Black Resistance Film Screening: Out In The Night

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Out in the Night is Director Blair Dorosh-Walther’s first feature documentary (74 min), which reveals the story of “The New Jersey Four”—Venice Brown, Terrain Dandridge, Renata Hill and Patreese Johnson—from their perspective. Click here to watch the trailer.

On August 18, 2006, these four women, along with three friends, left their homes in Newark for a girls’ night out in New York City’s West Village. All seven women are African American, non-gender conforming, and (at that time) in their teens and twenties. In Newark, where they lived, threats of (and sometimes actual) violence prompted by homophobia were commonplace. On their night out, the friends looked forward to enjoying an evening together in New York’s gay-friendly neighborhood, where they could “be themselves.”
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Future of Black Girls in Music

SZA (left) and FKA twigs (right) are boldly redefining the future of Black girls in music

SZA (left) and FKA twigs (right) are boldly redefining the future of Black girls in music

SZA? FKA twigs? If their names are not unconventional enough, their music certainly is. Several critics and fans alike have used phrases like “experimental R&B” and “avant-pop” in an attempt to describe their sound, but neither of those descriptions is as yet able to truly do their music justice. While their sound may not necessarily submit to easy, or straightforward categorization, there is undoubtedly a certain neo-futuristic element to their music that has propelled both of these small town girls to stardom. However, beyond merely rewriting the sound of music today, SZA and FKA twigs are—perhaps even unbeknownst to them—redefining the traditional cultural expectations of what Black girls in the music industry should sound and look like.
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5 Requirements for White Allies of Feminists of Color

"We ALL Can Do It," by soirart.

“We ALL Can Do It,” by SoirArt.

I identify as a woman, but I move through the world not only as a woman, but also as a White woman, a woman from a middle-class family, an American woman, an able-bodied woman, and a young woman (I could go on). These identities, many of them granting me daily privileges in society, make my experience as a woman vastly different from the experiences of other women.

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Icons: Queen Nzinga Mbande

Queen Nzinga

Queen Nzinga Mbande

When searching for information on history, how should we interpret the information we find? For example, how can we tell if the icons we are presented with are truly icon worthy or just over idealized historical figures? Recently, for Women’s History Month, one of my friends posted something on Facebook about Queen Nzinga Mbande. It was interesting information presented in an attention grabbing way–a bit scandalous and a bit sensational, but certainly left me wanting learn more. As a female myself, I am always interested in learning more about strong female icons, especially the scandalous ones who accomplish the seemingly impossible, the ones like Queen Nzinga, who (if you believe the first account I read) single-handedly kept the Portuguese from enslaving her kingdom.
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A Response to ‘#TeamNatural?’

Image Courtesy of Ariel

Image Courtesy of Arie L.

The day I decided to go natural, it was strictly about my health. At the time, I had a discolored shade of blonde that was created in the sink of a sketchy hair salon. The thickness of my hair, that I grew to appreciate by the time I hit 18, was no longer thick because of the continued unhealthy manipulation of my hair. My diet did not help either. Once I did the “big chop” and began rocking my TWA (teeny weeny afro), I started to question why I was transitioning to natural. Was it strictly about my health and growth, or was it something deeper?
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Lets Talk About Sex

Image Courtesy of ShutterShock.

Image Courtesy of ShutterShock.

Ladies: Are you able to talk to your gynecologist, or other health care providers, about problems “down there?”  Many women do not feel comfortable speaking with their doctors about sexual topics, either because they’re afraid of being judged, or because they’re afraid of embarrassing their doctors. Apparently, doctors also do not feel comfortable speaking about this topic. A 2012 University of Chicago survey of more than 1,000 obstetrician-gynecologists found that less than half of the doctors asked their patients about sexual problems. Only two-thirds of them ask how sexually active their patients were. Approximately 25% of them, doctors with strong religious beliefs and some international medical graduates, disapprove of their patients’ sexual practices.
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#GirlsAreNotForSale

Photo Courtesy of GEMS

Photo Courtesy of GEMS

In New York City, an estimated 2,200 children become victims of sex trafficking each year. The average age when these children enter the commercial sex industry is just 13 years old. While many Americans believe that sex trafficking involves girls and women from other countries, the reality is that many trafficking victims in the United States are young American girls. Of these girls, 80-90% come from broken homes and have experienced sexual and physical abuse. Most of them are females of color— African American, Asian, and Latina.
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#TeamNatural?

As the natural hair movement grows, Black woman of all ages are being exposed to different standards and faces of beauty. Straight and long locks are no longer the only kind images that are portrayed by major companies such as this featured photo from fashion magazine, Vogue Italia.

As the natural hair movement grows, Black woman of all ages are being exposed to different standards and faces of beauty. Straight and long locks are no longer the only popularized images. This is a featured photo from fashion magazine, Vogue Italia.

The natural hair movement advocates self-empowerment and creative expression, but is #teamnatural advancing is own set of restrictive rules and unrealistic beauty standards?
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Glossary: Womanist

Photograph of Meigan Medina, "Vibration," courtesy of Brandon Hicks.

Photograph of Meigan Medina, “Vibration,” courtesy of Brandon Hicks.

“Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender” – Alice Walker.

 Alice Walker, a poet and activist, who is mostly known for her award-winning book The Color Purple, coined the term Womanist in her 1983 book In Search of Our Mothers’ Garden: Womanist Prose. Walker defined a womanist as “Womanish, the opposite of girlish…Being grown up…A Black Feminist or Feminist of Color…A woman who loves other women, sexually and/or non-sexually.  Appreciates and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility (values tears as natural counterbalance of laughter), and women’s strength.  Sometimes loves individual men, sexually and/or non-sexually”. The complete text of the definition can be seen here.

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Black Resistance Screenings: #SetItOff

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In 1996, the LGBT community was still somewhat marginalized in popular culture. Black lesbians in particular, were barely shown. The movie Set It Off, directed by F. Gary Gray, was not a movie about Black lesbians at all; it was a heist movie. An anomaly then and now, Set It Off showed Black women planning, pulling off, and [almost] evading the consequences of criminal activity. Cleo, played by Queen Latifah, was the Black lesbian in question and the casting was certainly intriguing.
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