The Brewster-Douglas Housing Projects were built by the city of Detroit between 1935 and 1955 and were intended for the “working poor.” In the 1960s and 1970s, crime in the projects became prevalent and they fell into disrepair. (via Juan N Only, CC 2.0)
There’s very little new in American politics, and that’s especially true in our debates over racial inequality. For example, here’s the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley in an editorial from July 31, 2014:
People often lament the quality of black leadership in America today, but in some ways it’s a sign of progress. If blacks were still facing legitimate civil rights issues—like legal racial discrimination and voter disenfranchisement—that would attract the best and brightest of black America to the cause. But serious people like Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King and others fought and won those battles a half-century ago. What we have left today as civil-rights leaders are second- and third-tier types striving for relevance in an era when the biggest barrier to black progress is no longer white racism but black anti-social behavior and counterproductive attitudes toward work, school, marriage and so forth.
And here’s conservative economist George Stigler, as quoted by Geoffrey Kabaservice in Rule and Ruin, in the December 1965 issue of New Guard, the official publication of Young Americans for Freedom:
[C]onservative economist and later Nobel Prize winner George Stigler claimed that the basic problem of the black American was that “on average he lacks a desire to improve himself, and lacks a willingness to discipline himself to this end.” The African-American male’s lack of employment owed not to discrimination but to “his own inferiority as a worker.” Residential segregation existed because “the Negro family is, on average, a loose, morally lax group, and brings with its presence a rapid rise in crime and vandalism.” Equality for African-Americans would arrive only when they imitated the virtues of an earlier generation of Jewish immigrants: “a veneration and irrepressible desire for learning; frugality; and respect for the civilization of the western world.”
It’s fine if conservatives oppose color-conscious policy. But I think it’s time for new arguments.
In today’s edition of #PostBourgieEverywhere, I started an online literary reading series called Bellow, and it launched this week with my fellow PB-ers Joshunda Sanders and Nichole Perkins as guests. Joshunda opens the set reading from her fantastic short story, “Sirens,” which follows a young girl’s experience coping with bullying at school and at home. Nichole followed with four elegant poems (now available on her blog) and I finished things off with an excerpt from my untitled novel-in-perpetual-progress about conjoined sisters named Wonder and Radiance.
Bellow aims to connect writers who may be separated by geography, financial constraints, or personal obligations. It gives those creatives who can’t freely travel to readings a chance to obtain or expand a following, amplify their voices, and strengthen their sense of artistic community.
I’d love it if you’d check out the first webcast, follow Bellow on Twitter, like us on FB, check out the website and, if you’re a writer of color looking for community or exposure, apply to appear on future webcasts using this form.
Watch below and let us know what you think!
Nicki Minaj’s filthy verse on Kanye West’s “Monster” — the crazy-ass voicess, the breath control — was the first moment a lot of people started to take her seriously as an MC.
“Cups” was a many-lived ditty that achieved ubiquity after Anna Kendrick covered it in Pitch Perfect and used a plastic cup (and her hands) for percussion.
Then my boo-in-my-head Akilah made this mashup, and you get this. Which is, you know, pretty dope.
The latest entry in Gawker’s series on interracial dating is the most interesting one, as it grapples clearly with one facet of interracial dating: Family. And specifically, starting a new one:
I know that many white people also grapple with the Negro Problem, and have an acute understanding of the myriad ways that being black affects people’s lived experiences. But there’s a tangibility divide between sympathy and empathy. This matters to me in some parts of my life and not in others. For some reason, it matters to me in dating.
I date black men in part because I’d like for my partner to understand the perpetual contradiction of the black experience. The older I get the more important this is to me, as my children, once nebulous balls of brain fuzz, inch closer to reality. I want my children to have the experience of being black in America, and because of my skin color, their chances diminish significantly if I don’t marry someone black.
Not surprisingly, this angered a few of the commenters, who wondered why race or “skin color” should have anything to do with who you marry and have children with. And it shouldn’t. Which is why it’s good that the author doesn’t disagree.
What’s important to understand about black culture—and what’s lost in a racial dialogue that equates race with skin color—is that membership has less to do with what you look like and more to do with your experience of American racism. This is’t precise, obviously, but broadly, “black people” are those whose ancestors formed the bottom of the American racial hierarchy, and who as a result are linked to the racist oppression of the past and present. “Blackness,” put simply, is marked by skin color but defined by common experience. It’s the difference between an African immigrant—who might resist the bond to black Americans—and her child, who might embrace it, having been raised in the hierarchy.
What the author wants, it seems, is a partner who has the black experience and can pass it on to their children. She doesn’t want visibly black children for the sake of their phenotypical blackness, she wants them because she wants to guarantee a connection to a culture that defines her and millions of other Americans.
One thing I will stress here, and always, is that “racism” isn’t just treating someone differently because of their skin color. “Racism” is assigning value and hierarchies to skin color, and thus groups, for the sake of oppression. Affirmative action is differential treatment. Redlining is racism. ↩
If the Foreign Exchange is coming to your town, you sorta gotta see them. They are one of the best live shows I’ve seen in years. (Seriously: during the encore, Phonte led the crowd at the Williamsburg Music Hall in a rousing rendition of Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack.”) Somehow I missed them when they dropped by the day job for the Tiny Desk concert above.
Also, FE’s”Nic’s Groove” has been the theme song for the PB podcast for some time. (The podcast is coming back. Promise.)
Tim Howard replaces Bob Marley in the Freedom Riders, because AMERICA. You’re all: “But, G.D., what about Nelson Mandela there in the back? He wasn’t American neither!” But that’s not Nelson Mandela. It’s Uncle Ben. Nice try, troll.
Just as the foundations of the American hegemon rest upon the fruitless toil of the Negro, so too did the World Cup hopes of the U.S. Men’s National Team. Shot after shot after gotdamn shot from the Belgians came flying in at goal, only to be rebuffed and turned away by Tim Howard. It was a Herculean effort – the most saves in a World Cup match since they started tallying these stats in 1966, in fact — but Belgium was giving the U.S. back line that work. It was a match the Americans had no business winning, and, well…they didn’t. But Howard almost saved the game like memory cards. It was amazing to watch.
That is why Howard, and his mighty steed, Garvey, are more than deserving of entry into the pantheon of Greatest Negroes Who Ever Lived. Fannie Lou Hamer still has plenty of support on the Veterans Committee, and Beyonce probably is a safe bet to make it before it’s all said and done. But today is about celebrating Tim Howard. Godspeed, you Black Emperor!
You, lower left, taking one of many family pictures on the front porch. Clockwise from you: cousin Stephanie, your daughter, my Aunt Melita and Aunt Lorraine. You loved a good brooch and that particular shade of blue-green.
(x-posted from stacialbrown.com)
2128 Leahy Street, Muskegon, MI.
This is what I remember: a white house. Three levels, two bedrooms on the third floor where I was too afraid to sleep alone, your room on the first, where you let me sleep on a living room loveseat, twenty feet away from your door. Wallpaper. Yours was among the only houses I knew that had it. I grew up in brick buildings where family homes were referred to as “units” and leases dictated we keep the walls bare. One of your wallpaper patterns was pink. Maybe one had some green. The sun filled your kitchen. The some of the walls there were white. You had lots of cabinets and each one was full: more than one pattern of china, more sets that you’d ever need for one family gathering. Many dry goods.
Sometimes you had your milk delivered. In the ‘80s. (This is something I have to convince myself I didn’t imagine: the continued existence of professional milkmen in your neighborhood when I was little. But I am pretty sure it was true. I remember the bottles.)
A landing just off the kitchen led either down to the unfinished basement or into the lovely backyard. You gardened. I remember cornflowers. But I don’t know if they were in the grass or on the china or on the walls. You liked blue. I think of you often when I see gradients of blue. We sat in the yard and we counted the birds: cardinals and blue jays excited me most. But you knew more species by name than I would ever learn. We lured them with feeders and baths. We laughed as they pecked and preened and splashed. You were Mother Nature, as far as I was concerned. None of the black women in my life were more natural than you. But on many an occasion, my ears were scalded by the hot comb in your kitchen. I do not think you believed that a woman’s hair should look as wild or as free as her soul. More after the jump.
(x-posted from stacialbrown.com)
Live to be 91. This is the hearty number of years he would’ve wished for you, even if it meant that nine of them would be lived without him. He will know how to wait. Try to remember a time before him. You were just as whole — which seems impossible to fathom, given how full you felt with him near, but it’s true. If you were not, he would not have sought you, found the echoing hollow near your neck and whispered revolution behind the first of many theater curtains. You were always fully his and fully your own. This is true, even now that he’s gone.
Be the matinee idol next door, embodying housewives and grandmothers, Shakespearean shrews and slave women, while coming home to a husband who is writing you lines while you cook him dinner. You are rarely cast as the tragic beauty, nor the cleavage-baring vamp. You do not purr in leotards, are no dancing darling dashing off to the cabarets of France. But a stagecoach is as essential as a rollercoaster. We need long and stable passage more than the adrenaline thrill of a route that ends too soon. This has been why you are so beloved; you are approachable as our own matriarchs, as accessible as every brilliant woman any man worth his salt has been wise and lucky enough to adore.
Laugh at the young folks idealizing your love, wondering aloud how you can possibly go on. Oh, the nights! How long and cold they must seem without the heft of a 57-year love on the other side of the bed! They do not know it all. Even the most glorious partners snore or break wind or talk about someone else they’re romancing in their sleep. And these are not the only nights you’ve slept alone. Besides, don’t these young ones know that you witnessed and weathered and railed against worse horrors together than the inevitable ache of Death willing you apart?
Keep going because he left you marching orders. Look at the children and find him; he is right there, in the ardor of those eyes, in the firmness of their embrace, in their booming laughter. Not every widow and widower is afforded such auspice. Some are wrenched from one another without the least bit of warning. Some are left wondering what long lives would’ve wrought. You are living well and with no end of grace, in part for them.
In brief, be a bit like Ruby Dee: a warrior in your own right, who can conjure the besotted gaze of a newlywed as easily as the stern and steely glare of a no-nonsense elder; an actress, as unwilling to neatly fold away her hurt as to primly pretend she hasn’t dived a thousand leagues’ depth into passion. It all preserves you, loss and love, when you let it. And if you are open-handed, the balm of it protects everyone else you touch.
Then one day, when you are ready and the Good Lord wills, just go to him, like you always have, willing and aimed toward the next great adventure.
Don’t ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn’t fall in love, I rose in it. ― Toni Morrison, Jazz