We Can’t Rely on the Oppressed to Do the Work

Due to the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia there has been (and rightfully so), a reaction to the public demonstration of white supremacy and preservation. Yet, the focus isn’t on those who are remaining silent. No one is talking about the level of organization and protection of those people who assembled and demonstrated (without fear or veiled appearance) in Charlottesville, Virginia. Historically, these groups would assemble at night or wear hooded or veiled vestments to conceal their identity but now racism and the institution that it rests upon is overt. Yet, their unveiled appearance proves that it is not the historical white supremacist pageantry of KKK robes, ski masks, or bandanas. Instead, it is 21st century racism, complete with white polo shirts, baseball caps, khaki pants, and loafers.

Don’t let their J-Crew appearance fool you into thinking that a polite conversation will eradicate their racism. It is the responsibility of white people to talk to, ostracize, and lash out at white people about racism.

And no, a Charlottesville Syllabus is not enough. A Charlottesville syllabus is a) problematic, b) won’t work, c) places the responsibility on the oppressed to educate and articulate their suffering to the oppressor, d) makes white people feel better about their inherited privilege.

It is time to unapologetically confront and call out white supremacy and systems of institutional oppression. If these people can show their faces then we should not veil, code, or “diagnose” their behavior. That thought experiment is exhaustive and the moment has passed. These people are not only demonstrating in plain sight their hate but they are doctors, lawyers, educators and law enforcement. They are not these mythic coal miners or uneducated “backwards” folks that are located in discarded towns in America. These are influential people that can and do decide the fate of a lot of people in this country. I am tired of apologetics that excuses their behavior. And for the record, it isn’t just white men who are racists. There are white women and the people of color that either comply or condone their ideology.

It is easy to hide behind the singular narrative of the white male or because of Marxist theory: wealthy, debt free, middle class white men that are hetero-normative. We must remember that they have female associates and alt-right/conservative LGBTQ folks that prove that women and non-heteronormative white people are just as racist and oppressive.

Nor should the hands of people of color be the ones to eradicate images and ideology of white supremacy and oppression because it relies on the oppressed to do the work of those who benefit from privilege.

For example, when Brittany “Bree” Newsome removed the Confederate Flag from the flag pole in front of the statehouse, in Charleston, South Carolina didn’t go unscathed. First, a black maintenance work replaced the flag which is the example of the labor and hands of supremacy. Second, she was fined and faced the possibility of having to go to jail for tampering with federal property. Therefore, there is a cost for physically dismantling these institutions. I have yet to see what is the cost for the woman who climbed the statue in North Caroling and placed the rope in order for other protestors to pull it down.

We don’t talk about Ramsey Orta, who filmed the horrific police strangling of Eric Garner on Staten Island, New York on July 17, 2014. Ramsey has been arrested numerous times for filming police arrests and at Black Lives Matter protests. He (Orta) is serving a four-year sentence for the selling of Heroin and illegal possession of a firearm.

Orta’s criminality is the focus of his life in the ways in which countless black and brown people who fight back or are killed through law enforcement are profiled. For example, Sandra Bland was blamed for her death because she wouldn’t extinguish her cigarette and questioned law enforcement as to why she was being pulled over. Whoopi Goldberg and Raven Symone et al. defended Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s erroneous question on Sandra Bland’s cigarette could have been used as a weapon on The View.

I won’t go on a long pontification on the politics of respectability and how Bland and others assertion of selfhood is a politics of ‘(dis)respectability.’ Yet, the narrative of people of color in influential positions of power or their exceptionalism proves that in modes of resistance people and especially women of color vacillate between maintaining mythic images of respectability which can retain systems of oppression. While those that don’t retain those images are often marginalized as being social pariah and the downfall of communities of color and labeled ‘disrespectful.’ Yet, these ‘respectability’ police don’t realize that they are retaining a gate-keeping ideology that doesn’t shake up white fragility and their need to retain their positions of power. Because they are just happy to have a seat at the table that they will remain silent or police people who question white authority.

Nor will I contribute to a narrative, that racism is regional, and that only a small sect of the population plays in the role of racism. There are alt-right rallies (Better Known AS) 21st century racism scheduled across the country.

It is easier for people to look elsewhere than it is to look locally at oppression. This isn’t just a piece on Donald J. Trump and his cabinet because white supremacy and oppression is a long and sufferable form of socio-political amnesia. This amnesia is what plagues The United States of America.

Instead, this is a time in which the actual conversation of abolition needs to happen. Not just reform. But actual abolition. What does it mean to abolish white supremacy, the prison industrial complex, educational debt, drastic poverty vs drastic wealth? What does it mean for citizens that work to receive social benefits that will retain their well-being? What does it mean that regardless of your ancestry you can have a fair and equal opportunity to not just survive but thrive? These are the questions and ideas that need to saturate the minds of this country.

A syllabus is an elitist and dismissive form of window dressing the elephant in the room. I am all for education but the student must want to learn. It is not my job as a member of the historical and very presently oppressed to educate my oppressor when their lives are valued above my own. It is not my job to place myself on the front lines of protests and demonstrations in an effort to dismantle power structures that me nor my ancestors did not create. Instead, I have the write to maintain my safety and position as one who works to create archives of information that will survive longer than my life expectancy. For self-care and archival creation is the legacy that my fore-parents in the fight for freedom have left me and others.

Advertisements

Dating While Melanated and Educated

In the age of social media and academic decadence, dating or hooking up has become an intricate Argentinian tango. Whether you’re battling the probability of having a rewarding career, a partner and children or just looking for Mr. or Ms. Right Now, the prospects for finding a decent person is best described as a trial by fire (optimistically you don’t develop permanent scar tissue). As a person who vacillates between academic and non-academic spaces dating becomes the topic of discussion. The infamous question begins with:

“Are you seeing someone?”

If I answer “no…”

the response is: “But why? You’re such a catch!”

If I say “yes…”

then I am subjected to the lightening quick response of “who is the lucky contender?”

They’re not asking simply because they wish me well or that I am no longer continuing the “my intellectual and spiritual endeavors are all I have time for” narrative. They want to know whether my potential mate is black or at the very least a non-white person. Just because someone is educated, queer identified or an ally, and politically (very liberal) doesn’t negate race-thought. Largely due to population of white vs. non-white, level of education, socio-economic status, and sexuality men and women of color are confronted with the possibility of engaging in an interracial or inter-ethnic relationship.

For example, the focus (or at least the top two) of this season’s The Bachelorette, is Rachel Lindsay’s racial consideration: whether she will choose the only black guy who’s left in the competition because he’s black. Yet, is there an intrinsically known safety in choosing to partner with someone of your own race? Simply stated, yes.

Rachel Lindsay of The Bachelorette

However, it doesn’t negate the issues of class and socialization. For example, if someone who is LatinX dates another LatinX person there is the probability of being from the same country and the ability to speak the same language with your partner. However, there is the issue of class and colonial ideology. If you’re Black there are various types of Black. Black people from the Midwest are different than East or West Coast Black folk (or what I call Coastal Blacks). Dialectically speaking, they are more aligned with Southern Blacks because their parents or grandparents are usually from the south and the cuisine and socialization are similar. There are other things such as inter and intra-racism that is known that one may not be aware of when it comes to coastal blacks. If racism within and between is experienced there is the issue of provincialism that Blacks from the Midwest and southern states experience from Coastal Blacks. It is best said from a quote from the film Amistad.

 “People from the north view southerners [and I will add, Midwesterners] as not only being geographically below but also intellectually inferior.”

That statement, which is ironically stated by a white slave owner and United States Senator, is simply based on the assumption of based on someone’s geographical origin within the United States.

To add to the topic of geographical difference, there are the issues of colorism within Black American communities and communities of color. There are also the interactions Black people encounter among Caribbean, LatinX, and immigrants and/or the children of immigrants from African countries. This is not to exclude Asian communities if anything this is to include them in the conversation. These issues are not foreign to them either. For example, Asians face the issues of colorism, assimilation and being deemed the model minority within their community as well as, from potential white partners.

To add to the complexity of dating within one’s community, people of color also deal with the issues of class which are both intellectual and economic markers of difference. This is not to cast the bulk of the blame on communities of color because racism by whites is real. The biggest overt example, is dating/hook up applications. These places make it all too painful as to what potential white partners don’t want. And yes, LGBTQ apps are often the most racist. In addition to Dating/Hooking up, online pornography re-enforces these racist sexually exploitative fantasies. I will not bother with listing titles or search topics because a simple Google search will list all that you need to know. This is not a new frontier of discourse; writers like Zora N. Hurston, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Gayl Jones, David H. Hwang, and James Earl Hardy have explored the ways in which men and women of color are subjected to racist sexual objectification. This is an opposition to Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, Karl Van Vechten’s Nigger Heaven, or the novels of Kyle Onstott. Lance Horner and Henry Whittington aka Ashley Carter.  Onstott’s novel Mandingo was adapted into a play in 1961, and performed in New York City at the Lyceum Theater, and later made into a film in 1975. Sequels to Mandigo were written by Lance Horner and Henry Whittington (aka Ashley Carter). One of those sequels Drum was made into a film in 1976.

The novel Mandingo takes place in an 1830s Alabama plantation named Falconhurst and trials and tribulations of a slave named Ganymede or Mede.

Promotional poster for Mandingo (1975)

The later novel Drum is based on an entertainment fighter who was conceived through a sexual relationship with a white prostitute). Not only was Drum conceived through an illegal relationship but he came out looking far too black. So, the white prostitute lies and said that Drum’s mother was her female slave’s and not her own. Like his Ganymede/Mede, Drum was not only enslaved but forced to fight other slaves for the entertainment and profit of their master. The novels of Onstott, Whittington and Horner doesn’t just focus on the material capital of the black body but also on sexual/fetishistic taboo. Their works focus on rape by slave masters, their daughters and their wives, inter-racial desire/fetishization, incest, slave breeding, and same sex rape. For example, not only does Drum’s mother have an illegal relationship with his father but she also rapes her female slaves. Both Ganymede/Mede and Drum are forced to have sex with other female slaves and they were subjected to being raped by their master or various slave owners too. Whether the novels were part of their own fetishistic fantasies or the tales were told to him in various parlor rooms. Onstott’s novels and films are the fuel that feeds the very real fear of people of color.

Drum, novel reissue (1981)

Recently, an article written by Donovan Trott, called “Race-Play 101: My Introduction into the World of Racist Sex Fantasies,” is about the ways in which the author experienced being exposed to the racialized-sex fantasies of potential partners.

It is an unfortunate and sobering reminder of the far too often reality of what people of color experience despite their gender, sexuality and body composition.  It is one of many written articles that serve as a reminder to those who are of color and informs those that are white as to the anxieties that people of color face when dating while melanated and educated. This is not to promote a West Side Story mentality of “stick to your own kind,”  nor deny someone the freedom of dating someone outside of their own culture or race. However, it is to bring attention as to what it means when a person of color chooses to date within their culture or race and the issues one may encounter if they choose to date someone outside of their race or culture.

Bibliography

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. 1952. 

Franzoni, David. Amistad. 1997.

Haywood, Corey Alexander. “(The Black Hat) 10 Ways That Dating A White Girl Will Open A Black Man’s Eyes to Racism.”

Hurston, Zora N. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937.

Hwang, H. David. M. Butterfly. 1987.

Jones, Gayl. Corregidora. 1975.

Jones, Owen. No Asians No black people. Why do Gay People Tolerate blatant racism?

Kirkland, Jack. Mandingo (Play), 1961.

Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. 1970

—. Beloved. 1987.

—. Playing in The Dark. 1992.

Onstott, Kyle. Mandingo (Novel), 1957.

Puccini and Giacosa. Madama Butterfly, 1903.

Trott, Donovan. “Raceplay 101: My Introduction to the world of Racist Sex Fantasies.”

Van Vechten, Carl. Nigger Heaven 1926.

Wexler, Norman. Mandingo. (Film)1975.

—. Drum (Film) 1976.

—.”Racial Dating: Why you swipe right for some and not others.”

 

Did you enjoy this article? Thanks! Support our writers by subscribing to TERSE. for as little as $1 a month: https://www.patreon.com/TERSE

The Ring Shout and the African Presence in America

In African American and or Black American culture the African and or ancestral presence is both visible and invisible. The ways to name what is Black/African American is in music and the infamous cuisine that has come to be called soul food. Yet, the production of highly consumed products of African labor and the descendants is more American than apple pie. For example, no one realizes the blue that appears in the denim that Americans wear so regularly, the corn they consume, the peanuts, soy, rice, the domestic tools, or the music that is deemed American can thank African labor. Those things are often highlighted during Black History month when America pays lip service to the numerous contributions that African/Black Americans have made to the consumption and wealth of the country. However, the spiritual and religious contributions are often absorbed in the Black church or the way in which funerals are called “home going services.” The ring shout is a spiritual practice that has roots in the Gullah/Geechee culture of the coastal region of the Carolinas and Georgia and is seen in various places of Black culture. It is largely visible during Church services but the actual ring shout as it has been since the first ships were brought to North America and resides in the coastal region of Southeast America.

The Gullah and Geechee people that inhabit the coastal islands of Georgia as well as, North and South Carolina are the descendants of slaves and Indigenous people that were forced to inhabit these regions during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. These island people worked the rice plantations, dyed garments with Indigo through techniques that the Africans brought from Yorubaland. These dying techniques are seen in the sacred dying practices known as Adinkra[i] in present day Ghana and Adire (the sacred dye practices of the Yoruba) with the largest concentration residing in present day Nigeria. The art of Adire which are associated with the Yoruba deity known as Osun/Oshun (O shoon)[ii]. The Gullah and Geechee people are also known for their basket weaving techniques that use the sweet grass of the coast.[iii] However, despite having drumming and drums outlawed from the Anglo/English Colonies of North America the rhythm and spirit of the culture did not die.[iv]

Instead, the Africans and their descendants had to find new ways to keep the rhythms alive. Therefore, stomping, clapping, and oral sounds were ways that the enslaved Africans could keep their musical, oral, and ancestral traditions alive while subversively appearing to acquiesce to their subjugated position. Yet, during and after slavery those who were the descendants of the enslaved and the newly emancipated were forced to assimilate to an unachievable standard of whiteness and respectability. Many who were enslaved and later emancipated were illiterate and therefore the culture was retained through oral history. Consequently, many who were enslaved were sold repeatedly and died with their history. Others as a form of survival often denied or erased their enslaved and African ancestry. While some in an act of defiance retained the oral lore and history that their ancestors retained despite the dehumanizing project of chattel slavery. Places like Cuba, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, St. Vincent, and Louisiana are places where people can retain a large bulk of their African past. The Gullah and Geechee people are also a part of this body of historical retention.

The ring shout is the earth based ancestral practice that the enslaved performed in order to connect with spirit, remind themselves that they too were fully human and are spiritual beings, and to pay homage to their ancestors. Unfortunately, if It wasn’t for the work of the McIntosh County shouters,[v] Julie Dash’s film, “Daughters of the Dust[vi],” Haile Gerima’s film, “Sankofa,” Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day, Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salteaters, Zora Neale Hurston’s Of Mules and Men and Their Eyes were Watching God or Luiseh Teish’s Jambalaya. African/Black Americans would not know that they have an African/Indigenous influence that does not align with Christianity.

The ring shout is a dance and song ritual that is performed in a circle that rotates counter clockwise. There is a lead singer that performs a call and response style of singing the participants respond as the lead calls out songs and rhythms are performed while the dancers rotate in a circle. There is a rhythm keeper who bangs a large wooden staff on a plank of wood which replicates the drums that were removed. Singers stomp and clap as the ring shout continues. The counter clockwise rotation replicates the ways in which Candomblé priests in Brazil[vii] perform during rituals, the Vodun of Haiti/Benin[viii], as well as priests of the Ifa/Orisa tradition in Yorubaland and Cuba.[ix]

Recently, cultural historian Rashida Bumbray has made it her mission to retain the oral, spiritual, and ancestral lore of the Ring shout[x]. Rashida Bumbray[xi], is a New York based performance artist that has studied extensively the Gullah/ Geechee people of the costal South east and the intricacies of the Ring Shout. Her installation “Run Mary Run,” was performed in Weeksville which is a former town located in Brooklyn that was the place where freemen and women of African descent lived after they were emancipated from slavery. Weeksville was discovered in the 1960s when a black historian that had a pilot’s license flew above Brooklyn and found the location. Since the re-discovery/reclamation of Weeksville[xii] there are cultural activities that commemorate the freed people that inhabited the town. Weeksville, unlike Seneca Village,[xiii] it remained intact because unlike Seneca Village it wasn’t turned into a park or paved over. Instead, it was never incorporated into the Brooklyn grid.

In addition to her installation “Run Mary Run,” hip-hop recording artist Common utilized Bumbray’s installation for his video “Black America Again,” which she (Bumbray) performs a solo in the beginning and then she and her troupe perform a ring shout[xiv].

Like many Black/African Americans I was taught and forced to ingest that we were enslaved, Lincoln freed us, Rosa Parks gave up her seat and now we are citizens. The human stain that became the ways in which blackness is quantified in this country is why many are forced to imagine their legacies before and during the Holocaust of the Trans-Oceanic Slave Trade. Nor could one imagine that we have a spiritual and cultural legacy that surpasses the ships crossing the Atlantic into North, Central, and South America or the various Oceans during the Global European expansion that brought Africans across the Pacific and Indian ocean during the same time-period. I use the term Trans-Oceanic because although I am focusing on American and the Trans-Atlantic my job is to also reveal/recover that the slave trade was not just the Atlantic but involved all the sailable bodies of water.

Instead, cultural anthropologists such as Bumbray and the breadth/celebrity of artists like Common people of African descent are reminded that we too have an ancestral/cultural legacy that began before our arrival on the shores of the Americas.

[i]http://carolventura.com/Adinkra.htm

[ii] http://www.bbc.com/news/business-25919537

http://www.enca.com/nigerian-artist-revives-ancient-art-tie-and-dye-cloth-making

[iii]

http://libguides.ccga.edu/c.php?g=282583&p=1882631

http://www.saveur.com/gullah-basket-weaving-charleston

[iv]

https://thisisafrica.me/lifestyle/drums-allowed-afro-rhythmic-mutations-america/

[v] http://www.geecheegullahringshouters.com/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxPU5517u8c

[vi] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104057/

[vii] http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2013/09/16/216890587/brazilian-believers-of-hidden-religion-step-out-of-shadows

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCaXwCEYlLw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMwG6T0izKQ

[viii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jy7q_m4sKqI

[ix] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C38PReem1wE

[x] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOJj_MNIBUg&list=PLlXj2wgxw0-8SXIE6eYnZFeoO4FxpEFZh

[xi] http://rashidabumbray.com/

[xii] http://www.weeksvillesociety.org/

[xiii] https://timeline.com/black-village-destroyed-central-park-6356723113fa

[xiv] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMNyCNdgayE&t=1043s

 

 

Did you enjoy this article? Thanks! Support our writers by subscribing to TERSE. for as little as $1 a month: https://www.patreon.com/TERSE

The University Industrial Complex

 

Currently, I am a PhD Candidate in the Humanities, which sounds more glamorous than it really is for those who inhabit these liminal places.

The Humanities has always been considered the alternative intellectual arena for those who do not deal with the natural sciences. The sciences are labeled as “dealing with the world as it is,” and the Humanities as a “safe space” for those who don’t do too much thinking: socially viewed as a place for people who love books. Unfortunately, the Humanities does not “rake in” the money the way that STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) Nursing, Sports or Business does for universities. Therefore, Humanities programs do not receive the same amount of funding for undergraduate and graduate programs.

Far too often, students who are admitted into PhD programs in the Liberal Arts and Social Sciences are partially or not funded at all. If they do receive funding it is usually to cover coursework, they may be responsible for fees, and are (most always) responsible for finding ways to support themselves during the summer months. Consequently, when the PhD student reaches their candidacy and are only left to write and defend their dissertation that is “original research” they are forced to work as adjuncts or find other means of support. These stipulations force the PhD candidate to make harsh decisions, often related to not being able to devote the required amount of time to write a decent dissertation.

The politics of survival and thriving are not taken into consideration when universities want the prestige of being a doctoral degree granting institution, completely ignoring the timeline to complete Humanities PhD Dissertations– which are supposed to contain original research conducted by the candidate.

Original dissertations require extensive research, and, in some disciplines, data collection must be funded in order to conduct. That means it will take time and money.

Institutions do not consider the amount of physical and psychological toll that PhD programs require of candidates. Instead, the institution only wants the numbers and the recognition, but they do not provide adequate support for their students. A PhD student will not fill the seats of a sports arena, secure funding from a fortune 500 company, gain employment before graduation at the rate of a Nursing, Business, or STEM candidate. Yet, they are expected to dedicate 5-7 years of their life conducting research and teach undergraduate classes that are far too often overcrowded and under-resourced. Courses which are essential building blocks of undergraduate development and success in all fields.

Many institutions in the United States only focus on what brings in money, not what sustains and strengthens the institution.

Humanities students are asked to be interdisciplinary, strengthen deficiencies in the students they teach, publish peer-reviewed articles before graduation, secure external funding, and land a Research 1 job while working 60+ hours a week. It is no wonder that many students that pursue a PhD in the Humanities:

A) don’t graduate

B) don’t pursue jobs in Academe if they do graduate

C) take more than 5 years to graduate

D) suffer multiple health issues

E) Don’t seek medical or mental health services

F) suffer trauma correlated with their programs.

The home department of the candidate and the institution would rather place blame on the current political administration in Washington, D.C. or the local and state government instead of looking at the unjust and inhumane labor practices of the institution. Despite New York State recently granting free tuition to residents to four year institutions, it is only for those that will attend the SUNY (State University of New York School) system. Meaning: only those that will attend SUNY institutions will be supported post graduation, which will only work to serve those who are fiscally, politically and culturally “superior.” There is a 2 and in some cases 4 year, state residency requirement and you must find employment with in 12 months of graduation. It does not grant the same protection and benefits to those who are in graduate programs. Nor does it grant fiscal protection for the adjunct laborer, the backbone to 90% of these institutions. It is the equivalent of placing a Band Aid on a gunshot wound.

It is no wonder that many of those who are in graduate programs, in New York and elsewhere, are considering the dilemma: “why am I doing this?” Many students in doctoral programs are finding alternative careers and ways to market themselves as not being too educated. Candidates in Humanities PhD programs are finding it more lucrative to omit that they have graduate degrees on resumes and CVs and are landing jobs that will help them with their debt and gain a consistent income.

The CEO/PhD is the state of the academy, and the corporatization of intellectual capital that forces those who want to stay within disciplinary strictures of “first comes degree then comes tenure track” left out in the cold. Now, candidates are finding it much more viable to blog and then apply to programs because they get better funding packages. Those who begin while in a program are doing workshops to learn how to become content writers, playwrights, or seeking jobs in corporate because the poverty narrative is too high. The amount of debt that was accrued while on the road to the PhD can be outrageous.

This is not to deter people from entering PhD programs completely. It is to say the system is designed to create an illusion of a surge of PhD degree holders versus the number of jobs available for the number of PhD degrees that are annually produced.

For example, an institution that has an annual endowment of 600 million dollars per year spends it on AstroTurf for the athletic fields and the iconography of the institution. Yet, the library is only two floors. In addition to that, most institutions admit too many students per year which leaves the students that are admitted highly underfunded. Ironically, these students defeat the odds and finish their degree and are now faced with having to enter a market where jobs are often absorbed by administrative cuts and their jobs being done by two faculty members or the real laborers: the adjuncts.

Why? Because it is cheaper to have temporary labor. Administration will not release their annual or semi-annual bonus to support the temporary labor of the student or adjunct. Instead, Freire and other critical pedagogues have highlighted the far too real reality of the University Industrial Complex.

The problem isn’t the student that wants a degree, or in this case an advanced degree, it is the institutions that allow this form of abuse and exploitation to persist.

 

 

Resources for further reading:

https://versatilephd.com/
https://academia.stackexchange.com/questions/83693/academic-alternatives-to-a-ph-d
https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/03/what-can-you-do-with-a-humanities-phd-anyway/359927/
https://www.findaphd.com/advice/doing/phd-non-academic-careers.aspx
https://qz.com/174811/enroll-in-a-phd-program-but-leave-academia-as-soon-as-you-graduate/
https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/01/adjunct-professors-and-grad-students-are-the-worki.html
https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/07/why-do-so-many-graduate-students-quit/490094/

 

Did you enjoy this article? Consider subscribing to TERSE. for as little as $1 a month: https://www.patreon.com/TERSE.

Do we have a choice in Getting Out?

The recent release of the film Get Out written, directed, and produced by Jordan Peele has created a whirlwind on Social Media and in the infamous kitchen table talk circles. The caveat of having a considerable amount of education is that you can never view a film or any cultural artifact without being hypercritical. I had the opportunity to be a “regular consumer” of the film. I sat at the movie theater (Regal Cinema at Union Square) and tried to ignore the fact that I am practically 6’2” sitting in a seat that felt like the person in front of me was going to end up in my lap. I also tried to ignore the fact that my racialized existence put me in the minority bracket despite that there were other people of color. Because the ratio was still more white folks than non-whites in the audience. However, the lights darkened and I was inundated with ads and coming attractions that are responsible for fueling the Movie Industrial Complex.

Finally, after 15 minutes of trailers the film began. Fortunately, despite the crowd being New Yorkers they were immediately engaged in the film. Their engagement was interactive and complete with cheers as the protagonist gained agency. Yet, I found myself disappointed, more than that anointed feeling I get from films that are FUBU (for us by us).

I recently read Renata Salecl’s The Tyranny of Choice which is one of those books that I’ve been meaning to read since Gaia knows how long. Not to mention, she is the former wife of Slavoj Zizek (clearly, I wanted to know how a person who was married to him thinks).

Back to the topic at hand. I read through Salecl’s text and found myself thinking how is it that a person can stick to the topic of capitalism and at best shallowly delve into the slippery slope of intersectionality? It proves why I am with Naomi Zack when it comes to the failure of intersectionality. Basically, it is that intersectionality never approaches difference. At the very least, intersectionality acknowledges marginalization and hegemony which forces us to at least acknowledge it. However, Salecl’s book does address the illusion of choice and how we think we have numerous options. Instead, we are inundated with categories which merely places things in isolation. It is merely a contemporary form of empiricism in which categories re-inforce hegemony. At best, it gives an illusion of choice. Perhaps, that is why I found Get Out disappointing. It does not give people of color the choice of. Instead, it gives us the only option of.

The story itself revisits the plantation narrative of black bodies being vessels for white mobility. It proves that black bodies, especially black female bodies are merely as Zora Neale Hurston stated, “the mules of the world.” The protagonist is a black male, but we cannot look away at the character of Georgina who serves as the domestic/housekeeper which is even deeper than Walter who works in the field as the groundskeeper. We later discover why Georgina and Walter exist which is beyond being the racialized “help,” to a white family in an isolated place that also echoes the physical and ontological isolation of a plantation. Georgina’s existence, which I won’t give a direct spoiler but just a reason why you should watch the film, is that she symbolizes the historical rape and “vassalage” that is the black female body. There are two other women of color in the film, a police officer and the faceless yet continued mentioning of the protagonist’s mother. All three of the women of color are black women they were used as vehicular tropes which moves the story line along. However, they are used as “mules” that merely carry the weight of the story which is the weight of being black women in a story about race. It is a story that centralizes black male erasure at the expense of black female erasure. The film ends with the possibility of a sequel and Peele himself alludes to the possibility of there being more films like Get Out. Monetarily speaking, the film has grossed over 100 million dollars and Hidden Figures has grossed over 200 million dollars.

I mention Hidden Figures because it is a film that tells the story of black women working for NASA during the 1960s. It is the largest grossing film centered on black women. It does help to reduce the “Oscar’s so white” hashtag of Hollywood. This year we have witnessed “black” films such as Moonlight (which recently received an Oscar for Best Picture) not only make money, but get nominated and even win awards. More importantly, Hidden Figures hasn’t gone without criticism for the white male savior character. The savior in question is played by none other than the infamous white heteronormative savior Kevin Costner. Let’s face it, his career is based on being the white heteronormative savior. A redeemable aspect of of Get Out is that black men save themselves and each other. It argues that the “tyranny of choice” does not exist for the racialized and or gendered subject in a discourse on race and power in the United States. It only further proves that the infamous Audre Lorde quote “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. It will only temporarily beat him at his game but it will never bring about change.” The truth and pain that comes from Lorde is the film and films like it.

On March 17, 2017, 12 minutes after midnight in Eastern standard time, Jordan Peele Tweeted “The Sunken Place means we’re marginalized. No matter how hard we scream, the system silences us.” Is he being critical of his lack of agency, the agency of the film, and the system? Or is it a way to diffuse intraracial criticism of the film because the illusion of choice that artists of color have following Moonlight winning the Oscar for best picture and the amount of black films and documentaries that flooded the film industry this year? Or is it a statement that merely proves Lorde’s quote that American racism is a well-oiled machine that runs on sustaining white power and dominance?

 

 

Did you enjoy this article? Consider subscribing to TERSE. for as little as $1 a month: https://www.patreon.com/TERSE

The Absurdity of False Victimhood  

moshed_2017-1-20_16-14-34

According to the CNN Exit Polls for the 2016 Presidential election 13% of Black men and 4% of Black women voted for Donald Trump.[i]

There’s a Facebook page called: Black people who support Donald Trump.[ii] There’s also an article titled: “Black men who support Trump.” Written by Christian Science Monitor,[iii] it should not have come as a surprise that a Black Man who claims to be for Black people and identifies as a Same Gender Loving man would come to the defense of Melania Trump. Moments before #45 was sworn into office, memes, tweets, and blogs sprung in response to the ill treatment of Melania Trump[iv].

It didn’t matter that she has been the wife of #45 for almost 12 years, that she was a model, a supporter of the birther movement, a plagiarist, and a hyper-capitalist tycoon.

Instead, this post caused other black men to chime in under the comments section that collaboratively authored a narrative of White woman victimhood. Though Black women and Women of color, still face disproportionate amounts of, domestic partner violence, and sexual assault, and increasing threats against their reproductive and immigration rights, instead, these black men didn’t waste any time running to the aid of a woman who A) didn’t ask for B) showed no evidence of and C) doesn’t need the help of an obscure man.

Historically, the outcome of embracing white woman victimhood doesn’t fare well for Black men in the end.

The Rosewood Massacre is a riot that began because of a false rape accusation. You guessed it: A white woman accused a black man of rape.[v]

In an interview conducted by Amy Schumer. Lena Dunham said that she felt dissed by football player Odell Beckham Jr.[vi]

Luckily, Black Twitter mostly Black women on Twitter read it as “how dare this black man ignore me,” and commenced to educating Lena Dunham on how problematic her statements were being read. Dunham had no choice but to address her internalized racism and announce on Instagram that she should apologize.[vii]

Afterwards she appeared on the radio show The Breakfast Club and expressed how she got educated about her racist remark and that her show “Girls” doesn’t represent women of color.[viii]

These examples show the damaging problems when white women fabricate victimhood at the expense of black bodies. This is not to dissuade or ignore White women who do suffer from misogyny and violence. However, where was the rally cry behind Michelle Obama and her daughters that endured countless racist and sexist attacks? Where were these Black Men who love Black people then? Not a word. Nor a peep. Yet, on January 20, 2017 on media outlets everywhere, they see a blatantly misogynist-homophobe- xenophobe-capitalist narcissist white man walking yards ahead of his wife and thought:

“Oh let me help deh missus cause she’s so gud to meh.”[ix]

Yes, I used imitative slave/segregationist dialect for affect because that was the regressive behavior that created a fictive narrative of Melania Trump’s victimhood. It radiates the ground breaking work of Dr. Joy DeGruy’s Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. Her work alongside genetic research proves both empirically and qualitatively that trauma mutates genetic and neurological coding. It is no wonder that there is a recessive gene that naturally runs to the aid of our oppressor before we run to the oppressed.

Instead of running to the invisible aid of white women that didn’t even ask for it in the first place, men of color especially black men need to run to the aid of the three black women that founded Black Lives Matter instead of accusing them of being racist against whites and inciting violence against law enforcement.[x]

There were three women of color that led the largest Women’s Rights March in history, which was criticized by a black male Trump supporter Black Trump Supporter at the Women’s March.[xi]

Instead of performing behavior that raises the suspicion that you may be a part of the 13% of black men that voted for him and his wife to succeed the Obama Administration, it is important that Black men need to educate themselves about the toxic history that is white woman victim hood at the expense of black male bodies.

[i]  (http://www.cnn.com/election/results/exit-polls).

[ii] https://www.facebook.com/Black-people-who-Support-Donald-Trump-575940462560052/

[iii] http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2016/1205/Among-black-men-a-spark-of-support-for-Donald-Trump

[iv] http://mashable.com/2017/01/24/sad-melania-trump-meme/#1_hETUU8vmqu

[v] http://www.blackpast.org/aah/rosewood-massacre-1923

[vi] http://www.lennyletter.com/culture/interviews/a527/the-lenny-interview-amy-schumer/

[vii]  https://www.instagram.com/p/BJ50WGnAZDk/

[viii] http://ew.com/article/2016/10/05/lena-dunham-odell-beckham-jr/

[ix] Melania Looks Sad AF via BET news
http://www.bet.com/news/national/2017/01/24/melania-trump-at-inauguration.html

[x] http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/07/11/sheriff-david-clarke-its-time-to-stand-up-to-black-lives-matter.html

[xi] https://www.seekingthetruth.info/black-trump-supporter-shuts-down-liberal-protesters-with-truth-knowledge/

 

 

Did you enjoy this article? Consider subscribing to TERSE. for as little as $1 a month: https://www.patreon.com/TERSE