how to speak up: advocacy or aggression?

In The News

I saw a post on Instagram this week from Splendid Rain Co. – a company that produces pro-black clothing with powerful and provocative messages. The owner runs the page and she is also an activist.

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Image from Splendid Rain Co’s Instagram.

I personally love her brand, but Etsy recently removed her shop from their shops (article here) and then reinstated it causing the young designer to aggravation and frustration. She has always been vocal about her feelings, but this one really made she made me think. She said that she’s been getting a lot of backlash because people say that her “sassy black woman” attitude makes it “easy for racists” to use against her in arguments and that she is “smarter than saying f*** you” to certain individuals who offend her. 

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Image from Splendid Rain Co’s Instagram.

This hit home for me because I have trained myself to never raise my voice or appear angry in arguments about race. I thought that because I don’t want others to think that my emotions overrule my logic, but now I think that a large part doesn’t want people to see my blackness in these conversations.

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Image from Splendid Rain Co’s Instagram.

My friend Tomachi and I talk about this a lot. The idea that in the fight for black rights, we must be in the front lines without ammo – engaging in any uncomfortable conversation and remaining tight-lipped in the face of adversity. Tomachi thinks this is absolute garbage and that black woman have especially carried this burden for too long. I agree this is twisted and yet, it is basically the purpose of my blog. 🙃

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Image from Splendid Rain Co’s Instagram.

This has opened my eyes and is something that I want to work on for myself. If I want to tell someone go kick rocks and exit a conversation, I am entitled to especially as an act of self-care. This doesn’t diminish my intelligence, ability to connect with others or my advocacy in the black community.

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Image from Splendid Rain Co’s Instagram.

Although, I am not doing all the work! Allies and hopefully soon-to-be allies, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. While I want to have these conversations with you, understand that it is draining and upsetting for all minority individuals to explain to you the different ways that society has let us down.

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Image from Splendid Rain Co’s Instagram.

xoxo,

A Conscious Black Woman

“I’ll never let y’all try to tell me I’m “better than” my culture or the ties I have to it. This goes for anyone … I’m here fighting for loud black girls, ghetto black girls, black women who are sex workers, trans black people, lgbtq+ black people, and everyone who’s been left off the spectrum of deserving human decency because of who they are or what they choose to do. Don’t like it? Unfollow.”

– Olatiwa Karade, creator of Splendid Rain Co.

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guest blog: T.H.U.G.

In the Media

This week, I’ve got a special treat for y’all: a guest blogger!

The lovely Savannah aka The Student Foodie is going to give her two cents on the new movie, The Hate U Give!

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Image from TheStudentFoodie.ca

Spoiler alert: Savannah is not black, but I wanted to hear her perspective on a highly racial film so she and I can compare and contrast our thoughts after watching it.

I invite you to check out Savannah’s blog: https://thestudentfoodie.ca
and without further adieu, here’s her take on T.H.U.G.!

Related image
Image from Foxmovies.com

 

 

Privilege test!

  1. When you were younger, did your parents give you:
    a) The Sex Talk
    b) The Traffic Stop Talk

 

  1. During a traffic stop you:
    a) Snapchat a picture of your speeding ticket to send to your friends with the caption “f*ck the police!”
    b) Fear for your life and use your phone to record evidence

 

  1. Have you seen someone die?
    a) No, the only death I’ve seen is on the big screen
    b) Yes, I’ve watched close friends get killed

 

If you answered A for all of the above, you are PRIVILEGED!

If you answered B, then your experiences resemble those of Starr Carter and the larger population of African-Americans represented in The Hate U Give (hyperlink to movie review: https://variety.com/2018/film/reviews/the-hate-u-give-review-1202933118/).

 

Based on Angie Thomas’ YA novel and adapted for film by George Tillman Jr., The Hate U Give follows Starr, a young black girl who witnesses her friend Khalil, an unarmed black man, get shot and killed by a white police officer during a traffic stop. In other words, a typical American news headline.

 

Though, I was blown away by the film (my friends and I ugly cried the whole time), I was not surprised. If the police brutality, anti-black racism and overall injustice were shocking to you, then you are probably part of the problem, or at least complicit. In just two hours, Tillman Jr. paints a vivid picture of America’s racial division, touching on everything from the prison industrial complex to intra-community violence.

 

Here are a few key lessons from the film:


Code Switching is a “survival technique”

Like many POC, Starr adopts two different personas to adhere to her black and white worlds. When she is at home in her predominantly black neighbourhood, she acts one way and when she is at her predominantly white school, she adjusts herself to behave another. She exists in a state of suspension where she is often too white in her black community, but too black in her white school.

 

Racism isn’t always overt

As Starr said, racism isn’t confined to using the N word, or spraying black people with hoses.

More often than not, racism is internalized and expressed in more subtle ways like “jokingly” telling your black friend to eat fried chicken, or asking your Hispanic friend how they crossed the border (I’ve been asked this too many times to count).

Basically, don’t be this girl:

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Image from Daily Motion Video.

 

Black bodies are inherently political

Black bodies do not have the luxury of remaining apolitical. Black bodies are trained to be defensive from a young age. In the powerful opening scene, Starr and her brother, Seven are given the “traffic stop talk,” or how to not get killed in an encounter with the police. Most kids get the sex talk. At Khalil’s funeral, April points out that even when black people are unarmed, they are still armed because their blackness is perceived as a weapon. The colour blind ideology (“I don’t see colour”), that many well-intentioned white people possess also serves to further negate the real oppression POC have and continue to face. Starr said it best, “If you don’t see my blackness then you don’t see me.”

 

Final Thoughts

“I try to write fiction that’s rooted in reality, and the reality is even scarier than anything that I could write.” -Angie Thomas, author The Hate U Give

 

The film depicts enough brutality and injustice to provoke critical thought, but remains easily digestible to appeal to a wide range of viewers. While it cannot encompass the full extent of the oppression that exists in North America, the film offers insight into a perspective that has been historically and routinely silenced, but not for long.