Monthly Archives: April 2015

Afropunk introduced me to the carefree Black girl—she, like me, rejects the idea that being Black means engaging in a constant social and cultural struggle to be accepted. She has fun, is a little reckless and defines herself not by considering what others think it means to be Black but by focusing on what makes her smile. I am happy that Black girls today might feel less alienated culturally because they have these images of natural, happy Black women to reference. But I’m also worried that the emphasis on being carefree just gives us another set of rules to follow. The notion of the carefree Black girl as the modern, best version of Blackness can be alienating to anyone who wants to wear her hair straight or appear more mainstream. It could have the same effect on girls now that “normal” Blackness had on me when I was growing up.

My hope is that the carefree Black girl concept works in tandem with other notions of Blackness. It’s possible that at 37, I’m just too old for the idea of the carefree Black girl to take root, as I’ve already found a way to be a confident weirdo. What I want more than anything is for Black girls to have balance, to feel accepted at every stage across the spectrum of their lives. I want to float back to my younger self, grab her paint-stained hands in mine and tell her that she’s already enough.

Danielle Henderson, “Exploring Blackness and Where I Fit In”

(via the dopest ethiopienne)

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I don’t know why it is, exactly, but the people with the healthiest self-esteem, are also the greatest at intimacy. I’m not talking about arrogant people. I’m talking about people who know they are both good and bad yet believe at the deepest level they are really good for people.

–Donald Miller, Scary Close

(via Things I’ve Learned from Being Open)

You do not have to trigger yourself into “proving” you are a real “activist” by hyper-consuming Black death via State violence day after day, especially since it is the most violent myth that said perpetual consumption is necessary for “awareness” of what you are already aware of, no less. You can take a break to value Black life. You can value Black life as radical praxis, actually. You do not have to center non-Black people over your own survival to “prove” your “progressiveness” while tolerating their anti-Blackness and erasure as their “praxis.” You are not their microphones. You do not have to toleratemicroaggressive/abusive and violent White allies when you feel safer and healthier being away from them. There is no solidarity/allyship where there is anti-Blackness. I know people on Tumblr/Twitter/Earth think Blackness is in a perpetual state of arrears where our labor and our very bodies as representative of labor/products/services are all we are worth and what we perpetually owe them.

I am truly tired of Black bodies, Black labor and Black hypervisibility being viewed as a resource to be excavated and consumed by non-Black people. If you make a blog that is all goddamn selfies and that is every single post, I am here for it.

[…]

Do you know that the first act of self-care for us as Black people might be recognizing that we deserve to be cared for in the first place? Seen as human? Especially Black women. Because we more than anyone encounter the idea that our only “worth” as people is finite and measured by how much people can use and consume us. And by self-care, I do not mean solely consumption in a capitalistic sense (though that is not non-Black people’s place to critique how you self-care, especially since many of them refuse to examine how anti-Blackness shapes their perception of what is “hyper-consumptive” or “capitalistic,” and how comfortable they are with Black people suffering), but simply realizing that you can say “NO.”

“No, I won’t consume specific images of Black death on a permanent media loop as everyone uses our bodies to further their careers.” Or “no, I won’t co-sign using Black bodies as rhetorical devices to recenter non-Black people.” Or as a Black woman/Black LGBTQIA person, “no, I simply do not want to attend a particular community event this evening about State violence since no one does anything to secure my safety from intraracial street harassment or sexual violence while there.”Or, “no, you cannot use my content to further your career as you slander my actual methods of discourse on social media.”

“No” is radical self-care. Self-care is not selfish.

Gradient Lair | Saying “No” as Black Self-Care

I am experiencing a lot of vorfreude these days.

“vorfreude”

(noun) A German untranslatable word, vorfreude is defined as the intense euphoric sensation you experience from thinking about future plans and daydreams. This beautiful feeling is a natural reaction the human mind manifests from expectations of future pleasures and joyful anticipations, such as planning a trip, going on a date, and many other fulfilling, life-changing events.

(via My Found Polyamory)

My mom burst out laughing Monday evening on the phone when I was telling her about the spreadsheet I made to track the apartments boo and I are looking at, and how we spent parts of Saturday comparing them and weighing pros and cons and color-coding. She reminded me that my love of spreadsheets dates back to the earliest of my college-considering days, and that my color-coding schemes have always been elaborate and understood by no one but me. I told her that color coding them was actually boo’s idea and she said we were perfect for each other.

Perfect is a lofty word. Nothing is perfect. I’m not perfect and he’s not perfect and our relationship is not perfect. But we want to be together and grow together and discover new things together and understand each other and share this chapter of our lives together, and though there are differences and gaps to bridge and sometimes ways are felt, my future plans and daydreams and spreadsheets all prominently feature Us in big letters. He feels like home to me and we are making moves towards sharing a home and the vorfreude that gives me feels a little bit like perfection sometimes.

We all run from the ugly. And the farther we run from it, the more we stigmatize it and the more power we give beauty. Our communities are obsessed with being beautiful and gorgeous and hot. What would it mean if we were ugly? What would it mean if we didn’t run from our own ugliness or each other’s? How do we take the sting out of “ugly?” What would it mean to acknowledge our ugliness for all it has given us, how it has shaped our brilliance and taught us about how we never want to make anyone else feel? What would it take for us to be able to risk being ugly, in whatever that means for us. What would happen if we stopped apologizing for our ugly, stopped being ashamed of it? What if we let go of being beautiful, stopped chasing “pretty,” stopped sucking in and shrinking and spending enormous amounts of money and time on things that don’t make us magnificent?”

–Mia Mingus, Moving Toward the Ugly: A Politic Beyond Desirability

(via Learning everyday…)

Empathy isn’t just listening, it’s asking the questions whose answers need to be listened to. Empathy requires inquiry as much as imagination. Empathy requires knowing you know nothing. Empathy means acknowledging a horizon of context that extends perpetually beyond what you can see.

Leslie Jamison, The Empathy Exams: Essays

(via Learning Everyday…)

After reading both of these quotes, I went to add this book to my Goodreads “want to read” list, but lol it was already there.

Empathy isn’t just something that happens to us—a meteor shower of synapses firing across the brain—it’s also a choice we make: to pay attention, to extend ourselves. It’s made of exertion, that dowdier cousin of impulse. Sometimes we care for another because we know we should, or because it’s asked for, but this doesn’t make our caring hollow. The act of choosing simply means we’ve committed ourselves to a set of behaviors greater than the sum of our individual inclinations: I will listen to his sadness, even when I’m deep in my own. To say “going through the motions”—this isn’t reduction so much as acknowledgment of the effort—the labor, the motions, the dance—of getting inside another person’s state of heart or mind.

This confession of effort chafes against the notion that empathy should always arise unbidden, that genuine means the same thing as unwilled, that intentionality is the enemy of love. But I believe in intention and I believe in work. I believe in waking up in the middle of the night and packing our bags and leaving our worst selves for our better ones.

Leslie Jamison, The Empathy Exams

(via Learning Everyday…)

This was a very well-timed quote to stumble across in my Feedly. JJ and I had a serious conversation about empathy, specifically about being empathetic towards one another around our sensitivities and the things we choose to engage with or not to engage with, this afternoon. It was a good conversation, resulting from some processing on each of our parts after we had a fairly big fight about small things yesterday. Finding ways to be at odds over something without disrespecting one another’s sensibilities is the intention. #valuesovervisceralreactions