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Posts tagged "blackness"
Not only is the Black female body deemed exotic, it is a site of contradictory investments, at once desirable and undesirable, known and unknown. It was important that Ba(a)rtman(n) was both an object of sexual interest and degraded. In short, to reconfigure her into “an object of derision, ‘a spectacle, a clown,’ is to strip away her sexual appeal, albeit perverse and objectified, to the French male spectator, to reinforce and reinscribe Ba(a)rtman(n)’s position in the Manichaean social world as a primitive savage.” Hence, one consistent theme in the European imaginary has been that the Black female body is not “normal” (read: white, civilized). Indeed, it “represents the abnormal in Eurocentric discourse.”


The AfroFuturist Affair is having its 3rd Charity & Costume Ball on Saturday November 9 2013 at MythMedia Studios.  Proceeds from the Ball will be used for the Futurist Fund, as small community grant awarded to serve the needs of members of under-served communities.We are calling out for self-identified AfroFuturists to perform, vend, or display their sci-fi, spec-fic, and Afrofuturistic themed work and pieces at the Ball.

We  need:
- Authors
- Poets
- Inventors
- Vocalists
- Rappers
- Visual artists
- Live artists
- Filmmakers
- Dancers
- Designers
- Musicians
- Metaphysicians
- Any other creative type not named above
The theme for the Charity & Costume Ball is “Dark Phase Space" (the layered space in which all possible states of Blackness are represented, with each possible state corresponding to one unique point in the phase space), so we appreciate works that can incorporate this theme, however you interpret it. 
The Ball will be held on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at MythMedia Studios in Philadelphia. Leading up to the Ball will be a number of events, including a time travel gallery with Metropolarity, mask-making workshop with BluDahlia, and another visit to Octavia City with the Black Tribbles (we will be putting out another call for authors soon), and more.
To share your ideas, talents, and proposed performances for inclusion in this year’s Charity & Costume Ball, please email by September 30, 2013 with the below info, and “Charity Ball” in the subject line.
Name or Organization (include title or position):
Contact info (email/phone):
Title of proposed performance/display:
Brief description of proposed performance/display:
If available, attach at least one image or video URL illustrating what you do. It can be a past example or a sketch of the proposed idea.
Website (if available):

If you are interested in sponsoring, vending, or volunteering, please submit an email to We are able to offer promotion and advertisement space to all sponsors. Vendors will be charged a low registration fee of $15 dollars. 

We also have an IndieGoGo campaign to support our grant and to pay artists and performers! You can donate to the campaign and receive a cool perk here at:

The rising specter of the post-human as a theoretical model to explain and analyze past and future black Atlantic experience is connected to the advent of “post-soul” or “post-black” aesthetics, through which contemporary artists and writers strategically reject blackness as a unitary subject position. While the post-human has been a useful intervention into humanist discourse, Weheliye suggests that this shift leaves aspects of black expression on the critical dust heap. In other words, as cultural criticism spirals out into a post-whatever cosmos and challenges to blackness receive larger audience, we will find ourselves in a future in which it becomes less attractive to engage with black cultural products that fail to abandon humanist claims. In this landscape, R&B becomes a relic of a bygone era. It is your analog television when everything goes digital in 2009. It is an artifact of the Old Ways Of Thinking.
Marlo David, Afrofuturism and Post-Soul Possibility in Black Popular Music. African American Review41(4), 695-707







honestly, being an black us girl who lives in africa, i have lots of thought on the connections, appropriations, etc between black africans and black americans. 

even more so because i live in a world where

1. most ppl assume im black african

2. most ppl here look down on black africans

3. im actually from the states, like slave descendent black

4. most black africans here insist that i am african, and seem to get slightly offended if i say im not. 

5. most egyptians dont seem to see themselves as african

but i dont really understand the antagonism that is happening in the conversation.  black africans seem to be able to have more economic and academic success than black americans in the states (am i wrong about this?).  and i am under the impression that black africans, in general, are seen, in white society, as ‘better’ than black americans. 

also who gets to decide who is ‘african’.  like i dont call myself ‘african’ because to me in my current context it implies an experience i havent really had.  plus, i stay reppin black culture and black cool.  but considering i havent lived in the states for the past few years, everyone around me, in cairo and berlin, assumed i was african, when they saw me. 

so who gets to decide who is african?

why doesnt this conversation make sense to me? 

i guess what i am wondering is, it cultural appropriation if a girl from niger wears adinkra jewelry, or is it only cultural appropriation if a girl from the states does?  feel me?  are we talking about ‘africa’ or are we talking about ‘ghana’…? 

who gets to decide who is and who is not from here?  and why? 

What I’ve learned from the discussion is this, i) people in the African Diaspora are African descended, ii) should Blacks in the Diaspora want to claim an African culture (note: not a general African identity) they need to either have some knowledge of their ancestry or have been accepted/welcomed by the people of that specific culture, iii) it is necessary to listen to the people whose culture you claim to respect, mixing and matching from several cultures is wrong because Africa is not a monolith and iv) respect, respect, respect.

From my view, the discussion was less about “Africa” and more about specific cultures and countries. I don’t think anyone was trying to decide that Blacks in the Diaspora were could not identify as African, the issue was more with choosing to identify with or “claiming” certain cultures. Because Africans largely identify by ethnic group, and in most cases it is unthinkable for someone from one ethnic group to go to another and “claim” it. I’m not saying this does not happen, but usually before you “claim” another ethnic group you need to have lived within that community for a long time and speak their language and it is usually someone from that group that would claim you not the other way round. And they can do this because it is their culture.

I’m not sure about a girl from Niger wearing adinkra symbols but I know that in Nigeria for example people wear fabrics from all across West Africa and these fabrics are even referred to by countries names, so there is Guinea, there is Ghana wax etc. I asked earlier if this counted as appropriation as well. I personally believe appropriation is the wrong term to describe this because power and the power to change how symbols are interpreted. Perhaps the difference is that when a Yoruba person wears Ghana wax, they do not think to know anything special about Ghana and because they are grounded in their own culture don’t feel the need to “claim”.

I understand that this issue can be confusing.

was there someone who was claiming a specific african ethnicity?  because i missed that post. 

and i was thinking about fabric as well.  when i have bought fabric, they usually call it out by the color and the country.  i saw the same patterns in burundi and congo, that ive seen in sudanese shops, and in shops in the states. 

yeah, and i think that we are not doing a straight power analysis and that is making the boundaries unclear.  like what do black americans have the power to do with african commodities and cultural symbols? 

because more of what i heard, was that blacks were 1. making claim to being african 2. making claim to get to use certain cultural products even though they dont belong to that ethnicity, per se. 

it’s weird. like, my daughter has spent 3 1/2 of the past 5 years in egypt.  nearly all that she knows is egypt.  if she grew up here, would she be allowed to claim to be african?  even though she definitely wouldnt be egyptian (not having the citizenship), nor would she be able to claim any specific african ethnicity, but could you honestly tell a black girl who grew up in africa, that she can’t at least claim the word, ‘african’?

i dont know.  man, a couple of nights ago, i was at a friends place, and ended up in a conversation where i was explaining how aave is an actual language, akin to creole in rel. to french, that has definite linguistic structures, grammer, vocabulary from west africa.  and then explaining how, hip hop music, how folks will try to imitate what they think of as ‘hip hop’ when in reality they are just butchering aave, because they dont understand the internal structure of the language.

its funny ive spent so many years now having to constantly explain that i am not african.  and being very careful to not co opt the identity, but now i do kind of claim to be african.  or i accept that what i do and how i am seen is seen in some ways as being a reflection of some african identity by others, even if not by myself.  (like how i buy all my clothes in cairo and yet am told by folks who must shop at the same places i do, that my style is so ‘african’, where as their style is ‘arab’, and its like, really?)

I personally believe that any African descended person in the Diaspora has the right to claim an African identity. A few other sourceland Africans on tumblr have said the same thing.

The objection arises when they see Diasporic Africans disrespecting their culture or using symbols inappropriately. There seems to be varying definitions for “African”. Sourceland Africans identify based on ethnic group and it is the ethnic group that makes them African but Diasporic Africans often do not have any knowledge of their ethnic group. The sourcelanders are saying that for Diasporic Africans, identifying as African does not mean that you can have access to any and every African culture.

With “making claim to get to use certain cultural products even though they don’t belong to that ethnicity” the main issue seems to be respect. Someone brought up some Diasporic Africans claiming to be Nubian and wearing kente cloth without paying attention to the oppression that the Nubian people face today or realising that you just can’t say you’re part of an ethnic group if the people there haven’t bestowed the honour to you.

I personally believe that your daughter is already African (see my first point). I’m not sure how it works in Egypt but in West Africa, she could end up being part of any ethnic group whose language she spoke. I’ve been told that in the past, ethnic boundaries on the African continent were more fluid, it was possible to be adopted into a community and become part of an ethnic group. Not so much today since “divide and rule” but the vestiges remain. I’ve had one or two friends who I swore were Yoruba because of their names and the way they spoke the language fluently, but they had African American parents.

In Africa if your brown we think of you as being one of us until you talk or act differently when you say your not African I suppose to some extent there is a feeling that by not stating your African your not giving appropriate veneration to your many African Ancestors. Who vastly outnumber (in terms of Generations) the ones who have been away from the continent. (500 years Vs thousands of years)

Being with Arab egyptians & African egyptians in both Cairo and Aswan there is a big difference in ideology. As many of these people have different ethnic origins.  

I agree with Queen Cosmic,

  1. Talking from a African spirituality perspective one of the most important things you can do is Acknowledge, respect and pay reverence to your ancestors. Looking at it from this perspective it is of the upmost importance that you know who they were & where they came from (It is possible now to do that thanks to modern technology). Then NO-ONE can say that your not from somewhere & they don’t have the right to if it’s in your blood.
  2. Give appropriate respect of peoples culture (language aswell) & it makes sailing smooth.
  3. The Diaspora experience is a interesting one. It is not enough to have genetics which is African, your consciousness must be African(Again that means appropriately comprehending the culture). As at times many African cultures are at a completely different polarity to Anglo, greco roman culture. This is going to offend people however this is just my opinion which may not be right ALOT OF AFRICANS DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHO THEY ARE (I say this in regards to many people close to me) Colonial & post colonial mentality is strong. Whether this mentality be European & Arab it has many people believing otherwise. This applies to All Africans. (for more on this listen to speeches by Marcus Garvey & Thomas Sankara)

We see an illusion of the world with our presence missing, we no longer produce things appropriately anymore (However things are changing.) When our physical bodies, blood, land and goods played a integral part.  A good proportion of African Leadership continually lets us down. In Ifa there is a believe that we live on through our descendants given the right conditions. For that belief we do our best to ensure our Children with the best possible future. I can quote many people I know (family) who don’t do this. My own farther is included & has no belief in this.  

Finally many Africans need to start analyzing the cultures we consume media & goods from. See how they treat people of a darker complexion. (Most people on Tumblr do this) Personally with me as I got older and started to educate myself I began to disassociate myself with many Greco Roman ideals I had been indoctrinated with.

If anything the definition African American for now best defines you. Until you find other ways to define yourself. 

Lol @ “Queen Cosmic” (read: I love it!)

Also all of that!

(via karnythia)


when i look at this image, i hear amy winehouse’s “some unholy war” in my head:
If my man was fighting / Some unholy war / I would be behind him / Straight shook up beside him / With strength he didn’t know / It’s you I’m fighting for / He can’t lose with me in tow / I refuse to let him go / At his side and drunk on pride / We wait for the blow



when i look at this image, i hear amy winehouse’s “some unholy war” in my head:

If my man was fighting / Some unholy war / I would be behind him / Straight shook up beside him / With strength he didn’t know / It’s you I’m fighting for / He can’t lose with me in tow / I refuse to let him go / At his side and drunk on pride / We wait for the blow


SBS Radio:

Africa-born academics Assoc Prof Kwamena Ansah-Aidoo of Swinburne University of Techology in Victoria and Dr Virginia Mapendzahama of the University of Sydney present a discussion paper on the “burden” of being a Black African in Australian society.

The event was a Sydney conference, organised by African Women Australia Inc, to mark the UN’s declaration of 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent.”

I have some issues with what Mapendzahama says but otherwise it’s a good start. 

(via leonineantiheroine-deactivated2)


Zanele Muholi,

Being (part 2 of triptych), (2007)

“each print: 30 x 22,5cm
silver gelatin prints and a Lambda print
edition of 8 + 2AP”


Check out more of Zanele Muholi at

(via leonineantiheroine-deactivated2)



ANTI-BLACK RACISM IN THE UK. Using anti-black racist language to have a go at white, working class people! Black cultureS are always under attack!

“The historian and broadcaster David Starkey has provoked a storm of criticism after claiming during a televised discussion about the riots that “the problem is that the whites have become black”.

In an appearance on BBC2’s Newsnight, Starkey spoke of “a profound cultural change” and said he had been re-reading Enoch Powell’s rivers of blood speech.

“His prophesy was absolutely right in one sense. The Tiber did not foam with blood but flames lambent, they wrapped around Tottenham and wrapped around Clapham,” he said.

“But it wasn’t inter-community violence. This is where he was absolutely wrong.” Gesturing towards one of the other guests, Owen Jones, who wrote Chavs: the Demonisation of the Working Classes, Starkey said: “What has happened is that a substantial section of the chavs that you wrote about have become black.”

On the programme, Starkey said: “The whites have become black. A particular sort of violent destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion and black and white boys and girls operate in this language together.

“This language which is wholly false, which is this Jamaican patois that has been intruded in England and that is why so many of us have this sense of literally of a foreign country.”

The historian and broadcaster, whose historical documentaries on Channel 4 about the Tudors established him as a household name, went on to name-check Tottenham’s Labour MP: “Listen to David Lammy, an archetypal successful black man. If you turn the screen off so that you are listening to him on radio you would think he was white.”

what the EVER loving fuck.

(via southerntellect-deactivated2012)

(Via The Crunk Feminist Collective)

My addiction started with good intentions. 

 I am a scholar who studies representations of black women so it made sense to look for black women on reality television shows.  This was not a practice I was unfamiliar with.  Watching Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune was always more “appealing” growing up when there was a black person on the show.  I remember, even as a child, hoping/wishing/praying that the contestant would not embarrass us.  Us being me and them.  Us being all black people.  It is funny how even as a child I was aware that “their” (other black people’s) representation was my representation and vice versa.  It was clear to me that white people did not always know how to tell us apart.

 This was no different from my mama’s insistence that I behave well around company and in public.  She raised me to believe that my actions were always a direct reflection of her and her mothering skills.  I knew that being the daughter that most favored her, I owed it to her to “represent” well.  Over the years, studying race and oftentimes being the only black person in the room, I realize that the same premise applies to race in general.  Black folk (and people of color generally) are expected to be the individual representatives of all black folk.  My mama was right (she always is).

So, this new knowledge that I carried in my pocket made me consistently aware that I was always being watched and judged as a child.  I still am as an adult.

Reality television took me by surprise.  I had no way of knowing that it would have such a hold on me.  All it took was one innocent episode or one night of insomnia and I was hooked.  The lure of supposed “reality” appeals to my academic curiosity, my ethnographic voyeurism, and my small town nosiness all at the same time.  And while I know that reality television shows are scripted, edited, and manipulated—it is still the promised reality that gets me.  I feel invested in characters.  I feel like I know them (and their business).  And I always, always want to know more!

As both a fan and critic of reality television I find myself fascinated with my addiction—and curious about it.  I imagine that it is something more than the undeniable lie of reality that has captured the attention of so many people (for so many reasons).

A few years ago I wrote an article challenging race and gender representations on reality television.  At the time it was Flavor of Love that had me whipped.  I knew the storyline/s, the characters, their real names, their “new” names, and why they had the names.  I was happily duped by the bad acting of a cast who pretended to be infatuated with Flavor Flav.  Conversations with friends and colleagues usually began with, “Girl, did you see Flavor of Love last night?”  Damn.  And just like that I was addicted.  Popular culture trapped me in a corner and swallowed me whole.  I watched every season…and the follow up shows, and the reunion shows, and the spin offs.  Turning the channel did not divert my obsession because on the next channel I found other shows that promised me “regular, everyday” characters who were just like me and looking for something (love, money, fame, purpose), just like me. 

My DVR is set to record a reality television show at least every other day of the week and let’s not forget the court shows, the cooking shoes, the competitive dating shows and series, the singing and talent shows.  There does not seem to be an escape.  So what is a solution?

Reality television has been a claim to fame for many black women over the last decade—but not in a good way.  Many black women remain nameless and objectified, framed as ignorant, promiscuous golddiggers (think of most of the contestants on Flavor of Love).  Other representations suggest that black women are conniving, bitter, bourgeoisie or shallow (Atlanta housewives).  Even Omarosa, the intelligent black woman from the original season of The Apprentice was cast as an emasculating bitch (a title she has since embraced and utilized as a way of becoming a household name).  Essentially, reality television has found a way to reiterate stereotypes to name and frame black women as mammies, matriarchs, jezebels, sapphires and tragic mulattos.

Black women on reality television becomes problematic when there are clear conflicts between reality and imagination–and when the audience doesn’t know what is real and what is fake.  As consumers, we must challenge what wee see—compare it to who we are, how we live, who we know, and resist stereotypes.  Then, we must insist on more nuanced images of ourselves.  We have to refuse to accept that we are what and who other people tell us we are.  We also must acknowledge and accept the pieces of ourselves we sometimes recognize in the “real” characters—and interrogate the pieces of ourselves that we want to challenge.  Perhaps if we can learn to be critical consumers, watching reality television won’t seem so much like an act of backsliding and I can stop feeling guilty about it.

At any given time, on any given channel, I am lured back to reality shows.  One sleepless night and I am hooked again.  Shows I refuse, on principle, to watch during their designated times come on at unreasonable hours when I am too vulnerable to resist (Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch–yes, I am embarrassed to say that I watched it, Fantasia For Real, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, The T.O. Show, and recently a show on E called Bridalplasty—yes, it is as bad as it sounds!).  When I have to choose between reality television and infomercials, reality television wins. 

My best friend turned me on to The Real Housewives of Atlanta a few years ago during a visit home for the holidays.  She had every episode recorded and we spent an entire Sunday afternoon watching each episode, laughing and talking in between, but never questioning what the show was offering us.  Reality television feels harmless because most people view it for entertainment purposes, but the impact of reality television is far-reaching (i.e., there has been some speculation that the docu-reality series 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom on MTV has prompted some young women to get pregnant on purpose in hopes of being on the show).  Entertainment is not harmless, especially for underrepresented populations.  It is no coincidence that representations of marginalized groups (including the poor and disenfranchised, people of color, people with disabilities, non-heterosexuals, etc.) are continually scripted as stereotypes.  Unfortunately we are oftentimes passive consumers who are unconscious of the underlying meanings of representations.  Or we mistake any representation as “good” or “good enough.”

Reality television is problematic and black women, in particular, must be critical of images reflected back to them on television (and movie) screens.  If we don’t trouble the representations that are offered to us then we may find ourselves believing that the only options for black womanhood are available in exaggerated extremes (a la Tyler Perry) or sanitized stereotypes (pretty much everybody else).  I have been waiting for a real(ity) representation that can rescue me from the need to defend myself or save face.  I am still searching.