A black girl’s constant fear: Why I thought I’d never live to see 33 by Brittney Cooper

iStockPhoto2girls“What threads these women’s lives together is the collective lack of national care for their stories. Black women have been passing these narratives around the blogosphere and social media to each other, posting collective laments, and wondering if anyone else cares. These stories are not national news to anybody else, but they are national news to us.”

Continue reading @ Salon.com


Black Girls in Paris

Black Girl in Paris filmKiandra Parks’ film Black Girl in Paris, based on Shay Youngblood’s novel of the same title, airs on HBO this February and March. The 20-minute short was Parks’ grad thesis project at NYU. Parks’ film follows an alternate path mapped out in Youngblood’s novel and focuses on the relationship formed between the protagonist Eden (played by Medicine for Melancholy‘s Tracy Heggins) and Luce (the brilliant Zaraah Abrahams), a fellow black girl in Paris surviving on luck and hustle. In this way, the beautifully shot film is for Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room what Looking for Langston is for … well, for Langston. At the same time, the film pays homage to “black girls” like Josephine Baker, Ada “Bricktop” Smith, Marpessa Dawn and others who looked for the city to transform them in savvy cosmopolites and erotic subjects. That transformation, especially for black girls, is not always easy or glamorous, the film reminds us. But the experience of adventure is usually worth the price of the ticket.


ESPN’s ‘Venus Vs.’ Explores Venus Williams’s Equal-Pay Legacy by Allison Samuels

venus_williams_1996Venus Williams may be absent from Wimbledon this year, but her influence on the tournament remains—and as more than just a bellwether for sister Serena’s success.

The new ESPN film Venus Vs., which airs July 2 on the sports network, is likely to cement the tennis superstar’s legacy as a trailblazer and a heroine for women’s rights. Venus Vs. documents the long battle for equal wages among the sexes in tennis that began with Billie Jean King and was later championed by Venus.

Director Ava DuVernay suggested the Venus-themed documentary to ESPN last year after researching Williams’s relentless efforts to attain equal pay at Wimbledon. “I’d heard about it but didn’t know all of the details,’’ said DuVernay. “It’s really a fascinating story.’’

Continue reading @ The Daily Beast

Straightening Our Hair by bell hooks (1988)

hotcombOn Saturday mornings we would gather in the kitchen to get our hair fixed, that is straightened. Smells of burning grease and hair, mingled with the scent of our freshly washed bodies, with collard greens cooking on the stove, with fried fish. We did not go to the hairdresser. Mama fixed our hair. Six daughters—there was no way we could have afforded hairdressers. In those days, this process of straightening black women’s hair with a hot comb (invented by Madame C. J. Walker) was not connected in my mind with the effort to look white, to live out standards of beauty set by white supremacy. It was connected solely with rites of initiation into womanhood. To arrive at that point where one’s hair could be straightened was to move from being perceived as child (whose hair could be neatly combed and braided) to being almost a woman. It was this moment of transition my sisters and I longed for.

Continue reading this flashback article at Z Magazine

The Case of the "Killer" Lesbians

By Laura S. Logan | The Public Intellectual

Several African-American lesbians who fought back against an alleged attack spent time in jail and prison after being convicted of crimes related to the incident. Laura S. Logan looks at how press coverage of the group, dubbed the New Jersey 7, shaped a narrative about the women that portrayed them as predators rather than victims – a story at odds with how we usually think about LGBT people who’ve been harassed. In light of a recent popular campaign to end the bullying of LGBT people, Logan says, this case begs the question: It gets better for whom? Laura is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at Kansas State University and managing editor of the journal Gender & Society.

Read @ The Public Intellectual

Who Run the World? Uh … Not Girls

Maybe the refrain should be “Who should run the world?” Anyway, Beyonce’s video for her  high-powered girl anthem “Run the World (Girls)” just premiered. As usual, B’s working that choreography and the beat’s so contagious it makes us all want to shake our booties and yell GIRLS when B asks “Who run the world?” Watch it for yourself here:

Don’t you wanna just put on your stilettos and kick some patriarchal butt.

BUT lest we rest too comfortably too soon on our feminist haunches, the bright and witty “Nineteen Percent” warns us that Beyonce’s anthem is more of an aspiration than a reality. Girls do NOT run the world. Nor do we want to really. Equality and an end to sexual violence will do fine thanks.

Still More Questions Than Answers in Aiyana Stanley Jones’ Killing

By Jamilah King | Colorlines

It’s been a year since 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley Jones was killed by members of a Detroit Special Response team. The case garnered national headlines for all of the obvious reasons: an innocent child caught in police crosshairs, another black life taken in a city filled with heartache. But little Aiyana’s death was unique because it seemed to embody all that had gone so hopelessly wrong in our entertainment-driven society. The Special Response team that night had been followed by a camera crew shooting an episode of the A&E reality drama “First 48.” David Simon couldn’t have scripted it better.

Continue Reading @ Colorlines