Monthly Archives: March 2012

Blaming the Victim

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What’s making me want to holler this week – still! – is the truly astounding lengths that people seem willing to go in defending the murder of Trayvon Martin. What does it matter that he was suspended from school? How is it relevant that school officials found a plastic bag with traces of marijuana? Did Trayvon brandish an empty plastic bag? Did he threaten George Zimmerman with his school suspension notice?

What’s even more galling is that nothing about this is new. This “what did he expect, dressed like that?” attitude. This digging into the victim’s history is the same tired old tactic used for years to bully rape victims while excusing their attackers.

Over and over, Zimmerman apologists have picked up the refrain: “don’t rush to judgement.” I can’t help but notice that nothing about this has been rushed. Police found a man with a gun standing over a dead body.  A rush to judgement may have led police officers to arrest that man. Instead, over a month later, George Zimmerman has not been arrested. He’s not released on bail. Not even released on his own recognizance. Instead, he is holed up somewhere waiting for things to blow over.   I trust that so much attention has been drawn to this case that it will not go away quietly.

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My Hair

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I’m in hair heaven. I got my hair done last night by my new hairdresser. But seriously, “hairdresser,” doesn’t even begin to describe my new holistic, natural hair care expert. She looked at every single one of my locs, scrubbed my scalp with a homemade sugar-coconut-lemon-grapeseed scrub, and treated my hair and scalp with a delicious smelling balm of essential oils. Basically, she hooked me up. I’m floating in a cloud of geranium and lemon oil. Lovely.

And yes, I know: the story of my hair pales in comparison to issues of real import, such as voter suppression, reproductive justice, and shameful shenanigans in public education – all issues on which I am trying to collect my thoughts.  Still, I won’t underestimate the significance of hair. As much as I  blast India Arie’s “I Am Not My Hair,” we would not all have responded so strongly to that song if there wasn’t something there. Poems, Essays, Dissertations – tomes weighty and light – have been dedicated to Black women and our hair. The first American woman to be a self-made millionaire was entrepreneur Madame C.J. Walker, who built a black hair care empire.

I am not my hair. My hair is not my crowning glory. Yet there is something to be said for a beautiful head of hair. I am more confident when I think my hair looks good. I know that my stress, my diet, my general well-being, are all reflected in my locs. Biblical lore tells us that Samson took his strength from his hair. Maybe it’s just the care and attention that comes from the careful ministrations of having your hair done.

Whatever it is – today, my locs are glossy (kind of) and smooth. My scalp is calm. And I am prepared to take on the world.  Thank you, Ahava.

Ego Tripping

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And no celebration of Black women would be complete without a little bit of…

Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)
by Nikki Giovanni

I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built
.       the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
.      that only glows every one hundred years falls
.      into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad

I sat on the throne
.      drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe
.      to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is nefertiti
.      the tears from my birth pains
.      created the nile
I am a beautiful woman

I gazed on the forest and burned
.      out the sahara desert
.      with a packet of goat’s meat
.      and a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
.      so swift you can’t catch me

.      For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son hannibal an elephant
.      He gave me rome for mother’s day
My strength flows ever on

My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
.      as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
.      jesus
.      men intone my loving name
.      All praises All praises
I am the one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
.      the filings from my fingernails are
.      semi-precious jewels
.      On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
.      the earth as I went
.      The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
.      across three continents

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended
       except by my permission

I mean…I…can fly
.      like a bird in the sky…

the end