These conversations aren't new, but they are important. "Dear Child," the impactful video above, was made by the Jubilee Project. It includes honest, candid conversations from black parents and young adults regarding the things that are always in the back of the minds of both. And although the group recognizes that a video isn't a solution to these issues, for them to share these honest words is a great step to starting a conversation and opening the eyes of many.For more video content like this, sign up for Blavity's daily...
On Nov. 4, Loving, a monumental love story, will hit theaters. But more importantly, this love story is a historical look at a case that changed the rights that those in love have forever. It’s not only a story that makes for a cinematic experience, it’s a story that showcases the lengths that people will go to for true love, and how one couple’s strength and determination opened the doors for so many after them.In 1958, a Virginia couple was arrested for getting married. More than 50 years ago, Richard and Mildred Loving had police officers burst into their home and their bedroom, demanding to know why they were together. After this incredibly invasive experience, the couple was taken to jail and threatened to the point of being forced to leave the state for a quarter-century — all because Mildred was a black woman.Loving shows the struggles this couple endured all in the name of love, and it does so in a humanizing, relatable way.The film stars Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton as Mildred and Richard Loving. And although the figures they play are no longer with us, judgment and disapproval of interracial marriage is still around. Even if it’s no longer illegal, there exists obvious racism in this world, and Loving is the latest film to explore it and help us to reflect.And what’s so powerful about Loving is its focus. It's a love story at its core, something that everyone can feel and relate to, no matter their background. And although it teaches history and covers a court case, it never feels forced or anything other than genuine.Writer-director Jeff Nichols is behind the film that’s sure to be talked about by critics and casual viewers alike. Nichols hails from Arkansas and manages to tell the story of this hate-filled law, a remnant of slavery, in a way that helps viewers to understand how Richard and Mildred might have been feeling at the time.They are layered characters. We see how they came to be, how they came to be together and why their love was strong enough to endure the hate and lack of understanding.Overall, Loving stands apart from the rest. For a history lesson and a love story all wrapped up in one humble package, see it when it hits theaters this weekend. Until then, check out the trailer below.This post is in partnership with Focus Features.For more content like this, sign up for Blavity's daily...
He goes in on the secret racial word play in sports
When it comes to descriptions and characterizations, stated words can have a greater significance residing underneath the selected verbiage. This is especially true when it comes to the sometimes strained relationship between sports and the media.
Some of us grew up hearing the statements from Jimmy the Greek, listening to racially-tinged play calls from Howard Cosell and continue to fume over the infamous "thug" label constantly bestowed on Black men by the media. But while those are overt examples of racial ignorance, insensitivity or racism (depending upon your personal feelings on the matter), it's the covert usage of words that have affected athletes of color in a different way.
A Black athlete is called a "showboat" or labeled a poor example for the youth when celebrating, while the celebrations of white athletes are deemed colorful or entertaining. When you really think about it, it's not that subtle at all, and last week we experienced another case where insensitivity and verbal ignorance lead to a harsh response from the hardwood.
Phil Jackson, President of the NY Knicks, was speaking with reporter Jackie MacMullan and said this about LeBron's time in South Beach:
When LeBron was playing with the Heat, they went to Cleveland and he wanted to spend the night. They don’t do overnights. Teams just don’t. So now [coach Erik] Spoelstra has to text Riley and say, ‘What do I do in this situation?’ And Pat, who has iron-fist rules, answers, ‘You are on the plane, you are with this team.’ You can’t hold up the whole team because you and your mom and your posse want to spend an extra night in Cleveland.
For those in the know, the key word was "posse." This is one of the trigger code words used in descriptions of Black culture, and it doesn't refer to the movie by Mario Van Peebles. Some thought it was racist, some felt it was insensitive or improper while others didn't think it was a big deal.
For more on this, check out the full story on The Shadow...
The truth is, the darker someone's skin tone, the more often they experience racism, hatred and bullying. When someone with dark skin posts a photo of themselves — especially one celebrating their body and their race — we live in a world where they may be subjected to intense hate for their skin color alone. Model Khoudia Diop knows this all too well, but she's hoping her presence online and in the modeling world might change that.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Khoudia opened up about the racism she's experienced, and exactly what it means for her future.
"I was teased a lot growing up, because of my skin tone," Khoudia, who was born in Senegal and moved to France, said. "By other kids, and now even online sometimes, people will make comments."
Instead of listening to the haters, Khoudia celebrates her skin tone all the time. Her Instagram handle @melaniin.goddess is a nod to her gorgeous complexion, and she tags all her photos with celebratory sayings like #blackgirlmagic, #blackgirlsrock, #melaninonfleek, and of course #flawless. By being proud about her skin, Khoudia told the Daily Mail she hopes other young girls will use her as a role model.
"Because of my dark, melanin rich complexion and because I want to inspire young girls and let them know that we are all goddesses inside and out," she said. "The message I have for my sisters is that how you look doesn't matter as long as you feel beautiful inside."
This is so important, especially since there are so many messages out there telling young black girls that light skin is more beautiful. From things like makeup brands not making tones for dark skin to more drastic messages like skin bleach advertisements, there are so many things telling black girls that having a lighter skin tone is ideal. That's not true, though, it's just one of so many silly ideas society pushes. What's most beautiful is being and loving yourself as you are. Khoudia is a great example of someone not listening to bullies by staying true to herself.
"Growing up, I faced it by confronting the bullies. As I grew, I learned to love myself more every day, and not pay attention to the negative people, which helped a lot," she said.
That's definitely easier said than done, but take Khoudia as your inspiration.
This post was originally published on Teen...
Airbnb has been heralded as a brilliant startup for its success in revolutionizing short and long term lodging and disrupting markets worldwide. However, the company's insurmountable success has also been met with numerous amounts of criticism, particularly for the amount of discrimination that occurs on the platform. After Gregory Selden's case, the hashtag, #airbnbwhileblack, and a Harvard study that proved African Americans are less likely to receive bookings on Airbnb, the company realized they had not taken racism and discrimination into account when designing the product.
In order to address the issue, Airbnb has crafted a new anti-discrimination report. Laura Murphy, former director of the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office, who spearheaded a comprehensive review of Airbnb, states, "Airbnb is putting in place powerful systemic changes to greatly reduce the opportunity for hosts and guests to engage in conscious or unconscious discriminatory conduct."
The 32-page report is made up of eight key changes they plan to implement immediately:
1. The Airbnb community commitment
2. Enforcing the rules, supporting our community
3. Open doors
4. Fighting bias and bringing people together
5. One million instant book listings
6. Going beyond photos
7. A permanent full-time team of engineers to fight bias and promote diversity
8. A diverse workforce, a diverse community
To craft this Anti-Discrimination policy, Airbnb hired former Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder. Holder was the first black Federal Attorney General, the first black Attorney General of D.C., and a pioneer for racial justice throughout his career. Blavity sat down with Holder to discuss his decision to join Airbnb, users' apprehensions about the policy, and his thoughts on the post-election racial climate of the United States.
Holder and I began our discussion around the vitality of addressing and acknowledging discrimination. He emphasized Airbnb's commitment to understand and engage with the problem of discrimination, "I think that given our history we have become experts at avoiding issues that involve race. But I have to tell you, from the first time that I spoke to the folks at Airbnb they demonstrated a willingness to have what are uncomfortable but absolutely necessary conversations about why the issues they were dealing with arose. They were interested in solving the problem and not finding out a way to respond to public criticism."
Furthermore, he elaborated on why he thinks Airbnb is ahead of the curve when it comes to anti-discrimination policies, "The company spoke with and engaged members of the advocacy community and leaders of other diverse organizations. They connected with hosts and guests who had experienced discrimination on the platform to understand how they were impacted, and how the company could support them. These conversations I think were critical for the company to understand the experiences of marginalized communities and individuals. It’s the kind of the thing that we as a nation don’t do frequently enough, these are hard questions and hard conversations, but this is a company that was willing to do that, and it drew me to them. Through the process that I engaged in, I’ve been impressed."
Although Holder is impressed by the policy, many believe the company is not doing enough to prevent unconscious bias. The Harvard study that brought these issues to light emphasized "distinctively African-American names" as a key variable resulting in discrimination, yet there has been no suggestion in their new policy to eliminate names from the pre-booking process (although there is an effort to limit the use of photos). When asked about whether or not Airbnb considered limiting the use of names, Holder said the following:
"This was a question I wrestled with and that we wrestled with this as a group as well. The sharing economy is based on peer-to-peer interaction. The place that we all came from, is that, you shouldn’t have to hide who you are. The most important peer-to-peer interaction is that initial conversation between a host and a guest and that builds the required trust that’s necessary for a host to welcome a guest into their home. I came to believe that in addition to not having to hide who you are, that this anonymity could prevent that trust building conversation from taking place. The company came to this same conclusion after launching a really comprehensive review of the platform. As I said, Laura Murphy who I’ve known for a good number of years, she and I started in the same place and I think after conversations we all ended up at the same place. You have to preserve that first interaction, but at the same time protecting the community from discrimination. The company has developed a number of guardrails to ensure that users are protected when they use the platform. The anti-discrimination policy is the first line of defense, and anyone who wants to use the platform has to adhere to the policy. We’ve also tried to make it easier to report instances of potential discrimination. Users can flag things that they see, they can report discrimination directly. There’s a new open-door policy where users who are discriminated against will be re-booked. Especially with the formation of this anti-discrimination [product] team which is made up of engineers and data scientists. They’re experimenting with ways they can decrease the chances of bias entering the community by using metrics, numbers, and algorithms. They’re going to be using tools to reduce the chance of bias and discrimination, this has been an all hands effort using all the tools that were available to Airbnb."
Although Airbnb is receiving praise for its inclusive efforts, it's important to take into account that addressing discrimination is frankly the smarter thing to do from a profit perspective. Millennials of color make up a large consumer base of the sharing economy that often goes untapped when they are excluded and discriminated against. Holder agreed with this and elaborated by stating, "I think this is a really important point, and I hope this point will not be lost on the American business community. What Airbnb is doing is the right thing socially, the right thing morally, I believe, but there’s also a positive economic consequence to adopting these policies. Millennials are really diverse, driven, outspoken. I am the father of three millennials, trust me. These are outspoken young people who have a sense of themselves and their expectations. There’s a study that we looked at that showed 74% of millennials support the sharing economy, and of them, millennials who were aware of Airbnb 84% have a favorable opinion of them. I want to recognize how important millennials are to this business and it is taking all the steps to ensure the platform is safe and reliable for this diverse community."
He goes on to mention, "the mission of Airbnb is to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere. If you think about that, and the barriers that knocks down, It’s hard to demonize someone you know, it’s hard to demonize a group that you had interaction with. If you think about that, especially at this time in our history, think about how important that is, in terms of interaction in this country and how this country will interact with other nations around the world. I think millennials, undoubtedly, are going to play a huge part in helping this company reach what I think is a lofty but attainable goal. I think this company, and I’m not just saying this, but I think this company can really lead the way to understanding in parts of the world where that is so sorely needed."
Although it has been made clear that there will be an effort to implement a zero tolerance policy around instances of discrimination, a major concern for victims of discrimination who use Airbnb is the private arbitration process. Arbitration has been investigated by The New York Times, and with specific regards to Airbnb, highlighted in The New Yorker. Arbitration clauses are normally found in Terms of Service agreements, and essentially eliminate a user's ability to sue a company. Selden's lawyer, Ikechukwu Emejuru, stated the following "by placing Mr. Selden’s claims into arbitration, a consumer’s constitutional right to a jury trial and access to the courts of law continues to be whittled down gradually but surely."
When asked about reassurances the company can provide regarding the skepticism users have around Airbnb’s commitment both arbitration and to enforcing anti-discrimination policies, Nick Papas, Airbnb's global spokesperson, told Blavity: "we’ve found that arbitration is an effective way to resolve many issues. More importantly, we want to focus on how we can stop problems before they start. Our goal is to help prevent discrimination from happening in the first place. We think our policy changes will help achieve that goal and guests also retain the ability to take action against hosts if they believe that’s necessary. "
In the larger scheme of things, I expressed to Holder that conversations around race and tackling discrimination begin to feel elusive during such an overtly racist period in our history, he shared the following words of wisdom and comfort:
"Now is exactly the time to have conversations around race, ethnicity, religion, all of the things that were used to divide us as a nation, during what was an awful campaign, are the things now that people of good will have to talk about, we have to heal as a nation. I think I would say that if you see someone in your community who is down, be their keeper, support them, uplift them. There is strength in the bonds of community. This is a nation that has faced great obstacles in the past. African Americans have endured slavery, Jim Crow, and we as a group endured because even under those trying circumstances, we as a community maintained. That’s what we as a nation have to do now. For your audience, primarily millennials, you’re the generation that is soon going to control this country, you’re the future, and you’re crucial to the future of this country. I think your generation has the power to effect change and heal through non-traditional platforms like social media, but also not to forget traditional ones like community organizing. In the future, millennials are going to be at the forefront at all of our social advocacy conversations and you all will drive new movements. I think having a sense of history, what we’ve overcome in the past, even when we seem to be in a pretty dark place, I think we should understand we control our future. You millennials have a special responsibility, and a special ability to shape that future. No matter what challenges, this community or our country faces, the most important thing to remember is to never quit. Change can’t happen without the agitators of the next generation, without those people who John Lewis said we're prepared to 'make good trouble.' People will try to stop you, but if you focus on the arc that we always want to be on, we can stay on that arc of progress. We have to understand that it may bend toward justice, but not on its own. It bends toward justice because people, in your generation, are pulling on that arc toward justice. It happens as a result of commitment, perseverance, and an understanding that there are going to be detours, but I’m confident, I have faith in your generation that we’ll take this country to a good place. And I hope this Airbnb experience will be one that will help in that regard."
What are your thoughts on Airbnb's anti-discrimination policy? Share in the comments below.
Want more articles from Orit? Sign up for our daily newsletter...
Wednesday morning writer and genius grant recipient, Ta-Nehisi Coates was scheduled to be the opening keynote speaker at Hubspot’s #INBOUND16 Marketing Conference. The Between The World and Me author understandably went off script to address the national embarrassment that occurred last night when America decided to elect a fascist Cheeto into office.
“Why can we be in a situation where eight years after so much euphoria, we can find ourselves faced with a mortal threat. Not just to black people, not just to the country, but the whole world. 2016 wasn’t the first time we faced a threat like this. It was the idea of WHITENESS that ultimately brought the country to Civil War in 1860.”
Watch the full address below:
Watch on #Periscope: Ta-Nehisi Coates https://t.co/GRE7fwKlAG
— Taylor Stayton (@TayTayStayt) November 9, 2016
Of course, many of the white people in the audience were offended and uncomfortable by this dialogue. How dare Ta-Nehisi interrupt their thousand-dollar conference and bubble of privilege to talk about race and politics, right?
Ta-Nehisi Coates is outlining the racism against Barack Obama and linking it to Donald Trump. #inbound16 is not the place for this
— jrs76 (@jrs76) November 9, 2016
We did not come to hear your political view of the election! Get on with it Ta-Nehisi Coates. #INBOUND16
— Ashley Buehnerkemper (@ashleybuehn) November 9, 2016
@inbound. Didn't come here to listen to political opinions. Very disappointed in Coates! Seriously make it stop!!!!!!!
— TamraSue (@TamraRanard) November 9, 2016
trump supporter complaining loudly in a session at #INBOUND16 about Ta-Nehisi Coates' talk... I'm proud of @HubSpot for demo'ing boldness!
— Jamie Cartwright (@Cart_writing) November 9, 2016
Cannot believe how many people are denouncing that amazing keynote by Ta-Nehisi Coates on the #INBOUND16 hashtag and walking out.
— Hayley Thayer (@hayleythayer) November 9, 2016
The great irony here is that Coates' keynote address was originally supposed to address education, yet, here he was educating white people on their ignorance and people were walking out. What’s also puzzling is trying to figure out what people thought was going to happen after electing someone like Donald Trump. Did they think one of the most prolific writers of our time was going to walk into a marketing conference the next day and talk about SEO optimization and targeted marketing? No, Tanner. You don’t get to put the lives of millions of minorities at risk and then walk around the next day as if it’s business as usual.
Like Coates said, “We’re all endangered by this.”
What Ta-Nehisi Coates did today should teach us that if you have a platform, use it. If you have a voice, speak out. Especially if you're speaking to a diverse audience. Because what we have learned from this election is that we have been far too insulated in our tightly-knit networks to realize that the nation isn’t as progressive as we hoped it to be. We’ve been preaching to the choir, and we need to be preaching at Dave’s next investment Seminar.
So yeah, it’s going to take Ta-nehisi giving a group of white people a history lesson on slavery in the middle of a digital marketing conference to get the point across, but we really have no options left. This isn’t about taking on the responsibility of educating white people. The polls proved that people are either hopelessly ignorant, or willfully hateful. Disrupting “business as usual” might get across to the hopelessly ignorant. As for the willfully hateful? Don’t worry. Your day of reckoning is coming sooner than you think. This ain’t the 1950s, and we are not our grandparents. Try us if you want.
For more opinion pieces like this, sign up for Blavity's daily...
Find out more about the powerful film via the documentary's description on YouTube, and find out more on their website:
"Rekia Boyd was only 22 when she was killed. An off-duty police officer named Dante Servin fired five shots and one of the bullets struck Boyd in the head. She was unarmed.
When he was questioned, Servin told investigators that Boyd's friend pointed a gun at him, and that he fired in self-defense. But the gun that Servin says he saw was never recovered. Boyd's friend Antonio Cross said he actually had a mobile phone in his hand.
But Servin told Fault Lines that it doesn't matter if it was a cellphone or a gun - it was pointed at him and he believed in that moment that he was being threatened. That's all that was important.
Three years later, in 2015, Servin was charged with involuntary manslaughter, but cleared of all charges the same year. Judge Dennis Porter ruled that Servin was tried for the wrong crime. He suggested that a murder charge would have been more appropriate.
In the US, black women are being killed by police at a rate of one a month. One in four are unarmed. Their stories have often gone untold.
"People don't care about black women, they just don't. We're in the way in the case of Rekia Boyd. We're angry black women. Or we're just too angry and too black and too womanly in the case of Sandra Bland. We're either too x or we're invisible," says Page May, teacher and organiser of Assata's Daughters, a nonprofit organisation for young black women in Chicago
"At best we're taken for granted, at worst we're abused. And we see the manifestation of that on the mainstream, in the erasure of our deaths, our suffering, and of our resistance," she adds.
Months after Dante Servin's trial ended, an explosive video was released to the public: It showed a Chicago police officer shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald - 16 times. The shooting led to widespread protests and the eventual removal of Chicago's police chief and the state's attorney.
While the city reeled from this scandal, police shot and killed a black woman in the doorway of her home. Bettie Jones was 55 - a mother of five, and a grandmother of nine.
"They don't talk about women that much when they get killed by the police. They barely talk about women. Why is that? It's crazy because you see that even in death women play the second role," Martinez Sutton, Boyd's brother says.
Fault Lines investigates the lesser-known stories of black women who have fallen victim to police violence in the US and ask why black women are left out of the conversation on police brutality."
For more video posts like this, sign up for Blavity's daily...
We love diversity, but it's not always represented in our mainstream mediums. “United we stand” is a popular American slogan that we hear quite often, but we don’t always finish the quote… “Divided we fall.”
Here at Blavity, we collaborate with all kinds of content creators from different backgrounds. We believe everyone’s experience is unique and everyone has a story to tell. We are black and do not apologize for it, but we also identify ourselves as American.
We asked the Creative Society to challenge the status quo and share all the reasons why we are America too.
Valerie Robinson (@unapologetic_us)
I am America too because this nation has been built off the backs of my ancestors. Hard work is engrained in our roots and we can rewrite the ending to our own stories. My contributions to society will one day create a legacy that will span generations as I make it a priority to revisit often what gems I wish to leave here on this earth and tackle generational curses. Although we are standing on the shoulders of giants, it is important to do our parts and not waste any of our God-given talents and the opportunities afforded to us. “The time is always right to do what is right.” I don’t take any of that, the paved paths or my unique voice for granted. If nothing else, I strive everyday to leave things BETTER than they were the day before.
“There is no such thing as I can’t, only I won’t… and that is unacceptable” - Anonymous
Rhonna Wade (@rhonnawade)
I am America too because my family came to America looking for the same opportunities others' families did. I know I am more than capable and able to contribute to the bettering of the society as a whole and I cannot not let those who are afraid of change stop me.
“We may not have it all together but together we have it all.” - Anonymous
Thomas C. Knox (@datewhileyouwait)
I am America too based on the Constitution and my freedom of speech. I am able to develop my own American dream, giving me the ability to reconstruct the values it’s built on. I can speak freely and create a journey that allows me to challenge right from wrong, which gives me the opportunity to inspire and encourage future generations to continue the work that those before us have done to build a unified nation.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” - Gandhi
Georgette Pierre (@georgette)
I am America too because my siblings and I were able to live better lives due to the sacrifices my parents made moving to this country. I’m able to do things and live things my parents never imagined possible or knew existed. For that, I am mindful of the mark that I leave on this world by seeking to live my purpose, doing my best to empower and speak up for those that may feel discriminated against. Also acknowledging my ancestors that came before me to make this life possible for myself and others.
“There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.” - Freya Star
Brandon E. Miller (@thatguybmills)
I am America too because my ancestors are firmly rooted in the foundation that supports America. Like vines, my family’s contributions are woven into the history that defines America. And I, like you, continue to plant the seeds that once cultivated, will feed tomorrow’s America. I have faith that the American Dream will be what it used to be; regardless of what we look like, where we come from, how we think or how we live.
“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” – Anonymous
Alicia Davis (@cubiclesandcurls)
I am America too because my parents came to this country for a better life and to give me more opportunities. I've worked hard to get everything I have and then some -- a good education, a job I enjoy and extra satisfaction from side endeavors. My history is American history and my struggle was born and can only be addressed by America.
“Think globally, act locally” - Patrick Geddes
Jon Lowe (@jlowe594)
I am America too because I was born and raised here, but it goes beyond that. Being American is not just about your document papers, but more about how you live your life, how you fight for equal rights, how you contribute to making this country greater, and how you vote to secure our country’s future. I am an American, but I am also an African-American.
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” - Mark Twain
I am America too because I was raised in the burbs, went to a high school that was less than 1% black, attended 99% black HBCU Morehouse College, went to Stanford University for grad school, love hip hop, folk music, alternative rock, and R&B, play basketball and acoustic guitar, and often ask what IPA the local bars have on tap. I am unapologetically black, and a complex fusion of cultures and diverse experiences that are uniquely American. I am America because I am diversity and diversity makes America what it is.
Quote: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” - Matthew 6:33
Nic (@niktrition + @thefleektox)
I am America too because I embrace that America is all that is the Western Hemisphere; cognizant that this expands beyond the boundaries of what has been established as the United States of America. Being American is not about boundaries and limitations, but about enlightenment formed through the experience of globalization. The same globalization that warranted its founding and continues to emancipate those shackled by limited opportunity and rights. I am America too.
“Think Globally, Act Locally” - Patrick Geddes
Marqueeda LaStar (@lastargotnext)
I am America too because we are a nation of individuals that love our communities and ride for our chosen tribes. We champion our freedom to live as we choose. To be both bold and darling. To never stop reaching, growing or evolving. We live enriched lives due to these choices, challenges, tireless dedication to self-improvement, building a better tomorrow and the resulting diversity of expression. Our differences compliment our common ground. In Tim Curry fashion, I ask, What is light without darkness? I live to completely realize and help others embrace the untapped power and potential that lies within our differences. I love my weird and yours.
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” -Audre Lorde
So... What does America mean to YOU?
Spread the word. Post your own self-portrait on Twitter or Instagram and tell us why YOU are America too. Make sure to tag @Blavity using the hashtag #IAmAmericaToo.
Learn more about the Creative Society.
Talk more about this with us on Thursday, November 3rd at 12pm PT | 3pm ET on Twitter.
Want more content like this? Sign up for Blavity's daily...
Exploring your identity is one of the most essential components to being content with yourself. There are a variety of ways to embrace one's identities, whether they be on a personal or national level. American Stanzas: 2006-2016 with Rachel Eliza Griffiths, a poetry exhibition exploring just that, opens Friday at Poets House in New York.
The project explores how race, activism and art itself intersect, subjects that couldn't be more timely. She explores various black identities and the spaces they live within.
American Stanzas consists of mixed media work, video and even Griffith's Cave Canem fellowship portraits from the past decade. Some poets featured include Amiri Baraka, Toi Derricotte, Carl Phillips, Mahogany Browne, Morgan Parker, Terrance Hayes and more.
Rachel Eliza Griffiths, the artist behind the exhibit, has work featured in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. She's Brooklyn-based and focuses on both poetry and visual art. And Poets House is a poetry library that's open to the public 5-days-a-week, hosting poetry events, craft talks, master classes, community workshops and more.
Whether you want inspiration or just want to celebrate being black in America through art appreciation, grab a friend and check out the exhibit between now and Feb. 18, 2017. Support black art!
Want more content like this? Sign up for Blavity's daily...
In school and in the newsroom, journalists are always taught to eliminate bias from stories. We're told we can’t have an opinion, or that our opinion should not be apparent in our writing. That is good advice for a few reasons: one, readers are a journalist’s currency/validation. If we run our readers away because of our strong opinions, we've lost our credibility as journalists (or at least that’s what they say). Two: it's our job to report the news and let the readers form an opinion.
Many journalists say they abide by those rules and claim they aren’t biased. But I think keeping your opinion out of your own stories wouldn’t be human. To pretend you don’t have an opinion would be lying to readers, and lying to yourself.
As a black journalist, I find these rules even more problematic. When black men get shot by white police, I can’t have an opinion. When black women are abused by white police, I can’t retweet on Twitter or share my feelings on Facebook. No, I don’t expect to be able to rant and rave on social media platforms—because that is neither helpful to the issue nor professional—but I do believe I should be able to express my opinion in an honest, tactful way.
Though black journalists can't express their opinions with the public, they're expected to report on the issue. This is especially true if they're one of the few black journalists in the newsroom (which is often, but that’s another story for another day). Black journalists are expected to go into interviews with sources as if they're neutral, as if the violence against black bodies doesn’t bother them.
This turns into a conflict of personal identity. When working as a journalist, one is expected to first look at themselves as such. One's race, gender, sexual orientation and other ways they might identify come second—and most of the time the rest of their identities might not matter at all. As journalists, they're expected to put their job title first and push every other identifier to the side.
The problem with this expectation is: I am a black journalist. I can't separate my blackness from my work, as I'm usually expected to. I can't separate my blackness from any part of me because, if we’re being honest, I am black first and everything else follows. When I'm in the field, I'm not looked at as just a reporter, I'm looked at as the black reporter. When I'm searching for a job, I'm not just a job candidate, I'm the black job candidate.
So when it's time to approach a story of black tragedy, which is often, I should be able to express my opinion—whether it be through a column, a commentary, a Facebook post, a Tweet or an Instagram post. I should be able to express my agreement with Colin Kaepernick through my stories. I should be able to let readers know how outraged I am about the courts thinking that Sandra Bland’s $1.9 million settlement is justice. After reading my stories, I want readers to know what side I lean toward and who/what I am standing by.
I am not just a journalist. When other races look at me, they first see my blackness, not my journalistic skills or stories or accomplishments. So, as the world of journalism and media is evolving, the rules should do the same. Let’s allow journalists to be honest, and human, first. Let’s allow black journalists to be just that—black.
For more opinion pieces like this, sign up for Blavity's daily...
If you thought the unprecedented levels of political pettiness were reserved for this circus of a presidential race, you would be wrong. Jon Girodes, Republican candidate for New York's 30th District, has taken the nonsense to new lows by vowing to hand out “Kool Aid, KFC and watermelons” to residents of a black neighborhood at a campaign event. Yep, you read it right.
In an email with NBC 4 New York regarding a completely unrelated story, Girodes included the following postscript invitation to a community event: "Ps I'm hosting an event in Harlem which will be in front of the state building in a few weeks. We will [donate] Kool Aid, KFC and watermelons to the public on 125th street in Harlem. Please join us to help the community.” In a true boss move, NBC 4 New York's I-Team took to the streets to share Girodes' comments and gather feedback from local passers-by. The reactions were epic.
When told of the politicians intentions to donate these racially stereotypical items to the neighborhood, local resident Jet Lintheylyrcil responded, "And we're going to donate various foots in his ass." When called to the carpet by the I-Team for his offensive pledge, Girodes defended his remarks saying, "Get a bunch of people who say it’s offensive and let me go into their neighborhood and give it out for free and see if they take it."
After his controversial comments and amidst an investigation by the news team into his allegedly suspect real estate dealings, Girodes' campaign website and social media pages were taken down. A senior GOP representative told the I-Team, “We are not supporting him. He’s not a real candidate.”
We can't make this stuff up, ya'll. Take a look at the full news broadcast here.
Stay connected to all things Black Twitter, news and the best content on the internet by signing up for Blavity's...
For most of my life, I've been an avid lover of hip-hop.
More specifically, the rhetoric behind the trap music sub-genre has reverberated many of my own mantras. Yes, I am a feminist and no, I am not a drug dealer. However, the culture is much deeper than what meets the eye and ear at the surface.
Trap music speaks to those of us who were not afforded the luxury of being born with a silver spoon in our mouths, yet so desperately craved to make something else shake. It offers hope to those seeking to escape the symptoms of sociological, psychological and economic marginalization while allowing us to practice self-expression — as that's often the only thing we truly have ownership over.
From the super chill rhythm, melodic hook and whimsical wordplay to the moody percussion, trap music plays a supporting role in the black free-thinker’s ascension to freedom, fame and financial stability. Growing up in the United States’ thousands of inner cities, public housing projects, wards or boroughs once provided ample room for aspiring to achieve something ‘higher’ than their familiar socioeconomic strata. However, once gentrification comes into play, it becomes a whole new song.
Trap artists openly speak about past struggles while on the come up, attributing much of their success to the neighborhoods they were raised in. Now, many popular zip codes have become grounds for what policy makers call "urban rehabilitation." An area that was created to keep ex-slaves away from the non-black, property-owning population now houses high-rise condominiums, a Starbucks and a yoga studio.
I’ve lived in and visited many major cities in the U.S., witnessing firsthand the rapid growth of gentrification. Social polarization is the very foundation from which trap music arose; now the genre’s artists and fans have nothing to truly call home. I listen to my favorite artists proclaim their love for a neighborhood that was, at one point in time, a glorious Mecca for black culture.
Any sign of an Afrocentric population that learned to make do with the socio-economic margins that they were dealt by the U.S. government is deteriorating faster than our decades-long neglected apartment complexes. Spatial restructuring is forcing minority people and small black-owned business owners out of the very neighborhoods we helped build. As if the appropriation of our culture was not enough, the exploitation of our community epicenters is yet another thing stolen from the grip of underprivileged minority communities in America. What I can hope, as a lover of hip-hop and trap music, is that the artists and fans come together to keep the movement alive—despite the constant attempts of cultural disenfranchisement.
For more personal essays like this, sign up for Blavity's daily...