culture of white supremacy. As for white perceptions of black dishonesty, I will offer my first hand experiences. Occasionally, I’ve had to duck out of sporting events, museum visits, and symphony concerts at the last minute. Rather than waste time trying to sell the tickets outside of the venues, I’ve opted to give them to the first taker. But since I’m black, especially a black man, white people refuse to take the free tickets from me. One might argue that white people aren’t responding to my blackness; they’re responding to my suspicious behavior of giving away free stuff. That’s somewhat understandable, but then why do I never have issues giving them away to the first black person who shows up?

Can you all think of others?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The End of a May-December Romance? A Drama in One Act

I am a bit of a voyeur. I like watching my neighbors, I have listened to my neighbors doing the deed, I eavesdrop on loud conversations, and I make no apologies for being an observer of the human condition--I am sort of like that old lady on the stoop of that show 227. I did some dissertation work, and something beckoned me to go out. It said, "tonight, you Chauncey, are gonna see something interesting." As Grandpa Munster said, "curiosity killed the cat, but intelligence brought him back," (click here for one of my favorite Granda Munster moments).

Last year (and Zora can vouch for this as I told her the story right after it happened), I was lucky enough to watch an old school player in action at one of the local spots I frequent. He was in his early 60's or late 50's and was on a "date" with a young lady in her last 20's or early thirties. I knew what was up, as did all the other men in the bar he was signifying to: Old School Player (OSP) had on a wedding ring, she was smitten by him, and OSP had "cultivated" her (I learned that phrase from American Pimp) . She, let's call her Young, Dumb, Desperate, and in Love (YDDL) couldn't resist. Love (lust?) was in the air, and OSP was making his move. We know how the night ended on that occasion--his hand had crept up her dress and she was smiling. YDDL was smiling, winked at the men in the room, and the two left together.

Fate has a sense of humor. Frankly, I don't know if this fits the theme of We are Respectable Negroes, but I don't believe that questions of respectability are exclusive from questions of why young women fall for old men, so please indulge me. For your visualization, OSP looked like a cross between the notable light skinned musician Cab Calloway:

and 1980s action superstar Kurt Russell from the classic movie Escape from New York:

Yes, OSP did have on leather pants. Yes, OSP had on a leather jacket. Yes, OSP did have his hair straightened (or maybe he just had good hair?) YDDL was cute--not great--but cute. She looked like a cross between Tiffany Pollard aka New York (did you see her sex tape--I watched the tape and remain undecided as if it is her or not) and Angela Bassett. Yes, she too was wearing leather (I think they met at the local black motorcycle bar):

As I said, I was there at the beginning of their tryst and I was there at the end (?) Here are the events as I can best recall them (all folks are in a medium high voice. YDDL is a bit histrionic. OSP is quiet and trying to calm her:

Young, Dumb, Desperate and in Love: I am done with you! No more kissing! No more touching..
Old School Player: Come on, calm down..
Young, Dumb, Desperate and in Love: Good pussy costs money!
Old School Player: I didn't promise you anything, it doesn't have to be like this, please calm down..
Young, Dumb, Desperate and in Love: I am gonna tell your wife. I left a good man for you.
Old School Player: (Inaudible)...
Young, Dumb, Desperate and in Love: I am gonna call my friend right now and leave a voice mail. I am gonna tell her that I don't love you anymore. I want everyone to know. Damn, I shouldn't have kept fuckin' with you. I am gonna tell your wife. I left a good man for you.
Old School Player: Baby, calm down...
Young, Dumb, Desperate and in Love: No more kissing, no more fucking. No! I don't want to share you.
Old School Player: Come on baby, please calm down...
Young, Dumb, Desperate and in Love: If you really loved me you wouldn't want to share me either! I hate you!
Old School Player: Come on baby...
Young, Dumb, Desperate and in Love: I hate you!

OSP and YDDL walk out together and presumably fight outside. YDDL comes back in, she sits down, collects herself and talks on the phone. She leaves 5 minutes later. What struck me was that OSP was calm the whole time. It was pretty clear OSP didn't care about losing his young mistress as he was more worried about being embarrassed by YDDL's behavior. It seems this sister, who was much more attractive and younger than our Old School Player, was really invested in old dude.

What do you all think? My smart money is on her returning to OSP and continuing on as the mistress. Plus, and this is up for debate, I believe that the more histrionic and upset a person is, the more invested they are in keeping that relationship alive. My money says they get back together this weekend. Your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Gordon Gartrelle sighs: If only I weren't such an honest, respectable negro...

from: XXXX
date: Dec 18, 2007 8:03 PM
subject: WGA Residuals
Dear Mr. Gartrelle:
Are you by any chance a former writer on “The Cosby Show”?
If so,please contact me. We have been trying to locate you for a long time regarding residual payments owed to you currently in our possession.

Writers Guild of America
Foreign Levies Department
(323) xxxxxxx Phone
(323) xxxxxxx FAX

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It's Electric Boogaloo 2: The Wiggers Strike Back

Last weekend I saw Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. One of the trailers attached was for the upcoming film, "Step Up Movie 2." I offered some narration during the trailers that much to my chagrin got quite a few laughs in the theater. What is the point of being 1/3rd of a blog if you can't share your pre-movie commentary with the world (or at least our readers)?

I now offer the following (and yes, I know our parents thought we were ridiculous at the time):

Start with Wild Style:

Add some Breakin:

Flavor with some Krush Groove:

Mix in some Cool as Ice:

And we have this:

Maybe it should be called "Now Introducing Breakin' 3-Poppin and Lockin' Gentrification?"

As a culture are we this bereft of ideas? And doesn't history indeed come full circle when "whites" through their imitation of "black" popular culture eventually come to own it?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Chauncey Devega Says: New Hampshire Primary Reaction Part 2--Obama's Still Got that Old Black Magic

In the interest of transparency, I will likely vote for Edwards come November if he remains in the presidential race. Simply put, Edwards's platform speaks to me in a way that Obama's platform does not. But, I cannot deny that Obama is an exciting candidate with much to offer.

However, I do have to admit that while I correctly predicted an Obama defeat, a big part of me, the proud, respectable negro part of me, really wanted to see him win. While political scientists, pundits, and other analysts are conducting a New Hampshire postmortem, we will not know for some time if Obama was defeated because of the "Bradley effect," i.e. white respondents reporting to pollsters that they will vote for the black candidate, when in the privacy of the voting booth these respondents then vote for the white candidate (and in an interesting twist, a white, female candidate). Alternatively, predictions of an Obama victory may have been a function of a sampling error, where as Andrew Kohut in The New York Times points out, the preferences of white respondents in New Hampshire making less than 50k a year were not "captured" by surveys. These voters disproportionately did not vote for Obama, what I affectionately call the PWT effect, and the pundits and analysts were blindsided by the subsequent failure to predict a Hillary victory (click here for a thorough list of possible explanations for Obama's defeat). Ultimately, Obama, his supporters, and the pundits, were caught in a "Damn!" moment by Hillary's victory--whatever the causal variables which may explain it:

Honestly, there is something compelling about Obama and he offers much to like. Obama is wonderfully self-deprecating ("I’m a black guy running for president named Barack Obama. I must be hopeful"). As a child in Indonesia, Obama was known to chase young girls at his school (something I certainly can relate to). Apparently, being such a young Lothario, Obama was tied to a fence and whipped with a cane by his schoolmates as punishment for his flirtatious ways (I was beat with either a paddle or a belt, but never with a cane). Obama once owned a pet monkey (cool--3 month long readers know my feelings about those damn, dirty, apes). But, Obama has also eaten dog (not cool at all). "Obamamania" may have even helped maintain the peace in a little corner of conflict afflicted Kenya. In total, while I haven't caught Obama fever yet, I am beginning to see why some voters find him so infectious:

But, as compelling as I find aspects of both Obama's life story, and some of his policy initiatives to be, I have two interrelated concerns which give me pause.

First, Obama is in a crusade for hope. While not a problematic theme (who can disagree with "hope"?) it has transformed Obama into a vessel for the dreams and desires of others. This is an important, yet simultaneously almost banal observation that demands reiteration. Obama is a vessel for the hopes and dreams of others, but who are these others? What do they imagine? In their eyes, what is he a vessel for?

Here, Obama's candidacy has been positioned, and has quite skillfully positioned itself, as a force for "racial healing." For the Right, the Left, and for the tragic mulatto crowd, a vote for Obama ushers in a "post-racial future." For the Right, Obama is the embodiment of a "color-blind" America. But, as part of their racial project the mere mention of race, or racial difference, or for that matter racism, is itself "racist." For the "color-blind" Right/neo-liberal Left, to speak truth to power, is itself a racist act. For them (and quite disingenuously in my opinion given Bush 1 and 2, Reagan, et al's assault on black people's sanity), Obama's race is irrelevant. Further, Obama's candidacy hints at a reality where race does not "matter," and to bring forth questions of race as they relate to Obama borders on being impolitic at worse, and impolite, at best.

For the tragic mulatto and self-consciously bi-racial crowd, Obama is a mascot. He signals a future where self-identified bi-racial folk will be accepted in a wonderful, post-racial world where one can be all things to all people, and where the fact of race will have no burdens, no consequences, and no obligations:

This fantastic post-racial world will allow all forms of "race play." In this racial Utopia one could be "black" on Monday and "white" on Wednesday depending on a whim (or utilitarian need, i.e. getting a scholarship). Ultimately, the arrival of Obama is a coronation of sorts. But, in an inconvenient truth for many, Obama identifies as a black American, a black man who happens to have a white mother, but nonetheless, he is proud, and unapologetically black. In the greatest of ironies, the post-racial future which Obama's candidacy signifies will allow tragic mulattos to exercise agency over Obama's identity by their claiming him, while in reality, Obama claims an identity as a black, and not creatively hyphenated, "Canablasian," "mocha," or "multiracial," American.

For the Left, an Obama candidacy signals the arrival of a type of political humanism where all citizens manage to forget the past (and exercise selective memory regarding the present) and to live in a world which appreciates "difference." But, this is a post-racial future where race, and its inconvenient baggage, neither has purchase nor power. As articulated by Gary Kamiya on, if we could all just move forward, if we as a society could find a racial "healer" as opposed to a "divider" (those troublemakers who talk about discrimination, racism, and white supremacy), we as a society could transcend racial difference. More pointedly, the Left in its vision for a post-racial future wants a safe, conciliatory, black leader who privileges the good will which ostensibly underlies the intentions of white liberals.

Again, no plain speakers need apply to the cult of "multiculturalism" and "diversity" because race is an unfortunate "social construction," a social construction which is only skin deep. For the post-racial Left, we are all human, and no troublesome folk (be they black, brown, yellow, red or white) need apply. Collectively, these post-racial knuckleheads (or PRK's as I label them) embrace Obama as a "magical negro." Although their agendas are different, these factions see in Obama their hope for a post-racial future, and he becomes the site for a type of magical, racial catharsis. Ultimately PRK's look to a future in which race is magically transcended. However, I suspect their understanding of the magical negro is closer to this one:

Primarily, I have reservations regarding Obama as a healer of racial wounds because I believe that we as a society need to embrace the realities of racism in the present. As a society, we continue to struggle through a project of race and remembrance. Subsequently, the American project of racial reconciliation remains an ongoing one. In short, the PRK's and their support of Obama causes me great concern because the present is a product of racism in the past, racism in the contemporary, and racism in the near present (e.g. disparities in hiring; job discrimination; the prison industrial complex; illegal and racially disparate mortgage rates; health disparities; and the material consequences of slavery and Jim Crow, i.e. widely unequal rates of black and white wealth accrual). The cures for these problems are not a set of fanciful dreams which look forward to a heretofore undiscovered country.

Hillary's victory, and the conversations surrounding how gender may (or may not) have impacted "The New Hampshire surprise," point to my second set of concerns. As Gloria Steinem pointed out in the New York Times, Hillary's campaign is a essential site for feminist struggle. For Steinem, gender as an identity category is necessarily at the forefront. A white woman is almost by definition an underdog to a black man. I suggest that we cannot forget that the black body more generally, and the black male body in particular, is itself a site of what have been powerful and pernicious applications of both gender and race as socially marginalizing categories. In short, I suggest that the historical record would offer much that would complicate Steinam's assertion.

The relationship between race and gender is the 800lb elephant sitting in the corner of the room that few, be they black, white, or other, want to acknowledge. Obama is a black, male, candidate. Moreover, Obama is an attractive, black, male, candidate. Sex appeal, charisma, and personality are as relevant in this campaign as they have been in any other. Obama isn't a mandingo figure. But, Obama as a magical negro is able to leverage this identity to his advantage. I worry that it can also be to his disadvantage as well. Consider for a moment: we have witnessed many conversations (with much consternation) regarding why black people, and black women in particular, have not offered as fervent a level of support for Obama (Oprah excluded..but she ain't black, she is a celebrity) as have white women. In their continual search for black ideological solidarity, some commentators seem perplexed that black people have not rallied behind Obama. Yet, white women (and whites more generally) are among his staunchest supporters:

I am worried that Obama as the magical negro--their black Jesus (yes, I know Jesus was "black")--represents a false hope, a candidacy which will collapse once he either 1) dares to become too "black" or 2) when the media ends their love affair with Obama and casts him as a "black" candidate.

In a reformulation of the Bradley effect, it is also my worry that Obama is in many ways a "safe" choice. By analogy, Obama is the "well spoken," "professional," light skinned black guy that many white women would date and sleep with but damn well wouldn't marry.

Don't misunderstand my position. I believe that one of the ironies of Obama's candidacy is that these necessary conversations regarding black American's support for his campaign (or lack thereof) highlight our political sophistication. While we are proud of Obama, our cynicism, suspicion, and deep seeded reservations point to a profound understanding of power, race, privilege, and politics. While the Right has long lamented that black support for the Democrats is evidence of a plantation mentality--disregarding the fact that there are many rational, self-interested reasons for our being "behind the mule"--we have been ahead of the curve on many issues (for example, black folk saw through Bush 2 long before white people).

I am proud of both our insight and our caution. For example, as The Washington Post recently highlighted, there are many reasons for black Americans to approach the Obama campaign with caution. Quite logically, many black Americans are concerned about the reasons underlying white support for Obama. What are his allegiances? Who is he beholden to? Why would white voters support a black candidate? How sincere is their interest? In addition, many black Americans, myself included, are deeply concerned about how Obama has positioned himself as a post-racial black man, a new "New Negro" of sorts, who is emphasizing his immigrant roots in a way that distances himself from his domestic, black brethren. Strategically, Obama's appropriation of the Horatio Alger, American-immigrant narrative sends a signal to whites that: "He is sort of like us"; "He and his people came here and made it with nothing..just like our ancestors!"; "Obama isn't angry like those other black folk who always throw slavery up in our faces!" It is Obama's skillful triangulation between whites and "regular" black folk, that give us regular respectable negroes much to think about.

The next few months will be exciting. Brother Obama, do not doubt for a second that we respectable negroes have your back--a fact that will be demonstrated in South Carolina. You will probably benefit from the calls of politicians, black activists, scholars, and public intellectuals to support your campaign. Moreover, how can we not be happy that a member of our proverbial tribe is competitive for the highest position in the land and is representing himself with such confidence, skill, and political deftness? The next few months will also be challenging. "They" will remind you of your blackness. "They" will test you. It may get so bad that you may have to do an Eddie Murphy to conduct some reconnaissance:

If Karl Rove's recently published racist screed is any indication (a piece where he described you as "lazy," "rude," and "a trash talker" who learned to be disrespectful while playing pickup games of basketball), the campaign will get uglier. And let us not forget William Bennett's comments on CNN that:

"Well, I think it's -- and again, a wonder of America here, a remarkable breakthrough, this year, as the other group said -- 97 percent, in fact, Iowa, rural, white farming state. Barack Hussein Obama, a black man, wins this for the Democrats...I have been watching him. I watched him on Meet the Press. I watched him on your show, watched him on all the CNN shows -- he never brings race into it. He never plays the race card. Talk about the black community -- he has taught the black community you don't have to act like Jesse Jackson; you don't have to act like Al Sharpton. You can talk about the issues. Great dignity. And this is a breakthrough, and good for the people of Iowa."

I hope you pass muster and respond as I know you will--with pride, dignity, courage, and intelligence. Who knows? You may still win my vote from Edwards.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Gordon Gartrelle says: The Democrats refuse to see the Wizard

I differ from Chauncey in that I think that Obama has a chance to beat whomever the Republicans nominate. I also differ from him because I would never even joke about eating chitlins. However, we agree that, in general, the Democrats are poor strategists compared to the Republicans, and that the Democrats are absolutely clueless when it comes to choosing their presidential candidates. Take a look at this list of losing Democratic Nominees from 1984 to the present:



Gore (don’t give me that “But he won the popular vote and they stole Florida” shit. OK, but he couldn’t even win his home state. How pathetic is that?)


Just look at that list for a second. Is it even possible to imagine a more lifeless, uninspiring group of Democratic politicians? What this list tells me, though, is that the Democrats do not learn from their mistakes, and that Hillary will most likely be their nominee. Why? Because they believe that she is the “safe” choice (though she is anything but). Because she is an insider with “relevant experience” (though she has little).

Let’s revisit 2004 for a moment. Republicans’ charge them with being antipatriotic, so what do the Democrats do? They get all giddy about Wesley Clark running, and they ultimately nominate a Vietnam vet...a boring, robotic, aristocratically-mannered Vietnam vet. That’ll show ’em! That this move backfired is irrelevant. The mere fact that they allowed Republicans to define the attributes of their candidate shows how unimaginative, obsequious, and pathetic the Democrats are.

We live in interesting political times. Due to an odd convergence of circumstances, the three potential democratic presidential nominees are an economic populist, a woman, and a (kind of) black man, and the last one is the most electable candidate of the three! To see why Obama is the best bet for the Dems right now, let’s examine his main rivals:

Edwards, a white male and a Southerner, may seem like a good choice given that the last few Democratic presidents have been white men from the South. But Democrats got extremely lucky with Clinton and Carter: not only were they white male Southerners, they were up against Republicans whose loser-dom was too great for even the Democrats to fuck up. Most important, though, was that they came off as regular guys, despite their high levels of formal education. Edwards, on the other hand, is an effete pretty boy. Independents, especially male ones, will never vote for him in large numbers; he’s too “queer.” They can’t imagine having a brew with Edwards. Though these criteria are idiotic, they certainly explain Gore and Kerry’s failure to mop the floor with a man who, while just north of functionally retarded, appears to be a regular guy despite his privileged upbringing. Edwards can “man up” and criticize Hillary’s crying all he wants, this country will not elect a Southern dandy. The mainstream media will make sure of that. And I haven’t even gotten to the fact that Edwards’ platform is populist, poverty-centered, and critical of big business. Do you think that’s gonna fly in our current political climate, where any critique of the institutions that foster poverty earns one the socialist label?

It’s bad enough that Hillary represents boring “politics as usual.” The fact that she is a Clinton is what’ll ultimately sink her. Feeling good about New Hampshire women coming to bat for their girl? That's nice. Feel this: do you know how many conservative and moderate women will come out to vote, not for a Republican, not against a Democrat, but against Hillary personally? People will crawl from the swamps to ensure she never sets foot in the White House again. If this is fairly obvious even to party loyalists, why are the rest of the Democrats so blind? I think it’s a collection of things: cowardice, strategic and ideological stagnation, an insider devotion to the status quo, and the all too predictable establishment liberal mantra, “White is right (to lead black people), black is awesome (but if it comes down to white vs. black leadership, black get back).

So Obama’s the man…except that he isn’t and probably won’t be. The Democrats embody all four of the pre-Wizard Oz pilgrims combined: no brain, no heart, no home, no balls no noyve. Obama is the magical Wizard poised to restore to the Democratic Party its squandered mojo. For the Democratic establishment, though, Obama’s campaign is too much like a fairy tale, and nominating him would be too much like right.

Chauncey DeVega says: New Hampshire Primary Reaction Part 1--Hillary Clinton and the Power of White Women's Tears

To begin, we offer some secret footage that we obtained at great risk and personal peril of the chaos at Hillary Clinton's headquarters on Tuesday, January 8th at 5pm:

As a student of politics, the New Hampshire primary has reminded me of one immutable truth of American political and social life: never, and at your own great peril, do you ever underestimate the power of white women's tears. Hillary turned on the waterworks, portrayed herself as a "victim" under "attack" by the media, and many a Miss Ann rallied to her cause.

Hillary's camp was in turmoil following her poor showing in Iowa. Rumors abounded that Hillary would change her campaign strategy. Hillary's core group of advisers would be retooled (and may still be). Billy Bob, seen as a liability by some, was going to be reigned in. Old confidantes such as James Carville were to be brought back into the fold. Following her expected defeat in New Hampshire, Hillary was going to position herself as Hillary 2.0--a new and improved Hillary, with more vigor, life, personality and energy. But, Hillary's tears have taken a crisis and turned it into an opportunity. Her tears may have changed everything. Perhaps, Miss Hillary will be the comeback kid of 2008.

A few days ago, the stress of the primary campaign had Miss Clinton looking like this:

Oops wrong picture, but you can't tell me that she doesn't look like the Emperor from Star Wars:

Hillary has now used her secret powers to breath life back into her campaign. Despite her husband's comments questioning Obama's experience, and electability; his observations that Obama's handlers (and by implication his supporters) are living in a fairy tale; or Hillary's jabs that Obama is no MLK--comments which undoubtedly turned off many voters and pushed them into Obama's camp--Hillary survives to fight another day. Representatives from the Hillary camp even went so far as to speculate aloud that if Obama continues to win and to fashion himself in the mold of MLK or Bobby Kennedy, he may very well be killed. But, even that tasteless comment (if not a reasonable concern), didn't prevent Hillary from capturing victory.

The media loves a horse race, the American public loves a close (but fair) election because it encourages their belief that the electoral system "works." And ultimately, we can only hope that these competitive primaries may improve the health of our body politic. But for now, I say kudos to you Miss Hillary because your victory has pushed me one step farther away from that chitlin' sandwich I promised to eat come November if Obama won the election.

To close, here is some secret footage of the celebration at Hillary Clinton's headquarters on Tuesday, January 8th at 11pm. Many Bothans died to bring you this information:

Monday, January 7, 2008

Respectable Negroes of the Week

Only One Negro Deserves Recognition This Week...

Obama Shows that Hope Can Carry Us A Long Way

With the New Hampshire primary a day away, Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama is edging out Hillary Clinton. A USA Today-Gallup poll taken over the weekend has her trailing Barack Obama by 13 points.

“For those of you who have already decided that you are voting for me, do not take this race for granted,” Mr. Obama told voters at a morning rally in New Hampshire. “I know we had a nice boost over the last couple of days, but elections are a funny business. You actually have to wait until people have voted and counted the votes before you know what’s happening.”

Advisers to Mrs. Clinton and former Senator John Edwards played down any effects from Mr. Obama’s victory in Iowa. But one prominent black supporter of Mr. Obama, Representative Artur Davis of Alabama, called this moment “a very precarious time for the Clinton campaign.”

For black elected officials who either stayed out of this race or have supported Senator Clinton, they’re in a very dicey position right now,” Mr. Davis said, “because their black constituents are about to move overwhelmingly toward Barack Obama.” Outright defections may be unlikely, he said, but he predicted some black Clinton supporters would become “magically unavailable when the Clinton campaign calls them.”

.. and one Negro Deserves an Honorable Mention

Gordon Gartrelle Backs Down
in the Face of Strong Black Women

Our own Gordon Gartrelle is nominated this week for rethinking his position on how his sisters are portrayed in the media and pledging to be more thoughtful when he engages this topic in the future. He will be a strong ally in our struggle for respect and consideration.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Chauncey Devega says: Gordon Gartrelle this is All Your Fault!--Making Me Put this Lap Dog, Ass Kisser, Uncle Tom, Shelby Steele on This Site

When we started this project I said we should never feature this handkerchief head on the blog. You pointed his comments out to me, and now, we have this:

You know what? A broken clock is right twice a day.

Gordon, you are a bad person--and, you ruined the climax of my post for next week. Shame on you!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Zora Says: Why should Negroes Vote for Hillary Clinton?

Friend or Foe?

The presidential primary season has just begun and Barack Obama has surprised a lot of pundits by surpassing Hillary Clinton at the polls. Already, the "yes, but" folks have begun to raise their voices: "It's still early in the race;" "Iowa isn't reflective of the rest of the nation;" "Primary votes only reflect the sentiments of true believers;" "Obama will never secure broad support in the general election"... Yes, Obama may be both popular and qualified, but he'll never get elected -- is what it boils down to.

A lot of African-Americans are still reluctant to throw their vote behind Obama not because of any particular policy issues or concerns, but simply because they doubt his electability. The old guard of black leaders voiced their doubts early on expressing "concerns" about his experience and authenticity. We all know that their real concerns have to do with losing their place in the line for white patronage. They didn't/don't like Obama because they feel that he is an upstart and that it isn't his turn. Many younger African-Americans, and those who are not as invested in the leaders of the civil rights era, are less concerned with Obama as an upstart and are unwilling to play the black authenticity game. Still, they do express concerns about Obama's ability to actually get elected. For them, Hillary Clinton represents a safer choice.

Back in 2005, Al Sharpton challenged black folks to think more critically about their support for the Clintons. While I am certainly not a fan of Al Sharpton, I have to admit that he does a good job of putting shit out on the table. Given the rise in "yes, but" voices and the inclination to go with a "safer choice," I'll raise again Sharpton's challenge: Why do we support Hillary and Bill to the degree that we do? Is Hillary really a safer choice than Obama in this election?

I never really understood the joke that Bill Clinton was America's first black president. I don't know who first said it, but be they black or white, it was a terribly racist statement. The Clinton's are clearly comfortable around African-Americans and it is true that they have appointed a fair number of black faces in high places (they do like symbolic Negroes). Does this make them black? (Given this criteria, we could then say that George Bush, Jr. is America's second black president.) Believe it or not, Bill Clinton was even inducted into the Black Hall of Fame. I didn't even know that such a thing existed.

The Clinton's both have been very good at strategically playing the wigger role. Bill Clinton won many over when he pulled out his saxophone and began wiggling his hips during his first bid for the presidency. Both Bill and Hillary have expressed their appreciation for soul food. At every opportunity they jump into our pulpits and give speeches with accents and mannerisms so affected that they would have made Norman Lear proud.

Some would argue that it is Bill Clinton's background and behavior that links him to African-Americans. Unfortunately, they are neither thinking about his Rhodes scholarship nor his Yale degree when they say this. They are more often thinking about his drug addict brother and his working class mother. They are even more often thinking about his womanizing and fast talk. I wish that I could say that only white people express such essentializing foolishness, but I can't. Ambassador Andrew Young, for whom I once had a tremendous amount of respect, recently was called out for saying that Hillary and Bill were "blacker than Barack." Young supports this very weighty statement by citing that Bill has probably been with more black women than Obama has and that Bill is often the first to start a Soul Train line at official gatherings. This may make "Slick Willy" a pimp, but it certainly doesn't make him black. Nor do heavy-handed, aggressive responses in the Middle East make Hillary Clinton "a strong, black woman."

The fact is that the Clinton record on issues that affect African-Americans is not very strong. Bill and Hillary have successfully used black-face to mask actions that have negatively affected African-American progress. Even while it defended Federal affirmative action programs in Congress and the courts, the Clinton Administration made more cuts in affirmative action than any administration since they were instituted during Nixon's presidency. Bush, Jr. is merely finishing what Bill started.

The Clinton initiative on race, begun in 1997, never went anywhere:
  1. *Creation of a permanent body, which would be known as the President's Council for One America, to promote harmony and dialogue among the nation's racial and ethnic groups;
  2. *The Government's development of an education program to keep the public informed about race in America;
  3. A Presidential ''call to arms'' to leaders of government and the private sector to ''make racial reconciliation a reality;''
  4. Engagement of youth leaders in an effort to build bridges among the races.
Do you recall any of this? I don't. A voluminous report that emerged from the race initiative apparently acknowledged the problem of racial-profiling, but didn't make any substantive recommendations to address it.

Bill Clinton promised in his first campaign that he would end welfare "as we know it." In endorsing the Republican agenda, he participated in "the most sweeping reversal of social policy since the New Deal." He did exactly what he promised, but not what he led voters to believe. (We've witnessed the same kind of 3-card Molly, double-talk in Hillary's presidential debate responses.) Bill's early rhetoric rang of education and resources that would allow the poor to escape the cycle of dependency on government programs. Somehow the practical translation of this was an increase in the numbers of women and children in homeless shelters. Added to the Clinton list of shame should be failed health-care reform, Operation Gatekeeper and NAFTA.

If the Clinton treatment of Lani Guinier and Marion Wright Edelman is at all representative of how they value and relate to African-Americans, we're in trouble. Guinier was a long-time friend of the Clintons and perceived them as comrades-in-arms in the ongoing fight for civil rights. Bill Clinton nominated her as assistant attorney general for civil rights and promptly sold her down the river when opponents began to challenge and distort her work. The friendship was tossed aside as soon as Guinier represented an impediment to Clinton political ambition. Marion Wright Edelman, too, became persona non grata in the struggle between politics and integrity. She was at first touted as a mentor and role model to Hillary Clinton in her legal training. When Edelman challenged them to live up to their rhetoric and professed ideals, the Clintons distanced themselves. One dear friend that the Clintons decided to keep close was Sheriff Harry Lee of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. Yes, this is the same Sheriff Lee that ordered his officers to prevent Katrina evacuees from crossing the Crescent City bridge to safety. Apparently, he was a committed fundraiser for the Hillary for President campaign.

Respectable Negroes, ask yourselves why Hillary Clinton deserves your support. What will you gain from her election to the presidency? Is she really a safe choice? As self-interested as he may have been when he made the statement, we have to wonder if Senator Joeseph Lieberman was right when he said that the Clinton's have used African-Americans like Kleenex.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Respectable Negro New Year's Resolutions in 2008

For time immemorial, people have made New Year's Resolutions. In the spirit of this time honored tradition, we, in our inaugural year, offer the following--

Respectable Negro Resolutions for 2008:

  1. We resolve that as a nation we need to stop saggin'. Stated differently, these United States of America need to stop showing their collective asses and looking raggedy to the rest of the world;
  2. We resolve to ask ourselves if they are laughing with us, as opposed to at us? Do "they" really get our jokes?
  3. We resolve never to support authors and pundits who profit from positioning black men and women as enemies.
  4. We resolve to elect our leaders rather than have them either appointed by the media or be self-appointed. Relevant question: how in the hell does one earn the title of "black leader?"
  5. Like the rest of the world, we resolve to get some Euros and to use them as our benchmark currency;
  6. As black men and black women, we resolve to work harder to understand each other and to address our problems as a collective issue in our community;
  7. We resolve to condemn all efforts to paint black folks as a monolithic ideological group;
  8. We resolve to be more sympathetic to tragic mulattos (qualifier: this only refers to those who are truly tragic, and not to all mulattoes);
  9. We resolve to be less sympathetic to self-destructive black athletes and entertainers;
  10. We resolve to follow the example set by of our nation's leaders and to never, ever snitch;
  11. We resolve to not frame our decisions and actions in response to white expectations;
  12. We resolve to always keep in mind that, in spite of the success and power we might attain as individuals, we as Black people have yet to see success as a group in the promised land (A Luta Continua!);
  13. We resolve to critique adolescent-minded music made by people pushing 40, but we also resolve not to praise mediocre music simply because it's "positive."
  14. We resolve to complain to the management at local bookstores about their conflation of "niggerlit" with African American literature. (Candy Licker shouldn't be shelved next to Their Eyes were Watching God);
  15. We resolve to learn Mandarin and/or Cantonese;
  16. We resolve to do more for each other.

From Chauncey's World of Ghetto Nerds ...

An excerpt from Junot Diaz's latest, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao ...


Sophomore year Oscar’s weight stabilized at about two-ten (two-twenty when he was depressed, which was often), and it had become clear to everybody, especially his family, that he’d become the neighborhood pariguayo. He wore his semikink hair in a Puerto Rican Afro, had enormous Section-8 glasses (his anti-pussy devices, his boys Al and Miggs called them), sported an unappealing trace of mustache, and possessed a pair of close-set eyes that made him look somewhat retarded. The Eyes of Mingus (a comparison he made himself one day, going through his mother’s record collection; she was the only old-school Dominicana he knew who loved jazz; she’d arrived in the States in the early sixties and shacked up with morenos for years until she met Oscar’s father, who put an end to that particular chapter of the All-African World Party). Throughout high school he did the usual ghettonerd things: he collected comic books, he played role-playing games, he worked at a hardware store to save money for an outdated Apple IIe. He was an introvert who trembled with fear every time gym class rolled around. He watched nerd shows like “Doctor Who” and “Blake’s 7,” could tell you the difference between a Veritech fighter and a Zentraedi battle pod, and he used a lot of huge-sounding nerd words like “indefatigable” and “ubiquitous” when talking to niggers who would barely graduate from high school. He read Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman novels (his favorite character was, of course, Raistlin) and became an early devotee of the End of the World. He devoured every book he could find that dealt with the End Times, from John Christopher’s “Empty World” to Hal Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth.” He didn’t date no one. Didn’t even come close. Inside, he was a passionate person who fell in love easily and deeply. His affection—that gravitational mass of love, fear, longing, desire, and lust that he directed at any and every girl in the vicinity—roamed across all Paterson, affixed itself everywhere without regard to looks, age, or availability. Despite the fact that he considered his affection this tremendous, sputtering force, it was actually more like a ghost because no girl ever seemed to notice it...

Oscar’s sister Lola (who I’d start dating in college) was a lot more practical. She was one of those tough Jersey Latinas, a girl soccer star who drove her own car, had her own checkbook, called men bitches, and would eat a fat cat in front of you without a speck of vergüenza. When she was in sixth grade, she was raped by an older acquaintance, and surviving that urikán of pain, judgment, and bochinche had stripped her of cowardice. She’d say anything to anybody and she cut her hair short (anathema to late-eighties Jersey Dominicans) partially, I think, because when she’d been little her family had let it grow down past her ass—a source of pride, something I’m sure her rapist noticed and admired.

Oscar, Lola warned repeatedly, you’re going to die a virgin.

Don’t you think I know that? Another five years of this and I’ll bet you somebody tries to name a church after me.

Cut the hair, lose the glasses, exercise. And get rid of those porn magazines. They’re disgusting, they bother Mami, and they’ll never get you a date.

Sound counsel, which he did not adopt. He was one of those niggers who didn’t have any kind of hope. It wouldn’t have been half bad if Paterson and its surrounding precincts had been, like Don Bosco, all male. Paterson, however, was girls the way N.Y.C. was girls. And if that wasn’t guapas enough for you, well, then, head south, and there’d be Newark, Elizabeth, Jersey City, the Oranges, Union City, West New York, Weehawken—an urban swath known to niggers everywhere as Negrapolis One. He wasn’t even safe in his own house; his sister’s girlfriends were always hanging out, and when they were around he didn’t need no Penthouses. Her girls were the sort of hot-as-balls Latinas who dated only weight-lifting morenos or Latino cats with guns in their cribs. (His sister was the anomaly—she dated the same dude all four years of high school, a failed Golden Gloves welterweight who was excruciatingly courteous and fucked her like he was playing connect the dots, a pretty boy she’d eventually dump after he dirty-dicked her with some Pompton Lakes Irish bitch.) His sister’s friends were the Bergen County All-Stars, New Jersey’s very own Ciguapas: primera was Gladys, who complained constantly about her chest being too big; Marisol, who’d end up in M.I.T. and could out-salsa even the Goya dancers; Leticia, just off the boat, half Haitian, half Dominican, that special blend the Dominican government swears no existe, who spoke with the deepest accent, a girl so good she refused to sleep with three consecutive boyfriends! It wouldn’t have been so bad if these girls hadn’t treated Oscar like some deaf-mute harem guard; they blithely went on about the particulars of their sex lives while he sat in the kitchen clutching the latest issue of Dragon. Hey, he would yell, in case you’re wondering, there’s a male unit in here. Where? Marisol would say blandly. I don’t see one...

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Please God and all that is merciful in life let this not be true--Tyler Perry to be in the new Star Trek franchise

So troubling if true:

courtesy of

I heard some reeeeaallly interesting things today about J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie. I’ll share all the details eventually but for the moment let’s break a piece of exclusive info: that writer/director Tyler Perry has a role in the new Star Trek movie. If you want to know who Perry is playing and how his character impacts the lives of young Kirk and Spock, beware of spoilers and click on through to read about it. And I mean that: SPOILERS ARE AHEAD!

It looks like Perry is playing the head of Starfleet Academy. Before you go asking if the character is going to be a human being or one of those funky aliens with a dozen more nostrils, it looks like Perry’s character is a plain old fashioned human.

Here’s some background on the dude: Tyler Perry is one of the bigger breakthrough success stories that Hollywood has had recently. He began his career and won acclaim as a playwright before moving into film. He’s directed and written the screen stories for Madea’s Family Reunion, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Daddy’s Little Girls and his latest hit which came out earlier in the year, Why Did I Get Married?. If the man’s a Trekkie he’s kept it quiet or maybe J.J. is just a fan of Madea.

My informant tells me about a big scene that was filmed a couple of weeks back that involved Perry, Chris Pine (the young James T. Kirk), Zachary Quinto (young Spock) and dozens of other extras. Now really, if you’re here then you already decided that you wanted to be spoiled, but here comes the bigger spoilers…

...Tyler’s character is overseeing some kind of Starfleet courtroom/assembly event where young Kirk is facing expulsion from Starfleet. It turns out that the Starfleet prez didn’t look too favorably on Cadet Kirk for “cheating” on one of his critical tests. And all you Trekkies out there know exactly what it is Kirk did: he rigged the Kobayashi Maru test so he could win it.

(For those that don’t know their Tribbles from Andorians, the Kobayashi Maru is a piece of Trek lore introduced in Star Trek II. Starfleet cadets are placed inside a starship simulator and given a no-win scenario: either try and rescue the survivors of a stranded space freighter trapped behind the Klingon Neutral Zone and thus in enemy space or listen to them die when they are found by the Klingons. The test is designed that there is no possible outcome where you save the Maru survivors and beat the Klingons; it’s supposed to give cadets a taste of what it’s like to be working under pressure as you face probably death. Kirk won the Kobayashi Maru test by reprogramming the scenario so he could actually win it because, as the dude himself said, “I don’t like to lose.")

So young Kirk is standing in front of his peers (human and alien Starfleet cadets and officers) and facing immediate expulsion from the Academy. After hearing the charge from Perry’s character, Chris Pine-as-Kirk delivers a speech in the same vein as some of the classic Kirk speeches from the TV series. He wants to know how his cheating was found out, and it’s revealed that there was a witness to Kirk’s act. Kirk immediately demands to know who the witness was so he can face his accuser.

And that’s when Zachary Quinto-as-Spock stands up. Yup, he’s the one that ratted on Kirk reprogramming the Kobayashi Maru test and he’s the reason why Kirk is about to be expelled from Starfleet. And then…

I’m going to cut it short there for now because I want to follow up with my source and ask some more questions about what happens next. Yeah, I’m leaving you hanging here but it can’t be helped. Besides, it’s the holidays and breaking news is practically non-existent so if I can stretch this out and come back with more spoilers from Star Trek, why not? Plus I want to be able to explain how the new costumes fit into Trek continuity and what they look like…

I promise to be back tomorrow with more. But before I close hailing frequencies I’ve got one final story detail to relate to you: at the start of that day’s filming J.J. addressed the assembled cast and told them that he was extremely happy to have Tyler Perry being a part of his Star Trek movie for many reasons, but one of the biggest was that this would mark the first time
that Perry has appeared in a movie outside of his own projects...


We go from Uhura (random factoid: MLK himself asked her to remain on the show because of her impact as a role model for young black people) to one more minstrelesque, mammy-evoking, carnival of black transvestism. Now introducing Star Trek, The New Adventures: Jigs in Space

So we have Tyler Perry as The Head of Starfleet Academy:

Some additional casting suggestions.

Maybe we could add Eddie Murphy's character Norbit as The Head of Starfleet Security:

Nell Carter as The Head of Starfleet's diplomatic corps:

And of course Monique as Sarak's wife and Spock's mother:

Finally, Chris Tucker's character Ruby Rhod as the alien hottie that Kirk inevitably seduces:

Who else should we add to our cast?

Post-script: One of my friends made the good point that everybody doesn't know who Tyler Perry is, and thus, why would one find this scenario problematic? Tyler Perry is a man who has made a career of playing black, female, mammy characters. For example, see this article which describes Perry's crusade to spread and reinforce these disgusting portrayals of black people (as if Japan doesn't need more reinforcement for its cultural embrace of notions such as Sambo).

Why is this troublesome? The idea of the overweight, black female character (here: the mammy) is rooted in very problematic, and pejorative notions of black personhood. Moreover, the black mammy is a manifestation of a tension wherein black females in popular culture are oftentimes either the 1) overweight, harmless, emotional surrogate for white women and a caregiver for whites (see: "Ohh boss our house be burnin down," aka "The Gone With the Wind Syndrome" or better yet, Miss Oprah) or; the 2) the hypersexualized black female mandigo ("I can't repress my libidinous black sexuality, it must be the melanin" figure). Either way, both are deeply problematic stereotypes that have framed, in a profound manner, the ways wherein some black folk often see ourselves, and how some whites see us as a people. In the case of Star Trek, and sci-fi more generally, I term this the "Jar Jar Binks syndrome" where a poor casting decision distracts the viewer from the overall story through both an appeal to, and/or use of, (either intentionally or unintentionally) actors and/or characters that are laden by problematic racial or ethnic stereotypes.

Now I can exhale. Get me?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

We now interrupt this broadcast: The New England Patriots are perfect!!!!

For The New England Patriots:

Kamala says congratulations!

This is for you Tom Brady:

Now all we need is one more Superbowl ring....

Friday, December 28, 2007

Chauncey DeVega says: Reductio ad adsurdum--A Response to Victomology Blues

Reductio ad adsurdum

(Latin: “reduction to absurdity”), in logic, a form of refutation showing contradictory or absurd consequences following upon premises as a matter of logical necessity. A form of the reductio ad absurdum argument, known as indirect proof.

reductio ad impossibile, is one that proves a proposition by showing that its denial conjoined with other propositions previously…

These conversations about gender and race make me really nervous. I know I can't win. I know I can't help but lose. As a man, I benefit from sexism by default, in much the same way that white people, regardless of their personal politics and ethics, benefit from white privilege.

As a black man that loves black women, I often feel that I am damned if I do, and damned if I don't. This is an immutable truth that transcends race, national boundaries, language, ethnicity, and class. We men folk want to say the "right" thing, and by doing so affirm the women we love in our lives, and to offer support to those women who have mentored and guided us. I for one know that if not for the black women in my life, and those loving, interested, and caring white, brown, and yellow women that have shared wisdom, love, and guidance with me, that I wouldn't be the sexual tyrannosaurus that I am today...Ha ha! had you going for a second with that black male feminist crap didn't I?

Seriously, when men and women talk about gender, and specifically, when I talk about gender as a man who happens to be black, I feel like the character Moleman on the Simpsons: I just keep getting hit in the balls regardless of what I say, and I keep getting hit over and over and over again. I know I can't win, but hell, I will keep trying:

For the record, Zora and Gordon, I think you both capture a significant part of what is problematic about these conversations regarding WAOD, black popular culture, and the politics of gender in the black community. I also think you point to a need in the black community to have a serious conversation about what a "progressive" black political agenda would look like (something we will certainly address on this site).

Deploying the absurd, I center my first set of observations on my worry that groups such as "What about our Daughters?", groups who point to hip hop and popular culture as a primary source for societal evil, are advancing an agenda based upon a fallacy--not one simple fallacy, but rather a big, one legged, crooked one--which is the myth of the strong black woman, and that women are under "assault" by hip hop and black popular culture. Extrapolating from this logic, black women are strong women. By extension, strong women are under assault by black popular culture because they, and we all, should expect affirmation from popular culture. Moving forward, strong black women need to respond to this affront because popular culture impacts their life choices and life chances. Black women are under assault which compromises their strength and so we need to resist this attack by popular culture. But, black women's strength is both "natural" and "necessary." Doesn't this almost sound tautological?

What is a strong black woman? How do you know her when you see her? What are her attributes? More importantly, what are the implications of this "strong" black woman myth for "regular" black women?

Is a strong black woman as strong as Wolverine's claws and the adamantium from which they are made? Why isn't the strong black woman included on this list of fictional super metals? What is a strong black woman? Can she break watermelons with her thighs?

Damn that got me excited.

Does a strong black woman have superior physical strength?

Is the strong black woman as strong as this white queen?

I love black women. I love strong women. I especially love strong black women like Nichelle Nichols:

Maybe the women at Supersistas got it right? Maybe, we need to counter the assault on black women with lots of affirmation and with videos such as this one:

Be careful supersistas because this approach may backfire, as there are lots of men who would love to be punished and dominated by you.

Maybe the brothers at have some wisdom to offer on this issue?

Guess not. But, I just love saying "". It has a ring to it, doesn't it?

I don't know what a strong black woman is. I know it is a slogan on the T-shirts sold at the Korean owned hood hair care product/clothing/shoes/miscellaneous items store in my neighborhood. I know it is something that harpies like these miserable souls throw about like so much spare change when they try to dispel the myth of the "angry black woman." I also deeply suspect that the narrative of the strong black woman hurts black women (and women more generally who subscribe to it) because this myth encourages women to make poor choices in their lives, and to play the victim in a cycle of despair. The narrative of the strong black woman also prevents vulnerability and forces black women to take on unreasonable burdens.

But, I am confused because I know many black women who I would label as strong. I also know many women that I would label as weak. As a social scientist, I also know about the difficulties faced by women who have to negotiate the often vexing combination of sexism and racism. Ultimately, while I am confused by this all, I know something about the idea of the strong black woman just doesn't sit right with me, and I suspect it may not sit well with many of you as well.