You Need To Read This

Veronica and I and our friends have had countless conversations about this subject. With ourselves, with other people, with each other.

The idea that black women cannot, or are told that we should not put ourselves first because of the crap that black men face on a daily basis. That whatever crappiness we face, especially at the hands of black men, is not to be discussed, but rather, swept under the rug where we pretend it doesn't exist.

It pisses me off. A lot. I've been blogging about how much it pisses me off and why it pisses me off for years.

But Latoya Peterson at Racialicious posted this and the conversation taking place in the comments is just as important as the original post.

You need to read this.

Seriously? "Black-cent?"

Politico has an article up about dog-whistle politics and Prez. Obama's subtle/not-so-subtle way of deploying it in his speeches.

It includes a video, clips of him speaking to black and white audiences, including a hilarious bit of him telling the cashier at Ben's Chili Bowl, "Naw, we straight," when she asked him if he wanted change.

Now, I became familiar with the dog-whistle during the Clinton years because the man was a master of communication, and we all know that now. He could go into a black church, or a room full of intellectuals, or a meeting of blue-collar union workers and have everyone thinking he knew where they were coming from. He knew how to turn his southern accent up or down.

I suppose we all have tells that disclose to people our true selves. One could argue Obama's two biggest are 1) Michelle and 2) his affinity for Newports.

But aside from that, this caught my eye:

John McWhorter, a linguist at the conservative Manhattan Institute, said that he believes that in Obama’s case coded messaging, which can be a matter of words, sound or grammar or all of them, is partly conscious because “he knows it arouses black audiences.”

Black English, especially the cadence, is becoming America’s youth lingua franca, especially since the mainstreaming of hip-hop. Its sound conveys warmth, authenticity and a touch of seductive danger not only to blacks but many whites, especially ones below about 50,” McWhorter said. “Obama’s tapping into that cadence helped win him the election. Imagine John Kerry or Hillary Clinton saying, ‘Yes, we can!’ It would have sounded phony — only in what I call a ‘black-cent’ can it sound prophetic and arousing.” (emphasis mine)

I wouldn't say "Yes we can" is anything like "naw, we straight," but seriously.

Black-cent? WTF?

I love how McWhorter says the cadence of Obama's voice is seductively dangerous, like he's got us all hypnotized because he said "naw, we straight" in a black-owned restaurant.

But what bothers me is that this man says, "Black English" and thinks it's ok. Of course I know what he meant, but it conveys this idea of other-ness to the way black people speak, as if the way black people speak English isn't really English at all.

Plus, well, all black people don't speak like that!

I mean, even in some southern states where people manage to mangle the English language beyond recognition, it's still called English. No one walks around talking about "Southern English," even when the people speaking it sound backwards and uneducated at worst, or like Blanche DuBois at best.

It's still just "English."


Stoopid Gender Role Stereotype Reinforcing Story of the Day

And the prize goes to. . . drum roll please:

. . .

. . .

The Washington Post, for this A1 gem declaring that the broke mens no longer no what to do with themselves now that they're not rolling in dough thanks the anvil falling off a cliff that is the domestic economy.

How ever will they get a date if all the wimmins care about is moneh?

I am trying my best not to turn this into a vitriolic rant, but this article makes even less sense when taken in the context that women in the District experience the smallest pay gap in the nation: women here make about 92 cents per every dollar a man makes, compared to the nationwide average of 76 cents (Institute for Women's Policy Research data from 2002).

Women here have their own money-- real money, from real, challenging jobs. Women in the District, are the highest wage-earning females in the country, bringing home an average $37,800 per year.

And yet, we see this:

Dating in the time of the pink slip means feeling the squeeze of the drastically reduced paycheck, the sudden sting of the layoff. From investment bankers to real estate developers to construction workers, no job means no buying rounds of $15 martinis for a pretty woman and her girlfriends. No hosting parties in the bachelor loft. And often, no idea how to present one's new self on the dating market.

There are more holes in this story than I have sticks to poke through them, but several obvious ones right of the bat:

1) The premise that men and women are still dating based on 1950's ideas about who pays, who invites who, and the fact that a man is nothing without a big fat paycheck.

2) Its glaring heteronormativity. What happens to the entire argument if the parties dating are both women, or both men?

3) Sometimes broke-ass women mope about not being able to buy shit too.

And yet, it's so easy, so positively lazy to fall back on memes like this. Proof? Who needs proof?!? See below:

Formal studies on the matter are hard to find, and Washington area employment rates are still higher than those of many other metropolitan areas. But interviews with young singles in area nightclubs and cafes and at parties reveals that financial stress is affecting the romantic lives of those who have lost sizable disposable incomes (emphasis mine).

Wait, so there's no hard data? Who are these women? And why is this an A01 trend story? I mean, honestly, weren't the DABA girls enough?

*sticks head in oven*

You Knew it Was Going to be Bad

But not this bad.

When Veronica and I went out last night with our friends on Valentine's Day, "Bad Girl" started playing over the radio.

I sort of winced.

"I love this song," I said. "But I feel guilty listening to it. I don't want to listen to any of Chris Brown's music."

The women in the car with us all had different opinions.

"I mean, I think it's awful what he did, but that doesn't make me dislike him as an artist," one said. "I'm still going to listen to his music."

I shook my head.

It doesn't work that way for me, with one glaring exception I can't shake.

I mean, I was a huge Larry Fitzgerald fan until I discovered he'd beaten up the mother of his child. Cute or no, that's a deal-breaker. And R. Kelly went out the window once someone exposed this man was peeing on children. Well, at least one child.

And now that the inevitable's taken place, and we all know just how awful Rihanna's injuries were, I don't see how there can be any modicum of understanding for Chris Brown.

This wasn't one punch, and even if it was, he'd still deserve to be roundly condemned. But there is no excuse for this.


So what do we do? Can we support the man who did this anymore? Go to his concerts, buy his work on Itunes?

I can't.

I won't.

But what say you?

But Was The Heel Clear?

I'm sorry.

I snorted out loud when I read this (via Washington Post).

A man and woman arranged through a prominent Internet site to meet Sunday in Fairfax County, but it apparently did not go well, and the man was allegedly attacked with a high-heeled shoe, county police said.

I mean, I know high heels hurt, but what else was the pro supposed to do? It's not like she'd be reimbursed by a union.

This is why you rely on the local print edition of your trusty indy weekly instead of Craigslist, folks. And why Dan Savage advises against finding pros on Craigslist. Or for that matter, finding clients on Craigslist.

*shaking my head*


Let this marinate for a second. You can thank the New York Post.

NotSexism: Talking About Sports

On this blog, we try to make a point of calling out sexism, not only to rant about it, but to call attention to something that needs to be recognized as a problem so that it may be eradicated.

It's not our only goal, but it's one of them.

However, I feel it's necessary to talk about something I'm referring to as NotSexism after reading a post by British journalist Katty Kay over at the Daily Beast.

Kay was complaining about the amount of sports lingo and analogies that go into discussing politics, and how new White House press secretary Robert Gibbs is a big fan of the practice. Kay alleges this is sexist because most women -- including, evidently, those covering the White House -- don't know anything or care about sports. According to Kay, when Gibbs or anyone else among the punditocracy start making sports references, it's sexist because they're deliberately excluding women.

Kay says:

Here’s how it works on TV shows. At about 9 a.m. on Sunday morning, the guests for a network talk show gather in the green room an hour before airtime for a sip of coffee and a slap of makeup. They chat. The conversation starts with the news topic of the day. It’s an animated discussion on the fiscal stimulus package/the latest machinations of the dastardly House of Representatives/the poppy crop in Afghanistan. Take your pick. OK, there’s a bit of the peacocks fanning their feathers about it, but it’s basically sober stuff. Until, some 20 minutes into the banter, the host, or one of the male guests, casually slips in the results of last night’s game. And that’s when the women quietly disappear into their notebooks.

*raises eyebrow*

I take offense to this for several reasons:

1) It suggests women, or at least the "normal" ones anyway, might be able to hold an intelligent conversation about politics, but know nothing about sports, which in itself is sexist and rather limiting. Talk about subscribing to rigid gender roles.

2) She's diminishing the cultural importance of sports, which is insulting, particularly to people (like me) who make careers out of finding important, relatable stories in sports and explaining, in very good prose, how sports is simply a microcosm and a reflection of society. If it wasn't so important to us, we wouldn't spend so many hours and money watching it and discussing it.

And Michael Phelps would still have all his endorsement deals.

Clearly this woman doesn't watch HBO's Real Sports.

3) She thinks football is complicated. (Ok, I realize that last point doesn't really count and is maybe a little mean, but really. Football is not that damn hard.)

I guess what really gets my goat is the suggestion that Gibbs' affinity for sports references only negatively affects women, when I'm sure there are men who cover the White House who couldn't care less about the shellacking Duke suffered at the hands of Carolina last week.

I'm all about calling out instances of sexism, but this one doesn't really hold water, and to whine about it kind of cheapens the real ones, ya know?

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