Posts Tagged ‘society’

The Beauty Myth & An Open Letter to Some Trinbagonians

July 19, 2012

In case you missed the awfulness surrounding the 2012 Miss Trinidad and Tobago World 2012 representative: Athaliah Samuel; the awful missology thread headline proclaiming how ugly she is; the Jay Blessed weigh in; the Miss Trinidad and Tobago Fans page’s awkward, painful, cringe-inducing retraction and the numerous Trinbagonians online bemoaning her as choice — the fact that she is a “non traditional beauty”, from Laventille, dark skinned or “not your cup of tea” are all bullshit explications for the classism, colourism, elitisim, racism and just all around, meanness of spirit that has been shown to this girl in too many places.

Many of the people who would allege that their assessment of her features have absolutely nothing to do with colour are talking crap. Everyone is carrying around internalized beauty ideals and deeply entrenched racial ideals (especially simultaneously) — especially us. Contextualize your notions of symmetry or whatever stupid yard stick you are using for cover over internalized, cultural mind fucks. The diaspora has been officially and thoroughly fucked over in that regard. (I have come to that sad conclusion). Some of us resist (and are resisting), and some of us are unlearning and have done so. Some of us still don’t know that we need to. Harriet Tubman knew what the hell she was talking about. Athaliah’s beauty (the perceptions surrounding it), her colour and class status are all blessedly intertwined, make no mistake around that. People didn’t think Wendy Fitzwilliam was beautiful once upon a time, either. Remember that? Then lo, and behold…

I am a Trini, but the self absorption and levels of superficiality of some of you are disgusting, almost on the verge of nauseating. This whole fantastical narrative of ‘some of the most beautiful women in the world’ has gotten to your heads and I want you to check yourselves on that, please and thank you. If you think a globally commodified “beauty” competition is the best platform to exemplify some cultural estimation of “beauty” — and you are personally offended when said choice/s don’t meet your own personal standards, you need to open your mind some more and get over your fucking self. A beautiful people don’t move that way. And your clearly unexamined biases and perceptions of East Port of Spain communities, its people and your narrow constructs of beauty are showing. Even if you don’t agree, the audacity of being affronted by her looks — her physicality and phenotype, style choices and saying so in terrible terms is still disgusting. You and your words disgust me. All this to a daughter of the soil who is young and undoubtedly a work in progress at 24 (aren’t we all in some ways?), trying to achieve her goals.

Athaliah, sistren, my hope for you is that you know that you are beauty, whether you win or lose, that crown doesn’t define you. Pretty is conventional, often stereotypical, fleeting, falls slack off the bones and finite. Beauty is inside and out. It scares and enthralls. And is sometimes elusive to pin down in exact words. It’s still there when your back bends and skin is weighed down by the extent of life’s journeys. Third-eyes often espy it. And spirits know it is there when your spirit takes to somebody and vice versa. Beauty, like love — is deliberate. The people that see it, mean to see it and it is for them (and you) to savor in those realizations. Everyone knows a pretty girl when they see her but everyone isn’t going to see beauty in you.  Not everyone can. Fuck the naysayers. May your journey be splendid and filled with growth and new experiences.

The echoes and reverberations of some folks’ voices about all of this, will say more about how we view our collective cultural selves than any of the other people and things we rush to rally around the red, white and black for.  And right now, those colours eh looking too nice. Not at all.

The Color of Justice

March 20, 2012

In a white supremacist society, white people are the victims EVEN WHEN they are the perpetrators. #TrayvonMartin via Son of Baldwin

So, so much fuckery happening in the state that I currently reside it, I can barely process it all. A young boy leaves to get a snack and ends up dead — probably the most tragic juxtaposition of doing anything to ‘taste the rainbow’ ever. Firstly, Florida’s awful stand your ground law is truly the stuff nightmares are made of. Please consider yourself informed if you plan on ever coming here. Everyone is in some danger, but brown and black bodies are especially unsafe here which each passing year of this madness.

Secondly, I’ve found some of best sense-making, calm-after-the-infernal-storm-inducing and people of color rage on some tumblr and facebook interwebs and wanted to share some powerful contextualizations; for their grief, their rage, their solidarity, overstanding, love and fierce truth-telling, when I couldn’t even find the words to myself. If, as Dr. West has said, “justice is what love looks like in public” — then how much do we love slain children of color? Not a whole bloody lot, it seems like.

“Whiteness is White people telling a person of color that not all White people are bad and saying so would hurt their feelings when they are expressing their pain over one of their babies being killed.” – theoceanandthesky via Son of Baldwin

Save Your Tears (For the Day when our Pain is Far Behind)

“It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.” —Mahatma Gandhi

White people, this is for you. And only you.

For a long while, during discourses about racism, race relations, and human rights in general, I have watched you and your interject your opinions time and again, derail the discussion, and center it on yourself and your feelings. And I have watched—and participated in—the attempts to either shut you up or make you realize that these issues are not about you; these discourses are not a personal attack on you. You aren’t even welcomed in those discussions most of the time.

This one is. This one is yours. Feel free to interject, but don’t cry when we barbecue you. You’re the one who came with a thin coat of BBQ sauce on your ass.

Recently, if you have kept tabs on the POC on here like you are so wont to do at the wrong time, you may have caught wind of the cold-blooded murder of 17 year old Trayvon Martin (TW: violence). I will condense the story for the convenience of those who haven’t heard it, and to keep you focused on this thread.

George Zimmerman, the self-appointed Neighborhood Watch President for a gated, mostly-white community in Florida, stalked Trayvon Martin in the middle of the night, and shot him; not once, but twice. The police tell Zimmerman not to follow Trayvon and to let them handle it. Zimmerman claims that Trayvon looked suspicious. It was raining, Trayvon was on his way home from from the store with candy for himself and his brother, and he had on a hood.

Before you ghost your fingers over the keyboard to bang out some indignant defense, ask yourself this: had Trayvon been a white kid, would Zimmerman have stalked and shot him?

Had Trayvon’s screams for mercy and begging for his life been that of a white woman, would Zimmerman be able to walk freely? Would the police be trying so ardently to cover this up and chalk it up to an honest mistake?

He shot the boy twice. Not once, twice. Once to silence his screams, and second to finish him off. That’s what we call an execution…a double-tap. That’s an execution if ever there was one. If I didn’t think Zimmerman was just another racist white person, I’d be demanding to look in to see if it was a sanctioned hit.

It was not someone trying to protect his neighbors. It was someone looking for a reason to kill someone, and all the better that the person happened to be Black. Why?

Because in this society, we are conditioned to believe that Black lives hold little to no value in comparison to white lives. In this society we’re conditioned to believe that Black boys are destined for prison and one less Black boy in the world is one less Black boy in the prison system that your tax dollars clothe and feed. In this society, we are taught that Black people are expendable and interchangeable, incapable of anything more than lawlessness and decadence.

It’s 2012, and Black people aren’t safe in their own neighborhoods. In white neighborhoods, where some of us go to escape REAL dangers of everyday life in the city. And here we are, being taught that the no where is safe for us. We’re in danger from real criminals in the city, and we’re in danger from our white neighbors in the suburbs. And what did Trayvon’s fellow neighbors do? What did they do?

They defended Zimmerman.

How can they look Trayvon’s parents in the face, now? People who live in the same neighborhood as them who are burying their firstborn son because one of their neighbors EXECUTED HIM?

We’re angry. All of us. Every last one of us are angry, and you all should consider yourselves lucky that we don’t rise up and take every last one of you out, now for this. Because this demands more than that. This demands justice. This demands vengeance.

Zimmerman should not be rotting behind bars. He should be executed, as he executed an unarmed, Black boy—his own neighbor, on the grounds that he looked suspicious. When he came up to Trayvon, how come he did not immediately recognize him as his neighbor’s son? As someone he has probably seen everyday going to school and coming home? How come as Trayvon begged and screamed for his life, Zimmerman didn’t back off?

Where was the compassion of the man who claimed he was protecting his neighbors? Compassion does not dwell in the hearts of those who have decided to kill. A true self-proclaimed protector would exercise reason, would retreat, would stop themselves from doing something that could possibly bring harm to another.

But Zimmerman is not a protector. He is a cold-blooded murderer, and he went through with the execution because he knew—even if it was a subconscious knowing—that the law would always be on his side because he is a white, cisgendered male, and Trayvon is what society will write off as just another nameless Black boy who was probably never going to amount to anything.

That’s what Whiteness does to you. That’s what Whiteness does to us.

But I’m not going to let this pass into memory. We’re not going to let this be swept under the rug until there’s justice meted out, or until Zimmerman’s blood soaks the streets.

Either way, we’re not going to be silent about it.

Now, if you want to interject, feel free, but it would be in your best interest to utilize reading comprehension before you do…because I am not fucking with you people anymore. No GIFs, no image macros. This is not a joke. (via thegoddamazon)

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