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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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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Bring Your Self

Happy Women’s Empowerment Month! Officially declared National Women’s History Month by the US Congress in 1987, March is a time for celebrating women’s achievements and discussing social problems that disproportionately impact women and girls in schools, community-based organizations, the workplace and cultural institutions. Of course, these celebrations and discussions should continue throughout the year and include community members from diverse genders, racial backgrounds, economic circumstances and sexualities. Every women’s issue—for example reproductive freedom and wage equality—also impacts men and boys. Problems such as gun violence and school segregation also have life shortening consequences for women and girls although they are not often described as feminist concerns.

According to the National Women’s History Project, this year’s theme is “Imagination Through Innovation.” This month, contributing bloggers will highlight how Black women artists and activists creatively imagine solutions to problems facing women of color in the US and abroad. Whether starting Maroon communities in 19th century Jamaica or creating groundbreaking paintings today, the rich tradition of Black women’s resistance to racial discrimination, gender exclusion and other forms of oppression encourages us to bring all of ourselves in order to envision and build a more just society.

Third World Women’s March, 1981. Photo courtesy of The Knotted Line

Third World Women’s March, 1981. Photo courtesy of The Knotted Line

Of course, we all don’t need to be a dynamo like Florynce Kennedy to help solve problems in our communities. The everyday discussions we have with our families, circles of friends, classmates and colleagues (in person or online) are often where we imagine the changes that can address our concerns about issues that are impacting the women we care about. The next steps are considering which people, organizations or institutions can provide the resources necessary to create that change and how our communities can work together to advocate for it.

I’d love to know what changes you would like to see for Black women in your community.  Also, how is your school, nonprofit or place of worship celebrating Women’s Empowerment Month?

Share with us here in the comments section, on Facebook or Twitter.

Yours in Solidarity,

 

Robin Signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robin
Principal Organizer, Progressive Pupil
@PPupil
facebook.com/progressivepupil