Tag Archives: Feminism

I Need to Talk about the US Open…

I grew up watching tennis in the hometown of the late, great Arthur Ashe (#RVArepresent!). I love tennis.


Via Google

I loved Billy Jean, Chris Everett, Martina, Monica and so many others. I remember John McEnroe showing his entire arse every time he stepped onto the court. Calling refs and opponents out, tossing and smashing racquets, and just being *free* to be an complete arsehole with little to no consequence. I thought he was crazy, but I loved it.

When the Williams sisters came on the scene it was like one of the ultimate #BlackfacesinWhiteSpaces chapters of all time. And to that end, they were reminded that this wasn’t their space all of the damn time. They were ostracized on so many fronts–being from the ‘hood,’ being coached by their dad who gave zero effs about White folks, wearing braids with beads that swung and made noise when they played, ‘crip walking’ on the courts and clothing choices and so on. They were characterized as the antithesis of White girl tennis gentility.

As Serena went onto straight DOMINATE (this is not debatable, she’s #GOAT) we also saw how the officials and the media treated her. Extra drug testing and ridiculous media questions. Tomfoolery abounds when it comes to how she’s treated. Just last month, folks were asking if she felt some kinda way about Sharapova’s “beauty” and banned from wearing a body suit because it wasn’t respectful to the “space” (again, a presumably White space). Chile…


Via Giphy

So, here we go during the final of the US Open. Yeah, she was losing anyway; we could all see where things were likely heading. Yeah, she went in on that referee after she was cited for receiving coaching (that she apparently didn’t even see). And now, here we are watching the world be purposefully obtuse about her overall treatment and seeing what it looks like when she got *sick and tired* of that ref’s shyt. Oh, sure, as an elite athlete she should keep her cool (#didMcEnroeevertho, and as much as I loved Ashe he was about some respectability shyt too), but that was a bogus initial call, one that has not even KINDA been applied equitably for other players, male or female. That call straight questioned her integrity, which frankly has been questioned her entire career. #thisaintnew And in her own words on the court, she knew she was losing, but she wanted to lose fairly. The referee’s calls regarding her “tantrum” were precipitated by the accusatory call concerning her integrity. #poisonoustreefruit

But all of that is beside the point, right? She lost to a lovely young upstart, Naomi Osaka, who has her own narrative of battling some media bull-shyt. How many times has she had to remind the media that she is in fact, biracial: both Japanese and black Haitian? #BecauseAsianisWhiteAdjacent

Peep this clip where she gets this reporter together right quick! I love her.

Oh and how does institutional “rules are rules” messiness (euphemism for misogynoir) work? Naomi Osaka’s legit win over Serena will forever be tainted, and that’s soooo not fair to her; she’s a badass in her own right.

And if you needed a bullcrap image that characterizes the whole mess, it’s this one.


Via Google

Eff you Mark Knight.

Let’s take a quickie inventory, shall we?

  • Serena portrayed with exaggerated Black features.
  • Serena portrayed as ‘heavy,’ or you know “thick, big boned” as we Black women are presumed to be.
  • The tightly pulled back hair that has ALL curl patterns (otherwise and often characterized as nappy), but appears literally snatched on her head giving the appearance of being nearly bald, cause you know “bald-headed b’s” are a thing we get called.
  • Nod to the tutu that she deliberately sported as a poke in the eye of the recently banned French Open “disrespectful to the White space” Wakandan cat suit.
  • The random pacifier rounds out this angry Black woman tableau.
  • Meanwhile, the ref is shown asking Naomi to throw the game to end the presumably unwarranted “tantrum.”
  • Naomi is absurdly shown as a diminutive, lithe, blonde, White woman, #damsel, which she is most certainly not.

Again, this is the lovely, US Open champ, Naomi Osaka:


Via Google

Now I could continue on with the venting but I want to talk about what this kinda stuff means for parents of Black and Brown children, and specifically Black and Brown girls.

I posted on my personal social media streams this weekend that women, and women of color in particular, are long accustomed to having our very existence policed. (Wanna debate this? Fight me).

We can’t be too emotional, but we can’t be stoic either. Are we right for this kind of work? Where is your husband and how does he feel about your education/work/housekeeping/sexual activity/reproductive and medical choices/parenting approach/religious observations? We need to have our bathrooms monitored and legislated. Our hair has to be socially acceptable. Our skin has to be socially desirable, but really primarily for sexual proclivities because, we are loose and wanton by nature. Our clothing and shoe choices may make us responsible for male dominance behaviors. Staying out late gives us a bad reputation. Having personal and professional goals may make us men haters and *that* is really damaging to egos. Infertility is almost always our fault, but you know there’s limited access to adequate and appropriate health care has to be pre-approved by men because…see wantonness above. We don’t get to be sexually liberated unless we’re ok with being called sluts or whores. We are blamed for our singleness, but men’s desire is wholly based on our behaviors and presentation. Do we really have the temperament to be in positions of decision and power? Our outrage always has to be muted, especially if it’s emanating from Black and Brown bodies, because it’s often too detrimental and dangerous for it to be fully on display. We are downright disrespectful and scary.

For my Black daughter…my Black daughter with a trauma background who has trouble navigating this life socially, all of this is a crushing reality. I’m teaching her to be strong, to speak her mind, to be free. But for her safety, I also have to teach her how to display that strength in non-threatening ways, how to bite her tongue damn near off because she might be characterized as too sassy and how to choose her places to demonstrate her freedom, which is to say, not be free at all. In fact, I’m teaching her to put her authentic self in packaging that is palatable for folks who don’t look like us and that really does make me simmer all the time. #itsnotright

She already sees that while she can be at the top of her game, she will still just be seen as an uppity, angry Black woman, throwing a tantrum if she deigns to be a vocal self-advocate. And she will be punished for it. And other women of color close by would do well to learn the lesson to not display similar behaviors. As a reward, they will be awarded White proximity, even if it means erasing visual characteristics that otherwise differentiate them. Their Browness and their Blackness will be erased, and we’ll all walk around acting like that’s a good thing! #effthat

My daughter struggles with confrontation. She has a strong sense of integrity (as long as it doesn’t pertain to keeping the laptop too long or eating candy in the middle of the night). Hope simmers for a long time but trust when she blows, she blows! I’ve had to go down to the school many times after she has finally blown a gasket. I’ve had to explain what happens behind the scenes and bring copies of previous emails regarding situations that were never addressed that led to this very moment. I’ve had to reasonably discuss, cajole, sweet talk and finally legally threaten folks to both meet her where she is *and* provide appropriate consequences for behavior. I also know that if it weren’t for the DR that I insist on using in front of my name and the resources available at my fingertips, that my efforts to be her advocate and protector would not be as successful as they have been as a woman of color without the DR juice. I tell people often that I thought I went to get a doctorate to be an educational researcher; now I know that the true reason is to have enough gravitas to roll into the school making demands I otherwise would not have been even allowed to make on behalf of a daughter whose special needs demand that I do just that on the regular.

We talk about girl power. We talk about #BlackGirlMagic. We talk about feminism. We talk about womanism. We talk about equality, equity, fairness. We talk about the future for girls and women. We talk about what we want for them.

And then we see this shyt and get the clear reminder that our behavior and our identities (especially those in relation to Whiteness) continue to be policed in a manner as to remind us of our place.

Be genteel.

Be polite.

Be nice.

Be happy you’re here.

Be not whatever else it is you are.

I’m so over this ish. My heart breaks for both Serena and Naomi. Parents, especially White parents of children of color, check this shyt. This is why that colorblind stuff is some bullshyt. This is what we mean about persistent misogynoir. This what we mean when it’s so institutionalized that shyt is casually at play in front of our faces.

Not doing comments on this post…it’s just…nah, I just can’t. If you’re not feeling it, go not feel it somewhere else. I can’t today.



A Traditional Feminist

So, I am the eldest daughter of three girls. We are a dynamic threesome. We are educated; independent, firery, sweet, and super thoughtful. We are also big believers in girl power!! We all own power tools and do home repairs too.

Our father is a retired mechanic. I think his biggest hope for us was that he and our mother would raise us to be independent women who could take care of ourselves who would in turn meet men who would do it for us. Gosh I love my daddy.

In my “capital F” feminist days I was a bit offended when I came to this realization, but now, years later, I kinda dig it. I mean, I can and do take care of myself, but the notion of having a partner who could shoulder the burden and do a lot of stuff, is more and more appealing as I age. Ok, not just for doing stuff, but you know…<smile>.

Anyhoo, at one point I was a Feminist—capital F—and I asked dudes out, I was ready to burn my bras, Gloria Steinem was my homegirl. I raged against the patriarchy! I pushed my way into a corner office and tried to find ways to bring women with me and thank the women who mentored me.

Then I got tired, because, well, being Black and a Feminist is hard work. Don’t believe me, peep #FeminismIsForWhiteWomen on Twitter.

The movement doesn’t really have a good, solid, inclusive space for women of color and the narrative of seeking equality on multiple fronts.

So, then I just kinda lived my own brand of feminism—little f.

I do what I want, when I want and I pursue equality and justice the best ways I know how.

So what does this have to do with anything?

Well, as a 14 year old girl, Hope is boy crazy. There are hearts on notebooks. Mr. &; Mrs. So and So scrawled here and there. It’s adorbs! But, it’s usually accompanied by Hope chasing a boy to exhaustion to go steady. Love comes and goes in epic fanfare in a 7-10 days.

The thirst is real. We’ve talked about it in therapy and without breeching too much of her confidence; the need to be loved by someone other than me is really serious and specifically by a man/boy is essential.

So we’ve been working on social cues, particularly from crushes and learning to just lay low and be the pursued instead of the pursuer.

Let the crush express his interest.

Consider his true worthiness of your time.

Let the crush ask for your number.

Let the crush text you first.

Let the crush wait a bit for your response.

Don’t be so accessible.

Cultivate your sista friendships instead.

Let him ask you out.


This is the whole reason why the Holy Homeboy gave the male species all the pretty colors and stuff–think birds–peacocks, mallards, robins, cardinals…amiright? Of course I feel some kinda way that he made the girlie birds all bland and homely looking, but that’s another discussion for another day. #idigress

Now, none of this really stands in opposition of feminism for me—big or little f. But coaching Hope in this way feels like I’m taking a step back in time and teaching her those silly “rules” about dating. It feels traditional in a way that feels throwback, in a way that feels like I’m somehow cheating on my own brand of feminism.

It’s just weird that the anecdote to Hope’s social issues is to teach her a very traditional view of what courting is supposed to be like.

And yet, of course I want her to be courted. Dammit, she deserves to be courted and she should dang well be taught what it should look like so she doesn’t get shafted by some dork who isn’t worth her time and who I might have to chase away with a broom like my mom did with one of my sister’s suitors (that was EPIC!). Let’s face it, no one will be good enough and I’ll be using my $5 Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon for a fancy new broom this weekend.  Oh, and let me be clear, the desire to be courted has nothing to do with the desire to be treated as an equal in a relationship.

It’s especially weird because I feel like I’ve come full circle—this is what daddy taught me, what I moved away from a bit as I explored my own world, what I’ve returned to with my sweet Elihu (he’s a serious courtier in word and deed) and now what I’m teaching Hope.

Am I still a feminist? Um, yeah, of course, I am!

More importantly, with this whole full circle thing, am I old?

What the hell????

It just feels like I’ve fallen down some weird rabbit hole in which my adult lived experience is colliding with the values I hope to instill in my daughter about her own worthiness.

They aren’t really that different. I think they are just different chapters in the same story…at least that my story and I’m sticking with it.

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