Shame Lies With the Slaveholder

Fairly often, I’ll see segments of non-immigrant US black people (called, among other things, “Ankh negroes” and Hotep dudes” for their fixation on Egyptian history) promoting a simplistic, utopian version of African History, a version that says “In Africa, we (black people) were kings and queens.” What alarms me about this incorrect telling of African history, aside from the untruth of it, is the implicit classism, which I think also is continuous with, and lends itself to, the shaming of regular, everyday citizens and of black people who were (and still are) held in slavery.

We shouldn’t shame people because they’re not a king or queen, or because they’re poor, or because they’re enslaved.

I’ll see jokes coming from some US black people, and a few famous comedians, that joke about the conditions of slavery. “His feet look so bad he coulda been a runaway slave!” Or saying someone “looks like a slave” because of their countenance or their demeanor (The Boondocks has displayed this “slave behavior” in action). There is no shame in being enslaved. Shame lies with the slaveholder.

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Alliance Ain’t For Me

On the advice of a professor I trust and respect, I decided to attend a meeting yesterday afternoon conducted by Alliance, my school’s local LGBT group. I did it mostly as a favor to this faculty member, since she was concerned about my emotional health and wellness and thought that the club might be good for me.

I entered the room, and immediately noticed the whiteness of most of the attendees. It was maybe 65% white/ 35% black. Before attending yesterday, I tried to go the previous week, but was fed misinformation about the meeting place so I didn’t attend, and I wondered about the racial makeup of the attendees, specifically how white it might be. There might’ve been more non-white club members who didn’t show up to the meeting that have attended at other times, but I didn’t get the sense that there was a low turn-out or anything. In fact, in comparison to other schools’ LGBT club membership, my school’s might have a high racial diversity. Regardless, I was still turned off by it a bit.

It seems every week, at the beginning of the club meetings, attendees go around the room and introduce themselves (I guess so the secretary can keep attendance) and give a high and a low of their week so far. One member said that his theretofore high was that he saw a cute guy somewhere. His low of the week so far was that “he’s not gay.” What gets me is that he didn’t say “he doesn’t like men”, but said he’s doesn’t identify as gay and therefore doesn’t like men. I suppose that whether this attendee’s statement is problematic (specifically erasing bi, queer, and otherwise non-LG and hetero people and their identities) or not depends on how the cute guy he met worded his rejection. Still though, even if the man the attendee met worded his rejection in a problematic way, the attendee didn’t have to word it similarly.

I’ve starting reading Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out , a book about bisexual people’s experiences and, among other topics, biphobia, both within and without the LG community. I briefly thought of myself as bisexual, though not anymore, which might be influenced by some biphobia on my part (I found it difficult to identify as bisexual, even to myself) and also by (what I think are) the different ways I’m attracted to women and men. In fact, I’ve felt more of a connection with identifying as gay, though I don’t (certainly, some attraction to women and/or cis-female gentalia doesn’t automatically exclude a person from gay identity). Hence, this attendee’s wording of his low of the week struck a chord with me. Currently, I don’t identify as anything with regard to my sexual orientation.

What’s more, I found the club president very annoying, especially his voice, and since he’s the one who usually speaks the most, this affects my opinion of the club. Other club members had annoying voices, too, and there was some atrocious banter going on with obscure references to God-knows-what: probably some counterculture entertainer or author. I’ve thought some about whether my annoyance at some of their voices and banter is evidence that I might be a (mild) misanthrope, something I wondered off and on before.

I live at home (because it’s cheaper, though it’s not good for my emotional health) and I noticed that almost all the club meeting was spent talking about off-campus events that would probably be out of the way for me. I’m not knocking their prioritizing off-campus events over on-campus ones, but it’s just not for me. If most of the meeting time is spent discussing stuff I can’t attend, I don’t really have a practical use for that. I was hoping that this LGBT school club would be more of a discussion thing, not so much hammering out dates and times for building floats for a Pride parade or a movie night at someone’s house, though those things can be cool, too.

Toward the end of the club meeting, the room smelled just like Play-Doh, though from what I could tell none was out in the open.

Also, the president mentioned the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) a few times, at the end of the meeting even asking attendees whether they’d like to volunteer making calls for them. This put up a red flag because the club claims to be LGBT (“T” for people of Trans* identity) and HRC has been noted several times to be transphobic, particularly by playing into respectability politics. I don’t know whether there were any Trans* people at the club meeting, but I’m curious as to whether anybody pointed out the HRC’s transphobia when he mentioned volunteer opportunity. By the time he noted this to us, I was out the door.

Also, I somehow got the idea that a guy I’m digging might attend the meeting, but he didn’t. The day of the missed meeting I saw him by the location of the meeting (though I didn’t then know it). When I figured out where the meeting would be held, I got all hopeful in my hindsight. *Sigh*

Rick Ross’s Non-apologies for his Rape Lyric

Rick Ross at the Q93.3 radio interview.

On the hit Rocko song, “U.O.E.N.O.”, Rick Ross raps, “Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it/ I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.”

This past month, Rick Ross conducted a radio interview with New Orleans hip-hop/ R&B station, Q93.3. During one part of the interview, he addressed the date rape lyric that provoked a wave of negative responses on the internet and beyond. However, his “apology” was just him transferring the blame to those who found the lyric problematic, a cog in rape culture. The selected portion is at about 4:15.

Aside from faulting his detractors (mainly women) by saying that there was “a misunderstanding” in their judgment of the lyric, Ross’s entire “apology” was sexist and misogynistic.

Some choice phrases from his response are quoted below.

“Woman is the most precious gift known to man.”

  • Though an attempt to show how highly Rick Ross esteems women, this sentence presents women as objects, gifts for men to have, and have their way with. This sentence actually syncs up nicely with his date rape lyric: women are to be utilized for male pleasure, according to both. This sentence also has heteronormativity in it. It implies that all men should be sexually satisfied with a women when many men have no such dominant desire.

“There was a misunderstanding with a lyric, a misinterpretation”

  • Two times in this sentence, Rick Ross says his lyric’s detractors are wrong. How can they be? He slipped a drug in her champagne. He “enjoyed” her body. And she had no clue. She could not consent. This is blatant rape. That somebody could not see that this is a date rape is alarming. And if he does see that this lyric describes a date rape, but won’t own up to it is alarming as well. He should just accept that he rapped an atrocious thing, and seek education on what constitutes rape. Here, I can’t help but be reminded of political analyst and writer Zerlina Maxwell’s insistence on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show that society teach men what rape is and not to commit rape. This is a prime example that what she said is correct. If someone can’t tell that this situation is a rape (and not one committed by a “faceless, nameless” man, as Maxwell points out), our efforts to educate man on the subject are woefully sub-par.

“[There was a misinterpretation] where the term ‘rape’ was-wasn’t used, and I would never use the term ‘rape’ in my records.”

  • Is Ross implying that if the word “rape” isn’t used to describe something, it can’t be rape? This is dangerous, harmful thinking. 

“… And as far as my camp, hip-hop don’t condone [rape], streets don’t condone that, nobody condones that.”

  • This sentence is especially interesting. Ross proclaims that hip-hop, street culture, and humans, in general, don’t condone rape, and subsumes all three under the umbrella of his “camp” (probably his label, Maybach Music Group). How can this be done? This make no sense. And there are plenty of people in the world that condone rape. Take, for example, the deluge of racialized rape and death threats presented to both Zerlina Maxwell and web developer Adria Richards. And in cultures whose levels of machismo and masculine posturing are alarmingly high (such as hip-hop culture and street culture), rape certainly occurs, and is, if only implicitly, condoned. 

“So I just wanted to reach out to the queens that’s on my timeline, the sexy ladies, the beautiful ladies that’s reaching out to me with the misunderstanding.”

  • This is the third time in this radio interview that Ross has insisted that his detractors are mistaken in their judgment. He also refers to the women that called him out on Twitter as “queens”. But why? He should respect them and respond to their tweets regardless of whether they have a royal bearing, and regardless of whether he finds them “sexy” or “beautiful”. 

He also tweeted today, April 4th, 2013, to offer another pseudo-apology.

Lately, I’ve been attempting to shy away from music with lyrics I deem reprehensible (sexist, misogynist, classist, heterosexist, xenophobic, etc.), so this incident further pushes me away from songs of that sort, especially those in Rick Ross’s discography.