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My Dear White & Black Folks who believe that the Poor Blacks are the Scum of the Universe

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While confined in my lower-middle class existence, I cannot help but think about the words I see daily on the Internet about Black people who receive unemployment compensation, food stamps and other government benefits, people whose lives have been touched by the mean specter of poverty. Although I have a decent job, paying a living wage, I am still broke as hell, trying to find ways to earn more money, so I normally would not have time to think about your condescending self-serving words but I had to speak to you people about this. The current discourse on the lives of poor Blacks in this country has been taken over by well-dressed, well-fed career White politicians and Black folks one generation themselves off welfare and one foot in the unemployment line and I thought you needed some enlightenment.

First of all, no one wants to be poor. I know that you believe that little Black children spend their time discussing ways to be indigent and homeless by the time they are eighteen but the children I know have big plans for their future. My now fifteen-year-old daughter’s plans for the future change on a daily basis: One day she wants to be a fashion designer, the next a mad scientist who is going to take over the world. The one thing she has made clear is that she does not see motherhood in her future because in her words, “Being a mother takes too much work.”

I know that you like to believe that the children of poor Blacks are a drain on society but you are so wrong. I was a teenage mother at the age of sixteen and had two children by the age of twenty-one. According to statistics on teen mothers, by now my daughter should have had a slew of kids by different men and my son should have dropped out of high school and be currently imprisoned for numerous drug offenses. Not! My daughter graduated from college last year with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and my son is college studying Communications. My children watched me work for various corporations who paid me very little money and proudly watched when I walked across the stage at the age of thirty-five to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology with honors.

But I realize that you people probably do not know too many Black people personally so when you chose to discuss them amongst your constituents, you like to use tired, worn-out stereotypes about them. According to you, Blacks have no work ethic and like taking baths in the piles of food stamps they receive on a monthly basis. Blacks have been in this country since 1619 and still have not made any progress although White people have given them everything! What is wrong with these trifling Black people?

media

And the Black folks who espouse this same rhetoric really need to be ashamed of themselves. Do you really believe that taking on the customs of your oppressor against your own people is really going to benefit you at all? Do you really believe that downing poor Black people is going to get you a seat at that fabled table of white supremacy along with a steak and lobster dinner? Nope because you are  traitor and all you are going to get is crumbs because that is what these people look at you as: a filthy crumb. No matter how white your neighborhood is, how well you speak, how well you “blend” in, you are still considered a Negro and you cannot run from blackness.

It is very easy for you and your kind to sprout these words, snugly enveloped in your cloak of White privilege and Black Self-Hatred but what you do not realize is that although Blacks were freed from chains of slavery, they were never made equal, financially or mentally. Throughout the years, American society had every opportunity to make amends to African-Americans by giving them same economic advantages as Whites, but it never happened because that would mean Blacks would be on the same economic playing field as Whites and that is a no-no.

It is funny how you people like to blame the media for everything wrong in your world but the media in all actuality is your best friend. The media, owned by the ruling class, has played a major role in distorting views about social economics by pretending the ruling class does not exist and poor Blacks are the dregs of society. The media with its ‘magic’ can make the historical legacy of slavery and subsequent Jim Crow laws vanish by pretending it is their fault that they are poor. By doing this, upper and middle-classed Americans learn to fear and loathe poor Blacks and refuse to make the connection between systematic racism and high poverty levels amongst African-Americans.

The dominant culture has succeeded in making African Americans subhuman to other groups, who passively accept these bigoted views. In your speeches, in the media, and on the Internet, the message that you and others have given is to degenerate Black people at all costs and to keep poor working-class Whites in a constant tizzy about the advantages given to them.

Clueless white folks and brainwashed black folks, I feel sorry for you and wonder what you would do if Blacks did not exist in this country. Race and class was socially constructed for the advancement of Whites and the making up of a social class of poverty-stricken African-Americans who could be blamed for everything wrong in society. Take away the pretensions, the feelings of superiority that comes with having the “right” skin color and people like you in this society would be lost. No more scapegoats to blame and you would have to face up to the fact that you have no plans for making the economic system in America more equal. But it is easier to blame Blacks who, unlike your ancestors, had no choice when they were brought to this country as chattel and broodmares to make the lives of the ruling class easier.

Sincerely,

Kathy M. Henry

 

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Uncategorized

Respectability Politics and Misogynoir in Education

Cold Brewed Coffee and Curricula

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My social media timelines have been on fire with the news of Patrice Brown, also know as “#TeacherBae”. Patrice Brown is a paraprofessional in Atlanta whose photos went viral and caused a debate on whether or not her attire is appropriate for her field.

But, in actuality, the true statement should read: “Her body does not fall in line with Euro-centric body standards, therefore it is automatically sexual and wrong.”

Once again, we have stooped to spewing sexism and misogynoir in order to demonize a Black woman for her existence.

Many supporters, including myself, were worried that #TeacherBae would lose her job. We waited patiently for the school system to respond to the social media bonfire.

Yesterday, Atlanta Public Schools released this statement:

“The Atlanta Public Schools shared their employee dress code with 11Alive. It list sexamples of appropriate and inappropriate attire but leaves the determination of violations…

View original post 850 more words

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Beauty, blacks, Editorial, Feminism, misogynoir, popular culture

The Winter Santiago Complex and Black Women

patrice-meme

Black sisterhood is at an all-time low in 2016. Online and offline, I see black women tearing each other to pieces like rabid dogs over the most mundane and pettiest of shit. If you don’t measure up their lofty standards, there is a segment of black women that will shame your ass to hell. They will shame you for wanting a child without being married because unmarried black mothers make them look bad.  They will shame you for not wanting to date outside your race because black women who only want to date black men and give birth to black children are hood rats.  They will shame you for living in the hood (while not offering a dime in assistance or advice how to get out the hood), for being overweight (while being one cheeseburger from being considered fat themselves), and for not being “feminine” enough by their standards (although their standards of femininity is based on white folks standards of femininity and living by white standards is very important). It is pathetic but the shaming of black women by other black women went to a new level with the public shaming of Patrice Brown otherwise known as #teacherbae.

Ms. Brown is a paraprofessional who works for the Atlantic Public School system whose pictures of herself on Instagram turned her into an overnight sensation and an object of ridicule. She was ridiculed because of her attire, which was thought to be too sexy to be around the 4th grade students she taught on a daily basis.  Although all the dresses that were shown were of knee length, long sleeved and covered her to the neck, because she is a voluptuous woman, it became a problem for many people, mainly black women. All this controversy about her clothing style caused the APS to publicly reprimand this woman for the very clothes they knew she wore five days a week.

This young woman could have been fired because of the jealousy and insecurity of masses of black women who will never meet or have any interaction with her and it makes no sense at all but unfortunately, too many black women do not like to see other black women shine.  Living under a system of patriarchy has conditioned them to be very competitive with other women and anytime a black woman receives so much as a crumb of attention that in anyway involves the male gaze, these women come with claws extended with knives.

I call this mentality The Winter Santiago Complex. Remember Winter Santiago from the novel The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah?  She was truly one of the most selfish female characters written in the history of literature and she has become the standard for female characters in the urban literature genre.  One particular scene from the novel will always stand out in my head. It was the time right after her father had went to jail and her family was back living in the projects. She went to a concert I think and she saw her best friend Natalie in a pink Chanel suit and lost her damn mind. Natalie went off her and told her, quite truthfully, “Nobody can’t have shit but you!”

And there lies the problem with so many black women.  Another black woman cannot have shit without them feeling slighted. She can’t be pretty with a little waist you can span with one hand, big hips and upright breasts. She cannot be an educated sister with the body of a goddess and a face to match. You have to be fat, frumpy, and willing to watch their children when they go out because you know fat bitches don’t have a life.  You have to be an ugly, uneducated hood-rat that they can feel both feel sorry for and contemptuous of.  Because black chicks with The Winter Santiago Complex cannot take competition and need their feet on the necks of black women they deem undesirable. Pitiful.

And Ms. Patrice? You are a bright, beautiful young woman who is out here these trenches teaching black children and for that, I salute you. And if you were my daughter, I would have been on the social media tearing ignorant folks a new asshole for messing with my baby. Shine boo, shine!

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blacks, education, Feminism, History, Sociology

Searching For Assata Shakur

Disclaimer: I wrote this paper back in college when I was filled with fire!

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If asked the question, “How much would you be willing to sacrifice for your beliefs?” the average individual would probably look bewildered. Would you be willing to give up your friends, family, freedom, even possibly your life for a cause that was dear to you? The cynic inside me says, “Probably not.” In American society, people have a tendency to speak with much grandiloquence about their beliefs but when asked to sacrifice for those same beliefs, they crumble. Assata Shakur did not. Assata Shakur is a revolutionary and one of the most wrongly convicted individuals in U.S. history. Her story is a sad chapter in American history, in which race, social class, political affiliation, and gender played a role in her subsequent exile from her homeland.

On May 2, 1973, racial prejudice would forever change the life of Assata Shakur. An incident of what would now be labeled “racial profiling” took place on the New Jersey Turnpike. Ms. Shakur, an active participant in the Black Liberation Army (BLA), was traveling with friends, Malik Zayad Shakur and Sundiata Acoli when state troopers stopped them, reportedly because of a broken headlight. A trooper explained that they looked suspicious because the Vermont license plates on the vehicle they were driving. The three were made to exit the car with their hands up. Suddenly, shots were fired and when it was over, state trooper Werner Foerster and Malik Shakur were killed.

Ms. Shakur and Mr. Acoli were charged with the deaths of state trooper Foerster and Zayd Malik Shakur. While held in jail, she was shackled and chained to a bed, with bullet wounds still in her chest. She was also forced to undergo the jabs of shotgun butts of the New Jersey State troopers and heard their voices shouting Nazi slogans and threats to her life. In the history of New Jersey had a female prisoner ever been treated as she, confined to a men’s prison and placed under a constant twenty-four hour surveillance of her most intimate bodily functions.

Ms. Shakur and Mr. Acoli were eventually sentenced to life plus thirty-three years. Although the verdict was no surprise since they were convicted by an all-white jury, many questioned the racial injustice of the trial because it was riddled with several human rights violations and constitutional errors. The pretrial publicity was extremely negative and African-Americans were purposely excluded from the jury. Even more incredible was the fact Ms. Shakur was shot with her arms in the air, making it anatomically impossible for her to commit the murders she was convicted of.

However, in the country of the United States where there is allegedly freedom, justice, and liberty for all, the only people who have that luxury are white men. Ms. Shakur had the triple jeopardy of being Black, female, and poor and she was a member of a political organization that had been targeted by the CIA and the FBI because of its political views. Any organization that challenges the status quo has to be eliminated at all costs.

Assata Shakur spent six and a half years in prison, two of those in solitary confinement. During that time, she was beaten and tortured on a daily basis. Although there is no mention of rape, she was probably sexually harassed everyday of her imprisonment. While imprisoned, she gave birth to her daughter Kakuya who was taken away from her a week after her birth. In 1979, fearing for her life, she made a daring escape that continues to infuriate the United States government. There was a nationwide search for her but not a trace of her or the people who aided her escape was ever found. In 1984, she was granted political asylum by Fidel Castro, dictator of Cuba and was finally united with her daughter. On May 2, 2005, the federal government issued a statement in which they labeled Ms. Shakur a domestic terrorist. In addition to doing that, the government also increased the bounty on her head from $150,000 to an unprecedented $1,000,000.

When I first read about Ms. Shakur, I cried. I could not believe what this woman went through for fighting for basic human rights. Because of the triple jeopardy of race, sex, and class and her political affiliation, she was unjustly sentenced to jail for a murder she did not commit. According to research, African-American women experience more bias in the courts than White women on the basis that White women are presumed to be good mothers by virtue of marital status (Andersen, p.285) and Black women are not. Black women have been historically stereotyped as sexually deviant troublemakers who need to be controlled.

Also, according to the Labeling Theory, groups with the power to label individuals deviant, exercise total control over what and who is considered deviant. Ms. Shakur was deemed to be deviant by the courts and the U.S. government because of her race, gender, political beliefs, and class status; therefore, she was sentenced to prison without any due process of the law.

While in prison, she received horrific treatment at the hands of her jailers. During her pregnancy, she received no prenatal care and the authorities even tried to starve her so she would miscarry. Although this type of treatment of female prisoners is extreme, most do not receive adequate medical treatment while in prison. According to research, health care in women’s prisons is limited, and prenatal care is nonexistent. If pregnant, female prisoners’ babies are taken right after birth. They are also treated no differently than men in prison. Ms. Shakur experienced this first hand and she was beaten every day the six years she was in prison.

Writing this paper was one of the most emotionally wrenching projects I have ever done. Reading about Ms. Shakur’s experiences brought feelings of pain and anger but my feelings are minuscule when I think about the tears that she wept and still weeps. Imagine being convicted for the murders of two people, one of them your best friend and you are innocent. Imagine your other friend being convicted of the same murders and he was innocent too. Imagine being mentally tortured, beaten, and starved for six years of your life, living in a cage. Imagine giving birth to your daughter and having her taken away a week later. Imagine escaping from prison and being exiled away from your family and friends, knowing that you might not see them or the country of your birth again.

These are things that Assata Shakur experience everyday of her life and knowing that makes me as guilty as the criminal system that wrongly convicted her. I am guilty because I was ignorant of her history and had forgotten about the struggles of her and many African-Americans who fought for equality in this country. This woman in essence, gave her life for a cause she held dear and how many people are willing to that? She was and still is, a true warrior woman in every sense of the word. The only thing I can do to repay Assata and others who have sacrificed their lives in the battle for equality is to raise my children to be strong, productive members of their race who are proud of their heritage, and not afraid to fight for their rights.

A revolutionary woman can’t have no reactionary man. If he’s not about liberation, if he’s not about struggle, if he ain’t about building a strong Black family, if he ain’t about building a strong Black nation, then he ain’t about nothing. – Assata Shakur

 

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cartoons, popular culture

A Pop Cultural Analysis of Tom and Jerry’s Zoot Cat

As a child, one of my daily pleasures was cartoons. Oh how I loved them! Woody Woodpecker, Bugs Bunny and Friends, Magilla Gorilla, Heckle and Jeckle, Mighty Mouse, Scooby Doo, The Superfriends. The list goes on and on but my favorite cartoon was Tom and Jerry. Everyday I would tune in to see Tom get his ass beat by a clever mouse named Jerry and I would cackle madly but what I did not realize is how funny these cartoons would be when I watched them as an adult.

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This past Friday, I was surfing the Internet and discovered some pictures from the Tom and Jerry episode “Zoot Cat” and I was tickled pink. These pictures bought so many childhood memories so I decided to watch the cartoon in its entirety and Lawd!!!!!!!!!! It was a study in Blackness. The episode starts with Tom getting ready to see a fine little cat he likes and he is slicking back his hair with lard. Not water but lard. That was downright niggerish for real.

Then he go over to the young lady’s house, pours his heart out and presents Jerry as a present and she lights his ass up like the fourth of July. I don’t care what anyone says, that girl cat is a Black woman because a Black woman can cut a motherfucker up like no other. She even called him a corny corn husker.

After his face is cracked and on the ground, and after chasing Jerry in another futile chase that left him dazed and confused, he over hears a radio commercial about how getting a zoot suit would change his life so he pulls a Scarlett O’Hara and makes himself a zoot suit made of the orange and green hammock on the girl’s porch.

He goes back to Toot’s house, all fancy and shit, and she falls in love with him with her shallow, superficial ass. And of course Jerry gets into the mix and he and Tom spend most of the cartoon fighting and tearing up this cat’s house. That typical hood shit for nigglins to come to a person’s house and tear shit up.

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In the end, Tom did not get the girl because he was stupid and Jerry ended up with his suit and probably took Toots disloyal ass too. But this cartoon is one of the funniest because it showed human nature at its worst: trifling.

 

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Beauty, blacks, History

A Christmas Tale

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Christmas has lost a lot of its sparkle for me since my mother died nine years ago in the month of December. There have been times, I have literally just wanted to curl up in a corner and just weep during this season but I have to keep going. Not just for me but my children and grandson. For her too because she made an incredible come back the Christmas season of 1978. Here it goes.

Right after Thanksgiving, my mother’s heath started failing. She was lethargic and sluggish but she went to work like the soldier she was. One Friday night, she couldn’t take it anymore and her niece and my cousin Cleo took her the hospital. She drove her car on three flat tires in one of the worst winters in Chicago history and got my mother checked in at a hospital on 61st and Ellis.

While in the hospital, my mother found out that she was a diabetic and that her glucose sugar level was at 900 and if she had not come in, she would gone into a coma and probably died. That was a scary thought to my then eight-year old self because she was all I had and she was everything to me.

She was in the hospital for almost three weeks; a long time for a clingy child to be without her mother. I told myself I would not cry and I didn’t but I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to Christmas. I learned a long time ago that there was no white man in a red suit that brought me my presents and that my mother did. So I pondered what would happen if she didn’t get out on time. I wanted my mother to come home so bad but I also wanted some presents.

But she did get out and she made miracles happen! She purchased my brother Larry a silk gray shirt and slacks complete with Stacy Adams and he thought he was the shit when he put it on. She brought Randy, my other brother some skates because it was 1978 and he was about that disco life and skating at the Rink on Disco Night.

And for me? The usual collage of dolls and dishes she knew I loved. Thirty-seven years later when I look back at on my mother’s strength and perseverance, I cannot help but marvel. Damn near died, hadn’t been to work in almost a month and she managed to find money to take care of her children for Christmas. So when I am feeling low during this time, I just remember my mother and pull myself together. She was a remarkable woman.

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blacks, child molesters, Editorial, Race

A Letter to My Molester

This letter was originally written five years ago a few months before my fortieth birthday.  Unfortunately, this bastard was let out of prison in 2013 and is currently non-compliant.  Which means there a convicted child molester who spent 16 years in prison for the rape of a six-year-old girl running the streets of Chicago. He was 62-years-old at the time. Now he is 82. An old ass nasty child molesting bastard.

pamgrier

Lawrence Correctional Center
10930 Lawrence Road
Sumner, IL 62466
Dear Mr. Hunt:
This letter to you has been a long time coming. If you don’t remember me, my name is Kathy Henry, your ex-girlfriend, Gertrude’s daughter. You came into my life when I was ten-years-old and from the moment you appeared, I knew you was not shit. My mother thought that I was just jealous because I never had to share her before, but instinctively I knew that your presence would mean no good for me.
At first, you seemed like a good man for my mother. You helped pay her bills, gave me an allowance and pretended that you were a stand-up guy and father figure but you weren’t shit. You were and still are a child-molesting, motherfucking pig who took away my innocence when I was eleven-years-old.

PhotoELF Edits: 2014:10:08 --- Batch Resized

Do you remember coming into my bedroom when my mother was asleep and feeling on my-then-budding body? I used to lie in my bed, fearing when you would come over because that meant I would have to sleep in my street clothes instead of a nightgown to protect myself. No little girl should have to go through that but that was my life for four years. Four fucking years.
You never penetrated me vaginally, but the damage you inflicted on my psyche was immeasurable. I was just a little girl whose only thoughts were of Barbie Dolls, books and my cat Boogie-Woogie and you made me feel like a filthy whore because the feelings you stirred in my body felt good. How could a good girl feel like that? From then on, I believed that I was no good and I blame you for that.
I became sexually active at the age of fifteen and was the mother to two children by time I was twenty-one-years old. No one put a gun to my head, but you made me feel like I was just a piece of ass and for a long time I believed that no decent man would want a nasty, dirty female like me who got herself molested because I was wearing a size 38 Double D bra at the age of eleven.
I never told my mother you molested me because I was afraid that she would not believe me. I only told her after you got arrested for taking away the innocence of another little girl, age six and the pain in my mother’s face is something that will haunt me until my dying day.
You are scheduled for parole on July 21, 2011, nine days before your 78th birthday, but the system kept your sorry ass in prison and if I have my way you will never get out because I plan on doing everything in my power to make sure your slimy ass stays behind bars for the rest of your life. You do not deserve to be free on the streets to have another opportunity to ruin another little girl’s life. God knows how many little girls you molested, but as long as I have breath in my body you will never walk the streets of Chicago again.
It is not fair that you are alive to see another birthday and my mother is dead. She died five years ago from complications from diabetes, and I still mourn her passing every day. But the world is not fair. She is in a better place and not in pain but you have been in pain every day. No freedom, referred to as a number, no normal sex life. Oh, I forgot, you are not a normal man anyway, but a fucking pervert.
I hope that the last fifteen years of your life has been hell on earth and that you are getting molested by some big, burly dude on a nightly basis. Child molesters get treated like shit in prison and I know that you have received your comeuppance. Do you lie on your bunk at night, scared and shaking, hearing the footsteps of your predator, knowing what is going to happen? Good.
Just one more question and I will leave you alone, Mr. Hunt. How could you destroy my life so willfully? I was a little girl, and with one-act you took away my innocence and my ability to ever trust a man fully. I have come to the conclusion at the age of forty-one that I will probably never get married because I do not have it in me to give myself totally in a relationship because I do not trust men.
In a just society, you would have been sentenced to life in prison for your crimes, but unfortunately that is not the way of the American judicial system. Maybe you have repented, but I doubt it. A leopard doesn’t change his spots but learns to camouflage. God may have mercy on your soul, but I don’t and I hope that you rot in hell.
Sincerely,
Kathy M. Henry

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