Sunday, December 4, 2016

Many Perished in Oakland Fire

My heart goes out to the victims of the Oakland fire and their families. I grew up in the area where the fire occurred. It's a few blocks away from my high school. Many of the people are either poor, working class and/or people of color.  I noticed on social media that people were victim blaming because the warehouse, called Ghost Ship,  was used for a rave. They assumed people were using drugs and were therefore "asking for it."I don't care if they used drugs or not. Someone is hurt and devastated that their loved one died so tragically and probably painfully.

Oakland, San Francisco and Berkeley were meccas for artists. This was a community where you live out of the box and let your freak flag fly. With gentrification and rising costs in housing, we are losing artists. I know talented people who left the Bay Area because they couldn't afford to live here. And I have never in my entire life seen so many homeless people in Oakland. Times are tough. I'm not surprised artists have chosen to live and socialize in an unsafe place like this warehouse. Other spaces are unaffordable. Last I checked Oakland doesn't have an arts commission.

It's hard for me to watch some of the city politicians look saddened by these losses when they haven't done much to stop long-time residents from being priced out of their homes. Maybe Ghost Ship wouldn't exist if they helped poor folks. Don't get me wrong. They owner of the building needs to pay big time for this. Neighbors called the city with concerns about the building. The city didn't do anything enough in time and now it's too late. I heard through the grapevine from an inspector that the city doesn't pay as much attention to buildings in that area. I wonder if the residents being poor, working class and/or people of color have anything do with it.

There's a lot of blame to go around. But right now that's not important. I feel bad because a lot of people are grieving tonight and will be for a long time.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Too Angry to Write

I'm starting to get back into the groove again. I was so disappointed after the election, it was hard for me to write.  Actually I was more than disappointed. Anger, fear, anxiety, uncertainty were swarming through my body. Then I dived into the news and social media to keep tabs on what was going on. It actually made me more stressed out because some of the stuff I read were fake stories. Some were used to incite and feed on people's fear. And seeing how people were so fearful was hard to take in.

As I stated in my last post, hatred and injustice are nothing new in this country. I've never seen so much homelessness in Oakland. That's because gentrification is pushing people out of their homes. Child sex trafficking is another problem. Of course people are doing work to better relations between African Americans and the police. Lord knows the last thing we need is a federal government ran by white supremacists. They can call themselves "alt-right" all they want. Those people are white supremacists.

I hope we can come together and work together.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I'm Not Surprised Trump Won

How did America allow a racist, sexist, misogynistic, egotistical, short-tempered, politically inexperienced, reality star come to power? Easy. See below

If you're surprised that Trump won you've been living in a bubble. Wake up and see what kind of conditions and issues people are facing. 

It's unfortunate that liberals and independents who would normally vote Democratic either didn't vote or cast a protest vote. The point they tried to prove is going to cost people healthcare. Muslims and Latinos are scared. People overseas are scared. The Senate, House and Supreme Court will be dominated by conservatives. The country will be run by one political ideology. That's not good no matter which side you're on. But a few people who had power in this election wanted to prove a point. How unfortunate that all of the work and progress Obama put into helping Americans may be undone because people have a point to prove or weren't motivated. 

This election was not about politics, but power. White, male, Christian, heterosexual power that Trump supporters believe will make America great again. Donald Trump is going to be America's wakeup call. I just pray it's not too startling. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Deeper Meaning Behind the Beyonce and Dixie Chicks Country Music Awards Performance

While fighting some bug so I can salvage the fun weekend I have planned, I caught Beyonce and the Dixie Chick's "Daddy Lessons" performance on the CMAs. They killed it! But they also sent a message. The message was, "We all belong on this stage." 

The Dixie Chicks were on top of the music industry. Then in 2003 they got the (cowboy) boot and  from the country music scene after member Natalie Maines told a London crowd she was ashamed of then Pres. George W. Bush. I remember after that people would say to watch your words so you don't get "Dixie Chicked." Country music conservative fans labeled them unpatriotic and you didn't hear much from them after that. This CMA appearance was their first after a 10-year hiatus.
They returned to the stage with a lethal weapon, Queen Bey, who also has faced criticism for speaking out. In Bey's case she has spoken against police brutality. 

Some country music fans didn't want her on the show because they think she's racist, hates, cops, yadda, yadda, yadda--all that foolishness. And of course we've been fooled to think that Black artists have no place in country because it's white music. 


Black folks played a major role in the creation of country music. Just like other art forms we created, white folks ran with it and blocked us out of the industry. There's a great article here that tells the story. 

A group of liberal women, attacked for their views, performed at the 50th Country Music Awards. The Dixie Chicks deserved to be up there despite their political views. Beyonce was letting folks know that country music has Black roots. They all deserved to be on the stage. They deserve a place in country music. I hope their performance inspires other women and people of color to give country a try. 

Okay now back to me battling this bug. I need some whiskey in my tea! 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fifty Shades of Trump and Shaming Women Who Enjoy Erotica

When I thought this election couldn’t get any more sensational, disturbing and sexist, a tape leaks of Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump from 11 years ago explaining how he grabs the genitals of women he’s attracted to. “When you’re a star they let you do it.” I’m sure his wealth, power and male privilege also play a part in why he feels entitled to grab women. Trump’s boast of sexual assault triggered women across all political spectrums. I don’t care what party you vote or don’t vote for, many women can identify with being sexually assaulted, harassed or encountering a perverted man who made them feel uncomfortable. 

But some Trump supporters think women are not only overreacting, but actually opened the doors for this kind of language. Since Pussygate, I’ve noticed memes and political commentators comparing Trump’s remarks about force to Fifty Shades of Grey.

“Unfortunately we have made that to be a culture, a 50 Shades of Gray culture in society where man can talk like that,” said Trump supporter Scottie Nell Hughes on CNN. She also mentioned Magic Mike, a film about male exotic dancers, as another example.

Many issues rose up for me.  First, those dismissing Trump’s remarks as locker room talk are focusing on Trump using vulgar language, instead of the aggressive actions he is speaking about. Second, author E.L. James and the Magic Mike filmmakers aren’t running for president. And last time I checked, men were saying disgusting things about women long before Fifty Shades hit bookshelves. Yes, Fifty Shades is about a couple into BDSM. While I have myissues with the series, the actual practice of BDSM is about consent. Finally, they’re implying that women who enjoy adult, erotic entertainment shouldn’t be outraged because they like reading and watching things about sex.

Now we’re tipping into the shaming area for women who consume erotica. A woman choosing to enjoy erotic entertainment isn’t an invitation for language glorifying sexual assault or the act itself. Nor does it mean they condone it. One in five women are sexually assaulted. It’s hard for me to believe that the millions of women who read Fifty Shades, watched Magic Mike are okay with a man saying he wants to grab the genitals of a woman he’s attracted to. There is no correlation between Trump’s actions, and women being fans of erotica. These kind of remarks remind me of people who say women are asking for rape when they wear short skirts.

Erotica is one of my favorite genres of literature, especially by Black authors. I read it, write about it and have researched it.  The ways writers, of all backgrounds, use words and stories for sexual expression interests me. That doesn’t mean I want or enjoy unwelcomed touches.

My butt started to poke out and get rounder in middle school.  I hated when boys in my class grabbed my behind.  I hated when men sexually harassed me in college and at the workplace. It’s not just men. The last person to grope me was a female co-worker.  Yes I like erotic art and literature. My interests don’t justify me being harmed. The fear, anger and vulnerable feelings that followed from these violations shook me.

Saying that women took part in creating this culture, which is actually rape culture, because we read and watch erotica, or even listen to sexy joints by Beyonce is ludicrous. If that’s the case then men who watch Westerns and mafia films condone gun violence and shouldn’t be upset when innocent people are killed. Silly right? Should I assume people who watch slasher and horror movies have established a culture of evil and stabbings? Should we blame boys and men when they are sexually assaulted since so many males in this country consume pornography? No to all of those questions. Yet, society judges women.

Even Melania Trump, who posed nude years ago, denounced her husband’s words. I have nothing against Mrs. Trump’s photos. It’s her body, she was a model and that was her right to pose. I’m not surprised she disproved of her husband’s remarks.

If Trump said the word “pussy,” but didn’t share how he force touches and kisses women, I don’t think there would as much outrage. There might be even less outrage if over the past year Trump showed more respect to women. But between the sexual comments about his daughter Ivanka, body shaming women, interrupting Hillary Clinton – his public engagement with women is disgraceful and misogynistic.

As my Southern grandmothers say, “You got to tell it like it is.” First Lady Michelle Obama did that in New Hampshire when she said to a crowd, “Strong men, men who are truly role models, don’t need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful.”

This election and Pussygate is just another reminder that rape culture continues to be a major problem in our country and our world. As Mrs. Obama powerfully stated, “A measure of any society is how it treats its and women and girls.” If one and five women are sexually assaulted, we need to treat our women and girls better.

Tuesday, Nov. 8th can’t get here fast enough.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Brunch and Prose

 Cheers! Today I met awesome women and one awesome guy at Liminal's "From All Points But Center" brunch potluck. Liminal is a feminist/womanist writing space in Oakland. I love meeting new people there because they're so interesting. Everyone has a story. It was a great way to kick off the weekend.

The photo you see of me with a wine glass is not from Liminal but it reminded me of brunch. And so does that photo of a fruit tart from BlogHer a few years ago.

At this even we had a discussion and read our work. Once again Trump came out and how we triggered so many women. We talked about our relationships with our periods. The impact of social media and technology eroding our in-person communication skills also came up. It was a good day. Being in literary spaces feels good. These spaces are very healing during all of the hatred and nastiness going on with this election.  As we get closer to election day, enjoy some art. It does wonders.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Boo! I'm Telling A Ghost Story

Come by Books Inc. tonight in Alameda. It's ghost story night. All stories are non-fiction. I have one of my own to share. :)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Brunch, Bloggers and Books in Atlanta: The Literary Experience

If they're serving champagne at this event, I might have to catch a flight to Atlanta!

One of the many reasons why I love Atlanta is because so many Black entrepreneurs have emerged from that city. This event is one example. The Literary Experience is a collaboration between the African Americans on the Move Book Club (AAMBC) and Blogging Beauties. Book lovers can interact with authors, major bloggers, meet new people and nibble on some goodies. Plus there will be a panel of women from various media professions and one of the topics they will cover is entrepreneurship.

It looks like a fun and inspirational event. Tamika Newhouse is founder of the AAMBC and Jelisa Raquel heads up Blogging Beauties. I love these kind of events. And the tickets are super reasonable. I'll be missing all of the fun on Saturday Nov. 5th, 2pm at The Haven. Get your tickets here. If you go, let me know how it went.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Pussy and Politics: Enough of Donald Trump and This Reality Show Election

I hate this election. I really, really hate this election. It's a joke. It's sensational. It's a cross between a rowdy reality show and a long episode of Scandal. Now a tape has leaked where Donald "Coochie Monster" Trump said to then Access Hollywood Billy Bush, that when he likes a woman he "grabs them by the pussy." And he likes to kiss women too. All of this without consent. Enough is enough! This election has exposed so much of what is wrong with America: racism, sexism, xenophobia, ableism,  greed, class discrimination, lack of support for our veterans, division, and our FAILING EDUCATION SYSTEM. Here are a few points and observations I'd like to make all of this craziness:

  • I've been groped. I've been touched by people without their consent since middle school. These people have been students, relatives, men and women, strangers and people I know. I didn't like ANY OF IT.  Groping is sexual assault. Donald Trump basically said on that tape that he assaults women he's attracted to. And he knows he can because he's a wealthy, powerful, famous white male. He's one of the most privileged men on the planet. And since we live in a society where so few sexual violators are punished, even if Trump weren't rich he could practically do whatever he want. That's male privilege for you. 
  • On the tape Trump made comments about trying to get then Access Hollywood host Nancy O'Dell in bed. Trump has made offensive sexist and racist comments from the beginning of this campaign. But it took crude remarks about a thin, successful, wealthy, famous, Southern, married, straight white woman for more Republicans to be repulsed. It took his insults of that type of woman for more Republicans to call out Trump. It's okay to talk about Black folks, call Mexicans rapists and killers, disrespect a fallen soldier's family because he's Muslim, talk about women and their weight. But the line was drawn Nancy O'Dell. And that's no disrespect to Nancy O'Dell because I love her on Entertainment Tonight. But had Trump made a comment about grabbing Black pussy, Brown pussy, poor women's pussies, etc. I don't think there wouldn't be such an uproar from the conservatives.
  • Not to my surprise many of Trump's supporters aren't calling him out on that video. I don't care if you support Trump. What he said was wrong. And people labeling his comments as "locker talk" are disturbing. Bragging about assaulting women is what men say in the locker room? 

  • Did you see all of those men get off of that bus? I wonder if any of them heard what Trump said. If only Billy Bush had said, "That's not cool Donald." Instead he laughed at Trump's lewd and violent comments. What disgusted me most about Billy Bush is that Trump said he likes to kiss women without permission, and Billy suggested to the actress on the set that she let Trump kiss her. GROSS!
  • I don't usually cover politics on this blog. I could go on but this election is a circus. I miss boring, presidential elections where people disagreed but still had respect for each other. America has come far, but has a long way to go. And it's not coincidence that Donald Trump has become a strong contender for president during a time where the quality of our education system is declining. He doesn't even carry himself in a presidential manner. He's boorish. He cuts of Clinton during debates. A hot-headed bad ass is not what we need in to be the most powerful leader on the planet.
  • I've said on here before that my family is made of conservatives and liberals. I've met a lot of conservatives. I've met people who worked with Pres. Reagan.  This behavior, is not the GOP I remember as a kid. They had class and were educated. Trump lacks class and spews misinformation. The fact that he appeals to so many people says a lot about the state of this country. When this election is all over, how do we address that? 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Nate Parker Doesn't Have to Apologize

It seems like every time a big story breaks about some famous person doing something wrong, people demand an apology. Sometimes an apology is not enough.

People want Nate Parker, star and creator of the Nat Turner film Birth of a Nation to apologize for the gang rape he was found not guilty of being a part of. People honestly think he's going to apologize for something that not only he says he didn't do, but the justice system said he didn't do? Seriously?

Hell no he's not going to apologize. And what's an apology going to do? It's not going to bring the victim back. This is an example where an apology is not enough.

Nate Parker was either so arrogant, or stupid, not to have media preparation for, if and when this rape trial story broke. He saw himself more as a victim and showed little remorse for the whole situation. You can tell he learned very little about rape culture in his earlier interviews.

I don't want an apology. Actions speak louder than words. He should take some of that FOX films money and donate it to programs that help rape survivors. Or, hold events for boys and men to talk about respecting women and consent. And I think he should share what he tells his college-aged daughter about sexual violence to the public. Right now it looks like he don't give a damn and just wants to push this movie.

People can see Birth of a Nation if they want. I really don't care. And I'm not judging people who do see it. I'll wait until it's on video. With so much violence and racial tensions going on I'm not comfortable going to see that movie in the theatre. Also, I am sitting out on this because I do think he and his friend/college buddy/co-writer of this film raped that woman. I'm also disturbed that a historian of Black history said there are a lot of inaccuracies in the film, including a gang rape scene that supposedly moved Nat Turner to rebel. Apparently that's not true. Two men accused of gang rape, write a fictional rape scene in a historic film. I'm cool. I'll go see Lupita N'yongo's Queen of Katwe.

Update: There's a rumor going around that Oprah offered to help Nate Parker with some media strategies when his rape trial came to light. And he declined. If this is true, he made a stupid mistake. I always said that Hollywood would never greenlight a Nat Turner film. And from what I understand, others have tried to get his biopic made. I wonder why Nate Parker was able to do it.


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