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Five Things To Know About Sasheer Zamata, SNL’s New Black Female Cast Member

Five Things To Know About Sasheer Zamata, SNL's New Black Female Cast Member

NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” has finally added a new black female cast member: 27-year-old Sasheer Zamata. 

The hiring is the latest development in a saga that’s played out since 2006 when Maya Rudolph, the show’s last black female cast member, went solo. The conspicuous absence of black women on the late night sketch comedy program got a lot of attention last fall when “SNL” cast member Kenan Thompson told TV Guide that it was hard to find qualified black women for the show. The uproar caused executive producer Lorne Micheals to commit to finding someone who was talented enough, and invite that person to join the show this month.

Zamata will make her debut on January 18 in an episode in which Drake is the musical guest. Here’s what you should know:

1. Zamata grew up in Indianapolis and dreamed of becoming a journalist before studying theater at the University of Virginia.

2. After graduating in 2009, Zamata lit off for New York City and has been honing her skills with the Upright Citizens’ Brigade’s Diversity Program. She’s also appeared in sketches on “Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell” on FX and “Inside Amy Schumer” on Comedy Central.

3. She writes her own material, including well-received online shows like Doppleganger.

4. She does stand-up because she “likes doing scary things.”

5. She knew this was going to happen. Back in October, Zamata did an interview with Man Cave Daily and said that she was ready for her big break. “ I definitely feel like I’m on the cusp. It’s a very good time right now. I’m getting a lot of attention and I feel ready. I wasn’t ready a year ago, but I’m ready now.”

Google Celebrates Zora Neale Hurston’s 123rd Birthday

Google Celebrates Zora Neale Hurston's 123rd Birthday

It makes sense for the world’s largest search engine to be obsessed with orderly numbers, so maybe that’s why Google has decided to celebrate black writer Zora Neale Hurston’s 123rd birthday (or maybe they just did it because she’s brilliant). On Tuesday the internet giant adorned its famous homepage with an illustrated and hyperlinked portrait of Hurston set against a backdrop of what looks like a Florida swamp, landscape that featured prominently in her early 20th century work as an anthropologist, folklorist and author. 

Hurston, whose most famous work was her novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” was a prominent figure during the Harlem Reniassance but faded into obscurity by the time of her death in 1960. Her life’s work was then rediscovered by Alice Walker in the mid-1970’s and has since gained recognition as one of the most important 20th century black writers.

State Legislators to Watch in 2014

State Legislators to Watch in 2014

As it was in 2013, so it shall be in 2014: There will be scant lawmaking to speak of in Congress so most of the action will be at the state legislative level. This has been the case pretty much since the 2010 midterm elections that ushered in a wave of Tea Party candidates determined to reduce the role of government by any means necessary. It will be abundantly true in this year’s midterms as well. So you’ll want to pay close attention to state-level representatives and senators, especially in the southern states where African-American political representation and power is in decline, mostly because of gerrymandering. With that in mind, gold star for reporter Louis Jacobson, who compiled for Governing magazine a list of 12 state legislators to watch this year that doesn’t wash only in hot water — meaning it’s not all white, as these watch lists often are.

Some gems from that list:

  • Rep. Marcus Brandon, Democrat; North Carolina — A gay, African-American serving in a state that has banned same-sex marriage while making it harder for people of color to vote. If he survives this, he may have a future in D.C.
  • Rep. Marilinda Garcia, Republican; New Hampshire — If Congress can’t move the needle on immigration reform, then perhaps politicians like Garcia can help come up with a bipartisan solution. She is running for Congress this year.  
  • Rep. Cyrus Habib, Democrat; Washington — “Believed to be the country’s first and only Iranian-American state legislator,” is how Jacobson worded it. Hopefully, he won’t remain that one-and-only for long. 
  • Rep. T. W. Shannon, Republican; Oklahoma — He’s from an African-American and Chickasaw Nation family and is the first black Republican state House speaker in the nation since Reconstruction. Perhaps he’ll join the group looking to change the public face and perception of the GOP. 
  • Sen. Elbert Guillory, Republican; Louisiana — We saw him celebrate when the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, and he’s been hard to watch ever since. After abandoning the Democratic Party he served for years, he’s taken a hard right turn. Whether that brand of conservatism will still be in style in 2014 and beyond is a huge question mark. 

Read the rest of the list for more interesting state legislators to look out for this year. 

Undocumented Living? There’s an App for That

Undocumented Living? There's an App for That

Living as an undocumented person in the United States means that, aside from the reality that you may be targeted for deportation at any moment, a lot of everyday activities are made a lot harder. 

Writer Erick Huerta, also known as El Random Hero, has rounded up ten Droid apps (sorry, iPhone users!) that are especially useful. Some of the apps are designed for Mexican nationals or people living in Los Angeles, none are exclusive to undocumented people, and all are free. Huerta points out those apps that he’s found most helpful as an undocumented person—and points out that some can be improved.

A quick sample includes:

Derechos Herencia
Finally, a know your rights app in Spanish that not only covers what you need to know about dealing with the police, but your rights when it comes to the Deprtment of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcing, Border Patrol, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The app was the result of an undocumented youth, Deyvid Morales, who was arrested by Border Patrol aboard a Greyhound Bus at a gas station. He fought his deportation and created this app to help others like him.

MrCheckpoint
Los Angeles is big on cars—but, as Huerta points out, “driving while undocumented can results un numerous situations that that range from getting tickets to being deported.” This app can help you avoid police checkpoints there.

Circle of 6
What if immigration officers come knocking at your door? This app alerts six of your closest friends or family members of a dangerous situation. Huerta’s brilliant suggestion? Make the app available in languages other than English to really unleash its potential.  

Check out Huerta’s full list on his blog, Just a Random Hero

Evictions Are Still Hurting Communities of Color

Evictions Are Still Hurting Communities of Color

Every year the rent is too damn high and paychecks stay stuck on “not enough.” It’s a commonly lived story that’s bringing renewed focus in mainstream media on homelessness and the nation’s affordable housing crisis. Now, one Harvard sociologist, Matthew Desmond, is expanding the lens by looking specifically at how housing eviction upends the lives of the urban poor. Take Milwaukee: a recent survey showed the most recent move for one in seven black residents was an eviction or other involuntary relocation; among Hispanics, fully one in four. No database exists to track evictions nationwide but Milwaukee likely highlights an underreported national trend.

Nationally, between 1991 and 2011, the number of renter households dedicating less than one-third of their income to housing costs fell by about 15 percent, while the number dedicating more than 70 percent of their income to housing costs more than doubled, to 7.56 million. At the same time, housing assistance has not been expanded to meet the growing need: today, only one in every four households that qualify for housing assistance receives it.

Desmond’s research has already inspired coverage of black domestic violence victims in Pennsylvania and, leads to some common-sense policy solutions. One is, one-time grants for families experiencing temporary financial hardship. Desmond’s work, according to Harvard Magazine, shows how, “poor people are forced to make choices…that middle-class Americans take for granted, and sometimes must even choose between basic needs, because they can’t afford them all in the same month.”

(h/t Harvard Magazine)

Time to Pull Out Your Asian-American Family’s Home Movies

Time to Pull Out Your Asian-American Family's Home Movies

Do you remember your family’s old home movies? The ones of your uncles’ childhood living room games and your grandmother’s 50th birthday on nearly obsolete 8mm, Super 8 and 16mm formats? If your family is Asian American, the Center for Asian American Media wants you to dig them out of their dusty boxes for a new project called Memories to Light. Launched in December, the project is a community history project of sorts. They’re asking folks to send in their original home movies, which CAAM will digitize and share in an online public archive.

“Our mission is to present stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences and home movies are an unacknowledged, and yet rich, part of that history,” CAAM Executive Director Stephen Gong says. “We hope to inspire future generations and connect them to the past and to the visual record of how earlier generations became Asian American.”

CAAM has released bits of the footage they’ve collected so far, and they provide a wonderful glimpse at the past. Learn more about how you can participate at CAAM’s website.

Watch Zimmerman’s Girlfriend Detail His Violent Abuse

Watch Zimmerman's Girlfriend Detail His Violent Abuse

A new video has emerged of George Zimmerman’s girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, detailing his abuse against her to Seminole County Sheriff’s office investigator Stephen LaGuardia. The interview took place following Scheibe’s 911 call in November, which resulted in Zimmerman’s arrest—five months after his acquittal in the murder of Trayvon Martin, and two months after a similar call from Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie. 

During the interview, Scheibe explains how Zimmerman choked her so brutally that he left bruises on her neck. She also details how Zimmerman pointed a shotgun at her to prevent her from calling 911, only to smash her glasses with his gun. Scheibe concludes that part of her is no longer in fear because Zimmerman was placed in jail, but that she was also still fearful because she feels that Zimmerman’s “got nothing to lose.”

Scheibe has since recanted her allegations, and prosecutors have dropped the charges against Zimmerman. During the interview, Scheibe is asked why she hadn’t previously called authorities. She answers, “I feel like he always gets off.” This video seems to confirm that assertion. 

Study: White Men Run The World of FBS College Football

Study: White Men Run The World of FBS College Football

Bowl season is here. And according to a new study of the racial and gender makeups of the top college football schools and conferences, white men are still running the show.

The University of Central Florida’s Diversity and Ethics in Sport looked into the race and gender of top leadership positions at all 125 Football Bowl Subdivision colleges and conferences for the 2013-2014 academic year. The vast majority of top positions—from college and university presidents to head coaches and athletic directors—were filled by white men. Nearly 89 percent of university presidents at these schools are white men, as are 84.8 percent of athletic directors and fully 100 percent of conference commissioners. 

This academic year there were 15 head football coaches of color. In the 2012-2013 academic year it was 18, but there have never been more than 19 head football coaches of color.

But who’s playing on the field? That’d be black athletes—they were 51.6 percent of the students on the FBS playing fields in 2012 (PDF)—followed by white student-athletes at 43.3 percent. Latinos and Asian-American student-athletes make up roughly 2 percent each, while Native Americans are 0.1 percent.

“I think that it goes back to same question, there’s no sanctions for them not to do it, so they continue to do business the way they’ve always done it,” study author Richard Lapchick told the AP. “I think it’s more of the ‘old boys’ network’ than it is a racial thing…So the pipeline isn’t full with potential candidates. I think colleges have to be more creative with how they look for key jobs like these and make sure they have a diverse pool of candidates.”

So, This is Not a Powwow

So, This is Not a Powwow

Baker County High School, which is located in the greater Jacksonville are of Florida, has a history club. It recently hosted what it called a “PreK-Kindergarten Center Powow,” in an apparent effort to share “Native American culture with preschoolers.” 

Video of the event illustrates more than a dozen white high school students in redface doing some bizarre yelling, while dozens of young children clad in construction paper headdresses look on. Baker County Press, a local weekly newspaper, published the video on YouTube with the following warning:

The BCHS history club’s attempt to expose Prek-Kindergarten Center students to Native American culture at a pre-Thanksgiving event on November 21. As you can read from the comments below, many Native Americans find the depiction historically inaccurate and offensive, as some may find the language in the comments below. Consider yourself warned.

Actual powwows, which are centered on dancing, are a rather new cultural phenomena for Natives—which makes the Baker High School’s historic emphasis that much more problematic. Powwows are intertribal events, and white folks are welcome to attend. Attendance is free, although donations are encouraged during the blanket dance (and Natives will be more than happy to explain this and a lot more to respectful non-Natives). Because Baker High’s students and their teachers never investigated this, however, the preschoolers will not understand much about powwows other than this racist and inaccurate depiction. 

(h/t powwows.com)

Childhood Asthma Soars in Poor Communities of Color

Childhood Asthma Soars in Poor Communities of Color

For the parents of a child struggling daily to breathe, asthma is no small matter. And it turns out that where you live, as much as how, plays a huge role in bringing on and exacerbating the disease. A special Dateline NBC investigation set to air this Sunday looks at asthma in poor communities throughout the country—and how some parents are fighting back:

A Dateline analysis of a 2011 U.S. Census Bureau report found that public housing apartments like [Javier] Sepulveda’s had almost four times as many roach infestations and three times as many leaks as private rental apartments. Leaks, it turns out, can create mold, another allergen that can spark and exacerbate asthma. Though mold covers the ceiling and walls of Sepulveda’s bathroom—and most likely has exacerbated [his daughter’s] asthma—his landlord, the New York City Housing Authority, has been slow to make the necessary repairs that would get rid of it….

TAGS: Asthma Poverty

Sergio Garcia Will Become California’s First Publicly Known Undocumented Lawyer

Sergio Garcia Will Become California's First Publicly Known Undocumented Lawyer

On Thursday morning the California Supreme Court ruled that the state bar ought to admit Sergio Garcia, an undocumented immigrant who graduated from law school and passed the state bar exam in 2009. The ruling paves the way for Garcia to become the state’s first publicly known undocumented immigrant licensed to practice law. 

“This one is for all of you who dare to dream and by doing so change the world! Love you all! History was made today!” Garcia posted on his Facebook wall after the ruling’s announcement, the New York Daily News reported.

The California Supreme Court announced its decision a day after a new state law went into effect which satisfies a federal requirement that state legislatures expressly give their blessing to grant such licenses to unauthorized immigrants. The Obama administration has tried to block efforts to grant Garcia admittance to the bar.

Other undocumented attorney applicants have petitioned their states for similar consideration. The Florida Supreme Court ruled against Jose Godinez-Samperico’s case in April of last year, and the New York Supreme Court’s appellate division is considering the case of Cesar Vargas, a law school graduate who passed the bar in his home state of New York.

Read the California Supreme Court’s ruling in full here (PDF).

Help Colorlines Stay on the Beat in 2014!

Help Colorlines Stay on the Beat in 2014!

‘Tis the season. Everybody’s trying to slow down and spend some time with loved ones this time of year, and we’re no different here at Colorlines. You’ve likely noticed we’ve pumped out fewer stories the past few days. Next week, we will not publish new content. We’ll start gearing up again on Dec. 30, and get back to full speed right after the New Year.

Thank you for reading, tweeting, commenting and generally engaging with Colorlines in 2013. You have helped us to grow our community dramatically over the past year. You have done a lot, but we’re going to ask you to keep us going by donating today!

If you engaged in our year-in-review live chat, you heard about some of our top stories. We’ve responded to breaking news like the government shutdown and the Boston bombings with context to help make sense of fast-moving events. We’ve reported closely on ongoing, big stories like immigration reform, the jobs crisis and the search for justice for Trayvon Martin and black men like him. We’ve dug in with investigations into immigrant detention facilities, exploitation of low-wage workers and the anti-choice movement’s efforts to capture black communities. And all the while, we’ve stayed on top of the pop, too, from Big Freedia to Miley Cyrus, “12 Years a Slave” to Paula Deen. We will keep offering this vital counterpoint to colorblind news media in 2014.

But good writing and real reporting cost money—and that’s why we need your help.

To get to the heart of our stories, it’s often necessary for our writers to travel across the country to talk directly with the people most affected by racial injustice. In early 2014, we’ll be going deep on the ways in which inequity shapes the lives of black men; exploring the intersection of faith and racial justice; digging into the unfair jobs that dominate the low-wage economy and much, much more. This work will be costly.

Help us follow these stories and provide meaningful coverage of news that matter. Please donate today.

We hope you’ve been getting a chance to spend time with your loved ones in these holiday weeks. We’ll miss talking with you while we’re away spending time with ours. But we look forward to resuming the conversation with our amazing, growing and dynamic Colorlines community in 2014. See you then!

Sorry Haters. A Black Nun Does Belong in Broadway’s ‘Sound of Music’

Sorry Haters. A Black Nun Does Belong in Broadway's 'Sound of Music'

Tony award-winner Audra McDonald has been facing fan criticism for playing Mother Abess in Broadway’s “Sound of Music,” Religion Dispatches reports. Fans of the classic musical have been insisting that there weren’t black nuns in Austria in 1938 when the story takes place. Among the critics are Mike Greenberg of the ESPN sports talk show “Mike and Mike” who insisted that you “don’t rewrite history books.” Responding to a Wall Street Journal article about McDonald, another detractor Will506, commented: 

“Audra McDonald did not belong in the Sound of Music as a black abbess in the Austria of 1938. It is a factual impossibility and respectful negative reaction to that represents not hate speech but a comment on 2013 political correctness run amok.”

The ahistorical argument prompted Religious Dispatches contributor Shannen D. Williams, a historian and expert on black nuns, to offer an exhaustive list of black nuns in Europe starting as early as 1685.

Although the overwhelming majority of the world’s black Catholic sisters served (and continue to serve) in the Americas and Africa, the presence of black nuns in European convents is not a recent phenomenon. In fact, one of the first documented black nuns in Europe was Louise Marie-Therese, the famed Black Nun of Moret, who took the religious habit in 1695 and remained at Benedictine abbey at Moret-sur-Loing in France until her death in 1732.

Kidnapped off the coast of present-day Ghana and sold into Spanish slavery as a child around 1686, Venerable Teresa Chikaba entered the Convent Dominican Sisters of Saint Mary Magdalene in Salamanca, Spain in 1703 and professed her vows as Therese Juliana of Saint Dominic in 1704. Generally regarded as the first black nun in a Spanish cloister, Chikaba remained in the convent until her death in 1748. She is currently under consideration for sainthood.

Europe’s most famous black nun is undoubtedly St. Josephine Bakhita, who spent twelve years as a slave in Sudan and Italy before her emancipation in 1889. She entered the novitiate at the Institute of the Catecumenate in Venice, Italy in 1893 and professed her vows as a Canosian Sister on December 8, 1896. Affectionately called Mother Moretta, or “our Black Mother,” St. Josephine Bakhita persevered in religious life through the rise and fall of the Third Reich until her death in 1947. She was canonized by the Catholic Church in 2000.

Read the entire fascinating story at Religion Dispatches.

 

Why Is the GOP Honoring the Repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act?

Why Is the GOP Honoring the Repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act?

Who knew the GOP cares about the shameful legacy of the Chinese Exclusion Act? The short answer: when votes are at stake. In a video House Republicans released Wednesday, six lawmakers—Reps. Lynn Jenkins, Jeff Denham, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Renee Ellmers, Cynthia Lummis and Frank Wolf—honored the 70th anniversary of the repeal of the nation’s first immigration law to single out for exclusion a single ethnic or racial group. But there’s no mention of that history in the video.

Instead, they offer stock platitudes. “Today we honor and recognize the hard work and perseverance of the Chinese-American community across the nation…as we continue to build on our shared goal of an America that is rich in opportunity and freedom,” lawmakers say in the video. 

Ros-Lehtinen and Denham did sign on this fall to a comprehensive immigration reform bill, but don’t mistake the video for a change of heart in the party’s current stance on immigration either. Count it as just the most recent in a line of Republicans’ not-so-secret overtures to Asian-American voters. Earlier this year, the GOP issued a public statement recognizing Diwali, the Los Angeles Times reported.

To Republicans, Asian Americans are an especially attractive but elusive voting bloc. They’re not only the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, they’re seen as a natural fit for the Republican party. Some segments of the Asian-American population are comparatively wealthier than other racial groups in the U.S. and are seen as fiscally and socially conservative. But it hasn’t translated into votes. In the 2012 election, 77 percent of Asian-American voters voted for Barack Obama, and support for the Democratic president swung upwards of 95 percent for some segments of the population. It turns out that Asian-American voters care deeply about immigration, and are paying attention to how both parties handle the issue.

Are Critics Using Macklemore to ‘Gentrify’ Hip-Hop?

Are Critics Using Macklemore to 'Gentrify' Hip-Hop?

Macklemore was one of the biggest names in last week’s Grammy nominations, a fact that’s led plenty of people to dissect the success of his amazingly successful album with Ryan Lewis, “The Heist.” But the rapper who, let’s be honest, is really good at his craft, can’t escape his whiteness and all that he represents. And he’s not trying to. Earlier this year he explained some of his success to Rolling Stone, saying, “I’m a white guy, parents feel safe around me.”

But David Dennis over at the Guardian put forth a provocative argument over the weekend noting that some observers are using Macklemore’s success against hip-hop and the scores of artists of color who perform it. Dennis points to a recent conert review in the Dallas Morning News that laments the fact that a politically progressive artist like Macklemore didn’t get mainstream recognition 25 years ago. 

Dennis writes:

At his core, Macklemore is a rapper, and a pretty good one at that. He’s also a hard-working MC who has hustled for close to a decade to get where he is now, setting the stage for wildly successful (and rich) independent musicians going forward. However, thanks to anti-hip-hop posturing and shallow-minded generalizations, Macklemore is being used as an example of ground-breaking “civility” for rap. A pseudo-gentrification that undermines decades of artistry hip-hop culture has provided.

Dennis is careful to point out that it’s not Macklemore’s doing, but rather the way that he’s being used by some white critics who are already critical of hip-hop culture. Read more at the Guardian.

Nikki Giovanni Recites Poetry Live on MSNBC

Nikki Giovanni Recites Poetry Live on MSNBC

Celebrated poet Nikki Giovanni made an appearance on Melissa Harris-Perry’s #Nerdland segment over the weekend. She performed a poem called “Ego Tripping” and said, “I am so hip, even my errors are correct.” Watch the segment below.

Beyoncé’s Surprise Album Sells 430k in Less Than 48 Hours

Beyoncé's Surprise Album Sells 430k in Less Than 48 Hours

All hail Beyoncé.

The superstar singer released a surprise self-titled album last Thursday and it sold more than 430,000 copies in less than 48 hours. The project is available exclusively on iTunes and features 14-tracks and accompanying videos that are meant to be experienced as a “visual package.” Billboard notes that the album is set to become the biggest debuting album for a female recording artists since Taylor Swift’s “Red” in 2010, which sold 1.2 million copies. 

TAGS: Beyonce

Congressional Black Caucus: ‘Dear Pope, Love Your Work’

Congressional Black Caucus: 'Dear Pope, Love Your Work'

Today, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia L. Fudge sent a letter to Time’s Man of the Year Pope Francis complimenting the Catholic holy leader for drawing attention to inequality. There was no ‘ask’ in the letter, nor a call to join arms. Also, no mention of race, though there is a note that “nearly 1 in 4 children go to bed hungry every night.” It’s basically a thank you letter with a message that could be summarized as “I see you over there, playa, keep up the good work.” 

From Fudge’s actual words: 

“Since the beginning of your service, you have been vocal about the need for elected officials to acknowledge the growing inequality in our world. You have called upon us to look beyond the superficial approach to problem-solving and to dig deeper in addressing the real needs of people in our society. You have asked that we work together to make the structural changes required to close the widening gap between the rich and the poor. For more than 41 years, this has also been the charge of the Congressional Black Caucus. … We stand with you in your appeal against complacency, and we admire your courage in working to make sure the Catholic Church is deeply engaged in the most pressing issues of our time.”

Read the rest of her letter to see what else Rep. Fudge had to say to him. It sounds like at least Obama has lately been paying attention to the Pope on this issue.  

WI Families Fight to End Police Investigation of Police Custody Deaths

WI Families Fight to End Police Investigation of Police Custody Deaths

Friends and family of people killed by Wisconsin police yesterday urged members of the state legislature to stop allowing police to investigate their own police-custody deaths.

Mother Sonya Moore spoke at the hearing on behalf of her son, Derek Williams, a black man who died in 2011 after begging for help and gasping for air in the back of a squad car. Police shot Michael Bell, a white man, point-blank in the head in his driveway in 2004. In these cases and at least one other, according to the Journal Sentinel, investigators from the respective departments “quickly cleared” the officers.

If passed, the new law would make Wisconsin the first state in the country to require independent review whenever anyone dies in a police confrontation.

(h/t Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Five Reasons to Love Beyoncé, The Feminist Work in Progress

Five Reasons to Love Beyoncé, The Feminist Work in Progress

You may remember earlier this year when there was a bit of an uproar against Beyonce’s song “Bow Down/I Been On.” Critics claimed that the song was soundly anti-feminist; the Washington Post even went as far as saying that the singer “sabotage[d] her female empowerment efforts.” Rahiel Tesfamariam wrote, “The release of ‘Bow Down’ suggests that the pop icon only adorns the feminist label when it suits her - dangerously straddling the line between female empowerment and subjugation.”

But on her latest album that took the world by surprise, the singer seems to answer some of those critics, an effort that’s very much appreciated by the good folks over at Crunk Feminist Collective, which lists five reasons to rock with R&B’s biggest superstar.

1.)  She’s a work in progress, as are we all. In 2010, she gave an interview saying she was a“feminist in a way,” because she valued her female friendships deeply. Earlier this year, she claimed she was a “modern-day feminist.” Now she is straight up embracing the term in her music and claiming her right to tell women to both bowdown and encouraging them to be self-confident from the moment they step out of bed… in the same damn song! I rock with that because her feminism is complicated, and ours is too. Tell the truth. If your bed and the folks you shared it with were an indicator of your politics, your card might get pulled, too. Moving on.

2.)  Sometimes bitches do need to bowdown.  Call that a hip hop generation feminist sensibility, but it’s true. It’s just like when Papa Pope gave Fitz the read of the century last night in Scandal - “Boy, I’m literally above your paygrade.” It’s like the swag I don when academic goons try to step to me even though they are clearly less qualified. Sometimes I’ve been known to tell folk “You haven’t read enough to step to me. Go back and come again.” The world would be better if women would learn that we don’t have to take everybody’s shit. Not the white man’s, not the Black man’s, not the state’s, not the hating ass next-door neighbor, not your frenemy’s. Nobody’s.

3.)  Academic feminism ain’t the only kid on the block. Confession: the first time I identified as a feminist, I was in grad school. I was able to come to an informed conclusion after reading Beverly Guy-Sheftall’s Words of Fire and Patricia Hill Collins Black Feminist Thought. But we need to stop acting like a radical feminist is the only kind of feminist to be. I mean look, I’m radical and committed to a robust structural critique. But I appreciate the good few liberal feminists in Congress who show up and actually fight for reproductive rights that can be on the books! As Meek Mill says, there’s levels to the shit. But newsflash - everybody didn’t go to college. So when women of color start waxing eloquent about how our grandmothers and mothers were the first feminists we knew and many of them would “never” use the term, I wonder then why we don’t understand Beyonce’s homegrown brand of feminism - one that honors female friendships, one that recognizes and calls out sexism and domination in her industry, one that celebrates the power of women. No, it ain’t well-articulated radical social justice feminism, but if you need a Ph.D. to be a feminist, then we’ve got bigger problems, folks. AND I’ll take a feminist that knows how to treat her homegirls before one who can spit the finer points of a bell hooks to me all day erry-day.

 It’s a thought-provoking post. Read the rest over at Crunk Feminist Collective.

TAGS: Beyonce
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