Posts Tagged ‘black men’

The Wine That Almost Broke the Internet

December 7, 2014

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I wouldn’t claim to be the biggest Bobby Shmurda fan out to be quite honest, but what I am a fan of is wining on a whole, and men wining. Always, always a fan of that for a range of reasons. Bobby Shmurda’s West Indian background has already been acknowledged, so I’m not surprised to see he can pelt some waist. Gwan Bobby. It’s always fascinating too how the masculinity enacted and projected in “Hot Nigga” (and even the dancing in there) seems interpreted as mutually exclusive with the dancing seen above. A lot of online commentary showed just how uncomfortable and displaced some folks are with reconciling the rapper of “Hot Nigga” with hip rolling. There was plenty of flabbergastation, shock, disgust, and head shaking to go around.

Meh. His wining is the least of my concerns.

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Roll It Boy: On Men, Masculinity and Bringing the Winery

December 10, 2011

There are few things I love more than men wining in wanton abandonment. Maybe good food and a select range of other things excite me more. I love men wining because of the ways in which it disturbs the mask of heterosexual masculinity. It flexes, disrupts and discombobulates with a swivel of the bamsee — most of all, it makes a lot of people, men and women, uncomfortable. I’ve contemplated before how masculinity is sometimes performed inside soca and the ways in which wining is coded inside the performativity of the stage persona (or perceived actual persona) of some male soca artists.

As a Trinbagonian from a wide ranging Caribbean & West Indian background reaching into Guyana and even further up the archipelago, seeing men dance completely unhinged is nothing new to me. Luckily, among some of the young men I know, seeing men wine down the place and bend over in front of a woman is also nothing scandalous to me and though I love to see it myself personally, I understand that it’s still a revolutionary upending of masculinity in some ways. Consider for instance, this video of Congolese singer (and newly crowned wining-god by me) Fally Ipupa’s stage performance with his band and dancers:

Predictably, under the video comments, there is one lamenting “why will a guy dance like a women [sic]” in addition to “this shit is SO gay…omg!!” The sexism and homophobia of these two comments underscore the power and meaning of the hetero (and/or assumed hetero) men who dance employing their hips, refusing to be constrained by context and widespread socio-cultural policing of acceptable vs. non-acceptable expressions of hegemonic masculinity.

What I really appreciate in this performance is the way in which the men’s gyrations seem to be performed fully, unapologetically with gusto by men, almost as a means to its own end — there are no women backup dancers bouncing around with them, and there are no women even seen in the audience within the camera’s range and this centers the men’s sexually suggestive hip movements in a uniquely singular way that I rarely see some black men do anymore.

Across the diaspora, men are allowed to be sexually suggestive in dance within reason and are even allowed to make people uncomfortable, within reason — so “daggering” might make some people uncomfortable but it’s an acceptable form of male sexually suggestive dance. R&B singers can slow wine at certain select moments, usually involving a lap dance on stage and a woman pulled from the audience or something of that nature. Wining, and men wining without women as props — not quite as acceptable.

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hashtag SOE

September 15, 2011

i purposefully hadn’t bothered to comment on the trinidad and tobago government’s state of emergency all this time because i think it’s a load of crock and save for that, i really didn’t have anything constructive to employ in the conversation initially. who goes pulling states of emergencies all willy-nilly from out their backside like it’s nobody’s business? & sorry, but i also don’t trust the average local officer to not exploit the SOE — i feel like some might be gorging themselves on power, beating the pavement like giddy overlords drunk on the high of tossing alleged miscreants into the backs of pick-up trucks with no recourse. the whole thing just doesn’t sit well.

also, i’ve mused on crime & race before on here and though jack warner doth protest too much — images do tell a perspective, a slant, that is all. the whole discourse in parliament and outside is often full of fail. first of all, coming from the presupposition that black males in trinidad are posited, innately, as The Criminal — that in and of itself is a flickin’ problem! all the hand-wringing is coming from these problematic, patronising places from atop a moral high ground that makes some of us feel good about ourselves and meanwhile, root issues and inequity aren’t being solved. the kinds of insensitivities being spewed also makes me shiver to my core: “lock dem up” — “all ah dem” and things of that nature, when you don’t even know the hows and whys. bet your talk change when they come for you or someone you love though.

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speaking of masculinity…

July 28, 2010

When I’m semi-lost in DC, looking for the right bus (a city that I don’t even know) while trying to do some sightseeing, I really don’t need a random man to say, “dang, it’s not that serious! Smile!” in a growling command like he’s more vex at me that anything else, a pitch that almost makes me jump out my skin ’cause I’m busy trying to sort out where the heck I am and most certainly, not smile.

Before that,  a bus driver told me I must have an attitude because I wasn’t a bundle of perkiness and presumably, coy smiles, when I boarded (and I could see him giving me The Eye). He assumed that I was one of  those females with my “defenses up”. On the bus! Yeah, it wasn’t even that serious. I just don’t do perkiness. That’s not me. So I humor him and once he heard my accent, I ended up hearing a tirade about ‘Trini women’ and how we are ‘trouble’ though ‘beautiful’—apparently he is allegedly familiar with “us” in some capacity. Cause all of us are all the same. (Then, he switched off his shift and passed me his number as he left. I kid thee not).

And anyway, who the hell commands someone to smile?

Why?

I was instantly triggered to think about Renina’s blog post where she talks about black women and street harrassment and this famous phenomenon:

From Friendly to Hostile to Bitch in 10 Seconds

Hey, why so serious, honey? Give us a little smile.” My sense of humor, he didn’t know, was temporarily out of service, so of course I didn’t give him a little smile. But in not smiling, I had again violated the code, provoking another seizure of silent suffering that became verbal. As I passed the sleeve on the street, it hissed a word at me, with the edge of anger to it, with a sharp rebuke in it: “Bitch.

This account describes a common pattern, in which the target’s failure to response results in escalation and a superficially friendly interaction is transformed into one that is transparently hostile.

So not feeling any of this. Not one bit.

Be Careful What You Stick For

April 10, 2008

You may not have the facebook  Bumper Sticker application added yet, but chances are there are several people on your friends list that already do.  When this app actually works, it’s a quirky little trove of ditties, pics and sayings that facebook users have uploaded themselves into the application to share with other users of the application. 

If you love baseball, love Barack Obama, hate the war in Iraq, want a picture still from your favorite movie, care about “sober kids in India” or you just “can’t wait till summer ‘08!” Well, you can upload a sticker onto your profile that will inject some color and spunk while announcing this to all and sundry whenever they visit your page.  Want to send a subtle message to an ex that’s cute, quirky and unbelievably succint?  Upload a bumper sticker! Bumper stickers after all are only so big.  You’d be surprised what you can squeeze into an image that is not a whole lot bigger than a thumbnail.

Speaking of images…There seems to be a great deal more bumper stickers that send negative racially charged messages about black people than any other ethnic group.  These are a great deal more popular than many of the other thematic concerns of stickers that you can find while trawling the app.  More popular than “everyone loves an Italian girl.” More popular even than the “proud to be a cracker” sticker (insert pic of cracker there, not the actual word), which at last check had been uploaded over 1,098 times by fellow users on facebook. Some racist image stickers are uploaded way more than that already, a few thousand times over already.

You frequently find these stickers high up on the “browse stickers” link pages, because the more a sticker has been downloaded, the easier it is find on the application’s earliest pages. There’s the sticker with the spoof on “Piglet” of Winnie-The-Pooh fame, which is hugelyridiculously popular. It is essentially piglet, colored black, and titled “Niglet,” which is also obviously a play on another derogatory word for people of African descent, and enough people found that this sticker was amusing enough to upload multiple thousands of occasions.  There is also another version of the ever-popular “niglet” sticker, with black piglet holding a wedge of watermelon under one arm and thrusting a bucket of KFC chicken, up into the air with the other, with a huge wide cartoon grin super imposed over the face. Piglet plus the N-word makes for some good humor apparently. 

There’s also the sticker of a menacing, dark-skinned black man declaring “I will rape you”. Then there’s the sticker of another black man, arms enveloped lovingly around an array of many watermelons (yes, watermelons) and the tagline says, “Oh Lawds, is I in heaven?” Complete with bad english and all.  In fact the proportion of bumper sticker images of black people (who are not famous) that involves images of “coonery” are astounding.  You can find watermelons, lots of references to chicken—specifically fried, so-called black vernacular with bad spelling in broken english and plenty bad teeth. Sometimes, bumper sticker is a cold place to navigate. 

All the while I’m there mumbling to myself as I go from page to page, “who thinks these things are funny?”  Who indeed? There’s the black ‘n white sticker of the close-up of a black man face’s, teeth bared in an angry sneer, with a line of forest behind him. Superimposed across his face are the words “Bitch!  Go up to the counter and tell a nigga I want a chicken sandwich and some waffle fries!”  Who uploads this stuff and for what purpose? Now you can see the name of the person who uploaded a sticker but you can’t see them  through the application. 

You can however do a later facebook search for them.  A white guy named Nick uploaded the aforementioned black and white sticker.  There’s one of yet another black man, eyes squeezed tight, in a sharp ole school hat showing off his wide, gaping mouth with the requisite less than perfect smile. This one espouses the tagline “ya dig!”  seemingly spilling from the man’s more-or-less toothless mouth. This one is also uploaded, by a facebook name search possibility, of select white males.  So many people seem to think that all these images of black people and perceived blackness are quite hilarious.

Bumper sticker (again when it works) is this interesting experiment in the kinds of things that people think are funny or at least relevant (or something).  It’s not on your car after all, so it’s not just simply that you believe seal clubbing is wrong. It’s about you as you are perceived through your page, what you think and like and enjoy. It’s about your personality more than anything. Like whether you’re a self-professed bitch, or you love shoes, partying with the girls, you love chocolate, you’re a loyal friend, you put dicks before chicks and what have you.

It’s just another way to dress your page up—the subliminal messages are just an added bonus. It’s about community too. It’s not just that some one person uploaded a certain image of a black man with watermelons, but furthermore, that significant amounts of people share the same outlook enough, to share it with their friends and upload it themselves.  You do feel kind of warm and fuzzy inside, when you see that someone, from who-knows-where, uploaded a sticker that is a still from the movie My Girl 2  and then you feel this swell of belonging.  This rocks, because maybe you think that My Girl 2 rocks too.

 Furthermore, you just happened to stumble upon it, while doing a general sticker browse, so it feels extra exciting.  You weren’t even looking for something so cool and you found it. Largely because the category listings in bumper sticker, are painfully inadequate and inept anyway, so this is how people mainly find anything in there. You get sucked into it too, like the Matrix and next thing you know, you are on page 97 and seeing double. And you wonder where you’ve seen this watermelon grin or cat rolled up as a “purrito” before? Three, four, twelve pages back? Who the fuck knows anymore.

I am not necessarily advocating all-round censorship because part of the fun is in fact the input that the users themselves have to play in the success of the application.  It’s like one great pic swap shop in the cyberworld of facebook. You can mark a sticker as offensive of course but that doesn’t mean that someone else, will not reload it again later or that the one you flagged, was not one of several.  Sometimes, images can be found uploaded multiple times by different people, especially if lots of people like it.  Like the niglets in pink.  Anyway, you can also make it a point, if you are likewise concerned, to upload your own positive, representative images, to combat the rampant negative stereotypical ones in this application.

Then of course there’s the whole matter of who’s doing the uploading and who’s doing the downloading. I’m going to guess that more college students and certainly high school students, participate in this particular application on a whole.  Lots of people across the board might Superpoke, but let’s face it, some apps just appeal to certain demographics faster.  When I wanted to send a really great “black girls rock” sticker, first I had to stop and think, ok, what black girl friends of mine do I know, that even have the bumper sticker app. The end result was not that many.

I’m also going to make a guess about demographic based on the hugely popular “I love my black man” sticker.  You know quite well that black girls are not the main ones trading that one.  (Just kidding!)  But seriously, a white girl uploaded that sticker. Serious. Anyhoo. So if all communities are a microcosm of something larger, then all of us in bumper sticker are in some ways a microcosm of the dark side of our humor, the racist legacy of our past (and in some cases future) among other things. 

Question what the images mean to you, say to you, about you and others.  Most of all, be careful when you ‘stick’ something on your profile, because saying, “well it’s supposed to be funny!” is not always reason enough and quite frankly, it never should be.”Three white girls in a car + nothing to do = trouble” might be funny (and/or scary) but it’s not derogatory. Even when a sticker’s humor is tongue-in-cheek while pertaining to other groups—it’s not derogatory but many with black faces are. Think about it.