Writing

Black or black? And yes, it matters.

Brown skinned black woman in denim jacket writing in notebook with a pencil. A cup of coffee and two books rest on the table.
Brown skinned black woman in denim jacket writing in notebook with a pencil. A cup of coffee and two books rest on the table.
Photo by Kat Stokes on Unsplash

Six years before I was born, James Baldwin gave a speech at UC Berkely about what it means to be a Black writer.

“What a writer is obliged to some point to realize is that he is involved in a language which he has to change. For example, for a black writer, especially in this country, to be born into the English language is to realize the assumptions of the language, the assumptions by which the language operates, are his enemy.”

The English language, at its default setting, is inherently racist. It is…


Economics

For the purpose of this article, I’ve settled on a theoretical reparations payout in the amount of half a million dollars each for every Black American

Attractive Black man with braided locs smiles while holding hundred dollars bills like a fan
Attractive Black man with braided locs smiles while holding hundred dollars bills like a fan
Photo by REX WAY on Unsplash

Last week, the United States Senate passed a 1.9 trillion dollar Covid-19 relief package that includes modest cash payments for American families and massive asset purchases for banks — proving once again where our national priorities lie.

Historically speaking, the United States has a track record of doing what it takes to keep the uber-rich happy while generally screwing over everyone else. That’s why in 2018 Congress solidified and expanded the tax exemption for being a private jet owner. It’s why in 2008, banks got bailed out by the government while homeowners got put out in the streets.

It’s why…


Equality

Brown skinned Black woman with waist lenghth locs wearing a white t-shirt that says “First of all, no.”
Brown skinned Black woman with waist lenghth locs wearing a white t-shirt that says “First of all, no.”
Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash

Last month, I wrote about America’s Sordid History of Paying Reparations to White Enslavers. After reading my article, a church member reached out to me to let me know about the Haitian revolution and how France charged them 21 billion dollars (in 1825!) to acknowledge their freedom, a sum Haiti is still paying today.

“Will France pay it back?” he asks.

*groans in irritated Black girl*

I’m not sure what was going on in his head when he wrote this response (or why he insists on copying my entire article into an email instead of sending out a link to…


A new generation of Black womxn are making music ‘like they used to do’

VanJess performing with mood lighting live with a Spotify logo in neon at the back. They are singing into their microphones and gesturing at each other.
VanJess performing with mood lighting live with a Spotify logo in neon at the back. They are singing into their microphones and gesturing at each other.
VanJess perform during the Spotify House Of Are & Be Late Night Jam Session With Raphael Saadiq on July 06, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Spotify

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone over 30 say “they just don’t make good music anymore!” I would finally be able to live out my dream of becoming the Black Tinsley Mortimer. Alas, I fear becoming a rich eccentric is not in my future.

Fortunately, I can guarantee that all the good music is not in my past. There are several new artists making music with mass appeal for Grandmas, aunties, and folx whose knees survived the “Buss It” challenge. …


Race in America

If you don’t see color, you don’t see yourself

Photo by Taylor Smith on Unsplash

I once had a commenter tell me: “most of us white people in America want to live in a place where skin color doesn’t matter, because to most of us it really doesn’t. And the only way we know how to get there is to behave like skin color doesn’t matter.”

This is flawed logic. What social problems have we fixed by ignoring them? Sexism? Classism? Ableism? Transphobia? Xenophobia? Youth Suicide? Seriously, think about it for a minute — if social problems could just magically be solved by ignoring them we wouldn’t have any social problems in the first place.


History

Large white plantation style home with immaculately manicured lawn
Large white plantation style home with immaculately manicured lawn
Photo by Adam Kring on Unsplash

The first Americans to receive reparations were white enslavers.

After the Revolutionary War, George Washington and a British dude named Sir Guy Carleton (I swear I’m not making this up, his parents obviously hated him) sent letters back and forth to negotiate some of the cloudier details of the Treaty of Paris.

At this point, the American Revolution was like an ongoing fight with your spouse — it was over, but it wasn’t over over. Heck, the Treaty of Paris wasn’t even signed until 1783, but that didn’t stop us from declaring ourselves a country waaaay back in 1776. …


Poetry

A letter to my younger self

Photo by Matteo Kutufa on Unsplash

CW/TW: Themes of sexual assault

To the boy who jammed his fingers down my pants on the log ride when I was eleven,

You were right.

You said that I would learn to like it.

I did, eventually.

Years later with boys who were not ham-fisted brutes

Boys who cut their fingernails and not me.

You said I would remember you

I have.

You said if I told I would be sorry.

I was,

Sorry I didn’t speak up sooner.

To the boy I didn’t marry because you cheated on me and got her…


Art, activism, and the legacy of Black Girl Magic

Poet Amanda Gorman in a yellow dolman sleeved gown on the cover of TIME Magazine
Poet Amanda Gorman in a yellow dolman sleeved gown on the cover of TIME Magazine
Image courtesy TIME Magazine

“Tyrants fear the poet.”
Amanda Gorman, “In This Place” (An American Lyric)

Amanda S. C. Gorman is a poet, model, activist and change maker. Gorman was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1998. It’s hard to believe that the twenty-two-year-old former National Youth Poet Laureate struggled with a speech impediment from an early age. Gorman has an auditory processing disorder, but this physical disability encouraged her to put more effort into her reading and writing.

Both Amanda and her twin sister, Gabrielle, began working to dismantle systemic oppression at a young age. Amanda became a youth delegate for the United…


Pop Culture

Lessons from Danileigh’s nonapology

Singer Danileigh looks at camera. Her hair is in a curly twistout.
Singer Danileigh looks at camera. Her hair is in a curly twistout.
Courtesy of The Shade Room

I didn’t know who Danileigh was until last Thursday. I’ve never listened to any of her songs (with one notable exception) and probably never will. I would have been completely content to live out the rest of my life in blissful ignorance, but thanks to Danileigh’s reckless endangerment of her career via Instagram, I now know far too much about the 26-year-old singer.

For example, I know that she was born in Miami and her parents are Dominican. I know that despite her culturally appropriative aesthetic, she is not a light-skinned Black womxn. …


Race in America

Deconstructing the ‘model minority’ myth

Photo by Prince Akachi on Unsplash

It always amazes me how far people will go to avoid facing the brutal reality of American racism. Any time I write about race, my comments section ends up chock full of excuses and rationalizations that they have used to resolve their cognitive dissonance.

One of the excuses I hear frequently is the ‘model minority’ myth. Here’s a recent excerpt from my comments section:

Just one question for you… if America is so deeply racist. The cards are so heavily stacked against people with dark skin, then how on earth are Nigerian immigrants, as an entire group, outperforming White people…

Ajah Hales

World Changer. Social Thinker. Business Owner.

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